Monday, November 29, 2010

I Have Seen The Lite/Light: Black-eyed Pea Tuna Salad

After being stuffed with great Thanksgiving foods, why does it take the painful misery of not being able to button the pants and, "Man, it hurts to breathe" to see the lite/light?

My stuffed misery has lead me to, "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH".

I found this recipe at Jacob's Kitchen, but after reviewing it I wanted to satisfy my own taste buds. Don't get me wrong, Jacob's recipe sounds wonderful and looks very appetizing, but my choice of bean is different. I would like to thank Jacob for his inspiration.

Here is someone else that is trying to see the lite/light (roasted nuts).

If he's not careful he won't see his next meal. He won't have to worry about the over-stuffing feeling...

Isn't it funny how some things (ordinary things) just strike your funny-bone unexpectedly?

I stepped outside yesterday and noticed this squirrel all the way at the top of an electric pole, just sitting there. What I would like to know, "How did he get his nuts all the way up there?"

I pulled my ingredients and sat them all out on the counter.

My thoughts are forcefully focused on the LITE pleasing lunch that I am about to prepare, but when I hear the word lite in my head (believe me, sometimes I don't want to acknowledge my thoughts) it moves more toward the word LIGHT.

I was raised in a religious home and felt all of the comfortability a child is suppose to feel, but as I enter my life as an adult, boy how that quickly changes. "I want my comfortability back." Am I allowed to throw a fit at the age of 42?

1985 is where it all began...

My oldest daughter was born (a light).
I was happily married (a light)
My son was born (a light)
My daughter was born (a light)
A wonderful person has entered my life: Sydney (a light)
My oldest daughter was married (a light)
My grandson was born (a light)
My granddaughter was born (a light)

The dimming lite I encountered....

The death of my father (a lite)
Mental, verbal, physical abuse (a lite)
Divorce (a lite)
Doubting God (a lite)
Custody battle (a lite)
Injured grandson (a lite)
Loss of job (a lite)

It is now coming back on in 2010....

Religion (a light)
Great, awesome, priceless relationship (a light)
Schooling (a light)
Successful adult children (a light)

I have been on an endless roller coaster with my hills, curves, and speed being out of control. It is time to bring that roller coaster to stop. The ride is over.

It looks like my LIGHTS out-weigh my LITES by a landslide....I think I am finally on the right ride.

The lite/light in this salad was very satisfying (tasty and inspiring), and I am still celebrating Thanksgiving. Thank you salad for helping me see the lite/light.

Even though I have found the light again in my life, I couldn't help myself to be taunting, and finger pointing with the two school students that were working on homework. "HA, HA, HA, you have schoolwork and I don't."

Believe me, I am enjoying my break. I know it won't be long and I will be stuck behind that desk again, but for now, I am determined to keep focusing on that LIGHT (with a little devil thrown in. Sorry Sean and Lisa).

I cut my tomato bread slices in quarters and placed the Bean Tuna Salad on top. Kind of like an appetizer.

I took a look at the calorie facts on the beans and tuna. Is this creation really lite?

Black-eyed Peas - Serving size 1/2 cup. - 75 calories
Tuna - Serving size 2 ounces - 60 calories

Not too bad...

Black-eyed peas are a stronger flavored bean than white beans. I think the bean and tuna flavors accented each other nicely.

This is what I did:

Black-eyed Pea Tuna Salad

1/2 c. minced sweet onion
splash of lemon juice
3 (5-6 oz. cans) albacore tuna in water, drained
2 (15 oz. cans) black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
A few splashes of Tabasco sauce
Freshly ground black pepper, about a 1/2 tsp. (I like more)
Salt to taste
A drizzle of olive oil

In a small bowl, sprinkle the lemon juice over the minced onion while you prepare the other ingredients. The lemon juice will take away the oniony edge.

Drain the tuna and place into a large bowl. Add the black-eyed peas and gently stir. Add onions, black pepper, salt, and Tabasco sauce. Drizzle with olive oil to add the moisture consistency that you prefer.

Serve on crackers, toasted bread, or be creative.
I can picture this salad placed on sliced tomatoes, stuffed inside a half of yellow or green pepper, or along-side a lettuce salad. Many options with this recipe. And LITE it is....

Good Luck~Happy Eating~Enjoy

"If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, or if thou hast thought evil, lay thine hand upon thy mouth." Prov. 30:32

Sunday, November 28, 2010

And I Thought Halloween Was Over

Thanksgiving is over and the left-overs have been successfully packed away, and I mean packed.

Mine are packed so tight in the refrigerator that every time I open the door I yell, "There is something wrong with the refrigerator, the light won't come on."

Do you ever feel like the roles have been reversed after Thanksgiving?

Ha, the TURKEY is chasing YOU.

Now you are faced with the battle of disguising that left-over turkey (and I thought Halloween was over), left-over stuffing, left-over mashed potatoes, left-over cranberry sauce (I know what to do with that), deviled eggs, pumpkin pie, OKAY....I'll stop. I have just recently found a way to disguise pumpkin pie, but that will be a whole different blog post for you. I am anxiously excited about trying it. So excited, I'm doing cartwheels.
I'm sure you know exactly what I'm talking about when it comes to disguising food.

I have venison haters in the house, but if I don't tell them, they don't know. Yes, sometimes I can be sneaky.

But no matter how you try and disguise the left-overs (soups, casseroles, enchiladas, etc...) for some reason you just know you ate it three days ago (very hard to fool the mind and vision).

And what do you do with that left-over stuffing?

There is no way possible to change that up.

AH, but there is: Make a meat loaf mixture, roll it out like you would a cinnamon bread. Spread the stuffing mix on top of the rolled out meat mixture, roll it up, pinch ends, and place in a loaf pan, bake. WALLAH!! Stepped-up meat loaf. And I bet you won't even be able to tell there is stuffing in there.
Okay, you will.... I know because my grandmother used to make it. And let me tell you, IT IS DELISH!!

I didn't make a turkey for Thanksgiving this year (Shame on me...).

I made a smoked ham instead. As my guests arrived (The day after Thanksgiving. Once again Mom had to compromise) this is what I heard, "Thank God you didn't make turkey. I am so tired of dry turkey." But one thing I do know, if I would have made turkey it wouldn't have been dry. I am good like that....

So, I am faced with trying to disguise smoked ham.

This is what I did to try and fool myself (and I coached myself all the way. I know I can be fooled).

I found a nice sized slice of left-over ham.

Placed it in a med/high skillet. Left it brown on both sides.

Placed a slice of Swiss cheese on top.

Turned the heat down a little, added a little water, and covered it with a lid until the cheese was melted.

I toasted some 15 grain bread.

Placed my ham and cheese on top of the bread, and added mustard.

Lookie there, you can't even tell it is ham anymore....

What a tasty disguise.

Live Large~Love Much~Laugh Often

"Every man Shall receive his own reward according to his own labor." 1 Cor. 3:8

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Could It Be Any Better?: Thanksgiving & Homemade Whipped Cream

Around the dining room table:

Is it human nature to be so excited about something, want everything to be perfect, but "wish" it could be better?

Thanksgiving at my house:

When you see my spread that took me two days to prepare; along the way I will fill you in on my (no reason for) wishes.

Let me tell you, when I was preparing for this day I remained focused. I'm talking tunnel vision all the way. There could have been an explosion outside my door and I wouldn't have been distracted.

Don't worry Sean, I won't make public how you tried to distract me in the kitchen (and I can't believe I just printed that).

Which leads me to "wishing things could be better".

As humans we focus on the great, but always push ourselves to do better or wish for more. Why do we do that?
Kind of like: a (my) relationship. It is great, but wish it could be better (if I didn't suffer from tunnel vision). I am truly sorry Sean....
Like: when you go to bed exhausted after preparing a holiday meal. It was great sleep, but wish it could be better (8 hours please instead of 5? Come on!!).
Like: when you have a family gathering. I love my family, but wish I had a big enough table for everyone to sit at (there is always that unwanted separation).
Like: when your family pet sits by your side while you prepare a meal. Wish I had a bucket full of doggy treats (I always give into the begging doggy eyes. What can I say? I'm a lush).
Like: when you use every inch of counter space in your kitchen to serve your holiday food. Wish I had a serving buffet (a house big enough to place one in).

Why are we always wishing for more?

This is the crew that couldn't fit at the table. They were only a couple feet away, but still they were separated. *Wish* (bigger table).

Here is Harley just waiting for a treat. Doesn't he look like one of the bug-eyed, big nosed dogs that you see on school notebooks or birthday cards? Too funny!! *Wish* (doggy treats).

Every inch of counter space in my kitchen was used for serving food. *Wish* (serving buffet).

Okay, don't kill the host....

What can I say? There was a huge sale on Madagascar Christmas plates and napkins last year, and I'm using Shrek glasses to hold the plastic silverware. Are you serious? For Thanksgiving?

You know the kids loved it. *Wish* (Thanksgiving themed plates, and a plastic silverware holder).

When I prepare a holiday meal I try and make sure I slip in the family favorites. Mom knows what the kids like.

We can't have a holiday meal without cocktail shrimp. I have no idea why I prepared a ham. The family will gobble up shrimp before anything else.

Asparagus Spread has just recently become a family favorite. YES, THE FAMILY LOVES IT!!

And the tray of sugar cookies that you can barely see....wiped out!! You can always tell which grandchild was the sneakiest with the cookies. It's the one that is running and bouncing all over the house (Ashton).

And we cannot have a holiday meal without marinated mushrooms (these came in a jar, OOPS!!).

I chose to try a new recipe on the family. This is Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake (a Paula Deen recipe that I tweaked).

And what is up with that lonely corner piece? Does the corner taste different than the middle?
*Wish* (no lonely corner pieces).

I took that lonely corner piece and topped it with my home-made whipped cream. Didn't taste any different to me.

And where are the peaks? I found out that home-made whipped cream turns back to cream if not used right away. It still tasted great though.

So, there is my holiday meal in a nutshell. I have no reason to *WISH* for better or more (okay, maybe peaks on my whipped cream), because I was surrounded by good (great) food, the love of my family, and God's blessings.

Home-Made Whipped Cream

2 c. heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 TBS powdered sugar

In a large mixing bowl, whip cream until stiff peaks are just about to form.
Beat in vanilla and sugar until peaks form. Make sure not to over-beat, cream will then become lumpy and butter-like.

Good Luck~Happy Eating~Enjoy

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day

What a great day to be thankful, even though I am thankful every day of the year.

Since my blogging community has grown, I have chosen this Thanksgiving Day to share with you why I am thankful.

Now where to begin.?.?.?

In October of 2009 I lost my job of twenty-two years (I could go back farther and tell you about my mishaps with my children and grandchildren, and the loss of my father, but that is for another time), so 2009 sounds like good starting point.

My job in automotive came to an end when the Big Three (maybe I shouldn't put the blame on the Big Three; it was Chrysler) decided to take their business overseas, which left many in my job and community without work. One thing that we can be thankful for is, our displacement benefits (now why would someone be thankful about losing their job?). With the jobs going overseas we all fall into the Trade Adjustment Act (TAA). The government has to provide us with education and direction to better ourselves.
So, that is just a brief explanation of where I am today.

The way I see it, God has a plan for me along with all of my ex-coworkers (whom I miss very much). I think that is expected though, I spent twenty-two years with my working family.

In January of 2009 I placed myself in online school through the University of Phoenix (I noticed the hardship coming a year in advance). I spent a year and nine months with them, and listen to this: I am now a graduate with an Associate Degree in business management, and I ended my education route with a 3.78 GPA. Ha, and I have been out of school for 24 years.... Did I think I would be attending school at the age of 42? Of course not. God works in mysterious ways.
I will be starting school again in January of 2011 at Defiance College working on a major in Organizational Supervision and Leadership. I will be working toward my BA. I can't wait!!

So, this all leads me to why I am thankful. No matter the hardships, the losses, and the stresses that I have been through, there is always someone else that has been through more.
I am thankful for God in my life, the wonderful man in my life, my health, my family, the roof over my head, my children, and that we are not hungry.

My thankfulness also leads me to this person, Marsha Baker (She is a God-send). She operates the Better Baker Blog over there <------- at the left of my screen. Marsha has walked into my life through blogging and emails. She is the author of this amazing cookbook Recipes & Recollections, which she sells from her blog (make sure you grab one).
Marsha invited me to a book signing that she put together through the Christian Book store in Wauseon.
Marsha is such an inspiration, and I am thankful to have her in my life. There is a reason God chose our paths (He brought us together) to cross. And I'm thinking the crossed paths have something to do with Marsha helping me with producing a cookbook of my own. I could be wrong, but that is what I'm thinking.
Marsha did a really good job putting together this cookbook. She has inspirational messages on almost every page and her own personal notes about each recipe.

I have swiped this recipe to create for my Thanksgiving meal (so see Marsha, you are going to be with me, I am truly thankful for you).
It is on page 89 of Marsha's cookbook, but I am going to step it up another notch.

Here it is:

Paula Deen's: Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake

1 - 18 1/4 oz. package Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe/Caramel cake mix (the original calls for a yellow cake mix)
1 egg
8 TBS butter, melted

1 - 15 oz. can of pumpkin
1 - 8 oz. pkg cream cheese, softened
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
8 TBS butter, melted
1 - 16 oz. box powdered sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
Chopped walnuts for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
To make the cake, combine all of the ingredients and mix well. Pat the mixture into a lightly greased 13 x 9 inch baking pan.

Prepare filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter and beat together.
Next, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well.
Spread pumpkin mixture over cake batter, sprinkle with walnut pieces, and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Make sure not to over bake as the center should be a little gooey.
Serve with fresh whipped cream.

Servings: 6 to 8
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Recipe Type: Easy

Good Luck~Happy Eating~Enjoy

Happy Thanksgiving from my kitchen to yours. May your day be filled with thanks, sweet aromas, family and friends, and the misery of overeating.

"Giving thanks unto the father, which hath made us meet to be partakers o the inheritance of the saints in light." Col. 1:12

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Grab a Large Cup of Coffee: Double-Chocolate Heath Bar Cookie

Pour yourself a large cup of coffee, invite a friend, pull up a comfy chair, because this is going to be great!!

This is my friend Michelle (Crippen) Howard. Say HELLO everyone!!

Isn't it funny how childhood friendship (gone missing in action) can pick-up right where it was left off?

Michelle and I planned a baking day-date (or should I call it a play date?). We go way back in our friendship to young childhood.

Our parents were very good friends (Spike, Mary Lee, Butch (suds), and Beth (nubs)) and we hopped back and forth from each other's houses for a very long time. Michelle and I were hard-core Barbie players. We took our Barbie's everywhere we went, even on the camping outings that our parents planned. Back then the parents were always trying to find ways to entertain us kids (I think to keep us out of their hair more than anything). Our parents made home-made mini bikes, go-carts, and they even tried a swimming pool, which was destroyed (by the parents) the same night it was assembled. We had no idea our parents could ever act that way. Now why in the world would parents spend the evening throwing each other in a child's kiddie-pool? Needless to say, we only got to use the pool one day. I have come to believe that the parents had every intention of using that pool for their own entertainment. What do you think?

When Michelle arrived yesterday, with picnic basket in hand (full of baking supplies and surprises), we just couldn't talk fast enough. I'm sure you know how it is when you haven't seen a friend for a long time?

We rushed into baking talk, of course, spending a half hour telling each other what we have made over the years and how good the outcome was. Then all of a sudden we realized that we hadn't even given each other a hug.
As you can see, we were both dressed for the occasion. Michelle in her sweats and me in pajamas, no make-up, and hair pinned up. Yup, baking is all about comfort ability.
As we eased our way into the baking for the day, our talk turned into catching up, reminiscing, and our future plans, with the baking processes coming naturally. I love being able to bake, chat, and reminisce. The finished products taste so much better when they are mixed with friendship.

Michelle showed up with this book in hand (in her picnic basket). If you are a serious blogger and have not yet read this book, you are truly missing out. This is Ree Drummond (when you go to the Web site click on "cooking" and it will take you directly to her blog), and she has created a cookbook that looks exactly like a blog. AMAZING!!

I had no idea that this woman even existed (thanks to Michelle I have been truly awakened).

Michelle threw this book in my face (not really, but she introduced me to Ree's cookbook), and Michelle said, "You remind me so much of this lady (Ree)." Michelle said that I use the same technique with my blog as Ree Drummond does with her own. That is so cool! I have no explanation as to why my blog would be even the slightest bit similar. I guess we (Ree and I) have the same thought process without even knowing it, and they say that no two people think alike. Ha, I think that has just been proven wrong.

With Michelle being the sweet person that she is, she gave me this book. I can't wait to sit down and read this cookbook from cover to cover.

Thank you, thank you, thank you Michelle. What a great person (friend) you are.

Ree Drummond's cookbook is set up with step-by-step pictures, and every recipe tells a story.

She even talks about the animals on the ranch, her friends, and family life.

Ree lives on a ranch in Oklahoma with her husband and four children. The story of how she got there is absolutely amazing.

You have got to get this book!

These are the creations that Michelle and I produced. Cut-out sugar cookies, double-chocolate heath bar cookies, and tomato bread.

Yes, that is tomato bread, my best kept secret (now yours Michelle if you have a good memory), SSHHHH....don't tell my little secret.

The double-chocolate heath bar cookies are so good. I'm sure Michelle won't mind sharing. This is the cookie dough she had tucked under her arm when she arrived.

Michelle also introduced me to Pampered Chef's cookie dough scoops (by thumping me right in the middle of the forehead. Wake up lady!). Just kidding.... she has no idea how I have managed without them. I am now on a mission.

Double-Chocolate Heath Bar Cookies

1/2 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. flour
1/2 c. baking cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 - 12 oz. bag chocolate chips
12 oz. bag caramel bits
6 heath bars, coarsely chopped

In a large bowl beat together softened butter and sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt; add to butter mixture and beat until combined. Beat in chocolate chips, caramel bits and chopped heath bars. Cover and chill in refrigerator about fifteen minutes or until dough is firm enough to handle.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Using a TBS of dough for each cookie, roll into balls. Place 2 inches apart onto lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes. Cool 5 minutes before eating. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Thank you for the great day yesterday Michelle.

Good Luck~Happy Eating~Enjoy

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Childhood Memories: Ham/Bean Soup

Do you have a favorite childhood food memory? One that stands out above anything else?

I do.

Mine is bean soup, but I love any kind of bean....

I remember sitting around the dinner table with a big pot of ham and bean (great northern beans) soup and warm cornbread that my mom prepared.

The way my dad ate it: Cornbread in the bottom of his soup bowl, bean soup on top, and ketchup on top of that.

Our evening dinner was always family based. The entire family sat down for dinner, AT THE TABLE, AT THE SAME TIME. Some of the simple foods that bring back memories were based around our huge garden. Back then (ok, I'm making myself sound old), I'm talking dinosaur age, families joined in together to preserve their garden foods (Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents, and Cousins). Canned tomatoes, frozen corn, frozen carrots, canned green beans, frozen peas, frozen lima beans, frozen strawberries, canned pears and peaches, and canned/frozen pickles. We even planted potatoes that were stored in bushel baskets and kept in a food pantry in the basement to use during the winter months. The whole entire family would do whatever work it took to make sure we were all fed during the winter months. I remember sitting for hours shelling peas and snipping green beans, but you know, that is what kept our communication as a family strong.

If you talked to some children today about food preserving, they wouldn't know what you are talking about. "I get my food at the grocery store, preserved" (with chemicals added and no nutrition).
Most families today eat meals in front of the TV, or they go to separate rooms to eat while playing video games. Family time around the dinner table is one of the most important tools in communicating with children (now I'm sounding like a psychologist, oops!!), and it has been long forgotten and not adhered.
I always enforced dinner time around the table, and there is nothing that my children will not talk to me about today. I have built trust, open communication, and family bonding.

Now that I got my memories, and tid-bit of psychology out of the way. We can move onto my bean soup creation.

I found this little guy at Two Brothers in Montpelier. He is just the perfect size for a pot of bean soup.

I chopped him up into bite sized pieces and added it to my beans and soup base seasoning.

I soaked 1 cup of black beans and 1 cup of great northern beans overnight in water.

I drained and rinsed them the next day and added 11 cups of water with 5 TBS ham flavored soup base, with fresh ground black pepper. I put the beans and ham on to simmer before I left for church (covered), approximately 2 hours . By the time I got home they were perfect.

One soup that I absolutely love salty is bean soup, even though I drink gallons of water after eating it.

The cornbread that I make is a lot different than normal plain old cornbread. I had a hard time getting my kids to eat cornbread until I ran across this recipe. I found this recipe in an old Taste of Home cookbook, and I am so glad I found it.

There is only 8 ingredients to this cornbread, and it is so simple to make.

My kids love this cornbread because it is not solid and grainy like a normal cornbread. It is light and fluffy and sweet, kind of like a cake.

All you have to do is this:

Cornbread Cake

2/3 c. butter, softened
1 1/4 c. sugar (can be cut back if you like)
3 eggs
1 2/3 c. milk
2 1/3 c. flour
1 c. cornmeal
4 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

In mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Combine the eggs and milk in separate bowl. Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with egg mixture. Pour into a greased 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 22 - 27 minutes (mine takes 25) or until toothpick comes out clean. Cut into squares; serve warm.

It comes out of the oven a perfect golden brown.

Warm corn bread? How many of you cut cornbread while it's still warm and douse it with butter?

I DO!!

And then how many of you do this?

Warm cornbread with butter and maple syrup. Don't tell anyone, but I had two pieces that way before dinner....SSHHHHH...

The sweet cornbread and salty bean soup go perfect together.

I also added rivels (click to see recipe) to my bean soup.

Good Luck~Happy Eating~Enjoy

Monday, November 22, 2010

Yup, Pretty Special: Double Chocolate Cookies

Who likes, loves, adores, enjoys, and is passionate about chocolate? I AM!!

There is a story behind these scrumptious cookies.

And they go perfect with a tall glass of milk. Believe me, I know. And Sean (my significant other) is doing cartwheels.

This is my daughter Randi.

A few words to describe her: Shy, Quiet, and Caring.

And I just fooled you with those words. When she is around her friends she can be quite loud. And she doesn't hesitate to let me know when I make her mad. The other day for example, she said, "AARRRR....You make so mad that I want to punch a baby!" (teenagers and their choice of words, AMAZING). When it comes to strangers though, that is when the bold words come into play. When she is asked her name it comes out in a whisper: Randi..., and then the person asking has to say, "What is it?"

She has been my right hand girl ever since she was born (January 25, 1994).

When she became of walking age I constantly had a shadow. There were sometimes I wanted to duct tape her and stick her in a closet, but had second thoughts when jail-time was brought to mind. As she got older I reminded her daily that she just cannot be my second pair of underwear. I always had to physically move her away from my elbows (stand over there!!). She clung to me when I'd leave for work, and she would do her best with begging me to stay home.

I shouldn't complain though, I'm sure there are many mothers out there that would kill for a daughter like Randi.

One thing that became from the clinging is, her interest in cooking and baking. She would help me make cookies in the kitchen, and now she is able to do it on her own.

Sometimes when we (my significant other and I) are out-and-about I will receive a text (for example, yesterday): "I'm gonna make cookies, kk??"

We never know what we are going to come home to.

Yesterday she surprised us with double chocolate cookies.

Her interest in cooking and baking is leading her to take culinary classes at our local vocational school. I am very proud of her.

She will learn about food, which will make us a perfect team. I cook and bake with the heart (no education), and she will be cooking and baking with the mind (fully understand food). What goes best together? Of course, the heart and mind.

"Incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding." Prov. 2: 2.

Double Chocolate Cookies

2 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. baking cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. butter, softened
2/3 c. sugar
2/3 c. packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 3/4 semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Beat butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in a large mixing bowl until creamy. Beat in eggs. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chips or chunks. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto un-greased baking sheets.
Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until cookies are puffed and centers are set but still soft. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Good Luck~Happy Eating~Enjoy

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Does This Mean I'm Famous? Blue Ribbon

I'm sorry I don't have a recipe for you today, but I have some exciting news to share.

And I am so glad to share it with all of you.

My blog community is one of the best adventures I have taken throughout my life. I appreciate each and every one of you.

I was contacted by a fellow blogger today (a local for me) Marsha Baker at The Better Baker blog about seeing an article in our local newspaper about me. The article was a short piece about me winning a blue ribbon for my pumpkin cookie recipe through Just a Pinch Web site.

A very nice article I do have to say.

As I was reading this article, a whole bunch of feelings and thoughts came rushing at me all at the same time.

For about 5 minutes I feel the attributes of fame....Does this mean I'm famous?

I also imagine thousands of people reading this article and saying my name (the feeling of being well known, all eyes are on me).

I have never had an article in the newspaper written about me before. I also feel the butterfly affect in my stomach....(just over a tiny ad in the paper)

I am also picturing goals and destinations. Could this be the start of a tiny cookie shop? (A'lil Country Sugar, Bakery/Cafe)

Will people come knocking on my door for pumpkin cookies? (not now idiot, you made the recipe public)

I also had to call my most favorite person in the world (my mother) and tell her about the news. Yes, I have bragging rights with my mother....

It is just amazing what can happen when someone places all their time and effort into something they love to do. I have goals set concerning my blog and Facebook Fan-page.

Goals are the one thing that keeps people motivated. Set yourself some goals and see where you end up. I guarantee you will be impressed, satisfied, amazed, and happy. Is there any better feelings in the world?

Thank You to all that support me and add (comments) to my interesting and "I am an achiever" travels.

Live Large~Love Much~Laugh Often

Friday, November 19, 2010

LAST CALL FOR BEER: Crusader's Cake

I have had some extra time recently and decided to use it by looking through my cookbooks that have been collecting dust.

I ran across this recipe and my curiosity got the best of me.

The saying, "Curiosity killed the cat".... Well, curiosity killed me and sent me on a trip to heaven and back.

Just look at the beauty in this cake. And the taste....OH MY GOODNESS!! Priceless!!

This recipe is linked with Sweets for a Saturday @ Sweet as Sugar Cookies. There are lots and lots of good looking recipes over there. Make sure you take some time to look at all of them.
Okay, most of them....

This recipe was found in the cookbook, "25 Years Cookbook, Women of the Farm Bureau".

Once again, who knows how to cook any better than farm women?

The reason this recipe jumped off the page and slapped me in the face, is because there is beer listed as one of the ingredients.




I sat out my bottle of beer so it could reach room temperature before assembling the ingredients for this cake.

I am not a big fan of box cake mixes either, but like I said, "My curiosity got the best of me."

For my frosting, I had some left over cream cheese frosting in the frig and didn't want to waste it. I thinned it with lemon juice and milk and added lemon zest.

This cake is unbelievably great.

What a great treat for the Thanksgiving feast. And you can see how super moist it is. This will definitely be made again in my house, for guests, and pot-lucks. This cake will most likely claim you as a pro.

The original recipe called for cloves, but the clove spice is kind of a back-shelf spice for me. Cloves can sometimes be over powering. I left them out. Sorry cloves, maybe next time.
Just so you know, the measurement for ground cloves is 1/2 tsp. You can add them if you want.

Crusader's Cake

1 - 18 1/2 oz. package yellow cake mix
1 - 4 oz. package vanilla instant pudding mix (I used French vanilla)
1 c. beer
1/2 c. canola oil
4 eggs
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/4 tsp. ground allspice

In large mixing bowl, blend all ingredients. Beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour into a greased and floured 10 inch tube pan. Bake in a 350 degree F. oven for about 50 - 60 minutes (mine took 55 minutes). Cool right side up in pan about 25 minutes; remove to wire rack or cake plate to cool completely.

I used a different kind of glaze topping, but here is the original:

Lemon Glaze

1 1/2 c. unsifted confectioner's sugar
2 TBS softened butter
1/4 tsp grated lemon peel
1 to 2 TBS lemon juice

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Spread on cooled cake allowing the glaze to drip down the sides.

This recipe is linked to:
Wednesday Extravaganza ~ Hungry Little Girl


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