7/29/11

Computer Woes!!!

The coffee I spilled on my laptop is worse than I imagined.  As time goes by the damage is mounting.  As of this morning, opening a file, highlighting, or even clicking to open a program makes it repeatedly try to delete it instead of opening or saving.  I've almost wiped out my EXTERNAL hard drive as I tried to make a backup copy of a couple files this morning.

I will need to invest in a new laptop I'm afraid and until then I'll have to post from the library or another computer.  It has also started to eat my sentences and paragraphs so I'm posting this quickly to let my readers know I'll be posting sporadically until I get this figured out!  Thanks all!
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7/28/11

Something I had never thought of before: How to make Butterbeer

Wayyy back when the first Harry Potter movie came out, I liked it.  I liked enough that I finally caved to peer pressure and bought and read the books.  I liked the book series and I thought the first two Harry Potter movies were good, but after that I somewhere along the way lost interest.   Because of my own personal lack of interest, I hadn't paid much attention to the hullabaloo surrounding a popular drink that now has a recipe even Muggles can make.  Butterbeer.  Apparently this is the bees knees right now.  I found a few versions of the recipe and most of them were the same so I offer it here for your trial-and-error.  I'll also let you know when I give it a go, although I suspect it won't be until this Fall.


Homemade Butterbeer

1 c light or dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons water

6 tablespoon butter

1/2 t salt

1/2 t cider vinegar

3/4 c heavy cream, divided

1/2 t rum extract

Four 12-ounce bottles cream soda

In a small saucepan over medium, combine the brown sugar and water. Bring to a gentle boil and cook, stirring often, until the mixture reads 240 F on a candy thermometer.

Stir in the butter, salt, vinegar and 1/4 heavy cream. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Once the mixture has cooled, stir in the rum extract. In a medium bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar mixture and the remaining 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Use an electric mixer to beat until just thickened, but not completely whipped, about 2 to 3 minutes.

To serve, divide the brown sugar mixture between 4 tall glasses (about 1/4 cup for each glass). Add 1/4 cup of cream soda to each glass, then stir to combine. Fill each glass nearly to the top with additional cream soda, then spoon the whipped topping over each.
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7/25/11

Camping This Weekend: Cooking our socks next to the biscuits


This morning I'm running behind and must get to the office so it's a quick post, but one I think my readers will enjoy.  This is a photo of camping this weekend.  It was triple digit heat, coupled with unbelievable humidity and yes, rain.  When it wasn't raining the wind would blow through the trees and the trees would drop big, fat drops down on us as if it were still raining.  And the humidity levels were so high that nothing would dry.  Nothing.  Not shoes, socks, the clothing you were wearing or even your hair. 

It all makes for funny memories though...  like trying to dry socks and a pair of shorts over the campfire at the same time we are attempting to make biscuits.  For the record the shorts were a lost cause and so wet it was a waste of time and the socks finally dried after 3 hours but were so caked with dirt and mud they were stiff as a board and were great for a laugh but little else.
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7/22/11

Camping for the Weekend

My view earlier today 
I'm cooking over a campfire this weekend.
Back on Monday!


My actual
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7/20/11

Shrimp Taco's with Bacon

A couple weeks ago I was on a shrimp taco kick.  Craving them, I set off to browse through 5 or 6 versions and decide how I wanted to 'play with the recipes' to make them my own version.  This one caught my eye simply because it had... bacon?  Now, I'm a huge proponent of pairing bacon with seafood - it's a delicious combination; I just never thought about bacon on my shrimp tacos.  This recipe also uses corn tortillas, although my family prefers flour tortillas.  There are a few things to 'play with' in this recipe based on your own likes and dislikes and what you have on hand, but I wanted to get it saved into my recipe collection so I can pull it out when I make shrimp tacos again... hopefully soon!

Shrimp Taco's with Bacon

1 (12 ounce) package bacon, cut into small pieces
1/2 onion, diced
2 pounds large cooked shrimp - peeled, deveined, and cut in half
3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced
12 corn tortillas
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 lime, juiced
salt to taste



In a large, deep skillet fry the bacon over medium-high heat until evenly brown. Drain the bacon fat. Add the onions to the pan with the bacon and cook 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Stir in the shrimp and chipotle chiles; cook 4 minutes or until heated through.

Heat tortillas on an ungreased skillet over medium-high heat for 10 to 15 seconds. Turn and heat for another 5 to 10 seconds. Fill the heated tortillas with shrimp mixture. Sprinkle with cilantro, lime juice, and salt.
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7/11/11

Incredibly Easy Grilled Vegetables in Olive Oil


This weekend was hot, lazy and wonderful.  The temperature was up and the sun was out; what a great weekend to grill.  So, we did.  Both nights.   The first night my husband manned the grill and made cheeseburgers.  The second night, I took over and we had spicy grilled shrimp with an array of incredible vegetables that were so delicious I wish I could offer you a bite from your computer monitor.

The marinade they were in was so simple it almost too easy.

Red onions, quartered
Whole mushrooms
Zucchini, sliced on the diagonal
Olive Oil
Sea Salt
Fresh cracked black pepper
Dried Italian seasoning or Oregano

In a glass container or a ZipLoc mix your vegetables with enough oil to coat depending on how many vegetables you choose to use.  Season with a heavy dose of fresh black pepper and sea salt.  Add a liberal sprinkle of dried Italian Seasoning mix.  Let marinate a few hours if you have the time although even 1 hour is ok if it's all you have.  Grill over medium high heat or coals, turning often to grill all sides.  I like to use a grill pan (or a round pizza pan with holes all over it) for small items like mushrooms and onions so they don't fall through the grates.  Serve nice and hot.

Marinating in olive oil and spices
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7/10/11

Long Island Iced Tea

Art Poster Print - Long Island Iced Tea - Artist: Nancy Overton - Poster Size: 8 X 10 inches


It's probably not a surprise to my readers that 'know' me by now, that I've never had a Long Island Iced Tea. I don't care for the taste of alcohol so it's rare that I would choose the alcohol version of anything when I have a virgin alternative. When we used to live in Minnesota, a friend of mine happily professed her love of "Long Island Iced Tea" in the summer and silly me, I always assumed it had tea in it. This week I found myself thinking about a Long Island Iced Tea and how good it sounded on a hot day, so I looked up various recipes for them online. What a surprise, no tea needed.

For those HOT summer days; Long Island Ice Tea

1 part vodka
1 part tequila
1 part rum
1 part gin
1 part triple sec
1 ½ parts sweet and sour mix
Splash of cola

Mix ingredients together over ice in a glass. Pour into shaker and give one brisk shake. Pour back into glass and make sure there is a touch of fizz at the top. Garnish with lemon.



Variations I found on the traditional Long Island Iced Tea

  • Peach Long Island: tequila is substituted with peach schnapps
  • Jersey Tea: cola is substituted with a shot of Jaegermeister
  • Pittsburgh Tea: tequila is substituted with Wild Turkey
  • Long Beach Iced Tea: cola is substituted with cranberry juice
  • California Iced Tea: cola is substituted with orange juice
  • Tokyo Iced Tea: tequila is substituted with Midori liqueur and cola with lemonade
  • Alaskan Iced Tea: cola is substituted with Blue Curaçao
  • Blue Motherfucker or Electric Iced Tea: triple sec is substituted with Blue Curaçao and cola with Sprite
  • Tennessee Iced Tea tequila is substituted with Jack Daniel's
  • Beverly Hills Iced Tea cola is substituted with Champagne
  • Harvard Iced Tea cola is substituted with Champagne , tequila is substituted with Gin
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7/7/11

Low Carb Red Velvet Cake


I'm not sure whether this recipe is going to be posted as a thumbs up or a fail.  I took a recipe that sounded half way promising but there were two ingredients I didn't have on hand;  erythritol and coconut flour .  What I DID have on hand was Splenda and Red Mill Low Carb Baking Mix so I decided to play with the recipe.  The original plain yogurt was substituted with sour cream as well.  Everything else, I had on hand or used as noted.

The reason I would call it a 'fail' on my part is because I'm not currently doing low-carb.  If I want a 'regular' cake I could have it.  I wasn't craving this, didn't want this and really, wasn't even in the mood to bake the night I made this.  Since I love original, real, traditional Red Velvet Cake, I was of course, comparing it to the real thing.  BUT!  Read on...

The reason it could be a 'thumbs up' is because my daughter - who WAS doing no sugar, low carb - loved it and it cured her intense craving for something 'sweet'.

My oldest daughter has been doing low carb, no sugar and came home from work one afternoon begging me to make something 'sweet', gooey, chocolately or rich. I pulled out my binders of low-carb recipes and she started to flip through them.   She settled on some chocolately gooey brownies, or the Red Velvet Cake.  Judging each recipe by the number of ingredients we DID have on hand to use; Red Velvet Cake won out.

She was so thankful to have a 'dessert' and something that was sweet yet low carb, she declared it a hit and thanked me.  I, on the other hand, thought it was fairly "eggy" with the 9 eggs it took and compared it to a Red Velvet Cream Puff.

I'll post it here... but I can't completely endorse it unless you have been doing low carb for awhile and are craving something sweet - even if it does resemble a Red Velvet Cream Puff.

Low Carb Red Velvet Cake

1/2 c butter
1/2 c sour cream
9 large eggs
1 c Splenda
1 individual packet stevia
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 t vanilla extract
1 1/4 c low carb bake mix
1 t xanthun gum powder (probably not needed)
2 T cocoa powder
1 T red food coloring
3/4 t baking powder


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 2 round 8 or 9 inch cake pans with shortening and dust with cocoa.  Whisk together eggs in a bowl until a bit foamy, and add vanilla extract to eggs. In another bowl, sift baking mix and stir in salt and cocoa powder.

Mix together sour cream and red food coloring in a third bowl. In the largest bowl, cream butter for about 30 seconds to make it fluffy. Add erythritol in a steady stream and cream together for 2-3 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Slowly stream in beaten eggs, beating continuously.  Add dry and wet ingredients alternately until everything has been added but the baking soda. Mix in baking soda last and scrape batter into prepared pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes in the center of the middle oven rack, or until batter is completely set and springs back.  Remove cake and let cool.

Transfer bottom cake layer to a serving dish lined with strips of wax paper hanging off the edges. Frost cake, laying over a thin crumb coat first. Then pile on the frosting spread outward from the center of the layer. Add top layer to cake and cover completely with frosting.


Cream Cheese Frosting

2-8 oz packages cream chees
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup erythritol, powdered  (I used Splenda)
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon pure stevia extract
1 stick unsalted butter

Bring cream cheese to room temperature. Beat until smooth and creamy, then add powdered erythritol and beat for about 2 minutes, or until erythritol is dissolved and the mixture does not feel gritty to the touch. Beat in butter just until smooth and incorporated.




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7/5/11

So Easy Grilled Balsamic Chicken

This week we had grilled chicken that was just oh-so-difficult to make.  So hard that no one can make it.  (Can you hear the sarcasm?).

Grilled Chicken Breasts

Chicken Breasts
Balsamic Vinaigrette (for salads)
ZipLock Baggy

Place the chicken in the baggy.  Pour in some dressing to coat.  Seal.  Let marinate in the refrigerator overnight or at least 12 hours.  Grill until done.  Serve.  (Great with a green salad.)
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7/3/11

Iced Island Coconut Coffee

I am sitting here reading the news while sipping iced coffee.  It's so yummy, I thought I would share!

I brewed a k-cup of Island Coconut at the 6 oz. size.  I added that to a glass full of crushed ice along with about 1/2 cup almond milk and 3 T sugar free french vanilla syrup.  Mmmm.  Island Coconut Almond Iced Coffee.
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7/2/11

Caramelized Zucchini with Garlic



Yesterday I arrived home from work hungry and craving vegetables.  All my kids had other plans for the evening so I was free to make my own dinner.  Vegetables it was!   I had steamed asparagus with butter, salt and pepper along with baby carrots and a huge plate of zucchini; which I had sauteed a little longer than normal and caramelized them.  Oh it was so good!  Smelled up the house, but oh so worth it! 

Caramelized Zucchini

yellow zucchini
green zucchini
olive oil
butter
garlic
salt and pepper

Slice and quarter your zucchini while you heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a fry pan along with about 2 tablespoons of butter.  This is an approximate amount.  Judge accordingly to how much zucchini you use.  When the pan is medium/high hot, add the zucchini, salt and pepper to taste and cook, letting the vegetables cook without stirring too much so they have sufficient time to come into contact with the heat, and the butter will start to caramelize.  Stir and flip the vegetables over so they brown evenly without burning.  During the last 3 minutes of cooking, add about 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic to the zucchini.  Stir and flip to mingle the garlic with the vegetables but don't cook the garlic too long as it gets bitter when burnt.  Turn out to a serving platter.



Zucchini cooking in the pan before it starts to caramelize

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7/1/11

Make a lot of toast all at once! Great for a crowd


Got a houseful this weekend for the holidays?  Making breakfast for a group and only have 1 toaster?  Even for our family of five with a 4 slot toaster we often make our toast in the oven when we are all having a big breakfast together.

The temperature isn't too picky;  use anything between 350 - 400 degrees.  Place your bread on a baking sheet, pan or stoneware and simply bake!  When it's to the golden brown that your family prefers, flip them over, toast the second side and then butter and serve.  Toast for everyone at the same time.
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