Thursday, December 29, 2011

Broccoli Stuffed Mushrooms - One of my MOST FAVORITE appetizers

Every Christmas Eve my Mom makes these for appetizers.  

On the way to her house on Thanksgiving, one of my kids always asks

"is THIS the holiday that Grandma makes those mushrooms?!?!"

They are just plain a never fail yummy warm appetizer that is easy to love.

These would be a great addition to your New Year's Eve celebration!

broccoli stuffed mushrooms

Broccoli Stuffed Mushrooms

12 large mushrooms
1 very small onion, chopped
6 T butter or margarine
2 T Flour
3/4 t salt
dash of white pepper
2/3 c milk
1 pkg (10 oz size) chopped frozen broccoli, blanched and drained
2 T finely shredded Parmesan cheese

Remove stems from mushrooms and chop. 

(I have found that a strawberry huller works GREAT for this step!)

Quickly saute chopped mushroom stems with onion in 3 T of butter in a frying pan. About 2-3 minutes.

Reduce heat and stir in flour, salt and pepper.  Gradually add in milk and continue to cook, stirring constantly until thickened.  Add broccoli and heat thoroughly.

Melt remaining butter and brush the inside and outside of mushrooms caps.  Fill each mushroom with an equal amount of vegetable mixture and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Bake stuffed mushrooms on a cookie sheet at 375 degrees for 15 minutes, until hot.

I love to prepare them the day before, and bake them when I am ready to serve them.

I have put them in a chaffing dish to keep them warm, but they tend to get a little watery.  It's really just best to bake them in the oven.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday Highlights from An Affair from the Heart

all packaged up for delivery

I have been busy busy baking and baking. Then Tuesday night I had my cookie exchange.  
Wednesday morning,  I spread my platters out on my kitchen table and began filling them up.  
We made 5 huge platters, two small containers and several little plates of goodies.

My twins and I loaded them up and off we went to deliver!

I decided to share with you the holiday things that I have been making in one spot.

So, here you have a Holiday Recap!

Holiday Recap 2011

Click on the Crispix Mix to see this cute way to decorate a Pringles Can for your cookie Exchanges.  How cute are these?!?

From myself and my family,  to all of you who take the time to follow my blog and facebook pages, 
Happy Holidays!  It means so much to have you here with me! 

Cheers to 2012!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Karen's Ginger Bread Cookie Recipe

Karen's Ginger Bread

If you follow my blog you have heard me mention my Sister-in-Law, Karen.  Karen passed away in 2005 from a very aggressive form of mouth cancer.  She is sorely missed all of the time, but around the holidays, I think about her more often than normal.

Karen LOVED to bake, and she was GREAT at it.

Her oldest son, Alex, is just three weeks younger than my oldest son. They are like brothers. 
Alex's favorite Christmas cookie was always Karen's Gingerbread men.

She would always make these at Christmas, and often times for my annual cookie exchange.  

I make them every year now, because they are my son, Spencer's favorite, too.

The recipe I have is a printed email that she sent me with her recipe. 
 It contains the back and forth conversation that she and I had about just your normal everyday life. 
She was my "go-to" person when I was baking.

I was a Creative Memories consultant for 6 years, and found my love of scrapbooking when Karen and I attended our first home class after we had our boys.

My friend Candi, over at The Devilish Dish, and I started an online scrapbooking art store called Simply Scrapbooking, and I left CM. We made handmade scrapbook art.

After Karen passed away in October if 2005, a BUNCH (and I mean a whole giant room full) of my scrapbooking family got together and brought all of her kids' scrapbooks up to date. We did this around the holidays, and everyone that helped received one of these tiny little angel ornaments when they left, attached was this little saying: 

You're in my thoughts at Christmas,

so I say this little prayer. . .

"May angels always bless you,

and keep you in their care.

And may the heaven's angels

light a Christmas star,
to shine on you all year through. . .
no matter where you are."

karen angel

I call it my "Karen Angel" and she hangs year 'round in my kitchen on the cabinet knob, right over my oven.  
When I am baking, I know she is here with me.

After Karen passed, Hallmark aired a movie, based on a book, called "The Christmas Shoes." I am not sure if you have ever heard of it? But that was a tough one to watch for me.  It is an honest to goodness tear jerker of a movie with a very nice message about a little boy that loses his Mom at Christmas.  

Every year when I am baking, I listen to Christmas music, and they play the song from the movie.
It brings me to tears every time.

This is the song from the movie, by a band called Newsong. I found this clip on youtube, and if you watch/listen it even has the ending scene from the movie.

I know that Karen is in a better place, but she is sure missed here.

I am sharing with you now, her recipe for Gingerbread cookies.  I don't know where she got it, so I can't give credit to whoever wrote it, and I am sorry for that.  But to us, this is Karen's Gingerbread.

Karen's Gingerbread Cookies

Ingredients you will need

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, softened
3 T molasses
1 egg
2 T water or milk
3 1/4 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cloves
Sugar or icing

Combine 1 1/2 cups sugar, butter and
molasses; beat until light and fluffy.  Add egg and water; blend well.  Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off.  Add flour and all remaining ingredients, except additional sugar or icing; mix well to form a smooth dough.  Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate one hour for easier handling.

Heat oven to 350*.  Roll portions of dough into medium sized balls, roll in sugar (if you want them sugar coated) or leave plain if you plan to ice them.  (Keep remaining dough refrigerated.)  Place on cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes or until set.  Immediately
remove from cookie sheets.  Ice when cool.  

These cookies can also be rolled into gingerbread shapes if desired on a floured surface.  Bake 9-11 on 350. 
These freeze very well.

the alco dress

This is one of my favorite pictures of Karen.  We had gone to a wedding in Manhattan, Kansas, and Karen had hand sewn a dress to wear to the event. 
 When we got there, she realized the dress was laying on her bed back at home. 
The only place to shop in a pinch was Alco.  That is where she found this sweet little number.  
I think she looks great!! 
We sure laughed about this.

Mommas and Daddys, squeeze your babies tight.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Grandma Davis' Sugar Cookies

Grandma Davis' Sugar Cookies

Grandma Davis isn't even my Grandma, but her sugar cookie recipe is the one I make every year.

You have heard me mention my friend, Tonja, before.  Grandma Davis is her Grandma.

These cookies are always SO GOOD. 

If you like soft chewy frosted sugar cookie cut outs, these are for you!

I add a touch of almond extract to my store bought vanilla frosting

Grandma Davis' Sugar Cookies

3/4 cup shortening or butter (I usually use butter flavored Crisco)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt

Cream together shortening and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla, combine. Add the flour, salt and baking soda, mix well, form into a ball, cover and chill over night.

Roll onto a floured surface and cut with cookie cutters.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 7 minutes.  
WATCH CLOSELY for them to be soft, you can't let them brown.

Frost with powdered sugar icing.  

Or... you can cheat like me.  By plain classic white frosting in a can. Zap it in the microwave for a few seconds, and drizzle on your cookies.

Santa will be SURE to leave you somethin' Good!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Candy Coated Crispix Snack Mix ---- Plus a Fun way to decorate a Pringle Can for your Cookie Exchanges

Crispix Mix

WARNING: This post contains a very addicting snack mix.  If you are someone who doesn't have a lot of will power, (like ME!) and love sweet and salty snacks, you might want to stop reading....

But seriously folks, this stuff is SO good and SO addicting!!

 I make two ice cream buckets full of it every Christmas.  

I love to put it in the middle of my cookie/candy trays.

It's great to grab a bag of it or a cute baking tin and take to parties.  

(or to give to your neighbor that loaned you corn syrup when you ran out 
and you were baking in your PJ's!!)

The best thing, you can jazz it up however you want.

crispix snack mix

Crispix Snack Mix

2 c. brown sugar
1 cup butter
1/2 cup lite corn syrup
17 ounces of Crispix Cereal
1 pound of M&M's
2 cups salted Dry roasted peanuts
1/2 t salt
1 t baking soda

In a large bowl, empty the cereal and the peanuts.

In a saucepan on the stove melt the butter, sugar, syrup and salt.  Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes stirring constantly.  Add the baking soda, stir, ingredients will foam and become frothy.

Pour mixture over the cereal and peanuts.  Mix quickly but carefully.  You don't want to smash all of the cereal.  Spread onto a cookie sheet lined with non-stick foil or sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

Bake at 200 degrees for one hour, turning mix over every 15 minutes.

When mix has cooled, add the M&M's.

I usually use dark chocolate ones, because those are my favorite.  But this time, I used pretzel ones and dark chocolate.

I decided to make this for my annual  holiday cookie/candy exchange.

ready to exchange!

I found this cute idea on Pinterest to cover Pringles cans in scrapbook paper.

(my kids have been eating A LOT of Pringles over the last few months!!)

Didn't they turn out cute??

I doubled this recipe above and it more than filled 10 Pringles cans.

look out...this stuff is GOOD!!

I took a 12 x 12 piece of holiday scrapbook paper, and trimmed it down to size to fit a Pringle can.  I added some quick drying scrapbook glue around the edges and wrapped the clean Pringle can. 

I attached these recipes with the picture of the mix to each can

 I adhered the recipe I made for my Crispix mix, it was backed with an actual picture of the mix itself.

I decorated each one with a coordinating bow, and each of them looks different.

So excited for the exchange this week! 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Almond Raspberry Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies

almond raspberry shortbread thumbprints

These are a favorite every year on my cookie platters!

Years ago, when my oldest son was in Pre-School, I made friends with a mom of one of the other students, her name was Andi.  Andi used to host these amazing tea parties at her home.  Her house was all Victorian decorated and she had the most intricate tea sets!   These tea parties have always been a cherished memory of mine.

One tea party she made these cookies, and they were to DIE FOR.

I have made them for Christmas every year since.  I also make them at Valentine's Day.

They are like little mini pastries.

I baked a batch a couple of weeks ago when I was in a baking frenzy. My husband came home for lunch when I was in the midst of baking, and I put them in the oven while we chatted.  When I took them out, they looked like THIS....


This is what happens when you get to chatting and forget the flour!! We all have our days, don't we??

When done right, they look like these below.

You won't be sorry you added these to your baking this year!


I misplaced her recipe for a couple of years, and searched for it on Google.  

Come to find out the recipe was on Kraft Recipes as well as All!

Here it is!

Almond Raspberry Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies

2/3 cup sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups flour
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam


1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 T milk

Combine sugar and butter until creamy.  Add almond extract and flour and mix until smooth.

With a cookie 1 teaspoon sized cookie scoop, form balls. make a well into the center with your finger.  I actually use a small measuring spoon or my index finger to poke a hole. (Be careful to mend any cracks, or the jam will bubble out the side.) Spoon jam into centers.

here they are filled and ready to go into the oven.

They are not teeny tiny thumbprints!

Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes, or until edges begin to brown slightly. 

Leave on cookie sheet for a couple minutes.  Remove and cool for about 10 minutes more.  While they are cooling, mix up the glaze.  Drizzle over the warm cookies, glaze will set like a glazed doughnut.

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen

So yummy!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

My Great Aunt Vern's Sugar Cookies

my great-aunt vern's sugar cookies

When I was growing up these were the only sugar cookie that I knew existed!

It wasn't until I got out in this big wide world of ours, did I know that people even FROSTED sugar cookies?!?

Hey, don't laugh.

We had 3 TV channels, 4 if you count PBS that came in fuzzy.... but we watched Electric Company anyway!

But that's another story. 

Most Christmases we cut these out with cookie cutters.  My Mom waited until Christmas break, so that my brother and I could help.

We colored our own sugar with food coloring and sprinkled them before we baked them.  If we were feeling crazy, we might add a "red hot" or two!

These days, my mom makes them just plain 'ol round cookies, and I am pretty sure she still colors her own sugar.  Who needs those silly sprinkles anyway?

(shhhhh....don't tell her.... I have an entire DRAWER full of sprinkles!!
 It's an addiction...kinda like shoes and lip gloss.)

She sprinkles them with red and green sugar, and she makes them for her friends and for her twin sister, and for my brother and I. 

She gave me mine Tuesday night.

(again....shhhhh .... my kids don't know that they are here.)

Is that wrong that I hide them from my children??

Well, I am not TOTALLY mean, I will share SOME of them.  But if I put that tin out on my counter, it'll be like the Cookie Monster said "Hey look over there! It's Snuffalupagus!" and by the time I looked back ALL of them would be gone.

Homemade sugar and all.

(and yes...busted...I watched Sesame Street, too)

So, I am going to share these delightful little bites with you, my virtual friends.

If you are a tea drinker...I highly recommend you brew yourself a pot when you sit down to eat all of these at once.  errr... I mean...have a cookie.

If you like those chewy cookies with the icing...well, I have a recipe for you, too...coming in the next day or so.  

But in the meanwhile, these are crisp and flaky and just plain MELT in your mouth delicious!!

Great Aunt Vern's Sugar Cookies
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup vegetable oil
5 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cream of tartar

Preheat over to 375.
Cream the first 5 ingredients together. Stir the next 5 ingredients together and fold into the butter mixture and stir to combine.  Form dough into small balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Dip the bottom of a glass in sugar and press cookies to flatten.
Sprinkle with colored sugar and bake for 10-12 minutes.

Makes approximately 10 dozen cookies.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

It's National Cupcake Day!!

So....Did you hear?!?

 I heard on the radio that TODAY is National Cupcake Day!! 

Don't cha just love cuppie cakes?!?!

Ironically, I made cupcakes this morning!

Haven't taken any pictures of them yet... but they will be coming.

I figured I would put all of my little yummy cupcakes in one spot for you to check out on this
 very SPECIAL day!!

The first one is where I got my pink cupcake profile picture, that has just sort of stuck!

Next we have one of my favorites!! I made these in honor of my most favorite Starbucks treat they they no longer make. It was a Chocolate Orange Latte.

I also made these lil cuties in jars for some of my besties! 

double chocolate orange cupcakes in a jar

Then look at these little cuties!!

So good... you'll want S'More!

Then...drum roll please....

Out of all of the cupcakes I have made these little darlings have been the biggest hit!

So, to tease you a little, I have what every girl needs, just sitting on my counter. 

Dark chocolate cupcakes with Tiffany Blue buttercream, adorned with silver jimmies and pearls. 

Ah.... bliss!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Homemade Sugar Scrubs - Great Holiday Gift

Sugar scrubs seem to be all the rage this year!

I have seen lots of posts, and hopefully you don't find this one "redundant," but I made some, too!

peppermint sugar scrub

My kids' school actually really does us and the teachers a favor by doing gift certificates for all of the staff.  
In early December we send in a donation, and they divvy it out.

It's a lifesaver.  

I usually try to make something homemade for them, and we buy them a book or two for their classrooms.

This year it sugar scrub!

these are the ones I did for their teachers

A month or so ago, my daughter Josie and I decided to make some.  
I made one for my friend, Lori, for her birthday.  
She had given me some sweet orange essential oil a while back for in my bubble bathes.

I knew she liked it, so I decided to make her a sweet orange sugar scrub.

(Wish I would have taken a picture of it!)

She loved it, and asked me for the recipe.

This one is for you, Lori!! 

(and all of you others who want something for dry skin this winter!!)

*** You can find Vitamin E Oil and Essential oils at Whole Foods, vitamin or nutrition stores! ***

Basic Sugar Scrub Recipe

1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vitamin E Oil
1 1/2 teaspoon essential oil / or scented extract

Blend together in a bowl until oil is absorbed into sugar.

This is a basic recipe, I have just played with it for the different scents. 

brown sugar vanilla sugar scrub

This one smells so good!!  

Brown Sugar Vanilla Sugar Scrub

1/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vitamin E Oil
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla

Blend together in a bowl until oil is absorbed into sugar.

top view of teacher gifts

You can use leftover jars, jelly jars or find something cute like the ones above at your local craft store for around a $1.00

Word to the wise...DO NOT use garlic jars.  They may smell clean...but trust me, they will smell like garlic, so unless you're into Garlic Sugar Scrub, or you need to keep vampires away or something, I wouldn't recommend it!

I used ribbon, and scrapbook paper, Modge Podge, some fun "snowball looking" sprigs, and made tags on my computer.  Just use your imagination! 

Peppermint Sugar Scrub

1 cup white sugar
2 regular sized candy canes (crushed finely)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vitamin E Oil
1 1/2 teaspoon peppermint oil

Blend together in a bowl until oil in absorbed into sugar.

peppermint scrub --- I modge podged a reindeer scrapbook sticker on the front

bubblegum sugar scrub

Bubblegum sugar scrub was inspired by my beloved Bubble Gum Cupcakes!

This scrub smells SO DARN GOOD!!  

Bubble Gum Sugar Scrub

1cup white sugar
pink sugar crystals
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vitamin E Oil
1 teaspoon bubblegum extract

Blend together in a bowl until oil is absorbed into sugar. Add pink sugar crystals to "pink up" the scrub.

There ya go!! Easy, fun, economical and useful gifts.

I have made all kinds of them.... 
I can't wait to give them to the teachers,  some friends, my mail lady ... and a few others!

Cheers to smooth scrubbed tootsies this winter!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bake Along Challenge: Caramel, Toffee and Pecan Fudge

caramel toffee pecan fudge

My third bake along challenge was for caramel, toffee & pecan fudge.  

A little shout out to Danielle over at Hugs & Cookies XOXO for helping me with my holiday baking!!

Woo Hoo!!!

This is a very soft and moist fudge.  If you love white chocolate, this one is FOR YOU!  

I am attaching the recipe the way it was emailed to me. 

Thank you for looking!

Caramel, Toffee and Pecan Fudge

·  3 cups NESTLE white chocolate chips (I like to use Nestle)
·  1 can sweetened condensed milk
·  7 OUNCES Kraft's Caramels (1/2 BAG), melted in microwave with a 1T. heavy cream
·  1/2 cup, coarsely chopped pecans (Toast them in the oven 350 for a couple of minutes!!! Made a huge taste difference)
·  1/3 cup toffee bits (i used two Heath bars chopped)
1. In a medium saucepan, mix together the white chocolate chips and the sweetened condensed milk over low heat. Stir until melted and smooth. 

2. Pour into a 9x9 dish lined with nonstick foil.

3. Pour the melted caramel over the fudge and use a knife or spatula to marble throughout the fudge.  Scoop some of the fudge from the bottom on top of the caramel so it's mixed well from top to bottom.

4. Add chopped pecans and toffee bits. I swirled them through just a drop.

5. Chill for at least an hour. Cut into squares and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from something swanky

Recipe Challenge from Hugs & Cookies XOXO

Candy Bar Fudge

candy bar fudge, made with Snickers

I make this fudge EVERY year at Christmas.  

Yesterday was no different.  It just so happened that it ended up being the "light at the end of the tunnel" for my little guy yesterday afternoon.

I have been trying to get my kids in for flu shots for weeks.  It's hard to get 4 kids and myself to the doctor all at once without missing school. Then every time I had it scheduled, someone came home from school or stayed home sick.  Yesterday I said that's it! Today is the day!

I texted my two high schoolers and told them to meet me at the doctor's office after school.  I picked up my two 9 year olds and headed over.  
My youngest son asked why we were turning and I said that we were getting our flu shots.  


He is NOT a fan of shots (who is really?) But even more so... 

So, I did what Mom's do best in awkward situations, I changed the subject.

Asked them about their day, and told them about what I had baked.

When I said fudge, his eyes lit up and exclaimed "FUDGE?!? The one with the Snickers in it??"

That very one... 

Thank goodness.  It was what pulled him through! 

This fudge is so darn easy!! It literally has 3 ingredients.

candy bar fudge

Candy Bar Fudge

1 can Chocolate Frosting 
( I use chocolate fudge, but Milk chocolate works great, too)

1 bag of chocolate chips 
(I use semi-sweet, but use milk chocolate if you use the milk chocolate frosting)

3 regular sized Snickers candy bars 
( or about 7 minis) 

Line an 8x8 pan with foil. Spray with non-stick spray. 
(or use non-stick foil...that stuff is THE BOMB.)

Chop candy bars, reserving about 1/4 cup.

Melt chips over low heat in saucepan.
hen melted add the frosting and stir until smooth.
 Add chopped candy bars, stir. 

Spread into prepared pan.
Top with reserved candy bars, and chill for at least one hour.

Cut into squares with warm knife.

Makes 36 squares.

I have also made this with Butterfingers.  The Snickers is the hit at my house. You could use about any candy bar I would think? I bet if you were an Almond Joy fan that would be awesome!