December 31, 2008

Baking with Stephen

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Apples, cinnamon, sugar, butter, pastry dough. Yum. But what makes it even better? Butter rum sauce! Whenever I visit my brother I love to have him make me his Apple Dumplings with Butter Rum Sauce. The first time he made them for me (quite a few years ago now!) I knew I had eaten something that I would love forever!

Steve graciously placated me and allowed me to take photos of him making his dumplings. I have to admit we had some good laughs over it. :0)

Steve always makes his pastry dough from scratch. Me, I have been known to cheat before but if I were to make my own pastry for this (and I probably would if I wasn't feeling lazy) I would use this recipe from my Apple Pie post and the same recipe Steve uses.

Steve uses a pastry cloth to roll his dough out on, but you could also use parchment paper or a pastry sheet.

Roll the crust thin and then center your cored and peeled apple on the round. Steve always uses either Granny Smith or Cortland apples because they are a firmer apple.

Spoon about a tablespoon of butter and 1/2 tablespoon of sugar into the hole in your apple. Then sprinkle with cinnamon. I'm guesstimating on the amounts because Steve doesn't measure. He just puts the ingredients there.

Fold the dough around the apple and seal.

Bake the dumplings at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Now for the part that makes the dumplings to die for! The rum sauce! This is the same recipe I have seen for the rum glaze that goes on the rum cakes - but it is awesome on the me!

You melt 1 stick of butter in a saucepan. Add 1/4 cup water and 1 cup sugar. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and slowly (and carefully) add 1/2 cup of Meyer's spiced rum.

Pour over your dumpling as pictured above OR put a hole in your dumpling like I do below and fill it up with all that rummy goodness and enjoy! Feel free to serve with vanilla ice cream. Steve did. :0)

I want to thank my wonderful, handsome brother for being so good to me and letting me do this with him. Most of all, for making this for me so I could eat some! Who knows, I may be too stubborn to do this myself at home and it could be another year before I get it again!

December 30, 2008

TWD Creamy Cheesecake

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Never, have I ever, in my whole life made a cheesecake that had as perfect a top as this one had. I guess I learned this time around that I really should read directions because when I do, then things can turn out pretty perfect! Who knew a waterbath would be the perfect solution to a perfect cheesecake top? I guess I did know that, but I just never wanted to do it. This time I did and now I will not ever do it any other way! Dorie certainly knows what she is talking about and I just need to stop being so lazy.

This week's choice for Tuesday's with Dorie was chosen by Anne of Anne Strawberry who picked Tall and Creamy Cheesecake on pages 235-237 of Dorie Greenspan's Baking cookbook. I had decided to make this for my Christmas get together with the kids. Because Grumpy would be eating it I also I decided to make it a white chocolate flavored cake and top it with red raspberry sauce. What I did:

Instead of the sugar I melted 2 cups of white chocolate chips (I use Giradelli) with 1/4 cup of heavy cream and after tasting I decided to add about 1/2 cup of sugar to the mix.

For the raspberries I had some from mom and dad's garden in the freezer. They know how much Grumpy loves raspberries so they are generous and give me quite a few raspberries to freeze. I put a quart of the frozen berries in a saucepan and mixed it with about 1/3 cup sugar and brought it to a boil. I then turned the heat off and let the berries sit to cool. These thickened up naturally on their own - something I was happy for because I don't always like the taste of cornstarch!

I served the berry sauce over the white chocolate yumminess! I know I was a very happy camper!

To see the other TWD creations, check out our blogroll and make sure to check out next week's choice made by none other than Dorie Greenspan herself!

December 29, 2008

Stuffed Mushrooms

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There is my little Rudy Rut-ton. He loves his momma! He misses her too! I've been chatting with Grumpy tonight and he has been informing me what a pest Rudy is being. Basically because I'm not home for him to pester! As soon as I sit he's right there climbing all over me and trying to lick my face. I definitely have to stop him there because I really don't care for wet kitty kisses! So, since I am not home, Grumpy is the lucky recipient of all the attention! I am sure both Rudy and Grumpy will be happy to have me home on Wednesday!

I had been craving stuffed mushrooms and when I saw the medium sized portabello mushrooms in the grocery I knew it was time to make them! These were the side I made to go with Grumpy's london broil for Christmas Eve!

These were also my favorite part of the meal. I really don't have a "recipe" per say so I am going to guesstimate what I did.

HoneyB's Stuffed Mushroom's
  1. Wipe 10 medium portabello mushrooms with a damp paper towel to clean.
  2. Remove the stems and dice. Dice one mushroom and add to stems. Saute in 4 Tablespoons butter with 1/2 diced onion. When softened, add 1 cup dried seasoned breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese and enough sour cream (I always use about 2 tablespoons light sour cream)to moisten.
  3. Spray baking dish with cooking spray. Spoon stuffing into mushroom, packing well. Place in 375 degree oven and bake approximately 25-30 minutes.

December 27, 2008

London Broil for Grumpy and my blogoversary!

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That is Grumpy and I on Christmas day. He's getting so used to having his photo taken that he can actually smile nice for the camera! It doesn't come without a lot of complaining though! he he.

Things have been so hectic for Grumpy and I. We haven't had a lot of "us" time over the last month. Between work and his mom's strokes we were busy taking care of business and not busy taking care of us so it was nice to have Christmas Eve to ourselves.

Since I had the day off I did some last minute things but I also planned a nice meal for Grumpy and I to have together for Christmas Eve as it was going to be our last one together for a few days. At the writing of this post I am sitting on the bed in my brother's guest room in Indianapolis! I am having mixed feelings about being here because right after I arrived my son Justin called to say Kristina had been taken to the ER and was having emergency surgery. She is doing well, but I wish I could be closer to her. When I get home I'll be checking in and giving her some pampering and I really hope she is well enough for them to take their honeymoon next week.

If you've been reading my blog you know that I really do prefer to eat meatless, but because Grumpy is meat and potatoes, I am always trying to find something I can cook and cook well enough for him to be happy! I successfully made a london broil a few months back and decided that was what I would do special for our dinner. The marinade came from Now, I am also thinking of another special girl (Nicole S!) when posting this because I know she has been wanting to make london broil. I hope this helps you Nicole and that you and David enjoy the meal!

Savory Garlic Marinade
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke flavoring
1 pinch cayenne pepper

In a medium bowl, mix the vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, honey, olive oil, ground black pepper, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, salt, liquid smoke, and cayenne pepper.

Place steaks in a shallow glass dish with the marinade, and turn to coat. For optimum flavor, rub the liquid into the meat. Cover, and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days.

I broiled it on high on about the 2nd rack from the top. It took about 7 minutes each side and I cooked the meat until it was an internal temp of 135 degrees. After sitting the meat temp would be about 140.

December 26, 2008

Happy Birthday Furr!

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Twenty-two years ago today (ha ha Cathy - not days...that would be pretty insane eh?!) a sweet little bundle of bubbly joy named Christopher (also known as topher and furr) arrived in my life.

When the Dr. asked me when I wanted to have Chris (as it was going to be c-section) I told him "the day after Christmas." To me, the day after Christmas was a depressing day. All the family gatherings were over with and the excitement was gone. The year 1986 was going to be different for me because I was going to get the best present ever! My baby!

I had no idea if I was having a boy or a girl, but during delivery I heard the Dr. say "we have a boy here!" What a lovely baby boy I had!

Always happy, always giggling, always smiling (and flirting!). He was and still is irresistible!

Children grow.........and sometimes have a hard time finding their dreams

Chris and I at my work Christmas party 2006

But I will always be there for Chris to help him in any way I can to realize his dreams.

Happy Birthday Furr. Your mom loves you with all her heart and soul. I'm also the luckiest mom in the world!!

December 25, 2008

December 24, 2008

Cowgirl Chocolates

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Recently FoodBuzz gave me the opportunity to try these amazing Cowgirl Chocolates! I was really quite intrigued by the fact they have some heat to them! When the box arrived I was so impressed! There was a little star attached to the ribbon tied to the box. A definite cool idea for the cowgirl (or boy) in your life!

Of course, I immediately thought of my Aunt Marlene, who for a few years was my line dancing buddy. She still does the dance but my life has become so busy that I haven't had the time - but I still get the itch! lol She is a hoot to be around when a good ole song comes on. Doesn't matter where she is (does it Aunt Marlene? ;) he he). I wonder if I will be like that in another 13 years :D

I have to say my first sample and my favorite one is the caramel. What a caramel! You first put it in your mouth and you have this creamy, buttery sweetness. Then, BANG after you chew into it you get a burst of habernero! There is your cowgirl kick! Yummy! If I could have a whole bag of the caramels alone I would hoard them and not share. Sorry!

I have to admit that I liked the spicy chocolates best. What can I say? I'm a spicy girl! The cappachinno and raspberry truffles were the pretty darn good also!

So, if your looking for a little kick in your chocolate and are dying for a terrific caramel? Head on over to Cowgirl Chocolate's website and check them out. I think you probably would be quite satisfied! What a great gift idea for your valentine come February ;)

December 23, 2008

Butter-Scotch Pudding

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Things have been very hectic for me and fortunately I have had a few post done up ahead that I was still able to blog! Many people have asked me about Grumpy's mom and I am happy to say that she is coming home today! Grumpy will be picking her up and bringing her back home from the hospital in the afternoon. We have spent the last 4 weeks (some days but most weekends) working on her apartment to get it ready for her return home. I wish so much that I could be there when she walks in, but unfortunately I have to be at work. She is able to walk with the aid of a walker and for now, that is really the only major thing wrong. So, here is hoping she continues on the road to healing and that she gets stronger each day! Thank you to all of you who have emailed or commented to ask me about her!

Now, on to the pudding! This week for Tuesdays with Dorie, Donna of Spatulas, Corkscrews & Suitcases chose Real Butterscotch Pudding on page 386 of Dorie Greenspan's Baking cookbook. This pudding was pretty good. Grumpy really enjoyed it! Butterscotch pudding is one of his favorite desserts so when I saw this was the choice I was very happy! He knew it was different with his first bite because the scotch was a very promiment flavor! Thanks Donna for this choice and for helping me help Grumpy be happy for a while! :)

To see what other members of TWD did with their Butter-Scotch pudding check out our blogroll!

December 20, 2008

Taste & Create XVI

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This month for Taste & Create I was partnered with Katie of One Little Corner of the World. Katie has a great blog and one that I could learn a few things from! I am more of a baker than a cook, but I do love to cook! I just don't feel that confident when it comes to meat dishes. I grew up with a lot of vegetarian meals and that is how I prefer to eat. BUT I am married to a man who prefers his meat and potatoes. I give him credit - he will try vegetarian meals, but his palate is set for meat and potatoes and I just don't see him saying he will go vegetarian! Oh well. This is why I am grateful for blogs like Katies!

I went over her blog pretty intensely looking for dishes I thought I could cook and found quite a few that looked great but decided upon one that I already had ingredients for. The cube steak with gravy and noodles looked like something that would make Grumpy happy so I went with that. The gravy was super flavorful! I used fresh baby portabello mushroom caps and that was one of my favorite part of the dish! Yummy. :D

Katie's Pasta Presto Night post with the chicken pasta looked pretty darn good to me too! Check out her entree's for a good idea of the yummy choices I had to choose from! Thanks to Katie for being my T&C partner this month! I will continue to follow your blog and see what other yummy entrees I can find for Grumpy & me!

Thanks to Nicole of For the Love of Food for hosting Taste & Create! This is one event that is easy to stick to and fun to do!


Pay it Forward winners!

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I am so excited! The winners are listed below!!

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

7 5 4 

Timestamp: 2008-12-19 16:24:10 UTC

#7 is Reeni of Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice

#5 is Barbara of Barbara Bakes

#4 is Jessie of The Hungry Mouse

THEN I thought. and I thought. I thought some more. What was I thinking? I was thinking, do I really want to commit to 6 handmade gifts to give? Then I scolded myself. How dare I even consider not doing it! So, I ran the random numbers again and came up with these:

Here are your random numbers:

26 11 3 

Timestamp: 2008-12-19 16:41:36 UTC

#26 is Foong of The Food Site

#11 is CookiePie (I'm sorry, I don't know a name other than CookiePie!)

#3 is Christy of Christy's Kitchen Creations

Congratulations to all of you! I guess I know what I will be doing over the Holiday break while I am home :-) Please email me at grumpyshoneybunch at yahoo dot com and tell me your mailing information so I have it on hand when I am ready to mail your handmade gift out to you!

December 19, 2008

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup

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Earlier this week my friend Jessie of The Hungry Mouse posted about a Creamy Butternut Squash soup. I immediately knew I would be making it. It looked great! I loved that she roasted the squash, veggies and sage to give it that awesome flavor. I also happened to have a box of Progresso chicken broth that had been sent to me by one of my sponsors and I was wanting to put it to use. What better way than to make some creamy delicious soup? Besides, I felt I needed some pampering. I was in pain from my fall and wanted comfort.

The soup was delicious! Grumpy cleaned his bowl right up. The only thing that would have made the meal any better would have been if I had it in me to make one of Jessie's rib recipes to go with. Jessie is great at making meals with meat (where I am not!) Grumpy would probably prefer to eat at her home every night! I was serving this with no meat and I heard "I would like some meat to go with that". lol. I wanted to throw a hotdog at him and tell him to have at it. he he. But I didn't. I know, I'm such a saint ;) Instead I seared him some minute steaks with a little of the amazing taste seasoning to keep him quiet. After all, he did spend a good hour and half outside snow blowing the driveway....guess he deserved some meat with his soup.

December 18, 2008

A cake mix that tastes great?!

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Don't forget to enter the Pay it Forward contest if you haven't. You have until 7 PM EST tonight to enter! Click here to jump to the post where you can leave a comment!

A while back I was a lucky winner from BlakeBakes Chocolate Cake giveaway. I received the box about a week or so ago and my first thought was "what on earth am I going to do with a cake mix?" I was trying to come up with something awesome and unique that would not change the "specialness" of this cake mix. You see, this mix was from a place called Cherrybrook Kitchen. They are peanut free, dairy free, nut free, and vegan.

I immediately thought of one of the grad students in my area who does not eat eggs. So, instead of getting fancy with the box and taking a chance of making not allergy or vegan safe, I went ahead and made the cake mix.

Then I contemplated the frosting. I had tasted it and thought, eh. But I thought to myself, give it a chance. I microwaved it for about 15 seconds to soften it up and make it easy to stir and then spread it on the cake. It spread so easily!

I decided I did have to "Dr" it up a little because it was just pure chocolate and nothing to make it look special so I crushed up some Bob's soft peppermint sticks and sprinkled it on the cake.

My thoughts on the cake mix and frosting? It was definitely good. I do consider myself a cake mix snob - basically because I am a baker and in my opinion, homemade is best. I rarely eat a cake mix but this is one I would eat again. Not because it is nut, dairy free and vegan, but because it tastes great! It was moist and chocolaty (there were chocolate chips in the mix also) and tasted really delicious. So, the cake is going to work to be shared with others and one special student in particular will get to try this out. I'm sure it will go over well with all! If your interested in ordering their mixes click here. Thanks Cherrybrook Kitchen and Blake Makes for the free sample!

December 17, 2008

Eggnog Thumbprints

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We have had the crappiest weather. We go from rain, to snow, to ice, to rain, to snow and what the weather underground this morning calls a snow freezing fog. Yesterday all our snow was gone. We were left with some puddles of ice here and there with a huge ice spot where else but at the bottom of our driveway! augh. So, last night when I got home I "backed" up the driveway. I had to make a few attempts since I stopped right on the ice and couldn't get all the way up. Our driveway is at a slope then when you get to the top, it can slope down the other way. I made the mistake already this year of pulling into that down slope and got stuck at home after a huge snowstorm. I was preparing myself so I could drive right down and out of our driveway this morning. I probably could. But I won't be.

Silly me. After I got in the house I put my stuff away and walked out the front door to get the mail. I didn't bother to turn the front porch light on, I figured the floodlight in the back of the driveway would be enough. Mind you, it is pretty dark already but I can see some of a glow anyway. I'm walking down to the mailbox and just a few feet before I get there I slip and I fall - landing on my left forearm. I'm left handed. I do most everything with that side!. We all know I tried to stop that fall or I would have just landed on my butt. So, I whimpered my way through the night, landed back on the couch at about 1 AM where Rudy and Chubby decided to race through the house and make all kinds of noise. Finally after my 100th millionth threat to throw them out in the snow around 2:30 they settled down and I turned the TV on real low. (Lifetime) I eventually fell asleep until I heard Grumpy's alarm going off upstairs at about 5:15 AM. Needless to say, my backside doesn't hurt, but I can't lift my arm without a lot of pain. I'm sure I didn't do anything major and I'm just going to be sore a few days but now today I'm going to be trying to keep the pain under control and try to get some sleep that my pain in the butt cats haven't allowed me to get. Yeah, I still love them but last night I didn't love them so much. lol

Now that I have whined to you all about my pain and misery I'll tell you about the Eggnog Thumbprints I made earlier this week. The cookies I didn't want to stop eating.

The cookies that even Grumpy liked (they are soft). The cookies I took to work on Monday and was scolded for doing so on a day when we also had a holiday luncheon. Just in case you are reading this: Yes, Jan, I'm talking about you. How dare you scold me ;-) !!

I'm all talked out so I'll just tell you they are delicious. Especially that filling. Its creamy and yummy and I couldn't get enough of that rummy filling in the center of the cookie.

Some notes about what I did:
  • I used rum. I just like it. What can I say? ha!
  • I didn't "spoon" the filling. I used one of those amazing Wilton disposable piping bags. Works beautifully.
  • I did NOT get 50 cookies. I probably got about 2-1/2 dozen. I do not know how they got 50 cookies using 1" balls. I think that has got to be a misprint. If anyone else makes these and actually gets 50 cookies, please tell me how you did it!
Eggnog Thumbprints
Better Homes and Gardens Cookies for Christmas

3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon rum *

In a large mixer bowl beat 3/4 cup butter till softened. Add sugar and brown sugar and beat til fluffy. Add egg, vanilla, and salt and beat well. Add flour and beat til well mixed. Cover and chill about 1 hour or till easy to handle.

Shape into 1-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Press down centers with thumb. Bake in a 350 degree oven about 12 minutes or till done. Remove and cool.

For filling, in a small mixer bowl beat 1/4 cup butter til softened. Add powdered sugar and beat till fluffy. Add rum and beat well. Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon filling into center of each cookie. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Chill till filling is firm. Makes about 50.

*You may substitute 1 tablespoon milk and 1/4 teaspoon rum extract for the rum.

December 16, 2008

TWD and Baking Gals

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Sometimes a simple thing can be one of the best things. That is how I feel about the TWD selection for this week. These cookies were plain and simple. Not fancy in anyway which is why after my first batch I did put some red and green candies on top to "liven" them up a little bit. However, don't let their plainness fool you! They definitely passed the cookie test by Grumpy and so these will be cookies that I do make again!

The batch I "dressed up" a bit is part of my package being sent to Maj. David Snow over in Iraq. I had a very special day today as I met Maj. Snow's wife and daughters. Clarkson University has a flag that has been flown in Afghanistan and the Alumni office has given me the flag to send to him to fly from his post.

Robyn and her children are lovely ladies! The young girls were so cute and so friendly - and they loved my kitties Rudy and Chubby! The asked me about Grumpy's horns on the wall and that pleased him to know they asked! He arrived home just as they were leaving so he wasn't able to meet them, but he was smiling when I was telling him about the girls! In the near future I will be doing a round-up of who sent cookies to Maj. Snow so stay tuned!

Above is the flag that is being sent to Maj. Snow pictured with his family.

Even plain these cookies can look nice when in the right dish and setting!

This weeks treat was chosen by Heather of Randomosity and the Girl. She chose Buttery Jam Cookies on page 80 of Dorie Greenspan's Baking cookbook. Thanks for your choice Heather! You can view the recipe on her blog. To see how other TWD members fared, please visit the TWD blogroll!
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