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Ribbon Layer Bars

Ribbon Bars (11)

I first saw this recipe in a 1986 Family Circle Christmas Helps magazine.  I adapted the recipe somewhat and made them for Christmas that year and in 1988, they won a blue ribbon at the Hamilton County (Cincinnati) fair.They are not difficult to make and the dough is easy to handle, but they do take a bit of time especially if you don’t have three 9×9 pans for baking the three layers (which I don’t).  I used one pan, rinsed it out, re-greased and paper-lined it and used it again for the remaining two layers.  You could also use three round layer cake pans (which I do have but wanted this to be square).

They make a festive almond-flavored cookie bar with three layers of colors, the taste boost of your favorite jam or jelly and a thin chocolate topping.

RIBBON LAYER BARS
4 oz almond paste (half of an 8-oz can)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
¾ cup butter, softened
2 eggs
½ tsp. almond extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
Green, yellow and red food coloring
6 Tblsp. jam or jelly (I used some homemade blueberry jam)
½ cup chocolate chips (Ghiradelli milk chocolate)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Grease and then line with waxed paper 9-inch baking pans or layer cake pans.

In the large bowl of a mixer, place almond paste, sugar and butter.  Beat until creamy and smooth.

Add eggs and almond extract, beating to blend.  Add flour, beating just until flour is absorbed.

Dough will be soft.  Divide dough between three bowls.  This is one time I use paper bowls for easy clean-up.  To one bowl add 3 drops of yellow food coloring, and 3 drops of red and green to the other two bowls.  Mix each bowl to a pale color.

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Spoon the tinted dough into the three prepared pans and bake @ 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

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Using the waxed paper, lift each layer onto a cooling rack.  Let rest for 5 minutes, then remove the waxed paper and allow the layers to continue cooling.

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Place the green layer on an aluminum-foil-lined pan or plate and spread the top with 3 Tblsp. jam/jelly.

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Place the yellow layer on top of the green and spread 3 Tblsp. Jam/jelly on the top.

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Place the red layer on top of the yellow layer.  Cover with foil and weight with a large book.  Place in refrigerator overnight.

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The next morning, melt chocolate chips and spread over the top pink layer.

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Allow to set for 10-15 minutes and then cut into squares or bars.

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These keep well for several days.

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Candied Cherry Cookies

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My daughters and I love fruitcake but don’t want to indulge too often in this rich treat (we’ve already enjoyed two good fruitcakes this season).  I adapted this recipe from one found on a candied cherry container label and we thought they were really good and not quite as bad as eating a slice of fruitcake.

CANDIED CHERRY COOKIES
½ cup butter or margarine, softened
¼ cup plus 2 Tblsp. granulated sugar
¼ cup plus 2 Tblsp. packed light brown sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 cup plus 2 Tblsp. all-purpose flour
½ cup green candied cherries, halved
½ cup red candied cherries, halved
½ cup coarsely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

Use two ungreased cookie sheets or line with parchment paper

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until creamy.  Add vanilla and egg and beat well.  Add soda and salt, blending well.  Add flour and mix just until flour is absorbed.  Slowly beat in cherries and pecans.

Drop by tablespoon onto cookie sheets, leaving about 2 inches between cookies.
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Bake @ 375 degrees F for 9 to 12 minutes until cookies are golden brown.  Remove to racks to cool.

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Yield:  30 medium-sized cookies (about 2 inches diameter)

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I took a bag with half of the cookies to my younger daughter’s house for lunch and later received an e-mail:  “Guess who liked the cookies?”

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I was surprised to learn that my 11-year-old granddaughter who doesn’t like anything had just about finished off the cookies.

Celebrating St. Nick

Originally posted on Lillian's Cupboard:

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In 1943, when I was 11 years old, we moved to a neighborhood on the banks of the Ohio River called the East End.  Our area which included the gas works, the water works, St. Rose Church and School, First Federated Church and Highlands Elementary School, was made up of various ethnic backgrounds – German, Hungarian, Irish, African-American, and “Americans” who were a mix of a lot of nationalities.  Many of the grandparents were immigrants, many of the parents were first-generation Americans.  Everyone generally got along very well, although some families fought amongst themselves or were disdainful of other nationalities.  An immigrant German grandmother who lived next door to us spoke disparagingly of the Hungarians in the neighborhood, one of whom was her daughter-in-law.  Many of the Irish families had their own battles between the Collins, Breen, McCarthy, Hathorn and other assorted families.  My sister and I were accustomed to being…

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Quilty-StN (4)

A couple of weeks ago, my neighbor asked my daughter and me to come to her house to check out some sewing/craft supplies she was going to throw away or donate.  She knew my daughter and I did a lot of sewing, needlework, quilting, crafts – and thought we might find something we could use.  Naturally, we could hardly wait to go across the street and see what was in those boxes!

There were two big cartons full of sewing notions, craft supplies, miscellaneous fabric and even a pair of worn-out jeans.  My daughter used the waistband from the jeans along with some of the white fabric in the box to make a great bracelet/cuff.

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I was excited to use a red luncheon cloth that was a nice heavy fabric and had only a small stain on it.  I made three lined bags with it, also incorporating some of the white fabric and a couple of pieced/embroidered orphan blocks.

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I also made a two-piece cushion set for my vintage folding chair.

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The wonderful part of this story is that we have hardly made a dent in the contents of the boxes.  We have plans for the Christmas season and well beyond it.

 

My Mother’s Birthday

Originally posted on Lillian's Cupboard:

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My mother died in 1991 – she would have been 91 years old on this November 28th.  When she was 72, she made a tape, telling all of the family stories she could recall.  She gave this accounting of the day she was born in  Morrow, a small railroad town in Ohio.

“On Thanksgiving Day my father came downstairs and he told my mother, he said, ‘I dreamed we had a little girl and we named her Martha’ and she said, ‘Well, you better go get the doctor because I think your dream’s going to come true’ and he went for the doctor and I was born before the doctor got there.  He went running down and said, ‘Hurry up, hurry up, doctor, the baby’s already here’ and old Doc said, ‘There’s no use hurrying if your baby’s already here.'”

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So, we always associated Mother’s birthday with Thanksgiving and occasionally…

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Pear Crumble Bars

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A month or so ago (before all of the snow hit), we visited a local park which is built around an old homestead with a beautiful house, garden and weather vane.

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Near the house I was surprised to see a big Bartlett pear tree laden with fruit.  We had two of these trees on our old homestead on the Ohio/Indiana border many years ago and I always made full use of all of the delicious pears.  No one was gathering the pears here but I resisted the temptation to pick up a few for my favorite Pear Crumble Pie and instead bought some at the store.  This time I used the pears to make a bar cookie with all of the flavors of the pie but on a tender cookie base.   These are delicious.

PEAR CRUMBLE BARS
3 cups of sliced, peeled ripe Bartlett pears (3-4 medium pears)
1-½ Tblsp. lemon juice
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 Tblsp. all-purpose flour
½ tsp. grated lemon peel
2 Tblsp. butter

Crumble Topping
¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
½ tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
4 Tblsp. butter

Cookie Base:
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Butter a 9-inch baking pan

To prepare pears:
In a medium bowl, place pear slices, lemon juice, sugar, flour and lemon peel.  Toss lightly.  In a skillet, melt 2 Tblsp. butter and add the pear mixture.  Saute pear mixture until pears are slightly soft but not brown.  Set aside.
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To prepare crumb topping:
In a small bowl, place flour, sugar, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Whisk to combine.  Cut in 4 Tblsp. butter until mixture is crumbly.  Set aside.

To prepare cookie base:
In a mixer bowl, beat sugar and butter until creamy.  Add egg and mix to combine.  Add flour, salt and vanilla, mixing just until flour is absorbed.  Spread this mixture in the prepared 9×9 inch pan.  Dough will be quite thick – dampening the fingertips helps spread the dough in the pan.

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Spread the pear mixture over the top of the dough.

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Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the top of the pears.

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Bake @ 350 degrees F for approximately 35 minutes until cake is done and topping is golden brown.  Let cool in the pan on a wire rack and cut into 9 bars.

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SewSweetI (5)

I was interested in a new BOM offered by JacquelineSteves.com because I have been doing a lot of embroidering from vintage patterns lately and her BOM has a nice 6-1/2 center block to fill with embroidery or applique.  Jacqueline supplies a simple embroidery/applique design but I wanted to use a series of darling bluebird-in-the-kitchen patterns that I found online.

This is the first of the Sew Sweet Simplicty BOM series which finishes at 12-1/2 inches unfinished.

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I made this block from scraps using suggested colors except I substituted blue for red to accent the little birds.

This is a fairly easy pattern to sew with a couple of helpful tips from Jacqueline.  We can make a four or six-block wall hanging and I haven’t decided yet how I’ll use my blocks, but they will all be scrappy with a bluebird in the center.

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The free vintage embroidery pattern (plus many, many more arranged in albums) is available at
http://www.flickr.com/photos/29529717@N04/

Click on pictures to enlarge.

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