German Peppernuts

Tonight we went over to a friend’s house to share in their family tradition of making peppernuts. They had made the dough already, and the kids rolled it into snakes. These are tasty little cookies, and even more delicious dipped in apple cider (or whatever hot drink you have handy).

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups dark Karo syrup
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon anise extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 12 1/2 cups flour

Directions

Bring Karo syrup and sugars just to a boil; then add anise, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice (the original directions from our friend’s grandmother say to add the spices one at a time and stir after each spice; not sure why, and there didn’t seem to be any harm done by adding all the spices at once). Stir in shortening and sour cream. Cool mixture enough to add the beaten eggs. Blend well together. Add baking soda and baking powder. Pour the mixture, while still warm, over the flour and stir until well blended.

Chill the dough.

Roll dough on a floured surface into long snakes. Cut snake into thumb-size portions and put onto a cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

 

 

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Caramel Corn

I made this for our church Christmas party and it earned a few rave reviews. The recipe is altered slightly from this one over at allrecipes.com. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • cooking spray
  • two bags popped popcorn
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup butter OR margarine
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Spray large shallow roasting pan with cooking spray. Add popcorn and place in preheated 250 degrees F oven while preparing caramel.
  2. Mix brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt in a heavy 2-quart saucepan. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil over medium heat.
  3. Boil 5 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat. Stir in baking soda and vanilla; mix well.
  4. Pour syrup over warm popcorn, stirring to coat evenly.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven and spread on foil that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
  6. Cool; break apart. Store in tightly covered container.

Fudgy Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

You really can’t go wrong with this recipe. Its decadent goodness makes a special treat for family gatherings and parties. After the bars cool, make sure to let them set up in the refrigerator—this will make cutting easier and it melds the flavors together. Word of warning: you have to share, otherwise you’ll be like me and eat this for breakfast, lunch and dinner until it’s gone and you’ll have to deal with all sorts of fudgy toffee chocolate chippy guilt. Recipe courtesy Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, a fabulous recipe site.

INGREDIENTS

Crust:
  • 2 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
Fudge Layer:
  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 package (12 oz.) semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup toffee bits
Cookie Layer:
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 package (12 oz.) milk chocolate or semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup toffee bits

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a 9X13-inch baking pan with foil and lightly spray with cooking spray. In a small bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs and butter until evenly moistened. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan.
  3. For the fudge, in a microwaveable bowl, mix the sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips and butter. Microwave for one minute at 50% power. Stir. Microwave for another minute and continue stirring and microwaving until the mixture is smooth and melted. Pour the fudge mixture over the crust, spreading evenly. Sprinkle with the toffee bits (1/2 cup).
  4. For the cookie layer, in large mixing bowl with an electric mixer (handheld or stand mixer), beat together the butter, milk, vanilla, and brown sugar. Add the egg and mix. Stir in the flour, salt and baking soda. Stir in the chocolate chips. Dollop this mixture by tabespoonfuls across the fudge layer and spread to form an even layer. Sprinkle with the toffee bits (1/2 cup).
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes until edges are puffed and the top is golden brown. Don’t overbake or the bars will be tough and dry. Pull them out when the top is golden but the cookie dough still looks a bit soft. Cool completely and cut into squares.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

This cake is delicious and sweet—a fun way to use up extra zucchini from your garden! Found at allrecipes.com.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 3 cups grated zucchini
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9×13 inch baking pan.
  • In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Add the eggs and oil, mix well. Fold in the nuts and zucchini until they are evenly distributed. Pour into the prepared pan.
  • Bake for 50 to 60 minutes in the preheated oven, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool cake completely before frosting with your favorite frosting.

**I omitted the walnuts and added chocolate chips… and ended up with half the cake still in my bundt pan. It tasted amazing, but wasn’t quite the presentation I was going for. Next time I’ll grease and flour the pan, and then I’ll coat the chocolate chips in flour before adding them to the batter.

Brownies

These are super easy. I bet you have everything for them in your pantry right now (which makes them free). And they taste at least as good as boxed brownies.Brownies* Truth in advertising disclaimer: the brownie pictured is actually a gluten-free brownie (recipe here) and not at all the brownies from this recipe.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (or some combination of oils and applesauce; part coconut oil is nice, but all coconut oil would be overwhelming)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix all ingredients together.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees in a greased 8×8 pan for 20-25 minutes.

 

Smoky Sweet-Potato Chicken Stoup

I apologize for the word “stoup” again—it’s Rachael Ray’s and not my own! (Personally, I think this qualifies as a soup, but don’t let that stop you from making this one and the other.) This recipe comes from Rachael Ray’s Express Lane Meals.

2 T EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil, twice around the pan)
2 medium carrots, peeled
2 celery ribs
1 large onion, peeled and halved
1 large sweet potato
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 chipotle chili in adobo, finely chopped
salt and black pepper
1/2 t dried thyme (eyeball it)
1 quart + 1 C chicken stock
1 pkg chicken tenders, cut into bite-size pieces
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 c fresh cilantro leaves, a generous handful, coarsely chopped
1/2 c sour cream, for garnish (optional)

Heat a soup pot over medium-high heat with the EVOO. While the oil heats, cut the carrots in half lengthwise, then slice into thin half moons. Add the carrots to the pot, stirring to coat the carrots in the oil. Chop and drop in the celery and onion, chopping them as small as you can, but don’t make yourself crazy.

Peel and then cut the sweet potato into quarters lengthwise, then thinly slice them into bite-size pieces. Add the sweet potatoes, garlic, and chipotle and stir to combine. Season the veggies with salt and pepper, then thyme and the bay leaf. Cook the veggies together for 1 minute. Add the wine to the vegetables and reduce for a minute. Add the stock to the pot, cover the pot, and raise the heat to high.

When the soup boils, remove the cover and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Add the cut-up chicken and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are tender and the chicken is cooked through. Turn the heat off, discard the bay leaf, and stir in the scallions and cilantro. Serve each portion of stoup with a dollop of sour cream on top.

**I omitted the chipotle chili in adobo because I wanted my daughter to eat it and I feared it might be too spicy with the pepper added. Turns out, she did eat it. She even ate the sweet potatoes—score!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

My husband likes these a whole lot. For that reason alone I want to hang on to the recipe.

1 cup butter-flavored shortening
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 t vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2-2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

In a large bowl cream shortening, brown sugar and granulated sugar. Add vanilla, then add eggs and mix thoroughly. Combine the baking soda, salt and flour and stir into creamed mixture. Add oatmeal and chocolate chips and stir until well blended.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, let cool for 2 minutes on pan then remove to cool completely.