Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Almond Cookies



Our trip to the New England states this Fall seems forever ago.

Forrrrr-evah!

While we were in Vermont, we went to Dartmouth College and King Arthur Flour Company.

I'm not really sure which I liked better . . .

but if my boy cherub decided to go to Dartmouth,

I would NOT be disappointed!

Those two amazing institutions are just minutes away from each other.

M.I.N.U.T.E.S!

As we were shopping, a sweet sales clerk recommended the almond cookies they had just replenished.

She said they were her favorite, ever!

We bought our one package to take with us.

We were sad.

We wished we had bought more packages.

Because we loved them!

One reason we love them is that it's something different.

Don't get me wrong,

I love chocolate chip cookies.

And peanut butter cookies.

And oatmeal cookies too.

But this one . . . .it's different and I like different!

If you're an almond lover, then give this a try.

They're wonderful!

Almond Cookies
(very slightly adapted from King Arthur Flour)

10 ounces almond paste*
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1/8-1/4 tsp.  bitter almond oil (or almond extract)*
Confectioners' sugar or glazing sugar, for topping

Preheat the oven to 325°F. 

With a mixer or stand mixer, blend the almond paste, sugar, and salt until the mixture becomes uniformly crumbly.

Add the egg whites gradually, while mixing, to make a smooth paste.

Stir in the flavorings.
  
Scoop the dough by heaping tablespoons onto cookie sheets lined with a silpat or parchment paper. 

 Sprinkle the cookies heavily with confectioners' sugar, then use three fingers to press an indentation into the center of each cookie. 

 Bake the cookies for 20 to 25 minutes, until they're brown around the edges. Remove them from the oven, and let them cool completely on the pan.

*Almond paste from King Arthur can be purchased in a 10 ounce can.  The almond paste I purchase is in an 8 ounce can . . . so I buy 2 cans and use 10 ounces; saving the unused portion.  But actually, while I haven't tried it, you would probably be OK with just using 8 ounces.

*Almond can be very strong -- I would add the flavoring cautiously, as you can't take anything out if it's too much for your preference.



Thursday, December 11, 2014

Plum Chicken


Oh my word!

How do the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas seem like a never-ending roller coaster that's out of control?

Serious!

I need to get in control of this!

During these holiday weeks, if my family gets dinner, we're lucky.

I'm not talking balance.

Or even including a vegetable!

I'm talking, if there's something that resembles a meal, there's  no complaining!

We don't go and grab when it's hectic.

It's still easier and far cheaper for me to fix something at home.

The other night, I made this for me and the cherubs because the Mr. wasn't at home.

It was so good that I made it again, two nights later!

It is so forgiving!

Since being gluten free, there are some things we miss.

Chinese food is one of them!

This filled the void!

Plum Chicken

Chicken breasts, cubed
salt
pepper
garlic powder
corn starch
2-3 egg whites, whisked
oil
plum jelly
sriracha sauce

For the 4 of us, I used 3 chicken breasts.

Take the cubed chicken breasts and season with a bit of salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Place whisked egg whites in a shallow bowl.  Number of egg whites depends on how large the eggs are!

Place 1/4 cup of corn starch in a shallow bowl or plate.

Dip the chicken cubes in the egg wash, then toss in the corn starch.

Place on a plate.

Heat oil in the bottom of a skillet.  You'll want more oil than if sauteing, but I didn't deep fry the nuggets.  I wasn't up for that . . . the Mr. wasn't home to clean up after me!

While not over crowding the pan, place a portion of the nuggets in the hot pan. Cook thoroughly, turning the chicken to brown on all sides.

Remove from the pan and keep warm on a plate.

Mix the plum jelly with a wee bit of sriracha sauce.  I used about 4 heaping table spoons of jelly with about 1 tsp. of sriracha sauce.  My girl cherub can't do much heat.

Place the cooked nuggets in a bowl and pour the sauce over the nuggets, tossing until coated.

Serve with cooked rice;  . . . and that's only if you have time!


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Hot Spiced Cider for One



It's cold outside,

and I'm a little chilly.

I have a headache,

and I have no voice.

It's the holiday season . . .

My Mr. had me meet him outside of Costco.

He bought me 2 gallons of apple juice.

T.W.O. whole gallons!

That's a lot of apple juice!

He thought it would be great for my throat.

What can I say -- I have a thoughtful man!

I can tell you what would actually be good for my throat . . .

about 3 days of nothing to do,

locked up in my house!

THAT would bring healing, I think!

But since that isn't going to happen,

I think I'll do something with my two gallons of apple juice,

to help soothe me very sore throat.

I made a cup of hot spiced cider for one!

Single Serve Hot Spiced Cider

1 cup apple juice
4 whole cloves
2 allspice berries
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon OR 1 cinnamon stick*
1 tsp. brown sugar
a WEE little, entsy, tensy bit of orange flavoring

In a microwave safe mug, add the juice, spices, and sugar.  Heat for 2 minutes.

Remove from microwave, stirring in the WEE little, entsy, tensy bit of orange flavoring.  Stir thoroughly . . .especially if you used the ground cinnamon rather than the cinnamon stick!  That cinnamon is difficult to dissolve!

Let the spices steep as the cider cools to a tolerable temperature for your tongue!  Remove the cloves, allspice berries, and stick cinnamon, if used, before enjoying!  Otherwise, it's a bit bothersome!



*A cinnamon stick would be much better . . . the ground cinnamon doesn't really dissolve that well.  It eventually settles on the bottom of the cup.  

**These amounts were based on my personal preference . . .you adjust as it suites your fancy!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Peppered Candied Bacon




The Mr. and I recently took an anniversary trip through some lovely New England states.

While traveling, we stayed in some fabulous bed and breakfast inns.

We haven't done that a lot, as we have had about a 50/50 experience with B&B's!

But taking a risk, we went for it!

Each inn was great and I'd return to each of them if given the opportunity.

That's a good endorsement, huh?

Each breakfast we were served had at least one recipe that I requested!

OK -- sometimes 2!

One place we stayed, the inn owner served this bacon.

She announced, on more than one occasion, that each guest would be limited to 2 pieces,

as, "I am full with guests and this is all the bacon I had."

Which, after tasting the bacon, I was able to translate to this:

"This bacon is amazing and there is no way I could ever cook enough to satisfy the guests."

So there!

That's the truth!

Since being home, the Mr. and I have made this several times for our cherubs.

They love it too!

We will make as much as we can and the keep it in the refrigerator and just warm up on those busy school mornings.

With Thanksgiving here, and perhaps you are having extra guests, this would be amazing!

When the inn-keeper gave me this recipe, there were absolutely no measurements.

That's how I'll give it to you . . . just trust your instincts!

After tasting your first piece, if you want to make adjustments next time, do it!

That gives you an excuse to make this again!

Peppered Candied Bacon

1 pound thick sliced bacon (perhaps what is sold from the deli at your favorite store)
brown sugar
fresh cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

On a rimmed cookie sheet, lined with foil, place a cookie cooling rack.

Place the bacon, as close together as possible, on the cookie rack.  The cookie rack keeps the bacon from cooking in the grease.  Also, on the cookie rack, the bacon will cook flat . . . no curling!

Yeah for no curled bacon!

With the bacon on the rack, liberally sprinkle brown sugar on each piece, covering as much as you can.



I'm not sure how many pieces of bacon will be in your pound, depend on how thick it is sliced.  However, you can probably safely assume that you'll use 1/4-1/3 cup of brown sugar.

Also, the amount of brown sugar used is to your preference; the more sugar, the sweeter the bacon.

Repeat this process with the cracked pepper, but you really want to use a less-heavy hand, as the pepper will add spice to the bacon.  Perhaps you'll use 1-2 TBSP of cracked pepper.

Place in the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until completely done . . .but not burnt!

Remove from rack and serve warm.

Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

 . . .as if!


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Beef and Bean Soup


I hate when I thaw out something for dinner and then we don't need it.

That happened to me just the other night!

I thawed out ground beef,

with no idea of what I was going to do with it.

Then the Mr. figured out that he was the only one that would be home for dinner

and told me not to cook anything.

But I already had the meat thawed,

so the rational side of me said,

"Self, why not go ahead and make something that can be used for dinner in a night or two."

I didn't respond to myself,

because there's a point when self-talk becomes strangely . . .

strange!

While browning the beef,

I got out all of the ingredients for sloppy joes.

I don't really care for sloppy joes,

but the rest of the family likes them.

But while grabbing the final ingredient,

I decided I didn't want to make that and I would make soup.

After looking through the cabinet,

I grabbed a few cans of things and made this soup.

I had no idea if it would be something we would want to eat . . .

but as it turns out, my made-up soup was great for the cold night!

I like that this is "souper" easy and is great with chips or cornbread.

Beef and Bean Soup

1 lb. ground beef, browned
1 can refried beans (I used fat-free)
1 can rotel
2-3 TBSP taco seasoning*
1/2 can beef broth, if desired
sour cream
grated cheese
chopped onion
corn chips

Brown the ground beef in medium to large size sauce pan and drain off any fat that has cooked out.

Add the refried beans, rotel, and taco seasoning.  **If you don't have taco seasoning, add 1 1/2 tsp. chili powder, 1 tsp. cumin, and 1/2 tsp. garlic powder.  Stir to incorporate well.

If you like the thickness of it, heat until ready to serve.

If you prefer a bit thinner soup, add desired amount of beef broth.

Heat thoroughly.

Serve with sour cream, grated cheese, chopped onion, and corn chips.


Saturday, November 15, 2014

A Walk to Wisdom

 Book


When we first arrived in Dallas,

there was a fellow pastor who loaded the Mr. into the car and said,

"Let's go to Bonton."

The Mr. spent the day in this area of far, South Dallas,

learning about a ministry called H.I.S. Bridgebuilders.

Fast-forward nearly 5 years.

At our school, high school students have the week before Spring Break to participate in, "Minimester."

Short synopsis:  it's a week to go on a mission trip.

As a Freshman baseball player, my boy cherub went to Bonton . . .

the place where the Mr. first toured.

When the Baseball boys and two mom chaperons arrived in Bonton, a man named Trog met us there.

Trog impressed my boy cherub.

Trog has his own look,

wears a leather knife holder . . . and knife,

and gardens as apart of his ministry.

In this inner city ministry, Trog cultivates both produce and disciples.

This resonated with my boy cherub,

who feels his own call to full-time ministry, but doesn't believe, at this point it is to work within the structure of a church building.

Through our week in Bonton, and Trog's example, my son was seeing how God's call can defy all "normal" expectations.

We worked with Trog for the entire week;

turning composite,

cleaning chicken coops,

building raised beds,

and seeing first-hand what it means to not only be a minister, but be ministered to.

Because of our time in Bonton, my boy cherub has a unique place in his heart for the area.

My boy cherub has been back to Bonton, not with Trog, but in other capacities.


So why do I write about something that happened nearly a year ago?

Because, as a mom, watching Trog work with our Baseball boys,

and as a fellow believer, listening to Trog speak truth to the boys,

and to the people of the community that would meander around,

I saw Trog's heart.

Trog has recently written a book,

"A Walk to Wisdom-- 31 Days Through Proverbs."

Here's the link: http://www.awalktowisdom.com/

Go look:

Read his biography.

Follow him on twitter.

Order his book.

Not only will your life be changed,

but so will the lives of others, as the proceeds of the sale of the book are being returned to the community in which Trog ministers.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Mom's Easy Apple Crisp



Many years ago, I met a girl from our church and we became great friends.

We shared many things in common, but a real thread that bound us was a love for Southern Living cookbooks!

Yes!

It's been that long ago when we would pour over the magazines 

and collect the annual cookbooks and share our love of trying a new recipe!

We ate many Sunday lunches at their house.

Two reasons for that:
  1. They lived close to the church . . . and we didn't
  1. They could leave right when church was over . . . and we couldn't
By the time we got to their house on Sunday afternoons, she was able to have all the last minute things done and they were standing around waiting on us.

That's the life of having a pastor over for lunch . . .

you spend a lot of time waiting for them to get there!

Anyway; it's been a very long time since we've seen each other, but I still make a lot of our shared recipes.

This one, however, was not a Southern Living recipe.

I'm not sure where this is from, but the first time we had this, I knew it was a keeper.

It's so easy!

It's great for dessert or for breakfast! 

Try it warmed, over some waffles, or with a scoop of ice cream . . . maybe on top of the waffle!
 

Mom's Easy Apple Crisp

6 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp.cinnamon
1/4 cup water

Crumb Topping

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup gluten free flour (or regular all-purpose)
1/4 tsp. salt
6 TBSP butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix together the apples, sugars, lemon juice, cinnamon, and water .

Place in an 8x8 pan, sprayed with Pam.

For the crumb topping, mix the brown sugar, flour and salt together.  Stir in the melted butter until it resembles course crumble.

Sprinkle over the apples.

Bake for 40 minutes.

Serve warm.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Sweet and Sour Meatballs




Many years ago, while living in Arizona,

a friend brought dinner to us one night after we had our first cherub.

That dinner left such a lasting impression on us

that I still make it and it's one of our family favorites.

Not only do I make the "main entree" like Lisa made,

but I make the VERY dinner she brought to us 16 years ago!

  • Zippy meatballs,
  • cooked carrots,
  • and mashed potatoes.

It just goes together!

Yesterday, when my girl cherub got new wires, hooks, and smaller rubber bands for her braces,

and it made her teeth really sore!

Tonight for dinner, we are faced with a dilemma!

While we feel sorry for her,

we still want to eat.

And we don't want "soft food" either!

I thought of meatballs!

While we do really adore the zippy meatballs,

I was wanting something to serve with rice.

Sweet and Sour meatballs!

Perfect choice!

When you google that recipe, normally you find the appetizer option, using frozen meatballs.

That wasn't what I was wanting.

Not tonight,

and usually never.

I wanted homemade meatballs with a little Asian flair.

I think this is just perfect!

The basic meatball is like the zippy  meatball recipe, found here:

 http://karen-proverbs31.blogspot.com/2013/03/zippy-meatballs.html

The difference is the sauce.

Honestly, the next time I make these,

and there will be a next time!

I'll make 1 1/2 the sauce . . .at least!

We all wanted a tad more for our rice and it would have been great for the left-over lunch too!

(The sauce quantity listed is for the original amount -- if you want more, you'll have to do the math!)

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

1 1/2 to 2  pounds ground beef*
3/4 cup oatmeal (if gluten free, use gluten free oats)
1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 onion, more or less depending on taste, chopped fine


Sweet and Sour Sauce

3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup bbq sauce
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. ground pepper



Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the beef and remaining ingredients in a bowl.  Scoop out into meatballs.

I use a cookie scoop because I'm persnickety about all the meatballs being the same size.  Also, it allows the meatballs to cook evenly without some being burnt and some under-cooked!

Place the meatballs into a 9X13 pan.

Whisk the sauce ingredients together and pour over the uncooked meatballs.

Place the pan in the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until done.

Serve over rice.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

New Hampshire Chicken Sandwich

Photo taken by my boy cherub


When we rolled into the sleepy New Hampshire town

and there were only two restaurants to choose from . . .

and one was closed,

we know our options might be slightly limited!

In the parking lot, the Mr. said, "we might be eating gluten tonight!"

We were wrong!

Not only did they have gluten free options,

but they even had a gluten free menu!

Because we had devoured a ton of cheese and apples earlier that day,

the Mr. and I decided on something to share for dinner.

For a point of information:

I am not really one that "likes" to eat out.

Oh, I like to . . .

but it's for strange reasons.

As in, I don't want to order something I can easily make at home.

Like a salad.

Honestly, unless it's an "over the top" salad, I'm not going to order one as my meal.

When I go out, I'm looking for things to try that I can then go home and replicate.

That's what happened this night!

This was NOT on their gluten free menu,

but the only thing that made it "gluten" was the bun.

Being smart, we just asked for no bun.

Done!

I can't remember what they called this sandwich,

which we ordered bunless,

but I'm calling it "New Hampshire Chicken Sandwich"

because then, when we have it,

we'll be reminded of our trip.

On another note:  this is GREAT without the bun -- even if you eat gluten!

New Hampshire Chicken Sandwich

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded out and seasoned with salt and pepper
1 jar good quality cranberry chutney
1 package boursin cheese spread*
4 buns (I used gluten free onion rolls)

I prefer to always pound the boneless chicken breasts -- it makes it easier to eat.

Season chicken with salt and pepper and grill until no long pink.

Toast the buns . . . because it's just better!

Spread one-fourth of the boursin cheese on the bottom of each bun.

Top with a grilled chicken breast.

Spread a generous amount of cranberry chutney on top of the chicken.

Finish with the top bun.

Enjoy!

*boursin is a spreadable cheese, found at most local grocery/super stores.  You might need to look in the "specialty" section near the deli.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Berry and Peach Crisp



The Mr. and I celebrated 20 years of marriage last week.

With my mom agreeing to keep watch over the cherubs, we took off to the beautiful New England states for a few days!


 
It's kind of a sad reality when, at our age, we view going to New England in the Fall as "fun!"

At least we didn't make the trip on a charter bus!

Although, there is nothing wrong with that . . .

and there were p.l.e.n.t.y. of buses that we saw.

But I would like to think that we are young enough to still want to travel by ourselves!

What I did discover is that we were called "leaf peepers!"



That's what the weather people in the New England states would say when giving the weather report for the following day.

OK -- and the fact that we watch the news . . .

maybe another small sign that age is creeping up on us!

We stayed in B & B's most nights,

except for one,

and that's called a "memory"

that will be held over the Mr.'s head for a really, really, really, long time!

The breakfasts that we had most mornings was so delicious!

I'm not sure if it was because we weren't cooking . . .

or we were being served . . .

or we were meeting other wonderfully young "leaf peepers" .  . .

whatever the reason, I requested several recipes!

Many times, on trips, that's my mementos . . .

recipes!

I have so many from our trip that I can't wait to share with the cherubs

and this is one of them!

It was called blueberry and peach crisp . . . or maybe it was blackberry;  I don't remember.

But I didn't have either of those, so I used frozen mixed berries and it was yummy!

That's why I called it "berry and peach crisp!"


Berry and Peach Crisp 
(Adapted from The Maine Stay Inn B & B)

2 cups frozen (or fresh) blueberries (I didn't have blueberries, I had mixed . . .so I used that)
4 cups frozen (or fresh) peaches, sliced
1 TBSP lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup gluten-free flour (or regular flour)

For the crumble topping:

1/2 cup gluten free flour
1/2 cup gluten free oats
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar (I replaced with brown sugar . . .because I wanted to!)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons cold butter, diced

 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine berries, sliced peaches, lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, and flour. Gently toss until fruit is well coated. Let the fruit mixture sit while you prepare the crumble topping.

For the crumble topping; in a large bowl, combine the flour, oatmeal, brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Stir together with a whisk.

Using your fingers or a pastry cutter, mix in the butter until the mixture comes together and you have big crumbles.

Spray a pie plate, a square 8x8 pan, or ramekins with Pam.  Place the fruit mixture in the baking dish. Sprinkle the crumble mixture evenly over the fruit.

Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the top is browned and crisp and the juices are bubbly.

Serve warm or at room temperature.







Monday, October 6, 2014

Soft Gingerbread Cookies



We really do love gingerbread.

When I think of gingerbread cookies, I think of the little people . . .

and honestly, I kind of have a hard time eating one of those cookies.

I'm not really sure why!

But when I think of gingerbread, I'm reminded of a fabulous gingerbread loaf that we used to eat.

It was wonderful!

Last night I found this recipe in a cookbook by Silvana Nardone and on a whim, I mixed it up.

I didn't really know what to expect.

But what we pulled from the oven was wonderful!

They look like a perfect cookie you might find at a bakery.

Round.

Pillow-y.

Deep brown.

I made a variation to the recipe and I'm kind of happy with it!

I was out of ginger, so I just substituted cinnamon.

Because we love cinnamon

and because I had everything mixed together when I realized I had no ginger.

There was no turning back, huh!

So instead of gingerbread cookies,

I guess these are cinnamonbread cookies!

My boy cherub liked them tons!


I like that they're not super sweet!

The cocoa in the recipe gives the cookies the deep color and the molasses gives the deep flavor!

While I made these gluten free, I really think all-purpose flour is an easy substitute!  If you make it with "regular flour," leave a comment to let others know how it worked out for you!

Soft Gingerbread Cookies

1 1/2 cup gluten free flour
2 TBSP cocoa powder
2 tsp ginger (or cinnamon if you don't have any ginger!)
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup oil
3 TBSP molasses
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix the flour and the next 7 ingredients together.  Whisk together to blend well.

In a smaller bowl, beat the egg, oil, and molasses together.

Pour into the flour mixture and, by hand, mix together until you have the flour mixture thoroughly incorporated.

Using a cookie scoop, drop by 1 1/2 TBSP onto a cookie sheet.  (If you have the Pampered Chef cookie scoops, it is the "medium" scoop).

Bake for 8 minutes.

Allow to cool on the pan for 3 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.




Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Cinnamon Waffle Sauce



My cherubs love cinnamon.

Seriously love it!

Anytime I can add cinnamon to a recipe, I always do!


When I saw this recipe, I thought it would be great.

I actually thought it would be a bit different then how it turned out.

But to my surprise, I was very pleased with the outcome.

I did make a little change to the original recipe, but that's because of our love of the cinnamon flavor.

This is wonderful poured over warm waffles or pancakes.

By warm, I mean warmed up!

On busy school mornings, we just take the waffles I made from the weekend and reheat in the toaster.

Cinnamon Waffle Sauce

1 cup water
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp good quality cinnamon (I used siagon cinnamon)

Place all of the ingredients in a heavy sauce pan over high heat.  Continue to stir until the cinnamon is dissolved in the mixture and the mixture comes to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium/medium heat and continue to simmer until the mixture reduces until the it is thick and syrup-like, but still pourable. 

I didn't want to over-cook the mixture or burn the sugar, so I reduced until the mixture coated the back of the spoon.

Remove from heat and allow to cool before placing it in a container.

Use immediately;  store any remaining sauce in the refrigerator.

Reheat in the microwave when needed (being careful not to bring to a boil when re-heating.)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Homecoming Mum



I did not grow up doing mums in high school.

Honestly, it must be a Texas thing.

And as the saying goes, "Everything in Texas is always bigger!"


Mums . . .

honestly, I don't get it!



I'm not sure what the fascination with it is!

I'm learning with my boy cherub.

This is the second year that I have made a mum for his homecoming date.

Now, for the record, I want to do it for him

and for her.

But that doesn't mean that I understand what it is all about!

For those of you who don't do mums at your high school,

just google "images of homecoming mums"

Seriously!  Go do it!  Open another tab on your computer and look!

You will d.r.o.p. y.o.u.r j.a.w!!! 

Last year, a friend of mine taught me how to make the mum.

I am thankful that she is working with me again.

She has made several over the years and, while it isn't hard, I just want to make sure that I remember.

Mums require lots of stuff.

Ribbon.

Mum.

Ribbon.

 and pizazz!


By the time the mum is done, it is kind of heavy.

But it's all in the name of high school fun.

The tradition is that the couple exchange the mum and garter on Thursday and then they wear their decor to school on Friday for the homecoming parade and then to the homecoming game that night.

You might ask what do they do with it after Friday night?

Great question!

It's a memento that hangs in your room collecting dust.

Yep!

That's the life of a homecoming mum.




Monday, September 15, 2014

Claude's Marinade

Image from the internet


I think this is my very favorite marinade right now!

I love it for it's deep flavor that makes the meat taste like it took hours to achieve the taste.

I've been using this marinade for several years,

but it wasn't until recently that I have become enamored with it.

As in, I use it all the time.

Lately, every piece of chicken gets dunked in this marinade.

Not dunked . . . soaked!

I've told you my marinade method:

come home from the grocery store and divide my meat into gallon ziplock bags based on what I'm going to be using it for.

Those things that need to be marinated, gets the marinade thrown in the bag right away,

then off to the freezer it goes.

My theory:  it marinates while it's going into a deep freeze

and it marinates more while it's thawing out!

It's a win-win situation for everyone!

Back to this marinade, I've always purchased a small, normal size bottle.

I use it on chicken, beef, and in beans.

The last time, however, that I was at the store, I noticed they sell it in a gallon sized container!


I was "marinade happy!"

So happy, that I created a sandwich spread for the marinated grilled chicken sandwich we ate!

I'll share that too!

If you're looking for a new marinade, try Claude's Brisket Marinade;

it's found on the aisle with the ketchup, bar-b-que, and other condiments.

Claude's Mustard Spread

A spoonful of mayonnaise
1 small squirt of mustard
1 tsp. Claude's brisket marinade
chopped green chilies (if you have them . . .I had them, so I used them)

Place all of the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together until blended.

Spread on a toasted bun and top with grilled chicken (that's been marinated in Claude's!)




Friday, September 12, 2014

Cuban Picadillo




 My boy cherub turns 16!

I think I'm ok with it. . .

the driving part, that is!

Is he qualified to be behind the wheel?



NO!

None of us where . . .

but it's a right of passage, huh?

Is he walking out to a car, sitting in the driveway, with a big bow tied to the top of it as his present?

NO!
That's only in the movies,

or in other people's lives,

but not in ours!

It wasn't in mine when I turned 16.

It surely wasn't in the Mr.'s,

therefore, it is not in my boy cherub's!

We are celebrating his 16th birthday though,

and have been for a week now!

He kind of likes it that way!

Tonight, even though it isn't his birthday,

we are having his family birthday meal.

You know, where you can pick whatever you want for dinner, even if it doesn't go together?

This year, he picked Cuban food.

I'm a little shocked!

Not by the Cuban food, but that it isn't random!

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that we are all gluten free (because of him),

and he knows I haven't had the time to adapt our family recipes yet . . .

or maybe it's because he has a strong attraction to the Latin world.

Whatever the reason, I'm ok with it!

The first thing I did was to call a friend who knows Latin food!

She gave me this VERY easy recipe,

along with a fantastic Tres Leche cake recipe, which I will be posting next!

Here is for your tasting pleasure!

Cuban Picadillo

 2 cups onion, diced
2 cups green pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil for sautéing
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds ground beef
1 -14oz can of tomato sauce
1 teaspoon cumin, ground
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 cup green olives, chopped (this is ALOT of green olives -- reduce to your preference)
1/3 cup raisins
1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper (to taste)

Sauté onion and green pepper in olive oil in a large pan. Sauté until the onion is softened, then add the garlic and ground beef and cook until the meat is browned.
 
Add the tomato sauce, cumin, cinnamon, and oregano. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Add olives and raisins and simmer 5 minutes longer. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot over white rice and black beans.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Apple Raisin Bake



When the kids went back to school, so did I!

What I mean by that is that my subbing schedule picked up right where it left off!

I really enjoy being able to sub and particularly love subbing at our school!

However, on the days I sub, breakfast is a little less "prepared"  then on the days I do not.

I've confessed it before, but I feel the need to confess again:

most of the time, the morning breakfast routine is managed by the Mr.

There are days, however, that I contribute greatly to the success of it!

Last week, on a day I didn't work, was one such experience!

This recipe will be great for company, school-morning breakfasts, or Saturday brunch!

While I made it gluten free, I believe that all purpose flour would be just as great!

Apple Raisin Bake

1 large apple, washed, cored, and sliced thin (I used Granny Smith)
1/3 cup raisins
3 TBSP brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
4 eggs
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup gluten free flour (or regular, all-purpose flour)
2 TBSP melted butter
Preheat oven to 350. 
Using a pie plate, spray with non-stick cooking spray.
In a bowl, place sliced apples, raisins, brown sugar, and cinnamon and toss to coat.  Arrange apple slices in the pie pan in a fan shape, over-lapping apples and filling in the entire plate.
Bake 15 minutes, or until the apples are tender.
While the apples are cooking, whisk eggs, milk, flour, and melted butter together.
When the apples are cooked, increase oven temp to 450 and carefully pour batter over apples and bake for an additional 15 minutes.  The batter will fill the pie plate, so be careful!

When it is done, the "pancake" will puff up over the pie plate, but mine did not spill over the sides!

Serve warm with a dusting of powdered sugar and my cherubs like a bit of syrup poured on the top!

This reheated great for the next morning . . .when I was working!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Real Instant Mashed Potatoes



Does that even go together?

Real and Instant?

I'm not sure it does!

Here's my dilemma:

I almost always have instant potatoes.

I use it for different recipes and such.

I almost always have potatoes; usually red-skinned.

I just do not always have enough to make enough mashed potatoes.

I'm not real big on instant mashed potatoes for a side dish.

I've been known to make them because of the lack of real potatoes in the house.

But they're not my favorite.

Probably because I don't know how to make "good instant mashed potatoes."

But, we are real big on mashed potatoes!

Not because I make them alot.

I don't.

But we do like them!

I especially like red-skinned mashed potatoes.

They don't taste any different than other mashed potatoes.

I just like them.

The other evening, for dinner, I made cubed steak with gravy.

http://karen-proverbs31.blogspot.com/2011/08/cube-steak-with-gravy.html

I had to modify it to make it gluten free, and it turned out just great!

But with this, my family likes mashed potatoes.

I didn't want to do instant but I didn't have enough potatoes for real . . .so I compromised!

I made Real Instant Mashed Potatoes!

Do you know!  My family didn't complain,

nor did they ask if they were instant!

It was a hit!

Real Instant Mashed Potatoes

3-4 red skinned potatoes (or potato of your choice), boiled
2 -4 TBSP butter
1/3 - 1/2  cup half and half
salt and pepper
instant mashed potatoes, cooked according to directions for a serving of 4

The trick to this:  keep things hot!

Wash real potatoes and cube and cook.

While real potatoes are cooking, gather ingredients for the instant mashed potatoes.

Once the real potatoes are cooked, drain in a colander.

In the same pan the real potatoes cooked in, return to the stove and add the water and milk and bring to a boil for the instant mashed potatoes.  Follow the directions to complete this dish.

While you are waiting for the water to boil for the instant mashed potatoes, heat the half and half in the microwave until warm*.  Add the butter and stir to melt.  The amount of half and half and butter that is used is strictly dependent on taste and desired consistency.  Start with the smaller amount and add more if necessary.

Once the instant mashed potatoes are ready, add the real potatoes and the instant mashed potatoes together.  Pour the milk/butter mixture in and add a dash of salt and pepper.  Using a potato masher, pastry blender, or a mixer, mix the two potatoes together until desired consistency is reached.

I like to use my pastry blender to mash my potatoes (if I don't have a bunch of them to do) because I like my mashed potatoes with a little texture!  That tells people they're real!

Serve warm!

*I warm the half and half and butter so that it doesn't cool off the potatoes.  There's no other reason!  You can add it cold to the potatoes if you want!








Sunday, July 27, 2014

Strawberry Lemonade



Nothing is much better than real lemonade during the hot summer months.

I've always liked lemonade.

My first memory of lemonade is with my grandpa.

He liked the powdered mix, Country Time Lemonade.

I remember buying it with him and mixing it up and having a nice cold glass to drink.

That was all I used to drink, because I didn't know any different.

Then, I discovered making my own.

From scratch.

Some lemon juice.

Some simple syrup.

And just a bit of water to make it right.

My girl cherub has always been a lemon fan.

I think that's my fault.

When I was pregnant with her, I craved lemons.

The Mr. would buy a bag of lemons to keep in the refrigerator for me.

I'd cut them into wedges and sprinkle a little salt on them and indulge.

My entire pregnancy!

She can do the very same thing, even now.

Matter of fact, the Mr. has to tell her to stop eating lemons!

I'm to blame.

Put her love of lemons together with her love of cooking and she made this recipe this week.

Strawberry Lemonade

12 lemons, juiced (to equal 2 cups) and zest from the lemons
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1-14 oz bag frozen strawberries, thawed
zest of 3 lemons, optional

Place the sugar and water in a sauce pan and heat until the sugar is completely dissolved.  You do not necessarily need to boil the mixture. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from the heat and zest 3 lemons into the simple syrup. Cool.

Meantime, while the sugar is melting, juice the lemons, to yield 2 cups.  Remove the seeds; pulp is ok, if you like pulp.

Puree the thawed strawberries until smooth.

In a pitcher, pour the lemon juice, lemon zest simple syrup and the pureed strawberries.  Add 1-2 cups of water, or until the desired dilution/taste is reached.  (She added about 1 1/2 cups of water, as we prefer a stronger lemonade).

Stir before serving and serve over ice.

Refrigerate unused portion.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Red Chili Enchilada Sauce

We love Mexican food.

Admittedly.

We have a terrible crush on chips, salsa, pulled chicken tacos, and most other Mexican-style food.

One thing, though, that nobody in our family really cares for is the red chili enchilada sauce.

Give us green.

Or sour cream.

Or even cheese.

But not red.

So think me crazy when I thought that I'd make enchiladas for dinner using . . .RED enchilada sauce.

If I didn't know better, I'd think I was having pregnancy cravings.

Because that's what was happening!

I was honestly CRAVING red enchilada sauce.

Of course, though, I didn't have any of the canned stuff.

I don't buy it.

But even if I did buy it, I wouldn't have it anyways.

Because that's the law of returning home from being out of town.

Whatever you need or want when you return from being out of town,

you don't have.

Period.

You have to go to the store.

But I wasn't going to the store,

because I didn't want to.

Plus, I don't even like what I was wanting to fix.

That crazy thinking, which I was completely aware of, led me to look for a recipe on the internet.

Everything is on the internet!

My thinking is that red enchilada sauce can't be hard to make!

Guess what!

I was right!

Twice!

There were recipes for a homemade version AND it's not hard to make.

Matter of fact, I didn't tell my family what I had made and the first thing out of the boy cherub's mouth . . .
"Mom, this is really good!"

There you go!  Another satisfied customer!

Red Chili Enchilada Sauce
(Modified from "Gimme some Oven")

2 TBSP vegetable or canola oil
2 TBSP  gluten-free flour mix (or you could use regular)
3 TBSP chili powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cumin
1 can  chicken stock
2 TBSP water
Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour and stir together over the heat creating a roux and "cooking" the flour so that it doesn't have a flour taste, 2-4 minutes, being careful not to burn the mixture. Stir in the next 4  seasonings, making a paste.   Gradually, add in the stock, whisking constantly to remove lumps.
Reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes, stirring occassionaly, until thick. It will thicken, but it does take time; be patient with it!  If you wish for a thinner consistency, add a bit more water or stock, but do this a little at a time so that you don't end up with runny chili sauce.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Vanilla Sugar Cookie Chex Mix



I'm really not sure why . . .

but I love chex mix.

I like different kinds of chex mix.

Sure, the standard savory recipe is fine,

but I'm talking all the new-fandangled choices!

It's kind of crazy what flavor concoctions can be created!

Several weeks ago, I whipped this chex mix up

and in a matter of hours we had devoured it.

But if you do the math, you would realize that's not too hard to do!

6 cups of cereal.

4 people.

That equals 1 and 1/2 cups of cereal per person.

Over the course of the day, it's easy to consume that little of cereal.

Especially when it's covered with white chocolate.

And sugar.

Here, try it for yourself and see how long it lasts at your house!

Vanilla Sugar Cookie Chex Mix
(Recipe is from Chex.com)

6 cups Rice Chex™ cereal
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 TBSP corn syrup
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 oz white baking chocolate or 1/4 cup vanilla milk chips
Measure cereal in large microwaveable bowl. Line a cookie sheet with a silicone baking sheet, waxed paper or foil.
In 2-cup microwavable measuring cup, microwave butter uncovered on High 30 seconds or until melted. Add sugar and corn syrup; microwave uncovered on High 30 seconds until mixture is heated and can be stirred smooth. Stir in vanilla.
Pour over cereal, stirring until evenly coated.
Microwave coated cereal, uncovered, on High 2 minutes, stirring after1 minute. Sprinkle with powdered sugar; mix well.
Spread on lined cookie sheet to dry.
Microwave white chocolate on High 30 seconds or until it can be stirred smooth; drizzle over top. 
Allow the chocolate to set and chex mix to dry before indulging . . . or at least try! 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Mixed Nut Butter



I've been making almond butter for the Mr. some time now.

I used to make it in my (very) old food processor.

Matter of fact, my dad bought the food processor for me before I ever got married . . .

from a garage sale!

So I know it's at least 20 years old,

but probably older!

I bet when my dad did that he had no idea I'd still be using it!

That's money well spent, huh?

Recently, thought, the Mr. saw a "suggestion" to make mixed nut butter.

There you go;

enough said!
I've already made him two different kinds recently.

Regardless of your preference, I don't think you can go wrong!

The first I made was a combination of
  • walnut and pecan
Now, I've made a mix of
  • cashew and walnut
Next will be
  • pecan and almond
I think.

It's so easy.

Follow the general directions from the post about making almond butter:

http://karen-proverbs31.blogspot.com/2012/01/almond-butter.html

There's a bit of difference, but only slight, when you start working with other kinds of nuts because the oil  in the nuts can differ.

However, it's not enough to worry about.

Once you get it blended to the consistency that you prefer, you have it right!
Again, I only use nuts.

No oil.

No salt.

No nothing.

I do like to lightly toast the almonds, pecans, and walnuts and cool completely before turning them into butter.

The cashews, however, I did not.

Just dumped them right in!

Delish!

Mixed Nut Butter

1 cup of one nut
1 cup of another nut

Using the blade attachment, pour about 2 cups of roasted and cooled nuts in the container.

Attach the lid and turn the processor on high. 

My processor was able to make the almond butter without over-heating.  You will have to do what's best for your machine not to over heat, stop working, and possibly catch fire.  (OK, the catch fire part was just for a small chuckle.  But really, if your food processor can't work continuously, you'll have to stop and start this process.  It won't change the end product, it'll just take longer.)

Allow the almonds to be processed through the following stages:
  • dry nut meal
  • moist nut meal
  • it will finally clump together in a ball
At this point, you might become concerned.

Don't!

Basically, the steps are now going to be worked through backwards, which is going to result in a terrific almond butter.
  • the ball of butter will now, S.L.O.W.L.Y begin to redistribute
  • you'll get anxious and want to add the oil.
Don't!

Be patient!

  • Slowly, little by little, the oils begin to be fully released from the nuts and you'll begin to see the fruits nuts of your labor!
You'll have nut butter!

Smooth, creamy, and delicious!

Once the processor has done it's job, you may want your nut butter to be just a bit thinner.  If that's the case, slowly add the 1 tsp. of oil into the butter, with the processor on so that it's well incorporated.

Spoon your delicious treat into a container or jar.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

My Boy Cherub's Journey



It's been a journey this year for my boy cherub.

He has handled it well, but together, as a family, we are figuring things out.

It all started with his 15 year check up.

I received a small reprimand from his pediatrician that the previous year I didn't take him for blood work . . .

you know, just to get the base-line established and make sure things were well.

Here's the deal -- I need one-stop-shop when it comes to doctors!

If there's nothing wrong, then the "go get this done" thing doesn't usually get done.

It's not that I try to forget . . .

there's just nothing wrong to make me remember to get it done!

But this year, when an in-office test came back with out of whack result, I was quick to obey the doctor's request to follow up with blood work.

The short version, which included many blood draws and several months;

my boy cherub was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease.

The blessing:  he was minimally affected and he has gotten his medicine worked out and he's doing well.

That was until Spring Break.

Then things turned again.

He began getting very sick, loosing a significant amount of weight very quickly, and nothing was working.

No medicine cured, no test was conclusive, no diet made him feel better, no amount of rest or time was giving him healing or relief.

A little more than 2 months of this; a referral to another specialist;

an endoscopy test and a genetic blood test, and more days of being sick and loosing weight,

we finally had answers.

Another auto-immune disease.

It is not uncommon for these two to go together;

kind of like peanut butter and jelly!

The day we left the doctor's office,

with the advise from the doctor that said, "you either do it all in or don't do it at all"

was the day my boy cherub started getting better.

He received instant relief!

He is gluten free.

Not by choice.

But for health.

We have been on a journey.

A journey to both understand how to maintain his health as well as to understand what, exactly, makes this disease unique.

It is life long.

The only cure is through diet.

We are thankful.

Thankful that it is "only" this.

Thankful that this new diagnosis can be controlled without medicine.

Thankful that even though his body attacks itself, he can lead an active life.

The day he went gluten free, is the day I did too.

The Mr. and my girl cherub, they made the commitment to finish the gluten-filled food that was at home.

That's taken more time than I realized!

But they have almost accomplished the task!

They're achievers!

Once that's done, our home will be gluten free.

To be fair to my boy cherub, but more than that,

to support him.

That's what family does.

While I'm not saying this is a "gluten free" blog, most of my recipes will be reflective of how we are eating these days.

If you're not gluten free, I've tried to make the "regular" substitutions suggestions for you, especially if it is a baked good.  Most of the time, it should work to make it gluten-filled!  But occasionally, it may not . . . welcome to my world! 

We have found great tasting recipes that fit my boy cherub's needs.

Even if you're not gluten free as a life style, I do hope you'll continue to try the recipes and bring a little (gluten free) gourmet into your day!




Monday, June 30, 2014

Raja Con Queso

Poblano pepper; image taken from the internet

Saturday morning cooking shows are not good for our family!

Almost without fail, someone in our house sees a dish being made that seems so appealing.

Then, we all want it.

But we weren't really paying attention enough to know what was going on.

We were only paying enough attention to know that it looked good!

It happened again this past Saturday.

We all saw something that looked amazing . . .

but didn't know what it was called . . .

or the name of the show . . .

or the name of the chef . . .

or really what all was put into the dish.

But we knew enough to start; sort of!

In the middle of cooking, my boy cherub did some internet research and found what we were looking for!

Or should I say, what we were in the middle of making!

This is SOOOOO  yummy!

It's great stuffed into corn tortillas,

or scooped up with corn chips,

or tortillas filled with cooked chicken and rolled up tight, then pour this over the top,

or, like today for lunch, topping grilled chicken with this amazing sauce, and serve with Spanish rice!

I love recipes like this!

True confession:  I didn't have a recipe at first -- so I just started putting things into a pan, not measuring anything.  You can do the same thing!  All you're wanting is to end up with a hearty filling.  However, if you want it a bit thinner, just add more liquid!

Rajas Con Queso

2 poblano pepper, roasted and peeled, sliced*
2 ear of corn, cut off the cob
1/2-1 onion, chopped
1 TBSP olive oil
1/2 cup Mexican Crème (or substitute sour cream)
1 cup heavy cream (you could substitute half and half)**
1 cup shredded Monterrey jack cheese (or pepper jack cheese)

Preheat oven broiler.  Place the poblano peppers on a foil lined baking sheet.

Place pepper under the broiler and cook until most of the pepper skin is black.  Turn the chilies over during cooking to roast all sides. 

Place the peppers in a ziplock bag or paper sack and seal.  Let them rest for about 20 minutes.  Then remove the blackened skin, cut off the tops and remove seeds.  Slice the peppers into bite sized pieces.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet or cast iron skillet.  Add the onions and cook just until they begin to turn translucent.  Add the corn and continue cooking to get a little browning on the onion and corn.  Add the chopped peppers.

Stir in the heavy cream and cheese.  Stir until the cheese melts.  Remove from the heat and add the sour cream and stir until smooth.

*I didn't have poblano peppers to use, so I substituted roasted green chilies from my freezer.  Poblano peppers do not have heat like green chili peppers do.  You could also use canned green chilies if you didn't want to mess with the roasting of peppers.

**If you desire the mixture to be a bit thinner, add a bit more cream and stir until desired consistency.