Monthly Archives: December 2017

Grandma Pat Letters : Cat Warfare…A Very, Very Bad Cat!

The Swedish Farmer's Daughter

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Dear Kids,

Hope you are having a great week. Christmas vacation is always a good time.  I really enjoyed our time together this week!

This week’s edition of “Cat Warfare” is the mustached “Herr Hitler Cat.”  Not only did this unfortunate cat look like Adolf Hitler, but he was a bad decision maker and actually hung out with guy.  Always, remember you can pick your friends, you can pick your nose, but you cannot pick your friend’s nose or your relatives. It is important to pick good friends, you don’t want any like this guy, because Adolf Hitler was a very, very bad cat!

Hitler started World War II in Europe.  Later the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, but that is another story. However, Hitler started the war in Europe in 1939 when he invaded the country of Poland.   He lied about Poland attacking Germany, then invaded…

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What Is On My Mind Today? International Bread Recipe War: Swede vs French

What is on my mind today?

The difference between being a Swede and French.

I have just spent the past 24 hours making Brioche bread. I wanted to see how different it was from a buttery rich Swedish Egg Bread.

This process was very reaffirming for me and I learned a very important lesson.

Apparently, I like people the same way I like a good bread recipe….the more pragmatic…the better.

Recipes: Ring in the New Year with Cheesecake: Cherry-Cheesecake Dessert, Cheesecake Factory Original, Oreo Cheesecake, and Pumpkin Cheesecake with Streusel Topping

What a beautiful day! Christmas may be over, but that beautiful afterglow of the holiday excitement and fun still fills my home. Inside the Christmas decorations provide so much color and my Christmas tree joyfully sparkles with colored lights, forty years of ornament collecting and lots, and lots of tinsel.

Outside, Minnesota does not disappoint either.  The diamond sprinkled virgin snow’s brightness blinds as the tree’s blue-violet shadows race east trying to outrun a darkness that creeps closer and closer as a weak distant sun, held hostage by small ice crystal rainbows, emits pastel light, but no warmth.

In quiet solitude and peace I reflect on the moment and take stock of my blessings.  Then, I noticed that my patio door is completely frozen shut in the sub-zero temperatures. I cannot budge it.  My husband will have to get it open when he gets home from work. Here’s to hoping my dog’s have big bladders!

Over the past several months I have made all of these cheesecakes as a part of my, “Dessert of the Week” campaign for my next-door neighbor of over 30 years, who is my age and fighting a cancerous brain tumor. He likes his sweets. Other neighbors have stepped up to take one for the team by also consuming these desserts and therefore helping to reduce weight gain risk for the cook.

My neighbor’s gave these desserts two thumbs up.

These cheesecakes would be great to serve anytime an occasion calls for a special dessert and especially at a New Year’s party.

Enjoy!

cherry cheesecake 1

This recipe is a bit lighter that cheesecake, but just as tasty!

Cherry-Cheesecake Dessert

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Ingredients:

Crust:
2 cups vanilla wafers, crushed
1/2 cup of butter, melted

Fillings:
1 (8-ounce) package of cream cheese, softened
1 cup of powdered sugar
16-ounces of Cool Whip, divided
2 small boxes of instant vanilla pudding mix
1/2 cup of sour cream
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
3 cups of milk

Topping: 
1 can of cherry pie filling
remaining Cool Whip

Make the crust in a medium-sized mixing bowl by combining the crushed vanilla wafers and melted butter.  Press into the bottom of a 9 X 13 inch cake pan and bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool completely.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl combine cream cheese and powdered sugar.  When completely combined, gently fold in about 1-1/2 cups of Cool Whip.   Spread over cooled crust.

In a large mixing bowl combine pudding mix and milk.  Let set. Stir in sour cream and lemon juice.  Fold in the remaining 1-1/2 cups of Cool Whip.  Spread over the cream cheese mixture.

Top with remaining  Cool Whip and cherries.  May garnish with chopped pecans.

Chill for several hours before serving.

Blogger’s note:  I am not a big fan of using Cool Whip, so I have substituted equal amounts of real sweetened whip cream in some recipes.

 

cheesecake_horiz

Original Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake from “My Recipes”

Line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch spring from pan with parchment paper. Position oven rank in middle of the oven.  Put a large pan in the oven filled with 1/2 inch of water.  The pan has to be big enough to hold the 9-inch spring form pan. Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

Ingredients:
Crust:
1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup melted margarine

Filling:
4 (8 ounce) packages of cream cheese
1-1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
5 large eggs

Topping:
1/2 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons sugar

In a small mixing bowl mix together crust ingredients of graham cracker crumbs, cinnamon and 1/3 cup melted butter.  Press the crust firmly onto the bottom and about two-thirds of the way up the sides of a 9-inch spring form pan.  Wrap a large piece of aluminum foil around the bottom of the pan and put into a freezer until filling is prepared.

In a small mixing bowl whisk the eggs together until frothy.

In a large mixing bowl use an electric mixer to combine the cream cheese, sugar, sour cream and vanilla.  Scrape down the sides of mixing bowl.  Add eggs and mix until the eggs are just incorporated.

Remove crust from freezer and pour in filling.  Carefully place cheesecake into the pan with the water.  This is called a water bath. Bake for 12 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake until the cheesecake turns golden on top.  About 50 to 60 minutes.

Remove cake, place on wire rack and cool.

Make topping in a small bowl by mixing together the sour cream and sugar.  Spread evenly over the cake.

Cover and refrigerate for at least four hours.   Remove from pan and serve.

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CheesecakeOreo

Oreo Cheesecake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-inch spring form pan with parchment paper.

Ingredients:

Crust: 
1-1/2 cups of Oreo cookies crumbs
1/3 cup butter, melted 

Filling: 
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese,
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
pinch of salt
15 Oreos cookies, crushed in to medium-sized pieces

Topping:
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted

In a small bowl mix together Oreo crumbs and melted butter. Press firmly onto the bottom and about two-thirds up the sides. Chill crust in freeze until filling is made.

In a large-sized mixing bowl with an electric mixture combine the cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla, and salt and beat until combined.  Fold in crushed Oreos until the cookie chunks are evenly distributed throughout the batter.

Pour cheesecake mixture over crust and bake until edges are set and center of cheesecake mixture is only slightly jiggly, 50 to 60 minutes.

Let cheesecake cool completely in pan.  Drizzle with the melted chocolate.

Cool for at least 3 hours, remove from pan and serve.

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pumpkinCheesecakeRecipe_thumb

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Streusel Crumb Topping

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 8-inch spring form pan with parchment paper.

Crust:
1-1/2 cups of crushed graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup of butter, melted

Filling:
2 (8-ounce) packages of cream cheese, room temperature
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup sugar
1 can (15-ounce) pumpkin pie filling
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon cloves

Crumble Topping:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1/2  cup of chopped pecans (optional)

In a small mixing bowl combine butter and graham cracker crumbs.  When the crumbs are coated with the butter, press into the bottom and two-third’s up the side of prepared pan.  Put into the freezer to chill until filling is prepared.

In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer combine cream cheese, eggs, vanilla and sugar.   Beat until mixture is smooth.

Pour 1/2 of the filling into pan. Evenly spread. And freeze for an hour.

To the remaining 1/2 of the filling add the can of pumpkin pie filling, cinnamon, ginger and cloves.  Stir until completely combined.  Evenly spread the pumpkin filling over the cooled filling that is already in the pan.

Put in oven and bake for 35 minutes.

While the cheesecake is baking in a small bowl make crumb topping by mixing butter, flour, brown sugar and cinnamon together until combined.  Top the cheesecake with crumb topping and return to the oven for another 25 minutes.

Remove cheesecake from oven while the top is still slightly jiggly.

Cool to room temperature.  Chill in refrigerator for at least four hours or overnight.

Enjoy!

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Recipe: Kwanzaa and African Peanut Soup

The Swedish Farmer's Daughter

kwanzza

It is important in a diverse society to celebrate our differences and learn about our friends and neighbor’s traditions. The holiday season is a great time of year to expand our cultural horizons.  Learning about each other humanizes us and draws us together.  Humanity’s goal should be to see each other as individuals whose lives are precious and who were created and endowed with civil rights by a just and loving God.

Happy Kwanzza!

Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is a celebration of culture, family and community that began over forty years ago. Kwanzaa was created by Dr. Maulana Karenga to improve the lives of African Americans by reviving and instilling an appreciation for original African values.

This cultural tradition takes place over seven days, beginning on December 26 and ending on January 1. The seven symbols of the holiday are the mat (tradition), crops (harvest), candleholder (African ancestors), corn (children and the…

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What Is On My Mind Today: The Family Table

The Swedish Farmer's Daughter

Antique-Round-Oak-Dining-table-

A cousin of mine passed away yesterday. After helping to make calls and send emails to notify other family members of her death, I could not help but think about how it sometimes seems that there are more of my family members in heaven than here on earth anymore.

Yesterday was a time to remember them. Grandparents, great aunts and uncles, aunts, uncles and cousins who have slipped beyond the veil. Each one a totally unique human treasure.  Now, I am not saying that we all got along, were always pillars of the community or had perfect reputations, but come heaven, hell or high water they were my people.

I have been very blessed to have had the opportunity to know several generations of family very well. When I think of the times we were all together, whether it was for a baptism, birthday, confirmation, graduation, wedding, holiday or funeral, it…

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Just saying: There Is No Such Thing As Humanity Without God and The True Meaning of Christmas

 

Secret-Stonehenge

Humans are as unique in the animal kingdom as Christianity is among world religions. Evidence strongly suggests that humans are fundamentally different than other animals. I believe that our very uniqueness as a species indicates the existence of God.  It seems to me that humanity as a concept for higher moral behavioral traits can only exist if humans were created in the image of a higher power. Without God there is no humanity.  For we would no longer be a unique creation, but would be no better, no worse, no more special than any other animal. We would not understand mortality.

Without a moral soul from God there would be no right or wrong…only survival of the fittest.  Our sole focus would be to do whatever it takes to obtain our next meal and propagate the species. Nothing would deter the violent methods needed to be successful at either of these two tasks.

There would be no such thing as a conscience.  You couldn’t afford to have one anymore than a lion, tiger or shark can afford a conscience.  The softer human traits like love and kindness would have been evolutionary death sentences.  Just like any other animal on this earth, we would merely be another link in a food chain where only the strong survive.

Of course, if here is no God there would be no need for religion. However, even the earliest humans sought out gods and practiced forms of religious rites. They had burial ceremonies for their dead and offered sacrifices to either win favor or appease gods. So seriously did they seek out gods, that not only human, but child sacrifice was commonly practiced throughout the world. In some cultures on a massive scale. A rather counter-productive evolutionary trait.

Generation after generation, culture after culture, religion after religion, humans have sought out gods.  In all of the other religions of this world people seek God. Only in the Christian faith does God seek people.

The God of Christians does not ask for sacrifice, he asks for obedience.  What does he require of us? Jesus summarized all of the commandment’s into two.  To love God with all of our heart, soul and mind, and to love one another as we would like to be loved.

The Christian God does not ask for sacrifice from us, he sacrificed for us.  In the birth of his only son Jesus Christ in Bethlehem over two millennia ago, God sought to save us, just because he loves us.   John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

God seeking us is the true meaning of Christmas. Sadly, if you don’t learn about the birth of Jesus the Christ and ask him into your heart you are missing out on the only part of the holiday season, and life, that brings real joy and peace.

Jesus is the Christ in Christmas.  Without him all you are doing is having one big commercial gift exchange.  Great for the economy, not so great for our world or your soul…..just saying.

 

 

 

Recipes: New Tried and True Cookie Recipes: Chocolate and Caramel-Filled Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies, Rum Raisin Oatmeal Cookies, Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies and Rollo Candy Double Chocolate Pretzel Bites

For the past two weeks this blog has seen quite a bit of re-blogging.  That was due to the fact, that just over a week ago I had a freak accident.  I reached into a kitchen drawer, felt a strange pinch-like sensation and when I removed my hand about a third of a finger tip was missing on the middle finger of my left hand.  My finger had run into a very sharp vegetable peeler and was instantly, “cored.”

Finger

The next day, I went to the clinic for stitches only to learn that there was nothing to stitch. It was just missing. The injury was packed in a huge cast like bandage.  I was told to keep it dry, on for a week and that it would probably take a month to heal.

It quit bothering me by the next day and while I may not have been able to efficiently type, I could still bake.  Of course, the bandage got wet on the second day, so I replaced with something that looked similar to me.  The doctor was wrong about it taking a month, it looks pretty good already, and I have switched to a much smaller typing compatible bandage.

So, now my fingertip will have a dimple just like my cheeks.  It’s always good to coordinate and at my age dimples just come with the territory.

I want to share a few recipes that I have tested and deemed excellent.

cookie thumbprint

Chocolate and Caramel Filled Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Ingredients:
2-3/4 cups of all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 bag of Rollo Chocolate Caramel candies, foil removed

Garnish:
sea salt

In a small bowl combine dry ingredients (flour and salt) and set aside.

In a large bowl using an electric hand-mixer cream together the butter and sugar.  Add the egg and beat until light and fluffy.  Add vanilla and beat until combined.  Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix on a low speed until dough forms.

Shape dough into about one-inch round balls.  Place the dough balls about two inches apart on the paper covered cookie sheet.  I could get a dozen cookies on each baking sheet.  In the center of the dough ball, make a well by pressing down with your thumb.  Place the Rollo candy in the hole.

Bake for about 15 minutes until the cookies just begin to brown.  Remove from oven and lightly sprinkle with sea salt.  Cool on a wire rack or clean counter.

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cookie oatmeal raisin

These cookies are a dressed up version of an old favorite.

Rum Raisin Oatmeal Cookies

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.   Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Ingredients:
1 cup of butter, softened
1 cup of white sugar
1 cup of brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-3/4 cups rolled oats
1-1/2 cups raisins
1/3 cup rum
1/3 cup water
1/2 of a 12-ounce package of chocolate chips

In a small saucepan combine the 1/3 cup of rum and 1/3 cup of water.  Add raisins.  On a medium-low heat, bring to a simmer.  Simmer until all of the liquid is soaked up by the raisins.  Stir occasionally. This process is called, “plumping raisins.”  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

In a small bowl mix the dry ingredients together (flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt).  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl using an electric hand-mixer cream together the butter and sugars until smooth.  Add eggs and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy.   Turn the speed of the mixer down to low and slowly add the dry ingredients. Mix until dough forms.  Add in the oats and mix in completely.  With a wooden spoon gently mix in the raisins.

Drop walnut-sized spoonfuls onto  cookie sheet.  Bake for eight to ten minutes or until cookies just begin to brown and look slightly dry on top.  Remove from oven and allow to sit on the cookie sheet for another minute or so. This will produce a chewy cookie.  If you want a crisp cookie bake until evenly browned.

Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and cool completely.

In a small micro-wave safe bowl melt the chocolate chips.  Heat for 30 seconds.  Stir.  Heat another 30 Seconds. Stir.  Then, 10 seconds until completely melted.  Drizzle the melted chocolate over the top of the cookies.  Cool to set chocolate.

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mint-chocolate-chip-cookies

These Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies taste like a rich dessert mint and their green color is so very festive.

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Ingredients:
1 cup butter, softened
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs, plus one additional egg yolk
1 teaspoon mint extract
green food coloring
3-1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 bag (12-ounce) semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a medium-sized mixing bowl combine dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, creme of tartar and salt).   Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl using an electric hand-mixer cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and extra egg yolk, mint extract and food coloring.  Beat until light and fluffy.  (I used about a dozen drops of food coloring to get a mint green color in my dough.)

Turn down the mixer speed and slowly add the dry ingredients to dough.  When flour is combined, add the chocolate chips and mix until they are distributed evenly throughout the dough.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for about one hour.  (Best practices, but, not mandatory with this recipe.)

Form dough into walnut-sized balls and place two inches apart on the parchment lined cookie sheet.  Bake until the tops of the cookies are no longer shiny and the edges are just barely browning.

Remove from oven and cool on cookie sheet for a minute or two.  Transfer to a clean counter top or wire rack and cool completely.

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My husband has already eaten an entire batch of these, so I had to make another batch yesterday.  They are tasty morsels that are so very easy to make.  A good one for the kids to help with.

Christmas Pretzel Cookies

Rollo Candy Double Chocolate Pretzel Bites

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Ingredients:
1 bag of small pretzels
1 large bag of Rollo candy, remove foil (Any bite-sized chocolate-covered candy bar can be used.  I used the Rollo candies because they are the only ones that are nut-free) 
3 bars of Baker’s brand white chocolate (nut-free) or a 12-ounce bag of white chocolate chips (the white chocolate chips and almond bark all had a nut warning) 
Colored sprinkles

Place as many pretzels as you can fit on top of the parchment paper.  Top each pretzel with a Rollo candy.  When all is assembled, put the cookie sheet into the oven for about three minutes or until the tops of the chocolate candy becomes shiny.

Remove from the oven and quickly top each candy with another pretzel and press down into the soft melted chocolate.  It should look like a pretzel sandwich cookie.  Cool in the refrigerator or if you are in Minnesota use God’s blast freezer and set outside until chocolate sets…less than a minute on a good day.

In a small micro-wave safe bowl melt the white chocolate.  Heat for 30 seconds.  Stir.  Heat for another 30 Seconds. Stir.  Then, 10 seconds until completely melted.  Dip one half of the pretzel cookie into the white chocolate and decorate with colored sprinkles.

Return to refrigerator or a Minnesota winter to set the white chocolate.

Store in an airtight container.

Enjoy!