Peanut Butter Delights: No-Bakes that Melt in Your Mouth

Peanut Butter DelightsPeanut Butter Delights, when made correctly, deliver melt-in-your-mouth goodness in every bite. I first found the recipe when a friend's son asked me to make him some for his birthday. The first time I made the cookies I failed to cook the mixture as long as the recipe called for and quite by accident improved on the dry version of the cookie I'd been served in the past. I also discovered in a subsequent attempt that reduced fat peanut butter doesn't deliver the same rich, creamy cookies as inexpensive store brand peanut butter. The recipe was originally published in either the Winston-Salem Journal or The Cary News as discovered by a writer who goes by the pseudonym Myrkabah who wrote:

This leads me to suspect that, similiarly to Cheerwine and Lexington Barbecue, the one true peanut butter delight is a secret that we North Carolinians have delightfully (pun intended) kept from everyone else. If this is true, then I am almost certainly breaking Chapter 8, Section 2 of the North Carolina Code of Conduct by revealing this recipe to the general public, so if I get disappeared in the next few weeks, everyone knows what happened.

Empty Nest Menu Planning

Today is our first day as empty-nesters and it just so happens to be my day to plan our weekly menu and pull together a grocery list. Now that we're feeding just the two of us I'd love to see if we can save money on groceries each week. I think careful menu planning and proper food preservation can save us a good bit.

Tazo Tea Time

Tazo Chai TeaI have always enjoyed a cup of tea in the afternoon. I usually need a little pick-me-up and coffee - my choice of caffeinated beverages in the morning - just seems too heavy. While I typically choose Earl Grey, this winter my youngest daughter Emily introduced me to Tazo Organic Chai. Wow. I now have a new favorite tea.

I love the flavor and aroma of cloves. Tazo's Chai is spicy, aromatic and very satisfying. Over the holidays we made concentrated cups of Chai and then topped it with steamy, frothy milk from my old Krups espresso maker. I knew that 20 year old machine had been tucked in the cabinets for some reason!

I will be writing more often about tea as I grow herbs and forage the woods for sassafras this summer. I spotted two young plants last year and hope they will grow quickly so I can gather some roots and leaves this year. I made a lovely tea from pineapple sage blossoms last summer, but I need to add black or orange tea leaves. I'm looking forward to my experiments and hope you will offer suggestions from your own personal experience.

Of course, all this talk of tea begs the question...cookies or biscuits?

Find Money Saving Kitchen Tips at ConsumerFU

I don't like to stray too far off topic here, but I do want to pass along a website I stumbled across that is full of money saving tips - many for the kitchen. ConsumerFU has an active forum and some very informative articles.

It is a relatively new site, but I was especially impressed with the article on credit scoring. My first career out of college was with a major bank and working as a lender and branch manager. It's refreshing to see honest advice.

Orange Mint Tea Bread

Orange mint tea breadFinally, a use for all that citrus mint I've been growing. This bread smells lovely, looks pretty on the plate and has a wonderful hint of orange. The citrus mint adds a layer of flavor to the bread that keeps it from being too sweet.

It was my abundance of citrus mint and other herbs that helped spark the idea for this blog. I needed more recipes to use the herbs while they were fresh. I know I can't be alone. Most herbs are easy to grow making them accessible even to city dwellers in high rise apartments. If you have a favorite recipe using mint, please feel free to share it below.

The original for this recipe came from The Complete Cooking Light Cookbook. I have made a few changes and note them below in my version of the recipe.

Recipe Rescue: Southern Living's Tiny Cream Cheese Biscuits

Southern Living cookbookRarely does a recipe deliver results so bad that I throw out the food and vow to never make the recipe again. Southern Living's Tiny Cream Cheese Biscuits is one such recipe. I should have been tipped off by the amount of cream cheese and butter called for, but these biscuits were so greasy, heavy and flavorless I would not recommend the recipe to anyone.

Little Cranberry Loaves

mini cranberry loavesThese luscious little loaves can be made with ground beef or ground turkey. The seasoning is perfect for either and the tangy whole cranberry topping adds the perfect touch. This is another recipe from my mother. It was popular with every member of my family. I think we all secretly hoped somebody wouldn't want all of their meatloaf so we could clean their plate for them!

The rice helps bulk up the beef or turkey so the loaves are a tad larger than 1/5 pound of meat might typically make. This recipe calls for chopped onion, but you can also add chopped green and red peppers or any other favorite vegetable to add flavor and color.

Until last year I had always made these with beef and we were pleasantly surprised at how good these are with ground turkey. My youngest daughter doesn't care for cranberries, but she loves this recipe. Maybe the brown sugar does the trick. 

Holiday Traditions in the Kitchen

my cookbookMost of us have holiday traditions that involve some type of food and many of us have traditions that go back generations. We don't always know the back story or fully understand the significance, but we carry on. One tradition in my family started when I was a little girl and received my first cookbook on Christmas day - the Better Homes and Gardens Junior Cook Book.

I immediately asked if I could cook something and remember being told I would have to wait. I'm sure I bothered my mother to no end about cooking something from that cookbook. In the end she may have regretted giving it to me, but I still have that cookbook and I open it every year to bake the cookies I baked on that Christmas day.

Haystacks - Yummy No-bake Cookies

This cookie is fast, easy, low mess and little hands can help. It is a mother's dream cookie recipe! My mother made Haystacks when I was a little girl. My brothers typically scarfed them down before I had a chance to eat my fair share. Put your tiny violins away. I'm not whining...just my way of saying how popular this cookie is in our family. Both of my daughters love haystacks too. They don't last very long, so its a good thing they are fast and easy to make.