Friday, April 29, 2011

Have You Ever Been To Australia? Lamingtons

G'day Mates!!

After completing my presentation on the economic side of Australia, I think I am going to buy a passport and move there. The Australians' know how to operate a sound economy.
It's no wonder Americans choose Australia to go on vacation.

As part of my presentation, and I don't know about you, but I get very nervous when it comes to talking in front of people.

Man, do I need to get over that....my major is leadership. Who will want a nervous leader?

But anyway, as part of my presentation I decided to offer the class an Australian treat.

These Australian goodies are called Lamingtons. They are served at children's birthday parties.

AND.....If I had to serve these at my children's birthday parties every year, they would only have one birthday. I'm serious!! These were a pain to make.

As I am preparing to present in class, I start off by announcing the treat, telling a little bit about it, and everyone starts chanting, "Automatic A, automatic A!"

Why is it food brings out the best in people?
When it comes to presentations, I like to make them fun, visual, and non-boring.

If you are anything like me, I hate to sit through a presentation filled with words and number figures. Mine are filled with pictures, graphs, and fun.

For my very last (questions) slide I hid a music real that started automatically on click demand.

The music was: Go figure, the famous Men At Work, "Living in a Land Down Under".

Everyone loved it....now I just need to get over my nervousness.....UGH!!


The cake for this treat reminded me of a really thick, buttery sugar cookie. As you can see, it literally had to spread like a dough would. I even had to fight with it to stay in the corners.

It baked up very nice though. Nice and golden....

After the cake is completely cooled, it is cut in squares, dipped in chocolate, and then rolled in sweet coconut.

Okay, why are these called Lamingtons? The only thing I could come up with, and this is my own opinion, they represent little lambs. With wool being one of Australia's most popular exports, I think the name would be fitting. The coconut represents wool.

This is what a Lamington looks like when it is complete. And just so you know, everyone in my Macroeconomic class loved them.

I found this recipe in The World Cookbook For Students.

Lamingtons

1/2 c. butter, soft
2/3 c. sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 c. self-rising flour
1/3 c. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Chocolate Syrup

2 TBS butter
1/4 c. boiling water
3 c. confectioners sugar
1/3 c. cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. grated coconut

Cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy.
Gradually add eggs, mixing well.
Add flour and milk alternately, mixing after each addition.
Stir in 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract.

Spread batter in a buttered 9 x 12 inch baking pan.
Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F. for 25 minutes.
Remove from baking pan and cool on wire rack.

Meanwhile, melt butter in boiling water.
Sift confectioners sugar with cocoa powder.
Stir the sugar/cocoa mixture and 1 tsp. vanilla into the water/butter mixture to make a thin icing.
Cut cooled cake into squares. Dip each square in icing, roll in coconut, and leave to dry on wire rack.
*Note* I had to keep thinning my icing with a little water. As the icing thickened it made it hard to dip the cake squares. If the icing was too thick, the cake would fall apart.

"A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity."
Proverbs 17:17

Lesson: What kind of friend are you? There is a vast difference between knowing someone well and being a true friend. The greatest evidence of genuine friendship is loyalty, being available to help in time of distress or personal struggles.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

I Tried.....Cod Cakes

What can I say?

I tried....

I love crab cakes

tuna cakes

shrimp cakes

lobster cakes

salmon cakes

and now I love cod cakes, and you will soon see what happened.....

Do I sound a little bit like Bubba?

One thing that I did accomplish is, I made hollandaise sauce for the very first time.

I want to be a cheerleader, run through the house jumping up and down, performing cartwheels, and acting all giddy....

I have heard that it is very hard to make a good hollandaise sauce.

This recipe I found at Back Porch Spice, and I followed his directions exactly because I have never made it before.

I chopped up my cod in small pieces.

Mixed it with Panko crumbs, minced onion, brown mustard, lemon zest, lemon juice, salmon seasoning, and eggs.

Now here is where everything fell apart....literally.

I ruined the teflon coating in my skillet a few weeks ago. I didn't want to admit it, so I ignored it and tried to make my cod cakes in it anyway.

Want to see what happened?


Yeah, I'd say that is very much ruined. That was my favorite skillet too. I cried a little when I had to throw it away. I had to face the truth, it would never work right again....

But the hollandaise sauce and the cod cakes that I saved were very, very good.

I will definitely attempt these again.

Hollandaise Sauce

1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. cream
2 egg yolks (don't throw out the whites, you can use them in your cod cakes)
1 TBS freshly squeezed lemon juice
salt to taste
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of paprika

Melt butter in the top if a double boiler. Stir in cream and beaten egg yolks. Whisk together. Add salt and lemon juice. Cook over boiling water in double boiler until mixture thickens, stirring constantly (I used a whisk). Remove from heat and beat with a whisk until light. Stir in cayenne pepper and paprika if desired.

Cod Cakes

1 TBS olive oil
1 c. panko breadcrumbs
1/2 c. minced onion
2 cod fillets, chopped
1 TBS brown mustard
1 whole lemon, zested
1 TBS fresh lemon juice
1 tsp salmon seasoning
2 egg whites
1 whole egg
Preheat a large skillet with one tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Combine breadcrumbs, onion, and cod in a bowl. Add mustard, lemon juice, lemon zest, salmon seasoning, and eggs, stirring to combine.
Divide the mixture into 4 even portions, shaping each into a 1 - inch thick cake.
Add cakes to skillet, cooking until brown - approximately 4 minutes per side. Be very careful when flipping the cakes to prevent them from breaking.
Serve cod cakes with hollandaise sauce, and some fresh lemon if desired.

"What man can live and not see death, or save himself from the power of the grave?"
Psalm 89:48

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

One Of My Mom's Best: Scalloped Potatoes

I had to show you this potato. It looks like a heart. I had a hard time peeling and cutting this one.

Do you have a favorite dish that your mom used to make when you were a kid? One that you just couldn't get enough of when she made it?

This is so simple, but it was one of my favorites. My mom used to use cream of mushroom soup.

I have a mushroom hater in the house, so I have to come up with good combinations other than cream of mushroom.

I found cream of chicken with herbs and broccoli cheese.

I will have to say, the combination was awesome.

This is what I do:

I peel and slice my potatoes (about 11 large) and then layer them in a 9 x 13 baking pan. Half way through I slip in some sliced onion and dot with butter. I add salt and pepper too.

Then I continue slicing the potatoes till the onion is covered. I add salt and pepper and dot with butter again.

I mix my two cans of Campbell's soup and add one can of milk.

Mix it all together and pour over potatoes.

I then cover them with foil and bake at 350 degree F. for an hour to an hour and a half.

I used to gobble this stuff down when I was a kid. And I always hoped for left-overs because I loved eating my mom's scalloped potatoes cold.

"He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children."
Psalm 113:9


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

We Are Blessed

We are blessed

I am sharing this with you today because this man has deeply touched my heart, and he is amazing with our church children.

He is my counselor

He is my mentor

He is an up-lifter

He is an awesome leader

He is my idol

And I want to be just like him when I grow up.....

Children: Special, priceless, our future...

Teach them

Impress them

Lead them

Show them

Mold them



This minister that has just recently entered our church has been an amazing positive for our church family.

I can see the changes happening right before my very eyes.

It is obvious that he loves children. You can see it in his teachings, talking, and feelings.

He does not rush, he is very patient, funny, and the children love his lessons, treats, and props.
The children of the church look forward to the special time that they get to spend with this man (minister, leader, and up-lifter).

And I do believe there are some adults that look forward to the sharing time with children. I hear much laughter coming from the congregation pews.....OOPS!! Was I suppose to print that?

He places himself with the children, for the children, and beside the children. As you can see, he rises to his knees right along with them. They adore him....

"Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me."
Matthew 18:4-5
"Jesus said, "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.""
Matthew 19:14

Monday, April 25, 2011

Slice Of Cheesecake? Cream Cheese/Ricotta Cheesecake

Slice of cheesecake anyone?



This one receives the stamp of approval by the "Holy Cow". Another amazing recipe!


I have been giving some thought to contacting the Meijer store and asking them if I can be their product spokes person.

What do you think?

I used Meijer sugar cookies for the crust of my cheesecake, and I also used Meijer ricotta cheese.

Cheesecake crust.

This is what it looked like after it cooled in the oven.

No cracks....isn't that amazing? I love this recipe and will definitely be making it again.

Hopefully without a flop.....

Did you notice I said without a flop?

Do I really have to tell you what happened in my kitchen when I was making this cheesecake?

Really?

Okay, if you insist I will tell you.

Did you notice how the pan was wrapped in foil?

Well, I was suppose to wrap the pan in foil and then add hot water to the pan, without the water getting into the foil.

Did I succeed at doing that?

NO!!

So, if you look real close at the above picture, you can see that my crust is soggy.

Did I panic?

Yes!!

I was not about to throw away that cheesecake and start over.

I had many thoughts running through my head all at the same time, and it kind of looked like this:

Maybe I can put it back in the oven hoping that the sogginess will bake out.
Maybe I can soak the wetness out with paper towels.
What am I going to do?
Maybe if I put it in the frig the butter that is left in the crust will harden.
Maybe if I keep my mouth shut no one will notice.
The almonds in the crust remained crunchy.

Did you read that really, really fast? Because that is how fast my brain was working, and I went to bed like that, leaving my cheesecake in the frig.

I checked it in the morning and the crust had hardened. It is not crunchy, but it still has the flavor of a good cheesecake crust.

Cream Cheese/Ricotta Cheesecake

For The Crust:

1 1/4 c. finely ground shortbread cookie crumbs (8 Meijer sugar cookies)
1/3 c. finely ground blanched almonds
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/3 c. butter, melted
a pinch of salt
a pinch of ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Wrap the bottom and sides of a 10 inch spring-form pan in foil. Use a large shallow roasting pan, or a 12 to 14 inch round cake pan.
In a medium size bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients. Add in the melted butter, and mix together using a fork until the crumbs are well coated.
Dump the crumbs into the spring-form pan. Press the crumbs evenly and firmly onto the bottom or the pan and an inch or so up the sides.

For The Filling:

16 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temp
1 1/4 c. ricotta, room temp
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 large eggs, room temp
3/4 c. sweetened condensed milk

In the large bowl of your mixer, on its lowest speed, mix together the ricotta, cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth.
Remaining on low speed, mix in the eggs one at a time. Make sure each egg appears well mixed before adding the next one. The batter should look smooth when you're done adding the eggs.
On low speed slowly add the sweetened condensed milk, mixing just until well combined.
Pour the batter into the crust in the foil-wrapped pan. Lift the pan off the counter about 1 inch and drop it once or twice. This will allow the air bubbles in the batter to float up and release before baking.
Place your foil lined spring form pan into the shallow roaster or cake pan, and pour hot water into the pan so it rises about an inch or less up the side of the wrapped spring-form pan. Be very careful not to get the hot water into the cheesecake batter or inside the foil.
Bake the cake for 70 - 80 minutes, or until it seems just barely jiggly. I started checking mine after 60 minutes. When cake is done, turn off the oven, open the oven door to first stop, and let the cake cool slowly inside the oven. When cake has cooled in the oven for about an hour, run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the crust. Refrigerate in the pan, lightly covered, for several hours or overnight before removing the sides of the pan.

"Let them be like straw blowing in the wind, while the angel of the Lord drives them away."
Psalm 35:5


Friday, April 22, 2011

Marked By The "Holy Cow": Blueberry/Ricotta Muffins

Do you ever head to the kitchen with an idea in mind, and the whole time you are putting this idea together you are silently saying a prayer, "Please work out for me. Lord I really need your help right now."

My idea today was blueberries, ricotta, and walnuts.

And yes, everything worked out for me. Just wait until you see these muffins.


Don't forget, when you make muffins you don't want to over-mix the batter. Just mix it together until the dry ingredients become wet.

Just before my dry ingredients were fully mixed I added the blueberries and walnuts, then continued mixing until everything was combined.

The crunchy topping on these muffins just tops (tops, muffin tops, HA!) them off perfectly.

The only problem I ran into today is, the lack of sunshine.....The lack of sunshine is really playing havoc on my photos.

Perfect muffin top right there.


This is what the inside looks like. Nice and fluffy, and moist, and tasty, and flaky, and crumby, and.....

These muffins are so good, they received the stamp of approval by the "Holy Cow".

Because that is what you are going to be saying when you bite into one of these warm muffins.

Split these open and add a dollop of sweet cream cheese..... guaranteed to send you to heaven.


This recipe is linked to:


Blueberry Ricotta Muffins

Topping:
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. chopped walnuts
5 TBS old fashion oats
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 TBS butter, melted

Muffins:
1 3/4 c. bread flour
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c. light brown sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 c. yogurt
1/2 c. ricotta cheese
2 tsp. almond extract
1/2 c. oil
1 c. fresh blueberries
1/3 c. chopped walnuts

Place paper liners in muffin pan.
Heat oven to 450 degrees F.
In small bowl combine topping ingredients; mix and set aside.
In large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. In medium mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, yogurt, ricotta, almond extract, and oil (I used my Kitchen Aid mixer) till smooth. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and stir lightly with spoon just until barely mixed. Stir in blueberries and walnuts. Spoon batter into prepared muffin pans, filling each almost to the top. Sprinkle topping ingredients on top of filled cups. Place in oven and immediately lower temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until wooden pick comes out clean.

*Note: I ended with 1 1/2 muffin pans full of batter. Don't forget that when you have extra empty muffin cups you should fill the empties with water. Do not leave them empty when you put the muffins in the oven. The steam from the water also helps the muffins rise.

"Jesus replied, "They don't need to go away. You give them something to eat." "We have only five loaves of bread and two fish," they answered. "Bring them here to me," Jesus said. Then Jesus directed the people to sit down on the grass. He took the five loaves and the two fish. He looked up to heaven and gave thanks. He broke the loaves into pieces. Then he gave them to the disciples. And the disciples gave them to the people.
Matthew 14:16-19

Thursday, April 21, 2011

No Food Today, But You Have To See This

Have you seen these shoes? Or maybe you own a pair?

I just received these today, and if you have feedback for me I would greatly appreciate it.

To explain why I even bought these shoes; I have disk damage in my lower back. I have struggled for many years to enjoy the simple task of walking (long distance).

The 22 years of service I put in at the factory has caused the damage in my back. Standing and walking on concrete for 22 years will definitely cause havoc to a person's body.

I volunteer at a local church and the church is only about 5 to 6 blocks away. I would love to be able to walk there, but when I wear shoes, I get half way there and have to stop to take my shoes off. For some reason I can't walk in shoes without suffering with severe pain in my legs and back.

I am hoping these do the trick for me. These shoes are suppose to resemble walking or running bare-footed.

Aren't they the funniest things you have ever seen? I think so....

"Do not make something that is wrong appear to be right. Treat poor people and rich people in the same way. Do not favor one person over another. Instead, judge everyone fairly."
Leviticus 19:15

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Title Is Deceiving: The Best Lemon Bars

I am truly in love with this recipe. The title is deceiving because it should say: The Best Lemon Bars In The World.

Definitely will be added to my "favorites".

I found this recipe from a newspaper clipping. It is called CookSmart, written by Three Many Cooks.
The three many cooks are: Maggy, Pam, and Sharon.
Ah, and as I read further, Three Many Cooks is a blog. I am on a search right now.....

I'm back! Here is a link to Threemanycooks.

I know what I will be doing today.....I will be visiting this blog to see if I can find some more "Best In The World" recipes.

Here is some more information about this blog: Pam Anderson is the editor, and she is assisted by her two daughters. The blog is about all things food. My kind of blog! Don't you agree?

Do you see what is laying on my kitchen counter?

Oh my goodness, it is a lemon zester. I have never owned one of these kitchen tools in my whole life, and I am now 43. I think it's about time I treat myself to one.

And if all it takes is 1 lemon zester to create these scrumptious lemon bars.....I am glad I invested.

The crust is baked first.

And then the lemon filling is poured on top and baked again.


This is what it looks like fresh out of the oven.


Let them cool to room temperature and then sprinkle with powdered sugar.

I am going to be sharing this recipe in the church newsletter. I just know everyone will love this recipe.

I made one simple change to this recipe. I added graham cracker crumbs to the crust. Everything else needs to remain unchanged. Believe me, I am not joking, these bars are truly the best in the world.

The Best Lemon Bars In The World

For Crust:
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 c. confectioner's sugar
1 stick butter, melted but not hot

For Filling:
2 large eggs
3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 TBS all-purpose flour
6 TBS lemon juice, or juice squeezed from two lemons
2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest, or lemon zest from two lemons

Heat oven to 325 degrees F. with oven rack in the middle. Line an 8 x 8 baking dish with foil allowing to drape over the ends (you will need the extra foil to lift out the bars). Spray foil with cooking spray.
Mix flour, graham cracker crumbs, salt, and confectioner's sugar in a medium bowl; stir in butter to form dough. Press dough into pan bottom. Bake until pale golden, about 20 minutes.
While pastry bakes, whisk eggs, sugar, flour, lemon juice, and zest in a medium bowl.
Remove pan from oven. Add lemon mixture and continue to bake until just set, about 20 minutes longer; let cool in pan for few minutes and then using the foil handles, pull bars from pan and set on a wire rack. Cool until room temperature, sprinkle with powdered sugar, and cut into squares.

"Who is the King of glory? The Lord, who is strong and mighty. The Lord, who is mighty in battle."
Psalm 24:8

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Absolutely Amazing: McCormick's Chicken Tikka Masala


While I was on vacation in the Phoenix, Arizona area I had the privilege of trying Chicken Tikka Masala. It is a spicy Indian dish that is out-of-this-world amazing.

Now I can enjoy it in my own home with the help of McCormick.

The only extra ingredients that I needed to purchase (everyone keeps chicken breast in their freezer, right?) was, onion, diced tomatoes, and heavy cream.

I cut three boneless skinless half chicken breasts into chunks. Easy, right?

Chopped my onion, and I was ready to put this dish together.

Have you tried the spice packets made by McCormick? I often passed these by because I am a big-headed cook.....I know how to use spices.

But if you think about it; if you purchase all of these spices individually, you will break the bank.

I broke down and bought the McCormick spice pack for chicken tikka masala. I am so glad I did, because this stuff is amazing.

I can't wait to return to the grocery store to see what other options McCormick has to offer....

If you decide to purchase the spices individually, or if you already have them on hand, here is the recipe:

Chicken Tikka Masala

2 TBS olive oil
1 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into cubes
1 medium onion, chopped
2 TBS lemon juice
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. garam masala
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/3 c. heavy cream
1 TBS cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt

Heat olive oil in large skillet on medium heat. Add chicken, onion, and lemon juice; cook and stir 10 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Add all of the spices except red pepper; cook and stir 1 minute.
Stir in tomatoes until well mixed. Sir cream into cornstarch and salt until smooth. Gradually stir into skillet. Stir in red pepper to taste, if desired. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; stirring frequently, simmer 5 minutes or until slightly thickened.
Served with cooked rice or naan bread.

"I am pleased to tell you what has happened. The Most High God has done miraculous signs and wonders for me. His miraculous signs are great. His wonders are mighty. His kingdom will last forever. His rule will never end."
Daniel 4:2-3

Monday, April 18, 2011

For Real!! Cauliflower Rice

This is not going to be a pretty post. It's cauliflower!!

Cauliflower is not a pretty posing item. It's white, blah, and is not very photogenic.

But, I do have some good information about cauliflower. I am so excited about this and just had to share.

You all know by now that I am trying to watch what I eat, exercise, and lose a few pounds for summer.

Well, it's working!!

I don't own a scales, but I can tell that my clothes are fitting differently (loosely).

Okay, here is the information about cauliflower:

I sent the cleaned cauliflower heads through my salad shooter shredder (say that 10 times fast).

As you can see in the photo (un-photogenic) above, the cauliflower looks like rice.

I purchased a microwave steamer dish.


I filled it with the shredded cauliflower and microwaved it for 4 minutes. DO NOT ADD WATER, just the shredded cauliflower.

4 MINUTES is all it took to steam it.

You end up with fluffy cauliflower rice. You can use this in place of any rice dish. Under stir-fried veggies, under chicken tikka masala (you will see that tomorrow), under any meat dish....

I know you are getting the picture.... Veggie in place of the starch.....who would have thought?

And the amazing thing is, you really can't tell the difference between veggie and starch.

Steamed cauliflower rice.....

"Right away the boy's father cried out, "I do believe! Help me overcome my unbelief!""
Mark 9:24

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