Monthly Archives: August 2012

Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies

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2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar, firmly pack
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1 cup salted butter, softened
3 large eggs
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300°F. In a medium bowl combind flour, soda and salt. Mix well with a wire whisk. Set aside. In a large bowl blend sugars using electric mixer at medium speed. Add butter and mix to form grainy paste, scraping the sides of the bowl. Add eggs, peanut butter and vanilla, and mix at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the flour mixture and mix at low speed until just mixed. Do not overmix. Drop by rounded table spoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet, 1 1/2 inches apart. With a wet fork gently press a crisscross pattern on top of cookies. Bake for 18-22 minutes until cookies are slightly brown along edges. Transfer cookies immediatly to cool surface with spatula.

The cookie jars are restocked. My day is done! lol. Not really, dinner is yet to be made, the baby to be bathed, laundry to be done. Mitch is midway through re-flooring our bedroom, so furniture is everywhere. Hopefully, when the kids are in bed, there will be a few minutes left to work on the pair of chairs we’re re-upholstering.

Later Gators! ~Amber

PS
Like this post? Be sure to check “my Kitchen” for links to more of my recipes!

Wonder to which parties I’m linking? I have a page dedicated to “shares”, too!
Linked:

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Coconut Macaroons and Milk in Martini Glasses

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1 and 1/2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 egg whites
1/4 tsp vanilla
dash salt

*Beat egg whites, salt, and vanilla until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating until very stiff and glossy. Fold in coconut; drop by rounded teaspoons about 2″ apart onto greased cookie sheets.Bake at 325°F about 20 minutes or until set and lightly brown.

Our daughters LOVED them. Per usual, they wanted to drink their milk from some of my favorite stemware… blown glass martini glasses featuring little birds and blossoms. lol. At least the set of martini glasses are getting used, even if it’s not for my Martinis. 😉 Love.

Your Friend,

~Amber Hamilton Henson

PS
Like this post? Be sure to check “my Kitchen” for links to more of my recipes!

Wonder to which parties I’m linking? I have a page dedicated to “shares”, too!
Linked with love at these parties:
TatorTots and Jello Weekend Wrap Up
Too Much Time Get Schooled Saturdays
I Heart Naptime Sunday Scoop Link Party
TwiggStudios Sunday Showoff
Momnivore’s Dilemma
Chicken Scratch NY “What’s Cluckin?”
All Star Block Party @ Full Circle Creations
Time to Shine @ A Diamond in the Stuff
Sunday Linky Party @ PetiteHermine

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Muddy Worms for Dessert

My oldest daughter wrote a sewing tutorial a couple of days ago, and now our middle daughter wants to have an appearance all her own as a featured participant on a post, too!
“Of course, you may!” was my response.

I promise this isn’t going to turn into an ALL child posting blog, since i have plenty of my own craft projects and home renovation projects happening. However, probably once a month, I will let each of them post from time to time. Since I’ve been devoting a few minutes per day to this site, I’m THRILLED that they want to be involved! More bonding time, you know…

Here she is!
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The Recipe:

1 pkg. (3.9 oz.) JELL-O Chocolate Instant Pudding
2 cups of cold milk
1 tub (8 oz.) COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, thawed
15 OREO Cookies, finely crushed (about 1-1/4 cups), divided
18 Brach’s gummy worms candy

BEAT pudding mix and milk in large bowl with whisk 2 min. Let stand 5 min.
Stir in COOL WHIP and 1/2 cup cookie crumbs.
SPOON into 10 (6- to 7-oz.) paper or plastic cups; top with remaining cookie crumbs.
REFRIGERATE 1 hour. Top with fruit snacks just before serving.

This recipe (no brand names used) is from the cookbook shown on top by Gooseberry Patch. It’s a really cute, illustrated, easy to follow cookbook for kids!

Does your family have a favorite cookbook for kids? or a site you recommend? We’d love to hear!!

Your Friend,
~Amber (and daughters!)

This post is linking to great parties! The links:
Gooseberry Patch
We Made That! (linky just for kids!) @ WeMadeThat

Chicken ‘n’ Dumplings for Dinner with Family

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So, there are options. There is always a trade off. You can make Chicken ‘n’ Dumplings the fast easy way or love making them from scratch.

What’s the fast easy way? Run into the grocery store and grab a Rotisserie Chicken, Box/Can of Chicken Broth, and a can of Buttermilk Biscuit dough. Bring the broth to a boil, drop in biscuits that you tear into four pieces per biscuit. Add chicken that you tear from the Rotisserie chicken. It’s actually a fairly decent solution for a semi-homemade meal. I’ve made it that way a time or two when I was pressed for time and didn’t want to wait at a restaurant or be forced into serving my kids fast food chains. It happens. You didn’t know you could make it that way? Well, now you do. You’re welcome.

However, if you want a true made-from-scratch, better-than-you-could-ever-hope-to-find-in-a-restaurant style of Chicken ‘n’ Dumplings, then you’ll need to invest a little bit of time. It is worth it. It makes a large pot, so there are leftovers, and it costs far less than the “quicky” way, assuming you keep a few staples on hand in the pantry.
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Here’s how I make my Chicken ‘n’ Dumplings from scratch:
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*Start a whole chicken boiling in a large pot over medium heat, and boil it until the meat is literally falling off the bone. (3-4 hours)
*Pull the chicken and bones from the pot and place in a colander by using a screen/lg slotted spoon/etc, ensuring that you save the broth in the pot.
*Cut up 3-4 medium new potatoes into 1/2″-1″ cubes and drop into the broth with a generous amount of salt and ground black pepper to simmer for an hour while your chicken is cooling.
*Mix 2 cups of flour and 1/2 tsp baking powder and crumble in 3-4 Tbsp of salted butter. (I use my hands to work the butter into the flour mix.) Add one cup of milk. Mix until a dough forms.
*Spread flour on your counter (lots) and roll your dough until it is about 1/4″ thick. Be generous with the flour on the counter and on top, because this flour is part of thickening your broth.
*Cut your dough into 1-2″ squares; I just use a pizza cutter, because it is fast.
*Raise the temperature of your broth and potatoes to a boil and drop in your dough squares one at a time into the broth. Gently stir once or twice, but do not mush them. Wait 5 minutes.
*After removing all of the bones from your chicken, add the meat into the pot. Stir once or twice. Serve.

(I always get rave reviews on them… “Better than Cracker Barrel”… “How did you make your dumplings?!”…) Now, you know.

The reason I made them today? Mitch requested them. His dad joined us for dinner. Since it is summertime and I usually only make this dish in the winter, I just served it with a salad and iced tea. Brownies for dessert were made by our middle daughter. Love. Here is a pic of Mitch’s dad and our girls, his granddaughters. Love.
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See y’all later! Good Night!
Your friend,
~Amber Hamilton Henson

PS: 
Like this post? Be sure to check “my Kitchen” for links to more of my recipes!
Wonder to which parties I’m linking? I have a page dedicated to “shares”, too, that links to the best parties around!
If this post is featured, please let me know and I’ll add your “featured” button to this post and my “shares” page! 😀
This post is linked:
Mom’s Test Kitchen
Miz Helen’s Country Cottage
Momnivore’s Dilemma

Daughter Sews Pillows

We’re in the process of redecorating our oldest daughter’s bedroom: new paint, new flooring, new bedding, new curtains, etc. So, of course, she’s helping, too!! (She’s 10 years old, now.)
I invited her to write a post/tutorial for this blog, describing what she made, today. Here’s her email to me describing her process of sewing new decorative pillows for her bed:

“First, I have to thread the needle. Then, I have to get the fabric and put the pattern sides together. I put the fabric under the needle and put the foot down. I sew until there is just a hole big enough for my hand. I flip inside out. After that, I stuff it. I sew the hole up, and I’m done.”

Concise and to the point, I say! Well done! Truth of the matter, threading her sewing machine is actually trickier than threading MY machine. (She has her OWN real sewing machine.) The sewing machine was on her wishlist to Santa a couple of years ago. 😉 She’s getting pretty good at sewing on it!

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Again, “GREAT JOB, SWEETHEART!!” I’m so proud of her! Love.
~Amber Hamilton Henson

PS. This post is linked with love:
Scissors and Spatulas
House of Hepworths
Made In A Day
Johnny In A Dress
We Made That! (linky just for kids! @ WeMadeThat

Samoa Cookie Bars

Hey, Internet!
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So, tonight after dinner (taco night at home), I spent a few minutes looking at social media. My facebook feed sure had lots of pictures of sweet treats, tonight. Cookie Dough stuffed Cupcakes, Cookies, and I’m really curious about how Heather’s Nutella Cheesecake turned out! Who’s Heather? Heather is Arkansas’s very own “Planner in Pearls!” Whether you’re planning a wedding of your own, or know someone who will soon, go check out her page if you have a minute!

Tonight, my choices were to either sit there drooling at the fb newfeed or go raid the pantry and food blog scene in order to find something to bake for MY family, too. Here’s what I came up with: “Samoa Cookie Bars”

They’re kind of a knock-off of the Girl Scout Samoa Cookies. They turned out great!
Basically, you bake a short bread cookie sheet, and while it’s cooling, you toast coconut, melt caramel, and melt chocolate. Then, assemble it all and consume. Yum!!

For the Shortbread Cookie:
1/2 cup of sugar
3/4 cup of butter, softened
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups of all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

*We used a 9″x13″ cookie sheet, sprayed with non-stick spray. Cream together the sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla. Gradually, beat in the flour and salt. It is a dense batter that you press into the cookie sheet in a thin layer. Bake for 25 minutes. Set sheet on wire rack to cool.
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While your cookie base is cooling, turn the oven down to 300F and start toasting your coconut. My coconut took about 20 minutes total, stirring every 5 minutes. Also happening: Melt 12oz of caramel with 3 Tbs milk and 1/4 tsp salt in the microwave. I ran my microwave in 90 second increments, stirring and repeating, until done.
Simultaneously, use a double boiler (pot in a pot of water) to melt your chocolate.

When your coconut is done toasting, mix it into your melted caramel. Spread it across your shortbread cookie base. Drizzle with your melted chocolate. Consume. Done!

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Dear facebook, the kids and hubby loved these, but for my sake, please show more diet friendly foods in the news feed tomorrow. lol. Please and Thank You!

Your Friend,
~Amber Hamilton Henson

PS: 
Like this post? Be sure to check “my Kitchen” for links to more of my recipes!
Wonder to which parties I’m linking? I have a page dedicated to “shares”, too, that links to the best parties around!

Guess what?! I was featured!! 😀

This post is linked:
Bizzy Bakes
Love Bakes Good Cakes
Creations by Kara
AlderBerryHill
At Home With Mrs.M
Couponing n Cooking
I’m Addicted To Recipes
SavvySouthernStyle
TheKingsCourt4
DJ’s Sugar Shack
my1929Charmer
No Minimalist Here
Miz Helen’s Country Cottage
Mandatory Mooch
House of Hepworths
The Ease of Freeze
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(As always, if this post is featured on your blog, the Party Hostesses’ Links/Buttons will be pasted on my “shares” page AND on this actual post.)

Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers

Well… maybe not an entire peck, but we DID pick peppers. We also pickle pot’d. We (my husband, our 3 daughters, and I) absolutely LOVE “refrigerator pickles”. You can safely flavor and make these “refrigerator pickles” if you stick to a few tried and true techniques and recipes. YaY! First, clean your produce really well.


There are lots of recipes for refrigerated pickles out there, some with more ingredients, some with less. Some people make a collection of jars; we use one huge pot that is 1.5 gallons. Why one huge pot? Well, we’re a family of 5 that LOVES these pickles. After it is assembled, you have to leave it in the refrigerator for 2 weeks before you get to eat them. During those 2 weeks, anticipation builds. Once, we’re “allowed” into the pot, we DIVE in. A gallon and a half of pickles doesn’t last long around here.


The pickle pot is pretty versatile. At the heart of it, you use: cucumbers, onions, vinegar, water, pickling spice, and SUGAR. (Sugar isn’t pictured here, but this size pot requires a few cups.) You can buy pre-made pickling spice at the grocery store or make your own blend, like I do. You can add peppers, if you choose, but remember to poke lots of holes in the peppers with a fork! We sent our oldest daughter into the backyard to pick a few for our pot!


So, start with a layer of your cucumber spears.
(I had huge cucumbers that I cut into 16 spears per cucumber.)
Then, onion, then spice, then dill, then canning salt.
(That is an important note: table salt often has an anti-caking agent that may prevent it from working in your pot properly, and sea salt may make your pot cloudy. I use a salt that is specifically for canning and pickling).
Repeat layers. Repeat Layers. Repeat Layers. Repeat Layers.
When it is full, fill the pot 1/3 of the way with the White Vinegar & sugar mix.
Gently, shake out air bubble.
Fill the remaining space in the pot with water.
Because the pot will sit in the refrigerator for 2-4 weeks, I use bottled water to further reduce the risk of contaminates. In the name of being both a responsible consumer and proud Arkansan, I use Mountain Valley Spring Water. I buy it by the case in glass bottles that are manufactured using recycled glass that I will again recycle. Furthermore, it is bottled from natural hot springs in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Win. Win. Win. Love!

If you’ve never made your own Refrigerator Pickles a.k.a. “Pickle Pot,” we suggest you try it!
If my big pot is not your style, there are lots of options. You can find a simple recipe for making them in jars in MizHelen’s kitchen, or you can try P. Allen Smith’s version using produce from your garden. Speaking of, I really want to try his recipe for Pickled Okra soon. I had Pickled Broccoli as a side dish at Saigon Thai Cuisine (on Cantrell, here in Little Rock, Arkansas) the other day and LOVED it. I may need to pickle broccoli soon, too! I’ll let you know.

Speaking of pickles, fried pickles are a staple here in the south. However, I try really hard to limit the quantity of battered and fried food that I serve my family, so here is recipe for “fried pickles” that is actually baked! Love.
(click in photo to enlarge for easier reading) 😉


We’re having a Peaceful, Pickle and Pepper day. I hope you do, too!

“Later Gators!” and “Afterwhile Crocodiles!”

Your Friend,

~Amber Hamilton Henson

PS: 
Like this post? Be sure to check “my Kitchen” for links to more of my recipes!

Guess what?! I was featured!

Wonder to which parties I’m linking? I have a page dedicated to “shares”, too, that links to the best parties around! This post is linked:
Love Bakes Good Cakes
Creations by Kara
AlderBerryHill
Mad In Crafts
At Home With Mrs.M
Couponing n Cooking
I’m Addicted To Recipes
BoogieBoard Cottage
Elizabeth and Co.
HandyManCraftyWoman
PetiteHermine
ChickenScratchNY
SavvySouthernStyle
PrimpJunktion
TheKingsCourt4
DJ’s Sugar Shack
This Chick Cooks
The Brambleberry Cottage
my1929Charmer
House of Hepworths
Momnivore’s Dilemma
The Ease of Freeze
As always, if this post is featured on your blog, the Party Hostesses’ Links/Buttons will be pasted on my “shares” page and to this post!

An ORANGE day!

Today’s post is sponsored by the color Orange!! Okay, well a color can’t sponsor a post, but if it could, I think it would sponsor this post. I’m in the mood for ORANGE: the look, the feeling, and the flavors!

If you’ve been too serious lately and want an easy way to lighten up, then spread a little ORANGE around your life. As a blend of the physicality and raw energy of red and the sheer happiness of yellow, orange becomes truly the color of joy, creativity, and playfulness. Thought to be one of the most energizing colors on the plant, it is often tied to fun times, happy and energetic days, warmth, and organic products. It also a color of choice for many communication companies. Furthermore, orange is known to be associated with a new dawn in attitude. Arkansas has been experiencing higher than average temperatures and extreme drought this summer, but it is finally raining this morning. It feels great! I think that is reason to enough to celebrate by dedicating a post to one of my favorite colors, orange. I actually like the color so much, it is the color that we painted our last house. Seriously, multiple shades of orange. Click here to see my Historic House post. Now, onto more orange-y-ness.

(Click on photo to enlarge into a new window for readability of recipe!)
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Let’s start by cleansing our palettes with an orange sorbet using my CuisinArt ice cream machine. It’s a great little machine. Beyond the fact that it’s really quiet, I really enjoy that it is electric and you don’t even have to add rock salt to a bucket, like most machines. Simplicity. Love it!

Let’s also make the house smell great by simmering a pot full of orange slices, rosemary, vanilla and cinnamon sticks, if you have them on hand. I always have more than enough rosemary on hand. One of the first things I did when we bought this new house 2 years ago was plant Rosemary en masse along the front of the house beside the pathway leading to our front door. 20+ Rosemary tiny plants are now growing into a Rosemary hedge. Love it!

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ORANGE CHICKEN IN MY CROCKPOT

6 boneless chicken breasts, chopped into small chunks
1/3 cup flour
1/2 Tbsp. of salt
1/4 Tbsp. of cayenne pepper (adjust for more or less heat, depending on preferences)
peanut oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
3 Tbl. ketchup
6 oz. frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1/4 cup of soy sauce
8-12 Tablespoons of brown sugar (adjust according to how bitter vs. sweet your juice is)
red pepper flakes (I have a heavy hand with these, because we really enjoy the heat)

*Pour the flour, salt, and cayenne in a small bowl. Cover the chicken breast chunks in flour and shake off the excess.
*Pour a small amount of peanut oil in a skillet and brown the small bites of flour-covered chicken. After the chicken is done cooking, pour the pieces into the crock pot.
*Mix the orange juice, brown sugar, vinegar, salt, ketchup, soy, and red pepper flakes in a bowl. Then cover the chicken with your sauce mixture and give the pot a stir.
*Cook on low for 5-6 hours or on high for 2.
*I serve this with white rice and steamed broccoli!

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CANDIED ORANGE PECANS!

^(click on photo to enlarge into a new window for easier readability!)
Now, for dessert: (actually, we kind of snack on these all throughout the day, too!) This is absolutely one of our favorite recipes; it is from my Gram! I’ve labeled the recipe “secret” recipe, because I don’t usually share this recipe. It’s not a rule to keep it secret, like Mommaw’s praline recipe, you know how some Southern Traditions are, but I usually don’t share this one either. Everyone that has ever tasted these always raves about them and asks for the recipe, to which I reply “Family Secret.” However, I’m just feeling generous, today, so I’m sharing.

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We’re having an orange day. I hope you have a happy, orange kind of day, today, too!!
“Later Gators!” and “Afterwhile Crocodiles!”
Your Friend,

~Amber Hamilton Henson

PS
Like this post? Be sure to check “my Kitchen” for links to more of my recipes!

Wonder to which parties I’m linking? I have a page dedicated to “shares”, too!
Linked:
Mom’s Test Kitchen
Miz Helen’s Country Cottage
ChickenScratchNY
FullCircleCreations
Mandatory Mooch
SavvySouthernStyle
TheKingsCourt4
Mom’s Test Kitchen
Five Little Chefs
ArkansasWomenBloggers’ Foodie Friday