Tag Archives: recipes

Candlelight Christmas Cookie Table

Merry Christmas from our cookie table to yours!!

Memories are made in the kitchen.  This year’s Christmas preparation has been fun – sharing recipes and coming together with family and friends to create special times and celebrate traditions.  Christmas Eve ended with a candlelit cookie table and the kids even picked out a few special cookies to leave out for Santa.  Hope you enjoyed some of this year’s cookie recipes:

Merry Christmas Sweet Stackers

2014’s assortment of cookies & recipes

Gingerbread Cutout Cookies

layer decorated cookies sweet stackers

Czech Crescent Cookies

Traditional Crescent Cookies

Christmas Spiral Cookies

Sweet Stackers Christmas Spiral Cookie Recipe

Ina Garten’s Jam Thumbprint Cookies

Cookie Assortment Cookie Risers


Cookie Stackable Food Storage

Chocolate Logs

Sweet Stackers Christmas Dessert Dividers

Czech Chicken Paprika

Old world recipes can be very difficult to pass on from generation to generation.  Back in the day, recipes were not written down and made from memory.  Since they weren’t written down, you just add a little of this and a little of that until you get the “right consistency” and if not you add a little more of this and that.

As I grew older and took interest in cooking, I wanted to learn from my Grandmas how to cook their traditional meals.  I didn’t want to see these recipes lost forever.  Funny thing, as I look back it seemed like some recipes were a big family secret.

Today I made one of my favorite main Czech dishes and transcribed the recipe with measurements.  Measurements are a bonus because some of the old cook books that my Grandma owned listed ingredients without measurements.  I think you were just supposed to know what to do!

This recipe is so easy and the gravy is absolutely delicious!  Gravy always seemed to be so daunting to make from scratch…but really it is easy!

Traditional Czech Paprika

Czech Chicken Paprika

  • 2 TB cooking oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 8 pieces of chicken (breast & thighs with skin on)
  • 8 cups of water
  • 2 TB paprika
  • S & P

Chicken Paprika Gravy

  • 1 cup flour
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 TB paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt

In a large dutch oven or stock pot, add cooking oil and onions over high heat.  Cook until the onion softens.  In the meanwhile, salt and pepper chicken pieces.  Place in the pot, skin side down.  Cook until the skin is browned scraping the bottom of the pot, then flip and brown the other side.  Add 8 cups of water to cover the chicken and bring to a boil.  Cook chicken in boiling water for one hour.  Reduce the heat, transfer chicken to a platter and strain the juice. (I use a slotted spoon to get little pieces out)

For the gravy, whisk flour and water in a small mixing bowl, getting all of the lumps out.  This will create a paste.  Whisk the paste into the large pot of chicken juices, constantly whisking until the gravy comes to a boil and it will slightly thicken.  Add sour cream, continuing to whisk to get any lumps out.  Then season with paprika and salt.  Let gravy simmer for approximately 10 minutes.  Place the chicken back in the pot to heat through.

Serve chicken pieces on a large platter with a gravy boat filled with hot gravy.  Traditionally this would be served with dumpling.  But it is also delicious with egg noodles.




Lemon Garlic Baked Chicken

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy Baked Chicken should have been title of this dish!  So easy, so tasty and just a handful of ingredients.


Lemon Garlic Baked Chicken

  • 2 large chicken breasts with skin on
  • 2 lemons; one sliced thin and 1 squeezed
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of minced garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh green beans

Preheat the oven to 400°.

Prepare baking dish and drizzle bottom with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Layer the lemon slices on the bottom of pan and place chicken on top.  In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and S&P.  Toss the green beans in mixture and pour over the chicken.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the chicken is fully cooked.  About half way cooked, spoon juices over the chicken to baste.

Serving suggestion – serve with pasta tossed in the lemon garlic juice from the chicken bake.



Pumpkin Cheesecake Cookies

This is, by far, my favorite time of the year!  There is something about the fresh crisp air, the hues of rust & orange, and the smell coming from my kitchen.  Somehow, I become obsessed with pumpkin.  In fact I am constantly stocking up my pantry with canned pumpkin as if I am not going to find pumpkin until next fall.  I love cooking and baking with it….pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin pie to pumpkin soup, oh my!

Last week I saw a tweet for Pumpkin Cheesecake Cookies.  Funny enough I “heard” Pumpkin Cheesecake and the cravings started.  I didn’t even realize at first that this was a cookie recipe.  But creamy pumpkin cheesecake in the form of a chewy cookie…I must try!  The recipe came from Jennie via her The  Messy Baker Blog.  (sounds like she is just as obsessed with pumpkin as I am!)  What a yummy and super easy recipe!

Sweet Stackers Pumpkin Cheesecake Cookies

I can’t even explain how good the house smelled while I was baking these cookies!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Cookies

These cookies were very moist and chewy, definitely more “cake-like”.  When they came out of the oven, I pressed them a bit to flatten them with my cookie spatula.  Then transferred them to a cookie rack to cool completely.

Sweet Stackers Fall Cookies

After they were completely cooled, they should be stored in a air-tight container and separated so they don’t stick together.  In The Messy Baker Blog, it was mentioned to separate them using parchment paper.  This is why I designed Sweet Stackers – reusable trays that fit inside air-tight food storage containers to separate and stack cookies.

I was easily able to fit 36 – 2 inch sized cookies in a 9″ x 12″ container in three layers!

Holiday cookie baking is right around the corner – visit my website Sweet Stackers!

Balsamic Strawberry-Banana Bread

This is not your ordinary banana bread, which by itself is absolutely delicious.  But I thought to give my banana bread recipe a little make-over and add a summer twist with strawberries.  The base ingredients were the same as my banana bread recipe, but I only added one banana and made a homemade balsamic strawberry sauce.  Balsamic vinegar and strawberries are a great combination because it brings out the sweetness of the berry.  I was pleasantly surprised that this bread turned out even better!

Balsamic Strawberry-Banana Bread

Balsamic vinegar and Strawberry Sauce

1 Cup fresh or frozen strawberries, chopped

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

In a saucepan, stir the strawberries and sugar over medium heat for 5 minutes until the strawberries cook down into a sauce.  Add the balsamic vinegar to combine.  Remove from heat and set aside.

This sauce would even be delicious over yogurt or ice cream.  Ooh…the possibilities!

But here is the bread recipe…

Strawberry-Banana Bread with

Balsamic Strawberry-Banana Bread

2 C flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 C butter

1 C sugar

1 medium mashed bananas

balsamic strawberry sauce (recipe above)

1/3 C milk

1 tsp. lemon juice

1/2 C chopped nuts (optional)

1/2 C chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Grease pan, mix all ingredients together and place in a 9 x 5 x 3 inch pan and bake for 60-70 minutes.  I used 3 mini loaf pans and baked for 45 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Easter Lamb Cake

Happy Easter!  Easter is a holiday that brings back a lot of memories from my childhood.  One of my favorite memories is the Polish tradition of baking the Lamb Cake, then placing it in a basket to take to church on Holy Saturday to be blessed with samples of the food we would eat for Easter dinner.   The basket would even include decorated hard-boiled eggs, lamb molded butter, salt and pepper shakers and a small carafe of wine.

Easter Lamb Cake

I borrowed my Mom’s cast iron lamb cake mold.  It is very important to grease the pan and every nook and cranny very good, then dust with flour!

Cast Iron Lamb Cake Mold

Close your eyes, take a deep breath and say “I only eat this cake once a year”.

My Grandma’s Pound Cake

yields two lamb cakes (or one lamb cake and 12 cupcakes)

1 lb. butter, softened

2 cups sugar

9 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking powder

3 cups flour, sifted

Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease both sides of the cast iron lamb mold, then dust with flour.

Cream the butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy.  Add vanilla extract, the gradually add one egg at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl.  Once combined, reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour and baking powder.

Place the batter into the bottom of the mold.  Cover and bake for 45 minutes, then uncover and bake 10 more minutes until browned.

I also made 12 cupcakes with the remaining batter.  Bake in the same oven for 25 – 30 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.

Grandma's Pound Cake

Gently unmold the cake and let cool completely before decorating.  For this cake, I used cream cheese icing and piped it in swirls.  Raisen eyes are very traditional.

Lamb Pound Cake

What are you traditions for Easter?

Leftover Ham Hock and Pea Soup

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and Happy New Year!  This was one of the first recipes that I tried with my Christmas gift – a food processor.  I had a mini prep machine and used it all of the time to chop smaller items.  But, I figured with all that I am cooking, I could really benefit from a food processor.  I am loving it!!

For the holidays I picked up a spiral ham at my local grocery store for our Christmas Eve dinner.  I am glad it dawned on me to save the bone once I cut the meat off of the Ham.  What a tasty soup it made….Ham and Pea Soup!  Even the kids liked it…though they needed a little coaxing to try it, probably because it is not one of the prettiest soups they have seen.  But my, was it yummy and quick to make!!

Ham and Pea Soup

Ham and Pea Soup

5 carrots, sliced

2 stalks of celery

2 leeks (remove greens and root base, slice down the middle, rinse to remove sand, then finely chop)

1 onion, chopped

2 TB olive oil

7 cups of water

1 teaspoon chicken soup base (optional)

1 -16 ounce bag of split peas, rinsed

left over ham bone with some meat attached

2 cups ham, diced

salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large pot and add the carrots, celery, leeks and onion.  Sautee until softened, about 8 minutes.  Add water, chicken soup base, split peas and ham bone.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 35 minutes.  Remove the ham bone and trim meat off and reserve.

Puree about half of the soup in a blender or use an immersion blender to puree to your liking.  (I prefer some chunky vegetable left in the soup).

Stir in diced ham.  Salt and Pepper to taste, if needed.

Leftover Ham Hock and Pea Soup

Why not freeze some ham and pea soup for a cold snowy day!?

Egg Nog Cookies

Someone stole the cookies from the cookie jar!  I am pretty sure it is my husband.  I just made this batch three days ago and they are gone.  So I guess this means that they taste good.  Even though there is egg nog in the cookie dough, the real flavor of egg nog is in the icing.

Egg Nog Cookies

Egg Nog Cookie Dough

1 C Egg Nog

1 C margarine

1 C sugar

1 large egg

3 1/4 C all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

Egg Nog Icing

1 1/2 C confectioners sugar

3 TB Egg Nog

Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease cookie sheets.

Cream the margarine and sugar together until smooth.  Stir in the egg and egg nog.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together.  Gradually add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture until well blended.

Drop round spoonfuls of dough onto prepared cookie sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a cooing rack.

In a small bowl, stir the confectioners sugar with the egg nog together until the desire consistency is reached.  Spread onto cooled cookies and let dry.

Cherry Chocolate Kisses

How pretty and festive are these?

Maraschino cherries are the perfect addition to a basic shortbread thumbprint cookie.  Combine that with the chocolate kiss on top…..and you have WOW!

Cherry Chocolate Kisses

Cherry Chocolate Kisses

1 C unsalted butter

1 C confectioners sugar

1/8 tsp salt

2 tsp maraschino cherry juice

1/2 tsp almond extract

2 1/4 C all-purpose flour

3/4 C maraschino cherries, chopped

36 milk chocolate kisses, unwrapped

Preheat oven to 325 °.

Cream butter with an electric mixer.  Gradually add confectioners sugar, salt, cherry juice and almond extract until combined.  Slowly add flour until dough forms, then add cherries.  Place one inch balls of dough on a cookie sheet and gently press the center of each cookie with your thumb until the cookie is about 1/2 inch thick.

Bake the cookies about 14 minutes until the bottoms are lightly browned.  When removed from the oven, press a chocolate kiss into the center of the cookie.  Transfer to a cookie rack to cool.

Reindeer Peanut Butter Cookies

These are the perfect cookies for my kids to leave out for Santa on Christmas Eve.  I think Santa AND his reindeer would really enjoy these!

We were inspired by the Bakergirl blog with this recipe mainly because these are adorable and you know what…they are delicious too!  The combination of peanut butter, chocolate and the salty pretzel cures every craving.  I am sure these cookies could be made with sugar cookie dough too, but we followed her peanut butter cookie recipe.  We couldn’t find mini chocolate covered pretzels, so in order to keep the cookies smaller we cut the small chocolate covered pretzel in half.  I used my 1 inch cookie scoop to place a ball of cookie dough onto a cookie sheet.  Then pressing the dough while pinching one end to make the nose before baking.  Once removed from the oven, put the pretzel halves in place, the mini brown M&Ms for eyes and the regular-sized red M&M for Rudolf’s nose.  Let cool before handling because the decoration get very melty.

Reindeer Cookies

How cute are these?  These cookies will definitely get you in the holiday spirit!