Delectable Cookies

Have you ever wanted to do some baking only to find that you are short on, or out of, supplies? Me too! David and I recently had a craving for some chocolate chip cookies so I scoured the pantry for chocolate chips only to discover about a 1/3 of a bag left. Who knows where the rest of the bag of chips disappeared to...hmmm.

Further searching only led to the discovery that I was short on my organic sugar and Splenda but decided to make do with what I had.  I ended up making a new recipe which was fabulous - delectable - get the idea. As a way to watch our over-indulging, we only make one dozen cookies from the just-made batter and then roll the rest into wax paper and refrigerate.  It's nice to have fresh warm cookies for dessert over the next few days (try to use all dough within 3 days).

I always bake my cookies on an airflow cookie sheet which produces wonderful results - if you don't have one, I highly recommend the investment.  Enjoy these delectable cookies and let me know if you like them or if you make them with your own substitutions, please share.

Marie's Delectable Cookie Recipe

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon mediterranian sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup Organic Sugar
1/2 cup Splenda
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1/2 cup Sweetened Flaked Coconut
1/2 cup Finely Chopped Walnuts

PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, sugars, Splenda and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels,coconut and walnuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

SLICE AND BAKE COOKIE VARIATION:  PREPARE dough as above. Divide in half; wrap in waxed paper. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm. Shape each half into 15-inch log; wrap in wax paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes (or until ready to use).

Preheat oven to 375° F. Cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices; place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

Sunshine for your Table

This week is full of income taxes, travel and more; however I wanted to find something interesting to share with everyone. I found this fabulous video on how to fold napkins - - I know, sounds boring but these napkins are guaranteed to put some sunshine into your day. Enjoy!

Homemade Bisquick and Grocery Savings

In today’s economy, it seems everyone is looking for ways to cut back. The problem is, most people don’t know where to start. If you’re looking to cut back, I suggest starting in the kitchen. There are multiple way to save money in the kitchen, and you can tailor how you cut your food budget so it doesn’t impact your lifestyle.

If you eat a lot of convenience foods, you can save time and money by doubling each recipe you cook and freezing half for those busy (or tired) nights. If you are attached to eating meat with every meal, focus on cutting your use of paper products or expensive side dishes. You can save a lot of money by making small changes. You put in minimal effort and get maximum savings! Don’t believe me? Here are some things I do to save money in the kitchen, and my family doesn’t even notice.

1. Make your own mixes. If you regularly use Bisquick for biscuits and pancakes, consider making your own mixes. It only takes a few minutes to whip up a mix, and it’s a lot less expensive than buying the ready made mix at the store. To get you started, I've included a Homemade Bisquick recipe at the bottom of this article.

2. Use less meat. By weight, meat of any kind is the most expensive part of your meal. You should try to use less of it. Notice I didn’t say cut out all meat. In fact, you don’t even need to make meatless meals. If a recipe calls for a pound of ground beef, try cutting back to 3/4 lb. or even 1/2 lb. I use between 1/2 and 3/4 lb. meat for every pound in the recipe for all of my casseroles.

3. Buy spices in bulk. Spices are incredibly expensive as well as those little pre-packaged taco/meatloaf/chili seasoning packets. I purchased a large bottle of taco seasoning at Costco a few years ago for about $6.00 and still have 1/2 a bottle left..I keep it in a dark cabinet and it tastes just as good as when it was purchased. My advice is to figure out which spices or pre-packaged mixes you normally use and invest in bulk sizes/or from bulk bins. Don’t waste your money on fancy little spice jars. Costco has high quality spices at low prices when figured by the ounce cost...your checkbook will thank you! Dollar stores and ethnic grocery stores are also a great place to search.

4. Skip the paper. Begin using cloth napkins and dish towels in place of their paper counterparts. Besides being better for the earth you will save money. You can find both inexpensively at yard sales. I found a stack of napkins at a yard sale last year and a dozen pack of bar towels from Costco. The cloth napkins and towels are so small, they only add a little bit to our weekly laundry cost.

5. Eat leftovers. Much of the money that is wasted in the kitchen is from food that is tossed out. If you know that leftovers won't be eaten then why not immediatley freeze whatever is left over? You will have a convienant dinner, lunch or snack ready for you when you don't feel like cooking. Also consider stocking up on item like eggs, salad greens, and tacos. These are great “left-over” extenders. Eggs can be used with many left-overs to make great omlettes. Left-over meat and vegetables can be added to salad greens to make a dinner salad for the next night, and meat and vegetable left-overs can be combined with cheese to make great tacos.

6. Outlet stores. Search your local area for a bread or canned foods outlet or a food co-op. If you have a freezer you can purchase bread at huge savings from an outlet and freeze until ready to use. For additional savings consider purchasing produce that is in season or pick up some dented cans of food.

7. Make a menu. Try to use what is the pantry when making the menu, and then make a list of the items you need to pick up. I have saved tremendously by menu planning. Plus when you do this you can incorporate expected leftovers such as turning leftover roast into beef stew the next night or roast beef sandwiches, etc.

It can take a bit of work, but you can save a ton of money on groceries if you’re willing to put in a little time.

What are your favorite tips for cutting the grocery bill?

Homemade "Bisquick"

9 cups flour
1 1/2 cups non-fat dry milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3 tsp. salt
2 1/4 cups vegetable shortening (Crisco)

Mix this biscuit mix up in advance and keep in an airtight container on the pantry shelf. No need to refrigerate.  Use in any recipe that calls for store-bought biscuit mix.  Keeps for up to 3 months.

It's important that the ingredients be very well mixed. In a very large bowl, stir together all ingredients except Crisco until very well combined. Cut in the Crisco using a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Store in airtight container. If a leaner mixture is desired, or you prefer to add some butter when making the biscuits up, the shortening may be reduced by 1 to 3 tablespoons.

Cooks Tip: Leave a 1 cup plastic measure in the container for easy measuring.

2 1/4 cups biscuit mix
2/3 cup milk
Preheat oven to 450°F.

Combine ingredients and mix for 30 seconds or just until mixture comes together. Turn out onto a lightly floured board; knead 10 times and cut into rounds using a floured biscuit cutter. Arrange biscuits on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for about 7-10 minutes or until lightly golden brown (depends upon size of biscuits).

2 cups biscuit mix
2 eggs
1 cup milk or buttermilk
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Combine ingredients mixing together with a fork or whisk. Pour a small circle of batter onto a hot griddle or skillet brushed with butter or oil; flip pancakes when tiny bubbles begin to form around edges and bake second side until cooked through. Serve with melted butter and syrup.
Yield: 10-15 pancakes (depends upon size).

2 cups biscuit mix
1 1/4 cups milk or buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup melted butter

Preheat waffle maker according to manufacturer's instructions; spray waffle maker with non-stick spray before heating.

Combine all ingredients, mixing well. Pour onto hot waffle maker and close cover (fill only the center - the mixture will expand). Bake until mixture stops steaming or until desired doneness. Remove from waffle maker and serve with melted butter, syrup or jam, or sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Note: If batter is too thin, add another tbsp. biscuit mix; if batter is too thick, add another tbsp. milk or water.

Fresh & Healthy Veggie Pizza

Use your favorite veggies to top this pizza. Whole wheat bread dough is used for the crust to make this a healthy meal.

Servings: one 12-inch pizza, 6 servings
Prep: 30 mins., Total: 1 hr 5 mins

1 pound frozen whole wheat or white bread dough, thawed

2 medium zucchini and/or yellow summer squash, sliced

1 medium red, green or yellow sweet pepper, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil or cooking oil

1-1/2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms

2 green onions, sliced (1/4 cup)

2 plum tomatoes, sliced

1 8-ounce can pizza sauce

1/2 cup coarsely chopped pitted green and/or black olives

1 cup shredded mozzarella, provolone or Monterey Jack cheese (4 ounces)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

1. Preheat oven to 425 degree F. For dough: Place thawed bread dough on lightly floured surface and let rest 10 minutes. Roll into a 12-inch round on a lightly floured surface, building up edges slightly. (Be careful not to stretch too far; however if a hole appears, you can pinch it back together with your fingers.) Transfer pizza circle to a greased baking sheet. Using the tines of a fork, prick dough over entire surface. Bake about 8 minutes or until set but not browned.

2. Meanwhile, for veggies in a large skillet, cook and stir zucchini or squash and sweet pepper in hot oil for 3 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add mushrooms and onions. Cook and stir 2 minutes more or until just tender. Remove from heat. Stir in tomatoes.

3. Spread pizza sauce on hot crust to within 1 inch of edge. Using a slotted spoon, spoon zucchini mixture over sauce. Top with olives. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake about 15 minutes more or until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted. Makes one 12-inch pizza, 6 servings.

Nutrition Facts:
Calories 348, Total Fat 14 g, Saturated Fat 4 g, Cholesterol 18 mg, Sodium 1026 mg, Carbohydrate 45 g, Fiber 5 g, Protein 17 g. Daily Values: Vitamin A 0%, Vitamin C 78%, Calcium 16%, Iron 8%.

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Crab Specialite

A very special, richly delicious soup that is super easy to make. The soup would be great accompanied by a chef salad, fresh fruit and some coffee.

•½ pound fresh crab meat—or 1 can cleaned Geisha crab meat

•½ cup dry sherry

•½ can condensed pea soup

•½ can condensed tomato soup

•1 cup heavy cream

Mix the crab meat with sherry and let it stand. Combine soups and cream and bring to a boil very slowly.

Reduce heat sharply, add the crab meat and sherry, and simmer for 10 minutes, adding a little extra milk or cream if the soup is too thick.

Serve in soup bowls with a tablespoon of dry sherry added to each. This would also be fabulous in a bread bowl! Enjoy