New Years Appetizers

Hope y'all had a great Christmas!  Ours was wonderful and chaotic!  We spent the holiday at my husbands parents house with all four of his siblings and their families.  There were 21 of us in the four bedroom two bath house... it was so great!

I got to meet my nephew Clive for the first time.  He is so sweet and has the cutest smile, which he shares often.

With New Years around the corner I thought I'd share a few of my appetizers recipes from past posts.  In our house we always have appetizers for New Years Eve.  It's one of my favorite meals to cook.

And for a utensil free dessert try these, you'll be the hit of the party- guaranteed.

And to top it off

Pecan Dreams

Boy howdy, do I love these cookies!  They are so light and buttery, and bite size, and have pecans.  I know they don't look like much, but they are so good!  They really are a dream.  If you make them little and bite size one batch with make a whole bunch of these babies. But you may want to do two batches because they will be snatched up so fast.  Make sure to hide a little jar of them in the broom closet for yourself.  Here's the DL...
1 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup powder sugar, plus more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon water
2 cups flour
1 cup finely chopped pecans
Using electric mixer blend butter until creamy.  Mix in sugar, salt, vanilla and water.  Add flour and mix until smooth.  Mix in pecans.
Cover and chill for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Roll dough into one inch long log shapes.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes.  Let cool completely and dust with powder sugar (make sure they are totally cool before dusting or powder sugar will clump).  Enjoy!

Christmas Card Display

Here is my super cheap and super easy method of displaying all those beautiful Christmas cards we receive.
All I did was grab 3 pieces of ribbon and hung them from some hooks on the wall.  Then I use clothes pins to attach the cards as they come.  It's easy and cheap, and you can see all those great cards.

Classic Shortbread

Oh my, oh my, Christmas is quickly on it's way!   So many cookie recipes to share, so little time!  I thought I'd start out with a good ol' standby, shortbread.  Shortbread is so easy and so stinkin' good.  Who doesn't like shortbread, honestly?!  The great thing about shortbread is that it's good on it's own, or you can dress it up a bit.  Dip it in chocolate, add sprinkles, incorporate some flavor, mix in mini chocolate chips... seriously, endless possibilities.  And they'll all taste good because under it is the wonderful buttery shortbread.  Here's the DL...
1 cup salted butter, softened {if using unsalted butter add 1/4 teaspoon of salt when creaming butter}
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
Using mixer cream butter until smooth.  Add the sugar and beat until creamy.  Add in the vanilla.  With mixer on lowest setting gently stir in the flour, just until incorporated.
Flatten dough into disk shape and wrap up in plastic wrap.  Chill for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and put rack in the middle.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a Silpat.

On a lightly floured surface roll dough out to a 1/4 inch thick.  {I suggest using a marble rolling pin that has been chilled or an ice filled rolling pin.  Keeping the dough cold will aid in rolling it and make it flakier when it bakes.}
Now you can cut shapes using cookie cutters or make strips about 1 inch wide and then cut those strips into rectangles. {Above is the end result for both methods}
Prick each rectangle twice length wise using a fork.
Sprinkle the tops with a little bit of granulated sugar {or color sugar or sprinkles if you'd like}
Place shortbreads on prepared baking sheets and chill for 15 minutes {this firms up the dough so the cookies maintain their shape}.

Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes, depending on size, or until bottom edges start turning golden .  Let cool and enjoy!

You might also like...
Espresso Chocolate Chip Shortbread

Christmas Treats for the Giving

 Oh my goodness, the last two weeks are a blur!  I have been so busy, first with Thanksgiving and now with Christmas preparations   But I do have to say, I am feeling quite prepared for Christmas.  I'm a planner, so feeling ahead of the game is a glorious thing for me.  I have gotten almost all my presents, only two little ones to go.  The house is decorated.  Our Christmas cards arrived yesterday, all I've got to do is stuff them.  Now I have a couple weeks to do one of my favorite things- making homemade treats for friends and family.
I love making homemade gifts for people.  And I always make sure my treats taste good so that folks enjoy getting them.  Cookie boxes make a great gift.  I got some food boxes from the craft store, lined them with wax paper, and divided cookies up using festive cupcake liners.  I topped it off with a holiday cookie cutter, I got a bag of them for a dollar- very affordable.
Here's the box closed up.  Just stuck a little bow on top and stamped it with a stamp I picked up for a dollar.  This stamp has come in so handy over the years, a dollar well spent.
Some of my friends are not married and/or don't have a passel of children like I do.  For them I found these cute wedding favor boxes on clearance.  I filled them up with an individual portion of cookies.
The box looked so cute with a a bow on top.  With a little holiday accent wedding stuff works great at Christmas.
Here's another, super affordable, way to package Christmas cookies.  Using old food containers.  This one was a can of cornstarch at one time.  I just pulled off the label and taped a strip of wrapping paper around it.  A bonus to this is the airtight lid that keeps the cookies very fresh.
If you don't have time to make dozens of cookies yourself why not just send the ingredients.  Cookies in a jar are a great gift because sometimes when folks get too many Christmas cookies they don't get eaten or savored.  This way they can have the cookies whenever they want them.  Plus, they get a jar as part of the gift.  [Click here to get directions on how to make cookies in a jar]
Last year I was not ahead of my game and didn't have time to make all my loved ones cookies.  So I did some homemade hot chocolate gift packs.  They were so much fun to make and easy to do with my kids.  Also, super affordable.  I made hot chocolate packs for families.
And also packs for individuals.  I picked up the cute soup style mug and spoon at the dollar store.  We did this one for my girls' teacher.  I wrapped it in cellophane tied with a cute bow and tag.  [click here for directions and recipe for hot chocolate gift packs]

Here are recipes for all the Christmas cookies I've posted... keep in touch I'll be posting more over the next couple weeks.
Peanut Butter Chocolate
Thumbprint Cookies
Cream Cheese Cookies

Chocolate Mint Cookies
Velvet Cookies
Red Velvet Cookies
Roll Out Cookies

And here are some fun Christmas tags to label all your homemade goodies with.

Thanksgiving Prep

Here are a few yummy recipes to help you get your menu together for the upcoming Thanksgiving feast. [click on the name to get the recipe]

(easier to make than pecan pie and feeds a lot more people)

Vancouver Dip 
(one of my most favorite appetizers)

Pot Roast

Pot roast is one of my family's all time favorite dinners.  They gobble it up and always ask for seconds.  What I love about it is that it requires very little effort from me.  I just throw the ingredients in the crock pot and let it cook all day.  Whip up some mashed potatoes and a veggie and you're good to go.   Here's the skinny...
3-4 pound roast (we use wild game, but a boneless chuck roast is perfect)
1 onion, diced
2 cups water
1/2 cup brown gravy mix
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 tablespoons Worchestershire sauce
Salt & pepper
Place everything  but the roast into a crock pot, stir it well.  Set roast on top and spoon some of the mixture over the top of the roast.  Cook on low for about 8 hours, high for 6 hours or until tender.  Meat should easily pull apart when it is done.  You can pull it in the crock pot, or slice off pieces and pull them on the plate.  Spoon some gravy over the top and enjoy!
[if gravy is not thick enough you can add more gravy mix after removing the meat.  Or pour gravy into a pan and bring to a boil, whisk in 2 tablespoons of corn starch mixed into 1/4 cup cold water.  Keep whisking until you get your desired consistency.]

*You can also do this in the oven.  Follow the same directions in a roasting pan with lid or cover with foil.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 3 1/2 hours.
*I don't care for veggies and potatoes cooked with the meat.  But if you'd like, you can throw in some potatoes, carrots, and/or celery into the crock pot.

Roll Out Cookies

With tomorrow being a holiday, a few more to follow in the next couple months, I thought it would be a good idea to post a basic roll out cookie recipe.  It's always good to have this one on hand for a variety of occasions.  This is my Grandma's cookie recipe and is by far my favorite.  Simple ingredients and so tasty.  Sprinkle the top with some color sugar or sprinkles before you bake, or ice them after you've baked them.  Either way they will be a hit.  Here's the skinny...
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups flour
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cream butter and sugar.  Beat in the egg and vanilla until fluffy.  Add the baking powder and the flour one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition.
Divide dough into two balls.  On a floured surface, roll each ball of dough to about 1/8 inch thick.  Dip cutter in flour before each use.
Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 6-10 minutes, (depending on the size of the cookie) or until bottom edges turn light brown.  Let cool and enjoy!  [makes about 24 medium size cookies]
*do not chill this dough before rolling out.

One Hour Rolls

These are my favorite dinner rolls to make.  They are so easy and they taste amazing.  Way better than the frozen dough kind you buy at the grocery store.  I love rolls fresh out of the oven, but I'm not a huge bread making fan.  However, you can't mess these puppies up too easily.  They are a cinch to make and you don't have to do any kneading.
These rolls come out so soft and flavorful, you'll be hooked.  Make a batch with soup, or your upcoming Thanksgiving dinner.  Here's the DL...
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons butter
3 teaspoons salt
6 3/4 teaspoons dry active yeast (or 3 packages)
1 1/2 cups water
5 cups all-purpose flour
In microwave safe bowl or glass measuring cup stir together milk and sugar.  Add the butter and microwave until butter is melted (usually about 45 seconds-1 minute).  Set aside and cool to lukewarm.
Using a mixer bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water (warm, not hot).  Add the milk mixture to it (make sure milk mixture is not too hot, or it will kill your yeast).  Mix in the salt.
Using the dough hook on low speed, add in the flour one cup at a time.  Mix for about 3 minutes, until dough is forming into a ball and is cleaning the sides of the bowl off.  Dough will still be a little sticky.
Put some oil on your hands and form the dough into a ball.  Put dough back into the bowl and cover with a clean dry dish towel.  Let rise in a warm, draft free spot for 20-25 minutes.
Lightly grease a baking dish.  Roll balls of dough about 2 inches in diameter.  Place the dough balls in the baking dish about 1 1/2 inches apart.  Cover the rolls with a clean dish towel and let it rise in a warm place for 15-20 minutes, or until dough has doubled in size.
Bake rolls in 425 degree oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.  I like to brush the tops with melted butter for the last 1 minute of baking.  Remove from oven and let sit for 3-5 minutes before serving.  Enjoy with butter and homemade jam!  [makes about 24 rolls]

A Little Taste of Fall

I love Fall, I think it's my favorite season.  It's a close tie with Spring.  But I'd rather wear boots and sweaters, and I really like making soup.  So, Fall may win.
It's so amazing when all the green trees begin gently changing into bright beautiful colors.
This is our maple tree in our back yard of our house in town.  It is the only Fall like tree we have.
Here some pretty Aspen trees are peaking up from behind one of our barns.
Is anyone else in love with white pumpkins?!  The past two years there have been more of them around, and I'm digging it.
Going from golden to red, from the top down.
This bush sits outside my kitchen window, I adore it.
A snacking horse made his way into my shot.  Snacking horses don't really care if you're trying to get a great photo of the beautiful fall landscape.  If you're where they want to feed they just mosey right on in.
Here's my family's pumpkins we carved the other night.  The one on the right end is my husbands.  Can you guess what it is?  He claims he was being creative,  I think he was just getting worn out after carving three of our children's pumpkins.
I love how tall this grass is.  I am standing for this shot, the grass was as tall as me, so pretty.
And here's my baby kissing "her" horse.  No one officially gave her the colt.  He was born this summer, and since he's a baby and she's our baby I think she figures it's fitting that the horse be hers.  I'm not going to argue with her, and I would like to see someone try.
Aspen trees are the perfect color scheme: black, white, & yellow... perfect.
And here's our dog Gus adorning some pink ear muffs my baby put on him.  It snowed that day (as you can see behind him, gotta love Montana "Falls"), and she thought he needed to stay warm.  He's such a good dog, he kept them on for thirty minutes before they finally slid to his neck.  Then he slept for an hour with them around his neck.  You can't ask more from a dog than to wear ear muffs that his two year old owner puts on him.
Happy Fall everyone.  Hope you are enjoying all the wonderful colors this season brings.