Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Product Testing Tuesday: Ritz Brown Sugar Cinnamon

Have you tried the Brown Sugar Cinnamon Ritz?
If you haven't, you need to go and buy yourself a box ASAP.....
Do you know what these remind me of?
Stay with me here....
Zip, zip,....blurry dream, blurry dream......
I am 10 years old standing in my mother's kitchen eating left-over pie crust that she has buttered, sprinkled cinnamon and sugar on, and baked in the oven. It is still warm when I take a bite.
This is exactly what the new Brown Sugar Cinnamon Ritz taste like.
This box of crackers has been sitting in my kitchen being studied as to what to top them with.
I caught my sixteen year old daughter in the kitchen yesterday smearing left-over frosting onto these crackers. She created a sweet treat for herself.
I also have a pumpkin dip that would be excellent smeared on these.
These crackers and pumpkin dip will definitely be on my Holiday table.
Fluffy Vanilla Pumpkin Dip
1 (16 oz.) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 (5 oz.) box instant vanilla pudding mix
1 (15 oz.) can solid pack pumpkin
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
In a large bowl, mix together instant vanilla pudding mix, pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice. Fold in the thawed whipped topping. Chill in fridge until serving.
Last year I bought Graham Cracker sticks, and my grand kids went nuts over this stuff. It is amazingly good.
Good Luck~Happy Eating~Enjoy

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hale to Oktoberfest: Knefla Soup

I wanted to do a little something to acknowledge the yearly Oktoberfest. The Oktoberfest has been celebrated for nearly 200 years.

Knefla is a German pasta soup. I have always wanted to try it, but never tackled it. Knefla is something similar to the rivel soup my mom used to make. Rivels, when made do not have water. They are just egg, flour, salt and pepper. They are a more solid pasta puff.

The pasta in this soup is just egg, flour, salt, and water.

When I finished making my dough for the pasta, I spread it on a small cutting board, and scraped the pasta dough into the boiling water. The pasta, potato, and onion boil together for 20 minutes.

Don't tell the Germans, but I snuck in a clove of garlic (needs two).

The pasta dough should have salt and pepper added to it too.



This is the pasta, potatoes, onion, and garlic after it has been boiled.

My small drops of pasta dough swelled in the boiling water, so make sure you keep the pasta drops on the smaller side.
















All of my ingredients for the German Knefla soup are set out and ready to go.
Do you know how the Oktoberfest first got started? Prince Ludwig of Bavaria (King Ludwig I), wanted his people to join him in the celebration of his marriage to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen on October 12, 1810.
In celebration of the marriage Ludwig organized a horse race for entertainment, and invited all the people of Nunich to join in watching the race.
The marriage celebration drew in about 40,000 guests.
Can you imagine planning a wedding party for 40,000 people?
The people had so much fun at this party that the anniversary was celebrated every year.
In 1997 the Oktoberfest in Munich drew in 6.4 million people. AMAZING!!
The foods that I enjoy the best during Oktoberfest are: brats, sauerkraut, and the most amazing German potato salad (I am still in search of a recipe for this).


Well, I found a Knefla recipe, created it, tasted it; and was I satisfied? No

I think this recipe could use some improvements.

What I would do differently is add some flavorings to the pasta. Salt & pepper for one, and maybe a little bullion flavoring.

I would add a couple more cloves of garlic and maybe some butter along with the bacon grease.

I didn't want to disturb this recipe too much since it is a German dish.

Knefla Soup

1 c. all-purpose flour

1 egg

1/4 c. water

1 pinch salt

1 large potato (I used two medium)

1 onion, diced

1/2 pound bacon

3 c. milk

1 c. heavy cream

salt and pepper to taste

In a medium bowl, combine flour, egg, 1/4 c. water and salt to form a dough. Cut into strips or small pieces.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Stir dough drops, potatoes, and onion. Cook 20 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Drain.

While pasta and potatoes are cooking, cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Save drippings.

Return pasta and potato mixture to large pot over medium-low heat, and combine with bacon, 2 tsp. of bacon grease, milk, cream and salt and pepper. Adjust bacon grease to taste and milk or cream to cover. Simmer 20 minutes, without boiling. Serve hot.

Good Luck~Happy Eating~Enjoy

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Serene Sunday: The outside was inside today

My Serene Sunday was completed inside this morning.

Yup, Oatmeal French Toast, Bacon, and a cup of Coffee.

I found my oatmeal bread at the Meijer store in Defiance. Did you notice the discount price?

($1.67, and that was one whole meal for my family. If you add in the 5 eggs, cinnamon, vanilla, milk, and bacon, that is pretty cheap eating....GOOD EATING!!)

And my "family" is down to three members now. I used to feed five....and look, I am still searching for cheap meals. I guess a larger size family can create good habits.

The bread is discounted because the expiration date is the same day.

Did you know that grocery store bakeries are not allowed to display discount items in their bakery?

Nope, they can display sale items, but not discount items.

Usually a grocery store will place a same day discounted bakery rack in the back of the store. I mostly find them in the dairy area.




I trudge to the back of every grocery store searching for the bakery discounts.


So that makes me a "grocery store trudge-r".

Oh yeah, I love discounted items, especially from the bakery. There is so much you can do with discounted same day expired bread. I try and stay away from the cup cakes and cakes, because they tend to be dry.

But bread....Oh my goodness!!

There are so many things you can do with it. For one, I made Oat Meal Bread French Toast.

Loaves of French bread can be used for garlic bread, grilled cheese (panini), French bread pizzas....the list could be endless.

Same day expired bread = stuffing, bread pudding, home-made croutons, and toppings for casseroles.


Now comes my Serene moment:

Did you notice the sunlight that splashed across my plate?

That is Sunday morning sunlight. It casts a beautiful glow on my breakfast plate, adding just the right touches to my Oatmeal French Toast and Bacon.

I had to sit there for a moment to soak it all in....




The sunlight is still there even as I finish up.


The oatmeal French toast had a nutty, oaty flavor that accommodated the cinnamon and vanilla very well. A gob of butter and lightly drizzled syrup brought everything together.

What a perfect breakfast.

To make my French toast I never use a recipe.

This is what I do (dump):

I used 5 eggs, whisked
about a tsp and a half of cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
Make sure you whisk the cinnamon and vanilla with the eggs before adding the milk.
I would say I added about a cup and a half of milk, or maybe closer to 2 cups (it is up to you).

I dredge my bread in the egg mixture (you may have to keep it stirred in between bread pieces)(the cinnamon sometimes wants to gather at the top of the liquid) and place it on a 400 degree electric griddle.

If you ever find banana bread on a discount bakery rack, Oh My Gosh, make it into French toast. It is AMAZING!!

Have a great Serene Sunday!!

I Went Bananas On Friday: Banana Cake

I went bananas on Friday.....

I had five very ripe bananas that needed to be used, so I created banana bread and a banana cake on Friday.

I smelled bananas all day long...

Bananas - Did you know that bananas are considered a perennial herb? I didn't know that either.

I have always thought that bananas were considered a fruit.

The banana tree isn't even considered a tree. It is a perennial herb that doesn't even have a true tree trunk. The trunk of the so called tree is actually many leaves tightly wrapped around a single stem. At the top of the stem is the fruit bearing flower. The flower produces the bananas.

When the flower produces bananas it takes a year before the bananas are even ripe enough to eat.

A whole year?? And bananas are one of the most un-thought of fruits in the U.S.

We always have plenty of bananas year round, not giving any thought to the harvesting technique.

I took the banana herb that I had on my kitchen counter and produced this sweet tasting cake.

This recipe caught my attention because the cake is baked at 275 degrees F.

What kind of cake is baked at 275? It will never get done at that temperature.

I tried this recipe, and to my amazement was extra, extra satisfied. UNBELIEVABLE!!

Another thing that caught my attention is, the cake is placed in the freezer directly from the oven.

What??

Well, as I researched this recipe even more, I found out that placing the cake in the freezer from the oven is what keeps the cake moist. GENIUS!!


I like to let my bananas get almost a pure brown skin before I bake with them. The darker the skin, the sweeter the fruit (herb).



Bananas are a great source of potassium and fiber and should be kept at room temperature.

The general information on one single banana (7-8 inches):

Water: 88.39
Calories: 105
Protein: 1.29 g
Carbohydrates: 26.95 g
Fiber: 3.1 g
Sugars: 14.43 g
Total Fat: 0.39 g
Saturated Fat: 0.132 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg

Sounds pretty healthy to me. I have also noticed that a banana is a very good appetite suppressant.

If you're a little hungry, eat a banana....

Banana Cake

3/4 c. butter (soft)
2 1/8 c. granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
3 c. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 c. buttermilk
2 tsp lemon juice
1 1/2 c. mashed bananas (2 large)
3/4 of a small jar of maraschino cherries, chopped

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.
Grease and flour a 9x13 inch baking pan.
In a small bowl mix mashed bananas, maraschino cherries, and lemon juice; set aside.
In a medium bowl mix flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
In large bowl, ream 3/4 c. butter and 2 1/8 c. sugar until light and fluffy (I use my Kitchen Aid mixer).
Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in 2 tsp. vanilla.
Beat in the flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, ending with the flour mixture.
Stir in banana mixture. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake for 1 hour (mine usually takes a little longer). Remove from oven and place directly into freezer for 45 minutes.

Frosting:

1/2 c. butter, soft
1 (8 oz) pkg. cream cheese, soft
3 1/2 c. confectioners sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

In large bowl, cream 1/2 c. butter and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in 1 tsp. vanilla.
Add confectioners sugar and beat on low speed until combined, then on high until frosting is smooth.

Frost cake after removing from freezer. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts.

Good Luck~Happy Eating~Enjoy

Friday, September 24, 2010

FaceBook Friday: Banana Bread



I have been watching these bananas for a week now, with strict orders, "Do not eat my bananas!!"

I also had pictures to accommodate the desired ripeness, but that one streak of blond hair that I have decided to kick in today.....and I am using humor with that statement. I do not want to offend anyone.

Anyway, I was taking pictures of my banana extravaganza today, and I decided to delete the photos that I didn't want on my camera.

Oh yeah, I pushed the wrong button, and just like that, all my photos were gone.

Who invented the delete button anyway???





I finally found someone to participate in my FaceBook Friday idea.

I turned to my faithful FaceBook fans and asked if anyone would be interested in having a recipe posted to my blog. The only thing is, I have to make it, taste it, photograph it, and give my opinions, but when it comes to food, my opinions are always good.

The fan that chose to participate wants to remain anonymous.

I don't know why, because this banana bread is the BOMB!! I would want to have full credit for something this good.

Well anyway, I made this, tasted it, and photographed it (with a little minor mishap concerning deleted photos).





My taste test results....This is the most amazing banana bread I have ever had.

This recipe came to me as a TNT recipe that has been in the person's family for at least two generations (that I know of), could be longer.

A couple things that I did differently is: I added chopped walnuts and a buttermilk glaze.

Sinful!!




As you can tell, I did not have any problem (taste testing) eating the whole piece....

This is magnificent!!

Banana Bread

1/2 c. Crisco
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
3/4 c. mashed bananas (I used 2 and 1/2 bananas)
1 1/4 c. flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

There were no preparation directions with this recipe, so I just combined as I thought it should be. Mix dry ingredients together. Blend Crisco, sugar, eggs, and banana, and mix in dry ingredients. Pour batter into a 9x9x2 greased pan. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 30 to 35 minutes. Mine was closer to 35.

I wanted to keep my additions separate since this recipe belongs to someone else.

Thank you very much Ms. Anonymous.

This is what I did:

I mixed 1/2 cup chopped walnuts to the batter.

The buttermilk glaze is applied after the cake is cooled.

Buttermilk Glaze:

1/3 c. buttermilk
1/4 c. sugar
2 TBS butter
2 tsp. cornstarch
1/8 tsp. baking soda

Place all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to boil stirring constantly until thick. Remove from heat and drizzle on cake.

I sprinkled the cake with a few additional walnuts.

Good Luck~Happy Eating~Enjoy

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dutch Apple Cake

This is the most amazing apple cake I have ever eaten.

This one is a must for the fall season.

Do you have any fall parties planned, or Halloween parties? Your guests will be impressed with this one.

When I hear Dutch Apple Cake, I automatically think of the Amish, especially the Pennsylvania Dutch. They came from Swiss German origins.

The Amish produce their own foods, and by rule do not eat processed store bought foods. Homegrown fruits and vegetables, eaten fresh, canned, or frozen are the main Amish Diet.

The Amish keep their cooking and baking very simple, nothing fancy. They eat hearty soups in the winter time. Some of the best known Amish desserts are, shoofly pie, sugar cookies, and schnitz pie.

My cooking and baking technique, and even the foods I love to eat, I know I could survive being Amish.

Have you ever had an Amish sugar cookie?

Just like this Dutch Apple Cake, the Amish sugar cookies will make your tongue lick your eyebrows....Oh my gosh...

I have been searching and searching for the perfect Amish sugar cookie recipe, and I have failed miserably. I will just have to keep visiting the Amish. They keep secrets very well.

Dutch Apple Cake + Family and Friends = Tradition

This will definitely be a tradition in my house every fall.


Dutch Apple Cake

3/4 c. butter, soft
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 c. flour
3 c. diced apples, peeled and cored

Topping:

3/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 c. chopped walnuts

Cream butter and sugars well; add eggs and buttermilk. Sift flour, soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and flour together. Mix into creamy mixture. Stir in diced apples. Pour batter into a greased and floured jelly roll pan.
Topping: Mix together and sprinkle over cake batter. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 25 - 30 minutes (mine was closer to the 30 minute mark).

Good Luck~Happy Eating~Enjoy

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Oreo Ripple Coffee Cake

Oreo Ripple Coffee Cake to accommodate the Oreo post.

I posted this photo back in 2008, and one simple photo upset many of my viewers. I did not post the recipe (shame on me). One of the comments that was made on this photo (back in 2008) was, "It reminds me of Halloween". It kind of does with the orange colored cake and black Oreos. The glaze kind of makes it look like a frosted (mother nature) pumpkin.

If you want to get a laugh, visit my posts from 2008.

I would advise you not to go there though (pretty embarrassing).

I feel I have made many improvements within the last couple years. I hope all of you are enjoying what I have to offer, and I hope I am making things fun.

There is nothing more disturbing than going to a boring blog.

A Bundt cake is the name used for a dessert cake baked in a Bundt pan, or a round baking pan with a tube in the middle.

There are so many different types of Bundt pans available today, and some can be rather fancy.

A Bundt cake is made from butter/shortening or dense, rich cake recipes, such as the Butter or Pound Cakes.

Bundt cakes are very versatile and keep well. They are the perfect fancy food item to take to a pot-luck or picnic.

They need very little elaboration and can be easily served with fruit, or drizzled with a glaze. Some Bundt cakes even look elegant by dusting with powdered sugar.

Oreo Ripple Coffee Cake

24 Oreo cookies coarsely chopped
1/4 c. butter melted
One package yellow pound cake mix
4 tsp. milk
1/3 c. flour
1/3 c. semisweet chocolate chips (maybe a little more)
1 c. powdered sugar

Mix chopped cookies with flour and butter (this is so they don't settle to the bottom of the cake). Stir in chocolate chips and set aside.

Prepare cake mix according to package directions (use amounts of milk, water, and eggs it says to on the box).

Pour half the batter into a greased Bundt pan. Sprinkle 2 cups of cookie mixture evenly over batter. Top with remaining batter and then cookie mixture- pressing cookies gently into batter.

Bake at 350 degrees F. for about one hour. Test with wooden pick. Cool in pan for a couple minutes and then invert cake on a pretty plate and let cool completely.

Mix powdered sugar and milk, and drizzle over cake.

Good Luck~Happy Eating~Enjoy

Product Testing Tuesday: Oreo

Here is a little bit of information for you.

Mark your calendars!!

March 6th is the Oreo anniversary. March 6, 1912 is when Oreos first hit the public shelves.

On March 6th of every year give a child an Oreo, or better yet, treat yourself to some Oreos....It is a Holiday!!, and a tasty one at that. You can eat as many Oreos as you want to on this day.

Get out your calendar, grab a pen, and write this down. That way when you transfer your important dates to the new year calendar you won't miss it.

Nabisco has lost the information on where the name Oreo came from, but they do know who their very first purchase belongs to. S.C. Thuesen was the first person to purchase a package of Oreos. Was he the first to taste one? Who knows? I would say the tasting belongs to Nabisco labs. How can you work in a cookie factory and not taste the products??

In 1975 the Double Stuf Oreo was introduced.
1987 - Fudge Covered Oreos
1991 - Halloween Oreos
1995 - Christmas Oreos

It is hard to keep up with all the changes that Nabisco introduced with the Oreo cookie, and many of their products have been discontinued, but I do know the Heads or Tails Double Stuff was introduced in 2010 (I'm so smart, the package says NEW, duh...).

Did you see that? DOUBLE STUF!!

Keep the double stuf coming Nabisco. I am loving it!!

Here is something interesting. Do you know how Nabisco formed its name?

In 1898 several baking companies merged to form the National Biscuit Company. See, merging was a good business move even in the late 1800's.

But anyway, the National Biscuit Company formed the name Na-Bis-Co.

The Nabisco Company started with the Barnum's Animal Cookies. They became famous for their package.

Sweet vanilla animal cookies sold in little boxes designed to look like a cage for the animals. Genius!!

The boxes were also designed with a string, which I thought the string was for little kids to hang onto them easily (I remember carrying around my box of animal cookies by holding the string).

Actually, the string was designed so the boxes of cookies could be hung on Christmas trees.

Can you imagine getting up Christmas morning (as a child) and seeing tons of animal cookie boxes hanging on the tree? Oh the joys of childhood. The simple things kept us entertained.


The resealable bag is a huge improvment too. Do you remember the old style bags? You would try to very carefully open one end, and then as you gently pull, one whole side would rip right down the middle, UGH!!.
Also, to keep the old style bag cookies fresh you would have to store them in a big zipper bag.
The press and seal package for Oreos is great.
The newest product Oreo (Heads or Tails)(Double Stuf) has been tested in my household.
The test results: AWESOME!!
Especially since they are double stuffed. OK, I favor the filling, what can I say?
The golden vanilla cookie and the chocolate cookie go perfect together. What a team!!
And a HIGH-FIVE goes out to Nabisco....



Sunday, September 19, 2010

Serene Sunday: The Colors of Fall

This Sunday was a beautiful start to my day.


Fall is only a couple days away. We will be able to officially call the season Autumn in a couple days.


I am ready for pumpkins, spice cakes, pumpkin cookies, candy corn, caramel apples, apple cider, and the most mystical of holidays, Halloween.


Since my back pain is not allowing me to walk long distances, I had to rely on the view from my back yard.


When I stepped outside this morning it was a picture perfect Fall morning.


A light misty fog hung in the air creating the perfect appeal for my Fall shots. My back deck is starting to accommodate the season. Of course, forcing me to keep my (witches') broom close by (I did say I was ready for Halloween).


The colors in the trees are very scenic right now too. I love the reds, oranges, and browns all mixed together.


I have to say, when the seasons were created, the fall season was studied the most. It had to have taken a lot of work to get the colors completely perfect.




Have an amazing Serene Sunday!!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Asparagus Chicken Fajitas



Did you know there is such a thing as a lettuce knife?

What?

What do you need a lettuce knife for?

Well, I will tell you. I am one that buys my produce WITHOUT the ready-to-serve bag. Bagged lettuce, bagged cabbage, bagged carrots, bagged broccoli, you get the picture. I don't pay for the fancy package. I buy fresh or the Dole head lettuce. I buy my veggies whole and then cut them up. Let me tell you what, it saves money doing without the fancy package.

But anyway, back to the lettuce knife. Since I cut up my veggies, a lettuce knife which is plastic, keeps your lettuce from turning brown. Longer lettuce life (say that 10 times fast), that way you don't have to eat salads every day till your lettuce is gone, or before it turns brown.



I don't use a knife either when I cut up my boneless skinless chicken breast, I use kitchen scissors.

This chicken here is getting ready to jump into a plastic bag with a Zesty Italian marinade. It will marinade overnight in the frig.



These are Asparagus Chicken Fajitas, and they were scrump-dilly-umptious...

No fancy jazz here, just a low fat, great tasting food item, and I am out of season again with my asparagus recipe...OOPS!! But I just had to share, because I think asparagus can be served any time of the year. Especially in great dishes like this one.

This is what I did:

Asparagus Chicken Fajitas

Almost 2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into strips
1 c. Kraft Zesty Italian salad dressing
1 TBS olive oil
1 bunch fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces (mine were longer)
2 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
1 yellow pepper
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 TBS lemon juice
Crushed black pepper
1 pkg fajita size flour tortillas (I warmed mine in a dry skillet on medium heat)

Place chicken strips in a large zipper plastic bag; add dressing, seal bag and turn to coat, refrigerate overnight, or for at least 4 hours.

Drain and discard dressing.
In a large skillet, saute chicken strips in olive oil for 3 minutes. Add the asparagus, yellow pepper, garlic, and onion. Cook and stir for 7 minutes or until the chicken juices run clear and the vegetables are crisp-tender. Stir in the lemon juice and pepper.
Spoon into warmed tortillas and top with lettuce, cheese, and sour cream, fold in sides and eat.


Good Luck~Happy Eating~Enjoy

Friday, September 17, 2010

Baking Order: Root Beer Cake & Cookie Dough Cheesecake



Baking order for today went well considering the pain I have in my lower back.

I do believe I have a pinched nerve or something. The chiropractor will be seen first thing Monday.

Right now just waiting on the customer to pick up her goodies and reminiscing.





Do you remember eating these as a kid?
I remember my brother getting after me when I accidentally (that's my story anyway) broke apart his Lego masterpiece.
I leave his room running, frantically searching for my mom in every room I run through.
I run into the kitchen and am stopped dead in my tracks. My mom is frosting a cake. I stand there in anticipation of left-over frosting, and hoping she has a box of graham crackers in the cupboard.
Of course she does, moms are good at keeping stuff like that on hand. She makes me a graham cracker frosting sandwich (do you remember the first bite?), I bite into it leaving frosting on both corners of my mouth, and run my tongue around the edges quickly to catch the oozing frosting.
If you notice, I had left-over frosting from the cake I made today. I just had to have a graham cracker sandwich to go with my memories.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Glorious Smell: Bread Baking Day


Oh, look here, another nifty kitchen gadget. This is a dough scraper that I just cannot live without. This little thing scrapes the dough off of my un-floured kneading surface. And why is it un-floured you ask? Because I kneaded too long and soaked up all the four. That's ok though, I have my nifty dough scraper.

And of course, a Food Network product. AWRRR...AWRRR...AWRRR....





I am going to start my apologies right now. I cannot give out this recipe.

This is my tomato bread that I have worked hard at tweaking and adding my own ingredients to to make it perfect.

I sold this bread at the Farmer's Market and it was a huge hit. People came looking for this bread. It makes the best grilled cheese sandwich. The Italian seasoning, cheeses, and bacon grease that are used in this recipe pop when it's placed on a griddle or hot skillet. AWESOME!!

I had a customer ask me for the recipe. "Are you serious?" If I give out this recipe there would be no reason for me to sell it. "The nerve!!"





This looks like a mess, doesn't it? It looks like something my grand kids got into to play "kitchen" with. I promise you though, this will turn into something beautiful.





See, I told you. That floured mess turned into beautiful tomato bread dough. It's amazing what a little kneading can do. Beast turns into beauty...




Uh Oh, another kitchen gadget. My wonderful son got me this for Mother's Day. This bread cutting board is the nicest thing. It has slicing slots to run your knife through so you get even-steven slices of bread.

The grate that the bread sits on is removable, and under the grate is where all the bread crumbs collect. Remove the grate and dump out the crumbs. Genius!! AWRRR...AWRRR...AWRRR...




Four loaves of beautiful bread. And my house smelled amazing...




Sliced and ready to be eaten with a dollop of pumpkin butter. It is fall you know...Ok it will soon be fall, but feels like fall, smells like fall, and things are happening like fall. What can I say, I'm in the fall mode already. And still searching for canned pumpkin.
Country Crust Bread (Southern Living on the Web)
2 (1/4 oz.) envelopes active dry yeast
2 c. warm water (105 - 115 degrees)
1/2 c. sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 TBS salt
1 TBS lemon juice
6 to 6 1/2 c. bread flour
1 TBS vegetable oil
1 1/2 TBS butter, melted
Combine yeast, warm water, and 2 tsp. sugar in bowl of a heavy-duty electric stand mixer; let stand 5 minutes. Stir in eggs, next 3 ingredients, 3 c. flour, and remaining sugar. Beat dough at medium speed, using paddle attachment, until smooth. Change to dough hook and beat in remaining 3 to 3 1/2 c. four (I added 4 1/2) until a soft dough forms.
Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 to 10 minutes), sprinkling surface with four as needed. Place dough in a lightly greased large bowl, turning to grease to. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, about 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.
Punch dough down; turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half.
Roll each dough half into an 18 x 9 inch rectangle. Staring at one short end, tightly roll up each rectangle, jelly-roll fashion, pressing to seal edges as you roll. Pinch ends of dough to seal, and tuck ends under dough. Place each dough roll, seam side down in a lightly greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Brush tops with oil. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, 1 hour or until double in bulk.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake 25-30 minutes or until loaves are deep golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Remove from pans to a wire rack, and brush loaves with melted butter. Let cool completely.
This is a very moist bread, but as the recipe title suggests, it does have a country crust.
Why is it, it takes so long to prepare bread, but so little time to bake it? I guess that's what is meant by "patience is a virtue".
When I sampled the the country crust bread it was a little doughy in the middle. I guess that's what I get for not following instructions, or maybe I needed to bake it longer.
Don't do like I did and ignore the instructions for this recipe. If it says to roll the dough, that is what is to be done. I think mine was doughy because I didn't roll it. The last time I followed the rolling instructions (like I'm suppose to) my bread fell apart when I sliced it. I visioned my last rolled bread loaf and thought, "HA, I'm not going have my bread fall apart again"....But when I gave the rolling technique more thought, I think I didn't roll it tight enough. Bread is one of the hardest recipes to work with.
Good Luck~Happy Eating~Enjoy




Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Creamy Asparagus Spread



I have been staring at this box of Ritz Roasted Vegetable crackers for almost a week now. Do I open this box of crackers and eat them plain, or do I wait until I find the perfect topper? I decided to wait. What can you put on top of a Ritz other than the original slice of cheese? I have finally come to the conclusion that a roasted vegetable Ritz needs to be topped with a vegetable, DUH!! This asparagus spread compliments the roasted vegetable cracker perfectly.





I know I am a little out of season with the asparagus, but who says you have to eat seasonal anyway??? This is made with canned asparagus, so it can be enjoyed anytime of the year. If you like asparagus, you will love this spread.

You should see all the vitamins that asparagus carries. WOWSERS!! Vitamins A, C, B6, and riboflavin, niacin, folate, potassium, copper and manganese. Asparagus is also a good source of fiber, protein, thiamin, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium. No wonder it tastes so good, it has got "nutrition" and "healthy eating" written all over it.





Oh yeah, do you see the disposable cutting sheet?? AWRRR....AWRRR...AWRRR....Just had to throw that in there.


Creamy Asparagus Spread

1 (15 oz can) asparagus tips, drained (I used Green Giant)
1 (8 oz package) cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. finely chopped almonds
3 TBS mayonnaise (I used Hellmann's with olive oil)
1 TBS finely minced purple onion
1/4 tsp. crushed garlic (I used the crushed garlic in the jar)

Mash asparagus in bowl (I used my pastry blender to mash mine, worked great); Pour off any remaining liquid (you have to leave it sit for a little bit before you can do this step). Mix in the cream cheese, almonds, mayonnaise, onion, and garlic until thoroughly blended. Cover, and refrigerate until serving time.





Here is another kitchen gadget that I just cannot live without. When a recipe calls for minced onion, that is what you get after using this shiny little chopper. Sean picked this up for me at the chef store in Fort Wayne. He is always thinking about me :-)


Good Luck~Happy Eating~Enjoy

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Product Testing Tuesday: Disposable Cutting Boards


Saran Cutting Sheets: Have you ever used these? When I enter a store I love to see the signs that say CLEARANCE! I found this package of 20 disposable cutting sheets on a clearance shelf. I just wanted to try them. My first experience using this product was fantastic. "Where have you been all my life?" I am going to locate more of these, and each of my adult girls will definitely receive these as a stocking stuffer at Christmas. The sheets make clean-up a breeze, and they are so handy that you can use one for meats and another one for veggies.
Kitchen equipment that makes my life easier is a plus in my book. Talking about these cutting sheets kind of makes me feel like Tim "The Toolman" Taylor....awrrr...awrrr...awrrr...
Without an explosion, of course.

Here are the discards from my veggies. Look at that, just roll up and throw away. Or, if you are a recycle freak like I am, just dump off the garbage and recycle the cutting sheet. SIMPLE!!
I love sharing my findings, especially when it comes to making my life simple.

Good Luck~Happy Eating~Enjoy

Panic: Apple Crisp

Apples: One of the best ingredients of fall. There is nothing better than biting into a fresh, juicy, sweet apple. These are Gala apples. They are on the sweeter side and I love baking with them. They are really good eaten plain, dipped in peanut butter, or eating with pop corn. Have you ever eaten apples with pop corn? If you haven't, it is a must. The salty pop corn is an awesome accompaniment to the apple. They are also very good dipped in ranch dressing. My mother makes an awesome apple salad. I wonder if I can twist her arm for the recipe, that way I can share with all of you.

The apple is a fruit that contains 83 to 93% water. Apples also contain Vitamins A, B, C, and Pentatonic acids. Vitamin C and the Pentatonic acids are found in the skin of the apple. One thing I always told my kids, "Never peel your apples. Slice them with the skins on."
Did you know that apples have a calming affect? It is known that an apple eaten before bedtime will help ease sleep. The juice of an apple is also calming too. The juice can be used to rub on the body to calm tenseness, and it also invigorates the skin. I wonder how many apples it would take to get a bathtub full of juice? I think that is just what I need, an apple juice bath....

My apples were purchased from a local farm. They are Gala apples, and oh so juicy...

Yesterday I had a panic attack. I could not locate my apple crisp recipe. I have a folder that holds all of my favorite TNT recipes. It was not in there!! I promised Sean some apple crisp, so my time was limited. I searched and searched for that recipe until I finally gave up and turned to Allrecipes.com. I found a recipe that sounded appealing, but when it was completed I was very disappointed. As you can see from the picture below, the apples look dehydrated. I am a fan of juicy apple crisp, not dry. This recipe also has a crust on the bottom which I thought was kind of odd. Usually apple crisp just has the crunchy topping. I am going to share this recipe, and you can form your own opinion.
This morning I CALMLY located MY apple crisp recipe and I will share that one with you also. I don't know how it happened, but my recipe was stuck inside a cookbook. One of my priorities is to create a filing system for my recipes so I don't have to panic anymore. Now that my apple crisp recipe has been located, I can throw my compromised version away.

The only way I could eat this apple crisp was by placing it in a bowl and dowsing it in milk. Sean liked it though, he ate his with vanilla ice cream (yuck!). Yes, I am not an ice cream fan. Odd, huh?

Compromised Apple Crisp
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 c. rolled oats (I used quick-cook)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1 1/2 c. butter, soft (this is another thing I didn't like about this recipe. That is a lot of butter!!)
2 quarts peeled, cored, and sliced apples (I used Gala)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, oatmeal, cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar. Cut butter into mixture until crumbly.
Take half of the mixture and pat into the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish.
Cover crumb mixture with apple slices, then sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees F. for 45 - 50 minutes, or until apples are tender.
NOW FOR MY APPLE CRISP
10 cups thinly sliced apples, peeled and cored
1 c. white sugar
1 TBS all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 c. water
1 c. quick-cooking oats
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c. butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the sliced apples in a 9x13 baking pan. Mix the white sugar, 1 TBS flour and ground cinnamon together, and sprinkle over apples. Pour water evenly over all.
Combine oats, 1 c. flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and melted butter together. Crumble evenly over the apple mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees F. for about 45 minutes.
Guaranteed, you will like this one better.
Good Luck~Happy Eating~Enjoy






Monday, September 13, 2010

Cold Veggie Pizza



Pizza crust. Let me tell you a little about my pizza crusts for the cold veggie pizza. My daughter works for a frozen foods facility and her position is Lab Technician, Supervisor, Quality Control, and Secretary. Yup, all of those positions are applied to her job. UNBELIEVABLE!! But anyway, these little crusts came in as a sample product. Lots of them. With my daughter being a Lab Technician she is the one that was responsible to test them. The left overs were just going to be thrown away, so my daughter brought them to me. YIPPEE!! I get to find something to do with tons of mini pizza crusts....

These really came in handy for the cold veggie pizza that Sean requested. I browned them in a 400 degree F. oven for 10 minutes, and then I let them cool.


The Hormel real crumbled bacon and Sargento Bistro cheese are a couple items I added to step-up the recipe. While Sean and I were eating these delightful pizzas, he asked me, "How do you manage to go above and beyond to make things taste amazing?" He also said, "I've had veggie pizza before, but it has never tasted like this." I couldn't really give him an answer so I am going to answer it now. When I look at a recipe or get a food idea in my head, I turn into create mode. I just imagine what could make recipes or food taste better. What combinations go good together, or what can I create to make a new flavor. I have to say, these pizzas were amazing!!


The original recipe called for refrigerated crescent rolls for the crust. Crescent rolls??? Wouldn't crescent rolls get soggy, or be too soft to pick up and eat like a pizza? I think a pizza crust works perfect for this recipe.


Cold Veggie Pizza




Ingredients:



One baked pizza crust

1 - 8 oz package cream cheese, softened (room temp)

1 - 1 oz package Hidden Valley Ranch dry salad dressing mix (only use half of it)

A couple small shakes of cayenne pepper

2 carrots, finely chopped

1 yellow bell pepper, finely chopped

1 c. fresh broccoli, finely chopped (I only used the floweret, not the stem)

4 green onions

Hormel real bacon (sprinkled to your liking)

Sargento Bistro shredded cheese (mozzarella/sun dried tomato & basil), (sprinkled to your liking)



Bake pizza crust until lightly browned. I baked my crusts at 400 degrees F. for 10 minutes. Let pizza crust cool completely.



Place cream cheese in a medium bowl. Mix cream cheese with 1/2 of the dry ranch mix, and cayenne pepper. Spread the mixture over the cooled crust. Arrange carrots, bell pepper, broccoli, green onions, bacon, and cheese on top. Chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Cut into bight sized squares to serve.



OK....why does this have to be an appetiser? I think this would make a perfectly good meal. I also think that this recipe could be used as a wrap. Instead of using pizza crust, place the ingredients on a flour tortilla and roll. Wallah!! Lunch!!



Good Luck~Happy Eating~Enjoy

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