Thursday, June 30, 2011

4th of July Cookies

I made the sugar cookies.





















I made the icing plan -- sketching out on paper what I thought would be cute.

I have to do this.  When I sketch it out, it helps me to know which frosting to put on first; what areas I'll have to let dry before I put another color on; when to put on the sprinkles, etc, etc, etc!

I made two mistakes this time.

I'll show them to you.  Mistakes aren't bad; they help me do better next time.  Thankfully, mistakes taste the same as successes.

First mistake:  I over baked my cookies.  I did a little change to my cookie dough.  Why?  I have no idea!  I have a great recipe.  Lesson learned:  don't mess with the dough!

Second mistake:  I tried to decorate when there was too much going on at home.  "Mom!"  "Mom!"  "Mom!"  Even though I had a plan, I didn't pay enough attention to the fact that it really wasn't working!

Here are the goods!


USA, hearts, stars, and celebration cupcakes.


Stars and stripes makes for festive cookies.


While the USA was the easiest, they stood out
with all of the other decorated cookies.















The celebration cupcakes is our favorite.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Simple Ice Cream



Braum's.

My favorite ice cream store.

Has been since I was big enough to stand up in the front seat, between my parents.

Yep, you read that right.

That used to be legal!

I could spot this sign from a mile away:



My mom and dad even got to the point where they wouldn't say the word anymore . . .they'd spell it!   . . .As if!!

"Do you want to stop at 'B.R.A.U.M'S?" they'd say.

"I do!"  I'd say!

Then, I got where I'd say, "Let's go to B.R.A.U.M'S!" 

I was a smart kid!

Now that I'm older . . .and wearing a seatbelt, I like Braum's for:
  1. ice cream
  2. milk
  3. sausage
  4. egg nog
  5. sour cream
  6. bananas
  7. chocolate milk
  8. buttermilk
  9. bread
  10. jalapeno dip
There's probably more reasons why I like Braum's -- but I think 10's a good number.  I'm stopping there for now!

So, why do I write this?

Tonight I made a homemade strawberry sauce, and a mixed berry sauce, and homemade ice cream . . . which made me think of Braum's, which made me think of how much I love ice cream, which made me remember that I've always loved ice cream, which made me think of the funny story about B.R.A.U.M'S!

If you can't get to a Braum's -- first, I feel sorry for you!  You need to go find one!  But if that's not possible, the make this yummy ice cream at home!

Ok, I already know -- there are raw eggs in the recipe. 

I know!

I started as a young kid, introducing small amounts of raw egg into my diet, through things like raw cookie dough, cake batter, and delicious ice cream.  I've built up a tolerance toward any dangers of raw eggs!  But!  If you're a little more careful about your ingestion of e coli, use the pasteurized egg substitute in the recipe.  I don't know how that stuff works, but if you know the name brand, and you're screaming it right now -- hoping I'll hear, I trust that you'll know exactly how to use it in this recipe!



This is our delicious ice cream churning--
it's a beautiful sight!

Basic Ice Cream

2 eggs, beaten
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
milk

Place all of the ingredients in a large pyrex measuring bowl.  Add enough (Braum's)  milk to make 4 cups total.
Pour the ingredients into your small ice cream freezer.


If you have the large "old fashioned" freezer -- you know the one; it makes a whole gallon of delicious frozen concoction, double this recipe and enjoy it a day longer!

Freeze according to ice cream maker's directions.

Allow treat to "ripen" and enjoy a big bowl!




**This recipe is adapted from a friend's recipe-- they double the recipe, add 4 mashed bananas, 1 cup chopped nuts, 1 container of thawed frozen strawberries (in the syrup/juice), and additional milk.  It makes a full gallon.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Easy Charro Beans



We love Mexican food.

We could eat it every day . . .really!

It's delicious!

One thing I like are the beans.  But I'm not too hip on the refried beans.

They'll do -- as in "if I'm starving and it's been three days since I've eaten" kind of do.

But truthfully, that's never happened!

But Charro beans -- that's a different story.

A few weeks ago, we had a house-full for dinner.  Mexican food, of course!  One, because it's easier, and two, it's our favorite.  When looking at what all we had, I thought we might need one more item to help it all stretch.  I whipped up this easy version of charro beans.

The crock was empty at the end of dinner!

Easy Charro Beans

1 pound dried pinto beans
1 can Rotel, drained
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 can beef broth
salt and pepper to taste

Sort and rinse beans.  Place in a large bowl and soak for about an hour.  Drain off all water and place beans, chopped garlic, chopped onions, and beef broth in crock pot.  Add enough water to cover the beans and cover with the lid.  Cook on high for 2-3 hours or until tender.

Once beans are thoroughly cooked, add Rotel and salt and pepper (to taste).  Continue cooking until until everything is heated thoroughly and your ready to serve. 

The last hour, I continued cooking on high, but removed the lid to allow the liquid to thicken a bit.

**This is a great recipe because it's kind of like stew -- you can add extra ingredients that you have on hand.  Throw in some chopped celery, green pepper or even carrots for a bit of sweetness.

Enjoy!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Spaghetti and Meat Balls

Picture used from the Internet -- we ate all of ours before
I got the camera out!  Oops!

I've always wanted to try to make meatballs.

That sounds so "Italian!"

Words like:

  • "Ciao!"
  • "Italiano!"
  • "Buon appetito!"
  • "Grazie"
and
  • "Meatballs!"
When we had friends for dinner, I decided that would be the time to try something new!  (Actually, if you're brave enough to do it -- when you're having friends for dinner really is a good time to try a new recipe!)

The meatballs did take a bit more time, but it was well worth the effort!

So -- here's the "ricetta!"  (That's Italian for recipe!)
Spaghetti and Meatballs

Sauce*

2 cans Italian style stewed tomatoes
1 - 8oz can tomato sauce
1/2 tomato sauce can of water
1 can tomato paste
1/4 cup of sugar
2 TBSP Italian seasoning
1 small onion, chopped

Place the above ingredients in a crock pot and cover.  Set on low for 6-8 hours (or high if you're needing it in a hurry!). 

Meatballs

1 pound ground beef
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Place all ingredients in a large bowl, and mix with your hands until well incorporated.  Using a scoop or melon baller, scoop the meat into balls, rolling in your hand to make the shape and size uniform.  Place uncooked meatballs on a foil lined baking sheet and refrigerate until ready to cook.

Prior to placing in the sauce, I would suggest that you brown the meatballs.  I chose to brown them in a large dutch oven, but you can do so in the oven.  Simply brown the meatballs, not necessarily cooking them thoroughly. 

Once the meatballs are browned, either place them in the crockpot, with the sauce, allowing them finish cooking, or pour the slow-cooked sauce over the meatballs in large dutch oven, and allow to simmer, covered, on low until ready to serve.  The latter was how I completed cooking the sauce/meatballs.

*This is a fabulous recipe to double and freeze part of it, for a quick meal on a busy night or to share with a friend in need. 

Also, this is easily made into a vegetarian meal!




Thursday, June 23, 2011

Mary Ann Cake for Father's Day

My cherubs had it all planned:
  • grilled hamburgers with caramelized onions, bacon and blue cheese
  • potato salad
  • blackberry cobbler
That's what they wanted to cook for their daddy for Father's Day.

I thought it was great!  Except when they were with their Mimi and I was grocery shopping, I changed the dessert.

To this:
























This is a delicious cake, made in a Mary Ann cake pan, with a fabulous cream filling, topped with berries!

It was a hit, both with the cherubs AND the Mr.!

You may ask, "What's a Mary Ann pan?"  It's a cake pan that has a shallow well, so when your cake is baked, there's a perfect place for all sorts of yummy fillings!  If you don't have a Mary Ann pan, just use regular round or square pans, making a 2 or 3 layer cake, and spread the filling between the layers.

Basic Cake

Vegetable oil spray, for misting the pans

Flour, for dusting the pans
1 package (18.25 ounces) plain yellow cake mix
4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup water
½ cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly mist three 9-inch round cake pans with vegetable oil spray, then dust them with flour. Shake out the excess flour and set the pans aside.  Or use your (new) Mary Ann cake pan!


Place the cake mix, cream cheese, water, oil, vanilla, and eggs in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until the ingredients are incorporated, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until smooth, 2 minutes longer. Divide the batter evenly among the 3 prepared pans, about 1¾ cups batter per pan, smoothing the tops with the rubber spatula. Place the pans in the oven. If your oven is not large enough to hold 3 pans on one rack, place 2 pans on that rack and one in the center of the rack above.

Bake the cake layers until they are golden brown and the tops spring back when lightly pressed with a finger, 20 to 25 minutes. The cake layer on the higher rack may bake faster.

Allow the cakes to cool about 15 minutes before releasing from the pan and completely cool on a cooling grid.

Basic Cream Filling

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, softened

* I added about 3-4 TBSP of powdered sugar (which meant I needed a bit more cream).  I wanted just a tad sweeter taste, and the extra cream was to achieve the consistency I wanted.

Place all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly with an electric mixer.  Spread filling between layers or fill the indention of the Mary Ann cake.

Top with berries and refrigerate until ready to enjoy!

This is a Mary Ann Cake pan
(from the King Arthur Web site)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Iced Coffee (Cheaper and Better than Starbucks!)

Enjoy this guest post.

Well, it's not really a guest post.  If you want to read it -- you'll have to visit her website.

Not only that, she doesn't know who I am.  She has no idea that I'm sending people to read her blog.

I think if she knew, I think she'd want to gussy up for your visit!


Not my image . . . I drink mine too fast to get a picture!
When I read her entry on "The Perfect Iced Coffee" I knew it was going to be a hit!

I've already made my batch of yummy coffee concentrate -- and in 2 days I've made 7 delicious drinks! 

I'm not telling a lie when I say they weren't all for me!

For a great read and the recipe for the perfect iced coffee, go to http://www.thepioneerwoman.com/

Under the cooking tab, it's called "The Perfect Iced Coffee" from June 13.  Also, the last time I checked, on her home page, on the right hand side was a quick link.  Use that . . . so you can get to the facts faster and get your own brew made!

In case you want to make this delicious brew, but you don't want the large amount, the ratio is: 
  • 8 oz of ground coffee to 1 gallon of water
 OR (for an even smaller amount):
  • 4 oz of ground coffee to 8 cups of water
OR (for your own treat and nobody else):
  • 2 oz of ground coffee to 4 cups of water
I also added some Torani coffee syrup in  my drink. . . because I'm fancy that way!  You can find these syrups at Wal-Mart, Target, or most grocery stores.



Friday, June 17, 2011

A Wild Thank You

I've been teaching in Vacation Bible School this week.

It's been a wild week.

It's been a good week.

I've done Vacation Bible School for a lot of years and I do believe that this team of ladies that I worked with has been the best yet.

To show my appreciation to them, I made them "Wild Thank You" sugar cookies last night.

I hope there's an extra one . . .I think I want a treat too!

*This is my favorite sugar cookie recipe with the cookie icing that's not royal icing.  It did take all night for them to dry -- but they were ready to be bagged this morning!  Yeah!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I Made This!

I made this!

I can't believe that something I painted
turned out "hanging worthy!"

The other day, my girl cherub and I
went with some friends to a pottery place.

The girls painted.

Then, we two moms decided it might be fun
to paint something too.

I went cheap . . .who knew if it would
turn out looking right!

It did!

I think these would make cute
Christmas tree ornaments,
or gift tags (which would be part of the gift)
or some other kind of fun treat!

Here's what I did with mine.

You know when people come over to your house
and they always want to know where to put the trash?

If you say, "pull the door to the left of the sink" . . .
all of those cabinet doors look the same.

So, now I'll say, "the cabinet door with the "M."
Because "M" could stand for my last initial . . .
or it could stand for "ME!" 


Monday, June 13, 2011

Ballet is My Cherub's First Love

Cinderella was the ballet performance this year.


She practices her part.

My cherub also dances tap.

This was NOT Cinderella . . !

My cherub danced with 2 friends for an outstanding
ballet to the song "Dreams." 
Did I say outstanding?




Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Baseball Lessons


There's a lot to the game of baseball.


There's pitching . . .
and hitting . . .
and running . . .
and stealing . . .
and catching . . .
and throwing . . .
and timing.



 There's team signals . . .
and sideline coaches . . .
and extra innings . . .
and umpires. . .
and spitting sunflower seeds. . .
and player positions. . .
and opposing teams.


There is the coach
who teaches the boy how to be
a true athlete.
On and off the field.
How to be humble when he's winning
and gracious when he's loosing.

A coach who believes in a boy.
Who encourage and builds up;
who treats the player and umpires
with respect.
Who teaches the boy to play with integrity.

A coach who helps the boy go beyond what
he thinks he can do . . .and provides
a safe place to try something new.

A coach who believes;
not only in his team
but also in the Lord.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Easy Bake Oven

Did you ever have one of these when you were a little kid?
I did -- I remember it well.
I remember the delicious cakes!
Some things have changed for the Easy-Bake Oven . . .
like they're plastic now!
But the Easy-Bake mixes are just about the same!  Wink, Wink!

My sweet little cherub (all decked out in her Summer look!) has had an
Easy-Bake Oven for a long time.
We did the pre-package "convenience" mixes 1 time.
And 1 time only!
If she was going to bake and I was going to have to eat it . . .
I wasn't eating that stuff!

Plus, those mixes aren't necessarily cheap!
So, this momma figured out how to use my recipe mixes in
my cherub's Easy-Bake Oven!
That's right -- real cake and cookie mixes that actually taste good after they've
been cooked with a light bulb!

Here's what we do!
First, she begs me to get her Easy-Bake Oven down off of the shelf
and asks me if I have any number of mixes ready.
Usually, my first comment is "No." 
As in "No" to both of those questions!
Then I feel like I should be a better mom and I acquiesce and make
a mix up for her . . .usually Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.
However, we've used a cake mix, a brownie mix, and
refrigerated cookie dough.

While I'm doing that she pre-heated the light bulb . . .
a good 15 minutes! 
(Hey, whomever invented this gadget is a genius!)
Really!

She sprays the little baking pans with Pam
and drops about 2 tsp. (maybe 2 1/2) of dough into the pan
and gently smooshes it down.
Not necessarily smooshing it "down" -- just pressing it down a bit so that the
dough doesn't scrape on the oven "door" as she's pushing in the pan.

After 8-10 minutes in the oven, her cookies are cooked to perfection.
Really!
It's kind of amazing!
We let them cool about 3 minutes on the grid, then flip the pan over and the
cookie falls right out!

We repeat the steps . . . not 'til all the dough is gone . . .
that'd take FOREVER!
But after about 6 or 8 cookies, she's had her fill of using the
Easy-Bake Oven.

Then I turn on the ginormous oven and cook a dozen cookies at a time!
Modern invention is so wonderful!

At the end of the day -- we all have a delicious chocolate chip cookie
AND
we've had fun making them!

**It goes without saying, this is NOT endorsed or encouraged by the Easy-Bake Oven Company.
If you're going to engage in such behavior, you'll need to do so at your risk --
understanding the over-filling your pan can cause spillage on the light-bulb
as well as inside the Easy-Bake Oven.
That can prove to be a real mess; one that's not easily cleaned!


Friday, June 3, 2011

Onion and Parmesean Cheese Sauce

A long time ago I got a delicious recipe from a great friend. 

That recipe is called "Stuffed Flank Steak."

Whenever we have this fabulous meal, we always think about our friends, Eric and Peggy . . .
 . . . and we usually laugh over some long-lost memory!  Both the steak and the friends are great.

The other day, I was going to make her recipe.  But when I opened the flank steak, I realized it was to thin to stuff.

What a bummer!

So, I decided to use some of the ingredients to make a sauce . . .kind of like smothered steak rather than stuffed.

It was equally delicious!  My girl cherub, who could really be a vegetarian, ate 2 pieces of the meat!  She's even asked for this dinner for her birthday . . .in JANUARY!!! 

So if the self-proclaimed vegetarian ate the meat -- it must be good!

Onion and Parmesan Cheese Sauce

1 onion, sliced
1/4 cup butter
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 Parmesan cheese*

Slice the onions -- not to thin and not to thick.  Just a regular slice.
Place the butter in a skillet and melt.  Add the onions and cook over medium to medium high heat; stirring occasionally, allowing the onions to cook and turn a beautiful caramel color.



Reduce heat to medium low and pour in the cream.  Stir, allowing the cream to reduce and take on some of the yummy caramel color.  Continue stirring while the cream thickens a bit by reduction.

Stir in the 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese and stir until melted.
**Your favorite white or blue cheese will work here:  blue cheese, provolone, Parmesan, etc.

Pour over your steak that's been marinated in Dale's marinade and grilled to a perfect medium (using your meat thermometer, of course!).  This stuff is so good, you'll be scraping the pan and licking your fingers!





Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Butterscothch Peanut Butter


That's right!  There is an improvement on peanut butter!

You may ask yourself, "How can that be?" 

By doing "add ins!"

"What?"

All I can say is trust me on this one!

I'll keep it short and sweet; here's the recipe!  For those of you who want exact measurements -- you might panic a little!  Trust yourself and your taste buds!  Just make it the way you like it!

Butterscotch Peanut Butter

Butterscotch chips** (found by the chocolate chips)
Peanut Butter

Take a desired amount of butterscotch chips and melt in the microwave.  I start with about a 1/4 of the bag.
Take a big spoon full of peanut butter and mix it all together.

Taste. 
Ask yourself these questions:
  1. "Do I like it?" 
  2. "Does it need more peanut butter?"
  3. "Does it need more butterscotch chips?"
Based on your answer depends on what you do next!  You can either:
  1. Keep it the way it is.
  2. Add more peanut butter.
  3. Add more melted butterscotch chips.

I keep our concoction in a Gladware bowl.  That's just so I know what it is!  Delicious on apples, crackers, or as a sandwich, or on pretzels!

**We've also made this with white chocolate chips and plain 'ol chocolate chips! 

Now, to really get things mixed up!  We've also added other  mix ins!  WHOA!!!

To the Butterscotch P.B., we've added chow mein noodles (the crunchy kind).
To the White Chocolate P.B., we've added crushed up Nutter Butter cookies, or Pecan Sandies, or Oreo's.
To the Chocolate Chip P.B., we've added crushed up pretzels.

It's like we're living on the wild side!  Why don't you join us!