Follow on Facebook!

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.

Nov 29, 2013

Pet Ruminations

Yesterday, you learned Thanksgiving Trivia.

Today, our pet's view of Thanksgiving.

Pet Ruminations

Nov 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello and thank you for spending time with me by reading these posts.  I am thankful for a lot in my life and don't take time to recognize that often enough, so my goal is to keep the spirit of thanksgiving throughout the year.  

To learn more about this holiday, try these sites:

Nov 27, 2013

Stovetop Beans and Bacon

Okay, so this would not be a traditional Thanksgiving side, but how about AFTER Thanksgiving for a change?  You can use any mustard you like - I used Mr. Mustard.

32 ounces dry pinto beans
8 cups water
1 1/2 lbs bacon
1/4 cup diced onion
3 Tbl minced garlic
1 cup diced bell pepper
1 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup ketchup
3 Tbl mustard
1 Tbl chili powder
2 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper

Place beans in water and soak for at least 4 hours.

Heat a cast iron dutch oven over medium heat.  While heating, slice bacon into pieces.  Add to pot and cook until crispy.  Remove from pot, remove fat - keeping enough to soften onion and garlic.  Add onion and garlic to pot and cook until fragrant.  Add green pepper and cook until softened.  Add the beans and water to the pot, adding enough additional water to cover beans by 1 inch.  Bring to a boil and add brown sugar, ketchup, mustard, chili powder, salt and pepper.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer until the beans are tender (3 to 4 hours).

Nov 26, 2013

Pumpkin Waffles

Tis the time of year for about waffles?  These can be made in either a regular waffle iron or a Belgian waffle iron with a minor modification.

1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Tbl Cornstarch
1 Tbl Baking Powder
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/4 Tsp Freshly Ground Nutmeg (1/2 Tsp if jarred)
3/4 Cup Pumpkin Puree
2 Large Eggs (Separated, if making Belgian Waffles)
1 Cup 1% Milk
1/4 Cup REAL Maple Syrup
3 Tbl Melted Butter
1 Tsp Vanilla

For Regular Waffles - 2 Additional Large Eggs
For Belgian Waffles - 3 Additional Large Egg Whites

Preheat waffle maker on setting 4.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, stall, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.  Stir to blend and set aside.

For Belgian Waffles:
In another bowl, combine pumpkin, egg yolks, milk, maple syrup, melted butter and vanilla.  Stir until smooth.  Add to dry ingredients and blend until smooth.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold egg whites into Belgian Waffle mixture.  Cook until done.

For Regular Waffles:
In another bowl, combine pumpkin, eggs, milk, maple syrup, melted butter and vanilla.  Stir until smooth.  Add to dry ingredients and blend until smooth.  When waffle iron is hot, cook until done.

Nov 24, 2013

White Bean Soup with Spinach

Cold Winter Nights + Hot Soup = Relaxing.  Especially in front of a fire, reading a book, maybe even with a hot cup of tea.  No Quinoa?  Use Orzo Pasta.

1/4 Cup Sliced Carrot
1 Garlic Clove, Minced
1 Tsp Olive Oil
32 Ounce Chicken Stock
1/3 Cup Quinoa
2 1/2 Cups Chopped Spinach
15.5 Ounce Can Pinto Beans
3 Tbl Parmesan Cheese

Combine olive oil, garlic and carrots in a medium saucepan over medium heat until garlic begins to sizzle.  Add broth and bring to a boil.  Add Quinoa, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add kale and beans.  Cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in cheese and serve.

Nov 23, 2013

Pumpkin Pake (Yes - Pie + Cake)

No crust, just a yummy pumpkin pie topped with a crumbly white cake.  Wonderful warm with whipped topping.

You'll Need:

2 Cups Pureed Pumpkin
3 Large Eggs
12 Ounces Evaporated Milk
1 Cup Sugar
1/2 Tsp Salt
3 Tsp Cinnamon
1 Tsp Nutmeg
1 White Cake Mix
1 Stick Butter

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 13 pan and set aside.

Mix Pumpkin, Eggs, Milk, Sugar, Salt, Cinnamon and Nutmeg thoroughly.  Pour into pan.

Sprinkle cake mix over pumpkin mix.

Melt Butter and pour over cake mix.

Bake in heated oven for 1 hour.  Enjoy!

Nov 22, 2013

Birthday Fabulousness

I love my Hubby.  Every year, he takes on a new birthday cake challenge.  This year, it was a German Chocolate Cake with Frosting, Ganach AND whipped cream.  It was FABULOUS - and so large that it didn't fit under the lid on  my cake plate.

For the Cake:
12 Tbl Unsalted Butter
2 1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 Tbl Baking Powder
3/4 Tsp Baking Soda
3/4 Tsp Salt
1 Cup Dutch Process Cocoa
2 Tbl Dutch Process Cocoa
1 1/2 Cups Dark Brown Sugar
1 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 1/2 Cup Strong Black Coffee at Room Temperature
1 1/2 Cup Buttermilk
3 Large Eggs
2 Tsp Vanilla Extract

Heat oven to 325 Degrees.  Grease two 9 x 3 inch cake pans.  Line bottoms with parchment paper.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan.  Whisk in cocoa powder and cook for 1 minute.  Remove from heat and add sugars and whisk until the sugar has dissolved.  Add he coffee, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla and continue whisking until smooth and just combined.  Add to the dry ingredients and stir until the batter is smooth.

Divide batter evenly between the prepared cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (40 to 45 minutes).  Place on wire racks and cool for 20 minutes.  Remove from the pans and cool completely.

2 3/4 Cup Whole Milk
1  Can Unsweetened Coconut Milk
13 Tbl Granulated Sugar
2 Tbl Light Corn Syrup
2 Tbl Unsalted Butter (cold)
1/2 Tsp vanilla
1/8 Tsp Salt
2 Tsp Coconut Rum
1 1/4 Cups Coarsely Chopped Pecans, Toasted
1 1/4 Cups Sweetened Shredded Coconut, Toasted

Combine the whole milk and coconut milk in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat.  Keep warm while you prepare the caramel.

In a medium saucepan over high heat, combine the sugar and 1/4 cup water - stir until dissolved and then continue cooking WITHOUT STIRRING until a deep amber color.  Slowly and carefully whisk in the warm milk mixture and continue whisking until smooth.  Add corn syrup.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until sauce is reduced by half and has the consistency of a caramel sauce (about an hour).

Remove from heat and whisk in the butter, vanilla, salt and rum.  Transfer sauce to a medium bowl and stir in the pecans and shredded coconut.  Let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, before icing cake.

1 Cup Heavy Cream
8 Ounce Bittersweet Chocolate, finely chopped
2 Tbl Light Corn Soup
1/2 Cup Shredded Coconut, Toasted
1/4 Cup Chopped Pecans, Toasted

Bring cream to simmer in a small saucepan.  Put the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl, add corn syrup.  When cream is hot, pour over chocolate.  Let sit 30 seconds then gently whisk until smooth.  Let sit at room temperature 10 minutes.

Cut both cakes in half horizontally (you want 4 layers).  Place on layer on a wire rack set over a pan.  Spread with frosting, sprinkle with pecans and coconut.  Repeat with two more layers.  Top with fourth layer.  Carefully pour chocolate ganache over cake, letting excess drip down the sides.  Sprinkle with remaining toasted coconuts and pecans.

Let sit at room temperature at least 30 minutes before slicing.

Whipped Cream:

1 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream, Very Cold
1/4 Cup Cream of Coconut
2 Tbl Confectioner's Sugar
1 Tsp Coconut Rum
1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract

Combine all ingredients and whisk until soft peaks form.

Set first cake

Nov 21, 2013

Bark Box - SCORE

I have recently been seeing advertisements for Bark Box (  Monthly shipments of things for your dog - nutritional supplements, toys, treats.  I wasn't sure - I have seen these boxes before and they often have 'samples'.  I wasn't sure I wanted to commit to a long term shipment of monthly samples.  Really, how can you try samples with a dog?  Sample size toys?  Not so much.  Then there was a coupon on Facebook - 1 month for $19.  Free Shipping.  What could it hurt?  I ordered a bark box for a 'Just Right' sized dog (20 to 50 Lbs).  Our Bark Box shipped 11/15 and arrived 11/19.  It was well packaged.

Inside the box, we found four bags of treats - 1 dental treat, 1 goat liver, 1 macaroni and cheese with truffle and bacon and 1 pumpkin.  There was also a toy that has become Meg's favorite.  It is a toy that has no stuffing, but it is not flat.  It is stuffed with a plastic frame to give it form ad has a squeaker.   Now that the first box has arrived, I will be extending the fun.  It was a great value and anything that gives my dog a toy that she WANTS to play with is worth it's weight in gold.

Nov 20, 2013

Apple Monkey Bread

Easy, Easy, Easy...frozen roll with apples, sugar and cinnamon.

12 frozen dinner rolls
2 cups chopped apples
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
3 TB butter

Heat oven to 350.  Spray a bundt pan with cooking spray.  Set aside.

Place frozen rolls on a plat, cover with plastic wrap and thaw until soft enough to cut (45 minutes).

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine apples, cinnamon, sugar and melted butter.

When soft, cut rolls into fourths.  Add rolls to apple bowl, stir to coat/mix thoroughly.  Pour into prepared pan.  Bake 40 - 45 minutes or until brown on top.

Nov 18, 2013

Easy Apple 'Strudel'

Refrigerator crescent rolls; baking friendly apples; some butter, spices and brown sugar.  YUM.  To find what apples are best for what use (baking, sauce, eating, etc), go to Pick Your Own (  You'll need:

8 Ounce Roll Refrigerated Crescent Rolls
5 Cups Peeled and Thinly Sliced Baking Apples
1 Tsp Lime Juice
1/3 Cup Flour
1/3 Cup Sugar
1 Tsp Cinnamon
1/4 Tsp Nutmeg

1/2 Cup Flour
1/3 Cup Brown Sugar
1/3 Cup Butter

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray.  Press crescent rolls into bottom of pan.  Set aside.

Peel, slice and measure apples.  Place in a large plastic bag.  Add lime juice, flour, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Shake thoroughly.

Place apples in a layer over rolls.  Stir together topping ingredients, sprinkle over apples.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until just starting to brown.  Serve warm.

Nov 17, 2013

Bacon and Brussels Sprouts

Everything is better with bacon, right?  And butter.....

2 Cups Brussels Sprouts
4 Pieces Bacon
2 Tbl Butter
1/2 Tsp Herbs De Provence

Steam Brussels sprouts until soft.  Set aside.

Chop bacon and cook until crisp.  Remove and set aside.  Drain pan.  Add butter and brown over medium heat.  Put browned butter into a small container. 

Put Brussels sprouts in hot pan, stir until lightly browned.  Add butter, bacon and Herbs De Provence.  Heat through and serve.

Nov 16, 2013

Mexican Layered Casserole

Whip up a quick casserole and have leftovers for lunch.

15.5 Ounces Black Beans, Drained
1 Lb Ground Beef
11 Ounces Mexicorn, Drained
1/3 Cup Chopped Cilantro
1/2 Cup Chopped Tomato
1 Cup Salsa
2 Cups Shredded Cheddar

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Brown the ground beef and drain.

Meanwhile, grease the bottom of a two quart casserole.  Stir together beans, corn and cilantro - put in casserole dish. 

Top with beef.

Add Tomato and top with salsa. 

Top all with cheese.

Bake 25 minutes.  Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Nov 15, 2013

Apple Duck

Hubby has taken up water fowl hunting.  We have a Big Green Egg.  They go well together.  Even better, this makes just enough for two.

2 Duck Breasts
1 Cup Apple Cider

1 Tbl Kosher Salt
1 Clove Garlic, Crushed
1/2 Tsp Pepper

Mix cider, salt, garlic and pepper.  Pour over Duck.  Soak overnight.

When ready to cook, Prepare egg for indirect cooking.  Heat to 225 degrees.  Add soaked wood chips the put duck breasts on grate to cook.  Cook until duck breast is 170 degrees.  Enjoy!

Nov 14, 2013

Beer Cheese Soup

Vegetables from the CSA, Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese to shred, Homemade Beef Stock, cold weather?  Sounds like soup to me.

You'll Need:
3/4 Cup Each:  Diced peppers, Sliced carrots, Chopped Broccoli, Diced Potatoes
1/2 Head Roasted Garlic
1 Tsp Hot Pepper Sauce (optional)
1/2 Tsp Salt
1/4 Tsp Black Pepper
3 Cups Beef Broth
12 Ounces Beer
1/4 Cup Butter
1/4 Cup Cake flour
1 1/4 Cup 1% Milk
2 Cups Shredded Sharp Cheddar
2 Tbl Horseradish Mustard
2 Tsp Worcestershire Sauce

In a large saucepan over medium heat, stir together vegetables.  Stir in hot pepper sauce, salt and pepper.  Add chicken broth and beer, simmering until vegetables are tender.

While cooking, in another pot, heat butter in a large soup pot over medium heat.  Stir in flour with a wire whisk.

Cook until flour is light brown.  Whisk in milk, a little at a time, until thickened.  Add mustard.  Remove from heat and add cheese, whisking until melted.

Stir beer mixture into cheese mixture.

Stir until well combined.

Stir in Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce and add more hot pepper sauce to taste.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.

Nov 13, 2013

Peanut Butter Bliss

Crunchy, Creamy, Peanut Butter Goodness.  All in a pie plate.  While not listed, you may get a second container of Cool Whip and add it when sliced.  I like the new Cool Whip Creamy, it has cream in addition to the standard oil, but you may use regular Cool Whip.

You'll Need:
16 Nutter Butter Cookies
1/2 Cup Butter
8 Ounces Light Cream Cheese, softened
8 Ounces Cool Whip Creamy, thawed
11.5 Ounces Mini Butterfingers

Crush Nutter Butters.  Melt butter, pour over cookies.  Mix well and press into the bottom of a 9 inch pie pan.  Refrigerate until filling is ready.

Whip together cream cheese and cool whip.

Crush butterfingers, add to cream cheese mixture.

Spoon into pie crust and refrigerate at least 8 hours before serving.

Nov 12, 2013

"My Bread" - Testing your patience

The summer newsletter from our local library included a review of the book "My Bread:  The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method"  by Jim Lahey.  I was intrigued, so I checked it out.  I made the first loaf and I WAS HOOKED.  So was hubby.  We returned the library copy and purchased our own. 

The bread is the best crusty, artisan bread.  The hardest thing?  Waiting for it to cool before you cut it.  Some pointers on this method:

  • Allow plenty of time - it can take up to 26 hours.  PLAN AHEAD
  • Cool completely, as directed in the book.  It really does squeak, you really do need to wait for it to be silent.
  • If your stove has a buzzer to tell you when it is preheated, allow it to heat at least 15 minutes more to ensure all surfaces of the stove and the pot are at the proper temperature.
  • If possible, do this by weight.

Here is the basic recipe.  For step by step pictures, in depth descriptions of the process, other options (wheat, rye), and excellent recipes, please purchase the book. 

 3 cups bread flour (400 grams)
1 1/4 tsp table salt (8 grams)
1/4 tsp active dry yeast (1 gram)
1 1/3 cup cool water - 55 to 65 degrees (300 grams)
wheat bran, cornmeal or additional flour for dusting

In a medium flour, stir together flour, salt and yeast.  Add water and mix with a wooden spoon or your hand until you have a wet, sticky dough.  If not sticky, add another tablespoon or two of water.  Cover with a tea towel and let sit at room temperature out of direct sunlight until surface is bubbly - 12 to 18 hours (I have gone up to 20).

When bubbly, generously dust a work surface with flour.  Use a bowl scraper to scrape the dough onto the floured surface in one piece.  Do not add flour.  Use lightly floured hands to lift the edges of the dough in toward the center.  Nudge and tuck until it is round.

Place a cotton or linen tea towel next to your ball and dust with your dusting material.  Place dough ball on towel, dust lightly on the top then wrap loosely with the towel.  Allow to rise for 1 to 2 hours until almost doubled. 

Half an our before the bread is risen, put a 4.5 to 5.5 quart cast iron dutch oven with a lid in your oven.  Turn oven to 475 degrees.

When bread is risen and stove is hot, remove dutch oven, remove lid.  Carefully invert bread into dutch oven.  Cover with lid, return to oven.  Bake 30 minutes.  Remove lid and continue to bake until chestnut colored.

Remove from oven and carefully remove to a cooling rack.