Sunday, November 30, 2008

No room left!

Before I move on to other recipes, I thought I'd poke a little fun...at myself, and how obsessive I am about food/cooking.

It has been just my husband and myself for a few years now. Our children are grown and gone, but, recently our middle son moved back home for a "transition" period.

Some years for Thanksgiving we invite friends, sometimes we have family come to visit, and sometimes we travel.
This year, tho...we stayed home, just the 3 of us.

Table set for three.


Hmmm....... I could barely get all the food on the table!!


Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Sophisticated Palate

I must not have one.. a sophisticated palate, that is. Sometimes I think I do...then, uh, nope.... give me some good old-fashioned fried potatoes and onions, and I'm good to go.

If the truth be told, I like it all. All food, any food. I love to taste new recipes, dishes with an international flare, trendy new ingredients, and then I get so excited when someone gives me some very common and everyday fare. (woo hoo... my mom's meatloaf!)

But back to my so-called sophistication when it comes to food.
Last week, I was watching "Nigella Feasts" on the Food Network, and she made some butternut squash with blue cheese.
Okay, I thought....I like butternut squash, I like blue cheese...WOW, a new Thanksgiving dish.

I must have been swayed by Nigella's accent and her use of "sensual" words when it comes to describing food
(everything has ... insert a British accent ... a little bit of naughtiness or is gloriously juicy. The list goes on)
But again, I digress.
I made it. Nigella's squash dish.

She said to... roast the butternut squash (okay, good, we love oven roasted butternut squash..ESPECIALLY the Barefoot Contessa's method) and then, when you take it out of the oven, sprinkle crumbled blue cheese on top and a few pecans for good measure.

It looked good. Kind of Blue cheese smelly tho... it was noticeable...and since I have only men at my table, I heard the words "THIS STINKS".
Well, honestly ....it did. I cannot lie. But only the Blue Cheese kind of stinky smell.....come on guys, be more sophisticated!
They tried it. I tried it.
It was okay. Not bad.
But I knew the men at my table were thinking...and I was wishing the same thing as them...
why couldn't I have just used a bit of butter and brown sugar?
The more "bourgeois" way to eat squash.
and an extra picture of my Thanksgiving vegetables. (I didn't know what else to do with it. LOL. As any other food/recipe blogger know...we have tons of pictures of "food". )

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I went Maverick this holiday



Pumpkin Cream Cheese Roll-up



This Thanksgiving I went a little "maverick" (wasn't that the word of the campaign?)

The reason I say this is because......I didn't make a pumpkin pie! (yes, that deserves an exclamation point...no pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, or even a pecan pie--blasphemy!)

My husband's birthday was on the 20th and I made him a pumpkin pie for his "cake". Just one week ago. It's his favorite. I just didn't feel like making a pumpkin pie again so soon. So instead I made this pumpkin roll. It's a good dessert, we really like it. I had a lot of leftover pumpkin, so I made some pumpkin butterscotch cookies, a recipe I found on "Joy The Baker's" website.

Traditional? No. But good...yes.
(as I type, my tummy is still full, but my mouth is craving a turkey, stuffing and cranberry sandwich)


Pumpkin and Cream Cheese Roll-up

3/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup chopped walnuts--optional
Powdered sugar

8 oz cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
6 tbs.. soft butter
1 tsp. vanilla

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 10x15 inch jelly roll pan. Line with waxed paper or parchment paper; grease and flour waxed paper.
Sift flour with baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Set aside. Beat eggs with sugar in large bowls until thick and fluffy. Beat in pumpkin. Stir in sifted dry ingredients. Spread evenly in pre-pared pan. Sprinkle with walnuts. Bake for 15 minutes. Invert onto damp dish-towel dusted with powdered sugar. Peel off waxed paper. Trim 1/4 inch from sides of cake. Roll in towel as for jelly roll. Place seem side down. Cool Completely.
Beat cream cheese with remaining ingredients in bowl, until smooth. Unroll cake, removing towel, spread with cream cheese mixture. Reroll. Chill until serving time. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.


**********
Pumpkin Butterscotch Cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola or corn oil
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup butterscotch chips
Position a rack in the middle of the oven . Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and butter the paper.
Stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together in a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the eggs and sugar until smooth and lightened in color, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. On low speed, mix the oil, pumpkin, and vanilla until blended. Mix in the flour mixture to incorporate it. Mix in the chips.
Using an ice cream scoop with a 1/4-cup capacity, scoop mounds of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing the cookies at least 2 1/2-inches apart. You could also simply use a 1/4-cup measuring cup if you don’t have a scoop. Use a thin metal spatula to smooth and flatten the rounds.
Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the tops feel firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry, about 16 minutes. Cool them on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then use a wide metal spatula to transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool cimpletely.
Dust the cooled cookies lightly with powdered sugar. The cookies can be stored in a tightly covered container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Out with the old

Out with the old...in with the new. New season, anyway....

But first....see the turkey?
The Turkey is very old. My mother in law, made it for me about 29 years ago. She had one to decorate her yard and would put out the turkey and a chopping block and a hatchet.
That was 29 years ago....leaving a hatchet in your front yard today seems to just be asking for trouble, so I don't think she does that anymore. I don't even know if her turkey is still around.
Mine has seen better days....poor old Tom....but I wanted her to see it, and that we still put it on our porch.

I should have taken a better picture too.... the white iron chair behind the turkey had a plant on it, until I moved it right before I took the picture.
We were finishing putting up our Christmas lights and outside decorations.... poor old Tom went into the shed again, until next year.
And now...... the changing of the wreath!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Macaroni and Cheese

Debbie's Mac and Cheese


Yesterday was a wonderful day...if you read my previous post, you'll see that I was just on the verge of making macaroni and cheese. On the verge, but the day was just not long enough to get all the pictures downloaded and posted....so that brings us to today...and...
Homemade macaroni and cheese.
I don't make it often enough.


I have noticed, as you might have, that everyone is making it lately. You can search the blogs and find it all over the place, which intrigues me. The fact that bloggers from all over the country are thinking the same thing......autumn comfort food.
I'm sure there are a lot of great recipes out there, and I looked thru about....3, to be truthful. I found Noe's/Nancy's and I got stuck on it. I couldn't look any further!
I have always liked my recipe, but when I came across this blog post at
http://noe847.blogspot.com/2008/11/mac-n-cheese-for-masses.html

I thought, oh my gosh, this is Nancy's "signature" recipe. I want a signature recipe too! I can steal it and make it mine. But of course, I had to fess up and tell you that it was her's. I took about 95% of her recipe and added only a couple of things from my old one. I like my crunchy old fashioned topping, so I couldn't give that up, but that's about as far as the changes go.

Here it is, in all it's glory....and YES, I can see why Nancy from "The Dog Eats the Crumbs" gets requests for this all the time.
Macaroni and Cheese

1 lb. pasta (elbow macaroni, or sea shell) cooked approximately 10 minutes.
4 T. corn starch
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/8 tsp. ground white pepper
dash nutmeg
dash cayenne pepper
dash paprika
5 cups milk ( 1 can evaporated milk, with 2% to make 5 cups)
4 T. butter
2 eggs
16 oz (4 cups) shredded cheeses (gruyere, sharp white cheddar, mild cheddar, jack, etc.)
1 oz grated parmesan cheese

1/4 cup parmesan cheese
saltine crackers
dab of butter

1. In large saucepan, combine dry ingredients.
2. Stir in milk and whisk until smooth.
3. Add butter.
4. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring constantly to avoid scorching.
5. Boil sauce 1 minute, then remove from heat.
6. Reserve 1/2 cup cheese for topping and stir in remaining cheese into sauce until melted. Add beaten eggs.
7. Add pasta to cheese sauce and turn into a greased 3-quart casserole.
8. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and crushed saltine crackers and extra parmesan.
9. Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 25 minutes or until hot and bubbly and crusty on top.

You can use a combination of any of the cheeses

All ready to go in the oven
Just out and piping hot



Autumn comfort food


mmmm.....mmmmm.......good. "My" siginature recipe!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

November Sunday afternoons

The reason I love Thanksgiving time....
We live in Northern Nevada and while it might look nice outside, it is still cold.
I love it when it is cold outside, but the sun is shining and my kitchen is warm with the oven cooking things.

It smells good..... we also have a fire in the fireplace, Rich is up on the rooftop now, putting up Christmas lights...before it snows and he can't get up there.


We have noises in our house (and we are not very "green" on Sunday afternoons), Football on one TV, no on is watching, but they come thru every so often to check the scores.
I have the food network on in the kitchen....and somewhere I can hear a distant radio playing, very softly.

My Christmas cards are waiting to be addressed.

Rich and Dustin in the garage getting out Christmas decorations. (When they're not up on the roof)



I like the noises and smells of the Sunday before Thanksgiving. It's just a lazy nice day.

I think I'll make some macaroni and cheese.

And tomorrow....you will see the end result....

Cranberry recipes wanted

On my way to Reno on Friday, (to do some Christmas shopping), I was listening to the "Martha" channel on Sirius Radio. (I have 162 miles of pretty much nothing but high desert to drive thru), and they were having a cranberry relish contest.
There were only 3 that they were judging...
one had rum, one had red currant jelly, one had....something else. I can't remember.

I got very excited about cranberries, let me tell ya. And I was thinking, that I need to have a cranberry contest....or a themed party. I'm big on themed parties. My bookclub will be having a 'congealed salad' party in December. Inspired by Christy at Southern Plate's Congealed salad. But mostly by her Mom shaking her head and saying "because it's a congealed salad", when asked why they just don't call it a Jell-O salad. So, in honor of that, we will all be bringing a congealed salad to share.

But, back to the cranberry..... how do you make yours?
Relish or Sauce? Family secret?
Recipes please.

I found that Tina at "Mommy's Kitchen" has a good recipe that I might try. Check it out here: http://tinamommyx3.blogspot.com/

But I want more. MORE, MORE.... who else has good cranberry recipes?

Adult book club?


Caution! Oh my gosh...
With a title like that.....I wonder, if you're here reading my blog right now, what you are expecting?
It's just my story from book club. Or "after" book club last month.
Books play a supporting role in my short story, (so I'm completely comfortable posting on my bookworm blog ) which is true. Every last word of it.
I'm still searching for my blogging niche.... but for now am sharing my book club story from the day before Halloween.

from October 30th, 2008

Last night, after I got home from Book Club....(where we discussed the book, Tangerine--a great Junior Highish age novel ) I wandered into the family room where my husband Rich was watching TV. We visited for a moment, I am always very excited when I get home from a book club and I need to talk, and then..... (some of you might want to quit reading now---gets a bit x-rated from here on out).... I took my bra off.

Yes, it's true. I just slipped it off under my shirt and laid it on the chair... my intention was to pick it up when we went upstairs to go to bed. It was uncomfortable!!!
The girls needed to be freed. Ahhh....sweet relief!
It's a sad fact of life, but for a large breasted woman in her late 40's, the taking off the bra moment is the best moment of the day! (sigh)

I picked up my book and sat down to read for a bit.... I got sleepy. Rich got sleepy... he began to turn off lights, I followed him up the stairs...off to bed.
but, we had left behind one important piece of evidence behind....THE BRA!!!

Had it slipped my mind that my 25 year old son is now living with us again? Had it slipped my mind that he was not home and would soon be arriving?
His M.O. is to grab a snack and watch a movie or the news or something.... in the very same room where said bra was left.

I have no idea what horror he might have gone thru at the sight of that... b...r...a... just lying there over the arm of the chair. (sigh)
My mind cannot go there....poor child.
Even if he tried to go on with his life.....his routine of turning on the TV, eating a snack..... his eyes must have been drawn to the grotesque sight again and again, like one is drawn to a car accident. With every flash of light from the TV screen in the darkened room, it must have jumped out like a hideous phantom, like the boogy man in a house of horrors. (I can hear horror music soundtracks in the back of my mind).

Hopefully, when he finally went upstairs to take his slumber (and there is no doubt in my mind he went up earlier than usual), he was not bothered by nightmares.

The house was dark this morning as I walked down the stairs.. As I do every morning, I grabbed my book and headed to the coffee pot. I made the brew and then walked slowly out into the family room, turned on the light by the side of my chair and YIKES, YIKES, YIKES!!! There it was---evidence of parents who are gross and disgusting! I grabbed it and ran up the stairs, into the bathroom where Rich was in the shower and began screaming (In a stage whisper), "OMG!!! I forgot my bra!! It was just lying there on the arm of the chair, for the world to see!"
He said "so?"
I said, "Your son!! Dustin was down there!"
He said, "Well Dustin is 25 years old, I can pretty much guarentee you, he's seen a bra before."
I said, "Not his MOHTER'S! Just lying around in the living room, like we'd been.... you know."
He said, "no. I don't know."
I listed all the things I think Dustin might be going thru....disgust, annoyance, horror, fright repulsion, etc.
Rich, as supportive (ahhahaah--a pun. Bra? Supportive?) as he usually is, just laughed at me.
Kind of like the clown in a horror movie..... laugh clown, laugh!! Laugh Rich laugh!

I guess this horror I must have put my son thru is appropriate...after all....tomorrow is... HALLOWEEN!!!

*****
Photos below are:
Totally Lit (erature) Book club friends!! We're missing a few friends. We come and go, we can't all make every meeting. We Average around 8 or 9 at each meeting. I have never missed a disscusion. I think I'm the only one who can say that. We've been meeting every month since January, 2003. And I have a list of all the books we've ever read.
Our book for the month, Tangerine was a great read, if you want to give it a try.







Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Yummy Cinnamon Rolls


I have been so embarrassed to say....I gave up on the sourdough from scratch. But you already know that, don't you?
I just couldn't get past the..... the hooch, actually. the stuff that gathers on the top of the sourdough that you are supposed to stir back in.

Anyway, my plan was to make the sourdough starter and to keep it alive for years to pass on down to my grandchildren. Forgive me future grandchildren (and current grandchildren Camron and Evalynn), I just couldn't do it.

So, instead, I made some cinnamon rolls from yeast...the way God intended for me to make them. But I thought I could at least experiment with some different recipes, to see which ones are my family's favorites.
Until a few weeks ago, my family (at home) consisted of myself and my loving husband, Richard. Rich for short. And I do have to tell you....we eat more than any 2 people should when I am on a "finding the best recipe" kick. We are really going to have to stick to a walking regiment and walk off this weight.
It's a hard thing when you like to cook and bake, to not eat too much.
One of our adult sons moved back home a few weeks ago...he's in a transition period.... so at least he is around to take some of the calories away.
And come to find out, my picky, picky grandson Camron loves cinnamon rolls. So, whew... I wasn't forced to eat 12 cinnamon rolls all by myself.

This recipe I used is from Peter Reinhart's "The Baker's Apprentice".
I don't own this cookbook... but I printed it off from somewhere and have it stuck in my cooking notebook, so I thought I'd give it a try.
And it was a hit. It was a little bit different, as it had lemon zest in it. But it was really good. One thing that was different, was that there was no "melted" or "softened" butter to spread on the dough before sprinkling with the cinnamon/sugar mixture. I ended up spreading a cube of softened butter on the dough.... it would have been too dry otherwise. I think. Obviously, Peter Reinhart didn't think so.
They were really good.

Cinnamon Buns

6 1/2 T. of granulated sugar
1 tsp. salt
5 1/2 T. shortening or unsalted butter
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp lemon extract or zest
3 1/3 cups unbleached bread, or all purpose flour
2 tsp. instant yeast
1 1/8 to 1 1/4 cups whole milk or buttermilk, room temp
1/2 cup cinnamon sugar

Cream together the sugar, salt and shortening on medium-high speed in an electric mixture with a paddle attachment. Whip in the egg and lemon extract until smooth. Then add the flour, yeast and milk. Mix on low speed until the dough forms a ball. Switch to the dough hook and increase the speed to medium,mixing for approximately 10 minutes, or until the dough is silky and supple, tacky, but not sticky. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to cover with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap.

Ferment at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until dough doubles in size

Mist the counter with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Roll out the dough, with a rolling pin, lightly dusting the top of the dough with flour. Roll it into a rectangle about 2/3 inch thick, and 14 x12 inches for large buns. 18 x 9 for smaller buns. Sprinkle the cinnamon/sugar mixture over the surface and roll the dough up into a cigar shaped log, creating a spiral as you roll. With the seam side down, cut the dough into 8-12 even pieces, each about 1 3/4 inches thick for larger buns, 1 1/4 inch thick for smaller buns.

Line 1 or more sheet pans with parchment paper. Place the buns approximately 12/ inch apart so that they aren't touching but are close to one another.

Proof at room temp for 75 to 90 minutes, or until the pieces have grown together into one another and have nearly doubled in size. You may also retard the shaped buns in the fridge for up to 2 days, pulling the pans out of the fridge 3-4 hours before baking to allow the dough to proof.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees with the oven rack in the middle shelf.

Bake the buns for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Cook the buns in the pan for about 10 minutes and then glaze the tops. Remove the buns from the pans and place them on a cooling rack. Wait at least 20 minutes before serving.

*******



The stuff I used. Minus the cinnamon...which is a REALLY important ingredient in "cinnamon" rolls.






In the moment.... not too big of a mess. Yet.


Mixing it up.




Rolling it out. (yes, I added nuts...to half of it. None for Rich)




In the pan and ready to go...Yummy!


Monday, November 17, 2008

Corn, Chile & Cheese Quesadillas

Corn, Chile & cheese quesadillas



My husband's first comment was "do these have cilantro in them?" with a heavy sigh.
He's not a big fan of cilantro, but he went back for 2nds, because these were that good!

This is a complete meal.....you don't need to have a "meat" with it, but I picked up a roasted chicken from the market, because I knew the cilantro and so much freshness could be a problem for (dang Honeybunch for using the name grumpy already. LOL ) Rich.
Rich prefers meat and potatoes. And potatoes and meat.
But this night he ate a quesadilla with a piece of chicken and then when he went back for 2nd's, he only came back with a quesadilla. He had shredded a bit of chicken on it, but hey, he enjoyed it.

I took the recipe right from the cover of "Fine cooking...cooking Fresh" magazine.
page....37.
Aha!! This magazine is on display until November 30th only. So....LUCKY YOUS... you can have it here, any time you want.
I changed a few things...such as olive oil, when they said vegetable oil, and I used frozen corn, YIKES!

Corn, chile & cheese quesadillas

5 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 cup small-diced fresh mild chilies such as Anaheim or poblano
1 1/2 cups small-diced summer squash, such as zucchini or yellow crookneck
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup fresh corn kernels
1/8 tsp chipolte chilie powder
1 cup diced tomato
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbs fresh lime juice
2 cups grated sharp cheddar
flour tortillas
sour cream for dipping

Heat 1 Tbs of the oil in a skillet over med-high heat until hot. Add the chilies and cook, stirring until soft, 3-4 minutes. Add the squash, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring until the squash softens and starts to brown, 3-4 minutes. Stir in the corn and chipotle powder and cook for 2 minutes. Spoon into a bowl, let cool for a few minutes and then fold in the tomato, cilantro and lime juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside 3/4 cup of the mixture.
Heat a tortilla, spread 1/2 cup cheese evenly over the tortilla, and about 1/4 of the vegetable mixture over half . When the tortilla is browned use tongs to fold the tortilla over the vegetable side.
Cut quesadillas into wedges and serve with reserved vegetable mixture and sour cream.


what to use


all chopped up


No tutorial, but these pics because it just looks so good!!


Time to eat.....with the chicken for my husband (but you don't really need it)

My Big Backyard (on Thursday instead of Wednesday)

Because I'm a nerd, I want to see how my backyard changes throughout the year. So! I'm going to take a few pictures of it ea...