Raspberry Thumbprints

****Hey Friends I've moved my blog!!!!  Follow the link to my new site. ABAKERSWIFE.COM!! Come and see the new site.  I'm really excited about it, and can't wait to share.  xoxo Lisa

You know when we started the bakery (Great Harvest Bread Co.) 19 years ago this June, we were just kids.  We were playing “Grown Ups”, because really, at 22 and 24, you don’t have a whole lot of life experiences under your belt.  But we had a new baby, a new bakery, a new college degree, and a new town to call home all within 15 days time.  We gained a lot of experience really quick!  But the greatest moments of owning a bakery are the employees that we’ve employed over the last 19 years. They have touched our lives in so many ways.  We have worked with a lot of cousins, nieces and nephews, and lots of college students we now think of as dear friends.  At Christmas time I get loads of Christmas Cards from these old bakers and kneaders.  They’re doing the family thing now.  Beautiful kids, and spouses, vacations, real jobs, and great lives are what we get a glimpse of each Dec.  Getting those cards each year is always a highlight of our Christmas Season.

It was a month or two ago that we met up with one of our first employees from Pocatello.  She was beautiful then, and 15 years later she’s still amazing.  We were able to catch up on 15 years without missing a beat.  Our family was on vacation in Sun Valley and that’s where this friend calls home now. (How great is that!) We met for dinner one night.  The kids ran around the restaurant and we big people talked for HOURS!  So fun!!  As we were leaving A., our old employee sent us home with a bag of her homemade cookies.  And the recipe too if I may add!!  I love it when someone just knows you’re going to be wanting to make more of something because it’s THAT delicious.  The cookies are her favorite, and I can honestly say they are now some of my favorite too!!  I wouldn’t actually put these cookies in the same category as  say a chocolate chip cookie, but maybe a perfect”Biscuit”.  Kind of how I would categorize a Biscoff Cookie  They’re fantastic.  Not too sweet at all, but the nutty taste is awesome!!!  Homemade raspberry jam on the top is the crowning moment, but any flavor of jam would work.  I’m actually going to try these cookies with some different ingredients, and turn them into granola bars.  I think they’d be so fantastic!! I’ll let you know how that turns out.

The recipe is from the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center Cookbook.  It’s a Buddhist monastery and retreat near San Francisco.  The original recipe is vegan, but I don’t particularly like Maple Syrup.   (I know!!  Blasphemy!)  I LOVE honey though, so that’s what I used.  You can actually make these cookies wheat free (that’s if you aren’t “Rootin’ for Gluten!” like I am.) by substituting more blended oats in place of the flour.  Thanks again my dear A. for sharing the night with us, as well as a favorite new recipe!  I love your guts!!

Raspberry Thumbprints

1 cup unbleached flour
2 cups almonds, ground (I measured 2c. whole almonds and then buzzed them to powder.)
4 cups baby rolled oats (I used Quick Instant Oats)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup maple syrup (I used Honey)
1 cup canola or vegetable oil
1/2 cup jam, thinned with water

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, almonds, oats, and salt.

2. In another bowl, mix together the syrup and oil. Add to the dry ingredients using your hands to mix well. Let dough stand for 15 minutes before using.

3. Roll dough into 3/4-inch balls. Place close together on baking sheets. Make a little dent in the top of each ball and fill them with 1/2 teaspoon (or less) of the jam. Bake for 15 minutes or until slightly brown. Do not over bake. Cool on a wire rack.

Recipe made approx. 40 good sized cookies for my family. The original recipe yeilds 5 doz. I guess it's all in you dough ball size:)


Green Lemonade Perfected

As a kid I was lucky enough to live next door to one of my grandmas.   I remember being outside in my yard on warm summer nights, and I could hear my grandma sneeze as she was outside sitting in a swing.  I'd yell to her, "Bless you!"  and then you'd hear her say, "Thank You!"  I was lucky.  My grandma's house was the hub of all activity.  With cousins living on each side, grandma's house was where we'd meet, and begin our adventures for the day.  When the school year started all those cousins would meet at my grandma's house to catch the bus.  It seems we'd all get there 5-10 minutes or so before the bus, and the boys would jump out of the tree, holding onto the rope of a giant swing.  If it was cold we'd all huddle in my grandma's front room while my grandpa would look out a big window looking for the bus headlights.  Once he saw them, we'd all run out the door right to the bus.  Life was good living next door to a grandma.

I remember sitting in my grandma's kitchen while my mom would put pin curls in my grandma, and great grandma's hair.  One thing that was always present there in her kitchen was big glasses full of fresh juiced carrot-celery juice.  Everyday my grandparents would start their morning with this juice.  My grandma always said the carrots alone were too sweet, and celery alone was too bitter so she'd combine the two for the perfect morning juice.  So I guess you could say "juicing" is a family tradition.

Throughout the years my mom would always juice carrots for us in the mornings.  I didn't love it.  Sometimes I'd drink it, and other times I wouldn't.  My mom always had a nice orange hue about her from all the carrot juice she drank.  The palms of her hands were where you'd really see the color!  I've juiced a little here and there since I married, but the last 3 years we have really enjoyed juicing at home.

Maybe it's the fact that I have the JUICER OF ALL JUICERS!  I own a Hurom Slow Juicer and we love it!! But I have used cheaper juicers with great success as well.  I was just a sucker the day the kitchen store was demonstrating the Hurom:)  So every morning my kids have become addicted to their morning juice.  They demand and require a juice to get them through the day.  One thing I've found, is that if you add a quarter of a fresh pineapple to the nastiest tasting juice, it turns it into something delicious. Kind of like Mary Poppins and that Spoonful Of Sugar.

I think I've perfected this Green Lemonade.  It is loaded with good stuff and James and I each drink a quart of this almost every day.  Sometimes it is sipped through a straw and other time it is guzzled as fast as I can.  It's delicious by anyone's standard.  Don't let the color scare you.   In fact, rejoice in the fact that you are drinking something so incredibly good for you and that tastes so good too.  I've played around with different ingredients for my Green Lemonade and this is my favorite.  I've added cucumbers and they really add a distinct flavor.  I don't love it in my juice.  I've also tried kale in place of the spinach and I don't love the bitterness.  Kale is awesome in so many other things, but not my favorite in a juice.  You can add a nub of fresh ginger and that's yummy.  I have actually been known to add a pinch of salt to this juice a time or two.  Those are the days I savor each swallow:)  Enjoy!

Green Lemonade Perfected

Serving size is 64oz. It makes 2 quart sized Mason Jars.  Adjust according to how many servings you want.

1 bunch celery

3 BIG handfuls spinach

4 small green apples (or 2 large)

1 lemon peeled

1 lime peeled

1/4 fresh pineapple or 1 grapefruit peeled (the pineapple make the green juice into a sweeter juice and the grapefruit makes it a little more of a savory juice.  It just depends on how I'm feeling.)

1 bunch of fresh parsley (optional)

Send all the produce through a juicer.  I usually add a little water to make it 2 quarts exactly.  I like my juices room temp., but you can add ice if you prefer.


Chocolate Quinoa Cream Cake

First off I must post this disclaimer.  I am NOT opposed to gluten in any way, shape, or form.  In fact, my livelihood is dependant on gluten.  I'm ROOTIN' FOR GLUTEN in fact.  I own a whole wheat bakery, and therefore it is an enormous part of my life, and I love it and eat it every single day:)  So this isn't a post on being gluten free.  This is a post that just HAPPENS to be gluten free, and it was so intriguing to me, and the recipe used an ingredient I love to eat.  So lets dive right in and I promise gluten free or not you will love this cake:)

9x13 inch version of the cake
My dearly beloved (James) had a birthday a few weeks ago.  For birthdays at our house the birthday person gets to pick their favorite cake.  Most times it is NOT a cake.  We have a lot of trifles, and cheesecakes, and pies most of the time, but I can usually count on James and Jed to pick a chocolate cake.  It is usually THIS chocolate cake that I make for my fam, but this year it was a new recipe.  I had spied it over at Mel's Kitchen Cafe a few months ago.  It was made out of quinoa.  No flour, just quinoa.   It looked so dark and rich and tasty!  I decided to try it out a few weeks before James' birthday came around.  I made it in a 9x13 inch pan.  It was incredibly easy, and the frosting was AWESOME!  So when James' birthday came around he actually asked for this quinoa cake by name, and wanted whipped cream frosting in the middle of his layer cake.  It turned out lovely!  Fresh raspberries crowned the top, and made it look spectacular.  I'm not good at decorating, or frosting pretty, but I can top something with a fresh berry.  I'm so talented in that area:)

I used a combination of red and white quinoa.  I had a bag of both, and instead of keeping two bags I just combined both colors of quinoa together.  James hates it when I do this with potato chips.  He doesn't want his BBQ chips intermingled with his cheesy chips or Sour Cream and Onion chips.  I don't mind it, but James is insistent on potato chip segregation.  But since I'm in charge of the quinoa, I mixed and mingled colors.  It worked fine, and everyone is happy.  Also, go ahead and make this into a 2 layer cake or make it into just an everyday cake by using the 9x13 inch pan.  But don't forget to make the frosting.  It's really good.  

Chocolate Quinoa Cream Cake
recipe by Mel's Kitchen Cafe (she's fantastic by the way!)
and originally found in Quinoa 365

2 cups cooked and cooled quinoa (1/2 c. uncooked quinoa makes 2 c. cooked)
1/3 cup milk
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1 1/4 cups semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

For a layer cake add:
1 c.  whipping cream
2 T. instant vanilla pudding powder
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla

Fresh raspberries for garnish

For the cake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and flour two 8-inch round cake pans or 1-  9x13 inch dripper or casserole pan. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper. (I do this with the cake pans, but I only grease and flour the 9x13 pan.)

Combine the milk, eggs and vanilla in a blender or food processor. Blend the ingredients just until combined. Add the cooked quinoa and the butter. Blend with the quinoa and butter, well until smooth.
In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the contents from the blender and mix with a wooden spoon or whisk until combined.
Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake on a rack in the middle position for 28-30 minutes or until a knife or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Invert the cakes onto cooling racks (remove the parchment paper stuck to the bottom of the cakes) or just let the 9x13 inch cake set until cooled.

If I am making a layer cake I like to have the frosting in the middle be pure whipped cream.  You can definitely frost the middle of the cake with the chocolate frosting.  There's plenty, but I put just plain whipped cream in the center and frosted the outside of the cake with the chocolate whipped cream.    Whip the 1 c. whipping cream until soft peaks form.  Add 1/2 c powdered sugar, vanilla, and 2 T. pudding powder.  The pudding stabilizes the whipped cream so it doesn't weep or get runny.

For the chocolate frosting, place the chocolate chips in a medium bowl. Heat the whipping cream in a saucepan until it gently simmers. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips. Whisk to combine until it is  smooth. The mixture is super thin.  I expected more of a ganache texture, but it isn't.  This is truly a chocolate whipped cream frosting.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate until completely chilled and cold (2-3 hours). You can speed up this process by placing the bottom of the bowl in an ice water bath and stirring until cool. When fully chilled, use an electric mixer (stand mixer or handheld) to whip the mixture to soft peaks like you would plain whipped cream.

Place one cake layer upside down on a serving platter or plate. Top with all of the plain whipped cream. Spread to within 1/2-inch of the edge of the cake (it will press to the edge when the top cake layer is put on).  It's a good thick layer of cream. 
Gently put the other cake layer upside down on top of the frosted layer. Spread the chocolate whipped cream frosting over the top of the cake and down the sides. It's a lot of frosting, but it's not to heavy and tastes delish!  Top with fresh raspberries, or sprinkles, or chocolate chips:)

Chill the frosted cake in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving to let the frosting set up a bit. This cake is fell a little for me after it came out of the oven both times.  It's not real light and fluffy, but once you frost it you won't care.  It tastes good, and it's beautiful!


Spicy Beans and Greens Stew {FANTASTIC DISH!}

Can I share my love of Bon Appetit Magazine.  I absolutely love it, and I love the recipes I find between it's pages EVERY SINGLE MONTH!  I rip at least one recipe out of the mag every time I read.  (Yesterday I read the Mar. issue and I have 6 recipes to try!  Heaven!)  This recipe was featured in the Feb. issue, and I made it the day I read the article.  It just looked so filling, and hearty, and cozy, and warm.  Everything you want on a cold Jan. day.  It's funny though the responses you get from a dish like this.  People are either a lovers or a haters of beans, and especially greens.  I definitely fall into the lover category.

I've always loved a good Bean and Bacon soup.  Actually I love Campbells Bean and Bacon soup straight out of the can!  I've been eating that as long as I can remember.  My mom taught me how to whip up a can of Campbell's at a young age.  It became a Sat. afternoon, and after school staple during my growing up years.  And of course my favorites were the Bean and Bacon, Split Pea with Ham, and Chicken Gumbo.  The last few years I have found a love for  Greens too!!!  It all started with the Zuppa Tuscana Soup, and then it branched out into the Minestrone Soup with Kale, and then my favorite breakfast now entails sauteed greens with a fried egg on top.  It's delicious!!  Those greens are so tasty!!  My Grandpa Barker always had Swiss Chard in his garden and brought my family some almost weekly during the summers.  I remember eating a lot of that stuff growing up.  I loved it.  My mom would steam it, and then we'd eat it with butter, vinegar and salt and pepper.  Lovely! I had just never thought of adding it into soup.  So needless to say when I saw this recipe in the pages of Bon Appetit this last months it didn't take long for me to decide I was going to make this stew.

I had all the ingredients, but there are a few things that may not be staples in every home.  Anchovies being the ingredient that I'm not sure everyone has in their fridge.  Let me just say this- I would never have anchovies on pizza, or would I ever think of using them in a recipe, but if you get over the fact that anchovies are actually fish with eyes, they taste really good!  If you like Caesar Salad then you like anchovies.  They're a key ingredient in the dressing.  They actually give whatever you're cooking a yummy saltiness, and that little bit of "What is it that makes this taste so good-ness?" to the recipe.  Anchovies keep forever in your fridge, and you can actually buy it in a tube (Anchovy Paste) already ground up.  Kind of like toothpaste, so you don't have to look those fishies in the eyes:)

You could make this stew a little thinner if you like, and have more of a soup.  I loved the thick heartiness of the stew, but next time I may want it to be more soupy.  It was great with a yummy piece of bread to dip in.  (Great Harvest Honey Whole Wheat was my  choice for the night.) It was awesome the day after in my kids thermos' for lunch.  They got a few, "What are you eating-s?" at school, but most of their friends smelled the goodness in the thermos, and just made the yummy sound:) So I will quote a little saying from James' granny, "Don't be a pantywaist, and make this stew!"  Be brave, and bold, and I promise you'll like this stuff!  And thank you Bon Appetit for another FAVORITE recipe:)  I love you!!

Spicy Beans and Greens Stew
recipe adapted from Bon Appetit

¼ cup olive oil
4 anchovy fillets packed in oil or 2 t. anchovy paste
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
4 cloves garlic thinly sliced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
4 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 sprig rosemary or 1 t. dried rosemary
salt and pepper
1 pound dried white beans or chickpeas, soaked overnight, drained
1/2 lb or 2 bunches kale ribs and stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped
1/2 lb  flat-leaf spinach coarsely chopped

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
shredded Parmesan cheese to sprinkle over the top of the stew.

Heat ¼ cup oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook anchovies, if using, red pepper flakes, and garlic, stirring occasionally, until garlic is soft and anchovies are dissolved, about 4 minutes. Add onion, celery, and rosemary; season with salt and pepper. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is very soft and golden brown, 8–10 minutes.

Add beans, and 10 cups water.  (I used the quick cook beans technique because I wanted the stew NOW and not the next day.  It turned out perfectly.  Here's a link to quick cooking dried beans. Or you could always use 3-4 cans of white beans.  It would probably work great, and quite easy.)Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally and adding more water as needed, until beans are beginning to fall apart, 3–4 hours.

Lightly smash some beans with a potato masher to give stew a creamy consistency. Mix in kale and spinach season with salt and pepper and lemon juice. Cook until greens are wilted, 5–8 minutes.
Add shaved Parmesan, and a drizzle of oil if you want.  Yummy!


Cinnamon Spiced Nuts and Berry Salad

First order of business is, I'm so sorry I've been a slacker posting anything the last few weeks.  If you could see the behind the scenes you would be AMAZED at what I've accomplished!  I have officially taken my blog over to my own personal domain.  clawsonlive.com is up and running.  All I have to do is figure out a new template, and redirect traffic, and 10,000 other things and it will be official:) So hopefully one of these next few posts you will see the new and improved Clawson Live site, and life will be back to normal. It's going to be a good day around here:)

I did make a very tasty and delicious salad the other night for my family though.  I've written about the Everything Salad lots of times, and talked about the homemade candied nut, but this version is by far my absolute favorite.  My sister in law Katie told me about it a few weeks ago.  It's fantastic!  There's also something completely wonderful about FRESH berries this time of year.  And when the price isn't too outrageous the salad is even THAT much more wonderful!  I love a good hearty meal, but I love that hearty meal when it's balanced out with a fresh yummy salad.  And you know if you have the Spring Mix in the fridge at all times, you can eat this salad with it's many reincarnations every night of the week and not get sick of it.  A good friend told me years ago, that all you need for a good salad is a fruit, a nut, and a cheese.  You can mix all three of those up, and go from there.  Apples, berries, pears, dried cranberries or blueberries, or even fresh citrus fruits this time of year are all perfect salad additions.  Pecans are my favorite nuts in salads, but we used pistachios, and almonds both in a different salad just this week around the Clawson home.  As for cheeses, Blue Cheese is my most favorite, but shredded Asiago or Parmesan are fantastic, as well as shredded Swiss or crumbled Feta.  You get the picture.  Just use what you have and create interesting combinations.  

The star of this particular salad though is the Cinnamon Spiced Nuts.  You know that smell you enjoy every time you walk into the mall at Christmas time?  The hot fresh Cinnamon Almonds?  That's what you are going to recreate and put into your salad.  Heaven on wheels!  When your 13 year old, most picky eating child, can't stop snitching these nuts as they're cooling, you know you have a winner!  I've made these nuts lots of different ways.  All take about 5-10 minutes of your UNDIVIDED attention.  Don't get distracted while you make the nuts, or they will burn on you, and you will have to clean up the worst pan on the planet.  The key to these nuts is getting your sugar to melt, and caramelize without burning.  Once you figure it out though, you will make them all the time.  I actually make a big batch quite frequently and store them in a Ziplock bag in the freezer.  Pull them out the next salad you make and they will be perfect.

Cinnamon Spiced Nuts and Berry Salad


1/2 c. vinegar
1/2 c. sugar
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
1 c. oil

Mix together and pour over salad.  You can add variations to this dressing.  Add some raspberry jam, or use lime juice, lemon juice or orange juice for some of the vinegar.  Improvise.


Spring salad mix (I buy the big container at Sam's.  It will feed a crowd!)
sliced strawberries
Blue cheese crumbled
Cinnamon Spiced Nuts

Add all ingredients to your liking.  Depending on the amount of people to serve you can vary amounts. 1lb. of Spring Mix will usually serve 20-25 people.  Sometimes I just fill a small bowl with just enough lettuce to feed my little family.  Just note that once this salad is dressed it must be consumed.  IT DOES NOT KEEP, and it's always sad to see something this wonderful go to waste:) So you can always add a little more lettuce, but you can have leftovers:(

Sugar Spice Pecans

1/3 c. sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1 c. whole or chopped pecans

In a dry fry pan place the sugar, cinnamon and nuts and put over a medium high heat.  Be diligent and stay right by these babies until they're done.  I've burned a few nuts in my day, and even the kitty won't eat them:(
Don't stir until you start to see the sugar melting around the edges of the pan.  Gently stir the nuts so they don't burn.  Keep stirring until all the sugar melts and turns golden brown.  This part goes fast.  It takes a while for the sugar to start to melt, but once it does watch it.  Poor the nut onto a WELL GREASED pan or plate.  Immediately sprinkle with a shot of salt.  Let cool and then break up and add to the best salad. 


Morning Glory Muffin

I think I might be a little out of style here.  Are muffins even IN style now?  I love muffins!  Especially when they are actually cake disguised as something less dessert-ish.  Cake minus the frosting is a muffin in my mind, and a muffin is breakfast.  It's good for you, and it's portable, and it's easy to make and full of all sorts of good things.  Muffins were probably one of the very first things I ever learned to make as a kid.  I was involved with a great bunch of girls who had some ambitious moms!!  I don't think my mom was the ring leader, but she stepped right up and joined in.  We had a 4-H group!  

4-H in the United States is a youth organization administered by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), with the mission of "engaging youth to reach their fullest potential while advancing the field of youth development".[1] The name represents four personal development areas of focus for the organization: head, heart, hands, and health. The organization has over 6.5 million members in the United States, from ages 5 to 21, in approximately 90,000 clubs.[2]

Every Tues. and Thurs. we would meet at a different home and a mom would teach us a different skill.  Honestly there are a few things I learned as that 8-9-10 year old little girl, that have stuck with me my whole life.  I wish I could remember how to crochet as well as I did back then, but I do know the reason for  "Just mixing until combined" when I make a muffin.  I remember the demonstrations of over mixing a muffin.  Worm looking tunnels would exist throughout the entire muffin, and the top of the muffin would be pointy.  I learned how to keep the "skin" from forming on a freshly cooked pudding.  I actually learned HOW to make that pudding.  Not just emptying a JELLO pudding box in a bowl and adding milk.

So it may be 30 years later, but I still use those 4-H skills every time I cook:)  I learned to use my HEAD, my HEART, my HANDS, and my HEALTH.  I'd say my experience was a success! These muffins were a success as well.  My 4-H skills came in handy.  Even if they're a little 1990-ish you will love them.  They are so full of goodness, and tastiness you'll make them again next Sat.  Enjoy!

Morning Glory Muffins
recipe adapted from Pillsbury Best Muffins and Quick Breads

1 cup All Purpose or Unbleached Flour
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded, peeled apples
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
3/4 cup oil
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs, beaten

Heat oven to 350°F. Line with paper baking cups or grease 18 muffin cups. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off. In large bowl, combine all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add apples, carrots, coconut, raisins and walnuts; mix well. Add oil, milk, vanilla and eggs; stir just until moistened. Fill lined or greased muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake at 350°F. for 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Immediately remove from pans.


Easy Cracker Toffee

I've posted this recipe before.  But it is hidden deep down in many years worth of posts, and it deserves a spot in the sunshine again!  And my picture taking skills are getting better:)  My family LOVES this stuff!!!  And it is so easy to make.  AND I usually have all the ingredients on hand.  This would be a perfect little treat for your family with Valentine's Day coming up.  Actually it would be great for Chinese New Year which begins on Jan. 31st. this year.  

James comes from a mother who every Oct. sets out to dip 3000 lbs. of chocolates for everyone she knows and loves and we are very happily and thankfully recipients of all her hard work every year. Usually the week or two before Christmas my in-laws, decked in their best Christmas attire, make the rounds to all their children's homes, bearing pounds of delicious chocolates, big square bricks of the worlds best toffee, and giant candy canes for the kids. It's always so fun to have them come, but dang it I wish they wouldn't let the kids know we now have chocolates. I usually try to hide them for as long as possible. I would like to eat them all by myself, but that never happens. Last year we broke them out on a beautiful ski day in Jan. with the whole fam, and enjoyed every little morsel. Even the Black Walnut ones:)

Back to the giant square of toffee though. It is chocolate coated on both sides and then covered in sliced almonds. Can I just say I don't remember the last time I actually tasted this brick. James totally and completely eats this giant baby on his own. He may share with Jake, but the two of them are very un-generous.

I have learned how to make Eileen's toffee and I must say it is the best, but very particular. Actually it's a little demanding to make. You have to watch the weather, the humidity, the phases of the moon, how much water is added, watch the sugar crystals, .......you get the idea. So when a toffee need arrives and I don't want to be too domestic, I love making this Cracker Toffee. You can make it fast enough to eat it for an impromptu family night. It is fast, easy, and pretty dang good. I had a shower for a beloved little niece a few weeks ago and had a platter full of Cracker Toffee. It was devoured, and recipes were requested. I promised a blog post, and here it is. So sorry it took a little longer than I anticipated, but I still love you all.

I received this recipe a few years ago from a favorite friend that has since moved on in life. Actually she just moved to Texas, but that is the end of the world as far as I'm concerned. This new and mysterious world of blogging has kept me in contact with her though. I am indeed thankful for that. I miss her, dang it! Everything about her. She is just a tiny little girl, but she had some of the most naughty recipes. Thigh Pie, Kitty Litter Cake, and Cracker Toffee to name a few. You knew she liked something when she would say, "That was so good it made my thighs twitch!" So thanks Lori for the Cracker Toffee recipe, and yes folks it is thigh twitching good, so eat up!!

Lori's Cracker Toffee
Follow this recipe EXACTLY and it will turn out perfectly!

1-2 packages saltine crackers

On one of your big silver cookie sheets, cover it completely with tin foil. The tinfoil will go up the sides a little, but I have more going over the ends. It makes the toffee easier to get out. Line the entire cookie sheet with Saltine Crackers. It usually takes about 1 1/2 sleeves of crackers. Don't overlap if you can help it, and if there is a little space that's ok.

1 c. butter
1 c. brown sugar

In a sauce pan place the butter and sugar together and bring to a boil. I usually stir with a wire whisk to make sure the butter gets incorporated. Boil the two together for 5 mins. stirring constantly.

Immediately pour over saltines. I drizzle it slowly and try to cover as much of the crackers as possible. There will be bare spots, but they will get covered eventually. Bake the crackers in a 350' F. oven for 10-12 mins. The syrup will be bubbly and fill in any holes you had. Take pan out of the over and let sit for 6 mins. Turn off oven and leave the door ajar. (Just do exactly as the recipe states and you won't be disappointed.) Pour 1 pkg. of chocolate chips over the crackers. Use whatever you like. My fave is with semi sweet chips, but I'm a dark chocolate lover. Milk chocolate is lovely too. Put the sheet pan back into the oven that has been turned off and let it sit until the chips start to melt and turn shiny. Take out of oven and spread the chips until the chocolate covers the Cracker Toffee. Sprinkle the top with chopped nuts if you like nuts or a sprinkling of sea salt. I love pecans. I usually place the cookie sheet in the fridge or freezer to quicken the process. I'm impatient! But if you have patience let it sit on your counter until the chocolate is set. Break into pieces and enjoy the thigh twitching goodness!


Quick Kimchi Cucumbers

To be perfectly honest here, I have just barely been introduced to Kimchi.  So if you've never had it, or think it sounds nasty, you are not alone.  I've just always thought............it wasn't good!  I don't know why I would think such a thing since I absolutely LOVE sauerkraut, and this is just a Korean version of pickled or fermented cabbage.

A few months ago I spent the best week with all my siblings and their spouses and our parents in Hawaii.  It was amazing!!!  So much fun!  Talking and laughing, reading, sunshine, and plenty of yummy food.  When I'm on vacation I have a tendency to bring home FOOD souvenirs.  The trip with my family was no different.  I came home with 2 new things I liked and wanted to make at home.

The first "new" thing I tasted was actually just a spice or seasoning.  Furikake.  It's delicious!!!  It's a lovely little sprinkle that I had on quite a few dishes.  It is made up of seaweed, sesame seeds, salt, and sugar.  I had it on rice at the Poke place, but my favorite was some Furikake dusted french fries that came with the best burger in town!

Notice my Kimchi Cucumbers, but also
notice the furikake that is dusted on my rice. MMmmmm!
Prawn Bowl from the Poke Shack in Kona, HI
The second "new" thing I tried was some Kimchi Spiced Cucumbers.  They were a side along with my prawns one day for lunch, and I could have eaten the entire bucket of these babies!  Unlike regular Kimchi that ferments for days and weeks, this was a quick pickle.  It was the crispiness of the cukes, and the spiciness of the Kimchi spice and to me it was just perfection!  I ate it with my rice, and now when I make them at home we eat them with anything Asian.  It would be perfect with this, or this!!!  (And you can sprinkle some Furikake on the rice as well as having these cucumbers on the side.) It would make the perfect pickle on your next hamburger.  Oh my heck!!!  I'm going to do that for dinner tonight!  Here's a link to the Korean Chili Powder I purchased to make the Kimchi Cucumbers.  The Korean Chili Powder is a more coarse grind of pepper.  I'm sure that you could substitute chili powder, or even a little cayenne powder.  I liked the bigger flecks of chili in the pickles, but it's just a food snob thing:)  Also here's a link to Furikake.  Funny thing though, once I purchased my little bottle in Hawaii, and then placed it carefully in my carry-on luggage, I noticed even Walmart carries it.  No need to make a special trip to Hawaii.  (unless you want to.)

Quick Kimchi Cucumbers
recipe adapted from Eating Well

2  cucumbers
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 scallions, white and light green parts only, finely chopped
1/2 red onion sliced super thin
1/4 t. ground ginger
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon Korean chile powder (Here's a link to the stuff I bought. )
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon fish sauce (Ok friends just go buy you some of this!  You'll use it I promise, and it lasts forever!)

Cut cucumbers in half lengthwise and then crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick half moons. Place in a medium bowl and mix thoroughly with salt. Let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine garlic, scallions, ginger, vinegar, chile powder, sugar and fish sauce in a medium bowl.
Drain the cucumbers (discard the liquid). Stir the cucumbers into the vinegar mixture.
 Cover and refrigerate.

Eat immediately or place in the fridge and use within one week:)

James eating his Squid!  I bought him a big bag of thick chewy rubber bands to curb his squid cravings!  Ever since his mission to Taiwan he loves the stuff:)

The boys jumping of The End of The World.

Seriously!  Doesn't this look like heaven?  A huge half circle of family:)

An impromptu game of football on the beach one night.  There may have been a slight broken bone from this innocent game, but everyone on the beach loved watching:)

Sunday evening sunset!  We headed out to watch for the Green Flash.

Almost everyone.

We loved our walks.

The perfect trip!


Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies

Here's a fun treat for these cold, bitter days of January.  If the response on Instagram for the photo of these lovelies is any indication of the joy these cookies can provide, well then I think you will be EXCEEDINGLY happy if you make these:) I've seen these around, but every single time I click  to find the recipe, it is ALWAYS a cake mix recipe.  I wanted the real thing.  Something that I could be proud of.  Something I could bake at the bakery for the next 5 weeks and make people giddy with delight.  And do you know what?  I'm not sure the recipe for the cookies is any harder than emptying a cake mix and adding a few things.  I actually just tweaked my Favorite Chocolate Cookie recipe.  (It was one of the top 10 recipes last year!!) Really easy and you will be a STAR where ever you take these. Enjoy!!

Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies

1 c. butter
1 c. shortening
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
 4 eggs
1 T. water
2 t. vanilla
5 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. cocoa powder
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1 1/2 t. salt
1 10-12 oz package of white chocolate chips
1/2- 1 t. red food color (depending on how red you want the cookies)
1 c. slivered almonds (optional)

1 c. powdered sugar (for rolling the dough balls in before baking.)

Cream butter, shortening, sugars, eggs, water, and vanilla.  Add dry ingredients and mix until combined.  Add chips and nuts if you'd like.  Scoop dough balls  and plop each one in a bowl of powdered sugar.  Make sure the cookie is completely covered in powdered sugar.  This is what gives you the crinkle look.   Bake at 350'F for 10-12 minutes.  Enjoy!


2013 Top Ten Favorite Posts

2013 was a fantastic year!  So much happened to our little family.  Youngest child turning 2, and oldest child turned 18. Eldest son graduating from high school.  Eldest son leaving to the Adriatic South Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints one month later. 7 birthday's, the death of a favorite dog, purchase of 12 chicks that laid eggs a plenty, one minor fender bender by the cute 16 year old daughter, too many family vacations, loads of skiing both water and snow, we only hit 1 deer this year (yeah! but same 16 year old daughter), 52 Sunday dinners, more recipe flops than I want to admit, but plenty of lip smacking tasty recipes that made it to the blog.  So here's the lineup for the top 10 posts this year on Clawson Live.  I'm always a little surprised at what the "Customer" likes.  Of course there's a few treats, but what really interested me were the juice posts.  People loved them!  And how about the last post of the year making it into the #2 spot within only 1 week of being posted.  It is a good recipe though.  But the #1 post goes to No Bake Cheesecake!!  Easy, and tasty, and of course everyone loves it!  How can you not:)  Happy New Years and here's to 2014 being even more tasty!
#10 Chicken Salad with Candied Pecans, #9 Perfect Chocolate Cookies, #8 French Onion Soup, #7 Green Papaya Salad, #6 Good Morning Juice, #5 Thai Coconut Chicken Red Lentil Soup, #4 Lunch Lady Bars, #3 Green Lemonade, #2 Tiny Spicy Chicken and 


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