Friday, November 30, 2012

The Latest Makayla Update

Bonnie 'German' BrownMy name is Makayla!  On Sunday, September 30, 2012, I was going to pick up a friend of mine for church while helping on my Dad's bus route.  As I was crossing the street, I was hit by a car, stabilized at Benefis Hospital in Great Falls, and then flown to Harbor View Hospital in Seattle.  I am currently in critical, but stable condition.  
My family and I really support all of your love, prayers, and support!  Please feel free to leave comments of encouragement and love.  Please share my page with every one that you can, because prayers are the most important thing that can help me right now.

From Eric Brown
Yesterday evening was a time of answered prayer! They transitioned her to her G tube and were able to take the NG tube out of her nose. So no more tubes in her face!!!

Not only that, but they did another CT scan yesterday for her neck to evaluate if she still needs her J-collar. They manipulated her head and neck all around while doing a CT. They came back yesterda

y afternoon with the news Jeannette and I have been waiting to hear: she no longer needs her collar! Praise the Lord God!!!

She looks so good without it! And with her hair growing back pretty fast, she's starting to look like her normal self! They are transitioning her off the dilautid pump to giving her pain meds every 4 hours through her G tube today. This will be a big step for starting rehab! We're just praying she is healed enough from the surgery to come off the pump.

She is still having trouble with vomiting. She got sick yesterday on the way back from the CT scan. This is still the "big" issue that is keeping her from starting rehab. What's funny, is the realization that this is her "big" problem. It really doesn't seem like much seeing how insignificant it is to the problems she has gone through the past 2 months. It is amazing how the Lord has answered prayer time and time again.

If anyone out there doubts that there is a God and that He loves us, then all I have to say is, go back and read each and every post Jeannette and I have shared. If you can't see God working beyond what the doctors could ever do, then you are blind and a fool. "The fool hath said in his heart there is no God" (Psalm 14:1). Even her doctors have said time and time again that there is nothing they can do to make her better. Some have even declared how her recovery, even thus far, is a miracle!

Some days bring steps backwards, that is for sure. But as she has gone along, her good days are even better than ever and her bad days are better than many of her good days 2 months ago! It is an upward trend that shows the Lord's power and goodness every step of the way. Even if she never gets any better, His goodness is still more than we deserve. But we still believe that Jesus is doing a work in our hearts and is preparing Makayla for the life He has planned for her! Again, I cannot thank you enough for your continued prayers! Much credit is to be given to all those hundreds of people praying all around the world for her!




Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Re-Post Baking Christmas Cookies ~ A Tradition In My Family

Traditionally the Christmas Cookie was the cut out sugar cookie in shapes that resemble items that remind us of Christmas. Ever since the nine-teen thirties children in the USA have been leaving cookies out for Santa on Christmas Eve.

However, baking Christmas Cookies is not necessarily a female tradition; it is a predominately female tradition. In keeping with that idea it is easy to understand how we ended up with a huge variety of recipes for cookies that are baked for Christmas. Since the United States is the melting pot of many nationalities, it is inevitable that recipes from other nations were added to the mix.

Somewhere along the time line of baking cookies for Christmas, someone decided that they would make a great Christmas gift to be enjoyed by the whole family. Many attractively decorated tins popped up in the super markets, some may even had been sold containing mass produced commercialized versions of our favorite home baked cookies.  I love to re-use tins that I have either bought or had given to me.  Recently, I received a huge box of tins that were lovingly used by one of Alpha's best bakers, Yolanda Savary. 

My Uncle Dick's wife our Aunt Jenny is of Hungarian decent and was known for her Kieflies. She called them Kieflies, but many Germans call them Kiffels. In her recipe she used yeast and sour cream, and this was the recipe our mother used for many years.

Then in 1978, we were introduced to our neighbor Andy "Gumps" Penyak's sister Anna "Anky" Moyer who was of Russian decent. She gave us the recipe for Kiffels made with cream cheese, which is much simpler than the one with yeast and sour cream.

One Christmas I gave a tin of my cookies to Aunt Jenny and Uncle Dick, and she asked for my recipe for the Kiffel with cream cheese. It was my understanding that from that time onward she used the cream cheese recipe. I think that the cookie comes lighter, more flaky, and richer with cream cheese.

I had previously been known in my circle of friends as the person who makes wedding cakes. My dear friend Georgia called me to make her brother Jimmy's wedding cake. At their wedding reception I was introduced to Mrs. Georgia Kustopias Crouse's delicious, melt in your mouth Greek Crescent Cookies.

When I was about eighteen my cousin Paula Jessamine "DiRisio" made tons, and tons of Christmas cookies for her family on their farm in Karrville, NJ. One of my favorites of Paula's cookies was her powdered sugared pecan sandy balls that looked like a snow ball. They too would just melt in your mouth. The recipes were quite similar to the Greek Crescent Cookies so I incorporated the two. I separate the Greek cookie dough into two parts, and add pecans to one part for the "snow balls".

Three years ago my daughter Jennifer gave me a Christmas Cookie book. In the book was a recipe for "Mice Cookies", they were so adorable looking and so easy to make that my grandchildren helped me make them. They are now a whimsical addition to the many cookies our family enjoys each Christmas season.

There was a day many years ago when I made thousands of cookies and gave them as gifts. Well, those days have hit the skids for me. Physically I am not able to bake so many cookies, and the cost of ingredients have sky rocketed since the seventies and eighties.

I now wrangle the help of the granddaughters and even the grandsons if they would like to learn how to bake. My father was an excellent baker and candy maker. His cream puffs, Danish, and bread were scrumptious. My friend Georgia would take them to her Aunt's former restaurant in Easton to be sold at the counter. He also tried his hand at making homemade sauerkraut, horse radish, and pickles. So as to not leave the gentlemen out of this tradition of baking Christmas cookies, I think that I should see if Jacob and Gabriel would like to try their hand at baking.

As to not make this blog any longer, I will now add my first Christmas cookie recipe, and will post the rest of them next week.

I think if I took a poll in our family the Kiffel would win the first choice of the cookies I bake. Therefore it will be my first recipe:


4 c. flour "You may need more if dough seems too wet."

1 lb. butter

1 lb. cream cheese

Mix well. Divide into about 4 large round balls. Refrigerate overnight; however, if there is not enough time to refrigerate overnight, the dough may be worked immediately after mixing. Roll dough in powdered sugar/flour mixture into a large round circle to about 1/4 inch in thickness. or on parchment paper. Cut 5 inch squares with a pizza cutter or crimper. Fill with apricot, lekvar, etc. (many fillings can be store bought at the deli section). Don't be afraid to fill. You may make them smaller if you want. I have also used a pastry bag to put the filling on the dough. Fold sides inward to pinch and seal in the filling. Bake at 350 degrees starting at 13 minutes and watching until kiffels are golden on the surface. (This time will vary on the size of the kiffels. 5 inch kiffels with filling will turn out somewhat large.) Use cookie tray. Remove when hot. 1 batch makes about 5 1/2 dozen kiffels. These freeze very well.

2 c. ground walnuts 12 tbsp. condensed milk 8 tbsp. sugar My mother added black walnut flavoring, which is hard to find, but really enhances the flavor.*

LEKVAR FILLING: Lekvar is sold in the jelly section of the grocery store, it is prune filling, and my personal favorite. Back in the day I would purchase Lekvar in a white paper dish, wrapped in the white meat wrapping paper, at the meat counter in Alpha's well known, Central Super Market, which also sold black walnut flavoring, and the little silver balls that Mom used for the eyes on her Mirror Cookie Press Peanut Butter Camel.  The Pados family and their Central Super Market are surely missed by everyone in Alpha.

APRICOT FILLING: I use Apricot Jam that I get at Aldis, and would also be found in the jelly section at any grocery store.

*After the nut filled kiffels are cool, I place them in a zip lock bag with some powdered sugar, lightly shake, and remove from bag.

If you happen to be too busy to bake and live in the Lehigh Valley, you may want to take a trip to the Kiffel Kitchen on Route 512 in Moore Township north of Bath, south of Wind Gap. They also ship! Here is a link to their website: The Kiffel Kitchen   I have had their kiffels, nut cups, and cream cheese brownie cups and they are delicious. The store is really nice too, and they sell country craft gift items, and play Jimmy Durante background music, definitely worth the trip.


Re-Post More Christmas Cookie Recipes

The following are all made using a Mirror Cookie Press. I have had several over the years and have worn them out. I still like the old fashioned one that is manually turned. The shooter is quick, the templates a little different than those of my youth, and I have had two brake mid-shooting. You can always find the vintage Mirror Press on Ebay, and they are not too pricey.

Sour Cream Spritz Wreaths
1 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/3 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat oven to 375 F. Beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolk, sour cream and vanilla. Sift together flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Gradually stir flour mixture into butter mixture. You may now add food color, I usually use green. Fill cookie press with dough, then form cookies on ungreased cookie sheets. I usually use the small star template and guide it to make the shape of a wreath, placing two cinnamon hot dots at the top. Bake 10-12 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Almond Spritz Christmas Trees
1 cup butter, softened
1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 375 F. Beat butter and cream cheese in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, almond extract, and vanilla; beat till combined. Stir in flour. Add green food color. Cover and chill dough for 30 minutes or until easily worked but not too stiff. Pack dough into a cookie press. I use the Christmas Tree template for these cookies. Force dough through press onto ungreased cookie sheets. Sprinkle with colored sugar and place cinnamon dot at top. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges of cookies are firm but not brown. Allow to cool on baking sheet one minute then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Butter Spritz Flowers with Maraschino center
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup butter
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Heat oven to 400F. In large mixer bowl combine sugar, butter, egg, salt, and vanilla. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until mixture is light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add flour. Beat at low speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed, 2 to 3 minutes. You may now add food coloring, I divide and make some red and some without food color. Place dough in cookie press. Use flower template and add a maraschino cherry in the center place 1 inch apart on cookie sheets. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.
* A Tip: Parchment paper is a huge time saver, as you just slide it off with cookies in tact onto the surface to cool. It also prevents a mess on the pan from sugar sprinkles.

Re-Post Christmas Cookie Recipes

Night Before Christmas Mice

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring not even a mouse.

3 cups of all purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup unsalted butter softened

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 large egg

Sm. bag almond slivers

10 feet of black licorice laces

6 ounces of semisweet chocolate melted and kept slightly warm.

Whisk flour and salt together in a small bowl. In large bowl beat butter until creamy, gradually add sugar and beat until fluffy, add vanilla and egg, then beat. Mix in about a third of the flour at low speed. Gradually add remaining flour until well blended. Scrape dough onto large piece of plastic wrap, and cover completely, and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight. Needs to be firm enough to roll into balls. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper, and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough to 1/4 inch ovals, pinch one end to make appearance of the face, eye sockets, and nose of a mouse. Gently add two almond slivers just behind eye sockets as in the photo. Place the mice two inches apart on the cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes until light golden brown on bottom edges. Remove from oven, and quickly pierce rear end with tooth pick and insert a 3/4 inch piece of licorice lace for tail. After they cool, pipe eyes and nose using melted chocolate, you may make a parchment or wax paper cone* or use a decorator bag with smallest writing tip. *Directions for making a parchment cone: Click Here

Merry Cheese Cakes


16 oz. softened cream cheese
1 tbsp. lemon juice
3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Beat all ingredients until fluffy.
In mini muffin pans, place cup-cake liners (silver or holiday ones are very festive). Drop tsp of graham cracker crust mixture into each lined cup, and press down with thumb, then fill 2/3 way full with cheesecake mixture,top tsp. with cherry pie filling..
Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Allow mini cakes to cool, before storing. Keep refrigerated until transported or served.


  • 1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
In a small bowl, combine the crumbs and sugar; add butter and blend well

Cookie Cutter Sugar Cookies

  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  1. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt until well blended. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Scrape down bowl with a rubber spatula.
  4. Stir in the flour mixture until incorporated.
  5. Cover the bowl, and chill the dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
  6. When you are ready to bake the cookies, make sure one of your oven racks is in the center of your oven and preheat oven to 400F degrees.
  7. Line your cookie sheets with silicone liners or parchment paper. Alternatively use ungreased cookie sheets.
  8. Scoop out about 1/3 of the dough onto a lightly floured surface and return the rest of your dough to the refrigerator until you are ready for it.
  9. Roll out dough on floured surface or parchment paper to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick, getting it as even as you can.
  10. Cut into desired shapes with your favorite cookie cutters.
  11. Place cookies 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheets.
  12. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven for thin cookies and 8 to 10 minutes for thicker cookies.
  13. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheets before transferring the cookies to wire racks to cool completely.
This recipe makes about 4 to 5 dozen sugar cookies, depending on size and shape of the cookie cutter used.

Some tips:

  • Chill the dough thoroughly, when instructed to do so.
  • Roll only a portion of the dough at a time and keep the rest in the refrigerator.
  • If the dough seems sticky, you can roll the dough between parchment paper to avoid sticking.
  • Roll the dough to an even thickness so your cookies will cook at the same rate.
  • The thinner you roll the dough the crisper your cookies will be. Thicker dough will result in a softer cookie.
  • Only place cookie dough on cool cookie sheets.
  • Dust your cookie cutters with flour between cuttings.
  • For best results bake your cut out cookies one sheet at a time in the center of your oven.
  • To decorate, simply sprinkle your sugar cookies with colored sugar before baking.
  • Plain cookies can be painted using clean good artist or model painting brushes with your favorite sugar icing once baked and cooled.
  • I have also beaten an egg yolk, separate to make different colors, add food coloring paint unbaked cookie as you like it, then bake. This stains the cookie and adds no extra sugar or changed flavor.
Egg yolk paint:

5 egg yolks
2 tsp. water
Food color

Frosting for painting cookies:

1 egg white, room temperature
1 c. powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
Food coloring
Beat egg white until frothy. Add sugar; beat until stiff. Add cream of tartar until thick. Dilute with food coloring and water. Paint on cookies with paint brush.

Nut Tossies or Nut Cups

1 cup flour
3 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 lb butter or margarine, softened
1/2 brown sugar, packed
1 egg, beaten
1 cup chopped nuts (pecans or English walnuts)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1. Mix softened butter and cream cheese. 2. Add flour to butter mixture. 3. Divide into 24 balls. 4. Press into tossie or mini muffin tins. 5. Mix brown sugar, vanilla, and nuts together then add beaten egg, mix well. 6. Fill crust about 3/4 full. 7. Bake for 20 mins until crust is brown.

Delicious Appetizers: I have also used this recipe for delicious appetizers, just make the cups and bake them empty until lightly golden brown about 10 minutes, take out and allow to cool.

Spinach Cream Cheese Filling: Mix one package of cream cheese, with 1/4 cup grated onion, 1 tsp. chopped garlic, 1 box of thoroughly drained and patted dry frozen chopped spinach, pinch of seasoned salt or soul seasoning, and dash of pepper, spoon into cups.

Liverwurst Cream Cheese Filling: Beat one package of cream cheese, with one tube package of Oscar Meyer Liverwurst until smooth, you may add onion if you wish, spoon into cups.

Chudder Filling: Beat one package of cream cheese with one container of Wispride Cheddar Cheese, spoon into cups.