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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Fast & Easy Homemade Salsa #2 (Medium)

Sorry it's been more than a couple of days
since I last did a post.....To catch you up.....our
freezer bit the dust......Filled to the brim with food
& fruit pulp for my jams, I was forced to do
another 60 more jams so that the pulp would not
be wasted.....So now we are at 206 jars and counting!

Now for today's blog....
I have had so many people
log on to the blogspot for the recipe of the Homemade
Salsa #1....that I thought I would give Homemade
Salsa Recipe #2... to everybody as well....
As I told you before.........I wasn't much in the way of
Peppers or otherwise.....but after a Home Canning
Seminar....I decided to try Home Canning.....& now
I want to can everything....(I'll be letting you know
how that turns out in the future)

As my mother taught me about cooking & baking..
mainly from scratch....(because that was her
generation.)..I admire & appreciate all she taught
me......however, I have so many things I love to do, I
try & balance, Family, Family History, (Crafts
for the Christmas Boutique in Dec) Canning,
Scrapbooking, etc.. so when I can find a Recipe that
gets the job done faster & easier.... I do it that way.

Which leads us into today's FAST & EASY
HOMEMADE SALSA #2 (Medium Hot)The
photos above show you the end result with corn
chips, and how it looks in jars (Home-Canned)
After doing the 1st Homemade Salsa (which you have
to boil, peel, & cut the tomatoes into pieces.....) I decided
to try & find an easier way...which I did.....

This particular Salsa #2 is a little hotter than #1 &
my friends have told me (that are Salsa connoisseurs
in my opinion) that it isn't that hot...So let's just
call it MEDIUM HOT......but Faster & Easier
than Salsa #1...

6 cans (14.5 oz. each) petite diced tomatoes or
6 lbs. fresh tomatoes (about 18 medium)
(but the easier way are the cans)
1/2 c. white or cider vinegar
1 pouch Mrs. Wages Salsa Tomato Mix (from Walmart)
it has a mixture of onion, green bell pepper,
Jalapeno, Chili Peppers, Garlic, Salt, & other
1 c. chopped cilantro

Using the canned tomatoes
, open
& pour all 6 cans of tomatoes into a pot....
*(all the liquid in the can as well)

tomatoes, vinegar, salsa mix,
& cilantro & bring to a boil.

Stir occasionally
...Reduce heat &
simmer 10 minutes...

Pour hot salsa into clean,
sterilized pint canning jars, leaving 1/2"
head space. Cap each jar when filled.

in boiling
water bath...

Test Jars
for airtight seals according to
manufacturer's directions. (Can be stored
up to a year) If jars do not completely
seal, refridgerate & consume within 1

Monday, July 20, 2009

Delectable Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

BUTTER CUP COOKIE....Loaded with Reese's
Pieces, Mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups,
Chocolate Chips, Peanut Butter & a Chocolate
dough...Wow that's chocolaty.......

These would be great for a special occasion.
I found these on a number of blogs, pretty much
the same recipe, This one was adapted from
Kitchen Cafe ....(I didn't put the 1 cup of peanut
butter chips that was in the original recipe & you
may want to do that)....


1 Cup Butter, (softened)
3/4 C. Peanut Butter (creamy or crunchy)
(I used crunchy)
3/4 C. Sugar
3/4 C. packed Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 1/3 C. Flour
1/3 C. Cocoa Powder (I think I would use not
as much..... maybe 1/4 -1/2 Cup) decide
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 Cup Semisweet Chocolate Chips
1 Bag Reese's Pieces

~Note: Cut the Peanut Butter Cups in half
(gently) and put in refrigerator or freezer
til ready to use. Original Recipe said to
freeze first.......(but 1 blogger stated she had
problems cutting them after they were
frozen)....we don't want problems like that...

Preheat Oven to 350F.

In a large bowl or stand mixer, cream together
softened butter, peanut butter, white sugar, &
brown sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a
time, then stir in vanilla. Combine flour, cocoa,
& baking soda; stir into the creamed mixture.
Mix in chocolate chips, & Reese's Pieces (hand
stir them in so the shells of the Reese's Pieces don't
get broken).

I used a Cookie Scoop to have each cookie round &
look more uniformed. I also used a Slipat Cookie
sheet liner...(they are the BEST non-stick liners!!!)
These are 2 of my Favorite Kitchen Items......

Push one Peanut Butter Cup half into the center of
each ball of dough. Bake for 8 to 10 min. (My oven
they were done at 9 min. (You don't want them to
fall apart so make sure you let them cool completely
before lifting them off the cookie sheet).....

Friday, July 17, 2009

156 jams & counting

Sorry I haven't been putting up recipes or
something lately, but this is what I've been busy
doing.....Making jam, jam, & more jam for about
the last 3 days.....Plus in between trying to save
a "2 yr. old" freezer from quitting on me. The
saying "They sure don't make things the way they
used to" comes to mind....
So does a saying my
daughter uses (which I like a lot)......"Life's tough...
get a helmet".....I think I'll make that the "Quote
of the day"............At least it's not the air

conditioner in this 106 degree heat!!!!!

Anyway......besides my feet hurting and a little tired
1/2 of my jam for the year is done....Yeah...
it's only 1/2 (of what I make) for Santa's Gift Shoppe
Christmas Boutique...(coming in only...133 days)'s better than not having started yet.....

These are the kinds I have right now: Strawberry,
Strawberry-Plum, Plum, Straw/Blueberry/Plum,
Straw/Blueberry, Apricot, Straw/Boysenberry, &
Straw/Rasp./Blueberry......Wow..That's a lot even
for me to say...

I love experimenting with different mixtures
or blends of jam to come up with unique flavors...
(& I have come up with quite a few).....Some friends like
to try these new blends & end up getting 10 or more
jars at a time....("It's a good thing"......they make great
gifts anytime).......

I've probably made thousands of jars of jams in
32 yrs. & hope to be doing it for another 32...

I am having the price remain at $3.95 (for an 8oz. jar)
because I like giving my customers a good deal.....
Other boutiques have charged $5 (but I haven't
increased the price in 6 yrs. or so) I have customers
who love it so much they've gotten 10-15 jars at a
time. Some have even hidden it from their kids...

I'm always humbled by what my customers
say concerning their finds at the Boutique...
I appreciate them soooo much....Well on to the next


Monday, July 13, 2009

Chocolate Mint Brownies

Oh my gosh...These are simply THE BEST
BROWNIES I've ever tasted and the family
agrees! Believe it or not these little babies
came from Cooking Light!!!You might think by
looking at them that they might be heavy, but
they are light tasting...I have made a lot of different
kinds of mint brownies....but these are #1.....
You be the judge and let me know what your
family thinks........I LOVE COMMENTS!!!

My husband went to have one and said, "These
are REALLY GOOD." Then while savoring the
delicious taste....he must have said "No, I mean
12 times.... The rest of us agree and they were gone

BOUTIQUE (in my home)
Dec. 4th & 5th 2009
LIKE an me @

Bottom Layer:
1 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. sugar
4 lg. eggs, beaten (FYI: the original recipe in
Cooking Light replaces 2 of these 4 eggs with
1/2 c. egg substitute)
1/4 c. butter, melted
2 Tbsp. water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 (16 oz.) can chocolate syrup (if you can only
find this in a bottle you have to weigh it on a
kitchen scale = 16oz.)

Mint Layer:
2 c. powered sugar
1/4 c. butter, melted
2 Tbsp. milk (I used non-fat,but you can
probably use whatever you have)
1/2 tsp. peppermint extract (you may want
to up this to 1tsp.)
2 drops green food coloring

3/4 c. semisweet chocolate chips
3 Tbsp. butter

1) Preheat oven to 350F.

flour & salt.... whisk set aside. Combine sugar, 1/4 c.
melted butter, 2 Tbsp. water, vanilla, eggs, & chocolate
syrup in a medium bowl; beat with mixer til smooth.
Slowly add flour mixture to chocolate stirring until blended.

BATTER WILL BE VERY THIN! Pour batter into
13 x 9 inch baking pan coated with cooking spray.
Bake at 350F. for 23 min. or until a wooden toothpick
inserted in center comes out almost clean. Cool
completely in pan on wire rack.

powered sugar, 1/4 c. melted butter, & the rest
of the mint layer ingredients. MAKE SURE BOTTOM
FROSTING....Frost bottom layer (I then put
it in the refrigerator to set)

4) TO PREPARE GLAZE: Combine the chocolate
chips & 3 Tbsp. butter in a medium microwave-
safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH for 1 minute or
until melted, (stirring every 30 sec.) Let stand
2 minutes. Spread chocolate mixture evenly
over the top. Cover and refrigerate until ready
to serve. Cut into 20 pieces or cut the 20 in half
and make 40 smaller ones.

HALLOWEEN GIVEAWAY (Celebration of 1000+ Followers)

Hi Everybody...Here is the GIVEAWAY to celebrate reaching 1000+ Followers on the blog!! What a milestone! Thanks to All of YOU!! My Sincere Thanks & appreciation for your Support of Santa's Gift Shoppe Year~Round. Let's Get Started!!! PLEASE READ THE "RULES TO ENTER" FIRST!! **********VERY IMPORTANT RULE*************** Because a Random Generator is used to pick the WINNER YOU HAVE TO LEAVE A SEPARATE COMMENT FOR EACH ENTRY..If you Don't it will count as 1 Entry instead of separate ones (& decrease your odds of winning) ************************************************ #1) Halloween Gift Package

#2) Monogrammed Gift Package

How to Enter:

1) Leave a comment (with your email address)

telling me which Gift Pkg. above (#1 or #2)

you would like (if you won the Giveaway) = 1 Entry

2) Become a Follower of this Blog = 1 Entry

3) Go to "My ETSY Shoppe" & "Heart" it

as a "Favorite" (To do this go to the left hand sidebar

& Click on "Add to Favorites") = 1 Entry

4) Grab my Button/Code (from my sidebar) &

put it on your sidebar on your Blog/Facebook

1 Entry

5) Become a Facebook "Fan" & "Like"

Santa's Gift Shoppe (Link is on the sidebar)

1 Entry

6) Post about this Giveaway on your Blog

& link it back to this post = 1 Entry

7) Post about this Giveaway on your Facebook

& link it back to this post = 1 Entry

8) Post about this Giveaway on your Twitter

& link it back to this post = 1 Entry

9) Purchase anything from "MY ETSY Shoppe"

& tell me what it was = 5 Entries..

Make each separate (you can say ditto in each

comment after the first comment)

Any Questions??? Email me @

This Giveaway is open to the 48 Contiguous

United States..and will close Fri. Oct.15th @ 6pm.

So Check Back Later that night to see if


GIVEAWAY. ***If YOU WIN***you have 48 hrs.

to email me your address or another winner

will be chosen.

Have Fun & Good Luck to everyone!!!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sweet and Sour Chicken

This is absolutely the best Sweet & Sour
Chicken I've had in a long time..... My family
was raving about it as well when we had it for dinner
last night. This is on my Top 15 of All Time -
Favorites...I hope you'll give it a try and see if
it'll be one of yours....

This recipe is from The Kitchen Cafe.....The only
thing is that I had a little trouble when I dipped
the chicken pieces into the cornstarch, then into
the egg mixture, then into the frying pan.....I
managed to make somewhat of a mess.....especially
with the cornstarch/egg mixture.

That being was worth it....The smell
coming from the oven reminded me of Panda
Express... It was heavenly......I know Rachel Ray
is always saying she wishes her TV audience
watching could have smellavision....I wish
you could have that too.

Note:(I think the best tasting chicken is @ Vons...
when I try others I'm disappointed with the flavor.
It's a 4 lb. bag in the Meat section of the market and
it's called "Young Boneless/Skinless ice glazed
chicken" (and it's frozen) I was able to make this meal,
as well as dinner for another night (Malibu Chicken
w/mustard sauce.....It's my take of Sizzler's Malibu
Chicken which I will post another day in the near
future) The chicken breasts were huge and there
were a lot of them. I think it was a good value....

For the chicken:
3-4 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
Salt & Pepper
1 c. cornstarch
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 c. canola oil (I didn't use that much I used a few
shakes from my oil decanter......I cannot
think of what its called..Does anyone
know the name of this kind of oil bottle???

Cut boneless chicken breasts into chunks. Season
with salt and pepper. Dip chicken in cornstarch and
then in egg. Fry in a little oil until brown but not
cooked through. Place in a single layer in a baking
dish. Mix sauce ingredients (below) together and
pour over chicken.

3/4 c. sugar
4 Tbsp. ketchup
1/2 c. vinegar
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. garlic salt

Bake for 1 hour at 325F. Turn chicken every
15 min. If you like extra sauce, make another batch
of sauce and bring to boil on stove top. Stir constantly
and let cook over medium heat until thickened
and reduced...(about 6-8 min)

(The sauce is so great you probably will want
that extra batch)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Strawberry Parfait Dessert

This is the Perfect Dessert for Summer.....
especially if you want something refreshing.....
and lite. It tastes so gooooood when it's hot outside.
You just have to give it try and let me know what you think.

I found this in Food & Family from
Kraft Foods a number of years back.....They have
the best and ideas on how to save
money on food.

The Top photo shows the layers better (I only
the mixture for about 15 sec. in that one,
but it wasn't as easy to pour as when I blended for
30 sec.,
but it didn'tshow the layers as well.

We made this 2 ways (the way the recipe calls for
and the way my husband wanted it)
I like his way better...with the Reddi Whip (in a
can) and a cherry on top.

We wanted you to see the difference and be able
to pick the way you like it better. It makes its own
layers of light & fluffy gelatin while cooling in the
refrigerator. I forgot to mention that it is the fastest
dessert to make as well. It only took about 5 min.

1 Pkg. Strawberry flavor Gelatin (0.3oz.)
3/4 c. boiling water
Ice cubes
1/2 c. cold water
1/2 c. thawed Cool Whip

Dissolve dry gelatin mix in boiling water in bowl or
saucepan...(I did it in a saucepan)

With a Lg. (2cup) Measuring Glass put cold water to
the 1/2 c. line and add ice cubes to make it 1 1/4c.
Add to gelatin mixture, and then pour mixture into
blender; cover and blend 30 sec.

Add whipped topping to blender and blend until

Pour evenly into 4 dessert dishes.....or Parfait
glasses (we used goblets and I think it looks more
elegant and beautiful that way but you choose for

Refrigerate 20 min. or until set. Store leftovers in
refrigerator. Makes four servings but I would pour
less in each glass (than is shown here) because this just
made 3 servings and it should have made 4.

For reduced calories...Use Sugar Free Jello

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Caramel Delites Bars (Samoa taste-alikes)

Don't you just LOVE Girl Scout Cookies?????? We
do & so when I found this recipe on a number of blogs,
(I found this on lovetoeat weblog) I knew I had to try it
out....It does taste just like them, so if you like
shortbread, coconut & caramel, drizzled
with chocolate...your going to love these...

***Note...These taste alot like the Samoa cookies
but much easier (with less steps) to do.

They are a GREAT DESSERT!!!They do take a bit of
time though because you need to let them cool in between
each step, but everybody says it's worth it.

Cookie base:
1/2 c. sugar
3/4 c. butter (softened)
1 large egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt

First, make the crust. Preheat oven to 350F.
Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. In a
large bowl, cream together sugar & butter,
until fluffy. Beat in egg & vanilla extract.

Working at a low speed, gradually beat in the
flour & salt until mixture is crumbly....(Mine
was more like a dough but I don't think it makes
that big a difference....)Pour dough mixture into
prepared pan & press firmly to make a even
layer. Bake for 15-20 min checking to see when
the middle is set & edges are lightly brown. Cool
completely before topping...

3 C. shredded coconut
1 pkg. 14oz. caramels (I used the Kraft brand)
1/4 salt
3 Tbsp. milk
1c. semisweet choc. chips (to drizzle on top)

Preheat oven to 300F. Spread coconut evenly
on a parchment-lined cookie sheet (I used a
Slipat liner) preferably a cookie sheet with sides.
Toast the coconut 15-20 min. stirring every 5 min,
until coconut is golden brown (mine only took
15 min....I have a hot oven....go by what your
oven does) Cool on cookie sheet. Set aside.

Unwrap the caramels & place in a lg. microwave-
safe bowl with the milk & salt. Cook on high
approx. 3-4 min (it took mine almost 3) stopping
to stir a few times to help caramel melt. When
smooth fold in coconut with spatula. Put dollops
of mixture all over shortbread base. DO THIS
COOL. Using a spatula spread topping to make an
even layer. Let topping set until cooled.

When cooled, cut bars (with sharp large knife) into
30 small bars or 15 larger bars. Once bars are cut,
melt chocolate into Sm. microwave-safe bowl. Heat
on high for about 30sec. intervals, stirring thoroughly
to prevent scorching. (SEE TIP) Drizzle the melted
chocolate on top of bars in diagonal lines.

TIP: Place a baggie in a cup & spoon melted
chocolate into baggie..
pick up baggie & snip a tiny
hole in the corner of the baggie. Drizzle a diagonal
design (on the cut bars).....Let chocolate completely
cool (even put them in the fridge if needed for a short
time) before storing in airtight container........Enjoy!!

Monday, July 6, 2009

BBQ Chicken (Fast/Easy)

I love.....this BBQ Chicken....and so does everybody
else who has tried it.....I'm's really juicy &
delicious..... I really like to BBQ (when it's not hard
& it ends up tasting really good!) I tried a few different
ways of BBQ-ing chicken & this (for me) is the fastest
& easiest way to get Great Results.....

1) I get the chicken (a bag about 4lbs.)
@ Vons on sale price for about $8-$9.99 for
10-12 boneless/skinless breast pieces) The
number of the chicken breasts in the bag can
vary, but the taste is the BEST. Sometimes it
will be $5-$6..then I really stock up. The
flavor is the best tasting out of all the different
chicken breasts & tenders that I've tried.

2) TIP....I fry it on the stove first before I BBQ....
I do 1/2 of the bag at a time....Put a little canola
in a HOT frying pan...(you'll use less oil that
way) spread it all around, then I sprinkle garlic
powder.....lite salt.... and pepper on both sides
of the chicken pieces.

TIP..(seer on both sides to keep the juices in....)
Let cook on med. heat til 3/4 done..

3) Put on plate and ....TIP....brush each piece
with a brush or two of oil (on each side) so the juices will
stay inside the chicken...(that was a Bobby Flay's TIP....)

4) Pre-Heat BBQ grill to around 350F-375F....(you
may want to do this before you start cooking the chicken
on the stove so it'll be ready to go when you are)

5) When the grill is ready....put chicken on.....
let cook for a minute or two (with cover of grill get that smokey flavor) and then flip
chicken over and cook on other side......then start
brushing a coat of BBQ sauce (I used Kraft Honey
BBQ sauce) on one side, grill for a few min. (always
shut the lid in between... to keep the smokey
flavor in the chicken) then the other.....

6) Then repeat (I did it 3 or 4 times) just for a min.
or 2 each time...til they have finished cooking.......
and look done......and enjoy!!!

Homemade Mexican Salsa

This is the salsa that I canned a couple weeks ago.
We had it for the 4th with the BBQ chicken (photo
above) If I can do this......anyone can do this.......
It was so good and my first try at canning anything
besides jams........Yeah!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It worked!!!!!!!!

Mexican Salsa Recipe
5 lbs. of ripe tomatoes, skinned, cored, chopped
3 c. onions, chopped
1 1/4c. chili peppers, seeded, chopped
1 c. fresh cilantro, snipped
1 c. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. garlic, (about 6 cloves) or minced
1 Tbsp salt

In a 6-quart sauce pot, combine all ingredients.
Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Simmer 30 min.
or to desired thickness, stirring occasionally.

Immediately fill hot jars, leaving 1/2" head space.
Remove trapped air bubbles. Add hot lids, tighten rings.

Process: boiling water bath for 15 minutes

Garden Salsa..

My great friend Diane gave me some more veggies
from her wonderful garden.....which we made into
Mexican Salsa.....(to see recipe..see Labels) and had
for the 4th of July BBQ. It was so good.............

Saturday, July 4, 2009

"Happy 4th of July"

This is a great recipe that I found many years ago in
the Family Circle magazine...Happy celebrating!

This bowl is called a Trifle bowl and you can find it at
Kmart, Walmart, or Target for around $10-12 (when on
sale) It has proven to be one of my favorite display bowls....

4th of July Dessert
4 cups water
1 pkg. (8oz.) Blue Flavor Jello
1 pkg. (8oz.) Red Flavor Jello
2 cups cold water
1/2 loaf pound cake or angel food cake
1 tub (8oz.) Cool Whip - thawed
3 med. bananas

Stir 2 c. boiling water into each flavor of gelatin
in separate bowls for 2 min. until dissolved.
Stir 1 c. cold water into each bowl
Pour into separate 13 x 9" pans. Refrigerate 3 hrs.
or until firm. Cut each pan into 1/2" cubes.

Cut bananas into slices. Place Blue jello cubes into
trifle bowl, layer cake cubes, put 1/2 of the Cool whip
& bananas in bowl. Cover with Red jello cubes. Garnish
with remaining Cool whip & banana slices.
Refrigerate at least 1 hr. or until set (refrigerate
any leftover dessert)

(makes 12-15 servings)

(For low cal. substitute SugarFree jello, Lite cool whip,
Angelfood cake)

Friday, July 3, 2009


We love America..... and all the veterans that have
given their lives and have sacraficed on our behalf
to have the freedoms that we enjoy daily. Thank you
to all of you from all of us at Santa's Gift Shoppe.

At our Gift Shoppe during the summer months we
are constantly trying out new recipes for jams,
cookies, candies & craft ideas which will be available
in December....4th & 5th 2009 at our Christmas Boutique.

Mrs.Claus' kitchen filled with jams in July

This is how Mrs. Claus' kitchen looks in the middle
of the summer.....really busy...... creating at least 20
kinds of blends of unique tasting jams. They have
found their way into the Fresno County Fair's record
books by winning 1st place ribbons.

Canned Plums

These are the plums from our backyard trees.
It has been the best tree producer for so many
years.......Thanks Mr. Plum Tree..... Many
hundreds of jars of jam have also come from it.

Canned Apricots

These are the 17 quarts of apricots that came from our
backyard trees. Another 5 bags have been frozen
for this years jams yet to be made. This next week
is going to be cooler so I'll try to start that project then.

Summer canning in Mrs.Claus' kitchen

This Salsa is Great!!!

My best friend Diane gave me some chili peppers
from her garden, and since I do not do too much
with peppers I decided to try this Mexican Salsa
Recipe I received at a canning seminar. My family
really loves it and I will be making many many more
jars of this stuff forever!

Mexican Salsa Recipe
5 lbs. of ripe tomatoes, skinned, cored, chopped
3 c. onions, chopped
1 1/4c. chili peppers, seeded, chopped
1 c. fresh cilantro, snipped
1 c. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. garlic, (about 6 cloves) or minced
1 Tbsp salt
In a 6-quart saucepot, combine all ingredients.
Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Simmer 30 min.
or to desired thickness, stirring occasionally.
Immediately fill hot jars, leaving 1/2" headspace.
Remove trapped air bubbles. Add hot lids, tighten rings.

Process: boiling water bath for 15 minutes