Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Sugar and Spice Cookies

Still chilly here in Wisconsin. Did you grab that cup of hot chocolate yesterday? I was glad to have some made when our youngest son got home from school. He had a little time before he had to go to back to school for basketball practice and an after school snack was definitely on the list. Also, to warm up our kitchen yesterday, I decided to bake some cookies. They were also great for the after school snack attack.

I love to bake and I'm always on the lookout for recipes that are easy, inexpensive and that I know my family will like. A good molasses cookie is always on the list for the mister. He walked in after work, grabbed one, and the first words out of his mouth were "Spice Cookies?" This is a favorite cookie recipe from The Basics and More Cookbook, my all time favorite cooking resource.

Below is the basic recipe. After a little trial and error I came up with a nice looking, crispy on the edge, soft in the middle cookie. Don't worry, no waste. The other cookies were good, just not as pretty as I wanted them to be. Today the plate is empty!

Just when I thought I'd have to lower my expectations for having a great looking cookie, I finally was satisfied with the results of my experiment. 

This is how I did the gluten free version:

I used King Arthur Gluten Free multi-purpose flour. By the way, this is not a sales pitch. I included the link so that you could clearly see which flour was used. Some sources say that this flour is about 155 grams per cup. I've found that with baking any cookie, I have much better results when I weigh the flour as opposed to measuring it by the cup. I now highly recommend the use of a scale for measuring flour. I think when adjusting for gluten free, each flour mix is a little different so measuring becomes even more of a necessity. Usually you can do a web search to find out the measurement per cup for various kinds of flours.

I also added 1/2 teaspoon of xanthan gum.

I used a stoneware pan rather than my usual metal pan. It seemed like that's what this cookie needed for the crisp edge and soft middle.

I baked at 350 degrees instead of 375. In my opinion the gluten free flours tend to brown a bit more and the hotter oven seemed to make them over done, even in the same amount of time.

With all certainty, make sure you chill the dough a minimum of 2 hours. Overnight would be better.

I dipped the dough balls into the powdered sugar before baking.

Sugar and Spice Cookies

(original recipe)

¾ cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg
¼ cup molasses or sorghum

2 cups flour 
2 tsp. soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
¾ tsp. cloves
¾ tsp. ginger
Blend together first 4 ingredients. Mix remaining ingredients and add to first mixture. Mix well.

Form into balls. Bake on a greased cookie sheet at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Dip into powdered sugar while warm.

My notes: Chill dough for at least 2 hours or overnight. Roll in sugar before baking. Parchment paper is a plus.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Best Hot Chocolate

Hope you had a warm and wonderful weekend. We welcomed some snow yesterday and the mister had to do a little shoveling before church. Not too much, but this is way to early as far as I'm concerned.

Our oldest son commutes to college classes and this morning as he entered the kitchen he reported that the local radio station was boasting a balmy 5 degrees.  I knew then that our teens were just going to be chomping at the bit to scrape the windshield this morning before we had to drive to the school bus. 

A warm mug of something is wonderful on a day like today and I have just the recipe to share with you. It was right in my favorite cookbook and it is so good. As everyone was relaxing in the living room last night, I went out to the kitchen and made some with some Almond beverage. It was equally amazing!


1/3 cup sugar
3 T. cocoa
1/8 tsp. salt
1/3 cup hot water
4 cups milk (or your choice of unsweetened almond or coconut milk)
1 tsp. vanilla


Mix sugar, cocoa and salt in a medium saucepan.

Add hot water to your sugar and cocoa mixture and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir constantly and boil about 2 minutes. You'll have what amounts to a thin chocolate syrup. Sounds good already, right!

Now you can add your milk. Stir and heat. Do not boil.

Remove from heat and add vanilla.

Of course do whatever variations suit you. Top with marshmallows or whipped cream. Change up the flavor by adding cinnamon, nutmeg, almond flavoring, peppermint flavoring, a few instant coffee grounds or whatever. Above all, wrap your hands around the mug and stay warm!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Budget Friendly Eats: Cheddar Cheese Chowder

Last night was a night that couldn't be beat as far as a beautiful sky and favorable weather. But it was also election night, "high school kids need a ride night", and I was glad I had this soup in my menu plan. Served with some gluten free pumpkin muffins it was the perfect supper.

I substituted an equal amount of King Arthur Gluten Free, multi-purpose flour and used bacon for my meat choice. Mmmm!

Cheddar Cheese Chowder


2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 cups cubed potatoes
½ cup grated carrots
½ cup diced celery
¼ cup chopped onion
1 ½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper

1 cup of one of the following meats: ham, bacon, tuna, sausage or hamburger
2 cups grated cheese
¼ cup butter
¼ cup flour
2 cups milk


1.       Cook together first column until vegetables are tender.  Do not drain.

2.       Depending upon your meat choice, fry or brown meat as needed.

3.       Melt butter in saucepan; stir in flour. Add milk and stir until thick making a white sauce.

4.       Stir white sauce and meat into vegetables. Heat through.

5.       Note: If using bacon, you may substitute the bacon grease for some of the butter for added flavor.

6.       Serve piping hot!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Menu Plan Monday: A Week of Budget-Friendly Eats

It's been a little busy around here but I'm finally starting to catch up a little. Our newest grandchild was born on Saturday, and I was awake from 2 A.M. Saturday morning until nearly 10 P.M Saturday night. Our son had to sing in church on Sunday, and we were up bright and early. I was thankful for the time change. 

We enjoyed our Monday meal and I have my Tuesday soup in the works.  I've spent a little bit of today looking through grocery store ads and a cook book from the library, Delicious on a Dime, to work on this week's menu plan. We don't have a Saturday meal because we have some other activities.  I think it will be leftovers or grab-and-go. Enjoy the rest of your week!


Apple Roasted Pork Loin
Green Beans
Triple Berry Fruit Bowl


Cheddar Cheese Chowder
Pumpkin Muffins


Salmon Cakes and Coleslaw


Ground Sirloin with Mushroom Cream Sauce
Mashed Potatoes
Fresh Broccoli


Turkey Meatball Subs
Veggies and Dip


Chicken Tamale Casserole
Green Salad
Gluten Free Brownies

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Organizing with Evernote

I was introduced to Evernote by a co-worker a couple years ago, and while I didn't start using it then, it must have lingered in the back of my mind, because I recently looked it up in regards to what it could do for me.

Everyone wants to remember stuff and since we do spend quite a bit of time using our computers to search for things like recipes, DIY projects or even doing price comparisons, Often we still find ourselves lost in the jungle of, "Where did I find that?" or read it or whatever the case.

So there's bookmarks and Pinterest and "Liking" things on Facebook, but as far as I can see Evernote looks like it's much more customizable. You can do a typed note or an audio note. You can clip something from the web. I'm sure even a scanned file can be saved, and it can be stored in your "Notebook."  You can choose to share your notes, if you want to. 

You can have several notebooks on different topics. It isn't at all like other apps though where you have to go searching through your saved stuff online and...enough on that.

I'm really not all that tech savvy, but I did download Evernote and Evernote Web Clipper and start trying to harness their capabilities. There is usually a pretty big learning curve for me on this stuff, but I've been able to start using it. I'm learning as I go, but I'm excited about the possibilities.

Just sharing my thoughts. If you've used Evernote, I'd welcome any thoughts and comments.  Have a great day!

*All thoughts and comments about Evernote are my own. I've received absolutely nothing from Evernote for this post. Evernote is a free app that anyone can use on their devices and it is something that I've found that is worth sharing.