Saturday, 29 December 2012

Christmas Arrangements

Well, the hustle and bustle is winding down, but I'm still enjoying the Christmas break and the tree and all the lovely decorations. The dogs are enjoying the snow and I'm happy that now I only have to deal with puddles and not mud.

I was lucky to receive this gorgeous fresh arrangement in Santa's sleigh from a dear friend for a combo birthday/Christmas gift. I forgot to take a photo for TWO weeks and look how well preserved it was. I love fresh flowers and was happy that I was able to enjoy this display for so long.
I can show you this outdoor cone arrangement now since it is happily hanging at my sister-in-laws house. I bought her this cone shaped arrangement from the same gentleman that does my urn arrangement. I loved the container and I hope she does too.
I think that was the last time the sun shone here is Southern Ontario.

I was also able to take in a container that I had purchased a couple years ago and have it refreshed at the same place.
These arrangements last well into the spring. Well worth the investment!

Friday, 28 December 2012

Christmas Tag Swap

I was invited to participate in a tag swap hosted by Rosanne always does such a nice job hosting. She puts a special effort into presenting the food and makes everyone feel comfortable. I particularly liked her grape trees. This was my first attempt to hook up to someone's blog so I hope the link works for you and you check it out.

Here's the tag that I made for the swap. (Did I mention we had to make 18 of each?!?)

I embossed the Kraft cardstock with birds and flowers and did a border along the bottom. I cut a doily and cut many poinsetta pieces using the Nestabilities pointsetta. I inked everything, then crumpled the flowers and the leaves to add a little dimension. I cut and stamped a Christmas ticket and then added a ribbon. I think it turned out pretty well. At least, I wasn't embarassed to pass it around at the swap.

Here's some of the other tags I received. It is so interesting to see what people come up with and so nice to go home with a variety. Is it less work then a cookie swap? Definitely not, but a really nice idea.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Traditional Shortbread

This is my favourite Christmas cookie. I like ALL kinds of shortbread, but this one is the best and has the simplest of ingredients. The recipe comes from a church cookbook "Coffee Hour Favourites" printed in 1982. I say printed not published because I'm pretty sure somebody typed it and then they photocopied the recipes. These are the best recipes. I'm sure they were made many times by the lady who submitted it. This recipe is called Etta Sawyer's Shortbread cookies. I'm pretty sure Etta knew what she was talking about.

Etta Sawyer's Shortbread Cookies

1 lb. unsalted butter
1 cup white sugar
4 cups flour
pinch salt
Mix and refrigerate for 3 hours. Let warm up a bit, knead briefly and roll out to 1/2 inch.
Bake for 20 min at 300F, then turn off oven for 5 minutes. Then remove.

That is the recipe as it was typed. I bake them around 325F (I have a convection oven) and just take them out when they have a very slight tinge of brown around the edges. They freeze really well too. If they last that long.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Packaging Treats

Presentation is everything! That's what our mothers always told us so when I give away my candy and other Christmas goodies, I always like to put them in a cute package. The problem is when you do many for craft sales etc, it's difficult to come up with quick and cost effective solutions. Thank goodness for the Dollar store.
Here's some ideas that I used this past season....

I'm a sucker for anything with a clear display window. Aren't these adorable?

These held a dozen Snickerdoodles quite nicely.

These were perfect for fudge and nuts and bolts or you could use portion cups with snap-on lids for a less costly alternative.

Another quick and easy way to dress up some candy is with a doily folded over the plastic ziploc bag. I would have decorated this up a bit more but I made quite a few for my little Christmas sale so time was a factor.

I love it when my house looks like Santa's workshop but unfortunately I don't have any elves to help with the clean-up. Time to get organized and set up for the wrapping station. Hope you liked my ideas.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Easy Gingerbread cookies

Every year I like to try a couple new recipes even though there would be a mutiny if I didn't make the old favourites. I found this recipe on the Internet and it called for Hershey kisses. Well, who are we kidding? Nobody likes unwrapping those foiled pieces especially when you're in a hurry. I don't even particularly like gingerbread but I have it on good authority, that these little morsels are out of this world! And it's so much easier to pop on a Merken's chocolate wafer. (I used white and dark chocolate) then to use the kisses but it's up to you.

It's worth baking these just to get the fragrance wafting through your house. A soft, chewy gingerbread cookie without all the work of rolling and icing. Try it, you'll like it....

Gingerbread Kiss Cookies
3/4 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

For rolling: 1/4 cup sugar
Mix butter, sugar, molasses. Add egg and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients, then combine with moist.
Roll into small balls and then roll in sugar.
Bake at 350F approx. 10 minutes or until tops crinkle. Immediately press in a chocolate wafer
and wait until completely cooled to store. If you can wait that is.

FOR THOSE PEOPLE WHO DON'T READ through the recipe "Should be
chilled at least one hour before rolling!)

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Sugar Cookie Bars

If you're in a hurry and don't like to roll out sugar cookies, this is the way to go. It's fast and it makes a huge amount so you won't mind sharing. The texture is a little more cake-like and you can ice with as much icing as you like. I think next time I make them, I will add a bit of nutmeg as I like that flavour in my cookies.

Sugar Cookie Bars
1 cup butter
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
5 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. nutmeg (optional)

Frosting: Your favourite buttercream or store bought(shudder)

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each egg. Add vanilla and mix well. Combine dry ingredients in separate bowl and add to wet mixture and mix until just combined. Spread on a greased baking sheet (13 x 18). Bake at 375F for 10 -15 minutes, until light golden brown or until a toothpick comes out clean (they won't look done so do the toothpick test)
I think I may have left mine in a hair too long. They will set up a bit while they cool.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Microwave Peanut Brittle

This recipe is pretty fail-proof. Once you figure out what container to use and have your ingredients ready to go, it's a breeze. Just remember you need to work quickly at the end and wear BIG oven mitts.

Microwave Peanut Brittle

1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 cup salted peanuts
1 tsp. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda

Line a cookie sheet with foil and butter it.
Combine sugar and corn syrup in a 2 quart glass bowl and microwave on high
for 4 min.
Stir in peanuts and microwave another 3 1/2 minutes
Stir in butter and vanilla and microwave another 1 1/2 minutes.
Stir in baking soda and immediately pour onto cookie sheet.
Cool and break into pieces.

Note: My microwave is not very hot so you may have to play with the times but this is the original recipe so it must work quite well with the varying microwave wattages.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Nuts and Bolts

It wouldn't be Christmas without a large roasting pan full of Nuts and Bolts. This recipe came from a neighbour of ours when I was growing up. It's pretty traditional but what I like about it is that it does not leave an aftertaste of garlic and onion. If you like yours a little more seasoned, add more of both.

1 box Shreddies
1 box Cheerios
1 bag of pretzels
2 cups of salted peanuts
1 tsp. onion salt
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. Worchestershire sauce
1/2 cup oil
1 cup butter

Melt butter, add oil and Worchestershire.
Combine onion and garlic salt.
Put in roast pan and pour liquid over gradually. Sprinkle combined salt mixture over cereals.
Bake at 325F for 1 hour stirring every 15 minute. (This may vary depending on your oven. Make sure the cereal is toasted but not burnt)
*In the last 15 minutes, add pretzels and peanuts.

WARNING: This mixture is addictive.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Whipped Shortbread

Soft pillows of buttery perfection! I love Christmas baking. I get to make all my old favourites and give them away. People seem to enjoy receiving a homemade gift and I enjoy making them.
This is a classic, I'm sure you've made it before but in case you haven't here's my tried and true recipe.....

Whipped Shortbread
 1 lb. of butter (softened)
1 cup icing sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
3 cups of flour
1/2 tsp of vanilla extract

Cream butter, sift dry ingredients and then add them along with the vanilla in a electric mixer and beat until the consistency of whipped cream.
Drop by teaspoon onto cookie sheet. May be decorated with sprinkles or red/green cherries.
Bake at 350F for 15 to 20 minutes.
Stores well in covered tin.

Well, I'm off to make some peanut brittle.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Yellow Roses

  Some very good friends came over on Saturday evening after an exceptionally good Christmas Music concert at Benton St. Baptist church featuring a full orchestra and an excellent choir that included my very own Aunt and Uncle in their midst.
I received this beautiful bouquet as a hostess gift. I looked up the meaning of yellow roses even though I already knew what they signify but here's what they said...
The meaning of a yellow rose stands for joy and happiness but most of all yellow roses mean
 true friendship.
I am very blessed to have Kathy and her family as my friends for over 20 years. Thank you for the lovely flowers.

Saturday, 8 December 2012


In all my years of baking, I have never made a Snickerdoodle!  Maybe it's more of an American creation. I've never heard of anyone making them in my circle. Anyway, I'm sorry I waited. These cookies are simple and delicious. As much as I love shortbread, I found using this recipe with shortening makes them just a little different and yummy enough to put on your tray of Christmas goodies. They also send a delightful fragrance of cinnamon and baking to add a festive feeling to your home.

Earlier this week, I got together with my much younger first cousin J, for our Annual baking session. It's always a fun time to get together, share a few laughs and pass down some baking tips to the next generation. I hope we get to do it for many years to come.

The weather has been gloomy here in Southern Ontario so I had to use this picture fresh from the oven. They still look great. Just passed my 5000th pageview and 100th post in 2012. Thanks to my readers. Hope you continue to enjoy my posts.


1 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 large eggs
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

For rolling:
3/4 cup white sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Cream shortening, sugar and eggs. Sift dry ingredients and stir into moist.  Chill dough until firm, at least one hour. Roll dough into small balls and roll in sugar/cinnamon mixture. Bake at 350F for 8 to 10 minutes until cookies are flattened and crinkly.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Christmas Shortbread Squares

The calendar has turned to December and I have started my Christmas baking. I always start with shortbread and then progress to the other items that I prefer to refrigerate rather then freeze. I find so often that you need the items well before actual Christmas day if you want to take them to various events. Every year I swear I will start earlier but it never seems to pan out that way. Regardless, this is one part of Christmas preparations that I particularly enjoy even when I'm pressed for time.

I won't lie, these squares can be a little tricky. They have to be watched carefully in the oven to avoid over-browning and they are very sensitive when you are cutting them. The bottom can get a little crumbly and separate from the topping. I'm going to try a little less flour in the base, next time I make them but these ones turned out pretty well.

It starts with a shortbread base (can't go wrong with that)...

Then you add a topping off sweetened condensed milk, raisins,coconut and cherries (I usually put nuts in everything so this is a nice change)...
Don't they look festive? I didn't have green cherries but I think they look good anyway.
 Happy Christmas baking!

Christmas Shortbread Squares
Base: 1 cup butter
1/4 cup white sugar
2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup raisins
2/3 cup coconut
2/3 cup red and green maraschino cherries, chopped fine
1 can Eagle Brand condensed milk

Pre-heat oven to 350F. Grease a 9 x9 baking pan
Cream butter and sugar together. Blend in flour, pat dough into pan and pierce with a fork every half inch. Bake 30 minutes.
Combine remaining ingredients. Spread evenly on shortbread. Bake 35 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan, Cut into squares. Sprinkle with icing sugar if desired.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Winter coats for the dogs

Now that the snow has started to fly, I've had to pull out the winter coats. Yes, my dogs each have a winter coat with a lining that zips out. It is so handy when it's raining to have the outer shell which has a wide belly band that also prevents some of the splash up, then the warm fleece lining on those really cold days.

They also have a reflective strip which is great especially at 6:00 in the morning when we're out walking. The dogs don't mind at all and I think they enjoy being all warm and cozy in their jackets.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Christmas Urn Arrangement

Every year, I pick up my gorgeous urn arrangement from a lovely little garden and gift store down in Cambridge called The Living Outdoors Garden Store. They always burn the most delicious smelling candles and have many unique items and giftware as well as fresh greenery. The gentleman who does the arrangements does a beautiful job. You can custom order what you would like or just pick up one of the many varied arrangements that he comes up with. They are very reasonably priced and each one is unique. The photo doesn't do it justice but here's another try....

While I'm there, I pop across the parking lot to Valley Feeds, formerly known as Grand Valley Fortifiers. They have a great selection of bird seed, feeders, dog treats and food and you can even pick up some supplements for your horse. I buy my brother a big bag of custom made birdseed for his birthday so he can enjoy feeding the birds throughout the winter. Love shopping at the non-mainstream non-box stores. I hope you will too. Check them out.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Chocolate Log

With the holiday season coming up, many of us are asked to contribute something to a potluck meal or even bring dessert for a special dinner. This quick and easy dessert looks and tastes good and doesn't take hours to prepare. The recipe is on the box of chocolate wafers but basically you just whip up some whipping cream, add a little icing sugar and a dash of vanilla and ice each wafer then stack them in logs side by side. Slather everything with whipping cream and let it sit for at least 6 hours.

You can sprinkle with some decorations but word of warning, do this just before serving or the whipped cream will make it bleed. Cut on a diagonal to get a nice looking slice.

A very tasty dessert that you can throw together in minutes. Sure to impress.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Poppyseed Chicken

Now that the snowflakes are starting to appear, it's time to break out the comfort food. I call this "mashed potato" weather but it's also a good time to eat egg noodles with this yummy one pot wonder.
It is somewhat caloric but you could always use a lower fat soup and sour cream, just don't cut down the buttered Ritz cracker topping. It "makes" the dish.
Here's the recipe:

Poppyseed Chicken
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup (undiluted)
1 1/2 cups Ritz cracker crumbs
1 Tbsp. poppy seeds
1/2 cup melted butter

Pre-brown chicken in a fry pan with a little butter. Place in a oven proof baking dish.
Mix sour cream and soup, pour over chicken. Mix crumbs and melted butter. Spread cream mixture over top of chicken. Sprinkle poppy seeds. Bake at 350F for 1 hour or until done.
Serve with noodles.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Girl Card

I know, that's a pretty lame title but I borrowed this stamp a long time ago and now I can't remember who it is... maybe Penny Johnson? I coloured her using my copics and layered the Martha Stewart Hydrangea punch to make the orange flower. So cute!

Monday, 5 November 2012

Hope in the Colour of Orange

As many of you know, I am very proud of my Dutch heritage. My Dad is a wonderful example of many of the excellent qualities possessed by the Dutch people; hard-working, determined and proud.

I recently signed a book out from the public library called Hope in the Colour of Orange. If you watch the World cup, you will know that at many of the Dutch sporting events, spectators are dressed in orange after their heritage which is the House of Oranje. The title is also associated with oranges which were given to the Dutch children by the soldiers shortly after Liberation.  This book was written by civilian children and young adults who endured the deprivations of the Second World War. I was very interested in this period of history as this is the time my father was a young man in Holland. It was an interesting collection of short stories written by several people who emigrated to Canada shortly after the War and wanted to share their memories.

Many of their stories parallel what I have heard from my relatives. I was very fortunate to travel to Holland with my father in 2000 and was present for Liberation Day where the Dutch people celebrate and remember their freedom and the role Canada played in the Liberation of their country.

What a moving time to see the aging Canadian veterans being cheered by the Dutch people as they paraded past and towns decorated with hundreds of Canadian flags. The Dutch people were yelling out "Thank you for our Freedom!" It was a moment I will remember forever and made me very proud to be a Dutch/Canadian.  I hope as Remembrance Day approaches, we continue to remember these brave men and women; both soldiers and civilians who sacrificed so much for freedom.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Pink Ladies

I thought I would start off with a photo because these squares are just so divine!  I made these recently when I got together with a bunch of the gang to scrapbook for a few hours. This was just the fuel we needed and a favourite sweet. Sometimes these are called Lori's  Neapolitan squares and I used the recipe from Company's Coming- Squares.
They happen to have a Club Pack of coconut at Costco these days. I think it might be time to stock up.

Pink Ladies

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups, medium grind coconut
300 mL sweetened condensed milk

Buttercream frosting, dyed pink of course

Bottom: Combine first 4 ingredients. Press into 9 x 9 pan with greased sides.Bake at 350F for 10 min.

Middle: In clean bowl, combine coconut with condensed milk. Spread over bottom layer. Bake for an additional 20 minutes or until a light tinge of brown. Allow to cool before frosting.

Icing: 2 cups icing sugar
4 Tbsp. butter, soft
Maraschino cherry juice or red food colouring

Give them a whirl. VERY tasty.

Sunday, 28 October 2012


The first of Lindor's puppies are completing Advanced training and are starting to be placed with their families as full service dogs. They are two years old tomorrow. Of course, I had to make up a small parcel to send out with them, some pictures of Mom, some Lindor chocolates, of course, and a treat or two for the puppies.

Eli and Ember have been placed with their forever families, Elvis and Charlie need a little more fine tuning before they begin their careers or are career changed to Post Traumatic Stress dogs or Companion animals for Special Needs children and adults.

Here's Eli, I called him Big Red as he was the largest of the E litter and a sweet, gentle pup.

From our first fund-raising crop, we made enough money to sponsor TWO puppies, Epcot from Lindor's E litter and Chester from Equoia's C litter. Kathryn donated her birthday money in lieu of gifts so she was able to name and sponsor a puppy. She came with me to Graduation so she could see for herself what a difference her thoughtfulness has played in the life of a deserving family.

Many years of success to the families that have a new friend in their lives.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Apple Cutie Card

Well, this is my 100th post. It's been fun sharing some favourite recipes and talking about one of my favourite topics... the dogs. I have a few people that I know that faithfully check out my blog; thanks Mary Ann, Keri, Corrina and sister-in-law Lisa. I think I have one or two other viewers too, lol, I hope you're enjoying my journey also.
Here's a cute card from Your Next Stamp, Apple Cutie. It's hard to see but the stamped portion overlaps the back part of the card. I coloured with Copics and glossy accented her adorable rubber boots. Simple but tasteful. I hope you agree.

Well, I'm off to take the dogs for a long run in the country on a beautiful fall morning. Great to get some fresh air and exercise, then maybe a couple canines will sleep all afternoon and I can make some more cards.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Pudding Cookies

I thought I had posted the recipe for these cookies before but even if I have, they are worth revisiting. I have taken to freezing cookie dough in balls and just pulling it out and letting it defrost briefly before I bake them. Then I can have fresh baked cookies at a moment's notice when guests come over unexpectedly. These are seriously my new current cookie favourite. The combination of peanut butter chips and chopped up chocolate in a soft cookie is divine. Keri, these cookies have your name written all over them.
Fresh out of the oven....

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Pudding Cookies

3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter,
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
Stir in
1 box instant vanilla pudding
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Add in:
2 cups peanut butter chips
4 chocolate bars (chopped) I used Hershey kisses
Bake at 350 F until slightly browned.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Getting Dogs ready for Hallowe'en

I have a variety of outfits that the dogs tolerate. LOL. Here's a preview....

The Angel and the Devil...

Although, sometimes the roles are reversed...

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Turkey Pot Pie

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
I cheated and made a turkey last weekend as well because after hosting on the actual holiday, I never feel like dealing with the leftovers the next day but I always LOVE having a few of these in the freezer.
I like to make my own pot pie filling. You can make it with a can of soup but I sometimes find them very salty. This way, I can control the salt in the chicken broth and pack it full of meaty goodness.
You can always cheat and buy the pie crust or pick up a ready made fresh one at the Stone Crock bakery in St. Jacobs. I had time so I like to use the real thing.

I add alot of cooked leftover turkey.

And the final product.

Creamed Turkey

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. celery salt
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups milk
4 cups cubed, chopped chicken or turkey

In a saucepan, melt butter. Add veggies and cook until tender.
Stir in flour and celery salt. Cook and stir 1 minute.
Whisk in milk and broth. Cook and whisk until thick and bubbly, then stir in turkey.
Makes 2 pies.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Crockpot Stuffing

Just in time for Thanksgiving, as promised, here's my tried and true Crockpot stuffing recipe. It originally came from Country Woman magazine and once I found it, I have never stuffed another bird. It's tastes very much like a traditional stuffing but is way easier then wrestling with a raw bird at 6 am. Some people that I have passed this along to add a pound of bacon(pre-cooked), some people add a couple cans of mushrooms etc. It can be doctored to suit your family's taste. It sure makes things easier when you have a small kitchen and a lot to prepare at the last minute. Since I haven't actually made it yet, here's a photo of my good 'ole crock pot. Nothing fancy here.

Crockpot Stuffing
4 celery stalks, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
3/4 cup butter or margarine
about 13 cups of day old bread, cubed ( I use French or Italian, it's a little drier and bigger cubes make for drier stuffing) you can also toast it lightly in the oven first
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp sage
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp pepper
(I just dump in a bunch of seasonings to taste)
2 eggs
1 can (14 1/2 oz) chicken broth

In a large skillet, saute veggies with butter until tender. IN a large bowl, toss bread crumbs with seasonings. Add veggie mixture. Combine eggs and broth and add to above. Transfer to slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours. If you like it crispier, turn it up and turn it a couple times.
You can't really go wrong with this recipe. I hope you try it.