This and that

Monday, December 10, 2012

Liebster Award.

Awhile back ~ a long while back I was nominated for the Liebster Award 
I even feel guilty because it has been so long ago.
Thank you Dawn for this honour and
it is a great way to share new and upcoming blogs.

The Liebster Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. 

-Each blogger should post 11 random facts about themselves. 
-Answer the questions the tagger has set for you, then create 11 new questions for the bloggers you pass the award to.
-Choose 11 bloggers (with less than 200 followers) to pass the award to and link them to your post.
-Go to their page and tell them about the award.
-No tag backs!

11 random facts about me

1.  I was 42 when I got married and this is the first time and only time.
2.  I got married in Togo, West Africa and my husband and I spent the first 25 months of our marriage on different continents.
3.  I moved to the United States in 2000.
4.  I became an American Citizen this year in July.
5.  I love shoes and even bought a pair of shoes that were exactly the same as the ones I had at home, because I couldn't remember that I had them :).
6.  I love to travel.
7.  I wrote my first blog post in March 2012.
8.  I bought my yellow escape because of the colour.
9.  I will try any type of food at least once.
10. Photography is my number one passion ~ after cooking that is.
11. I am very crafty and wish that I had more time to do my crafts.

My Questions are: 

  1. What is your favorite type of food to cook? -I have loved learning to cook African, but I also love to bake... and create.
  2. What is your favorite type of music? - I prefer instrumental music but love Christmas Music.
  3. Thanksgiving or Christmas? which is your favorite? - Christmas
  4. What was your favorite Christmas gift received as a child? - and doll and I still love to get dolls for Christmas and I have over 100 dolls.
  5. Do you have pets, how many and what kind? - No pets.
  6. How long have you been blogging?- Since March 2012
  7. Why did you start your blog? - So that I would have my recipes somewhere and also to promote African cooking as the food is so good.
  8. Do you work outside of the home? - I work full-time as a Registered Nurse in ER and ICU.
  9. How many kids do you have? - We have none and would love to have some if you have some to get rid of... just let me know :).
  10. What is your hidden talent? - Not sure if I have one.
  11. If you could do one thing, without worry of money or time, what would it be? - To be able to help the poor and third world countries, and not by giving them money but to be able to give them the tools to help themselves.

    I give this award to:

    Your Questions to Answer:
    1.  What are you most thankful for currently?
    2.  What inspired you to become a blogger?
    3.  If you could live anywhere, where would you live?
    4.  What is one of your favorite blog/s to follow? (and you don't have to say mine :)).
    5.  When you go for a snack is sweet or salty?
    6.  What is your all-time favorite memory of Christmas?
    7.  What is one word that describes you?
    8.  What is your favorite holiday?
    9.   What is your favorite Christmas cookie... or any kind of cookie?
    10. What is/are your hobbies?
    11.  What is your favorite quote?    

    Thank you again Dawn for thinking of me when you received your award.
    I am honoured and touched by your thoughtfulness.

    Scandinavian Spice Cookies

    Both Sweden and Finland have a spice cookie that is eaten during the Christmas season.
    In Swedish they are called Pepparkakor and in Finnish they are called Piparkakut or Pepparkakkuja
    The recipe for these cookies are fairly similar
    These cookies can either be rolled thin and cut into shaped and then iced
    or rolled into balls and pressed down.
    The cookies that are cut into shapes are much crisper then the rolled ones.
    Here is the recipe that I came up with after reading a few different recipes. 
    I made these for our cookie exchange this year.

    Scandinavian Spice Cookies 

    1 1/4 cup butter
    1 cup sugar
    3 T brown Karo syrup ( you could also use molasses)
    1 egg
    1 tsp. baking soda
    3 cups flour
    1/2 tsp cloves
    1 tsp cinnamon
    1/2 tsp cardamon 
    1 tsp ginger.

    Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the syrup, egg and soda mixed with a small amount of flour and mix well.  Mix in the remaining flour cloves, cinnamon, cardamon and ginger.  Mix well.    
    After dough is mixed, I place it in the fridge for an hour or so, so that the dough is cool. 
    Roll out dough thin and cut with cookie cutters or roll into balls and flatten out with a glass or a cookie press.  I used a cookie press that had been dipped in sugar.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 10 -12 minutes.

    You can also decorate these cookies ~ I outlined the stars and hearts with royal icing (recipe below) or you could also put sprinkles on the cookies before baking them. 

    Royal Icing
    2 egg whites
    2 cups icing sugar (powdered sugar)
    1 tsp vanilla 

    Mix all ingredients together.  Place in decorating bag with straight tip and outline cookies with icing.

    rolled and used a snow flake shaped
    cookie press
    Star shape cookie cutter

    heart shape cookie cutter

    I am sure that there will be someone here that will say that Finland isn't part of the Scandinavian countries.  I have both Finnish blood and Swedish blood in me and I say that I am Scandinhoovien... Not a word but you know what I mean.  Although there is a lot different between Finland and Sweden there is a lot similar just like between Canada and United States.

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    Saturday, December 8, 2012

    Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies.

    I decided to have a cookie exchange this year and was going through my recipes for different cookies that I could make.  I really wanted to make sand tarts but was very got  frustrated trying to make them as the cookies didn't want to come out of the tart shells... so decided to make thumbprint cookies instead with the dough.  These cookies taste like short bread cookies with jam... I had gotten some royal fig preserve from my Foodie Pen Pal and thought this was perfect for these cookies. The recipe I received from my cousin and I am not sure where she got it from.

    Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies

    1 cup margarine
    2/3 cup sugar
    1 egg
    2 1/2 cup flour
    jam/jelly/preserve (I used Royal Fig Preserve)
    Icing ( made of 1 tsp butter, 1 cup powdered sugar and enough milk to make icing runny)

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees
    Whip margarine and sugar together.  Add eggs and beat until fluffy.  Add flour slowly and beat until ingredients are mixed.  Roll dough into 1 inch balls, place on cookie sheet.  Press thumb in center of cookie. Add approximately 1 tsp of jam/jelly/preserves into thumbprint mark.  Bake for 5 - 7 minutes. Cool cookies on baking rack.  Once cookies are cooled, drizzle icing over them.

    once cool, drizzle icing over cookies 

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    Thursday, December 6, 2012

    Foodie Friends Friday Linky Party

    Hope everyone is having a great week..
    This has been a very busy week for me but hopefully it is winding down.
    Today I had my first annual Cookie Exchange Party
    It was just a small party but we had lots of fun and I hope to do it every year.
    But now it is time for our weekly Foodie Friends Friday Linky Party
    And I hope you will join us again this week.
    This week we are will be having another great giveaway
     2 people will win a handmade ornament from KC Ornaments  
    1 person will a set of five holiday magnets from A Proverbs 31 Wife 

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Now onto the party....

    Foodie Friends Friday
    Tracy at Busy Vegetarian Mom
    Marlys at This and That
    Lois at  Walking on Sunshine
    Michelle at  From Calculus to Cupcakes
    Cynthia at Feeding Big
    Jodie at Binomial Baker
    R Dawn at Spatulas on Parade
    Angie at A lil Country Sugar
    Jutta at HungryLittleGirl
    Cindy at Cindy's Recipes and Writings: : 
    Joanne at Winelady Cooks:
    Marlene at Nosh My Way:


    We would love it if you would link back your recipe
    to Foodie Friends Friday and the host blog that you linked up with.
    Also if you linked up through my blog,
    could you please leave me a message so that I can personally thank you.

    Last Week's Winners:

    Voted Top 3
    Cozycakes Cottages ~ Kissed Gingerbread Cookies
    Calculus to Cupcakes - Salted Caramel White Chocolate Cheesecake
    Crumbs in my Mustachio ~ Egg Nog Cupcakes  

    Most Clicked
    Cozycakes Cottages - Kissed Gingerbread Cookies
    Walking on Sunshine - Cinnamon Sugar Donut Bites
    Crumbs in my Mustachio - Egg Nog Cupcakes

    Sponsor Winners

    Do you make Gingerbread Houses?
    The Daily Dish 
    Is having their first annual 
    Gingerbread House Competition.
    You can't win if you don't enter.....
    You can also enter through my blog 

    gingerbread house competition

    Homemade turtles

    Pecans, chocolate and caramel...
    Aren't those the best things ever
    I love making homemade chocolates,
    you can give them for gifts or just eat them yourself...
    and they taste so much better then the store bought ones
    Because you did them with love...
    I learnt to make
    Homemade Turtles
    many years ago and bought turtle molds so that they looked like turtles.
    My molds are starting to look old and I wasn't even sure you could buy them anymore
    So I went on line and found them...
    You can buy them from Global Sugar Art

    I usually buy my caramel ~ using either Werther's or Kraft
    This year I decided to make my own... you can find the recipe here.
    And the chocolate that I like using is Ghirardelli or Hershey and often I will combine them.
    You can also use chocolate wafers if you want.
    I don't have a double boiler, so I melt my chocolate in a dish that is over a pot filled with water

    I don't have a recipe for these, so will just show you what I do..

    First get everything ready.. Melt your chocolate I just leave it in my pot with hot water
    so that it stays melted.
    Have your caramels, pecans and molds ready.

    melted chocolate, caramels, pecans and mold

    a picture of the mold I used.

    Drop a teaspoon or so of chocolate at the bottom of the mold.
    Place a small amount of caramel on the round part of the pecan and 
    place it caramel side down on the chocolate.
    *** Make sure you have the flat side of the pecan facing up or you will have a pregnant turtle.

    Cover the mold with chocolate.
    I use a small brush to move the chocolate around the mold and fill them in.

    Chill until firm.
    You can place them in the freezer or do what I do, put them outside on my porch to harden.
    Once hardened, turn the molds upside down and gently tap to release the turtle.
    Occasional a limb or head might fall off...
    You can glue them back on by using a small brush and melted chocolate.

    Caramels.... Salted or not!

    Do you like your caramels salted or not?
    I have gotten into eating Salted Caramel....
    I love the taste of sweet and salty together.....
    And put it together with chocolate and it is wonderful. 

    I found this recipe for Microwave Caramel from
    this is simple and tastes great 
    It is great for when I make my turtles...

    aren't these just the cutest.... They look like real turtles.
    I promise that I will show you how to make these cute turtles in a separate posts
    Today's post is about the caramel

    Microwave Salted Caramel
    adapted from
    1/4 cup butter
    1/2 cup white sugar
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1/2 cup light Karo Syrup - I use Roger's Syrup that I buy in Canada
    1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
    1 tsp salt 

    Combine all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl.  Cook on high for 6 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes.  Stir and pour in lightly greased pan.  Cool.  Once cool and slightly hardened score into small pieces.  I put mine back in the fridge until set and then brought it out and cut the candies. 

    I put tinfoil and lightly greased it... this way I could pull the caramel out of the dish and cut them

    My first batch I did not put the salt in with all the ingredients and once I poured them into the pan, I sprinkled Kosher salt on the caramels.

    Once caramels are set, you can dip them in melted chocolate... YUM! or eat them as is...

    Making microwave caramels #candy #christmas #c...
    I put tinfoil in my dish... this way I could pull it out to cut.

    Caramels, sprinkled with Kosher salt...
    salted caramel dipped in chocolate


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    Wednesday, December 5, 2012

    November Foodie Pen Pal

    I am so late getting this post done.... 
    I am not sure when and where the time went...
    But I wanted to let you know about Novembers Foodie Pen Pal
    I received a wonderful box of goodies from
    Crista from  Peace, Love, Quinoa.

     Isn't this a great box of things...
    The Gin-Gin chewy Ginger Candies are delicious... 
    I love ginger so this was a great gift and I had to put them away or I would have eaten them all in one sitting
    I also have ate the Rock Creek Crisp...
    I didn't eat them all at once but just about..
    YUM! they were so tasty.
    I took them to work and munched on them over a few days.
    Crista also sent me some granola and I have tried very hard not to open them yet as I want to save something for later and I am also saving the Lemon Cookies.
    Thank you Crista for the great foodie gifts... They all are wonderful!
    I sent my package to Kellie, she doesn't have a blog but  told me that she 
    liked sweet and salt and was a student.
    So I sent her a package of homemade cookies that had ripple potato chips in them 
    and my cuban lunch bars with chocolate and ripple chips... along with tea and coffee.


    Lindsay ~ from The Lean Green Bean does a wonderful job at coordinating this event.
    Each month you are given someone to send a foodie package too and someone
    different sends to you... It is a great way of meeting some wonderful people.
    This month instead of exchanged packages, Lindsay has set up
    Foodie Penpal for Hurricane Sandy Relief and
    you can donate make a donation...
    FPP Sandy1 Foodie Penpals for Hurricane Sandy
    Foodie Penpal for Hurricane Sandy Releif