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Anything is good, in moderation. I cook because I love to and because I can share with those around me. I crochet for the same reason.

Do what you want to do, enjoy what you do and use it to touch those around you.

Dec 31, 2011

Cabbage and Sausage Soup

There is a Pennsylvania Dutch tradition of eating Pork and Sauerkraut on New Years Day to bring good luck in the new year.  If you don't like Sauerkraut, try this soup.  At least it is Pork and Cabbage.  If you don't want Pork, you can use Turkey Sausage.  I like to use Hot, but if you  prefer less spice, use mild.  Also, if you don't use many mushrooms or celery in your home, get just what you need from the salad bar.  It may cost more per pound, but it is cheaper in the long run if you don't throw out food.  For the broccoli, you can use fresh or frozen.  If using frozen, put it in the pot frozen.  Finally, this freezes well.  I freeze it in single serve containers for a quick lunch or dinner.  Serves 6.

12 Ounces Italian Sausage
3 Ounces Mushrooms, chopped
1 Stalk Celery, chopped
1 Tsp Caraway Seeds
1/2 Tsp Black Peppercorns
29 Ounces Low Sodium Beef Broth
2 Cups Potato, diced
2 Cups Broccoli
2 Cups Shredded Cabbage
1.5 Cups 1% Milk

In a 4 quart Dutch oven, brown the sausage.  When browned, add the celery and mushrooms and soften.  While they soften, crush the caraway seeds and black pepper (easiest to use a coffee grinder that you use just for spices).  When crushed, add to the pot along with the beef stock - bring to a boil.  Add the potatoes.  Cover and cook for 10 minutes.  Add the broccoli and cook until potatoes and broccoli are tender.  Stir in cabbage and milk, return to a simmer and cook until cabbage is tender (about 5 minutes).

Dec 30, 2011

Cheddar Beer Soup

When making soup, use ingredients that you would eat independently.  For example, for this soup, I used Cracker Barrel Aged Sharp Cheddar and Sam Adams Boston Lager because they are ingredients that I would use alone.  In addition, I used Frank's Red Hot Extra Hot because I prefer things spicy.  However, please note, 1 tsp is not enough to add any real spice to this soup.  So if you don't like things spicy, this is just right.  If you do, triple the amount listed in the recipe.  If you do not drink, you may replace the beer with additional chicken stock.

With the vegetables, this soup is excellent alone.  However, there are also endless add ins.  For example, Hubby put it over cooked pasta with a little crushed crouton on top (he considered adding chicken, too).  I cooked some bacon and crumbled it into the soup along with some boiled, diced potatoes.  Let me know what you add.  This recipe makes 8 servings.

  1 Cup Carrots, Diced                                                               1/2 Cup Cake Flour
  1 Head Garlic, Roasted                                                            1 Tsp Frank's Red Hot
  1 Cup Carrots, Diced                                                               1/2 Tsp dry mustard
  3 Cups Chicken Stock                                                             12 Ounce Beer
  1 Lb Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated                                        

Sauté the diced carrots until tender but still a little crisp.  Add peppers and garlic and sauté lightly.  Add chicken stock, red hot and mustard, bring to a boil.  Stir together flour and cheese and add to the simmering soup.  When cheddar is fully melted, add the beer and heat through.

Per Serving: 302 Cal (60% from Fat, 26% from Protein, 15% from Carb); 19 g Protein; 20 g Tot Fat; 12 g Sat Fat; 6 g Mono Fat; 11 g Carb; 1 g Fiber; 2 g Sugar; 426 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 964 mg Sodium

Dec 29, 2011

Snickers Fudge

I wanted fudge, but I didn't want plain fudge.  If you prefer things to be evenly distributed, this may not be a recipe for you as the snickers are jumbled throughout.

  1 Bag Snickers Miniatures                                                       2/3 Cup Evaporated Milk
  2.07 Ounce Snickers Bar                                                         12 Ounce Chocolate Chips
  3 Cups Sugar                                                                           7 Ounce Marshmallow Cream
  3/4 Cup Butter                                                                         1 Tsp Vanilla

Cut miniatures in half, cut Snickers bar into 1/2 inch slices.  Put in a large bowl and set aside.

Line a 9 inch square pan with non stick foil, set aside.

In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar, butter and milk over medium heat.  Cook, stirring constantly, until a candy thermometer reads 234 degrees.  Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips, marshmallow cream and vanilla until smooth.  Stir in snickers and pour into pan.

Let stand at room temperature to cool.  Cut and enjoy.

Dec 28, 2011

Tiger Butter

At a cooking class, our instructor mentioned Tiger Butter.  I had no idea what it was, so I had to find out.  It is chocolate - peanut butter melt away heaven.

  1 Lb White Chocolate Melts                                                    1 Cup Jif
  1.25 Lb Milk Chocolate Melts                                                

Line a jelly roll pan with a silicone mat or nonstick foil, set aside.  Melt Milk chocolate melts and White Chocolate melts in separate pans.  Stir the Jif into the white chocolate and mix until thoroughly combined.  Pour together then pour onto a prepared pan.  Swirl together to get a striped effect being careful not to stir them together (you want it to be striped, similar to a marble cake).  Let cool and cut or break into pieces.

Dec 27, 2011

Best Mac and Cheese EVER

I have made this recipe several times, but I don't think I have made it the same way twice.  Use whatever meat, vegetable and cheese mixture you like.  I have done ham and broccoli with cheddar, Chorizo sausage and asparagus with mozzarella, asiago and Gorgonzola and as listed below when my niece came for dinner.  If you cannot find Herbs de Province, use any seasoning blend you like or select your own to taste.

  1.5 Lb Hot Italian Turkey Sausage                                         1 Cup Chicken Stock
  2 Tbl Olive Oil                                                                      1 Tsp Oregano
  1 Tbl Herbs De Province                                                      1.5 Cups Mozzarella
  8 Ounce Tri Color Pasta                                                       1.5 Cups Asiago Cheese
  12 Ounce Frozen Spinach                                                     3/4 Cup Parmesan
  3 Tbl Butter                                                                         2 Cups Panko
  3 Tbl Cake Flour                                                                  2 Tbl Butter
  2 Cups Heavy Cream                                                              

Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside.

Thaw spinach and twist in a towel to drain thoroughly.  Add to pasta.

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a shallow casserole dish.

In a heavy saucepan, heat oil and cook the sausage.  Drain and add to pasta bowl.  Stir in Herbs De Province and Oregano.

In same pan, melt 3 Tbl butter.  Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until flour is bubbly and light brown.  Slowly add cream, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly to avoid lumps.  Add the chicken stock and stir thoroughly.  Turn off heat.  Stir in all cheeses.  When melted, pour this mixture over the pasta mixture.  Mix thoroughly and put into a greased shallow baking dish.  Melt remaining butter and stir together with bread crumbs and pour over the top of the casserole.  Bake for 20 minutes until hot and bubbly.

Dec 26, 2011

Puppy Training

Tonight, Abby graduated from Puppy class.  This by no way means she is always perfectly behaved, but the last 6 weeks has gotten her well on her way.  Along the way, we were joined with Blackjack, Landon, Hunter, Zoey, Charlie and Chase.  With all of the people and dogs, it gave us not only the opportunity to learn sit, down, come, stay, leave it, drop and others, it also started the socialization to proceed.  If you get a puppy, I highly recommend puppy training.  If you have a young dog and never did puppy training, PetSmart offers beginner training for older dogs.  Karen was an excellent trainer and was patient with all the humans and loved all the dogs.  Pictures of Charlie and Chase are missing, but here are the rest of the class:





And Abby:

Cream of Corn Soup

This soup is best made with fresh or freshly frozen corn kernels, but frozen corn can be used as well.  Roasted garlic adds a nice depth.  When you roast the garlic, roast several and freeze what you don't use immediately.  To freeze, wrap in saran wrap and place in a freezer bag.

  1 Tsp Olive Oil                                                                        1/2 Tsp freshly ground black pepper
  1 Head Roasted Garlic                                                             1/2 Tsp cayenne pepper
  4 Cups Corn Kernels                                                               1/2 Tsp paprika
  1 Cup Carrot, Chopped                                                            1/2 Tsp salt
  4 Cup chicken broth                                                                1 Tsp chili powder
  3/4 Cup Half & Half                                                               

Heat the oil in a pan and add the carrot until soft.  Add the garlic and corn and continue to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients to the pan and bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Season with the pepper and  salt.

Dec 25, 2011

Hol-ee Roller

Abby loved her Christmas present - a Holl-Ee Roller.  Made of strong rubber, you can put a tennis ball inside the toy and the dog can play with it as is or try and get the tennis ball, or other item that fits, out of the ball.  It also helps me distract her from her soccer ball and I can alternate between kicking the two toys (saves my toes, too).

Dec 24, 2011

Chicken Liver Chewies

The garlic is a natural flea repellent and the egg and oil are great for their skin.

  1.5 Cups whole wheat flour                                                     3 Large Eggs
  1.5 Cups regular flour                                                              3/4 Cup Chicken Liver Broth
  1.5 Cups white cornmeal                                                         5 Garlic Cloves
  1/4 Cup olive oil                                                                      20 Ounce Chicken Livers

Put chicken livers in a pan and cover with water.  Boil until done, only adding water if they start to get dry.  Reserve 3/4 cup of the cooking water. 

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Place olive oil, eggs, chicken stock, garlic cloves, and boiled chicken  in the blender. Blend until well mix, a little chunky not quite smooth. Then mix in the flours and cornmeal. Line a cookie sheet with non stick foil and press the mixture into the pan.  Score to desired size.   Bake 20 minutes. Store in the fridge or freeze if you will not use within four days.

Dec 23, 2011

Spinach and Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Cheese, yogurt and mayo can be any fat content.

  3/4 Cups Cheddar, Shredded                                                   1 Cup Fresh Spinach, coarsely
  1/2 Cup Greek Yogurt                                                             -chopped
  1/2 Cup Mayonnaise                                                                12 Ounce Roasted Red Pepper,
  1 Tbl Flour                                                                               -drained and chopped
  1 Tsp Dijon Mustard                                                               

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, stir together cheese, yogurt, mayonnaise, flour, and mustard. Stir in spinach and roasted red peppers. Spread mixture evenly into a 9-inch pie plate. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until edges are bubbly and mixture is heated through.

Dec 21, 2011

Sweet Potato Dog Treats

Made with baby food, these are especially easy to make.  I purchased a two pack of Gerber Stage Two Sweet Potato to make these and used both containers.

  1 Cup Cheddar, Shredded                                                         1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
  1 Stick Butter                                                                           1 Tsp Garlic Powder
  7 Ounce Sweet Potato Baby Food                                             1/2 Cup 1% Milk
  1 Cup All Purpose Flour 
Put flours and garlic powder in a large bowl and set aside.  In a pan, put cheese and butter heat until melted.  Stir in Sweet Potatoes.  Add to flour mixture and stir well.  Add milk and stir until well combined.  Chill for 30 - 45 minutes (until cool  enough to handle).

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a jelly roll sized baking sheet with non stick foil.  Press dough into pan, score into sizes you want and bake for 20 - 30 minutes (they should be golden). 

Dec 20, 2011

Light Salt Caramels

I like these a little better than the Dark Salt Caramels I posted, and these can be enjoyed by anyone (the others have soy). 

  1/4 Cup Water                                                                         5 Tbl Unsalted Butter
  1 1/2 Cups Sugar                                                                     2 Tsp Sea Salt
  1/4 Cup Corn Syrup                                                                 1/2 Tsp Vanilla
  1 Cup Heavy Cream                                                               

Line an 8 inch square baking pan with parchment paper.

In a 4 quart saucepan, combine water, sugar and corn syrup and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Boil until the mixture is a warm golden brown.  Don't stir - just swirl the pan.

In the meantime, in a small pot, bring the cream and butter to a simmer over medium heat.  Turn off heat and set aside.

When the sugar mixture is done, turn off the heat and slowly add the cream mixture to the sugar mixture - be careful, it will bubble violently.  Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon and cook over medium-low heat until the mixture reaches 250 degrees.
Pour into the pan and allow to cool slightly.  Top with salt and cool completely.  Cut into pieces and wrap in parchment paper or cellophane squares.

Dec 19, 2011

Peanut Butter Patties - Abby tested and approved

I'll admit, I went a little crazy baking different dog treats. Some of it was due to the volume of treats we are going through for puppy training, some were to share with our other puppy class puppies and a lot of it was that these freeze beautifully and I won't need to make any more for awhile.  During my cooking, I made pumpkin, peanut butter, sweet potato and chicken treats - all will be made available.  Pumpkin was posted all ready, here are the peanut butter, the others will follow in the next week.  The good news?  Abby trains with these REALLY well.  The bad news?  Every time she sees a container that looks like the ones I have the treats in, she goes BONKERS.

  1 1/2 Cup water                                                                       2 1/2 Cup whole wheat flour
  1/4 Cup Olive Oil                                                                      3/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
  1/4 Cup Unsweetened Apple Sauce                                           1 Cup cornmeal
  2 Large Eggs                                                                            3/4 Cup Old Fashioned Oatmeal
  1/3 Cup Jif                                                                              

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix water, oil, applesauce, and eggs together well. Combine the peanut butter (add 2 additional Tablespoons if using crunchy), flours, cornmeal and oatmeal in a large bowl. Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients bowl and mix thoroughly until thoroughly combined. Line a jelly roll pan with nonstick foil or parchment paper.  Roll dough to cover the entire pan.  Score into the sizes you want.  Bake for 20 minutes.  For soft treats, remove immediately. 

Dec 18, 2011

Mint Meltaways and/or homemade soft Candy Canes

This are nice little minty bites - similar to a butter mint.  If you like, add the peppermint extract, mix well and divide the dough in half.  Keep half white, color the other half with red.  Roll into two ropes (one white, one red), twist together and refrigerate.  Cut and sugar as below.

  3 Ounce Cream Cheese, Room Temp                                      4 Drops Yellow Food Coloring
  3 Cups Confectioners Sugar                                                    2 Drops Blue Food Coloring
  2 Tsp Peppermint Extract                                                         3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
Combine cream cheese and confectioners sugar and beat for 1 minute.  Add extract and food coloring, mix well until mixture is green.  If this becomes too stiff for your mixer, you can knead it by hand.  Cut two pieces of parchment to fit a cookie sheet.  Press the mixture as flat as you can with your hands, sugar both sides with a dusting of confectioners sugar and put between the pieces of parchment.  Use a rolling pin and roll to 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick.  Refrigerate for at least an hour OR Freeze for 15 minutes.  Put Granulated sugar in a gallon size ziploc bag.  Use a pizza cutter to cut the mints into the size(s) you want and place into the bag.  Shake gently to coat with sugar.  Refrigerate until ready to use - up to 3 weeks.  Can be Frozen.

Dec 17, 2011

Pumpkin Puree goes to the Dogs - Cookies, that is

Still have pumpkin puree after you make your pie?  Have a dog or at least know someone that does?  Make these cookies - they will love them.  If you don't have sour milk, pour 1/2 cup milk and add 1/2 tsp lemon juice.

  1 1/2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour                                                1/2 Tsp Nutmeg
  1/2 Cup Pumpkin Puree                                                           4 Tbl Shortening
  1 Tbl Light Brown Sugar                                                          1 Large Egg
  1/2 Tsp Cinnamon                                                                   1/2 Cup Sour Milk

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar and cut in shortening.  Beat egg with milk and then beat in pumpkin.  Add the flour mixture and mix well until a soft dough forms.  Using a 1 tbl scoop, drop on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes.  Allow to cool and store in an air tight container or zip lock bag.

Dec 16, 2011

Pumkin Pie to use your Pumpkin Puree

Now that you have your pumpkin puree, time to make pies.  The recipe can be made as indicated OR you can replace the 5 ounce can of evaporated milk with a 5 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk.  If you like a sweeter pie or if you are using a pumpkin or squash that isn't as sweet as a pie pumpkin or neck squash (pumpkin), then this is the option for you.

  4 Cups Pumpkin Puree                                                           1 Tsp Nutmeg
  1 Cup Brown Sugar                                                                12 Ounce Evaporated Milk
  3 Large Eggs                                                                         5 Ounce Evaporated Milk
  2 Tsp Cinnamon                                                                     2 - 9 Inch Pie Crusts

Preheat oven to 425.  Put pie crust into 9 inch pans.  With a mixer, blend all of your ingredients together.  Pour the mixture into your pie crusts.  Bake the pies for about 10 minutes, and then reduce the heat to 325.  Cook the pies for about an hour until set.

Dec 15, 2011

Pumpkin Puree

Canned pumpkin is good, but if you ever make your own pumpkin puree, you will never go back.  Making puree is easy, you just need patience (if you know me, please stop giggling).

Step 1:  Roast Your Pumpkin

For this, you have two options:

Option 1:  Oven Roast:  Turn your oven or electric roaster to 325 degrees.  While it heats, cut your pumpkin in half and remove the seeds and pulp (no need to peel).  Spray the bottom of a pan or your roaster with vegetable cooking spray.  Place the pumpkin in the pan, cut side down, and add just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan.  Place in oven or put lid on the roaster and roast for 1 to 2.

Option 2:  Slow Cooker:  Cut your pumpkin into pieces, removing the seeds and pulp, no need to peel.  Put pieces in your slow cooker, add 1/4 cup water and cook for 2 - 4 hours on high or 6 - 8 hours on low.

Step 2:  Make your puree

When the Pumpkin is soft, put the pieces in a colander and allow to drain for about an hour (this will also allow it to be cool enough to handle).  Using a spoon, remove pulp from skin.  You can then make puree by either running it through a food mill or pulsing it in a food processor.

Once finished, place in a wire mesh sieve OR a colander lined with a towel and place over a large bowl.  Let sit at least 24 hours to drain.

Once drained, use in your favorite recipe or freeze.  I like to freeze mine in 1 cup containers so I only need to pull out what I need.

Dec 14, 2011

Apple Sausage with Raspberry Dijon Sauce

We had a dish like this when we visited Lancaster County and enjoyed it so much I tried to make it at home.  The chef shared the ingredients to the sauce, but the ratios are my own.  You can use whatever sausage you have on hand - even the venison breakfast sausage posted previously.  Serve with a side salad or cole slaw.

Apple Sausage

  1 Lb Sausage                                                                        1 Tsp Salt
  1 Cup Granny Smith Apple                                                    1/2 Tsp Pepper
  1/2 Tsp Sage                                                                         3/4 Cup Panko
  1/4 Tsp Thyme                                                                      1 Large Egg
  1 1/2 Tsp Brown Sugar                                                          1/2 Tsp Cinnamon

Put sausage and apple in a food processor and pulse.  Add remaining ingredients and blend well.

Per Serving: 339 Cal (63% from Fat, 21% from Protein, 16% from Carb); 18 g Protein; 23 g Tot Fat; 7 g Sat Fat; 10 g Mono Fat;  13 g Carb; 1 g Fiber; 4 g Sugar; 45 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 1074 mg Sodium

Raspberry Dijon Sauce
  3 Tbl Apple Raspberry Jelly                                                    Dash Cayenne Pepper
  3 Tbl Dijon Mustard                                                                1 Tsp Rice Wine Vinegar

Blend all ingredients, use on Apple Sausage or a salad.

Dec 13, 2011

Crochet Soap Holder

Do you use bar soap or keep it in your guest bath?  When it gets to small pieces, it can sometimes be easier to throw it out than to keep hold of it, so this will come in handy.  It also works well as a body scrubber, and it is so much easier with the soap inside.

Size J crochet hook
2 – 3 ounces Worsted weight yarn
FPDC = Front Post Double Crochet
BPDC = Back Post Double Crochet

Chain 5, join with a slip stitch

This project is worked in the round, so it is important to mark the first stitch of each round with a safety pin or paper clip.

Row 1:  8 SC in loop created by the chains/slip (mark the first chain)

Row 2:  2 SC in each chain 

Row 3:  (1 SC in the first chain, 2 SC in the next chain) – repeat to the end.

Row 4:  DC in each stitch around.

Row 5:  (FPDC in first stitch, BPDC in second stitch) – repeat to the end.

Row 6:  (FPDC in each FP DC, BPDC in each BPDC – repeat until the pouch reaches the length you want.


Finish Row 1:  HDC in each stitch around and join with a slip stitch.

Finish Row 2:  (SC in next stitch, chain 1, skip a stitch) – repeat around and join with a slip stitch at the end.

Finish Row 3:  Single crochet in each stitch around.  Finish off.


Crochet a Chain that is 100 chains long.  Tie the center to one of the ch 1 posts.  Weave through the top of the bag and tie off.

Dec 12, 2011

Dog Poker Box

No, this is not a velvet painting of dogs.  This is a dog activity box by Trixie.  You put treats and/or food in four compartments and the dog has to figure out how to open them.  This is another toy that allows your dog to figure out where his food is instead of it being gone in 60 seconds.

Abby just had to be shown once how each one opened and now she is old hand.  She gets very excited when she sees this toy and will continue to play with it if we close all of the compartments in front of her without replacing the treats.  Excellent purchase.

Dec 11, 2011

Boyd Big Tree Preserve Conservation Area

Today, Hubby and I took Abby to Boyd Big Tree Preserve Conservation Area.  This is one of the newest outdoor recreation areas in Pennsylvania.  Hubby and I were introduced to it the weekend the entered via a local newspaper and radio station announcing their participation in the opening.  There are 1,025 acres of land with 12 miles of well marked and well maintained hiking trails.  Those trails also connect with other hiking trails in the area that are labeled with white blazes.  There is hunting allowed on 800 acres of this area, so wear appropriate attire during hunting season.  If you are taking your dog, there are orange vests available for them, too.  The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources website has maps, recreation guides and events listings for you.  If you are a Criminal Minds fan, you will recognize the sign at the entrance of the park from an episode of the show.  The photo above is from the red trail.

Wondering what a Conservation Area is?  According to Wikipedia, a conservation area is different from a state park. Conservation areas have much less development on the lands than a state park. They are large tracts of land with few improvements, a lack of through roads and the recreational facilities are minimal. There is an effort to manage the resources with minimal development of the park.