Ahem… Anybody Still Out There?

I know I know… I disappeared for a little bit (believe me; my FoodBuzz rating shows that I have been gone for a week and a half. Erhmmm…ack?) and shouldn’t be asking you if you are still out there. Instead I should be begging your forgiveness for leaving right?

C’mon now… you know I love you all dearly but can you REALLY see me begging for forgiveness? πŸ˜› Didn’t think so.

I had to leave for a while… honest. Personal issues (and we know I’m just full of issues hehe) plus my grown kids were coming home for Christmas and I was getting too caught up in things that weren’t as important as that.

But… I’M BACK! And I come bearing goodies.

Ok, no I don’t. But I come bearing a recipe for goodies. Do your own baking darn it. πŸ˜€

I know a lot of people do New Years Day Brunches so I come bearing a scone recipe. Please say scones in a lively sort of upper crust British accent. Or Scottish. Scottish is good too. I expect a perfect accent before you even attempt to make these.

I was originally going to make a scone with other dried fruits and I am sure I will get to that at some point or another. But today, chocolate possessed me. Surprise huh? So I made chocolate covered strawberry scones. But as my strawberries were dried and rather chewy. added a shot of amaretto to them to rehydrate them. Honest, it HAD to be amaretto… water would not have worked. *Looks innocent* Then I made a creamy strawberry butter to slather all over these bad boys. Or maybe they were girls. I’m not sure; I didn’t check. I tend to leave the gender of baked goods alone. I am big on respecting the privacy of my scones.

Be warned; these spread a lot. So if you like precise more crisp edges, don’t put these close because they will blend together. if you like soft edges however, place them about an inch apart. Either way, they aren’t the prettiest daintiest looking scones in the world but darn, do they taste good!

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Scones

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar (plus sugar to sprinkle on the top)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons (a stick and a half) of cold unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 4 ounce bag dried strawberries
  • 3 tablespoons amaretto
  • 1 cup dark or semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup strawberry preserves
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Chop the dried strawberries and put them in a bowl with the amaretto. Set aside for about 15 minutes to soften.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  3. Using a pastry blender, cut in the cold butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. In a measuring cup, combine the cream, extracts and the eggs. Beat well,
  5. Pour the cream mixture into the flour and mix just until combined.
  6. Mix in the strawberries (leave behind any excess liquid) and the chocolate chips.
  7. Dump mixture onto a lightly floured board and pat into a 1/4 inch thick circle (or triangle or hexagon if that’s your thing). Using a 2 inch biscuit cutter, cut out the scones and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Gently re-pat out the scraps and cut them. I got 12 scones and a teenie tiny baby scone from the dough.
  8. Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes or until they are golden brown.
  9. To make the strawberry butter, combine the 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup strawberry preserves. Beat until fluffy. Do NOT forget to let your butter soften well or you will end up with strawberry butter that has noticeable butter pieces in it, like in my photo. Oops.
  10. Serve with strawberry butter. Think to yourself that these may not be pretty, but darn, do they taste good! πŸ˜›

You Got Your Chocolate In My Peanut Butter!

Anybody else remember those extremely silly commercials from back in the day? You have one person walking somewhere with a jar of PB (like the person who posted the video asked, who walks around munching from a jar of peanut butter?) and another walking around with a chocolate bar. They crash, the foods collide and junk food magic is created, aka Reeses Cups.

 

 

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a huge peanut butter fan. I would go hungry before eating peanut butter cookies (I can’t even handle the smell of them cooking lol), I tend to omit the peanuts or PB in any recipes needing it and I eat a PB&J sandwich maybe twice a year. I DO however like Reeses Cups (and cinnamon raisin peanut butter but that’s a different post). They may be peanut butter but the taste is different. So when I saw the following recipe here on Big Red Kitchen , I knew I had to try it. Especially since I knew that in my family, it would be a hit. One of my sons is about like me when it comes to PB but the rest of them like it and my daughter in law would kill someone to swipe this from them Love you Tiffy!) πŸ˜› .

As for those I know in the blogger community, Erin ,
Peabody and Lindsey , this is for you ladies who if I remember correctly are peanut butter fans. I know I am remembering correctly that Peabody shares my love for a certain brands cinnamon raisin peanut butter πŸ™‚

The rest of you, if you like peanut butter or Reeses Cups, give this a try. It tastes amazingly similar to a pb cup yet is more fun somehow with the big chunks (ok, that’s just cause I’m a pig) and homey look of it. This is exceedingly simple to make…and way too easy to eat. πŸ˜› The only thing I really changed from the original recipe was to use chocolate chips instead of candy coating because I don’t care for the somewhat fake flavor of coating.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bark

  • 2 1/2 pounds candy coating (or chocolate chips. (I used half milk chocolate, half semi sweet.
  • 1 pound peanut butterΒ  (I used a full 18 ounce jar. I was NOT about to try and measure out a pound. I just used it all.)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Melt half the chocolate according to package directions.
  2. Spread it out to about 1/4 inch thickness on a lightly greased baking pan. The original called for parchment paper lined but over time (over 30 years of cooking. OMG, I’m freaking OLD!), I’ve learned what can go w/out the called for parchment and IΒ  knew that since the chocolate would harden in the fridge and be able to be lifted off, it wouldn’t be needed.
  3. Set aside in the fridge.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the peanut butter, powdered sugar, butter and vanilla. Beat well. The mixture will be thick.
  5. Crumble this over the top of the first chocolate layer.
  6. Melt the remaining chocolate and pour it over the peanut butter layer. Spread it out making cutesy little swirls πŸ˜›
  7. Refrigerate this for at least a few hours or overnight until totally hardened.
  8. Break up in pieces.
  9. Store in the fridge.

Barking Up The RIGHT Tree

I have a bone to pick with a few of you. Why you ask? Because if I get fat, it’s your fault. Yep; YOU and YOU and
YOU and
Even YOU .

All. Your. Fault.

You got me craving bark of some sort… any sort. If I could put the word bark in it, I’ve been craving it. Ok, maybe not tree bark. Or liver bark. Or a bark that’s worse than it’s bite. I don’t want anything that has the word worse in it. I’ll pass on all of those.

So what did I do today? I made two different kinds of bark. Chances are I will not be able to resist them because they are so damn good and I will need to get more fat girl pants.

And it’s your fault.

Aren’t you ashamed?

So, since I know you’re horribly ashamed of yourself, you need to make one or both of these and get fat with me. Then we can go out shopping together for fat girl pants and maybe stop and get some mall food. We all know how healthy THAT is.

Lemon Vanilla Bean Bark

I made this one because I absolutely LOVE anything lemon. My kids will be lucky to get any of this kind.

  • 2 bags (11 to 12 ounces) white chocolate chips
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 bag Brachs Lemon Drops, crushed (put them in a ziploc bag and go at them with a meat tenderizer or a hammer)
  • 1 tablespoon solid shortening
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract or 1/4 teaspoon lemon oil
  1. Slice your vanilla bean in half and scrape out the seeds (don’t throw out the bean. Put it in your sugar bowl and in a few days, you’ll have delicious vanilla sugar) and put them in a large bowl with the white chocolate chips.
  2. Melt the chips and the shortening in the microwave. Use one minute increments, stirring after each one, until the chocolate is melted and liquidy. Don’t over cook it or you’ll end up with a hard lump. Believe me; I’ve done that many times in the past. It’s extremely annoying to put it mildly.
  3. Working quickly, stir the crushed lemon drops and the lemon extract into the chocolate
  4. Plop the mixture onto a foil lined, parchment lined or VERY lightly greased baking sheet and spread it out.
  5. Put in a cold place (I put mine on my front porch) until it is hard. Break it into pieces and eat enough to need fat girl pants. If there is any left, store it in a cool place (front porches work great) in a ziploc type bag.

Rum Raisin Bark

I made THIS one because my favorite candy bar is one I can not find ANYWHERE *sobs*. It is a German one that I got addicted to when I lived in Germany. Many of you probably know of Ritter Sport bars. They can be found at a lot of large grocery stores. The problem is that they don’t seem to ever have the Rum, Trauben, Nuss one and I love it. It is a rum raisin chocolate with nuts. I omitted the nuts because I just wasn’t in the mood but you could probably add about 1/2 cup of chopped hazelnuts to this.

  • 1 12 ounce bag milk chocolate chips
  • 1 12 ounce bag semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons solid shortening
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons rum extract
  1. In a large bowl, melt your chips and shortening in the microwave. Melt at one minute increments, stirring after each minute, until the chocolate is melted.
  2. Working quickly stir in the raisins and the rum extract.
  3. Spread on a foil lined, parchment lined or lightly greased baking sheet.
  4. Put in a cool place to harden then break into pieces.
  5. Eat a lot. Go get those fat girl pants. Sob. Eat more for comfort and get involved in a vicious cycle that only a woman could do.

Here Piggie Piggie!!

I’m pretty sure that by now I’ve made it clear that I like pork… piggie… oinker… the other white meat… the… ok, I’ll stop now. But only because I can’t think of any other names for pork. Except for Wilbur.

Contrary to still popular belief, pork is not going to make your arteries clog up and run off screaming into the night (though I’d like photos if they do, please. That would be cool as hell to see. Just sayin’) nor does it need to be outrageously fatty NOR and this is the biggest nor (can a nor have a size?) does it have to be cooked until it is the texture of your shoe sole. I had been cooking mine to about 145 for many many years and was tickled to see that the pork people and the “we tell you what you are allowed to do with your food so that we don’t ship you off to a porkie re-education camp” people (hey, that’s a valid enough description) have started saying that I was right all along. I tihnk they were watching me and learned something is what it is *cough cough*

So for the longest time I had been wanting to try to make a stuffed pork loin but I was..well… chicken. I was afraid the process would be more trouble than it was worth, was afraid the stuffing would fall out and I would be left with hollow pork and was afraid I just wasn’t good enough.

But I did it. My slicing wasn’t very professional though in my defense my cheap arse knives didn’t help lol. And since the roast I used was quite large I could only roll it so much. Obviously, rolling meat that is thick is more difficult than rolling a thin piece of meat. (Am I the only one who is finding this whole train of thought rather disconcerting… almost obscene?)

But it was tasty as all git out (what the heck does that mean anyway?) no matter the thick pork (ok, now that DOES sound bad) or the poor cutting. And now that I’ve done it, I can only get better at it.

So give this a try. It tasted great (says the woman nibbling at a lukewarm piece of pork as I type this -and dripping everywhere) and for the most part, wasn’t difficult.

Fruity Rolled & Stuffed Pork Loin

  • 1 6 pound pork loin (If you use a smaller one, I’d leave the stuffing amounts the same)
  • 1 jar cranberry chutney (I got mine at whole foods a while back) or a can of whole berry cranberry sauce (If you use cranberry sauce, add about 1/4 cup of minced onions)
  • 2 small granny smith apples, chopped
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 5 slices of bread, toasted and cubed
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  1. Ok, the cutting part- First, to make it a bit easier, freeze your pork loin for about 30 minutes just to firm it up.
  2. Now rinse it off, dry it well then lay it out on a clean towel. Yes, you could use a cutting board but I am sure it will slide, making cutting more difficult.
  3. Lay the pork on it’s side and using a sharp knife (not a cheap wal mart one like I have lol) cut down through the roast ALMOSTΒ  to the bottom. Leave about a half inch edge.
  4. Lay the roast open as far as it will go. Using a sharp knife, again cut the thick side of the meat down to ALMOST the edge, leaving about a half inch edge.
  5. Do this until you can’t make another slice down. I did it twice with the large roast but probably could have done it three times had I been more sure of what I was doing so a smaller thinner roast would probably take two cuts.
  6. You will end up with a long more or less flat piece of meat. Lay it fully open and if necessary, pound it down to an even 1/2 inch or so thickness. Again, large roast; couldn’t really do this. Small one would be much easier. Cover meat and set aside.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  8. In a medium saucepan, mix the chutney, brown sugar, cherries and apples. Cook over medium heat until simmering and apples are starting to soften and cherries are swelling, about ten minutes
  9. Remove from heat and stir in the toast cubes. Let mixture cool for about 15 minutes.
  10. Spread fruit mixture over meat, leaving about a half inch border.
  11. Working from a short side, roll the meat up. Don’t roll too tightly or all your stuffing will end up leaking out.
  12. Tie the meat up in three or four areas with kitchen twine.
  13. Place in a foil lined 13×9 baking pan. Sprinkle with the herbs and spices and salt and pepper.
  14. Bake at 350 until a instant read meat thermometer stuck into the meat (NOT the stuffing) comes out with a temp of about 145 degrees, about 90 minutes (smaller roast; less time.)
  15. Let the roast sit for about ten minutes before slicing. NEVER cut a roast fresh out of the oven… all the juices will leak out. Letting meat rest insures that you have moister meat.
  16. Slice; drizzle with the pan juices and enjoy. Also… be proud of yourself. This wasn’t just making a box of mac and cheese. πŸ™‚

 

 

“Can I Have Another Bigit Momma?”

With six kids, I have heard a lot of mispronounced words in my day. For a woman who tends to be a grammar and vocabulary Nazi (*waits for someone to go through all my posts looking for all the errors…of which I’m sure there will be many hehe), I always found it strangely cute. I guess it comes down to that “when our kids do it, it’s cute even if other people aren’t so amused” sort of thing. I still say that the ability to find our children adorable is what keeps us from being like other species and eating our young. That and baby smell. Is there anything better than the smell of a babies head? Erhmmm… a clean baby. Not a baby that needs a diaper change or has old milk smell πŸ˜›

When Jordan and Zach (now 14 and 17) were little, they loved canned ravioli but called them “roly polys”. Hey! I had five kids then… convenience foods kept me sane! For the longest time, I never corrected them when they would ask me to make them a can of roly polys. Then when they hit puberty, I figured it could have long term effects on their social lives if I didn’t tell them the correct pronunciation so I reluctantly told them the correct way to say the word . πŸ˜›

Now Joshie, being three, is the one with the way of pronouncing things that makes me giggle.Β  Yes, I’m easily amused. What can I say? So when I made these biscuits the other night, how could I refuse his cute little face when eh asked me for another “bigit”? Not to mention, getting the boy to eat anything other than apples and raisins is a feat in itself, so I wasn’t going to argue. But seriously, they ARE good bigits.. I mean biscuits. Only I could manage to find a recipe for a simple southern treat that has been sullied by adding demon meat πŸ˜€ But really; like they say, everything is better with bacon. Well, except for chocolate. I can’t get behind that trend. *shudders*

These are easy as can be. And with bacon, cheddar cheese and cracked black pepper, they are yummy too! The first time I made these, the cheese on top got a bit too brownedΒ  so I suggest adding the cheese to the top when they are almost done. So I have more baking right now so that I have prettier ones to show you. The sacrifices I make for all of you. This came from a BHG magazine and other than adding more bacon and cheese it’s the original recipe. The real recipe called for just a stingy 4 slices of bacon and 1/4 cup of cheese and the cheese was just for on top. What WERE they thinking!? Aren’t that laws against the under use of bacon and cheese? I didn’t change much. Ok, so I added a few green onions… and the extra cheese…and more bacon. Sigh. Let me rephrase. Once upon a time, this began its life in a BHG magazine.

Bacon, Cheddar & Cracked Pepper Biscuits

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup cold butter
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 12 ounces bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled (hold back two slices for crumbling on top of biscuits)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (and about another 1/3 cup for sprinkling on top)
  • 2 green onions, sliced thin
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, pepper, cheese, green onions and cream of tartar.
  3. Using a pastry blender, cut in the cold butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. Make a well in the center and pour in the buttermilk all at once.
  5. Stir with a fork just until mixture is thoroughly moistened.
  6. Dump onto a lightly floured board and knead until the dough is barely smooth. This isn’t a yeast dough; don’t over knead it.
  7. Pat it into a circle (doesn’t have to be perfect) of about 1/4 thick. Use a floured biscuit cutter to cut out rounds. Place them on a very lightly greased (cooking spray is fine) baking sheet. almost touching.
  8. Gently reroll scraps and do the same with them.
  9. Bake at 450 for 10 to 14 minutes or until golden brown. If sprinkling cheese and bacon on the tops, wait until they are almost done; sprinkle bacon and cheese on them, then finish cooking. Better yet, cook them, turn off the oven, sprinkle the cheese on them and put them back in and let the residual heat do the melting

 

I’ve Been Told I’m An Airhead

That must be why I like nice airy souffles so much. Wait. Does that mean I’m a cannibal if I eat one? Ehhh, who cares; they’re tasty (wonders suddenly if I was a member of the Donner Party in a past life).

Once upon a time, I wouldn’t eat souffles. I also wouldn’t eat sushi, anything with Acai Berries, Quinoa or any sort of thing touted as an ancient grain,. Nor would I touch Risotto, anything “Blackened” (unless I accidentally burned it) Avocados, Organic Foods, bottled water, artisan anything or anything bought at the “it” store of any given moment. I had/have a thing about being trendy.

Ok, really, I have this slight quirk when it comes to being non-conformist. Fine! I admit it! I really really hate to follow the crowds. I think it comes from being that “bully target” when I was a kid. If I wasn’t good enough then, I’m sure as hell not changing and being like everyone else just to fit in NOW. πŸ˜› That stupidly extended to what I would eat.

Yeah. I need therapy.

I have however gotten to the point of eating most of those things. I still tend to roll my eyes at organic simply because I’m too cynical for my own good and don’t believe that 1) the vast majority of organic/clean foods are any better for you (unless you raise them yourself) than other foods and a lot of studies agree with that idea and 2) I’m not rich. Plus, unless it is in a California roll piece of sushi, I still don’t care for avocados. Nor will I buy 99.9% of anything labeled artisanΒ  simply because I hate snooty foods lol and that I’m not rich thing again πŸ˜›

I have learned to love souffles. Sweet, savory, whatever, I’ll try them. I admit to a fondness for the sweet ones though. Whoda thunk it huh?

I have always loved the chocolate mint combo. I have mentioned that on a number of blogs recently because it tis the season for that combination right now. However, even there, I have to be different. It’s a sickness; I swear. I need rehab. Or chocolate. Whichever.

So I didn’t make mine with milk or dark chocolate (or the real stuff as my friend Bel would say. According to her, white chocolate isn’t real πŸ˜› ). I made it with white chocolate. But being me, I had to mess with it even more. So I added that nice minty Christmas mint flavor by adding some Peppermint Schnapps.

This turned out really really good. I was kind of tickled with myself to be honest. It would be a perfect fit on Christmas or just whenever you want a treat. So try this one. I insist. Or I’ll make you eat raw liver. This is a change up from a white chocolate souffle recipe I found at thatsmyhome.com

White Chocolate & Peppermint Schnapps Souffle

  • 5 large eggs, room temp & separated
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (USE this… it helps stabilize the egg whites which is important in souffles)
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (no, that’s not a typo)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup whole milk (or just mix a little cream into lighter milk. Just use milk with some fat. It helps add richness and height)
  • 4 tablespoons peppermint schnapps
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 8 ounces good quality white chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 crushed candy canes
  1. In a microwave safe bowl, combine the white chocolate, cream. 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract, 2 tablespoons of the schnapps and butter. Microwave in one minute increments, stirring after each, until melted. Set aside.
  2. In a medium heavy bottomed sauce pan, beat the egg yolks with the 4 tablespoons sugar. Add the flour and beat just until blended.
  3. Slowly beat in the milk & 2 tablespoons of the schnapps.
  4. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick. Don’t boil. Do NOT get bored and walk away. You’ll regret it. Please don’t ask how I know this.
  5. Cool the egg mixture until it is barely warm. Stir the white chocolate mixture into it.
  6. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Butter and sugar 4 individual souffle dishes.
  7. In a VERY clean preferably glass, bowl (make sure it is squeaky clean or your whites won’t rise), beat your egg whites with the cream of tartar until foamy. Add in the 1 tablespoon sugar. Beat until stiff.
  8. Pour the egg and chocolate mixture into a large clean bowl. Fold the beaten whites into the yolk mixture; about half at a time. Make sure no white streaks remain.
  9. Bake at 375 for about 35 minutes or until they are puffy, set and lightly browned. They can move but they shouldn’t jiggle. The center should look dry. Use just your oven light to check them because it doesn’t take much in the way of cool air to deflate a souffle.
  10. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the crushed candy canes. Serve immediately. Souffles wait for no one. πŸ˜€

Entering The Strata-osphere

Yeah, I know. I really need to work on my titles. But that was the best I could come up with for today.

With that title as a hint, I bet you can’t guess what the recipe is! Can ya, can ya can ya!!? It’sssssssss

LIVER!!

Ok, so unless you’ve never read my blog before, you’re not falling for that one.

I made a strata. Gee, the title kind of ruined the anticipation of what I made didn’t it? Maybe I should start having really misleading titles and to see what I made, you have to click on a link or something.

Nah. Way too much work and we all know I try to avoid that if possible.

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you know about my love/hate relationship with bread pudding and the like. I absolutely LOVE it when I find or create a good one like my Pineapple Upside Down Bread Pudding or the
French Onion Bread Pudding I posted. But by the same token, I HATE them when they are dry, not creamy, boring and dull like the old time ones that were a bunch of stale white bread and a handful of raisins mixed with milk. Can we say “ick”?

Stratas are, in my mind, simply another version of bread pudding thus if it is good, I’m in love. And the one I created tonight was good. I had had a recipe picked out in a cookbook for one I wanted to try but for the life of me, I couldn’t find the recipe. Out of my 500000 cookbooks, I have no idea whatsoever what cookbook it was in. But I was determined to make a strata so I improvised. And it worked. Quite well actually. It is creamy with lots of meat and cheese and would make a perfect dish for an easy meal or to serve on a buffet or Christmas morning breakfast. It has a bit of spice but not overly so if you are one of those strange spice averse people you can still eat it. πŸ˜›

This feeds a lot of people… or two teen boys and my husband.

Cheesy Cajun Bacon And Andouille Strata

  • 5 hoagie buns, cubed (you could use Italian bread I’m sure but I had hoagie buns I needed to use thus this says hoagie buns πŸ˜› )
  • 12 eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups milk
  • 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 14 to 16 ounce package smoked Andouille style sausage, sliced (I used Johnsonville brand)
  • 1 pound bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled
  • 5 green onions, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt (I used “Janes Crazy Mixed Up Salt” cause I love that stuff)
  • 1 teaspoon salt free Cajun seasoning (only use if it’s salt free or between the seasoning salt and the meats, the end result will be over salted)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 2 quart (preferably glass) baking dish.
  2. In aΒ  frying pan, saute your sausage and green peppers until the sausage is lightly browned and the peppers are tender.
  3. Β Set the sausage aside to cool.
  4. In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Add the milk and beat until blended.
  5. Mix in the rest of the ingredients.
  6. Let sit for about ten minutes to give the bread time to soak up the liquid.
  7. Pour into the prepared baking dish and drizzle with the melted butter
  8. Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes or until set in the middle (check with a butter knife or skewer. It shouldn’t come out with any loose dripping mixture on it.) and nicely browned.
  9. Let rest for about 5 minutes before cutting.

 

Shhh… You Don’t See The Word Pumpkin In This Post

Please tell me that, like me, you don’t feel that pumpkin recipes should only be posted in the 2 weeks preceding Halloween and only up until Thanksgiving and then they should be put away until the next year? Because if you don’t feel the same, there is a good chance that I will cry uncontrollably and will have no choice but to rethink our relationship.

I DO use pumpkin more when Autumn first arrives but then I seem to get into the pumpkin groove and don’t stop using it until…well, I just don’t stop using it. It’s a year round thing for me. I kinda like pumpkin.

So I figured that my Pumpkin Butterscotch Scones and my
Pumpkin Cranberry Bread needed company here in the blog.

Now normally when I make pumpkin bread, I make the pumpkin cranberry one. It is my favorite quick bread; very moist and flavorful. But for the longest time, I have had a printed out recipe for pumpkin bread that was just plain pumpkin bread. Literally had this for years and have never tried it. So I figured it was time. This comes from food.com and while I don’t think it will take the place in my heart stomach filled by many slices of pumpkin cranberry bread, it was very good for a simple quick bread. It was moist and had good flavor albeit a milder one than I usually make. When I make it again, and I will, I will use more spices in it (I already doubled it so that’s saying something). I changed it a bit from the original but not much. So here you go. If you like pumpkin bread and like making things that twist up old standbys a little, try this one. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. I made this in 9 inch loaf pans but I think 8 would be better because the loaves were a little thin for my preferences. But when you make this, if you use 8 inch pans, you will probably have to cover it with foil near the end to prevent over browning since the cook time will be longer.

Secret Ingredient Pumpkin Bread

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 (4 serving size) package of instant gingerbread pudding mix (this is seasonal from Jello. I found it at Super Wal Mart. Also, the original called for butterscotch)
  • 1 (4 serving size) package of instant cheesecake flavored pudding mix (the original called for lemon but somehow lemon & pumpkin didn’t sound right to me)
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree (I used canned)
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour (or just use cooking spray) 2 8 or 9 inch loaf pans.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (including the pudding mixes) .
  3. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs well (BAD EGGS BAD EGGS! Erhmmm… sorry.)
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients to the eggs and mix well.
  5. Pour the egg mixture into the flour and stir until just combined.
  6. Pour batter into greased pans.
  7. Bake at 350 for about 70 minutes (longer if using 8 inch pans) or until wooden skewer inserted in middle comes out clean or with crumbs on it, no loose batter. Cover with foil if it starts to brown too much.
  8. Let cool in pan for about 5 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Are You Feeling Crafty??

Hello dear readers, fellow bloggers and those who come here to roll their eyes and sneer. I need some advice. We have realized that we can not afford even one Christmas present for my boys who still live at home. Not even one. I thank God that we tend to be food stockpilers so that I have an ample supply of baking foods and other stuff to make Christmas (and the blog) merry with yummy foods. But it still kills me to have to tell my boys that I can’t afford to give them Christmas presents, especially since my youngest, at three, is having his first year of talking about Santa Claus and asking what Santa is going to bring him. Moving tapped us out money wise and our bills are higher now. We can make ends meet but there is absolutely NOTHING in the budget for extras and since we moved rather quickly, I hadn’t thought to save extra towards Christmas or to stockpile gifts early. So I need your advice.

I absolutely SUCK at crafts. I mean, really really bad with no artistic bent whatsoever. I can crochet but I can only crochet straight lines. I can draw but only if it’s in a coloring book and even then I go out of the lines πŸ˜› I can use scissors but I am probably better off with the safety type they give kids in Kindergarten. I don’t want to use food as gifts because 1) I make goodies anyway so it wouldn’t feel like a gift to my boys, just more food momma made and 2) they would scarf it down in five minutes flat and that would be that until the aching tummies happened.

But I know that some of you are the crafty sorts. So my hope is that some of you can give me ideas on some crafts to make that are doable by Christmas by a woman who can only crochet straight lines. I don’t have a whole lot in the way of supplies (that pesky money thing again lol) but I have old clothes I can cup up, paper, pens and pencils and even some fabric paints (the kinds you squeeze out of tubes) from a time when I was deluded enough to think I might be able to use them w/out covering everything in paint.

So there is where I am hoping that you, my much more talented and creative friends, can help me. I am also looking for just general ideas for Christmas gifts that aren’t necessarily crafts but are doable for free or so cheap as to make a penny cry. I think if I have to wake up Christmas morning and have my boys see a tree that is empty underneath it, I will crawl under a rock and stay there forever.

So moving on. I have an amazingly yummy and easy recipe for you today. We all know I went through an apple phase earlier in the Autumn season. Well… it’s backkkkkkkk! I found a recipe in a Southern Living Baking magazine that I had been wanting to try. I wish now I had tried it sooner because it so so simple yet with a taste that made me want to stick my face down in the frosting and never come back out. I didn’t do much to change it though what I did do made this even better than what it would have been, I believe. I added some crystallized Ginger to the cake batter, used Gala apples instead of Granny Smith because that’s what I had, added more vanilla and a slug of bourbon and added maple flavoring to the frosting. These changes put this into the realm of ove the top wonderful. Yet still very homey, very comforting and very easy with just enough batter to hold the apples together. Another bonus is that this smells like a big gigantic snickerdoodle cookie as it bakes. So give this a try. I think you’ll like it.

Apple Ginger Cake With A Browned Butter Maple Frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup crystallized ginger
  • 1/4 cup bourbon (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/2 pounds Gala apples, cored, cut into 8 wedges then each wedge cut in half (the original recipe called for peeling but I didn’t bother)
  • Frosting-
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 16 ounce box powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk (I had to use like a tablespoon or so more)
  • 1/2 tsp. maple flavoring
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast the pecans in a single layer on a cookie sheet until lightly toasted and smelling yummy, about 5 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the 1/2 cup melted butter, sugar, eggs, bourbon and vanilla extract.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and crystallized ginger.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the butter/egg mixture. Stir just until combined then add in the apple pieces and 1 cup of the pecans. The batter will be very thick; that’s who it’s supposed to be.
  5. Spread batter into a lightly greased 13×9 inch pan.
  6. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and cake it golden brown. Cool completely in the pan.
  7. FROSTING-
  8. While the cake is baking, start your frosting.
  9. Cook the 1 cup butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until the butter turns a golden brown. This will take about 6 minutes or so. Immediately take off of the heat and pour into a bowl. Refrigerate until the butter is just beginning to solidify.
  10. Beat the butter in a medium bowl until fluffy. Add in the sugar, milk and maple flavoring. Beat together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Trust me… the more you beat, the lighter and fluffier most butter based frostings become. Keep beating.
  11. Spread the frosting on the cooled cake and sprinkle on the 1/2 cup of pecans.
  12. Eat. Moan. Repeat.

 

Something Smells Fowl

I think that like most people do anymore, we eat a lot of chicken. I mean, unless you’re wealthy and also completely unconcerned about your arteries turning into cement, you can’t afford much besides chicken and also don’t want THAT much of the excess fat and calories that go along with most types of red meat. Mind you, if it wouldn’t kill me and we won the lottery, I would eat a medium rare ribeye or a juicy lamb chop every single night… then gnaw on the bones and burp loudly for good measure.

But until that lottery win happens and I can hire an in house cardiologist, we eat chicken. Lots and lots of chicken. Until I feel like I am growing feathers and want to say “Cluck you, chicken!”

So I keep looking for new ways to prepare it. Especially ways to prepare the dark meat because as much as I love the boneless skinless breasts, it takes a 3 pound bag to feed my husband, two teenage boys, a three year old who loves his “chickies” and myself…assuming they leave me any. So I sneak dark meat in there, listen to my husband gripe as he eats it, gnaws at the bone and burps loudly for good measure.

The other day when I made the lemon marmalade, I already knew we were having chicken thighs for dinner. I had no idea what to do with them until I ended up with about 3/4 of a cup extra marmalade. See, you can’t can less than full jars when canning because that leaves room for air thus creating a great breeding environment for bacteria. I shudder when I come across photos of things people have canned that have WAY too much head space. But that’s another subject…

So I saw the extra marmalade when I was putting the chicken in a baking pan, still not sure what I was going to do. My mind went into “Hmmmmm” mode (it does this often…usually with frightening results) so I played. Not with the chicken you sickos! Though come to think of it, there WAS the time I danced with a whole chicken across the kitchen. But he liked it! I swear! It was consensual!

What I came up with was pretty darn tasty if I do say so myself. My dark meat hating husband ate two LARGE thighs himself as well as both Zach and Jordan eating two and Joshie polishing off one by himself. They had a beautifully browned crisp skin due to the caramelizing of the sugar in the marmalade. The flavor was sweet, salty, buttery… plain old delicious. And this was so simple. Just toss the chicken in the pan, throw some spices, pour on the sauce and cook.

Buttery Lemon Marmalade & Soy Chicken

  • 3 pounds bone in, skin on chicken thighs (I would NOT use boneless skinless meat in this. You would end up with overcooked meat before it browned or cooked meat with no crispness, depending on how long you cooked it.)
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup lemon marmalade (I’m sure it would work fine with orange marmalade too)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a 13×9 inch pan with foil…. unless you LIKE cleaning sticky pans. Then feel free to not line it πŸ˜›
  2. Put the chicken pieces in the pan and sprinkle with garlic powder and onion powder.
  3. In a large measuring cup, microwave the butter, soy sauce, lemon juice and marmalade until the butter is melted. Stir well to combine.
  4. Pour butter mixture over the chicken pieces, making sure to spoon some on any skin that doesn’t get any. Scoop all the pieces of peel out of the measuring cup and throw those on there too πŸ˜›
  5. Bake at 350 until chicken reaches an internal temp of 165 or until when you poke it with a knife, the juices are clear.
  6. I served this with Spanish rice. Next time I will be serving it with plain rice because the sauce is beyond delicious!