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Monthly Archives: June 2013

Guest Post: Herbal Teas

As you can probably tell by the extreme decrease in the frequency of our posts lately, we have been really busy! Between working and summer track, we are almost never home! We joke with people that we live out of our car, but to be perfectly honest, we’re not really kidding. Everywhere we go, we have a change of clothes, work clothes, running clothes, a million different pairs of shoes, lots of snacks, even over night stuff! We just never know where we’re going to be! 

Of course, we’d be lying if we said that it was all work and running keeping us away from the blog.  We’ve also been spending a lot of time having fun with friends, going to the beach, chilling on patios – you know, summer stuff. We haven’t been spending all that much time in the kitchen, really. Hence the lack of posts! So of course, we have happily been accepting guest posts. 🙂

Today’s post is from Elaine Rosales, who is currently researching herbs and their uses. Today, she’s here to talk about herbal teas. Take it away, Elaine!

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Have You Tried These Herbal Teas?

If you are looking for a calming and refreshing beverage that’s not only delicious but also soothing, then your best choice is tea. Next to water, tea is the most popular beverage on Earth. Health experts agree that drinking three or more cups of tea a day is as good for you as drinking several glasses of water – maybe even better.

However, there is still a great deal of debate as to what tea is the most beneficial. Green tea and black tea, both from the Camellia sinensis plant, are the most recommended. However, there is growing research saying that herbal teas, such as ginger, jasmine, and tulsi tea, can also offer you immense benefits.

Herbal teas are a wonderful deviation from the usual Camellia sinensis teas you drink. Some have a mild floral flavor, like rose tea and lavender tea, while others are spicy and tangy, such as peppermint tea and licorice root tea.

There are also herbal teas that are native to certain places only, such saw palmetto tea. Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), actually a palm rather than an herb, is found primarily in the southeast region of the United States. Florida Native American tribes, such as the Miccosukee and Seminole, considered it to be an important food source.

Saw palmetto tea is made from the saw palmetto berries, which are either dried or boiled to produce a soothing and unique-tasting tea.

You can buy herbal tea bags or loose leaf tins from supermarkets, but you should make them at home to fully appreciate them. Here are three easy herbal tea recipes you can try.

Soothing Ginger Tea

Ginger tea not only helps you detoxify, but also helps bolster your immune system. Here is a simple ginger tea recipe from The Healthy Advocate.

Ingredients:

  • Two tbsps. ginger, peeled and freshly grated
  • One cup of hot (almost boiling) water
  • One cup room temperature water
  • Almond milk or coconut milk (optional)
  • Stevia (optional)

Procedure:

  1. Pour hot water over the fresh ginger, and let it steep for 30 minutes. You can also steep it overnight for a stronger brew. Make sure the container is properly covered.
  2. Strain the ginger and add one cup of room temperature water. For a creamier brew, add coconut or almond milk. Sweeten with a small amount of stevia.

Sweet Hibiscus Tea

Made from the blossoms of the hibiscus plant (Hibiscus sabdariffa), hibiscus tea was the beverage of choice of the ancient Pharaohs in the ancient Nile Valley. This tea was also widely popular in various countries, such as China, Mexico, Africa, Europe, and the Caribbean. Hibiscus tea is known for its unique and slightly sweet flavor, and is even used in various ceremonies.

Here is a simple hibiscus tea recipe from Stef of The Cupcake Project.

Ingredients:

  • Two cups dried hibiscus flowers, rinsed
  • Eight cups of water
  • Raw honey or stevia

Procedure:

  1. Put four cups of water, honey, and the hibiscus flower in a large saucepan. Put it over a stove on high heat.
  2. When the mixture boils, cover and lower the heat. Let it simmer for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Remove the pan from heat. Use a colander to strain out the hibiscus flowers.
  4. For a warm tea, dilute the tea with a few cups of cold water. If you want an ice-cold drink, let the tea cool to room temperature first. Add ice and chill in the freezer for several minutes before serving.

Tea is a delightful and refreshing beverage that you will surely love. Opt for this healthy drink instead of sugar-loaded and processed sodas and fruit drinks.

About the Author

Elaine Rosales loves reading Mercola health articles. She is currently researching different types of herbs and their many uses. Her recent report is about the uses of organic saw palmetto – as a delicious tea and beyond. 

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What a great, informative post Elaine! We hope that those of you who haven’t tried herbal teas now will, and those that have will drink them more often! We know we will be. 🙂

And we promise that we will continue to be posting throughout the summer, however we can’t promise they’ll be any more frequent than they have been – we’re having way too much fun!

~twosaucysisters

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Simple Sunday: Stir Fry

It’s been a couple weeks since we’ve done a Simple Sunday post, but we’re back, and today we have quite possibly one of the easiest dinners you could make!

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Because in our opinion there is no simpler a meal than a stir-fry! But simple does not mean boring or bland- all you need is a few ingredients to give it a pop of flavour.

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All you need is one pan, a handful of veggies, a source of protein and a little seasoning and you’re in business, people!

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Ok, so you actually need two pans, one for the stir fry and one to cook your noodles or rice or whatever you decide to serve it over.  But the pot you cook your grain in hardly gets dirty at all so in our minds it doesn’t really count 🙂

So what went into our stir fry this time around?  Carrots, bok choy, onions, mushrooms and salmon. Only a few ingredients but we assure you our family ate it right up!

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We feel as though the stir-fry has been shoved under the rug.  Its a meal that many cooks turn there noses up at, one that is considered “too simple” or “commonplace”.  Stir-frys are under appreciated in our opinions, so today we’d like to give them the spotlight.  Let them take back the credit that is rightfully theirs.

So grab your frying pans and join us in a deliciously simple stir-fry-making extravaganza!

Simple Salmon Stir Fry

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Prep: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 6

Ingredients:

450 g. salmon filets
1 tbsp olive, grape seed or coconut oil
ground black pepper
Garlic salt or powder
1 small yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bunches of bok choy
2 large carrots
1 c. sliced mushrooms
2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp sesame seeds (optional)
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4-1/2 tsp black pepper

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.  Sprinkle the salmon filets with black pepper and garlic salt or powder.  Place in the pan and cook for 5 minutes on each side.  Put the lid on the pan, reduce the heat to medium and cook for another 4-5 minutes, or until the salmon is cooked through.  Remove the filets and set aside.

Add the minced garlic and diced onion to the pan and saute for 2-3 minutes, until the onions soften and become translucent.  Julienne the carrots (aka- cut them into thin match-stick pieces) and add them to the pan. Cook for 2 minutes. Slice the bok choy and mushrooms and add them to the pan.  Continue cooking for another 2 minutes.  Add all other ingredients and cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until all the vegetables are tender yet still crisp.

Serves over rice or noodles, is desired.

~twosaucysisters

What are your favourite veggies to put in a stir-fry?

Muffin Fix

Muffins are our answer to everything.

Need a quick lunch snack? Muffins.
Want a light breakfast?  Muffins.
Packing for a road trip? Muffins.
Bored?  Why not do some baking to pass the time?  Why not bake muffins?

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Our other answer to everything is chocolate and peanut butter.  Obviously.

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We don’t want to be redundant, or predictable, but our craving for chocolate and peanut butter is just never quite satisfied.  And we were baking these to share with a friend who’s favourite flavour combo also happens to be chocolate and peanut butter, so in our minds the decision was already made!

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So in case you haven’t guessed already, these are chocolate peanut butter muffins.

Make that chocolate peanut butter swirl with chocolate and peanut butter chips.

Whaddup.

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These little beauties are truly decadent.  And they’re the perfect snack to bring along for post-race snacking, Toronto road-tripping, beach-bumming and post-night-out-breakfasting.  All of which took place in a span of 24 hours this past weekend.

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So the real question is: can you ever have too many muffins?  No, no you cannot.  We suppose the other question is: can you ever have enough chocolate and peanut butter?  Again, the answer is no.  And these little snacks are the perfect marriage between the two.  Win-win!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Muffins

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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake time: 20-25 minutes
Makes: 19-24 muffins (depending on the size)

Ingredients:

For the Chocolate Batter:

1.5 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 c. white sugar
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1 egg, beaten
1 egg white
1 c. milk of choice
1 tsp vinegar
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
1/4 c. plain yogurt
1/4 c. honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c. peanut butter chips

For the Peanut Butter Batter:

1.5 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c. white sugar
1 egg. beaten
1 egg white
1 c. milk
1 tsp vinegar
1/2 c. apple sauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Spray two muffins pans with non-stick cooking spray.

In two large bowls, combine the dry ingredients for both batters separately. In two separate smaller bowls, combine the wet ingredients for both batters separately.  Pour the wet ingredients for each batter into the bowls of dry ingredients. (You will have two bowls with two different batters).  Stir both bowls just until everything is combined and there are no dry spots.  Gently stir the chocolate chips into the peanut butter batter and the peanut butter chips into the chocolate batter.

Place a spoonful of the chocolate batter into each of your muffins tins, only filling the muffin tin about 1/3-1/2 full with the chocolate.  Now go along and top the chocolate batter with a spoonful of peanut butter batter.

Using a butter knife, gently swirl the two batters together.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the muffins are firm yet still soft.

~twosaucysisters

Do you like muffins?  When you have to make snacks, what are your go-to favourites?

Cookie Comfort

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The other day we made you waffles.  Today we made you cookies.  Aren’t you people spoiled?

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But that’s ok- we enjoy spoiling you guys, especially when it involves cookies.

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Oatmeal raisin cookies.  We honestly can’t think of anything better to chase the blues away on a rainy day than a fresh-out-of-the-oven oatmeal cookie and a glass of milk.  Except for maybe two cookies.  Yes, that would be better.

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Yes, we know there are other cookies out there that are delicious, too- chocolate chip, ginger snaps, peanut butter cookies, double chocolate cookies, and chickpea cookies (ok, we threw that one in there as a shameless plug, but they are pretty awesome)- but there’s something about a chewy oatmeal raisin cookie that just gets us, you know?

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The oatmeal just makes them so hearty and the raisins get so plump and juicy in the oven that they are simply irresistible!  And these particular cookies are made with whole wheat flour, contain no butter, and have a fraction of the sugar that an average oatmeal cookie has, so you can feel good about eating them, too.  That’s a major win in our books!

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So do yourself a favour- pour a glass of ice-cold milk and make these cookies.  You’ll be glad you did when your beach day gets rained out and you’ve got nothing to do all day.  We know we were!

Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 10-11 minutes
Makes: 12 cookies

Ingredients:

1 c. large-flake rolled oats
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 heaped tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/4 c. coconut oil, softened (not melted)
1/4 almond butter
4 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp butter extract (optional)
1/2 c. raisins

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400F.  line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the first 5 ingredients.  In a separate bowl cream the coconut oil and almond butter together.  Add the egg, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and butter extract (if using).  Stir until fully combined.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until all the dry ingredients have been moistened, adding the raisins in about half way through.

Drop about 2 tablespoons of dough at a time onto your prepared baking sheet.  Roll each clump of dough into a round ball and flatten with a fork or the palm of your hand.  Bake for 10-11 minutes, or until the cookies are slightly browned, but still feel a little soft.  They should feel slightly under-done when they come out, that way they’ll be nice and chewy.  Allow to cool fully before placing them in a container.

You can keep these cookies in the pantry (aka- they don’t need to be refrigerated), but we don’t know how long they will last since ours were all gone in less than 2 days!

~twosaucysisters

Do you like oatmeal cookies?  What is your favourite type of cookie?

Waffle Hause

So, yesterday our kitchen turned into a bit of a waffle-making factory.

You see, yesterday was an extremely beautiful day in these parts!  It was sunny and warm with a light breeze- perfect for spending an afternoon outdoors (and maybe getting our tan on?) 😉

But we had a race yesterday evening, which meant no sitting in the sun for us!  Talk about torture, right?

So what do you do when you need to distract yourself from the gorgeous weather and the desire to spend the whole day outside?  You make waffles, obviously.  Lots and lots of waffles.

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Why make such a large batch of waffles?  Because you can freeze them and then have fresh, homemade toaster waffles whenever you feel like it!  How great is that?

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Not that we have a problem whipping up a quick batch of waffles on any given morning, but who doesn’t love just popping them in the toaster to have homemade waffles ready in just minutes?

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No muss, no fuss, just light, crispy waffles ready to be topped with whatever your heart desires!

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Strawberries and cream?  Bananas and peanut butter? Berry compote?  These are such a neutral-tasting waffles that you could basically do anything you wanted!  The possibilities are endless!

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And hey, if you just want to go the classic route and throw a little butter and maple syrup on there, we won’t judge 😉

So we didn’t exactly get to enjoy the beautiful weather, but at least now we have a freezer full of waffles, right?

Big Batch Buttermilk Waffles

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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35-40 minutes
Makes: 14 large waffles

Ingredients:

3 c. whole wheat flour
3 tsp baking powder
1.5 tsp baking soda
1-2 tsp cinnamon
3 eggs, whisked
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 c. maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener)
2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat your waffle iron.

In a large bowl combine all the dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl combine all the wet ingredients.  Add the wet to the dry and stir until just combined.  Spoon the batter even onto the waffle iron.  Close the lid and allow to cook for 4-5 minutes, or until the waffle is lightly browned and firm to the touch. (Times may very depending on how hot your iron is, so keep you eye on ’em!)

The key to getting a nice, crispy waffle is not putting too much batter on the iron at once.  You don’t want it to be too thin, either, but over-loading the plates will make it difficult to get a crispy waffle.

Repeat the process until all the waffles are done.  Lay the waffles out and allow them to cool. (As some of the first ones start to cool you can start to stack others on top of them with wax paper between each waffle).  Once the waffles are cool, place them in an air-tight ziplock bag, keeping the wax paper in between them.  If they start to get a little soft as they sit, don’t worry because you’ll be toasting them later.

When you want to eat them, remove however many you want from the freezer and pop them straight into the toaster.  Then top with whatever you like!

~twosaucysisters

Do you like waffles? What are your favourite waffle toppings?

How to Make Your Own Vegetable Stock

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We grew up in a home that went to great lengths to avoid wasting food.

Peanut butter jars were scraped clean with the spatula, yogurt containers were not allowed to be thrown away until every. last. drop. of yogurt had been consumed, crusts were never thrown away and even the crumbled cereal dust at the bottom of the box was eaten.

So maybe you can understand where we’re coming from when we say that seeing food (or anything, really) being wasted really bothers us.  Like when we would watch a food fight break out on a T.V. show as kids the first thing that would come to our minds is “that’s such a big waste of food!” Yes. That happened.

And don’t even get us started on the amount of food that we see getting thrown away at work!  Having cooked/served at a few restaurants now, the amount of food that we’ve seen get thrown away on a daily basis at any restaurant is enough to make our 8-year-old selves speachless!

While a restaurant can’t really do much about the food that gets brought back un-eaten, one place we worked at had a great system for using up veggie “scraps”.  You know, the outer peel of carrots,  the stems of herbs, the ribs and seeds of peppers- all the stuff that ordinarily you would just throw away?  They had several “stock pots” sitting around the kitchen, and when you would finish peeling and chopping a bunch of carrots, peppers, cucumbers, etc. you would throw the leftover parts that you aren’t using into the stock pot.  When the pot got full, it was covered and kept in the fridge and used later on to make vegetable stock.

What a great idea, right?

Since working there we have adopted a similar system, and now we always have healthy, low-sodium homemade vegetable broth on hand that costs basically nothing to make!  It’s a very simple process, so lets get started.

Step One: Get a plastic bag/bucket and fill ‘er up!

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So what usually falls into our stock bag?  Carrot peels, pepper stems, onion skins, the ends of celery stalks, cauliflower stems/leaves, herb stems, and when the bag is getting full and we know we’re going to be making stock really soon, we like to throw in some apple cores, too!  Just remember these two pointers:

1. Don’t put asparagus into your vegetable stock unless you know you will be making asparagus soup
2. Don’t put more than one broccoli stem into the pot, or else all you’ll taste is broccoli!

Step 2: Dump the veggie scraps into a pot and fill it with water.

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No need to measure, just fill it to about 1 inch from the top of the pot.  We also like to add a couple more chopped up garlic cloves at this step, to pump-up the flava!

Step 3: Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and allow it to simmer for about 1 hour.

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As the stock simmers some of the liquid will evaporate, so you may want to come back 1 or two times during the simmering process to add a little more water back in.

Step 4: Strain the liquid through a colander.

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You’ll be left over with a reddish-brown liquid that looks like this:

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Now just pour the liquid into a few containers and place in the freezer.  They’ll keep for several months in there, and you can just pull out containers and thaw them as you need them!

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We usually don’t add any salt to our stock since we prefer to add it to the actual recipe when we’re cooking, but if you like you can feel free to add a dash or two in according to your tastes.

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And there you have it!  No-salt-added vegetable stock perfect for soups, stews, sauces, and whatever else you want to use it for!  And all those veggie “scraps” that ordinarily would have been wasted have now been put to good use.  You will never need to buy the stuff in the powder form from the grocery store ever again.

Cheap, healthy and easy?  Sounds about right to us!

~twosaucysisters

Have you ever made your own vegetable stock?  What do you do to avoid wasting food?

Guest Post: Meet Linda!

Hi, 2SS readers!  Today we have a special treat for you because we have Linda guest-posting for us, and she is bringing you not one, not two, but three yummy dessert/snack recipes!  Linda is from housekeeping.org. She is a Texas-based writer who loves to write on the topics of housekeeping, green living, home décor, and more. She welcomes your comments which can be sent to b.lindahousekeeping@gmail.com.

Take it away, Linda!

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3 healthy desserts you can make with kids

I love to cook with my children and since we all have a bit of a sweet tooth we all love to cook desserts. Some desserts can be a little overwhelming for kids however. Others can be too full of fat and sugar to be a healthy way to end the day. These three recipes offer the best solution for my family. Fast, easy, tasty and somewhat healthy my children and I go back to these recipes again and again:

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Easy Pineapple Angel Food Cake

Ingredients:

1 (20 oz) can of undrained pineapple, crushed or tidbits

1 box angel food cake mix

Directions:

Simply stir together the two ingredients in a large mixing bowl until smooth and then pour into a lightly greased 9×13 baking dish. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Serve with whipped cream and berries for a tasty treat. You can also use two 8 inch cake pans and bake for around 15 minutes.

parfait

Red, White, and Blueberry Dessert

Ingredients:

1 lb fresh strawberries, sliced

1 pint fresh raspberries

2 pints fresh blueberries

1 (16 oz) container of light Cool Whip

Directions:

Using a tall glass, like a parfait glass, put in a layer of around a dozen blueberries. Then about an inch of Cool Whip.Then another layer of raspberries. Then more Cool Whip. Then blueberries again, then Cool Whip again, and then top with sliced strawberries. You get a really cool patriotic flag effect that is perfect for the Fourth of July. You can also make your own whipped cream if you prefer that flavor.

 

Chocolate Cookies

Chocolate Crackle Cookies

For this easy recipe I use a few substitutions to make it lighter. The cookies still taste great. For deeper chocolate flavor use a dark chocolate cake mix. You can also make these cookies lemon by using lemon cake mix. For even stronger lemon flavor you can use half a teaspoon of vanilla and half a teaspoon of lemon juice. If you don’t mind the extra calories, these cookies also taste great iced!

Ingredients:

1 box of chocolate cake mix

2 large eggs (or egg substitute)

1/3 cup oil (or applesauce)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar (for rolling)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix together all ingredients except confectioner’s sugar. Blend well. The batter will be thick. Form into large balls (1 ½ tablespoon approx.). Roll the balls in powdered sugar and place on parchment paper about two inches apart. Bake for 7 to 12 minutes or until middles look slightly undercooked. Let cool for five minutes before removing to a wire rack.

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Wow!  These recipes all look delicious!  Thank you so much, Linda, for guest-posting for us today.  We hope you all enjoy her recipes, and we hope you all head over to housekeeping.org and pay her a visit!

*All photos in this post are courtesy of Flickr

~twosaucysisters