Tag Archives: baking

What’s for Christmas dinner: Make ahead twice baked potatoes

17 Dec
Christmas Dinner: pork chop with homemade applesauce, green beans, twice baked potatoes, butternut squash

Today’s post is all about the potatoes.


Yesterday I wrote the first part of my post about our Christmas dinner, which is a great meal for any occasion:  roasted pork chops, homemade applesauce, Twice-Baked Potatoes, sauteed green beans and butternut squash.

At the end of the post I promised that I’d be sharing the make-ahead process that Don uses for the Twice-Baked Potatoes, which also provides you with a ready-made appetizer: potato skins.

To begin, you need baking potatoes. I get mine at Aldi’s. They sell the perfect sized and shaped potatoes in a big bag so that you don’t have to hand pick every single one. I buy two bags of them.

Early in the day on Christmas Eve, they go in the oven to be baked just as you would for any baked potato. Don bakes them at 400 degrees for one hour.

After that, they cool on top of the stove for two hours.

Potato skins

You want to take off the tops, but leave enough potato on them to make a hearty potato skin appetizer. You don’t want just skin.

At that time, Don cuts the top skin off of the potatoes, putting the tops in a serving dish to be used as Potato Skins for the next day and leaving the bottoms on the tray to be used for the Twice Baked Potatoes.

potato shells

You don’t want to scrape right down to the skin, leave enough flesh on the skin for a sturdy shell.

The next step is to scoop all of the potato flesh out of the skins, and into a mixing bowl.

making mashed potatoes for twice baked potoatoes

Next, you make mashed potatoes.

Next, you make the filling. We use butter, milk or half and half, salt, pepper and cheddar cheese, mashing the mixture just as you would for mashed potatoes.

Then, you fill the potato skins back up again. They should be slightly more full than they were before because of the added cheese, milk and butter.

Wrap the entire tray with saran wrap and refrigerate overnight.

On Christmas morning, when it’s time to cook, take your potatoes out. Let them sit on the counter for about 20 minutes to bring the temperature up a bit. Bake them in the oven 350 degrees for 40 minutes.  Sprinkle cheddar cheese on top of each one, and broil for a few minutes until brown and crispy. Eat and Enjoy!

Twice Baked Potatoes

Good enough to eat!

Additionally, to make your potato skins appetizer, you use the tops of the skins from the day before, sprinkling them with any toppings you’d like. We use cheddar cheese and bacon bits. Broil them for a few minutes in the oven before serving. We serve with a side of sour cream.

Your Tray or Mine? Cookie Tray Recipe of the Day: Chocolate Chip Butterballs

8 Dec

These cookies could be made with nuts instead of chocolate chips if you prefer!


Today’s recipe is another one of my favorite cookie recipes, one we’ve made for years and years. Way back when I was a Girl Scout, I used to participate in the Girl Scout Bake Off each year and one of the years I earned second place with these cookies! That’s how long my family has been making them.

We call them Chocolate Chip Butterballs, but they have many other names: Snowballs, Mexican Wedding Balls, Hazelnut Balls and probably other names I don’t even know about.

Traditionally they are made with nuts. I don’t like nuts, my family never baked with nuts growing up and I don’t either We all really love Chocolate Chips though, so my mom has always subbed in the chocolate chips for nuts. You can choose either mini chips or the regular sized chips. Personally, I prefer the big ones, but if you don’t, switch them for the minis instead. If you’re into tasting batter, this one is safe to eat, there are no eggs in this recipe. I’m always pretty sure I’d come out with about six more cookies in each batch if I ate less batter!

This recipe can be made fast and easy if you have extra set(s) of hands to help you roll the batter into balls! This is one I often let my kids help with. I don’t usually have them roll the hot ones in the sugar though, even though I use a spoon for that. Their “part” is the cold batter getting rolled into the balls for baking.

Be sure to check back tomorrow to see what the coordinating kids’ activities are for this recipe!


Chocolate Chip Butterball Cookies


2 cups flour **for a healthier version, I have used one cup of wheat flour mixed with one cup of white flour**
1 cup butter or margarine  **for a healthier version I have substituted “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” for regular**
4 TBL granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla

one 12 oz. package chocolate chips

Bowl of confectioner’s sugar


Combine flour, butter, granulated sugar, salt, vanilla in bowl of electric mixer. Mix well.

Add in chocolate chips, mix them into the batter.

Refrigerate dough 30 minutes (or longer.)

Form into 1″ balls, place on cookie sheet. These don’t spread, so you can put a lot on a sheet, no need to spread them out a ton.

Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes.

Cool only slightly, maybe a minute or so, and then roll each one in a bowl of confectioner’s sugar.

Roll a second time in confectioner’s sugar before serving.

Got leftovers? Make a Turkey Pot Pie!

28 Nov


One of the best things about having leftovers from Thanksgiving is being able to enjoy the feast for days to come. Although we do not have Thanksgiving at home, the recipe I am posting today is one of my favorite ways to use leftover turkey, so I thought I’d post it here for you, in case you  get tired of turkey sandwiches.

Turkey Pot Pie


1pkg. (ten oz.) frozen peas and carrots (or whatever veggies you like in your pot pies)

1/4 cup butter or margarine

1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/4 tsp. pepper

1 can College Inn Chicken Broth

2/3 cup milk

2 1/2 to 3 cups cut up cooked turkey (or chicken)

Pastry for two 9″ crust pie


Rinse frozen peas and carrots under running cold water to separate. Drain.

Heat margarine in 2 quart saucepan over low heat until melted.

Stir in flour and pepper.

Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is bubbly; remove from heat.

Stir in broth and milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly.

Boil and stir 1 minute. Stir in turkey and vegetables.

Pour turkey into pastry lined dish, flute the top crust.

Bake at 425 degrees until golden brown, about 35 minutes.

Pumpkin Palooza…My grand finale: Here’s to friends and pumpkin pie cupcakes

26 Nov

I’m thankful for being able to stay connected to friends from “way back when” who are both near and far.


I went to a high school outside of my hometown, with kids from all over my state and a neighboring state. Therefore, I met people there I would not normally have had a chance to meet, had I attended my local high school. Upon graduation we all went our separate ways, but we always tried to keep in touch.

At first we kept in touch by letters and the occasional phone call, but today with technology the way it is, we keep in touch by email and things like Facebook as well.

We’ve attended and/or been in each others weddings, we’ve visited each other when new babies were born, and gotten together when one or another of us were in town, visiting from wherever we had now settled, and even bumped into each other at the occasional swim lesson or scouting events. Each year though, at Thanksgiving, we try to get together to share a meal, whether it’s breakfast or dinner, just to catch up before another year goes by.

The photo here is last year’s picture after our Friday after Thanksgiving breakfast. We have another one scheduled for this year. Pictured here are high school friends Lia, Jenn, Nicole and I. We missed Bethany that year but she’ll be there this year!

A delicious treat!

My friend Nicole is in the fushia sweater, and today’s recipe was posted on Facebook by her, a couple of weeks back. I printed it right away but I only just got the chance to make it this week. She wrote that she’d made these pumpkin cupcakes by Baker Chick for all of the teachers at her school where she is the school librarian. I bet they loved them! I know I did! They got thumbs up from almost everyone here at our house, and I thought they were even better the second day; just like a slice of pumpkin pie in a cupcake wrapper!

The recipe states that these cupcakes puff up when cooked and then shrink back down, which is exactly what they did. Baker Chick also says that the fact that they shrink down is great because it gives you the perfect place to squirt some whipped cream, and she was right about that as well.

This was an easy recipe and didn’t take too long. I found my cook time to be slightly longer than the 20 minutes stated, but I just kept checking them every 2-3 minutes til they were done.

I hope you get a chance to try these out this week! Thanks to Nicole for sharing, I’ll see you soon! Thanks to Baker Chick for a great recipe!

Two bowls, simple ingredients.


2/3 cup all purpose flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 15-oz can pumpkin puree

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup half and half


Cupcakes puff up when they’re first cooked….


Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper or silicone liners. *If using paper liners, lightly coat them with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice.

In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla and half and half until well combined.

Add in dry ingredients and whisk until no streaks of flour remain and batter is smooth.

Distribute batter evenly in the muffin tin. (they should be about 3/4 of the way full.)

Bake for 20 minutes. Cool cupcakes in pan. (They will sink as they are cooling.)

Chill cupcakes before serving. Top with lightly sweetened whipped cream.

…..and shrink down when cooled.

Makes 12

Pumpkin Palooza Recipe of the Day: Pumpkin Swirl Brownies

24 Nov

This new recipe got all thumbs up this weekend!


This weekend I tried a new recipe that came across my virtual “desk” last week. The recipe was from Babble’s Family Kitchen blog that I follow on Facebook. The recipe, for Pumpkin Swirl Brownies, reminded me of a recipe my college roommate used to make for Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies, and it’s made basically the same way except using pumpkin instead of peanut butter.

I must say, I am not the neatest dessert-cutter. All my squares are all different sizes, but really they’re all going to the same place, right? These Pumpkin Swirl Brownies were really, really delicious! The recipe was very easy. Try it and see what you think! Here it is, as I found it on Babble last week. Apparently, the person who posted it had seen it on several other blogs as well.


1/2 cup butter
6 oz (6 squares) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped (or 1 cup chocolate chips)  I used the chocolate chips.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups solid-pack pumpkin  (I used one 15 oz can of Libby’s canned pumpkin.)
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg (It says Nutmeg is optional, but I did use it.)


1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter an 8×8-inch or 9×9-inch baking pan. (I used 11×7 but would use 9×13 next time. They were super-thick.)

2) In a small saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate over medium-low heat, stirring until smooth.

3) In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

4) In a large bowl, beat the sugar, eggs and vanilla for a few minutes, until fluffy; beat in the flour just until combined.

5) Divide the batter between two medium bowls (about 1 and 1/2 cups of batter per bowl) and stir the chocolate mixture into one bowl. Stir the pumpkin, oil, cinnamon and nutmeg into the other bowl.

6) Transfer half of chocolate batter to prepared pan, smooth the top and gently spread with half the pumpkin batter.

Here’s how it looks when you drop the large spoonfuls of batter on top of the two layers, before you swirl.

7) Drop large spoonfuls of chocolate and pumpkin batter on top, then gently swirl the two batters with the tip of a knife (just a table knife, so you don’t scrape the bottom of the pan with a sharp tip) to create a marbled effect.

And here’s how it looks after you do the marbling effect with your butter knife.

8) Bake for 40-45 minutes, until just set. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. Makes 16 brownies.

Pumpkin Palooza Recipe of the Day: Cranberry Pie

21 Nov

My Thanksgiving Day Cranberry Pie

Each year for Thanksgiving we go to my aunt and uncle’s for a huge family Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because of all the food with none of the stress of buying gifts. I especially like it because we have A TON of desserts, homemade pies and desserts of every flavor in the world it seems. In the past I’ve been assigned a pumpkin pie, a squash pie or an apple pie. Last year though, I was given the choice to bring whatever I wanted. I decided to walk on the wild side as they say, and try something new. I saw this in a magazine last fall and I was determined to try it out. It was delicious and I’ll be making it again this year.

At the time I could not remember where I had found the recipe, but I believed that I had ripped the recipe out of Country Living . The author of the recipe is Chef Joan E. Aller, author of Cider Beans, Wild Greens and Dandelion Jelly.


Makes 1 pie  (8 servings)

Working time 15 minutes

Total time 1 hr 5 minutes


1 nine inch pie crust

1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries  (1 twelve ounce bag)

1 cup sugar (divided 2/3 cup  and 1/3 cup)

1 heaping Tablespoon all purpose flour

1 egg white

1 cup heavy whipping cream


1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Roll out piecrust and arrange in a 9″ pie pan.

2) Pour cranberries into crust to form a thick layer.

3) In a medium bowl, sift together 2/3 cup sugar and flour.

4) In a separate bowl beat egg white until stiff peaks form. Then fold into flour mixture. Slowy stir in cream until combined.

5) Cover cranberries with remaining 1/3 cup sugare and then pour cream  mixture on top.

6) Bake pie for about 10 minutes.  Then lower oven to 350 degrees and bake for about 40 minutes more.

7) Let pie cool completely before serving.

Pumpkin Palooza Recipe of the Day: MaryLou’s Sweet Potato Casserole

19 Nov

This is MaryLou. She makes a kickin’ Sweet Potato Casserole!


Who is MaryLou, you ask? She’s my mother-in-law and she makes the best sweet potato casserole EVER!!  She knows how much I love it, and even if it’s NOT Thanksgiving, she’s often made it when we visit. I am always sure to sit myself next to the Sweet Potato Casserole at the table, whenever she makes it.

Since 450 miles is a LONG way to go for a bite of her casserole, she let me have the recipe in November 2004. I am now sharing it with you. You are very lucky. :)


3 cups sweet potatoes boiled and mashed

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

1/2 cup margarine

Mix thoroughly and pour into buttered casserole dish.


1 cup light brown sugar packed

1/2 cup flour

1 cup chopped pecans (this is a 6oz. pkg. halved pecans or so my notes say)

1/2 cup margarine melted

Mix with fork and sprinkle on top

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes

“Sit down and enjoy!”


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 668 other followers