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I tried this recipe several years ago out of a “Quick Cooking” Magazine. It instantly became a favorite!

baby L with a jumbo molasses cookie Baby J with a jumbo molasses cookie

These cookies are huge and chewy and not overly spiced. The recipe makes a very large batch- I always get between 36 and 42 cookies if I make them full size.

I’ve also made them smaller and I’ve flash frozen them and pulled them out to bake later (just roll in sugar before baking).

It does make a huge batch- so unless you’ve got a 6qt. mixer bowl or another huge bowl with a hand mixer, you’ll need to half the recipe.

jumbo molasses cookie closeup

Here’s the recipe (link to online recipe at Taste of Home is here).

3 c butter-flavored shortening (I use a combination of butter or margarine and shortening instead)

4 c sugar

1 c molasses

4 eggs

8 c flour

2T plus 2t baking soda

2 t ground cinnamon

1 t salt

1t ground cloves

1t ground ginger

Additional sugar

In large bowl, cream shortening and sugar. Beat in molasses and eggs. Combine dry ingredients (except for additional sugar), gradually add to creamed mixture.

(I mix together everything but the flour first. Then add about half the flour, then add 1c at a time while mixing to get the remaining flour in.)

Cover and refrigerate 1-2 hrs.

Shape 1/4 cupfuls of dough into balls, roll in sugar. (The big ice-cream scoop, if you use them to scoop your cookies.)

icecream scoop cookies rolled in sugar

Place 4 cookies on a greased baking sheet at a time. (I sometimes flatten mine a bit)

jumbo molases cookies 4 on a sheet

Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes or until edges are set. (check by 15 minutes, watch closely, rotate in your oven if it doesn’t heat evenly. I used 325 the last time I made them just so I’d be less likely to burn them.)

Remove to wire racks to cool. (Often they have to cool on the sheet for a minute, or they disintegrate when you try to transfer them to the cooling racks, or fall to pieces through the wires once on the cooling racks.)

jumbo molassses cookies cooling

Yield 3 1/2 dozen JUMBO cookies.

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So I tried yet another homemade play dough recipe the other day.  But this one was better than any I’ve tried before- as close to the “real” thing as I think you can get.  It even works in those silly play dough machines.  I saw it on pinterest and checked it out at Modern Parents Messy Kids.  Click here for the full post and recipe instructions.  Here’s what you’ll need:

1 c flour

1 c warm water

2 T salt

2T cream of tartar

2T cooking oil

1-3 oz pack of Jello

 

It all goes into the pot, gets mixed thoroughly, and cooked. Then cool and knead.  If you’ve made cooked play dough before, you know the drill.  If not, make sure you check out MPMK for the full tutorial.

I tried it with unflavored gelatin (like Knox) as well, and it turned out just as wonderful. Use 1-1oz package or 1 Tablespoon if you’ve bought it in bulk like I have.

This is now my go-to recipe!  Hope you like it as much as I do.

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An eventful week for our critters!  Since the calf was born, I’ve been milking.

LOTS of milk!  Not as much as a “real” milk cow, of course, but plenty for us.  I’ve been getting about 3 quarts a milking over the last several days.  I’m milking twice a day until the calf can take it all, then I’ll drop back to once a day and pull the calf for 12 hours or so.  Norma has been a wonderful milker for me.  The only time I had trouble was when she left her calf in the hay pile instead of getting her to come out for milking time.  We won’t do that again- for Norma’s sake and for mine.  She’s a nicer/better milker than Ellie, AND her milk tastes a lot better to me- not cow-y.  I’m so glad!  I’m hoping that won’t change with the spring grass.

Lots of milk means new recipes to try.  I tried some beesting new cheese- it was okay, but hard to know how to eat it exactly.  I roughly followed the directions here.  Basically, you pour the colostrum in a pan and add a bit of sugar.  Bake ’til it starts to brown.   You can “test” your colostrum (aka beesting) by cooking a bit in a frypan to see if it sets up- kind of like scrambled eggs.  Recipes use it in place of eggs for pudding and the like since it firms up so much.

Next I made some fresh butter.  Mmmm… Mom let me borrow her old Daisy (I think it is one of those) churns.  They had built a board for it when we were kids so you could sit on the board and the churn would hold still while you cranked.  My girls got to try it this time, and had fun- for a few minutes.  Then we finished it.  Very yellow- a lot of the cream was early cream, so the colostrum content made it richer colored.

   

Some of the leftover buttermilk got used in buttermilk pancakes for dinner last night; recipe from Betty Crocker.

Today was a cheese making day.  I am trying “Lannie’s Easy Cheddar” from the “Keeping a Family Cow” board.  I’ve used it before, and it’s a foolproof recipe as far as getting a product that acts properly with no fuss.  It’s a good cheese to start out on.  It’s flexible as far as temperatures and times go, and it “cooks” in the sink (or in a bigger pot of hot water), so there’s no worry about scorching it.  The only problem is we haven’t been a big fan of the clabber to start it.  The flavor isn’t what we’d like that way.  This time I used powdered mesophilic starter and skipped the yogurt to see what our end flavor will be like.  We’ve made cheese curds before with a similar method and enjoyed those.  The cheese curd recipe is over here– I “cooked” these in the sink, too.  I’ve also found that rennet doesn’t work for me ’til more like 85*, but maybe my thermometers are off.  I say that so that if you’re not getting a curd to set, try raising the temperature a bit.  Mine is now in the press (my ever-so-sophisticated #10 can, apple pie filling, and books for weights) and will stay there ’til tomorrow.

  

With the whey I’m trying some mysost.  I’ve never had any, so we’ll see what it tastes like!  I based my attempt on the post here.  You cook down the whey, optionally add cream (I didn’t) and whip it up when the extra liquid is cooked out.  It’s supposed to take 4-12 hours.  I did about half of the whey left from my 2 gallon batch of cheese in the electric fry pan.  It was done in less than 3 hours.  It looks a lot like ricotta as it cooks down, but instead of straining, you just cook off all the extra liquid.  Since it was curd-y I put it through my mini food chopper to smooth it out.  It’s a different taste- good, but I’m not sure how to use it.  A sweet, tangy, creamy, rich, caramelized flavor.  Anyone have suggestions?  I tried it on a saltine, but the cracker was a competing flavor.

  

Added:  Here’s what it looked like when it was done cooking, before I processed it.

My kefir grains were put in the mail today from a gracious woman on the “keeping a family cow” board who was willing to share.  I’m looking forward to them!  I’ve got a collection going of different things I’d like to try.

Enough about milk.  We named the calf.  She is Nightingale.  The girls were sure she should be “gai-gai”, Her mama’s name is Norma, and her daddy is Gideon, so NightinGale it is, gai-gai or gail for short.  I weighed her on Monday and she was 47 lbs.  She’s getting to be a bit of a pest, too!  She gets out of the fence and I’m having a terrible time catching her now that she’s getting to be so quick!

And last, but not least, we have a new BOY on the farm.  It’s mostly girls around here except for the roos.  That changed yesterday with the addition of our new herd bull.  He’s a coming yearling out of Ace of Clove Brook and Chautauqua Poppy from Someday Maybe Farm.  I’m actually not sure of his birthdate or his name, but I’ll know once all his registration paperwork is done (or I talk with Shaun).  Cranberry was standing for him when he got here yesterday, but I won’t plan on a January calf yet- I think he’s still got some things to figure out.  (Of course, maybe I’ll be surprised!)

  

A chick incubation posting/update is on the way- sometime…

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For MOPS spa day we made these:

I love this stuff!  To use, rub on hands or body.  Also good as a chapstick.  It’s done a good job for me of keeping some eczema at bay that I developed in the past year on my thumb and eyelids (Odd locations- who knows why?!).  I don’t have to worry about continued exposure and potential side effects to the prescribed steroid ointment, and I can use it on my face, unlike the ointment.  I’ve also used it effectively on my kids for diaper/wet underwear overnight rashes.

I gave some for late Christmas presents, and even had some takers when I offered it to my rough working uncles, dad, and grandpa.  I think they’ll really use it for burns from welding and other rough on the skin work- they weren’t just taking it to be nice 😉

Instructions based on a recipe found here at Crunchy Betty.

Very simple, 3 ingredients- beeswax, coconut oil, and shea butter.

There’s a recipe at Little House in the Suburbs that I haven’t tried, but it does contain more common ingredients- namely, shortening and vegetable oil instead of coconut oil and shea butter.  Both use beeswax.  I’m not sure how solid the other version would be, or how greasy it may feel.

I used an electric fry pan with water to function as my double boiler for this group craft.  I set it to about 250.  You can also do this in a pan of water on the stovetop or in a (microwave safe) container in the microwave.

The can is a mushroom can- any similar small clean can would work- I wouldn’t recommend glass for this due to temperature change, though.  You can use glass if you’re going to do this in the microwave instead of a double boiler.  I did have to add water over the course of our time at spa day, since the water evaporated relatively fast.  Just don’t add too much, or your cans may tip over!

The stir stick is just a popsicle stick.

I had no trouble lifting the can without a hot mitt, and we had no trouble at our Spa day.  But use caution, your can MAY heat up and could cause a burn if left too long or if the water is particularly hot.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup lightly packed grated beeswax.  Mine is straight from the bee keeper, but any kind should work.  I used a peeler to grate off thin pieces of wax, then lightly pressed in a baggie lined measuring cup.

  

1/4 cup coconut oil.  The “solid at room temperature” oil contributes to the firmness of the final product.  Liquid oils make a very slimy, melty bar.  I did heat the oil in the jar so it was liquid to make it easier to scoop out 1/4 cup for our spa day.  It will still need to be re-melted after adding it to the beeswax since it has such a lower melting temperature.

1/4 cup shea butter.  Mine is natural, unrefined.  This is the only thing I had to buy online- I couldn’t find it at any stores locally.  This scooped beautifully with a trigger icecream scoop into a baggie- the scoop holds 1/4 cup.

Melt the beeswax.  Add the coconut oil and allow all to heat/melt again.  Last, add the shea butter last and keep on heat just until melted.  I’ve run across info that it can get “grainy” if heated too much and too long, but I didn’t experience it myself.  Stir occasionally after each addition.

      

I took the can off the heat to add items- less chance of dropping extra bits in your water, and it will help with space for a group craft.

Immediately pour into forms- we’re using ice cube trays form the dollar store.  This recipe just fills the silicone one with possibly a touch extra or a touch less.  Unfortunately, they didn’t have them anymore when I went to buy trays, so I just got regular ones, and it didn’t fill the whole tray.  We put names on with a sharpie marker. Let it cool when you’re done.  I put mine in the fridge because I’m impatient.  We had fridge space and did the same for our MOPS spa day.  It doesn’t take that long for them to set up.

      

Pop them out of the molds once they’re firm.  They pull away from the sides of the molds a bit once they’re fully set.  store in a baggie or wrapped in wax paper.

I didn’t add scent- I love the smell of the beeswax.  But you can if you want to.  Add your scent after everything is melted together before you pour it into the molds, and make sure it’s skin safe.

Here’s what I used as a directions printout for our ladies for spa day:

Lotion bar directions:

Put 1/4 cup (1 baggie) beeswax in can.  Place in hot water bath until melted.  stir occasionally with a popsicle stick.

Remove from heat.  Add 1/4 cup coconut oil.  Return to heat, melt, stir occasionally.

Remove from heat.  Add 1/4 cup (1 baggie) shea butter.  Return to heat JUST until melted, the last bits don’t have to be completely melted on the heat. (You don’t want to overheat the shea butter.)

Remove from heat.  Stir until the last of the shea butter is melted.

Pour into ice cube trays and set aside to firm up.  Can be put in the fridge to speed up the firming process.

Pop out of the ice cube tray and store in a baggie or wrap in wax paper to transport.  Don’t carry it around in your pocket or leave it in your hot car!

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I think one of the top convenience foods for the freezer is ready-made pizza.  It’s an always welcome food at our house, and so easy when it can just be popped in the oven.  Unfortunately, I hate to buy them and much prefer the taste of homemade- I think the store-bought ones just keep getting worse!  While this homemade version isn’t quite as quick as the boughten, it’s pretty close.  Plus it’s so much better tasting!  When I make homemade pizza, I’m now doubling or tripling the dough just so I can keep these on hand.  It’s the latest “go-to” meal at our house.

Here’s the basic dough recipe I use (and double or triple now)

1 1/4 t yeast

2 c warm water

5-6 c flour

4 t olive oil

1 t salt

dried basil, oregano, onion, garlic, parsley, etc.  1/4-1 t each.  Can also use part of a spaghetti sauce seasoning packet.

Disolve yeast in warm water, add 4c flour and all other ingredients, beat smooth, add remaining flour to make a soft dough.  Knead ’til smooth and elastic.  Place in greased bowl, cover and rise 1 hr.  punch down, divide onto pans and spread.  Top as desired.  Bake 15-25 minutes at 400-450.

To make pizzas for the freezer, spread the dough into circles and flash freeze on a tray in the freezer.  Then pop them in a gallon size ziplock bag for storage.  They can be made various sizes- whatever you choose- so long as it still fits in your bag.

To use:  Pull out of the freezer, top with your choice of sauce and toppings, and pop it in the oven.  No need to thaw it before using- they bake up just fine from frozen in the oven. It works on a baking sheet or on a stone.  If you like to use a pizza stone, preheat your stone before you take out your dough.  Then add toppings, and you can pick up the whole mini pizza (since the dough stays stiff when frozen) and set it on your stone to bake.

It may take a bit longer than your usual homemade pizza to bake, but you didn’t have to make the dough and wait for it to rise.  Bake time is more like 20-35 minutes, depending on how “done” you like it.

Note:  I haven’t tried topping them when I flash freeze them, but it’s reasonable to say they’d probably do just fine if you want pizza that’s completely ready to throw in the oven.  Just maybe a bit messier to store and a bit longer to finish baking?

ETA:  I made some the other day.  Here’s pics of them going in the oven and coming out.  Yum!

  

Another edit.  I made some full size and scored them before flash freezing, then broke into chunks for longer term storage in ziplocks.  To use, just put those puzzle pieces back together for a full size pizza.  If you’re baking on a stone, move quickly to get the topped pieces onto the preheated stone before they thaw too much… or let them completely thaw and rise a bit before baking.  We’ve found that if you start the frozen dough on a cold stone the crust isn’t very good.  And don’t do big scores, do smaller ones so you don’t have as big of gaps to contend with- I have since modified my technique again.

  

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Our February MOPS creative activity was coating/decorating truffles.  We made a bag for ourselves and a bag to give as a gift.  Each bag had 10-2 of each flavor.  Our steering team each made 6 dozen balls and brought them frozen to our meeting.  Then we handed them out on wax papered trays and everyone started decorating- all we had to do was melt the chocolate coatings in the microwave.  Then we waited for the chocolate to set up and bagged them.  Bags were donated from a local flower and candy shop, but I think there were decent valentines themed ones at the dollar store (= inexpensive!)

If you have a particularly soft or sticky truffle, get those done first before they have much time to thaw.  Also, if you’re using the powdered sugar or sweetened cocoa as a cover, be aware they then squish in your bags… Maybe put them in a separate bag?  I think that was the big fail of this project.  And make sure your candy bags are big enough to comfortably hold all those truffles!

Here’s how they turned out- thanks Rachel for sharing the pics!

        

The following is copied and pasted from my handout.  I spread it into 2 pages-  a directions page and a recipe page.

Coating options:

Powdered sugar or sweetened cocoa– roll truffle in the bowl to coat

Almond bark or candy melts– melt at short intervals in the microwave (or double boiler), stirring as it melts.  Use a fork or toothpick to dip the balls into the chocolate to cover.  Shake off excess/let it drip off, then put it on a piece of wax paper to let the coating set.  It can go in the fridge or freezer to set more quickly.

Leave the toothpick IN for less mess.  remove it after the chocolate sets up.  You can also use a spoon or try 2 popsicle sticks.  Whatever works best for you.

*you can also use chocolate/white chips and add a bit of shortening to help it “flow”.  DON’T add water- it can cause the chocolate to “seize”

Add garnishes before the chocolate sets.  Sprinkles, colored sugar, cookie or graham cracker crumbs, orange zest, etc

“Pipe” on swirls, flowers, leaves, dots, etc. of melted chocolate/almond bark With cake decorating bags or squeeze bottles.  Put melted chocolate in the bags as you would frosting/icing.  If it cools and needs to be re-melted, make sure to take off any metal tips before putting it in the microwave, and heat carefully/slowly to prevent overheating the bag or container.  You can also use a baggie and cut off the corner if you don’t have cake decorating supplies, or just drizzle another color chocolate with a spoon.

Recipes:  Here’s the quick version of each, a few have some modifications.  Follow the link for complete/original recipes.

Cookie dough trufflescream 1/2 c softened butter and 3/4 c packed brown sugar until light and fluffy.  add 1 t vanilla.  gradually add 2 c flour and 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk- alternating and beating well after each addition.  Stir in 1/2 c mini chocolate chips and 1/2 c chopped walnuts.  Shape into 1″ balls and freeze.  Coat.  5 1/2 dozen

Cake balls bake a cake mix as usual.  After cooling about 10 min, dump cake into large bowl, break up into chunks to cool.  after 1/2 hr, dump in 1 can of frosting (any flavor).  Mix completely, cover and cool 2-3 hrs or overnight.  Roll into 1″ balls, chill several hours.   Coat.

Lemon White chocolate truffles– makes about 2 dozen

Melt 5 tablespoons of unsalted butter and 1 c white chocolate, and 3 Tablespoons of heavy cream in the microwave or in a double boiler.  Stir until smooth.  Add a pinch of salt and 1 teaspoon of lemon extract.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours in the fridge.  It should be handle-able then.  Form it into 1 inch balls and freeze.  Coat.

Peppermint patties– one batch of this recipe should make the 6 dozen.  A can of sweetened condensed milk, 1 Tablespoon of peppermint flavoring, and 6 cups of powdered sugar, mix/knead it, then roll it into balls and pop it in the freezer.  Coat.

Oreo balls– 1 package of double stuffed ores (or fakes) and 4 to 8 oz of cream cheese.  Chop of the oreos fine- a food processor makes quick work of it.  Mash the softened cream cheese and oreos until well combined.  Roll into 1″ balls and freeze.  3 dozen (I think)

Some bonus recipes (we only made the first 5 for our decorating day)

chocolate cream cheese balls– this recipe makes 36.  These are a tad messier to roll.  I kept a light coating of oil on my hands and that worked for me to form them.  It’s just 8 oz of cream cheese, softened, and then you add 8 oz of melted chocolate chips.  Chill in the fridge for an hour or so, then form into balls and freeze.  Coat

chocolate orange truffles 2 c crushed vanilla wafer cookies, 2 c powdered sugar, 1/2 c cornstarch, 1/2 c butter (melted and cooled), 1/2 c orange juice concentrate, thawed, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and a dash of ginger (not a big deal if you don’t have it- just skip).  Mix it all, chill an hour, roll into 1″ balls and freezer.  It’s supposed to make 4-5 dozen.

Butterfinger balls– 1 pound of candy corn melted in the microwave and add 1 c peanut butter.  When it’s cool enough to handle, form it into balls and pop it in the freezer.  Not certain how many balls this would make… I’m sure at least 2 dozen, maybe 3… I’ve never actually made them into balls, just bars.

More to try at our pinterest “candy” board if you’re looking for ideas!

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Our MOPS 4th Wednesday activity today was make ahead meals.  We make one for that evening’s meal and one to put in the freezer (or fridge) and use another day.  There’s more recipes of meals we’ve made in the past for this in the recipes tab.

The meal for tonight’s use is a broccoli, chicken, and cheese braid in crescent roll dough.  Everyone made two braids to take home.  One braid will just barely feed 4 with a side of salad. Note:  I don’t know if this dish will freeze well.  I’m trying it with an extra braid and will report back if it worked or didn’t work later!

ETA:  We pulled it out of the freezer and baked it up.  It worked fine and tasted about the same to me.

The freezer meal is Tatertot casserole.

Recipes are below.

A few details.  For group logistics:  We have no childcare on 4th wednesdays.  We break into 2 groups, half do meals while the other half watches kids and we switch part way through.  We figure the same time frame and day of the week as we usually meet for MOPS, since everyone should be free then.

We cook the meat ahead of time, since that takes a long time to do.  We have a sign up list so we know how much to purchase for ingredients, and we ask for money to reimburse the cost of ingredients.  We’ve done $10 for the two meals and that mostly covers it.

I printed off the recipes for everyone to follow and take home.

An explanation on the braids:  There’s (at least) two ways to do this.  Pics of the two methods are here, since this can be the confusing part from just written directions.  NEITHER way will completely cover the filling.  It will ooze a bit in baking.

Method 1:  Lay the crescent roll dough as pictured.  After the filling is in, pull the corners of the crescent rolls up over the filling.  Overlap so they stick to each other.

 

Method 2:  Lay the crescent rolls on your baking sheet as shown.  Use your fingers and the palm of your hand to flatten and blend the edges of the crescent rolls together.  I spread mine to fit my baking sheet (Note this is a smaller baking sheet, not a huge one!  The rolls are straight from the tube in the first photo, so there’s not a huge distance for them to stretch.)  Put your filling in the center as above, then cut slits in the edge  of the dough.  The paper has lines drawn in the same way that I cut slits in the dough.  It’s the same way I do my Stromboli.  Then fold them across the filling.  Overlap so they stick to each other.

     

Substitutions: you can use bread dough instead of crescent rolls, corn instead of green beans, cream of celery soup instead of cream of mushroom, or mashed potatoes in place of tater tots.  Make it flex to your tastes and ingredients.

Here’s the recipes- copy and paste to make your own printouts.

Chicken, broccoli, and cheese braid

1 8 oz tube crescent rolls-

4 oz velveeta/processed cheese, cubed

1 c cooked cubed chicken

2 c cooked broccoli

You are going to make 2 of these.  Each braid gets the above ingredients.

Put a piece of foil on the cookie sheet.

Spread one tube of crescent rolls out on the foil.  Flatten, stretch, and “fix” the seams.  Place on the center line of the dough the cooked chicken, broccoli, and cubed cheese.  Cut strips in the crescent roll base from both sides.  Pull strips of crescent roll over the top of the filling- it will NOT fully enclose it.

Pull the braid off the sheet with the foil, repeat with a second braid.

Baking:  375 for 15-20 minutes- ’til golden brown crust and heated through.

Tatertot Casserole

Layer in a 9×13 pan:

1 lb cooked ground beef (approx. 3 cups)

1 can of green beans, drained

1 can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted.  spread this over the top of the other ingredients, and use a bit of water to rinse the can, if desired.

onions/onion flakes if desired

6 pieces of sliced cheese, or sprinkle with shredded cheddar, your choice.

Top with 1 1/2 lb of tater tots (3/4 of a 2 lb bag)

Baking:  350 until heated through.

This dish is freezer friendly and can go directly from the freezer to the oven!

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