Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Holiday Goodies

I haven't posted in F-O-R-E-V-E-R! I feel bad about neglecting my poor blog, but this month has been crazy busy! I hope you all enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving. This year, we went to my parents and spent the day with them. We're blessed to live less than 10 minutes away from them, my grandparents and my in-laws. We enjoyed turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, apple pie, pumpkin pie, green beans, rolls, sweet potato biscuits and more! I was asked to bring the canned items, so that was really nice and therefore didn't have to worry about cooking or baking anything. I must admit, sometimes.......that feels really good! :) I love to bake and cook, but's just nice when you don't need to. :)

We got to go out on Black Friday, which was a lot of fun! It has been a tradition that we started last year for our first married holidays together and we really enjoy it. We don't go out very early, but we still find lots of great deals! On Saturday, we made a quick one day trip to PA for a friend's wedding - call us crazy, but we did the whole trip to and from in one day! :)

Anyway, we now have all our Christmas decorations up and of course, that puts me in the mood for baking! I must admit that because I could and because I wanted to - I spent more than $150 on groceries this month. I bought a bunch of baking ingredients this shopping trip - you know, they kind of things you only get once or twice a year. :) I'm having two parties at our house this month and a piano recital, so I had to get stuff for those things as well.

My totally monthly purchase came to about $230 - yes, I was shocked when I saw the amount, especially since I NEVER see that amount each month for food! You should of seen my husband's face when I told him how much I spent - but of course, it's all for 1 month of groceries and I didn't waste the money. I did buy a few extra things since they were on sale and I could freeze them, which means that I didn't really spent that amount of money for just "this month".

My entire shopping trip (which including running a few errands in that time frame) consisted of 4 hours. Being pregnant also doesn't help when you want to rush through the store, because it seems like every isle you turn to go down there is some friendly stranger that wants to ask you the typical questions like: "Baby? Boy or girl? When are you due?" and then proceed to say congratulations, or go on about how many children they had, etc. I honestly wasn't in a big hurry, so it didn't really bother me to have short little chit-chats with other friendly shoppers.

Oh yes, one more thing before I post my recipes. *GRIN* You would think I would of learned some things by now - like how to word questions when shopping when you need help finding certain items. :)

Let the story begin.......

You see, Apple Date Muffins are on my list of things to make this month and I had two problems.

I was out of apples.
2. I didn't have enough dates.

And therefore I put those two items on my grocery list. I began walking into the store and checked my purse to make sure I had my list handy. I grabbed a cart and began shopping. I made my way through the produce section and picked up some baking apples and some other delicious tasting apples, which we eat when we're out hunting. I continued on my merry way grabbing this and that as I passed the items I needed to buy. Finally, I had just a few more items to get left on my long grocery list. I quickly found the remaining items and put them in my cart ---all except the dried dates. I looked several places, but obviously I hadn't looked in the right place or else I would of found them. So, what is the logical thing to do when you can't find something??? You either: Ask someone for help or you decide that you don't really need the item.

Being the friendly person whose not shy of asking for help in finding items that I need, finally found an older man stocking shelves and asked if he knew where I could find dates. Of course, that is NOT the correct way to ask that question - especially when you want dried dates and not human dates, but I figured that once it's out of the mouth it's kind of hard to take all the words back and reword it. I could see the sides of the mans mouth twitch as he tried hard to hold back a smile. He told me where he thought I might be able to find the dried dates and then proceeded to tell me that if I wait long enough.....I could find some other kind of dates too. :) I laughed and thanked him as I made my way back over to where he thought they were located. They weren't there, so I proceeded to make my way up to another man who was working nearby and asked him (properly of course) if he knew where I could find dried dates and he thankfully pointed me in the right direction. I grabbed the package of dates off the shelve and hurried to the checkout line, thankful that my shopping trip was over and I was finally on my way home! :)

Monday, I spent my day shopping and Tuesday I spent 10 1/2 hours in the kitchen baking!

Here is what I made:

*Donuts, which ended up burning a little bit - it's not an easy 1 person job. *
Sorry, no recipe for this one, but here are some pictures:

*2 Cranberry Cream Cheese Breads - totally a keeper! Love this recipe!*


8 oz. cream cheese

1 c. butter

1 1/2 c. sugar

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

4 eggs

2 1/4 c. flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

2 c. whole cranberries

1/2 c. chopped walnuts

1) Rinse & drain cranberries.

2) Blend cream cheese, butter, sugar, vanilla & eggs - beat until creamy.

(Hint: I put the cream cheese and butter in the microwave for 30 seconds or so to make them soft enough to mix.)

3) Add 2 c. of the flower and the baking soda and beat well.

4) Combine the other 1/4 c. of flour with the cranberries, fold them and the walnuts into the batter.

5) Grease 2 large loaf pans and bake at 325 for 50 minutes or until center is done.


*Cookie Dough Truffles - a traditional Christmas special that I make every year. *

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1-1/2 pounds dark chocolate candy coating, coarsely chopped
In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Gradually add flour, alternately with milk, beating well after each addition. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.
Shape into 1-in. balls; place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Loosely cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or until firm.
In a microwave, melt candy coating; stir until smooth. Dip balls in coating; allow excess to drip off. Place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. If desired, remelt remaining candy coating and drizzle over candies. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: 5-1/2 dozen.


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