Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Scripture writing and journaling


Graphic from Baptist Bible Hour
I've been thinking for awhile that I should do a short post about this topic.  All of last year -- in fact, from November 2015 on through the end of 2016 -- I did a different Scripture writing/journaling plan each month.  I highly recommend it!

Many might wonder how beneficial it is to simply write out a passage of Scripture each day.  It seems too easy.  You might think that it isn't enough, that you need to do in-depth Bible study, and (of course) that you will just put Bible study on hold until you can do it "perfectly".  I have certainly been there in feeling exactly that way,  and I would just like to share with you that I have found Scripture writing/journaling to be very beneficial indeed.

For one thing, simple though it sounds, Scripture writing gets you into the Bible every day.  Do you realize how many believers do not open their Bibles from Sunday to Sunday?  Even if, for example, they are reading in a daily devotional like Our Daily Bread or Days of Praise, they don't bother to open their Bibles and look up the related Scripture while doing so.

So writing out Scripture definitely ensures that you open your Bible.  And then it also ensures that you look closely at the Word of God.  If you are going to copy something down accurately, you need to look at it carefully.   In doing so, I invariably find something I never noticed before (even though I have read through the Bible numerous times), or I find that the wording of a particular verse was not what I remembered it to be.

There are several wonderful sites which feature Scripture writing/journaling plans.  Usually, they feature a different one each month.  Sometimes, our church bulletin at the beginning of a new month will feature a Scripture journaling plan.  Here are several that I have used:
Heidi St. John Scripture writing plans (like the one below).


Rachel Wojo

and

Shannon at Sweet Blessings (see example below).
 I simply use a composition notebook like this.

But of course you can use any notebook you like.  I stock up on these composition books when Wal*Mart has them for 50¢ on back-to-school sales.

Then you simply write each day's date and write out the Scripture for each day in your notebook.  I like to use pieces of washi tape to mark each day's verses, just to help keep them separated a bit.  I usually alternate colors of ink each day -- blue and black -- to differentiate it a bit more if I should want to go back and reread.

My friend Susan shared a wonderful post here: Building an Effective Scripture Journal, which is essentially writing out Scripture as well.  This zeroes in particularly on Scriptures concerning God Himself -- Who He is, His attributes, what He expects of us, and more.  Doing this project will literally change your life as you get to know God better and better.  I have one of these notebooks in progress, and I add a page to it each Sunday.

Writing out Scripture can even turn into a Bible study or meditation on the Word if one wants it to.  If the Scripture passages are brief, I will often use the SOAP method of Bible study to dig deeper into the verses.  Since this method begins with writing out the Scripture one is studying, it adapts itself perfectly to use with Scripture writing.

Both pictures show a notebook with a SOAP Bible reading schedule pasted in.

Maybe you would like to try one of the suggested Scripture writing plans.  Let me know if you try it, and what you think!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

This 'n' that

Image from The Graphics Fairy
Looks like a random post today for sure!  It's been a different (and good) but very busy week.  Thankfully I scheduled my Hodgepodge post on Tuesday afternoon to publish on Wednesday, otherwise that might not have gotten done.  The remainder of our week may look boring to some, but it was so nice to just have some time to get caught up on things together, and catch up with one another in the process.

As many of you know, Mr. T works in the forest industry.  In the spring it is always subject to change how much he will work, because of mud in the woods.  Of course, it is not yet spring here in New Hampshire.   But unusually warm temps have led to a premature snow melt ... and we had a LOT of snow.  So things are getting muddy already, though we hope they will stiffen up again soon if we get some cold weather. 

This is an older photo but gives one an idea of what a log yard looks like, if one should happen to be interested.  Mr. T operates a newer machine similar to that red one.  Only it is a Cat, so it's yellow.
This week he came home on Tuesday night and knew he would not be working the next day.  He announced we would be going out for breakfast on Wednesday.  I was on the phone with my daughter at the time for our weekly chat -- and let out a whoop that was heard all the way across country in Nevada.

After sleeping in until after six (something that has not happened in months!), we both enjoyed a good quiet time in the Bible and prayer.  Then we headed down the highway toward a favorite diner with light hearts.  It felt just so good to have a day off.  We both agreed that winter logging is not for sissies -- and this applies to both the loggers and their spouses.  Long hours, Saturday work ... it's a blessing in some ways but very challenging in others.  I don't mind alone time at all; in fact, I seem to require it to be at my most productive.  And I never run out of things to do.  But having him gone so much of the time does get wearing after awhile, on both of us.  So a free day stretching before us was such a great feeling.

We both enjoyed meat loaf omelets with home fries.  He had a grilled English muffin and I had raisin toast.  And lots of coffee, of course.  It was a wonderful breakfast!

Some time ago I posted a picture of the windows at the welcome centers in our state -- they were painted for fall.  I promised at the time that if I happened to see windows painted for winter at one of the diners, I would share pics of those.  Well, the diner we ate breakfast at had its windows painted, so here you go.

So the rest of Wednesday was filled with errands for Mr. T and housework for me.  Then church in the evening for our Bible study/prayer meeting.

He ended up with Thursday off, too.  So Thursday morning after our quiet times, we went and did our grocery shopping for the week.  Then we made a stop at Dunkin' Donuts for coffee and a muffin.  The windows at Dunkin' Donuts have been painted as below since before Christmas -- but it is still winter (by the calendar if not the temps) so they still look very nice.
After our coffee break, we headed for Walmart to finish up our grocery shopping.  The rest of the day was spent in housework, bill paying and tax form preparation on my part and some housework on Mr. T's part as well -- turning the mattress, vacuuming under the bed and so on.  I made a skillet lasagna for supper and we enjoyed it with a salad.  After supper we watched an episode of The Andy Griffith Show.  Talk about relaxing!  (Except that the episode was "Mr. McBeevee", which I admire for its artistry but I just find it such a tear-jerker.  However, I managed to hold the tears at bay this time.)

Friday morning he learned he would also have Friday and Saturday off.  Here is where we had to make a decision, as we'd been considering an overnight getaway.  We decided to stay home and accomplish some things and plan the getaway for another time -- a decision that proved sound when it started to rain later on.  His morning was again filled with errands and I did some more housework.  Then we went out to lunch at our favorite local seafood place.  Friends had given us a gift certificate, so we gladly used it.  We spent the afternoon doing some work at my dad's home.  We had an easy supper of chicken from the slow cooker, instant mashed potatoes, and stir-fry vegetables.  After supper, what else but more Andy Griffith?

Chicken was on sale for 1.69 a pound this week, so I cooked a lot of it in the slow cooker to cut up and freeze as simply seasoned cooked chicken as I described in this post: A Fowl Tip.  That was how I happened to have chicken all cooked and ready for supper.

I warned you this post would be random and somewhat dull.  The other project I did this week (before Mr. T was off) was making some envelope-style pillow covers for our kitchen rocker.

Last February, I had made some pillows for this rocker using green microfiber "bar mop" towels from Walmart.
You can read about that project here: Trivial Pursuits.  The pillows have worked out great and I still love the color, but I have been less than pleased with the microfiber aspect.  The pillows pick up lint very easily.  I decided to cover them, but wanted covers that could easily be removed.  I did a search and found this tutorial: Ten-Minute Pillow Covers, which was exactly what I wanted.

I wanted to use fabric that I already had, but had recently sorted through a large tote of fabric and knew there was nothing just right.  I decided to check my tote of Christmas fabric, since our kitchen has lots of red and green -- and, lo and behold, there was a red with polka dots I thought would be perfect.
You can't really tell -- the color isn't that great in the photo, but it goes well in the kitchen.  The dots are green, dark red, and white.  There was exactly the right amount for the two pillow covers, also!

If you have a need to make covers for any pillows in your house, or if you just want to change the look of your pillows, I highly recommend this tutorial.  It is SO simple and there is very little sewing.  Each cover is made from one piece of cloth.  In fact, if you have a child who is learning to sew, this would be the perfect project for them.

Time to end this random post ... we are invited to have supper at the home of friends tonight.  I did lots of baking today, so I will hopefully share a post about that next week.  Hope you are all enjoying your respective weekends!


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Something's Fishy Hodgepodge


Lobster boats in harbor, Freeport, Maine
It's Wednesday, time again to join in with the Hodgepodge with Joyce and friends at From This Side of the Pond.   Joyce asks the questions on Tuesdays and bloggers post their answers on Wednesdays.  It's always fun to try and come up with answers, and this also is a great way to get to know other bloggers better.  This week's questions have somewhat of a fishy flavor.

1. Have you ever been fishing? Did you catch a fish? If so did you keep it or throw it back? If you haven't been fishing is that something you'd like to try?

Yes, my dad often took us fishing (or let us go by ourselves) when the brook near our home was freshly stocked with trout.   I never baited my own hook (I could not stand to handle the worms!), but I did on occasion catch a fish.  My mom rolled the cleaned trout in cornmeal and pan fried them.  The flavor was good but there were too many bones to suit me.

I have also been deep-sea fishing once and felt horrible the entire time.
Grandsons trying out a fish-shaped chair, Wiscasset, Maine
Fish out of water, big fish in a small pond, living in a fishbowl, packed in like sardines, this is a fine kettle of fish, plenty of fish in the sea, or cut bait...which fishy phrase most recently applies to some area of your life?

Let's see ... Maybe a fine kettle of fish.  Life is like that quite a lot.
Exploring a tide pool, Reid State Park, Georgetown, Maine
2. What's something you're always fishing for in your purse, wallet, desk, or kitchen junk drawer?

 In my purse, it's usually a pen.  In my desk, a paper clip.  In the junk drawer, usually a tack or push pin.  In the side pocket of the car door, usually an antacid.
Sand crab
3. Your favorite fish tale or movie?

I love the Bible account in John 21 where Jesus cooks an open-air breakfast of fish and bread for the disciples after His resurrection.  I just love the fact that He did that for them: cooked a meal and then invited them to "come and dine."
Grandkids watching fishermen in Crawford Notch State Park, NH
4. Are you sunrise, daylight, twilight or night? Explain why you chose your answer.

Hmmm....  I guess I would pick sunrise.  I like getting up early and getting a good start on my day.
Sunrise taken from the bus station one year while heading for the airport to travel west
5. What's the oldest piece of clothing you own and still wear?

I think it may be a long-sleeved t-shirt someone gave me with a bunch of other clothes in 1991 or so.  Actually, there are two -- an ecru colored one and a faded red one.  They were already used when I got them, so they are OLD.  But one of those basics  that never goes out of style.  At this point I mostly wear them under sweaters, etc., but I do still wear both of them.

6. We've got one more month of (officially) winter here in the Northern hemisphere. Are you feeling the need for a getaway? What's been the best and worst part of your winter so far?

I am definitely feeling the need for a getaway. It probably won't be to anyplace warm, but when my hubby gets a Saturday off (not likely for quite some time) we hope to at least have an overnight getaway.

Best part of winter so far: some days that were so snowy that I just couldn't go anywhere.  It's always a good day when I get to stay home!  And also some lovely warm and sunny days.

Worst part of winter so far: my hubby's long, long work hours.  Oh, and quite a few days when our driveway was a sheet of ice.
On Echo Lake, NH
7.  The Wednesday Hodgepodge lands on National Margarita Day...will you be celebrating? Frozen or on the rocks? Are you a Jimmy Buffet fan? If so, what's your favorite JB tune?

No;  neither one; and no.
This cute little handmade cookbook was made by my hubby as a boy; a gift for his mom!  I think it was a school project.
8.  Insert your own random thought here.  

This fishy hodgepodge reminded me of how much we enjoy fried haddock at our local seafood place.  We once ordered fried haddock at a very pricey seafood place (not fancy, just pricey) in Maine, and you know,  the fish at our own local place tasted fresher.  It was definitely cheaper!   Back before Christmas we also enjoyed all-you-can-eat fried haddock at a diner in a nearby town.  Delicious!  It's something we don't splurge on very often, but sure enjoy it when we can.
Fried shrimp and scallops, Bay Haven Lobster Pound, Cornish, Maine
 Happy Hodgepodge Day, everyone!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Peanut Butter Cookie S'mores Pizza


Photo and recipe from Five Heart Home
A couple of weeks ago our church family had a get-together at someone's home to say goodbye to one of our dear older members who was moving to another state far away.  Since our fellowship was planned for the Saturday before the Super Bowl, we decided to go with a tailgating theme (even though we would be eating indoors).

After a lot of looking through cookbooks and Pinterest, I decided to bring some Easy Cheese Logs and a couple of kinds of crackers.  I also brought a batch of Vee's amazing Shrimp Dip -- click her Recipes button to access it -- and potato chips, plus an artichoke and green chile quiche.  For dessert, I settled on this Peanut Butter Cookie S’mores Pizza.

What a great recipe!  You spread peanut butter cookie dough on a pizza pan and bake it, then sprinkle on chocolate chips and allow them to melt a few minutes before spreading them over the crust.  Lastly you arrange halved marshmallows atop the chocolate and put the pizza under the broiler for just a few seconds.  (If I had one of those little kitchen blowtorches, I'd have used that; the broiler makes me so nervous.  But it worked and the marshmallows were perfectly toasted and looked so pretty.)

Now, this recipe calls for a 14-inch deep-dish pizza pan.  The pans I had were 13 inches at best and were very shallow.   I found that I had enough of the peanut butter cookie dough to make 2 pizzas, so I did.  I brought one to the get-together and brought the second one to our potluck at church the next day.  This dessert pizza went over very well with people.  It was a little bit difficult to cut because of the toasted marshmallows being so gooey, but that was its only flaw.  A very delicious and unique dessert!


Monday, February 20, 2017

Looking back on 2016


Free graphic from Holley Gerth
This is one of those posts I should have written in January, preferably toward the beginning of the month, but it just didn't happen.  I actually never found time to even answer the ten questions until recently, never mind write a post about them.  So here it is, in the spirit of better late than never.

Every year I like to evaluate the year just past and there are various questions I have used to do so.  This year, I liked the idea of just ten questions to reflect upon the year, and last evening I finally found time to do so.  These are from Holley Gerth and were just what I needed. 

So here are the questions and my answers:

🌟What went well this year?
My devotional life; planning and scheduling; blogging; preparing and teaching my Sunday School lessons.

🌟What did not go well?
My physical life, especially the exercise factor.  I didn't do all that well with my homemaking responsibilities, either.

🌟What do I want to do the same next year?
All of the things that went well are things I want to continue with and perhaps improve upon.

🌟What do I want to do differently?
I want to get much more  exercise, especially walking.  I want to keep up with the intermittent fasting that really does help me feel much better in many ways. I want to get much more serious about getting sugar to a minimum in my diet.  And I want to get a much better handle on my homemaking responsibilities.  Hmmm.  Seems as if the first three might help a lot with giving me energy for the fourth.

🌟When did I feel most in my “sweet spot”?

Preparing for and teaching my Sunday School lessons; learning and being refreshed at retreats; taking time for simple getaways with my hubby.

🌟When did I feel the most exhausted and drained?
Driving back and forth from the hospital several times a day to check in on my dad and catch up with his health situation.   So thankful the hospital was not far away at all, but it took time and a toll on me regardless.  Thankful he is now safe and well cared for at a wonderful nursing home.

🌟What did I say “yes” to that I wish I had said “no” to?
Ever delegate a responsibility to someone else and wished you had just done it yourself?  That happened to me.  I imagine it's happened to most of us.

🌟What did I say “no” to that I wish I had said “yes” to?
I can't really think of anything in that category.

🌟What helped me stay close to God this year?
Making sure I had my quiet time, even on the busiest days, even if I had to split it up into several segments.  Spending good quality time in Scripture journaling, Bible study/meditation/memorization, and prayer. 

🌟What did He teach me that I want to live out next year?
A good number of lessons in my Sunday School study zeroed in on humility and contentment.  These lessons both challenged and changed me in some ways.  I would like to continue living these out not only in the coming year, but for a lifetime.

Maybe these questions are just what you need, too, to get a handle on the remaining months of 2017?   It's not too late!
🌟     🌟     🌟     🌟     🌟     🌟     🌟     🌟     🌟     🌟

Saturday, February 18, 2017

A dilly of a recipe

Photo from Taste of Home
Last week in my post about February Favorites from the Archives,  I shared a link to our recipe for Cheeseburger Soup.  This is such a warming winter soup, though it's good anytime of year.

Photo from Taste of Home
It's become a real favorite in our family. Some years when our daughter and family have flown in from far away, we have served this as a "welcome home" supper.

Ever since I first began making the Cheeseburger Soup, I have made these Dilly Rolls to serve alongside.  I think when we began serving these together, we thought that since dill pickles go so well with cheeseburgers, Dilly Rolls would go well with Cheeseburger Soup.  And they do!  Actually, probably almost any rolls, or biscuits, or corn muffins, would go well alongside, but we do love our dilly rolls.  The dill flavor is not too strong, really just about right.  But if you don't enjoy the flavor of dill, you'd probably do better to use a different roll or biscuit for accompaniment.

My dictionary says:

dilly 1 |ˈdilΔ“|
noun (pl. dillies) [ usu. in sing. ] informal
an excellent example of a particular type of person or thing: that's a dilly of a breakfast recipe.
 

ORIGIN late 19th cent. (as an adjective in the sense ‘delightful’): alteration of the first syllable of delightful or delicious.

And that is why I say this is a dilly of a recipe.  The soup is, too.  Hope you enjoy these rolls (and the soup!) if you try them.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Snowy Hodgepodge


From 2007
 Here it is Wednesday again!  Time to check in with Joyce and the gang at From This Side of the Pond for the Wednesday Hodgepodge!  Joyce asks the questions and bloggers provide the answers on their own blogs.  It's great fun, so if you've never participated, click the link above and copy the questions.  Then get back to your own blog and get busy answering them so you can link up.

1. What do/did you call your grandparents? If it's something unusual tell us the story behind the name. 

 All of my grandparents have passed on.  My paternal grandfather died when my dad was a child.  I called my paternal grandmother "Grammie _______.   I called my maternal grandparents, who lived nearby, simply Grammie and Grandpa.  He died when I was four, so I have very limited memories of him.
He was showing us his sawmill in operation.
If you're a grandparent what do your grands call you? Who chose your moniker?

 They call me Grammy, or sometimes just Gram (in the case of my two teenage granddaughters).  I guess basically I chose it to begin with, but it's what came naturally.

2. Ever taken a road trip along the California Coast? If so what was the highlight of your trek? If not, any desire to do so? If you were to take a trip along the California Coast what's one attraction you'd have on your must-see list?


I haven't yet taken a road trip along the California Coast, but one will likely be in my future at some point.  My daughter and son-in-law took that trip a few years back and enjoyed it so much, they want us to go too.  I'd enjoy seeing the Golden Gate Bridge and some of the beaches.  My son-in-law was recently in Huntington Beach and sent us this picture among others:

3. What are three things you don't know how to do?

a) Downhill ski.
b) Drive a stick shift.
c) Text.

4. Tom Peters is quoted as saying, 'Celebrate what you want to see more of.' If that's true what will you celebrate and more importantly, how will you celebrate?

Hmmm. This is one of those thought-provokers.  One thing I would like to see more of is Christians actually living out their faith.  So I can celebrate that when I see it by trying to encourage those I observe walking in a Christlike manner.  Another thing I'd like to see more of is good, loving, responsible parenting.  I do celebrate that when I see it -- for example, if I see a young mom doing a great job with her kids in the grocery store, I will stop and compliment her.

5. Thursday (February 16) is National Almond Day. Do you like almonds? Which would you prefer-an Almond Joy or a macaron? What's something you make that calls for almonds? 

I love almonds!  I would definitely prefer an Almond Joy.
Photo from Taste of Home
These Almond Joy Muffins are a huge favorite in our family.  They don't contain Almond Joys, but taste similar to them.
ALMOND JOY MUFFINS

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup margarine, melted
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup sour cream OR plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
1 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Almonds (either chopped, sliced, or whole) and sugar for tops of muffins

Preheat oven to 375ΒΊ. Grease 12 muffin cups. Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, combine margarine, eggs, sour cream (OR yogurt), and extract. Stir in the sifted dry ingredients until just combined well. The batter will be lumpy. Stir in the coconut and chocolate chips. Spoon the batter into the greased muffin cups. Top each with a sprinkle of chopped or sliced almonds (or 3 whole almonds) and a little sugar. Bake in preheated 375ΒΊ oven for 18 minutes or until muffins test done. Makes 1 dozen muffins.

6. What does Saturday morning look like at your house?

It depends upon the time of year.  Right now, in winter, Mr. T is working most of every Saturday, so my morning looks just like it does any weekday -- up by 4:20, then a good quiet time and breakfast before jumping into the tasks du jour.  His involves leaving home around 5:15 to head to a logging job site.  Currently that is in a neighboring state.  On an ordinary Saturday when he's not working, we might "sleep in" until 5:30 or 6 a.m. and we might go out to breakfast or at least coffee before starting the day, or I might bake some muffins or a coffeecake.

7. Share with us a favorite book you've read this winter.

I haven't finished this one yet, but I'm currently reading The Life-Giving Home, by Sally Clarkson and Sarah Clarkson.  It's excellent, just excellent, but unfortunately I keep thinking Why couldn't I have understood these things when my kids were growing up?  Sometimes it's a challenge to look back on one's mistakes and just realize God allowed our kids' childhood to be what it was.  (Not that it was bad; not just as wonderful as I would've liked, in retrospect!)

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Snow!  We have had so much snow of late. 10-12 inches between Sunday and Monday, and there is more snow predicted for today and Thursday.  The photo at top was taken ten years ago this month, but it's a pretty good indicator of how things are looking here right now.  My hubby has just gotten new snowshoes, the much more streamlined type than what is pictured.   He actually went out snowshoeing on Sunday and said there was really almost too much snow to do so successfully.

The video below (I hope it will work for you) was taken in February 2007 when our daughter and son-in-law visited us following months of ministry in Antigua.  Clad in borrowed winter gear of my husband's, they enjoyed a snowshoe hike with him.  The crunching of the snow may be a fun sound for those of you who do not live in snow country!
video

Happy Hodgepodge Day!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A few last-minute Valentine sweets


Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

I'm going to share some Valentine sweets with you today, things quick and easy enough to make at the last minute.  But first, something even sweeter.  Stephanie, over at The Enchanting Rose, has written a beautiful post on The Love of God.  If you haven't seen this post, do go on over and read it.  Stephanie's words, the hymns and poems she shares, and her gorgeous, evocative photography will warm your heart today.

For the more temporal sweetness, now, a few candy recipes and a deep-chocolate dessert!  I'll start with the dessert since you might like to make this for after supper tonight:
Photo from Taste of Home

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE TORTE

1 package fudge brownie mix (13x9-inch size) plus the eggs, oil and water it calls for
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

2 cups whipped topping (or, by all means use real whipped cream if you have it)
Chocolate or heart-shaped sprinkles

Prepare brownie mix as package directs for fudge-like brownies. Spread batter in a greased & floured 9-inch round cake pan. (Or do as I do and don’t bother with greasing & flouring -- just place a 9-inch round of wax paper in the bottom of the cake pan.) Bake at 350ΒΊ for 38-42 minutes or until center springs back when lightly touched. Cool for 10 minutes.

Invert onto a serving plate and cool completely. In a bowl, stir together the chocolate and butter until smooth. Spread over brownie layer; refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Just before serving, top with the whipped topping. Decorate with sprinkles.

Yield: 9-12 servings.

This recipe is so easy and takes such ordinary ingredients, yet produces something really special! You might already have all of the ingredients on hand. It is decadent, for sure. I found this recipe in an early Quick Cooking magazine.

Now just a few simple candy recipes.

Photo from Taste of Home
Angel Food Candy melts in your mouth and is so delicious!  I've had this recipe for years and years.
Photo from Taste of Home
Coffee Shop Fudge is one that I made at Christmas.  It's a lot like Arlene’s Easy Fudge, only with coffee and a touch of cinnamon.  Either one is a quick fudge that you can probably have in the pan in under five minutes.
Photo from Taste of Home
Peanut Butter Balls are a long-time favorite in our family, and maybe in yours too.  If you coat them in white chocolate and add some Valentine sprinkles or red sugar, you will have a festive treat indeed!  This is probably the most time-consuming recipe of the bunch, since it takes time to form the candies and dip them in melted chocolate, not to mention chilling time.
Photo from Taste of Home
Heavenly Delight is a tradition in our family.  Just a double decker chocolate and peanut butter fudge, it is easy and relatively quick to make.
Photo from Taste of Home
Chocolate-Covered Almond Brittle is a delicious candy I've made many times.  It's made in the microwave so it's quite easy, but beware!  The bowl or casserole dish you're cooking the brittle mixture in will get VERY hot.  I once destroyed a glass bowl cooking this mixture.  I recommend a Pyrex casserole to microwave it in.
Photo of full-size chocolate pizza from Taste of Home
And then last but not least, not at all, are Little Chocolate Pizzas.  The recipe is for a large chocolate pizza, but it is much more fun if you make them individual size.

Well, I could go on and on, but I will stop here.  Among these, I'd say you're sure to find a sweet treat that your sweethearts will enjoy!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Some favorite cookies for Valentine's Day


It's cold and oh-so-snowy in New England today and my thoughts are turning toward baking, just to help warm up the house.  Here we are, at two in the afternoon on Saturday -- this is a scheduled post for Monday -- and the temperature is 14 measly degrees!  14ΒΊ!  It actually feels colder than that to me, so it would seem this is the perfect time to do some Valentine baking.
 πŸ’Ÿ     πŸ’Ÿ     πŸ’Ÿ     πŸ’Ÿ     πŸ’Ÿ      πŸ’Ÿ     πŸ’Ÿ      πŸ’Ÿ     πŸ’Ÿ     πŸ’Ÿ
When I think of Valentine cookies, I always think of heart-shaped sugar cookies with pink frosting, like my mother would make for our Valentine parties in elementary school.  And I will share some cut-out cookie recipes in this post, along with some non-traditional Valentine baking ideas like the cookies at top, from Taste of Home: Dipped Cherry Cookies.  I originally made these as a Christmas cookie, but they are perfect for Valentine's Day!

These Almond-Raspberry Kisses are also very pretty

Photo from Taste of Home
 and just right for Valentine's Day.
Another great recipe, this one all chocolate, is

HUGS & KISSES COOKIES

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1 Tblsp. milk
2 1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup baking cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chocolate chips
9-ounce bag chocolate kisses or hugs, unwrapped

Heat oven to 350ΒΊ. Beat together butter, sugars, and vanilla until blended. Add eggs and milk; beat well.

Sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, blending well. Stir in chocolate chips.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place on parchment-lined cookie sheets. Bake 11 minutes.

Cool 1 minute; press a chocolate kiss or hug into the center of each cookie. Cool another minute before removing cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Yield: About 4 dozen cookies.

These were a big favorite when our kids were away at school, regardless of the season. Each weekend I would send a tin of cookies back with them, to get them and their friends through the week.

For Valentine's Day, any cookie topped with a Hershey's kiss or hug would be very appropriate!

Another easy cookie is made with a strawberry cake mix.
(Photo from Tasty Kitchen)
Very pretty and very appropriate for Valentine's Day! They happen to be delicious, too:
Strawberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies.
Now for a few cut-out cookies!  These are not as easy or quick, but they are fun.
There are several cut-out cookie recipes here in this post at my Christmas kitchen blog: Cut-out Cookies . Any of them would make a nice Valentine cookie.
For a chocolate cut-out cookie, this one is my favorite: Cocoa-Molasses Cookies.
But this one, from Cook & Tell, is a close second:

CHOCOLATE JUMBOS
1 egg
1 cup sugar
1 cup molasses
1 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
1 cup melted shortening (for example, one Crisco® stick, melted)
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup warm water or coffee
1 tsp. vanilla
4 cups flour
1/4 tsp. salt

Beat the egg; add sugar and molasses and beat 1 minute more. Dissolve the cocoa in the melted shortening, cool slightly; then add to batter and beat again. Dissolve the soda in the warm water or coffee and vanilla. Sift together the flour and salt. Add soda mixture to the batter alternately with the sifted dry ingredients, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Chill dough for 1 hour before using.

Roll out dough 1/4-inch thick on a lightly floured surface; cut into shapes. Bake about 8 minutes at 350ΒΊ; do not overbake; you want them to be fudgy, so watch carefully. Remove to racks to cool.

When cool, frost generously with a vanilla butter frosting. If you need a recipe, try this: 3 cups confectioners’ sugar, 2 Tblsp. softened butter, 1 tsp. vanilla, and up to 5 Tblsp. milk -- start with half that amount and stir in more milk as needed until smooth and spreadable.

Makes a good amount of cookies!
Or, even more special for Valentine's Day, try these:

CHERRY SWEETHEARTS

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
3 cups flour
2/3 cup finely chopped maraschino cherries, drained and dried well on paper towels
Glaze:
1-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 to 4 Tblsp. cherry juice (from jar of maraschino cherries)
Topping:
About 30 maraschino cherries, halved, blotted well on paper towels
Filling:
About 1/2 cup cherry or raspberry jam

Beat the butter, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Sift together the nutmeg and flour and beat about half of it into the mixture; add the remaining flour to the dough and beat well. Form dough into a ball; wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

On a well-floured surface, roll the dough into a circle, about 1/8-inch thickness. Cut the cookies with a 2-1/2-inch scalloped cutter (hearts would be pretty, too) and place on greased or parchment-lined cookie sheets. Bake for 13-16 minutes at 350ΒΊ. Remove and cool on racks.

For glaze, combine confectioners’ sugar and cherry juice to make a thick glaze. Place waxed paper under cooling rack. Pour the glaze carefully over half of the cookies to within a half inch of edges. Let stand 4 to 5 minutes, then place a cherry half (rounded side up) in center of each glazed cookie. Let glaze set completely.

Sandwich together with remaining, unglazed cookies with a thin layer of jam between. Store these cookies airtight at room temperature. Makes about 5 dozen sandwich cookies.

I wish that I had a picture of these to show you.  I have only made them a couple of times, but they are picture-perfect for Valentine's Day -- like something you would see in a child's storybook.  Visualize pink scalloped sandwich cookies with a cherry glaze and a perfect half cherry centered on top.  So pretty!

Tomorrow I will be back with a few simple candies for Valentine's Day.  Meanwhile, why not bake a batch of Valentine cookies?  If you live in New England, you may not be able to get out to the store, so pick a recipe with ingredients already in your pantry and get baking!