Category Archives: Holiday

Christmas Snowball Cookies

rtt2Author: Cassie Stevens

Snowball Cookies! They are also known as Mexican wedding cakes (or cookies) and butterballs; however, they are perhaps most commonly called snowball cookies for their powdery white spherical appearance and for appearing around the winter holidays.

SAM_2731Whatever you know them as, these cookies are a tasty holiday treat.  I love making cookies around the holidays. Christmas is such a busy time of the year. Making homemade keepsake ornaments. Finding and decorating your Christmas tree. Hanging all your holiday decorations. Making homemade personalized gifts.  Cooking and baking special holiday treats. Writing and sending Christmas cards, and everything else I didn’t mention. Yes, this time of year is a busy time indeed. Even so, I always will find time to sit down and enjoy a few cookies with a hot cup of coffee or a cold tall glass of milk.

cmA wonderfully nutty and sweet little cookie. These cookies are very easy and simple to make, and simply scream the holidays. They also make wonderful gifts for anyone.  Made with only five ingredients. I start by setting out 2 sticks of salted butter to soften about a half an hour before I am ready to start. Then mix 2 cups flour and 1 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts) and set aside. Then grind 1 cup walnuts in your food processor until finely ground and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar then add vanilla extract and the other dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

SAM_2687Preheat your oven to 325 F. Once all the ingredients are well mixed grab your cookie scoop. Scoop and roll each cookie and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. These cookies wont melt much so you can place them fairly close together. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the bottoms are lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack for about 30 minutes.  Once cooled roll in powdered sugar and place in fridge to finish cooling about ten minutes.  Roll them in powdered sugar again and keep on counter top as long as they will last, they go fast. Or, box them up in a few tins and send them out as gifts.

SAM_2737Ingredients;

2 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

2 cups nuts

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup butter (softened)

1/2 tsp salt

 

Process: Preheat oven to 325 F. Soften 2 sticks butter. place flour and half of the walnuts in a large mixing bowl. Place the other half of the walnuts in a food processor and grind until fine and add to large mixing bowl. Cream butter and sugar together until white and add to mixing bowl. add vanilla and salt then mix well. batter will be stiff. Scoop with a cookie scoop and roll into a ball with your hands. Place on a parchment lined baking pan and bake for around 20 minutes or until lightly browned on the bottom. Cool on a wire rack for 30  minutes. Place in the fridge for 10 minutes to cool.  Roll in powdered sugar again and keep on your counter.

 

Happy Holiday’s and Merry Christmas Everyone!

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Homemade 4th of July Sprinkles

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Author: Cassie Stevens

Sprinkles can get very expensive, especially if you are a big baker like me. I love a confetti cake, or Ice Cream, or sugar cookies with sprinkles! Whatever you like to put sprinkles on here is a easy recipe to cut some of your costs on the fun-fetti sprinkles. You can make any color! You can even make dots if you want (very time consuming). I went with the traditional long skinny sprinkle.

3 cups powdered sugar

3 Tbsp Corn syrup

dab of milk

Mix together, add more corn syrup (or a little milk if you like) if it is too thick.  I like a thicker icing consistency (it makes the dry time faster). I then divide it up. In this case I divided it into three separate bowls. Then colored the ones I wanted with food coloring ( I recommend using the gel food coloring).  Once they are all colored put them each into a piping bag. no tips needed just cut the tip of the bag to make a thin skinny line.

SAM_1567 SAM_1568 SAM_1569I let them dry out over night. Then cut them up and Viola! Homemade sprinkles….

An Easter Story & Treats

Author: Cassie Stevens

I know I’m a little late posting my about my Easter. But with the beginning of every month comes the paying the  bills, running errands and all the other responsibilities that go with that. I hope everyone had a wonderful and memorable Easter.  I know we did.  We almost missed the Easter bunny (funny story).  I looked up on-line when my town was doing their Easter egg hunt this year, and I found out that it was at the county courthouse on the front lawn. The posting I found said March 30, 2013 at  one o’clock for the Easter egg hunt ages 0-12 and the Easter bunny would be there to take pictures for only three dollars.  I was thrilled. I wrote it on the calendar so I wouldn’t forget.  I had already got my one year old an Easter dress, we just needed to find the right shoes to go with her outfit. I went to three different stores and drove all around town before we found the right ones. OK set, ready for the Easter bunny pictures tomorrow.

So Saturday comes and we get ready to go, get all loaded in the car, head on out to the courthouse.  When we get there it’s a ghost town. Nobody is around. I was a little early but I expected a few people to be there already. I had seen a sign in one of the overflow parking lots that said “temporary courthouse parking”.  So then I thought I missed it.  I was so mad. SO MAD! I went through all that trouble for the stupid Easter bunny pictures and got nothing for it. My daughter is too young to know any different, but if she wasn’t… oh would I have a mess on my hands. So I decided to go to the police station just around the corner and ask them they would know what’s going on for sure.  I got there and rang the clerk on duty. She told me that there were three today; one was at 10:30 and another was at 11:00 and the last was at 1:00 but it was in the next town over which was about an hour drive from us.  So again, I left disappointed and upset that I wasn’t more on top of these kind of things.  I should have called to make sure where they were the day before. I shouldn’t have trusted a stupid posting on some web site I knew nothing about. Live and learn.  So I decided to go about my business and get a few items I needed for Easter dinner on Sunday.

On the way to the grocery store I decided I wasn’t going to let the day go totally to waste. After all my daughter looked so gorgeous in her Easter  dress. I decided to take a few pictures of her in front of some really pretty flowers. Just get some good pictures of her in her outfit, and I knew just the place.  I went to the Christmas place (were it’s Christmas all year round). I knew they had some really pretty flowers and backdrops we could photograph and take some great Easter pictures. So we walked around for a bit snapping photos and just having fun in the sun.

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I looked across the street and saw The Inn at The Christmas Place, which is a hotel were it is Christmas all the time. Well, I saw that there was a beautiful waterfall and some ducks and more pretty flowers on the other side of the street. So we loaded up  in the car and drove across the street to take more pictures.  As we were driving past, I noticed Easter eggs all over the front lawn and the side lawn.

Then, I noticed a very small sign that read “Easter egg hunt”.  I thought for a second, we were in luck. So we went to investigate. We took the long way around so we could play with the eggs first. We went around the side lawn and got to snap a few pictures all by ourselves picking up Easter eggs (which we put back) and just having a good ol’ time.

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As we made our way around the front of the hotel, I saw even more egg hunt sites that were sectioned off for different age groups. I asked the manager I saw walking around about the Easter egg hunt.  She told me the Easter egg hunt was at four o’clock (it was three) and it was for the guests of the hotel only and I would have to go to the front desk to get a voucher. She had also mentioned the Easter Bunny would be there to take pictures until about four thirty or so.

YAY!!! I finally found him! I was so excited I was going to wait around for him and take a few more pictures while we waited.  I turned on my camera and it shut off. I turned it back on and it said insufficient battery and shut itself back off.  NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! My battery is dead. I was going to get my pictures if it was going to kill me! Especially since I had the opportunity to do so.  I got us loaded back into the car and raced home (I only lived about ten minutes away).  Charged my camera for about thirty minutes and rushed back. I made it back right at four o’clock. When I am determined I will get it done and on time. We got back there, snapped a few pictures (as quick as we could before she started to cry) and success! I got pictures of my daughter with the Easter bunny. I was happy. Whew!! what a day! Time to go home and get ready for Easter dinner.

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Now for the treats:

I have seen a few ideas on-line for some awesome Easter treats ideas. I liked a few and wanted to try them out on my Family this year and see what the kids thought.

I found a cute idea for deviled Easter eggs that look like chicks from this site

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I found cute Easter Egg Basket cupcakes from this site

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Plus I made a few of my own.  I also made a cake with the leftover cupcake batter. All the icing is homemade.

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I hope you had as much fun as we did! Happy Easter! looking forward to doing it again next year!

April Fools Fun!

Author: Veronica Hilliard

For April 1st, April Fools Day, I wanted to make sure to do something tricky, but nice, to my family. Too often April Fools is some excuse for people to do mean and nasty things to each other. I really dislike that side of it. But it’s also a way to have some fun with your family and I am ALL about that! I found a few ideas online about switching dinner for dessert so what’s better than cupcakes for dessert and dessert first?!

Gotcha! My cupcakes were meatloaf with mashed potato frosting! I wanted to make sure I packed these full of veggies so that I wouldn’t ruin the moment with a big piece of broccoli next to it or something. It didn’t make them look yummy but they sure tasted spectacular!

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Meatloaf Recipe:

1 small onion (chopped)

1 bell pepper (chopped)

1 – 2 carrots (shredded)

1 lb ground beef

1/2 to 1 cup bread crumbs

1 egg

A big squirt of ketchup

Sautee onion, pepper, and carrots until soft. Add to ground beef and bread crumbs. Add egg and mix. Squirt a bunch of ketchup in there until it’s well moistened. Fill muffin cups with the mixture and bake about 15 to 20 minutes at 375 degrees F.

The “frosting” is instant mashed potatoes with a few drops of food coloring. I rarely use instant mashed but it was really perfect for the smooth look of the “frosting.”

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Pretty, huh?

 

And for dinner, same thing, right? Wrong…

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For “dinner” we had chocolate rice krispy treat meatloaf, ice cream mashed potatoes with caramel gravy and a Starburst candy butter pat, and cut up Starburst for carrots and corn. Tricky mommy!

We had so much fun fooling my oldest (3.5 years old). Did you play any clever (nice) tricks?

Easter Bread Baskets – (Photo Heavy)

 Author: Veronica Hilliard
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In the past year I have been trying to become a better baker. Something Cassie is already really good at! And getting good at making breads has been a personal goal for me. Not long ago I was browsing Pinterest (read “wasting time”) and found this post from The Italian Dish. Oh, her food photography is to die for! Anyway, I’ve kept it in the back of my mind for Easter and, surprise! I remembered to do it! Our family is young so we’re still starting some family traditions. I think this will be one that sticks with us year after year.

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Kneading

I didn’t proof my yeast. I use it all the time so I know it works. And with modern packaging and collection methods, fresh yeast is unlikely to fail. I just threw it in with everything but instead of rapid rise like the recipe said, I used my active dry yeast that I buy in bulk and keep in a glass jar in the fridge.

I got everything mixed together and then begged my hubby to take this totally posed picture. He laughed at me but obliged. I almost scrapped it, but I’m trying to be better about accepting myself and letting my daughters see me in front of the camera, loving myself despite my perceived flaws. So there I am! Posed and proud.

One thing my mom taught me about bread is that you just keep putting flour in until “the dough won’t take any more.” This recipe called for approximately 3.5 cups of flour. Mine “took” 2 additional cups for a total of about 5.5 cups of flour! You just learn to let the dough talk to you. It’ll tell you how much it needs.

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Then you put it in a greased bowl and cover it. This is when I love having my Misto*. Fill that baby up with oil of any flavor, give it a few pumps, and you have an oil mister with zero chemicals. Love it. Mine always has extra virgin olive oil in it. And I notice that I use way less oil this way.

Cover, and let the dough rise for an hour.

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After The first rise. Look at that beauty!

 
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I cut my dough into 8 pieces though it called for 12. And I probably should have tried to do 12 because my bread baskets turned out a little bigger than you’d want to eat at one sitting.


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Twist the dough into braids. Tip: Let it sit for a minute so that the dough is workable. It has something to do with the gluten resting or something.

 
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Then you make these pretty little baskets and let them rise, covered with a dish towel for another hour.   

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There’s nothing like a beautiful egg wash on bread. Make sure you have some fun sprinkles on hand! Then place a dyed RAW Easter egg in the middle of each basket. Be careful with the raw eggs, my hubby accidentally tried to crack and eat one thinking it was a hard boiled egg before I got a chance to use it. Oops! It made it to the egg wash.

Sharing Time: I am a Mormon.

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Yes, we do celebrate Easter. We celebrate the Savior’s life and ministry everyday, but especially on Easter. This special time in the kitchen with my oldest daughter made an excellent object lesson for a discussion about the Savior. We talked about how after the Savior suffered and died for our sins, his body was placed in the tomb and then a big rock was rolled in front of the door. We put some sprinkles in the hole and then put the egg over the “door”.  Then, when we removed the egg after it was baked, the sprinkles were gone! Just like Jesus’ body was gone. His friends were very sad. But he came visit his friends with a perfect body and showed them that he had been resurrected (come back to life!) to live forever with our Heavenly Father. And we can have that as a promise to us that if we make good choices and try to be good people like Jesus was. Just like the sprinkles make us happy and are sweet, Heavenly Father’s and Jesus’ promise to us that we can live with them again makes us happy and is sweet. 

100_4030Bake at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes.

 
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Aren’t they beautiful and festive?!


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These taste SO yummy. They are lightly sweet and were a major hit here. Will they grace your Easter table next year?

Recipe can be found HERE.

 
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I also made some naturally dyed eggs the day before when I made our dinner. The blue is made with purple cabbage. Yeah, it turns BLUE! And the yellow is made with turmeric. I wish I’d had some beets for red and some onion skins for a rich brown but I forgot to buy beets and onions were too expensive in our tiny local grocery store. Nothing was wasted. After dying my eggs I made my daughter’s favorite, sauteed purple cabbage, rice, and teriyaki chicken, flavored with turmeric!

So how did you celebrate this Easter? Did you start any traditions this year?

*I received no compensation for my praise of the Misto. It’s THAT good. 🙂