Thursday, December 31, 2015

Moppie's Sand Tarts

First off - I'm sure you're curious as to who Moppie is. "Moppie" is what my kids call my mother-in-law, Martha Jones. Second - and probably more important - is the story behind these sand tarts. 

One of the first things I learned to make from my mother-in-law was this recipe. It's one of Gerald's all-time favorites and something that he requests that she make each time she comes to visit or we head to their house. In fact, she's made them so much that even my bother, Jon, has grown very fond of them. So - at Gerald and Jon's urging, I had her write out the recipe for me. (See below. Doesn't she have a pretty handwriting?)

So the recipe calls for margarine. I don't use margarine, so I figured REAL butter would make them even better. It also calls for vanilla. I'm partial to almond extract. So I made these slight changes the first time I baked these, sure the men would rave over my improvements. Wrong. I'm not saying they didn't eat them. They did. But they complained the whole time!

You'll notice the recipe specifies Parkay margarine. Well, she wrote this recipe for me about fifteen years ago. Since then, Parkay has "improved" their margarine recipe, but as far as Moppie is concerned, it's no longer a viable choice. 

So after a great deal of experimentation, she has decided that Imperial is the only way to go. (By the way - I must tell you that my MIL usually does not agree when a company "improves" their products! She has been known to write many a letter (not emails - a real letter) to the company to advise them of their mistake. As a result, she often gets letters of thanks for her input as well as a stack of coupons encouraging her to continue to try their products!)

Before I begin the cookies, I finely chop my nuts.

Next, melt the butter over medium heat and add the powdered sugar. Mix well. Turn off heat.

Then add flour and nuts. Stir well with a spoon until thoroughly combined.

You should have a beautiful dough like below.

Move away from the heat and using a small cookie scoop, dip about a tablespoon of dough. 

Roll it into a ball, then roll into an oblong shape.

Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake at 325 for about 30-40 minutes or until they begin to turn light golden brown.

Allow to cool for about 10 minutes, then place them in a bag full of powdered sugar and carefully toss them. There will be just enough warmth left in them to make the sugar stick.

I store them in the bag to keep them well coated.

Aren't they pretty? Some people compare them to Mexican wedding cookies. Want to hear something funny? Moppie doesn't eat Moppie's Sand Tarts. She doesn't like them! But everyone else does!

Here's the exact recipe.

Moppie's Sand Tarts

2 sticks Imperial margarine
6 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 pound powdered sugar
2 cups self rising flour
2 cups chopped pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add 6 tbsp powdered sugar. Remove from heat. Stir in nuts, flour and vanilla. Form into balls. Bake at about 300 degrees (depends on oven) until light golden brown. (About 40 minutes for me.) Let cool slightly then toss in powdered sugar. Store in air-tight container.

I made the original recipe for this batch, so you'd think everyone would be happy. Wrong, again. Gerald , Jon, and even Jewell all said they tasted different. I promise I used the exact recipe! I think they have decided that I purposely try to make them different just to trick them. Well - this time I didn't! They ate them (as if eating them one after another would deliver the answer), but kept insisting I made them differently. I took the leftovers to my parent's home on Christmas Eve. My Daddy and my youngest bother, David, LOVED them! So - from now on, I only make them for those two! That'll teach the rest!  

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!
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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Lucky Stew for New Year's Day

We Southerners take our traditions seriously. Sugar in our tea, football and black-eyed peas on New Year's Day, just to name a few. Why? Black-eyed peas are supposed to bring you luck! And when you eat them with greens (turnip, collards, mustard, kale) they represent coins while the greens represent paper money. Add a little cornbread to that and you're supposed to have gold coming your way. All that sounds fine by me!

Here's a delicious soup that takes care of two of the three. And you know I'll make a big pan of cornbread to butter and eat along with this! This recipe tastes best after it's sat a day or two in the fridge, so I'm making it as we speak so we can have it for lunch New Year's Day. I wanted to go ahead and give you the recipe in case you want to make it for Friday. Tomorrow will be fine!

Lucky Stew

2 tbsp EVOO
2 cups diced ham (about one ham steak)
1 large yellow onion
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 quarts chicken stock
1 (16 oz) package frozen turnip greens, thawed
1 can blackeyed peas, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
hot sauce to taste
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Dice the onion and ham. I removed the ham bone, excessive fat and the thick rind.
I cut it into half inch cubes. 

Heat dutch oven and EVOO and add ham and onion.

Cook for ten minutes on medium, stirring occasionally.

Onions will soften, fat on ham will render and ham will take on a little color.

Add peas, greens, vinegar, hot sauce and salt/pepper.

Add chicken stock. I like to use stock instead of broth for a bolder, richer flavor in this soup.

Mix well.

Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer.

Simmer on low, covered, for 45 minutes. After that, I'll remove it from the heat, let it cool an hour or so and then set my covered dutch oven in the fridge until Friday. Reheat before serving.

I hope this brings you lots of luck!
Happy New Year!

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!
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Mocha Punch

Mocha punch is a Christmas tradition around our house. I first learned this recipe from my friend (and college professor) Dr. Donna Bentley about ten years ago. She always served it at our Embroidery Guild Christmas parties which she would host. I made it for several years when we hosted the College of Business Christmas parties at our home when Gerald was still the associate dean. Brack loves it. Well - actually everyone does. Brack however, REALLY loves it! 

The most important part of this simple recipe is choosing your coffee. It calls for instant, and depending on the time of your party (day or night), you'll want to choose carefully between regular and decaf. This was an early afternoon party, so I went with regular.

Begin by adding one cup of sugar and two ounces of the instant coffee to two cups of boiling water. Stir until dissolved and remove from heat.

Once it has cooled, place in a mason jar (or some kind of container) and put it in the fridge. I usually make this mixture one to two days ahead.

When you're ready to serve it, add the coffee mixture to a punch bowl and add one gallon of WHOLE milk. Stir gently to mix. (I got about 3/4ths of my milk into the bowl before stopping to save room for the ice cream.) That's right! I said ice cream! Use a small cookie scoop or melon baller to add small balls of chocolate ice cream. I used about half a box of icecream for this recipe.

Be sure to get a scoop or two of ice cream in each cup! 

Isn't that pretty? And so good...

And yes, even though it was a "girl" party, my baby boy got as much Mocha Punch as he could drink. It is Christmas, after all!

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!
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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Regarding Dahlias - Note Card Set

I designed this simple, yet feminine note card set for the Christmas crafting party I had for Jewell and her friends the Monday before Christmas. I love the big bold flower, and I thought it would appeal to the girls as well. The stamp set is called "Regarding Dahlias" by Stampin' Up.

The first thing I did was order my envelopes. I chose to use A1 sized envelopes. They're just the right size for a classic notecard. I got them off Amazon and paid $21.95 for 250. That makes them .08 cents each. Once I had my envelopes, I measured and cut my notecards.

The notecards measure 4 7/8" wide by 7" long. When folded, they fit the envelopes perfectly.

I wanted to get two cards per piece of cardstock, so I began by scoring the paper vertically at 3.5".

I really like the Martha Stewart paper trimmer and scoring table. Well - I like the scoring part. The trimmer is not always a clean cutter. But sometimes, I want that "rough" look, so I do choose it sometimes over my Fiskars trimmer.

However, for this project I wanted clean cuts, so I used my Fiskars trimmer.

I made a cut at 7". This leaves a 1.5" scrap.

Then I turned the paper horizontally and cut two cards that are 4 7/8" wide.

This left a scrap as well. I tuck these into a scrap folder, and they are often just what I need for a smaller project.


Next, I stamped my cards. I choose to use eight different ink colors, but I used all one color on each card. In other words, the dahlia and the sentiment on the card below are both stamped in Island Indigo.

I added a little pearl to the middle of the flower for dimension and softness.

I cut a sponge into wedges and stapled the ink color onto it.

I lightly dabbed this sponge on the ink pad.

Then I carefully brushed it along the edge, just to add a little detail and define the edges. I repeated the process seven more times with seven more colors. That's it for the cards!

For the stationary folder, I cut a piece of white cardstock 6.25" x 9.5".

(Disregard the notched edges above. I forgot to take a picture before I cut them out.)

Take the 6.25" x 9.5" rectangle and score it at 1/2" along each long side. Then score it from the bottom at 3", 3.5", 7.25" and 7.75".

Use a sharp pair of scissors to trim out the top and also to snip in the middle folds.

Fold on all score lines toward the middle. Set aside.

For the cover of the stationary folder, stamp four images of your color choice.

Cut them into squares for easier access.

I found these dies on Pinterest. They are not made by Stampin' Up, but the owner of has made dies for a number of Stampin' Up stamps that are "die-less"!

He included a key to cutting, which was great because the flowers are very busy and hard to match up.

I cut two blue flowers - one large and one medium.

Run them through the Big Shot. I love the magnetic platform. It keeps them from sliding and getting messed up. I also cut a large and medium out of the other two colors.

Use adhesive to apply the large blue flower first.

Apply to the front of the folder. Flatten it for easy access.

Next, add the other large flower, whatever color you choose to make it. Apply the medium flower in the third color. (Forgot to photograph this.)

Use dimensional adhesive squares to raise the medium blue flower and give it depth.

I should have used smaller ones, but oh well!)

See how it made it 2-D?

Use the adhesive backed pearls.

Put them in the middle of the flowers.

Flip over and fold up gently. Mark where brads should go.

I was able to use my tiny hole punch on the flap.

The bottom hole was too deep for the hole punch so I used an awl.

At this point - I forgot to take pictures again! Before folding it up and using adhesive, stamp the back with a personalized stamp if you'd like. 

Lay it out flat with flowers facing you. Use adhesive on the bottom flap only.

Flip back over and fold in the snipped piece on both sides.

Fold up the bottom piece.

Fold over the flap on the middle piece and press to adhere.

Use your nail to smooth it out.

I used a 5/8" circle punch and craft paper to make the little brown circles. Then I used my tiny hole punch to make a hole in the middle.

I found these pretty little pearl heart-shaped brads on sale for about $1 at Michaels. A pack has about 40 in it.

Put the circle over the hole and insert the brad.

Don't lay the brad flush against the surface. You need some room to wrap the cord around it.


At this point on my first example (which I forgot to take pictures of, thus the re-shoot today), I used a corner rounder on the flap and then added a little color to the flap with the sponge.

I found this pretty baker's twine at Dollar Tree - three rolls for $1. Cut about 8" and tie both ends in a knot to prevent fraying. Loop the end into a lasso and tie around the bottom brad.

Then just figure eight it around both brads to close.

That's it!

Isn't this pretty? I already had the inks and stamps, but if you add up all the other supplies I had to buy, the stationary probably cost less than $1 a set.

Add to that the pen and pad set and I have about $2 worth of supplies for each girl.

Several of the girls used one of their notecards to write me a thank you for hosting the party! How sweet! I've already used all eight of mine on notes for the holidays. I need to get busy and make some more!

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!
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