Sunday, December 28, 2008

Rum Cake...better late than never

Even tho my computer was down and I wasn't worried about taking pictures for posts that I wasn't going to be able to make, my husband did snap this one of me making my rum,why not?

We love rum cake. My friend Theda gave me my first rum cake a few years ago. I can't believe that I had lived so long without tasting rum cake.
Rum cake is good. Heavenly. Tasty. Yummy.
Theda still mails me a rum cake every holiday season, but I just couldn't wait for that "one" a year, so I found a recipe that I'm sure is a duplicate of hers (shhhh.....don't tell. I wouldn't want her to stop sending me a rum cake each year. I just make a few more to give as my gifts. And I send one to my son in Arizona.)
Theda is a great cook, a great baker....her Rum cake is the BEST!
(she's the best! We've been friends since jr. high and we're both grandma's now)

Holiday Rum Cake

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 18oz yellow cake mix
1 1-3/4 oz (4-serving size) instant vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
1/2 cup cold milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup dark Barcardi rum

1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark Barcardi rum
-preperation-preheat oven to 325 degrees f.
Grease and flour a 12-cup bundt pan.
Sprinkle nuts on the bottom of the pan.
Combine all cake ingredients.
Beat for 2 minutes on high with an electric mixer.
Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour.
Cool in pan for 20 minutes, invert on a plate, pour 1/4 of the glaze in the bundt pan and carefully, place semi-cooled cake back in the bundt pan to soak up that good glaze. Spoon 1/4 of the glaze onto the top of cake in the pan.
Set for 10 minutes.
Invert cake onto a serving platter. Prick with fork and drizzle the rest of the glaze over top of cake. Use a brush or spoon to put extra glaze back on the cake.

For the glaze, melt butter in a saucepan. Stir in water and sugar. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in rum, trying not to scortch your eyebrows and lashes!
This cake freezes wonderfully. Travels good. Stays moist for days and is just plain good.

The cake that Theda sent me....

Saturday, December 27, 2008

I'm back with the best Christmas gift ever...and, some chocolate cookies

Chocolate Crinkles.... we'll get to them in a minute.

Hello friends! I do have a new computer. Yay! What a great Christmas gift from Mr. Husband! He was good to me. I got a really cool recipe program, where I can make my own family cookbook, a new food processor and some other really nice "foodie" gifts.
I also got my dream present this year, which completely overrides any recipe program or new computer. It was one I had been imagining for quite some time, but I didn't think it would come true this year. I imagined it many times in my mind. But it's so much better when it really happens.

This is how it went.....
my son Mark and his wife Sadie handed us small package on Christmas Eve. They had made a poem....and adaptation of "Twas the Night Before Christmas". One line was.... "in October Sadie felt a little fatter, they ran to the doctor to see what was the matter."

Yes my blogging friends... A BABY! And to what to my wandering eyes did appear, but a picture of TWINS!! Two babies!!!

I was crying and laughing and shaking all at the same time. They have been wanting this for a while and I am soooo happy for them. I got my Christmas dream.... in doubles. 2x!

The bad part of this Christmas season, is that I didn't get to blog all my Christmas treats, goodies and feasts as did everyone else. I searched and surfed all my food blogging friends every day tho, and got great ideas for myself. So, I enjoyed your holidays, all your blog posts, your treasured recipes and traditions, even tho I was unable to participate.

My day yesterday was spent, (not cleaning, as it looks like a Christmas bomb went off in my house) but cooking for game night.
I made (but took no pictures) sloppy joes, macaroni and cheese, and potato cheese that everyone could have their pick of what they wanted. We still had a side table full of cookies and snack mix and fudge. It was a great day. Surrounded by my kids and cooking.
GAME NIGHT!! We played some new games and some old games with family and friends, while it still snowed outside and we had a fire in the fireplace.

We had a foot of snow!! oh.....perhaps only 11 inches.

That is Mr. Husband. His best side? naw........ (although I do happen to think this is a very fine side of his )

Now on to the cookies...

I did get a quick pic or two of one of my Christmas cookies.... better late than never.
If you like brownies, you'll like these... My grandmother and my mother made them every Christmas. I bake them all up and then I freeze a lot of them, and am still pulling them out a few at a time in January and February. It makes quite a bit.

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup canola oil
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Mix together oil, melted chocolate, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add flour mixture and mix well. Chill 2 hours.
Form dough into small balls, the size of a walnut and roll in powdered sugar. Place on greased cookie sheet. Or use parchment paper or silpats.
Bake for 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven.
10 minutes for chewy cookies, 12 minutes for crispy cookies.

The dough freezes well also. To make it really easy on you, make into balls and freeze on a cookie sheet (before rolling in powdered sugar of course) and then store in Ziploc freezer bag. To bake, remove as many balls as you need from the freezer and let thaw for 30 minutes, then roll in sugar and bake.

Very good and chocolaty and chewy.

and I will leave you with this.... because I have young adult sons, who think they are funny.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

no computer

I have no computer at home (I'm at work for a moment today), and it's driving me crazy!!
BUT, I have been cooking/baking up a storm.
Stay tuned.... I'll post blogs 2x a day next week.
BUT, I've been able to accomplish things.

do you think.....could I....mabye... be addicted to blogging and reading blogs?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Poor Man's pastie, pigs in a blanket, or strange foods you ate as a kid.

A Poor Man's Pastie.

Pigs in a blanket. When I say it, do you think of pancakes and sausages? Or do you think of little cocktail smokies wrapped in a crescent roll dough, eaten with mustard at a party?
This has been the question of the ages for me. Because when I say it, it brings to mind something a bit different for everyone.

Yesterday day I made the little ones for an open house we attended in the afternoon.
And I am not too proud to admit that I love pancakes with sausages and syrup for breakfast!

But yesterday, when making the cocktail ones, all of the sudden, I was hit with a memory of my mom making what she called Pigs in a Blanket.
I remembered feeling a sense of comfort and family and safety. And since it was a snowy, cold Sunday afternoon, I decided to make this old family recipe.

After of course, we ventured out in freezing temperatures to go to the Holiday Open House at the Church Parsonage.

Fast forward to back home.... me reminiscing about my mom making this quick supper for us. It had to be towards the end of the month, close to the next pay day, when money was running out, she'd throw together her "Pigs in a Blanket".

And let me just state right here...we all have those strange meals from our childhood that we would never actually admit to, right? Meals that we were just sure no one else on earth ever had because they were so different?
My mom took pear halves out of a can and put a dollop of mayo in the center and sprinkled some cheddar cheese and called it our salad. It was in 1960's for heaven's sake.
The 1960's when I was growing up was not known for home-based gourmet cooks. TV dinners were in fashion, and it was way cool, to peel back some foil and Wa-LAH, there was your friend chicken and mashed potatoes and peas and carrots. But that was probably a bit pricey for the end of the month, so my mom would whip together this......

and so I made them last night.
Pigs in a blanket.
Hot dogs ( Rich picked them up for me. I would have preferred a heartier-sausager type of weenie, but it's okay)
sharp cheddar cheese
and homemade biscuit dough.

It's like a very poor man's Cornish Pastie.

But you know what? It was warm. And it was good. And it reminded me of my mom. And growing up.
And I can't believe I'm posting about it.....

and there really is no recipe. I made biscuit dough from my Bright Orange Betty Crocker cookbook, that I have had for 30 some years.

sliced a hot dog
added chopped onion

and cheese

rolled it up

Baked it for about 20 minutes.

mmmmm.......mmmmmmm. (okay, it's not for everybody. LOL )

Silly old Bassett Hound, Monroe checking out which cookbook I'll use next!

To redeem myself, I also made some caramel corn last night. I will send it to my sons in Connecticut and Arizona today.

Caramel Corn

3-4 bags of microwaved popcorn-popped
3 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups butter
3/4 cups light corn syrup
1 tsp. salt

1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract

Put the popped corn in a large roaster.
melt the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil over low heat and cook for 5 minutes. Be sure not to scorch.
Remove from heat and add the baking soda and the vanilla. Stir to mix.
Pour over the popped corn and stir well.

Put the roaster in a 250degree oven and cook for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
Pour onto waxed paper and let cool.
Break apart and eat.

I use microwave popcorn--and try to pick out all the "old-maids" before covering it with the caramel sauce.

Melting everything

Ready to pop in the oven

Ready to cool --all laid out on the waxed paper.

Cool enough

Ready to eat!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Small town Holiday Parades and me

Last night was our annual "Christmas Parade of Lights".

We live in a small town, so this is no Macy's Parade or Rose parade, but it is ours. We love it. Hundreds of people brave the cold, wrap up in thermal underwear, blankets and bring thermoses of hot chocolate or hot toddies, to sit along the parade route to await the parade which begins at 5:30 p.m. when it gets good and dark.

The parade lasts approximately one hour depending on how many floats we have.
We usually have anywhere between 20 and 40 entries in the parade. Last night we had a good turnout--34.

After the parade, a few things happen simultaneously, Santa comes to the firehouse, after he is finished with the parade. There is Hot chocolate and a food drive and pictures. The firemen are hanging about ...we have a volunteer fire department...and there is people mingling, visiting and laughing at those babies who really don't want to sit on Santa's lap.

A block down and a block over, on the Nixon Lawn (not named after our former president), (the lawn is in the center of town, the rural Nevada equal to a town commons), there is community Christmas Caroling, with hot cocoa too.

Then one block over from the caroling, the Methodist Church hosts chili and hot dogs and has a game night--board games, cards, trivia--it's quite fun.

The idea is that folks travel from one to the other.

I work for the Chamber of Commerce. I'm the only one there in the office... again, small town. So the organization of the parade falls on my shoulders. It's gone good for the past 6 years that I have been doing it.
Last night I remembered to take my camera.... BUT, I forgot my glasses, forgot to set the camera settings to night/action and I had gloves on. These are my excuses for pictures like the ones below. LOL

But you guys--you blog readers, have seen my food photography, so really, I can't rationalize, can I? I just take bad pictures.

They are space-aged pictures.

It's a good think the newspaper was there taking REAL photos. I'll get some and post them at another time. Another good thing about a small town... I can just call the newspaper and say, "hey Mike, can you e-mail me some of those pictures you took, mine just didn't turn out"
He'll sigh and say of course. (he's used to me too, and my picture taking abilities)

But....there is something unique about these space aged pics.... don't ya think?

and then it dawned on me to say STOP while I take your picture.

Merry Christmas....I'm off to cook something. Caramel corn, spritz cookies, sugar cookies and spaghetti!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Quick and Easy...well maybe just easy, Chili Verde

The Pastor came to dinner tonight. And She brought the beer.
Two things that are odd to me.... That the Pastor is a she. And that the Pastor brought the beer.
Let me rephrase that....they used to seem odd to me. Not anymore. And I'm thinking odd as in 30 years ago it was odd to have female pastors, and it took me awhile to get used to the idea. Tradition and all that, you know. But now? It's the norm. Funny how time changes things, even in a good way... and female pastors are a good thing.

But the beer? Who would have thought? But...we were having Mexican food, and it was very spicy, so......

Chili Verde. From Scratch. (kind of)
This recipe is easy, if not fast. It isn't fast at all, but it's really good.
One of the things that my kids who are in grad school in Connecticut find frustrating about being on the east coast (they are born and bred westerners...which does not mean they are cowboys, just west-ern-ers of the Rockies ) is that they can't find good Mexican food products in the grocery store.
A side note: we love to tease these kids....these grad school kids, my son and his wife, who have no interest in cooking whatsoever. In fact, I just got a call from my son who asked me for the Kringle Kisses recipe I had posted a few days ago. I told him to check out my blog...he did and proceeded to make the cookies. He had to call me when he got to the part that said to "cream" the butter and sugars together.
He didn't know what it meant. (sigh) But he carried on and ended up with a great looking cookie. ( I won't even mention the time he read my recipe for BBQ beef and called to ask me what I meant by shredding the meat). LOL

Okay, enough of me giving my kids a bad time, I love them and am very proud of them, who cares if they can cook or not! They have me! LOL
I was just going to say that I think...and some of you from the East correct me if I'm wrong...that if you looked hard enough, you could find good Mexican food products back east. Maybe not ones you are familiar with if you are from the west, but I bet there are markets that carry it.

But, let's get on with it....

Chili Verde1 pork butt roast
1 onion
3-4 garlic cloves roughly sliced/chopped
1 sm. can diced Ortega jalapenos
1 sm. can diced Ortega chilies
1 jar Ortega green chili salsa
1 can tomato sauce
salt to taste

Cut meat into chunks; add a little oil to a Dutch Oven. Add meat to pot and fry until brown. Add a little flour while browning. Add onion and garlic and cook until onions are soft. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook for about 1/2 hour on stove. Transfer to a 250 degree oven for 3 hours or until meat is very tender. Serve with warm tortillas for burritos.

you can:
* prepare it until you are to put it into the oven for 3 hours. Refrigerate and finish the next day.
* add some Mexican sour cream on top to take off a bit of the heat/spiciness.
* sprinkle with a good Mexican cheese before serving.
* don't add the can of jalapenos if you don't like it as spicy.

It's very good. Spicy, and warm.
It comes from a cookbook that I bought at JCPenneys in 1996. It's their company employee cookbook called "A Cause for Celebration, the 1996 Associate cookbook".
All the recipes are broken down into chapters for celebrations, such as "New Year's party" "Super Bowl Party" or "Halloween, etc.".
The Chili Verde comes from the "Cynco De Mayo" chapter. Of course.

Now for the photos!
1st, the ingredients.... I've included a can of refried beans and some rice, because with most any Mexican dinner, you'll have beans and rice.

2nd, you chop the pork into bite sized chunks.

3rd, you add it to the big red pot.

4th, you chop the onion

5th, and the garlic. Add them to the pot.

6th, you add the cans of jalapenos and chilies to the big red pot

7th...this is what it will look like once you add all the canned ingredients.

8th....the big red pot is ready to go into the oven. FOR THREE HOURS at a low temp.

9th....I fried up a little bit of chorizo to put in the beans. I used vegetarian beans and add a greasy, spicy Mexican sausage. Go figure!

10th....while the rice and beans are cooking, shred some cheese.

11th....dinner is done. We eat it with some warm tortillas. sometimes we roll them up like burritos and sometimes, we just tear off small pieces of tortilla and pick up the meat. We use the pieces of tortilla as a utensil of sorts.
It's a good dinner!! Or supper. (depending on where you're from)

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