Monday, April 18, 2011

Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Marshmallow Pudding Cookies

I tried this recipe mostly because I was curious to see if pudding made a difference in cookies. These are very soft and delicious, and I do think the pudding probably does make the cookie a little more tender. Yum!

2 sticks softened butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt  (1/4 tsp. table salt)
4 oz box instant chocolate pudding mix
10 oz bag peanut butter chips
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or line with a silpat liner.

2.  In a stand or electric mixer, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg and vanilla until well combined.

3.  Place flour, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl, mixing to combine.  Slowly add to wet ingredients along with chocolate pudding mix, peanut butter chips and marshmallows.  Mix until just combined.  With a medium cookie scoop, place onto baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until cooked through.  Let cool for 10 minutes on baking sheet before transferring.

Makes 3 dozen cookies

Easter Story Cookies

This is a great activity to do with children to teach them the Easter Story. These cookies are slightly different than a traditional meringue because they are meant to be hollow and are started at a higher temperature. The initial heat makes the moisture evaporate quickly and an air pocket forms. These work very best in a dry environment, so avoid running your dishwasher or boiling water while making the meringue. If cookies are not all the way dry in the morning, you can bake them in a low-temp oven for a few more minutes (although I prefer them a bit wet & chewy). Make sure your beaters and bowl are really clean - the egg whites won't form peaks if there is any trace of oil.

-Aunt Janet McClellan

Begin this recipe on Saturday, the day before Easter.
1 cup whole pecans
1 teaspoon vinegar
3 egg whites
pinch salt
1 cup sugar
zipper baggie
wooden spoon or a wooden meat hammer
duct tape or packing tape

Preheat oven to 300*F.

Place pecans in zipper baggie and let children beat them with the wooden spoon or hammer to break them into small pieces.

Explain that after Jesus was arrested he was beaten by the Roman soldiers. Read John 19:1-3.

Let each child smell the vinegar. Put 1 teaspoon of vinegar into the mixing bowl.

Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross he was given vinegar to drink. Read John 19:28-30.

Add egg whites to the vinegar. Eggs represent life.

Explain that Jesus gave his life to give us life. Read John 10:10-11.

Sprinkle a little salt into each child's hand. Let them taste. Then put your pinch of salt in the bowl.

Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus's followers, and the bitterness of our own sin. Read Luke 23:27

So far, the ingredients are not very appetizing! Add 1 cup sugar to the bowl.

Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because he loves us. He wants us to know and belong to him. Read Psalm 34:8 and John 3:16.

Beat with a mixer on high speed for 10 to 15 minutes until stiff peaks form.

Explain that the color white represents the purity in God's eyes of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus. Read Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:1-3.

Fold in broken nuts. Drop by teaspoons onto wax paper covered cookie sheets.

Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus's body was laid. Read Matthew 27:57-60.

Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF. Give each child a piece of tape to seal the oven door.

Explain that Jesus' tomb was sealed. Read Matthew 27:65-66.

Leave the kitchen. If you've been making these cookies just before bedtime, GO TO BED!

Acknowledge that the kids are probably sad that they've worked hard to make these cookies, and now have to leave them in the oven overnight. Explain that Jesus' followers were in sad when Jesus died and the tomb was sealed. Read John 16:20 and 22.

On Easter morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie. Ask the kids to notice the cracked surface. Have them bite into the cookies. The cookies are hollow!

Explain that on the first Easter morning, Jesus' followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty. Read Matthew 28:1-9.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Bunny Buns

This was the choice for our Family Home Evening treat this week. They were really soft and yummy! I decreased the orange zest a bit and used orange juice instead of water and butter for the glaze. They puffed a little more than I thought they would, so next time I'll leave the ears a little longer. I went to put some little sprinkles on for eyes, but then I realized these were supposed to be 'buns' with a tail. Maybe I shouldn't be so technical next time and our bunnies will have eyes in the back of their heads... :)

-The Friend, April 2011 - slightly modified

1 package active dry yeast (2 ½ tsp)
¼ cup warm water
1 cup milk, warmed not quite to boiling
1/3 cup sugar
½ cup shortening
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
¼ cup orange juice
zest of 1 orange
5 ½ cups flour, sifted

Glaze: 2 cups powdered sugar, 1/4 cup orange juice

1.     Sprinkle yeast in the warm water and set aside.
2.     In another bowl, blend milk, sugar, shortening, and salt. Cool until lukewarm, then add eggs, water with yeast, orange juice, and orange zest.
3.     Stir in flour a few cups at a time to make a soft dough. Let stand for 10 minutes.
4.     Knead dough 5–10 minutes on a lightly floured surface until dough is smooth and elastic. Place it in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease surface. Cover bowl with a clean towel and put it in a warm place. Let dough rise for 2 hours, or until double in size. Punch dough down and let stand for 10 minutes.
5.     On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a rectangle 1/2 inch thick. Cut dough into strips 1/2 inch wide and 14 inches long. Roll between hands into rounded snake shapes. Cut one strip into pieces 1/2 inch long, and roll into balls.
6.     Place one long piece of dough on a greased cookie sheet. Place one end of the strip over the other to make a loop; bring the end that is underneath up and cross it over the other end. Place a ball of dough on top of the bottom loop.
7.     Cover bunnies and let rise in a warm place for 45–60 minutes (30 min), until nearly double in size. Bake at 375ºF (350 if using dark pan) for 12–15 minutes.
8.     For the glaze, stir powdered sugar and orange juice together. Frost the bunnies with the glaze while they are still warm.

Ham & Brie Melts

This combination may sound a little strange, but the sweet/salty combination is quite tasty!

-Taste of Home

Whole grain bread
Spreadable brie cheese
Apricot preserves
Deli-sliced ham

Spread 1 slice of bread with brie and the other with apricot preserves; top with ham. Butter outsides of sandwiches and toast on a griddle or in a large skillet.

Ham & Cheese Pasta

Yummy! This is a slightly different twist on creamy pasta, with dill, garlic and lemon pepper. I did modify the original recipe a bit to fit our family's tastes.

-Taste of Home, modified

8 oz. penne pasta
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 tsp. dried parsley flakes
3/4 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. lemon-pepper seasoning
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried minced onion
1/2 tsp. dill weed
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 cup sour cream
7 oz ham steak, cubed
1 1/2 cup (6 oz) shredded Mexican cheese blend
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. In a Dutch oven, melt butter; whisk in flour until smooth. Gradually add milk and seasonings. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.

Reduce heat; fold in sour cream until blended. Add ham and pasta; cook until heated through. Remove from the heat; stir in Mexican cheese blend until melted. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Easter Nests

I can't say these are amazingly delicious, but they are a fun treat for Easter and spring! I recommend making smaller nests for children.

-JIF Peanut Butter

4 cups chow mein noodles
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup peanut butter
Jelly beans or other egg-shaped candies (Whopper Robin's eggs)

In large mixing bowl, use your hands to break oodles into smaller pieces. In large saucepan, combine sugar and syrup. Cook over medium heat until sugar is melted and edges begin to bubble. Add peanut butter and stir until smooth. Pour mixture over noodles and toss to coat.

With slightly buttered hands, form mixture into tight balls using approx. 1/4 cup mixture per ball (2 Tbsp for smaller nests). Make indention in center of each ball to resemble a bird's nest. Place on waxed paper and allow to cool completely.

Place two or three jelly beans or other egg-shaped candies into each nest.