Friday, December 31, 2010

Cookie Friday: Raspberry crumb bars

Happy Cookie Friday, everyone!  Hope you are enjoying the last day of 2010.  I am definitely looking forward to starting a new year.  I have a feeling that there are exciting, wonderful things to come.

I'm spending New Year's at home, in my fuzzy slippers, eating BBQ pork ribs and flipping TV channels to see all the fun concerts and celebrations around the world.  Some day I hope to travel to NYC to see the ball drop on Times Square.  But I have to get my courage up to leave my small town for the big city :)

I don't feel the need to make resolutions this year, although I am trying to get through my stack of recipes that I've been wanting to try.  My husband requested that I make raspberry crumb bars, so I dug up what looked to be the best recipe from my stack. 

These bars turned out wonderful -- so buttery and caramelized.  Plus, it gave me an excuse to use the raspberry jelly I made this summer from the berries my hubby and I picked at a local orchard.

Give these bars a try if you're looking for an alternative to chocolate brownies.  I think they would be terrific for Sunday coffee at church.  Enjoy!


Raspberry squares
Adapted from King Arthur Flour's Cookie Sheet
  • 3 C. flour
  • 1 C. light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 C. honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 C. chopped pecans
  • 1 C. old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 C. shredded, sweetened coconut
  • 3/4 C. unsalted, cold butter
  • 1-3/4 C. seedless raspberry jam
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13-inch pan, and line with parchment paper or foil.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, honey and vanilla. Cut the cold butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is crumbly. Stir in the nuts, oats and coconut. Press 5 C. of the mixture into the prepared pan.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven, and spread the jam on top. Sprinkle the reserved jam mixture over the jam. Bake for another 20 minutes until the top is golden brown.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Norwegian family recipe: Rommegrot

Hope you all don't mind, but I'm on a Norwegian food kick lately.  I'm always surprised by how many folks stumble onto my blog looking for kringla, rosette or lefse recipes.  So I'm adding another family-favorite Norwegian recipe to the mix.

Along with lefse and lutefisk every Christmas, my grandma always served rommegrot, a Norwegian cream pudding.  Goodness, it was such a treat!  It was always served warm, and we would top it with melted butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar.  Grandma would always serve it in fancy glass dessert bowls, which made it even more special.

Unfortunately, I don't have my grandmother's old recipe.  But I do have a church cookbook from back home that has two very similar recipes for rommegrot.  So I just picked the one with the easiest-to-follow directions.  I made this recipe on Christmas Eve night, as a surprise to my dad and sister, who drove in a snow storm to spend the holidays with me.  (My family is such a blessing!)

And guess what?  It turned out perfect, nearly as good as my grandmother's rommegrot.  The flavor totally took me back to my childhood days sitting at the little kids' table at grandma's house.

So as my gift to you, I'm sharing my recipe for our family favorite, rommegrot.  It's a great treat for a cold, winter day.


From Deer Creek Lutheran Church Cookbook; Carpenter, Iowa (my grandma's hometown)

  • 1 C. butter, melted
  • 3/4 C. flour (add to butter and whisk)
Boil for 1 minute.  Add:
  • 8 C. whole milk
Keep stirring until thick and it boils a bit.  Add:
  • 1/3 C. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
Stir in well. Serve with melted butter, sugar and cinnamon. Yield: 12 servings.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Deck the Halls!

Merry Christmas, everyone!  Hope you are enjoying your holidays, whether you're cozying up at home or traveling to see friends and family. 

As an early Christmas present to myself, I visited Reiman Gardens in Ames to see the Christmas trees on display.  I was greeted outside the front entrance by statuesque women in colorful scarves.

But I have a feeling a scarf is the least of this woman's problems.

(Thanks to the UPS man who parked right in my camera's view as I was taking the photo.)

As I walked inside and down the hallway, there were trees decorated in monochromatic colors -- green, blue, orange and pink.

The tree decorations were inspired by garden gazing balls.  Some of the ornaments were huge!  There were gazing balls underneath each tree.  I was told that some of these gazing balls were actually old bowling balls, some decorated with glass mosaics.

A Christmas tree decked out in the same monochromatic ornaments was the centerpiece of the tropical greenhouse.  Gazing balls and poinsettias surrounded the tree, adding to amazing color to the display.

Thanks to the Reiman Gardens for creating a beautiful Christmas display for families to enjoy on their holiday break.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sugar cookies like Mom made

Hi everyone!  I'm going to keep this post short, because it's getting late and I've got lots more that I want to do tonight.  But I wanted to share with you what a typical Iowan does when there's a blizzard in December.

We bake.  A lot.  With ingredients that we already have in our cupboards, since we don't want to venture outside.

I've been itching to dig out my mom's old cookie cutters and make some sugar cookies.  I'm still experimenting with different sugar cookie recipes from old church cookbooks until I find one I like.  The one I tried last weekend came from a recipe submitted by a good friend's mom, who also happened to be a home ec major in college.  So I knew it had to be a good one.

But to be honest, these cookies turned out a little odd.  If I rolled them out to a moderate thickness, they spread out of shape when baked.  But if I rolled them out a little thinner, they kept their shape, but they were as fragile as ice crystals.  I think it's because the cookie dough was made with butter, not shortening, but that's just a guess.  They were still fun to make.

I like to use a powdered sugar frosting -- about a 1/2 C. powdered sugar mixed with a tablespoon or two of milk -- on sugar cookies, just like my mom used to make when we were kids.  It's so much fun seeing the white frosting turn green from the food coloring.  And my hubby liked how the frosting was shiny when it set.

Do you have a favorite cut-out cookie recipe?  Do you use shortening, margarine or butter for your cutout cookies?  I'd appreciate any advice.

Monday, December 13, 2010

First winter snow

Today, I left the house for the first time in two days. We had our first blizzard of the season.

I took a few pictures of the snow as it first started falling in the morning. We got another 2 inches after these photos were taken. I didn't want to go back outside and take more pictures, because the winds were howling. I thought the shingles were going to blow off the roof!


Not sure if it was the squirrels or rabbits, but something was already digging around in the fresh snow.

So what did we do while we were snowed in for two days?  Well, my husband got to work on a few home improvements projects.  I boxed up a few books to donate to the library, finally put up my Christmas tree and baked a few more Christmas cookies to pass the time.  When I finally left the house this morning, it was a bit of a shock to see all the ice and snow.  Here's hoping for an early spring!
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