Thursday, December 19, 2013

Impossibly Easy Breakfast Pie (and some rambling)



This doesn't happen often, but because of the holidays,  2 of my book clubs have been moved around, to a week earlier than normal, so this week I will  have gone to three/3 book clubs!!  It's my dream week.
While some of you would find that to be very stressful during this busy holiday time, I find it a great time to sit, relax and visit with my bookish friends.  And it is stress relieving for me.

Bookclub #1 ----it's a luncheon.  There are about 40+ women who belong to the "Literary  Club",  an old-old ladies club  here in town.  It's always a luncheon and there is a book report by someone.  We don't always read the same book, but I love the book report/talk format.  It's fun to see what people come up with to get us to "love" their book.

Bookclub #2 --was last night.  We all take a plate of cookies to share, and a wrapped book to give in our gift exchange. Then we play the 'right/left' game and pass the books around, so you don't end up with the one you opened.
Next month we will have our annual "Miss" contest.   Where we have a potluck and choose a Miss. We have had  Miss Hot dish, Miss  Appe-TEASER, and Miss Congealediality (jello based salads), but we usually don't eat a meal at this book club.  We do have an annual meeting at a country inn each summer tho.

Bookclub #3--is tonight.  It is the cooking and reading club.  We all read the same book and the host cooks dinner for all of us, and we discuss over dinner or dessert, but mostly we discuss over lots of wine.   Tonight we are supposed to bring a 'food themed' gift.  I have half of my gift.    I found these cute  "recipe" dice...for non-cookers who can't make up there mind what to fix  (which is a lot of this book club).  Now I need to figure out something to go with it.  I'm cutting it close.

Like I said---A Dream Week for me!! What a Christmas gift.  (sigh)

That was my rambling part--now on to the Impossibly Easy Breakfast Pie.





If you remember, a couple of blog posts ago, The Handyman inadvertently challenged me to cook every recipe out of my homemade Friday Friend Cookbook.  This will be recipe #2 from my good friend Barbara Brown.   
Barb started out as the Handyman's friend and colleague, but I quickly claimed her as mine. She and her husband are game players.  We would have whole weekends where we would have board game marathons--and gin and tonics.  They are wonderful (and will be), life-long friends.    She is the one who actually typed up and copied this collection of recipes for me.  Thanks Barb!






Today I give you her..... (and by the way---it was really good. The Handyman liked it very much.  It's a great dish to do for company, as it's all in one dish and not too hard to make)

Impossibly Easy Breakfast Pie

2 pks (12 oz each) pork sausage
1 med bell pepper, chopped (I used a red one)
1 med onion, chopped
3 cups frozen hash browns
2 cups shredded cheddar
1 cup Bisquick
2 cups milk
1/4 t. pepper
4 eggs

Heat oven to 400F. Grease a 9x13 baking dish. Cook sausage, pepper and onion in skillet until sausage is no longer pink.  Drain.  Stir together sausage mixture, potatoes and 1 1/2 cups of the cheese.  Put in baking dish.  
Combine Bisquick, milk and eggs and pepper till blended.  Pour over mixture in baking dish.
Bake, uncovered for 40 minutes, or till knife inserted comes out clean. 
Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake a minute longer to melt.
Cool for 5 minutes.



This does  not mean I have given up on making a dish from every cookbook I own, completing my COOKBOOK COUNTDOWN,  I just plan on cooking more!  ~grins~

If you don't already have a Christmas morning tradition, this would be a good one to start with.

**an update:  I'm including a photo of every Friday Friend when I use one of their recipes.  

Barbara Brown.... at the Blue Banana Coffee Shop!



Sunday, December 15, 2013

Cookie Exchange!





I was invited to a cookie exchange on Saturday.  I had a great time.  Thank you my friend Theresa (on the right) for hosting such a great time.




I sometimes, hate cookie exchanges, because you spend so much time making tons of cookies, go to the party and bring back tons of cookies...and while they are good cookies, your family says:  "Well where are OUR cookies."
Because your family is used to what they are used to.
Does that make sense?  (my family doesn't really want to eat cookies of unknown 'to them' origin and I wasted most of them )  Or that's how it used to be when they were little.  Now that everyone is grown up and I have been to the same cookie exchange for a few years in a row, where we know the people, my family is more prone to enjoy them.

This year was a great cookie exchange!  We had such a fun time, eating, laughing and sharing our cookie stories and we even had a little "cookie quiz". 
At the end of the party, we not only got 11 doz different cookies, but also an envelope with the cookie recipes.


The cookies I made were Pound Cake Wafers.  Kind of a whipped shortbread cookies.  Buttery and tasty.  A great Christmas cookie.
And I just put them in mason jars with a ribbon.  A quick and easy way to hand them out.






Pound Cake Wafers

2 1/2 sticks real butter
1 cup sugar
2 egg yolks  

Cream butter. Add sugar. Beat in egg yolks.

3 cups flour
1 tsp vanilla

add vanilla and then flour.   The dough will be stiff. Drop by teaspoon on an un-greased cookie sheet.

Maraschino Cherries
Pecan halves

Garnish each cookie with a cherry half or a pecan half. (or just sprinkle with holiday sprinkles)

Bake at  350 for 12 minutes. 





Here are some of the other great cookies we had!












I'm linking to Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads.


Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Soft Chewy Molasses Spice Cookies (with orange essence)




Okay, remember the brilliant idea I had about the pictures of the cookies in the snow the other day?
Well, these are the cookies I almost got frostbite for.  And you know what? They are worth it.  YUMMY!    They are everything the name says:  soft, chewy, molassesy and spicy. With a slight hint of orange.
You have to like those things.  I mean I get that there are some people out there who  don't love spice and ginger and molasses.  I don't understand why, but I respect the fact that they are  shaking their heads right now, thinking,  um, no thank you...no pepper in MY cookies.

It' s okay.  That means MORE FOR ME!! 

Who the heck doesn't like gingerbread tasting things??? 
It's like the taste of Christmas right in your mouth.

This cookie recipe was in Cook's Illustrated "All-Time Best Holiday Baking 2013".
It gave the option of making these cookies with 'orange essence' which is just some orange zest, but I highly suggest the orange essence, as that's what I did---it just makes your mouth smile.
Another option which I might try later is a  dark rum glaze.  That sounds good too. We like anything with rum.

Below is one of the photo's I took of the cookies in the snow.




Then I thought I should put a red napkin with it.  Trying to make it look striking!  But I was FREEZING  my a-s, errrr,  my rear end off  (it was minus 8, remember?),  so I didn't have time to do justice.  They really could have been good photos. 




Soft & Chewy Molasses Spice Cookies


1/3 cup sugar, plus 1/2 cup for rolling
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup molasses, light or dark

Center a rack in the oven and preheat oven to 375 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place 1/2 cup sugar for dipping in a shallow, wide bowl.

Whisk flour, baking soda, spices, and salt in medium bowl until thoroughly combined; set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter with brown and granulated sugars at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low and add yolk and vanilla; increase speed to medium and beat until incorporated, about 20 seconds. Reduce speed to medium-low and add molasses; beat until fully incorporated, about 20 seconds, scraping bottom and sides of bowl once with rubber spatula. Reduce speed to lowest setting; add flour mixture and beat until just incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping bowl down once. Give dough final stir with rubber spatula to ensure that no pockets of flour remain at bottom. Dough will be soft.

Using tablespoon measure, scoop heaping tablespoon of dough and roll between palms into 1 1/2-inch ball. Roll ball in sugar to coat and set on prepared baking sheet, spacing cookies about 2 inches apart. Repeat with remaining dough. Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies are browned, still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will look raw between cracks and seem underdone), about 11 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Do not overbake if you want the cookies to be soft and chewy.

Cool cookies on baking sheet 5 minutes, then use wide metal spatula to transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely.


Orange Essence (*** the one I chose to do***)
The orange  zest in the sugar coating causes the sugar to become sticky and take on a light orange hue; the baked cookies have a unique frosty look.
Process 2/3 cup sugar and 2 tsp grated orange zest in food processor until pale orange, about 10 seconds; transfer sugar to shallow dish and set aside. Add 1 tsp grated orange zest to dough along with molasses and substitute orange sugar when coating balls.

Dark Rum Glaze
Whisk 1 cup confectioners sugar and 2 1/2 tbls dark rum  (tad bit more if needed) together in a med bowl until smooth. Drizzle or spread glaze using back of a spoon, on cooled cookies.  Let glazed cookies dry for at least 15 minutes.


***************************************************
Do you have a favorite essence?
I love orange.  



Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Biscuits and a Brilliant Idea




I had this brilliant idea this morning...  well, let me backtrack a bit.

On Sunday, I made some Ginger-Molasses Cookies with Orange Essence.  I thought they were very good, in fact, I'm going to do a blog post about them in a few days, but this morning I had this brilliant idea that the photo would be so pretty if I took it of the cookies  outside in the snow.  On a plate, of course, but I thought it would be a really cool, frosty, wintery  photograph.

Well my friends....look at this:




....and I just went out onto the patio with my work clothes on.  No coat or mittens.  I thought I would be quick.
Guess what?  When it's negative anything,  there is no quick when you go outside.  2 seconds is too much.
Needless to say, the couple of photos I managed to snap, are not  what I wanted them to be.  But it's the thought that counts,  right?
You'll see in a couple of days.

For today tho, I thought I'd share these biscuits. 
I've never made biscuits before.  Really.  Rolls,  yes.  Hamburger buns,  yes.  French bread, yes.  But no biscuits.
Biscuits are EASY.  And Yummy.  And remind me of my grandma. Why  have I never done this before?

Speaking of grandmas and biscuits, I had one grandmother who made sour dough biscuits and one who did baking powder biscuits.  They lived in the same town, a block from each other.  When I was little, I preferred the baking powder biscuits, now, as an adult, I'm not so sure.  You?

These are a 'baking powder biscuit' and very good.  I made these with green onions and sharp cheddar cheese, as instructed in the Better Homes and Garden Spring 2013 special publication "30 Minutes Dinners."




Quick Biscuits

3 cups all -purpose flour
1 T. baking powder
1 T. sugar
1 t. salt
3/4 t. cream of tarter
3/4 cup butter or half cup butter and 1/4 cup shortening 
1 cup milk
desired stir-ins  (in which I stirred in green onions and sharp white cheddar)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
In a large bowl stir together flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and cream of tarter. 
Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add milk all at once. Using a fort, stir just until moistened.  Very gently blend in desired stir-ins.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead dough by folding and gently pressing dough for four to six strokes or until dough just holds together. Pat or lightly roll dough until 3/4 inch thick.  Cut dough with a floured 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter, re-rolling scraps as necessary.

Place biscuits 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake for 10-14 minutes or until golden.  Remove biscuits from cookie sheet and serve warm.
(with butter)


** other stir-ins suggested**
roasted garlic and fresh thyme
bacon and blue cheese
cracked black pepper and parmesan cheese
chopped chipolte chili pepper and cheddar cheese
kalamata olives and sun dried tomatoes and feta cheese




Monday, December 9, 2013

The Friday Friends and Mexican Pizza

I know that my blog has an interesting name.  A name/title that no one gets, because there are no 'friends' writing posts every week. There is only me. 

Long before I knew what a blog was, I had a group e-mail forum that included my friends from near and far...and originally I would ask them a question on Fridays, cut and paste their answers and  share with all.

So there is the history of my name.  Well, not MY name, (that would be 1950's Debbie Reynolds popularity) but rather my blog's name.  It started as a joke, when I thought that only they would be reading this blog.  Now, over 800 posts later, a few other people do read my blog.
It's nice to have made other friends thru this.  But too late to change my name (my blog's name ) to something catchy like " Debbie's Dishes"  or  "Dining with Debbie" or even "Debbie is a hot dish".   Okay, we can leave the last one out, but you know what I mean....you are stuck with the Friday Friends.

I have about 50 of my closest friends on the e-mail forum.  At first, most of them didn't know each other, (they knew me) but over the past 15 years, we've answered and shared silly--and serious---questions,  exchanged Secret Santa Christmas gifts,  had a dieting contest in which we paid a $1 a week and that money went to a scholarship fund for a Friday Friends son's memorial scholarship, and we went on a great vacation for my 52 birthday.
AND,  we contributed recipes for a cookbook.

I was looking at the cookbook the other night and I said, "I should make every recipe in here for my blog."
The Handyman--who knows me better than I know myself (this happened to be a question on the Friday Friend forum once---does your spouse/partner know you better than you know yourself?)--said,  "you'll never, EVER do that."

WELL---maybe I'll show him!  Maybe I will.
Maybe I'll start with these little Mexican Pizzas!




They are wonderful and very tasty little Mexican Pizzas and they were submitted by my friend in California, Traci Marques.
I met Traci the first day of my job as an aide at the elementary school where I had just gotten a job.  We had just moved to CA from NV and I didn't know anybody, they sent Traci and I to get a TB test, and I had no money. (I didn't realize I was being sent a the time) so she loaned me the $10.
It was a great way to begin a friendship!  (I hope I paid her back)
That was over 20 years ago and I have since moved back to NV, but Traci and I email each other every day...sometimes all day long, as we both are alone in our offices in front of the computer.  

Thanks Traci for these Mexican pizzas.  We really enjoyed them a lot.
The Handyman still doesn't think I'll make every recipe in the Friday Friend Cookbook.  We'll see.

Now you dear reader.....should make these if you are looking for something tasty, quick and really easy.   Everyone at my table  (Handyman, son, daughter-in-law) said they were a keeper.






Mexican Pizza
My friend Traci Marques via the Friday Friend Cookbook

1 lb chorizo or pork sausage (I used pork sausage)
3/4 cup salsa
4 ready made mini-pizza crusts (like Boboli)
1 can refried beans 
2 cups shredded cheese
2 chopped tomatoes
shredded lettuce
broken tortilla chips
ranch dressing

Brown chorizo or sausage. Add salsa and simmer 5 minutes.  Put crusts on foiled pan (I just sprayed my pans with Pam) Spread the beans on pizza crust, add meat mixture on top, then cheese (about  1/2 cup on each). 
Bake at 350 for  10-12 minutes.
Top with the last 4 ingredients.

** while we did do this exactly as written, my family will exchange the ranch for hot sauce next time, but that is the only substitution this recipe should have, and then, only if you like things real spicy.  
It was good just as it was.





If you are still reading....would you say that your  spouse or partner knows you better than you know yourself?

and

how long did you think about and how much effort did you put into giving your blog a name/title?


an update:  (I decided I should put a picture with a name.)
Traci Marques--a Friday Friends  and her husband, Larry.




Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Advent

Advent Photo a Day project.   

I am sure there are many of these photo projects going around about now... but the one I am participating in is in conjunction with the UMC  (United Methodist Church)....with the hashtag  #rethinkchristmas.  

They  (whoever they may be----some higher internet power, I guess.  LOL ) give you a word  each  day in advent and you have to take a photograph and in some way tie the photo symbolically to the 'word' of the day.

These are the photos I posted Day One, Two and Three.

Day One--(the word was) GO.
Working up the courage to GO see Santa. The Natural wonder God gave us as children was meant to be kept alive....




Day Two--BOUND
We are bound as a community of believers.




Day Three--PEACE
Every Tuesday morning....6am coffee with one of my best friends. A 10+ year tradition. It brings me peace in a hectic world.




I could explain many things about my pictures, but I don't think I'm supposed to....you are just supposed to 'get' the meaning.

But...  those feet up there above? Those are my and my friend Debbie's feet.
Enjoying her tree, a good cup of coffee.
We've done it every single Tuesday morning for the past 10 years.
We rotate houses.
We used to live next door to each other and then I moved away, years passed and I moved back---but not next door to her.  So we do the early morning coffee to stay connected.
 It really does restore peace to me  ---and hopefully to her.
We've seen our children marry, have grandchildren, been thru the death of parents, and the many, many little things that make up a life.
Silly, but very important day to day things.
Every Tuesday.  
Coffee 
 (except once she juiced a bunch of vegetables and made me drink them.  I have to admit, it was good)

The Handyman  calls it "Girlfriend Day"
I love Girlfriend Day.


Day 2's pic.
I certainly hope we are bound as a community of believers. 
Even if we don't believe EVERYTHING the same... we still are walking to the same place....just taking a different road to get there.
We are bound.


Day 1's pic.
My granddaughter Emerson.  She really had to work hard to get her courage up so say hello to Santa.
So.  Very. Hard.

That's it! 
Ta Da and Goodnight!

I'll be back tomorrow with either a food post, a book post or some random rambling post 
and a photo.