Candy Cane Cookies--A tradition in our family

My grandchildren just finished helping me make these cookies. They are a family tradition that started with my own two sons when they were in grade school. Such traditions are the makings of Christmas, aren’t they? These cookies are rather plain, almond-flavored butter cookies, actually, but so full of memories. Nearly always the last half of the cookie dough turns into blobs of pink and white dough, rolled then smashed with grubby little hands and bearing no resemblance to candy canes. Perhaps it is the kids’ way of insuring no adult will eat their free-form creations.

This recipe comes from Betty Crocker’s Cookie Book that is at least as old as my adult sons. I have never tried dusting them with crushed peppermint candy as shown in the book, but it looks pretty in the book picture.

Candy Cane Cookies
Recipe type: Cookies
Almond-flavored butter cookies shaped like candy canes
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup shortening
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon red food coloring
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Add room-temperature butter, shortening, and confectioners sugar to a large mixing bowl. Mix until fluffy.
  3. Add egg and extracts to butter mixture. Mix until smooth.
  4. Add flour and salt to bowl. Turn mixer on Low and mix until flour disappears. Remove half of the dough to a smaller bowl.
  5. Add food coloring to dough remaining in the mixer bowl and mix well. Add more food coloring drop by drop to get the red color you want.
  6. To form cookies, make two 4-inch cylinders, one from the white dough and one from the red dough. I use a scant tablespoon (I just eyeball it) of dough for each cylinder, then roll them back and forth on a floured surface to form smooth and uniform strips. Lay white cylinder and red cylinder together and twist to form swirly pattern. Curve one end to look like a candy cane. Move onto prepared cookie sheet that you previously greased or covered with parchment paper. Repeat until you run out of dough (or patience).
  7. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 10 minutes. I hesitate to give you an exact time as it depends on the thickness of your cookies. If they are not all the same size (and they most certainly won't be if kids are helping you) remove the smaller cookies from the tray as they brown and return the larger cookies to the oven to finish baking. Remove cookies from tray while they are still warm.

On a personal note….
My husband and I are celebrating our 40th anniversary tonight. Can you believe I got married this close to Christmas? My sister also got married on this day 52 years ago. Congrats to E and K. My brother got married December 18th 53 years ago. My parents started this whole craziness when they married on Christmas Day back in 1940.

I’m looking forward to 2017. For starters, we have a  new grandbaby on the way. I also have some new recipes to share with you so I plan to show up here a little more often.

Xmas 2016 Grands

Merry Christmas to all of you from me and my grands as we honor Jesus, God’s Son.


Email This Post Email This Post Share Follow me on Pinterest

Greek Zoodle Salad-1

My niece Gina recently paid a visit and demonstrated how to make this refreshing salad for our family cookout. She grows zucchini, cucumbers and cherry tomatoes in her garden where she lives in North Carolina so she and her husband are eating this a lot. If you haven’t tried making noodles from zucchini, I heartily recommend you give it a try. You don’t have to have a spiralizer (30$ or so) to make the zoodles but it sure makes the process easier if you like them as much as I do.

Since Gina offered to help, I decided to try my hand at creating one of the new rapid-fire food videos as put together by Tasty, Delish and others. Now that I figured out i-Movie (barely), I present to you my first attempt.

Greek Zoodle Salad
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Greek-inspired
Serves: 6 servings
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
A refreshing salad with zoodles, cucumber, cherry tomatoes and feta.
  • 3 medium zucchini, spiralized
  • 1 medium cucumber, quartered and sliced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ⅓ cup feta cheese, crumbles
  1. Use a spiralizer to make zucchini noodles (zoodles) or slice by hand with a knife.
  2. Prepare cucumber and tomatoes. Set aside.
  3. To make dressing: add juice of lemons into a pint-size Mason jar, then olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper. Shake or whisk to combine.
  4. Heat zoodles in a large sauce pan or skillet just until hot. Don't cook so long that they get mushy. Empty noodles into a colander or strainer, and use the back of a spatula or wooden spoon to press out as much liquid as possible. Return zoodles to the original pan.
  5. Add all other ingredients to zoodles and toss together with a light hand. Serve immediately if you like it warm or at room temperature if you prefer. I like warm because it makes the cheese slightly melty and oh so delicious.

Related Posts:


Email This Post Email This Post Share Follow me on Pinterest
Rescuing bread dough when you forgot to add the yeast

Help! I forgot to add the yeast. Can this dough be saved?

On Christmas Eve afternoon, a family member texted me in desperation.

Her: “Help! I just realized I forgot to add the yeast to my cinnamon roll dough now that the dough cycle on my bread machine has completed.The dough hasn’t risen at all. I’ve obviously got too many things going on around here.”

Me: “YIKES! When were you planning to serve them?”

Her: “Tomorrow morning.”

Me: “Whew! We’ve got time. I’ve done the same thing several times myself, so call me, and I’ll walk you through it. We can probably save it.”

Yes, I’ve made this mistake a few times. I’ve also left out the salt (tastes boring), the sugar (not good for cinnamon roll dough), and miscounted the cups of flour I put into the bread machine. (That mess-up is easy to remedy when you open the lid to check the dough–just add more flour until it looks right, which means the dough sticks to the side, then pulls away.)

So here’s what you can try:

1. Measure out into a small bowl the amount of yeast called for in the recipe.

Rescuing Bread Dough-10.jpg 2. Add about 1-2 tablespoons lukewarm water to the yeast and stir until yeast has dissolved. If yeast is too dry and won’t dissolve, add a few more drops of lukewarm water until it does. It should be a smooth paste with no undissolved granules of yeast.

Rescuing Bread Dough-12.jpg

3. Add dissolved yeast to kneaded-but-unproofed bread dough. Whether you are using a bread machine or a large stand mixer, the directions are the same.

Rescuing Bread Dough-14.jpg

4.  Now restart your bread machine on the dough cycle and allow to mix/knead.  If the dough is now too sticky because you added the yeast/liquid, add flour 1 tablespoon at a time while the dough mixes until the dough sticks to the side, then pulls away. Keep mixing/kneading until the yeast mixture disappears and is completely incorporated into the bread dough. It is not necessary to redo the entire kneading process.

5.  At this point, you can unplug the machine and remove the dough from the bread machine pan into a large mixing bowl. Cover loosely with a tea towel or shower cap and set in a cozy warm place to rise until double. Proceed with the original recipe.

Rescuing Bread Dough-24.jpg

Bread dough after yeast was added and allowed to rise.

Related Posts:


Email This Post Email This Post Share Follow me on Pinterest

Blueberry-Stuffed Sally Lunn Bread (Mixed in a Bread Machine)The tastiest bread I've ever experienced in my life came from the Sally Lunn house in Bath, England. My older sister and I had accompanied our two elderly aunts on a genealogy-fact-finding trip back to the origins of the Herd (my maiden name) family in Sedburgh, England. We skulked around graveyards, rifled through dusty files in small libraries, hiked through gorgeous countryside in search of old homesteads, and were even privy to an impromptu sheep dog demonstration put on by a Herd relative we happened onto during one of our treks. After a week of looking at tombstones, we set out to explore the rest of England. Sally Lunn HouseOne of the best memories of the trip was Cream Tea at Sally Lunn's House in Bath. Not only were their famously light and sweet yeast "buns" the most delicious bread I ever tasted, but they were also the most expensive. I have been on a mission to reproduce the recipe ever since. Not surprisingly, many others have tried to figure out the secret but the original recipe found in the 1930's in a previously undisclosed cupboard over the downstairs corner fireplace remains just that, a secret. I found this recipe for Sally Lunn in the Bread Machine Magic Book of Helpful Hints by Linda Rehberg and Lois Conway. It is an essential guide for bread machine users.

The idea of adding blueberries was inspired by the recipe for Fresh Blueberry Brioche published in Huckleberry and authored by Zoe Nathan. Brioche is time-consuming (best made over a two-day period) and high calorie so I decided to do the next best thing and use a recipe for brioche-like Sally Lunn. The results were so spectacular, I couldn't stop myself from having one more slice and then another. It's almost like eating light-as-a-feather pound cake with the freshest blueberry jelly you can imagine.

A word of warning:  The second rise of the loaf after you place the dough in a loaf pan takes much longer than the usual bread recipe because you have used frozen blueberries in the filling. Allow at least 2 hours, possibly longer, for this rise.

Blueberry-Stuffed Sally Lunn Bread
Recipe type: Sweet Bread
Cuisine: Breakfast, Brunch, Snack
A light, sweet, brioche-like yeast bread with fresh, sweetened blueberries swirled throughout
  • 1 and ½ cup blueberries
  • ¼ cup heavy cream, lukewarm
  • ¼ to ⅜ cup water, lukewarm
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup butter, cut into pieces
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • Pinch of salt
  • Granulated, sanding, or coarse sugar for sprinkling on top of loaf.
  1. Place clean, fresh blueberries onto a cookie sheet and freeze until solid. (Do not use frozen blueberries from the store as they are too watery.)
  2. Dump remaining ingredients into the bread pan of your bread machine. Select the dough cycle and press start. Open lid and check dough after about 10-15 minutes of mixing to make sure the consistency is correct. Dough should stick to the side, then pull away. If dough is too dry, add more water 1 teaspoonful at a time. If too sticky, add flour 1 tablespoon a time.
  3. When dough cycle completes and dough has risen to double its original size, remove dough to a floured surface. Press or roll dough into a rectangle roughly 10 x 16 inches. Short side should be closest to you. Scatter berries over dough, then sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar. Carefully roll top of dough towards you to make a cylinder.
  4. Turn cylinder of dough and reshape into an approximately 12 x 6-inch cylinder. With short end closest to you, roll dough tightly from the top. Place in greased 8 x 4-1/2 inch loaf pan.
  5. Allow to rise until almost double.
  6. When you see the bread has almost risen enough, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  7. Whisk together ingredients for glaze in small bowl. Paint raised but unbaked loaf with a light touch so glaze won't puddle at the outer edges of the loaf. Sprinkle with plenty of sugar. I use sanding sugar but regular sugar works too.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes. Watch to make sure crust doesn't overbrown before bread is done in the middle. If necessary, consider tenting loaf halfway through baking time with aluminum foil to avoid burning crust.
  9. Cool in pan about 15 minutes before removing loaf from pan to a rack to continue cooling. Best eaten after an hour but good luck getting people to wait that long.


{ 1 comment }

Email This Post Email This Post Share Follow me on Pinterest

Crispy Chicken and Spinach Flautas

We arrived home from NYC a couple days ago. It was our last trip to the city that never sleeps (and where I don’t sleep much either because of the street noise), at least for a few years. Our kids who lived there for the last three years are moving back to our corner of Texas at the end of September. My excitement is matched only by the same feelings I had when my oldest son and his family recently moved to a house only about 5 minutes from ours. Mimi and Papa are in grandparent heaven!

(Now you know the real reason why I haven’t been blogging so much here lately.)

Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to work off the damage done by the fabulous Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies and the Oatmeal Raisin cookies we always pick up from Levain’s Bakery on our way out of town. Have you tried them? To begin with, they are huge. But they are also buttery, chewy, and downright addictive. Almost thankfully, they cost a lot at $4 apiece, so that helps to tame the temptation.

So… more sweets for awhile. I’m sure it won’t last, but here’s a recipe that’s so easy and tasty, I usually have no room for dessert when I’ve had my fill.

It’s similar to the Crispy Egg and Sausage Breakfast Flautas I wrote about here. Start with my favorite TortillaLand uncooked flour tortillas (available dependably at Costco and other grocery stores not so dependably.) Any brand of flour tortilla will work, but I can’t recommend the uncooked flour tortillas enough. I like the TortillaLand tortillas because they bake up flaky and crispy. Stuff the tortillas with shredded rotisserie chicken and fresh sauteed spinach. The choice of cheese is up to you. I prefer Pepper Jack cheese for the heat and flavor it adds. Monterey Jack would be a milder choice. Cheddar cheese also works.

Make some fresh guacamole or use salsa as a dip for your flautas. They aren’t the same without condiments. By the way, I recently discovered I peel avocados all wrong. Check it out here.


Crispy Chicken and Spinach Flautas.jpg

Crispy Chicken and Spinach Flautas
Recipe type: Entree or Snack
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 8 flautas
  • 4 flour tortillas (8-inch diameter)
  • 4 oz. (3 cups) chopped fresh spinach
  • 1 cup rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • 2.5 oz or 1 cup Monterrey Jack cheese or Pepper Jack, shredded
  • Olive oil or coconut oil spray
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. If you are using uncooked tortillas, go ahead and cook them per directions on the package. Otherwise, cut cooked flour tortillas in half.
  3. Place fresh spinach into hot skillet and heat just until wilted. Drain any excess liquid.
  4. Distribute equal amounts of chicken, spinach, and shredded cheese onto long side of each tortilla half. See picture above.
  5. Starting with the long side, tightly roll each tortilla and place onto cookie sheet seam-side down. The cheese will melt and stick, so I recommend lining cookie sheet with non-stick aluminum foil, parchment paper, or a silicone baking mat for easy removal of the flautas and quick clean-up.
  6. Spray both sides of rolled tortillas with olive oil or coconut oil.
  7. Bake at 450 degrees for 8 minutes or until flautas start to brown. Carefully flip flautas to seam-side up and continue to bake for another 5-8 minutes until flautas are golden brown and crispy all over.
  8. If seams start to pop open after you flip flautas, gently press them back together with your tongs while flipping. Flautas are done when they are golden brown and crispy.




Email This Post Email This Post Share Follow me on Pinterest