Tuesday, May 29, 2012

It's a Grad!!

It's that time of year when graduation announcements fill my mail box. I love to see their smiling faces and look into their eyes and wonder what the future holds.
I do know the future holds a card from Greg and me with a gift card to Chick-Fil-A, my favorite fast food restaurant. Good luck Grads!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

More Insanity

Often visits from my grand kids end in emergency room trips. Once Bianca dislocated an elbow. The next trip she was getting out out of the bathtub and slipped and fell on the tile. This required another trip to the ER. That same trip as the family was heading home. Jill hit black ice/slush on I-15 just outside of Salt Lake City. That was not pretty. Jill took the bulk of the hit. She had cuts and scraps and a few broken ribs. Cousin Rachel who was pregnant at the time was kept for observation--luckily all was well. Jack and Bianca strapped in their car seat were luckily safe. It could have been tragic but just ended inconveniently.

So I always hold my breath when Jill visits, waiting for something to happen. It did--Jack put a Roley Poley up his nose. This scare required a trip to the Dr. A very dead bug was removed. I assumed that along with the silver Pirate tooth was enough for one visit. I spoke too soon. After a 4 month stay Jill, Candise and I were busily packing things. Bianca ran to the house and told us Jack was hurt--bad. Jill scaled the fence and found Jack more than whimpering in pain--he was screaming. Now Jack never cries; we knew he was hurt. We did the usual things, can you bend your arm, wiggle your finger etc. It was evident another Dr visit was in order. So off we went to the pediatric clinic--we now have their number on speed dial.
It appeared broken so a soft cast was applied. Ex-Rays were taken the next morning after much debate the doctors decided it was indeed broken. Due to swelling a cast was not put on till Monday. Welcome home Jack, first stop the doctors office!
Oh and my washing machine broke, yet again!.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Thai Chicken Pizza--SRC

 I feel like I hit the SRC jackpot this month. The Secret Recipe Club gives one the opportunity to meet a new blogger, spend some time--lots of time in my case-- in their blog and finally make a recipe from their blog. The Inquiring Chef is Jess. Jess is one lucky lady;  she and her hubby Frank are on a job assignment in Bangkok Thailand.
 So, while I shop at Walmart and eat at Taco Amigo and Rumbi's Jess and Frank are living in a city I could only dream of.  The Inquiring Chef is full of a wide variety of recipes, several I want to try. But the photos of everyday life are more than interesting. Spend a few moments in Jess's blog and you will be transported to another way of life. Thanks Jess for allowing me to virtually spend some time in Thailand.

And now for the food; Jess is a great cook! Friday--Pizza Night is a great tradition. Many families look forward to eating Pizza on Friday. We enjoy our pizza night as do Frank and Jess. When looking for a recipe to make on Jess's blog I had to check out the list of 'my favorite recipes'. On it was listed Thai Chicken Pizza. Not really a recipe she learned in Thailand but one she could easily find the ingredients for. This pizza looked too good to pass. I have been making Pioneer Woman's Pizza Crust forever. It's delicious, easy to make and great to work with. We made curry the night before so many of the ingredients were ready. My additions are noted in red. The pizza was over the top delicious, we want more for breakfast! This will be made often on Friday Pizza Night. Soon I will make it outside on the grill.
Thanks Jess for keeping a blog of your journeys; I can't wait to follow the remainder of your Thailand experience. I'm also excited to make the Maria Sinskey’s Gougères.

Thai Chicken Pizza
1 pizza dough recipe, enough for at least 3 pizzas (I like Pioneer Woman's recipe)
The topping measurements are for 3 pizzas.
3 T olive oil, divided
1 red onion, cut into thin strips
1 cup green onion, white and green parts roughly chopped
1/2 red pepper, diced
2 1/2 cup chicken, roasted or sauteed and chopped
1 cup carrots, shredded or cut into matchsticks
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (not really Thai but a small amount of cheese was good)!
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
1/2-3/4 cup sweet and spicy Thai Chili Sauce
1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1 cup bean sprouts

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Heat 1/2 Tbps. olive oil in a small pan over medium high.  Add red onion and saute just until onions begin to soften.  Remove from heat.
3. Divide pizza dough into 3 equal portions. Roll or stretch the first portion into a 12 inch circle on a baking sheet or stone. Pre-bake crust for 5 minutes, remove from oven and drizzle liberally with olive oil.
4. Top pizza, beginning with red onion, followed by green onions, red pepper, chicken, carrots, peanuts, a light sprinkle of mozzarella cheese and finally ending with a generous drizzle of Thai Sweet Chili Sauce.  Bake for additional 5-7 minutes until crust is golden brown.  Remove and immediately sprinkle with cilantro and bean sprouts.  Slice and enjoy.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Just Delicious Meatloaf

I admit that meatloaf has never been at the top of my 'to make ' list. I made only when I could think of nothing else. That all changed when my daughter raved about a meatloaf recipe she found on Pioneer Woman's Blog. This got my attention because I trust Pioneer Woman. I made this recipe twice in the same month; a record for sure. It's easy, tasty and leftovers make great sandwiches.
So add it to your menu soon. It will make your family happy!

Just Delicious Meatloaf
1 cup milk
6 white bread slices
2 pounds very lean ground beef
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Lawry's Seasoning salt
fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup minced flat leaf parsley
4 eggs beaten
8-12 thin bacon slices

Tomato Gravy
1 cup ketchup
4 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
4 dashes of hot pepper sauce
Pour the milk over the bread and allow it to soak in for several minutes. Place the ground beef, milk-soaked bread, Parmesan cheese, seasonings and parsley in a large mixing bowl. Pour in the eggs. With clean hands, mix the ingredients until well combined.
Form the mixture into a loaf shape on a broiler pan. Line the bottom with foil for easy clean-up. Lay the bacon slices over the top tucking hem underneath the meatloaf.
Make the tomato gravy--mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Pour 1/3 of the mixture over the top of the meatloaf. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes then pour another 1/3 of the gravy over the meatloaf. Bake until meat thermometer registers 160 degrees. Serve with remaining tomato gravy, Twice baked potatoes and steamed spinach complete this delicious meal.
This makes plenty. I often make half the recipe for our small family.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's day--with a Lemon Cranberry Scone

Happy Mother's Day to all my blogging friends. I love Mother's Day. I mean who doesn't love an excuse to make all ones favorite foods. My sweet daughter Jill and I will cook dinner tonight for my Mother and Greg's Mother. Since cooking is something we love to do this is nothing but fun. Greg will do the dishes so it's a great day for sure!
 Luckily Greg had church meetings early this morning so I quickly made these Cranberry Lemon Scones. Greg would have made Biscuits and Gravy--now he does make a mean batch of Biscuits and Gravy. He has been perfecting them for months and they are good. But they just don't scream Mother's Day to me. But these Lemon Cranberry Scones do!
So if you have a bag of cranberries in your freezer these are one delicious treat. They make plenty so I froze half of the scones (uncooked). I will pop them in the oven for another tasty brunch!

Fresh Cranberry Lemon  Scones
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar plus 3 tablespoons
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 1/4 cups fresh cranberries, chopped coarse
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 cup cream

Preheat oven to 400°F. and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small bowl rub lemon zest into 1/2 cup sugar--this smells wonderful!
In a food processor pulse flour, lemon sugar mixture, baking powder, salt, butter  until mixture resembles coarse meal, transfer to a large bowl. Add pecans.
In a small bowl toss together fresh cranberries and 3 tablespoons sugar and stir into flour mixture.
In another small bowl lightly beat egg and yolk and stir in cream. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and stir until just combined.
On a well-floured surface with floured hands pat dough into a 1-inch-thick round (about 8 inches in diameter) and with a 2-inch round cutter dipped in flour cut out as many rounds as possible, re-rolling scraps as necessary. Arrange rounds about 1 inch apart on baking sheet and bake in middle of oven 15 to 20 minutes, or until pale golden. Scones may be flash frozen before baking and stored in a freezer bag. Place frozen scones on parchment lined baking sheet and bake a few extra minutes.
I served these with a drizzle of lemon glaze. A 5 star recipe for sure!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Frosted Cookie Bites

Blame it on book club. We were discussing Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman. This is a delightful debut novel packed full of Southern Charm. Strong woman, wacky humor and good old-fashioned heart. From the moment you first step into young Cee
Cee's unique world, you'll never want to leave. We all loved this novel. One feels better for reading it.

Book Club brings treats--we went for ribbon sandwiches, brownie bites and frosted cookie bites. A Frosted Cookie Bite takes a humble Toll House Cookie and elevates it to a party status. A small cookie scoop is used to place cookie dough in a mini muffin tin. These bake to a golden brown. Don't worry if they fall in the center; this makes a perfect place to swirl some Almond Butter Cream. This is one delicious bite!

Frosted Cookie Bites
1/2 cup butter, soft
1/2 Crisco
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
1 tablespoon water
2 1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup mini chocolate chips
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
Cream butter and Crisco till smooth, add sugars, vanilla and eggs beating after each addition. Add water.
Mix together flour, salt and baking soda. Add  to creamed mixture, stir gently. Add chocolate chips and pecans. Using a small Pampered Chef Scoop put a level scoop of cookie dough in each cup of a sprayed mini muffin tin.  Bake at 325 for 8-10 minutes till top appears light brown. Cool in tin and remove when just cool. Frost with Almond Butter Cream Frosting. Recipe makes about 72 cookie bites. That is one big party! Dough can easily be frozen. Flash freeze dough balls and store in a freezer bag. Pop the frozen dough balls in your mini muffin pans and bake for a quick treat.

 Almond Butter Cream Frosting
4 ounces very soft butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure Almond Extract
heavy cream as needed
Mix butter and powdered sugar, add almond and a pinch of salt. Add heavy creamy until the desired consistency. Pipe on cookies as desired.
Printable Recipe

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Just a Little Insanity

It started out as a normal Monday. Cold cereal for breakfast, a little Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on TV and lots of sunshine. Jack was outside before nine ready to take on the day. He played outside for only moments when he found a new friend. He promptly brought his friend inside to meet me. It was a Potato Bug--or Rollie-Pollie as Jack calls them, I suggested he take his new friend outside.

It wasn't long before Jack was inside with a worried look on his face. He reported to his Mom that the Rollie-Pollie was up his nose. Jill laughed (Jack has been known to tell a story or two) and said something to the effect of 'that's gonna kill you'. Tears filled Jacks eyes, we knew it wasn't a story and the Rollie-Pollie really was up his nose. We tried all the usual things frantic parents do when a foreign object is up a child's nose. Nothing worked.

A visit to the Pediatric Clinic was necessary. The staff got a good chuckle and thanks to a long slim tweezer like instrument the bug, now expired, was removed.

I asked Jack why he put the bug up his nose. 'I thought it would be a good home' was his reply. I'm sure Jack will continue his fascination with insects. Hopefully he will keep them out of his nose.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Peanut Butter Sheet Cake

Sheet cakes take me back to my childhood. Cupcakes hadn't come into vogue, I think life was more practical. Mom always had homemade goods, fresh bread, cookies and often a 9x13 cake. Favorite flavors were Grandmas Double Lemon Cake, the ever practical Boiled Raisin Cake and Chocolate Cake with Beautiful Frosting. Family reunions always featured several cakes, all in the pan--you just served yourself. No fancy platters or serving dishes. At the end of the day everyone took home a dirty pan. Simple.

I needed a quick dessert last week and turned to my Pinterest boards. I had pinned a Peanut Butter Sheet Cake. We love peanut butter, this looked like the perfect dessert. The cake is frosted while it is still warm--a plus when time is short. This cake was a crowd pleaser. I will add it to my 'make again soon' list.

Peanut Butter Sheet Cake
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup water
1 cup butter
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 eggs beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk

Peanut Butter Frosting
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup cream--or milk
16 ounces powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
In a bowl whisk together the flour sugar, salt and baking soda. In a medium saucepan heat water, butter and peanut butter. Bring to a boil and remove from heat; add the dry ingredients. In a small bowl beat eggs, vanilla and buttermilk; add to ingredient in saucepan. Pour mixture in a 10X15 inch jelly roll pan that has been sprayed with Pam for Baking. Bake at 350 for 28-30 minutes until done.
While cake is baking make frosting. In the same saucepan heat butter, cream and peanut butter to a boil. Remove from heat and add powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat to desired consistency. Pour/spread frosting over warm cake. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts (we used 4 packages of the peanuts that come with the chocolate sundaes from McDonald's). The cake was a hit. We served it with ice cream for dessert. We ate it plain for breakfast.
Thanks The Wednesday Baker for a great recipe!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Potatoes Au Gratin--in a Crock Pot

I have an interesting cooking dilemma, We are mostly empty nesters, now that is not a bad thing. I find it quite enjoyable to cook for two. But when our children visit the numbers change. Last night for example we had 6 adults and 7 children here for dinner.
So, enter the humble crock pot. This gem saved the dinner day. I was cooking chicken in the oven in preparation to put it on the grill, garlic bread was next in line. How do I cook a potato dish with a full oven?
 The crock pot was the answer. I had pinned a recipe for Potatoes Au Gratin in the Crock Pot and they were delicious.  It freed up the oven and also allowed me to have the potatoes prepped and cooking before my cute grandchildren arrived. It is a recipe I will use often.
 Thank you Tina from Mom's Crazy Cooking for sharing this recipe. It's a keeper.


 Potatoes Au Gratin in the Crock Pot
6 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced--this is what a mandolin is for!
8 ounces shredded cheese--I cleaned out my cheese drawer and used a combination of cheddar, provolone and Gruyere. I imagine most any cheese would work
3 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
6 cloves garlic, crusher
garlic salt, kosher salt and Lawry's Seasoning Salt
Butter the inside of your crock pot or spray with Pam. Layer the potatoes and season with garlic salt, the next layer season with Kosher salt, the following layer with Lawry's. Repeat layers seasoning each layer. Use plenty of seasoning or your potatoes will be bland.
Melt butter, stir in flour. Bring to a boil and let simmer a minute or two. Add the milk and garlic and cook stirring often until thick and bubbly. Remove from heat and add cheese, stir until smooth.
Pour cheese sauce over potatoes--don't stir just shake a bit to make sure cheese sauce gets to the bottom.
Put a double thickness of paper towel on top of the crock pot place lid on. Cook on high for 2 hours, don't disturb. Check after 2 hours--I had to cook another 45 minutes.
Enjoy this dish--it will be ready when you are. Thanks Tiina

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

TWD/BWJ Hungarian Shortbread

I really have no Idea why this particular treat is called Hungarian Shortbread. I will just call it excellent!
I made one big mistake --I  only made half the recipe! It was barely out of the oven and family would cut off a small square and say things like 'this is delicious' or 'best dessert ever'. Of course they would continue taking small bites until most of the pan was gone.  Please I begged save me a square that I can photograph tomorrow! Being the kind ones they are I have a few small squares to photo at first light tomorrow.

I was late making this treat I thought we had another week to procrastinate. But here we are the first Tuesday in May which happens to be May 1st! In waiting till the last minute I garnered many ideas from fellow bakers. Little helps that they thought just may improve the recipe. Now I really don't have time for failures so I took all the advice of my fellow TWD bakers because they are smart!!

I made my rhubarb jam with rhubarb freshly picked from my garden. I feel bad for those that had to pay $4.89 at Walmart for rhubarb! I cooked it longer than the said time and it was still much more runny than jam so I put it in a fine mesh sieve and it was the perfect consistency in about 30 minutes. I also added a drop of red food coloring to make it a more pleasing color.
I made my short bread as directed, and grated it into an 8 inch square pan. I cooked this layer for about 15 minutes as suggested by other bakers.
I spread my 1/2 cup of rhubarb jam over the par baked crust. I then used a box grater to grate the rest of the dough over the filling. It was easy, easy. I cooked it till light brown. Just after removing it from the oven I sprinkled plenty of powdered sugar over it.
A delicious dessert that everyone loved. I'll make it again with different kinds of jam. But the garden fresh rhubarb was an excellent addition to this sweet treat.
Our Hostess this week is Cher and Lynette check their blogs for the complete details.