Cranberry Coconut Cookies

There are days that I just crave junk food.

Really, there are days when a package of Oreo’s, well… they must just be eaten.

A week or so ago, I was in a whole package of Oreo’s sort of mood.  It wasn’t that it had to be chocolate, or anything, I just wanted something sweet.  So I was standing there opening and closing the cupboards.  Walking away when I didn’t find anything already prepared…. and then repeating the process again 5 minutes later…. I was trolling the kitchen.  Not pretty.

In desperation, I started flipping through cookbooks, and hoping that a recipe would just jump out at me, fully prepared of course…

I came across a recipe for Oatmeal Cookies that I was suddenly inspired to fiddle with, and Cranberry Coconut cookies were born.

1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3 cups quick rolled oats
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1 cup dried cranberries

Cream together butter and sugars until fluffy. Add vanilla.  Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.  Add soda and salt.  Add flour in stages, mixing as you go.  Add oats, one cup at a time, mixing after each addition.  Add coconut and cranberries, until just combined.

drop by spoonfuls onto a well greased cookie sheet ( if you use stoneware, you do NOT need to grease it )  Cook at 350 for about 10-15 minutes.
Makes about 7 dozen.

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Yogurt, Sweet Yogurt

Here real quick is the recipe for yogurt I was talking about on Facebook. You make it in your crock pot, and it is super duper easy. I will add pictures the next time I make it…

1/2 gallon ( 2 quarts ) of milk. ( don’t use ultra pasteurized. just plain pasteurized is fine)
1/2 cup of plain yogurt ( I used a 6oz cup of Greek yogurt)

If you want to thicken it even more than it will be after you strain it… then you might want to add 1/4 cup of nonfat dry powdered milk, or 1 pkg of non flavored gelatin.
So you put your milk in the crock pot, heat it on low for 2 1/2 hours. unplug and leave covered for 1/2 hour more.
After the 1/2 hour, scoop out about 2 cups of milk and mix it with your plain yogurt. ( here is were you would add the 1/4 cup of powdered milk or the gelatin if you choose to use those thickeners).  Add that mixture to the milk in the crock pot, whisk it through, replace the cover, cover the crock pot with towels to keep it extra warm, and go to bed. 
When you wake up. You will have yogurt. Thin yogurt.
To get a thicker consistency, line a colander with paper towels or some coffee filters. Pour the yogurt into the lined colander. Let set for 2 hours or so,(IN THE FRIDGE)  and it will be like what you get in the store.
Even longer, and you will have a more Greek yogurt or a sour cream like texture.

For pictures, and any other tips or tricks that I am missing off the top of my head…  check out
Faithful Provisions to she her pictures and flavoring ideas.
ENJOY!

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Sweet and Sour Chicken

This post was originally titled: Emergency!  I need dinner! 
As I was throwing this recipe into the crock pot for dinner, I decided I needed to share it with you all. Why? well, read on!

How many times have you looked at the clock around lunch time, and said ” I forgot to take out the chicken! ” or ” I have 3000 things to do between now and dinner and no time to fit cooking in there!

Relax.
I’ve got ya covered.

It is simple, it is fast. It doesn’t require pre-thawing a thing. If you keep three things in your pantry, you can always pull this amazing dish out of your hat…. still run all your errands and have dinner on the table before 6pm.

You will need the following:
Crock Pot
Frozen Chicken Breasts or Tenderloins
1 package of Onion Soup Mix
1 8oz bottle of Catalina Dressing
1 cup Apricot Jam

Directions:
grease or spray the inside of the crock pot…. this is a sticky dish and it will help you clean up!

place chicken in pot. Yes, frozen chicken. Ignore your Crock Pot directions and do as I tell you. ( For my family of 6 we would use say 10 tenderloin pieces or at least a whole breast per person)

Mix the other three ingredients together. Pour over chicken.
Cook on Low for 5 hours or until Chicken is done ( yes maybe before 5 hours it is done… depends on how much chicken you use, size of crock pot…. stuff like that) If the sauce looks to thick just add a bit of water while it is cooking…

Typically I serve this dish with Brown Rice and a green salad. There are many a great rice out there that can be nuked and set on the table fast. If you need that check into Trader Joe’s Brown Rice. It is in their freezer section and great to have on hand when you don’t have 20-40 minutes to cook rice.

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Basque Beans and Rice

I think it was May ( I say I think… because in my line of work… days blend together, children’s names get confused and sometimes you forget your own… so bear with me…) Jody and I actually got a chance to get away for a few days. The company that he works for sent him to Boise, Idaho for a Skills Competition. ( I would explain what that is, but you would get bored and stop reading…) While we were away ( which is the point to this story), we ate at this FABULOUS Basque Restaurant. It is the kind of restaurant anyone who has thought about owning a restaurant wants to own. We were greeted at the door by a grand daughter of the actual Eppie. And she was probably in her 60′s so this place had been around for a year or two… Now I guess I will get to the point…………. THE FOOD!…… it was the BEST and the MOST food I have ever seen in my life! It just kept coming out of the kitchen. Finish a dish… more came…. finished your soup…. you got more……. They made the BEST bean soup!
Now, if you know me, and have seen me lately, you know that I really enjoy food. God gave us these things called taste buds and boy, am I glad that he did. After experiencing this most delicious food, I decided that this was one of those things I could do in my own kitchen, and personalize it with some other things I know my family likes.
I have no idea why I decided to post it on here……… clearly, I had nothing better to do one afternoon, between potty training, teaching and cooking……… than to take pictures of the food I was cooking. Maybe it was boredom, maybe it was too much Food Network the night before… who knows………..

First you brown up about a half a pound of bacon.
When the bacon is brown you add in half an onion and about 6 stalks of celery, chopped.
You want to wilt this a bit.
Then add carrots. I never really have big ones around, only the small ones for snacking, so this is probably 15-20 small carrots chopped.


Then I decided to throw in the rib meat that was left over from last night’s dinner. I have added ham at this point, pork, could even put in leftover steak. Be frugal, find a way to use what you have so it doesn’t go to waste.

Then you are going to add the beans. I use one package of the small red beans. I quick soak them according to the package directions with the exception that it says to soak them for 1 hour, I usually soak them for 2 at least. Then I always rinse them out, and discard the soak water.
Give it a good stir.
Then cover it with water. 6 cups usually does the trick.
Add some bay leaf, and 2 cloves of minced garlic. I know, you at thinking garlic should have gone in with the onions…. alas I will tell you no. Most cooks have a habit of over sauteeing their garlic, and causing the dish to become bitter. To avoid this add your garlic later in the process, especially when you are doing something that will simmer and cook for a few hours. No one will know you put it in later…. but the will notice if you burn it and make your dish bitter.

Cover and simmer on LOW till dinner time ( 3 hours )

Just before I serve, I cut up a package of these sausages. They are NOT spicy like you would think with them being called Chorizo. They are the Spanish Basque version of this sausage, and they are WONDERFUL!

Add 2 red bell peppers. These and the sausages only need to heat through.


I serve the whole dish over brown rice. I take a couple of Tablespoons of butter and melt it in a pan, then I add my 2 cups of brow rice, I saute the rice in the butter for a few minutes, and this keeps the rice from sticking together as it cooks. I also add 2 Knorr bouillon cubes during this process, as well as a 1/4 tsp of cumin, pepper, and Mrs Dash Chipotle seasoning. THEN I add the 4 cups of water , bring to a boil, and simmer on LOW for 50 minutes.
It really is a great hearty meal, and it is even better the next day. The kids see me bring out a bag of beans in the morning and they start to get excited, and they actually fight over the leftovers.
If you do try it… please come back and post here and let me know if liked it, ( or hated it…. I suppose I can handle the criticizim…….) and if you did how you personalized it for your family.

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