Monday, December 19, 2011


What’s better than the smells of a fresh, warm baking cookie wafting through the house? Not much, that’s for sure! These delectable little morsels are guaranteed to disappear almost as fast as you can get them out of the oven.If you want to go for traditional, do the recipe as it is listed below. If you want to spice things up a bit (literally), swap out the cinnamon with nutmeg and cloves! 1 tsp nutmeg, 1 tsp cloves, 2 tbsp sugar.. roll the cookies in THAT before baking. Crazy tasty!

  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Combine 1 1/2 cups white sugar, butter or margarine, vanilla and eggs. Mix well.
  3. Stir in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Blend well. Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Combine 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon. Roll dough in sugar/cinnamon mixture and place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Immediately remove from cookie sheets.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Split Peas & Smoked Ham Hocks Soup

Cold winter day. Wind is howling outside. Frost is covering every inch of anything exposed.. what better time to whip up a pot of something warm, thick, and delicious? If you are in the Pac Northwest, I recommend getting your ham-hocks from WinCo. They seem to have the best prices AND the best quality for their hocks. Lots of meat, little price, good deal.

You can cut this recipe in half, if you have a smaller family, or don’t like to deal with left overs. I make a LOT, and we take it for lunches.

2 bags dried split peas
6 cups chicken broth
6 cups water
1 onion, diced
3-4 celery stalks, sliced
4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
3-4 medium carrots, sliced
4 decent sized smoked ham hocks

In a large stock pot, heat 2-3 tablespoons oil. Add the onion, celery, garlic and carrots. Cook until tender and starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the water and stock, bring to a boil.

While this is coming to a boil, make sure you rinse and sort your peas. Make sure there is not sand or other chunky ‘things’ in them. They being a natural product, sometimes ‘foreign materials’ can sneak into the bags. Just give them a quick rinse, poke through them a few times, and you should be good.

After the stock/veggies come to a boil, add the peas, and lower the heat to medium. Add the ham hocks, and let cook until desired consistency. Some people like it thin, like soup. I prefer mine thick, like a chowder. Watch your fluid levels. If it gets too dry, add more stock or water. Too wet, let it cook longer. I typically allow mine to cook slow for a few hours.

This goes great with home made Parker House rolls, or garlic bread.

Potato Bacon Chowder

What’s better on these cold winter days than a hearty pot of potato soup? My mom used to make this all the time, but her recipe was always watery, which I never cared for. So I tweek it a bit, and made it this way instead.. I made a double batch, and between the three of us here at the house, it literally lasted four days, then was gone. Good stuff, and again, simple to make.





2 cups peeled, cubed potatoes
1 cup water
8 bacon strips
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1 3/4 cups milk
1 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
Dash pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley


In a covered 3-qt. saucepan, cook potatoes in water until tender. Meanwhile, cook bacon in a skillet until crisp; remove to paper towels to drain. In the same skillet, saute onion, garlic, and celery in drippings until tender; drain. Add to undrained potatoes. Stir in soup, milk, sour cream, salt and pepper. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes or until heated through (do not boil). Crumble bacon; set aside 1/4 cup. Add remaining bacon to soup along with parsley. Sprinkle with reserved bacon. You can add some finely chopped chives, and grated cheese to the top as well. This truly brings out the flavours!

Pumpkin Oat Bread

Who ever said pumpkin should not be served after Thanksgiving, has never tried my pumpkin oatmeal bread! This stuff is amazing, and simple to make. Try it either as loaves, or you can make it into muffins as well. Just watch the bake time for muffins, about 25-30 minutes.

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oat
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
4 eggs
2 cups pumpkin puree , fresh if possible
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Grease the bottoms of 2 loaf pans (8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2). In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients, except the sugar. In a smaller bowl, combine sugar and all of the wet ingredients. Mix well until sugar is dissolved. Pour wet mixture into dry mixture. Stir to combine, but don't over mix. Pour into prepared loaf pans.
Bake 45-55 minutes, or until a test pick comes out clean. Cool in pans 5 minutes on cooling rack. Then, remove from pans and cool completely -- if it lasts that long!

Hibernian Cider-flavoured Chicken

Hibernia is the Latin name for Ireland. This braised chicken dish, flavoured with cider and mushrooms, is made with typical Irish foods.

1 frying chicken, about 3 pounds, cut up
Salt & pepper
All-purpose flour
3 to 4 tbsp butter
1 slice bacon, diced
1 medium leek, white part only, cleaned and sliced
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup apple cider
Fresh watercress leaves (garnish)

Rinse chicken pieces, pat dry. Pull of and discard skin. Season with salt & pepper. Dip each chicken piece into the flour to coat lightly on all sides.

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add chicken pieces and brown on all sides. With tongs, remove the chicken to a plate and keep warm.

Add the bacon and leeks to the drippings in the pan. Sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms; sauté about 3 minutes. Return the chicken pieces to the skillet. Pour in the cream and cider. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until chicken is tender, about 35 minutes. Season with salt & pepper, and serve garnished with watercress leaves. Makes 4 servings.

This dish can be made ahead of time, and cooked just before serving.