Friday, November 29, 2013

Cookie Exchange

Today I’m hosting a cookie exchange here on the blog. It’s not your average cookie exchange. In fact, there’s good news and there’s bad news.

 Cookie Exchange -

Good news: you don’t have to bake a bunch of cookies to attend.
Bad news: if you want to end up with a pile of cookies, you’re going to have to bake them yourself.
Good news: I’ve got 26 cookie and bar choices at this party and links to all of the recipes.
Bad news: due to the proximity restrictions, this exchange is going to have to be BYOB.
Good news: you don’t have to dress up to attend. In fact, you don’t even have to leave your couch.

So here they are, 20 cookies from the Baking In A Tornado archives. Hope you find some options you love.

Cinnamon Ginger Cookies -              Hidden Peppermint Patties -     

            Hidden Peppermint Patties                                              Cinnamon Ginger Cookies    

Strawberry peek-a-boos -              Chocolate and Strawberry Pinwheel Cookies -                                                        
    Chocolate and Strawberry Pinwheel Cookies                                  Strawberry Peek-a-Boos

Tornado cookies -                    Lemon Drop Cookies -                                                          
                        Lemon Drop Cookies                                                        Tornado Cookies

Confetti Slice and Bake Cookies -              Strawberry White Chocolate Chip Meringues -                                                             
Strawberry White Chocolate Chip Meringues                         Confetti Slice and Bake Cookies

                      My Mom's Sugar Cookies -                               Cut Out Sugar Cookies -
                     My Mom's Sugar Cookies                                  (Cut Out) Sugar Cookies

Chocolate peanut butter chip cookies -                White Chocolate Almond Cookies -                                                                   
         White Chocolate Almond Cookies                             Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

Giant Everything Cookie -                        Butterscotch Slice and Bake -                                                                            
             Butterscotch Slice and Bake Cookies                             Giant Everything Cookie

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies -                     Triple chocolate cookies -                                                                  
                 Triple Chocolate Cookies                                               Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Chocolate Fluffernutter Cookies -                      DoodleWay Cookies -                                                              
                           Doodle Ways                                         Chocolate Fluffernutter Cookies

Pretzel Rolo Cookies -
Chocolate Almond Biscotti -
                                       Pretzel Rolo Cookies                                         Chocolate Almond Biscotti

 And 6 Bars:

Choc-Oat Chip Cheesecake Bars -
         Eggnog toffee squares -                            

          Eggnog Toffee Squares                          Choc-Oat Chip Cheesecake Bars

Raspberry  Lemon Bars -                Butterfingers brownies -                                                   
                   Butterfingers Brownies                                  Raspberry Lemon Bars

Chocolate Confetti Cheesecake Bars -                Chocolare Mint Bars -                                                
                Chocolate Mint Bars                                            Chocolate Confetti Cheesecake Bars

If you make  some of my recipes and want to share, feel free to post a picture to my Facebook Page. I love seeing them.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Junk Drawer

I was looking through my junk drawer the other day (don’t pretend you don’t have one, I know you do) looking for I-don’t-know-what because invariably while going through there looking for one thing your attention gets drawn to some other little long-forgotten bauble. As I continued to rediscover my treasures, I realized that it would be interesting to know what normal other people have in their junk drawer. And I knew just how to find out.

Junk Drawer -

I neither wanted to ask people about everything they had stowed away nor thought they’d take the time to tell me, so I emailed a bunch of friends and asked them to tell me about just one item they had and, in 3 sentences or less, tell me why they keep it. I got some pretty interesting answers. Here’s a peek into some well-known bloggers’ drawers (come on, you knew I was gonna go there):

Friday, November 22, 2013

November Fly on the Wall

Happy Birthday, Fly on the Wall group challenge.
Fly on the Wall posted for the first time on November 16th, 2012.
Today I post a Fly on the Wall piece for the 13th time.

Welcome to a Fly on the Wall group post. Today 13 bloggers are inviting you to catch a glimpse of what you’d see if you were a fly on the wall in our homes. Come on in and buzz around my house.

Fly on the Wall - Baking In A Tornado

When you’re done, click on the links below for a peek into some other homes:

Me: What have you got for homework?
Son: Nothing Mom, homework’s for chumps.
So glad you straightened me out on that issue.

Fly on the Wall - Baking In A Tornado

And yet another conversation with my concrete and literal son:
Son: Where’s the pizza sauce?
Me: We finished the one that was in the fridge, open a new one.
Son: Where is it?
Me: What do you mean where is it, where do you think we keep it? In the toilet?

So we figure out that the sauce is kept in the pantry.

Son: Where’s the can opener?
Me: In the toilet.

Fly on the Wall - Baking In A Tornado

There are lots of things that a “normal” person might say at dinner that would result in incredulous stares from their family. Here are a few examples of statements made by a blogger that have become so much the norm that no one even bothers to look up:
*I need a picture for the blog so if anyone’s thinking of breaking an arm, this would be a good time.
*Can one of you guys stand up, turn around and let me put a bra on you backwards for a picture?
*After dinner I need you to go out to the back yard and take a picture of a weed (this one) for me.
*Someone needs to count the M&Ms in that big bag for me before you leave the kitchen for the evening. They need to match up to the Kisses and the pretzels.

Fly on the Wall - Baking In A Tornado

On Tuesday night my son asks if his friends can come over the next night to play pool and poker. I tell him that of course they can and ask if he wants me to bake something. He and I decide on two treats.
Me: I’ll bake those treats for you tomorrow, but next time maybe you could invite them a little earlier than the night before.
Him: Oh, I did. I invited them last week.
Well OK, then.

Fly on the Wall - Baking In A Tornado

Hubs: Where’s “J”?
Me: He’s sleeping on the couch.
Hubs: When he wakes up, tell him . . . and he goes into a 10 minute play-by-play of some college football game; team names, who did what, scores, overtime, who knows what else.
Me: I’m not going to remember all that.
Hubs: It’s one thing, you can’t remember one thing?
Me: Fine.
Son wakes up and I tell him: Dad said to tell you there’s a football game on.

 Chocolate Fluffernutter Cookies -
Chocolate Fluffernutter Cookies

It is so frustrating to be a sarcastic mom of a concrete and literal son. I posted on my FB page:
“Just sneezed so hard I saw a squirrel fall out of a tree in the back yard.”
Then I explained why it’s funny to my son. Three times. He still doesn’t get it.

Fly on the Wall - Baking In A Tornado

It’s a rare occasion around our house, but we were running low on milk and I wasn’t going grocery shopping until the next day. My husband and son usually have a bowl of cereal for breakfast so at dinner that night I had them drink water, telling them that I was saving the rest of the milk for their breakfast. About an hour after dinner I walked by the kitchen where my son was having dessert: Oreos . . . with a big glass of milk.

Fly on the Wall - Baking In A Tornado

Although I did not try to kill my son last year, I’ve been informed that I’m not allowed to bring the umbrella in from the porch this year (or ever again, for that matter). Apparently shattering a table your son is sitting under (trying to help release the umbrella) has a lasting emotional affect. Sheesh, who knew?

Fly on the Wall - Baking In A Tornado

Halloween night a little girl I’ve never seen before, maybe 3 years old, comes to the door. I give her a candy and she says “agua”. So I go down to the basement and get her a water bottle, hand it to her and her parents smile at me. She steps aside and I see more kids. The little boy next in line gets his candy and says “agua por favor”. So I call out to the kids behind him “agua?” No response, it looks like he’s the last thirsty one. I go back down to the basement, get another water bottle, give it to the little boy whose parents smile again. Next to the door comes another little girl. I give her candy and she says “could I have some water too, please?”

Fly on the Wall - Baking In A Tornado

Just to be clear, I am NOT the genius parent who told my younger son that he could take the surround sound speakers off of the wall in the basement and hook them up to his computer in his bedroom.

Chocolate Fluffernutter Cookies
Printable Recipe
1 stick butter, softened
1 stick margarine, softened
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
1 egg
½ tsp vanilla
½ cup chocolate peanut butter (can substitute regular peanut butter)
½ cup peanut butter
2 ¼ cups flour
1 cup potato chips, finely crushed
¾ cup mini chocolate chips
Approximately 100 mini marshmallows
*Cream butter, margarine, brown sugar and sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg, vanilla, and peanut butters. Mix in the flour, then the potato chips and mini chocolate chips.
*Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
*Prepare 2 cookie sheet with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
*Roll dough into approximately 50 balls and place 25 at a time onto prepared cookie sheet.
*Make an indentation into the center of each ball and push 2 mini marshmallows into each.
*Bake for about 13 minutes or until the marshmallows and bottom of cookie starts to brown.
*Allow to rest for 2 minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.
*Repeat with the second batch of cookies.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

By Any Other Name

This post is not meant to be an answer to anyone’s {{ cough . . . Ms. Stewart }} public comments about bloggers. I’ve deliberately not posted this until after that whole debacle died down because I don’t speak for anyone but myself and I don’t pretend to be in the majority. There are some fabulous, inventive, artistic bloggers out there who I do consider to be experts in creating recipes. I’ve never claimed to be one of them.
I’ve said many, many times on this blog that I’m just a mom who bakes to relieve stress and cooks because her family insists on eating. I post my recipes because people asked for them. I also acknowledge, begrudgingly, that I may have needed to give my personal friends a break from all the food pics I had been posting to my personal FB page. (For more on how this blog came about, read Can I Blog?, What's in a Name?, Eye of the Storm, and I Used to Mow the Lawn.)
Honestly, this is my take on experts: they are truly in the eye of the beholder. We each get to choose who we emulate, who we learn from, what we read and what we choose to take away from what we’ve read. It’s not up to one person, it’s up to us all.
Not the expert -
I really don’t believe that not being considered an expert is an insult. There are many levels in anything we try to do, and I’d say that I’m somewhere on that ladder, holding on for dear life and working on taking that next step up. Just for fun, let’s see where I stand:
*I suppose real foodies don’t have to go through their pile of chopped vegetables to pick out their fingernails.
*I’ve never once watched a cooking show where they turn the upper oven on and put the food in the lower oven. Turns out that even if you do remember to set the timer the cookies aren’t ready when it goes off.
*I use cheats and short cuts every chance I get. They have to work in the recipe and suit our tastes, but I have no problem with them. Like this recipe that starts with frozen bread dough:
Pepperoni Pull Apart Bread -
Pepperoni Pull Apart Bread
Pepperoni Pull Apart Bread -
*I’m fairly sure most bakers aren’t in a well-documented, publicly admitted long-term war with yeast in which yeast wins each battle. Well, except one. I won one. Got a picture too, in case I need to prove it. It’s the last picture in this post where I talk about why I only make Quick Breads.
*“Expert” is rarely a word used to describe someone who has no idea what all of those blade attachments for their food processor do. I haven’t thrown them out though, so if anyone ever enlightens me, I’ve got them.
*I’m guessing that most people who would be considered experts know the name of all their cooking utensils. I’ve been known to call one of mine “that scraper doohickey”.
I may be no expert, but I get points for trying, right?

Pepperoni Pull Apart Bread

Printable Recipe
18 Frozen roll dough balls (I use ½ package of Rhodes dinner rolls)
36 Pepperoni slices
Approximately 1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 stick butter
1 tsp garlic powder
1 TBSP grated parmesan
NOTE: Because this takes about 6 hours to rise, I prep this in the morning when making to serve with dinner.
*Put a sheet of heavy foil in your oven. Leave oven turned off.
*Defrost 18 of the rolls until just barely defrosted and still cold. Don’t let them rise or warm to room temperature. Cut each roll in half.
*Grease a bundt pan.
*Melt the stick of butter with the garlic powder and grated parmesan cheese.
*Take each roll half, flatten in your hand, put a pinch of shredded mozzarella and a pepperoni slice in the center and close the roll around the ingredients inside until the cheese and pepperoni are completely enclosed inside.
*Roll each of the bread balls in the butter mixture. Try to get some of the garlic powder and parmesan onto each of the bread balls. Place them evenly all around the bottom of the greased bundt pan.
*Spoon whatever is left of the butter mixture over the top of the rolls.
*Wet a towel (can use a paper towel) with hot water and wring the water out so you’re left with a damp, warm towel. Place over the top of the bundt pan but not down inside, you don’t want it to touch the rolls.
*Put the towel covered pan into the oven onto the heavy foil. Allow to rise for approximately 6 hours.
*Once risen (it will be close to the top of the bundt pan), take towel out of the oven. Leave the pan in the oven and turn on to 350 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes, then check and put a piece of foil over the top of the pan if the rolls are starting to get too brown. Bake another 10 minutes.
*Remove pan from oven. Let sit 5 minutes. Gently loosen the rolls around the pan, put a plate over the top and, holding the plate onto the top of the bundt pan, turn the entire thing over so the rolls come out onto the plate.
NOTE: This can be served with my Homemade Marinara

Friday, November 15, 2013

Secret Subject Swap: ER Story

Welcome to another Secret Subject Swap. This week 12 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.
SSS Take 2
Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:
My subject is Write a post in which you use the following words at least one time:  Emergency Room, splint, blood sample, roller skates, helmet, crowd, guy with a neck tattoo. It was submitted by Moms Don't Say That. Here goes:
This is a true story. Or a semi-mostly-pretty-much true story, which is the only kind of story I tell.
About 10 years ago I decided I wanted roller blades. Not roller skates, that would be for a slightly more sane person. No, I wanted roller blades. And arm and knee pads because I’m not totally insane, just semi-wackadoodle.
For my birthday my husband went to a sporting goods store and bought me a pair. I tend to be fairly coordinated and at 5 feet tall have a low center of balance, but I did not do as well on them as I thought. I could start and I could go, but the stop thing was an issue. In the street in front of our house I could just run up onto the lawn, so that wasn’t really a problem when I first started out.
At the time, we lived down the street from a park with wide open parking lots and trails around a lake and I thought it would be fun to practice there. It turns out lots of people would roller blade there and I’d ask the ones who seemed to know what they were doing to show me how to stop. While stopping for me consisted of hitting the ground, they actually could use those rear break pad thingies. No matter what I tried, it just seemed like my skates were so much faster than everyone else’s, but in reality I think it was that they were in control of their skates where clearly my skates were showing me who was boss. Well, my skates and that pesky ground gravel. They were double teaming me.
One day a friend, who happened to be an Emergency Room nurse, and who also happened to be extremely athletic, asked if I wanted to go roller blading on the paths by the lake while the kids were in school. We met in our skates and protective gear at the entrance to the park closest to her house, not where I usually enter. The first thing she wanted to know was why I didn’t have a helmet. I told her I tried but couldn’t find one to fit my A$$, which was the body part most frequently slamming into the concrete. My preference was to attach a pillow to my butt but hadn’t yet found a way to get it to stay there, so wrist and knee pads was it.
That entrance to the park was at the bottom of a short hill. Perfect for a woman who doesn’t know how to use her brakes. Of course I fell . . . yes, before we even got into the park . . . skinned both palms and left a little blood sample on the sidewalk.
I think my friend was reconsidering, but I assured her that once on the paths I’d be fine. I got tripped up a few times by pebbles both real and imagined but all in all kept just enough blood in my veins to sustain life. Winning.
There are many paths around the lake and the one we were on was new to me. So imagine my surprise when we hit the end of the path where a huge steep hill went straight down into the parking lot. On the other side of the parking lot is a lake, but I don’t even want to think about that. This hill was huge. Did I say huge? Oh, it was huge. And steep.
I started down trying my best to use my brakes but it was having no impact. I tried going side to side like on my snow skis but the path was only 2 feet wide, way too small to make turns. So straight down I went.
Bent at the waist (no idea why), arms waving and skate wheels turning so fast I swear they were throwing up sparks, I rolled through the entire first parking lot at the speed of light, somehow veered myself to the right (thought I was gonna go into the lake, didn’t you?) down a short stretch of concrete to a second parking lot, through that whole parking lot and finally straight onto a patch of grass where I less-than-graciously smashed down onto my unhelmeted (and now permanently flattened) rear end.
Of course a crowd gathered around the stunned genius with the broken A$$, and amongst the onlookers was the answer to the mystery of why everyone else was so much better at controlling their roller blades than I was. As my friend was trying to assess my ability to move, I overheard a guy with a neck tattoo ask his friend a very revealing question: “if she doesn’t know how to skate, what the hell is she doing using racing wheels?” 

Racing wheels? Holy hell, I've got racing wheels?
My friend wanted to take me to the Emergency Room. I didn’t want to go but I knew the quickest way out of this embarrassing situation would be to let her get her car and drive me out of there. I intended to dedicate my life to making sure I never had to see anyone in that particular crowd ever again.
In the ER they tried to take a blood sample but I insisted that I’d given all the blood I could spare for one day. I waited in a curtained room for hours because, of course, a broken butt isn’t high on the emergency priority list. But eventually a Doctor came in carrying a splint (for my A$$?). I recognized him immediately . . . kill me now. . .  the guy with a neck tattoo. He didn’t just come in with a splint though, he came in with an ultimatum: he could fit me for a butt splint and I could keep on skating, or I just might want to consider taking up baking.
By the way, as of the next morning my husband was no longer the beneficiary of my life insurance policies. And before he bought me any future “gifts”, I made sure he knew it.
Peanut Butter Cup Cookies -
Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
1 stick butter, softened
1 stick margarine, softened
1 cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
¾ cup baking cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
48 mini Reese’s cups
*Cream the butter, margarine, both sugars and the vanilla. Mix in the flour, baking cocoa, baking soda and salt. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough into approximately 48 ¾ inch balls. Bake on ungreased cookie sheets for 12 minutes.
*As soon as they come out of the oven, push a mini Reese’s cup into the center of each cookie.
*Allow to cool on the cookie sheets for 3 minutes. Remove carefully and allow to cool completely.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


School is in session, the weather changes, kids don costumes and it’s dark before dinner; all signs that holiday time is right around the corner. Before we know it plans are made, preparations have begun and Thanksgiving is just weeks away.

Thanksgiving is a perfect occasion for ushering in the holiday season; it’s a time for stories, projects, cooking and sharing. That’s exactly what this post is about. I’ve linked up with 5 other bloggers, each sharing a piece of what the season has to offer. We have humor, contemplation, family projects and food.

I hope you’ll click on all the links below to see what we’ve put together for you:

Thanksgiving Group Post -

Home on Deranged has a family post about the first and last Thanksgiving spent with mom.
Kiss My List is sharing a simple but meaningful family craft project that does double duty as Thanksgiving decor.
The Rowdy Baker has posted a recipe for Iced Pumpkin Roll with Butterscotch Cream Cheese Filling .
Writer B is Me will share a story about what happens when someone is asked to make the mashed potatoes one too many times.
PinkWhen shares a project you can display for Thanksgiving dinner and guests.

Pink When's Thanksgiving project | featured on

And I’m sharing a recipe for that leftover turkey.


I have to admit that I buy a huge turkey for Thanksgiving. Way bigger than what I need to serve our family. That’s because we love having leftover turkey. We use it in sandwiches and we (meaning I) use it in recipes; two favorites of which are casseroles that I make every year.

Neither of the casseroles I make are earth-shattering new creations never made before. Both really are just plain comfort food. They’re both recipes I’ve found through the years and altered and changed, added to and subtracted from to come up with something my family likes.

One dish I make every year is an incarnation of a Divan. It’s warming and substantial for a cold winter night. The second casserole, and the one I’m sharing here is my take on a Tetrazzini. You can use white meat, dark meat or a combination. It makes a ton, you could feed . . . oh . . . say a house full of teens with this.

Pair it with a crisp salad and a loaf of crusty French bread and it’s a quick and easy meal.

Turkey Tetrazzini casserole-
Turkey Tetrazzini Casserole

And for that person who bought that turkey I really wanted but couldn’t lift out of the case, you can freeze some of your leftover turkey and make this casserole again later in the winter.

Turkey Tetrazzini Casserole
2 cups leftover turkey, boned, skinned and cut into pieces
12 ounces Spaghetti, cooked al dente
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
12 ounces frozen peas
1 jar chopped pimentos (2 oz), drained
1 green onion, chopped
2 TBSP Butter
2 TBSP flour
1½ cups Chicken broth
½ cup milk
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
½ cup Parmesan
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 X 13 baking dish.
*In a large bowl, mix together the spaghetti, turkey, mushrooms, peas, pimentos and green onion. Put into baking dish.
*Melt butter in a pot on medium/low heat. Wisk in the flour, salt and pepper, and continue whisking for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then simmer for one minute. Remove from heat. Add in the milk and parmesan.
*Pour over the spaghetti mixture. Sprinkle top with paprika. Bake for 40 minutes or until hot and bubbly.