Thursday, October 30, 2008

Recipe # 16 Rocky Road Bars

This is a no-bake favorite. They can be a little bit soft if you put your cookie trays anywhere at all warm, but they're good and easy to make. I'm not always a fan of no-bake cookies, but these ones get my seal of approval.

Rocky Road Bars
1 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup mild chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup peanut butter (creamy)
6 cups miniature marshmallows

Grease a 9 x 13 baking pan.
Heat chocolates and peanut butter over low heat. Remove from heat and stir in marshmallows.
Pour into prepared pan and spread evenly. Cool. They can be cooled in the refrigerator if you choose.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ready, Set, BAKE!!

Okay everyone, the time is here…Today is Oct 29 so we begin shipping tomorrow. That means I have emailed everyone who's a confirmed baker Alex's address, along with info about the custom forms.
Our soldier for this round is SFC Alex Herrera. Alex is a husband and father of two sons. His family lives in the Sterling Heights, Michigan area and are anxious to see him return. This is Alex's fourth tour of duty. He has served our country in Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Iraq. He is a member of the Army. I have sent Alex a letter to let him know our boxes will be arriving shortly, so he and the others serving alongside him will be on the lookout for your goodies!
All of my confirmed bakers should watch their email inboxes for an email from me. It should arrive today (Wednesday the 29th). If you have NOT received the email, contact me at and I'll try to fix things. Round 4 runs for 12 days so there is still time to get your package out if you want to.
Our mailing dates are between Oct 30 and Nov 10. After you have shipped out your box, please drop me an email to let me know how it went. I'm anxious to hear your stories or see pictures of your baking and boxes! I would love to post them on my blog too. By the way, the little flag cookies next to our team name at baking GALS are a sample of the sugar cookies that Randy and I sent out last round.
If anyone has any problems or questions, please drop me an email and I'll certainly try to help.
PACKING COOKIES: there seems to be a lot of information out there on the net about the best way to pack our goodies. Last round, Randy and I individually wrapped each cookie in cellophane and packed them pretty tightly. This time I think I'm going to cut the bars and then wrap them as sheets to pack more in my box. Some people vacuum seal their cookies, and some pack them in Ziploc containers. The most important thing is that you pack them securely so that they aren't being beat against the side of the box during shipping. If you have extra space in your box, pack it with something soft. I used napkins last round to top off my box, but anything soft that can fill the space will work. Be creative and try to think of something the soldiers can use! If anyone comes up with a great idea, be sure to share it with the rest of us.
****Also, it is a great idea to send a personal note along with the cookies, rather than just an unexplained box!

Recipe # 15 Choco-caramel Cookies

This is a new one for our 2008 bake. My mom clipped it out of a magazine a while back and she wanted to try it. Sounds good but I'll review it after the bake!

Choco-Caramel Cookies
48 Hershey's Caramel Kisses
1 cup margarine
2 Tablespoons butterscotch sundae topping (like Smuckers)
1 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons imitation butter flavoring
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup raw sugar (turbinado sugar)...for rolling

Beat butter, butterscotch topping, brown sugar and butter flavoring until well blended. Add eggs, beat well.
Gradually add the salt and flour, blending well. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes. Shape into 1 inch balls. Roll in turbinado sugar.
Bake on ungreased sheets at 350 degrees for 10-11 minutes, or until set. Press an unwrapped Caramel kiss into the center of each cookie as you remove from heat. Cool completely.

Recipe #14 Pecan Tassies

These are Randy's favorites so they've been a part of the cookie bake for as long as I've known him. They're kind of like little mini pecan pies.

Pecan Tassies
3 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1 cup flour
Blend the cream cheese and margarine together, then stir in the flour until smooth and refrigerate for 1 hour. After refrigerating, shape the dough into 24 1-inch balls and press them into the bottom and up the sides of 24 ungreased mini-muffin pans.

1/2 cup coarsely broken pecans
Place 1 teaspoon of the pecans in each crust

1 egg
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon softened margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
Beat the above four ingredients together just until smooth. Divide evenly among Tassies.

1/2 cup coarsely broken pecans
Top each tar with 1 teaspoon again.

Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes or until filling is set. Cool and remove from mini muffin tins.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Recipe # 13: Snowball Jewels

This is one I can't quite recommend yet. My mom made something like this years ago and we both remember it as being wonderful, but she misplaced the recipe. I searched high and low last year to find what we thought was a similar recipe and ahead we went. Unfortunately, last year these spread a bit too much and the edges were crispy...we weren't very impressed. We included them in this year's cookie bake just in case it was something we did wrong that made them not-so-great. I did look for a new recipe to try, but didn't come up with one we thought would be better so if they don't turn out this year, well...there are plenty of other recipes waiting to take their place in my list!!

Snowball Jewels
1 14 oz package of coconut
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup M&Ms

Combine all ingredients, mix well. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 9-11 minutes or until edges are very lightly browned.

Using moistened spatula, immediately remove from cookie sheet to cool on wire racks.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Baking GALS: most current goodie list

Here's the latest update to the list of goodies going out from team Nutty this round. This doesn't mean you can't send the same thing, I just wanted to make sure we all don't send the same.

  • chocolate chip cookies
  • peanut butter cookies
  • oatmeal and oatmeal raisin bar cookies
  • Texas Tumbleweeds
  • Mini Muffins - probably pumpkin or lemon
  • Homemade Granola
  • Walnut Luck Cookies
  • Butter Cookies
  • Cowboy Cookies (basically chocolate chips, oatmeal and nuts)

If you're a baker and you've decided what to send, please let me know here or by email so I can add it to our list.

Recipe # 12: Jam Thumbprints

Another family stand-by. These differ from a lot of thumbprint recipes because you actually bake them with the jam in, instead of adding the jam after they're baked. We like that better because we think it makes them less messy/sticky. My personal favorite is raspberry jam, and I like the seeds, but I guesssssss you can use whatever you like....

Jam Thumbprints

1/4 cup margarine, softened
1/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 2/3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup finely chopped nuts (any kind)
1/3 cup seedless jam (any flavor, and I like the seeds!)

In a large bowl, cream the margarine, shortening and sugar. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Add about half the flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix well. Add sour cream and mix until well blended. Add the remaining flour and mix well.
Shape into 1 1/4 inch balls. Roll in nuts. Place 2 inches apart on greased cookie sheets. Make a 1/2 inch deep dent in each cookie and fill it with jam.
Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack.
Makes about 36 cookies.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Recipe # 11: Chocolate Oat Chewies

This is a Cookie Bake stand by. They can be a little bit tedious, due to the extra steps as they come out of the oven, but they look and taste delicious so we make them every year! My mom found mini chocolate bars in a bulk food store one time and they worked even nicer than the Hershey's bars, we thought...the smaller size was just right. I also like to use leftover Halloween Hershey's bars as an alternative to the big ones.

Chocolate Oat Chewies
1 (18.25 oz) Moist Devil's Food Cake mix
1 1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup coconut, toasted and divided
3/4 cup margarine, melted
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 1.5 oz milk chocolate bars, broken into small rectangles (you end up with 60 pieces)

Combine cake mix, oats, 1/2 cup coconut, margarine, eggs and vanilla in a large bowl.
Cover and chill for 15 minutes.
Shape dough into 1 inch balls.
Bake at 350 degrees, 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets for 12 minutes.
Immediately upon removing from oven, press one chocolate bar rectangle into the middle of each cookie and then sprinkle it with the remaining 1/2 cup of toasted coconut.
Remove to cooking racks.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Recipe # 10: Candy Cane Puffs

These cute little cookies are kind of a Cookie Bake creation. I believe we found the recipe in a book or magazine a few years ago, but we came up with the decorations ourselves, and that's what makes them a repeat for about 3 years running.

Candy Cane Puffs

2 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup margarine

1 cup powdered sugar

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

6-8 oz white chocolate, melted

1/2 cup finely crushed candy canes (put a couple candy canes in the food processor)

Beat margarine and sugar until creamy. Add egg, peppermint and vanilla. Beat well. At low speed, beat in flower. Wrap in plastic and chill for one hour.

Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Place on greased baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes, until bottoms are lightly browned. Cool on racks.

Brush just the top with melted white chocolate, then dip in crushed candy canes. Allow to set.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cookie # 9: Chocolate Ting-a-Lings

Can you say EASY?? With making so many different kinds of cookies in one day, oven time is always an issue so I try to mix in a few no-bake cookies to help us keep up. I'm not always fond of no-bake recipes, but this is one that's a multiple time repeat. And with only three ingredients, how much easier could it be??

Chocolate Ting-A-Lings

1 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup salted peanuts
2 cups chow mein noodles

Melt chocolate morsels (any method, double boiler, microwave, whatever works for you). Stir in peanuts and chow mein noodles. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto foil or wax paper. Refrigerate (optional) to harden. These freeze very well.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Baking GALS: We officially have a soldier!

I put a bulletin up on the Baking GALS site, but I wanted to let you all know here too, in case you aren't hanging out there, that I have an address for our soldier. His name is Alex and his uncle (my co-worker) is having his wife email me a little bio to share with you. I'll post it as soon as I get it.
In the meantime, I DO have his APO address, so warm up those ovens! It's only a week till we start mailing!

*Keeping things up to date, here's our list of goodies already going out. Please email me or post here as soon as you know what you'll be sending.
  1. chocolate chip cookies
  2. peanut butter cookies
  3. oatmeal and oatmeal raisin bar cookies

*If you've joined our team at baking GALS but have not emailed me yet, please do so very soon. I need to be in contact with you in order to email you Alex's address. My intention is to email all of my bakers with it on the evening of October 29, less than ONE week away!

*If any of my bakers need suggestions or help as to what to send, how to send it, or anything AT ALL, please email me or ask here. I will help in ANY way I can!

Cookie # 8 Spritz

These are the ones you need a cookie press for. We always tint our dough green and make either trees or wreaths with it. One year, we tried making reindeer but they ended up looking like dogs and most of the heads broke off in the process. This is a kind of plain cookie. They do taste good and not too sweet which is nice, but personally I would skip them on cookie trays if my mom didn't love them so much. I just like the fancy ones on my trays better. However, I never refuse to sample one!

1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/4 cups flour

Cream together margarine, shortening and sugar at medium speed. Beat in egg, vanilla and almond extract. Mix well. Work in flour until well blended. Tint if desired. Force through cookie press onto ungreased cookie sheets. Sprinkle with decorations if desired. Bake at 400 degrees for about 5 minutes, until set but not brown. Cool slightly before removing from sheets.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Baking GALS: What to put in your box

NOTE: There is still time to sign up for baking if you haven't yet:, team Just Add Nuts!

Those of you who are signed up to bake for my team this round know that it's up to you to fill up your box and get it sent, but I thought I'd open up a discussion for ideas in case anyone is wondering.
The first priority would be to make sure whatever you send will arrive in good condition. Last round, Randy and I sent oatmeal cookie bars and chocolate chip cookie bars, as well as some sugar cookies. There's a small pic of the sugar cookies on the baking gals site on our team page. I don't think we'll be doing sugar cookies this round, even though I love them because they look so pretty! It just was really hard on me to make cookies without the frosting. I know they taste so much better with it, but I was afraid it would melt and be smooched on the trip over..which would be even more disastrous. So we made them without icing...they were okay I guess, but not what I really wanted to do. The oatmeal cookies, on the other hand, turned out wonderfully and we'll probably be doing them again this round. I'm thinking we may just do enough oatmeal cookies to fill the box, probably some with raisins added and some plain. I will share that recipe eventually too, but I'm "working" (hehe) right now and don't have it available...besides, I want our soldier to get variety!
I did think of a few other ideas for things that might ship well. I was thinking unsliced quick breads (pumpkin would be nice this time a year) would be good, or muffins. Also, a lot of soldiers like healthy snacks, so trail mix would be great, or some healthy snack bars or protein bars.
Since it will be Halloween right after the mailing starts, maybe some candy would be a good idea too. I don't have any candy recipes really, but if that's your specialty, give it a whirl. I'm not sure about sending chocolates, since I don't know what kind of conditions our boxes will encounter as they make their way to our soldier.
Also, if you don't have quite enough baked goods to fill your box, you are welcome to send other things along with the goodies. Use common sense here though! Obviously, nothing illegal (no pirated DVD's, etc), but also, think about what you're sending and how it will mix with your baked goods. No lotions, shampoos, fabric softener sheets, things like that...they will only ruin your whole box. Even if you double wrap them in ziplock bags, it's not worth the risk. I have read online that if it can leak on the trip over, it will...and I don't want a day of baking to go to waste because I had to send a bottle of lotion too. And I've read that fabric sheets and other air fresherners tarnish the taste of the entire box. Last round, Randy and I included some magazines and some extra DVD's my dad had. We used them at the bottom and sides of our boxes, kind of as shields for the cookies. We also filled up the top of the box with napkins...we figured that would come in handy with a hundred cookies! Our soldiers especially thanked us for the DVDs. They are really missing home over there, so letters from you or your kids or friends, or anyone really, are greatly appreciated, as well as stationary and envelopes so they can write to their loved ones. Also, anything to entertain them in their down-time is really enjoyed. Remember, they spend long days in the desert (or other not so fun places), and then for their down-time, they get to come "home" to a tent or trailer and sit....eating and sleeping only take up so much time, so something to entertain them in some small way is always a good thing. Footballs, softballs, other sporting equipment, puzzles, books, games, movies, magazines (even older ones). Another suggestion is things to decorate their areas, pictures, posters, strings of lights, holiday decorations, pictures from your kids, new socks, wash cloths, pillowcases...all of those are nice extras.
That is in NO way saying you have to put anything except baked goods in your box, those are just suggestions in case you have a little space left. Since we pay $10.95 to send a box no matter how much it weighs, we wanted to fill every single empty spot in our boxes. We baked mostly bar cookies because I thought they would pack closer. Last round, we individually wrapped each cookie in plastic wrap. This round, I'm considering wrapping the entire pan of cookies in plastic and mailing them whole. I think I can fit about 9 (9x13) batches in my box that way. I'm thinking that the cookies will stay fresher in a big block than smaller pieces. I'll probably include a box of plastic knifes for cutting them up too, and also pack some napkins like last time. We still have a few of the DVD's my Dad donated, so our soldier will be getting some of those too.
For the baked goods, you need a recipe that doesn't need refrigeration, and something that will stay moist for a few days. Last round, we baked on Sunday, mailed on Monday, and got our first thank you on Thursday, so that wasn't too bad. I had a few of the oatmeal cookies left and we ate some a few days later...still yummy, so I think that recipe was a winner!
I'm going to be emailing everyone on the team to see what they think they might be sending, just so we make sure his unit gets a variety. If any of the team members are reading this, feel free to email me if you've already decided, or comment on this blog entry or the baking gals site.
Happy baking...I hope you're all getting as excited as I am!!

Recipe # 7: Coconut Nests

This is a recipe I found somewhere for our first ever cookie bake. I don't remember where I even found it, but they were a hit so we've made them every year since. They look different than other cookies and they're easy to make and more importantly, they taste good! One of my girl-friends who participated in the first few bakes brought her six-year-old daughter one year, and she enjoyed participating by counting out piles of eight chocolate chips for these cookies. Even if you don't have an available six-year-old for child labor, it's still worth taking the time to count them out and place the chocolate chips neatly in the least I think so...and I'm not anal about my cookies...oh, no, not me! lol

Coconut Nests
3 large egg whites
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
14 oz flaked coconut
6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips (about a cup)

Grease 36 miniature muffin pan cups

In a large bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually sprinkle in sugar and beat in until whites stand in stiff glossy peaks. Beat in vanilla. Stir in coconut. Spoon mixture by heaping tablespoons into prepared muffin pan cups. With the end of a wooden spoon handle (or your finger), form an indentation in the center of each cup, pressing coconut mixture up the sides. Place 8 chocolate chips in each nest, point up.
Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool slightly, then use a fork to carefully lift the nests from the pans.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Monday's Recipe: Almond Chocolate Chippers

This recipe was a new one for the 2007 Cookie bake. Randy's uncle and his family loved them so much they asked for the recipe....FOUR times! lol. Apparently they tried to make them but they didn't turn out the same as ours, so they thought they'd gotten the recipe wrong...I think it was probably a matter of the memory being better than the actuality, but anyway, after that we had to include them in the 2008 bake as well!

Almond Chocolate Chippers

1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons almond extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cup flour
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup slivered almonds

1/2 cup milk chocolate chips, melted
1/4 cup chopped almonds

Beat margarine with sugars until fluffy. Beat in egg and almond extract. Add baking soda and flour and beat well. With spoon, stir in 1 cup milk chocolate chips and slivered almonds.

Using about 1 teaspoon of dough, form into a log shape. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-9 minutes, til edges are slightly browned.

Let stand for 2 minutes before removing from baking sheets.

Cool completely. Dip one end in melted milk chocolate, then in chopped almonds.

Yield is about 3 dozen cookies

Friday, October 17, 2008

Sunday's recipe: Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

If you make these, send some to my dad...he loves these things. Won't eat them without the raisins though. LOL...on second thought, just don't let us know if you make them....He would eat the whole batch!

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups flour
3 cups oatmeal
3/4 cup raisins (omit or adjust amount to taste)

Cream together shortening, sugar and brown sugar. Add remaining ingredients in order, mixing well. Drop from a teaspoon onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake for about 12 minutes at 325 degrees.

Saturday's recipe: Cinnamon Spirals

Mmm, these are one of my absolute favorites. My mom used to let us make little cinnamon rolls with left-over pie dough when my brother and I were kids. These cookies remind me just a little of those, so maybe that's why, but they seem to be a big hit on most cookie trays too. Plus they look nice! I almost always double the recipe.

Cinnamon Spirals
1/2 cup margarine, softened
4 oz cream cheese
1 1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Beat together, at medium speed, the margarine and cream cheese until creamy. Reduce the mixer speed and gradually beat in the flour until well mixed. Pat the dough into a small flat rectangle, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Once dough is firm enough to roll, flour a surface and rolling pin and roll it into a 15 by 12 inch rectangle. Mix together the cinnamon and sugar then sprinkle evenly over the dough. Starting on a long side, roll up the dough, jelly roll style into a log. Brush the last 1/2 inch with a little water to help it seal. Cut the log in half, re-wrap it and put it back in the refrigerator for another 2 hours or so, until it's firm enough to slice (I've been known to put mine in the freezer to speed up the process, but keep an eye on it!).
Slice the roll into 1/4 inch slices and bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 10 minutes.

Baking GALS, I found us a soldier!!!

Since Randy's friend is in training in the states right now, I have been asking around to try to find us a soldier for this round. I asked people I know who have served and returned, people who are vets of other wars, friends, family and co-workers, even asked on a couple message boards! Do you believe, no one had anyone they knew overseas at the moment? That's good I guess, but I didn't want a team with no soldier. Well, just now, I asked a few more co-workers...and of course I got THREE soldiers! lol...I guess when it rains it pours. Well, one of them is the nephew of a former partner of mine, and he was very excited about the idea, so I told him to get me the address and a little bio on his nephew. So far, I know he's served four tours...this might even be his fifth...and has a wife and two children at home. I will pass on more info as I get it. I just found out about two hours ago that my job is switching my hours all around so I'll be working midnights next week and I should see Dennis (the uncle) on Monday night as I come in for the night and he leaves for the night and hopefully he'll have the address and more info then. The other two soldiers, I will try to find teams to sponsor, or maybe we can do one of the others next round.
I hope everyone is having a great Friday! I got up early to make the two Truffle recipes I mentioned early. Unfortunately, I had two million (give or take) things to get done today and I didn't have time to roll them into actual truffles yet, so they're in their bowls in a cooler in my car, waiting patiently for me to finish them! If they turn out good, I'll post the recipes.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Friday's recipe

And now, Friday's recipe...

I think these might be called snowballs in some circles. At least they look alike. We've always called ours Sandies, probably because they taste a bit like those store-bought cookies, Pecan Sandies (even though we usually use walnuts in ours).

1 cup margarine
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons water
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts work great)
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Add ingredients in order listed, mixing well as you go.
Chill dough for at least 4 hours.
Shape dough into 3/4 inch balls.
Bake cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
Cool and roll in powdered sugar. These freeze well, but usually need the powdered sugar refreshed after thawing them.
Makes 36 cookies.

Thursday's Cookie recipe

See, I'm on the second recipe and I'm already late! I guess it's evident why I didn't promise...

It's been a pretty hectic week. We have a wedding to go to on Saturday, a friend of Randy's family. It's the second wedding for both the bride and groom so they don't need a lot of "things" as gifts but money is so impersonal that I hate to give just straight cash. One of the things that did come up is that they need some coffee cups. So I hatched the idea to find them some really cool mugs and then make up some coffee mixes to include in the box...that with a little cash seemed like the perfect idea to us...right up until I thought TRUFFLES! Lol. So now, I have three coffee mixes, one hot cocoa mix, and one orange dreamsicle mix (the groom has an eleven year old daughter) made and bagged up, ingredients to make two kinds of truffles in the morning...and we STILL haven't found the "perfect" mugs! I swear...well, actually, I'd better not here, but if I could, I bet there's a perfect expression for this situation!

And then aside from that, I'm excited to be a Baking GALS host, getting that set up, and I'm busy planning the November Crazy Cookie Bake. I have the initial schedules done and the ingredient lists passed out...earlier than any previous year and a good thing too with the price of groceries...hopefully everyone can get things on sale.

So anyway, there's my excuses, now here's your recipe:
This is a family favorite. Growing up, my mom used to make an extra batch of these because my brother would eat one entire batch by himself...frozen! She would bake early, freeze a few batches, and come back to find only half of the turtle bars left. My brother has always been the skinniest one of the family and doesn't have much of a sweet tooth, but for some reason he loves these particular goodies.

Turtle Bars
1/2 cup margarine
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups pecan halves
2/3 cup margarine (yes, you need more)
1/2 cup brown sugar (and more)
1 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips (that's just a handful less than a full 12oz bag, wink, wink)

For crust, beat first three ingredients for 2 or 3 minutes at medium speed. Pat firmly into ungreased 9 by 13 pan.

Press pecan halves firmly into crust. It is a little tedious, but they look so much nicer if you try to put them in half-way straight rows.

For caramel layer, in a saucepan over medium heat, cook and stir the 2/3 cup margarine and 1/2 cup brown sugar til boiling. Boil for 30 seconds, remove from heat and pour evenly over the crust and pecans.

Bake for 20 minutes in a 325 degree oven, or until the caramel layer is bubbly. Remove from the oven. Immediately sprinkle the chocolate chips on top. Wait 2 or 3 minutes for them to melt, then spread them evenly over the top with the back of a spoon.

Cool completely before cutting. They work best cut into 1 inch squares and freeze well...AND, they're even good frozen...I'll give you my brother's number if you don't believe me!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

It's official, I'm a BAKING GAL!!

I have a habit of making short stories long, but I'll try to do the opposite here since it's late and I have to get up early.
Randy has a friend, Dan, who was a school teacher in New Jersey on 9/11. He saw, firsthand, the horror of that day. He has since changed careers, and is now in the military. Randy has been wanting to send Dan a care package and we both had been wanting to do something to show our support for our brave soldiers overseas. The solution was obvious, since I'm a crazy cookie maker. We decided to make a day of it and send out some love to the soldiers. Unfortunately, aside from Dan, we didn't personally know of anyone else to send them to and that's not the kind of thing you can send to someone who doesn't know you, so we were at a loss until Randy found Operation Baking Gals. After sending in our information (so they knew we were safe), we joined four teams and sent out care packages filled with cookies and DVDs.
Now, we are heading up a team and looking for volunteers to bake for our team, "Just Add Nuts". If you're a baker and interested in being on our baking team, please send me an email: We can get started by you sending me your full name and address, and telling me something about you and why you want to participate. Also, please sign up on the Baking Gals website: . You can join our team, or a different one.
I will eventually put up more information about packaging the cookies and sending them out. There is also some information on the baking gals site.
So wow, that's all I have to say for now, I think this is my shortest blog yet! lol
Have a good night everyone,

A cookie a day...

Well, it probably won't be keeping the doctor away, but it sure would be yummy!
I'd like to promise to post a cookie recipe daily (yes, I have that many!) but I'm not that foolish. I know myself well enough to know that eventually something will come up and I'll get busy or forget or not be home or...well, just about anything could come up in my crazy life. BUT, since I've posted about the 2008 Cookie Bake, I do promise to post all 25 recipes that we'll be using this year, and I'll get them up before baking day (November 23). I'll try to post at least one a day until I get them all up, but don't forget it's football season and we do love our football weekends...and baking cookies for tailgating, so don't expect too much of me!
I'll start the endeavour out right though by posting recipe #1 today. This is for my mom's Sugar cookies, believe me, you can NEVER go wrong with these! We've always called them Cut-Outs.

Sandy's Cut-Out Cookies
  • 1 cup margarine
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 1/2 cups flour

Mix ingredients in order in a large bowl. You can use an electric mixer until the flour makes it too hard to mix, then switch to a wooden spoon or your own hands (kids love this!). You may need extra flour if the dough is too sticky to roll out.

Roll dough out on a floured surface to about a 1/4 inch thickness. Cut dough into desired shape with a floured cookie cutter, or a butter knife (we used to trace our hands when we were growing up, sometimes decorating them to look like turkeys around Thanksgiving creative!).

Bake cookies on a lightly sprayed baking sheet, at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. Don't over-bake! Cookies are done when a fingerprint lightly pressed into the center pops back up. The bottom will be very slightly browned

Carefully remove warm cookies to cooling rack. When the cookies are completely cool, ice and decorate the side that was down on the cookie sheet, then decorate and let the icing set for a couple hours before packing them for storage. Keep them in a covered container or they freeze well for about 2-3 months.

This recipe makes a pretty large batch of cookies but the number depends on the cookie cutter you choose. We tend to get about 4 dozen cookies out of each batch. You can also cut the recipe in half.

Sandy's Icing

  • 1 cup shortening
  • 8 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Cream together all ingredients, adding a bit more powdered sugar or milk to achieve the desired consistency. After the icing is mixed, divide it and color each portion if you like. Paste colors tend to work best, but liquid food coloring is fine too, you just may have to add more powdered sugar to keep the consistency you like.

Ice the cookies and immediately sprinkle on any colored sugar or candies you wish to use. Set the cookies aside for the icing to set...or just eat them now!



Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cookie Day 2008

This year's Crazy Cookie day will take place on November 23. As I mentioned in my first blog, I've cut down to 25 cookies for the day. This is really bothering me though and I spent a lot of today online looking at more recipes...shhh, don't tell anyone! But as of now, there remain only 25 cookies on my list and I've already divided up the ingredients into six grocery lists. I hand them out as early as I can so that the participants get a chance to buy ingredients on sale. Even at regular price the ingredients shouldn't be more than around $30 per person, so that's still not bad for 25 different kinds of cookies to give as gifts or share at holiday get togethers.

Here's 2008's list:

  1. Sugar Cookies
  2. Turtles
  3. Sandies
  4. Cinnamon Spirals
  5. Oatmeal Raisin
  6. Almond Chocolate Chippers
  7. Coconut Nests
  8. Spritz
  9. Chocolate Ting-A-Lings
  10. Candy Cane Puffs
  11. Chocolate Oat Chewies
  12. Jam Thumbprints
  13. Snowball Jewels
  14. Pecan Tassies
  15. Choco-Caramel Cookies
  16. Rocky Road Bars
  17. German Chocolate Bars
  18. Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Walnut Cookies
  19. Sugar Plums
  20. Peanut Butter
  21. Toffee Squares
  22. Praline Cookies
  23. Cinnamon Sugar Cookies
  24. Ginger Sandwich Wafers
  25. Shortbread Fingers

And that's it...for now...stay tuned for updates and some shared recipes from this year's bake...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Begin Blogging now....

This is my first post...every blog needs one! I am currently at work but having a slow day, so I thought I'd just map out how I expect the blog to go.
Once I get home, and probably help from Randy (in other words, in a couple days), I'll try to put up some pictures from my annual cookie bake. Each year in November, I gather a small group of friends and family to make cookies. I don't mean a batch of cookies...I mean a house full! I'll have to look back over my records to see how many different kinds I've made over the years. I know my record was 42 different kinds (I was shooting for 45) in 2006, but my help has informed me that I need to cut back...something about getting older and me being crazy??? this year I only have 25 on my list....but that is already starting to eat away at me so I might have to sneak some in. I have never managed to count the number of individual cookies that we make but there are always at least 36 of each recipe, usually more, you do the math. We make around 200 beautiful iced sugar cookies every year, using my mom's recipe. They are always the first to go. I'll share the recipe with blog readers as soon as I get my hands on it. I am surprised I don't know it by heart since I've been making it for at least 30 years now, but I have an unreliable memory not to mention many other recipes fogging up my mind at the moment.
By the way, any time I share a recipe, I'll make an effort to type out measurements, but just in case I don't remember, the code my family uses is quite simple: T (big T) means Tablespoons, t (little t) means teaspoons. I grew up with my mom using that so when a friend asks me to write a recipe, now and then I'll get a call from someone asking me what's always surprises me it's not what everyone does...but then again, I also call a tape measure a "yo-yo", thanks Dad! (some of the guys I work with still know what I mean on that one at least!)
I called this blog "Just Add Nuts" because I'm a firm believer that nothing is as good as it could be until you add nuts! I know some people can't eat them and some people are allergic, and I feel terrible...but most any recipe I post is nuts you can leave them out...just please DON'T tell me about it, life is heartbreaking enough without news like that!
And of course, once you get to know me and my friends, you'll see there's another kind of nut in the world...and like the ones we bake with, you can never have too many nutty friends in your life, so those ones are NOT optional!
Randy and I are trying to head up a team for Operation Baking Gals, an organization that sends baked goods to soldiers. I'll post more information later about that, but if you happen across my site and want to participate, please send me an email and we'll see about having you join our team.
Stay NUTS,