Mom’s M&M Cookies

When  was very young, my Mom would make M&M cookies. I had completely forgotten about them until I was in the bakery one day withy girls and saw them in the case. I bought one and at the first bite, memories came flooding back. I had never seen a recipe for them, I thought maybe Mom had found it on the back of the package. The bakery version would be good enough I told myself. Imagine my surprise when I was cleaning out Mom’s recipe stash and found this recipe file:

I opened it, not expecting much, but there it was, right under the forgotten cookie recipe(we’ll save that for another time), in Mom’s handwriting. I stood, alone in the house and cried a little bit. I had found a small piece of my childhood that I thought was lost forever.

Enough of the sad stuff, lets make some cookies!

I gathered up everything I needed. I followed the recipe exactly, this time.

Blended the shortening and sugars in the handy, dandy KitchenAid.

Add the eggs and vanilla, then mix them up well.

Pour in the dry ingredients.

Add in half of the M&M’s.

Stir them in by hand, mixing well.

Put them on a cookie sheet by teaspoonfuls, I covered with parchment paper for easy cleanup.

Decorate them with the other half of the M&Ms. Yeah these are the bigger size that i made for my kids, forgot to take a pic of the smaller ones after they were decorated. Oops!

Mmmmm! looking good.

Ready for the taste test.

These are easy to make and so very yummy! Next time I will probably add a little extra vanilla and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Hope you enjoy them.

A Word about Tornado Season

We live in tornado alley, therefore we have learned to stay prepared during what has been termed our ‘fifth season’. While tornados form quickly, the storms themselves are easier to forecast. The National Weather Service has come a long way since I was I child, they can now begin notifying the areas that are most likely to have severe weather several days in advance. This gives folks ample opportunity to make the arrangements they need to make.

Now the way we do things is a combination of our past experiences and our living situation. We don’t have a cellar on our property, the cellar we use is next door at my in-laws. It sounds scary but really it’s only 250 feet or so from our house. When our children were younger we developed a buddy system to load into our vehicle in the fastest and most efficient manner, starting with turning it around to face the road eliminating the need to back up. We do still turn the vehicle around, but the teens don’t need the buddy system anymore.

We have a family tornado protocol. As soon as a severe thunderstorm watch is issued, one of us backs the vehicle into the driveway, then all of the phones and tablets are put on the chargers. Life just goes on as normal, except we keep a closer eye on the weather. When a tornado watch is issued everyone puts their shoes on and moves their Go Bag next to the front door or into the vehicle, more on that later. It’s not a frantic, running around time, it’s a very calm matter of fact process. We also take some time and tidy up the house, just in case some on needs to stay with us after the storm. Since we have a generator our friends and family know that if the power goes out they are welcome here. I will also grab a shopping bag and throw in some extra food; bread, peanut butter, jelly, cookies and the like. Severe weather can sometimes derail dinner and no one wants to be stuck in a cellar with a bunch of hangry people.

Each member of our family has a Go Bag. The purpose of the bag is to help provide for each of us in the event our area is struck by damaging weather.. This bag contains a change of clothes( plus a few extra pairs of socks and extra underwear), work gloves, snacks and a comfort item stuffed animal, blanket, sketchbook). We add in a few other things when severe weather is anticipated; chargers(after the phones are completely charged) being the most important. My bag is a little more in depth, I’ll go into detail about that in another post. I begin purchasing snacks,and other items that need to be replaced, in January. A few items here and there. Each person makes a list of what needs to be replaced and what they would like in their bag. This is also when we make sure the clothing in the bag still fits, very important!

Early in the spring, if we can, we pick a nice day and clean the cellar. The floor gets swept, then everything gets wiped down and we check for bugs or other critters. The supplies are checked for expiration dates and a list is made as to what needs to be replaced. We replenish the water supply as well, after a hot summer and a cold winter it’s just the best idea. The towels and blankets are washed and put back in place. Our camping supplies are stored there as well so they are checked and cleaned if needed.

In the event the weather starts looking questionable I don’t wait for a tornado warning to be issued, we will go on to the cellar. I’d rather wait down there for a while and have nothing happen than get caught in our house during something serious. We once missed our opportunity to go to the cellar during some of the most severe weather we have ever had. We were stuck in our house while 75mph winds blew tons of rain at us. The house was shaking and you couldn’t hear anything the wind was so loud. I have never been so scared in my life! I honestly thought the house was about to come apart. We don’t wait that long anymore!

Our overall goal is to be safe and cared for in the event of an emergency without having to use government resources. Make no mistake, our city does a great job during severe weather, I’d just rather leave those resources for people who really need them.i don’t mind the planning or the prep work and we have been blessed with enough resources to provide for our needs. Planning ahead makes it easier to purchase what we may need a few things at a time.

If you do not have an underground storm cellar or basement, the Red Cross recommends going into a small, windowless, interior room or hallway on the lowest level of a sturdy building.

How to Make Tamales: How to Make the Greatest, most Excellent Tamales EVER! – NeoKitchen Recipe

So I’ve often been asked by people to teach them how to make these awesome tamales. Well, here ya go! 🙂

I recommend a two day plan for making tamales. Boil the meat on Day 1, tamale build on Day 2. They don’t have to be back to back days, but keep in mind you will need to store the meat and broth in either a refrigerator or freezer (depending on how long you want to store them), until you’re ready to do a build day.

I’m not super picky on meat, I usually go with what I find cheap or on sale. Whole chicken fryers are good, cheap chuck roast or pork roasts. To be honest, all the meat os boiled soft and well seasoned, so other than texture, the flavor isn’t significantly different between the meats. I often will combine various meats in my shredded meat mix to fill the tamales.

Below are the times in the video for each specific stage.
Meat Boil 0:52
Meat Prep 7:42
Masa Prep 15:37
Tamale Build 21:48
Filling the Tamale Pot 28:01

Tamale Shopping List:
Meat (beef roasts, pork roasts, fryer sized chickens all work great)
Corn Husks
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder
Chili Powder
Sazon Goya Seasoning Packets
Dried Chili’s (Anaheim)
Corn Oil
Freezer Bags

Meat Boil (day 1)
So for the meat boil, cut beef and/or roasts into fist sized chucks, if using whole birds remove insides. Place in a pot and fill with water making sure all meat is submerged. I’m going to give recommended amounts based on a 32 quart pot, so you may need to adjust amounts accordingly if using a larger or smaller pot. This will begin seasoning the meat, but more importantly you want a well-seasoned broth; as the broth from this boil will be used to season the masa on Day 2.

1 Jalapeno, chopped (this should give a slight burn to the masa, use more or less jalapeno to your taste)
4 medium sized onions (chop, but not too fine)
2 Halved Oranges (squeeze out the juice then drop in the rinds)
8 Tbsp of Chili powder
4 Tbsp Garlic powder
4 Tbsp Salt
2 Tbsp Pepper
1 Tbsp Cumin
4 Packets of Sazon goya

Boil for 3-4 hours, until meat is soft and pulls apart very easily. Keep watch that water does not boil down exposing meat at the top. Top off with water as needed and stir every 20-30 minutes. Let pot cool, remove meat and refrigerate or freeze for build day. Strain broth through a colander to remove onion and jalapeno bits. Refrigerate or freeze broth for build day as well. If you finish the boil early enough in the day that it can cool, you may want to go ahead and shred and season the meat now before Day 2 (Day 2 will be busy with the Tamale building itself).

Tamale Build Day (Day 2)
Shred meat, pull off fat and bones or any other undesirable bits.
Place corn husks in water and weigh down soak (1-2 hours of soaking is needed so plan ahead).

Meat Seasoning:
Seed 6 dried chili’s, and place in boiling water for 20 minutes to soften. I use Anaheim, but there are some other good options if you have a different preference. These are the longer smooth peppers you can often find in mexican sections of your grocery store.

In a food processor combine:
6 softened dried chili’s (Anaheim)
½ cup corn oil
2 Tbsp Cumin
2 Tbsp Garlic Powder
1 Tbsp Salt
1 Tbsp Pepper

Pour meat seasoning over meat and work into shredded meat very well. Meat is now ready for tamale build (cover and refrigerate until needed).

Tamale Masa:
In a two cup sifter add:
2 Cups Masa
2 Tbsp Chili powder
1 Tbsp Garlic Powder
1 Tsp Onion Powder
1 Tsp Cumin
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Pepper

Sift into bowl and slowly add meat broth (1 cup at a time, warm broth is helpful) until masa is a soft consistency (comparable to frosting).

Spread the masa onto corn husks. The quickest way is to have your masa very soft and put it on using a flat blade like a dough scraper or metal serving spatula. Think dry wall technique. I spread the masa in the upper 2/3rds of the corn husk.

Add meat and roll. Fold the bottom of corn husk and add the raw tamale to the steamer pot. Cover pot and steam for 2 hours on a medium low heat or until masa no longer has a grainy texture when eaten (yes, you should sample a tamale to test if done). Make sure your water is at a good level before boiling so the pot doesn’t boil dry.

Enjoy your tamales! Place extra tamales in freezer bags, freeze and enjoy some for later too. – NeoBrian