Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Birthday Cupcakes

First, Never, Ever, have a baby on Christmas day.  That's my advise and I'm sticking to it.  First of all it involves calling your sister early Christmas morning and begging her to drive through a blizzard to pick up your other kids and take them home for the day without their getting to open more than one present they picked to bring with them.  On the bright side I got to watch White Christmas during the birth.  But on the down side age 7(in 4 days) was a Premie and that meant he got to stay in NICU for 3 weeks and I got to make daily trips and have Nazi nurses make sure I was waking up every two hours to pump 'liquid gold,' as they put it.  I did not sleep for at least 4 months (time that baby actually got off all oxygen and monitor tubes)  And also by Premie, I mean still larger than most full term babys currently being born in my neighborhood.  The premie nurse that came by every month was awwed at her first ever baby that was over 30lbs before a year old.  My son(s) wore size 6 diapers by 1 1/2 years and the neighbor boys age 3 are still in size 3.    It's hard to find a rear facing car seat for over 20 lbs.      Ok, off topic a bit.  I tend to get bitter about my boys birthdays.  If only one was a month earlier and the other a month later.

So, once again I do not recommend having a Christmas baby.  It means that for a little while all the stress of preparing for Christmas changes to Stress about Birthday and Parties.  Luckily, he doesn't seem to mind and thinks it's kind of cool and doesn't hold the getting Christmas presents for birthday thing against us yet, which he totally doesn't, he gets separate presents but you know...  So today is his birthday party.  I decided he was just too jumpy and excited to wait until after Christmas and he needed a diversion.  

He had designed a birthday cake, pretty detailed, just too hard for me to pull off this time of year.  Or maybe I should say, this year.
I asked him why he wanted Merry Christmas on his cake instead of Happy Birthday. He doesn't really separate the two.

This is what I decided on. He wanted the little Christmas symbols on them somehow. He put the stars on, after breaking the first snowflake side thing.

Aly, I used your frosting, yum. I was surprised that it held up so well.

Now we will just wait and see how the party goes this afternoon.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Cooked Pumpkin

As per a friends suggestion, I am putting on my blog how to bake a pumpkin so you can use fresh pumpkin in your pies and goodies.  I wasn't very timely for pumpkin pie season though.  The pumpkins I had chosen sat on my table all through November and some of October and clear until almost Christmas.  The reason I finally got around to it was that my Wonderful husband cleaned a lot of the house Saturday while my daughter and I were gone.  I do not know how he got the boys to help him, I never seem able to do this.  The pumpkins were placed on the floor and caught my eye, I now popped them to the top of my to do list.  In fact I think I did not leave the kitchen the rest of the day. 

You can cook your pumpkin by either baking it or steaming.  I have done both and the last few times have steamed it.  The reason I would steam it over the baking method is that I was using a larger pumpkin that didn't fit well on a baking sheet. 

Sugar or pie pumpkins are prefered to use for eating pumpkin but you can use the larger more common jack-o-lantern pumpkins but the flavor is not as nice and they are more stringy and tough.  This time I had my pie pumpkin and also a smaller JOL pumpkin I decided to save for pie and combined the two.

 Heat oven to 325 degrees.  Wash pumpkins and twist or pull the stems off.  Then cut in half top to bottom and scoop out insides.  (remember to save the seeds.)  Place the halves on baking sheet open side down or shell side up.  You can lightly spray the pan to keep it from sticking.   Bake for about 1 hour or more until fork tender.   

You can then move to other put off projects like taking all the food and shelves out of the fridge and deep cleaning it. 

Scrape the insides out and put in processor.  Process until smooth.  Transfer pumpkin to a strainer.  This is important.  Let pulp sit in strainer for a long while.  You need to reduce the water content to use the pumpkin for baked goods.  

My two pumpkins made two strainer fulls and yeilded about 1 1/2 cups liquid each, and I could have left it longer probably for more.  I think I left them about and hour each.  You could use cheese cloth as well. 

After this you can use it or freeze it.  I put aside 1/2 cup for use soon and put the rest in two cups per bag.  When you freeze it, it will release more moisture as it thaws, I recommend thawing it in the strainer as well.   

Enjoy your pumpkin in your favorite way.  I will share mine later. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Anadama Bread

There are several versions of this old New England bread around. Some use fruit for more flavor and sweetness.  One version I have includes a story of how the bread got it's name.  A disgruntled New England fisherman on one of the countless evenings when his unimaginative wife, Anna, presented him with his usual dinner of cornmeal mush and molasses.  Disgusted he mixed the ingredients together to form a bread dough and while it baked, he's said to have muttered, "Anna, damn her."

I've seen the recipe several times but never made it before.   It's a hearty bread, more reminiscent of corn bread than bread bread.  It was fine, but not so wonderful as to be on my regular rotation. 

Annadama Bread

3/4 cup boiling water
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
3 Tbls. shortening
1/4 cup light molasses
2 teas. salt
1 pkg active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 egg
2 3/4 cups all pupose flour

Grease 9 in. pie pan.  Mix boiling water, cornmeal, shortening, molasses and salt in large bowl.  Cool to lukewarm. 

Dissolve yeast in warm water.  Add yeast mixture, egg and 1 1/2 cups of the flour to the cornmeal mixture. 

Beat on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl.  Stir in remaining flour until smooth.

Spread batter in pan, mounding center higher.  pat into shape with floured hands (batter will be sticky).  Let rise in warm place about 11/2 hours. 

Heat oven to 375 deg.  Bake 50 - 55 min. or until loaf is brown and sounds hollow when tapped.  You can cover with foil for the last 15 min. of baking if it is getting too brown.  Remove from oven and cool.  Brush top with butter.

I am going to try this again but substitute some oats for the cornmeal as suggested and corn syrup for the molasses. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Cherry Limeade Bars

The other day, when I felt like I had time to spare to try a new recipe, I found this tempting treat.  It boasted Summertime taste, and as it has been snowy and cold I thought it sounded great.  Plus, they look so Christmas-y in their cute red and green. 

They did indeed bring to mind cherry limeade.  They were very sweet and a little one went a long way.     It may not be the traditional dessert when you think of Christmas but with their cute color they certainly look the part.  And who doesn't need a splash of Summer-time in mid-Winter?

I found the recipe over at Cheeky Kitchen with Brooke McLay.  She makes them sound and look so fabulous you just can't resist a try.  

Cherry Limeade BarsTangy and sweet, a twist on the classic lemon bar, these easy dessert squares simply scream summer. A light, buttery crust is cooked with a thin layer of maraschino cherry puree, then topped with a lime custard. These little treats are just as refreshing as a tall glass of limeade. You’re going to love them.
1 c. flour
½ c. butter, softened
¼ c. powdered sugar
Dash of salt
6 oz. can maraschino cherries , undrained
½ Tbsp. cornstarch
3 eggs
1 ¼ c. sugar
3 Tbsp. flour
¼ c. key lime juice *
Green Gel Food Coloring
In a large bowl, combine flour, butter , powdered sugar, salt and flour until well mixed. Press into the bottom of a 9x9 inch baking pan. Pour the entire, undrained can of maraschino cherries into a blender, add cornstarch and blend until well chopped (but not pureed). Using a spatula, carefully spread the cherry mixture over the crust mixture. Bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
In a large bowl, beat together remaining ingredients. Pour over cooked crust & cherry mixture. Return to oven and bake an additional 20-25 minutes, or until the mixture has set. Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars, garnishing with powdered sugar, and serving to your favorite people.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Gingerbread Houses 2010

Every year our favorite tradition is making gingerbread houses.  We have been doing an every other year one big one or one each little ones.  In some ways the little ones are easier, some ways not.  There is a lot more cutting out and baking, but they hold together easier and no fights about how to decorate.

This year we made the houses into our Christmas train village.  They are not proportional to the train but so what.

Age14's is hilarious.  It's like a boarded up house with graffiti. On one part it says Coal for X-mas! The door is boarded up and  there are ginger-body parts strewn all over.  Somehow mine is the only one with out something in the chimney. 

Fun times.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Geese

One of my favorite things about living where I do is the wildlife.  I don't see as much as when I first moved here but I still get a lift out of seeing the herd of Prong horns or in this case a large flock of geese.  This isn't exactly out the "table window"  but you can see this particular field out the window, just not so close up enough to spot the geese.

All I had with me was my phone and thus not a very nice picture, but I know what's in the picture anyways.  This isn't the whole flock, just what fit in the view.   I think the geese do a sort of every-other-year thing.  last year I hardly saw them but the year before I saw them almost every morning on my way to school.  I'm sure the carpool kids got tired of me pointing them out.  

I'm going to have to remember to bring my husbands camera in the car as it will be the only way to get a decent picture but with my not so mad camera skills I'm sure it wouldn't matter if I had just stuck with the camera on my phone. 

This morning as I passed by they were all in the sky.    It's been a while since I've seen a fox or a ground squirrel and even the sand pipers seem to be driven out by the other birds now.  I rarely hear a meadowlark anymore or see a magpie and I have to go for a long walk to see jack rabbits.   As the development in the area grows these will be all driven out as well.  So I continue to hold on to my glimpses of prong horn and geese and the ibises and occasional pelicans.   It lifts my days a little and helps bring me down to earth.

On the other hand my neighbor encourages the big flock of whatever those black birds are, they scramble on my roof when the sun hits it in the morning and of course poop all over it as well (He even snow plowed his back yard paths to all the bird feeders).  I wish I could appreciate them as much but I just don't.  except when they all pick up and fly in those amazing cloud patterns, but you don't see that around the houses so much, just in the fields. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Girl Scout-like Samoas Cookies

I Love these cookies! They are super sweet though so go easy with them. I am not too good at following my own advice. You can make your own shortbread cookies or buy them. For this time, I bought them. The one's I got were square but you can do any shape.

Samoa Cookies

1 box/batch shortbread cookies
6 Tbs. butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2-3 cups toasted coconut
1 cup chocolate chips

place cookies in a sheet pan. I like them close together to avoid over-spills.
In 2 qt pot combine butter, sugar and corn syrup over med-low heat. Bring to boil stirring constantly and boil 3 min. Slowly pour in condensed milk and continue cooking on low until 220deg. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and toasted coconut. Spoon mixture on to cookies and cool. Melt chips (I used a lot less than 1 cup, it's your preference.) and drizzle/spread over cookies. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pop Can Glazed Roast Chicken

I saw this episode on America's test Kitchen. When I found tall pop cans (because we don't drink beer) for sale I grabbed some and gave the recipe a go. I've heard of people using gingerale but all I had was lemon/lime.

There were several extra steps as ATK usually has, but it turned out alright. I don't think, for me, that it was any better than a regular roast however and probably won't go to the trouble again.  I may use the same rub or return to the oven process but not the can. 

Basically they added  1 teas. baking powder to salt and pepper and used for a rub.  The baking powder helped to dry out the skin more.  Then it was roasted at 375 deg. for about 80 min.  then the oven was turned up to 500 deg. for an additional 25 min. to crisp up the skin.  Then a glaze was brushed on and returned for 5 min to set it.   To see the full recipe go to American's Test Kitchen.  You have to register to use the site and for free you can view the recipes from the current season.   Glazed Roast Chicken. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Biscuits from Grandma's book

I finally got around to Grandma's cook book. Sorry it has taken so long. I decided to just open it up and see where it fell. Baking Powder Biscuits and Shortcakes. I might assume this page was used a lot, it does have several smudges on it, of course the whole book has some sort of something soaked into the pages. It also contains a gem in the form of a clipped newspaper article. Well it might be a gem to someone. It's an article titled Chemical Prevents Alfalfa Bloating.  A fun little story about Poloxalene.   Looking on the back of the clipping an incomplete article notes a date for an upcoming MIA Conference at the Salt Palace.  1972.  Hmm,  I wonder if any of my sisters went. 

One thing of interest on this recipe and it is repeated throughout the book is a note about baking powder. "The amount of baking-powder indicated is correct when using either a tartrate or phosphate baking-powder. With an aluminum baking-powder use one-half the amount specified." I wonder if that is true today? I use aluminum baking powder because it's cheaper. I know it's not as good for you but I'm basically a cheap girl. It also contains Monocalcium Phosphate though so perhaps the basic formulation has changed. It's just not something I want to put the time into to figure out.

These biscuits were basic. Not flaky or layers or anything that made them stand out good. I will stick with my old recipe. It does have all the variations listed after for the various additions or what today would be more traditional scones. (Not Utah Scones)

Baking Powder Biscuits

2 cupfuls flour
4 teaspoonfuls baking-powder
4 tablespoonfuls shortening
1 teaspoonful salt
2/3 cupful milk or water (about)

Cut shortening into sifted dry ingredients. Add liquid to make a soft dough. Roll lightly or pat into a sheet about 1/2 to 1 inch thick, cut into rounds and place on greased baking sheet. Bake in a hot oven of 450º F. for 12-15 mins.

The recipe goes on with variations for Cheese biscuits, Fruit or Nut Biscuits, Orange Biscuits, Peanut Butter Biscuits, Pin-Wheel Biscuits, Caramel or Butterscotch Biscuits, Drop Biscuits, Dumplings for Stews, Shortcake, and Fruit Shortcakes.

I chose to make the Pin-Wheel biscuits which had 2 tsp. melted butter, 1/4 cup sugar, 2 tsp nutmeg or cinnamon. Roll dough into a rectangular sheet 1/4 inch thick. Brush with melted butter, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon and roll up from long side like jelly-roll. Cut in 3/4 inch slices, lay slices flat on greased pan. bake 20 min. at 450º F.

The Orange Biscuits variation is interesting. It says to dip sugar cubes in orange juice and place one on each biscuit before before baking and sprinkle with orange rind.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sweetened Condensed Milk Substitute

When I made the Mint Ice Cream I told you I would share my Sweetened Condensed Milk Substitute recipe.  Well, here it is.

1 c. instant non fat dry milk
2/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. boiling water
3 tbsp. melted butter
Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Store in refrigerator.
This is about equal to 1 (14 oz.) can. The longer it sits the smoother it will get as the powdered milk dissolves.

What to do with this SCM?    I will share that later.
Here's a preview.

Meanwhile you could try it with my Caramel Apple Dip.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Now I remember why I don't make Halloween costumes very often.    It takes too much time.

Age10 has been wanting to be a Snow Queen for years, ever since her friend was one some time back.  This year I finally undertook it.  Wrong year to do that, what with the church play I was in and helping to direct, the time that took and the time to make costumes for it etc. and the Primary program I was in charge of last week as well, things were just very busy and I had no time for extra stuff.   Anyway I loved making it for her. 

I had no pattern just went off of my vision, but I wasn't able to really make it work so well.  It still turned out ok though.  She ended up calling herself a Snow Princess instead.   It's Dark blue crush velvet with sparkly white 'satin' and snow flakes around the blue skirt.   White crush velvet cloak with hood.   It has a massive hem so she can wear it for years to come!

And here is my Age 6, Iron  Man, luckily he didn't mind not having home made and probably liked store bought better.  I didn't get him with his mask on though.  Age14 went as a ninja but I never got a picture, he was more last minute.  I wish I had gotten a picture of him and his friends though.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pumpkin Seeds

I'm a bit late with this post.  Most things are a bit late as of late.  Admittedly blogging is not my priority.

But I wanted to share our jack-o-lanterns from this Halloween and what came out of them.  The best I could do with the dark pictures was to up the contrast and thus the graininess.  Sorry, more and more obviously photography is not one of my priorities either,  I tried, really, I even took a photography class once way back with the old 35mm.  I think they were a bit easier than pushing menu and finding the right settings etc.   I went to a one evening class my super talented neighbor taught but it didn't  help me much.  I really need to get my dh to take my pictures, but he's never around when I need him.    Oh well.

Once you scrape out the insides of your pumpkins, separate the seeds from the other guts and rinse well.  Then boil in salt water for 10 minutes.  I don't have a ratio of salt:water I just pour in about a couple of tablespoons depending on how much water I have to boil - vs how much seeds etc.  Just give it a good amount of salt.  Somewhere around 3 Tbl salt to 6 cups water. 

Drain seeds in a colander, give a very quick rinse if you like then spread on a towel to dry.  I usually do all this the same night we carve and let them dry overnight.

 Mix1 teas. Worcestershire sauce, 3 Tbl. butter, and 1 teas salt.   Add seeds and toss to evenly coat.    Spread onto a baking sheet and bake at 225deg. for about 2 hours until thoroughly dry and crisp

It's a very tasty snack.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Monster Pie

Last night I made my Chicken Pot Pie.    What I ended up with was a scary halloween version.

This is the pie when it came out of the oven.  All nice and normal looking.

This is what it looked like inside.   Aaaaaggghhh!!

Scary looking.

This is why it happened.  Remember my Carrots

It made a very lovely purple colored broth.  And I thought it nice how the potatoes really 
soked up the color as well.

I was very pleased that everyone ate it, without really complaining or grossing out.  I thought it was quite fun.  I even had company for dinner.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

You know when they tell you to get all your ingredients out and ready to go?  I am the one they are talking too.  It seems that I often get through part of a recipe only to realize I don't have a certain ingredient.  This time it turned out I didn't have a lot.  Actually I knew some of the stuff that I didn't have right up front and it was the reason I made this in the first place, kind of a get rid of stuff in the fridge.  But mostly because it sounded good.

It started with the left over whip cream in the fridge, way back from my sons cake.  You think I could figure out better things for whipping cream than ice cream don't you.  I'm sure you could.  Well I had copied this recipe from some magazine and it was just sitting on the top of my notebook calling to me.

Let's back up and start with the recipe shall we?

Mint Ice Cream

4 cups half & half (fat free)
1 3 oz pkg vanilla pudding
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 teas. mint extract
Chocolate chips

I'm  sure it said something like combine all ingredients and freeze according to manufactures directions.

Nowhere does it say whip cream.  But I had thought, I'll just combine the rest of this whipped cream with some milk and it will be like half and half.  - Ya following me here?   Next - Pudding.  Yea! I actually had some.  This hasn't always been the case.  Last time I needed something with pudding I ended up making a mix which would have been a cooked pudding.  It wasn't so bad but I think it missed the "instant" part, it never really set up like it should have.  Anyway,  I put in the pudding.  Then I go down to the storage room to find some Sweetened condensed milk.  Turns out I have plenty of Condensed milk, probably left over from all that fudge I was going to make last Christmas, but no Sweetened Condensed milk.   NO PROBLEM!  I know a way to make SCM from Powdered milk.  So I mix up that concoction (I'll share later) and put it in with the other stuff, I beat it up for a while.  The powdered milk and sugar haven't really had a chance to really dissolve yet though.  Mint.  I have a large patch of mint in the backyard, peppermint and spearmint, although they taste very much the same.  I remember this, just after I already put a half a teaspoon of extract in.  (I think 2 teas. is too much)  And I'm thinking the best way to impart the mint flavor would probably have been to steep the mint leaves in the milk for a bit.  Too late for that I guess, but, why not?  I go grab some, throw it in the pot and just add a bit of milk.  After it simmers for a bit I tasted it, not what I was hoping for taste wise, but I chalked it up to the milk and poured most of it in the bowl. 

After this I whisk it up for a while and then put the bowl in the freezer.  I have an ice cream freezer.  The kind that is big and takes a couple bags of ice and rock salt and it's noisy and takes a long time...    So I just decide to go straight to the freezer.  I've done it before.  I definitely do not claim to be a great ice cream maker.  I will leave that title to my SIL and neighbor.  Anyway, I take it out about every 30-60 min. and give it a beating with the mixer, scraping all the frozen parts off the wall.    When it had reached milk shake consistency I prepared the chocolate chips.   I know from experience that to just toss chocolate chips in ice cream just makes rock hard chocolate chips.  So instead I put about 1/3 cup chips in the microwave and soften them up with about a teas. of shortening.  I put it in the freezer to harden then I take the vegetable peeler to it and make a bunch of little chocolate shavings.   I stir these into the mix then let it just freeze up.

Guess what?  It actually turned out very well.   It was very good in fact.  My husband commented that he could tell it had powdered milk but I thought it was hard to tell.  The chocolate worked out perfect, stayed softer and looked better in the scoops than regular chips would have.   Everyone liked it except age6.  He wouldn't even try it even though mint chocolate chip is one of his favorite ice cream flavors.  Because, he said "well you made it right?"    I knew he meant that he just thought it wouldn't be as good as store bought and he is kinda picky about desserts anyway but it was hard not to take that comment a little further.    I FORCED him to take a bite and he did so with his usual forced bite yucky-face.  I don't care what the food is, when you make that face and taste anything it's going to taste bad.   Although he didn't say it tasted bad, he just said it didn't taste the same.  My daughter said it tasted just like regular though.  I preferred it in soft serve state.  Probably for several reasons it was too crystally when totally frozen. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Not Zucchini Brownies

I showed you the cucumbers that took over in my garden before.  We couldn't keep up with them this year.  We just weren't in a cucumber mood and rarely would just eat them.  I love cucumber but I just wasn't into it this year.    I had so much and hated throwing it out every week.  Even  attempts at giving it away to neighbors failed.  I mean it's not like it was Zucchini or anything.    OR WAS IT?

Long ago my sister made me a cucumber cake for my birthday.  I'm sure if I lived with my sister I would be much better off health wise than I am by myself.   We played a game the other night, we both got the same question at separate times.  We simply had to answer which word(s) we felt right, for whatever reason.  The words?  Healthy or Junk Food.  Me? - Junk Food.  Her? - Healthy.  I can't help it, I want to eat healthy and try but I still like Junk Food.  And I feel quite junky lately or that I haven't been eating too well so I answered junk food.  Although in a sense I don't think anyone would look in my cupboard and find a lot of junk food, I don't have potato chips or packages of cookies etc.   But two helpings of fresh apple crisp seem junkier than not.

So on too the brownies.    I thought, of course! I could use the cucumber like zucchini and add it to the brownies.  It's got to be better than non vegetable added brownies right?  So I did.  I took a regular zucchini brownie recipe and substituted cucumber.  The cucumber was more watery so I didn't put quite as much in.   It tasted fine, almost too moist but the family didn't care.  It was chocolate cake after all.  And the kids all wanted seconds.  I have to feel almost Bill Cosby-ish about it.  'But it's got milk and eggs and. . . Cucumber!  Mom is great!  Gives them the chocolate cake!'   Wait, no it doesn't have milk or eggs,  and no, we did not eat it for breakfast.   

So here is the recipe I used but I'm leaving it as zucchini, just substitute if you feel like experimenting. Remember to de-seed the vegetable of choice before grating.  Now that I think about it I got this recipe from one of my other sisters.   

Zucchini Brownies

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 teas. salt
1 1/2 teas. baking soda
2 teas. vanilla
1/3 cup cocoa
2 cups grated zucchini
2 cups flour
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Mix the 'wet' ingredients first, then add the 'dry' ingredients.   Bake 375º for 25-30 minutes.   

I know, not very specific directions.  Sorry, when I jot down recipes I only include ingredients and baking degree.  Sometimes I remember to put a baking time.   Also I used extra cocoa.  at least 1/2 cup total. 

Next, I might tackle another cake my sister made me for a different birthday. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Triple Layer Devil Dog Cake

This is one of my favorite cakes to make.  This time it was for my son's Birthday party.

He doesn't look too excited about it does he?  Actually I just caught him at a bad moment I guess.  This was his first Teenager party.  It was quite fun to have all his friends over.  Very good bunch of kids.  

He told me me he wanted a cake with a bunch of layers.  He mentioned Ice cream cake, but I didn't have the time to fuss nor the freezer space to store such a tall order.    His cake taste is improving.  We don't do parties every year at our house, but usually every other year.   For his last birthday party he was very into Cryptids.  His favorite being the Yeti.    And he wanted a Yeti cake complete with snow mountains.  This may not be your idea of the Abominable Snowman but I looked it up, let me tell you, the actual Yeti is reddish brown in color, not white.
Let's refresh our memories. 

I'm glad he picked a more grown up cake this year.  

The cake itself is just chocolate.  You can use whatever you like,  My favorite recipe takes quite a lot of time but for this I didn't have that time and used a doctored cake mix.  Gasp!  yup.  It was actually an old White Cake mix that I added cocoa, pudding, and sour cream too.  That was the mix that needed to be used because it was out of date.     The filling is a layer of Chocolate ganache and a Layer of Stabilized Whipped cream. So simple and yet sooo good.  Careful when cutting because it needs to be refrigerated (for the cream) which makes the ganache hard and thus hard to cut.  

Monday, September 27, 2010

Crop circles - On my Watermelon?

 Today I finally went out to pick some long overdue to be picked watermelons.    We haven't been able to keep up with all the canteloupe that all got ripe at the same time so the watermelons had to wait.  Pretty much anything left in the garden has just gone to seed or whatever.  Serrano's anyone?    

Anyway, this is what we found on a couple of the melons we brought in.   Perfect target circles.

 I couldn't get a good picture of this one, no matter what I tried.
My son droped this one on the way in the house.  

The only information I could find was from the Extension at Purdue:

"Target Cluster (watermelon)

This disorder is marked by very striking target-like patterns that occur on the watermelon rind surface. The target spots appear in distinct clusters and can be as large as 1 inch in diameter (Figure 81). The target rings have a corky texture and are slightly raised (1/16 inch) from the fruit surface. No decay was associated with symptomatic fruit. Several attempts at identifying pathogenic bacteria or viruses were not successful. Fruit with the target cluster apparently occur very infrequently. Incidence and distribution in affected fields suggest that it was not responsible for any economic consequences.

See?  Aliens.

While I'm at it, I picked one of the few purple carrots that actually grew this year. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Finger Weaving Scarf.

My daughter made this fun scarf using the idea from finger weaving.  I decided we needed a loom to make a long thing easier and heaven forbid that I buy such a thing.  I drilled some holes in a piece of leftover wood and chopped a dowel.  Ok, my carpentry skills are lacking, I know.  But the thing did the job.  She was able to complete this scarf in a couple of hours and is making more.

To finger weave, simply wind the yarn around your fingers of your not dominate hand, front and back and then back to the first, then one more time forward and back so you see two threads on each finger.

Lift the bottom thread over the top thread and over your finger. Do this on all fingers.  Then repeat the winding thread over the fingers until you have two threads again and lift etc....

Friday, September 17, 2010

View from the table

It's been a while since I have tried (since I have no real skillz in the area) to take a nice picture out the side window by my table.  This was a very nice morning. What brought me to the window was the sounds of the Marching Band at the nearby high school wafting across the fields.  I went to the window to let in the sound of the drums and some fresh air.

If you could see down on the field just to the left of the photo you would also be able to see a herd of prong horn who are enjoying a nice breakfast of hay.  Or at least they like to lie in the cool hay.  When they do you almost can't see them, especially when it's tall.  I can't see them from my window because of the house behind mine, but when I drove by 20 min. later they were there.  It's been one of their favorite fields this summer.

Here are a few of the prong horns in a view looking back towards my neighborhood.   My neighbor happened to post some pictures the same day as I, so I borrowed one from her.  

Monday, September 13, 2010

Peanut Butter Truffle Cupcakes and PB Cream Cheese Frosting

Oh Yeah! 

These cupcakes are so yummy.   It is one of those recipes where I hate to give up my secrets.  But I will share this time.  I made them for my daughters 'party.' That thing they do about every other week anyway with her two best friends but I decided to make it a little more special. It was the last late night of the summer.  I hope she appreciated it.  It was a mystery theme. First they had pizza, then they had to solve 4 parts of a mystery. They were given clues throughout the night and in between they played the Whodunit game and tried to watch Nancy Drew, but didn't get very far with the movie.

Half of the girls fun is making invitations and decorations all the days leading up to their evening event.  They taped finger prints all around the house and other cut outs and paper chains.  Sometimes they even plan enough to dress alike, but this time they didn't. 

First part of the mystery they had to figure out where a crime was committed.  It was in the kitchen.
Second part, they had to figure out what the crime was.  Cupcakes were stolen.  I made these in advance and hid them, she didn't know.
Third, they had to find out who did it.  Mom.  It's always mom's fault anyway right?
Last they had to find the evidence.  The cupcakes.

Really, I think I may have had as much fun coming up with all the  puzzles and clues as they did solving them.  the ranged from simple (or hard) puzzles to having to fingerprint everyone in the whole house.  Each clue took them almost 20-30 minutes to solve.  I thought it wouldn't take so long.   It ended up not being so late of a night, one girl had to go home early.

As for the cupcakes, Yummm.  The cupcake was a regular enough chocolate but the truffle inside made them so much more awesome. I think I may have eaten one or two of the truffles all by themselves before putting the rest into the cupcakes.   The frosting was so yummy and I could just sit and eat it alone also.  Bad me!    

6 oz. white chocolate, chopped
¼ cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Place white chocolate in medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium just until chocolate is soft; stir until smooth. Whisk in ¼ cup peanut butter until smooth.
Refrigerate 20 to 30 minutes or until firm. Using 1 tablespoon each, roll chocolate mixture into 12 (1-inch) balls; place on waxed paper-lined plate. Roll each ball in cocoa powder to coat completely. Freeze on lined plate 1 to 3 hours or until frozen solid. (Truffles can be frozen overnight.)

¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with cupcake liners; spray bottom of liners with nonstick cooking spray. Sift flour, sugar, ½ cup cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into medium bowl; combine.
Place buttermilk, eggs and vanilla into a large mixing bowl; beat at medium speed until blended. Reduce speed to medium-low; slowly beat in flour mixture. Add melted butter. Increase speed to medium-high; beat 2 minutes.  Divide batter equally among muffin cups, filling each about three-fourths full.  (I thought this might be too much but after they cooled they shrunk a bit.)

Gently drop frozen truffle into center of each batter-filled cup. Do not push truffle into batter, it will sink during baking.  (I put mine in still frozen, I wonder if they had been thawed a bit if they wouldn't melt into the cake a bit?)
Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpicks inserted in centers come out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan; cool completely.


1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 8 oz. package cream cheese, room temp
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

Sift powdered sugar into large bowl. Add cream cheese, butter, and peanut butter. Using electric mixer, beat mixture until smooth. Spread frosting over top of cupcakes, dividing equally.

These cupcakes would do well with a chocolate or ganache frosting also.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Cucumber and Tomato Salad

This year I planted a different variety of Cucumber. I got tired of the other cuc's being bitter half the time. So my SIL told me about a Japanese cucumber she grew and I decided to try it. When I went to the store they told me she probably meant an Armenian Cucumber.   These things are big.  The two below are actually the smaller ones.  I took pictures of my first cucumbers.  But I had one almost 24 inches last week. 

My kids sometimes eat cucumbers without complaint.  And I usually love them with vinegar and salt give or take something a little extra.  But this year I just was not into the cucumber.   My husband says they tasted like they were all rind.  I liked them ok but they seemed to have more seeds packed in them per inch.  One recipe I managed to get in with some of my first tomatoes, which did not do so well this year, along with the rest of my garden, is a simple cucumber and tomato salad.

I got the recipe from a neighbor and I like that it is simple and just about what I normally do with a cucumber, only with the more goodness of a tomato added.  With these cucumbers it makes a ton!  when it said 2-3 cucumbers, I used only one.

Cucumber Tomato Salad

2-3 cucumbers
2-3 tomatoes
1 onion

Not to specific there so go with what looks right to you.  Less onion, more tomato, etc.  Dice cuc's and tomatoes and onion.  Combine vegis in bowl and sprinkle with salt.  Add oil, vinegar, and water to taste.  It's going to depend on how much of the vegies you used and how tart etc you want it to be.  I used Olive Oil and not very much of it and I left the water out altogether, there is enough juice from the tomatoes for me.

Now I think I may need to make some more of this for lunch today.  If I hurry and get the dishes done I can whip some up and it can marinate in time for lunch.

Friday, September 3, 2010


This is the diorama my daughter made for a book report over a year ago.   It was one of my favorite books when I was younger (you know, out of like a thousand favorites) and I helped her and thought she did such a good job.  We found it cleaning her room the other day and although I would like to keep it I know that is not reality and took a picture before we dumped it.    

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Pesto Rolls

Wow, this blogging thing is really hard to keep up with.  My hat's off to those of you who really keep up with it.

These simple rolls were made with the pesto I made a while ago.  Simply use your prefered bread dough and roll out, spread with desired amount of pesto, roll up then slice and bake.   And most importantly, eat.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

More Kids Crafts


This is a few of the Fashions that my daughter comes up with using one of her fashion booklets.  It comes with templates to trace and she adds extras and things.    She puts them on velcro in this book.


Also she and her friend made these modge podge frames out of tissue and poster board one day.

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