Pork Loin

Many moons ago my grandpa decided that he had seen enough turkey by the time Christmas rolled around. Thus began the tradition to eat pork on Christmas day. That tradition has carried on.
This year I found this simple, and very tasty recipe. My family loved it, and I loved how easy it was. It was very moist and flavorful.
I found the recipe on allrecipes.com. It has received 4 1/2 stars.

Original Recipe Yield 10 servings
1 (3 pound) boneless pork loin roast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup applesauce
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard (I only had spicy mustard- it was great!)
1 tablespoon honey
3 sprigs fresh rosemary ( I used dried rosemary)
1.Sprinkle roast with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, brown roast on all sides in oil. Place on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Combine the applesauce, mustard and honey; spread over roast. Top with rosemary. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 1-3/4 to 2-1/2 hours or until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees F. Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing.

Crockpot Fajitas

2 lb. chuck roast
1/2 cup brown sugar
2-3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic salt
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
juice of two limes (I use bottled with no issues)

Combine everything in a crock pot and cook on high for 6 hours. Shred meat and serve with taco fixings. You can adjust the quantity of seasoning if you have a bigger/smaller roast.

Sprinkle Bars

Melt 1 stick of butter in a 9x13 pan. Sprinkle 1 1/2 c. of graham cracker crumbs over bottom of pan.

Sprinkle in order over crumbs:

1 c. walnuts (or pecans), chopped
1 (12 oz.) pkg. chocolate chips
1 1/2 c. coconut

Pour 1 can condensed milk over everything. Bake at 325 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

Note: Last year my brother made the "mistake" of combining the butter and graham crackers in a bowl and then pressing into the bottom of the pan. I actually liked it better that way!

Chocolate-Covered Cherry Cookies


1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
8 Tbl. (1 stick) butter, softened
1 c. sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Chocolate-Cherry Topping:

1 c. semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 c. sweetened condensed milk
2 (12 oz.) jars maraschino cherries, drained and stemmed, 2 Tbl. juice reserved

Whisk flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in bowl; set aside. Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla until incorporated. Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture, and mix until dough forms, about 1 minute.

Heat chocolate and milk in saucepan over low heat until chocolate is melted, about 5 minutes (mixture should have the consistency of mayonnaise). Off heat, stir in reserved cherry juice. Cover and keep warm.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Using thumb, make an indentation in the center of each cookie. Place 1 cherry in center of each cookie, then top with 1/4 - 1/2 tsp of warm chocolate mixture (you want it to cover the cherry, but not necessarily running off of the cookie onto the sheet). Bake until cookies are just set, 10-12 minutes.

Favorite Peanut Butter Cookies

3/4 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. shortening
1 1/4 c. light brown sugar
3 Tbl. milk
1 Tbl. vanilla
1 egg
1 3/4 c. flour
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine peanut butter, shortening, sugar, milk, and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat until well blended. Add egg, beat just until blended. Combine flour, salt, and baking soda. Add to creamed mixture at low speed. Mix just until blended. Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Flatten slightly in crisscross pattern with tines of fork. Bake for 7-8 minutes, or until set and just beginning to brown. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet, and remove to foil to cool completely.

Variations: These are the cookies I use for Peanut Blossoms and Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprints. Add an additional 1/4 c. flour to original recipe, roll into 1 1/2 inch balls and roll in granulated sugar. For Peanut Butter Blossoms, immediately press an unwrapped Hershey's kiss upon removal from the oven. For Thumbprints, remove from oven and make indentations in the center with the handle of a wooden spoon. Heat 1/2 c. raspberry jam in a small saucepan, stirring until "loose," about 30 seconds. Spoon about 1/2 tsp. into each indentation.

Melt in Your Mouth Sugar Cookies

This is the dough that I use with my cookie press...

1 c. margarine or butter, softened
1 c. vegetable oil
1 c. sugar
1 c. sifted confectioner's sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
4 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cream of tartar

Heat oven to 350. Combine butter, oil, and sugars; beat well on medium speed. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda, salt and cream of tartar; add to creamed mixture. Put into cookie press. Bake 8-10 minutes until set and *slightly* brown around edges.

Russian Tea Cakes

Love these!

1 c. butter or margarine, softened
1/2 c. confectioner's sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 c. flour
3/4 c. chopped nuts (I usually use walnuts or pecans)
1/4 tsp. salt
confectioner's sugar

Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla together.  Blend flour and salt in separate bowl and add to butter mixture.  Mix thoroughly and stir in nuts.  Roll into 1-inch balls and bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  Right out of the oven, roll in confectioner's sugar.  Allow to cool and roll in sugar again.

Veggie Lasagna

I LOVE, love, love vegetables. I have always loved veggie lasagna. I have been in search for a great veggie lasagna recipe for some time. I found a few that I thought were pretty good, and decided that I would just mix and match my favorite parts. My family was very happy with the results, and so was I.

2 jars of spaghetti sauce **
1 box of lasagna noodles, prepared (I am a purist. Those oven ready noodles are mushy!!)
8 ounces of room temperature cream cheese (I use neufchatel cheese, it's lighter)
1 egg plant, drained, and cut in to bite sized pieces
1 small yellow squash, cut in to bite sized pieces
1 small zucchini, cut in to bite sized pieces
1 small onion, diced
1 clove of garlic
Italian seasonings to taste
1 to 2 TBSP olive oil
15 ounces ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 to 2 cups shredded mozzarella

-A few hours before you begin, slice an eggplant and let it drain, cut side down, on a paper towel. This will take the bitterness out of it.-
Combine the spaghetti sauce and the cream cheese together until it is smooth and set aside.
Saute olive oil and diced onions until the onions start to get translucent. Add zucchini and squash and saute until they become tender. When those are tender, add your bite sized pieces of eggplant. Add garlic and Italian seasonings to taste to your veggie mixture. Set aside.
Combine ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, and one egg in a bowl.
Now it's time to begin building your lasagna! Liberally spray a 9 x 13 pan with non stick spray. Evenly spread 1 cup of sauce over the bottom of the pan. Put down a layer of lasagna noodles. Spread ALL of the ricotta mixture over the noodles. Top that with half of the veggie mixture. Lay down another layer of noodles. Top with the second half of veggie mixture and half of the remaining sauce. Add your last layer of noodles and top with the rest of the sauce.

Cover with foil and bake at 375 for 45 minutes covered. Remove foil and top lasagna with mozzarella cheese. Bake an additional 15 minutes or until the lasagna is hot and bubbly.
Remove from oven and let it sit for 15 minutes before serving.

Yes- it is involved, but it is very worth it. The is full of veggie servings and the eggplant adds a fantastic flavor to the 4 cheese pasta dish!
** If you just can't do meatless (dad!), here is a tip; When I make spaghetti sauce I make a HUGE pot of it and split it up for future meals. That sauce has meat in it. I use that for the lasagna. TASTY!

Sweet Potato Crunch

I wanted to post this recipe before Thanksgiving, but I couldn't find it! My mother in law called my sister in law and we were able to get it on our table. It's a little late for that now, but these are still fabulous. They were the thing I kept going back to for more!

3 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes
1 stick butter
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp grated orange peel
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup corn flakes
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Cook and mash the potatoes. Add 1/2 stick of butter, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and orange peel.
(The potatoes can be made ahead of time and refrigerated.)
Mix 1/2 cup brown sugar, cornflakes, and pecans, and remaining butter.

Before serving, heat the potatoes. They can be heated in a microwave for 20 minutes on 50% power if desired or heated at 350 in the oven.
Add topping and bake for an additional 20 minutes at 375.

These would be great with any holiday dinner, or just you, a spoon, and a couch, while watching a movie. HA!


In Ohio these little gems are lovingly referred to as Buckeyes because of the similarities in appearance to the nut of the Ohio state tree which shares their name. I like to think of them as the creamier, tastier cousin to Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

1 pound butter, softened
2 pounds peanut butter
About 2 1/2 to 3 pounds powdered sugar
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
12 ounces milk chocolate chips
2 ounces paraffin (I just left this out and it was fine--you can also use dipping chocolate instead of the chocolate chips if you prefer)

Mix first 3 ingredients together and form into 1 inch balls. Let harden a bit in the fridge or freezer. When you are ready to dip the peanut butter balls, remove from freezer. Melt the chocolate chips and paraffin together in a double boiler or the microwave. With a toothpick, dip peanut butter balls in chocolate to coat, leaving about a dime sized spot on top exposed like a Buckeye. Let harden on waxed paper. Store in refrigerator or freezer.

Cinnamon Rolls

I have very happy memories of my mom making these on Christmas morning. Sometimes if I'm feeling too harried on Christmas morning I'll save the task for New Year's Day. I can't think of a better way to start off the new year!

2 cakes yeast (Do they even make cakes of yeast any more? I just use 2 packets or the equivalent thereof).
1 Tablespoon sugar
Warm water to dissolve yeast
1/2 cup Mazola or Wesson oil (I just use Canola or whatever I have)
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
4 to 5 cups flour, sifted

Softened butter
Brown sugar
Chopped pecans (optional)
Raisins (optional)

Crumble yeast in a cup. Add tablespoon of sugar, Barely cover yeast and sugar with warm water. Scald milk (I just do this in the microwave for a few minutes until a skin forms--very easy). Add oil and sugar. Place into mixing bowl. Add eggs and salt. Mix until smooth; add 2 cups flour. Add yeast mixture. Beat 4-5 minutes on medium speed. Add 2 more cups flour. Knead into mixture with dough hook. Put entire mixture into a large greased bowl. Let rise until doubled in bulk. Divide in half. Roll dough into a 1/2 inch thick rectangle (about 12 inches long). Spread with 1 stick of softened butter, sprinkle liberally with brown sugar and cinnamon. Roll from long side of rectangle into a roll. Mark rolls and cut with thread. Repeat process with other half of dough. Let rise on greased cookie sheets until doubled. Bake at 375 to 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Yield: 24 rolls.

My mom would usually make these with chopped nuts and occasionally with raisins. Both are tasty additions.

Brown Paper Bag Pecan Brittle

Here's a fancier, yummier version of Peanut Brittle. This is probably my favorite homemade Christmas candy. It's amazing that something so simple can taste so heavenly. I usually keep a brown lunch bag right there as I'm making it to compare the color.

1 1/2 cups pecans
1 1/8 cups white sugar
1 cup butter

Line a cookie sheet with greased foil. Spread pecans on top. Mix sugar and butter in a large pan. Using a long handled wooden spoon, heat and stir constantly until the mixture turns exactly the color of  a brown paper bag. Pour over pecans. Cool. Break into pieces. 
*This can be made with other nuts as well--almonds are good, but pecans are my favorite.

Chinese New Year Cookies

I am pretty sure these are only called Chinese New Year Cookies because of the chow mein noodles, but they are fun and tasty!

1 (12 oz.) pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (12 oz.) pkg. butterscotch chips
5 oz. chow mein noodles
1 small can salted peanuts

Melt chocolate and butterscotch chips in a double boiler.  Add noodles and nuts a little bit at a time, coating thoroughly.  Drop spoonfuls on wax paper and chill.  Makes about 3-4 dozen.

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies

This doesn't make a lot of cookies, but that's probably a good thing -- they are addictive!

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup quick cooking oats
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
2 1/2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

In a large bowl, cream together 1/2 cup butter or margarine, 1/2 cup peanut butter, white sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla. Add egg and beat well.  In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add these dry ingredients to the creamed mixture. Stir. Add oatmeal and stir.  Drop by teaspoons onto greased baking sheet, and press each mound down with a fork to form 1/4 inch thick cookies. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 10 minutes, or until cookies are a light brown.

To Make Filling: Cream 3 tablespoons butter or margarine with the confectioners' sugar, 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter, and the cream. Spread filling onto half of the cooled cookies, then top with the other half to form sandwiches.