Saturday, February 21, 2009

Casseroles...yes or no?



I come from a small family, my husband a big one. For some reason tho, my mother in law didn't make casseroles, which I think is odd.
We both grew up in the late 50's (he, not me ) 60's (both of us) and early 70's (he got married to his first wife in 1972, I was just a BABY. He didn't marry me until 1978 ), but these were the decades of the "casserole".
At least I thought so, because my mom made them all the time. And I just assumed that his mom would have too. She had a lot of kids, a lot of mouths to feed.
His family life surprises me sometimes....still after 31 years of marriage.
Like...he has never had a poached egg. WHAT?
He said that his mom had so many kids that she couldn't take the time... it was scrambled or nothing.


Let me get back to the "casserole". (I tend to digress...sigh)
In the dictionary, the definition of casserole is " a large deep dish in which food can be cooked and served."
So, I guess what you put in it, depends on you. A casserole can be many things, and I'm sure not many of us follow a "recipe" when it comes to casseroles. We make them from memory. Right? Are we on the same page?

Well, there are a few good casserole cookbooks out there...most of them "church" or "potluck" cookbooks. But you don't see a lot of them.

Most often one takes a little meat, adds some cream soup, cheese, veggies, rice, etc etc. One can stretch a little meat to feed a big family. I liked casseroles. Often we would have a casserole and a green salad and bread for supper. My mom, after she went back to work, would make up a casserole in the morning, I would stick it in the oven when I got home from school, she would whip up a green salad (this before the days of bag salad) and we were ready to go.

Granted....the casserole of my youth would never make it in the health conciseness era of the 21st century. Or would it? It's kind of a comfort food. I don't make casseroles often anymore, they are just not something my husband loves. (except Italian pasta casseroles, because his mother is Italian and made those kinds of dishes). Things made with canned soup, are just not right in his mind.
Except this one... Chicken Divan. It's easy, it's good and well, here it is. Company worthy? Maybe not, but its really satisfying and good.

Chicken Divan

3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
2-10oz pkg. broccoli spears (or one bunch of fresh) cooked
2 cans Cream of Chicken soup
1 cup mayo
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 to 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Spread cooked broccoli in the bottom of a casserole dish. Next layer shredded chicken.
Mix soup, mayo and lemon juice and spread on top of the chicken.
Top with cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Serve.
yummy!

Oh and because it is 2009, I updated the soup to "healthy", so the casserole wasn't so bad, right?



Ready to go in the oven......


Sunday, February 15, 2009

cookbook goal

It dawned on me that I could use one of my cookbooks, "Cooking from Quilt Country" by Marcia Adams, for my cookbook goal.


Like I said, I have made the salad dressings (see post below) for years, but they originally came from this cookbook.


I love this Amish Cookbook...it has really great recipes. None too healthy for you. The Amish make their pie crusts with lard (the BEST!) but they also work hard...harder than I do.

So....one more cookbook down .....in a goal that will take me forever. My hat is off to those of you who are sticking to the resolution/goal/challenge you have made for yourself.




Also, my friend Karen questioned the 1 1/2 cups sugar in the Poppy Seed Dressing. It seemed like a lot to me also, but I double checked and that is correct. It's very sweet. The Celery Seed is my favorite.

Homemade Salad Dressings (they win--hands down)


Last night we were invited to some friends for dinner and I offered to bring a salad. I really just wanted to make some homemade salad dressings. For the most part, I don't like bottled dressing.... I will use them, and I do buy them for convenience sake, but I really prefer homemade salad dressing.

My friend Robbie (yes, she is an original Friday Friend), makes a great salad with Romain, fresh ginger, cilantro, avocados, green onions, and a few other things I can't think of right now... but the dressing she uses is: garlic infused olive oil, seasoned rice vinegar, and Greek seasoning.
That's it. And I love that salad more than anything.
You should actually try it...just play around with the measurments until you find a taste you like. It's really good. And very simple. And there are no artifcial ingredients, which is always a good things.

I do have to state right here, that I added some iceberg lettuce to my salad last night. I know, I know... it has gotten the reputation of being a second-class citizen in the greens community, but really, don't you just like a good CRUNCH once in a while? You can't beat iceberg for a good crunch. I used mixed spring greens and added in a little iceberg. I gotta stand up for the iceberg...it's a good addition anytime.
And I didn't use much more than just the greens. I chopped up a few extra veggies to take on the side, but for the most part it was all about the greens.

Here are two salad dressings that I made yesterday to take to dinner. They are both a bit on the sweeter side, but really good. I've been using them for years, but originally they came from an Amish cookbook by Marcia Adams, "Cooking in Quilt Country". I love all the recipes in that cookbook.

Poppy Seed Dressing

1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp. dry mustard
2 tsp salt
2/3 cup cider vinegar
2 cups vegetable oil
3 Tbl. poppy seeds

Combine the first 4 ingredients. Slowly add the oil and beat until thick. Beat for 5 minutes more. Add the poppy seeds and mix well.


Celery Seed Dressing

2/3 cup sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/2 small onion, finely minced
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp celery seed

Place the first 6 ingredients and half the vinegar in a blender. Blend well. With the blender still running, add the oil and the rest of the vinegar; blend thoroughly for about 2 minutes. Stir in the celery seed.


Poppy Seed Dressing Stuff (and really...nothing could be more simple)



Celery Seed Dressing Stuff (again...easy as pie. Well, no, actually, it's a whole lot easier than pie, because sometimes pie can be very complicated and the crust, well.... you get the picture. this is EASY)





We have dressings!!

They look very similar, but they have two distinct tastes. They keep in your fridge for about 10-14 days. (proably longer, but I have issues with using anything older than 5 days myself. )
Poppy Seed Dressing on the left, Celery Seed Dressing on the right.




The view from above.......




Saturday, February 14, 2009

We have a winner.

A prize number is drawn!

Randomly of course, because how could a person really choose one out of so many great recipes? I really am going to try them all....ask my family. I often have get togethers where I ask everyone to bring the same thing, so we can taste everyone's "best".

Okay....the winner is...... (the suspense builds)......
Amanda of Joie de Vivre: An Amateur Gourmet's Guide


You can check out her carrot cake here, but be sure and check them all out, the Carrot Cake Contributors and their blogs.
Quite impressive!

Joie de Vivre will receive a copy of Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day, given by Karen of Karen Cooks.

Thanks to everyone who participated and special thanks to Karen, who encouraged me. This was my first give-away, so now.. .I know the ropes.

Go on now.....go make a great carrot cake. Pick from here. I know you want to.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Carrot Cake




My Blog name must leave some people wondering... what is, who are, what about that name "the Friday Friends?"
Long ago, before there were blogs, I started an e-mail forum...asking questions and posting answers of/from/for/about all my friends.
My friends lived all over the United States and we just started a forum, like a "chat" room, but it was mediated by me. I did it all.... I guess in a way, I forced them to have a message board.
And it used to be on Fridays.....and we just became the Friday friends.
Then I found the blogging world and thought I would make a blog for us/them. But none of them had blogs...none of them ever commented on my posts.
They wanted them in e-mail form, sent to their inbox every day.
You can check out one of the old FF posts here (before I was food blogging)


Why am I telling you all this? Because my carrot cake recipe comes from my oldest (not in age, but in longevity) friend who is also an original Friday Friend.
Theda. We've been friends since Jr. High School.
And now we are grandmas. It's such a cliche`, but really...where does time go?

Theda is a great cook and entertainer. She always has been.
This is her carrot cake recipe that I use.
Her words " I love this recipe - there is no better carrot cake in the entire world. I am just sure of it. I am often asked to bring my carrot cake. Well, not really "my" carrot cake. It is adapted from an old cookbook.

I agree with her....this is THE BEST carrot cake. I make it and pass it off as mine all the time.

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp baking soda
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 1/4 cups corn oil
4 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
1 1/3 cups pureed cooked carrots
3/4 cup drained crushed pineapple

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease three 8 inch layer cake pans lined with wax paper.
2. Sift dry ingredients into a bowl. Add oil, eggs, and vanilla. Beat well. Fold in walnuts, coconut, carrots and pineapple.
3. Pour batter into the prepared pans. Set on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, until edges have pulled away from the sides and a toothpick comes out clean.
4. Cool on a cake rack for 3 hours. Fill cake and frost the top. I do not frost the sides, but you can if you want to.

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz cream cheese
6 Tbs sweet butter, at room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Juice of 1/2 lemon

1. Cream together cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl.
2. slowly sift in powdered sugar and continue beating until fully incorporated. Mixture should be free of lumps.
3. Stir in vanilla and lemon juice.

It's good, good good!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Blog Suspended

I thought I could hear the roar of the crowd.... oh, no Debbie, please don't go. Don't suspend your blog, cries of anguish and all that.
Never fear. I am not suspending this blog, but this blog.
I have too many blogs and I can't dedicate myself to all of them. I find myself paying more attention to my food blog and neglecting the others. I'm a bad blogger.
So, from now on, I'll just make my soups and post them here. I do like the name of the soup blog tho... "ahh some soups". I want a restaurant with that name. Just a little soup shop, only open for lunch, and instead of the sports bar/TV thing going on, I might have old black and white movies, and it will always be autumn and I could have the music I like, and there will be lots of wood and a fireplace and ........(sigh)

Anyway...good-bye soup blog and hello to more frequent food blogs.

Carrot Cake Roundup

Your carrot cake recipe goes right here. Just join the showdown. You have tonight to make your cake! And eat it too, BUT FIRST:

1. Email the recipe along with a picture (200x200) of your cake, your name, the name of your blog and the link to your post to dlstone AT winnemucca DOT net
2. On your email, please put CARROT CAKE SHOWDOWN in the subject line
3. Deadline is February 13, 2009 at 4:00 PM ET

I have a few more to post for the round-up...check back later this afternoon...PACIFIC time.
**********

The Carrot Cake Contestants. (kind of has nice sound to it, doesn't it? The CCC entries... )

When I first saw this blog post from Cathy at Wives with Knives, I thought "WOW" it looks good. And then I thought it would be fun to see what other bloggers had in the way of carrot cake recipes. So, in a sense you could say that Cathy sparked my interest, and then my friend and "western" neighbor, Karen from Karen Cooks and I visited and we both love carrot cake and.....well, here we are.
So, it makes sense that any showdown or showoff of carrot cakes, had to begin with Wives with Knives. Cathy lives in the Pacific Northwest and since I grew up in the PNW, I get a kick out of her blogs. Not only does she have great simple and elegant recipes, sometimes I get a trip down memory lane when she posts about road trips.

Her carrot cakes looks like a good one! Be sure and check out her post for all the details of her recipe.


*****
Another Carrot Cake from Schweet 'N Savory!

I so admire Melissa from Schweet 'N Savory. Any teenager who loves to cook is up on a pedestal in my book. She's hoping to attend culinary school after she graduates next year. I have no fear that her goal won't be attained. Just check out her blog and you can tell...cooking/baking is a passion of hers. In her blog you also get a little peek into her other activities...always fun and interesting.

Check out her carrot cake...her family's favortie!

**************
A celebration!!

A 100th post and she chose to mark the occasion here with a carrot cake. Wow!
Check out Joie de Vivre's website.
Ginger in a carrot cake. I can't wait to try it.

A fellow southeastern Washingtonian (well...I used to be), she is "eating well" and living "French". (throw in a housekeeper and we have it made)
Congrats to Joie for her blog milepost... I have a feeling she'll be around a long time.


Check out her " Carrot-Ginger Layer Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting"
Looks delish!

*************
And then there is Karen.....

of Karen Cooks, my friend and neighbor....yes, we decided that Montana-Nevada, was close enough to be neighbors. We're talking about the big wild west...so what is a few hundred miles, give or take a few more hundred? (we're about 900 miles apart). And co-conspirator in this endeavor. (she holds the prize)

I love her blog...and the recipes she shares. One day, while passing thru my little town on her way somewhere, she'll walk into the visitors center and surprise me.
She has a carrot cake with "cooked, mashed" carrots. Yummy!


**********

Lynette of "Netts Nook" has sent in a great carrot cake recipe for those who can't have or don't want so much sugar in their diet. A carrot cake with honey as the sweetner and some different spices too. I can't wait to try this one, as I like the spice of life! (and am trying to eat healthier too)
Check out her blog and her carrot cake here.

**********

Now this...this looks like a treat!
Donna from My Tasty Treasures has made Carrot Cake Sandwich Cookies. Besides the fact that the cookies look "to die for", her blog post leaves you rolling on the floor laughing. She's a hoot!
Be sure and check out her carrot cake cookies as well as her other posts. It'll leave you laughing and hungry.


**********


And then there is me.
Carrot Cake is one of my favorite of all time, so I am anxious to try out everyone's recipes. It will be a spring time event for me.... no worries, my family is used to eating the same thing but in different varieties, for weeks on end.
Thanks for helping me out! And thanks to Karen, who holds the prize winning number. Drawn randomly of course.
Here is my carrot cake.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Could have been bad Taco Salad

I have a confession to make.... I waste TONS of money on spices. I have every spice known to man. Or at least every spice that's available in a small rural Nevada town.

See my spice cupboard? (yes, it does need some organizing) And yes, that is a jar of garlic salt upside down on my little "kitchen" TV. It fell out of the cupboard when I opened it and I left it there to prove my point of having too many spices.
Once every year I go thru and throw them all away and start all over again. So, they are always
fresh. Mostly. Pretty much. Kind of. (okay....not as fresh as they could, should be!)



I also need glasses. I am not necessarily vain, because I do buy the "magnifiers at Costco and Wal-mart, I just don't like the feel of glasses on my nose and ear. Which means I probably should go in and have a professional fit me, so that they don't annoy me and feel heavy on the bridge of my nose.

But I am getting side-tracked about trivial things and there you sit reading this wondering what my spice cupboard and my needing glasses have in common, right? I will tell you.

It's been a hectic week and I haven't cooked at all. We've had some leftovers and some easy meals. My husband even cooked one night and he took me out once too.
He has been talking about Taco Salad for a couple of weeks now....so I thought I would make it for him since he's been so good to me this week. (not that he isn't always, but... ) this too is an easy meal, but I thought I could still blog about it and just ask people how they do their taco salads, etc.
Taco salads being what they are, are all pretty much the same, but also very different. (like spaghetti sauces and potato salads....different people take the same ingredients and no two are the same...a fact that always intrigues me)

Some people put a dressing on their Taco Salads, which I like, but my husband does not. He just likes to put on some taco/hot sauce and call it good. He crunches up some tortilla chips and he is good to go.
I like them all...dressings with sour cream, taco salads in tortilla bowls, meat that is seasoned with the little packets of taco seasoning by Schilling or McCormick.

Oh...and I neglected to say that my husband doesn't like his taco meat sauced up. He just likes browned ground beef. Salt and pepper.
But I usually put some spices in with the salt and pepper....so it isn't so bland. Some Cumin and I had some chipolte pepper powder I thought I'd try.

So, I opened up my spice cupboard without my glasses and grabbed what I thought was cumin. It wasn't. It had the same color as cumin, same look thru the glass bottle. I even took pictures of the spices...which are blurry because I didn't have glasses on....thinking I was taking pictures of cumin and chipolte peppers. WHO couldn't read coriander???

I sprinkled the cumin on the meat...it smelled funny. For cumin.
But it didn't smell funny for coriander. Because that's what it was.
I know that coriander didn't ruin the taco meat...coriander is used in a lot of Mexican cooking, BUT it could have been a disaster. Could have been. I could have used nutmeg or cinnamon.



(see? they look similar)

I am making my carrot cake tomorrow (see sidebar....grab it and MAKE A CARROT CAKE.... you only have one week left. You could win a great prize!!) and it would have been disastrous if I put coriander in the carrot cake.
I promise I will wear my glasses tomorrow while reading my carrot cake recipe.


Taco Salad
(these are the things I put in mine. amounts depending on how you like them)
I fried some flour tortillas to use like a tostada shell. I don't always do that.
lettuce
tomatoes
cheese
olives
avocados
taco meat (seasoned however you want)
green onions
kidney beans
garbanzo beans
a dab of sour cream
a dab of guacamole
a bit of taco/hot sauce
crushed tortilla chips if you want



********
It's been a week of cheese and sour cream and beans and guacamole. For Super bowl Sunday I made the Pioneer Woman's Mexican dip.
Check out her recipe here. It's really good. Doesn't it look good? Don't you just want to take a chip and dip it? That's the whole point silly!


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I've been tagged

I've been tagged!
A few days ago, The Blond Duck was tagged...and now she is passing it on.
Here is her story .....click! It's very funny.

She makes me laugh almost everyday. I have a "grand" chihuahua, and she has 2 chihuahua's that rule! And she posts about them often. I love her blog.

Here are the rules:
1) choose the 4th folder where you store pictures on your computer.

2. Select the 4th picture in the folder.

3. Explain the picture.

4. Tag 4 people to do the same.

5. No cheating (cropping, editing, etc.)



This is funny. My old computer crashed right before Christmas and we got a new one. Well....it didn't really crash. It's a long story...just beware of computer doctors who are unreliable.
BUT anyway, my picture files are on my old computer. Waiting to be saved to a disk. I have but a few folders on this new computer.

Here the 4th picture of the 4th folder.
Does it need explanation?



Well, check out this site....kind of self-explanatory.
And because I am a food blogger, all of the sudden most of my files are filled with food pictures. (most of them not very good)

I read the rules and it says to choose 4 bloggers to pass this one to.
I have to think about that one for a day or two. But I will. I promise.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Carrot Cake Showdown

An Interesting thing happened in Winnemucca one day in late November (or maybe it was early December). Karen from Karen Cooks, drove right by my office, The Chamber of Commerce/Visitors Center, on her way to Montana. Of course she didn't' stop, and even if she had, the subject of food blogging probably would have never come up. (The question that pops up 90% of the time is: Do you have a restroom?)

You are probably wondering why I'm telling you this. Maybe because it's like of those scenes in a movie where you know the two should really be together, they just miss each other by seconds? Maybe.
Well, never fear, somehow we found our way to each other.....Karen and I have teamed up. (Yes, I lean towards the melodramatic, but it sounded real good, didn't it?)

We are hosting a "Carrot Cake Showdown" together, and I for one am very excited. As Karen said on her blog, one day over virtual coffee, we talked about hosting a Carrot Cake Showdown and ...... here we are.

This is new to me, (hosting) but Karen is a pro and she has the greatest cookbook to give away, her favorite cookbook of all time: Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. The only downfall to me co-hosting this showdown is that I can't win the cookbook.

Wont' you join us for carrot cake and coffee?


Do you have a favorite carrot cake recipe? Do you want to win this book? Here’s how!

1. Make your favorite recipe for Carrot Cake and post it on your blog along with a picture.
2. Link to this page in your post
3. Grab the bright orange “Carrot Cake Showdown” button you see here (made for our showdown by Karen ) and put it on your blog
4. Email the recipe along with a picture (200x200) of your cake, your name, the name of your blog and the link to your post to dlstone AT winnemucca DOT net
5. On your email, please put CARROT CAKE SHOWDOWN in the subject line
6. Deadline is February 13, 2009 at 4:00 PM ET
7. Winner will be selected randomly and notified on February 14.
8. Winner will receive a copy of Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day
9. Sorry, but the contest is open only to U.S. residents
10. Have fun and happy baking! Be sure to check out the Carrot Cake Roundup here!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Random Ramblings

Yes....call me crazy. Because that's what I am. Crazy. I'm turning 50 this year, and while the actual number 50 doesn't bother me, I have been feeling as if I need to mark this occasion with something special. And being me, marking it with a fun-filled vacation to Tahiti or a life-time dream of a trip to Europe wasn't going to make the final cut (could be something like I can't afford Tahiti or Europe right now... I have 3 grand babies due this year)
I decided to do two things: one was to participate in a 3-day, 60-mile walk for breast cancer, and this is huge for me, because I can't catch my breath going up my own stairs. (that is a slight exaggeration, but only slight. LOL ) So I'm on a training schedule for the next 7 months. Wish me luck.

and just in case any of you felt so inclined to donate to the cause (yes,I realize this is shameless. SHAMELESS! But I have to raise $2300--- and $5 here and there adds up :~)
just click here. It's for breast cancer not for me. I don't ever actually handle the money.( thank you if you do...and no worries if you don't)

The 2nd thing I decided to do is take a class at our local college. "Beatles Across the Universe". It's an integrated studies class. I had no idea what that meant. I just like the sound of the class and decided to take it. I had to get instructor permission, because it's an upper level class and I don't have all of the prerequisites. I take classes every once in a while as something fun and interesting to do. Yeah, I know--HUGE DORK.
I haven't taken any of my math requirements...NONE. I don't like math. But this is all besides the point..... the point is: I THOUGHT THIS WOULD BE FUN???!!
Last night was the first class. I think I am in over my head. Plus I am the oldest person in the class.
We live in a very rural Nevada town (every town in Nevada is rural except for Reno and Las Vegas).....so we live out in the middle of nowhere. You Eastern people don't understand what "in the middle of nowhere" means. Take it literally.
Great Basin Community College is our college. It is based in Elko, NV, but we have branch campus here in Winnemucca, as well as in other small towns in a 7-hour...YES, 7 HOUR radius of Elko. (that is driving time).
Sometimes instructors are based in a town that isn't' your town....so they have a video class. There is a more technical name of course, but it boils down to a big fancy-schmancy video system that broadcasts your class, the teacher and classes in other towns. there are two huge screens, one always shows the instructor and the other one shows the classroom of someone who is talking or asking a question or participating in some way, so that one jumps around.
IF....you are just listening to the instructor lecture, it stays on your classroom.

So....you can see yourself. And I saw myself. It was very uncomfortable for me. I couldn't get over my socks. Seriously. I stared at them all night long. They were white. Like I had soaked them in bleach and just put them on. White was screaming out at me.
Note to self: wear blue socks next time. socks the color of my jeans. Or boots...wear boots.
Because of my age, I am really going to have to get used to this video broadcast thing. Well I feel as if it's my age, as everyone else seemed perfectly comfortable with the video technology.
One third of the grade is on participation....so I'm going to have to get over my fears.....of seeing my white socks.

Yes, I am crazy. But not as crazy as the instructor. I've never seen a more devoted fan of the Beatles. This week we discussed the Beatles up to 1962--PRE Ringo Starr.
Every time the instructor put a record on (he has a great collection of rare records), so that we could listen to their beginning sounds...he, the instructor would ..."Lip sync" to the song. And play the air guitar.
Now remember he is being broadcast to the campus network.... lip syncing. And exaggerated at that.
Kind of like playing charades or guesstures. A bad mime.

He's a nice man, and a good instructor.... ummm, not so good at lip syncing or air guitar. As my friend Jolina said...it's like watching a train wreck, you just can't look away even tho you probably should.
*********

I have to research and find information related to the Beatles on/about the first canonized Catholic Saint in the United States. (Because....they released a song in Germany in 1960 called Saints. )
This is my assignment for next week... and then I get to present it, over the evil, vile, stinking campus broadcast system.

I really am crazy. And nervous.

I should have taken a cooking class.