Sunday, January 30, 2011

POTLUCK BANANA CAKE AND A NEW DRYER


POTLUCK BANANA CAKE from Taste of Home
This is a tasty cake, and the frosting reminds me of my mom's coffee cookies which I will post here sometime. The cake is super moist even a couple days later and everything is just as tasty.
Ingredients
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium)
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream


COFFEE FROSTING:
1/3 cup butter, softened
2-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
2 to 3 tablespoons milk
Directions
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add
eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in
vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; add to creamed
mixture alternately with bananas and sour cream, beating well after
each addition.

Pour into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Bake at 350° for
35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes
out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.

For frosting, in a small bowl, beat butter and confectioners' sugar
until smooth. Dissolve coffee granules in milk; add to butter mixture and beat until smooth. Spread over cake. Yield: 12-15 servings.

So my dryer broke last Thursday...had 3 loads of laundry backed up that I washed Friday so when Mister got home we could just go to the laundromat down the street and dry them. EEEEWWWWWW is the best thing I can say about that laundromat. So yesterday we spent some time at Lowes. I was romancing some beautiful machines, sweet talking to this Samsung and caressing an Electrolux. Luckily common sense ruled out and we went with another Whirlpool from the scratch and dent area saving about $100 dollars and keeping the expense to a minimum without getting a cheap machine. This is after all a dryer (I keep telling myself that) and knowing that we need more room then available in this house when we get a chance to move I do not want to take appliances with me the next set will be the sexy stuff...maybe even Electrolux.

Friday, January 28, 2011

EXHAUSTED WONDER WAFFLES

These are not the best waffle I have ever made, but they are the best reheated from frozen waffle I have ever made. Truly amazing, right out of the freezer I popped it into the toaster and it came out crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, like I just made it fresh! Awesome. The recipe came from the Home Cooking magazine that is no longer being printed, so I went to see if I could find it on the Web and I ran into another waffle recipe that I HAVE TO TRY. It is a yeast recipe and I love working with yeast no matter how gross that sounds.


WONDER WAFFLES from Home Cooking Magazine
Now the waffles are not exhausted, I am. The boys have been cutting my sleep off at 6 hours most nights, and even that is to be considered sleeping in most days. I feel like I am not truly awake, but my body is moving around. Feeling like something the cat drug in made it a great morning to have some of these waffles still in the freezer. I toasted one up, drizzled on the syrup and cut up some strawberries...look out world I even got fancy and tried my hand at cutting a fan into one strawberry.
1 1/3 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
2 eggs, separated
1 to 1-1/4 C milk
3 Tbsp oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and sugar; set aside. Beat egg whites just until stiff, moist peaks form. Without washing beaters beat egg yolks lightly in a different bowl. Stir in milk, extracts and oil into yolks; blend well. Stir yolk mixture into dry ingredients; beat until smooth. Fold in egg whites. Bake waffles in waffle iron. Freeze waffles in freezer bag; reheat waffle in toaster.

Makes 10 waffles

Thursday, January 27, 2011

WESTERN CHILI RICE AND ANTICIPATION


WESTERN CHILI RICE adapted from Home Cooking Magazine
I do not have many rice recipes, so anything that makes rice more exciting without having to add meat is a great find. I figure adding some chili beans to this dish would make it a pretty hardy meatless dish.
2 Tbsp butter
1 C chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 C chicken or beef broth
2 C uncooked long grain rice
1 can (10 oz) tomato soup
1 Tbsp marjoram
1 1/4 tsp chili powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
chopped cilantro for garnish, if desired


In large skillet/stock pot saute butter, onion and garlic for 3 minutes. Add broth, rice, tomato soup, marjoram, chili powder, oregano, cumin and salt. Cover and simmer until all liquid has been absorbed by rice, about 20-25 minutes. Sprinkle chopped cilantro over individual servings, if desired.

I am not-so-patiently waiting for our new computer to arrive. I am like a dorky little kid waiting for someone to come over and play; everytime I hear something that sounds remotely like a large truck I rush to the window to look out hopeful that it is my new computer. Today is the earliest possible delivery date, it could arrive as late as next Wednesday...this could be a long week. On a more positive note I began bribing Evan to use the toilet with Hershey kisses and it's working like a charm. The little angel has been using the toilet for 2 days straight...I knew the shyster could do it but just lacked the motivation. I think that once we go out and buy a new dryer, oh yeah last night the dryer took a dump, I will put him into underpants during the day. Yes underpants! I am not going to let him backslide again and knowing that there will inevitably be accidents I am not going to torture myself by having loads of laundry with no dryer to dry them.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

SEED PROPAGATION AND CROCHETING

I had to pause making my second blanket for Project Linus (well third blanket if you count the polar fleece one I cut) because I ran out of yarn. I was saved by JoAnn Fabrics on-line, because I live in the middle of nowhere I am close to nothing everything is an hour away. New York city is only 2 hours away, but the nearest shopping mall is an hour, plus any type of fabric store 2 hours. It is a geographical enigma. During my pause I started crocheting hearts for Valentine's Day. This is one I have done from the directions I found here at Bella Dia. Here is one of the ones I have made...

I started my chamomile seeds last week and I already see sprouts! I keep checking them to make sure that they are still there, that they have not magically disappeared. I painstakingly took the time to drop individuals seeds into each pellet. If you have never seen Chamomile seeds I am going to let you in on a secret...get your face really close to the screen...Chamomile seeds are about the size of this... ' .... yes that little single apostrophe. It was a tedious job but I do not want to waste any seeds this year, and I am motivated by the Square Foot Gardening book that tells the reader to only plant one seed at the required spacing so that you do not waste time and seed thinning.
One tiny sprout up front and you can see all the cinnamon I sprinkled on this morning.

If you garden and you start seed indoors then you know what I mean when I say "damping off" if you do not know what I mean and you want to start seeds inside I have a little advice. Damping off is when fungus attacks your little seedling. The plant will look pinched in the stem, might just flop over or even wither; in any case it is dead. The best way to stop damping off is to prevent it, some cook the soil so that any impurities are removed before seeding. I am too lazy for this, however I have found good luck with cinnamon. Yes, cinnamon the spice. I buy the large canister of cinnamon, so I usually put a 1/4 C or so into a hand held sieve and then sprinkle over top of the pellets, about the time I see things sprouting. Just need to do it once, it acts as an anti-fungal agent. Good air circulation is a must to prevent damping off. I have the little greenhouses, so I prop the lid slightly ajar for a while to make sure fresh air is getting into the seedlings. I have yet to try this one myself, but supposedly brewing a strong chamomile tea, adding an ounce or two per quart of water and spraying the soil tops with the mix will help prevent damping off as well.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

COUNTRY GOULASH SKILLET AND GOLASHES

Photo courtesy of Taste of Home

COUNTRY GOULASH SKILLET adapted from Taste of Home

1 pound ground beef
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
2 C fresh/frozen corn
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium green peppers, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3 C cooked elbow macaroni

In a large skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in the tomatoes, soup, corn, green pepper, onion and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in macaroni and heat through. Yield: 6-8 servings.

DEFINITION GOLASHES
  1. waterproof overshoes: a pair of waterproof shoes, often made of rubber, worn over other shoes as protection against rain or snow
Alright last night went well, the kool-aid cookies were a smashing success. The kitchen table took some abuse; one child told me after hammering that the nail went all the way through the foam and the whole thing stuck to the table. Yeah, the kid nailed the foam to my table. I inspected the table this morning, thanks to the dark finish it does not look any worse for the wear; either that or I am delusional.

Monday, January 24, 2011

KOOL-AID COOKIES AND CUB SCOUTS


KOOL-AID COOKIES from Kitchen to Kitchen
I used the fruit punch flavor, while at Kitchen to Kitchen they loved the lemonade and watermelon flavors. I really took a liking to these cookies, soft, chewy and bursting with flavor. Hopefully the Cub Scouts coming over tonight will love them too.
1 pkg kool-aid (with no sugar) Used fruit punch flavor and LOVED it.
1 2/3 Cups sugar
1 1/4 Cups butter
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3 Cups flour
1/2 Cups sugar for dipping

Mix kool-aid with the sugar. Add softened butter and mix until fluffy. Add eggs and mix well. Stir in salt and baking soda. Add flour in 1/2 cup increments and mix well after each addition.
Roll dough into 1 inch balls and roll in the sugar. Place them on greased cookie sheet and into 325 degree oven for 10-12 minutes. Don't over bake! Remove cookies from sheet after 1 minute and let cool.


So, I got an email message asking if Mister would lead the Cub Scout den meeting tonight, he agreed. This means we will have about 8 boys plus parents over to the house tonight. Last minute makes things exciting. The funniest part of it all is we are working on achievement 5 in the Wolf book, which is hand tools. Yes a group of 8 year-old boys armed with hammers, pliers and screwdrivers. They will be practicing how to use them, IN MY HOME!!! LOL Yeah I am crazy and if the furniture isn't beat up enough now it surely will be by the evening's end. I started my fanatical cleaning routine and had to pause to make Kool-Aid Cookies for the kids. I figure, popcorn, cookies and Tang to drink should be good enough to get them through tonight's meeting. As for me I am not sure, I think there is still some Kahlua in the pantry it might numb the anxiety of children with hammers at my kitchen table. I will contemplate that as I finish cleaning...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

CARROT COOKIES AND SERENITY


CARROT COOKIES adapted from Home Cooking Magazine
These are a delightfully soft cookie, not huge on carrot flavor but made me think spring.
Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cooked, mashed carrots or 12 oz carrot baby food (I used the baby food)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 C coconut
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Orange Icing, below
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheet. For cookies, blend flour, carrots, shortening, sugar, coconut, baking powder, vanilla and salt well. Drop by the teaspoonful onto prepared sheet. Bake 10-15 minutes.

FROSTING
Juice of 1/2 orange (3 to 4 tablespoons)
grated rind of 1 orange
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/4 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
Combine juice and orange rind with butter; stir in sifted confectioners' sugar until desired spreading consistency is reached. Add more juice or confectioners' sugar as needed.

Yesterday was rough, the boys have been extra spunky lately and I have not. Outside play is limited because we have had a real cold snap come through, so we are all on top of each other in the house. Don't get me wrong the house is a decent size home it is some enigma that occurs within that has us stacked up like cord wood. For some reason wherever Mister and I are all three boys are too, we all end up occupying the same 4 square feet of space at the same time. For goodness sakes can't leave the dog out of it, no she has to be there too, after all, we are her pack. Yesterday was Mocha's birthday she is now 4 years old, she has been with us longer then the two youngest kids.
Yeah sure she looks innocent enough, but she is like a vulture the way she tail the boys when they have food. Really though she is Kaleb's best friend, my automatic vacuum, early warning system and peace of mind. She is a huge presence in our home, and I am not referring to the fact she is, like a few others around here, overweight. Poor lady has white around her muzzle already, but I think my cousin said it best, "boys can age a woman like that"

Saturday, January 22, 2011

SAUSAGE MACARONI SUPPER

photo courtesy of Taste of Home
SAUSAGE MACARONI SUPPER from Taste of Home
I am telling you that I love the Taste of Home magazines I have such good luck with their recipes but maybe I should expect nothing less. I mean really, who would submit a sucky recipe to a magazine?
6 ServingsPrep/Total Time: 25 min.

Ingredients
2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
1 pound bulk Italian sausage
1 cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 can (11 ounces) condensed cream of tomato bisque soup, undiluted
1/2 cup 2% milk
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
4 cups frozen broccoli florets, thawed

Directions
Cook macaroni according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a Dutch
oven, cook sausage and onion over medium heat in oil until meat is
no longer pink; drain.

Stir in the soup, milk, cheese and Italian seasoning. Bring to a
boil; reduce heat. Drain macaroni; add to sausage mixture. Stir in
broccoli; heat through. Yield: 6 servings.

Friday, January 21, 2011

BEEF-STUFFED CRESCENTS

photo courtesy of Taste of Home
Beef-Stuffed Crescents from Taste of Home
Stinkin' kids do not know what is good; AJ chose to eat dog food versus these crescents. Ok, so not the glowing kind of review to give a recipe I am posting, I know. However...the adults and Kaleb LOVED them. The two little ones did not even try them. This recipe is most definitely a keeper.
24 ServingsPrep: 25 min. Bake: 15 min.
Ingredients
1 pound ground beef
1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chilies
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, cubed
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
3 tubes (8 ounces each) refrigerated crescent rolls
Directions
•In a large skillet, cook beef and chilies over medium heat until meat
is no longer pink; drain. Add the cream cheese, cumin and chili
powder. Cool slightly.

Separate crescent dough into 24 triangles. Place 1 tablespoon of beef
mixture along the short end of each triangle; carefully roll up.

Place point side down 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at
375° for 11-14 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm. Yield:
2 dozen.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

PENNE HAM SKILLET AND MORE SNOW

If you are looking for a quick dish, that is light and tasty this is it.

PENNE HAM SKILLET from taste of home
I love this pasta, it is simple and it is tasty. It went together like a dream, not the kind where you are running naked through the streets as a monster chases you...oh you never had that dream? It is like a good dream and a tasty dream where you wake up biting your pillow...oh never had that one either?
6 ServingsPrep/Total Time: 30 min.

Ingredients
1 package (16 ounces) penne pasta
3 cups cubed fully cooked ham
1 large sweet red pepper, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh basil or 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) chicken broth
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions
Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large
skillet, saute the ham, red pepper, onion, parsley, basil and
oregano in oil and butter for 4-6 minutes or until ham is browned
and vegetables are tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer.

Stir in broth and lemon juice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer,
uncovered, for 10-15 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half.
Drain pasta; stir into ham mixture. Sprinkle with cheese. Yield: 6
servings.

While I was working furiously in the kitchen the boys were doing what boys do...

play, play and play some more.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

SQUARE FOOT GARDENING AND FLUFFY FROSTING

Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew, is interesting. I like the concept and I half-attempted it last year just because my way of thinking is usually askew from the norm. The idea behind square foot gardening is that you make your garden into plots of 4'x 4' plots. One plot is enough for 1 person's worth of fresh produce, but not enough to save for the winter. The plot is broken down into 12" squares and you plant a crop in each square, the number of plants per square depends on each plants spacing needs. For example you can fit 1 tomato plant in 1 square or 16 carrot plants in 1 square. Carrots only require 3" spacing while a tomato requires 12" of space. Of course this book advocates vertical crops, which I am already a fan of and had every intention of doing more of this in the garden. I already grow peas and tomatoes vertically, like most people, but after seeing a special on Disney's garden I wanted to grow my cucumber vertically as well. Well this book has inspired me to also grow my melon and squashes vertically too. Already committed to the boxes Mister made for me last year I will break up the boxes (4' x10') into 4' plots and leave a 1' by 4' swatch between plots and at the front of the box for herbs and beneficial flowers (marigold and nasturtium).

I am excited to see if some of the information I gleaned from the book produces noticeable results. In true Linda fashion I managed to make many mistakes last year and I am ready to make a whole new load of mistakes this year. LOL I am learning...all preparation for one day having more land  and a bigger garden; a girl can dream.

This next recipe is my all-time favorite white frosting recipe. I found it in the booklet that came with my Kitchen Aid stand mixer.
FLUFFY FROSTING
Imagine a mix between marshmallow creme and vanilla frosting...yeah I know your mouth is watering too. It has a nice airy consistency and tastes a bit like marshmallow. I could eat just the frosting and forgo the cake.
1 1/2 C sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C water
1 1/2 tbsp light corn syrup
2 egg whites
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Place sugar, tartar, salt, water and corn syrup in a saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves completely, forming a syrup.

Place egg whites in mixer bowl. Whip egg whites until they begin to hold shape, almost soft peaks. Continue beating while slowly pour hot syrup into egg whites in a fine stream and whip 1-1 1/2 minutes. Add vanilla and whip 5 minutes more until frosting loses its gloss and stands in stiff peaks. Frost cake immediately.
Frosts: 12-16 servings; 2 layer cake or 13x9x2 inch cake.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

TANGY CHICKEN BITES AND A SNOW DAY

Ok, I like these little tangy chicken bites served over a bed of rice, but the kids turn up their noses. Well, Kaleb does not, but Evan and AJ do and I think they are out of their minds. Thank you Linda Nichols Belon of Steubenville, Ohio for submitting it to Home Cooking Magazine.

TANGY CHICKEN BITES adapted from Home Cooking Magazine Dec. 2007

3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 C Dijon mustard
1/3 C cider vinegar
2 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp honey
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes

Melt the butter and sesame oil in a pan. Add cayenne pepper, Dijon mustard, cider vinegar, brown sugar, honey and soy sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add chicken and cook until chicken is cooked through. Serve with the sauce over a bed of rice or egg noodles.

Well here I am in the midst of yet another snow day for Kaleb. Thank goodness for Super Mario Brothers on the Wii because it is a small distraction for a few moments of priceless sanity. I love the boys, but they are trying to make me looney, it is a conspiracy. Last night Kaleb wakes up and comes into our room around midnight because his throat hurts (he has some kind of creeping crud) and after much convincing takes some medicine to help him sleep easier. In the meantime, he wakes AJ who sleeps in our room still so at 1:30 am I ended up downstairs with AJ wondering why in the world  some nights have to be so tough and why is it my boys seem to hate to sleep. Just about the time the sleep-deprivation crazies start setting in, I put AJ back down and have 20 minutes peace until Evan wakes up at 3 am. Yes I am in rare form today and the world seems slightly fuzzy to me and I have a cling-on in the form of a small blue-eyed boy. Wish me luck I am charging head-first into the madness.

Monday, January 17, 2011

CHOCOLATE CLOUDS AND GREY SKIES

I found a great companion cookie to my mom's raspberry meringue cookies, and here they are...

CHOCOLATE CLOUDS from Cooks.com  
I love these cookies for their chocolately sweetness and chocolate chip yumminess. They are so very tasty and will look beautiful next to the pink raspberry meringue cookies. Plus what does not go with chocolate? That is rhetorical I am not looking for any smart answers because I think chocolate goes with EVERYTHING. It goes with beer, fruit, bread, it even goes with baby blue.

3 egg whites, room temperature
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
3/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. cocoa
2 c. (12 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate mini chips

Heat oven to 300 degrees. Place parchment paper on cookie sheets (instead of parchment I use the brown paper bags from the grocery store, I just cut them to fit on my cookie sheet). In large mixer bowl beat egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar and vanilla beating until soft peaks hold. Sugar is dissolved and mixture is glossy. Sift cocoa onto egg mixture, gently fold just until combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
Drop by heaping tablespoons onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake 35-40 minutes or just until dry. Carefully peel off paper, cool completely on wire rack. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

The weather forecast does not instill warm fuzzy feelings for Kaleb going to school tomorrow. Yes I am a betting woman and I am betting I get an automated school call that they are cancelling if it starts snowing/sleeting/raining tonight. Our county is under a severe weather alert...it looks like an extended Martin Luther King day to me.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

MCP PROJECT 52

So I entered into this project MCP Project 52 where I have to take 52 pictures in one year, so 1 a week. I just felt like it to be honest, not one to commit this is out of my character but I like taking pictures. The first week was a collaborative effort with Mister and we came up with this...
The theme was, Around the House, I love marbles I have two glass blocks filled one with blue marbles the other with green. Mister took the green marbles and dumped them in our mortise and pestle.

This week's theme is, Illustrate a Song, and we have settled on Bell Bottom Blues by Eric Clapton and submitted this photo
Obviously the bottom of a bell, that is more turquoise then blue but hey that is splitting hairs and I have enough of those on my head I do not need to split anymore.

Friday, January 14, 2011

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER SHORTBREAD SQUARES

My photo, the ugly stepsister of Martha's see below
Martha Stewart hit this one on the head...these squares are very tasty, and decadent without an obscene amount of work. In true Martha fashion they are not the simple throw together dessert but truly worth making. I LOVE peanut butter, perhaps because it is a butter, there's oil in dem dar peanuts!

One tip I read after making the squares was if you do not have the basket-weave mold to spread the chocolate directly over the peanut butter. What I did was cut a piece of tin foil to fit shortbread and placed that on a cookie sheet, then spread the chocolate over the foil and put the cookie sheet in the fridge. Once the chocolate was set I peeled the foil off and placed it on top of the peanut butter.
photo courtesy of Martha Stewart

Chocolate Peanut Butter Shortbread Squares
 from Martha Stewart
Ingredients
Vegetable oil cooking spray
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
12 ounces milk chocolate, melted
1 cup creamy peanut butter
 Directions
1.Coat a 9 1/2-inch square baking pan with cooking spray. Line with parchment, leaving a 2-inch overhang on 2 sides, and coat parchment with spray.
2.Sift flour and salt into a medium bowl. Beat butter with a mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. With the mixer running, add sugar, and beat until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture, beating until just incorporated. Press dough evenly into pan. Cover, and refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes.
3.Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Bake shortbread until golden brown and firm in center, 45 to 50 minutes. Let shortbread cool in pan on a wire rack.
4.Place a basket-weave mat, trimmed to fit pan, on a rimmed baking sheet, and spread melted chocolate evenly on mat. Refrigerate until firm, about 45 minutes.
5.Use parchment to unmold shortbread from pan, and trim edges to create a square. Spread peanut butter evenly on shortbread. Carefully center chocolate, mat side up, on top of peanut butter, and gently peel off mat. Cut shortbread into 1 1/2-inch squares. Shortbread will keep, covered, for up to 3 days.
Makes about 36 squares.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

POMPLAMOOSE AND TASTY BANANA BUNDT CAKE

I love Pomplamoose, and I want a t-shirt. I think my favorite song is, "If You Think You Need Some Lovin" but who am I kidding I love them all, and have listened to them so many times it would make any normal person's head spin around and pea soup shoot out of their mouths.



TASTY BANANA BUNDT CAKE
Courtesy of a magazine no longer in print, Home Cooking, submitted by Denise Hansen of Jackson, Minn. I love to make quick breads, and I always have bananas around. I of course had to tweek the recipe because I have a hard time leaving things alone. I would slap my own hands with a wooden spoon, but I am not into pain I would make a bad masochist.

1 (18.25 oz) yellow cake mix
1 1/4 C banana slices
2 eggs
1 C buttermilk
1/4 C cold coffee
1 tsp vanilla (my addition)
1 tsp nutmeg (my addition)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 12-cup bundt pan. Combine cake mix, banana slices, eggs, buttermilk and coffee in mixing bowl. Beat at low speed until blended. Beat at medium-high speed 2 minutes. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 50-65 minutes or until tested done. Cool in pan on wire rack for 45 minutes. Invert onto serving plate. Garnish with whipped cream and additional banana slices before serving, if desired. Serves 10-12.

I love the quick ease it takes to throw this bread together and I just love nutmeg in my banana bread which is why I added it here. Yes, I am a nutmeg-in-my-banana-bread type of person as opposed to the cinnamon banana bread people, but can't we all just get along?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

BEEF ROLLS AND RECIPE ARCHIVAL

I like doing something different with ground beef, and while this recipe might need a bit more tweeking, they are different and you can make easy variations by adding different spices to the biscuit mix and topping the rolls with cheese or anything your heart desires.
BEEF ROLLS adapted from Where's Mom Now That I Need Her?
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 C chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 C catsup
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Adobo seasoning
1/4 tsp pepper
3 C biscuit mix
2/3 C milk
1 tsp garlic powder
1 C shredded cheese
2 Tbsp flour
2 C hot water
2 beef bouillon cubes
1/4 tsp salt
dash pepper

Brown ground beef in large skillet; add onions and garlic, cook until tender. Stir in catsup, Worcestershire sauce, and pepper; set aside. In large bowl combine biscuit mix, garlic powder, shredded cheese and milk; knead until smooth. Roll out into a rectangle about 15"x 8" or until biscuit is less then 1/4" thick. Spread with meat mixture. Roll up jelly roll style and pinch seam shut. Slice into 1" slices, arrange in ungreased cookie sheet cut-side up, sprinkle some more cheese on top if desired, and bake at 475 degrees for 10 minutes. In pan used to cook the beef, stir in 1 Tbsp flour. Dissolve bouillon cubes in hot water and pour into pan; cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Season with salt and pepper. Pour gravy over beef rolls.

I received this book, Where is Mom Now That I Need Her?, from a family member and really dug the whole concept which got me started thinking (yes, this is when I am most dangerous, when the gears are grinding and the smoke is escaping from my ears) about making my own version, loosely based off this for my boys. I would like to make one for each boy filling it with great tips, short cuts, and their favorite recipes. That is when I realized my own archival methods were seriously deficient. I went on the quest, not unlike the quest for holy grail, I had to find the ultimate recipe archival method. I think for myself I needed something I could change without having to re-write recipes because ever so often I change my mind on how things should be organized. Yes, I like to switch it up in the middle of the game, this goes for most aspects of the household Mister is still looking for the whisk and the trash can in the wrong places because I rearranged; it's why they love me so.

My favorite way to keep recipes now is in a series of small 9"x & 7 1/2" three-ring binders with the plastic pages that hold two 3x5 cards. This way I put all my recipes on cards and not only can I shift pages around, but also the individual recipes as well. I have one book for desserts and the other contains the rest however, I am thinking that I need another binder so I can separate the main courses out from the other categories. See that is the beauty of my system, I can do that with minimal effort and NO rewriting or crossing off recipes. So now things are orderly; the ground beef recipes are all together, the chicken recipes hang out in another section and my seafood recipes are contained all in one spot. I can add new recipes in and they all go into the appropriate sections, none of this mucking about.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

CONVERSATION HEARTS AND CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES


Why is it these little hearts, with sappy little messages, can make everything seem right with the world? I suppose I should not question why, just ride the wave of euphoria...did that just sound crazy? I swear though, I bought my first bag of the year of conversation hearts yesterday morning and the day just seemed happier, the future brighter. Maybe I am cracking and this is the first sign; I will know for sure if my cereal starts dictating commands. Whatever the case, the boys and I enjoyed munching on some of these simple candies yesterday afternoon.

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES from the Best Cookie Collection Ever

 What I love most about this recipe from all other recipes is that they are so soft, and I love using French Vanilla pudding mix because the cookies come out orgasmically delicious. I have also noticed the cookies tend to maintain a little more substance then the other chocolate chip recipes that tend to spread out into more of a wafer then a cookie.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 (3.4 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 large eggs
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

1.Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.
2.In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
3.In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter until creamy, about 2 minutes.
4.Add sugars gradually, beating until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 more minutes. Stop once or twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula if necessary.
5.Beat in the instant vanilla pudding mix until blended.
6.Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and then the vanilla beating until smooth.
7.Scrape down the bowl again to make sure everything is well combined.
8.Stir in the flour mixture just until incorporated.
9.Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts if using.
10.Drop by heaping tablespoons (or cookie scoop) onto lined cookie sheets, leaving about 2 inches between cookies.
11.Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes or just until lightly golden brown around the edges.
12.Cool on baking sheets for a minute or two, then transfer cookies with a thin metal spatula to wire racks to cool completely.
13.Store in an airtight container.

Monday, January 10, 2011

SWEET POTATO PLANTS AND BUTTERY CROISSANTS

This is yet another find from Taste of Home Best of Holiday Recipes (2010) submitted by Loraine Meyer of Bend, OR. I really appreciate any breakfast that I can do most preparation on the night before and these rolls require the overnight in the fridge. They were buttery, flaky and I will definitely make them again.

BUTTERY CROISSANTS
40 ServingsPrep: 1 hour + chilling Bake: 15 min./batch

Ingredients
1-1/2 cups butter, softened
1/3 cup all-purpose flour

DOUGH:
1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
1 cup warm 2% milk (110° to 115°)
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
3-1/2 to 3-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

Directions
In a small bowl, beat butter and flour until combined; spread into a 12-in. x 6-in. rectangle on a piece of waxed paper. Cover with another piece of waxed paper; refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the milk, sugar, egg, salt and 2 cups flour; beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface;
knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.

Roll dough into a 14-in. square. Remove top sheet of waxed paper from butter; invert onto half of dough. Remove waxed paper. Fold dough over butter; seal edges.

Roll into a 20-in. x 12-in. rectangle. Fold into thirds. Repeat rolling and folding twice. (If butter softens, chill after folding.) Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate overnight.

Unwrap dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll into a 25-in. x 20-in. rectangle. Cut into 5-in. squares. Cut each square diagonally in half, forming two triangles. Roll up triangles from the wide end; place 2 in. apart with point down on ungreased baking sheets. Curve ends down to form crescent shape. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Bake at 375° for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks. Serve warm. Yield: about 3 dozen.

Sweet Potato Plants
We started this quite a while ago, but since it has been so cold and the daylight so sparse they have taken forever to sprout. This is suppose to fulfill a Cub Scout achievement, only it spread because once E saw K make one he wanted to as well so now there are two. The faces you ask, what is up with those freaky faces? After watching these potatoes daily (they sit right on the ledge over the kitchen sink) I noticed that K's was getting these really plump veins running up and down the potato. The potato freaked me out, kinda disturbing looking for some reason, all veiny. Mister thought the faces would make them look more friendly...not really the effect I think he was going for because they are not making me feel less freaked out.




What we did, I picked out sweet potatoes that were already sprouting, and the thinner ones are better. I pulled out some jars (cleaned out jelly jars) and filled them with water. Next, Kaleb and I speared the potatoes right around the center; three bamboo skewers (toothpicks kept breaking) evenly spaced to hold the potato in the water. The pointy end goes in the water and the round end points up. I picked sweet potato because the vine looks interesting and I plan on keeping the plants. I am a keep-indoor-plants type of person, just having them around makes me smile and breathe easier.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

REGISTRATION AND TUNA POT PIE

I really liked this dinner for 3 reasons; one, I am always looking for something different to do with tuna, two, it was super easy to throw together and lastly it was tasty. All these ingredients are likely to be in my house at any one time which makes this a sweetheart recipe.

HOMESTYLE TUNA POT PIE adapted from StarKist Tuna
6 servings
1 pkg refrigerated all-ready pie crusts (2 crusts)
1 can (12 1/2 oz) Starkist tuna, drained
1 pkg. (10 oz) frozen peas and carrots (I used peas and corn)
1/2 C chopped onion
1 tsp garlic powder
1 can (10 3/4 oz) cream of potato or cream of mushroom soup
1/3 C milk
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning

Line 9-inch pie pan with one crust; set aside. Combine remaining ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour pie filling in pie pan. Top with second crust. Seal and crimp edges. Slit top of crust to vent and bake at 375 degrees F for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown.

Today was swim lesson registration and our third time at level 2 Guppies. K has made such huge strides this past year swimming, fingers crossed he passes this level this time.  The next level is pretty advanced, all the strokes and swimming back and forth in the pool basically the whole time. In order to register I was up by 4 am, as were E and A, I fed all the boys by 5am and got showered around 6am all to be out of the house by 6:22 am. We trekked down to the high school in the dark, Mister and E ( K and A elected to stay at home with the grandfolks) dropped me off at the front doors and I went in while they went to Dunkin' Donuts. I know you are wondering why they start registration so early in the morning, at the risk of sounding super crazy I will let you in on a secret...it does not start until 9am. Unfortunately there are limited number of swim lessons in each level and only 8 spots in each class. I am not the only nut job, I was the 5th in line, yes there were 5 other people who beat me there. Like seasoned pros we whipped out our folding camp chairs, coffee in hand, sat down and bullshitted for 2 hours. Mister and E came in about 30 minutes later and walked around the halls while I held my spot in line. Before 9 am even hit the line was around the halls and out the front door. This whole adventure is like going to the amusement park, you wait forever in line for like a 2 minute long ride. Having everything already filled out and in hand the transaction took less then 1 minute and at 9:03 am I was back in the truck heading home knowing full well I will be doing this again in September; maybe for 2 kids instead of just one. Needless to say I got my K in the Guppies program at 9:30 am starting the first Saturday in April. Now that's love baby.

Friday, January 7, 2011

A DAY OFF WITH FRENCH FRIES AND SNOW ICE CREAM

Early this morning the automated school phone called us...NO SCHOOL TODAY!

We spent the morning outside and the boys played like crazy loons. Meanwhile back at the bat lair I put out a plastic food keeper on the back porch to catch snow. While the boys played I carried out my secret mission. Baba (grandma) came outside to watch the boys and I came back in to start french fries and put together the ingredients for snow ice cream.




BAKED FRENCH FRIES


potatoes (au natural, don't even bother peeling those bad boys)
salt
garlic
olive oil
I cut the potatoes up, sliced them into 1/2" thick medallions.
Then I lay those medallions on their sides and cut them into french fries.
Then I put them into a bowl and drizzle on some olive oil, sprinkle with salt and garlic powder to taste. I put a plate over top of the bowl and shake for all I am worth, coating all the fries. Then I lay the fries out on a aluminium foil-lined baking sheet that has been generously sprayed with PAM. Keep the fries in a single layer and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then pull them out and flip them over, bake again for another 15 minutes. Depending on how thick or thin you cut your fries along with personal preference regarding crispy or soggy will dictate how long to keep cooking your fries. I usually take mine out about now; I like a golden coat on my fries, but still a little soft in the mid section, kinda like me.


SNOW ICE CREAM adapted combination of Almost Unschoolers and Paula Deen

Ingredients
8 cups snow, or shaved ice
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon instant, vanilla pudding mix ( I used French Vanilla pudding)
6 cups of clean snow.

Mix everything together until thick milk-shake like mixture, cover and place outside for 15 minutes, then add 4 more C of snow or until thick and ready to eat.

 

BIG BOY BIKE AND SPROUTED ONIONS

Here is a little handy tip that you might already know. Onions, I like to buy them on sale and as much as I can. Obviously I do not use them all right away, we are not some kind of freaks over here. I cut off the ends remove the paper skin and slice the onion, bagging all the slices into a ziplock. I label the ziplock and toss it into the freezer. It is easy to grab some onion out of the ziplock and use the slices or dice it up for cooking. Bonus I do not have to cry everytime a meal calls for onions...it seems I am really sensitive to the onion gas. Apparently this time I waited a little too long before preparing the onions for the freezer,
I still used these I just popped out the sprouted portions in each ring and tossed that into the compost bin.


I do this with green onion, citrus zest and even potatoes. The potatoes I cook first, when I bake potatoes I will bake an oven full. I try to buy potatoes on sale in large quantities. I bake my own fries, plus after I bake potatoes I like to take ALOT and grate them into hash browns. I throw them into sandwich size bags (like 2-3 servings in a bag) label and toss into the freezer. I love hash browns in the morning with an egg, and I loathe the prices they charge for premade hash browns. I would call it a symbiotic relationship it works so well, but in all honestly I do not see how the potato is benefiting.

I am trying this with lemon juice, I froze the juice from a lemon I zested in a little container, then popped it into a ziplock that I threw back into the freezer. I have not had to use it yet, but how can that go wrong? I want to try freezing celery in pieces because I never seem to use it all when I buy it. Normally I try to make a vegetable stock when I find myself with leftover produce. Of course I then freeze it into large 1 cup serving size ice cubes, tag and bag it.

I am totally beaming with pride as E tried a bicycle for the first time today. Yes out in the 20 degree weather all bundled up like a tick about to pop. He got right up on that seat and went for it. He did well balancing (he of course has training wheels) and he peddled well enough. Apparently it is pretty confusing peddling when peddling backwards makes you stop. He needs to get the rhythm down, going forward instead of forward then backward, herky-jerky style.

ENIGMA AND HAMBURGER PUFFS

"The inner machinations of my mind are an enigma."- Patrick Star, SpongeBob SquarePants
Some days I feel this way, like I am on a totally different wave length then the rest of my family. There are days when I am talking to the boys and I have to wonder if we are speaking the same language; scratch that, I wonder if they can hear me at all.

Most days I make things that K will eat, but the other two have no interest in trying. These boys do not like pasta, macaroni and cheese (boxed or homemade) or potatoes unless they are in fry form. They make life interesting in more ways then one. In hopes of finding some recipes that everyone will eat without complaint I try a few new things a week and I thought the Hamburger Puffs were great. K liked them very much and the other two put their noses up and never even tried. I am unsure of where this ancient piece of paper came from, I found it in my teenage archives and altered the original by adding 1 Tbsp of hamburger seasoning to the meat and 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce to the end mixture.

HAMBURGER PUFFS
2 Tbsp butter
2 medium onion, thinly sliced (threw them into food processor because the boys do not like biting into onion)
6 slices of bread
1 C milk
2 eggs
1/2 C finely chopped green pepper
1 tsp salt (I omitted this)
1 pound ground beef
1 Tbsp hamburger seasoning (Grill Mates)
1 tsp garlic
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Cheese optional

Melt butter in skillet; saute onions and green peppers until tender. Crumble bread into a large mixing bowl; add milk. Let stand until bread is moist. Add eggs and mix well. Add onion, green pepper, Worcestershire and seasonings; add meat and mix well. Pile mixture lightly into greased 2 1/2-inch muffin pans. Top each with thin onion slice. Bake in 425 degree oven until browned about 30 minutes. Right out of oven I topped some with a thin slice of cheese and let it melt.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

MAGICAL HOUSE GNOME

Job Title: Magical House Gnome
Job Description: Picks up all the laundry off the floor, magically refills all things depleted (deodorant, toothpaste, spices, everyone's favorite things) puts out of place items back in place, cleans all things dirty, finds lost items, completes tasks no one else realized exist.

I am tired of this position today, most days I can fill this position without a hesitation or any thought. Today I am grouchy and do not want to be the one who continues to pick up the shower soap that makes its way onto the floor and puts it back on the shower shelf. I guess it is more then that it is all the other little, minuscule things I do on a daily basis combined. Maybe I should go bake something...that usually makes me feel better.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

CINNAMON BISCUIT FANS AND BREAKFAST PUFFS

Dear Betty Crocker,

I love you, and your Best of Baking Cookbook. I made these yummy treats and ooooohhhhhhhh.

Yes I was baking this morning. I wanted to bake early when there are less children running around to pull me away from the task at hand. I made these two recipes and I love them both, although I have to say I think the Cinnamon Biscuit Fans are my favorite. They have layers of cinnamon-sugar, buttery goodness AND a glaze on top really yummy and the biscuit keeps it from being so sweet that the plaque on your teeth stand up and salute.

Cinnamon Biscuit Fans

Biscuits
2 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup firm butter or margarine
3/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Glaze
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 to 3 teaspoons milk


1.Heat oven to 425ºF. Grease 8 regular-size muffin cups. In large bowl, mix flour, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, the baking powder and salt. Cut in firm butter using pastry blender (or pulling 2 table knives through ingredients in opposite directions), until mixture particles resemble fine crumbs. Stir in just enough milk so dough leaves side of bowl and forms a ball.
2.Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead lightly 10 times. Roll into 12x10-inch rectangle. Spread 3 tablespoons butter over rectangle. Mix 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and the cinnamon; sprinkle over rectangle. Cut rectangle crosswise into 6 (10x2-inch) strips. Stack strips; cut crosswise into 8 pieces. Place cut sides up in muffin cups.
3.Bake 16 to 18 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately remove from muffin cups to cooling rack.
4.In medium bowl, mix all glaze ingredients until smooth and thin enough to drizzle. Drizzle over warm biscuits. Serve warm.
Makes 8 biscuits

As for the French Breakfast Puffs, I think next time I will do some slight alterations. I would add 1 tsp vanilla to the dough and maybe even some lemon zest.

French Breakfast Puffs

Ingredients
1/3 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted

1.Heat oven to 350ºF. Grease 15 medium muffin cups, 2 1/2x1 1/4 inches.
2.Mix shortening, 1/2 cup sugar and the egg thoroughly in large bowl. Stir in flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg alternately with milk. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.
3.Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.
4.Mix 1/2 cup sugar and the cinnamon. Roll hot muffins immediately in melted butter, then in sugar-cinnamon mixture. Serve hot.
Makes 15 puffs