Sunday, July 31, 2011

'11 Happy Dance #14: T-Shirt Shrug

I found this T-shirt shrug tutorial from cut out and keep. I originally wanted to make one for myself but I didn't have a suitable shirt to mutilate. So I did the next logical thing...I raided Blockette's drawer.

This little peach shirt was an odd shape.  The shirt was wide enough to be a size 7, but short enough in length to be a size 5.  It just screamed, cut me up and make me into something cool.  Viola!  Blockette's little t-shirt shrug was born.  I just wish I'd remembered to take a "before" picture of the shirt.  Oh well!

At least I'll be safe...

...if I'm ever attacked by small plastic snakes.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

For my husband

Maple Cornmeal Drop Biscuts

I made these little maple cornmeal drop biscuts from a little something...sweet one day because I was looking for something different to serve on the side with dinner.  They were really quick and easy to whip up, nothing at all like a traditional flaky biscuit. 

These are a drop biscuit.  No rolling or cutting or any of that such nonsense.  It is definitely beneficial to use a scooper to portion out the dough.  I suppose you could use a spoon, but it would hurt more...I mean be more fussy.

The biscuits were quite tasty, sort of like a funky shaped corn muffin. I used coarse cornmeal and that made them a bit grainy.  The next time I make these I'll use the regular fine ground cornmeal.  I didn't particularly care for the gritty texture that the stone ground cornmeal lent to the bread.  No one else seemed to mind it though, so I was probably being overly particular.

Also, I was surprised that even though I used real maple syrup, I could only just barely taste a hint of the maple flavor.  Maybe the fake stuff is the way to go for an extra maple-y flavor?  I might just try that next time too.

I made these a while ago so I don't remember what main dish I served them with.  When I make these biscuits again it will be instead of cornbread or corn muffins as a side for chili. Me thinks that will make a tasty pairing.

Dorie's Maple Cornmeal Drop Biscuits from A little something...sweet
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground (I used regular ground cornmeal)
1 TBSP. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
6 TBSP. cold, unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
1/2 cup cold whole milk (I used 1%)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a bowl. Drop in butter and, using  finger, toss to coat pieces of butter with flour. Quickly, working with fingertips cut and rub butter into dry ingredients til mix pebbly. pea-size pieces, pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and pieces the size of everything in between-and that's just right.

Stir milk and maple syrup together and pour over dry ingredients. Grab a fork and toss and gently turn til ingredients are mostly combined and you've got a very soft dough. Don't worry if the dough doesn't look evenly mixed. Use a tablespoon to scoop 12 mounds of dough onto baking sheet. Bake biscuits 15 min, til are puffed and golden brown (these won't be straight or tall like traditional biscuite).

Friday, July 29, 2011

Pretzel Bites

For a while there it seemed like everybody and their brother was making pretzel bites. As usual I'm late to the party. I made these a while ago before it got insanely hot out. These are definitely not something to make when it hot and humid. That is, unless you like living in a sauna. With the baking and boiling, the kitchen gets pretty heated.

As I mentioned, it seems like everyone and their brother have posted about pretzel bites on their blog. That left me with a metric ton of pretzel recipes to wade through. I finally settled on the recipe for Soft Pretzel Bites from What's Gaby Cooking. The directions seemed the clearest and I had all the ingredients on hand.

They were really fun to make, but wow did they ever make a lot. The bites taste best on the first day.  You can reheat the leftovers in the oven the next day, but they are just not quite as good.

Strangely, Blockette did not like the pretzels.  She said they were spicy!  As best as I can figure, she didn't like the extra saltiness from the huge sea salt crystals.

Soft Pretzel Bites from what's Gaby Cooking
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
2 tbsp light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water
5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups AP Flour
2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
Vegetable Oil, for the bowl
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 egg yolk
splash of water
course sea salt

Combine yeast, brown sugar and warm water in a mixer bowl fitted with a dough hook attachment. Let it hang out for 5 min til foamy. Add melted butter and salt to mix and combine. Add the AP Flour while dough hook is rotating. Next add Whole Wheat flour and mix til dough has formed large mass. Remove from bowl and let rest in an oiled bowl for an hour, covered with a kitchen towel. Preheat  oven to 425 F. Place a large pot with 10 c water on stove and bring to a boil. Add baking soda. *Don’t freak out when it almost bubbles over – it’s normal *  Remove dough from bowl and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope about 14" long. Cut rope of dough into little bite sizes pieces about 1" long. Using a slotted spoon, add about 20 to boiling water at a time. Once rise to top of water, 30 sec, remove with slotted spoon to a paper towel to dry. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough.
Transfer bites to parchment lined baking sheets that you’ve sprayed with cooking spray.
In a small bowl, whisk egg yolk and a splash of water. Brush tops of each pretzel bite with egg wash and sprinkle sea salt. Transfer to oven and bake til golden brown, 10-16 min. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

While watching Jeopardy...

Blockette: I want him to win. (pointing to the guy in the middle)
Me: Oh?
Blockette: Yeah, cause he is the cutest.
Me: You think he is cute??
Blockette: Oh yes, because he is the nerdy-est.

Thankful Thursday 29.11

1. A nice visit with my mother in law.
2. Blockette on her best behavior on above mentioned visit.
3. Finishing a craft project.
4. Blockette letting me braid her hair to help keep her cool.
5. The rain so I don't have to water the plants.
6.  Blockette's new found enthusiasm for Harry Potter.
7. We live on a hill. (It's a tiny one but the water runs away from our house.)
8. Blockette saying, "I want to grow my bangs out so I can wear one poof (ponytail) and everyone will say I look just like my mommy.  I would really really like that."
9. Deciding not to take a muscle relaxer when Mrblocko had a really late night. (Blockette wound up having a nasty nightmare.)
10. Not burning the popcorn.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

1 egg Japanese Omelette

Have you ever had a Japanese omelet before?  They have all these uber thin layers upon layers of egg in them.  It's like paper thin crepe-like omelettes.  I don't know how to explain it.  If you've never had it before then you are missing out.  Go get yourself a container of Baileys Ice cream and have a good cry.

Anyhow, many moons ago, before I was married and knew how to cook, I attempted to prepare tamagoyaki.  It was a dreadful and horrible failure.  Yeah.  I had a Japanese cookbook and I followed the directions exactly.  I got a whole pan of scrambled eggs.  Whoopie.  Talk about a let down.

As luck would have it, I happened across a recipe called Tamagoyaki for one from Just Bento. It only uses one egg!  That is my kind of recipe. If I totally screw it up, I've not wasted a bunch of ingredients.

I think I did a fairly decent job of making the egg layers.  You can sort of see the layers in middle of the omelet in the photo above.  It's not exactly perfect, but closer to the real thing than any other attempt I've made in the past.  Yay me!

1-egg tamagoyaki from Just Bento
1 ‘large’ egg
1 Tbs. water
1 tsp. soy sauce (regular or light-colored; here I used regular, since that’s all I had in stock)
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 Tbs. bonito flakes (optional, for added flavor)
Vegetable oil for cooking

Mix all ingredients together well with a fork or chopsticks. Heat up a small (6 ") non-stick frying pan and spread thinly with oil (or use a non-stick cooking spray). From this point on, it only takes about a minute and a half!

Once the pan is hot (if you put a droplet of water in, it dances and evaporates immediately), pour in the egg. Stir gently with a fork or chopsticks until it’s half-set. Fold in half with a spatula. Tidy up the other side a bit with the spatula. Fold the one third of the egg over with the spatula. Press down. Fold the other end of the egg over with the spatula. Press the whole thing down. Flip over, and press again. Remove from the heat before it browns too much. (If you use light colored soy sauce, it won’t get as brown.) Cut in half and put cut side up, it is nicely multi-layered.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Orange Peach Mango Dreamsicles

I guess this is Blockette's dreamy face. Or maybe just her everyday weirdo face. What a goofball.
It's been so insanely hot for the past week or so, that I just wanted something cold. I delved into my recipe binder and came across this recipe for Orange Creamsicles.

This recipe is so old it is back from the days before I blogged, and kept notes about the websites I found a recipe on.  I don't have a clue who to credit this recipe for. For some reason I kept this recipe for years, even though it seemed like I had no intention to make it. Usually, if several years go by and I haven't attempted to make a recipe, I chuck it.  I must have known that this recipe would have come in handy on a day when it was too hot to even go to the store to buy popsicles.

Last week I wrote about the Fudgesicles and how sad I was that they only made 4 pops.  This recipe makes 8!  I only have 6 popsicle molds so I saved the extra "juice" in the fridge until we had eaten 2 of the pops.  The extra juice mix kept just fine in the fridge for a day. Just make sure to shake up your leftovers really well before pouring them into the molds.

The original recipe says to use a small can of orange juice concentrate.  I only had a large can of Orange Peach Mango juice.  I eyeballed half of the can and dumped that into the blender with the rest of the ingredients.  I think these pops would taste great with any sort of orange blend concentrate.

Dreamy, Creamy Orange Pops (source unknown)
1 small can of orange juice concentrate (Or half a large one)
1 c milk (I used skim)
1/4 c sugar or your favorite sugar substitute*
1/2 t vanilla
5-7 ice cubes

Dump all the ingredients into a blender and combine until smooth.  Pour into molds and freeze for at least 6 hours until they are solid.  This would also make a tasty smoothie, but I'd add more ice cubes to make it thicker.

*I thought these were on the sweet side, but Blockette disagreed.  Next time I will try it with slightly less sugar and see if she notices the difference.  Sweeten the pops to your own preference, but remember that things taste less sweet once they are frozen.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Whole Wheat Pizookies

Last fall I saw a recipe for pizookies somewhere in my vast internet wanderings. I thought "Man, those look good, but I don't have any ramekins to bake them in." I showed the recipe to Mrblocko and he had the nerve to turn his nose up at them. Can you believe it. He thought they looked gross. He actually told me that. Gross.

Harumph. Well I decided to ask for some little ramekins for Christmas anyhow. Someone, not Mrblocko, was nice enough to buy them for me. (Mrblocko is so mean. Wait, he bought me a stand mixer...strike that. I love you honey!)

Anyhow, I put the ramekins away after Christmas and promptly forgot about them.  That is until I saw the post on How Sweet it is about  whole wheat chocolate chip cookie bowls .  Time to break out those ramekins baby!
I mean it is whole wheat.  If a recipe has whole wheat in it, it's good for you.  How many times do I have to tell everyone that?  Good For You People.  Whole Wheat. YES!

The recipe was only supposed to only make 4 servings.   I used my large cookie scooper and made 3 servings with 2 scoops and 2 with 2.5 scoops. The 2.5 scoop servings were the perfect amount for Blockette and I to share for dessert.

The pizookies really must be served with vanilla ice cream.  It is mandatory.  You will be sorry if you don't.  I'll come over to your house and say neener neener and blow raspberries if you don't. don't want that kind of harassment.  Besides, may I remind you that this is a HEALTHY dessert.  Do you really get enough dairy in your diet.  Probably not. So you NEED that ice cream.  Your bones will thank me.  Really, they will. 

The timing on this dessert was perfect as well.  I stuck them in the oven just as we started eating.  They only need to bake for about 18 min, so by the time we were finished eating dinner, they were the perfect temperature to eat. (Even for the picky 5 year old who usually likes things room temp or cooler.)

While we were eating dessert, I mentioned how I asked for the ramekins for Christmas specifically to make this dessert.  Do you know what my husband said?  Do you?  He said, "How come you waited 6 months to make these?"

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookie Bowls from How Sweet it is makes 4 ramekins (3 1/2 x 2)
1 stick butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F. Sift whole wheat flour, baking soda and salt together and set aside in a bowl.
Cream butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer until it’s light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Add in dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Spray 4 oven-safe ramekins with non-stick spray and divide the dough into 4 equal parts. Press the dough into the ramekin – each one should have about 1/3-1/2 cup dough. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the middle is still slightly gooey. Set aside and let cool for 5 minutes until they can be handled then serve with vanilla ice cream.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Chive Blossom Vinegar

I made chive blossom vinegar from A Full Measure of Happiness when my chives were in full bloom earlier in the growing season.  I mean I had the blooms, so why not?
The vinegar turned a real pretty pale pink.  That was kind of cool.

Too bad the chive blossoms come out way after Easter around here.  I wonder if the pink vinegar would make pinker eggs when you color them.  Of course the eggs would probably take on the flavor of the chives.  I don't think that would be popular in this house, so I won't be testing out that theory.

I used the vinegar in one pasta salad recipe, in place of plain vinegar.  I was not impressed.  I thought the chive flavor was weird.  Not exactly bad, but not something I'd care to eat again.

Right now the vinegar is just sitting on a shelf in the kitchen.  I can't bear to toss it, but I don't think I want to use it again.  Plus, I have no idea how long the stuff lasts before it starts to get funky and no good for eating.  I think I'll keep it around for a bit longer and enjoy the pretty color.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

'11 Happy Dance # 13: Rainbow shirt

I saw the tutorial for this Rainbow shirt from the blog Little Bit Funky. It's from a feature called 20 minute crafter.  It's supposed to take 20 minutes, but it took me twice that long to rummage through my scrap bin to find a combination of fabrics I liked.  It's projects like this that reinforce my desire to save those random scraps.

Although, I wish I had a better organization system for said scraps.  A big Rubbermaid bin is hardly organization.  Although, I guess it's better than piles all over the craft room floor.  That was the previous method.  Baby steps right?
Anyhow, as I'm sure you can tell. Blockette LOVES her new shirt. It was a hand-me-down shirt with a stain near the neck.  I don't know if that was the reason why Blockette never ever wore the shirt, or if it was because it was a plain old ordinary boring white T-shirt.  Now it's anything but boring, and right up there with with her owl glitter shirt and her princess shirts. 

The shirt originally had a pocket on it.  I ripped that sucker out.  The rainbow I think is a bit on the large side for the size of the shirt and a bit too close to the neckline if I'm gonna get picky.  However, the rainbow needed to be that high and wide to cover the stain and the lines made from the pocket seams.

The rainbow itself is also a bit more stiff than it should be.  If I ever make a shirt like this again I am going to trim the extra fabric off after I sew each layer together.  For example, once the orange is sewn onto the red, I'd cut off the red fabric that is behind the orange fabric.  Once the yellow fabric is sewn onto the orange fabric, I'd cut off the extra orange fabric behind the yellow, etc.

Imperfections aside, Blockette loves the shirt.  So I should just quit complaining about it and be happy she is still at the age when the stuff mom makes her is still super cool.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Cowboy Cookies

I chose to make cowboy cookies from Scarletta Bakes because the recipe called for shortening and steel cut oats.  I was craving a cookie, but was down to only one stick of butter.  And any recipe that uses steal cut oats automatically means it's healthy.  Right? (We won't discuss which type of shortening I used and whether or not it contained trans-fats or not. )

I made a few substitutions in this recipe.  I switched out the pecans for walnuts.  I mistakenly thought I had a bag of pecans in the freezer, but it turned out that I had 2 bags of walnuts.  How do you mix up walnuts and pecans.  I must not have been paying attention at the store that week. 

Next, I used semi sweet chocolate chips instead of milk chocolate chips.  I rarely keep milk chocolate chips in the house.  Semi sweet always tastes so much better in my opinion.  Since I always use them in chocolate chip cookies, why not use the semi sweet chips in this cookie too.

This recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon of ancho chile powder.  It's kind of a weird ingredient but I guess it is what makes these cookies "cowboy."  I was afraid that would make the cookies too fire-y, so I used 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper instead. This provided just enough heat where after a few bites you go, "Hmm, what is that zip?!"  Mrblocko noticed the slight zing from the spice, but Blockette, if she noticed it, did not complain or comment. 

Finally, I substituted the 1/4 cup of wheat germ with wheat bran.  I had bought some wheat bran for a bread recipe a while back and have been looking for a way to use up the rest of the bag.  I did a bit of research online and found that it was ok to use one for the other.  I thought since the bran is lighter than the germ the dough might be too sticky, but there is so much other stuff in this dough, it holds together just fine. 

Since this recipe contains: Nuts, oats, butterscotch and chocolate chips, and coconut I don't know that I would have attempted to make these cookies without my standmixer.  Betty sure make quick work of blending in all those goodies.  I think my arm would have fallen off had I done it by hand.

This recipe does have a grave error in it.  It states to make the cookie dough into 1 1/2  inch balls, and the recipe will yield 26 cookies.  I did that and got more than double that amount of cookies!  Wow!  That is a lot of cookies.

I was positive that Mrblocko would not like these cookies because of the steal cut oats.  The oats were still grainy and chewy, but I guess it was ok because of all the other textures in the cookie.  I guess a few chewy grains of oats here and there isn't like eating a whole bowl of the stuff by itself.  I rarely make the same recipe twice, but as of this post I've made this two times.  They make a nice tasty afternoon snack, or breakfast when no one is looking.  Like I said before, I feel like I'm being healthy because they have those awesome steal cut oats in them!  Hooray, nutritious cookies for breakfast!  Whoohoo!

Cowboy Cookies from Scarletta Bakes Yields 26 cookies
1 c. shortening
1 c. white sugar, granulated
1 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. cinnamon, ground
1/2 tsp. ancho chile, ground
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. steel cut oats
1 c. coconut, shredded, sweetened
3/4 c. pecans
3/4 c. milk chocolate chips
3/4 c. butterscotch chips
1/4 c. wheat germ

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, cream sugars and shortening together. Add eggs and beat until just incorporated. Beat in flour, cinnamon, ancho, baking soda, baking powder and salt until dough is uniform and smooth. Fold in oats, coconut, pecans, chips and wheat germ. Pull off a tablespoon-sized chunk of dough and roll it between your palms into a ball approximately 1 1/2″ around. Place dough ball on a parchment-lined baking sheet and repeat until tray is full. These cookies spread quite a bit while baking so you will not want to crowd your baking sheet – I only baked 8 cookies at a time on my standard size baking sheets. Bake for approximately 12 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are just beginning to turn a light golden brown.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thankful Thursday 28.11

1. Bucking up and changing the toilet seats myself.  (Nastiest thing I've ever done.  Grosser than fishing out poop from the tub.)
2. Seeing the Harry Potter Movie.
3. My best friend watched Blockette so we could go see HP.
4. Air conditioning.
5. Not messing up preparing Communion.
6. Minimal activity in the heat.
7. It won't be summer forever.
8. Did I mention Air conditioning?
9. Naps.
10. Getting better at braiding Blockette's hair.
11. Mrblocko giving neck/shoulder rubs.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Grilled Honey Mustard Chicken

Feel like grilling? Tired of your usual marinade? Why not try grilled honey mustard chicken from simply scratch?
Ain't them grill marks on that chicken perty? Mrblocko did a good job with that.  I love grill marks on my food.  The charred bits are so yummy. 

This marinade is great because it has sweet, sour, and a touch of heat.  I like that in a marinade.  I probably should have used smokey paprika.  That would have been a fun flavor addition.  Oh well.

I only made one teensy tiny alteration to the recipe.  I didn't have any of that funky grainy mustard on hand, so I just used the Dijon mustard that we had in the freezer.  I think that it was just as well.  I probably would have had to tell Blockette that the mustard seeds were spider's eggs and then there would have been excessive drama at the table.

Grilled Honey Mustard Chicken from Simply Scratch   Serves 4
1/2 cup of any Whole Grain Mustard
1/2 cup of Honey
Juice of 1/2 a Lemon
1 Garlic Clove, smashed and minced
1/2 teaspoon Paprika
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts

Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl. Reserve 4 tablespoons of sauce and then pour the remaining honey mustard mixture over the chicken, toss and cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for about 30-45 minutes at room temp. Preheat the grill on medium- medium high heat, grill chicken for about 6 to 7 minutes per side or until chicken is done. Pour the reserved honey-mustard sauce over chicken and let rest under foil for about 5 minutes. Serve.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


I have these fond memories of my mom making popovers as a kid.  I don't know why I remember them so fondly.  Maybe because we had them so infrequently?  Why mom?  Why didn't we have these more often?  They are so easy to make! 
For those of you not in the know, a popover is a muffin like thing, except it is hollow in the center. The exterior is slightly crisp, and the interior is sort of custard-y.  Some of the popovers get a hole in the bottom, those were Blockette's favorites.

I used the recipe for Julia Child's popovers from Cup of Mai, with one big exception...instead of combining the ingredients with a whisk, I used a blender.  The recipe says to sieve the batter if it is lumpy, but if you use a blender there aren't going to be any lumps!  See...easy!

I got 9 popovers using a regular old muffin pan. I'm sure if you use a proper popover pan, you won't get as many popovers.  I also put the batter in the muffin cups on the outside border of the pan.  I feared the popovers wouldn't get hot enough or enough air flow if they were in the center muffin cups.    I haven't a clue if this was an accurate assumption, but with only batter to fill 9 of the muffin cups, I figured it couldn't hurt.

Julia is probably rolling over in her grave, but I did not use whole milk.  The popovers "popped" properly and tasted just fine using skim milk.  

We ate our popovers as sort of dinner roll, so with 9 popovers, there were leftovers.  Since popovers taste best warm, I reheated the leftovers for about 10-15 minutes in a 350F oven.  They were almost as good the second time as they were straight from the oven.

For some reason every picture I took of the popovers had this weird orange shine.  The picture I posted only had one funky popover so I used that one.  As far as I can tell, the discoloration is from the flash on my camera. You'll just have to take my word that no popovers had any shiny orange spots.

Bad photography aside, I'll definitely be making these popovers again.

Popovers from Cup of Mai
1 cup whole or 2% milk at room temp
1 cup of all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs, at room temp
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 425F. Mix all ingredients together with a whisk to form a thin batter. Sieve the batter if its lumpy. Pour the batter into individual grease muffin cups or popovers pan, about 3/4 full. Bake them in the oven for 25 minutes. Turn down the oven temperature to 350F for 15 minutes.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Spicy Roasted Almonds

My husband loves flavored almonds from Blue Diamond. I guess they make several flavors, but his favorite out of the ones our grocery sells, are hands down the BBQ Habenero ones. The Lime and chili Almonds are a close second though.

These fancy almonds are on the pricey side and I can't always fit them into my weekly grocery budget. Plain raw almonds in bulk are considerably cheaper than the flavored pre-packaged brand name varieties.

I thought I might try my hand at flavoring some of the cheaper raw almonds myself, and see if they were an acceptable alternative for Mrblocko. I rounded up about 10 recipes and he selected spiced roast almonds from Family Friends and Food.

This version doesn't have as much heat or zip as the BBQ habenero version, but they were pretty tasty nevertheless. They have just the slightest tingle. They are mild enough for Blockette to not have to reach desperately (and dramatically) for a beverage. Although, that could be because she helped make them. Somehow, things are less spicy when she helps make them...most of the time.

The flavor coating didn't adhere to the almonds as well as I would have liked. Maybe a recipe that has egg in it would act as a better binder for the spices. This recipe just used butter. Because of the butter, I've decided to store this snack in the fridge. I don't want to take any risks of the butter getting rancid or anything nasty like that.

Because I found so many different versions for flavored and spicy almonds, I'm going to test out a few different recipes before I make any repeats. That way he'll have a bit of variety and he can choose which flavor he likes best.

Spiced Roasted Almonds from Family Friends and Food
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 cups whole almonds
Coarse salt to taste

Melt the butter in a saucepan, then stir in the cumin through cayenne pepper. Add the Worcestershire sauce and almonds. Stir to coat all almonds. Turn the almonds out on to a shallow baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes in an oven pre-heated to 350 degrees. Stirring occasionally. Transfer to a serving dish and toss with coarse salt. Serve warm. Or if preferred, allow them to cool and store them for up to 3 weeks in an air tight container.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Cornelius Fudge-sicles

YAY! We finally saw the Harry Potter movie! I was pretty jazzed and would love to see it 12 more times. Although, I will have to wait until Christmas when it comes out on DVD to watch it a second time.  So, instead of seeing the movie again, let's make Cornelius Fudge-sicles!

Who in the blazes is Cornelius Fudge you ask? He was the Minister for Magic, a sort of Prime Minister for the Magical Folk, for most of the series.
That's his picture up there. What a looker, eh?  Well he was about as good a Minister for Magic as he was handsome.  His failure to see what was right in front of his face caused a lot of undue damage.  Funny how the little things can bring about our down fall.  Sort of like these Fudgesicles.

Oh, they sure don't seem like much, what with only a 1/2 Tablespoon of chocolate chips and 5/8 Tablespoon of cocoa powder per popsicle. How could they possibly taste rich and fudgy?  And I made them with plain old ordinary skim milk too.  Merlin's beard, they are rich and chocolate-y as all get out.

One thing that surprised me about these pops was that they were not rock hard after spending a day or two in the freezer.  Most of the time the frozen treats I make in ice pop form are strictly lick only, unless you want to crack your jaw off, or sit in the hot sun for a while.  (I don't know about you, but I prefer to eat my frozen concoctions in the serenity of my nice air conditioned home.)
See?  Even Blockette can bit the popsicle with her slightly wobbly/loose front tooth.  She doesn't even like to take bites from her ice cream cones, so I was surprised that she chomped away at this frozen confection.

Pop on over to smitten kitchen for the recipe for fudge popsicles and make them right away. Do it! Do it Lupin!  Do it for Fred!  Do it for Dumbledore, for pity's sake!  You know they'd want you to.

(The recipe makes 4 popsicles in the Tovolo star pop molds.)

Fudge Popsicles from Smitten Kitchen
2 tablespoons  semisweet chocolate chips or chopped semisweet chocolate
1/3 cup  sugar
1 tablespoon  cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoons  unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups whole milk
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon  unsalted butter

In the bottom of a medium saucepan over very low heat, gently melt the chocolate chips, stirring constantly until smooth. Stir in sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, milk and salt and raise heat to medium. Cook mixture, stirring frequently until it thickens, anywhere between 5 minutes (for me) and 10 (suggested in the book). Remove from heat, add vanilla and butter and stir until combined. Set aside to cool slightly then pour into popsicle molds. Freeze 30 minutes, then insert popsicle sticks. Freeze the rest of the way before serving.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Hello! My name is Simon, and I like to do Draw-rings.

Lookie what a good artist I've become.  Don't I do great pencil sketches?  Especially of my cat Basil?  I haven't drawn since high school so it's good to know that I've greatly improved, and without any practice.   And what is even more amazing was that I was able to post the drawing online without the use of a scanner.  I used my super magical mind powers.  Because I went to Hogwarts back in the day.  At least that's what I've been telling Blockette.

Cinnamon Bread Success

Hey, nice buns. So it's not buns, it's bread. Cinnamon swirl yeast bread from Dine and Dish to be exact. I just can't help thinking that the two loaves sitting there side by side look like a big saggy pair of butt cheeks. Juvenile and immature, but that's me!

I'd been wanting to bake cinnamon bread for a while now. I scoured the Internet and found several recipes that caught my eye. Ultimately, I chose the recipe I saw on Dine and Dish because it only required one stick of butter and made two loaves. Several other recipes I found needed more than a stick of butter for just one loaf. So I am being frugal and slightly more healthy with this choice of breads. I mean why put all the butter on the inside of the bread when you know you are going to slather each slice with oodles of butter anyhow.

I also liked the fact that this recipe had cinnamon in the dough, not just smeared on top of it to create the swirl within each slice. This bread is truly a cinnamon lover's dream. The bread was so jam packed with cinnamony goodness that the side of the loaves split open and the ooey gooey goodness overflowed onto the oven floor! Huge billowing clouds of dark smoke came flowing out of the oven vent.

Luckily Mrblocko was working from home when I made this so he was able to help before things got too tragic. He had the quick thinking to grab his metal grilling spatula to scrape off the charred brown sugar cinnamon that had crusted itself to the oven floor. His quick thinking helped clear the kitchen of smoke before the smoke alarm went off. Whew!

I placed the loaves on a baking sheet lined with parchment for the remainder of the bread's baking time. I was so afraid that the bread was ruined and all the filling was in the garbage instead of in a nice fancy swirl in my bread.
Well my bread luck just might be turning around. I mean look at that gorgeous swirl. It's perfect. I nearly cried when I sawed off that first slice. It looks just like, no better, than the cinnamn bread you can buy in the store. It tasted way better too. The bread was so good I didn't even want any butter on it. I wanted to savor every bit of the cinnamon without anything masking it's true flavor.

The loaves are best, like most fresh bread, within the first 24 hours. I froze one loaf just as an experiment. I let the bread thaw out in the fridge, not the counter. I was afraid of the bread getting moldy because of the lack of preservatives. The frozen bread, like the fresh bread, was the best the first 24 hours after it was thawed and sliced. The day old bread was still good, just not as mind-blowingly good.

We even made some of it into French toast. I still think my mom's french toast is the best, but Mrblocko and Blockette thought French toast made with cinnamon bread certainly gives my mom's French toast a run for her money.

I was trying to wrack my brain and figure out how the loaf could have split open. I sealed the dough very well and rolled it as tight as I could. Maybe it rose too much. I let the loaf sit for a whole hour for the second rise, instead of 30 minutes like the recipe stated. I don't know much about the science of bread making so that is the only solution I can come up with.

Also, I only baked the bread for 40 minutes. The recipe says to bake for 55 minutes. This extra 15 minutes may not seem like a long time, but I think the time gap is larger than 15 minutes. I left the timer on while Mrblocko was scraping the burnt stuff off the floor of the oven, and the bread was out of the oven at that time as well. I'm not really sure how long the bread actually took to bake. If you are going to make this bread, and I highly recommend that you do, check it after a half hour, and don't forget to bake the loaves on a cookie sheet...just in case.

Cinnamon Swirl Yeast Bread from Dine and Dish
1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
2 cups warm milk (about 110 degrees)
7 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 stick butter, room temperature, cut into pieces, plus more for pans
½ cup sugar
2 eggs
2 ½ tsp coarse salt
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp ground cinnamon

In bowl of electric mixer, sprinkle yeast over warm milk and whisk to combine. Add flour, butter, sugar, 2 eggs, and salt. Attach bowl to mixer fitted with dough hook. Mix on low speed til all  ingredients well combined, 3 min. Raise speed to med-low, and continue to mix til dough  completely smooth and pulls away from sides of bowl, 3 min.Turn out dough on a lightly floured surface. Pat out dough into a big round. Sprinkle with cinnamon and knead and fold until just incorporated. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, and cover with oiled plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place til doubled in size, 1 hour.

Return dough to a lightly floured work surface, and pat into a round. Fold bottom 3rd of dough up,  top 3rd down and right and left sizes over, pressing down seal. Return dough into bowl and let rise again til doubled in bulk, 40 min. Make filling. Combine sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon with 2 T water in a small bowl. Generously butter 2 9x5" loaf pans set aside. Return dough to a lightly floured work surface, and divide in half. Roll each half out to a large rectangle, a bit bigger than loaf pans – about 10" . Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle each with half of the filling.

With short end of rectangle facing you, fold in both of long sides of dough in. Then roll dough towards you, gently pressing forming a tight log. Roll back and forth to seal seam. Place loafs in prepared pans. Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap, and let rest in a warm place, 30 min. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375°F. Transfer pans to oven. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, til loaves golden brown, 55 min. Turn out bread onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Quik Magic Crystal Potion

Are the wizards and witches in your house hankering for something refreshing this summer? Why not try this Quik Magic Crystal Potion. It's sure to quench your thirst after a long hard day of casting magical spells. 

2/3 c crystals
1/3 c rock dragon scales, ground into a fine brown powder
pinch of white rock from the sea

Combine crystals, scales and rock into a fine powder. Add 1-2 T of powder to 1 c unicorn milk and stir. Drink with a spoon and straw.

Or head over to Sugar Bananas for the "muggle" version of homemade nesquik.

P.S. Mrblocko says this is a tasty addition to a nice hot cup of coffee too.

P.P.S. I can't believe I'm waiting over 24 hours to go and see the final Harry Potter movie.  I used to go to the midnight screenings.  I must be getting old!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Tomato Plant Idea

I just saw this cool idea for people who don't have room for a garden (or maybe if the ground in your yard is perpetually too hard to till?)...Tomatoes grown in a bag of dirt! Brilliant!
Head on over to Cooking with my Kid and check it out.

'11 Happy Dance # 12: Pioneer Sun Bonnet

This week was Vacation Bible School at our church, with the theme of The Wild West. Wednesday, was dress up in your favorite pioneer or wild west attire day. Blockette was concerned she didn't have anything to wear. HA!

I knew we had the perfect dress lurking in the back of her closet.  Hey mom!  Recognize that dress?  Yeah, it used to be mine!  Shortly after Blockette was born, my mom gave me several outfits that were mine as a child.  This dress was among those clothes.  You gotta love that late seventies prairie style. 
I showed Blockette the dress and she was over the moon. I was thrilled that she was thrilled. At least I was until she asked, "Can you make me a sun bonnet, just like Laura (Ingalls Wilder)'s?"

Hmm. I had no idea if I could or not. A bonnet couldn't be THAT hard. Could it? Well the internet sure is my friend because I found the easiest sun bonnet tutorial from Given Moments.  Even I, the slowest sewer on the planet, was able to whip it up in no time at all.

I pulled out several calico fabrics from my fabric stash.  Blocketted picked this purple floral fabric my best friend had passed on to me.  (She doesn't quilt so she gives me her fabric that is less than a yard.)  I was going to steer Blockette towards something blue to match her dress, but I think the purple fabric wound up looking better that what I would have chosen myself. 
Apparently, Blockette was the only girl who dressed up like a pioneer. Everyone else just wore bandanas and cowboy hats. I thought she might be embarrassed that she was dressed differently. Nope. She was happy that she was the only one dressed like a pioneer.  Now if I can only figure out a way for her to keep that mentality that it's OK to be different.

Thankful Thursday 27.11

1. The squirrels didn't dig up all the plants I put in the side garden.
2. The rabbit who was nibbling on my parsley plant, saved enough for us to use in dinner this evening.
3. A quiet evening to myself.
4. Figuring out how to upload pictures with my new camera. (I've got lots of backlogged posts so it may be a while before I post pictures from the new camera. You'll be able to tell when I do because the photo quality is a bazillion times better.)
5. Boo is a good bug hunter.
6. Getting a project 99% finished while Blockette was at Vacation Bible School.
7. I didn't freak out when I saw the stingy bug house forming on the apex of of the overhang of our garage roof.
8. There are fairies living in our garden. (They built a house and everything.)
9. Finally finding some books I'm enjoying reading.
10. Turning the AC off.
11.  None of the trees in our yard, or our immediate neighbors' yards were knocked over in the big wind storm.
12. Free popcorn at the hardware store. (Cause I was not full from dinner and that hit the spot exacty.)
13. I'm not such a wimp anymore.  (I can carry a full grill propane tank one handed.)
14. Eating dinner with Mrblocko unexpectedly.
15. Mrblocko is not afraid to take down stingy bug houses.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Baked Cheese and Bean Dip

I made this White bean and cheddar dip from Mommy's Kitchen for a girls get together back in June.  It is a warm dip so I baked it at my friend's house, so that means I never snapped a picture of it.

I used to take my camera with me everywhere when Blockette was a baby.  Now, I'm lucky if I remember how to use a camera.  How is it that kids give you amnesia?  What was I talking about again?  Who are you? Who am I? Huh?

Oh yea White bean and cheddar dip.  Yes. Of course I made changes to the recipe. I used homemade stock instead of from the can.  Because I did this I added extra salt and pepper to the dish.  I also used 2 huge cloves of garlic. This was waaaay too much garlic.  I have no idea why I put so much garlic in the dish.  Next time, I'll just use one clove.  It will be plenty.  Finally I put a cup of cheese inside the dip, and topped it with another 1/2 cup of cheese.  I can never have too much cheese, especially in a dip.

For some reason my dip was a bit more liquidy than I would have liked.  Next time I think I'll start with 1/4c of liquid and see how that works.  Maybe the beans I used just had a higher water content than normal.

White Bean and Cheddar Dip from Mommy's Kitchen
1 - can (15.5 oz) cannelleli beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 - cup low sodium chicken broth
1 - garlic clove, minced
1/2 - tsp cumin
1 - 1 1/4 - cups shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine the beans, chicken broth, garlic and cumin in a blender. I used my Cuisinart hand blender with the blade attachment. Process until smooth. Add 3/4 cup of the grated cheese and blend by hand until combined. Place the bean mixture in a oven safe baking dish. Sprinkle on the remaining cheese all over the top. Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with tortilla, pita chips, crackers or vegetables.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Even quicker and easier breadsticks

The Divine breadsticks from My Kitchen Cafe (now renamed Mel's Kitchen cafe) that I wrote about here, are my favorite. I had a bit of difficulty with them at first, but I worked the kinks out. Now that I have a pastry mat, they are even easier to make since they don't stick to my counter. These are some nice and poofy breadsticks. Of course they are nice and poofy, they have yeast in them.

While these breadsticks are easier and quicker to make than other recipes I've encountered, they do require a small amount of advance planning. They take 30 minutes to rise and 20 minutes to bake. So what do you do if it is dinner time, your family is starving, and you forgot to allow those 50 minutes?

Quick and easy breadsticks from Tammy's Recipes to the rescue! The leavening agent in these breadsticks is baking powder, so they don't need time to rise. These were a lifesaver when it was 5:30 and I realized I had not prepared the dough for the breadsticks to accompany our spaghetti dinner. If Blockette had to wait another 50 minutes for dinner, she was going to starve to death. Waste away. I couldn't stand 50 minutes of that drama. 20 minutes was much more palatable.

I made the garlic butter version.
These breadsticks are much quicker and easier than the My kitchen cafe ones, but they are pretty dense. Blockette said she liked these better, but I prefer the lighter fluffier version. The Divine breadsticks are still going to be my breadstick of choice, but it is good to know I have another option if I need to prepare some breadsticks quickly.

Quick and Easy Breadsticks from Tammy's Recipes
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine
1 tablespoon oil
3 cups flour (I use part whole wheat, part unbleached)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1-1 1/2 cups milk

Preheat oven to 425 F. Place butter and oil in 9×13 pan and put in oven so butter melts as the oven heats up. Be careful not to let it burn!Stir dry ingredients together, and gradually add milk, stirring until dough forms and leaves sides of bowl. Knead 5-6 times in bowl; place on floured countertop and roll out into 9×13-inch rectangle. Lay dough in pre-heated 9×13-inch pan, atop the melted butter/oil. Cut into 1/2″ strips. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Thai Pizza

This is the pizza I made with my leftover dough from the Springform Chicago Pizza.  (To my best friend, try not to make gagging noises too loudly while you read this.  This post is about pizza with peanut sauce.)
Since this was an impromptu meal, I had to go with the ingredients I had on hand. I didn't have red onions, but I really wish I did. Red onions would have tasted awesome on the pizza. I also used Colby jack instead of mozzarella, since I used up all the mozzarella in my fridge to make the deep dish pizza. Also, I reduced the amount of red pepper flakes from 2 tsp to 1/2 tsp so it wouldn't be too spicy for Blockette.

I had some red peppers that had been roasted and stuck in the freezer. I thawed them out and used those too. Blockette said that she didn't like the roasted red pepper. At least that is what she said until I told her they were red worms, and red worms would make her fairy wings grow nice and strong. That did the trick. Whatever works right?

I liked this pizza a lot. Whenever we go to California Pizza Kitchen, I always get the Thai pizza. My only beef with this recipe was that the sauce was way too thin. I only added about 1/8 c water and the sauce was still too runny for my liking. Next time I think I'll leave the water out completely. In any case, I just reserved the extra sauce and used it for dipping. That did the trick nicely.

Head over to All Day I Dream About Food to get the recipe for Thai Pizza.
1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup hot water
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 garlic cloves, pressed
2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tbsp olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, diced
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1 cup shredded mozarella

4 8-inch low carb tortillas or wraps OR 1 lb pizza dough**

In a medium bowl, whisk together peanut butter, water, vinegar, garlic, ginger, soy sauce and pepper flakes until well combined. Set aside. In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add chicken and saute until cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove chicken with a slotted spoon to a plate or bowl. Add pepper and onion to hot skillet and saute until just tender, about 4 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425F. Spread each wrap with 1/4 of the peanut sauce. Top with chicken, red pepper and onion. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake on a pizza stone or cookie sheet on middle rack of oven until cheese is melted and bubbly, about 8 minutes.

**If you are making this with regular pizza dough, be sure to bake the crust first for 8 to 10 minute before adding the toppings and returning it to the oven.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Blockette's World

Blockette now has her own blog.  You can check it out here!

Sausage and White Bean Casserole

Recipe books are not my prefered means of acquiring recipes. I've been disappointed one too many times. I don't even bother buying recipe books anymore. I just check them out from the library. That way I'm not out any money for a book full of recipes that I don't like, or that don't turn out how I'd expect.

With cooking blogs, and recipe websites, there are either a series of pictures or various comments about the recipe. I can get a pretty good idea whether or not I'm going to like a recI cheipe by the pictures and the comments. Whereas recipe books sometimes don't even have a picture of the recipe you want to make, let alone a quick review.

When I checked out "Not Your Mother's Casseroles" by Faith Durandm, my expectations were really low. At least until I got to the check out. You see I go to the library so much that they not only know me by name, they know how to spell my last name (which does not sound like it's spelled) and they know the last four digits of my phone number. (Not only do I go to the library a lot, I put a lot of books on hold. At my library your on hold books are shelved by the last 4 digits of your phone number.)

Anyhow, at the check out, the librarian said, "Oh! We've all been ooohing and ahhing over this book. The pictures in the book look so good."Ok. I'm sold! Cause if Librarians think it's cool, you know it is.

While a lot of the pictures did look good, not a lot of the recipes appealed to me for one reason or another. The white bean casserole did catch my eye. Lately it seems like I've had a thing for white beans. I don't much care for their texture whole, but their flavor has really grown on me in the past year.

Since I've got this texture issue with beans, I pureed half of the beans in the recipe. The hotdish turned out just fine, and even Blockette the bean hater enjoyed this meal.

I'm sure that this meal is even tastier if you use wine. Cooking with wine always makes things taste better, kind of like cream or butter. If you don't happen to have any white wine on hand, like me, using chicken stock still produces mighty tasty results.

White bean Casserole with herbs and pork sausage adapted from "Not Your Mother's Casseroles" by Faith Durand

1 lb bulk italian sausage
1 med or 2 sm onions, diced
3 medium carrots, diced
3 stalks of celery, diced
1/2 red pepper, roasted, cooled and diced
1/2 c fresh parsley
2 sprigs thyme, leaves only
2 sprigs rosemary leaves
1 c chicken stock (original recipe says 1/2 c stock and 1/2 c white wine, but we didn't have any wine)
1 1/2 t salt
ground pepper
2 15 oz cans of white beans, rinced and drained (I pureed one can because I prefer beans pureed. Do as much or as little as you like.)
3/4 c dry bread crumbs
3/4 c parmesean cheese
olive oil

Preheat your oven to 400F. Lighlty grease 9x13 dish with olive oil. In a large skillet cook the sausage on med high until cooked all the way through. Drain on papertowels. Add onion, carrots and celery to the pork fat in the pan. Cook 15 minutes. Add garlic, peppers, parsley, thyme, and rosemary. Cook 10 minutes. Add broth. Bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and add salt and pepper to taste. In your baking dish, combine veggies, beans and sausage. Stir to combine. Mix bread crumbs with cheese and sprinkle evenly over the casserole. Drizzle top with olive oil, Bake 40 minutes until top is golden brown and the beans are bubbling. Let the dish sit 5 min before serving to set up.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Thankful Thursday 25 and 26.11

Hey, as I was writing this week's Thankful list, I discovered a partial list that I never finished from last week.  Whoops.  So I thought I'd just smash the 2 weeks together in one big uber long thankful post.

1. No melt downs at Relay for Life.
2. Nice cool weather for Relay for Life.
3. Making a decent dent in the mountain of laundry I was too tired to do over the weekend.
4. Finding and killing the spider that was crawling on me as I woke up from my nap. (Take that you!)
5. Remembering that I forgot to give the cats water.
6. My best friend who gave forgetful me's cats some water.
7. Wonderful visit with my mom.
8. Safe trip there and back to my mom's.
9. Mrblocko remembering the backroads to take home so we didn't have to sit on the parking lot that was the Wisconsin freeway.
10. The plants my uncle gave Blockette survived the trip home just fine in the trunk.
11. Blockette realizing the math page she was freaking out about was actually not hard for her at all.
12. Spending time alone with Mrblocko.
13. Finding the fabric I needed for my next project...on sale too.
14. The employee at the fabric store who helped me figure out I only needed 2 yards and not 5 yards like I had feared.
15. I got all the plants my uncle gave me planted.  (Well except the sunflowers, Mrblocko has to help me till up a new spot for them.)
16. I can still move (barely) after putting all those plants in the ground.
17. The idea to have a peanut butter banana smoothie.
18. Purring cats on sore muscles.
19.  Giving Blockette a bath last night instead of tonight, considering I might not be able to get up off the floor by this evening.
20. Blockette is not afraid to kill earwigs. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Pumpkin Enchiladas

Easy Chicken Enchiladas with pumpkin cream sauce by Cheeky Kitchen seemed like a great way to incorporate more veggies secretly into the meal. I've had lots of pumpkin based cream sauce dishes before and really liked them in the past.

I just thought the dish was pretty bland and I even quadrupled the seasoning. Maybe the recipe went south because I used milk instead of cream, and a mixture of Colby jack and cheddar instead of queso fresco? That was most likely the reason for the ho-hum nature of the dish. Although I generally swap out milk for cream in most of the meals I make, and use so the whole family is used to that.

Also, I felt there was way too much liquid in the sauce. The dish wound up on the soggy side. This was odd to me because I made this dish with 12 tortillas, so there was more food to soak up the liquid. I'm wondering if maybe my pumpkin was on the watery side? I used leftover pumpkin canned I had saved in the freezer. Sometimes frozen food gets more watery when it is defrosted.

Ultimately, I think my taste buds were just expecting the zip and zing of a regular enchilada. There is none of that in this dish. So if you've got kids (or anyone else for that matter) who don't like spicy foods, this dish would most likely be a home run for them. Just be sure not to substitute the cream or queso fresco!

Easy Chicken Enchilada's with Pumpkin Cream Sauce from Cheeky Kitchen
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cup chicken, cooked and diced
1/2 cup pumpkin
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cumin
Dash of salt & pepper
8 corn tortillas
1 cup Queso Fresco, crumbled
1/4 cup. diced scallions

In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, then add the onion slices. Saute until brown and caramelized, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken to the pan, stirring it to mix with the caramelized onions, then remove from the heat. In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, cream, broth, cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, salt and pepper. Spoon chicken mixture into the tortilla's, rolling them tightly and placing in a medium-sized baking dish. Once all enchiladas have been rolled, spread the pumpkin cream sauce over the top. Sprinkle generously with Queso Fresco, then bake in an oven preheated to 425F for 20-25 minutes, or just until the tips of the cheese begins to brown. Garnish with diced scallions before serving.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Chicago Style Pizza

I'm always on the look out for new and exciting ways to use my springform pan. Especially considering that I have yet to make a cheesecake in it. I mean really. That's why I wanted the darn thing. Anyhow Springform Deep Dish Pizza from Confections of a Foodie Bride is a great recipe to utilize that springform pan for something savory. I made this pizza with leftover spaghetti sauce. This sauce was loaded with sausage, onions, zucchini, garlic, carrots and mushrooms. I also added a hearty layer of pepperoni slices in between the two layers of dough.

Blockette hated this because she likes a thin crust pizza, and this bad boy is about as far from a thin crust pizza as you can get. Mrblocko thought it could use more sauce and more cheese. I thought it was perfect. It was even scrumptious cold. But let's get real here, doesn't ALL pizza taste good cold?

There is one thing you need to be careful of with this recipe, your springform pan size. Mine is a 9 inch pan. The recipe calls for a 10 inch pan. If you use a 9 inch pan, you will have a LOT of leftover dough. When I say a lot, I mean I had enough dough to make a large thin crust pizza.

Since we had so much deep dish pizza, I kept the extra uncooked dough in the frige for 5 days before I made it into a thin crust pizza. The dough developed a monster bubble after the first day. So don't be alarmed if yours behaves the same way.

Deep Dish Pizza from Confessions of a Foodie Bride
For the dough:
1 3/4 cup warm water, divided
1 tsp sugar
1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp) instant yeast
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing bowl and springform pan
4 cups (22 oz) bread flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 tsp salt

For the pizza:
1 cup pizza sauce
2 cups shredded fresh mozzarella
Fillings of your choice (we used cooked italian sausage, pepperoni, and pineapple chunks)

Put 1/2 c warm water into bowl of stand mixer and stir in sugar til dissolved. Sprinkle yeast over  top and let stand til frothy, 5 min. Add remaining water and oil. Add flour and salt to stand mixer bowl fitted with hook. Mix on low til flour combined and then turn up speed and knead til dough is smooth and elastic, 5 min. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl (I remove the dough, oil the stand mixer bowl, and put the dough back in… one less dirty dish). Cover with plastic wrap til doubles in volume, 1 ½ to 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 400. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Divide dough into 2pieces, 2/3 and 1/3" size. Gently form into 2 balls, cover with damp cloth, and let dough relax 10 min. Assemble a 10" spring form pan and oil bottom and inside ring. Shape larger piece of dough into round and drape over springform pan. dough round needs to be large enough to cover bottom and slightly hang over  edges of pan. Use small pieces from other dough ball to patch any trouble spots.

Sprinkle 1/3 cheese over bottom of pan. Top with fillings and cover with half of remaining cheese. Shape remaining dough into a round and drape over springform pan. The dough round should also slightly hang over edge of pan. Taking a rolling and roll over top edge of springform pan to seal  pizza. Tuck crust edges around top of pizza. Using a pair of kitchen shears, cut a few steam holes in top crust. Spoon pizza sauce over top and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 40-45 min til crust is golden and cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown. Remove pizza from oven and immediately remove ring from pan. Cut into wedges and serve.

Monday, July 4, 2011

My cookies need some Imodium AD

Oh I hope your 4th of July isn't a poopy one!

I made Picky Palate's Chocolate Peanut butter and Marshmellow pudding cookies with the intent of putting them in a bake sale back in May.

The melted marshmellows looked like squidgy baby diarreah!!!
Who wants to eat that?

Only about 6 of them in the whole batch were presentable enough for the sale.

Seriously, I am never "baking" with marshmellows again. After the Resurection rolls failure and now this...bah. It isn't worth the heartache. Now if the marshmellows had melted in the rolls like they did in the cookies or vice versa that would be another story.  No such luck.

Now they did taste good, in spite of their first impression. I sent the nastiest ones with Mrblocko to work. They happily closed their eyes and ate them. I was told I could send any more rejects to work with him any time I wanted. So at least there was that.
Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Marshmallow Pudding Cookies from Picky Palate
2 sticks softened butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 oz box instant chocolate pudding mix
10 oz bag peanut butter chips
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 F. and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or line with a silpat liner. In a stand or electric mixer, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla until well combined. Place flour, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl, mixing to combine. Slowly add to wet ingredients along with chocolate pudding mix, peanut butter chips and marshmallows. Mix until just combined. With a medium cookie scoop, place onto baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until cooked through. Let cool for 10 minutes on baking sheet before transferring.  Makes 3 dozen cookies

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Grilled corn on the cob

Not much to see here with this post. I'm just posting a link to grilled corn on the cob from Savory Sweet Life. I keep forgetting how to prepare corn on the cob for the grill. I figure if I label the post Grilled corn on the cob, it will be easier for me to find when I search for it the next time I need it.

With this method, you microwave the corn first and then grill it. This really speeds up your cooking time. The recipe does say to microwave the corn for 8 minutes. We usually only grill 3 ears at a time so 3-5 minutes is usually enough. Also, I like my corn to have a bit of a bite to it.

Just don't forget to include the 5 minutes it takes for the corn to cool after you nuke it in your meal prep time. Since you are microwaving the corn in the husk, they are going to be too hot to handle right away.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Double Cherry Kisses

When I was a little girl, I remember my great aunt used to make peanut butter blossoms. I loved them sooo much. Now I'm sure my mom made them occasionally, but I only seem to remember eating them when we went to visit my great aunt. I'd always eat the chocolate "blossom" or Kiss part last. I don't think I ate them together a single time, at least not that I can remember.

Seeing the recipe for cherry chocolate kisses at the Curvy Carrot made me feel all nostalgic for those peanut butter blossoms. But this version was completely different. It was like a those peanut butter blossoms got together with one of my favorite Christmas cookies, Santa's Whiskers and had a wee little cookie baby. Of course that cookie baby didn't inherit the peanut butter or the coconut gene.

I used cherry cordial kisses just to up the cherry factor in the cookie.  I'm not a big fan of the cordial kisses by themselves, but in this cookie...HELLO!  I actually want to eat the Kiss with the cookie.  They pair so well together.

I had to brow beat Blockette into trying a cookie because she "does not like cherries" Hey whatdaya know.  Mom is right.  The cherry in the cookies are good and no you can't eat 12 in one sitting.

Cherry Chocolate Kisses from the Curvy Carrot Servings: approximately 36 cookies
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons maraschino cherry “juice”
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup maraschino cherries, chopped
Granulated sugar, for sprinkling the cookies
36 milk chocolate kisses, unwrapped

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In the bowl of your standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Reduce the speed to the lowest setting and slowly add the powdered sugar and salt. Add the cherry juice and the almond extract until combined. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the flour, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Increase the mixer speed to medium and add the cherries. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls, and place the balls on a baking sheet, approximately 2 inches apart. Using your thumb, gently press each cookie in its center until the cookie is about 1/2-inch thick. Sprinkle each cookie with a little granulated sugar. Bake the cookies until the bottoms are lightly browned, about 14 minutes. Once removed from the oven, immediately press a chocolate kiss into each cookie’s center. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Friday, July 1, 2011

June Reads

How is it possible that I've only read 3 books in the month of June.  Summer is supposed to be my reading extravaganza time.  I have checked out many books, but have not finished them because I just couldn't get interested in the story/subject matter. 

1.Pegasus by Robin McKinkey. This book starts off quite slow. I kept reading it because I was bored and was even less interested in the other books I had checked out at the time.  In the world this story is set in, people are paired off with Pegasus who are as intelligent, if not more so than humans.  The ending was really sad depressing, not something I was in the mood for at the time. Apparently there is a sequel in the works slated to come out some time in 2012.  I will probably read the sequel just to see if things get any better for the 2 main characters.

2. The Warlock by Michael Scott. Book 5 in the Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. This is the penultimate book in the series.  The 2 main characters, a boy and girl twin,  choose sides in the battle to save or destroy our world.  You also find out more about their ancestry in a bit of a surprising twist at the end of the book.

3. Jane's Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World by Claire Harman.  The title is pretty self explanatory.  The book about Jane Austen's rise in popularity.  A bit of a dry read at the beginning, but I found the explanations of the author's rise to fame in modern times to be interesting.