My 2013 Dessert Recipes in Review!

By Jodee Weiland

Today I wanted to share a review of my desserts in 2013. During the holidays, we have the opportunity to share some of our favorite dessert recipes. Now I want to round them up along with others from this past year into one post for you, in case you missed any of them! Take a look, and you just might find something new you would like. What follows is My 2013 Dessert Recipes in Review!

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Italian Biscotti…An Italian Cookie and Family Favorite!

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Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies with Lemon Sugar Icing

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Apple Cranberry Walnut Pie…Sweet, Juicy, and Delicious!

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Apple Galette, the Versatile French Pastry We All Love to Eat!

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Banana Walnut Loaf…With Just a Touch of Cinnamon and Nutmeg

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Oatmeal Banana Walnut Cookies…with Mini Chocolate Chips

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Homemade Cream Cheese Pound Cake…Delicious and Easy to Make

Also, check out these dessert recipe I shared this year as well:

I hope you enjoy My 2013 Dessert Recipes in Review! You might just find something new you may have missed earlier! Enjoy!

Spinach and Prosciutto Italian Frittata with Mozzarella, Mushrooms, and Black Olives!

By Jodee Weiland

A Spinach and Prosciutto Italian Frittata with Mozzarella, Mushrooms, and Black Olives is really easy to make!

http://learnfromyesterday.comOriginally, frittata was an Italian term used for cooking eggs in a skillet. A frittata is basically just an Italian version of an open-faced omelet that is started on the stove top and then finally baked in the oven.  Some people will cook a frittata completely on the stove top, while others will vary between how much is done on the stove top and how much is done in the oven. For my frittata, I used both the stove top and the oven. If you do cook it in the oven, be sure to use an oven proof skillet or baking dish.

http://learnfromyesterday.comAnother thing to keep in mind is that the ingredients, like in an omelet, can vary to fit the tastes of those eating or in some cases, can be varied by whatever you have available to you when cooking your frittata. I chose my ingredients for this frittata from what I had on hand to use.  Keep in mind, your frittata may be either totally vegetarian or you may decide to use some sort of meat in it. Either way is good, but using what you love best will make it great for you specifically! By the way, don’t be afraid to try different things. Many people will add potatoes to a frittata or any other vegetables they like to eat. Some will add sun-dried tomatoes or fresh herbs. It is entirely up to you, so be as creative as you want!

http://learnfromyesterday.comSpinach and Prosciutto Italian Frittata with Mozzarella, Mushrooms, and Black Olives!

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion chopped
2 to 3 garlic cloves chopped
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup sliced black olives
3/4 to 1 cup chopped spinach
6 thin slices of prosciutto di parma cut up
3/4 cup of shredded mozzarella
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

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Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. To begin your frittata, you will need to sauté the onions, garlic, mushrooms, and olives in the olive oil. Once this mixture begins to cook, add the spinach and prosciutto. Then sauté all of this a few minutes longer allowing the flavors to blend together well. Beat together your eggs with salt and black pepper to taste in a separate bowl until beaten well. Once done, pour the eggs evenly over the mixture in the skillet. Then place your oven proof skillet in the oven, placing it on a cookie sheet if needed. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until done cooking. You can test it to see if done by putting a knife tip if the center and removing it. If the tip is clean, the frittata is done baking. NOTE: If using a baking dish, pour the vegetable and meat mixture into the dish before adding the beaten eggs. Once this mixture is in the dish, pour the eggs over it evenly. Finally, when the egg mixture is done baking, then sprinkle the shredded mozzarella over the top and bake for a few minutes longer until melted.

http://learnfromyesterday.comA Spinach and Prosciutto Italian Frittata with Mozzarella, Mushrooms, and Black Olives makes a delicious breakfast entrée for your family. Cut it up like a pie and serve it with sliced Italian bread toasted. You can add fruit to this or even a potato dish as a side. We like to eat it with just toasted Italian bread and perhaps, some fresh fruit. If there is any leftover, it may be refrigerated for the next day or even frozen for a later day.  If frozen, simply microwave and eat.  This is a great make-ahead breakfast, since it warms up easily and still tastes great! Create a frittata or use the ingredients here for yourself and your family. Whichever you do, enjoy!

Christmas Traditions…Saying Thank You to Those Who Protect and Serve!

By Jodee Weiland

When my children were little, we had a very special Christmas Eve tradition each year.

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Of course, we did all the things most people do, like reading Christmas stories, putting out cookies for Santa, and more.  But of all our Christmas traditions, my favorite was teaching my children to say thank you to those special people who work on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to keep us all safe during the holidays. The people I am referring to are the men and women of the police department and fire department in our local area.

http://learnfromyesterday.comEvery year, we would bake a variety of Christmas cookies.  On Christmas Eve, my children and I would put together a Christmas plate loaded with all the different cookies we made that year. We would cover the plate and put some ribbon on it with a card wishing our local fire and police department a Merry Christmas and thanking them for taking care of us over the holidays.  When we finished preparing the plate, we would drive over to the local police and fire department in our area and deliver the plate of cookies.  The children would thank them personally for taking care of us and keeping us safe, and then they would hand them the plate of cookies as a gesture of our gratitude. Needless to say, it was wonderful to see the smiles on the faces of these men and women as they accepted the cookies and told the children how much they appreciated the gesture.  Even better still, were the smiles on the faces of my children!

http://learnfromyesterday.comIf I had small children today, I might consider doing this a little differently. Sadly but true, these days the police and fire department in your areas may be somewhat reluctant to accept a plate of homemade cookies, unless you live in a small town area where everyone knows each other. But if homemade cookies are a problem, there are so many other ways to let your children say thank you. They could write letters and hand deliver them to the fire and police departments with a box of store bought cookies or candy that are sealed. Another idea would be to have the children help you create a gift basket filled with packaged nuts, cookies, candies, popcorn, coffees, teas, and more.  You can even have the children write and illustrate a Christmas story of their own about how the police and fire departments help keep them safe.  Or perhaps have the children draw Christmas pictures and frame them, so they can be used as holiday decorations. It doesn’t matter what they do to say thank you.  What matters is letting your children know, it is important to say thank you to those who protect us.

http://learnfromyesterday.comWhatever your children decide to do to say thank you, it will make a difference for these men and women because everyone likes to be told they are appreciated and especially, when the message comes from children. Too often, we forget about those who are not home celebrating with their families, so we can be safe with our families. If you should decide to add this gesture of gratitude to your Christmas traditions, I’m sure many of you can be very creative in coming up with ideas and ways to do this.  Just keep in mind that the members of the police and fire departments will remember this gesture fondly. Teaching children appreciation and respect is important, so consider taking the time to do something like this with your children. You won’t regret it, and it really is fun to do.  Make a memory, and enjoy!

Almond Joy Magic Cookie Bars…A Slightly Different Blast from the Past!

By Jodee Weiland

Almond Joy Magic Cookie Bars are a slightly different blast from the past in our home! When I was a little girl, my mom would make the Magic Cookie Bars recipe from Eagle Brand using sweetened condensed milk and chopped walnuts or pecans.

http://learnfromyesterday.comThis cookie bar recipe was developed in the 1960’s when Gail Borden offered money for homemade recipes for desserts using his product, Borden’s Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk.  He had invented condensed milk originally as a milk product that required no refrigeration for feeding babies. Once refrigeration came around in the United States after World War I, his product was used in making desserts.

http://learnfromyesterday.comI’ve taken the original recipe used by my mom and adapted it slightly.  Anyone who knows me also knows how much I love Almond Joy candy bars. Although I don’t eat them often or any other candy for that matter, so I can maintain a healthy diet, I do love to splurge a little during the holiday season. So when I decided to make these bars, I adapted the recipe a bit by using sliced almonds and fat free sweetened condensed milk. I was able to cut some of the fat and enjoy a cookie bar that reminds me of my beloved Almond Joy! Of course, there’s still unsalted butter, but it’s the holidays, and I did cut some of the fat calories and salt!  Now if I could just get Almond Joy to cut some of the fat in their famous recipe, I would be even happier, but I don’t see that happening any time soon!

http://learnfromyesterday.comAlmond Joy Magic Cookie Bars…A Slightly Different Blast from the Past!
(slightly adapted from Eagle Brand Magic Cookie Bars )

1/2 cup of unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 (14 ounce) can fat free sweetened condensed milk
6 ounces mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
1 cup slice almonds

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (325 degrees if using a glass baking dish).  In a 13 x 9 inch baking dish or pan, melt the butter by placing it in the dish and putting it in the heated oven. Once the butter is melted, sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs into the butter spreading it evenly across the pan. Next, spread the condensed milk poring it evenly across the top of the graham cracker layer. The chocolate chips are then spread evenly over the top, followed by the coconut flakes and finally, the sliced almonds; be sure to press down firmly. Bake the cookie bars for 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned.  When done, cool thoroughly. Once the recipe is completely cool, cut it into cookie bars.  Be sure to store them covered loosely at room temperature.

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These Almond Joy Magic Cookie Bars are definitely a slightly different blast from the past in our home! The recipe is basically the same old Magic Cookie Bars put out by Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk in the 1960’s with a few slight adaptations so I don’t feel as guilty when I bite into one. Aside from that, the recipe may not be original, but it is definitely well-loved here in our home. We get the flavor of an Almond Joy candy bar in a cookie, and for me especially, that is a win-win! So try this adaptation if you’re like me, and enjoy!

Italian Bow Knot Cookies…With Sweet Lemon Sugar Icing!

By Jodee Weiland

Every year during the holiday season, mom spent the weeks before Christmas baking all the different traditional Italian cookies and some new recipes she found.  One of her traditional cookie recipes was the Italian Bow Knot Cookies with Sweet Lemon Sugar Icing.

http://learnfromyesterday.comWe would watch her make the cookie dough, then take a piece and roll it into a finger width roll that she would cut off into five to six inch strips, and then carefully turn into a knot like shape.  Each one was placed on the cookie sheet until the tray was filled with these small dough bow knots. Once filled, the cookie sheet was placed in the oven, and to our amazement came out of the oven ten minutes later baked and ready to ice with her lemon sugar icing. Each bow knot cookie was quickly dunked, top side down, into the bowl of lemon sugar icing, and then placed carefully on a dish so the icing could set…the moment my sisters and I waited for patiently! An abundance of love went into every tradition celebrated by my family each year, and the baking of the Italian Bow Knot Cookie was just one of those wonderful traditions!

http://learnfromyesterday.comBoth my mother and father worked hard, sometimes at more than one job, to give each of us children every possible opportunity available, including the college educations our parents wanted to make sure we had! When Christmas came, each of us always woke up on Christmas morning to a beautiful tree with many gifts for each of us wrapped and waiting for our eager hands to unwrap! But what I remember most was the feeling and certainty that we were loved and placed above all else. From the baking of the cookies to the gifts under the tree to our huge Christmas meal, we were the luckiest children in the world because we had the best parents ever, and we all loved them just as much.

http://learnfromyesterday.comAlthough, these were just cookies to most people, to us they were a part of a tradition that epitomized family, home, and love! We all knew how hard our parents both worked for us. Despite being tired some days, mom would come home from work and begin baking cookies until late at night, so that we could all share in the Italian traditions she and dad were taught growing up. My parents both sacrificed a lot for all of us, and I know with certainty that my sisters and I will always love, respect, and appreciate everything they did for us! So as we repeat their traditions in our own homes each year, the memory of our childhood and the love we felt growing up is always fresh in our hearts and minds.

http://learnfromyesterday.comItalian Bow Knot Cookies…With Sweet Lemon Sugar Icing!

Bow Knot recipe:

9 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
9 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
7 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Lemon Sugar Icing recipe: (you will probably need more than one batch of this recipe)

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon or more lemon juice (more or less depending on desired consistency)

Using a mixer, beat the eggs until creamy and lemon colored.  Gradually add the oil and blend together.  Then add the sugar, milk, and vanilla and beat for five minutes longer.  Add in the salt and baking powder, blending it into the mixture.  Finally, gradually mix in the flour one to two cups at a time.  When it gets too thick to blend with a mixer, begin using a spatula or spoon to blend it until it becomes thick enough and dough like enough to be mixed with your hands. Knead like bread with your hands until the dough is smooth.

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When the dough is ready, roll out a piece at a time with your hands into long finger width rolls first.  Cut off a section about five to six inches long and once rolled to desired thickness, the size of a thin finger, carefully fold one end over the other and tuck under forming a small knot like cookie.  It may take a few tries, but you should quickly be able to form knots you’re happy with for your cookies.  While doing this, keep the rest of the dough moist by covering it with a clean cloth lightly dampened.  Also, keep in mind that your cookies will rise a little while baking.  Place bow knots on a cookie sheet, approximately fifteen per sheet and three across.  Bake at 375 degrees for ten minutes. The bottom of the cookies should be lightly brown. While the cookies bake mix the Lemon Sugar Icing in a small bowl with a whisk until there are no lumps and the icing is smooth and the desired thickness.

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When the cookies come out of the oven, put the Lemon Sugar Icing on while they are still hot.  You may have to let them cool slightly, but as soon as you can, dunk each cookie top side down into the bowl of icing.  Then place the iced cookie on a plate so the icing can set. Once the icing is set, your cookies will be ready to eat.

http://learnfromyesterday.comItalian Bow Knot Cookies with Sweet Lemon Sugar Icing are soft and chewy with a delicious flavor enhanced by the sweet lemon taste of the icing!  Once you have one, you are definitely going to want more, so indulge yourself. Since my mom grew up in a family of eleven children, most of her recipes make plenty for everyone. The Italian Bow Knot cookie is definitely another favorite in our family among the children. It’s fun to watch the expressions on the children’s faces as they bite into this soft and delicious cookie. They love having these cookies with a cold glass of milk or even a warm cup of hot chocolate.  The adults will prefer a fresh pot of coffee or hot tea for the most part, but either way these cookies are wonderful! Try them, and enjoy!