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Joan's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Here's a recipe from a sweet lady at our church who always brings yummy snacks on Sunday. I think you might like it! (It makes a large batch)

2 cups shortening
2 cups sugar
1 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
6 teaspoons vanilla extract
3-4 drops orange flavoring extract (optional)
5 cups flour
2 teaspoons soda
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 package chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In large mixing bowl, cream shortening and sugars. Add eggs and extracts and beat well. In separate bowl, mix together flour, soda, salt, and baking powder. Add to creamed mixture. Stir in chocolate chips and pecans. Bake on greased baking sheets. Roll in walnut-sized balls and space 2 inches apart. Bake 10 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 6-8 dozen. Enjoy!
Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Valentine Menu Ideas for Your Sweetheart

My husband and I will celebrate our 29th Anniversary on Valentine's Day this year. Rather than fight the crowds and long lines, we'll often stay home on our anniversary, and I'll make a special dinner. Here are a few ideas for a special dinner with your Valentine. 

Maybe you want to serve French Cuisine:

Or perhaps you have in mind Italian:

Maybe you want to treat your Valentine to a Steak Dinner:

Or perhaps you both prefer Seafood: 

Whatever you decide for your Valentine dinner, I hope it's one you'll cherish forever. May you have a Happy Valentine's Day!

Flourless Chocolate Almond Cake

Here's a recipe that doesn't use any flour. My husband loved this cake. Enjoy! 

butter + 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup slivered almonds
6 eggs, separated
2 tablespoons sugar
1 stick butter
15 oz. jar chocolate-hazelnut spread (like Nutella)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon apple juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9" springform pan, and then dust the pan with cocoa powder as you would a cake pan with flour, removing any excess. In a glass bowl, heat the chocolate chips in the microwave, stirring in 1-minute increments until melted. Let cool slightly. 

In a mixer, whisk the egg whites until they are foamy. Add the sugar and beat until the whites form stiff peak, about 2-3 minutes. 

In a clean bowl, cream together the butter and hazelnut spread, about 2 minutes. Add the yolks, salt, and juice and mix until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and slivered almonds and mix until smooth. 

Stir in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate batter, and then gently fold in the remaining egg whites, being careful not to overmix. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 45-50 minutes. let the cake cool for 10 minutes, then remove the spring form from the sides. Let the cake cool before serving. Serve with whipped topping and fresh fruit, like raspberries. Serves 6-8.
Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Pancake Syrup

Here's an easy recipe I use when I'm out of pancake syrup. Use with Country Pancakes or Cornmeal Pancakes. Yum!

1 cup sugar
2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon maple extract
2 teaspoons butter flavoring

In medium saucepan, mix ingredients together. Stir until dissolved. Bring to a rolling boil. Let cool. Serve over pancakes or waffles.
Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Elizabeth Goddard's Easy-Peasy Spaghetti

Elizabeth Goddard is the bestselling author of more than 40 books, including the Carol Award-winning The Camera Never Lies. Her Mountain Cove series books have been finalists in the Daphne du Maurier Awards and the Carol Awards. Goddard is a seventh generation Texan and can be found online at

Elizabeth's Latest Book Release: Never Let Go

As a forensic genealogist, Willow Anderson is following in her late grandfather’s footsteps in her quest for answers about a baby abducted from the hospital more than twenty years ago. The case may be cold, but things are about to heat up when someone makes an attempt on her life to keep her from discovering the truth.
Ex-FBI agent–and Willow’s ex-flame–Austin McKade readily offers his help to protect the woman he never should have let get away. Together they’ll follow where the clues lead them, even if it means Austin must face the past he’s spent much of his life trying to forget. And even if it puts Willow’s tender heart at risk.
In this fast-paced and emotional page-turner, bestselling author Elizabeth Goddard keeps the stakes high, the romantic tension sparking, and the outcome uncertain until the very end. Buy the book HERE.
Elizabeth's Easy-Peasy Spaghetti
This is the easiest Italian spaghetti you’ll ever make and that’s because it only takes one pot—your Crockpot. I’m all about easy these days with so many book deadlines. After decades of making my pasta a certain way—browning the beef and then adding sauce, cooking spaghetti in a separate pot then pouring into a colander—I  recently tried this and it works as an easy one dish meal. No pouring pasta into a colander. Not washing three pots/pans.
2 lbs thawed ground beef.
24-32 oz boxes of spaghetti (Or pasta of choice)
45 oz jar of Ragu (any flavor, or any brand of sauce, even your own)

Turn slow-cooker on high and dump raw thawed ground beef in the bottom. Pour entire jar of spaghetti sauce over that. Fill jar to halfway with water then dump that in. Cook on high for six hours so the meat will thoroughly cook. Stir meat halfway through cooking time to get all the chunks out.

An hour before you want to serve your pasta, pour in the 24 to 32 ounces of UNCOOKED pasta. If it’s spaghetti break in half. Stir well. Let cook for a half hour before checking to see if it’s the desired consistency. Your cooking time may vary.

Homemade Lasagna with Meat Sauce

Here is a delicious recipe when you want to serve your family something special.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound ground sausage
1 pound ground hamburger
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped onion
2 - 28 oz whole tomatoes, crushed by hand
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

24 oz. fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
32 oz. whole ricotta
1 cup grated Parmesan
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup grated Parmesan

To make the pasta, in a large stainless steel bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Create a well in the center and add the eggs and olive oil. Gradually mix the egg mixture into the flour using a fork or your fingers, eventually bringing the ingredients together to form a firm dough. You may need to add a few drops of water if the dough feels too dry. Transfer the dough to a flat surface and knead the dough until it's smooth, 5-6 minutes. Try to refrain from adding extra flour when kneading as this will give your pasta a floury taste. Dribble a little olive oil over the dough and place in a plastic bag. Allow to rest for 30 minutes. 

While the dough rests, prepare the sauce. In a large Dutch oven, brown the sausage and hamburger. Add the garlic and onions and cook until they are tender, about 1-2 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes and water. Season with dried basil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Simmer until slightly thickened about 20-25 minutes.

To make filling, in a medium bowl, combine ricotta, grated Parmesan, eggs, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper. Mix well. Refrigerate until ready to assemble the lasagna.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. While the sauce cooks, continue with the pasta. Prepare three baking sheets by dusting them with flour. Divide the pasta into thirds, returning the extra dough to the bag until ready to use. Flatten one piece of dough with a rolling pin to match the size of your pasta roller. Feed the dough through the machine, using the first setting of your machine. Pass the pasta through once, and then fold it into thirds and pass it through again. After that, continue feeding the pasta sheet through the machine at each level (3, 4, 5...) until you reach the desired thickness. For lasagna, I go to 6. Cut this strip of pasta in half, which should measure about 10-11 inches after it has been cut.

Layer each of the thin sheets of pasta on the floured baking sheets, without touching. Repeat with the remaining dough for a total of six sheets of pasta. At this point, cut each of these sheets in half to form narrow strips, for a total of 12. 

Prepare three baking sheets, lined with damp kitchen towels. Bring a large pot of water to boil adding 2 teaspoons salt. Set up a large roasting pan filled with ice water next to the boiling pasta water. Cook the strips of pasta, a few at a time for just a little bit, 1-2 minutes once they return to a boil. Remove from boiling water and slip them into the ice water to cool. Then line them on the damp kitchen towels. Repeat until all of the pasta strips have been cooked. 

Prepare a 10 x 13 inch lasagna pan by spreading olive oil along the bottom and sides. To assemble the lasagna, spread 1 cup sauce over the bottom of the pan. Place three strips over the sauce, overlapping if necessary. Spread another cup of sauce over the pasta and layer with another three strips. At this point, spread 1 cup sauce, half of the filling, and half of the sliced mozzarella. Repeat with another layer of pasta, 1 cup sauce, the remaining filling, and the remaining slices of mozzarella. Top with final three strips of pasta. Pour remaining sauce over the pasta and sprinkle with 1 cup grated Parmesan. Tent the lasagna with foil, making sure it doesn't touch the top and bake until bubbly, about 25 minutes. Uncover and bake another 20 minutes until the top is golden and crusty. Allow to rest for 10-12 minutes before cutting into squares to serve. Serves 8-10. Pair with a nice Chianti or Beaujolais wine.
Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Sourdough Biscuits

Here's a recipe you make from an "unfed" starter that's pretty delicious with honey or homemade apple butter.

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter
1 cup "unfed" sourdough starter (Recipe HERE)
1/2 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add sourdough starter, and buttermilk. Mix with fork until dough forms a ball. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead 10-12 times. Pat the dough into a 3/4" thick circle. Cut with 2 1/2" floured biscuit cutter. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with butter. Makes 12-15 biscuits.
Click here for a printable version of this recipe.