Thursday, December 23, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
So what have I been doing, really with all this time off? Facebook and Twitter and Stumble. I bring them all up in the morning and leave them up all day long. While perusing my friends on FB, one of my high school classmates who now lives out in Seattle Washington (and just had another baby-bless her heart) and had posted she had just picked up a Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate at Starbucks. A friend of hers replied with a blogpost about making it at home. While I didn't exactly have the ingredients for it, I made one up that worked pretty darn well with what I had in my pantry and fridge.
I started by warming up 3 TBSP of Stonewall Kitchen's Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel sauce in the microwave. I then warmed up a cup of water and stirred in several teaspoons of International Foods Vanilla Bean Latte mix. I poured about 2 TBSP of the chocolate down the sides of my coffee mug, then poured the coffee in. I topped it with a BIG dollop of aerosol whipped cream then drizzled the last of the warmed chocolate sauce over the top.
Monday, December 6, 2010
I had posted here I think last winter the caramel recipe I always used. When they turned out, they were awesome. When they didn't it cost about $6 bucks and caused some curse words.
I attempted two batches for our annual Holiday Bazaar at church. Both attempts failed and I was in so much pain from all the stirring, I yelled rather loudly in my kitchen "I AM DONE WITH CARAMELS".
Then I got my December issue of Food Network Magazine, and on the cover was a little picture of Ina Garten and a caption that said "Ina's Salted Caramels". I mumbled under my breath as I turned to the page and read through it. Hey. This may work. No stirring, only swirling of the pan until it was time to add the vanilla. Hmmm, a two step process where the cream mixture is added later. Oooooh, look-the temp to cook it to is 2 degrees less than my old recipe. Shazam! I have all the ingredients in my fridge and pantry. I guess one more try won't kill me.....
Holy Mother of Caramel-they are fantastic! They are darker than my old recipe, but they are soft and chewy and buttery. And I can't have any until Tuesday night at 5. My daughter was my taste tester-still in the process of 'prepping for the procedure'. And then she bakes brownies today too. Good thing I love her or her head would be wearing the brownies. Any-whoooo...
Ina~I bow down to your greatness. I have never doubted you before, and I find no indication that I would in the future.
Saturday, December 4, 2010
I guess I am. I have to follow a low fiber diet for three days so I can go have the big "C" next week. I know, you are all jealous. There wasn't a whole lot on the list to choose from that I like, other than pancakes, French toast, saltines, cooked potatoes, Jello, pudding and carrots. Really-I don't like yogurt, or wax beans or spinach (unless it is in dip form). I am limited.
I decided to jazz up the regular ingredients a little just because.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
On my last day, I stopped back at a restaurant that my co-worker and I had stopped at for cocktails after our first day of classes. It was an Irish pub that had a great roof-top terrace and lawn bowling square. We sipped cocktails while watching people in their business attire juggle pints of Guinness and the required lawn ball. I really have no idea what they are actually called-we just had fun watching.
On this last day, I sat outside in front of the restaurant on a small patio having a late lunch before heading home. I chose the Guinness Beef Stew. I am not a fan of Guinness for drinking, as I prefer lighter beers to drink, but that stew was out of this world! Chunks of beef, bright orange carrot rounds, and small Irish potatoes swimming together in the most flavorful broth I had ever tasted.
The menu didn't give away much on what was in it, other than the main ingredients you could see. I saw a recipe several years ago that was for a different type of stew, but used the process for the beef and it really made it terrific.
Guinness Beef Stew
4 strips of bacon
1 TBSP oil
2 pounds beef stew meat (I sometimes use a nice sirloin cut up)
1/2 of a large onion, diced
1-2 TBSP flour
1 bottle of Guinness beer **
1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup red wine
2 cups beef stock
2 TBSP brown sugar
2 tsp Balsamic vinegar
2 tsp Old World seasoning (Penzeys-it has bay leaf, rosemary, dill, thyme, savory, etc)
salt and pepper, to taste
10 small Irish or red potatoes, cooked
In a Dutch oven heat the oil. Fry the bacon to lightly crisp and remove from pot. In the bacon renderings and oil, fry the stew meat that has been blotted dry to sear the outside. Do this in at least two batches so as not to crowd the beef. Remove beef to a plate or bowl. Saute onions in remaining dripping for about 4 to 5 minutes, being careful to not let them burn or get too much color. Stir flour into the onion mixture and stir for 2 minutes to get a nice roux. Pour a small amount of beer into pan to deglaze and help the roux not to burn. Return the stew meat to the pan and use a scissors to snip the bacon into bite size pieces right into the pot. Stir the rest of the ingredients in, except the potatoes. Simmer over low heat for 1-1/2 hours. Stir the cooked potatoes into the stew and simmer for another hour.
Serve with the Beer Bread from last post.
**Notes: I had bought a large single bottle of beer from the liquor store since I'm not a fan of drinking the Guinness. I cannot remember the exact size, but around 24 to 26 ounces. I poured 12 ounces of it into a glass measure and let sit to come to room temperature for the bread. The balance I used for the stew.
I also have been trying to use up my canned goods, so I used two cans of small Irish potatoes for the fresh cooked ones. The only thing I will do different if I use canned spuds again is to fry them in a little oil and beer to put a little color on them.
The bacon: I had cooked up a pound the night before and saved the renderings in a glass cup. I slowly melted that with just a small amount of oil since the recipe I found for the different meat stew only used the renderings from the four slices of bacon, and I had about double that from the pound of bacon.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Dad, me, my sister and brother-they have ice cream
For me, it is several things.
It is pulling into my driveway after a long day and knowing Tofu will be waiting on the steps for me.
It is pulling on a pair of fleece pants and a sweatshirt and pouring a glass of wine.
It is remembering the good parts of my childhood.
My Mom and my brother
My family isn't conventional by any definition put forth by Webster. My family may seem to go against any family you saw on TV growing up. My family is what makes me, me.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
I was a Senior at Harding High School in St. Paul, Minnesota. I was in a class of 426, or thereabouts. We were all excited-we were coming into winter break. We were exchanging senior photos. We knew that when we came back, we had just over 5 months and our childhood would be giving way to college, the Armed Services, or working full time.
It started with a phone call. A friend called and asked if I had heard about an accident involving two of our classmates and a Junior. I hadn't heard anything, but made some phone calls to other friends. They had or hadn't heard. There were rumors, speculation. At 5:00 it was on the news. Our classmates had been in a head-on collision with a city bus. Jerry was dead and Eddie was brain dead, but was on a vent.
The next day at school there were so many stories swirling around. From reports from the police, friends and family, the story as we understand it was they had left to go grab some lunch. They were coming down a hill and hit ice. They were not speeding, just lost control. The city bus had no where to go to avoid the collision.
Eddie's parents took him off life support two days later. We were all in shock. People our age didn't die.
I was in choir with both of these boys. They were good boys. They played sports, sang, played instruments. They sang at retirement centers. They weren't bully's and they welcomed everyone.
1/2 tsp. cumin
Sunday, November 21, 2010
I told her there was no organization of our canned goods. There were cans of green beans in the cupboard by the stove and also in the pantry. There were cans of tomato paste in the cupboard by the stove and by the patio door. This would not do any longer. She rolled up her sleeves, took all the cans down, washed off all the shelves, and had me hand them back in the order I wanted. They are now all grouped together by
I have 14 cans of Cream of XXXX soup. I can make many hotdishes now. When DQ spotted the Cream of Chicken soup and the enchilada sauce, she set them aside and asked me to make enchiladas. I thought I had posted them here, but cannot find them in my archives. Hmmmm.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
I failed miserably at my attempt to clean out my pantry. I had made a 'resolution' to use up what was in my pantry and freezer, only buying fresh ingredients and those staples that I needed on a regular basis-flour, sugar, tuna. I failed. I have this odd neurosis-I am afraid we are going to starve. I really don't know if this is somehow attributed to the stories of my youth about how there wasn't enough food to go around when I was really young. How my Mom would sit out on the porch with a cup of coffee, while my Dad and sister ate, and I picked through the few things I liked.
I don't really remember those times. I remember bits and pieces of life before, say, 7 years old, but not very many things. I remember bugging the crap out of my Mom to let me open a birthday present before my Dad got home from work. I must have driven her crazy, because I remember her letting me open a pair of musical spoons. Do you remember those? They were two spoons with the rounded sides facing each other, and the handles were cemented into a piece of plastic. You would hold them in one hand, slap them against your knee while holding your other hand above them. They would slap between your hand and your leg and make magical noise.
I remember waiting for my Dad to come home from work. He worked at Ford Motor Company in St. Paul. At this time we were living in Baldwin Wisconsin. It was probably 50 miles away. He would come home and strip down to his skivvies and undershirt and I would strip down to my undershirt and panties and on special days he would bring home a little smoked salmon. We would sit on the couch and I wanted to be just like him in my t-shirt and underpants and watch TV. We had an old Black and White console, that had a record player and radio on the other side of the television.
I remember the television repair man who was crippled. I don't know if he had arthritis, or some other illness, but I remember him being nice.
I remember Susie and Sally, the twins that lived across the street, across the open field. They were blond and so pretty.
I remember being at their house and seeing the moving van in our front yard. No one had told me we were moving-the van was just there, and people were moving our few belongings into it and soon we were on our way to St. Paul-to a house that was finally ours. No more renting. We had a yard and my Dad built a sandbox and bought us a Jungle Jym. And I never moved again until I was almost 18 years old and moved in with my Mom.
I never remember us being poor.
In my adult life, we haven't been poor. We haven't had to use an emergency shelter, or use a food bank. We have been broke and couldn't afford things, but we could always make our house payment and all the regular bills we had. We had setbacks. Dude lost his job of 18 years and all of a sudden, I was the primary breadwinner, making a whopping $14 an hour. We had two teenagers, orthodontist bills, clothes, sports equipment, insurance, cell phone bills. We made it through.
I lost my job. Dude was a temporary employee at the cereal plant. We had no health insurance, I willed that my kids wouldn't get sick and we did without presents at Christmas with the exception of a few for the girls.
In saucepan, combine tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, water, garlic, sugar, basil, oregano, onion powder and red pepper flakes. Crush the tomatoes down with potato masher. Simmer over low heat for 1-1/2 hours. Stir in ground beef and simmer for half an hour. Pour cooked pasta into an 8x8 or 9x9 square glass pan. Top with tomato sauce mixture and shredded cheese. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 20 to 25 minutes or until cheese is golden brown.
Friday, November 12, 2010
Dude has helped a bit with getting dishes and stuff out for me and last week he said "hey, why don't you try gumbo?" Umm, I have never seen him EAT gumbo before.
I researched it a bit on the Internet then sent him a text message saying that if he picked up some bell peppers and celery, I would give it a go the next day. I had everything else in the freezer or the pantry, so it was cheap as chips to make.
I got this off the Internet either on Allrecipes.com or Cooks.com-I looked at both.
I only have a 3-quart Dutch oven. After making this, it just reinforced my need for a new Dutch oven. I had been looking on-line and they ranged from $99 to $waytoomuch.
Friday, November 5, 2010
I attempted them twice. And failed miserably.
I don't know if it was because I was new(er) to baking and the corn syrup gave me trouble, but they were hard as bricks both times. Nothing like the soft, chewy bars I remember having out on the farm. With fresh milk out of the bulk tank. Mmmmmmmmmm.
Unfortunately, I do not live very close to Lola, so I had to figure out a way to get my fix. This is my fix. It has most of the same taste notes as her Special K bars and they turn out each and every time.
I adapted this recipe from one I got from a doctor I used to go to. His wife was (probably still is) a nutritionist. I had to laugh, because I don't think these fall anywhere under the "nutritious" category on any health provider's guidelines. But I'm not a doctor-nor do I play one on TV-so I will delight in eating these delicious bars all my live-long days.
Go check it out for a chance to win. I always love new cookbooks :)
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
So, for my tip. Does anyone else have this problem? You open a bottle or a jar of some type of foodstuff, put in on a shelf or in the door of your fridge-and forget about it? And you stand there, looking for that jelly or that fancy mustard, or the last cup of stock in a box and think "how long has that been in here?"
I bought a package of Sharpies and keep them in a drawer in my kitchen (covered by other stuff so my kids won't find them and steal them). I simply write the date that I opened it. I also write on it if I know it needs to be used within a specific time period, like the box of stock above. Helps keep waste to a minimum and also helps me plan to buy a different size package if I have a lot left over after a certain amount of time. If the label doesn't have a space to write on it or the container, or it is a dark label, I will write on some masking tape and stick that on the product itself.
Monday, November 1, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Last week she made Easy Sticky Buns and my mouth fell open at how delish they looked. I had all the ingredients on hand, so I made them the next morning.
I will write the recipe as she wrote; however, I didn't use raisins as I hate them, and the butter amount for the 'sticky' is too much-in my opinion. I did check out the recipe on Food Network since I was too busy vegging while watching to write it down. People who commented said it was too much butter, but I made it as written-too much butter. Next time I make them I will cut it down to maybe 8 tablespoons.
Easy Sticky Buns (by Ina Garten)
12 tablespoons (1-1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp
1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 pecans, chopped (I toasted mine)
1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup raisins
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place a standard 12-cup muffin tin on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper (very important). In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the 12 tablespoons of butter and the 1/3 cup of brown sugar. Place one rounded tablespoon of butter mixture in each of the 12 muffin cups. Distribute the pecans evenly among the 12 cups. Lightly flour a wooden board or stone surface. Unfold one sheet of puff pastry with the folds going left to right. Brush the whole sheet with half of the melted butter. Leaving a 1-inch border on the puff pastry, sprinkle each sheet with 1/3 cup of brown sugar, 1-1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon and 1/2 cup of the raisins. Starting with the end nearest you, roll up the dough snugly in a jelly roll fashion around the filling, ending with the seam side down. Trim the ends of the dough about 1/2 inch on each end to give it a clean edge. Cut dough in 6 equal pieces, about 1-1/2 inches wide each. Place rolls cut side down in prepared muffin tin. Repeat with second piece of puff pastry. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and firm to the touch. Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes only. Invert the rolls onto the parchment paper. Ease filling left in the pan onto the buns with a spoon and press slightly into roll.
I cannot even aptly describe how wonderful these, especially hot out of the oven. They lasted 2 days here and warmed up nicely in the microwave.
I might have to bake a batch on Saturday because my college baby will be home for the weekend-I'm only a little excited!
Monday, October 25, 2010
My parent's families are very different. My Mom had a larger family-all girls. She had four sisters. There are 21 grandchildren, 50 something great-grandchildren and numerous great-great grandchildren (although now all four of my grandparents have passed away). My Dad has two brothers. It is hard to explain, but I have two sisters and a brother, but I am my Dad's only biological child. Because of this, there are 5 grandchildren to my paternal side. I am the only girl. I have several girl cousins on my Mom's side, but I wasn't close to them as most of them were 4 to 18 years older than I. I am pretty close to my cousins on my Dad's side, but I longed for girl cousins there. My prayers were answered over the course of 10 years when each of my cousins married wonderful women. 1990 had a busy summer as three of us got married. I cherish all four of the beautiful women my cousins brought to my life. I waited a long time for them to get here!
All of us know our way around a kitchen. Maybe not fancy-schmancy food, but we can all put a satisfying, hot meal in the bellies of our men and children.
My cousin (in-law) Geri brought this hotdish (in Minnesota it is a hotdish, not a casserole!) to one of our Cousin Christmas parties and holy moly, it is good. I do not like stuffing at all (please don't eyeball me like that). I prefer straight up turkey, mashed potatoes with butter, corn, rolls, jellied cranberries (again with the eyeballing me?) and my aunt's lime Jell-o with applesauce and 7 Up. However, when you bake stuffing on top of this hotdish, and it gets all crunchy? Oh my word, it is heavenly.
Diane's Chicken Hotdish (Geri's co-worker)
3 to 4 pounds chicken
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup (left this out, I hate mushrooms)
1 cup milk
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup butter
2 stalks celery, a fine dice
1 small onion, a fine dice
8 ounce bag of chicken stuffing mix
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Boil chicken and cut up into small pieces. Put chicken pieces into a greased 9x13 inch pan. Mix soups and milk and pour over chicken. Melt butter in saucepan. Saute veggies for a few minutes then add chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Stir in stuffing mix and turn off heat. Stir to moisten all the stuffing. Let sit for a couple of minutes so all liquid is absorbed. Pour over the top of the soup layer. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes.
I picked all the crispy bits off the side of the pan before putting it into the sink to wash. It was heaven.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Sometimes you just need to fill the belly of your hubby fast. I had met my BFF for a matinee movie and an early dinner one afternoon this week. Drama Queen said she was going to a friend's house after work to eat and Dude said he would pick up a burger in town since I wouldn't be home to cook (do you see how spoiled they have become in just 10 days of me being home!?). I got home around 8:30 as Dude was coming in from the shop and asked what I could make him fast since he was starving. Ummm, didn't you tell me you were stopping for a burger? Guess that didn't happen. While perusing the fridge he found some spuds and some smoked sausage and eggs.
"Here" he goes and puts all the stuff on the cutting board. The spuds had seen better days, so I found my mandolin and thinly sliced up a new potato, browned them in some oil and butter, tossed in the sausage all sliced up in small rounds to get all nice and crusty. He took a shower then came and scrambled up the eggs for me and poured them in. I stirred until barely set and then he threw in a handful of cheese, slid it out of the pan and onto his plate.
I walk back into my scrapbook room to see what I had missed on Facebook and he walks in with my camera. I raise the eyebrow at him and he said "well, you might want to blog this" and walks out.
And all that time in the past he gave me crap for taking photos-he secretly likes it. He doesn't fool me.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
To this day I still don't do mac and cheese-odd, since I love pasta and I love cheese, but apparently not together. And I don't like grilled cheese. I do however fancy a grilled ham and cheese. Oh, so melty. So warm. So good.
I blogged a few weeks ago about the Frappe Vino. The frozen wine slush? I had it at a baby shower for a girl I worked with at the bank. It was like a reunion. 20 women who had spent a great deal of time together over the years. We had seen marriages, divorces, babies and death. And we waited many years to celebrate with our dear friend R. Her son is gorgeous and probably the most wanted and waited for baby ever.
I loved these sandwiches so much, I think I had three that night. The girls hosting the party made a smaller version of these but I was feeding several men at our party two weeks ago, so I used bigger rolls. Feast your eyes on these beauties......
Sweet and Savory Baked Ham Sandwiches
2 pounds good deli ham (no water added junk-go for the good stuff)
1 pound baby Swiss, very thinly sliced (from the deli too)
36 buns-I used a sandwich bun from the bakery
3 sticks of unsalted butter
6 TBSP brown sugar
4 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
4 TBSP Dijon mustard
2 tsp onion powder
In a 2 quart saucepan, bring to a gentle boil the butter, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon and onion powder. Stir until it is all melted and combined. Remove from heat and let cool.
Make the sandwiches. I used two pieces of ham and two slices of cheese-but I had it sliced about half the thickness that they normally slice it; you could see through it, and not just because of the holes. Place the made sandwiches in 9x13 cake pans. You need the cake pans or another tall sided pan since you will covering with foil. I used 3 pans because of the size of the buns. When the butter mixture has cooled, pour it evenly over the three pans. Cover the pans with tinfoil and place in the refrigerator overnight. Remove them from fridge a half an hour before baking. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 25 minutes covered. After the 25 minutes, remove the foil and bake an additional 5 to 8 minutes.
Good gravy, you need to make these. These were DEVOURED and I was told by several of the guys that they were sending their wives over to learn how to cook. While that touched the cockles of my heart, I just sent the recipe home with them. Next time I make them, I'm not sharing. Well, okay, I did share with Dude and Drama Queen when I made them a few days later.
Monday, October 11, 2010
She had taken her sister there earlier in the summer (and they didn't kill each other!) HC isn't a big fan of the salad, so she tried the Chicken Gnocchi soup and loved it. She ordered it again this time and I tried a bite....and then another. It was so good. I wish I had ordered it instead of the salad.
I had an idea of how to put it together at home. Then I Googled it. Turns out I was wrong on most parts. Well, some parts. I'm going to try it the way I originally thought, but this is probably closer to how they make it at the restaurant.
Olive Garden's Chicken Gnocchi Soup
1/3 cup butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound chicken, cubed
1/3 cup flour
1/2 a carrot, shredded
1 stalk celery, shredded
1/4 cup onion, shredded
1/2 cup spinach leaves, torn (I totally forgot to buy!)
2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
3 chicken bouillon cubes
Melt butter over medium heat in a soup pot. Add garlic and onion and saute. Add chicken and cook through. Add flour and stir in well to cook out raw flour taste. Add milk and cream and stir well. Add carrots and celery and the bouillon cubes. Cook and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes; add gnocchi the last 5 minutes. Serve with bread of your choice (I made a no-knead loaf-yum!)
I'll admit that I'm not a HUGE soup fan-a small bowl every now and then is fine with me. However, if we ever move to Iceland, soup will be in our future-it is like the national dish there!