No-Cook Mint Patties: Foodie Gift #16

I remember coming across this recipe years ago--it was an instant hit then, and its been the same in all the years I've shared it since. These creamy, buttery mints are easy to put together, store well, and make a lot, so there is plenty to share. I usually make a double batch at a time, since there is enough room on my table and cake racks to handle the drying needed for these candies.   From, here is the recipe (with a couple of my own tweaks included):   NO COOK MINT PATTIES Printed from COOKS.COM 1/2 c. light corn syrup 1/4 c. butter, softened 1 tsp. peppermint extract 4 c. sifted powdered sugar 2 drops red food coloring 2 drops green food coloring In small bowl combine corn syrup, butter and peppermint. Beat until well combined. Gradually add 2 cups of sugar beating well. Stir in as much of the remaining sugar you can to mix with a spoon. Turn out onto a surface lightly coated with powdered sugar. Knead in remaining sugar-enough to make a stiff dough that is smooth. Divide into thirds. Leaving one of the three white (I actually used yellow food coloring for the third portion)-Knead in food coloring-red and green-in the other two. Shape into 3/4 inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Press with fork. Let dry several hours (or overnight), then move to a cooling rack to complete the drying process (usually 24 hours is enough). Place in an airtight container and store in a cool place. … {Read on...}

Homemade Montreal Steak Seasoning: Quick and Easy Foodie Gift #15

This is truly quick and easy--inspired by having this seasoning used at Beccy's house on various meats and roasted veggies, but unable to find it at our local markets, I went online (of course) to see if I could find a homemade version, and low and behold, I did!  There are a few sites in cyberspace that specialize in finding ways to mimic foods that you enjoy, like these spice mixes, restaurant favorites, etc. and I have nearly always been able to find what I've been looking for.   CD Kitchen was the first site I found that offered this particular blend. Since I didn't have exactly the forms of the herbs and spices involved, I threw everything into a pint jar, attached it to my blender base and gave it a whirl. Everything was perfectly ground up, and the flavor was fantastic!  We tried it on chicken legs, just rubbing the seasoning on each leg all around and roasting at 350 till done, turning the heat up to 425 for the last few minutes to make sure the skin became good and crispy. I also cut up some potatoes and onions, tossed them with some baby carrots, olive oil and more of the seasoning, and roasted those alongside the chicken.  This made for a wonderful winter meal, and we enjoyed every bite. This seasoning is good on most meats and poultry, as well as on roasted and grilled veggies. And it makes a nice savory gift for friends who don't have an appreciation for all the sweet goodies that appear around this time of year.  Enjoy!   Homemade Montreal Steak … {Read on...}

Provençal Fish en Cocotte with Garlicky Tomato Sauce


My Dad called me up the other day and gave me a piece of his mind.  "Where are the healthy recipes for folks with dietary restrictions like me?  Your stuff looks great, but there's a lot there I can't eat.  People need healthier recipes, too."   "Sure, Dad," said I.  I offered to get to it after Christmas and New Year's Day.  He kindly suggested that dietary restrictions didn't take a holiday and that some people might really enjoy a lighter food break occasionally even if it was Christmas...   After a week of my kids climbing the walls, bouncing off the ceiling, and being on each other like ugly on apes, it occured to me that perhaps the steady diet of Christmas treats might be affecting them adversely.  My Dad had been right.  Of course I realized this at about 5:30p.m. and had nothing remotely healthy on the radar for dinner that evening.  I stuffed the block of cheese and the ground beef back in the fridge, took a minute to reconsider my plans and stuck a pot of rice in the rice cooker.  I rifled through the freezer and dug out a pound and a half of individually frozen blue hake fillets.  Surely I could do something with that!   Twenty five minutes later I had thrown together what is a new favorite in our house; Provençal style fish en cocotte with a garlicky tomato sauce.  Don't let the name fool you.  We've done cocotte here and here before and it was super simple and quick.  Cocotte is the French word for casserole.  We all know casserole=easy. This fish … {Read on...}

Christmas Pickles (a.k.a. Fire and Ice Pickles…) Foodie Gift #14


Have you seen 'Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean'?  I love Mr. Bean.  If I weren't married to the suave and debonair Evil Genius I might have a crush on Mr. Bean.  I'm just that kind of dork.  And one of my favorite Mr. Bean lines ever comes from this , my favorite,  episode.   Can someone please explain to me why it's so darned funny when Bean says"Christmas socks." Is there any reason why it should double me over in laughter?      Val and I haven't forgotten our promise to provide a new homemade gift idea for each day leading up to Christmas.  In between Val preparing mass mailings for the camp, me ferrying kids to and fro, and all the other tap dancing that comes this time of year, we've been busy cooking our bums off.  Actually, the reality is more that we're cooking our bums bigger.  If we could 'cook them off' we'd be in serious business and the world would beat a path to our doors.  As it is, we'll be content if everyone puts on a 'winter coat' of padding along with us.  But we digress...   What we mean to say is that while we've had a couple of days interlude between the last recipe and this one, we'll make up for it.   If you approach this like a politician we're not in a recipe deficit at all.  We'll just back load our recipes and call it even, eh?  After today's we owe you 10 more recipes.  And unlike  politicians, we'll deliver!   Price Breakdown: (rounding up) $4.00     2 jars, 32 ounces each, hamburger dill slices $1.00     4 cups white … {Read on...}

Why I do what I do…


I had someone ask me an interesting question today in church.  It's not something that is foreign to me.  In fact, I get asked this question nearly every time I haul all five boys through the grocery store or to the library, doctor's office, bank, post office, etc...  "Five boys?  Are you going to try for a girl?"    I have heard this question hundreds of times, but today, for the first time, it made me think.  I always wanted a bunch of boys.  Granted, it would've been fun to shop for tights and Easter dresses.  You know what, though?  Even if I wanted to have a girl, I wouldn't have much time to think about it...   Why I'm happy with my XY handful.   'Cause superheroes still show affection. Because sleeping boys are just as beautiful as sleeping girls. Because they consider themselves dressed up if you slap a tie on 'em.  Because baby boys are very, very furry. Because pirates wearing safety glasses will eat your sticky barbecued ribs. Because of faces like this... Because, well, just look at him! ...And him! ...And all of them! But most of all, because boys still hug their mommies.  And those hugs are just as wonderful. … {Read on...}