9/30/09

Lemon Pie with a Cream Cheese Layer

Earlier this week my parents were visiting from out of town and knowing my Dad likes lemon pie, and I like lemon pie... well, it was the perfect time to make one! This is a 'deluxe' version as it's not the typical lemon with meringue. As a matter of fact there are no eggs in it at all from the lemon curd to the creamy whipped cream layer.

1 store bought or homemade baked pastry crust
1 1/2 c sugar
6 T cornstarch
1/2 t salt
1 c water
2 T real butter
2 t grated lemon peel or 1 t dried
2/3 c lemon juice
12 oz. cream cheese
3/4 c powdered sugar
3/4 c heavy cream, whipped
1 T lemon juice or 1/2 t vanilla

Combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a saucepan on the stove. Stir in the water and bring to a boil over medium hight heat. Reduce heat and cook and stir for about 2 minutes until smooth. It should be thick and clear. Remove from heat, stir in the butter, lemon peel and lemon juice. I like to add 2 drops of yellow food color to the curd at this point to give it a nice yellow color. Cool to room temperature (about an hour). In a mixing bowl combine the cream cheese (softened) and powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Fold in the whipped cream and lemon juice or use the vanilla - I make it both ways. Save about 1/2 - 3/4 cup of the whipped cream for garnish. Spread the rest into the baked and cooled pie crust shell. Top with the lemon filling. Chill at least 6-8 hours. Pipe stars on the top with the reserved whipped cream.


Making the lemon filling...


Delicious and tangy lemon filling - a perfect match with the not-too-sweet cream cheese and whipped cream layer!

Piping simple stars on the top to garnish. You don't have to do this if you don't want to.


Dig in! The tang of the lemon is sandwiched perfectly between the creamy whipped cream layer and the baked crust.

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9/27/09

7 Layer Bars or Hello Dolly Bars



My 13 year old and I had a discussion about these bars today as she munched on one while standing next to the counter. I told her they were called "7 Layer Bars" but that they were also known as "Hello Dolly" bars although that was years ago. She asked me why they were called "Hello Dolly" bars and I said I didn't know but I suspected it had something to do with more women being named or called Dolly back then or perhaps it had it to do with a popular song at the time - and of course I felt the need to burst out in song; "Hello Dolly, well hello Dolly! It's so nice to see you back where you belong! You're looking swell Dolly, you can tell Dolly, you're still growing, you're still growing, you're still, growing strong! We feel the room swaying while the band's playing one of your old favorite songs from way back when... sooooooo....."

Well, I managed to get this song stuck in her head, playing over and over again (which I may have just done for you as well) and I admit that I honestly didn't care enough about the history of the bars to look it up on the internet. All I know is that it's a very popular bar with people and that when I made mine I cheated...

Let me explain how!

7 Layer Bars (or Hello Dolly Bars)

1 lb. graham crackers, ground or smashed to crumbs
1/4 c butter, melted
1 c chocolate chips
1 c butterscotch chips
1 c coconut, sweetened
1 c walnuts, pieces
1 can sweetened condensed milk


To the graham crumbs, add the butter, mix and press into the bottom of a 9" pan. (I cheated and used a graham pie crust I had in the cupboard since I had no graham crackers on hand and wanted to make these at 10:00 last night). Sprinkle the graham and butter layer with the chocolate chips, then the butterscotch, then the coconut and walnuts. Pour the can of sweetened condensed milk over all. Bake for 24-33 minutes in a preheated 350 oven. Cool completely then cut into tiny pieces as these are very, very rich!







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9/26/09

Pork Tenderloin and Baby Potatoes

As the calendar prepares to turn over to October and the nights have a chill setting in, I can tell my body is starting to crave more hearty meals in preparation for the deep, cold winter to come.


It's a bit ironic then that today's favorite recipe is actually from the South, where I lived for five years in the mid-90's, gave birth to two of my babies and where my heart still resides. A boneless pork tenderloin with baby potatoes... perfect for a chilly evening with friends or a sit down family dinner. Southern living will always have my heart, and Southern Living will always be one of my favorite magazines to find delicious recipes. This is one from about 12 years ago, but it's a keeper.


Pork Tenderloin with Baby Potatoes

2 lb. new potatoes (tiny red)
1/4 c butter or margarine, melted
2 T prepared horseradish
1/2 t salt
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
1/2 c fine, dry breadcrumbs
1/3 c chopped fresh basil
3 T olive oil
1 T freshly ground pepper
1 t kosher salt (I use sea salt)
3 T chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloins
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
fresh herb sprigs to garnish

Peel a 1-inch strip around center of each potato. Place potatoes in a large bowl. Add butter and next 3 ingredients, tossing gently. Place potatoes on a lightly greased rack in a broiler pan. Bake at 425° for 20 minutes; remove from oven.

Stir together breadcrumbs and next 5 ingredients. Moisten tenderloins with water; press crumb mixture over tenderloins, and place on rack with potatoes.

Bake at 425° for 25 more minutes or until potatoes are tender and a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion of tenderloins registers 160°. Sprinkle potatoes with parsley, and slice tenderloins to serve. Garnish with the fresh herbs if you desire.
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9/25/09

Almond Joy Balls

Although I don't often crave sweets or candy I do have favorites, as most do. One of those is my love of Almond Joy's. While I have made a few 'copy cat' recipes over the years, including the version that 'Grandmas' all over the world make with leftover mashed potatoes, this version is one I only recently found and it uses just two ingredients for the filling; coconut and corn syrup. It was so close to the real thing that I had to copy it down and add it to my collection. I hope you do too.

Almond Joy Balls

4 c shredded coconut
1/4 c light corn syrup
1 pk chocolate chips - milk chocolate
1/4 c vegetable shortening
25-30 whole natural almonds (non-salted)

Line two large cookie sheets with waxed paper. Place coconut in large bowl. Place corn syrup in a glass measuring cup. Microwave on 1 minute or until syrup boils. Immediately pour over coconut. Work warm syrup into coconut using the back of a wooden spoon until coconut is thoroughly coated.

Measure out all the coconut into 1 tablespoon sized mounds. Shape each into a ball by squeezing coconut firmly in palm of one hand and rolling between both palms. Place on the wax paper. Let dry 10 minutes, then re-roll the coconut balls so they are smooth and round. Place milk chocolate and shortening in a 4-cup glass measure or 1 1/2 quart microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high 1 to 2 minutes or until mixture can be stirred smooth and is glossy; stirring once or twice.

Working quickly, dip each ball into the melted chocolate or drizzle over top of the balls. While chocolate coating is still wet, lightly press whole almond on top of each. Let stand to set or place in refrigerator. Store in a single layer in airtight container.
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Jerk Chicken


Isn't it wonderful and amazing how we love our recipes? That we never grow tired of collecting and trying new ones? Even when you have a tried and true recipe you love for a certain food item, it's always worthwhile to keep an eye out for another version. You never know, you might like it better!

That's how it is with this one for Jerk Chicken. Give it a try. Simple and quick you'll have your chicken on the table in an hour. Serve with corn bread, spiced up with a few chopped jalapeno's or diced chilies. Delicious!


2 bunches scallions
2 tablespoons paprika
1 1/2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lime
2 tablespoons molasses
1 4-pound chicken, cut into pieces


Heat oven to 400° F.

Trim and chop the scallions into a roasting pan. In a small bowl, combine the paprika, garlic powder, allspice, nutmeg, cayenne, salt, black pepper, oil, lime juice, and molasses. Spread the spice mixture over and under the chicken skin. Place the chicken on top of the scallions. Roast until the chicken is cooked through, about 45-60 minutes.
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The Mighty Broccoli

Broccoli... one of my all time favorite veggies to eat either raw with homemade ranch dip or steamed with butter, salt and pepper. Oh, I'll eat it a variety of ways, but those two are my top favorites.

Broccoli... "A chemical found in the vegetable boosts the body's defence system to keep arteries unclogged. Cauliflower, sprouts and cabbage can also keep the blood flowing freely. They all contain sulforaphane, along with rocket, kale and pak choi, but broccoli contains the highest levels.

The discovery by scientists at Imperial College London could finally crack the code to using the vital vegetable ingredient in treating heart patients.

"..... researchers found bent or branched arteries are more susceptible to disease because they lack a protein called Nrf2. In contrast, straight sections of artery are protected by the protein, which prevents cells becoming inflamed, an early indication for the development of heart disease.

The researchers discovered that Nrf2 was disabled by a protein in the bent or branched areas of arteries, stifling its protective properties. But sulforaphane reactivated Nrf2 in these at-risk regions of the arteries, restoring the ability of the arteries to look after themselves. The researchers believe the chemical could help these trouble spots remain disease-free for longer.

The findings, from a study of mice, are published in the journal Arteriosclerosis Thrombosis and Vascular Biology."

source
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9/23/09

Lemon Angel Cake Using a Prepared Angel Food Cake

Angel food cake was always a 'birthday' staple in my home growing up. We might have a 'regular' cake on say, a Tuesday evening in August, but when it came to one of our birthdays, we knew it would be angel food cake. I'm not sure why, as it's not that we all loved angel food more than a typical white or chocolate cake... as a matter of fact I would bet my brothers would have chosen the other cake if given a choice, but it was tradition and the fact that angel food cakes appeared on our birthdays made them special.

The funny thing is... we didn't want them frosted. My mother used to frost them, but I think she realized that most of the time the sweet cake coupled with the overly sweet powdered sugar frosting she made was overkill. We tempered it with ice cream and scraped off the frosting. Soon it was our family tradition to have a naked Angel Food Cake for our birthdays... served with chocolate or vanilla ice cream.

My own family today prefers different styles of cakes for birthdays, but my love for angel food has never wavered. This recipe is old... Grandma's and Great Grandma's have been making it for the last 50 years, but with the internet, everything old is new again and you can find a directory list for any topic or website - which is great because classics will never be lost with so much information at our fingertips.

Coupling angel food with lemon just makes sense. So good!

Lemon Angel Cake

2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 cup lemon juice
6 eggs, separated
2 cups sugar, divided
19-ounce angel food cake, in 1-inch pieces
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup powdered sugar


Soften gelatin in lemon juice. Beat egg yolks until thick and lemon-colored. Combine with 1 cup sugar and gelatin mixture in small pan. Cook over low heat till thickened. Cool. Beat egg whites to soft peaks. Gradually add remaining sugar. Beat until stiff and glossy. Fold in lemon mixture. Fold cake into mixture, coating all pieces well. Spoon into lightly greased 10-inch tube pan. Chill overnight. Combine cream and powdered sugar (2-3 drops of yellow food color if desired). Beat stiff. Remove cake from pan. Spread cream over. Store in refrigerator.
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9/22/09

Angel Food Delight Dessert (with cherries and nuts)


When it comes to my recipes I cannot tell you the number of times I've wanted to make a certain dish and have flipped through two or three of my cookbooks or hand written notebooks only to become frustrated and say to myself; "Did I put this one online?" and sure enough, I check my site and there it is! Thankful for online access, we'll celebrate with a simple "Grandma" recipe for a dessert that starts with an angel food cake and ends with the exclamation, "Mmmmmm!"

Angel Food Delight

10 oz. ounces mini marshmallows
1/2 c frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1/2 t dried grated orange rind
1 c ginger ale
2 c heavy cream, whipped
1 large angel food cake
1/2 c sliced maraschino cherries
1 c chopped, salted nuts like walnuts or almonds

Combine thawed orange juice and rind in a pan or microwavable dish. Add marshmallows. Heat and stir until melted. Add ginger ale; mix. Chill until partly thickened. Fold in cream. Cut cake into 1-inch cubes; fold cake into mixture. Turn into 9x13 pan. Top with cherries and nuts. Chill for several hours or overnight.
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9/20/09

Potato and Onion Gratin

This morning I just got a phone call from my father, and it seems they will be in town tomorrow and will be spending the night at our home. Tomorrow is their 41st wedding anniversary as well so of course I immediately started to think of what I would serve for dinner as they will be arriving around 5:30 p.m. - just after I get home from work and right in the middle of the dinner hour.

I decided to make a chicken dish along with a side of one of their favorite vegetables, potatoes. I have a full container of fresh heavy cream so my immediate thought was a wonderful hash brown casserole, thick, creamy and delicious. Thanks to the internet I found a photo of this gratin dish and thanks to Bon Appétit, a simple recipe for my readers similar to the one that I will be making (as usual I'll improvise and use a mixture of idea's from many recipes).

Potato Gratin

1½ lbs. Yukon gold potatoes, peeled, in ¼-inch slices
¾ pound onions, thinly sliced
1 c packed, grated Gruyere cheese
8 T grated Parmesan cheese
⅔ cup whipping cream

Combine potatoes and onion in saucepan. Cover with water. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are almost tender, about 3 minutes. Drain well. Arrange half the potato mixture in 11x7 glass baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with ⅓ cup Gruyere and then 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Arrange remaining potato mixture atop cheeses. Pour cream over. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then remaining cheeses. Bake uncovered at 400º until cream thickens, about 25 minutes. If the top is not golden, broil about 2 minutes.
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9/19/09

Beef and Barley Soup



In honor of a cool Autumn day, I want to revisit a simple Beef and Barley soup. Serve with a hearty loaf of bread and perhaps a side garden salad and enjoy the company of your family!

Beef and Barley Soup

2-3 T oil
1 large or 2 medium onions, chopped
16 oz. frozen fresh vegetable mix (beans, corn, peas, etc.)
thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 c quick cooking style barley
4 c beef broth (bought, homemade or use bouillon)
1 pound sirloin steak, cubed or diced (easier to cut when partially frozen)
salt and pepper
optional: if you like tomato products you can add 8-16 oz. tomato sauce or even diced tomatoes with the juice

Heat 1-2 T oil in a pan and brown the steak over medium high. Set aside. Heat 1 T oil and add the onion and thyme. Cook over medium low until translucent and soft. Add broth, bay leaf and barley. Simmer about 15 minutes. Add the beef to the broth mixture. If you are adding tomato products, add them now. Mix in the vegetables, bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer 20 minutes while you prepare the bread and salad. Remove the bay leaf before serving.
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9/17/09

Vodka Marinated Chuck Roast

Regular readers to An American Housewife know that my husband and I invested in a large purchase of meat this summer. We had the opportunity to buy 'half a cow' from my brother who raised the beef himself and used no antibiotics or medications at all and the cows were corn fed. While we love steak and can get creative with ground beef in tacos, stews and burgers, what we ended up with a lot (a lot!) of roasts. And... we aren't a 'roast' family. So needless to say I'm expanding my horizons on ways to prepare them.

This one was improvised by looking at a recipe, realizing I didn't have most of the ingredients, and adding my own instead. This is of course, typical for me as everyone knows I preach the idea of using recipes as 'guidelines' and making them your OWN. Play with your food! So this is what I ended up with and we loved it so much I have 2 t-bone steaks marinating in it right now!



Vodka Marinated Chuck Roast

1/2 c oil
1/2 c lime juice
1/2 c soy sauce
1/3 c vodka
1/4 c dried parsley
6-8 garlic cloves, chopped or minced
2 t grated lime peel (1 t dried)
2 t ground cumin
2 t dried Italian seasoning (or use oregano if you are out)
1 t ground black pepper
1 roast, 4 steaks or heck, try it on chicken and let me know how it turns out!

Whisk all the marinade ingredients in a bowl and pour over a roast or steaks in a dish, pan or large plastic baggies. Seal or cover and refrigerate 8 hours or even up to 24 if love a strong flavor. Heat the grill, discard marinade and grill over medium low heat for a roast until done to your desired level. I like mine pink. I turned up the heat at the end to give it a nice dark color and crisp up the remaining bits of fat on the edges.




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9/15/09

My latest review of the Keurig Coffee Maker... I LOVE it

Looking at some of the keywords searched to new readers to my site, I realize there have been quite a few looking for my reviews of Keurig Coffee Brewers. I've done two so far... one, when I first got my Keurig last July and loved it and then an update two weeks later when it didn't work and I realized I got a lemon and had to return it.

Since then I've kept my mouth shut, waiting and watching and using our current Keurig to see if it would hold up. Well, it's now September and I'm absolutely in love with it, so I'm willing to take my chances and post again.



The model I have is the one I found (pictured above) at Amazon. We bought ours at Best Buy and it is the $129 'Special Edition' version. It came with an 18 count variety pack of coffee which was wonderful because not only are you ready to enjoy your first cup of coffee immediately after priming the machine, but you get to taste the different brands and flavors before you invest in a box of k-cups of one particular brand or roast style.

K-cups cost about $9.95 per carton of 18 but can be found cheaper on Amazon.com. You also have the choice of purchasing an individual reuseable k-cup that you fill with your own ground coffee and brew. I also save money by reusing the cups an extra brew cycle. I brew the first batch, drink about 3/4 of it, which by then it's cooled off too much for my own personal (200 degree!) taste so I open the top off the Keurig, lift and give the k-cup a quarter turn and shut the lid again. I hit the 'smallest' cup size (which is a tea cup size) and top off my coffee. Thus, reheating my coffee and reusing the cup. On it's own a 2nd brew cycle is too weak to enjoy but to top off my current cup and reheat it, it works perfectly.

So far... so good. Two months and I'm still absolutely head over heels about our Keurig.

Edited to Add:  A reader contacted with me to say he found a video showing a guy using his toothbrush to clean his machine and get it to work.  It's worth a try!  Here's the link.

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9/14/09

The Post In Which I Admit to Liking A Vanilla Coffee

Last month I was contacted by Singing Dog Vanilla asking my permission to use a recipe of mine which included both vanilla and cinnamon... two of their featured products. I happily gave permission and was even happier to find out they were going to send me some fabulous vanilla paste and their own brand of cinnamon to try.

A few weeks went by and I received a box in the mail. I opened it, expecting to see vanilla and cinnamon but instead found their ground vanilla coffee. I have to admit a couple things before I go on with this morning's article;

1. I don't like flavored coffee. (Well, unless there is a raging snow storm outside and I'm stuck in the house, sipping coffee, watching it snow buckets and perhaps decorating our home for Christmas.)

2. I have a Keurig coffee maker. I don't use ground coffee. I use individual k-cups. When I do use coffee I buy it in whole bean form and grind it fresh myself and use my personal k-cup filter to brew it. Typically my coffee is black. And strong. No milk, no cream, no sugar. 200 degrees when possible.

One of my most hated coffee flavors happens to be... vanilla. A chemically sweet, fake 'vanilla' taste, I gag and won't buy it and won't drink it. My parents, for a long while, took to mixing their regular coffee with vanilla flavored. They kept it in the main canister and when you visited their home they made this coffee, without warning anyone it was vanilla flavored and without asking if the guests even liked it. Needless to say my husband and I stopped sipping coffee at their home. I finally admitted why and suggested that many, many people don't care for flavored coffees and should be given a choice. They now brew regular unless they give fair warning.

So, you can see (in my long rambling way that I have) that this coffee had a lot going against it to even have been opened. But it was. It was opened. It was brewed. And the resulting sips surprised me.

Hand roasted in small batches, the organic coffee beans are only ground with real, organic, vanilla beans. There are only two ingredients; coffee beans and vanilla beans.

The result?

Wow.

Ok. I'm impressed. The vanilla was smooth. No chemical taste. No fake vanilla. There was absolutely no bitter taste, not immediately and not after. It was rather incredible to taste 'real' vanilla coffee and find it to be smooth, almost sweet, with absolutely no added sweeteners at all. The after taste of this coffee was perfect as well... just a hint of naturally sweet vanilla on the exhale. I took to having it a couple days in a row and even made it into ice coffee last weekend.

I can now tell my readers that without a doubt, this is the best (and only) vanilla flavored coffee I've had to date. No fake sugary chemical flavor and no bitterness. Just real, organic natural vanilla. You can find a retailer near you or order it online through their website at the link above. Enjoy!
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Using up a sweet wine

It's not really a recipe, but a quick and simple way to serve a light and fruity spritzer style drink for those of us that don't really like to drink but want to part take in a social situation such as a beautiful relaxing evening on the deck with friends as the sun goes down and dinner is on the grill. Or... in this case to use up a wine that was far too sweet to enjoy on its own!

Having bought 3 bottles of wine to have on hand this summer for visitors, desserts and relaxing summer evenings I just grabbed three at random so any guest to our home would have a choice. My regular readers know I'm not really a 'sweets' kind of girl so it's no wonder that moscato's are too sweet for my tastes and I was left wondering what to do with it.

One of the ways I've previously used up fruity wines is to use them in white cakes. There are a number of desserts to use wine in but this time around I didn't feel like making a cake. Instead I grabbed a sparkling water out of the refrigerator that happened to be the IZZE brand, pomegranate flavored (which has a bite to it) and mixed the two. What a quick and simple way to use up a sweet wine or just perk up an IZZE.
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9/12/09

Peanut Butter Pie


About 12 years ago I started to make a peanut butter pie that was so simple and quick it became a favorite not only of the kids, but of my husband and dinner guests as well. My friends in the neighborhood were given the recipe after raving about it and watching their children gladly gobble it up. When we moved to northern Minnesota in 2000 I was able to share it with a couple of my new neighbors who also made it regularly. It seems a quick peanut butter pie is something any age can love.

With that in mind I give you a new version. This one is similar to my original version and I hope you love it as much as we have.

Peanut Butter Pie

1 pkg (8oz) cream cheese, soft
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
6 T milk
2 c whipped cream
1 graham cracker crust (9in)
1/4 cup chopped peanuts or chocolate curls
In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add sugar and peanut butter; mix well. Gradually add milk. Fold in whipped cream; spoon into crust. Sprinkle with peanuts if you like. Chill overnight. Top with chocolate curls if desired.
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10 layer cake

About ten years ago a good friend of mine from the deep South was looking for a 10-12 layer cake just like her Grandma and Mother used to make. It was a spice cake with applesauce or apple butter between the layers. The internet was in its baby stages and it wasn't as easy to find information at the time. We looked online and in the end I went through a good number of my old cookbooks from the 30's through the 70's looking for it. While I found many recipes that looked delicious we didn't find the correct one at the time, but her Aunt came through at the last second and she not only found the recipe but made it for her Mom for Mother's Day that year.

Now days, you can find numerous versions of that recipe and others! This is another layer cake with 10-12 layers. Not apple... not spice... but chocolate, which will make many of my readers happy!


Ten Layer Cake

6 eggs
1 c milk
1 1/2 c sugar
3 cups self rising flour
1 c shortening
1 t vanilla extract

Combine eggs, sugar, flour, shortening, milk and vanilla in large mixer bowl. Beat well. Pour 5 tablespoons batter into each of 10 greased and floured 9 inch round cake pans. You can bake 2 or 3 at a time and cool and wipe out between uses. Bake at 400° for 4 to 5 min. or until light brown. Remove to wire racks to cool. Spread frosting between layers and over top of cake.

Frosting

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
5 c granulated sugar
1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
3/4 c butter softened
1/2 cold water

Combine chocolate, water, sugar, evaporated milk and butter in a sauce pan. Mix well. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 min. Stirring constantly.
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9/11/09

Cuts of Beef - A Helpful Chart


About 4-6 weeks ago I was looking for a good chart to show the cuts of beef.

One of my brothers had raised cattle this year and was offering to let us buy half a cow but we had to contact the butcher to tell them how we would like it to be processed. Having never bought 'half a cow' before I had no idea how much meat that involved, what cuts to expect and how many of each. I mean, if I had my way I'd just have ordered it made into 80 rib-eye steaks and called it good.

Sitting at my kitchen counter one morning and searching for simple information, I couldn't find out exactly how much meat to expect from a 1000 pound cow and what cuts to order.




Finally, with the help of a friend whose brother-in-law raises cattle, I was directed to this chart at the Iowa State University website. For those of you also looking for a chart of the cuts of beef, I found this to be simple to understand and quite helpful!




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Lemon Chicken with Roasted Onions and a Bed of Croutons

More than beef, more than pork and even more than fish, it seems that chicken is an ingredient you can never, ever have enough recipes for. It pairs so well with, well, almost everything.

One of my easiest chicken recipes involves stuffing the cavity with an onion, an orange and a lemon and topping with simple herbs and spices - mainly, fresh ground pepper, lemon garlic, fresh minced garlic, rosemary or thyme and salt. I choose my herbs by opening the cupboard and using whatever I feel like at the time.

One of my all time favorite ways to eat chicken is fried. I love the crispy breading on foods more than the foods themselves! Just using bread crumbs, smashed seasoned croutons, crumbled grain cereals, flour, etc. you can bread a boneless skinless breast in almost anything and it will turn out incredible.

This recipe combines two of my loves; the lemon chicken flavor with the croutons I love. The difference in it that surprised me was roasting the onion a bit beforehand to give it a different flavor (sweet and amazing!) instead of roasting the chicken with it inside the cavity. The other twist on this version is using the croutons under the chicken instead of smashing them and breading it. See what you think!



Lemon Chicken with Croutons

1 whole roasting chicken
1 large yellow onion, sliced
olive oil
sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 lemons, quartered
2 T butter, melted
1 baguette or other dry bread cubed to 6 cups tiny cubes


Rinse the inside and outside of the chicken, removing any giblets. Briefly saute' the onion in a bit of oil in the bottom of the roasting pan while you sprinkle the inside of the chicken cavity with salt and pepper. Place the lemons inside the chicken. Pat the outside of the chicken dry with paper towels, brush it with the melted butter, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the chicken on the onions in the pan. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken.

Roast for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear. Cover with foil and allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.

To make the croutons;

Heat a large saute pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil until very hot. Lower the heat to low and saute the bread cubes, tossing frequently, until nicely browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Add more olive oil, as needed, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place the croutons on a serving platter. Slice the chicken and place it, plus all the pan juices, over the croutons. Sprinkle with salt and serve warm.
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9/10/09

Boil a Can of Sweetened Condensed Milk and Get Ready to Make Pie!



Today's dessert can be a 2 1/2 process if you don't have dulce de leche on hand, as you'll want to boil a can of sweetened condensed milk for 2 hours to use in this recipe. Our Grandmother's always boiled two or three cans at a time because truly, if you are going to make one, you might as well make two or three and keep them for future use! One you have the caramel made (sweetened condensed milk turns to caramel when cooked) you can throw this dessert together in mere minutes. Chill for a bit and you have a delicious pie to serve any guest!

Banoffee Pie

1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk or Dulce de Leche
1 shortbread pie crust
2 large ripe bananas
1 c heavy cream
1/4 t vanilla
1 t sugar
grated chocolate curls

If using condensed milk, place the unopened can in a large pan of boiling water and boil steadily at a low boil for 2 hours. Check often and top-off the water as necessary, to ensure the can is covered at all times. Cool before opening. If using Dulce de Leche, just open the can and use as-is.

Slice the bananas into the bottom of the pie crust. Spread caramelized milk. Whip the cream with vanilla and sugar to soft peaks and dollop and swirl over the top. Sprinkle with the grated chocolate curls (made by running a potato peeler down the edge of a piece or bar of chocolate). Chill.
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9/7/09

Strawberry Coolers (non-alcoholic)

In 1990 my husband and I were living in Southern California where I was a church secretary. There was a woman in the church where I worked that not only was active in volunteering her time and talents, but regularly invited the office staff for luncheons at her home.

All these years later I remember a couple of the items served in her home, one being grilled chicken kabobs with a peanut sauce and the second, a cran-raspberry drink that I loved so much it became a staple in our home for Thanksgiving and Christmas when we didn't want to serve red wine (because we didn't drink it and later because we wanted something the children could have as well).

It was a simple mix of frozen cran-raspberry juice with club soda instead of regular tap water. The sparkling water added bubbles and life to the drink it went from being a simple juice to being a sparkling 'cooler' beverage.

This morning I saw this saved in my file and it is basically the same 'recipe' but using a strawberry drink with ginger ale. Same idea, a little different flavor. Perfect for the Labor Day back yard bbq's because everyone can enjoy it... from 92 year old Great Grandma down to 3 year old Janie.


1 (33.8-ounce) bottle ginger ale, chilled
1 (11.5-ounce) can frozen strawberry juice cocktail concentrate, thawed and undiluted

Stir together ingredients; serve over ice.
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9/4/09

Fruit of the Future: Baby and Sports Shaped Pears?

This morning I was reading the news and sipping my coffee when I found the most delightful 'food' news story! Pears shaped like little Budda's, grown by a farmer in China.

"...... A Chinese farmer has invented baby-shaped pears" "..... Plucky farmer Gao Xianzhang has created 10,000 of the mini marvels this season and he plans to take the fruits of his labour to the UK and Europe.

Britain could soon see the arrival of the pears, which are shaped like mini buddhas.

If the idea catches on, sales of the mini pears could hit the profits of British farmers who are already struggling to fend off sales of cheaper foreign produce in recession-hit Britain.

Gao spent six years perfecting the intricate baby-shaped pears, carefully crafting each one which grows inside an individual mould.

Despite their hefty cost of £5 each, locals in his home village of Hexia, in Hebia, northern China, have reportedly been snapping them up.

'People seem to think they are cute or lucky and will buy them as soon as they're off the tree,' Gao explained.



Can you just imagine the potential!? With the use of any style shaped mold you could grow apples and pears in many different shapes! Crosses and little footballs, babies and boobs... from religious icons to itty bitty human faces, from sports equipment shaped pears to a flower or hand. Endless possibilities for shaped fruit.

It gives new meaning to playing with your food and could introduce new fruits to kids who will want to eat their fruit at dinner time!
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9/3/09

Garlic Lemon Shrimp






Garlic Lemon Shrimp

1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 T olive oil
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 T lemon juice
1 t ground cumin
1/4 t salt
2 T fresh minced parsley


In a large skillet suate shrimp in oil for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and lemon juice, cumin and salt. Cook and stir until shrimp turn pink. Stir in parsley. Serve with pasta or rice.
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9/1/09

Product Review: Hormel Pork Loins

Not one to regularly purchase 'prepared' foods I gave in about 6-8 months ago and bought a Hormel Pork Loin because they were on sale at the time. I first chose the mesquite flavored and prepared two of them for our family of 5 that includes 3 teenagers. The flavor was absolutely delicious and it was hit with my family which is interesting because my husband doesn't care for pork products other than bacon and my own Southern Style BBQ Sandwiches.


In my local store they regularly sell for $9.99 each, which when you have to buy two to feed a large family, isn't very economical so I didn't buy them again for a bit until they went on sale, 'buy one get one free'. Unfortunately they were almost sold out so I bought regular, unmarinated, baked with salt and pepper and few of my own BBQ flavored herbs and spices and served with Country Bob's Sauce (which is my featured product on the right hand side bar, below). Served with a side of garlic mashed potatoes and homemade bread, it was delicious!

They were on sale for $7.99 again last week so I picked up a couple more and this time, with more flavors to choose from, I was able to try the lemon garlic version. It was.... absolutely incredible. My husband won't touch pork chops but went back for seconds on this product.

Moist and flavorful, it was and is a favorite of our family. Last night I served it with rosemary sprinkled potatoes drizzled with olive oil and steamed broccoli with butter, salt and pepper.


From their website here are the Product Features and cooking directions with a note from me at the bottom:

* Patented tenderizing process
* Made only from the finest cuts of meat
* Consistent flavor & texture

Cooking Directions

Conventional Oven: Remove pork from wrapper. Place filet on shallow baking pan. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 40-45 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest portion of the meat registers 155°-160°F. Let meat rest 5 minutes before slicing.

Grill: Heat grill. Remove pork from wrapper. Place filet on grill. Grill over medium heat for 35-40 minutes, turning occasionally, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest portion of the meat registers 155°-160°F. Let meat rest 5 minutes before slicing.

Exact Weight: 1.7 pounds

Servings: 4-5

My notation to this is that each time I've made it I've never found 45 minutes to be sufficient cooking time. I have found cooking them for about an hour to be more realistic and last night, with potatoes baking at the same time, I raised the temperature to 375 after 40 minutes and baked it a total of 1 hour and 15 minutes. It was perfectly moist, tender and cooked to perfection. Please use their 45 minute cook time as a guide but check it before serving.

Over all product review? Thumbs UP!
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