My Top Eight New Year's Resolutions for 2014 - @DonnaFaz

As the New Year approaches, we look back to the past to assess our successes and failures, and we look into the future with thoughts of doing better. We reflect on the changes we'd like to make and resolve to do our best to follow through on keeping them. Did your New Year's Resolutions make my list of the Top 8?

1.     Spend more time with friends and family – All of us need to socialize. Work is necessary, but spending time with people we enjoy will make us happier individuals. And who doesn't want to be happier?
2.     Lose weight – I don't know about you, but I put on a few extra pounds every Thanksgiving and Christmas. *sigh*
3.     Get fit – As I get older, staying firm and fit becomes more difficult. But I refuse to give up!
4.     Spend more time communing with nature – I love being out in the open air, listening to the birds sing, feeling the sunshine on my face. Albert Einstein said, "Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better." He wasn't considered a genius for nuthin'!
5.     Do more of what makes you happy – This one doesn't need much explanation.
6.     Quit smoking – I don't smoke. I never have. But I just spent 3 months nursing my wonderful aunt through chemo and radiation treatments for lung cancer. If you smoke, resolve to quit. Your health depends on it.
7.     Volunteer more – Nothing makes me happier than doing something that puts a smile on someone else's face.
8.     Get organized – This is on my New Year's Resolutions List each and every year. Not that I could be featured on the TV show Hoarders or anything, but I would like to be a little more organized. I'd love to have a place for everything and everything in its place.

What resolutions are YOU making for 2014?


Marvelous Molasses Cookies #Recipe - OMG Delicious! #rt4amo

I didn't intend to post yet another cookie recipe before Christmas. But I created a recipe today that just needs to be shared.

These cookies are rich, buttery, and flavorful. Cinnamon and ginger team up with molasses to make these delectable bites the perfect accompaniment to hot tea, coffee, or cider.

Marvelous Molasses Cookies

1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
¾ cup butter, softened
⅓ cup molasses
1 egg
2 ⅓ cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon salt
Granulated white sugar (for dipping)

Heat oven to 375º.

Cream the brown sugar and butter. Add molasses and egg, and beat to incorporate. Stir in the flour, soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt until thoroughly combined. Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls. Dip tops in granulated white sugar. Place balls, sugar side up, onto lightly greased cookie sheets and bake until just set, between 10-12 minutes. Makes about 4 dozen mouthwatering cookies.  

Peanut Butter Cookies #Recipe - Happy Holidays from @DonnaFaz

Mmmmm. My house smells like warm cookies. Is there a better aroma than that at Christmas time? I just finished making Peanut Butter Crisscross Cookies. This recipe is easy enough to make with your children.

Peanut Butter Crisscross Cookies

½ cup peanut butter
½ cup vegetable shortening
½ cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 375º.

Mix together the peanut butter, shortening, white sugar, and brown sugar. Add the egg and stir until well incorporated. Add in the dry ingredients.

Roll dough into ¾ inch balls and place on cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Press a fork into each cookie, flattening slightly, to make a crisscross pattern.

Bake for approximately 9 minutes. Let cookies cool for a few minutes before removing them from the cookie sheet.


Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies:

Make dough as above and roll into balls. Press thumb deeply into each cookie and bake for 9-10 minutes. Fill thumbprints with your favorite jam or jelly.


Tomorrow, I plan to make Spritz Butter Cookies and Molasses Crinkles.

One of my Christmas guests is vegan, so I'll also make a vegan Chocolate Torte. I'm kind of excited to make this as it's a new-to-me recipe. Can't wait to taste it!

What desserts are you making this holiday?

For Vegetable Lovers! Roasted Brussels Sprouts #VeganRecipe

Come on! Don't wrinkle up your nose like that! Brussels sprouts are delicious. Especially when they're roasted. This easy side dish is delicious and good for you. It’s low-fat, low-calorie, and tastes SO yummy… you can’t ask for more than that.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

1 ½ pounds of Brussels sprouts
1 teaspoon course salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
a misting of olive oil

Wash and prepare Brussels sprouts; trim off ends, pull off any yellowed or damaged outer leaves, and cut larger sprouts in half. Mist sprouts lightly with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and arrange in a single layer on a roasting pan. Roast in a 400º F (204º C) oven for 20-30 minutes or until sprouts are crispy on the outside, tender on the inside. Shake pan occasionally so sprouts brown evenly.

Perfect for the vegans and vegetarians who are coming to visit for the holidays.

Ho, ho, ho!

Opening Lines - Romance Novels from Authors I Love

If you're an avid reader like me, you know there are hundreds of thousands of books to choose from. No one can sort through them all. Yet, there are books out there that really deserve to be read. So I've decided to showcase some authors I know and love. Today, I'm featuring romance novels. In the coming days, I'll focus on other genres simply because I've never read a genre I didn't love.

Enjoy the opening lines from these novels and see if any (or all) of them tickle your fancy. J

Myrna MacKenzie's The Rancher's Unexpected Family

Kathryn Ellis closed her eyes and took a deep breath. What she was about to do, seeking out Holt Calhoun when he clearly didn't want to be found…

You can find The Rancher's Unexpected Family at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Myrna MacKenzie at her website, on Facebook, and on Twitter.  

Karen Cantwell's Kiss Me, Tate

Bunny Bergen's greatest weakness was her inability to see past people's social veneers. Which was why she found herself standing with a cardboard box tucked under one arm and a severance check in her other hand, wondering what the heck had just happened.

You can find Kiss Me, Tate at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Karen Cantwell at her website, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

Melissa McClone's Home For Christmas

"You didn't tell me the Bar V5 held the Guinness World Record for the longest driveway." Rachel Murphy stared out the window of her brother Tyler's 4x4 pickup. Against Montana's big sky—a gorgeous, cloudless, cornflower blue this December morning—the snow covering tree branches and mountaintops was white enough to eat, like whipped cream or better yet meringue.

You can find Home For Christmas at Amazon. Visit Melissa McClone at her website, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

Annie Jones's The Christmas Sisters

"Persuasion, Alabama, ain't even a town anymore, Sam Moss." The old black man drew his antler-handled knife along a thick stick. Bark curled and fell onto the cracked leather of his spit-shined wingtips. "It's just scraps and bones."

You can find The Christmas Sister at Amazon. Visit Annie Jones at her website, and on Facebook

Jackie Weger's On A Wing And A Prayer

"Santee, you hang on to Nicholas," Rebecca ordered as she lined up the five orphans just inside the hangar door. She had an instant sensation of space and unfamiliar shadow. The building, huge and poorly lit and smelling of grease, much like a mechanic's garage, intensified the sensation. Rebecca shivered. She'd had misgivings about this trip from the start, but her arguments against it had fallen on deaf ears.

You can find On A Wing And A Prayer at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Jackie Weger at her website, on Facebook, and on Twitter

Is there a book you've read that you feel needs a little recognition? Please post the title and author in the comment box!
Look for more Opening Lines coming soon.

You have my best wishes for a happy Holiday!

Good, Old-Fashioned Cookies! #Christmas #Recipes @DonnaFaz

I'm baking and my house is filled with the warm, buttery aromas only cookies can offer. Below are three of my favorite holiday recipes, but first I'd like to share some of my favorite baking equipment. I couldn't live without my air bake cookie sheets. Since buying mine, I haven't over-baked a single batch of cookies. I also love my cookie scoop; it makes each dough portion exactly the same (although, I believe mine is larger than the one I've linked to). And cooking spray is no longer needed in my kitchen ever since my son gave me 2 Silpats; nothing sticks to these babies, and that makes clean up easy. When my Silpats don't fit, I reach for the parchment paper. Okay, on to the recipes!  

Southern Sour Cream Cookies

1 ½ cups sugar
1 ½ cups shortening
3 eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons salt
5 cups all purpose flour
colored sugar crystals

Cream together the sugar and the shortening until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and stir thoroughly after each addition. Add vanilla the vanilla, sour cream, baking soda and salt. Mix well. Add flour and stir just until flour is incorporated. Drop heaping teaspoons of dough about 2 inches apart onto cookie sheet lined with Silpat or parchment paper. Decorate with colored sugar crystals. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Cookies should be light in color…not golden brown. These are delicate and delicious cookies that go perfect with tea or coffee.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip (rear) & Oatmeal Coconut

1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup vegetable shortening
2 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Cream together the sugars, the butter and the shortening until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla. Stir in remaining ingredients. Drop dough by heaping teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto cookie sheets lined with Silpat or parchment paper. Bake in a 375 degree oven until light brown, 10-12 minutes.

Note: The spatula pictured to the left belonged to my grandmother. She told me she used it when she "went to housekeeping." She gave it to me when I got married. I feel like she's with me every time I use it.   ♥  I love nice memories.

Oatmeal Coconut Cookies

1 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup raisins
2 cups oatmeal
1 cup (packed) flaked coconut

Cream the butter and the sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and the vanilla. Stir in dry ingredients. Lastly, add raisins, oatmeal, and coconut. Stir until combined. Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet lined with Silpat or parchment paper. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.

Here's wishing you a very happy holiday filled with
 love and laughter, friends and family, peace and joy.