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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Old Ozark Secret...How to have your cake and eat it, too!


Home for the holidays, Ozark style!  The beautiful Lights of the Ozarks will be turned on at the Fayetteville Square in downtown Fayetteville on Thanksgiving.  What a beautiful sight (over 450,000 lights) it is to see!  #3 and me will be headed that way to take our annual Christmas photo.  The romantic Lights of the Ozarks also prompts lovers to pop that special question...or maybe be part of a wedding vow renewal ceremony like the one that #3 and me participated in a while back. Yes, if you have romance or Santa or horse drawn carriages or just about anything else on your mind...visit the Square around the holidays. There is something exciting to be shared by all!


Another wonderful tradition at our home around the holidays includes some traditional Southern cooking and entertaining! Actually, we feast all year long, but the onset of the holiday season seems to justify our over indulgence for rich treats! In fact, let me make you privy to an old Ozark secret of how to eat your cake and have it, too. Host a Cookie Exchange! Yes, just follow these simple instructions or make up your own and you will be able to eat your cookies and everyone else's, as well:

  • Invite about 8-10 'special' people...I sometimes do the girlfriend only thing and other times I choose a theme like the mother/daugter motif...whatever you choose is fine. Be creative! Check out this different kind of cookie exchange:





  • Tell the guests to bring 1 dozen cookies for each guest that is coming...for example, if you are going to have 8 guests, then bring 8 dozen cookies AND also bring 1 dozen extra to eat at the event.
  • Tell the guests, if possible please bring printed sheets or notecards of the recipe. Have some pads and pens availble for recipe writing, too.
  • Provide cute little boxes with festive tissue paper, zip lock baggies, or paper sacks for the guests to take their treats home in. Being the over achiever that I have always been known to be (and usually well criticized for), I go all out and come up with something original for my special guests. For instance, I might go to the Dollar Store and get some simple white shirt boxes and tissue paper.  I would then decorate the top of the box in a special way and put their name on it.  Again, go wild!
  • Display each take home cookie with recipe sheet/cards beside it in its own container or provide platters if needed.  Use your kitchen countertop or a table for the guests to go single file or gather around to ooh and aah all the different cookies as they fill their goody boxes/bags. 
  • Set up another area or table for your refreshments with the extra cookies the guests have brought to eat.  Arrange the cookies randomly on beautiful serving platters.  Add some festive colorful punch (recipe below) and napkins and no more fuss is needed when you have such a beautiful display of cookies! Remember to have some fun, too!
Easy Punch
3 envelopes unsweetened Kool-Aid (all one flaovor)
1/2 cup Real lemon juice
3 cups pineapple juice
3 cups sugar

Put ingredients in order given into a gallon jar.
Stir well until sugar has dissolved.
Add water to make a gallon.
Chill before serving
Wonderful recipe for making up ahead of time! So colorful and INEXPENSIVE!


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Birthday, Lindy!


We Love Lindy...and today is her special day! Have you seen the Jennifer Garner movie, 13 Going on 30? I believe Lindy could star in a whole new version...7 Going on 20!  Lindy is the new 'it' girl on my blog, because she knows everything there is to know about fashion, fun, make up, hair styles and anything else proper little girls frolic with.  Just ask Lindy!  Special cup cakes for Lindy should include some cake pops!  Found some wonderful Muppet Pops (who by the way, are celebrating their 40th anniversary this month) on one of my favorite sites http://bakerella.com/  Also found some plain ole pink ones, too just perfect for Lindy! Basic recipe is below...check out those Muppet pals, too http://muppetnewsflash.com/...never too old to enjoy the Muppets!

Basic Cake Pops
1 box cake mix (cook as directed on box for 13 X 9 cake)
1 can frosting (16 oz.)
Wax paper
Pink Candy melts (1 lb. pkg.)
Lollipop sticks
Edible ink pens (optional for face drawing)
1.  After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl.
2.  Mix thoroughly with 1 can frosting. (I use the back of a large spoon, but it may be easier to use fingers to mix together. But, be warned, it will get messy. Also, you may not need the entire can of frosting, so start out by using almost the entire can and add more if you need to.)

3.  Roll mixture into quarter size balls and place on wax paper covered cookie sheet. (Should make 45-50)

4.  Melt  candy melts/chocolate in the microwave per directions on package. (30 sec intervals, stirring in between.)

5.  Dip the tip of your lollipop stick in a little of the melted candy coating and insert into the cake balls. (Insert a little less than halfway.)

6.  Place them in the freezer for a little while to firm up.

7.  Once firm, carefully insert the cake ball into the candy coating by holding the lollipop stick and rotating until covered. Once covered remove and softly tap and rotate until the excess chocolate falls off. Don’t tap too hard or the cake ball will fall off, too.

8.  Place in a styrofoam block to dry.

9.  Once dry, draw faces, if desired, with an edible ink pen and allow ink to dry OR head over to check out Bakerella's post to make all the different Muppet pals OR just let them be PINK!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy Birthday, Aaron!




November 1, 1970 was a special day! I remember it so well, as if it were yesterday. William Aaron Backus just wasn't cooperating (imagine that) with his entrance into the world, and he was already about 2 weeks late! Dr. Smith had decided to induce labor, so I had packed my bags and gone into the hospital the day before...Halloween...how appropriate! Aaron was born the next day, and the rest is history. He weighed in at a whopping 10 pounds and had already grown out of his Newborn sizes when we came home from the hospital a few days later! Well, Happy Birthday, Aaron! And please remember, "Birthdays are just nature's way of telling us to eat more cake!" Here is a special cup cake recipe for a special guy...a lot of trouble to make, but you're worth it!
HI HAT CUP CAKES by Hayleesgrandma at
http://grouprecipes.com/
Ingredients:
•Makes 12 cupcakes
•FOR THE BATTER
•3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
•1 cup all-purpose flour
•1/2 teaspoon baking powder
•1/2 teaspoon baking soda
•1/4 teaspoon salt
•1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
•1 1/4 cups sugar
•2 large eggs
•1 teaspoon vanilla extract
•1/2 cup sour cream
•FOR THE FROSTING
•1 3/4 cups sugar
•3 large egg whites
•1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
•1 teaspoon vanilla extract
•1/2 teaspoon almond extract
•FOR THE CHOCOLATE COATING
•2 cups chopped (about 12 ounces) semisweet chocolate
•3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in center. Prepare the batter: Place chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl, and set it over a medium saucepan of barely simmering water; stir chocolate until melted and smooth. Remove bowl from heat, and set aside to cool slightly.
2.  Meanwhile, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
3.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium speed, scraping sides of bowl as needed, until light and fluffy. On low speed, mix in melted chocolate. Increase speed to medium, and add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla, and beat until mixture is creamy and color has lightened slightly, about 1 minute. Mix in sour cream. On low speed, add half of reserved flour mixture, beating until just incorporated. Mix in 1/2 cup water. Add remaining flour mixture, and mix until just incorporated.
4.  Line a cupcake pan with paper liners. Fill each liner with enough batter to come 1/8 inch from top, about 1/3 cup. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until tops are firm and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to cool in pan for 10 minutes.
5.  Use a small knife to loosen any tops stuck to the pan. Carefully invert cupcakes onto the wire rack. Turn cupcakes right side up, and let cool completely.
6.  Prepare the frosting: In a large heatproof bowl, combine sugar, 1/4 cup water, egg whites, and cream of tartar. Using a handheld electric mixer, beat on high speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Set bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Beat on high speed until frosting forms stiff peaks, about 12 minutes; frosting should register 160 degrees.on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla and almond extracts, and beat for 2 minutes more until frosting thickens.
7.  Transfer frosting to a large pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain pastry tip. Leaving a 1/8-inch border on each cupcake, pipe a spiral of frosting into a 2-inch-high cone shape, using about 1/2 cup of frosting per cupcake. Transfer cupcakes to a baking sheet, and refrigerate while preparing the chocolate coating.
8.  Prepare the chocolate coating: Combine chocolate and oil in a medium heat-proof bowl set over a medium saucepan of barely simmering water; stir until melted and smooth. Transfer to a small bowl, and let cool about 15 minutes.
9.  Holding each cupcake by its bottom, dip cupcake in the chocolate to coat frosting, allowing excess to drip off. Transfer to a baking sheet fitted with a wire rack. Spoon more coating around edge of cupcake and any exposed frosting; none of the frosting should show. Let cupcakes stand at room temperature 15 minutes.
10. Carefully remove paper liners from cupcakes, and discard. Place cupcakes on a serving platter, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to let coating set. Cover, and refrigerate for 2 hours more. Serve cold. Cupcakes can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.