Monday, May 31, 2010

Busy with Beads

My table has been taken over the last couple of weeks.  I made a few watch bands as presents the last two weeks and that turned into a few more people wanting some.  I thought it would be fun to take some pictures to remember how I composed them.  I didn't get a picture of my red/fall one though and a couple others.

I hope they enjoy them!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Rhubarb Crumb Bars

This was my Rhubarb yesterday.

Here is my Rhubarb today!
Which one would you choose?

I should have taken another picture of just the stalk I think this was my largest rhubarb leaf ever.  It was almost 2 feet in diameter (just the leaf).  I measured.

These bars are my third favorite rhubarb recipe.  First being plain ol' Rhubarb Pie with vanilla ice cream, NO STRAWBERRIES!!! Really I think that is nasty.  Ok, now that I think about it, just plain rhubarb jam-like ice cream topping has to be high on the list too, but I don't know where to put it in the order.  Someday I may share my second favorite, but not today.  This is another Martha recipe.

Rhubarb Crumb Bars


     6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus room-temperature butter for pan
     1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
     1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
     1/4 teaspoon salt
     1/2 pound rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
     1 tablespoon light-brown sugar
     1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
     1/2 teaspoon baking powder
     1/4 teaspoon salt
     1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
     1 cup confectioners' sugar
     2 large eggs
     1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


   1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides. Butter and flour parchment and pan, tapping out excess flour.
   2. Make streusel: Whisk together butter, brown sugar, and salt. Add flour and mix with a fork until large crumbs form. Refrigerate until ready to use.
   3. Make cake: In a medium bowl, combine rhubarb, brown sugar, and 1/4 cup flour. In another medium bowl, whisk 3/4 cup flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy; beat in eggs, one at a time. With mixer on low, beat in vanilla, then flour mixture. Spread batter in prepared pan. Sprinkle with rhubarb and top with streusel.
   4. Bake cake until golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool completely in pan. Using paper overhang, lift cake from pan. Cut into 16 bars.

I baked my bars in a larger pan (on purpose) so in an 8x8 pan they will be higher.  Also the streusel covered my larger pan just fine so for a smaller pan it will be plenty.

Monday, May 24, 2010

View from My Table, May 24th.

The weather this year have been very disappointing.  I was at Kindergarten today and missed taking a picture that was really snowy.  By the time I got home it was all wet and compacted.   My garden is very weak, I hope it warms up enough to plant before mid June.  I guess I will have to forget seeds and just to seedlings this year.  If I can find any.  Anytime I try to start stuff in doors I end up with a mess and nothing lives when I put it outside. Take my broccoli for instance.  I started cool weather broccoli this year and the day or two after I put it out we had a big hail storm that ripped it all to shreds.  Usually it just dies of heat or something.  At least this time it lived until the hail came.  Because of that nasty weather I also have had no flowers to enjoy.  I finally got a few tiny daffodils and thought I should cut those and take them inside to enjoy in a vase, but decided they would last longer outside.  WRONG.  The next day they were gone.  Stupid storms.   Honestly I don't know if I was young and naive or what because I do not remember weather this bad this late when I was younger.  I do remember a snow storm usually every April but that was surrounded by several nice days.   It seems the last several years have been bad way into June.  Ok, enough whining.  I have lots of work to accomplish today. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Banana-Walnut Chocolate-Chunk Cookies

I have shared this recipe before, but not on my blog.  My husband wanted to make Banana bread this weekend with the over ripe bananas left on the counter.  Really, I think he left them there on purpose because bananas do not generally sit un-eaten in my house.  The banana bread I make usually has a lot more than just bananas ( apple/zucchini/carrot +)  and I didn't want that much work.  This recipe popped into my head and I knew it would be a better solution. 

We made them using a gluten free flour mix instead of the wheat/white flour.  They turned out so good but a little more crumbly/cakey than they might have been.  They were so crumbly that they prompted a whole song from my 6 yr. old. generally consisting of a lot of words that rhyme with crumby or crumble.  We did a first test batch and decided that we would put the rest in a pan to make bars.  I think this was a wise decision, mostly because then I only had to make one batch instead of several pans full.  It turned out very well this way and I would love to tell you how long I baked them, but I didn't pay attention.  I think it was around 15 min?  Mostly I baked until they really started to smell good and then I checked and they looked done.  My husband is always appalled that I don't use a timer all the time.   The other day he asked me how long to cook something (I don't remember what it was)  I said I don't know maybe about 'this' long.  He set the timer and was shocked that it wasn't done when the timer went off.  "Uh, I told you I didn't know for sure!"

I think this was originally a Martha recipe.

Banana-Walnut Chocolate-Chunk Cookies

Ingredients :
1 cup all- purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp coarse salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (about 1 large)
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped into 1/2 inch chunks (~224 gr)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (about 2 ounces), toasted

Directions :
1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Whisk together both flours, salt and baking soda in a bowl.
2. Put butter and both sugars into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to low. Add egg and vanilla; mix until combined. Mix in banana. Add flour mixture just combined. Stir in oats, chocolate chunks, and walnut.
3. Using a 1 1/2 inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until golden brown and just set, 12-13 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks; let cool completely. Cookies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature up to 2 days.
Makes about 3 dozen.

For a Gluten free version you can probably use whatever flour mix you like.  The mix we used was 
6 parts brown rice flour 
2 parts potato starch
1 part Tapioca flour

Just use 1 1/2 cups of the final flour mix.  
Also I added a teaspoon of Xanthan gum to the batter, I perhaps needed more, I don't have the whole Xanthan thing figured out yet.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Cherry Dress

I thought this material would make a cute quick dress.  And it did.  All I had to do was sew up the side then make some straps.  My daughter did all the ironing, she didn't feel like sewing this time.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ice Cream Sandwiches

Oh boy, did I have trouble with these.  The cookie part turned out ok but when I went to put the ice cream in it was melting faster than I could handle.  I also made these for the same church function and they didn't freeze so well at the church either.  They were very melty.  Once I got them home, however, they froze in my freezer just fine and I was able to eat a whole one without any drips at all.  In order to hold all the sandwiches I made (about 40) I had to put them in my deep freeze, which I guess isn't so frozen as my fridge/freezer.  So lesson # 1 make sure your ice cream is really frozen before you begin and freeze them quickly after assembly.

As for the chocolate cookie, after being frozen it is not soft like a store bought ice cream sandwich, but sort of hard as in it cracks when you bite it but its not hard like an oreo hard, just not bendy cake-like soft. Kind of chewy.  I liked it, it was sort of an addicting texture to me. 

I used 3 different flavors of ice cream in my cookies, Chocolate Chip, Peppermint and French vanilla.  I liked the Peppermint best.

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup cocoa, sifted
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
extra flour and cocoa for dusting

In your stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for several minutes until light and fluffy.
Add the cocoa powder, mixing on low speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Then add the vanilla and the egg and blend on medium speed until thoroughly combined.  Add the flour on low speed, mixing until uniform and comes together like a dough. 
Remove the cookie dough from the mixer, wrap in plastic and chill until firm (this should take several hours). You can store the dough wrapped like this for 2-3 days if you wish to make it in advance.
When ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 350°F.  Remove your dough from the refrigerator, if it is hard as a rock allow to stand at room temperature for a little while before exercising your rolling muscles on it.  In a small bowl, mix together enough flour and cocoa to dust your cutting board and your dough to keep it from sticking (a mix of 50/50 flour/cocoa). Using cocoa powder to dust will keep the surface of your cookies dark and chocolaty looking.  Roll out your chilled dough to about 1/8" thickness and cut out your shapes. (I tried some cookies with holes and some without.  It didn't seem to matter much.  Holes had a little less but not much bubbling.)  Bake for 10 minutes, until the surface is no longer glossy. Allow to cool completely on wire racks. They will be soft fresh out of the oven but will crisp up as they cool.  Once cool, place the cookies in a ziplock baggie or other container and freeze until ready to use.

To fill with ice cream, open carton and slice desired size slices.  Cut to same size/and shape as cookies then sandwich together.  Freeze until serving time.
If you use home made icecream or can not slice it, quickly spread in a baking sheet and freeze again, then cut desired shapes.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Bean and Corn Salad

If you come to visit me tomorrow, This is what I will be offering you.  I made this bowl full for an R.S. activity tonight and very little was eaten.  I hope it wasn't because the ladies found it yucky, I'm sure it was because most had eaten dinner and other things were probably more tempting to taste.  I happen to like it but have only made it once before.  No one would eat it in my family except my husband and I.  Also it makes a ton.

I got this recipe from my Mother in law.  I never cared for bean salad before I tasted this version.  I like the fresh vegetables in it and would try fresh green beans if I had any.  The onions are from my garden of course and as such are a little more strong.  I leave out some of the sugar, I don't care for it too sweet.    I also tossed in some garbanzo beans for fun.  The dressing also makes it's own ton and half would be enough probably.  I added a little extra other ingredients and still had soup at the bottom of the bowl. 

I like this salad, the vinegar is probably what does this for me.  I suppose it is just if you like this sort of thing whether you would enjoy it also.  Drop on by and have a sample.  I'll never be able to eat it all that is for sure.

Bean & Corn Salad

1 16 can each of
   Kidney beans
   Green beans
   Yellow wax beans
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 med. green pepper, chopped
1 med. red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup olives
1/2 cup green onions, chopped


1 cup sugar
1 cup white vinegar
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 teas. dry mustard
1/4 teas. salt

Combine all Salad ingredients in large bowl.  Mix dressing ingredients in small bowl.  Toss salad and dressing together.  Refrigerate before serving.
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