Bears In My Belly

Every year our family has a tree trimming party. It might be big with friends over or it might be smaller with just family. The one thing that is a constant is the food. No big surprise there if you know how much I love food.  Like most families, I think, a lot of our celebrations might just have food as a larger part of the traditions.

The tree trimming party usually started with homemade meatball subs and a salad and then we decorate the tree and after there is eggnog or hot cider from a local farm and the thing my kids look forward to the most, Gingerbread Teddy Bears.

Cooling on the rack

Before I go on, this is not going to be in any way shape or form a recipe I have done over to make healthier. Only changes I have made to the original recipe I got in a Taste of Home Cookbook was to not use shorting and use butter and I admit to using a white wheat flour. Beyond those little changes, I really don’t care if this is healthy or not. We only have these deliciously wonderful bears once a year. I am not going to get caught up in calories, waistlines or anything else. Holidays are for enjoying and I personally believe anyone who tortures themselves, on purpose, at this time and doesn’t enjoy a treat now and then (notice I didn’t say daily or woof down all the cookies in front of you) just might be related to the Grinch or Ebenezer Scrooge.

This year I am making the bears twice. I know I said I only make them once a year. This year is different as my oldest son is deployed and a Christmas without Gingerbread Teddy Bears just can’t happen no matter where in the world he might be. I can’t supply the eggnog but I hope the chow hall will.  The year he was in boot camp I froze these bears along with some eggnog so when he came home on leave he was able to enjoy them. So I can say they freeze well, so does eggnog for that matter.  So I made up a batch already and they are in route to my son and his fellow Marines, if he shares. I’ll make a batch for us for when we do the tree.

Teddy assembly

While there is a little work involved in rolling out the balls and assembling them, it’s fun. I admit I don’t follow the directions and make each bear as I go and then flatten the whole bear. It just feels more fun for me.  You do need to chill the dough for about 2 hrs so take that in mind. It can be left in the fridge overnight with no harm.

Ready for the oven

Gingerbread Teddy Bears

    • 1 cup butter, cubed
    • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
    • 2/3 cup molasses
    • 1 egg, lightly beaten
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 4 cups white  whole wheat  flour
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
    • chocolate chips
    • In a small saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar and molasses. Cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Pour into a large bowl; let stand for 10 minutes. Stir in egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda and cloves; gradually add to butter mixture and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
    • Shape dough into eight balls, 2 in. each; eight balls, 1 in. each; 32 balls, 1/2 in. each; and 16 balls, 3/8 in. each. Place the 2-in. balls on three foil-lined baking sheets for the body of eight bears; flatten to 1/2-in. thickness. Position 1-in. balls for heads; flatten to 1/2-in. thickness. Attach four 1/2-in. balls to each bear for arms and legs. Attach two 3/8-in. balls for ears. Add chocolate chips for eyes, nose and belly button.
    • Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes or until set. Cool for 10 minutes before carefully removing to wire racks to cool completely. 
      Makes: 8 bears or more depending on how big you make each bear.

    These are great to have kids help with since they love to play with dough and rolling the balls and even flattening them is a lot of fun. I do hope you’ll give them a try. Eating them is a lot of fun too.

Untill next time,

Love and blessings,

Shelly

Gobble, Gobble Time!

Ready for Thanksgiving? Excited? Ok maybe your still looking for a few recipes to round out your meal. I am sharing a few I found  that are simple , especially if your short on time but don’t want to be opening boxes and cans.  You can find those below in my Thanksgiving menu list. Just click on the highlighted menu items and then at the bottom is one of my own quick simple recipes if your still stuck. Believe, I know the time crunch this year.

As I write this I have an unread copy of Bon Appetit Thanksgiving issue on my desk. I just decided to buy a subscription again as I miss the magazine and cooking with it.  Sadly, I have not had the time to even open this one and this year, I am doing a much simpler feast than in years past.  You know like, doing a brine with Guinness. Which is incredible, I have to say. Haven’t see that? Click here.

If someone makes a turkey from this bon appetit issue please tell me how it went. I just flipped through and there looks to be some good ones. Would it be wrong to have a second thanksgiving? Maybe this spring when my Marine gets home, is a good excuse.
I keep a menu journal and in it, I keep compete menus for holidays that include where the recipes are and a shopping list I just need to copy from. I can’t tell you how helpful this is.  This year though I am going for a different menu and decided to add it both to my notebook and my online menu builder at Pepperplate.

I’ve recently started working part-time as well as doing all the other things I do and time is an issue. My husband has been cooking dinners lately so to be honestly I am looking forward to Thanksgiving and getting in the kitchen and cooking. It is relaxing to me, just like yoga or meditation.  I wish I was doing some of our “regular” dishes but I am excited to try some news ones.  I think sometimes you gotta shake things up a bit.

Our menu this year is as follows:

I am looking forward to trying the roasted Brussel sprouts recipe and the sweet potato pie. I am going to be changing the  pie recipe around to be non dairy for myself and am thinking doing a coconut whip cream by just whipping coconut cream in the mixer for a few minutes. I hear it is incredible.

I am able to eat goat dairy and I love goat cheese more than I care to admit. It’s very tangy and goes wonderfully with green beans.

Steamed Green Beans with Cranberry Goat Cheese and French Fried Onions

Green Beans

Goat Cheese log with cranberries, cut into small chunks to easily melt

French fried onions

salt and pepper to taste

To do the steamed green beans it’s as simple as steaming the green beans in a steamer or a pan with water brought to a boil at the bottom and steaming untill a bright green. This only takes a few moments. I like mine with a little snap still to them. I can’t stand mushy green beans.

When those are done, place in your serving bowl, add in the goat cheese and toss untill the goat cheese begins to melt.

Season with salt and pepper, taste, adjust as needed and then top with french fried onions and serve!

Enjoy!

I hope everyone has a wonderful, laughter filled and enjoyable Thanksgiving. Remember, it’s ok to enjoy the abundant blessings on the table. Diets and restrictions need to go out the window and be replaced with savoring and enjoyment. Other wise you ended up being that cranky relative nobody cares to be around. Relax and enjoy. It only comes once a year.

With blessings, love, and thankfulness to have the visitors and subscribers to my blog!

Happy Thanksgiving,

Shelly

Men in the kitchen, favorite foodie places and more

Pardon my detour from my usual cooking and recipe sharing so that I can share a little from our Christmas holidays. A little in the kitchen and some out and around our little state. It has been a wonderful month of celebrations in our home. It just goes by so fast. My youngest son has a birthday early in December, then my husband and I celebrated 23 years of not killing each other, err..I mean marriage. He knows I jest. I am always surprised he keeps coming home to silly old me every night.

Then of course you have all the holiday cooking, shopping, trying to see everyone but not getting to (You know who you are and I miss you dearly) and of course getting ready to have our oldest son home on leave. Almost thought it wasn’t going to happen but he’s here!

First off we had to get the holiday shopping done. This includes food.We spent an afternoon in the car driving around to the local brew store and then a stop to a farm for fresh apple cider, a pie and some other goodies. Both of us being mostly Irish and proud of it and my husband being very Welsh, we love to go here to The UK Gourmet in beautiful Newtown. I’d go for the ride alone. But we went to pick up some gifts and of course some lovely Irish meats for a traditional Irish breakfast we will be having this weekend. I can’t wait.

Of course my men folk wouldn’t be happy without a trip to The Angry Pepper our in Monroe. We actually go out there a few times a year or whenever we just want something hot. You’d have to know my guys and I could write a whole post on the love of hot sauce that is in this house. We have a full shelf in our fridge dedicated to the spicy stuff.

My guys spend time in the kitchen too. I have to say this year more than ever. It was wonderful to have so much help and smiling faces. My daughter Chelsea usually helps with the holiday cooking so this was great.

Here’s my hubby in the kitchen, cooking up his curried bluefish dish. So amazing!

One of the many snack platters he makes up for our weekend lunches

My son, the Marine, frosting a cake

My younger boys decorating a gingerbread house. Actually after reading it would take 5 hours total to build and dry, my husband and oldest son got to coming up with a “plan b” so that after dinner we were able to decorate but they guys all worked on it. Lots of laughter.

My December find that left me wanting more only to find out it’s a super short growing season was Satsuma Citrus. I think I love them more then clementines. Maybe

My last post I shared how I am in love with fermented foods. I am sure I left out that I often borrow a book from the library that I am sure I have stained up a bit and dog eared. Well no more. My awesome husband got me Sally Fallon’s “Nourishing Traditions”. So expect to see some posts from me working through this book.

I also was gifted by this same amazing man, a kombucha brewing kit! So I am going to be brewing a lot sooner than I thought.

I hope your holidays were filled with lots of fun, laughter and memories and help from the people you love. I know mine have been.

Till next time,
Blessings!
Shelly