Fall Treats

I don’t share recipes much, having exhausted my repertoire some years ago. 🙂 But this lovely fall afternoon I wanted to make some Caramel Corn, and I thought I’d share the recipe here. This is one of my husband’s favorite snacks, especially when warm from the oven, and seems especially fallish.

I’ve been using this particular recipe for years. I don’t remember who I got it from, but I do remember asking someone for it after we had it at a ladies’ meeting at church. I stuck it over the Caramel Corn recipe in my cookbook, and it has been there ever since, some 30+ years now!

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Speaking of cookbooks, this is my Betty Crocker cookbook that I have had since college. It’s in sad shape, with the spine and back having come off a while back.

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I’ve thought about getting a new one, but I am sure the recipes would be different. I’ve thought about taking it apart and putting the recipes I use in the recipe books I compiled a few years ago. But – I know this one well and can find things by instinct at this point. So I’ll probably just use it as is until it falls apart.

By the way, I have a theory that the most stained recipes in a cookbook are the most used and therefore the best ones. Unless the cook is extremely neat – which I am not.

Anyway, back to the Caramel Corn. Here is the recipe:

Caramel Corn

Ingredients:

22 cups popped popcorn
1 1/2 sticks margarine
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup Karo (corn) syrup
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Spread the popped corn in two ungreased baking sheets. Boil the margarine, brown sugar, and syrup in a saucepan on low to medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring very frequently. Remove pan from heat and stir in salt and soda. Mixture will get foamy. Pour over the popped corn and stir to coat evenly. Place baking sheets in oven for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Remove sheets from oven and let cool just until you can handle the popcorn, maybe 10 minutes. It hardens quickly. By hand or using a spoon put the popcorn in a container and cover.

Optional: Use 20 cups popcorn and 2 cups unsalted or lightly salted peanuts.

Unfortunately, as I was putting supplies away while the corn was in the oven, I noticed the corn syrup said it “might” contain trace elements of wheat. I had been looking forward to sharing these with my daughter-in-law, who is sensitive to gluten. That’s one of those items you would never suspect had gluten. The way it was worded makes my husband think it was just processed in a room with wheat or the corn grew in a field next to wheat. I’ll leave it to my daughter-in-law to decide whether it’s worth the risk. This was a store-brand corn syrup – I don’t know if the name brand would be the same.

I also made some Rice Krispie treats, only using the gluten-free off-brand and the recipe on the package. I always add peanut butter to the marshmallow mixture and melt chocolate chips (sometimes adding peanut butter chips if I have them) and spread them on top.

I like to eat the first serving while the chocolate is still gooey. 🙂

Of course, the Rice Krispie treats aren’t particularly fallish, but I’ve had a hankering for them recently. 🙂

I have another cookie recipe I especially like to make in the fall, but that will have to wait. What are your favorite fall treats?

(Sharing with Made By You Monday)

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The Laura Ingalls Wilder Country Cookbook

liw-cookbookWhen I saw The Laura Ingalls Wilder Country Cookbook among the resources on Annette’s site, I had to look it up. Unfortunately, it’s out of print now, but used copies are available. I got mine for less than $4.

This is different from The Little House Cookbook, compiled by Barbara M. Walker, which shares recipes mentioned in the Little House books. This book was the result of finding Laura’s “home-made cookbook, waterlogged and wrinkled” “among reams of the yellowed papers that are a witness to her writing life” (p. vi).

Her cookbook was in the form of a scrapbook, which I enjoyed since I did mine that way as well. But hers was literally made of scraps. “The Wilders were extraordinary in their thrift and ingenious in recycling useful items. Laura’s cookbook exemplifies her careful economy…Recipes were pasted over pages of a cardboard-covered invoice book used by Almanzo while he was a fuel oil deliveryman in the early 1900s” (p. vii) as well as a calendar page and the back of letters. I tried writing notes on the backs of used paper in college, while money was extremely tight, and I couldn’t stand it. 🙂 It just seemed too confusing and messy. But for Laura this was probably a lifelong habit stemming from when they didn’t have money to get extra paper, or in some places where they lived when she was a child, there was no extra paper to be had.

It contains her owned penned recipes, “clippings from newspaper food columns or magazines,” meal ideas, “cooking advice from her mother…and daughter,” and even a tip about setting colors in cloth to avoid fading.

This cookbook doesn’t include the cooking advice or tips, but it does include several of Laura’s recipes, photos of Rocky Ridge farm, where Laura and Almanzo lived the bulk of their adult lives, by Leslie A. Kelly, and some commentary by Laura biographer William Anderson. I enjoyed seeing the photos of Laura’s home.

I even learned some things about Laura’s adult life that I hadn’t known before, like how she came to write columns for the Missouri Ruralist (its editor was a meeting where Laura was supposed to speak about raising poultry, which she had been asked to do because of her success in that endeavor. She could not attend but wrote out her speech to be read there.) Plus she took in boarders for a while (which they actually did portray in the “Little House: A New Beginning” TV series). The house had a lot of windows, and Laura would have “curtains hung straight at the sides, leaving the views undisturbed…’I don’t want curtains over my pictures'” she explained. Rose remarked, “She has windows everywhere, not only in her house but in her mind” (p. 144). She had a “behemoth” cookstove “circa 1905” which served her “for over a half-century” (p. 46). They later added a little electric stove for use for something quick or when it was too hot to use the cookstove, but she generally preferred the latter. In fact, the recipes had to be configured and tested in a modern kitchen for the book so they’d be more accessible to those who wanted to try them.

I also enjoyed learning a bit more about Almanzo.”While the careers of Laura and Rose brought renown to the Wilder name in journalism and literature, Almanzo was known as one of Wright County’s best farmers. Making Rocky Ridge farm productive was not an easy task; much of the land was stony and untillable. But Almanzo worked magic with the stubborn soil.” He was written up in the news for having a cow that produced “twenty-four pounds of milk at one milking,” “heads of wheat over seven inches long,” and a “fifteen-inch tomato.” He was both “a judge and a participant” in the Agricultural Stock Show and won many prizes (p. 56).

The recipes are primarily good old American cooking – meat loaf, chicken pie, chicken and dumplings, various side dishes, breads, desserts and beverages – with a few “adventurous” foreign-influenced dishes. Some of the entrees are not what we would call heart-healthy today. 🙂 But I have a few marked that I want to try, as well as a few from the different sections. The recipe she shared when asked for a favorite was her gingerbread, which I’d like to try some time, as well as Lemon Spice Puffs, Lemon Sticks, Whole Wheat Bread, Scalloped Corn Kansas, Farmhouse Stew, Gingernuts, and Applesauce Cake. The only one I have made so far is the Apple Upside Down Cake in her honor for her birthday.  I think I’ll leave the Liver Loaf, Chilled Meat Loaf, Glazed Beets, Dandelion Soup, and Lima Puree to others, though. 🙂

Reading her recipes while seeing photos of her home and hearing tidbits about her life was like a little visit with her. I think any Laura fan would like this book as well as anyone interested in vintage recipes.

(Sharing with Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books and Carole’s Books You Loved)

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My Favorite Cookie Recipes

I think I have posted most of these before, but recently I wished I had them all in one place to link to and decided to gather them together when I had time. So here they are:

Pudding Chip Cookies

I can’t remember whether I discovered these on a pudding mix package or had them at a friend’s house, but I love the flavor the pudding adds to it.

2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 pkg. (4 serving size) instant vanilla pudding
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1 pkg (12 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine butter, sugars, pudding mix, and vanilla; beat until smooth and creamy. Beat in eggs. Mix flour with baking soda. and gradually add flour mixture. Stir in chips. Drop from teaspoon onto ungreased baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake at 375 for 8 to 10 minutes (mine usually take 10-12 minutes). I used to add chocolate chunks or miniature Hershey’s kisses just for something different, but I haven’t been able to find those lately.

Cookies

Double Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I kind of adapted this when I was trying to find a recipe that came close to the peanut butter cookies at the Great American Cookie Company place at the mall. This is basically a peanut butter cookie recipe I found in a magazine, but it’s not mashed down with a fork and it has peanut butter chips added. Because I love chocolate and peanut butter together, I also added chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c. margarine, softened
1 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. light brown sugar, packed
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. or more semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup or more peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 375. Mix flour and baking soda. Beat margarine and peanut butter in a large bowl until creamy. Add sugars and beat until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla until well-blended. On low speed or by hand gradually add flour mixture. Beat just until blended. Add chips and mix well. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls about 1 1/2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes or until browned. Cool on cookie sheet 1 minute before removing to cool completely.

Choco-Peanut Butter Dreams

I first saw these in a magazine, probably in an ad for one of the ingredients. From the first try I loved them. I often make them in the fall.

1 1/2 cups brown sugar — firmly packed
1 cup peanut butter (creamy or chunky)
3/4 cup butter or margarine
1/3 cup water
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups Quaker Oats (quick or old fashioned) — uncooked
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
4 teaspoons vegetable shortening
1/3 cup chopped peanuts (optional)

Heat oven to 350. Beat together brown sugar, peanut butter and butter, until light and fluffy. Blend in water, egg and vanilla; add combined dry ingredients; mix well. Shape dough into 1″ balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet; flatten to 1/4″ thickenss with bottom of glass dipped in sugar. Bake 8 – 10 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Remove to wire rack, cook completely.

In a heavy saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate pieces and vegetable shortening; stir until mixture is melted and smooth. Top each cookie with 1/2 teaspoon melted chocolate; sprinkle with chopped nuts (if desired). Cool until set.

Store in an airtight container. Makes 6 dozen.

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I think I generally do these as drop cookies and skip the rolling into balls and flattening step, but the rolling and flattening would probably make them look more uniform if that is important to you. I like them without the peanuts on top.

Quick Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

These are a pared-down version of the originals but taste every bit as good. My daughter-in-law got this recipe in one of her classes. They’re great for a quick treat, and for those with gluten sensitivities, they’re flourless. We don’t always have Hershey’s kisses on hand so I sometimes just mix chocolate chips in the dough.

1 c. peanut butter
1 c. sugar
1 egg
Hershey’s Kisses

Thoroughly mix together peanut butter, sugar, and egg. Drop by teaspoonful or roll into 1 inch balls onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350 for about 10-11 minutes, until slightly browned. Immediately place an unwrapped Hershey’s Kiss in the center of each cookie and press down. Let sit on pan for a minute or two, then remove from pan. Let cool before storing. Makes 24-26.

Peanut butter kiss cookies

Congo Bars

I don’t know why they’re called that, and in trying to find a recipe to link to, I found all kinds of variations! But this one is pretty simple plus makes more than the usual 9 x 13 pan. Great for when you need to take cookies somewhere but want to leave some home for the family as well.

1/2 cup margarine
2 3/4 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 3/4 cups flour
1 to 2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt margarine and combine with brown sugar.Add eggs and beat well. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Spread mixture into a greased 11 x 15″ pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Bake for 20-25minutes. Makes 2 dozen, depending on how you cut them. Chopped nuts can be added if desired.

Congo bars

Snickerdoodle Blondies

I am just going to share Annette’s photo and link to her recipe since there is where I found these. I love snickerdoodles but don’t like all the forming into balls and rolling them in sugar and cinnamon. When I saw them as bar cookies on Annette’s blog, I knew I had to try them, and now they’re a family favorite, plus I like to take them to church fellowships and meals that I make for others.

snickerdoodle bars

Gingerbread Teddy Bears

I got this recipe way back in college when the Home Economics Department at my college was having a Christmas Open House. I don’t make them every year because all of that ball-rolling is a little tedious, especially if you’re doubling the recipe. But they’re fun to make (especially if you have helpers) and they taste great. I wasn’t a great fan of gingerbread cookies before these, but I like that these are soft and chewy rather than hard and crisp.

1 c. butter or margarine
2/3 c. packed brown sugar
2/3 c. dark corn syrup, light corn syrup, or molasses
4 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 beaten egg
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
Miniature semi-sweet chocolate pieces
Decorator icing (optional)

In a saucepan combine butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup. Cook and stir over medium heat til butter is melted and sugar is dissolved. Pour into a large mixing bowl and cool 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine flour, cinnamon, ginger, soda, and cloves. Add egg and vanilla to butter mixture and mix well. Add the flour mixture and beat til well mixed. Divide the dough in half; cover and chill at least two hours or overnight.

To make each teddy bear, shape dough into about a 1-inch ball for the body, one 3/4-inch ball for the head, and six 1/2-inch balls for the arms, legs, and ears. On ungreased cookie sheet, place the 1-inch ball and flatten slightly. Place 3/4-inch ball next to (touching) the “body” for the head. then do the same for the arms and legs. Place two 1/2-inch balls above the head for ears. If desired you can pinch off just a teeny bit of dough for a nose, or use miniature chocolate chip. Use miniature chocolate chips for the eyes and either a navel on the belly or 3 “buttons”. Bake at 350^ for 8-10 minutes or until done. Carefully remove and cool.

If desired, pipe on smile, bow tie or vest or other decorations with decorator icing (1/2 c. sifted powder sugar and approximately 2 tsp. milk, blended to piping consistency, tinted with 1-2 drops food coloring). Makes 20-23.

I do make a few others here and there, but these I make most often. Usually I end up with less than the recipe says it will make,  I think because I tend to make them bigger than intended, but I put what the original recipes said they’d yield.

Enjoy! Let me know if you make any of these and what you think.

Gingerbread Teddy Bears

I got this recipe way back in college when the Home Economics Department at my college was having a Christmas Open House. I don’t make them every year because all of that ball-rolling is a little tedious, especially if you’re doubling the recipe. But they’re fun to make and they taste great. Sometimes the kids would help: this time Mittu helped. I wasn’t a great fan of gingerbread cookies before these, but I like that these are soft and chewy rather than hard and crisp.

Gingerbread Teddy Bears

1 c. butter or margarine
2/3 c. packed brown sugar
2/3 c. dark corn syrup, light corn syrup, or molasses
4 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 beaten egg
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
Miniature semi-sweet chocolate pieces
Decorator icing (optional)

In a saucepan combine butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup. Cook and stir over medium heat til butter is melted and sugar is dissolved. Pour into a large mixing bowl and cool 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine flour, cinnamon, ginger, soda, and cloves. Add egg and vanilla to butter mixture and mix well. Add the flour mixture and beat til well mixed. Divide the dough in half; cover and chill at least two hours or overnight.

To make each teddy bear, shape dough into about a 1-inch ball for the body, one 3/4-inch ball for the head, and six 1/2-inch balls for the arms, legs, and ears. On ungreased cookie sheet, place the 1-inch ball and flatten slightly. Place 3/4-inch ball next to (touching) the “body” for the head. then do the same for the arms and legs. Place two 1/2-inch balls above the head for ears. If desired you can pinch off just a teeny bit of dough for a nose, or use miniature chocolate chip. Use miniature chocolate chips for the eyes and either a navel on the belly or 3 “buttons”. Bake at 350^ for 8-10 minutes or until done. Carefully remove and cool.

If desired, pipe on smile, bow tie or vest or other decorations with decorator icing (1/2 c. sifted powder sugar and approximately 2 tsp. milk, blended to piping consistency, tinted with 1-2 drops food coloring). Makes 20-23.

This post will be also linked to “Works For Me Wednesday,” where you can find an abundance of helpful hints each week at We Are THAT family on Wednesdays, as well as  Women Living Well.

Laudable Linkage

Here are interesting things I’ve seen around the Web lately: maybe some will interest you as well.

10 reasons to break the sarcastic habit, with action plan.

So Was Jesus.

Thoughts on Modesty, not from the standpoint of causing guys to stumble, though that’s a valid concern, but as a matter of our own hearts before God.

“Dora the Doormat” and other Scary Straw Women of Complementarity, HT to Challies. Deals with some of the erroneous charges some make against proponents of complementarianism, the view that God created the sexes equal but with roles that complement one another.

Confessions of a Conflicted Complementarian, showing how gospel grace applies even in this.

One taxpayer’s response to the potential government shutdown. Heh, heh, heh.

Food:

Double Chocolate Treasures. I am definitely trying these!

Cake Balls. I usually take the easy route of just throwing cake batter in a 9 x 13 pan, but these looks so good.

Resurrection Rolls for Easter breakfast. I’ve posted my version with yeast rolls before, but this one uses crescent rolls and cinnamon. I might just try this kind this year.

Crafts/decorations:

Buttons on display. Really cute card made with buttons.

How to Turn Mini-Blinds Into Roman Shades, HT to Lizzie.

What guys think about modesty:

I can’t imagine all the work behind this:

Happy Saturday!

Friday’s Fave Five

Welcome to Friday’s Fave Five, hosted by Susanne at Living to Tell the Story, in which we can share our favorite things from the last week. This has been a wonderful exercise in looking for and appreciating the good things God blesses us with. Click on the button to learn more, then go to Susanne’s to read others’ faves and link up your own.

1. A “snow day.” We’ve already had more snow than I am used  to — and I am ready for it to be gone — not to complain, but just sayin’ 🙂 — but with three days off due to snow this week, there was only one day any of the kids got out in it and played.

Jason put together all the individual videos I took into one and added music. He even smoothed out my shakiness (I have to remember that laughing while filming is not good for later viewing…). (My husband missed all the fun because he was able to get to work, but he got one run down the hill at the end, after the credits).

Another couple of pluses — I finally figured out how to record video with my camera, and a neighbor saw the kids sledding on a cardboard box and asked if they wanted to use a sled she’d bought for her granddaughter. Jason gave her some of our baked goods when he returned the sled.

2. For my part on our snow day, besides being chief photographer and videographer, I baked Double Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies:

Then yesterday I made banana bread so as to try to use a few overripe bananas. Mittu made mini blueberry muffins partly for the neighbor but partly for us as well. It’s been a week for baking!

3. A successful experiment in mixing putting together two different recipes to create Creamy Chicken with Cheesy Biscuits.

4. Mittu’s meal. One of my Christmas presents was a coupon booklet from Jason and Mittu:

And I used this one Saturday:

She made a yummy Hamburger Pie and Lemon Cake for dessert — which I thought I had pictures of but can’t find now. Maybe Jason took them on his camera. But they were good! And it was so nice knowing all day I didn’t have to cook.

5. Jesse’s teacher. Those of you who have read here for a while know that one of our biggest concerns in moving was Jesse’s adjustment to a new school, church, youth group, etc. All of that has gone fairly well. He has especially mentioned really (really, really) liking one particular teacher, and the other night he excitedly shared how his teaching was really opening up the Bible for him in his Bible class at school. That was a blessing to my own heart on many levels. It’s not that he didn’t have good teaching or teachers or didn’t appreciate any of them before, but there is something about this one in particular that is just clicking with him. I have to believe that might be at least one of the reasons the Lord led us here.

So overall it has been a great week even if we were a little housebound due to the weather. Only 65 days until spring…..

A successful experiment

In planning for Sunday dinner after church, I was craving something creamy, with chicken, biscuits, and a bit of cheese. I didn’t have anything quite like that in my repertoire. But slowly an idea formed. I took this recipe:

And used chicken instead of ham. Instead of the “parsley pinwheels”

…which I didn’t usually make anyway (I usually used canned biscuits — the flaky kind is best — without parsley), I used the biscuit topping from this recipe:

It was perfect. It was exactly like I imagined it.

The only flaw was that it sat in the oven for 10-15 minutes before I realized the oven hadn’t been turned on. 😳 🙄 So the biscuit topping sank into the casserole a little more than it would have otherwise. And it took a little too long for a Sunday meal — we get out of church later than we’re used to and we have a 20 minute drive home. But otherwise it’s great for a cozy winter dinner.

Now, what to call it? Creamy Chicken with Cheesy Biscuits is a bit bulky. Chicken-Cheese-Biscuit Casserole is a bit stark. But whatever it’s called — I’m glad it turned out so well and hit the spot.