Thursday, April 17, 2014

Cherry Filled Snickerdoodle Cookie Bars

Cookie Bars

**Sponsored Content**

Snickerdoodles are one of my most favorite cookies of all time and I've been wanting to try them as a filled cookie for a while now. When I got an awesome pack of Lucky Leaf Premium Pie Fillings, I knew the time for filled bars had come.

I also received a beautiful bouquet of flowers from FTD. I chose the Lavender Fields Bouquet and it had brightened my dining room table for days now.

Now, making filled bars is super simple. It's just a matter of 5 easy steps.

  1. Make your favorite cookie dough flavor. 
  2. Press some into a pan to cover the bottom.
  3. Spread on the filling flavor of your choice. 
  4. Sprinkle the top with small pieces of reserved dough. 
  5. Bake. 
Snickerdoodle Cookie Bars's super simple. So, to make these I made my favorite Snickerdoodle Recipe, although you could use sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies or even peanut butter cookies for a PB&J kind of feel. 

Cookie Bars

Cherry Filled Snickerdoodle Cookie Bars 
  • One recipe Snickerdoodle Cookies Or other cookie dough of your choice
  • One can any flavor pie filling, I used Cherry
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2-3 teaspoons of milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a 9x13 inch pan, press enough cookie dough to cover all of the bottom of the pan (about 2/3 of the dough). Spread the pie filling over the top of the cookie dough and spread out. Top with small pieces of reserved cookie dough. You don't need to cover the top completely, you want little spots of the filling to peek out. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cookies on top are golden brown. Let cool completely. In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar and the vanilla. Slowly add milk, a teaspoon at a time, until the icing is thin enough to drizzle on the bars. When the bars are completely cool, drizzle the icing on; let harden. Cut into squares and enjoy! Makes approx. 24 bars

FYD is extending a special offer to you, my lovely readers, for $10.00 off Select Spring Arrangements!

Lucky Leaf provided me with product, but all opinions are honest and completely my own. 

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Chicken Salad with Cranberries & Pecans

Cooke's Frontier: Chicken Salad

 Spring is here and summer is right around the corner now, putting us squarely into prime picnicking season! Chicken salad is something a lot of people buy out of the deli but it doesn't have to be that way. You can make it at home, add in the ingredients you want (and leave out the ones you don't want), and have complete control over the quality of your ingredients.

Cooke's Frontier: Chicken Salad With Cranberries and Pecans

My husband take a lunch to work every day and while he usually takes leftovers, once in a while he likes to have a sandwich or two to break things up a bit. This is a recipe I fall back on time and time again to make his lunches interesting and hearty. It's also a heartily endorsed family favorite for dinner in the warmer months.

You can add whatever you like to this salad, or leave out what you wish, but we think this combination of good stuff is perfect just how it is. I think you'll love it just as much as we do, too! Need a quick weeknight meal? Make this with a rotisserie chicken and you'll have lunch or dinner on the table in no time.

Cooke's Frontier: Chicken Salad, Creamy and Delicious

Chicken Salad with Cranberries & Pecans

  • 6 cups shredded cooked chicken (about 4 medium sized breasts)
  • 1 1/2-2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon mustard (I use spicy brown)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Cook chicken by poaching in chicken broth or water, or roast in the oven; let cool completely and shred. Add everything except salt and pepper to a bowl and stir to mix. Salt and pepper, taste, and then adjust seasonings. Serve on a bed of lettuce leaves, in a sub roll or on sandwich bread for a delicious meal. You can add halved grapes, diced or shredded apples, celery or any other items you wish to make this a super salad.

I love how quick and versatile this is, as well as simple. Think about chicken salad next time you are getting ready to hike, picnic or camp- it's a welcome change!

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

10 Lost Skills Worth Finding & Learning

You can listen to this in podcast form here: 10 Lost Skills Worth Finding & Learning

There's nothing new under the sun, so this notion of "prepping" or being self-sufficient isn't new either. Chances are, if you could talk to your great-great grandparents and tell them that you were a prepper, then explain what that meant, they'd look at you like you were crazy! 

What we call prepping or being self- sufficient is what they called living. Getting ready for the winter, storing up food for the hard times, investing in new better equipment to get the job done a little more efficiently...all of this was just day to day stuff. Somewhere along the line, and with each new invention, we lost skills that used to be vital for day to day life. 

Could you hunt down, kill, butcher and cook an animal? I'm not talking a huge cow or even a goat, but what about a rabbit, squirell or deer? Chances are one of your grandparents could. If you come from pioneering stock, chances are your grandmother knew, by memory, how to cook that wild game numerous ways depending on what she had in the larder and root cellar to go along with it. Because she was prepared! Because she put food by! Because they knew if they didn't put somehting aside during the fat times, no one would come along and save them when things ran short in the lean times. 
The worst part of being the society that we are now, is that skills that we would have learned at our mother's or father's knees we're having to search out and learn on our own. We aren't learning what we should be and skills that could be vital to our well being we don't have. 

Here's a list of skills I think are not only important to learn, but also fun as well.

1) Learn to bake bread. Sure, you can teach yourself to bake bread, but learning from someone who makes bread that you like is so much easier. There are little pieces of breadbaking skills that you can't get from a book, it's more about texture and feel and just knowing when something is right. Find someone who knows how to bake and help them, have them teach you and most importantly watch them and ask questions. Then, go home and practice, again and again if necessary, until you get it right. Practice making bread with yeast and then learn to make a sourdough starter, and learn to bake bread with that. 

2) Learn to cook over various forms of heat. Let's face it- the electricity may not always be on for a variety of reasons and knowing you aren't dependent on it to cook a meal is going to feel really good when you need it. Learn to cook over wood, charcoal, propane, in a solar oven, etc. Our pioneering ancestors cooked their way across the prairie and we should know how to make a meal, too!

3) Learn to process small animals and fish. Could you catch, gut and cook a trout? A rabbit? Would you know how to make one into a palatable meal? Our grandmothers could process small game and they knew, by memory, several recipes to use the animal in depending on what they had available in the larder and root cellar. 

4) Learn to make soap. We need to stay clean and making soap can be an important part of that. Learn to make soap NOW and then you can play around with learning to make lye from wood ash and water and how to cook it over an open fire. Plus, soapmaking is VERY fun!

5) Learn to wash and dry clothes outdoors and indoors with out using electricity. It's harder than you think and might be essential in your future. Take the time to become proficient at it- you'll probably never need to know how.....but if you do, you'll be ready! 

6) Basic and advanced first aid, using plants and natural resources whenever possible. It's a great idea to know how to find what you need to take care of illness, scrapes and other first aid issues. Our ancestors could do it and we should know how to as well. It's just smart! 

7) Learn to garden. 'Cause food doesn't just appear in the fridge, it has to be grown. If grocery stores just up and disappeared, where would you get your food? Learn to garden now, when you have a plethora of resources and people to help you.

8) Learn as many ways of preserving food as possible. SMoking, salting, canning, dehydrating, pickling, fermenting- don't just count on knowing one way. Try them all! You may find new (old) ways of doing something that you like better than how you're preserving them now!

9) Learn basic sewing skills. Can you sew on a button? Do you know how to fix a rip or tear? You should! Basic sewing is just handy knowledge now, but in an emergency situation, it could mean the difference between wearing mended clothes and rags.   

10) Building a fire.  Everyone should be able to start a fire. Whether for cooking or warmth, we should all know how to build a fire in the all 4 seasons. Learn the difference between tinder, kindling and firewood. Learn how much wood it actually takes to boil water, or how much it takes to keep a fire burning through a chilly night. It's an essential skill.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Lilla Rose Flexi Clip Giveaway

Majestic Cross Flexi

Isn't that just lovely? You're feasting your eyes on the beautiful Lilla Rose Majestic Cross Flexi. Easter is only a few days away and what better way to dress your hair up or down than with this cute hair clip? I love my Lilla Rose Flexi clips, and I love that they are something so cute that I can use in my little girls hair, too. They hold really well and there are so many wonderful designs to choose from.

Majestic Cross Flexi

I couldn't be more pleased to be able to partner with my wonderful friend Deborah (she blogs at A Delightful Glow if you want to go check her out....hint, hint) to offer you the chance to win one of these flexi clips for your very own! Deborah just happens to be a Lilla Rose Consultant 
as well, so she offers to give one of YOU one of these amazing clips every once in a while. Thanks so much Deborah!

Cross flexi on white

This giveaway is going to be for the Majestic Cross Flexi (shown in the above pictures) in extra-small, small or medium- winner gets to choose! And, of course, it's easy as pie to enter to win. Just use the handy dandy Rafflecopter form below and GOOD LUCK!!!

Cross Flexi

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Kitchen and Cooking Questions Answered!

kitchen questions answered

**YOU CAN LISTEN TO THIS POST AS A PODCAST HERE: Cooke's Frontier: Your Kitchen and Cooking Questions Answered, you can listen to all of my previous podcasts here: Cooke's Frontier Radio Show *****

I've had so many kitchen and cooking related questions in the last month or so, I thought we would take this podcast to answer them.  I hope you are all starting to thaw out and Spring is finally arriving for you, we're supposed to be enjoying some very pretty weather for the next couple of days but we shall see!

On to the questions:

1) What type of salt do you use and why? Oh, this is a good one! I use two kinds of salt in all of my cooking and baking. I use course kosher salt most of the time, because I like the texture of the salt and a little bit goes a long way. Because the grains are a little bit bigger, you get a definite salty taste without so much salt and you can use a lot less to season your dishes. Another salt that I use a lot is Real Salt. It's kind of weird to look at, it sort of looks like it might have some sand or something in it, but what it is is real rock salt with all of the minerals left in and ground up to make the salt. This salt has a lot of other nutritional benefits in the form of minerals and I use it a lot as well.

2) Why do my biscuits never raise very high? It could be a couple of things, really. I would first check to see if my baking soda was still good. The next thing I would be sure of is that my fat (butter lard, shortening- whatever you are using) is cold. Very, very cold. You also need to make sure that your oven is all the way preheated and very hot. It's so important for that cold fat to hit the hot oven, because that's what makes the steam to help the biscuits puff up nice and tall. Next, are you sure that you are handling the dough as little as possible? Biscuits can become so tough and dry is they are over mixed. Just mix the ingredients enough to get everything wet, turn it out and knead just a couple of times before patting or rolling out to cut. Here's a good tip I learned a couple years ago: roll your biscuits out half as tall as you want them to be when they are finished. And last, are you cutting with a drinking glass or mason jar? If you are, I cannot tell you how much your biscuit making life will change when you switch to a metal biscuit cutter. They make ALL of the difference. A cup seals the edges of the biscuit and doesn't allow it to raise while a metal cutter cuts clean. If all else fails, keep trying! Sometimes it just takes practice.

3) Why do you bake your bread? It just seems so silly when there are so many different kinds of organic, all natural breads out there that you could buy and save yourself all that time. This is actually a question that I get and answer a lot! I bake my bread because I can be sure that the flour has been ground only minutes before, I can be sure that the wheat berries I grind are organic and GMO free, I can use my own, pastured organic eggs. I can add or take away ingredients as I want and I can be assured of the quality of the ingredients I put into the bread. Also, those loaves of organic, all natural breads are expensive! In our area $5.00 a loaf is pretty much standard. I can bake a loaf of organic, all natural whole wheat bread for just about .50. By that pricing, we save close to 300.00 or more per year by making our own loaves of bread. Throw into that the fact that we also make our own bagels, English muffins, hamburger buns, dinner rolls, bread sticks and pizza crust and the savings become really substantial in a very short period of time.

4) How do you read a recipe? I see all of these abbreviations and I never know if it means teaspoon or tablespoon or cup or what. Ok, so this is kind of Home EC 101. Start by reading the recipe like a story, from top to bottom, left to right, all the way through. Then, take note of a few things. What temperature should the oven be? Should it be preheated or not? DO you need special equipment or ingredients? After you are sure you have what it takes to make the recipe, you can start looking at those abbreviation. tsp in all lower case letters stands for teaspoon. Tablespoon can either be Tbs or Tbsp in a lot of old cookbooks, it's simple a capitol letter T. C is for cup. Those should be the only abbreviations that you see. I hope that helps a little!

5) What's a good substitute for cool whip on top of pies and other baked goods? Whipped cream! I think people forget about good old whipped cream. It's so much more delicious and it's easy to make. You can sweeten it or not, you can add flavors if you wish and it's really just so good. You'll just whip some heavy whipping cream in a bowl until it forms stiff peaks and that's it! It really is so simple. If you want to sweeten it, you just add a little sugar or honey and begin to beat. Whipped cream isn't as stable as cool whip, so you need to eat it within just a couple of days, but it's a great substitute.

6) What's a good way to build up freezer meals without spending a whole day cooking? This is an easy one! Every time you make a meal that could be frozen, double the recipe. Cook one to eat that day and pop the other one into the freezer for later. If you could do that for every dinner for a month, you'd have a whole months worth of meals waiting for you in the freezer!

7) My pie crusts are always soggy on the bottom, is there any way to prevent this? YES!!!!! Soggy bottoms are no good for anyone, and they can be prevented by baking your pie for the first 15 minutes on the bottom rack in your oven! Then just move it up to the middle and continue baking for the remainder of the time. No more soggy bottom pies!

8) What can I use as a replacement for shortening in my recipes? I use either coconut oil or lard. Tallow is another option, but harder to come by unless you can render it yourself. I like coconut oil in cookies, cakes, muffins and those types of things and butter or lard in biscuits, pie crusts and cakes.

9) Where can I buy wheat berries in bulk? There are so many places to purchase wheat and other things in bulk now. There are a lot of companies that you can order from online, you might check local healthy foods stores, or see if you have a co-op in your area. Lastly, I know that our local walmart and costco both sell wheat in 5 gallon pails. Also, ask around, you never know who has found a good deal in your area unless you ask. If all else fails a good old google search will help you find companies that sell online and you can order through them.

10) What are some great ideas for meals to take camping? Oh, this is a fun question to end with. I like to take meals that are simple but filling. Roasting weenies is always a favorite, but can get kind of old and isn't very exciting. Cold fried chicken is always a favorite. We also like to take a loaf of french bread, slice it and make sandwiches with it, then put the loaf back together and wrap in tin foil. Let it sit over the fire for a while and the cheese gets all gooey and the meat heats up. That's always a fun one. Anything that we can cook over a fire wrapped in tin foil is good because clean up is a breeze. Last time we went camping, I baked potatoes at home and when we were at the campsite, we stuffed them full of cheese, veggies and thin sliced meat and wrapped them in foil. We baked them for a while to heat everything through and then dug in, that one was fun. I think what you take camping depends so much on what you like to eat, how you are comfortable cooking over a fire, or how you plan to cook. Old favorites like hobo packets and even pan fried trout right out of the lake are really delicious. Anything you cook and eat outdoors tastes better anyway, so be creative and try making your favorite foods over the campfire!

I always like to answer questions that you send me, and I hope that if you have a question, you'll email me at

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