Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Ribs and garlic twist rolls

Memorial day we had spare ribs for dinner. My knowledge of ribs is diddly squat. I know that country ribs are meatier and don't come in a slab. That's it. Usually we buy the precooked Lloyds ribs, but they don't always carry them at the store. This time Mrblocko wanted to try grilling a real slab of ribs. The spare ribs were ridiculously on sale this week, so why not give it a go.

The original plan was to cook the ribs in the crock pot, then char them on the grill. We were going to visit family in the morning and in doing the math, we realized if we put them in the crock pot before we left, we'd be eating dinner way early and if we put them in when we got home, we'd be eating in the middle of the night. So we changed plans and cooked them for an hour and a half in the oven before slapping them on the grill. This worked out quite well as the day turned out to be a bit chilly and the oven warmed the kitchen nicely.

Since I don't know anything about ribs, I don't know if spare ribs are normally this huge. Compared to the Lloyd's ribs these guys looked like something on the Flintstones. Mrblocko only ate 3 ribs and he normally downs a full half slab.

Blockette was very excited that we were eating the ribs of a pig. You know there are lots of kids out there who get squeamish when they find out meat actually comes from a real live animal. Not this kid. We talked about bones and ribs and pigs all through the meal. There is a girl from Sunday school who's grandparents (who also go to our church) own a pig farm. We also talked about how they feed and care for the pigs so they can get big and fat so we can eat them. She thought that was fascinating.

Oh, the 2 round things on the plate are garlic cheese twists. Can't forget about them. They are made from crescent roll dough. Fun and super easy.

Garlic Butter Cheddar Cheese Twists from Liesl's Confection Dissection
1 package of reduced fat crescent rolls
1 tablespoon butter, melted
garlic salt
cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray a muffin pan with pam. Separate crescent rolls into 4 squares, which is 2 crescent rolls together. Press the part of the square that has the perforation (where you would separate them) together. You don't want to dough to come apart when you twist it. Cut each square into thirds longways. Then take one of the thirds and twist it up, tucking one end underneath so it doesn't come apart. Place into the greased muffin pan. Continue process until you have finished all the twists. Combine melted butter with a couple dashes of garlic salt. Brush the tops of the twists with the garlic butter mixture. Sprinkle tops of twists with cheddar cheese.Place in oven and bake 10-12 minutes til nice and golden.

Buffalo chicken dip

This weekend I made Buffalo chicken dip for a party. I've seen this recipe all over the blogosphere for quite some time with everyone and their brother claiming it is their own original recipe. Whoever it was that invented this concoction was a genius. It is good, made with crack good. I know I've talked about how I am not a fan of hot sauce or traditional buffalo wings, but there was enough cheese to counteract the spice and stink of the hot sauce. I think another thing I liked about this dip is that it tasted better with celery and carrots than it did with chips or crackers. You can almost feel like you are being heathy by eating veggies instead of chips...almost. There was so much food at the gathering that we wound up taking half of the dip back home with us. Darn!

Buffalo Chicken Dip from The Bitten Word
8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup ranch salad dressing
1/4 cup blue cheese salad dressing
1/2 cup buffalo sauce or buffalo style barbecue sauce
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (shredded mozzarella cheese can be substituted)
2 cups shredded meat from a fully cooked rotisserie chicken

Pre-heat oven to 350F. In a deep baking dish, mix cream cheese, salad dressing, buffalo sauce, and cheese. Stir until combined. Stir in chicken. Bake uncovered for 20-25 min, til dish is heated through. Serve with crackers, pita chips, sliced bread or vegetables.

NOTE: Depending on your tastes and the ingredients on hand, you can use 1/2 c ranch or blue cheese salad dressing rather than 1/4 c of each. Similarly, you can mix blue cheese and mozzarella, or use portions of each.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Is it a Monut or a Duffin?

I got this donut pan and this mini donut pan for Christmas and I finally got around to using them this weekend. See, I think muffins taste best when they are slightly warm from the oven, and I have this thing about sleeping as long as possible, which means no muffins in time for breakfast. Sunday morning I woke up early and was AWAKE. I attempted to will myself back to sleep but I guess these little buggers just wanted to be made. These are baked apple "donuts" from cooks.com. They were good, not "drool on the floor" good, but "I would make these again some day" good. I've made apple muffins before (different recipe that I have since thrown out) in a regular muffin tin before and the muffins were almost slimy in the middle the next day. The surface ratio of the donut shape seemed to work well with this recipe. I guess enough moisture from the apple was able to escape without drying out the cakey part. We had muffins again for breakfast this morning and they were almost as good the second day. (Only almost as good because, they weren't warm out of the oven.)

The donuts muffins didn't rise as much as I had anticipated so they didn't get that nice rounded shape on both sides. I don't know if it was a fault of the recipe or if my baking powder is losing its oomph or maybe I just didn't fill the pan enough. I have a few more donut muffin recipes I'd like to test someday. I should be able to solve the problem with more experimentation.

There is one distinct disadvantage to using the donut pans over the regular muffin tins...it is not a time saver to use the cookie scoops, at least not with a thick batter like the Baked apple donuts. I had to spread out the batter around the part of the pan that forms the hole. Because I had to do that, it was easier to just spoon the batter in. Oh well. Don't fret my little scoopers. I still love you!!!!

BAKED APPLE "DONUTS" from Cooks.com
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. shortening
1 egg, beaten
1/2 c. milk
1 1/2 c. finely diced apples

Sift first 5 ingredients. Add 1/3 c shortening; mix til mix is coarse. Set aside. In another bowl combine egg, milk and diced apples. Add to dry ingredients just until blended. Spoon into 12 greased muffin cups. Bake at 350 for 20-25 min. While donuts are baking, melt 1/2 c butter. Set aside. Combine 1/2 c sugar and 1 t cinnamon. When donuts are done, dip in butter and then in sugar.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Phyllo victory

Phyllo has been one of those things I've had zero success with. I think the curse is over! This attempt did not end in disaster. whohoo!!!

This weekend I made Turkish Sigara Boregi. They are sort of like a Mediterranean egg roll, only with Phyllo. I originally saw the recipe here for a chicken version. The step by step photos were so helpful. I don't think I could have made them successfully without the visual aid. This was a very fussy prep, but it was fun painting on the egg wash.
Mrblocko thought they would have been better with tatziki sauce, but improvised and used ranch dressing. Blockette was very reluctant to try but once she had ranch dressing and found out we were having ice cream for dessert she ate her dinner gladly.

If I ever get the urge to make this again, (ie I have plenty of time and feel like making a fussy dinner)I'll try the chicken version. I think if you used slightly more than 1/4 cup filling, a whole box of Phyllo would make both the chicken and the beef versions, esp if you only use one sheet for each "cigar". The recipe said to use one sheet but I found that it was way too fragile so I used 2. The ones I started off with 1 sheet I wrapped in another so the meat wouldn't fall out of the holes that were created when I rolled them up. If you make this, preserve your sanity and use 2 sheets.

Sigara Boregi With Minced Meat from Eating out Loud
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons pine nuts
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste

1 egg
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons milk
1 lb phyllo sheets (about 18)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Heat olive oil in a large skillet and add the onion. Cook for 2-3 min til onion begins to soften, then add minced garlic and pine nuts. Saute for an additional 1-2 min til pine nuts begin to turn golden. Add ground beef to the skillet and cook for 3-4 min, then add cinnamon, oregano and parsley. Season with salt and pepper, then set aside to cool.

In  small bowl, whisk egg, olive oil and milk. Will be slightly thick and will be used to moisten  phyllo dough.

Take a sheet of phyllo dough and lay it out on a flat surface with longest side facing you. Keep  remaining phyllo covered with a moist towel until ready to use. Lightly brush left half of phyllo with the egg mix. Gently lift right side of phyllo and fold it over left side. The phyllo dough will now be half the size of when you started and you will now have the shortest side facing you.

Brush the top of the phyllo with the egg mixture. Take 1/4 c  beef mixture (make sure it has cooled) and place it 2" from the nearest edge of the phyllo and leave 2"  on either side of the meat. The meat mix is placed nearest to you as you will begin rolling it away from you. Don’t worry if some of the phyllo sheets have small tears in them.

Fold in each of the long sides by 2". Beginning at the edge closest to you, fold the narrow end over the meat mixture. Continue rolling the dough away from you as you form a cigarette shaped roll. When you are nearing the end, brush the final 2" with the egg mix. Fold the roll over this final bit of dough to seal it. Place seam side down on a baking sheet.

Before baking, brush the tops and sides of each roll with more of the egg mix. Sprinkle tops with sesame seeds. Bake at 350F for 20-25 min til golden brown.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Chicken Sate

This weekend we made Penzey's chicken sate. We used this exact recipe, plus the 2 dipping sauces. I've had Sate seasoning sitting in the spice cabinet for ages and finally got around to testing it out. We all thought it was great. We had rice, peapods and pineapple as sides and those flavors in combo with the dips were very refreshing on a warm spring night.

I of course did not like the spicy ginger dipping sauce as it was mostly made up of hot sauce. Mrblocko liked this the spicy ginger dipping sauce until he had it as leftovers today. He said "after he got done eating the sauce it felt like burning ash in his mouth." Who knows what was up with that. Could have been the brand of hot sauce or the fact that the chicken had been sitting in the hot sauce dip all day.

The first dipping sauce was delicious though. Blockette even liked it. She said, "Mommy, I love that black dip."

I'll make this again. When I do I think I'll try it with a peanut dipping sauce just to be different.

Penzeys Sate Chicken from the Penzeys Website
2 TB. water
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 TB. soy sauce
4 TB. peanut or vegetable oil
2 TB. rice vinegar
30 wooden skewers

Dipping Sauce 1:
1/4 Cup soy sauce
2 thinly sliced shallots (2 TB. minced dry SHALLOTS)
2 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. lime juice (the juice of 1/2 lime)

Dipping Sauce 2 (Spicy Ginger Dipping Sauce)
1/4 tsp. GINGER, powdered
1 TB. water
1 TB. soy sauce
3/4 Cup of your favorite hot sauce

Combine SATÉ SEASONING and water in medium bowl. Set aside to give flavors time to develop. Trim chicken of excess fat and cut into 3/4" cubes. Add chicken and remaining ingredients to bowl, mixing well. Cover and let marinate in fridge for 2 hrs. Before starting coals, place skewers in water to soak. Stack charcoal 2 deep across bottom of grill. After lighting the coals thread about 5-6 pieces of chicken loosely onto each skewer. Once the coals are very hot, grill the saté in batches, 3-5 min per side. The saté should be crispy brown on the first side before turning. High heat cooking is the key to producing the most delicious saté.

Dipping Sauce 1: Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk.

Dipping Sauce 2: In a small bowl mix water, ginger and garlic, let stand 10 minutes so flavor can develop. Add soy sauce and hot sauce, mix.

Monday, May 18, 2009

"THE" King

Once upon a time, long long ago (the 1980's), in a land far far away (Minnesota), there was a fancy schmancy Chinese buffet. I mean a fancy one, where you dressed up to go eat there. Eventually, the owner made the restaurant into a fast food chain by the same name and you can dine there in your ugly grubbies. Sadly, I don't think there are any Leeann Chin's anywhere outside the Twin Cities. I keep asking myself why they don't branch out into other areas of the midwest...like say Chicagoland. That'd be nice.

My favorite dish at Leeann Chin's, aside from the potstickers, is their Peking chicken. It is the best Peking Chicken EVER. The sauce is tangy, sweet with just a hint of spiciness. (Back in the day I used to think it was fire-y hot, but that was when my Swedish tastebuds could barely tolerate mild salsa.) Now Leeann Chin's sells the Peking sauce by the bottle at their chain restaurants.

It's no coincidence the word Peking is composed of "Pe" and King". It's clearly the king of sauces and it's so good it makes you wanna pee. It would be better if they sold it by the gallon. I mean seriously folks, this stuff is made with crack--crack for people. I don't think there is a meat (or veggie) out there that this sauce doesn't taste good on. We bbq-ed some pork chops basted in Peking sauce and it was taste bud heaven.

Try this sauce if you can, but don't say I didn't warn you. One taste and you'll be hooked for life. Muhahahaha!

Have yourself a Merry little Monday

I made these little guys this weekend. Aren't they festive?

I saw the recipe for Peanut butter banana oatmeal cookies on Baking Bites and thought, why not. The great thing about the recipe is that it calls for only 1 banana. So, instead of freezing the black banana no one wanted to eat and waiting until I got another 1 or 2 over ripe bananas to make banana bread, I could have instant snacking gratification.

I was mixing this recipe up and I thought, "These cookies are going to be awfully bland if I don't add something else in." I checked the pantry....gasp...no chocolate chips!!!! How could this be? Aliens? Overlapping universes? Time shifts? I don't think we will ever know for certain. The lack of chips turned out to be a happy accident, instead I found a rogue bag of Xmas m&m's. Who knows how they remained hidden and unused all this time, perhaps that was also the result of Aliens/overlapping universes/time shifts.

I don't think these cookies would have been nearly as tasty without the M&M's. I definitely would make these cookies again when we have a lone black banana lurking about. Next time I think I'll try cinnamon chips instead of the M&M's, I think that would be a tasty combo as well.

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Cookies from Baking Bites
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup mashed banana (from 1 sm/med)
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats (not instant)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk  flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, cream sugars and butter. Beat in egg til smooth, then mix in peanut butter and mashed banana. Working by hand or with a mixer on low speed, blend dry ingredients into the peanut butter mix. Stir in the oats. Shape dough into tablespoons and place on baking sheet, flattening each slightly with your fingers. Bake for 10-12 minutes, til cookies just begin to turn golden around the edges. Cool on a wire rack.

Makes approx 2 dozen.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

oxo rocks!!!

I cannot remember who gave me my oxo good grips cookie scoops, but they totally rock. (I'll let you decide if I mean the scooper or the person who gave me the scooper.) It's basically a large ice cream scoop that holds about 3 Tablespoons. I have a small scooper which is equally nice, but I don't use it nearly as much as the large one. It is great for making drop cookies that are all the same size. No more fighting over who gets the bigger cookie.

This weekend I discovered a new use for the scooper... muffins. I read about it a while ago, but didn't realize how much of a time saver it would be. This has totally rocked my world. I always make a huge mess when putting the muffin batter into the pan. Not this time!!! The large scoop was the perfect amount for regular size muffins. (OOOH!!! I've just had a revelation... I bet the small scoop would be the perfect size for mini muffins!!!) If you like to make muffins but hate that bowl to pan step, get yourself a cookie scoop.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Garden: stardate 5.11.2009

So here is the garden at it's beginning stages this year. The plants were part of my mother's day present. The other part of my present was being able to plant them without tiny hands throwing dirt at me or tiny feet stomping on plants both in and out of the ground. The row closest to the window has perennials who's names I've forgotten. The Right side is herbs and strawberries. The middle is various marigolds and the front row are violas in white, yellow and orange.
This is a close up of the white viola. Ain't she perty? They are perennials so wish me luck at not killing them. They seem so dainty.
This flower was the main reason I decided on marigolds. These caught my eye and the flats of marigolds in the green house looked so cheery together. The downside is that the garden is really stinky because there are so many marigolds. I'm thinking once the herbs get going they will give the marigolds a run for their money, or at the very least the stink will keep the pests away. (And yes, pre-pubescent "ding dong" ditching boys are included in the realm of pests.)

Ugly fries

No photo this time for this recipe for Rachael Ray's Texas chili cheese fries. They look absolutely nasty on the plate. Chili cheese fries are not a glamorous looking food. Even the photo on Ms. Ray's site looks like something the dog regurgitated. While I do believe you eat with your eyes first, there is always an exception to that rule. This is one of them.

I got hooked on A&W chili cheese fries back in college when I worked retail. I absolutely loved them even though they looked disgusting, the fries were soggy, the cheese was processed goo, the chili was sparse, etc. This version is everything the A&W version is not. The fries are oven baked so you can make them as crispy as you want. The cheese sauce is made from...REAL cheese. The mustard somehow makes the cheese in the sauce taste more cheese-y. (I don't know how that works, but I'm glad it does.) The chili sauce is uber meaty. I mean 2-2.5 lbs of ground beef???? That's more than I use when I make a pot of ordinary chili. Plus you cook it in beer. I don't even like drinking beer. It's nasty to me. Cooking with beer, on the other hand, always results in a tasty meal.

The Blockette only ever tolerates this meal, and will never ever eat it for leftovers. Which, let's face it, is tragic. Good thing I am such a loving mother who is willing to make the sacrifice and eat her portion.

Texas style chili cheese fries from Rachael Ray
4 very large Idaho potatoes, cut lengthwise into 6 wedges
2 Tgrill seasoning
2 T plus 1/4 c EVOO, plus additional, divided
2 to 2 1/2 pounds lean ground sirloin, turkey or chicken
1 large onion, chopped
3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
2 T chili powder
2 t ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons tomato paste
Hot sauce, to taste
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 bottle beer
3 T butter
3 T flour
3 T yellow mustard
1 cup milk
1 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 to 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 450ºF. Place potatoes onto sheet. Sprinkle with grill seasoning and a good drizzle of EVOO. Toss to coat, then transfer to the oven and roast, until crispy golden brown, 40 min. Turn them once halfway through cooking time. While potatoes roasting, place large pot over med-high with 2 T EVOO. Add meat to pan. cook til brown, 6-7 min. Push meat to one side  and add onion, garlic, chili powder and cumin. Cook til veggies soften, 5-6 min. Season with salt and pepper. Add tomato paste  and cook 1 min, til smells sweet and caramelized slightly. Add hot sauce, Worcestershire and beer. Bring everything up to a bubble, then reduce heat and simmer chili til thickened, 10 min. While chili is simmering, place a med pot over med-high heat and melt butter. Sprinkle flour over melted butter and cook it for about a minute. Stir mustard into butter-flour mix, then whisk in milk and stock. Continue whisking sauce til thickened up, then remove pot from heat and stir in cheese til melted. Season cheese sauce with salt and freshly ground black pepper and reserve. To serve, divide the fries between four plates and top each one with some chili-cheese sauce.

Wingnuts or nuts for wings

I never used to care for chicken wings, maybe because I'd only ever had soggy Buffalo Wings drowning in hot sauce. (I'm not a big fan of hot sauce. I can't seem to get over the stinky stink.)That all changed last month when we got a coupon from Buffalo Wild Wings for free wings. I had never tried anything other than the hot sauce kind of wing. This time we had the Garlic parm and the Terriyaki. Nummers! I couldn't tell you which one I liked better. Ever since then I have been craving wings. I found this recipe for Savory chicken wings a while back and thought Mother's Day would be a great time to test them out. They were a big hit with the whole family. Even Blockette said they were "The Best"! High praise indeed.
We used frozen wings which is probably blasphemy. Whoop-de-doo is what I say to that. They were on sale and wound up being more meaty than the fresh ones. We defrosted them the night before, and in the morning added the marinade. They were cooked in oven first and then grilled, which got them nice and crispy. No soggy wings here! The marinade had a good mix of flavors, but I would have preferred if they had a tiny bit of heat. Next time, and there will definately be a next time, we make this we will be adding some zing to the marinade with crushed red pepper flakes.

JS' Savory Chicken Wings from Eating club vancouver
1 tsp five-spice powder
2 tsp garlic powder
4 tbsp ground coriander
1 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tbsp sesame oil
juice of 1 lime

4 lbs chicken wings

Combine all ingredients together (except chicken) and whisk. Pour over chicken wings and marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Cooking method can vary: Baked in the oven for 35-40 min at 350, then finished at grill.
OR Bake 45 min and broil at end for charred finish.
OR cook totally on the grill.

Friday, May 8, 2009


Ever tried braiding a windmill? This is the first time I've attempted to do a french braid on Miss Squirrely-girly. Blockette saw these photos and said, "Momma, those are the back of my brains!" When I corrected her and said, "You mean braids?" She replied, "No momma...BRAINS."

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Best Cow Dress

Around Easter I bought pattern NewLook 6613, but didn't see any fabric I liked. Instead I went shopping in my own stash and came up with this:

Yes, that is a tambourine on Blockette's head. (She said it was her safari hat.) It was the only way I could get her to sit still long enough to take the picture.
Here's a pic of the back. Most of the pictures I took were like this because Blockette was too wiggly. Why sit still when there is twirling to do?

I will definately be making more dresses from this pattern. The best part of this pattern is there is no zipper. I loathe zippers. The 2nd best thing about this pattern is that it gives you sizes 3T-Girls 8. Talk about getting your money's worth from a pattern.
Here's a close up of the over skirt fabric. I bought this Van Gogh cow print almost 3 years ago and have been aching to make something neat from it. Blockette seems to think this qualifies.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Battle of the Pelennor Fields

AHHH!!! The Mumakil is attacking Minas Tirith!!!! Where are the Oathbreakers when you need them?!!!

OKaaaay. Yeah, that was excessively geeky, but if you even understood half of that you're a geek too. Plbbbt!!!!

This little guy is another Amigurumi from the Lion Brand Yarn website . I always want to call them Amigumies, kind of like a gummie bear. It sounds so much cuter in my brain that way. The elephant was easier than the bunnies, maybe because there were less pieces? I haven't given this to Blockette yet. It will probably be something saved for when after school is out and she is totally bored. You know, the 2nd day of summer vacation.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Oh crockpot, how I love thee...

...let me count the ways. Ok, so I'm not going to really count the ways, but I will tell you the number one reason why I love my crockpot. For some reason I am much more in the mood to do all the prep work involved in making dinner around lunch time than at 4 or 5 o'clock. With a crockpot you still have to do prep work like you would with any other cooking method, but there is something so nice about saying..."Hmmm, it's 5:00 and I'm hungry," and you can get out a plate or a bowl and chow down right then and there. No waiting. I'm very impatient when I'm hungry.

Sunday I made Baked Bean Soup from A Year of Crockpotting. Let me tell you...it was goooood. It was a struggle, but we even got Blockette to eat it. I had thought it would taste more like a jar of of baked beans. It didn't, but I think it was better that it didn't.

Of course, I changed the recipe a bit. Here is what I did differently: Instead of regular chili powder I used Penzey's Chili 3000 . (I had gotten this as a free small jar from their catalog and this was the first time I had used it. I think it had a brighter flavor than regular chili powder. I'll need to try this out in a few more recipes to decide if it is worth buying a large jar.) I also added 2 cups of cubed ham. (I'm still trying to use all the leftover ham we froze from Easter!!!) If I don't have any ham the next time I make this I will either add cooked bacon or oven baked meatballs. I think the meat added a lot to this soup.

I almost omitted the last step of pureeing part of the soup. I don't have a stick blender and I was feeling lazy about dragging out the regular blender. I was glad I did. It not only thickened the soup, but the puree gave the soup a smoother, richer taste. After I pureed part of the soup, I added a can of drained corn. If you don't care if the corn is part of the puree, feel free to dump it in at the beginning with all the rest of the stuff.

Baked bean soup adapted from A Year of Slow Cooking
1 (15-oz) can white kidney beans, undrained
1 cup finely diced onion
1 cup diced carrot
3 t dijon mustard
2 T unsulphured molasses
1 T soy sauce
2 t apple cider vinegar
1 T Chili 3000
1 (14.5-oz) can fire roasted tomatoes (and juice!)
2 cups water
salt to taste before serving
1 can corn
2 c Ham

Use a 5-6 quart slow cooker. Put beans into pot, and top with onion and carrot. Add all seasonings and spices. Pour in the entire can of tomatoes, and add water. Stir. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours, or on high for 4-5. If your beans were dry, you might need to go as long as 10 hours, depending on altitude and humidity. Before serving, put several cups of the soup in a blender until smooth and add back to the crockpot.  This will thicken your broth and provide a richer flavor. Add corn and ham and cook until warm.

Little Red Hen

My uncle seems to think that the Little Red Hen made bread. As you can see, he is wrong. This is a picture taken from the scholastic book my mom read to me when I was a shorty short pants. It clearly states CAKE, not bread. Marie Antoinette may have said "Let them eat Brioche, " but the Little Red Hen was always talking about cake.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Nothing to write home about

This weekend my best friend, Mrs Thunder, had a get together where everyone brings a snacky dish to pass. I thought I'd bring a warm dip and maybe some cookies.

Originally, I wanted to make a type of cookie that uses puff pastry. When I went to take the puff pastry out of the freezer, much to my dismay, I discovered the package was pre-cut in circles and I needed the kind that came in a sheet. Doh! So I sifted through the recipe stack and picked out a shortbread cookie. I began to grab ingredients and discovered I was almost completely out of powdered sugar. Grrrrr! I went back to the recipe stack and settled on Big Red Kitchen's Cake Mix Cookies. I tested a few as they came out of the oven. They were OK, but I didn't think they were good enough to share with my friends. Mrblocko and I came to the conclusion that they did not taste homemade. They reminded us of a cross between Chips Ahoy and something you might get from a grocery store bakery. Don't get me wrong, I like store bought cookies, but homemade ones are so much better. If I'm going to take the time to bake cookies, I'd like them to taste like it. I won't make this recipe again. I haven't completely written off the cake mix cookie concept. I have a recipe that uses lemon cake mix I'm still willing to test.

The Cheesey Bacon dip fared better, although it didn't turn out as wonderful as I had hoped. I wound up substituting the Parmesan for Gruyere. I don't think this had anything to do with the outcome. The crackers crumbled on top made the dip taste really dry, and the cheese got clumpy and oily. I am going to give this recipe a 2ND chance. I plan on omitting the cracker crumbs, and increasing both the garlic and cayenne pepper. I think I will use a package of pre shredded Mexican blend cheese. I think that will melt better. It melts so nicely on quesadillas. I also think using a total of 8 oz vs 12 oz of cheese may make the dip a bit more spreadable as well.

Cake Mix Cookies From Big Red Kitchen
1 cake mix- I used yellow
2/3 cup regular oats
1/2 cup melted butter
1 egg
1/2 - 3/4 cup chocolate chips

In large bowl, mix 1st 4 ingredients til dough comes together, add chips. Roll into a little bit bigger than an inch balls and place 2" apart on sheets. Bake 375° for 10-12 min. Cool on racks. Makes about 30 cookies.

Cheesy Bacon dip from Buns in my Oven
8 slices bacon
2 cloves garlic
2 green onions
8 ounces cream cheese
1/3 cup mayo
8 ounces cheddar cheese
4 ounces parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 ritz crackers, crumbled

Preheat oven to 300.  Chop bacon into small pieces and cook over med heat til crisp. Drain, reserving 1 T grease. Remove bacon to paper towel lined plate. Dice garlic and add to bacon grease. Cook over low heat for1 min. Do not allow garlic to brown. Stir together cream cheese and mayo. Mix well. Stir in bacon, chopped green onions, garlic, cheddar and parmesan cheese, and cayenne pepper. Bake 10 min. Remove from oven and stir well. Sprinkle crumbled ritz crackers on top and bake for 10 mi. Serve warm or cold.

Friday, May 1, 2009


I am freaky about free stuff. That's how I roll. The past 2 weeks have been crazy with free or insanely cheap deals. Here's how it all broke down:

April 19th: Free compact florescent lightbulb from Home Depot.

April 20th: Free sample of Glad garbage bag arrived in the mail.

April 21th: Ben and Jerry's free cone day (OK, I missed out on this one cause I was sick, but I was there in spirit.)

April 22nd: Free reusable shopping bag at both Old Navy and Walgreens. Sterling silver necklace at Kohls originally priced at $29.99, with the sale and $10 off coupon I payed $0.56.

April 23: Free sample of Quaker Chocolate Drizzle mini delights came in the mail.

April 24th: Free reusable lunch bag from Whole foods. I also used my coupon for a free Kashi frozen dinner.

April 25th: Rebate check for trying out Raisin Bran Crunch Extra arrived.

April 26th: Mrblocko and I helped out at our church's pancake breakfast and got a mountain of leftover sausage.

April 27th: KFC had their free piece of grilled chicken promotion. Blockette and I each had a piece for lunch.

April 28th: Found a coupon online for a free pulled pork sandwich at White Castle. Was able to get a free sandwich for both Blockette and myself.

April 29th: Dominoes had a lunch promotion for a free pasta bread bowl. Again, Blockette and I each got our own. The serving was so huge we had it for lunch the next 3 days.
Baskin Robins had a fundraiser for firefighters and a small cone was only $0.31.

April 30th: Meijer had a deal where you buy any 10 Kelloggs, Sunshine, or Keebler brand products you get 2 free movie tickets to the movie of your choice. All the products I bought for this promotion were on sale and I had a coupon for each item.

May 1st: Filled out a survey and got a $10 off coupon at Dots. As luck would have it I found a shirt and necklace that came to $10 exactly. whoohoo!

Pretty insane eh?