A Mountain Hearth Christmas ~ Day 2

Posted by on Nov 5, 2013 in Mountain Home and Heart, Recipes | 54 comments

Imagine a fireside scene…
Logs crackle,
Sparks dance,
Conversation stirs…
The air is tinged with the warm scents of fresh-baked cookies.

That’s where we invite you this week…

To a place of sweet fellowship, sharing not just the recipes of a traditional cookie exchange, but also the corners of our hearts where we hold cherished scriptures.

Our hope through this blog hop is to join with you in starting the holiday season off in gentle, truth-filled simplicity, and perhaps even inspiring a new tradition in your home.

The Way It Works: Readers who “hop” from blog to blog this week will have five printed recipes and scriptures by the end of the week. The scriptures can be crafted into the beginning of a scripture garland– a place to gather verses close to the hearts of those you love. They can also be used as ornaments or gift tags.

Read on for more information, and be sure to check the list of all five stops at the bottom of this post!

Welcome to my little kitchen in the mountains!

Whether it’s over an old iron stove, with a crackling fire, or in a 21st century kitchen while carols play on the radio, cast iron cookies can bring warmth to any table. I first began using cast iron while working on the Cadence of Grace series and it made me think of my characters Elsie and Lonnie and their cozy kitchen where they stirred up all kinds of goodness. With it’s layer method, this one-pan-wonder is a cinch to make– and fun for the little ones to help! The cookies nestle perfectly into the pan with an easy layer method…But what makes the pioneer spirit so special, isn’t so much about following a tight set of guidelines, but about making it your own. So if you don’t have cast iron, use whatever you have on hand! Happy baking, friends!

Cast Iron Cookie Bars


½ c. butter

1 ½ c. graham cracker crumbs

1 (14. Oz ) can sweetened condensed milk

½ cup white chocolate chips

½ cup butterscotch chips

½ cup sweetened dried cranberries

½ cup pecans




About cast iron: we cook all our meals on cast iron and clean the pans with hot water only. Between uses, we smear the iron pans with coconut oil while still warm and they keep great.

In your seasoned cast iron pan* (the one I used was 10” in diameter), melt the butter on medium-low heat and then turn off the heat. Into the pan goes the graham cracker crumbs. Stir these together until combined and then press down with your fingers or a measuring cup until the crust mixture is flat and moved into all the edges of the pan.

Next drizzle on the sweetened condensed milk, then sprinkle on the white chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, dried cranberries and pecans. Slide the pan into a pre-heated oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes or until bubbly and the edges are golden brown.  For the best cut bars, allow to cool completely, then cut and serve. These are a rich cookie, so about 1 ½ inch squares is a nice serving size.


* If you don’t have a cast iron pan, you can make this in a regular baking pan and just melt the butter in a little pot and then pour it in. 


For the printable recipe, click here!




If you’ve been following the blog hop this week, you know we’re each sharing a scripture that’s dear to our heart. You can cut out the strip and create a paper chain/garland with them, or cut out the wreaths that bear the scriptures, to use as ornaments, gift tags, or to adorn pine garlands, etc. The hope is to create a simple but meaningful reminder of the life that this season celebrates, and the Life Eternal that we share, as a result.

My verse is “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:14)

If there is anything that keeps the JOY in Christmas, it’s remembering what is most important: bringing Glory to God and loving others. By keeping that focus, my prayer is that all of our Christmas seasons will be filled with peace and all the warmth of the Christmas season.


In the comments, will you share a favorite scripture of yours?

At the end of the week, each of the five of us will pick one of the scriptures from our comments, and put them together on one last printable for you in the days that follow. When all is said and done, you’ll have 10 scriptures total to begin your scripture garland, and we’ll provide you with a blank template as well, should you wish to carry on the tradition and include more friends-and-family-favorite scriptures in your garland.

Check back here next week for information on where to find those last printables!


Wishing you and your family joy this holiday season!

Heartfelt Recipes released this week and a VERY special thank you to everyone who celebrated with me! If you’d been wanting to get a copy for your Kindle or iPad, the $2.99 cookbooklet includes 10 original recipes, plus a bonus fiction read. You can learn more here. :)

See you tomorrow at Melissa K. Norris’ blog!

The Mountain Hearth Christmas Line-up:

Monday 11/4: Laura Frantz~ http://LauraFrantz.net/journal/

Tuesday 11/5: Joanne Bischof ~ http://www.joannebischof.com/blog/

Wednesday 11/6: Melissa K. Norris ~ http://melissaknorris.com/

Thursday 11/7: Amanda Dykes ~ http://amandadykes.com/hearth/

Friday 11/8: Lauraine Snelling ~ http://amandadykes.com/lauraine/


  1. Joanne, your cast iron cookies sounds fabulous and I can’t wait to try them! I also can’t wait to try your HEARTFELT RECIPES! I have just downloaded my copy and also sent one to my mother. I know she will be surprised and thrilled with this special treat!

    The scripture I am sharing today is 1 Corinthians 15:57. “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” May we always be thankful for this most important blessing we have been given!

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful week of food and fellowship!

    • Britney,

      What fun to wake up and “see” you here this morning. Both you and your flower are so cheerful. That’s so sweet of you to grab a copy for your mom and yourself! I hope you BOTH enjoy it!

      That verse from Corinthians is such a beautiful one. Thank you for sharing!

  2. This cast iron packing Momma loves your recipe! We only use cast iron, including our Dutch ovens. This recipe looks fun and I can’t wait to give it a try. My husband adores chocolate, so I’ll have to slip some semi-sweet chips in there, too.

    I think we need to arrange a pioneer cooking spree together. We could film our own pioneer women cook show. :)

    Thanks for sharing your heart, recipes, and words with us.

    • I agree! A few months ago we started cooking everything on cast iron… I’d much rather be getting coconut oil and iron in our diets than teflon :/

      Chocolate chips are a great idea! I did the white as it’s my honey’s fave, but I’m a milk chocolate girl myself! lol. Yes, a pioneer cooking spree would be SO fun!!!

  3. Joanne, I could hardly wait to hurry over there this morning! Your cookie bar ingredients are going on my grocery list – and you said the magic words – CAST IRON! I LOVE cast iron! Aside from the fact that it’s good for you, it’s historical and more…

    And your cookbook looks wonderful, too. Am going to go on a little Joanne Bischoff shopping spree;)

    Bless you for your verse and thoughts but most of all your precious friendship.

    • Laura – You are such a dear and so dear to ME! I love that we are cast iron kindred spirits (along with Melissa and Amanda!) Isn’t it just the best?! I love it doubly because it gets my husband cooking more. I guess there’s something rugged and manly about it to him ;) You are so sweet to be going on that shopping spree. That just gave me such a fun smile.

      Still dreaming of those sugar cookies of yours!!

  4. Grrr, it’s too early – I even misspelled your name!

  5. Oh my goodness, yummy!! My mom has a special 7 layer bar recipe that matches this pretty closely and we devour those when she makes them. I’m hungry now. That’s not good. Need to go shopping for those ingredients!
    Psalm 84:10 is my constant companion and reminder. :)

    • Hi Susan,

      Those seven layer bars… the ones with the chocolate chips and coconut are my FAVORITE! SO much so that I don’t make them because I will be very sorry ;) Glad to see you here and thank you for sharing that Psalm. Have a wonderful day!

      • LOL, that is the reason I don’t make them either. I would eat the whole entire pan without one ounce of guilt. No guilt is not good.

  6. Wow! Those Cast Iron cookies look/sound fabulous! I am definitely going to try them! Thanks for sharing the recipe and the verse! This is so much fun- and I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s stop already! :)

    • Thanks, Joy! They really are scrumptious. I sent some to my husband’s work for the ladies in the office and they were a hit. I was so happy! Thanks for stopping by and I look forward to seeing you tomorrow at our next hop!

  7. Oh. my.
    This recipe… It’s taking everything in me not to hop in the car and go buy the ingredients right now! And I wholeheartedly agree with what the others have said– there’s just something about cast iron! I’ve bee using it for 1.5 years now, thanks to Melissa’s education on the subject (thanks, Melissa!), and I just adore the simplicity of it.

    I love that in your scripture, peace follows giving Glory to God. You know me and my hungry-for-peace-heart… and I don’t know that I’ve ever noticed this about this verse until today. Worshiping Him can truly transform the state of our hearts. Thank you so much for sharing! I cherish you, my friend!

    • Amanda,

      You made my day! I love hearing when people make changes to better their health, and cast iron use is definitely one of them! You gals are such a blessing, all the way around.

    • aw, you are so cute, my dear friend! I was surprised with how easy it was. I’d gathered the ingredients and anticipated an undertaking, but they were put together in a snap! And oh yes, you too are a girl after my own heart. Yay for cast iron!! And hooray for Melissa for introducing us to things like this. :)

      I am hungry for peace as well. I’d imagine so many of us are, all through the year. I’m so glad this verse was an encouragement to you. HUGS!!

  8. I received a wonderful surprise this morning when my daughter, Britney, sent me your Heartfelt Recipes. I love recipes and recipe books so I was absolutely thrilled. Cooking in cast iron is something we do at our ranch quite often and I always feel like time has turned back a bit. My mouth actually started watering when I saw your luscious bars. I can’t wait to give them a try and I know they won’t last long. I must also give an extremely loud “shout out” about your wonderful books. I was pull in from the moment I started the first one and that pulling never let up until I read the last word of the series. You, my dear, have a wonderful talent and I thank you so much for sharing it.

    • Melanie-

      Oh that warms my heart! Your daughter was so sweet to do that! And the fact that those cookies made your mouth water is just the cherry on top. It’s so neat to hear of so many here who use and cook on cast iron. It really is great.

      You are SO sweet to share how much you enjoyed the books. That means the world to me. Thank you!

  9. Can’t wait to try these. Thank you ladies so much for sharing not only your writing skills with us – an added bonus is your mad cooking skills!

    • Thank YOU for stopping in, Melody. So wonderful to have you join us! Happy baking!

  10. My Grandmother gave me her recipe like yours except she called it her 7 layer cookie bars. They are so good. Thank you for sharing yours.

    • That’s the common name for it, LeAnne and they are SO good. There are a few ingredient swap outs on this one, but what makes them so great, is being able to adjust it. I confess, I love these with regular chocolate ;)

  11. Joanne,

    Thank you for sharing your recipe, I can’t wait to try it. I have a cast iron pan that belonged to my nana and I would love to use it to make these cookie bars:) It has been a very long time since I have used it, I think it will be an adventure to teach my kids how to make this recipe:) I shared a Psalm 34:8 on Laura’s page yesterday, today I will share my life verse which is Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

    PS I just finshed reading Though My Heart is Torn, I loved it! I am waiting for Be Still my Soul and My Hope is Found from CBD:)

    • Rebecca,
      I’d love to hear how these turn out for you! What a sweet thought, you making these in your nana’s pan. And oh yes! This is a great one for the kids. I wish I’d posted a picture of my son helping me.

      That is such a wonderful verse from Philippians. Thank you for sharing!

      P.S. it just does my heart so good to hear that you enjoyed Though My Heart is Torn and are going back to read #1 and then #3. Hugs to you!

  12. Love the idea of skillet cookies. I no longer have a cast iron skillet but will try anyway. Thanks your recipe looks delicious.

    • Yes, Jackie, these work great in a regular baking pan. So glad you’ll give these a try. Happy baking!

  13. Hello my kind of next door neighbor. I am in San Diego. The recipe sounds amazing! I am allergic to milk and so I will work on how to make it using something else. I love cooking in cast iron, I just don’t do it enough! Oh and I just downloaded your cookbooklet I can’t wait to dive in!
    A favorite verse would have to be Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

    • Robyn,

      I started on your comment and thought, “Oh! I live by a Robyn Conners and I haven’t stopped in a said hello!?” SO glad to know I didn’t miss you in our neighborhood, LOL. Yes, SD, we ARE close!

      I’d love to hear how your substitutions work out. I’ll be pondering some ideas and let you know if I come up with any. Thanks so much for downloading the little cookbook. I truly hope you enjoy it!

      And thank you for sharing that special verse. Such a beautiful one!

  14. I do believe I am going to make the skillet cookies for my son to take camping this weekend.
    So love the picture up top.

    • Wonderful, Cheryl! I hope they enjoy them! Thanks for being here. :)

  15. It sounds amazing. I can’t wait to see if your recipes can come out in paperback, but I am looking forward to making all these goodies all of the authors are posting. It’s nice to see the post in the morning, it’s welcoming and warm. I have to many Bible verses that I love. But the one I always say is Psalms 91:1 “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty”

    • Keren,

      I hadn’t thought that it would come out in paperback, but now I’m thinking that it might be best to try! I’m glad you mentioned it. :)

      Some real treats the ladies are sharing this week. I’ve had a preview and I definitely want to try them all! Than you for sharing one of your favorite Psalms. I hope you have blessed day!

  16. Hi, Joanne!

    Love the recipe, & even though it is similar to 7-layer cookies, will definitely be making them! I love the cranberries in them!

    I used an iron skillet years ago, & my grandparents, & aunt, never wanted to use anything else. Just wondering if any consequences, from using iron skillets, on older women who don’t need extra iron in their diet? I have thought of getting mine out, & using it again.

    Enjoyed your comments re: keeping Joy in Christmas, Joanne. Like Amanda, I think we can look at familiar bible verses, & pick up new meanings when we re-read them. Luke 2:7, “And she gave birth to her Son, her Firstborn; and she wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room or place for them in the inn” (amplified version). If Christ, the ruler of the world, humbled Himself to be born in a lowly stable, on a bed of hay – surrounded by animals – how much more should we humble ourselves before, (& obey) Him?

    Enjoying A Mountain Hearth Christmas – so much, & it’s thanks to the 5 of you wonderful writers/authors. Thank you SO much! Love your books, Joanne – would love to have the recipe book in paperback, so that I can put it with my cookbooks, but thinking I may go ahead & order the e-book, also, so that I can be using it.
    As always – appreciate your kind, sweet, spirit!

    • Bonnie,

      Glad those cranberries caught your eye. They really are yummy in these! That’s a good question re: the iron. If you’re needing to avoid iron, that may be a good question to bring up with your doctor, but I think for most people, it’s probably an added benefit if it gets into the food. That’s my hope as I’m a bit iron deficient and I’ve actually been feeling better lately!

      I’m so glad that you’re joining us for the hop. It’s always such a joy to have you along. And I’m glad you mentioned the paperback. I’m hoping soon, I’ll be able to look into that! :)

  17. A favorite scripture of mine is Philippians 4:4
    Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.

    Thanks for the recipe and the blog post.

  18. I wonder if that would work with a Cast iron Dutch oven with coals? That is something we love to do, when the weather is nice, of course. James 1:5 is my favorite scripture. Means a lot to know where to go to find answers!

    • Sonja, I haven’t tried it but I’m going to say yes! We do the dutch oven and coals with different cobblers and as long as you arrange the coals right for the baking temperatures, I bet it would work great. Thank you for sharing that verse from James. You are so right–it’s so wonderful to be able to go there for the answers!

  19. Joanne, your cast iron recipe seems the perfect mix of cozy, mountain kitchen and family convenience. (And almost sounds like the topping I put on my AM oatmeal.) Have you ever tried it with chocolate instead of white chocolate chips?

    After many years, we finally have a cast iron skillet. Hubby preferred the east of Teflon, but when they kept losing coating, I convinced him cast iron was much more durable–and healthy!

    We have a tradition of a wreath with advent candles. Nestled among the leaves are mini-scrolls we’ve made with favorite verses. When we light a candle, we choose a scroll and talk about the verse. I love Isaiah 9:6. I LOVE meditating on the Names of Jesus, and I cannot read this verse without hearing Handel’s Messiah chorus. Makes me want to shout to the Lord!

    Thank you, sweet sister, for hostessing this special gathering. May God bless all you ladies with multiplied joy.

    Merry Christmas! Mary Kay

    • Yes, It is so very good with chocolate chips! My husband is a white chocolate guy, so I tried this twist on it and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Cast iron really is so durable and so healthy. I’ve had a high quality metal spatula since we got married and could never use it on our other pans and now it’s my favorite one because I can use it on the iron!

      Thank you for sharing that verse from Isaiah! The advent tradition is such a beautiful one. I’m wanting to do the candles with the kids this year.

  20. Joanne sorry posting so late. I can’t wait to try these cookie bars!! I love my cast iron skillet passed down from my grandma. My holiday treats are gonna be a hit this year after all the recipes I collect this week.

    Posting a verse is so tough for me cause there are so many dear to my heart and applicable for different seasons, times, situations, etc.. in life. I feel like praising today so let’s do: “Praise the Lord.
    Praise the Lord, my soul. I will praise the Lord all my life;
    I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.” Psalms 146:1-2

    If we could just see every little thing as a gift we’d have no problem praising Him. We put to much stock in the big and noticeable things that we fail to see the mountain of blessings and gifts piled high right behind us. Lord I thank you for the gift of this day. For the sweet moments to hold my babies and kiss the top of their head. I thank you for sweet whispered “I love you’s”. I thank you for a warm home to live in and a warm meal on the table. Each and every breathe is a gift I was granted today.

    Have a blessed day lady!!!

    • Hi Kristy,

      It’s so fun to have you joining us and I’m so happy that these cookies just might have a home in your kitchen! :)

      AH, that is a beautiful Psalm! I just love how everyone is sharing their favorites. And thank you for the sweet reminder of seeing the beautiful in the things around us. Those simple blessings that are right there!

      Hugs to you today and thank you for stopping in!

  21. I love to bake and these cookies look terrific!! I’ll have to make some and add this recipe to my collection!! I like the verse of Isaiah 9:6.

    • Good morning, Donna!

      So glad these cookies sound like something you’ll enjoy! And THANK YOU for sharing one of your favorite verses.

  22. I haven’t experimented in cooking with cast iron, but the history geek in me can’t wait to try it! And these bars look absolutely amazing! Thanks for sharing them, Joanne. :D

    • The history geek in you… I love that! For me there was a learning curve, so give it a few tries if need be!

  23. Me again Joanne, I didn’t include a scripture Monday when I hopped on your blog, but you know, this has not only been such a beautiful read from everyone, it’s also provoked alot of thought. The older I get the more lessons I learn from just a simple verse.

    • Melody,

      That is so wonderful to know. That was our hope with this hop, for it to be encouraging and really focus in on the important things. Hugs!

  24. O my does this recipe look good I copied it down. I want to make it, but I can’t hardly lift a cast iron skillet, my mom always cooked with them. I have very weak wrist from being broken. Love your books.

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  1. A Mountain Hearth Christmas ~ Day 4 | Amanda Dykes - [...] Mountain Hearth Christmas Line-up: Monday 11/4: Laura Frantz Tuesday 11/5: Joanne Bischof Wednesday 11/6: Melissa K. Norris Thursday…
  2. A Mountain Hearth Christmas ~ Day 5: Lauraine Snelling | Amanda Dykes - [...] Mountain Hearth Christmas Line-up: Monday 11/4: Laura Frantz Tuesday 11/5: Joanne Bischof Wednesday 11/6: Melissa K. Norris Thursday…

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