Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Almond Chocolate Biscotti

Photo scanned from Holiday Gifts from the Kitchen
Here's another recipe that looks as if it would make a great kitchen gift!  One of our friends keeps an eye out for older cookbooks and cookbooklets for my collection.  Recently he brought me a small stack that included the Taste of Home booklet, Holiday Gifts from the Kitchen.  You can be sure I pounced on that!  Kitchen gifts are some of my favorites.

This recipe is made with a chocolate cake mix, so I think the biscotti could easily be made gluten-free by just using a gluten-free cake mix.  One of the reviewers suggested a variation she had tried -- skipping the almonds and almond extract, and substituting peppermint extract and sprinkling crushed candy canes over the white drizzle.  It seems to me that this would work out very well and be pretty, too.  I'm definitely planning to try this recipe.  Maybe you'd like to add it to your 2014 baking list as well!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

A nice kitchen gift -- homemade Butterfinger®-type candy bars


Photo by Taste of Home
I spotted this candy recipe -- Chocolate Peanut Butter Candy Bars -- in a Taste of Home December/January issue quite a few years ago.  To me, the recipe sounds as if the candy would taste quite a bit like Butterfinger® candy bars.

I hope to try it sometime soon.  Candy thermometers always intimidate me a bit, but this recipe sounds so good that I just have to try.  Maybe you'd like to give this candy a try also.  There's always room for another recipe in one's kitchen gift repertoire, don't you agree?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Felt play mats ~ a fun gift idea for kids!


Back before Christmas, I was talking with my Nevada daughter on the phone and we were discussing potential gift ideas for her kiddos.  She had seen these adorable felt mats to use when playing with matchbox size vehicles, and thought her kids would love one as a group gift.  Here is the link: Felt Play Mats.  I asked my local daughter if she thought her kids would like one of these too, and she thought they would.  My reasoning was that if I was going to make one, I might as well do a second at the same time.  (Not the most logical reasoning I have ever used.)  Needless to say, this project was not as simple as it looked and the mats were not completed before Christmas. 

I finally did complete them and got them to the recipients in February/early March.  I can say for sure that kids enjoy them.  Here is the first one. 
 
And here is the second one.

I used a lot of the same ideas as the designer of the Felt Play Mats, but added quite a few of my own ideas as well.  One of the buildings I liked the best was this brick library

which I made for the second mat since it looks more like the one in their town. I was also pleased with how the donut shop turned out. 

These were fun to design, but not so much fun to put together.  I used white glue to assemble the buildings and then a glue gun for everything else.  I'm quite sure my white glue was too old, because although it seemed to work and hold things in place just fine, once the kids began playing with the mats, some of the smaller pieces began to come loose.  So, if you try this project, be aware of this possibility.  Use fabric glue, tacky glue or even a small glue gun to attach small pieces.

If you follow the link to the Felt Play Mat, you can scroll down and see other mats that the designer is featuring -- a princess one, a pet shop one, even Gotham City.  Have fun!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Dipped Cherry Cookies ~ a recipe to make again!


Photo from Taste of Home
I came upon these pretty cookies in an older November/December issue of Country Woman as I was browsing through.  I had clipped the recipe but didn't think I had tried it.  However, I just did a quick search here in my Christmas kitchen and found that I had indeed tried this recipe in 2009, and that we liked it a lot.    This would be a nice cookie for Valentine's Day, too (or even at a bridal shower, come to think of it, using white sugar or edible glitter for the finishing touch)  and would probably go fast at a bake sale.  Here's the link: Dipped Cherry Cookies.

I think they would be perfect for a cookie exchange, as they are quite different from the usual Christmas cookie!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Cucumber Canapes ~ nice appetizer for a Christmas buffet!

Photo from Taste of Home
I don't know about your family, but ours always enjoys the occasional festive meal of just appetizers.  We will sometimes do this for New Year's Eve, for example, or other times when the family is all together.  Recently, in my browsing through older November/December issues of Country Woman magazine, I came upon this delicious-sounding recipe for Cucumber Canapes

I've made a similar recipe in the past, but this one sounds even better.  And it would be so festive at Christmas time with the red-and-green garnish of dill and pimiento.  When I make these, I will probably just use the party rye bread rather than cutting rounds out of regular rye bread and having all those trimmings left over.  The rounds are very pretty, though.

Often at Christmas time, we're invited to gatherings where we're to bring along finger foods.  This would be a perfect appetizer to bring along for an occasion like that.  I'm posting it here so I don't forget where I put the recipe.  Maybe this would be a nice addition to your appetizer line-up, too.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Cookie recipe to try -- Christmas Sandwich Cookies


Photo from Taste of Home
As I continue looking through older November/December issues of Country Woman magazine, I'm finding fresh inspiration for Christmases to come.  I always like to try out new cookie recipes -- often, one will become a family favorite.  This recipe is one I've noticed before -- it's from a 2000 magazine -- and I've thought about trying it but just haven't done so.  I decided to post it here and on my Pinterest board and that way, hopefully, I can find it again when I have a moment to try it out.  Here's the link: Christmas Sandwich Cookies.

As you'll see, this is a shortbread cookie simply cut in rounds and, once baked and cooled, sandwiched together with raspberry jam and with a simple Christmas tree design piped on top.  I can see these being a very nice cookie for other occasions too -- like a shower, wedding, or tea party -- either with a different frosting design or a simple dusting of powdered sugar on top.  Maybe you would like to try these, too!

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Another marvelous Christmas poem ~ "Festive Christmas"


Small vintage card from my collection
I'm continuing to browse through those older November/December issues of Country Woman magazine.  The 1992 issue has been a real treasure trove of poems and recipes.  The Readers' Poetry Corner featured another poem by Shirley Harvey.  Here it is:

Festive Christmas
The town is dressed in Christmas fare
With stars and tinsel everywhere,
Bright lights strung around the yards,
And folks all writing Christmas cards.

A dust of snow is on the hills,
Red candles shine from windowsills;
And stockings hung on mantel places
Will soon bring smiles to little faces.

Loved ones come from far away
to share the blessings of the day --
This special day of Jesus' birth,
This time of joy and peace on earth.
-- Shirley Harvey
    Barre, Vermont

Again, Shirley Harvey's Christmas poetry touches a nostalgic chord in me.  Stars, tinsel, Christmas lights ... and my childhood home had hills ringing it where a dust of snow would be simply beautiful, especially the season's first snow.  I picture the colored candoliers shining from my grandmother's window sills in the old white farmhouse ... oh, how times have changed.  We have lost so much of the innocent beauty of days gone by.  I, for one, intend to keep doing all that I can to keep it alive.