Hershey’s Kisses Springtime Thumbprint Cookies

Serves: 36

Ingredients

  • 36 pieces HERSHEY’S KISSES Milk Chocolates, wrappers removed
  • 6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Food coloring, in desired colors
  • Sanding sugar, in desired colors
  • 1/3 cup vanilla frosting

Shop Ingredients

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • In large bowl, beat together butter and brown sugar until well blended. Beat in egg, milk and vanilla until well blended.
  • In separate bowl, stir together flour, baking soda and salt. Mix butter mixture into flour mixture.
  • For each color desired, evenly divide dough into separate bowls. In each bowl, mix in food coloring until color is uniform.
  • Form 36 1” balls. Roll each ball in matching sugar color; arrange on sheet pan.
  • Gently press thumb into balls to form indentation. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Cool slightly; transfer to wire rack to cool.
  • Divide and tint frosting to match cookie colors. In each cookie indentation, place about ½ teaspoon frosting; press chocolate piece into frosting.

Original recipe available here.

Broccoli Cheese Casserole

This broccoli and cheese casserole is made with fresh broccoli and topped off with buttery Ritz crackers for the perfect crunchy topping!

INGREDIENTS

  • 32 ounces fresh broccoli florets
  • 10 ounces cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed Ritz crackers
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick spray.
  2. Add the broccoli to a large microwave safe bowl along with ¼ cup of water. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and microwave for 5 minutes. Let stand, covered, for 2 minutes.
  3. Carefully remove the plastic wrap and drain the liquid.
  4. Add the cream of chicken soup, sour cream, salt, pepper, and cheddar to the bowl with the broccoli and stir well to combine.
  5. Pour broccoli mixture into prepared baking dish.
  6. Top with the cracker crumbs and drizzle with the melted butter.
  7. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until broccoli is as tender as you’d like and cheese is fully melted.
  8. Serve immediately.

Original recipe available here.

Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

Ingredients:

  • Two 10oz cans mild green enchilada sauce
  • One 10.5oz can condensed cream of chicken soup
  • One 8oz container sour cream
  • 4 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • One 4oz can diced green chiles
  • 3.5 cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • Ten 10in soft flour tortillas
  • Toppings if desired: 1 vine ripe tomato, fresh cilantro, fresh lime wedges

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Spray 9×13 in baking dish with vegetable oil
  • In a large bowl, whisk together enchilada sauce, cream of chicken soup, and sour cream. Spread about 1/2 cup of sauce in bottom of baking dish. Set aside remaining sauce.
  • In medium bowl, combine chicken and chiles.
  • Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on tortilla, then add some shredded chicken and chile mixture.
  • Tightly roll up tortilla and place it seam side down in pan.
  • Pour remaining sauce over filled tortillas.
  • Bake for 20 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and sprinkle remaining mozzarella cheese on top
  • Bake until cheese is melted. About 15 minutes.
  • Top with chopped tomatoes, cilantro, and/or lime wedges at table.
  • Serve with mexican rice and beans.

Original recipe available here.

2020 Reading List

I’m logging all of the books I read this year in an attempt to focus on reading more and celebrating each little victory as I hit “the end.” I love a combination of fiction, nonfiction, and all around feel good books. I also love to read a variety of children’s and preteen books as well to help spread a love of literacy among children. So don’t be surprised if you see a few of those in this list as well. 😍 Feel free to share some recommendations in the comments.. I’ll post as I go.. so scroll down and check out what I’ve read so far in 2020:

  1. Polly and Buster – They Mystery of the Magic Stones (completed Jan 1)
  2. Polly and Buster – The Search for the Silver Witch (started and completed Jan 4)
  3. The Missing Bookshop (started and completed Jan 5)
  4. Sophie Takes to the Sky (started and completed Jan 16)
  5. Roses’s Dress of Dreams (started and completed Jan 17)
  6. The Extraordinary Life of Anne Frank (started and completed Jan 20)
  7. 48 Hours : The Vanishing (completed March 25)

Harvey Pancakes

A recipe perfected over many family pancake breakfasts, including some tips and tricks from Magnolia Table‘s Best-Ever Fluffy Pancakes recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Box Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
  • 1 cup Bisquick
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs

Directions:

  • In large bowl, whisk muffin mix, Bisquick, and sugar
  • In medium bowl, whisk buttermilk, vanilla extract, and eggs
  • Combine liquid and dry ingredients
  • Let rest 10-15 minutes
  • Heat a skillet to medium high heat
  • Cook until lightly brown on the bottom and top is bubbly, about 2 minutes
  • Pancakes are best eaten hot, just after cooking.

Candy Cane Cookies

1 cup Shortening (Half Butter)
1 cup Powdered Sugar
1 Egg
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 1/2 cups Flour
1 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Red Food Coloring

Heat oven to 375. Mix shortening, sugar, egg and flavoring. Mix flour, salt and stir in. Divide dough in half. Blend food coloring into one half. Roll 1 tsp. of each color dough into strips 4 inches long on a lightly floured board. Place strips side by side and twist. Put on ungreased baking sheet. Curve tops. Bake 9 minutes.

Original recipe available here.

Explaining Santa

It’s that time of year where some parents find themselves in the heartbreaking position of telling their kids there’s no such thing as Santa. Whether it’s a jerky fifth-grader on the bus ruining the fun or a child old enough to put it all together on their own, it’s sad and the end of an era. There’s also the worry that you’ll do it “wrong” and traumatise your child by telling them the truth.

Enter a mom who shared a wonderful idea for breaking the news that you’ll want to save for when the time comes at your house.

Christy Hutchison posted on Facebook about the method she came across online to tell kids there’s no Santa (gulp.)

And it’s pretty much perfect.

In their family, they have a special way of transitioning the kids from receiving from Santa, to becoming a Santa. This way, the Santa construct is not a lie that gets discovered, but an unfolding series of good deeds and Christmas spirit.

When they are 6 or 7, whenever you see that dawning suspicion that Santa may not be a material being, that means the child is ready.

Hutchison suggests taking them out “for coffee” at the local wherever. Get a booth, order drinks, and the following pronouncement needs to be made:

“You sure have grown an awful lot this year. Not only are you taller, but I can see that your heart has grown, too. [ Point out 2-3 examples of empathetic behavior, consideration of people’s feelings, good deeds etc, the kid has done in the past year]. In fact, your heart has grown so much that I think you are ready to become a Santa Claus.

You probably have noticed that most of the Santas you see are people dressed up like him. Some of your friends might have even told you that there is no Santa. A lot of children think that, because they aren’t ready to BE a Santa yet, but YOU ARE. Tell me the best things about Santa. What does Santa get for all of his trouble? [lead the kid from “cookies” to the good feeling of having done something for someone else]. Well, now YOU are ready to do your first job as a Santa!”

The trick here is to make sure you maintain the proper conspiratorial tone.

Then have the child choose someone they know… a neighbour, usually. The child’s mission is to secretly, deviously, find out something that the person needs, and then provide it, wrap it, deliver it… and never reveal to the target where it came from.

Being a Santa isn’t about getting credit, you see. It’s unselfish giving.

“My oldest chose the “witch lady” on the corner. She really was horrible… had a fence around the house and would never let the kids go in and get a stray ball or Frisbee. She’d yell at them to play quieter, etc–a real pill.”

“He noticed when we drove to school that she came out every morning to get her paper in bare feet, so he decided she needed slippers. He wrapped them up, and tagged it “merry Christmas from Santa.” After dinner one evening, he slipped down to her house, and slid the package under her driveway gate. The next morning, we watched her waddle out to get the paper, pick up the present, and go inside. My son was all excited, and couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. The next morning, as we drove off, there she was, out getting her paper–wearing the slippers.” 

He was ecstatic. I had to remind him that NO ONE could ever know what he did, or he wouldn’t be a Santa.

“Over the years, he chose a good number of targets, always coming up with a unique present just for them. One year, he polished up his bike, put a new seat on it, and gave it to one of our friend’s daughters. These people were and are very poor. We did ask the dad if it was ok.”

“The look on her face, when she saw the bike on the patio with a big bow on it, was almost as good as the look on my son’s face.”

When it came time for her second son to join the ranks, her oldest came along and helped with the induction speech.

Hutchison says that both her sons are excellent gifters to this day, and never felt that they had been lied to… because they were let in on the Secret of Being a Santa.

Original Post available here.

Classic Cheesecake

Classic Cheesecake with a Gingersnap Cookie Crust and Raspberry Sauce

Ingredients:

  •  FOR THE CRUST:
  • 2 cups Gingersnap Crumbs
  • 6 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 1 pinch Fine Sea Salt
  •  FOR THE FILLING:
  • 24 ounces, weight Cream Cheese, At Room Temperature
  • 1-1/4 cup Sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Fine Sea Salt
  • 4 Eggs At Room Temperature
  • 2 teaspoons Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 12 ounces, fluid Greek Yogurt (2%% Or Full Fat), At Room Temperature
  • FOR THE RASPBERRY SUACE:
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 12 oz frozen raspberries thawed
  • Fresh raspberries

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Wrap 3 layers of foil around the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. 

In a blender or food processor, pulse the crust ingredients together until combined. Press into the bottom of the springform pan and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven onto a cooling rack. 

Reduce the oven temperature to 325ºF. 

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on low speed until no lumps remain. Add in the sugar and salt; continue mixing on low until the ingredients are incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. 

Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until fully incorporated. Continue scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Keeping the mixer on low speed, add in the lemon juice, vanilla, and Greek yogurt. (Stir the yogurt first if it has separated while coming to room temperature.) Mix just until combined. 

Pour the filling into the pan and place it into a large roasting pan. Place the pan into the oven and quickly pour hot water into the roasting pan so that it comes up about 1 inch up the foil-wrapped springform pan. 

Bake for 55–70 minutes or until the cheesecake is set on the sides and just jiggles a bit in the center when the pan is shaken. Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and place back in the warm oven. Turn the oven off and crack the oven door. Leave the cheesecake in the oven for 1 hour. 

Remove the cheesecake from the oven and run a thin knife along the edge of the pan. Let the cheesecake continue to cool to room temperature. Place in the refrigerator for several hours to chill completely. 

For Raspberry Sauce:

  • In a small saucepan, combine cornstarch, water, and sugar.
  • Add raspberries and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
  • Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  • Sauce can be served warm or chilled.
  • Slice the cheesecake, add raspberries, sauce, and rosemary sprigs for garnish. Enjoy!

Original cheesecake recipe available here and original raspberry sauce recipe available here.

Best Apple Crumble

Ingredients:

Filling

3 large apples, peeled, coarsely chopped (about 3 cups) 

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 to 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 cup cold butter or margarine, cut into small pieces

Topping

1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker™ oatmeal cookie mix

1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Steps:

  • Heat oven to 300°F. Spray bottom and sides of 8-inch square (2-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray. In large bowl, toss filling ingredients. Spread mixture in baking dish.
  • In same large bowl, stir cookie mix and melted butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over filling.
  • Bake 40 minutes. Remove from oven; sprinkle with pecans. Bake 15 to 20 minutes longer or until topping is golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature. Best enjoyed with a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.

Original recipe available here.

*Sub with gluten free or non-dairy ingredients and still SUPER yummy. I used vegan non-dairy butter and gluten free oatmeal cookie mix. yum!