Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Nip in the Air!

Yeah! It is finally cooling off a little and starting to feel like fall, and that makes me want to start cooking some "fall-ish" type stuff. This weekend I am gonna be doing some things with two different churches, both of which will involve baking, so tonight I am gonna roast some pumpkins and make a big batch of pumpkin puree for making some pumpkin bread , pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin soup, pumpkin can go on and on.......
Last year I just bought extra pumpkins when I got the kid's jack-o-lanterns, but this time, we are gonna do pie pumpkins. They are supposed to be a lot sweeter than the big ones and not as stringy. I think they will be easier to handle as well.
Anyway, if you are in the neighborhood Thursday or Friday, stop in and check the progress on operation "Punkin pie pulp." Who knows, there might be some ready goods to sample!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Besto Pesto ( or a way to use up the Basil gone wild)

The basil plant that I put in the home depot bucket on the back porch has gone ape with all this rain and was starting to seed all over the place, so I decided we needed to put at least some of it to good use. This is a simple pesto that is good on pasta or bread. All you need to make it is parmesan, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts and of course, Basil. I had a little bit of parsley, so I used that too.

The pine nuts may sound exotic, but I got mine at "the Walmart's" , right there hanging out by the chocolate chips and pecans. Don't be afraid of them. They don't taste like pinesol. You can substitute walnuts for them if you can't find them or have a fear of the unknown.

Anyway, here's how I did it.
In the bowl of food processor, dump:
1/2 cup pine nuts
5-6-7-cloves garlic, peeled. ( use however many you want, I did 7.)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2-3 cups basil leaves ( rinsed and dried in papertowel)
2 tbsp fresh parsley ( if you have it - nosweat if you don't)

Pulse this a little to break up the nuts, then drizzle the olive oil in with the processor running just until you get some good motion. It is supposed to be pasty, not runny.
Then add in about 1/3 cup of the parmesan cheese. ( the powdered kind will not be as good - go ahead and buy the grated kind or grate your own)

Taste it and adjust salt and pepper. Keep in mind that the flavor will intensify some as it sits a while. You might want to even add some cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes, but I didn't because I live in the land of pepper wimps.

It will be a lot lighter in color than the basil was on it's own, but it does darken some when you put it in your pasta dish or on your bread. This particular recipe made 3- 4 oz jars. I'll show you how to do the pasta one day this week when I make it. Tonight we are having pesto burgers!

Store it in sealed containers in the fridge. I hear tell that you can freeze it if you leave out the parm and then just add it in when you thaw it. I figure three jars we will use before they go bad, so I ain't freezing it.

Some kids like to lick the frosting or batter bowl.........

Mine is into the finer things in life.......she is so strange!

Monkey Dress

Here's a little fashion show featuring the little dress we whipped up last night at 10:30.
It is just a basic pillowcase dress with wide bias tape around the arm holes and hem. There are a thousand sites online with instructions for different sizing, but basically you just have to cut one out of some scrap ( or an old pillowcase, or sheet) and adjust to fit the body that you are trying to clothe.

Ain't she sassy? If we had been able to locate some purple shoes in her closet ( I know we have some) it would have been perfect, but as it was, these were fine.
Now I gotta go make a top for "Autumn", the fall festival clown.........

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Meatball Stew

I was cleaning out the freezer and found a bunch of "odds and ends" and decided to just let it all get aquainted in a nice soup/stew for a lazy Saturday. The star of this particular one happed to be meatballs, because I had a couple of half bags. It turned out really well considering there are a few ingredients you might not think to put in a here's how it went.

1 pound of frozen meatballs ( I had a half bag of Italian style and a half bag of turkey ones)
1 cup whole kernal corn
1/2 bag gumbo vegetables ( you know, the okra and corn stuff)
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
1 cup sliced carrots
1/2 bag of Jimmy Dean breakfast stuff ( potatoes, onion, sausage crumbles)***
2 cans chicken broth
1 jar of spaghetti sauce ( mine had a little spinach and parm in it)
1 cup frozen green beans
1 cup frozen blackeyed peas
1 tsp italian seasoning
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt

I just put it all in my cast iron dutch oven and let it go on medium heat for a bout an hour. The little critic of the household had some for lunch and she said it was delicious, so we are having it again for dinner tonight. In fact, the cornbread is in the oven right now. Nothing like a warm dinner in a big bowl for a football ( or TV) night in the fall!

** The amounts of the veggies is approximate. It shouldn't matter how much you use, just put in what you like.
*** You could just as well use a chopped potato or frozen hash browns, but this worked just fine.
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Monday, September 21, 2009

Instruments of Torture

Ok, so here is what happened this morning. Everyone in the world known to me called between the time I got back from the Y and time to leave for work. Because of this, I had to take a VERY quick shower. I mean REALLY quick.
When I got to work, I realized that I had on capri pants and hairy legs. Mortified, I showed the problem to Gail ( has worked here 23 years), who snickered and said, " Just go get the epilady out of the drawer." Who the heck still has one of those things around? Apparently we do - two of them in fact. The one I chose was the 1986 mint condition.
Lemme tell ya, that thing will hurt you! But your legs are smooth when you are done if you survive it. I only thought waxing was bad. At least waxing is warm. I have to say that after a few passes with it, the pain didn't lessen any, but it was at least not getting any worse and by the time I had finished the second leg, it wasn't so bad at all. Maybe this is how it is when you get a tattoo. No worries, I am not going to try that next. Not yet anyway.
I am taking the antique torture device home to catch the strays that weren't long enough to get grabbed today........didn't someone say that achieving beauty is painful? They were right.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I might never have to eat again.....

I was just sitting here thinking about the news story that I saw on tv the other night about how there is a proposal to add an additional tax on soft drinks. Gah! More on that later.
Anyway, I was preparing a long rant about how they already tax every vice there is and that if someone needs diet coke to stay off the pipe, they ought not to have to pay 2.00 a can for it. ( I digress) I was searching for a graphic to illustrate and I came across this beautiful thing. I have to say that I have swigged diet coke at the same time as eating a BLT and I remember it feeling right. If they would make Fried Chicken Flavor Diet Dr. Pepper, I might never have to eat again.

Ok, so back to the tax thing. I don't mind paying my fair share, but shoot, tax stuff that is truly a menace to society. Like those dang baggy jeans that show a lot of crack. If they** are worried about the obesity epidemic, make supersizing cost $3.90 instead of .39 . Oh I could go on for a while on this, but I am afraid some not so quaint words might spill out and since this is a family oriented blog, I will have to cut my comments short.

Y'all have a great night. Tonight I am gonna think about the proposed talk show with Paula Deen and Kate Goessling hosting. It is gonna be a combo cooking, beauty, lifestyle thing. I do love Paula, but Kate, well....not so sure how that pairing will work out.

** Who are "they" anyway?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Chicken and Dumplin's and a Snake in the Driveway

Last night I was scanning the freezer looking for something to thaw for the weekend and gave up trying to decide, so I asked the children what they wanted to cook. Now usually the response to that question is "spaghetti," followed by "macaroni and cheese," then "pizza". The order may be reversed, but those are always the first three suggestions. I was quite surprised to get a request for "Dumplin's" and the other for "Crab samwitch." You can probably guess by now who wants what.

Anyway, there was plenty of chicken lurking in the freezer, and a couple of cans of crab, so guess we will have both. ( You knew that was coming. ) The boys will have some chicken and dumplings and the girls will have crab. (although it will be mini crab cakes on whole wheat slider buns with broccoli slaw and not the Crab Melt ala Lulu that she asked for)

It is wet and nasty outside, and there was a three foot long dead snake at the end of the driveway this am, so I guess we need some comfort food to soothe the nerves. Big Daddy nearly had a cow when he saw the snake......Mama and baby girl had to go out and get it and bag it up while the man of the house cowered inside. It was a pretty big snake, and I would have taken pictures except we were out there in our jammies and I had to get on with the program.

So, here is how I make Chicken and Dumplin's. This is a great way to use what you have on hand, so there are alternate suggestions at the end. Enjoy.

Easy Chicken and Dumplings

1. Put 2 quarts of water in a large pot. ( I use a cast iron dutch oven with a lid)
2. Put chicken in water. ( 1 whole fryer or a pack of boneless breasts is fine)
3 Add 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper, and a little pountry seasoning
4. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmering . Let simmer until chicken is done.
5. When the chicken is done, remove it from the pot and set aside to cool.
6. Add a can of cream of chicken soup to the broth pot and then turn the heat off .
7. Make some simple biscuit dough. Bisquick is fine or you can use canned or frozen biscuits. Cut the biscuits dough into 1 inch squares or quarter canned or frozen biscuits .Just remember to thaw the frozen ones a little before you try to cut them. They break into shards if you don't let them soften up a bit.
8. Bring the broth back up to a boil, then drop pieces of dough in one at a time. They will sink for a second, then they float. If you drop them in to fast, the lumps will stick together and you will have mega dumplings....not so good.
9. Taste the broth and add salt, pepper, and more poultry seasoning to taste.
10. Pull the chicken off the bones and cut into bite size pieces and add to the dumpling pot.
11. Turn in all down to very low heat to keep warm.
12. Call the people to come and eat!

* There might be easier ways of doing this recipe ( some use tortillas) but this one is the way my picky little son likes them, so I take the extra time with the biscuits - for this bisquick works fine, and I do sometimes use "Mary B's" frozen biscuits from the grocery.
* If you want to vary it a little, you could use cream of mushroom soup and add some frozen peas and carrots to it. That would not go over well at this house, so I don't do it.
* I usually use a small whole fryer, because the fat from the skin makes it really rich. Today we are going to use a pack of tenders and 6 thighs. This should give the same results, but if you have only skinless, boneless chicken breasts, you could add a little butter to rich it up, or just leave it as is for a lighter version.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Picture Day

Today is picture day at school, so we got a special little outfit that wasn't a handmedown. It is, of course, pink and purple.
Even the glasses are purple.

This may be the last time these shoes make it to school. They were hand-me-downs from the best girl cousin ever, and have been glued back together several times since we have had them. She feels so grown-up when she gets to wear "big girl" shoes to school. Now we'll just have to see if she makes it through the whole day with them on her feet!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Yesterday morning I got up extra early, and decided to make the family pancakes for breakfast. I got a little carried away with the amount of batter I whipped up, so we had about 4 dozen when it was all said and done. Pancakes are really pretty easy, all that is in them in flour, egg, oil, milk, and baking powder. I add a little vanilla and a couple of teaspoons of sugar to the ones for the family. Sometimes if we REALLY want to be wild, I put in a little applesauce and cinnamon.

They rise up really nice when you add just a little more baking powder than the recipe asks for. A beautiful thing that, no? The great thing about making them in large batches is that if you lay them out in a single layer to cool on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels ( to take out excess moisture from steam) , then freeze them on the cookie sheet, they will store together in a ziplock without becoming a big glob. A minute in the microwave and you have perfect pancakes.

At our house, one customer likes his pancakes with syrup no butter, the other likes hers with "choklit gravy."

Somedays it is worth compromising what is "good for you" just to have a kid up early and in a good mood.

I made these little fellas too...they are "high-fiber, lower carb pancakes" made from bran cereal, whole wheat flour, egg, milk, and baby food. I ate them yesterday with no appreciable problems, but I think they need a little tweaking before I post a recipe. They were certainly tolerable, and perhaps even likeable, but I'm not sure how the texture will hold up through freezing. I'll try them out again over the weekend and let y'all know!
Have a great Wednesday! ( and go on over to the Waffle House or IHOP....I know you want to now)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Weekend Cook-a-Thon

Labor day weekend turned out to be a couple of days of cleaning out the freezers and fridge and cooking up some stuff that I forgot I had.
We had finished up the last of the WOW! sauce, so I made up some more real quick in case some more wayward green tomatoes find their way to our house before it gets cold.

It is really a simple combination of creole mustard, horseradish, mayonnaise, and blistered jalapenos. It is so good......gah.

This is a redneck way to make your electric eye heat evenly when cooking a pot of rice. The ding-dang electric stove we have is on it's last leg ( or so I am letting it seem) , and when it finally goes, we are gonna go get a big ol' gas one. For now, this works.

When diva girl got up ( finally) she wanted to make cinnamon rolls. Of course, the kitchen had been all cleaned by this time. Since we had all the ingredients, I just let her roll with it. The way they learn is by doing it, and I sure want to raise people who can feed themselves.
Here she is looking at her recipe to be sure we have everything. The Paula Deen cookbook for kids is great for those new readers.

If there is something to be made with crescent rolls, we can make it. Here we are rolling big marshmallows in a triangle of crescent dough.
Then you roll the dough ball in some cinnamon/sugar. After that, ya set them in a pan that has a little melted butter in the bottom, then brush with more melted butter, then pour the rest of the cinnamon and sugar on top.

These are ready to go in the oven. I can feel my glucose soaring just looking at the picture.
These bake at about 350 for about 10 minutes, then you need to cool them for a few minutes. The marshmallow melts and kinda wants to ooze, but no worries. It tastes really good according to my little pastry chef.
The cook-a-thon ended with a big pot of red beans and rice for work on Tuesday. Great way to start off a short week!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Book Review

I just finished the latest Stephanie Plum book by Janet Evanovich, and it was very entertaining and true to form. The regular cast of characters is back, with less emphasis on Joe and more on Carlos, and Grandma Mazur and Lula are back in the saddle causing chaos.

In this installment, Lula witnesses a murder of a Barbecue sauce spokesman and the killers are now trying to kill her. She teams up with Stephanie and Grandma to find the bad guys and of course, mayhem and torched cars follow.

If you haven't read this series, start them. I do recommend you begin with the first one,
One For the Money, and move through the numbers IN ORDER.
I am really OCD about that, but in this case it is necessary because the characters build in the series and it is so much better if you have background. The only people who shouldn't read them are those with broken ribs or herniated disks, because you might hurt yourself laughing. Get 'em at the library!

Just say "Awwww..."

My sweet little boy has been carrying the biggest torch for his little pre-school friend ever since he can remember, and a few days ago, he asked me to call her mom and see if they could meet us for lunch. Thankfully, he was not disappointed and they were able to meet us at Red Robin
for a lovely lunch.
He even suggested that he bring her some FLOWERS... "Mom, this is my first date you know." Lord, help us now.
They had a great time discussing the menu. She smartly chose grilled chicken on a stick while he stuck with a trusty cheeseburger.

After finishing their food, they took a pocketful of quarters to the game area and played for a few minutes, then it was time to go home. Now we are planning a family outing to the bowling alley....gosh, someday, we may be planning a wedding if my boy has anything to do with it!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Perfect way to start a Tuesday

Last night my girl said she wanted chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast today, and I was going to try and meet the demand, but we were totally out of chocolate chips due to the two batches of "Black Bean Brownies" we made last week. So I made a quick batch of biscuits and some chocolate "gravy" to go with 'em. You can see by her face that it was a welcome substitute.

I know, chocolate and flour and sugar isn't the best thing for breakfast, but it is really no different than cold "kid" cereal with milk . There are many days that they won't eat anything that early at all, so I feel like anytime I can poke SOMETHING down them is a victory. These kids just won't eat yogurt, granola, and eggs for breakfast every day.

Here's the way I make chocolate gravy.....enjoy!

Chocolate Gravy
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp plain flour
3 tbsp cocoa powder
dash salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter

In a saucepan, wisk together the dry ingredients, then add the milk and vanilla. Stir over medium heat until thickened. It will only take about 5-6 minutes or so. Remove from heat, add butter and stir in well.

Serve over split, hot, buttered biscuits. ( I made mine from scratch this morning, but frozen ones would be just fine) A fair substitute for biscuits might be a nice warm croissant!
Store leftover "gravy" in a sealed container in fridge. Warm in microwave and serve again tonight over pound cake for dessert!
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