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Teresa Hatchell 2005

Teresa Hatchell

When I was growing up, my mother and grandmother put on an extra layer of patience on inclement weather days. Their shared motto was: "There's is nothing like old fashioned family fun to chase away the blahs brought on by foul weather." Believe it or not ... and many of you may recall ... there was no such thing as cable TV or satellite TV until the late 1970s. Home entertainment consisted of three network channels and one or two public broadcasting channels, if you had a good antenna, that is. On stormy nights, families gathered around the family table and played “Go Fish,” “Rummy,” “Monopoly,” "Scrabble," or other board games. It sounds corny to today’s youth, but many of us have cherished memories of times spent around the kitchen table enjoying pure family fun.

WHAT'S COOKING?: Not-your-ordinary autumn desserts

In my family, we often popped up a huge batch of popcorn and whipped up a big batch of homemade cookies before we played games. We children learned to measure and stir ... mess and all. What’s a little egg on the floor or flour on your clothes compared to spending “quality time” with loved ones! Mom always said: "Messes are easy to wipe away. Memories last a lifetime."

Tasty toffee bars

1 cup brown sugar (packed)

1 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)

1 egg yolk

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1-1/2-ounce package milk chocolate chips

3/4 cup chopped almonds, lightly toasted

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13x9-inch baking pan. In a large mixing bowl, stir the brown sugar and butter with a spoon until this mixture is smooth. Thoroughly stir in the egg yolk. Stir in the flour and almond extract until the ingredients form a thick batter. Spread this thick batter evenly into the greased pan.

Bake this batter for about 30 minutes or until lightly brown on top. Sprinkle the top with the milk chocolate chips. Return the pan to the oven for about three minutes. Remove it and spread the softened chocolate evenly over the top. Then sprinkle the top with the lightly toasted almonds. Allow the toffee bars to cool completely and cut them into the sizes you prefer. The number of bars produced depends on the size you cut them, of course. These are extremely delicious.

WHAT'S COOKING?: Versatile broccoli ‘stars’ in many dishes

Thumbprint cookies

1 cup butter, room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

Yolks of 2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2-1/4 cup plain flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

One or more jars of your favorite jam and/or marmalade

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to combine the butter and sugar together until they reach a light and fluffy consistency. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each is added. Use a large spoon to stir in the vanilla extract. Sift the flour and salt together into a separate bowl. You may want to sift it twice for a truly fluffy cookie texture. Then add the flour-salt mixture to the creamed mixture a little at a time, stirring the “dough” until it is totally smooth. Chill the dough in the refrigerator at least one hour. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls and place them on an ungreased cookie sheet about two inches apart. Press your thumb into each cookie to make an indention. Bake the cookies at 300 degrees for 20 minutes. Do not allow them to brown. Remove them from the oven and fill each indention with one half teaspoon of your favorite marmalade(s) or jam(s). Slip the cookies back into the 300 degree oven for about four minutes, or until they are just barely browned. Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool. The filling will thicken as the cookies cool. This recipe makes about 40 cookies.

WHAT'S COOKING?: Making plans for baking

Graham cookies

3 cups crushed graham crackers

1-1/2 sticks butter or margarine, softened

1 teaspoon baking soda

1-1/2 cup plain flour

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoons vanilla extract

16 to 18 ounces milk chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. This recipe will come out well if you stir all of the ingredients together in a large bowl. Drop the cookie dough by the spoonful onto a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

Crispy oatmeal-raisin

and chocolate chip cookies

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 cup margarine, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup Rice Crispies, lightly crushed in a ziplock bag

1 cup oatmeal (optional)

1 cup raisins (optional)

1 cup chocolate chips (optional)

3-1/2 cups plain flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat together the sugar, brown sugar, egg, margarine, vanilla and vegetable oil until well combined. Stir in crushed Rice Crispies, oatmeal, raisins, and chocolate chips until well distributed. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cream of tartar. Gradually stir this dry mixture into the cookie mixture in the large bowl. Drop by the spoonful onto a cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes at 350 degrees.

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Contact Teresa Hatchell at tgmhatchell@yahoo.com.

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