10/31/08

Product Review: Sandwich Thins


This is where the inner cooking-geek in me comes out. I just had what was perhaps the best sandwich that I've tasted in a few years and couldn't wait to blog about it. See? This is that inner cooking-geek I told you about!

I used the new Sandwich Thins from George Weston Bakeries which is called Brownberry in my part of the country and Arnolds on the East coast.. and who know what else where you live. But no matter what they are called, I suggest trying them!

First I'd like to preface by telling you that the first sandwich I made with them wasn't for me. Even the second, third, fourth and fifth weren't for me! My daughter had to work at her part time job this week and I made a quick sandwich for her out of a brand new package of these 'rolls'. She actually texted me later that night on her cellphone and said, "THANK YOU FOR THE SANDWICH. THAT WAS AMAZING!!!"

Ok, that was weird. Since when does my teenager thank me for a sandwich or call a basic sandwich 'amazing'?

The next sandwiches I made were mentioned in a post below for my family. I made them grilled chicken sandwiches and used these rolls. Everyone got to 'doctor them up' as they wished. We used lettuce, onions, mayo and one wanted some ranch dressing... I think one child may have used ketchup too. Again, they said they were amazing!

That word again.

I've been on the run and too busy to sit down and eat one yet but today was the day. My sandwich was simple.

Deli Turkey
Whole leaf lettuce
sliced fresh tomatoes
a smear of mayo
a thick slice of Vidalia onion

on a whole wheat Sandwich Thin bun or 'roll'.

It was...... amazing!

Here are some stats;

Arnold Select 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Thins - 8 pack: These unique sandwich-sized flatbreads are perfect for making your favorite burgers and sandwiches a bit healthier. Available in select markets.
This product is:

Low Cholesterol

Excellent Source of Fiber

Low Fat

0g Trans Fat

100% Whole Wheat

Made with Whole Grains

No High Fructose Corn Syrup


My personal opinion is that for a whole wheat roll it was so incredibly soft and not dry at all. I've never had a wheat bun that much like a 'white' bun. However the texture is incredible. They must have some brilliant people working behind the scenes to come up with their recipes because it was just the right texture to hold all the sandwich ingredients in place, be sturdy enough to handle, soft enough to bite, thick enough to soak up any juices and yet perfect enough not to get soggy.

And they managed this!

Thumbs up. Two thumbs up. And two toes too!
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10/30/08

Country Style Homemade Dumplings

When I was a very small child I remember eating dumplings in a little blue melamine dish that primarily was used for Spaghettio's, Dumplings and warm pudding. Dumplings are one of the earliest foods I remember and to this day, still a favorite of mine. I typically only crave them when the weather is cold and wet, and only make them about two or three times a year at most, but I love them smothered with butter, salt and pepper.

While I like them simple, the way my father made them, I'm always on the look out for other versions that I can tweak or blend to try new things. I was surprised that this recipe has you roll them out - mine you just drop into boiling water. This version reports to be similar to a very popular country restaurants version. You can be the judge of that one. I just wanted to make sure I added them to my online collection. And yes... I'm craving dumplings now!


Dumplings


2 cups flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon palt
1 cup whole milk
4 tablespoon vegetable oil

8 cups water
3-4 chicken bouillon cubes

3 T butter
4 T flour
1/4 t salt
1 cup milk
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup dumpling cooking liquid - (to 3/4 cup)

Mix the 8 cups of water and bouillon cubes in a large pan on the stove and heat to boiling while you make the dumplings.

Mix the dumpling ingredients, blend them well and turn out on to a floured surface. Knead 4 or five times and divide dough into two parts. Roll out one piece of dough to 1/8-inch thick and cut into 1- by 1 1/2-inch strips. Cook one-half of dumplings until just about done and strain and set aside. Next finish the other half of the dumplings in the same way. While cooking the dumplings you can prepare the sauce.

Sauce: Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add salt and flour, stir until thick. Mix sugar with milk, and add to flour mixture a little at a time and whisk constantly until smooth. Remove from heat. Mix the 1/2 - 3/4 c cooking liquid with the last boullion cubes. Simmer dumplings until blended on low heat. More cooking liquid may be added if needed.
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10/28/08

Corn Muffins


These are corn muffins I made last week from a different recipe than the ones I typically use. The recipe was ok - not great, not bad. I'm not a real big fan of honey and since this recipe has honey in it, I could taste the honey sweetness. Some people love honey and honey butter with their corn muffins though and if this is you, I'd suggest trying this recipe. I think, for myself, since I don't really like the flavor of honey, I'm going to stick with my typical recipes, which use sugar as the sweetener instead of honey.

1 c cornmeal
1 c flour
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 c buttermilk
1/2 c honey
4 T canola oil

Combine the dry ingredients. Add the rest of the ingredients and combine just until moist. Pour into lined muffin tins. Bake at 375 degree's for approximately 15-25 minutes until golden and done in the center.

Serve with butter, syrup, or honey butter, etc. Also good plain!
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Homemade Almond Paste

While I admit I love almonds, almond extract, almond paste and well, everything that has to do with almonds obviously (!) I don't regularly buy them. They are just too expensive. I love to use almond paste in my baking as I've made my own delicious chocolate almond cake using it and of course many pastries, candies and more. The problem is that for a very, very small package or can, you will pay $5 right now. Ouch.

So I found this recipe for a homemade version. It will take a pound of blanched almonds but if you can buy them in bulk at a membership club or the bulk foods section of your local grocer, it really will be cheaper than buying a tiny little 4 oz. container for $5. This particular recipe will make about 2 pounds of almond paste.

Homemade Almond Paste

1 lb Blanched almonds
3 tb Fresh lemon juice
1 c Water
2 c Sugar

Force blanched almonds through fine blade of food
chopper 4 times, or whirl in electric blender.

Add lemon juice.

Cook water and sugar until candy thermometer
registers 240F or until it forms the soft ball stage.

Add to ground almonds. Mix well.

When cool enough to handle, knead until smooth.

Cool.

Pack in jar; cover, and store in refrigerator
for at least 1 week to ripen.
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10/27/08

Pumpkin Griddle Cakes

Next weekend is Halloween! Perfect time for some pumpkin recipes, don't you think!? Earlier this week I was lucky enough to buy a Shaker recipe book with 200 years worth of wonderful recipes. Not too many for pumpkins but this pumpkin griddle cake recipe sure sounds delicious! However I had already had an egg and three pieces of turkey bacon when I saw it. Perhaps for tomorrows breakfast? A Sunday morning with pumpkin pancakes or 'griddle cakes' sounds divine!



Pumpkin Griddle Cakes

1/2 c corn meal
1 c boiling water
1/4 c pumpkin pulp (real pumpkin, not pie filling)
Not quite 1 cup of scalded and cooled milk
1 c flour
2 t baking powder
3/4 t salt
1 1/2 t sugar
1 t allspice
1 egg, beaten

Combine corn meal and water and let stand 5 minutes. Add pumpkin and cooled milk and stir until smooth. Sift rest of dry ingredients together and add to first mixture. Beat egg and stir in. Mix all well. Drop batter by large tablespoonfuls onto a well greased hot griddle. Flip when tiny bubbles erupt all over. When golden and crisp serve with maple syrup.
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Indian Doughnuts - (with Cornmeal)

Some of my all time favorite recipes are 'old fashioned' recipes. Recipes that our Great Great Great Grandmothers may have made. Although I can't honestly say I use ashes and lime to make our own soap, I do enjoy reading those kinds of recipes (and if I ever 'homestead' I may just do so - my Grandma did!) but recipes like this one are both 'old fashioned' and still quite contemporary. We have all the ingredients and they are still just as tasty!

This recipe is called Indian Doughnuts and is from an original 1880 publication. 1880! How awesome is that!? - I think called Indian Doughnuts simply because they have cornmeal in them. I haven't made this one yet so I'm not sure if I will like the cornmeal addition or not.

Looking over the recipe and ingredients I suspect they are similar to corn muffins only in doughnut form??? If you make them before I do maybe you can drop me a line and tell me what you think.

Indian Doughnuts (made with Cornmeal)

1 1/2 c boiling milk
2 c corn meal
2 c flour
3 t baking powder
1 t salt
1 1/2 c sugar
1 c butter, melted
3 eggs, beaten
1 T nutmeg or cinnamon
frying oil or fat

Pour boiling milk over cornmeal and let cool. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and spice. Add ot cooled corn meal, stirring well. Add butter and eggs. Mix well and if necessary add more flour ot make dough firm enough to handle, but keep it as soft as possible. Knead slightly. Roll out on floured board. Shape with floured doughnut cutter. Let doughnuts stand before frying in hot deep fat. Makes about 48.
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10/26/08

Cooking Terms... What Does Braising Mean?

While I and most cooks regularly might tell you to braise or scald something we of course assume that you know what we're talking about. Because you don't see a lot of 'scalded milk' recipes these days maybe it wouldn't make sense to a new cook. And I assume everyone knows what whisking is (I'm doing it in the photo to the left), again, the new or young cook might be clueless.

So this morning, while I sipped my coffee I decided to do a post on cooking terms. So, while I sit here and type, you sit here and read. And then? My recipes will make sense to you when I tell you something needs to be 'candied' or 'broiled'.

Bake: Cook covered or uncovered in an oven. If it's a meat however, it will be called 'Roasting' even though it's the same thing.

Baste: To moisten foods during hte cooking process with pan drippings or a sauce. This adds flavor and keeps the food moist during cooking.

Beat: To make the mixture smooth by whipping or stirring briskly.

Blend: To mix two or more ingredients together until smooth and uniform.

Boil: To cook in liquid at boiling temperature where bubbles rise to the surface and break.

Braise: To cook slowly with a small amount of liquid in a tightly covered pan on top of a range or in the oven.

Broil: To cook by direct heat usually inches away from the direct heat source in the oven or over coals.

Candied: To cook in sugar or syrup with it's applied to sweet potatoes or carrots but means to cook in a heavy syrup until transparent and well coated when cooking fruit.

Chill: Place in the refrigerator and reduce the temperature.

Chop: Cut into pieces about 1 centimeter big with a chopper, knife, blender, etc.

Cool: Remove something from the heat source and let it stand at room temperature.

Cream: To beat with spoon or mixer until it's soft and smooth or light and fluffy.

Cut in: To mix shortening or butter with dry ingredients using knives or fingers or a pastry cutter. You smoosh and smash and rub until it is crumbly and looks like pea sized peices.

Dice: Cutting foods in small uniform cubes.

Dissolve: Mixing a dry substance into liquid and stirring or heating until it's completely dispersed.

Glaze: A mixture applied to food that hardens or becomes firm. Adds flavor and glossy appearance.

Grate: To rub on a grater so to make small particles out of a solid food.

Marinate: Standing or soaking food in a liquid to add flavor and tenderize.

Mince: Cut or finely chop food into very tiny pieces.

Mix: Combining ingredients with a spoon or fork until evenly distributed.

Poach: Cook in hot liquid, usually quickly so the food holds it's shape while cooking.

Precook: Partially or fully cooking a food before the final stage of cooking or reheating.

Roast: Cooking uncovered in an oven without adding water.

Saute': To brown or cook in a small amount of fat or water to soften

Scald: To bring a liquid (usually milk) to a temperature just before boiling. Tiny little bubbles form at the edge of the pan and bottom but you remove from heat before they break to the surface and come to a boil.

Scallop: To bake a food in casserole form with a sauce or liquid and usually has a crumb topping.

Steam: To cook in steam or without pressure.

Stir: Mixing ingredients with a circular motion until blended and consistent.

Toss: Mixing ingredients lightly and briefly.

Truss: Securing meat or poultry with skewers or tying to hold it's shape during the cooking process.

Whip: To beat or incorporate air and produces expansion (in cream and eggs).

Whisk: To blend or whip something together until smooth or incorporate air into the mixture using a wire whisk and a very quick, consistent motion.
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10/25/08

Pickled Pumpkin

200 years worth of Shaker recipes. That is what I've been holding in my hand this morning. It's enough to make an avid cook swoon! Now readers, you know I love 'old fashioned' recipes. The kind of recipes the Mennonites and Amish (and Shakers!) write; no amounts. No precise directions. This recipe actually does give amounts, but it's written in the paragraph form that a friend would scribble down to a friend when passing a recipe along.

I'll write it out the traditional way to make it easier to read. I know you all have leftover pumpkins this month so here is a brand new idea to try. Well, new to you perhaps but I suspect that your Great, Great Grandmother may have made it!

12 cups peeled and 1" cubed yellow pumpkin
10 cups sugar
2 c white vinegar
a spice bag with 2 T whole cloves, 6 sticks cinnamon

Cover the pumpkin with sugar. Let sit overnight. In the morning add the vinegar and the spice bag. Bring all to a boil. Cook until pumpkin is clear and syrup is thick. Discard the spice bag. Pack pumpkin in sterilized pint jars. Pour the hot liquid over and seal. Makes 6 pints.
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10/24/08

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Have you carved your pumpkins? Did you save and roast the seeds to snack on this week?

Rich in magnesium and zinc they also offer calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, copper and manganese as well as a little bit of vitamin A. A healthy snack to be sure!

The good thing about roasted pumpkin seeds is that you can add whatever spices you like to personalize them to your own tastes. The basic idea of roasting is simple... what you do with it is up to you!




Cut open your pumpkin and either carve your jack-o-lantern or if you are using baking pumpkins to make your own pumpkin pie filling, do so, but save the seeds from the inside.

Removing the fibers, place all the seeds into a bowl or colander. Rinse well. Rinse again. And again to remove all the pieces of pumpkin and fibers.

On a foil lined, greased baking sheet spread the seeds out in a single layer.

You can use a couple tablespoons of butter, a bit of oil, or if you want to do 'quick and easy' as I do, I use a baking spray to simple spray the seeds with a light layer of canola oil.

Your first batch, you may want to a basic roasted seed, which is done by simply adding salt. That's it. Just salt! Season to taste and place into an oven set to about 300 degrees. Roast for an hour, using a wooden or metal spoon to stir every 15 - 20 minutes or so.

You'll see the seeds start to become dull and turn golden brown.

Continue baking until they have lost their shine, are golden brown and crisp. They will continue to crisp up a bit while they cool. When they are completely cool, transfer to a container to store in the cupboard.

Other spices some people like to add include cayenne pepper, seasoned salt, garlic salt, onion salt, dry ranch dressing or Italian dressing mixes or onion powder, or even going to a sweet/salty mix with a sugar and salt mixture.
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10/23/08

Possible Contaminants in Salmon from Chile

Just a heads up for my readers regarding Salmon they may have in their freezer or refrigerator or may have on their list to purchase! My family loves grilled salmon and the last two or three times I've purchased it I noticed it came from Chile. Tonight while surfing the news I came upon an AP news article that says in part;

Earlier this month, a German consumer protection agency detected antifungal and antiparasitic chemicals that are banned in Europe and the U.S. in samples of Chilean salmon. Environmentalists are also concerned about the use of antibiotics to keep penned-in fish from getting sick.


I know I won't be purchasing salmon for my children until I find out more about this (since I looked in depth to the catfish farming in China last Spring and got more informed than I perhaps wanted to be!). Just a heads up that it's being looked into.
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Broccoli Cheese Soup

Got broccoli? Got milk? Cheese? Make soup!

In our household we often have soup. Our favorites tend to be cream based. Thick, hearty and deliciously hot on a cold Fall or Winter day.

 Today is one of those days!

 Cold and rainy, when I saw this recipe come into my email from one of my current favorite sites affiliated with Coastal Living, I knew it was a keeper. I love love love my traditional broccoli and cheese soup but this one is just similar enough to let me know I'll love it and just different enough to give us a change of pace without 'too much' of a change.

It calls for Velveeta as you want the creamy texture - but I bet you could play around with some other grated cheeses.  It will have a different texture though.  Photo is from the email as well.


Broccoli Cheese Soup

1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups chicken broth
16 oz. pkg. broccoli
2 1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon pepper
8 oz. Velveeta

Heat a large nonstick saucepan coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; saute 3 minutes or until tender. Add broth and broccoli. Bring broccoli mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; cook 10 minutes.

Combine milk and flour, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Add milk mixture to broccoli mixture. Cook 5 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring constantly. Stir in pepper. Remove from heat; add cheese, stirring until cheese melts.

Place one-third of the soup in a blender or food processor, and process until smooth. Return pureed soup mixture to pan. Heat, stir smooth and serve.








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Whisper - the Drink with Coffee, Ice Cream and Brandy

I really wanted to post a picture of this recipe but I don't have one and it seems a quick internet search didn't net me one either. I am sure a lot of my readers have already seen or made this recipe, but not being someone who regularly drinks alcohol or mixed drinks, I haven't. Still, as I flipped through one of my recipe books I saw this and perhaps it's the freezing cold, rainy days we've been having this week, but this recipe just said "Make Me!" (It's the most beautiful drink name, don't you think?).


Whisper

1 pint vanilla ice cream
1 oz. creme de cacao
1 oz. brandy
2 oz. black coffee

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Refridgeratoe for at least 2 hours. Blend quickly before pouring. (Must make ahead for flavor). This will serve 4.
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10/22/08

Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

Growing up in the heartland of the Midwest I remember neighbors always had rhubarb patches. As a child I remember reaching into those huge elephant ear sized leaves and breaking off a stalk of beautiful pink rhubarb and chewing on it's bitter end and eating it straight from the ground. Of course it was much better made into rhubarb crisp, LOL, but when you are playing "house" outside with your toy kitchen utensils, rhubarb, carrots and other things from the garden taste really good to a 5 year old.

When you think of an upside down cake you may think 'pineapple'. Well, that's true, but I personally hate pineapple so I think this one sounds a lot better.  It's a delicious upside down cake made with that yummy rhubarb!

Rhubarb Upside Down Cake


3 c diced rhubarb
3/4 c white sugar
1 c mini marshmallows (about 10 large)
1/2 c butter
1 c white sugar
2 eggs
1 3/4 c flour
3 t baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 c milk
1 1/2 t vanilla

Place rhubarb in a well buttered pan, sprinkle the 3/4 cup of sugar over it. Add the mini marshmallows and drop over the rhubarb (if you are using large marshmallows, pull them apart to pieces or cut them up in 4-5 pieces. In a separate bowl, cream butter, sugar and eggs. Add flour baking powder, salt, milk and vanilla. Pour over the rhubarb in the pan and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Cool five minutes and turn out on a platter. Can be eaten warm or cold - and remember, rhubarb anything is great with vanilla ice cream!
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10/21/08

Tiramisu Cake

This morning I decided to post something sweet... a dessert of some type. Since it's Autumn my mind is on things like Chocolate, Pumpkin, Carrot based baked goods or Mmm, the Tiramisu Dessert I love and posted for you last year. 

But don't pass up this 'different' version of a Tiramisu based dessert. This time the delicious dessert is made into a cake! No Ladyfingers dipped in coffee needed. Instead just grab a white cake mix, divide the batter and go to town!


Tiramisu Cake

1 dry package moist white cake mix plus ingredients to make it
1 teaspoon instant coffee powder
1/4 cup coffee
1 tablespoon coffee flavored liqueur
1 (8 ounce) container mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons coffee flavored liqueur
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners' (powdered or icing) sugar
2 tablespoons coffee flavored liqueur
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 (1 ounce) square semisweet chocolate

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare the cake mix according to package directions. Divide batter into thirds and stir the instant coffee into one of those. Pour into 3 greased and floured pans. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely. In a measuring cup, combine brewed coffee and 1 tablespoon coffee liqueur; set aside. To make the filling use an electric mixer set on low speed, combine mascarpone, 1/2 cup confectioners' (powdered) sugar and 2 tablespoons coffee liqueur; beat just until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

For the Frosting: In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer set on medium-high speed, beat the cream, 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar and 2 tablespoons coffee liqueur until stiff. Fold 1/2 cup of cream mixture into filling mixture.

Place one plain cake layer on a serving plate. Using a thin skewer, poke holes in cake, about 1 inch apart. Pour one third of reserved coffee mixture over cake, then spread with half of the filling mixture. Top with coffee-flavored cake layer; poke holes in cake. Pour another third of the coffee mixture over the second layer and spread with the remaining filling. Top with remaining cake layer; poke holes in cake. Pour remaining coffee mixture on top. Spread sides and top of cake with frosting. Place cocoa in a sieve and lightly dust top of cake. Garnish with chocolate curls. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving.
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10/17/08

Mmmm... Homemade Fried Chicken


So dear readers... how many posts have I whined about in the last 6 months saying how badly I was craving good old Southern Fried Chicken? Enough that I finally got myself in gear to just do it! And yes, I'm happy to report I had a very Southern dinner last week - Fried Chicken, Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits, Green Beans and Mashed Potatoes with Gravy.

I finally got my fried chicken... but I admit, I'm craving it again already! I have a feeling I'll be making it again soon, which might not be a bad thing considering a whole chicken, cut for frying isn't too bad on the food budget, being one of the more affordable foods right now!



Fried Chicken

1 whole chicken, cut for frying (8 pieces or so)
1 1/2 c self rising flour
1/2 t salt
1 t black pepper
*optional: cayenne, sage, accent, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder
oil for frying


Soak the chicken pieces in salt water for 15 minutes. Drain. Mix the seasonings with the flour - you really only need salt, pepper and flour, but can add a few other spices too. Just don't get too heavy handed with them. 1/4 teaspoon is a good starting point for adding extra's and increasing from there.

Coat the chicken and let it set for about 15-30 minutes if you have time. This helps the coating stay on through frying. Heat about 1 1/2 cups oil or shortening in a pan over medium high. It's important the oil is not too hot! This is one of the mistakes I made through the first few years of our marriage. Every time I tried to make fried chicken it would be golden brown on the outside and un-cooked on the inside. The trick is to have the oil be hot enough to sizzle a bit when the chicken is lowered into the pan, but not enough for the oil to splatter and jump all over the place. If it's too hot remove the pan from the heat, let it cool down a bit and then add your chicken. Cook half the time, turn, cook the other half. Turning again if necessary.

The chicken will take about 20-30 minutes to cook completely. It should be golden brown and done all the way through. Drain for a few minutes and serve.


Here is my spices - 1 1/2 c self rising flour, 1 1/2 t pepper, 1 t Accent,
1/2 t salt, 1/4 t garlic powder, 1/4 t onion powder, a dash of sage and a dash of paprika



Ready to go into the oven~ Southern Biscuits!
I reserved about 1/4 cup of the seasoned flour to mix
into my biscuits. I love them flavored this way with gravy!
PS: This is not my 'regular' biscuit recipe - you'll find the one I usually
make in the 'breads' links to the right - along with photos. This was just a quick and simple
recipe using self rising flour, shortening and buttermilk.

The chicken floured and setting for a bit.


The camera's flash made it look a little orange colored
but here it is frying in the pan... yum!

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10/16/08

Bloody Finger Halloween Cookies





If you've been a long time reader of my blog you may remember the Severed Fingers Cookie recipe I posted two years ago (you can find the original post here.) Since it's been a couple years and it's that time of year again, let's do a repost! These cookies taste so good! It's a delicious sugar cookie, but with the almonds for fingernails and the food color for blood, it's the perfect Halloween cookie for your next teen or adult party.

Severed Fingers Cookies

1 tablespoon red food coloring
30 almonds
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup butter, at room tempature
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 pinch salt
1 2/3 cups flour

Place food coloring in a shallow bowl. Toss the almonds into the bowl with the food coloring and stir them until the color is evenly distributed. leave them in the bowl and stir them every so often until the color is as dark as you like.

Separate 1 egg. Set aside the white.

In an electric mixer combine butter, confectioners' sugar, granulated sugar, and salt. Beat on medium speed until well combined. Add 1 whole egg, the extra yolk and the vanilla. Beat until smooth. Add the flour, and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Wrap the dough in plastic, and chill until firm, 20 to 30 minutes.

Divide the dough in half. Work with one piece at a time, keeping remaining dough covered with plastic wrap and chilled. Divide the first half into fifteen pieces. Roll each piece into finger shapes, 3 to 4 inches long. Pinch dough in two places to form knuckles. Score each knuckle lightly with the back of a small knife.



Transfer fingers to parchment lined baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough.
When all fingers are formed, brush lightly with egg white. Position almond nails; push into dough to attach.
Bake at 350 about 12 minutes.





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Using Up More of Those Carrots! Carrot Bread

As I've said before, I didn't grow up eating a lot of variety of foods or baked goods as a child. I was always so excited to go through the 'cookie and punch' line after concerts in my elementary school because there were so many news bars and cookies to try! Unlike other kids, I skipped the chocolate and chocolate chip 'things' and went straight for the pumpkin bars, carrot cake and other goodies that I never had before and weren't made in my house.

I still remember my first pumpkin bar with cream cheese frosting and how I didn't know what it was, so I couldn't request them or make them myself, but looked forward to the next church or school potluck to see if someone would bring those 'orange' bars with white frosting. Someone usually did. It was only after I was married that I started to make them myself... and now? Squash, pumpkin, carrots... it's all good!

And here is one that I made this week!

Carrot Bread



1 c sugar
3/4 c vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
1 1/2 c grated carrots
1 1/2 c flour
1 t soda
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t ginger
1/2 t salt

Mix all and pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Check it at 55 minutes to see if the center is done. If not, continue baking until it is. (I do the knife test - with a knife stuck into the center. When it comes out clean you know it's done).

Cool. Wrap in Saran wrap and refrigerate overnight - or freeze until needed.

This is moist and excellent on it's own - but made into more of a dessert bread if you serve it with a container of cream cheese frosting on the side to 'smear' on if desired.
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10/14/08

Perfect Pumpkin Bread

If I had the inclination and the time I would take a picture and upload it to my computer and then upload it to this site to show you just how battered and worn my recipe for this yummy pumpkin bread is. Falling apart and stained with tiny splatters it shows it's well loved... and no, I'm not going to recopy it. I love to look at my old recipe cards and notebooks and cookbooks and see the 'love' of the years written all over them by use.

Over the past 16 years I've made this recipe using fresh cooked pumpkin or canned - both work. It just depends on if I have any baking pumpkins from someones garden that year or not. I hope you enjoy and love it as much as I do.


Delicious, Moist Pumpkin Bread

1 2/3 c flour
1/4 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
dash salt
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t ground nutmeg
1/3 c shortening
1 1/3 c sugar
1 t vanilla
2 eggs
1 c cooked and mashed pumpkin or canned (plain pumpkin not pie filling)
1 t rum extract mixed with 1/3 c water


Sift flour with baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cream shortening with sugar and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time and beat well. Stir in pumpkin. Add flour mixture and rum extract mixture. Pour into a well greased or parchment lined loaf pan. Bake 350 degree's for 1 hour or until the center is done. Cool. Wrap in plastic or Saran wrap. Refrigerate overnight. Serve the next day.

(*This is amazing if you put out a small bowl of cream cheese frosting to serve with it for people to put a little 'schmear' on their pumpkin bread.)





Related products available through Amazon:
 Farberware Nonstick Bakeware 9-by-5-Inch Loaf Pan
Wilton Recipe Right 2 Piece Long Loaf Pan Set
Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Loaf Pan, 1.5 Pound

      














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10/13/08

Carrot Casserole


Remember all those carrots I pulled from the garden last week? Well, they've been used in quite a few things thus far and I wanted to share one of them with my readers. This is a casserole recipe and ultimately my readers know what I'm going to say about it... play with the recipe! Make it yours! Add, delete and change as you see fit.

Originally this recipe called for squash. Since I have an over abundance of carrots but no squash, let's give a go. Look at the brilliant color of orange those carrots are in the photo above. Let me also add that this photograph is not retouched. That is the true color of the carrots in the mixing bowl as I started to mix the ingredients together. The sun was streaming through the window and the carrots almost glowed with a brilliance you only see in gems. Gorgeous.


Carrot Casserole

2 pounds carrots, cubed, chunks or sliced
1 c water
1 medium sweet onion
2 T butter, melted
1 1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese
1 c Ritz Crackers, or similar buttery flavor cracker, crushed
salt and pepper to taste
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbed
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 c more buttery crumbs for a topping (optional)


Combine the carrots and water in a saucepan and cook about 15 minutes until just tender. Drain and mash just a little bit to give it a mixed texture. Saute' onion in butter until translucent but not brown. Combine all ingredients in a greased casserole dish. Sprinkle with 1/2 c crumbs if preferred, bake uncovered at 350 for about 40 minutes until hot completely through and golden brown on top.
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10/12/08

Peppered Pork with Chive Sauce


Back in the early 90's when we still lived in Nashville, Tennessee I found this recipe for pork chops that once made, was not only a 'keeper' but often! Sometimes I forget about this one but then I remember, and make it... and my family never, ever has a bit leftover. As a matter of fact when I made it earlier this week we all joked about how amazing this sauce is and that we wanted to quite literally lick our plates, not to miss a drop!

I grew up eating pork chops, but almost always were smothered in a baked mushroom soup sauce. My husband isn't a big fan of pork chops and only eats them breaded crisp with no sauce, or with a spicy dry rub and grilled... or this way. I have yet to meet anyone we've served these to that didn't love them. I think I've posted this recipe before - but as usual, I expect you to play with it. Make it your own. Add, delete or substitute as you see fit.


4 pork chops
fresh ground black pepper
oil
1/2 c chicken broth (use 1/2 cup water with 1/2 cube or 1/2 t chicken boullion)
4 oz. cream cheese with chives or plain with 2 t chopped chives


Sprinkle both sides of the pork chops with fresh ground pepper. Brown in a skillet in a little oil until just done - don't overcook. Remove from pan and keep warm on a serving platter. Immediately pour the broth in and deglaze the pan. Add the cream cheese, cut in cubes, and whisk over medium high until melted and smooth. If you are using plain cream cheese, add the chives to the sauce. When smooth, serve over the pork chops.

I always double this recipe for our crew. I've also made this sauce for chicken breasts made this way as well. Delicious!
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10/11/08

A very different version of Fried Chicken

I have been craving fried chicken over the past three weeks but had yet to have had time to make it. When I did have time it seemed one, two or all three of the kids were gone for the evening so in the end, I still haven't had my good old American Fried Chicken - although I bought some a couple days ago and it's ready to go, whenever I am!

So looking over some 'different' fried chicken recipes I came across this one. Now, I'll be the first to admit that I've never seen a Fried Chicken recipe version that included tarragon, chervil and chives. You just don't see that in a Fried Chicken recipe! Roasted? Yes. Baked? Yes. But fried?

So, I'm adding this to the online collection but I'm going to let you try it before me. LOL. I am going to be making my good old Southern Fried Chicken. But... perhaps after I quell my craving I'll make this version and let you know what I think.


Fried Chicken

1 whole chicken chicken, cut in 8-10 pieces
1 tsp chopped tarragon
1 tsp chopped chervil
1 tsp chopped chives
1 tsp chopped parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 egg
1 cup flour
Salt and pepper to taste



Bread the chicken and fry in oil, lard or shortening until done in the center and crisp on the outside.
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Product Review: Seven Daughters Wine

Last week my husband and I had a chance to try a new wine; Seven Daughters Red. Before I start though I'll give you their description;

Seven Daughters Red Winemaker’s Blend is a sophisticated mélange of Syrah, Merlot, Zinfandel, Carignane, Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. The bouquet displays blackberry and pepper, supported by subtle notes of lavender and vanilla. After an exuberant palate of red fruit, including dried cherries, the wine finishes with a touch of spice.

Typically I don't agree with the winemakers descriptions. Fruity whites usually are on par with their descriptions but when I read the bottle or accompanying descriptions of reds I find my un-sophisticated palate doesn't find the fruity hints or subtle flavors of vanilla or almond or berries they boast. I'm not a big fan of merlots because of this fact coupled with the mouth-drying factor as well as frequent headaches I get from them.

This one... is different. Happily different.

Seven Daughters Red is a blend of 7 different wines. Grown in sun-drenched Napa and Sonoma Valley, the balance of the warm California sun, coupled with the regions’ characteristically cooler evening temperatures, ensures a slow but steady ripening of the fruit, a deep berry fruit flavor, spicy nuances, mature tannins, and vivid color.

Color was the first thing I noticed. Brilliant. Gorgeous.

My husband and I shared this bottle of wine last weekend on a short get-away to a cabin on the lake. As I poured our glasses I remarked on the beautiful color... not dark like a typical merlot but a shimmering ruby red reminiscent of a gem. I inhaled the aroma and caught the fruity overtones and a vanilla undertone.

This was a good sign!

Since we were camping we would have paired the wine with whatever we happened to have been eating at the time but I was infact making lasagna for dinner and this wine went beautifully with the pasta dish. Later we enjoyed sipping it alone as we finished it off, and it was excellent to share on its own. Lighter than typical reds it was a perfect blend of reds and merlots.

I give it a thumbs up and report that I did not get an 'after red' headache that evening.

For the wine lovers who want nitty gritty details I give you this;

Color: Deep ruby red
Bouquet: Vibrant aromatics offer several pleasant surprises of blackberry upfront, with lavender and vanilla following suit.
Palate: Smooth and intriguing wine shows exuberant fruit flavors opening with succulent red fruit ranging from blackberries and dried cherries. The presence of Syrah complements the wine with a closing note of peppery spice, for a memorable finish.
Pairings: Interesting on its own or with light pasta and red sauce, grilled poultry or beef dishes.

Varietal Composition:
• 50% Merlot
• 17% Cabernet Franc
• 17% Cabernet Sauvignon
• 11% Zinfandel
• 2% Syrah
• 2% Carignane
• 1% Sangiovese

Wine Analysis:
• PH: 3.61
• Residual Sugar: 0.2g/100ml
• Acidity: 0.6g /100ml
• Alcohol: 14.2%
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10/9/08

Gardens: The Gift that Keeps Giving

Here in the upper Midwest some of our gardens have been 'done' for a few weeks now. Most of mine has, but I still have carrots, tomatoes, peppers and a couple other things holding on for dear life. Since the temperature hasn't gone down to freezing yet I'm still picking tomatoes and rooting for the peppers to grow and grow.

This week I visited the garden to pull all the carrots.




What you may not be able to see immediately from the photo is that the normal sized carrots are on thye right... and then you have those on the left.

They almost look like squat pumpkins! Huge!



I thought they may taste bitter with their large size but didn't... they were tasty and good. I've started the preparation of them to be used in muffins, breads, bars and cakes.

Yum!
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10/8/08

Carrot Bread - In Honor of The Huge Carrots I Just Picked

As soon as I get enough moments free I'm going to upload some photos from my camera and show you the gigantic carrots I just picked from my garden. Gracious! I'm not sure I have ever in my life seen carrots this big.

I wanted to use them in my Carrot Bread recipe but I looked for about 1 1/2 hours yesterday though about 900 recipes and didn't find "MY" handwritten carrot bread recipe. I'm so bummed! Instead I found this one - and I think it's exactly the same as the one I usually use. I'm posting it here so I can find it tomorrow when I want to make my bread.

Carrot bread with a schmear of cream cheese frosting. Mmmm. You have to try it!


Carrot Bread

1 cup sugar
3/4 cups cooking oil
1 egg (slightly beaten)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup nuts
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup carrots, shredded

Cream the sugar and cooking oil in a medium bowl. Add the egg. In a smaller bowl, put the flour and soda. Stir in the nuts, cinnamon and salt. Pour the dry ingredients in with the sugar mixture, add the vanilla and stir. Stir in the carrots.

Pour the batter into a lightly greased bread loaf pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 75-90 minutes until the center is done.
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10/7/08

Pink Almond Cake

While I had some recipes, one household hint for fruit flies and a picture of me hard at work hand copying yummy recipes, I admit they all flew right out the window when I took a look at my email this morning and saw the latest from Betty Crocker. Oh My Goodness.

The most delicious cakes were being featured and I must admit that even though they start with box mixes and are hardly homemade... they just call out to be made!

Beautiful and I'm sure just as delicious I immediately wanted to be sure I added them to my collection of recipes to make... so here it is. The only problem is that they had about 5 that looked heavenly and I don't know which one to make first!



Cake
1 box Betty Crocker white cake mix
Water, vegetable oil and egg whites called for on cake mix box
2 t almond extract
6 drops red food color

Garnish
4 oz vanilla-flavored candy coating (almond bark), chopped
2 t vegetable oil
Red food color

Frosting
1/2 c butter softened
1/4 c shortening
1 t almond extract
4 c powdered sugar
4 to 5 T milk

Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Spray bottom and sides of 2 (9- or 8-inch) round cake pans with baking spray with flour. In large bowl, beat cake ingredients, including 2 teaspoons almond extract and 6 drops food color, as directed on box. Pour into pans.

Bake as directed on box for 9- or 8-inch rounds pans or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Remove from pans to cooling racks. Cool completely, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, in small microwavable bowl, microwave candy coating uncovered on High 1 minute, stirring twice, until melted and smooth. Stir in 2 teaspoons oil. Spoon about half the melted coating into another bowl; stir in 2 or 3 drops food color to tint it light pink.

Line 6-ounce custard cup or other small bowl with foil. Pour half of the untinted coating into foil-lined bowl. Drop half of the pink coating on top; pull a knife through coatings to make marbled design. Repeat with remaining untinted and tinted coatings, adding on top of marbled coatings. Refrigerate about 20 minutes or until set; remove from refrigerator. (If refrigerated longer, let stand at room temperature 10 minutes to soften.)

In large bowl, beat butter, shortening, 1 teaspoon almond extract, the powdered sugar and 4 tablespoons of the milk with electric mixer on low speed until well blended. Beat on medium speed, adding enough of the remaining 1 tablespoon milk until fluffy and spreadable. Place 1 cake layer, rounded side down, on serving plate; frost top. Top with second layer, rounded side up. Frost side and top of cake.

Remove coating from bowl; peel off foil. With vegetable peeler, make curls by pulling peeler around the outside edge of block of coating. Place curls on top of cake.
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10/3/08

Espresso Coffee Drinks Made Your Way

It only took Minnesota winters to make me a 'coffee drinker'. The first year we moved to the Midwest was one of the worst winters for fall snow fall they had had in years. We had 10 foot snow drifts lining our driveway... and couldn't afford a snow thrower! It was shoveled by hand. The pictures bring back a lot of memories that I can smile at now, but at the time, believe me, after living in Los Angeles and Nashville... I wasn't smiling!





Espresso Based Latte' or Mocha

2-4 shots fresh, hot espresso
1-2 T chocolate ice cream topping, Nutella Spread or Caramel Ice Cream topping
1-2 T sugar free or regular syrup flavor (optional) - caramel, vanilla, almond, hazelnut
milk or cream or half and half

Add the chocolate, caramel or other syrup to the hot espresso and stir with a spoon to completely melt the flavor in. Add the syrups to sweeten and top with milk or cream, 1/2 cup to about 3 shots of espresso. More or less to your desired taste.

This is good piping hot or you can add ice and make it an iced coffee. Here in the heartland with extreme temperatures both ways, we do both iced and hot depending on the weather.
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Soft Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies

In our household the crisp cookies are eaten, but it's the soft cookies that are loved. Especially soft chocolate chip cookies! I have a favorite recipe that I typically make (yes I've posted it before) but I've got a few others that I've loved for years. One of those is a copycat of the tiny little 1 inch soft batch cookies made by little elves. LOL.

I first made these back in 1996. I haven't thought about them or made these in probably four years or so. Maybe it's time I whip a batch up again!

Soft Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies


4 sticks butter, soft (1 pound)
2 eggs
2 T molasses
2 t vanilla extract
1/3 c water
1 1/2 c brown sugar
1 1/2 c white granulated sugar
1 t baking powder
1 1/2 t baking soda
1 t salt
5 c flour
6 oz. bag of mini chocolate chips


Cream the butter, eggs, molasses, vanilla nd water in a bowl. Combine the dry ingredients and blend the two. Add the chocolate chips last. Shape into 1 inch balls and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet (or lightly greased). Flatten just slightly and bake at 375 for approximately 8 minutes until golden around the edges.

Remove and cool!
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Macaroni and Cheese - Thick and Creamy

Although my friends in Texas aren't looking to see cool weather any time soon, the friends up 'North' and here in the heartland are already seeing 40 degree's at night and it won't be long before we hit single digits. That means it's time to buy some pasta and whip up some homemade macaroni and cheese!  This particular version is easy because it only uses one kind of cheese - Velveeta. I typically use a mixture of at least 2 or 3 cheeses but this is a great one to start out with and this is not 'my' recipe, but it's a typical one and good to start out with!


Macaroni and Cheese - thick and creamy

3 c dry pasta - spiral shaped, cook just till done and drain
2/3 c milk
1 pound Velveeta cheese, cubed
1/4 t dry mustard powder (option)
1/2 t ground turmeric (option)
salt and pepper

Make the cheese sauce in a double boiler over gently simmering water using the milk, cheese, mustard powder and turmeric. Season with salt and pepper. When completely melted and smooth pour over the hot, drained pasta in a serving bowl and stir.
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Homemade Gummie Bears

By 1997 our family was falling into a 'tradition' (although I didn't know it at the time) of having Family Movie Night. First held on Fridays, that evolved to Saturdays once our oldest daughter started high school and she was a varsity cheerleader on Friday night football games. The kids (and all their friends) would soon come to know that Saturday nights meant homemade pizza's at 6:30 and a movie in the basement after.

Todays post celebrates Family Movie Night. Rent a movie, make some popcorn, some Gummies and grab a can of soda! Let the show begin.


Homemade Gummie Bears
(candy molds are needed)

1 small box jello with sugar (sugar free doesn't work well in this one)
7 envelopes of unflavored gelatin powder
1/2 c water

Mix in a cold saucepan until the mixture resembles playdoh. Place pan over low heat and stir until melted. Pour into plastic candy molds. Place in the freezer until firm (about 5 minutes). Take out of the molds.
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10/2/08

Potato Wedges - KFC Style

With the cool Fall weather comes an instinctive change in diets. Suddenly we crave hot soups, homemade breads, mashed potatoes and other comfort foods. A yummy side dish that is always a favorite around here are potato wedges. Most of the time I simply open up the cupboard and season them with whatever looks good at the time, but sometimes I actually use a recipe. LOL.

This recipe for wedges is purportedly like KFC's version. I'll let you be the judge of that - but I will tell you they are good! I don't like to bread foods so this isn't the style I typically make. Am I against breading? Heck no! They taste amazing! What I hate is dredging. Oooo I hate it. Homemade jalapeno poppers, onion rings, mozzarella sticks and yes, potato wedges... I would rather spend the money to buy them simply because it's one of my pet peeves to dredge things in egg and flour and crumbs.

If you don't mind dredging then make these tonight! It's well worth it.

Potato Wedges

5 Baking potatoes cut into Wedges
1 c Milk
1 egg
1 c flour
2 T salt
1 t pepper
1/2 t MSG
1/4 t Paprika
1/8 garlic powder
Oil or shortening for frying

Cut the potatoes into lengthwise wedges about 1 inch wide. Mix the egg and milk till well blended. Mix the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Dredge potatoes in the milk and egg then into the flour mixture till well coated. Fry in hot oil for 3 minutes. Remove from the oil and allow them to sit for 1-2 minutes and then immerse them again for 5 minutes or until golden brown and done.
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10/1/08

Double Delight Cake

This chocolate cake recipe originated about 60 years ago as it goes back to the 1950's. It's interesting because you mix up the 'frosting' first, reserve half of it to actually be used as frosting, but then add more ingredients to the rest of it which becomes the cake. Kind of neat!

I had forgotten all about this recipe until just recently and couldn't wait to post it on the website. I'm sure it will bring back a lot of memories for readers of that cake 'grandma' used to make!


Double Delight Cake

6 oz. cream cheese
1/2 c shortening
1/2 t vanilla
1/2 t peppermint oil
6 c powdered sugar, divided
1/4 c hot water
4 squares (4 oz.) unsweetened chocolate, melted
2 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 t baking soda
1 t salt
1/4 c shortening
3 eggs
3/4 c milk


Beat the cream cheese, shortening, vanilla and peppermint extract together until smooth and fluffy. Beat in 3 cups of powdered sugar, the hot water, the rest of the sugar and the melted chocolate. Reserve 2 cups of this mixture.

Sift together flour, soda and salt, set aside. Combine shortening and the remaining chocolate mixture, beat and blend eggs, 1 at a time. Beat an additional 1 minute. Add milk alternately with dry ingredients to creamed mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.

Pour into 2 well-greased and lightly floured 9-inch round pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool and frost with reserved chocolate frosting.
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Free Printable Menu Meal Planner and Grocery List

This morning while digging through my files for an old document I came across a file labeled 'recipes' in an old folder from 2002. I hadn't looked at it since... 2002! LOL. In that folder I found a copy of my meal planner/menu planner in a word document.

Looking it over I realized how perfect it was for not only my family but everyone. So I scanned it into a pdf for easy downloading. Now here is where I'm trying something new. I uploaded the file to a website to store so you can easily access and download it for printing. I've never used this site before so we'll see how good their service works. *wink*

Click here to download and print a weekly menu planner and grocery list for free!







.
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Bourbon Chicken with Teriyaki Rice (frugal!)

I did it again. I 'made up' a recipe and didn't write down exactly what I used. My regular readers know that it's a family joke around here. I just never know at the time if we'll love it or not and I always assume I'll 'remember' what I did. Ha.

Well, about a week and a half ago if you remember, I found a great deal on boneless chicken breasts and made a few freezer meals from them. One of those was a bourbon chicken marinade. I added the chicken, popped it in the freezer for a future meal and forgot about it. However, last night was a crazy schedule for our crew as it's Homecoming Week here and yesterday was one of those days where all five of us were on different schedules. Time to bring out a freezer meal.

Originally my plan was to serve the Bourbon Chicken with a side of mashed potatoes. In the end, that all changed due to our schedules. I cooked the chicken in the marinade in the crockpot until they were done and then transferred them to the oven to bake and thicken up the sauce a little bit. After that I had to keep it warm for everyone to eat when they got home (me included) so back into the crockpot they went. For a quick and easy side dish I grabbed a box of Teriyaki Rice A Roni out of the cupboard and after it was made, added it to the chicken in the crockpot. As the chicken and rice soaked up the sauce it turned into a very delicious dish that almost tasted like a 'mall' entree' at a Chinese restaurant. The entire family loved it and although I anticipated leftovers... it was all gone by the time my husband had his dinner at 11:00 last night!

I think this is what I did... LOL.


Bourbon Chicken

Chicken Breasts (4)
1/2 c soy sauce
heaping 1/2 c brown sugar
1 t fresh minced garlic
1 t powdered ginger
2 T dried minced onion
1/2 c bourbon (I used Jack Daniels whiskey)
2-3 T canola oil
1 t mustard (optional - I can't remember if I used it or not!)


Placed all in a baggy and froze until needed. Thawed in the refrigerator overnight and cooked in a crockpot 5 hours till done, broke apart into bite sized pieces and a little shredded to soak up the marinade. Served with teriyaki rice but loved it together so much I added the rice to the crockpot and mixed it all together.


*Very frugal recipe when you get your chicken breasts on sale and the Rice A Roni is about $1 a box!
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