Sunday, December 23, 2012

An Appetizer Basic - Crockpot Party Meatballs

A Basic Go-To Recipe

The Country Cook: Crock Pot Party Meatballs: What is it about meatballs that we love?  Go to any potluck or party and if there is a Crock Pot of meatballs sitting out, you will usu...

I saw this recipe as I was browsing online today and it reminded me that New Years Eve is right around the corner. Most of us have used a version of Brandie's recipe, but it never hurts to be reminded of a great, go to recipe. My memory is so full of holiday happenings that I think I could forget my own name occasionally.

Mix n Match Ingredients 

Chili sauce or bar-b-cue sauce can be used when you make your crock pot appetizer.  I know you have a favorite bar-b-cue sauce that will work well. I browsed through the comments and a few of the other versions used jellied cranberry sauce instead of grape jelly. Hmmm, I think I am going to try that cause cranberry sauce is always a staple on my canned goods shelf. I wonder what whole berry cranberry sauce would taste like with this? If you have tried that combination, please share your thoughts on whether you liked it or not.

Meatballs are good, but I really love sausages of all types. I buy a three pound bag of smoked, Polish, or kielbasa; slice the sausage into one inch pieces; and add in place of the meat balls. Bill prefers skinless sausages, but that doesn't affect the yumminess of your appetizer at all. Happy Jesus's Birthday and may you be blessed in the coming new year of 2013.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Star Cookie Trees

Star Cookie Trees


graduated set of four star cookie cutters, 2.5" to 5"
rolling pin
sugar cookie dough of your choice
frosting of your choice tinted green and white
yellow and red gumdrops
small and medium size star tips for frosting
pastry bags


Your cookie tree will be a little taller than the one in the picture.

Roll out cookie dough* to one quarter inch. For one star tree: cut out two - five inch stars, two - four inch stars, two - three inch stars and three - two and a half inch stars. Bake your cookie stars following the directions for your recipes. Cool your star cookies completely on a cooling rack.

*Lightly sprinkle your rolling surface with powdered sugar instead of flour. I spread it out with my hand so there is a light, even coat. If your using dough from the store, this will help them taste better.


Start with the largest stars for the base and place a dime size dot of green or white icing in the center of the cookie. Next place the next star so that the points are in between the points of the first star. Place another dime size dot of icing in the center of the star and place the next cookie so that the points are in between the points of the bottom star. Continue until all the stars are stacked and straight.  Let the cookie trees sit until the icing holding them together has dried and the stars won't move.
Warning: Do not put icing on the whole cookie and then stack. I did this and after a day or two you had to break the points off to eat them and THEN use a butter knife to pry the rest apart.

The next step is to place your medium star tip on a pastry bag, Fill the bag with green icing and cover your cookie tree with green icing stars. Place a yellow or red gumdrop on top of the tree for a tree topper. Optional: place a few white, yellow, orange, and red gumdrops for ornaments.

Using the small star tip with white icing in a pastry bag, place small white stars on your trees for ornaments. I like to place stars on each tip and scatter a few up the "sides" of the cookie tree.

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment and I will answer them for you.
Happy baking! Sallee

Friday, December 14, 2012

Toaster Oven Saves Holiday Baking

Imagine this...Holiday baking is beginning with a cookie exchange at work. All the planning and shopping have been done. You turn on your oven and...Nothing Happens! Do you panic, scream, or break down in tears? I didn't do any of these. Curious now? Want to find out what I did? Then read on.

Christmas is two weeks away, money is tight or nonexistent, and the oven in my cooking stove is resting in peace.  So what was my solution to the cookie exchange issue? No, I didn't buy any cookies or make no bake cookies. Maybe I'm just a little bit crazy, but I used my toaster oven. Yes, you heard me right. I used my toaster oven.

Toaster Oven Baking Tips

  • Watch the first batch of cookies closely and lower the baking temperature up to twenty five degrees. Lowering the temperature will increase your baking time.
  • Cookies under the top baking element will brown first.
  • Keep rolled cookies about one quarter inch thick.
  • Dropped cookies should be flattened to one quarter inch.
  • Cool the cooking tray between batches by placing it in the freezer compartment of your refrigerator. It just needs to be room temperature, not frosty.
I have been thinking about buying a larger, convection toaster oven and after baking three dozen cookies, nine at a time, a new oven is on the Christmas list!

    The cookie exchange was a huge success. Taste-testing different types of cookies is a delicious way to find new recipes.  These recipes range from sweet to tart; lemony to chocolate; and chewy to airy. I recommend making the Chocolate Cookie Balls because they are highly addictive and easily made. However, you need to make a double batch because the first one will not make it out of your house.

Spice Apple Drops

    1/2 Cup Butter, Softened                                                      2/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
    2/3 Cup Packed Brown Sugar                                              1 tsp Cinnamon
    1/2 tsp Baking Soda                                                             1/2 tsp Ground Nutmeg
    1/8 Ground Cloves                                                               1 Egg
    1/4 Cup Apple juice or apple Cider                                     2 Cups All-Purpose Flour

    1 Cup Chopped walnuts                                                      1 Cup peeled, finely chopped apples

    1 recipe "Apple Frosting

    Preheat Oven to 375 F. In a large bowl beat butter with electric mixer for 30 seconds. Add sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, and cloves. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and apple juice until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as possible with mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in remaining flour, apples, and walnuts. Drop dough by teaspoons, 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool on cookie sheets for 1 minute. Frost with Apple Frosting.
    Apple Frosting:
     In a large bowl beat 4 cups of powdered sugar; 1/4 cup butter, softened, 1 tsp vanilla, and enough apple juice (3-4 tablespoons) with an electric mixer to make frosting a spreading consistency.

    To Store: Layer unfrosted cookies between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store in the refrigerator up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.


Cranberry Hootycreek Cookies

      • 2 1/4 cups flour
      • 1 teaspoon baking soda
      • 1 teaspoon salt
      • 1 cup softened butter
      • 2/3 cup brown sugar
      • 2/3 cup white sugar
      • 2 eggs
      • 2 teaspoons vanilla
      • 1 cup rolled oats
      • 1 cup dried cranberries
      • 1 cup white chocolate chips
      • 1 cup chopped nuts
    1. Combine flour, baking soda and salt.
    2. Cream butter, then add sugars, eggs & vanilla.
    3. Mix in flour
    4. Drop by spoonfuls on greased cookie sheet.
    5. Bake at 350 for 8-10 min.
    6. Makes 3 doz. cookies


 Spiral Cookies

    2                     cups unsifted cake flour
    teaspoon baking powder
    teaspoon salt
    cup unsifted powdered sugar
    cup granulated sugar
    sticks unsalted butter
    teaspoon vanilla
    teaspoon(or more) food coloring
    tablespoon unsifted cake flour
    cups sprinkles

    Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugars in a food processor and process briefly to mix. Add the butter in pieces; process with on/off bursts until the mixture has the consistency of cornmeal. Add the vanilla and process until the mixture just forms a ball.
    Divide the dough into 2 equal portions then return one of the portions to the food processor. Add the strawberry extract, food coloring, and the extra tablespoons of flour to the processor and process until just incorporated.
    Roll out each portion of dough between sheets of waxed paper. You want a rectangle about 11 × 8½ inches by ⅛ inch thick. Leave the dough between the sheets of waxed paper and slide onto a baking sheet. Refrigerate until firm, for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.
    Remove dough pieces from refrigerator. Pour the nonpareil decors into a shallow rectangular dish (such as a 9 × 13-inch pan.
    Peel off the top sheet of waxed paper from both doughs. Brush the vanilla dough very lightly with water. Using the waxed paper, lift the strawberry dough and flip it onto the vanilla dough so they are stacked. Press with your fingertips to seal the two doughs together. Remove the top sheet of waxed paper and trim the edges even.
    When the dough is just pliable (but still cold), roll up the dough(begin with the long side) like a jellyroll. As you begin to roll, gently curl the edge with your fingertips so you don’t get any air pockets as you roll dough into a log. As you roll, the vanilla portion may want to tear, pinch tears together as they happen and keep rolling.
    After forming the dough into a log, throw away the waxed paper. Gently lift the log on top of the nonpareil decors in the dish and roll until the log is completely coated with decors. Wrap the log in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm enough to slice (from 4 hours to a week, or freeze for up to 2 months; defrost in the refrigerator overnight before slicing).
    Heat oven to 325°. To bake, slice the log into ⅛- to ¼-inch-thick cookies and bake on parchment-lined baking sheets for 15 to 17 minutes, until the cookies are no longer shiny on top and the bottoms of the vanilla portion are golden.

Chocolate Cookie Balls

    1. One Package of cream cheese, at room temperature
    2. One Package chocolate creme filled cookies
    3. White Chocolate specifically for melting.
    4. Sprinkles, Candy Sugar, Magic Shell for decorating.
    Makes about two dozen cookie balls.
    1. First dump cookies into a food processor or a bowl. Blend/crush your cookies until they become a nice powder.
    2. Then add one package of cream cheese; blend or mix in until it forms a paste. 
    3. Use a spoon and pick up a small amount of the paste then roll it into a ball. Place the ball on a pan. You can make the balls as big or small as you want.
    4. Put the balls in the freezer for about 30 minutes or so.
    5. Melt your white chocolate; make sure it’s specifically made for melting. Put in the microwave for about 15 - 30 seconds.
    6. Once the Oreo balls are frozen remove them from the freezer and start covering them in white chocolate. Use a spoon to drizzle over the Oreo Balls. You can put the Oreo Balls in mini cupcake liners so there isn’t such a mess.
    7. Decorate the covered Oreo Balls with sprinkles or make a crisscross pattern with magic shell.
    8. Put them back into the freeze let them sit for about 15 - 30 minutes.
Cranberry Bars
    Makes 16 servings. Per Serving: Cal. 146.7
    2 eggs
    1 cup sugar
    1 cup flour
    1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
    1 1/4 cups Fresh or Frozen Cranberries
    1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
    1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8-inch baking pan.

    2. Beat eggs in a medium mixing bowl until thick. Gradually add sugar, beating until thoroughly blended. Stir in flour and melted butter; blend well. Add cranberries and walnuts, mixing gently just until combined. Spread evenly in pan.

    3. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool and cut into bars.

Lemon Cookies

    1-lemon cake mix
    2 eggs
    1/3 c vegetable oil
    1 tsp lemon extract
    1/3 c confectioners sugar

    Preheat oven 375.
    Cake mix in bowl, stir in eggs, oil, lemon extract until well blended.
    Drop tsp size ball of dough and roll in confectioners sugar.
    Ungreased cookie sheet.
    Bake 6-9 minutes in preheated oven.
    About 3 dozen.
    Super easy and can make from beginning to end in less than 30 minutes!

Chewy Ginger Cookies

    Ingredients:3/4 cup shortening1-1/4 cups sugar, divided1 egg1/4 cup molasses1 teaspoon vanilla extract2 cups all-purpose flour1 teaspoon ground cinnamon1 teaspoon ground ginger1 teaspoon baking soda1/2 teaspoon salt1/2 teaspoon ground clovesDirections:

    In a large bowl, cream shortening and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, molasses and vanilla. Combine dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture and mix well. Roll into 1-in. balls; roll in remaining sugar. Place 1-1/2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets.

    Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks. Store in an airtight container. Yield: about 4 dozen.

    Meringue Kisses


    3 egg whites

    1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

    Pinch Salt

    1 cup granulated sugar

    1 teaspoon vanilla

    Red and Green food coloring-optional

    30-40 milk chocolate kisses


     Place egg whites in a bowl; let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Beat egg whites until foamy. Sprinkle with cream of tartar and salt; beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar and vanilla, beat until stiff peaks form, about 5-8 minutes. If desired, divide batter in half and fold in red and green food coloring.

     Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 1- 1/2 inches apart onto lightly greased baking sheet ( I use cooking spray). Press a chocolate kiss into the center of each cookie and cover it with meringue using a knife.

     Bake at 275 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until firm to the touch. Immediately remove to a wire rack to cool. Store in airtight container. Makes 30-40 cookies....


Sallee's Holly Leaf Cookies 

     I used my favorite rolled cookie and icing recipes. Toaster oven baking time was nine minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
    I was trying a new, color flow technique with my icing. The piped on outline worked well, however I don't think my icing was thin enough to "flow". I had to spread it with a toothpick and it was drying fairly quickly. Next time these cookies will be solid green with white outlines or white with green outlines. Plus, I would like to add two or three red hot candies for berries, but this was the end product from my toaster oven adventure and I am perfectly happy with my first holly leaf cookie experience.
    Happy Baking and Merry Christmas!