Butter Pecan Cookies

This Butter Pecan Cookie is a light flaky crispy cookie and is perfect to complete the Christmas cookie platter, or to bring to any family or even non family gathering.  It will be uniquely yours.  It will never look exactly like anyone else’s cookie platter.

I remember as a child the cookies that were always baked right before Christmas. Those buttery, crispy, pecan cookie from years past.  This cookie is perfect by itself or dipped in a cup of hot chocolate, or in my case a cup of creamy hot coffee.

This Butter Pecan Cookie is a light flaky crispy cookie and is perfect to complete the Christmas cookie platter, or to bring to any family gathering.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Prepare the cookie sheet, I line the sheet with tin foil and spray with non-stick stray.

Ingredients:
2 sticks/ 1 cup butter, softened
1 cup canola oil
1 cup regular sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
2 large egg, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract or paste ( you can also use pecan flavoring)
4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cream of tartar
2 cups pecans, chopped
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Additional ingredients used for decorating the cooled cookies
1 cup dark chocolate chips melted with 1 tsp coconut oil ( I microwave 15 seconds, stir, 15 seconds, etc. until melted)
1 cup  pecans, finely chopped
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In mixing bowl, beat butter and oil for 1-2 minutes. Add regular sugar, beat, add powdered sugar, beat.
Add eggs one at a time, beat between adding eggs.
Mix dry ingredients together in a separate bowl.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients about 1 cup at a time.
Beat between additions.
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The choice is yours to either cook the cookies now or refrigerate first.  If you need them right away simply use a scoop or spoon, grab some dough, roll them in a ball, roll in some regular sugar, or not, up to you and place on the cookie sheet, squish down with a flat bottom cup until they are about 1/4 ” thick.  This will most likely create the most uniform cookies.
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Bake at 325 degrees for 12-15 minutes, take out of oven, they should have a slightly golden tint around the bottom edges.  Let cool for 1-2 minutes before you take off the pan.
Let cool completely before you either sprinkle the chocolate out of a plastic bag with a tiny little hole cut into the corner or just spoon chocolate over one end and then sprinkle chopped nuts onto the chocolate.
This Butter Pecan Cookie is a light flaky crispy cookie and is perfect to complete the Christmas cookie platter, or to bring to any family gathering.

If you don’t have the time to cook all the cookies, feel free to get a piece of plastic wrap and roll the dough into a log.  Refrigerate for up to 3 days.  These are great as slice a bake cookie.  They do take a few more minutes to bake-most likely 14-16 minutes.

This recipe makes about 4 dozen cookies- kind of depends on the size of the cookies you make.

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Easy Potato Salad

Summertime always brings with it parties and barbecue’s.  The most important dish is the creamy and ever so satisfying potato salad.  The all american easy basic potato salad.  Always a family favorite.
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We almost always have the ingredients in the house and takes minimal time to whip up.
It doesn’t matter what type of potato you use, I prefer red, gold or white but it’s because you don’t have to peel them.  You can use russet potatoes but make sure to peel them, the skin is too tough.
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Ingredients:
3 lbs potatoes, red, gold, white, etc.
10 eggs
1 can olives
3-4 stalks celery
3-4 large dill pickles
2-3 tbsp fresh dill
3/4 – 1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup mustard or a little less if you prefer

First step is to boil the potatoes, I really try to do this the night before I need the salad, get a big deep pan and fill 1/2 way with water.  Pick potatoes just a little bigger than an egg. Wash the potatoes and drop into the water before you turn on the burner.  Add the eggs on top.  The water should be just covering both the potatoes and the eggs. Gently boil until the potatoes are fork tender. Pour out into a colander, strain.  Put them into a big bowl and put into the refrigerator to cool.  If you waited until the last minute to decide to make the salad-I have done this a lot- then you can run cool water over them for a few minutes until cool enough to start to cut them.
Cut the potatoes into about 1″ cubes,  peel the eggs and slice in half, separate the yolks and put into a small bowl.  Chop the egg whites into small pieces.
Chop the celery, pickles, olives into small pieces.  Chop the dill finely.
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Now take the yolks and mash, add the mayo, mustard, 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of pepper and add 1-2 tbsp of pickle juice from the jar.  Mix this all up and pour into the bowl with all the other ingredients that you finished chopping.
You can stir this up with a spoon or do what I do and mix with my hands.  This way doesn’t seem to mash the potatoes up and the salad looks better.
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Cover and chill until the barbecue is ready.  Remember to keep this salad cool during the summer.
Here are a few other options to add:

Onions
green olives
parsley
bacon

Lemon Cheesecake

This is my much in demand cheesecake.  Lemony, creamy and very very decadent. Guaranteed  to be the hit of the gathering, holiday or office party.
You can serve it plain, with a dollop of whip cream or any type of fruit toppings.

 

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Gather the ingredients.
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Crust:
1/2 cup melted butter
3 cup graham cracker crumbs( you can you butter cookie crumbs, etc)
1/3 cup sugar
Mix together and dump into the spring form pan.”1
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Easiest way to get it tamped down is with a small flat bottomed cup. Edges should go up the sides up to 1″.  Doesn’t have to be perfect.
You can wrap the spring form pan with aluminum foil if you want to use a water bath.  I have tried it both ways.  I personally don’t care if my cheesecake has a crack in the top so I will usually pass on the water bath.  Texture is about the same either way.
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Preheat oven 350 degrees.

Cheesecake ingredients:
3 tbsp grated lemon rind
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
4- 8 oz package of cream cheese
1/8 tsp salt
1 tbsp vanilla paste
4 large eggs

Grate 2-4 good sized lemons- enough to get 3 tbsp lemon rind.  Juice lemons to get 3 tbsp juice.
In mixing bowl, cream 4-8oz packages of cream cheese.  you can use full fat or 1/3 less fat cream cheese. The full fat is richer but I use the 1/3 less fat cream cheese. Its a little lighter and I don’t feel so guilty about eating it.  Add 2 cups sugar the 3 tbsp lemon juice, 1/8 tsp salt, 1 tbsp vanilla paste.  Add 4 eggs, 1 at a time.
Pour into the 10″ spring form pan.
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Bake for 55-60 minutes or until center is firm- poke it with a toothpick- if it comes out mostly clean its done-  don’t forget it will continue to cook after you take it out of the oven until it starts to cool.
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Optional topping:  3/4 cup sour cream smeared over the top of the cooled cheesecake, add any type of fruit on top of the sour cream. Serve and enjoy.

Spinach Dill Pasta Salad

Summertime means pasta salad to me.  Its quick, easy and uses all the great vegetables you get from the garden or the farmers markets.   The most important reason I love this dish is you only need to use one burner.  No oven needed!  Where I live that is very important on those 100+ degree days of summer.
Some of my favorites to pick  up at the farmers market are spinach, fresh dill, celery, baby yellow crookneck squash and zucchini.  I always have pasta, olives and pickles in the cabinet.
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These are the ingredients I begin with:
1 box -16 oz pasta
1 can 6.5 oz sliced olives
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1-2 tsp smoked paprika
1 1/2 tsp salt- or to taste
1 tsp pepper-or to taste
2-3 stalks of celery- diced
2-3 large dill pickles-diced
2 tbsp fresh dill- chopped
small handful of carrots- these you can grate or chopped
Then I start adding any other vegetables I have that day:
1/4 lb of fresh spinach, chopped
1 medium zucchini -chopped
1-2 baby yellow crookneck squash-chopped
Green onions
Tomatoes

Boil the pasta, depending on what type you want to use -read the box on how long to boil it.  I will usually cook it 1-2 minutes less than it says, but I like it firm but not crunchy. Cook the pasta how you like it best.
While the pasta is boiling, just start chopping and dumping in a big bowl.  Chop-dump, chop-dump………..
About half way through chopping the pasta should be done- drain and let cool while you finish chopping.
When you are done chopping all the other ingredients, dump the  cooled pasta into the bowl with everything else.
Add the mayonnaise and all the spices.  If the pasta doesn’t look moist you can add either more mayo or a little pickle juice.
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This dish works well if you are going to a BBQ.  I just put the chopped veggies in a big, take a big bowl, put the wet ingredients and the spices in plastic bowl with a lid and put it all together when I get to the event.

Quick and Easy Spaghetti Sauce

This is my go to sauce that pleases everyone.  When we have surprise guests or even planned quests I will usually make this sauce.
You can make a small batch or a huge batch and freeze part of it for an emergency meal.
I normally have most of the important ingredients in the pantry.  All you need to make it your own are a few fresh ingredients.
Quick and Easy Spaghetti Sauce. This is my go to sauce that pleases everyone.  When we have surprise guests or even planned quests I will usually make this sauce. You can make a small batch or a huge batch and freeze part of it for an emergency meal. I normally have most of the important ingredients in the pantry.  All you need to make it your own are a few fresh ingredients.

I always have several 28 oz cans of San Marzano Tomatoes in my pantry. I buy them when they go on sale.
You don’t have to use San Marzano, any  type of canned tomatoes will work but you will need to add about 2 tsp of sugar if you don’t use them.  The San Marzano’s tend to be a little less acidic and slightly more sweet.
This sauce can be used as spaghetti sauce, lasagna sauce, or any other Italian recipe sauce.  I have used it over eggplant, chicken breasts, etc.

1-2 onions- diced
2 stalks celery-diced
10-15 cloves of garlic-chopped- depending on your love of garlic.
2 lbs of 80% Hamburger meat
2-4 tbsp of Italian herbs-you can buy the mixture or mix you own. (thyme, basil, oregano)
1-2 tsp of dried red chili pepper-
2- 28oz cans of San Marzano tomatoes, doesn’t matter if they are whole, diced or pureed.
Couple good squirts of tomato paste.  I have a tube in the refrigerator, or use 2 tbsp of can paste.
Mushrooms
Zucchini
6oz can of black olives
salt and pepper to taste.

Start by saute’ing the onions and celery, cook for 5-7 minutes, add the hamburger-chop it up as it cooks so it ends up being very small chunks.  Cook until the burger is almost done and add the garlic, herbs and chili peppers.  Add the tomatoes and paste.  Simmer 5 minutes.
Spaghetti Sauce-Measuring Sunshine-This is my go to sauce that pleases everyone.  When we have surprise guests or even planned quests I will usually make this sauce. You can make a small batch or a huge batch and freeze part of it for an emergency meal. I normally have most of the important ingredients in the pantry.  All you need to make it your own are a few fresh ingredients.
While the sauce is simmering, you have time to chop up whatever fresh vegetable you have to add to the sauce.  I generally have mushrooms and zucchini hanging out in the refrigerator.  I chop up a can of black olives  and pour about 1/3 of the juice from the can into the sauce. Add a  little water if it looks a little thick.
Spaghetti Sauce-MeasuringSunshine-This is my go to sauce that pleases everyone.  When we have surprise guests or even planned quests I will usually make this sauce. You can make a small batch or a huge batch and freeze part of it for an emergency meal. I normally have most of the important ingredients in the pantry.  All you need to make it your own are a few fresh ingredients.

Let the sauce simmer until the vegetables are cooked.  Usually about another half hour.

Serve over any type of pasta.

This is my Spaghetti sauce that pleases everyone. You can make a small batch or a huge batch. All you need to make it your own are a few fresh ingredients.

I normally keep the sauce separate and reheat as I need it.  This is perfect to take for lunches to work.

Add a little Parmesan or mozzarella cheese- garlic bread.