Friday, December 30, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies (#1 and #2 in the countdown)

I've made two decisions for the New Year.  (Dare I call them resolutions?)
1.  to  join Weight Watchers
2.  to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie  (besides the one my mom makes, which is the perfectest!)

You might think these 2 things are conflicting.  Except that WW teaches you can eat everything--in moderation.
So...that's my story!  And I'm sticking to it.

Time to dig out my many cookie recipe books!
(this would be stupid to do, because I have leftover Christmas cookies in the freezer, except I actually made these BEFORE the holidays)

These being 2 different recipes from my cookbook  "The Search for the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie"  by Gwen Steege.  (I guess I am not the only one on a quest)
(that sticker is not coming off at's stuck like glue... so now you know I am a bargain shopper too)

My quest, in today's post, will serve me with my  very own cookbook countdown too, as well, as  Cookbook Sundays, and  See Ya in the Gumbo, two great blog hops.
But back to the cookie--the Chocolate Chip Cookie. Everybody's favorite.  There are so many variations on the CCC.  What is your favorite?
I prefer a crisp/chewy CCC, while the Handyman loves a soft cake-like CCC.
I wonder if we can find a common CCC ground this year of me making  a CCC recipe a week?

This will be fun!  (for me)

I thought I would just work my way thru this cookbook to find out if what Steege says is the best, really is the best.
Her first chapter  is on Traditional Chocolate Chip Cookies....some that are quite similar to the Original Toll House  Recipe.

She says,  "the ingredients are all pretty standard, but each will produce a different texture and taste, depending on the proportions of those ingredients, the presence of butter, margarine or shortening, or even the method of mixing everything together.  We each seem to hold in our mind some archetype of  "The" chocolate chip cookie--is one of these that model for you?"

I was disappointed that none of her recipes had adjustments for high altitude.  I think it makes a huge difference in the chemistry of baking.  We sit quite high at just over  4000 feet above sea level.
I also had a slight problem using margarine, but, I am making the cookies as written, so... onward I went.
I began with cookie recipe #1.  It is labeled "Finalist".

too flat and greasy for my taste.  But that didn't stop me from eating them...I just didn't like them as well as my mom's.
I think the altitude thing played a big part here.  I followed the directions EXACTLY but the dough was soft and the cookies flattened out.  I don't like that.  Having said that, tho, my son and his girlfriend loved them.

Chocolate Chip Cookies I

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
6 tbls granulated sugar
6 tbls brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/21 cup chopped nuts  (optional)
6 oz  (1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips or semisweet chocolate bar cut into pea-sized pieces

Sift flour before measuring, then resift with baking soda and salt.  Set aside.
Cream butter. Add sugars gradually, and continue beating until creamy.  Beat in egg and vanilla.  Stir in sifted ingredients. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips.
Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet, placing cookies well apart.  Bake at 350F for about 8-10 minutes.


The second cookie I made from this book was touted as being softer and chewier than most traditional CCCs.
They were softer, but they were not the  crispy-chewy consistency I like.
And they were a bit heavy on the chocolate chips for me.  I love CCCs, but like about half as many chips as is usually recommended.
But again--this didn't stop me from eating them.

Chocolate Chip Cookies II

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup margarine at room temp
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon water
2 eggs
18 oz  (3 cups) semisweet chocolate chips

Sift flour before measuring, then resift with the soda and salt.  Set aside.
Combine the margarine, sugars, vanilla and water in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer about 2 minutes, until creamy.  Add eggs and beat until fluffy.
Gradually add the sifted ingredients and beat with the mixer for about 2 more minutes, until very well blended.
Stir in chocolate chips.
Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls onto lightly greased baking sheets. 
Bake on the middle oven rack at  350F for 10-12 minutes.  Do not over bake.
Remove from oven when slightly browned, lightly crisp on bottom, they may seem slightly undercooked. 
Cool 1 minute on baking sheet, them remove to paper towels to cool completely.

I'll be back next weekend with a new chocolate chip cookies on my countdown.
Do you have one that you always use?  Never vary from?  Or, are you like me and are always looking for that perfect cookie?
If you already have the perfect recipe, please share with me!  (except you mom, I already know your's,  and it really is perfect!)

Thursday, December 29, 2011


This morning after reading,  Book  Journey's Morning Meanderings, I was very excited to 'confess'  and to post a picture of that confession.
 She asked where your books were laying around your home....besides bookshelves and baskets and places they should be, and how many you places they shouldn't be.

For a bookworm (me) I thought that would be fun to go around and count, because I always have books just laying around in places  (3 and my Kindle right here by me on the compute desk),  BUT,  a few weeks ago, I started a project of  making the spare bedrooms into  "the grand children's room" (got twin beds, wall decals, funny pictures of them, a topee in the corner, etc)  and  'the library'.   I began to take all my books to the 'library'.   All of my books...well over 100.   Well over 200. 
This would be fine except the library doesn't have bookshelves yet.  (waiting for the Handyman to build them.  He was waiting for the holidays to be over).

To make a long story short--I have well over 200 books lying on the floor of a spare bedroom upstairs.
They are homeless right now.   And invisible, since I just shut the door to that room.
It's really not a pretty picture.  It's quite embarrassing.  I couldn't post it.
I will tho AFTER my book shelves are done.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Countdown is on...

The countdown to 2012 is on!   I know this seems weird, but the turning of the year bothers me.  Like birthdays bother some people  (my birthday has never, ever bothered me.  I'm 52 years old.  Big deal) the new years makes me feel reflective, thoughtful and sometimes melancholy.    Does this ever happen to anyone else?  It's not that I am a  'glass half empty''s just that for a short period of time, I wonder where the heck times goes, because it goes so fast.  (sometimes  at this time of year, I will torture myself by watching old home videos of my kids when they were little)  (please don't take me seriously when I say torture--it just sounded so dramatic--)
I find a strange sense of pleasure in that melancholy--but only for a couple of days, then it's on to new adventures!  
It's the same thing as hating to turn older I'm sure...I just don't attach it to my birth date and age.  I attach it to  "Father Time".

I do, however,  love the fact that January is slower, and there is time to read.  I've missed reading lately.  I love the fact that January gives a sense of  organization and goals (yes, I do love the dreaded resolutions that everybody else hates),  fresh ideas and a clean white slate.  January and I have become friends of sorts--we have the slower time to  paint the bathroom, tile our hallway, get our new kitchen cupboard built....
...WAIT!!  What happened to 'slower'?   Doesn't sound like I'll be slowing down anytime soon.

Speaking of reading and books....I just finished  Three Day Town by Margaret Maron.  I love her Deborah Knott Series!   In  Three Day Town,  she  brought in the character Sigrid Harald of her previous series.  It was quite fun to see the two characters who are so different in one book.   I haven't finished the whole Sigrid Harald series of books, because I love  Deborah Knott so much, but in reading something by Maron a few months back, she said she hoped that people didn't disregard Sigrid and they come to love her for who she is  (she's not a warm and fuzzy character), anyway, reading that line and just having read  Three Day town makes me want to go back and finish the Sigrid Harald Series.
Needless to say, I enjoyed the book.

and now......I have just started  "the Night Strangers"!  I can't wait for this weekend.  I would love to just hunker down on New  Years Eve, with some Hot Buttered Rum and leftover Christmas Cookies and  finish this book.

I'll let you know how it goes, be continued.....

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Cherries

When I was little, my mom would make a few treats at Christmas, that I just wouldn't eat.  I wouldn't touch them with a 10-foot pole!  Now, as an adult, I hunger for them.  It's that nostalgic feeling that comes over me during the holidays.  I'm still not sure that I love them, but I liked them very much. (maybe I should have tasted one when I was a kid)  They make me think of home and my mom.

Christmas Cherries--that's how I think of these, altho, my mom's recipe says "Quick Cherries".  I can't find anything like them when I google the recipe. To be fair, tho, I only spent about 10 minutes on Google.

Five little ingredients--that's all you need.
One being maraschino cherries with stems  (and when all else fails and you can't find them in your little town call your friend Karen, from Karen Cooks!  Thanks Karen)

Christmas Cherries
maraschino cherries with stems
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp almond extract
2 cups powdered sugar
graham cracker crumbs

Whip the butter, powdered sugar and extract together until it is of a consistency you like and you can wrap around a cherry.  Kind of like a good stiff frosting  (you may have to add or subtract a bit of powdered sugar).

Take a tablespoon  (I didn't really measure) and wrap around a cherry.
Roll in graham cracker crumbs

These are super sweet, so you only need one or two with a good hot cup of coffee, but they are pretty and nice to have setting on a holiday plate.
A different take on a candied cherry, if you will.

Thanks Mom!  (and Karen!)

(the trick is to not get too much 'candy' around the cherry, but of course I kinda flubbed on that part. Still if you like the taste of  almond,cherry flavor, you are going to love one of these)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I do not procrastinate!!

I just reschedule!

I am having my coffee this morning in this cup.....

.....which I received in the mail yesterday from my friend Karen in Havre, Montana.   (Karen Cooks!  Check out her wonderful blog)
I have never met Karen face to face, but I think she is one of my BFF's!   Do they even say  BFF anymore?   I am usually behind the times, you know, in both my use of  current slang and, well, in most everything I do.
That is why I got the mug.  Because Karen knows me so well.
That has been one of the great benefits of being part of the blogging community:  getting to know people, you wouldn't otherwise meet.  Kind of like the old "pen pal" except with technology and video and Twitter and Facebook thrown in.
Karen and I will meet someday  and then I have to buy the first glass of wine, maybe the 2nd and 3rd too,  to show her I appreciate all the kindnesses she does.

I really don't procrastinate, I just reschedule!  HA!   
And that rescheduling has never let me down yet.  I love to work under pressure.  (okay, i might not LOVE  it, as it is stressful sometimes, but I don't know any other way to do it)

Thanks Karen!  I love my mug.  And this morning I poured hot coffee in it and sat in the living room with the lights of the Christmas tree and a book in hand. It was PERFECT!  The only thing missing was some snow falling and some sugar cookies.

In other news:
We put up our Christmas tree the day before they lit the tree in Rockefeller Center.  When we put up our tree,  we checked the lights---let me rephrase--the Handyman checked the lights,  before putting them on the tree and they all worked....until we were done decorating, and then the middle strand didnt' work.   The Handyman, in his ingenious way of thinking, solved that problem by  taking the strand and 'shaking' it.   They came on.  (he is so smart, it scares me sometimes).
The next night when we watched the news as the tree in Rockefeller Center was lit, I said,   "man, I'd hate to be in charge of that tree.  What if the lights didn't work from year to year and they had to --shake them??"
I thought I was funny.  The Handyman told me they probably got new lights every year.
REALLY??  SERIOUSLY?  What a waste.  I mean, if  they can afford to buy new lights every year, can't they just pay someone to "shake" them from year to year?   It's job security and not wasteful!
Don't tell me the White House does the same thing?  New strands of lights every year?   When there are tons of good shakers out there?

Oh man.

And last....I found this little article that I thought was kind of funny--the  7 types of book lovers.  What kind are you?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Banana Cookies

I have been collecting recipes for years.  I get them from friends and family and magazines and blogs.   Often I have been known to just randomly ask a friend if I can see her recipe box.   I will never live long enough to make all the recipes I have collected.  But I think I should try.

I keep my recipe collection  (which is different from my cookbook collection) in  notebooks that look like this  (below).  I used to have one with dividers for every category, but now I have 5.     Each category now has it's own notebook.
The other day,  I was looking thru the  "cookie" notebook and came across these Banana Cookies   made with a lemon frosting.  I  must have printed it off months ago and always meant to make them, but you know how we recipe collectors are--there is just never enough time.

The combination of lemons and bananas was something I had not  heard of before, so I was intrigued.    The Handyman was skeptical.   He likes  the banana cookies I usually make.
The cookies , without the frosting, were really great.  Soft and moist and just the perfect combination of spices.  We loved them!  

Then I frosted them.   The frosting itself was really good.  The tang of the lemon was perfect.  We just weren't thrilled with the two tastes together.   My son and his girlfriend on the other hand loved them.   So I sent them home with them.

But would I make them again? 

I WOULD.   Because once I gave them away, I wanted them right back.  Icouldn't get them out of my mind.  I craved them, once I didn't have them.  I yearned for that perfect banana and spice flavor and the tangy lemon frosting once they were gone.  I longed to bite into that soft cake like cookie once again.
It makes my mouth water even now, thinking about them. 

It's a  good cookie.  Try it and then if you aren't sure--try one in the morning with a cup of coffee.  You'll be hooked.

Banana Cookies with Lemon Frosting
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup mashed bananas
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
2 cups flour
6 oz chocolate chips  (optional--I didn't use)

3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 Tbs+ lemon juice (adjust until you have the right consistency)

Cream together shortening, brown sugar, eggs and bananas. Sift in soda, powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves and flour.   Mix thoroughly.  Stir in Chocolate chips if using them.

Spoon heaping tablespoons onto cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for  8-10 minutes.

Let cool and top with frosting if desired.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Spicy Sausage with Hominy

Last Wednesday, we had a business dinner to attend.  I didn't really want to go, but the Handyman felt we should, so I am there for him, and off we went.
The dinner was held at a local Basque Restaurant, The Martin Hotel.  It's an old Basque Boarding house... the Basque people came over from  Europe  (the Pyrenees mountain area between Spain and France) originally as sheep herders.  They set up boarding houses for the young men away from their families.
The dinners are always 'family style'.  They set big bowls of soup, salad,   beans, bread,  and then they bring out your meal, which consists of a meat, and three or four side dishes.   One of the side dishes on Wednesday was this  hominy, chick pea dish.  I fell in love with it. 
I had to come home and recreate it. I Googled and could only find a soup recipe that was somewhat similar.  So, I made the soup, but substituted my own stuff.

In a Basque restaurant, they most likely would have used a spicy Chorizo, but I didn't.  I substituted Hot Italian Sausage and we liked that  just fine.
And Garbanzo Beans and Hominy?  I guess they are not for everybody, but as I ask my kids --my grown up kids---all the time, have you ever TRIED them?
I think you just might like them.
If you are not sure if you like them, maybe you should try the soup version instead of the  this version.
I think that would be great, but I chose to recreate the side dish version I had at the restaurant, because I liked it so much.  All I did  to recreate was use less liquid than the recipe below.  
I do love soup and  I am going to try the soup version also one day, just not today.

The reason I had to come home and recreate this so soon after we had it in the restaurant was because, one thing about  a family style Basque restaurant is that sometimes, they whip the dishes off the table quite quickly.  There is just so much food, that when they see everyone has taken some of a certain dish, the waitress will ask,  "is everyone done with this?"  and then take it with her on the way back to the kitchen.  (she has lots of tables and lots of dishes to serve and clear--there is no bus person).
Anyway, when she asked if everyone was done with that dish,  I wanted to say, NO, dont' take that!!   But my plate was full of beans, and potatoes, and carrots and  salmon  and bread.  And we were with other people, who kept their mouths shut, so I watched sadly as the waitress carried away the bowl full of hominy and spicy sausage.

No worries now tho, I can make it whenever I want.

The Handyman got this bean/sausage dish for his supper on Saturday night. It was really cold out, had snowed the night before and we just stayed home, watched a movie and ate our beans. I would say this is definitely a comfort food, warm and rustic and good.  COME ON--seriously, hominy is not bad!  Neither are Chick peas.  In fact, I think they are good for you.  If you used Turkey Sausage, you could even  make this a 'good for you' comfort food.

I am going to ( link this to)  "See You in the Gumbo"  a Potluck roundup at Ms. enPlace's place.  You should go check it out to see all the other good recipes  in this week's roundup.  Or better yet,   join in!

Spicy Sausage (soup) with Hominy

1 lb mild sausage (I used hot Italian) casings removed
1 onion diced 
1 can (14oz) diced tomatoes  (I used mild Rotel)
1 can  (15oz) black beans  (I used garbanzo beans)
1 can  (15oz) yellow hominy, drained
1 can tomato soup  (condensed)
3 1/2 cups water  (I didn't use)
2 cups beef broth  (I used about  3/4 cup)
1 cup salsa --optional  (I didn't use)
1 tsp parsley, dried

Brown sausage in a large Dutch oven or soup pot and drain fat.
Add diced onion and cook until tender.
Add everything else, but the parsley and stir.  Bring soup to a boil and then reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for about an hour.
Stir in the parsley and season to taste.  (you may not need additional seasoning, I didn't)
Serve with warm bread  (I made cornbread)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Saturday Snapshot

Yesterday pre-dawn, this was the scene looking down on Reno, NV.   A horrible fire in the southwest part of Reno and as of this morning about 30 homes have been lost.

(phto sent by a friend via facebook)
so...I am not submitting that photo to  Saturday Snapshot, but these below....
I am.

Our thoughts and prayers have been with the people of Reno all day yesterday, today, and tomorrow....


I love's 'home' territory, even tho we live 2 hours away. We go there often.  
When you live in rural Nevada, you have to travel to do lots of things,
sometimes doctors, a bit of shopping, business, entertainment.

For some reason, I love to snap photos from the front seat of the car--I am usually the passenger when I do this--and most of the time, they turn out just fine.   I took these last year when we were driving thru the downtown.
It must have been around Christmas time, because I notice the marquee on some of the casinos.

Every big city has it's own landmark for which it is famous  (or at least recognizable)  and the Reno arch is Reno's!  I always get excited to see it.

I am submitting my Reno photos to Saturday Snapshot, hosted by Alyce from  "At Home with Books"
Stop by and check it out.

Friday, November 18, 2011

It's no secret that I love my bookclubs....and the people in them.   We don't see each other on a regular basis, except for our once a month book discussion, but we have such fun when we do.

Last night was my Lit Wits book club and it was especially exciting because our host, Massey,  had just moved into a new home  (next months host has a new home too....woo hoo!) and we all were treated to a 'tour', which is so fun and exciting, but I think it interesting that when we were in the Massey's last home, we never asked for, or got,  a tour.
No one comes into my house either and wants to see my 'upstairs'.  (which is fine, please, please don't ask to see my upstairs!)
It just strikes me as funny that it is expected to  'tour' someone's 'new' home, but we never 'toured' their old home--since we always knew them in that one.

(dang, now I better have my 'upstairs' clean and ready to show at a moments notice. )

Massey has a very nice home and we had a very nice dinner and book discussion.
Dinner was Chicken Cacciatore (wonderful) the book was, Damned by Chuck Palahniuk  (weird, but intriguing, and smart). 

Our cute little  book club baby!  She's a Lit Wits girl!  She was born on a book club night!
Guaranteed to be a life-long reader!

Dinner was  so yummy!! 

And it just wouldn't be bookclub without a glass of wine  (or 2) 
OR...a great vodka drink, with a lime wedge.  I don't know how she made it, but it was quite tasty!

Here  she is 'framing' it.  That little vodka tonic.
(I just thought it funny, that her hands are pretty much framing it, as she tells another story)
(my friends hate it when I post random pictures....  but they always forgive me.  I think)

It was just a great book and dinner club night!  And I think we all (those of us who read it) had the same opinion of the book "Damned".  While it wasn't our favorite, we did really see the intellect of the author.  The story was wild and crazy and really some gross parts,  but also very smart and edgy.

from Goodreads:
The author described the novel as "if The Shawshank Redemption had a baby by The Lovely Bones and it was raised by Judy Blume." And "it's kind of like The Breakfast Club set in Hell."

Yep...the author had it right. 

And I really don't know if I would recommend it.... but I'm glad I read it.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Booking Through Thursday

It's been quite some time since I've participated in Booking Through Thursdays.  I've always loved to reflect on and ponder questions like these.
Sometimes when I try to engage the Handyman in my thinking and reflecting process,  he gets a worried look in his eyes.  (sometimes not, but most of the time, yes)  As if I'm going to make him discuss "feelings" again.

NO worries Handyman  (as I know he reads my blog faithfully), today I will reflect and ponder with other  Booking Through Thursday people.  And here is our  BTT question for today:
Of the books you own, what’s the biggest category/genre?

Is this also the category that you actually read the most?

My answer?
Interestingly the biggest genre of books that I own are cookbooks. I have about 250 of them right now.  Yes, YES, YES.  I know.  Nobody in their right mind needs  250 cookbooks  (as a side note tho, we are having new cupboards built and he is going to build me a wall to ceiling bookcase, so I can house ALL my cookbooks in one place and will not have to move and transfer and look into big plastic blue tubs under my bed for cookbooks anymore).
But I love them, so ....  what's the problem?

Moving away from cookbooks,  (because I know that Booking Through Thursday is really a meme about books and not cooking, )  I would have to say that  the genre` or category I have the most books of  are series  mystery/suspense.  I do love continuing characters and I love to see how they develop over the course of a series.

I'm not sure I read that genre` "the most", but I never sell them in yard sales....which I will do once in while in a moment of insanity.
Like when I did the  3day/60mile walk for breast cancer a couple of years ago.  I had a BOOKS FOR BOOBS sale, and used all that money for my financial goal for the 3 day walk. 
Yes, I love my books, but I figured if  cancer survivors can be so courageous,  I can sacrifice some of my books.
That was my thinking.
But I miss some of them.

oh well,  too many books, too little time, as they say.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Outdoor Wednesday

It's time for Outdoor Wednesday.  Hosted by a Southern Daydreamer, this is a fun blog hop where you get to share your 'outdoor' pictures.

We live in rural Nevada.  There are very pretty things (do not fall off your chair laughing, there really are) in rural Nevada....but the sad thing is, you really do have to get off the roads to find them.  Well,  you have to 'take the time", I guess.   One cannot just drive thru Northern Nevada on Interstate 80 and say,  what can we see?  You really have to get off the freeway to appreciate us.
Wide Open Skies
fresh air
clear lakes (up in them thar mountains)
hiking, hunting....

I could go on, but I won't.  For now.

This is what it's like to drive Nevada Roads.......

You drive for miles and miles and miles.....and nope, we are not "there yet", just in case you're wondering.

If you look off to the side, you see mountains ....and that is where the pretty stuff is, but this is just about the drive for now.  We are not going off road.  
Silly fact  (for when you play Trivial Pursuit) Nevada is the most mountainous state in the whole United States.  We have more mountain ranges than any other state.   I'm not saying we have trees on them, but....we have the mountains. 

If you look close you can see the irrigation sprinklers.  We grow lots of alfalfa and potatoes up northern in Nevada.  Yes, it's dry, but the high desert is not full of cactus like you think of when you think Nevada--that would be Vegas, and that is about an 8 hour drive for us.  On roads like this.  

When you see a clump of trees off in the distance, that is where a farm house is.   A family home.  We have lots of cattle and sheep ranchers in Northern Nevada.

With my naked eye, I could see the coyote in the alfalfa field.  Can you spot him?

When we were out for a drive one afternoon, we saw the moon out.  It was the middle of the 3:00. 
Maybe it was closer to 4:00, but still very early for the moon to be out.  Or to be seen anyway.

Be sure and stop by a Southern Daydreamer to check out more great outdoor pics!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mexican Turkey Crescent Bake

This morning on Facebook,  Pillsbury posted this quick easy weeknight meal.  I don't usually  do anything new on a weeknight.  I like to come home from work, make something tried and true  (and quick) and get down to business with my books (or writing a letter, or  watching TV with the Handyman, or...well, you get the idea.  )
Anyway, I thought I would give this a try as it's a five-ingredient dish.
I was home by 5:15, this dish was made and in the oven and we were sitting down to eat at 6:00.  At 6:30, we had to put on our pajamas because our pants were too tight from eating this.
That's a little bit of an exaggeration, but we really liked it.  It was  a bit spicy, but we liked that.   I used pinto beans instead of the black beans it called for, because I couldn't find the type of black beans they suggested.  We have nothing against black beans at all....just don't have them with chipolte and corn here in Winnemucca.

Okay, so it's not steak and shrimp, but it was good on a chilly fall evening.

Mexican Turkey Crescent Bake

1 lb ground turkey, cooked and drained
1 can  (21oz) black beans in chipolte sauce with corn and red peppers
1 TB taco seasoning mix  (from package)
1 can Pillsbury refrigerated crescent dinner rolls.
1 1/2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend

In a skillet, mix turkey, beans and taco seasoning. Heat to boiling over med-high heat, stirring occasionally.
Separate dough into two long rectangles.  Place in ungreased 12x8 glass baking dish, press over bottom of pan to form crust. Be sure to press perforations to seal.  Spoon turkey mixture over dough,  sprinkle with cheese.

Bake at  375 F  15-20 minutes.  Top with sour cream if desired.

***I could not find  Black beans in chipolte sauce here in my little town, but I did  find  pinto beans in chipolte sauce and black beans with jalapeno and lime.  It was a toss up, but I chose the pinto beans.  I also used more of the taco seasoning than the recipe called for.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Upside Down Apple Pie

I may not have as many followers or as many fans or be as productive or inexhaustible as many of you (some of you post every single day--that is inexhaustible to me), but I do have my own  funny little cheering squad.
Case in point:  I sat down in church this morning and the lady in the pew behind me leaned forward and said,  "I tired your Roasted Shrimp and Feta last night and it was great!".
I must have looked at her funny, because she said,  'from your blog."
I live in a really small town, and it seems I have become  known for having a blog.  It's really rather funny.    (and really, only a few people know, but it always surprises me when someone mentions it)

On Friday night we had some friends for dinner and I made this Upside Down Apple pie and before my guests took their forks and  dug in,  they said,  "have you taken a picture of it yet?"
They know me so well.  But, again, funny.

This Upside Down Apple pie was easy, smelled great, looked good, and it tasted good too.  You can hardly go wrong with an apple pie recipe.  A bit  of cinnamon, sometimes some nutmeg, some good apples.  Apple pie is my favorite of all pies.  In fact apple desserts are among my most favorite, even over something chocolate.   This one did not disappoint -it was especially good with the caramel nut topping.   The only thing I took an issue with was the
 pre-made Pillsbury Pie crust.
I know they are easy, and I know that most people LOVE them.  They'll say, why make a homemade crust when these are so good and so easy?
I have to disagree.  I can tell they are not 'homemade' and while they are fine, nothing but nothing can beat a homemade from scratch pie crust.  For me anyway.  If you are a fan of the pre-made crusts, they are a lot easier and less time consuming, but I think the next time (and there will be a next time, because I really liked this version of apple pie) I will try to use my 'made from scratch'  pie crust.

You can google Upside down apple pie and come up with many versions and sources.  I don't remember where I got mine, but  it is handwritten on a piece of scratch paper.  None of my recipes are truly mine,  I find them from magazines, cookbooks, friends, and from YOU, the blogging world.   

Thanks friends!

Upside  Down Apple Pie

1 cup chopped pecans (heaping)
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
6 TB of butter
1 box of Pillsbury All-Ready Pie Crusts
1 tsp flour
5 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2" slices
1/4 cup sugar
2 TB of flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg

Heat oven to  375 F

In a 9" deep pie plate, combine pecans, brown sugar and butter.   Spread evenly over the bottom of the pan.  Prepare the pie crust according to package directions for a two crust pie.  Place bottom crust evenly over the pecan mixture in your pan.  Press the crust down around the sides of the pan.

In a large bowl, combine the apples, sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg.  Toss gently to coat the apples.  Spoon the apple mixture into the pie crust.

Top with the 2nd crust.  You can flute the edges or just pinch them together best you can.  Cut several slits into the top crust to vent.

Place the pie plate on a cookie sheet and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until crust in golden brown. 
Cool pie upright in pan on a rack for about  5 minutes.  Place a rimmed serving platter that is larger than your pie plate over it and invert.  Your pie is still going to be hot, so be careful.  I used two big oven mitts.
Carefully remove the pie plate.    Allow the pie to cool to desired temp.  Top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Confetti Bars and Sugar Cookies for a Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!!
I have two  great little treats for you today.

I just finished reading 'Rosemary's Baby' which is still, after all these years, REALLY CREEPY.    I don't know why I subject myself to that, except to say that I like a little "fright" once in a while.  (nothing like slasher movies tho...not blood and gore, but real  ghost stories)

When we were kids and got to go Trick-or-Treating  (on our own, no parents--it was a different world back then)  we  always loved those so-called Haunted Houses.  You know the ones--every neighborhood used to have one..where the creepy people lived.  The ones where you held your breath as you walked by on your way home from school?  The one your friends DARED you to go up to on Halloween night?
And when you did,  there were these nice old people living there, and they gave homemade treats like caramel apples or popcorn balls, sugar cookies and yes, maybe even these Confetti bars!
That's why we loved to Trick or Treat at those houses--first, a bone-chilling fright and then we got the best treats!!

Today, I can only give out my homemade treats to kids I know. It's sad in a way, but on the other hand?  We've had over 600 little Trick-or-Treaters come to our door before.  I don't have the time or energy to make that many sugar cookies.  
We are all set up and ready to go tho....we have a little cemetery in our garage, complete with ghosts and witches and spooky sounds.

OH....maybe I'm the  neighborhood's  "Haunted House".  ???

The Sugar cookies are from an old friend of mine, Sandy.  Our husbands were both in retail and  we transferred around a lot when we were younger, but found ourselves in the same town about  18 years ago.  We became great friends, she's a great cook.  It's always been fun to share recipes with her... even now that we are again, in different towns.
The Confetti Bars I found in old 2007 Nestle` baking magazine.

The Sugar cookies are great. Soft and moist and tasty.  Pretty much like the frosted cookies you can buy at your local market--but  a lot cheaper!  And if you make them, you will be very popular with friends and family.
The Confetti Bars are really good too and so easy.  They literally take no time or effort at all.   We loved the marshmallow chewiness on top of these chocolate chip cookie bars, and the pretzels added a little saltiness with the sweet....mmmm, mmmm good!

Have yourself a Happy Night!  Don't let the goblins get to you!!

Confetti Bars

1 package  (16.5 oz) Nestle`  Toll House refrigerated Chocolate Chunk Cookie Bar dough
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 1/2 cups milk chocolate-covered pretzels, broken into pieces
3 Tablespoons rainbow sprinkles
Nestle` Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate mini morsels  (optional)

PREHEAT:  oven to  350 F.  Grease a 13x9 inch baking pan
PLACE: whole bar of dough in prepared pan.   Allow to soften for  5-10 minutes.  Using fingertips, pat dough gently to cover bottom.
BAKE: for  11-13 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Sprinkle marshmallows over cookie, bake for an additional  1-2 minutes or until marshmallows are puffed.  Distribute pretzels, sprinkles and mini chips over marshmallows;  press down lightly. 
Cool completely in pan on wire rack. cut into bars with a wet knife.

Sugar Cookies
Courtesy of my friend Sandy

 3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tarter
pinch of salt

sift together and set aside
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
4 Tbls milk

Cream together
Blend the butter and sugar mixture with the dry ingredients. Chill overnight.

Heat oven to  350F.    Roll dough into balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake for  10-12 minutes. Cool on waxed paper. Frost with a creamy vanilla frosting. Decorate, if desired, with candies, etc.

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