top 11 recipes of 2011

Here they are...

the Sweet Anna's top 11 recipes of 2011!  (According to you guys!!)


baked apple fritter muffins

I have been seeing a lot of apple fritter recipes around the web lately...  and really, who doesn't love a good apple fritter?

I was actually contemplating getting out the frying pan and making some today, but I quickly realized I am just not up for that kind of mess.

Or the smells of frying anything.

Food and I are not the best of friends these days...

So I decided to whip up some apple fritter muffins instead!  Much easier!!

I took a simple cinnamon-sugar muffin batter, filled it with tons of apples and rolled it all in browned butter and cinnamon & sugar.

Yum, yum, YUM!

This little treat hit the spot.  I wish you could come over and have some pretend apple fritters with me!

Baked Apple Fritter Muffins Recipe
loosely adapted from Smitten Kitchen
makes 36-40 mini muffins, depending on the size of your tins

for the coating:
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, melted and browned*
for the muffins:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
3 cups finely diced apples (about 3 large)

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon for the topping;  Set aside.

*To brown the butter:  In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat until melted and starting to foam.  Stir occasionally while the butter continues to cook, turning a bit brown on the bottom and smelling rich and nutty.  When the butter is browned and aromatic, pull it off the heat and set aside.

Butter or spray 2-24 ct. mini muffin pans and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg & salt.

In the bowl of your mixer, cream together the 1/3 cup butter and 1/2 cup sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg and vanilla until well combined.

Gently stir in the flour and milk, a bit at a time and alternating (1/3 of the flour, 1/2 of the milk, 1/3 flour, 1/2 milk, 1/3 flour) until just combined.

Fold in the apples and spoon into the muffin tins, about 3/4 full.  (You won't probably fill all of both pans, but you will get more than one pan-full!).

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the muffins a springy when you press them and a toothpick inserted in to one of them comes out clean.

Remove the muffins to a wire rack until they are just cool enough to touch.

When you can pick them up...  take each muffin and dip it in the browned butter and then roll it in the cinnamon/sugar mixture.

Serve warm with a big glass of cold milk!


new year's party recipe ideas!

Are you hosting a part on New Year's Eve?  Or attending a bring-something-to-share party?

Here are some party-friendly food ideas!

Some of which we will be having at our house this year...  if I can get my tired pregnant self off the couch long enough to make them, that is!


jalapeño popper dip with tortilla chips

pepperoni pizza puffs

slow-cooker cheddar fondue with bread & apple dippers

copy-cat Trader Joe's mediterranean-style hummus with rice crackers and pita chips

candy pretzel buttons

spinach dip with bread & veggie dippers

& of course, no party is complete without the classic onion dip and potato chips!

What are you serving (or looking forward to eating!) for the holiday?


homemade tile coasters

Our favorite Christmas gifts we made this year were homemade tile coasters!

(I'm sorry I couldn't post this up before the holidays so you could make them this year too, but I didn't want to spoil the surprise for everyone who was getting them for Christmas!)

The other gift we made this year was Homemade Pure Vanilla Extract!  Also super easy to make and fun to give!

These coasters were so easy and fun to make...  we made 50 and could have easily made more if we had the supplies!

I know we'll be making them again...  I want a bunch more for our house!

We used cabinet-door stops for the bottom, because we had easy access to those.  I love how sturdy they are...  but felt or cork would work just as good.

Then we wrapped them up in coordinating sets of 4 and tied them with ribbon for gifting!

(Thanks for the inspiration Pinterest!!)

These would also be so cool with pictures on them instead of scrapbook paper.  Just cut pictures to size and proceed as directed.

I plan on trying that next!

Homemade Tile Coasters Instructions
adapted from The Cottage Home

4 1/4" tiles (you can get them super cheap at Home Depot)
scrapbook paper
felt or cork or cabinet door stops
Mod Podge
sponge brush
strong glue (Fabri-tac or other)
clear spray acrylic sealer

Carefully cut the scrapbook paper into 4x4" squares.  Cut the felt or cork to 4x4" squares also, unless you are using door stops.

For each tile, spread a layer of Mod Podge onto a tile.  Lay a piece of scrapbook paper on top, lined up nicely and let dry for a minute while you do the next few.

Now, spread another good layer of Mod Podge on top of the papered tile making sure to get the whole surface evenly.  Let dry completely.  (You can repeat this step if you'd like...  we didn't find it necessary!)

Once they are all papered, Mod Podged and dry, take them outside and spray them evenly with a coat of the clear acrylic.  Let them dry completely before attaching the backing.

When they are completely dry, use the glue to attach felt or cork squares to the bottoms.  Or if you have access to cabinet door stops, they are already sticky so no glue needed...  just attach in the corners and press firmly!

Easy and fun!!


Haakon's blankie... a giveaway!

Did you ever have a lovey when you were a child?

What about your children?

A blankie... or a teddy bear... or a toy...

Something that they have to have with them...  especially at sleep time?

Bjørn never did, but Haakon found this little blankie (that I mostly used for nursing support) and cannot live without it!

He won't sleep without it, and if he sees it, even across the room, a big smile lights up his face.

It's adorable.  Beyond adorable.  It melts my heart, every time.

So, we finally had to go ahead an order a 'backup' blankie a little while ago.  Unfortunately I realized after it showed up that I had ordered the wrong color (gasp!)...  but thankfully he doesn't seem to care.

He does know that there are 2 blankies (as Bjørn often feels the need to copy him and cuddle with the "over bankie") but he is happy with either one, so we're good for now!

AllyZabba has offered to give away a free TravelZabba in the color of your choice to one winner from my readers!  

The Travel Zabba is the smaller-sized cuddle blanket that Haakon has, and it is perfect!  Small enough to carry around without dragging everywhere, but big enough to cuddle and find easily in his bed at night.

Also, for the rest of you, they have generously offered my readers a 15% off discount code for anything on their website!  Shop away!!

The AllyZabba discount code is:  sweet15

To enter the giveaway:

1 (MANDATORY) entry:  Leave a comment on this post telling me what your (or your kids!) lovey was!

1 optional entry:  Like Sweet Anna's on Facebook and come back and comment that you did!

1 more optional entry:  Like AllyZabba on Facebook and come back and comment that you did!

(For a total of 3 possible entries!)

This giveaway ends on December 30th at 11:59pm PST.  The winner will be contacted via email and announced on Facebook the next day!  

And the winner is:

Vanessa!  (Congratulations!!)  Check your email and get back to me soon!

Disclaimer:  I was not compensated in any way for this review!  Haakon fell in love with this blanket on his own, and I contacted the company to see if they would be interested in doing a giveaway of our favorite lovey!

Our holiday festivities will be in full swing starting tomorrow, so I won't be posting for a few days!  Have a wonderful Christmas friends...  and we'll see you back here soon!


grandma's hands...

She had the most beautiful hands.

Strong hands.

Loving hands.

Hands that could break an apple in two...

Hands that taught me to love baking...

Hands that could hug away any pain...

Hands that folded with mine as she prayed with me before bed...

Beautiful hands.

Hands that now lie still.

As her soul lives on with Jesus,

And all those who have gone before.

We love you Grandma.

So much.


norwegian potato lefse

Lefse is a traditional holiday treat for Norwegians.  There are several versions, depending somewhat on what region your family is from... but this potato version is a classic.

Lefse is essentially a Norwegian 'tortilla'...

At least that's the easiest way I've found to explain it!

It is usually served rolled up with with butter and sugar.  (Although you will sometimes find it wrapped around a hotdog!  My favorite!!)

I got this recipe years ago from an old professor/friend of mine, Rod.

He taught me how to make these one very cold Minnesota winter's evening in his family's kitchen...  and I have such fond memories of a house full of dough, flour, laughter and lefse!

I would suggest making lefse with a helper, because it's so much easier, faster and more fun!

Thanks for teaching me how to make lefse, Rod!  Always one of my favorite memories of living in the frozen tundra for a while!

Rod's Potato Lefse Recipe

2 teaspoons salt
8 cups smoothly mashed potatoes*
2/3 cup butter
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
5 cups flour

*Boil the potatoes with the salt, then drain and mash (use a potato-ricer if you have one, for best results) until very smooth.

Heat the butter, cream & sugar in a small saucepan until melted and combined.  Pour the hot butter mixture into the potatoes and whisk to combine.

Stir in the flour until well mixed and smooth, kneading a bit if necessary.

Let the dough cool to room temperature, then form into about golf-ball-sized balls on a baking sheet and place in the fridge (or outside, if you live in the Frozen Tundra!) to chill completely.

Once the dough is completely chilled, roll the balls out on a floured countertop... very thinly.   Transfer to a hot griddle, fry until bubbles start to form around the edges, then flip and finish frying.

Cool completely and then spread with softened butter and sprinkle generously with sugar, cinnamon & sugar or brown sugar, and then roll or fold up to serve!


eggnog cream wafers

Or "Mrs. Akerlund Cookies"...  one more treat for the Christmas Eve table!

The cookies themselves are very delicate and not sweet at all.  They are kind of just a vessel for getting the eggnog frosting to your mouth, but they are dainty and refined and delicious.

In my family growing up, these cookies were always called "Mrs. Akerlund Cookies".  I think because that is who my grandma got the recipe from...

I just recently learned that they are usually called cream wafers, and I made the frosting eggnog so we could have Eggnog Cream Wafers!

So, my list is winding down.  Just a few more things to get done, you know...  besides all the dreaded present-wrapping...  and we're all ready for the big day!!

Merry Almost-Christmas everyone!!!

Eggnog Cream Wafers Recipe

for the cookies:
1 cup butter, softened
6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 cups flour
for the filling:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon (& more, if needed) eggnog
red or green food coloring, optional

For the cookies:
In a large mixer bowl, cream together the butter, cream and flour.  Divide the dough into two portions flattened into disks, wrap each in plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill for at least an hour.

When you're ready, take a round of dough out of the fridge.  Flour your countertop and rolling pin and then roll out the dough to about 1/8" thick.

Use a small round cookie cutter (about 1 1/2" or so) to cut out circles and place them on parchment-lined cookie sheets.  (Keep gathering up the scraps and re-rolling them to use all the dough!).

Repeat with the second round of dough.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  As each sheet fills, place them in the fridge to chill for at least 10 minutes before baking.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cookies are light golden brown.  Let the cookies cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:
In another mixer bowl,  beat together the butter and powdered sugar until smooth, adding eggnog - a little bit at a time - until you've reached the right consistency.  (If you want to dye the frosting, now's the time!)

Frost the 'wrong' side of half of the cookies and then top them with another cookie.  Store in the freezer!


Christmas procrastination...

So, am I the only one around here afflicted with Christmas Procrastination?

I just can't seem to do the stuff that needs to be done.  No matter how hard I try.

I have done most of my baking, and most of my shopping (not much choice on that one, when you live in a small town and have to order most things online!)...

But that's where it ends.

I need to clean.  I need to do laundry.  I need to finish homemade Christmas presents.  I need to wrap presents.  Oh...  the wrapping.

I despise wrapping.

But you know what?  I love watching my kids rip open wrapping paper!  Pulling something out of a gift bag just isn't the same, ya know?

So, I will quit being lazy.  Soon.

Tomorrow, maybe.

Before Friday, for sure.  

Today, I will sit here and watch Christmas movies with my boys and sip hot chocolate by the Christmas tree.


eggnog fudge

Creamy, extremely rich eggnog fudge!  Christmas in your mouth?  I think so!

We are not exactly chocolate-lovers in this family.  We can appreciate it, but we just don't care too much about it.

White chocolate though...  that is a whole 'nother story.  At least for my husband it is!

If you like eggnog, try this fudge.  It's so fun!

(This is a very rich fudge.  I am not exaggerating on that.  You may even want to put a layer of this on top of a layer of regular chocolate fudge to balance it out!  And please... cut the squares tiny!)

Creamy Eggnog Fudge Recipe
adapted from Recipe Girl

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup eggnog
1 3/4 cup good-quality white chocolate chips
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg (+ more for garnish!)
1 (7oz) jar marshmallow creme
1 teaspoon rum extract

Line an 8 or 9" square baking dish with foil.  Butter the foil generously.

In a heavy-duty 3qt saucepan, combine the sugar, butter and eggnog.  Bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly.

Boil for 8-10 minutes, stirring constantly (until a candy thermometer has reached and stayed at 234ºF for a bit).

Remove from the heat and stir in the white chocolate and nutmeg until smooth.

Stir in the marshmallow creme and rum extract until very smooth and blended and then spread the fudge into the prepared pan.

Let cool completely in the fridge before cutting.

Store in tupperware in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for a few months (yeah, right...)  :o)



norwegian krumkake

These dainty, adorable cookies are a classic Norwegian treat.  Subtly flavored with vanilla and cardamom, they are cute and fun to eat!

(Wow.  I rhymed.  And I kind of want to erase that and start over, but I won't because I'm too tired.)

Sometimes you'll see these dainty, rolled cookies filled with whipped cream and berries...  but we always serve them plain.

This was the first time I have ever made some not-rolled and I actually really liked them that way.

Besides just being way faster to make, the pretty design from the krumkake baker shows up better!

However we roll them, Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without these krumkake on our table!

Krumkake Recipe
adapted from scandinavianfood.about.com

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
6 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon ground cardamom
2 cup flour
3/4 cup water

In a large mixer bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.  Stir in the eggs, one at a time.

Add vanilla and ground cardamom. Stir in flour, mixing well. Add water until batter is the consistency of a thick cream sauce.

Using an electric krumkake baker, follow the directions provided by the manufacturer.

As each cookie comes off the baker, immediately roll it around a krumkake cone or the handle of a wood spoon. Slip off and allow to cool completely on a rack.


cheesy beef or chicken enchiladas

These creamy, cheesy, enchiladas are so cozy and rich!  A little goes a long way, which is always a good thing in my book!

When my friend Kellie pinned this recipe on Pinterest, I knew I had to try it soon!

I love spicy, creamy mexican food, and since I can't eat tomatoes right now and this doesn't have any, I was thrilled to try it!

I made these with ground beef, but they would be just as amazing with shredded beef, chicken, or even pork.

(If you use chicken or pork, switch to chicken stock.  Otherwise, I love richness of the beef stock in this dish!)


Cheesy Beef or Chicken Enchiladas
adapted from Joyful Momma's Kitchen

10 flour tortillas
2 cups ground or shredded beef, cooked & cooled
2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups beef stock
salt & pepper, to taste
1 (7oz) can diced green chiles
1 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Grease a 9x13" baking dish, or two 8x8" baking dishes.

In a medium bowl, stir together the meat and 1 cup of the shredded cheese.  Spoon a few scoops of the mixture in the center of a tortilla, roll it up and place it seam-side-down in the baking dish.  Repeat with the remaining tortillas and mixture.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Whisk in the flour, stirring constantly until golden and fragrant.  Slowly whisk in the stock until the mixture is smooth, and continue to cook and stir until the sauce is bubbling and thick.

Remove from the heat and stir in the green chiles, salt & pepper, and sour cream until smooth.  Pour the cream sauce over the filled tortillas in the pan and sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup shredded cheese.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until bubbling.  If it's not golden enough on top, turn on the broiler and give it a few minutes to pretty-up!


my must-have Christmas cookie list

So, I obviously have a love for Christmas.  A passionate, consuming love.

I would be happy if Christmas was celebrated 9 months a year (taking summers off, of course!).

Anyways, I'm pretty sure you know that about me...  so I'll move on to the subject at hand:

My All-Time Favorite Must-Have Christmas Cookies!

These are the ones I have to have each year, or Christmas just isn't complete, ya know?


Christmas Buttons

 Peppermint Truffle Cheesecake Bars

Sour Cream Sugar Twists

Eggnog Latte Sugar Cookies

Raspberry-Almond Thumbprints

Monster Cookies

Peppermint Chocolate Sour Cream Cookies

Peppermint Fudge

& Eggnog Cream Wafers


And of course, some Norwegian classics...




What are your must-have Christmas cookies??

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