July 31, 2008

World Peace Cookies

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Last week I saw an email from Susan of She's Becoming DoughMessTic about Operation GALS. She was looking to see if others would be interested in sending goodies to soldiers in Iraq. You can read about it on her site.

I jumped right in and wanted to help out. I have known people who have been over in Iraq and thought it would be great to be a part of this.

Then, life happened. I ended up out of town for 3 days and my first day back, I had one thing after another happening that was putting me down. I didn't have time to post in time. BUT, I made the cookies and they are now on their way to Corporal Jason Ballard. Jason, I hope you enjoy the cookies I made for you!

I decided what better cookie to send than the World Peace Cookies from Dorie Greenspan's Baking cookbook. So, I made a batch and sent them off to Jason. Below are a few photos of the cookies. I hope the guys over there enjoy them with the rest of their goodies they will be receiving!



These cookies were so easy to make. The recipe is as follows:

1-1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick plus 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or a generous 3/4 cup store bought mini chocolate chips

To mix, I did the following:

I put the flour, cocoa, and baking soda into a bowl and mixed well to combine. Next, put the softened butter in your standing mixer (or use a hand mixer) and beat the butter on medium until soft and creamy. Add both sugars, the salt and vanilla extract, and beat 2 minutes more.

Turn off the mixer and pour in the dry ingredients. I started slowly so flour did not fly everywhere, then once it was incorporated, I continued to mix until the flour disappeared into the dough. Next you toss in the chocolate (I used the mini chips). I have also mixed in some of the Kraft Caramel Bits - which is a nice addition - and sprinkled some grey sea salt on top. Bake at 325 for 12 minutes.

Shape into two logs that are 1-1/2" in diameter. Wrap in wax paper and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. You can freeze dough for up to 2 months. If you freeze the dough, you don't need to defrost before baking, just slice and bake the cookies for 13 minutes instead.

July 30, 2008

Did I dare?

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I sure did! I wasn't so sure I was wanting to but am glad I did! The challenge this month ~ Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream from Great Cakes by Carol Walter was chosen by Chris of Mele Cotte. The recipe is quite long, with many different components, but what else would we expect for a daring baker challenge?! Great choice Chris!

With the costs of everything rising, I had a hard time convincing myself to buy hazelnuts that
maybe nobody here would eat in the cake. But, I knew if nobody but me at home woud eat it, that someone outside of my home would. So I splurged.

Skinning the nuts wasn't as hard as I thought it might be! I even have some hazelnuts left over for a special treat in the future.


We even had to make our own praline for the butter cream - which was something I had never done before!


I wasn't sure I would like this cake because I was not extremely fond of the Opera Cake we made a few months ago. However, as it turned out, I was the one in the household who liked it best. It wasn't as sweet as the Opera Cake and I think that was why I liked it so much more. However, Grumpy's favorite still is the Opera Cake.


Chris (my son Chris, not Chris of Mele Cotte!) on the other hand thought it was too rich. I think it probably was the buttercream - I made a full recipe of it and used all of it - even though I halved the genoise part!! All in all I am glad I did get to do this challenge. I think I got better at my decorating skills this time around - even though I didn't get the praline quite as fine as I needed to (some chunks would at times stop my piping of the butter cream which made it not too perfect looking!)



There are many beautifully decorated cakes made by other Daring Bakers. Go ahead and check them out, you know you want to! To not make this such a long post, I will guide you back to Chris of Mele Cotte where you can view the recipe.

For now, I will leave you with a one more photo of the cake!


July 29, 2008

Summer Fruit Galette

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For those of you wondering what I did with those first raspberries of the season?
I mixed them with peaches for a little bit o' peach melba summer fruit galette!
(I love the way the light plays on this photo!)
This week, for Tuesdays with Dorie, Michelle from Michelle in Colorado Springs has picked Summer Fruit Galette. As soon as I saw this recipe, I knew I was going to love it. I had fresh peaches that I had just bought and the previous day, my parent's had just given me a quart of their very first red raspberries of the season! This was going to be my summer fruit!


I have decided that the "Good for almost anything" pie crust recipe of Dorie's is the BEST pie crust recipe out there. After my first attempt, I have tried a few more times, and each time, the pie crust works out for me better and better. (not to mention I am loving the tarts made with the scraps of crust!).


This is definitely a recipe I would recommend - and I recommend using the peaches for sure. I just love the scent of a peach and when you get one that is perfectly sweet and juicy, it can't be beat. The raspberries were large and sweet also. One thing I did differently was I did not use graham cracker crumbs in the bottom of the galette. I used peach jam with buttery crushed cracker's - only because I didn't have graham crackers. This didn't seem to affect the flavor at all. Dorie recommends eating this warm from the oven or at room temperature....and I totally agree. I stored it in the refrigerator overnight and the next day when I went to have some, it wasn't as flavorful cold. A quick pop in the microwave for 30 seconds and I was good to go again.

Please don't mind my paper plate above, we were in a hurry to try and I didn't
have much patience left by the time I made it to this photo!


Thanks to Michelle for choosing this recipe! If you would like to view the recipe, check out her blog here. For more of this galette and other versions check out the TWD blogroll.

July 26, 2008

Beer Butt Chicken

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So I decided it was time to "pop a top" and instead of tipping up and drinking the whole can, that I would drink about a quarter of it and then sit my chicken on the can to absorb what was left of that goodness while heating up on my grill! Yup, tonight we had Beer Butt Chicken.

I had a premixed Mesquite rub, so instead of making my own tonight, I decided to go the easy route. After I cleaned my chicken, I rubbed him down with the mesquite, sat him on a can of Bud Light that was about 3/4 full and put him on a preheated grill for about 1-1/2 hours. The temp was at about 350 for the entire time the chicken sat there. I'd say he was pretty "steamed" by the time I took him off!! I served this with the red skinned oven roasted potatoes and some steam fresh veggies straight from the microwave. Pretty good dinner if I say so myself!

I have some other news. Some of you may remember I lost Peabody not too long ago. It really broke my heart. He can never be replaced, there can never be another Peabody. BUT, we have a visitor this weekend, who probably will become a permanent fixture in our home. He arrived with the name of Alvin, but after spending time with him, Grumpy has renamed him "Ratatouille". Can you guess why?? :-p Here is a pic of him....he's a cutie and a lover and has fit right in. Chubby is even over his initial hissiness.

Now, last, but not least - I am the recipient of yet another award! Vickie of Frenchy Addict has given me the Brillante Weblog Award. I am not even sure how I came across Vickie's blog, but I have been following it along since I found it. I love her photos and reading about her, her family, gardens, pets, etc! Oh, don't let me forget her cooking also!! Thanks Vickie for the award!


The rules of the award as as follows:
  • Put logo on your blog
  • Add link to the person who awarded you
  • Give 7 bloggers this award
  • Add link to awarded bloggers
  • Leave a comment to those awarded
Like Vickie, I don't want anyone to feel obligated to pass this award if they don't want to! However, this time I am going to specifically award this to some fellow bloggers that I really feel deserve this award:

Peabody of Culinary Concoctions by Peabody - I have been following her blog for quite some time now. Not only is she a hocky fan (but a Flames fan at that!) but she also carries the name of my precious baby kitten. She takes awesome photos and does a great job with her writing. I'm so happy she is out there - and she now has a 2nd blog titled Northwest Noshings. You should check it out!

Cathy of the Noble Pig - Not a day goes by that I haven't noticed that Cathy has taken the time to read my li'l ole blogposts. Cathy has a great sense of humor and I love reading her blog. She is funny AND informative! I may actually learn something about wine now! So whether you want a good laugh, or want to become more knowlegable about wine, stop by Cathy to say hi!

Barbara of Barbara Bakes - I met Barbara through Daring Bakers. She was lucky enough to spend her 30th anniversary celebration for two weeks in Italy! Barbara loves to use Cooking Light recipes as do I. She also has been making cookies from Martha Stewarts new Cookies cookbook. We seem to be on the same wavelength here! She has a great blog, you should go check it out!

Jennie of My Cake Wardrobe - have you seen her blog? It is very eye catching! Her food has as much style I imagine her clothing designs! Check out her blog for some really gorgeous looking cookies, cakes, and desserts!

Susan of She's Becoming DoughMessTic
- I recently came across her blog through Tuesdays with Dorie. I am super impressed with her blog and her photos. Not only that, she is organizing a group of bloggers called Operation GALS (Give A Little Support). This group will be making treats to ship to troops over in Iraq. Susan really deserves this award 3 fold! Check out her blog, you will be glad you did!

Clumbsy Cookie
- Huh, I don't know her by anything other than Clumbsy Cookie! But that is ok! She has a very eye catching blog with eye catching food and recipes! She is so innovative! Check her out - she actually made chocolate chip chips for a cookie....

And last but not least!

Kathy of Panini Happy
- When I found her blog I was so excited! For my CFY/EFY weekends that I cook, I like to find new and different meals. My last weekend I tried panini and they were a hit. I now am looking for new (vegetarian) versions of panini - and Kathy's blog fits the bill! Check her out for some great panini ideas, along with some great photos! (They literally make me drool!)

I want to give honorable mention to Jenny of The Picky Palate -She has received this award already, but I am really inspired by her blog! When I first found Jenny's blog, I envied her kitchen...then I read her little blurb that it was her dream kitchen. lol. I guess we all have those "dreams" don't we?! Jenny has great recipes, awesome photos, and shares a bit of her life with us on her blog. I love her recipes for the ease of making them and they are great to have on hand when you don't have a lot of time. If you haven't been to Jenny's blog (and it would be hard for me to believe that you haven't been there) then you really should check it out!

July 23, 2008

Country Fried Steak with Mushroom Gravy

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Recently I was admiring the blog of a friend, Grannyloohoo. Grumpy was sitting there with me on the couch admiring her peach pie on her new blog that she had posted. I went in to make a comment on her pie and Grumpy tells me, make sure you tell her it looks "scrumpdillyumptious!" Then he proceeded to tell me I needed to make something "scrumpdillyumptious" myself. I looked at him and said, "You've got to be kidding me!" I mean, the thoughts going through my head were, what is wrong with you? LOL. I've been cooking my behind off lately! So I said, just what is scrumpdillyumptious that I haven't made lately? You see, he had to be very careful here.....if he wanted to continue eating in his future....at our home anyway! I think he got the hint because he said, he would like me to make a savory dish. LOL

So, I decided that since not so long ago he mentioned I hadn't made contry fried steak in a long while, that I would do just that for dinner the first chance I had. I made a special stop at the grocery on my way home from work yesterday and bought some cube steak. Fortunately, that wasn't sky rocketed in price and I was able to spend only $5 (on the meat only!) to fix his dinner. I serve this with homemade mashed potatoes (mashed with a little butter and sour cream). Here is how you can do it too:




Country Fried Steak with Mushroom Gravy

Cooking Light
Country Fried Steak with Mushroom Gravy
Comfort food made light and guilt free!

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons fat-free milk
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 (4-ounce) sirloin cubed steaks
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • Gravy:
  • 1-1/3 cups fat free milk
  • 2 cups mushrooms, quartered
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (14 ounce) can fat free, low salt beef broth

Instructions

  1. Combine 3 tablespoons milk and egg whites in a shallow dish, stirring with a whisk. Combine 1/3 cup flour and next 4 ingredients (1/3 cup flour through pepper) in a shallow dish. Working with 1 steak at a time, dip in egg mixture; dredge in flour mixture. Repeat procedure with remaining steaks, egg mixture, and flour mixture.
  2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add steaks; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove steaks from pan; keep warm.
  3. Add mushrooms to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Combine 2 1/2 tablespoons flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and broth, stirring with a whisk. Add broth mixture to pan. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Spoon over steaks. Serve with mashed potatoes.
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 steak, about 1/3 cup gravy, and about 1 cup mashed potatoes)
Prep Time: 00:15
Cook time: 00:15

Nutrition


  • Calories: 436
  • Fat: 14.7
  • Dietaryfiber: 1.9
  • Protein: 38.2
  • Totalcarbs: 34.7

Tags: comfort food, beef, cooking light, mushrooms, gravy, steak

Taste & Create with Tangerine's Mango Drink

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This is my first month with Taste & Create. I have read many posts for this event in the past and decided it was right up my alley so I signed up! I was paired with Rachel of Tangerine's Kitchen. When I found out who my partner was, I went to her site and checked out her postings to see what I would like to make the most. I love Indian food....as a matter of fact, I'm devastated that the one and only restaurant we had in our area closed. One of my favorite things to have when I would go would be the Mango Lassi. SO, imagine my delight when I see that Rachel had a mango drink on her site. I had originally had planned to make the Banana/Cardamon shake, but when I went back to her site the other day and saw she had a Mango drink, I changed my mind....and I will make the Banana shake later!

Rachel had made this drink for another event and had adapted her recipe from someone else's. I basically followed Rachel, but ended up using canned mangos as the fresh one's here were all too green. It turned out scrumptious and I am so pleased! I now have a recipe to make my favorite drink!

July 22, 2008

Cherry Rhubarb Cobbler

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I decided that since I bought Dorie's Baking cookbook and was making recipes from there, that I would go ahead and join the Tuesdays with Dorie group. So, this is my first post as a member of this group! This week's Tuesday's with Dorie recipe came from Amanda of Like Sprinkles on a Cupcake. Amanda chose Cherry Rhubarb Cobbler.

My first thought was "Oh man. This is my first TWD week and rhubarb is now out of season and I just used the last of my frozen rhubarb on Justin's Birthday Pie." I was deflated. Then, I saw how expensive fresh cherries were and I thought there was just no way I would be able to do this weeks challenge. Well, as luck would have it, I cleaned out my refrigerator freezer and lo and behold, I found I did have one more package of rhubarb! Not only that, I found a can of cherries in my cupboard. So that is what I went with!

I was only able to get the one photo as this dish ended up going with my son Christopher to his dad's side of the family. His Great Grandmother Snow passed away on Friday - she was 94 years old. I will always remember his Great Grandma as a woman who never had a bad thing to say about anyone. She was a good woman and lived a long life. May she rest in peace.

For the full recipe go check out Like Sprinkles on a Cupcake and to see how the rest of the group did visit the blogroll.

July 21, 2008

Awards

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You know how you get that woozy feeling when you think someone important has noticed you? Sort of like Cathy, of the Noble Pig, when she she said that she thinks Arnold Schwarzenegger was reading her blog? I mentioned to Grumpy about Cathy's excitement over Arnold last week when I read her post. Its funny, we talk about people like we know them in Blogland. Grumpy's like, who's Princess Pig? augh. I'm like, it's the NOBLE PIG and she's the blogger who bought her own property to grow vineyards on them, the Wild Boar is her hubby and the hooligans are her kids! Duh, Grumpy! Well, even if it means nothing to him, it means a whole lot to me!! :-p


Last evening, as we were getting ready for bed, I told Grumpy about some of the blogs I read. I told him about Jenny from Picky Palate. I informed she's been reading my blog and I felt honored that people that I admire actually read my blog. I'm telling him how she's won cooking contests, has been on food netwook...I think I would have impressed him more if I had said she was on the Outdoor Channel hosting a hunting show and shot a monster buck...But in any case, it impresses me and that's all that matters in this household! Then, I found when I was reading one of her comments, that she left me an award! I was like "Oh my God Grumpy, she likes the title of my blog and she gave me the Smile award!!!" LOL. Jenny totally made my day this morning! I told Grumpy he ought to feel honored himself....since I use his name in my title! He's like, "OMG, OMG. LOL (he got a slap for that Jenny). He was just picking on me, because he actually sat here tonight and looked at the blogs I had been talking about lately with me! Guess his curiosity got the best of him! Thank you for making my day and giving me the Smile award!

This afternoon, when taking a much needed work break, I checked my blog and saw that Elle, of Elle's New England Kitchen left me the I love you this much award! I found Elle thru her awesome photos and started reading her blog - I fell in love with her recipes and photos. Elle is an awesome cook and you can see her passion for it in her posting!

Elle also created a new award to show appreciation to all the hard working food bloggers out there. I am posting this award here for those of you who work hard and deserve that pat on the back. Elle say's to post this award on your blog and pass it on to those you wish. Thank you Elle for the award!


Then, this evening when I checked in, I see that cookinpanda of Flexitarian Menu left me the
Arte Y Pico award! Cookinpanda is the one who introduced me to the word Flexitarian! When I read the definition I immeadiately thought "that is me!". I follow her blog because I just "know" that I am going to love her ideas. Plus, we are kindred spririt because we have the same eating habits! Thank you Cookinpanda for the award!

Now I am supposed to pass these awards on to 5 people (each award) but I can't find it in myself to do that. I can't ignore all my favorites! So, I am passing these awards on to all of my readers. I feel that if you are here enjoying my blog as I do yours, then you are part of these awards to begin with so they belong to you also! If you have a blog, please take these awards and place them on your blog and if you feel like sharing, then please do!

Lastly but not least - thank you to all who read my blog. Your helping me to fulfill my deep rooted desire to cook and feed others (even if it is with just your eyes you are feeding!).

July 20, 2008

Red Skinned Potatoes - Roasting them, what else?

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I got some red skinned potatoes the other day and decided I needed to make some tonight to go with our dinner. I really wish I could remember where I read someone had used breadcrumbs when mixing up their potatoes to roast - because I would love to give them credit, but alas, I read so many different blogs and websites, that I don't remember where. Please feel free to leave me a comment and let me know if you do this too!

What I did tonight - and will do from now on - was the following:

6 red skinned potatoes, cleaned, diced into chunks
2 tablespoons olive oil
generous shaking of garlic salt
generous shaking of onion powder
ground pepper to taste
3 tablespoons Italian bread crumbs
Freshly grated romano cheese (to taste)

After I diced the potatoes, I put them in a bowl. I poured the oil oil, and applied the seasonings. I then tossed in the bread crumbs and spread the potatoes out onto a cookie sheet. Once on the sheet, I used my microplane zester and grated fresh romano cheese over top. I then gave it another good stir and baked in the oven for 35-40 minutes at 375 degrees.

These were the BEST oven roasted potatoes I have ever had. Nice and crispy on the outside and tender on the inside - with tons of flavor. Go ahead...you know you wanna!

July 19, 2008

Did I mention I love berries?

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This morning at 6:30 AM I left my house to go blueberry picking with my dad. My parent's have gone quite a few times the last couple of weeks and I kept hearing about how great and inexpensive they were. So, last night I talked to dad and he said he would go with me. We picked about 12 quarts in two hours. It was slow picking because they had so many people there the day before so many of the berries in clumps were gone - however, we did find quite a few down low! I'm pretty happy I got these berries! Now I have quite a few in my freezer for when I want to make something as delicious as the Blueberry Poundcake, Blueberry Coffeecake, Red, White & Blueberry Pie, Blueberry Blintzes or Blueberry Muffins!

So, I can honestly say I am in berry heaven because not only did I come home with blueberries today, I came home with my first quart of mom & dad's first batch of red raspberries. Just look at that photo below, aren't those berries beautiful?!!

Absolutely perfect berries. Unflawed, no pesticides, and purely sweet & delicious! I used these raspberries today in something special you will see in the next couple of weeks!

I am anxious for more produce to be coming from gardens over the next few weeks. This is about my favorite time of year!

July 17, 2008

Pounding out the Blueberries!

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I have blueberries sitting in my fridge, but since vacation, I have been burned out and hadn't felt like baking or cooking everyday. Can't say I haven't though (see yesterday's post about Rhubarb Pie!). Fortunately, we don't keep all these baked goods here all the time. I make it for others and get most of it out of the house!

Yesterday before I left work, two of our graduate students came in and said "We've decided you don't love us anymore." ha ha. Without letting on that I knew WHY they felt that way, I said "Now, why would you think that?" Ian & Andy's response: "Because you haven't baked us anything in a long time!" LMAO, "oh come on I said to them, I've been back to work 3 whole days and your are already begging for food!"

Then, last evening, Grumpy was sitting in his recliner after dinner and informed me that his "Bub" at work was upset he didn't get a piece of rhubarb pie! Ok, is this a sign I need to go into business so I can get paid for all my cooking and baking??


We already know that I get asked often enough what is for desert from both Grumpy and Chris. So, last evening I decided to make the Blueberry Pound Cake recipe from my Cooking Light Complete cookbook. I had made this recipe only one other time, about 4 years ago and everyone loved it, so I decided it was time to finally make it again! Since I promised Grumpy this cake was staying home for him, it has to stay home (but he better eat most of it at least!) I did send an extra piece in his lunch box for "Bub" so he won't feel so neglected. Tomorrow I'll make some blueberry muffins to use up the rest of the berries and feed those "unloved" graduate students! (BTW, when I make something to take into work, I get the same spiel from Grumpy - "sure, cook for them and ignore me.") These neglected people in my life. They are so, so, so, deprived!


Just a couple comments about how I changed the recipe just a little bit (because I didn't have everything as the recipe read). For the yogurt, I didn't have lemon, I had low fat vanilla yogurt in the fridge, so I used that instead. For the cake pan, I don't have an angel food cake pan, so I just used my bundt pan.....and thats all folks!

P.S. When I got home from work tonight, there was maybe a 1/4 of the cake left....I'm wondering how much of that cake Mr. Chris ate all by himself! :-p

Blueberry Pound Cake
a cooking light recipe

2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light butter
1/2 (8-ounce) block 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
3 large eggs
1 large egg white
3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (8-ounce) carton lemon low-fat yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Cooking spray
1/2 cup powdered sugar
4 teaspoons lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350.

Beat first 3 ingredients at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended (about 5 minutes). Add eggs and egg white, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 2 tablespoons flour and blueberries in a small bowl, and toss well. Combine remaining flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with yogurt, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Fold in blueberry mixture and vanilla; pour cake batter into a 10-inch tube pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool cake in pan 10 minutes; remove from pan. Combine powdered sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl; drizzle over warm cake. Cut with a serrated knife.

July 16, 2008

Rhubarb Pie

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One of the first pies I ever baked was a rhubarb pie. I was all of 19 years old living in my uncle's farmhouse with my cousin Michelle. There was a rhubarb patch out by the shed and that spring I decided to make my first pie ever. I even made the crust from scratch! My nanny thought it was the best pie she had ever eaten!


Rhubarb continues to be a favorite in my family. As a matter of fact, that is what Justin requested for his birthday "dessert" from me!




Last evening, after looking through Justin & Kristina's wedding photos, we all went to the kitchen to have some of Justin's birthday pie. That is Justin up above enjoying his pie!

After they were done eating pie, Justin & Chris were doing their "crazy faces" at each other, and I caught them in perfect action! Check them out below! LOL, my goodness, do I ever love those kids!



Thank you to everyone who left Justin a happy birthday message. He does read the blog (as does Chris!). And I am sure he read every well wish!


I am leaving you with the widget from Key Ingredient where you can easily print the recipe for my rhubarb pie.

Rhubarb Crumble Pie

See Rhubarb Crumble Pie on Key Ingredient.

July 15, 2008

23 years ago today "Just-in time!"

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I gave birth to my very first baby....he was so little (7lb 15 oz) 21" long. We were going to name him Paul Edward (his dad's middle and grandpa's middle name), but, when I saw him for the first time I knew that was not his name! He left the hospital with the name of Justin Michael - and his daddy agreed! Justin was one of the most special gifts I could have ever received. I remember when he was born, my cousin Michelle would say "he was born "Just-in time!" lol. He sure was, because I was in labor for that boy over 36 hours and still ended up in C-section! But, he was sure worth all that pain!


Justin was a joy (and still is!) to have. He was a happy baby - even when he would have his dad and I awake in the middle of the night - thinking it was time to play! I am so proud of my son and who he has become. He went through 4 years of university, obtained a degree in Computer Science with a Math minor, met the girl of his dreams his Sr. year of H.S. and recently married her!


I have a couple of memories I want to post here today...I'm not sure Justin will remember them, but I know some people will! Justin had a knit blanket and he loved the fuzziness of it. One of his favorite things to do was suck his thumb and hold that blanket under his nose. I remember my Aunt Marlene threatening to "charge" Justin for the cotton he would pull out of her box (she was a hairdresser) so he could rub it under his nose while sucking his thumb!


Another memory that involves a blanket! We talked about this just recently on my trip to my Aunt Ann's house to buy my dress for Justin's wedding! One year I went to visit my Aunt Ann and took the boys with me (and my mom). Justin was left with my uncle while us girls went out for a bit. When we got back we were told how Justin was running away from my uncle with his blanket dragging behind him through the yard! That must have been a sight and I sure wish I could have seen that one!




That is Poppa above with Justin in my very favorite photo of him and has been on my refrigerator for years. My dad and mom (Poppa & Momma) had a farm when Justin was little. He was scared to death to go in the barn because he was afraid of the cows poop hitting him. Poor little thing. LOL



So, for my boy, whom I love dearly and think of every single day, that I love to still get hugs and kisses from, I hope this birthday is your happiest as you start a new phase of your life with Kristina. I will leave you with one of my favorite photos of Justin & Kristina's wedding day. It was one of the last photos taken and it is of them looking out at the sunset at the end of the day. To me, it signifies them looking out to their future. Happy Birthday Justin! XOXO



July 14, 2008

Keeping my guys healthy....in a sneaky way

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Did you know that broccoli is good for your prostrate? It has vitamin C and beta carotene which are important antioxidants known to reduce risk of cataracks, heart diesase and cancer! Broccoli is also full of fiber (probably why it is good for your prostrate!). So, tonight, I decided to make my guys broccoli salad to go with their dinner. Not to mention that I have been thinking about this salad for about the last week and finally got the broccoli and bacon needed to make it!

Below is the widget from Key Ingredient where you can easily print the recipe. Hope you enjoy!

Broccoli Salad

I took different recipes and changed them up to fit ...

See Broccoli Salad on Key Ingredient.


July 11, 2008

Tonights the night

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that Grumpy & Chris got their way. Last night both of them had comments about what I "should" be making. Chris said, "you should make Chicken Parmesan," and Grumpy said "you should make Country Fried Steak." Who won? Well, Chris did because I didn't have cube steak in the freezer. he he.
So, on my last "official" day of vacation, besides being absolutely lazy and not doing much but take a nap on the couch, make my bed, start to pack my bag for tomorrow's boat trip, and take a late day shower, I managed to squeeze a bit of time in there to make the Chicken Parm.

Since I have "so" much to do (actually we are leaving town tonight for our boat trip tomorrow!), I am making this a quickie post - and will just leave you with the widget to Key Ingredient that you can easily print the recipes for if you wish!

Quick and Easy Tomato Sauce

A recipe from Cooking Light that I use on my ...

See Quick and Easy Tomato Sauce on Key Ingredient.



Chicken Parmesan

A Cooking Light recipe that is totally loved and enjoyed ...

See Chicken Parmesan on Key Ingredient.

July 10, 2008

Too much time on my hands?!

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Ok, I may be dating myself somewhat here, but do you know the song "Too much time on my hands" by Styx? Well, that is ME! I have been on vacation almost 2 full weeks now and I must say, (as much as I totally hate to) that I am freaking ready to go back to work!! Yup. I've about had it. I have one more day by myself in this house and I think if I don't get out again tomorrow, that I will lose my sanity. As you can see from my earlier post this afternoon, I already have started to digress some!

When I get bored and antsy like this, I get a little stubborn also. I don't get to eat Mexican "type" food often because Grumpy just doesn't care for it (I know, what is wrong with him!). Well, I decided that if we can go to a restaurant and he can order taco salad, why can't I make it at home for dinner? Ha ha. How do you think that went over? Not too well. I was told I needed to add a steak or porkchop to the picture. Oh, clam it Grumpy! lol I told him he could have more than one salad bowl and he would be full. I wanted my taco salad! I bet you all will be happy to see me go back to work eh?

Below is my widget for the recipe from Key Ingredient. Please note that in the about section that the taco meat and taco seasoning recipe is from Eating Etc.

Taco Salad

Fresh garden grown cilantro brings this salad to it's ...

See Taco Salad on Key Ingredient.

July 09, 2008

Surprise, Surprise!!

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I love my Martha Stewart Cookies cookbook! Today I made my 3rd recipe from this book and the recipe I made is definitely a keeper! Since I am on vacation still (but alas, it is coming to an end) I felt that I should bake something for the guys lunches. This would be an awesome bake sale item also! It is a soft, chocolate cookie with marshmallow inside and a chocolate fudge like topping. When you eat this cookie however, be prepared to have your glass of milk alongside of it, because you will need it! This cookie is almost like eating little cakes. So far, I am the only one in the house who has eaten one. However, I have a feeling this cookie is going to be liked by Grumpy too.


Today I used the Key Ingredient widget for my recipes. I think it is great for condensing the recipe and including a photo! Below is the recipe:

Surprise Cookies

I have been eying this recipe from Martha Stewart's ...

See Surprise Cookies on Key Ingredient.

July 07, 2008

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

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I admit it. I am addicted to muffins. I love them! I can't live without them! In Dorie Greenspan's Baking cookbook she has quite a few different muffin recipes. This morning I decided that I would make a batch to take over to my parents to give to my brother Steve's family for their trip home. I have totally fallen in love with this cookbook. I love the fact that Dorie gives you hints and tips and also gives you ideas to "mix it up" some and make the product more special!


Justin & Kristina's wedding was this last weekend and many family member's travelled quite a distance for the wedding (many of the long distance members were from Kristina's family). My brother and his family was one of them. I'm on my way to say goodbye this morning as they head back home to Indianapolis. None of us like goodbye, but that is the way life goes. I will never forget I had to say goodbye to my oldest nephew for the very first time. He instinctively knew what was happening, and as I was walking to my car, he followed me down the sidewalk, plopped his little bottom down and just cried. It broke my heart. Well, hopefully when he eats his muffin today he will remember that Auntie loves him heart and soul! (he is 10 years older than he was back on that day he cried when I was walking away!).
Speaking of my son's wedding, I have put a slide show on my sidebar. If your interested in looking, please do go ahead and click! It was a beautiful wedding on the St. Lawrence River. The bride was beautiful and I'm sure both mom's were proud (as were dads!). Everyone had a great time and it was a purely joyful event!


 



Lemon Poppyseed Muffins
from Dorie Greenspan's Baking cookbook:

2/3 cup sugar
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sour cream (I used light sour cream)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons poppy seeds

icing:
1 cup confectioner's sugar
2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (I used 2 tablespoons)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spray muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. In large bowl, rub sugar and lemon zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of lemon is strong. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, whisk the sour cream, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice (I absentmindedly didn't add the lemon juice because I didn't see this until I was just typing this up!) and melted butter together until well blended. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and gently stir to blend. Do not over stir!

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. I took Dori's suggestion of adding a dab of blueberry jam in the center of the muffin (was AWESOME!). Bake 18-20 minutes. (my oven was set for 18 minutes and I believe I could have cut the time off a minute or two). Transfer pan to a cooling rack. Cool 5 minutes then remove from pan. Cool completely, then glaze with icing.


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