Remember To Make Memories At The Table

Remember To Make Memories At The Table

Nonna used To Say...

Got Agita? It's Not What You Eat; It's What Eats You

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Witch Finger Cookies

Yeah, yeah, I know...Nanette doesn't do Halloween. Blame it on being a senior in an Adult Community...reliving my childhood. I posted a recipe for Green Monster Cookies a few days ago because I was bringing treats to the Divas Halloween Party. Friday night was the Community Halloween Party and I was asked to bake Crooked Witch Fingers. At first, I thought it was for the dessert table, but found out they were props for the Haunted House. The Victoria Gardens Haunted House is one of the best I've ever experienced. Kudos to Shari who spends hours researching, building, directing to make this a yearly success. Yes, she has lots of help and dozens of volunteer horror characters, but she is the force behind the whole event. Girl Power. My contribution to this year's Haunted House were the Witch Fingers. I didn't actually see the ghoul chomping on them because I was too busy screaming and covering my eyes!
Back to the cookie....The dough is a bit finicky. Once the ingredients are combined, you must refrigerate it. I made the dough, wrapped it in plastic wrap and chilled for most of the day, baking the fingers in the evening. Cut off a chunk, then rewrap and put in the freezer as you shape the fingers. Once in the oven, rotate the trays after 10 minutes. Don't let the fingers get too brown. The recipe should yield 60 but I got 55 out of it.

Witch Fingers
1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 2/3 cup AP flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
55-60 whole almonds
1 (.75oz) tube red decorating gel

Combine flour, baking powder, & salt in a bowl. Set aside.
Combine butter, sugar, egg, almond & vanilla extracts in a mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer and gradually add the dry ingredients as you continue to blend. Form dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least an hour.  
Set oven temperature to 325 degrees.
Remove a small amount of dough from the dough ball. Replace remaining dough in refrigerator or freezer. Roll dough into thin rope shapes. Press almond into the tip. Squeeze cookie near the tip and again near the center of each finger to give the impression of knuckles.  Make slashes into the dough at knuckles. Arrange on lightly greased cookie sheets. Put cookie sheet in refrigerator for ten minutes to help retain shape when baking. Bake 20-25 minutes, rotating at ten minutes. Before fingers cool completely, remove the almond from end of finger and squeeze a small amount of red gel into cavity. Replace the almond to ooze gel out around the tip. Add red gel anywhere on finger for a "bloodier" look, if desired. 
originally found on under Spooky Witches' Fingers

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Hubby & Me as a Bumble Bee & Beekeeper

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Green Monster Cookies

Anyone who knows me knows I'm not a big fan of Halloween. In the autumn I look forward to Thanksgiving. Lots of good food rather than sweets and a reason to give thanks for all the blessings of the year...especially Our Bounty! Yet, anyone who knows me knows I love to cook and bake, so any excuse, even Halloween is a fitting excuse.

Recently, I became interested in Pinterest. I tried to hold out and ignore joining, but a site with tons of tried recipes, fun crafts and fashion...well I'm a sucker for. So, I've given in. And I love it!! I have to time myself so I don't spend hours on this fabulous site.

I found this recipe on Pinterest under the title: Ooey Gooey Monster Eye Cookies. The only change was from vanilla extract to a teaspoon of almond extract. I wanted more of a flavor to the cookie. It is ooey gooey and sweet. I tasted the cream cheese batter and it wasn't sweet (enough) but I restrained from adding sugar and glad I did. Once the chilled batter is rolled in the powdered sugar...the cookie is sweet enough. Do put the batter in the fridge like the recipe calls for, even put it back between baking batches. My cookies took 14 minutes to bake not the suggested 10-12. So check on that. Also, the eyes can be found in most department stores like WalMart, or Craft Centers with a baking dept., the brand is Wilton. I used 2 packages. The original color is neon green, but I used regular green food coloring. It's an easy recipe. Kids will enjoy baking this, too. Original recipe found at:

So why is a senior with no grandkids (yet) baking monster face cookies? community has a Divas club...yes, Divas. It's really an excuse to get together with a group of fabulous women and klatch. We have a wonderful Women's Club which works hard for local charities...very worth while. But Divas is just plain old fun. Two women host the monthly "meeting". They come up with a theme...there's snacks and lots of laughter. The theme could be Hollywood, Mother's Tribute, Snowpersons, Valentine's, etc. Sometimes there's a demonstration of a particular craft, or a trivia game, stuff like that. We wear pink, yeah a girlie color, but there's a strong sense of community, womanhood and camaraderie. It's good for the body as well as the soul. The October meeting email read: "Wear your Witches Hat! And bring a spooky story to read aloud. Refreshments will be served." So I will attend in a Good Witches Hat and wearing white, of course...oh, and a pink boa. I'll arrive with a scary story to read monster cookies. It will be a Boo-tiful Divas Gathering.

Green Monster Cookies

1 box Yellow Cake Mix
1 stick butter, softened
1 8oz bar cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon almond extract
powdered sugar
green food coloring
candy eyes (bloodshot eyes more spooky)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter, almond extract, egg and cream cheese until fluffy. Mix in cake mix. Add green food coloring a drop at a time until you get the desired hue. Chill for 30 minutes. Roll a teaspoon full of batter into a ball and roll in powdered sugar. Bake on ungreased cookie sheets for 12-14 minutes. While warm press a candy eye into center of each cookie. Makes approx.4 doz.

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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Humble Crock Pot Beef Stew

A crock pot or slow cooker is one of the most useful kitchen appliances invented. A busy mom, an in -the-workforce gal, a newbie chef...whomever, will save time and stress once she gets the hang of it. Don't keep this appliance in a back cupboard...keep it where you can readily get your hands on it. Everything from soup to dessert can be cooked in a crock pot.

Coming home on a cold winter's night to a pot of chili, soup or stew is one of life's delights. On a blistering hot day, you can cook anything your heart desires and not crank up the temperature in your home. The latest and greatest of the slow cookers now allow you to brown your meat in the pot, add additional ingredients, press a button and start the slow cooking process. Though, I don't always brown my roasts or stew meats before placing them in a crock pot, I will admit that doing so does add a more flavorful "home-cooked" taste to the meal. Now that it's more convenient to do so, it would be foolish not to.

My household consists of two, so it's not imperative that I have a large crock pot BUT I do. A five or six quart pot will hold a sizable roast or several pounds of stew meat and all the veggies. This makes it possible to either make extra for freezing or enough to send over to my son and his wife whose work day often extends into dinner time. Having a smaller pot is a good idea, too. This is perfect for split pea soup or tomato meat sauce for two or three.

Don't hesitate to get everything ready mid-day or early eve and hit the "on" switch before you go to bed. The meal is ready when you awake. Let it cool, then put the ceramic section of the pot that's filled with your meal in your refrigerator for supper or package the meal in containers.

I have found over the years that recipes I cooked a long time on the stovetop esp. ones that I had to keep a sharp eye on....stirring on a regular basis, were a snap to do in my crock pot. Not only did the recipe taste just as good, but because of the convenience-those "special dinners" were enjoyed more often. One that comes to mind is a specialty called Genovese, an Italian onion and pot roast meal.

An all-time favorite is the humble Beef Stew. I hope you enjoy my version of it. A few added ingredients make this basic recipe more hearty and extra tasty. As the stew cools, the gravy will thicken and be less "soupy". Be sure to serve with hot biscuits and a salad.

 Humble Beef Stew

4lbs stew meat, cubed
1/4 cup flour
10oz baby carrots
8-10 red potatoes, quartered
6 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 large onion, cut in slices
1 envelope of dry onion soup
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1 can beef gravy
2 Tablespoons parsley
2 Tablespoons flour mixed
in 1/2 c of cold water until
all lumps dissolve
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons Gravy Master or
Kitchen Bouquet (optional)

Place cubed beef in a large bowl and add 1/4 cup of flour and garlic powder. Mix well. Set aside. Place onion, red potatoes, carrots & mushrooms on the bottom of crock pot. Top vegetables with cubed beef. Sprinkle dry onion soup over meat. Combine the broth and parsley with the flour that has been mixed with cold water. Blend. Add Gravy Master (optional) into broth mixture. Stir. Pour mixture into pot. Add beef gravy. Blend into meat & vegetables keeping most of the vegetables at the bottom of pot. Add salt if desired. Be sure lid is secure. Cook on low 10 hours.

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