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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Quick and Easy Soup Beans

One of my favorite feel-good meals, is simple and very, "country."   Soup Beans or Bean Soup-- whatever you call it,  I could eat it, and eat it 'til I make myself sick.  It is also very simple to make, and is always served with warm cornbread.   My kids LOVE it as much as I do-- and get excited when mommy makes it.

My grandma is the queen of soup beans-- and has really perfected the dish.  My mother made it when I was a child, and every time I would go home or go to my grandma's it was my one request.  But, then I had to learn how to make it myself and for my kids. 

The only thing that keeps me from making it on a more regular basis, is the lack of  ham bones  lying around my house.  To get a ham bone, I buy a ham, cook the ham, eat the ham, and then use the bone.  Some people can pick them up from a grocer or catering business- for cheap or even free- But, since my husband likes ham-- we do it the long way.

Now, my grandma and mom buy the beans in a bag, and soak them-- etc.  But, I have little patience when it comes to Soup Beans-- so I cut the corners a little.

You'll need:

ham bone (with ham pieces sticking to it preferably)
3 cans pinto beans
1 can navy beans (last time I subsituted black beans)

Rinse beans, and throw all ingredients into a slow cooker.  Cover beans with water.  Salt to taste.  Let cook until hot and soupy.  Make cornbread with your favorite recipe or box. 

Serve with cornbread and onions if you would like.  Yum, yum, yum.
Friday, December 18, 2009

Melted Snowmen Cookies

So, the neighborhood kids were going to have a Christmas party-- and I volunteered to make the sweets.  My mom had told me about these cute melted snowmen cookies--so, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to give them a try!

Since, the week before we got 15 inches of snow, it was also the perfect weather for the cookies! 

I made simple sugar cookies, in slightly irregular circle shapes.  You can buy the mix, the dough, or make it from scratch.  I feel like I am one of those exercise videos, that tell you what to do if you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced. LOL

After the cookies have been baked and cooled-- (I waited til the next day.)  Make a royal frosting that will be a little on the runny side and with meringue powder in it, so it gets shiny and dries to a harder finish.

Drizzle or frost the cookies with the white frosting, allowing some frosting to drip down the sides, as if it were snow melting.  I chose not to do too much of this, because they were going to several messy children.

The next part is the fun part.  Take the big marshmallows place them on waxed paper on a plate, and place them in the microwave for 20 seconds.  Grease up your hands, and watch the marshmallows.  As soon as they start to plump up, take them out, and quickly press them onto the cookies for the head of the snowman.  This will get sticky, and the marshmallows can be warm or not mushy enough.  Be prepared to play with them a little--they will all look differently. 

After the "heads" are pressed on comes the detail work.  You can decorate however you think is best for your snowmen.  I piped on the arms and face.  I used chocolate chips for the buttons, and cut candy corn for the noses.  Have fun with it, and use what you have in your candy decor cupboard.

The kids loved the cookies, and they turned out too cute to eat almost :).

I am almost positive I will wind up making more of these when my kids are in school, and have to take something in for a party, etc.
Friday, December 11, 2009

It's Christmas Time at the Hamer's

One of my favorite things about Christmas time, is all of the baking

I love it, and I have since I was a little girl.  There are a variety of cookies that we have made over the years, with my parents--oatmeal rasin, Noel nutballs, Buckeyes, Date cookies, fudge-- but everyone's favorite Christmas cookie remains to be the, "Sugar Cookie."  Cut into Christmas shapes, and decorated around the kitchen table with every family member.  (They all didn't stay the entire time, but they all decorated....and ate...at least 1 cookie)

For years, after I left my parents house-- I still went back with  my kids to decorate Christmas cookies.  My kids needed to learn at an early age, how crazy and fun decorating cookies could be!  And, I can remember years where it got very crazy-- but there was always laughter, and frosting covered hands.  We have invited many friends and family over to share with us in this fun tradition-- so if they would share a story of our "Christmas Decorating" days in the comment section--I would love to read it. 

This year, like every other year, I have been baking up a storm.  Kyle cannot seem to keep flour and sugar in the house.  The 2009 Blizzard that snowed us in for 2 days didn't help much either--I though I was going to go crazy wtih only 1/2 bag of powdered sugar left!!!

To date, in December I have made Snickerdoodles, Peanut Butter Kiss cookies, Pretzel Kiss Treats, Sugar Cookies, Gingerbread Men, Molasses Cookies, and Peanut Butter Fudge.  My sister came to stay for a week also--so, has been a big help with decorating the Sugar Cookies and she also made Revel Bars and Chocolate Fudge.  So, as you can tell, my mixer has not had much of a break!   I still have a list of cookies I plan to make before Christmas Day is upon us....

The only thing I do differently, than my mom...is I don't hide the cookies until the week of Christmas--we eat them as we go.  I just can't see myself explaing to Jaxen that he needed to wait to eat these yummy goodies for 2-3 weeks...it's not happening.  :)

I may post more pictures of my Christmas baking...but,  for now here are some photos of the treats Alexis, Jaxen and Kyle are enjoying :)  Feel free to ask for the recipes I used. 

Oh, and this year I thought it would be fun to do "miniature" cookies-- So, I have lots and lots of mini shaped sugar cookies, and lots of mini gingerbread men.  They are bite-size and perfect this way, imo... But, we will see what everyone else thinks!  I also decided to use Royal Frosting, with Meringue Powder so that it would get hard and shiny, instead of our typical Powdered Sugar Frosting. 

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