Momma Hands

When I was younger I hated my hands. I would look at the hands of other women and then compare them to my own. Theirs would be slender and dainty with nicely shaped nails that were usually painted a beautiful color. Mine however were big and squarish with long fingers and I rarely painted my nails because I could almost never get my nails long enough to paint. Even when I tried it didn’t work because my big bulky somewhat clutzy fingers would have me end up with more polish on my fingers than on my nails. And as I got even older and had more kids and the life that goes with that, things like wanting nice nails had to be put aside. My hands were, in my mind, just tools and not very pretty ones either. My only pride was that they were soft and smooth and I never got age spots and all the rest of the signs of getting older that tend to show on a womans hands.

But as I’ve aged (I’m an ancient 46 now πŸ˜› ), I’ve realized that my hands were never just tools; they were instruments. One day, they would be the sound of a flute as I would tickle my children and make them laugh. At other times, they would be the discordant but necessary bang of an out of tune piano when I had to deliver a spanking. Then later, they would be the whisper of a harp as I used them to brush back the hair of a sleeping child. Over time, my hands have played a symphony of different instruments. They have seen a life that while rarely easy and sometimes harsh, was one that has been useful, has maybe made some difference.

I looked at my hands yesterday and saw age. They are still soft, but the smoothness is giving way to the ravages of time as my skin thins. I see wrinkles and I still see nails that rarely look feminine, rarely look pretty. But I also saw so much more. I saw hands that were used inΒ  raising three children to adulthood and happy independent lives and are still being used to take care of three that aren’t grown yet.Β  I saw hands that have tenderly and gently held the heads of so many tiny babies in them, that have stroked the faces of crying toddlers, have held the hand of angry young adults and have now begun the same cycle with my grandchildren. I saw hands that have been used to knead pain out of my husbands shoulders; something I couldn’t do as well with tiny dainty hands and short fingers. I saw hands that have held his face between them when he was in pain and comforted him with my touch. These hands of mine are so much more than just utilitarian. They are instruments given to me and yes they are also tools but tools that have done so much. These hands have been used in love and in anger, to give pleasure and to, unfortunately, at times, to give a miniscule measure of pain meant to help someone grow. They have been mistreated and not well cared for and have begun to get knobby looking at the knuckles as arthritis begins to ravage them, but they have always served me well. I use them every day to create food that gives my family nourishment and joy, to take care of four human beings that depend on me. They bathe a toddler, they hug two teenagers, they love a husband. They hold a phone while I talk to my other children who live far away now and they cuddle grandchildren. I see now that I have momma hands and that, because of that, they are indeed…beautiful.

 

 

Honey & Spice Blueberry Apricot Jam

This is a sweet yet tart jam that combines the flavors of the two fruits wonderfully. The predominant flavor is Blueberry and then you get the subtle taste of Apricots, honey and spice. I was loved how this turned out. It’s a small batch, only three half pints because when I’m making new jams, I prefer to start small just in case. But this could be easily doubled or tripled. Just expect a longer cooking time. As I’ve said before, I’m not going to try to teach full out canning techniques. There are web sites that can do that much better than I and here is one of the best of them.

Here is a good link to learn proper canning techniques. πŸ™‚

http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/can_home.html

  • 1 lb fresh apricots, finely chopped (See step two)
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries, crushed
  • 1 cup good quality honey
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  1. Wash and sterilize 3 half pint canning jars. Keep ready in hot water while preparing the jam.
  2. For the apricots and blueberries- you can use a food processor to do the chopping, but don’t puree this. You want to leave some small bits and pieces.Β  Just do a couple of short pulses.
  3. Combine the fruits, honey, sugar and spices in a large heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the lemon juice and stir well. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly.
  4. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook the jam until it has thickened, stirring frequently to prevent sticking, about 35 to 45 minutes.
  5. Ladle the jam into the prepared jars, leaving a 1/4 inch head space. Wipe the rims of your jars well with a clean, hot damp washcloth. As I have said before, when it comes to canning, you HAVE to have everything scrupulously clean to prevent bacteria and germs from growing when the jars are stored.
  6. Process in a boiling water bath for ten minutes. Removed from canner (or plain old large pot in my case πŸ˜› )and let sit until cool. Wipe down jars, label, then store in a cool dark place.

Momma Hands

 

 

Shakin’ Things Up A Bit


If you look back through my blog, you’ll discover that I kinda like drinking. No, not that kind of drinking. Welllll, not often anyway. I’m too old and wimpy and can’t handle booze well. I start giggling like a 16 year old girl out on a hot date with the football team captain. Then I fall asleep. And drool.

But I mean… just…drinking. I am a tea addict and happy about it πŸ™‚ I love pop even though I am aware of how bad it is for me. To my credit, I only consume about 2 cans worth a week usually. I also love milk shakes and any creamy drinks as evidenced by the key lime shake I have posted and the coconut mocha frappuccino wanna be I posted. I also don’t have them often because I’d like to keep my weight UNDER a ton. This is the same reason I don’t eat much of what I make for the blog as much as I’d love to because it’s yummy! If I did, we’d have to reinforce the bed frame. And the house. And quite possibly the earth. I’d tilt it off of its axis or something and we’d all end up on Venus with all of you giving me dirty looks.

But I can not tell a lie (just call me George). The shake that I made tonight? I drank it all. Well, almost. The boys are staying the night at friends across the street & Zach (my 14 year old) came in when I was drinking it & I kindly let him have the dregs from the blender. hey; there was enough left for him! And I was proud that I didn’t just tell him no and hide myself somewhere safe with the blender cuddled to my chest.

I had some raspberries and a peach that I needed to use up and the dessert Peach Melba popped into my head. But that was way more trouble than I felt like going to. I’m lazy; what can I say? I wanted my fruit and ice cream NOW dammit! So I made a shake! Yep. A nice creamy oh so bad for me shake. But wait! It has fruit in it… REAL fruit… not just fruit flavor and chemical dye number 3000. So I can tell myself that it’s good for me right?

This is nice and tart from the fruit (thus why you have to add a touch of powdered sugar or it’s TOO tart) and while I usually prefer really thick shakes, I was quite happy with the fact that this one isn’t so thick. It made it easier to drink quickly πŸ˜€

Peach Melba Shake

(Peach Raspberry)

  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1 medium peach,Β  chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup milk (soy milk, cream, whatever trips your trigger)
  • 1 cup peach ice cream or peach frozen yogurt (can sub vanilla)
  • splash vanilla extract
  • whipped cream and fruit for garnish
  1. Obviously this is pretty easy. Put it all in the blender and..well… blend πŸ˜› then garnish with whipped cream and more fruit.
  2. This direction is for nothing. I just felt like it looked empty without more directions.
  3. This one too. Ok, that should be enough now. πŸ˜€


 

 

 

 


Egging You On

Boo!!! Hiss!!! There I go again with the completely lame puns. Hehehehe. You wouldn’t love me anymore if I stopped.

I’ve always been so so on eggs. When it comes to your typical fried, scrambled, etc, I eat them maybe three or so times a year. About the same amount of times I get a strange craving for a PB&J on mushy store bought white bread. No, I’m not a major peanut butter fan either, unless one counts Reeses peanut butter cups. Then, yep! I’m a peanut butter fan! That counts right? Right? Huh? Tell me it counts.

With eggs however, ehhhh. A scrambled or fried egg sandwich every once in a great while (again; must be on mushy store bought white bread and nothing on it but salt and pepper. I think it’s a nostalgic thing.) and I will do the breakfast for dinner thing at times and make eggs, toast, sausage, yada yada. But as I have crudely joked to my husband, one reason I don’t like eggs is because egg burps are the grossest things on earth (watches my readership bottom out). C’mon now; this is ME! You know I don’t pull punches in here. πŸ˜€ Anything for a laugh…or in this case, a groan and a shudder. You know I’m right on that though; they really are gross. πŸ˜›

But one egg dish I do love is Deviled Eggs. I could happily eat my weight in them. I’m not sure why I am willing to eat them but yet really don’t care for eggs in general. I would guess it is that it isn’t as “eggy” with all the contrasting flavors. So today I made something I had been planning on trying to create for a while; Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs. They turned out really good if I do say so myself. Good enough that I now have absolutely no interest in cooking or eating dinner because I am filled up on deviled eggs. Ummm…oops? One thing they didn’t have however was the extra smoked salmon I had planned to garnish them with. Why you ask? Because when I went to get it from the fridge, I noticed that the chub of salmon I had was ten days past it’s “best by” date. Sigh. That will teach me to not check things like that when I buy them. So when you make yours (and you ARE going to make them right? Because I’m adorable and batting my lashes at you right now.) they will look different from my picture because YOURS will have yummy pieces of smoked salmon on top of them. So try these. They would make a perfect appetizer for the fourth of July because 99% of you planned on making deviled eggs anyway so why not give these a whirl?

Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs

  • 1o hard boiled eggs
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 8 ounce tub smoked salmon cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill weed (yes, dried. It has a stronger flavor. Save the fresh for the garnish.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 4 ounce chub of smoked salmon, cut into 20 pieces
  • fresh dill and smoked paprika for garnish
  1. Slice eggs in half. Take out the yolks and put them into a medium sized bowl along with the cream cheese spread, mayo, mustard, lemon zest & dried dill. Set the whites aside. Beat the yolk mix well until it is pretty much lump free. I say pretty much because I don’t know about you, but short of using a ricer or food mill which is FAR too much trouble for deviled eggs, I’ve never been able to get them lump free.
  2. Pipe or spoon the mixture back into the reserved egg white shells. Garnish with the smoked salmon pieces, smoked paprika and a sprig of fresh dill.
  3. Eat. Realize YOU no longer want to make dinner. Listen to your family gripe because they don’t get dinner again because you filled up on blog post type food.
  4. If you have any extra, it is wonderful on an everything English muffin. Don’t ask me how I know that too. *Groans* I think I ate too much.

Courtin’ The Volcano

You know how there are some things you just don’t ever make for whatever reason? Some people are fearful of working with yeast (that’s one that never bothered me. I think I was so young and inexperienced when I started using it I didn’t even realize I was supposed to be nervous lol), others don’t like grilling (I do it but I can understand the fear… I was there the day my two oldest boys and my son in law almost set the back porch and back wall on fire “lighting” {translate- using far too much lighter fluid and loving it} the grill.) Still others hate working with puff pastry (I still get nervous with it myself), others hate baking cakes (that’s why God let us invent box mixes πŸ˜› ) and so on and so forth.

One of my things has always been the Lava Cake. I wasn’t scared of it in the least. I had read many recipes for it and for some reason it just didn’t appeal to me so I never tried it. But today, trying to figure out what to do for the blog, I was looking in the cabinets and saw that I had some bittersweet chocolate I needed to use before the boys decided my 3 dollar and fifty cent bag of Ghirardelli’s chocolate was perfect to make the “trail mix” they love to use odds and ends to make. Then I would be minus two teenage boys for a while as I hung them by their toenails off of the roof. Hmmmm, thinking about it, that sounds like it could be fun just for general purposes πŸ˜€

Moving on (titters and knows regular readers know why I am)… bittersweet chocolate to use. I also had some Raspberries and Strawberries that were beginning to look a bit peaked. So I decided that ok, it was time. I would make a Lava Cake and try to figure out what all the fuss was over a half cooked cake (cause really… that IS all it is if you think about it.) I figured I’d make a berry couli with it and if nothing else, how bad could ANYTHING be with smooshed berries and whipped cream with it. πŸ˜€

All I have to say is this… WHY THE HELL DIDN’T SOMEBODY MAKE ME ONE OF THESE AND FORCE IT INTO MY MOUTH YEARS AGO??! Shame on all of you for not writing me, say a decade ago (not knowing me then is no excuse darn it!) and telling me that I just HAD to try a Lava Cake.

Erhmmm, that was my way of saying I kinda liked it. Admittedly, I can’t lie, the berry couli was a big draw too but the gooey chocolate (aka the half cooked cake; I can’t lie to myself about that either) with the slightly crispy edge of the cooked part was…ummm… ehhh, it was ok I guess, if you’re gonna pin me down. FINE!! It was good! Happy now? I said it. Sheesh; some people. πŸ˜›

So try this. Right now. Go. Shoo. Get to the kitchen. Well, copy and print out the recipe first. But THEN… go. Cook. Eat. Drool. This recipe (the cake part anyway) comes from Paula Deen.

Chocolate Lava Cake

With

A Double Berry Couli

  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped if needed
  • 2 ounces semi sweet chocolate, chopped if needed
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter (NAHH!!! Not butter from a Paula Deen recipe πŸ˜› )
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons orange liquor (Optional. I didn’t use it since I was using the berry couli)
  • For the couli-
  • 1 cups raspberries
  • 1 cup capped and sliced strawberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Grease 6 6 ounce ramekins. Melt the butter and chocolates in the microwave (took a minute and 15 seconds in my 1000 watt microwave).
  3. Add the flour and sugar to the chocolate. Mix well.
  4. Add the eggs and egg yolks. Stir well until smooth (I used low on my mixer; worked fine) Stir in the vanilla and liquor if using.
  5. Divide the batter evenly among the ramekins
  6. Bake at 425 for 14 minutes. Do NOT over bake. The edge should be firm but the middle still goopy (yes, I said goopy πŸ˜› )
  7. Loosen the edge carefully with a butter knife then invert onto a dessert plate.
  8. For the couli-
  9. Mix berries, sugar and lemon juice in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium high heat, stirring frequently, until mixture is slightly thickened. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, pushing down on it to get all the juice.Β  Let cool. Serve the cake in a puddle of couli with lightly sweetened whipped cream or serve the couli on the sides for people to put on the amount they want. If the cakes cool down too much and the inside thickens up, just microwave it for 20 seconds or so.

His & Her Housecleaning & White Trash Dip


I am being so NOT politically correct today. Long humor post that will probably offend some men out there and a recipe whose name will probably offend others. But if you read my blog regularly, you know that for me political incorrectness and “anything for a laugh” are my trademarks :-D. On that note, remember that I lurves you all πŸ˜›

His And Her Housecleaning-
As you read this keep three words in mind please; TONGUE IN CHEEK!!!

How to clean the kitchen…her way.

Start at the top because it makes no sense to clean upwards…everyone knows that. Clean the shelves where you store things and dust and windex all the little knick knacks until they are glittering enough to make an ADHD person stop and say “oooo, shiny things!”

Clean the counters and other surfaces with a steaming hot soapy rag making sure to lift up things on the counter to get the nasties trying to hide under and behind them… germs…ugh!!

Get the Clorox wipes and re-wipe everything after thoroughly drying the counter…germs…UGH!

Look into the cabinets and see how the flour has spilled onto the shelves some. Take the flour out to wipe up the spill and then notice that other things look disorganized and think that there is no way you can cook in a kitchen like that. Take everything out of the one cabinet and straighten it out, again using the Clorox wipes. Get thoroughly grossed out when you find a piece of old stale bread that has somehow gotten shoved to the back of the cabinet. Gag a little as you throw it out.

Notice how nice that cabinet now looks in comparison to the others and with a happy OCD sigh start on the other cabinets, whistling as you alphabetize the spices and make sure all the cans are grouped by food category.

Clean out microwave using boiling water/vinegar method also making sure to move microwave to get anything trapped underneath.

Clean kitchen window, inside and out, cleaning any fingerprints and marks in the door also.

That done, get out mop bucket. Fill with water that is about half a degree away from boiling. Put in enough Pine-Sol and disinfectant to scare away any germs within a 45 mile radius. Mop floor…twice. Then get out floor wax and on hands and knees, cover every inch of the floor in a shiny coating making sure to wipe down baseboards as you work.

Open refrigerator with trepidation because you never know what new mess you will find in there. Take everything out, throwing out anything past it’s date or that looks as if it could be an experiment for Dr. Frankenstein (or is that franc-en-steen?). Clean off the shelves with diluted bleach water, again steaming hot. Sigh as you wonder why your kids have opened 3 different containers of mayo and 4 of the same type of jam. Put everything back in, making sure to put the oldest near the front in the vain hope that it will get used first.

Finally done, reward yourself with a cup of hot tea and something chocolate. Relax….for five minutes…until the kids enter the kitchen and ruin everything you just finished. Start over.

His way….assuming he doesn’t live with a woman.

Go into the kitchen to get a beer. Notice that to get to the refrigerator, you had to navigate past three full trash bags and a sticky floor stain that you are pretty sure is from when your bud Joe got sick last week after too many brews and nachos. Damn, you thought you had cleaned that. Lean down and inspect it a little closer and think to yourself that Joe really needs to chew his food better; that had to have hurt coming up.

Decide maybe you should do something about the kitchen. Women like a clean man so if you can brag about your spotless kitchen, you may have a better chance of getting laid by that chick at the office with the big knockers.

Search for 30 minutes for the cleaning supplies finally finding a dusty bottle of Windex, some rags and some Mr. Clean under the kitchen sink from the last time your mother cleaned up the apartment for you. Wonder where the hell all those pots and pans under your sink came from and what you’re supposed to do with them; doesn’t everyone order food in every night? Look at the picture of Mr. Clean and think he has nothing on your buff body. Do some poses for a few minutes in comparison then get to work.

Take the trash outside to the dumpster. Come back in breathing heavy and tell yourself you have to start going back to the gym. Get out a beer from the fridge, recoiling at the stench and sit down in front of ESPN Sportscenter for a few minutes… that was hard-ass work and you deserve a break.

Finish the beer and go back into the kitchen after taking a leak and doing some more Mr. Clean poses in front of the bathroom mirror.

Get the rags and the Windex and spray about half a bottle on the counter figuring more is better. Sop it up with the rags not bothering to move any of the crap on the counter; you’ll toss that crap in a new trash bag when you’re done with the smelly spray stuff. Sneeze a few times cause of the ammonia smell and wipe your hands on your jeans after looking at the snot on your palm.

Take the now dripping smelly goop covered rags over to the microwave cause you figure nows the time to clean it too since the door has to be pulled with brute force just to get it open cause it’s sticky as all hell. Wipe the insides out with the rags laughing a little as you remember when you and the guys blew up one of those little plastic cans of beans in there a few months back cause you forgot to take the lid off. Clean up the beans still stuck to the inside top of the microwave and wonder if that’s what fell into your TV dinner a couple nights ago. Oh well, who cares? It tasted fine.

Figure that now that the rest of the kitchen looks so damn good, you should do the fridge and the floor. Damn, that girl at work is gonna fall all over you when you tell her what a housekeeping god you are!

Get one of those pots from under the sink…least they’re good for something anyway and fill it partway with cold water and then dump the rest of the Windex in there. Go get the mop from your deck where you were using it as a field hockey stick one night about a year ago to try to make beer cans fly over to the dumpster.

Dunk the mop into the pot and slop it all over the floor. Work on the puke stain for a bit. When it doesn’t come up, figure at least it looks like clean throw up now and leave it. You’re getting tired; you can always buy one of those girly rugs to cover the spot. That’ll just add to your housekeeping/decorating god status.

Finish the floor. Use the mop to have an imaginary sword fight with someone, flinging filthy water all over the counters you “cleaned”.

Open the fridge and recoil from the stench again. Find some Chinese take out from last week and sit down and have a bite to eat, scooping away the crusty parts. Set the container on the counter when you are done and toss the plastic fork in the sink.

Go back to the still open refrigerator. Take out a…a…a… something green and hard and smell it. Realize it isn’t the source of the smell and toss it in the garbage scoring two points for the free throw. Dig around a little, moving the mayo jar with no lid, the 12 take out containers, 4 McDonalds bags, 36 beers and that tofu your last girlfriend left there in ’05 to the side.

Finally, near the back, you find a slimy dripping piece of what you think used to be KFC. Smell it, realize you have found the source of the smell and start to throw it out. Change your mind with an evil grin thinking you will hold on to it until this weekend when Joe comes over to watch the game. Figure you’ll let him have a few brews then offer him a snack… this should be classic! Wrap it up in foil so at least it won’t reek anymore. Wipe your now windexed, beaned and slimed hands on your jeans. Look around the kitchen and feel proud of yourself and mentally leer at the cleavage of “office girl” as you imagine her nude on your kitchen counter. Get another beer, leave the kitchen and go watch TV. Repeat in six months.

White Trash Dip

  • 1 15 ounce can of your favorite chili
  • 2 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 4 green onions
  • 1 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper for garnish
  • Tostito Artisan Fire Roasted Chipotle Tortilla Chips or Tostito Artisan Black bean and Garlic Tortilla Chips
  1. Heat oven to 350.
  2. Mix all but the chipotle pepper together in a large bowl.
  3. Spoon into a 2 quart baking dish and cook at 350 until golden and bubbly, about 20 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle with the chipotle pepper.
  5. Serve with chips and/or thinly sliced baguette (add a little French flair to your white trash πŸ˜› )

Panini AKA Smooshed Up Sandwich

 

Hey there! Get me a sammich! And don’t forget the beer! Well, maybe a glass of wine or some Baileys. But make it quick! I’m hungry! And thirsty!

Ahhh, shades of my past there lol. Except it was beer and I was on the receiving end of that πŸ˜›

Do you ever mentally look back at the younger version of yourself and think “OMG… what WAS I doing? What was I thinking when I did that…said that… LIVED that?” Yeah; me too. Some of the choices I made and those I let be made for me were pretty atrocious.

Many that I can’t regret however. Even with two failed marriages behind me (yes, two… I was young and naive both times though I get along with both exes now; time and maturity heals a lot of wounds plus life is too short for hating) I can’t regret them because of my children. Plus, as cliche as it sounds, you grow from the stupidity. My regrets stem more from choices I made that hurt others. You know what I mean? You don’t get to middle age without having done things that made life difficult for others.

What DO I regret however?

I regret not going to college.

I regret the times I missed with my kids when life was busy because they are the best kids on Earth.

I regret anger.

I regret the time I didn’t buy the strawberry cream filled Twinkies. (C’mon you expected ALL seriousness out of me?)

I regret letting myself be hurt by other, emotionally and physically.

I regret giving up my eleven mile a day walks

I regret times I have inadvertently hurt my husband because he is the best man on Earth.

I regret that I don’t have a better relationship with my stepchildren though I know that is more them than me.

I regret that third glass of wine each and every time I’ve done it πŸ˜€

Last (but certainly not least but I had to stop somewhere… ) I regret not having started this blog sooner because it has been a gateway to meeting so many wonderful people. Yeah, I’m lookin’ at YOU over there squinting at your computer screen. Put on your glasses for petes sake!

I don’t however regret inventanating (yes, that is now a word because I again said so. I like having the “Janet Vocabulary”) this panini (aka Smooshed Up Sandwich). It is quite tasty if I do say so myself.

When we grilled last night, I also made some boneless skinless chicken thighs (yes, you can sub chicken boobies in here. I used thighs to maintain moistness if reheated) to try to play with. Ok, that sounds wrong on more levels than I want to contemplate. I wanted to make them so that I had some meat to work with later.

Sigh. I give up.

I WANTED SOME CHICKEN TO MAKE THINGS OUT OF!!

This is pretty versatile. You could use chicken breast, a sliced up rotisserie chicken, different bread, what have you. The only components you would need to keep the same to have the same basic sandwich is the aioli and the specific cheese (though if you absolutely hate Brie just use another soft creamy cheese). But I’m going to post it the way I made it and the version that my husband gobbled up. Also, if you don’t have a panini press, you can make this in a non stick pan by pressing down hard on it with a heatproof plate using a pot holder. The effect isn’t quite the same but it works.

Grilled Chicken Panini

With Caramelized Onions & A

Sundried Tomato, Basil & Garlic Aioli

  • 2 small grilled boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 sub roll (I used an Asiago cheese one)
  • 2 ounces sliced brie
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (optional)
  • 1/2 cup good quality mayo
  • 1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped fine
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  1. Make the aioli- mix the mayo with the sun dried tomatoes, basil, garlic, lemon zest and lemon juice. Refrigerate for about an hour so so to let the flavors blend.
  2. Make your caramelized onions- put your sliced onions in a pan with the olive; stir to coat. Over medium heat, cook the onions until soft and limp. Turn heat to low (about 3 to 4), add salt and slowly cook until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Stir in the balsamic vinegar if using. You’ll have extra onions; just put them in a covered container in the fridge and save for another time.
  3. Slather the inside of one half of the roll with the aioli. Layer on the chicken, caramelized onions and cheese. Put in a preheated panini press and press down hard. I had to hold one side in with the side of a butter knife to prevent it from sliding out at first because it’s a thick sandwich. Press down hard for about 2 minutes.
  4. Take out, slice in half, eat and drip juices everywhere. Write me a thank you note πŸ˜€

 

 

 

You Call It Burger, I Call It Boiger

But only because I have a thing for talking in fake accents and that’s my very bad take on a Brooklyn one.

I think I mentioned before that I have a weird quirk and love talking in different accents. Luckily for me, my husband shares my quirk and hasn’t attempted toΒ  get me into therapy yet (well, not for THAT anyway) and if he did try, he would probably do it in a Russian accent so I’m not sure the therapist would take him seriously. We are a sight to behold…or would that be behear? when we walk through the grocery store talking loudly to each other in either a Russian, Indian or Scottich accent (our favorites). We get some interesting looks. I’m still waiting for someone to ask us where we are from because I just know I wouldn’t get through the answer without cracking up. Is it possible to laugh in a Russian accent? Hmmm.Β  But when we do this, he is Boris and I am Natasha and we use the names out loud but so far no one has caught on to the background of the names. Did nobody else watch Rocky and Bullwinkle when they were kids? That or they are scared to approach the crazy couple perusing the peanut butter. Clean up in aisle nutso!

With those two (and an American Southern accent and an upper crust British accent) I can voice them with no help. But strangely, with other accents, I have to have visual or oral help such as reading a book that portrays a character speaking with an accent or hearing it. Yes, I am just weird enough that I have a method for speaking in fake accents. Hey! We all need a hobby right? Mine is …is…is… ok, so mine is just generally being strange but that’s a hobby too! Not everyone can knit!

Where is this all leading you ask? Well, hell if I know! You’re expecting logic and a nice path to a recipe here? You soooo must be new to my blog. πŸ˜€ My blog is all about nonsense and trying to get a laugh any way I can. Wait. That doesn’t make me sound very good does it? My blog is a place for logical stories and essays, linear thought processes and recipes that are the envy of five star restaurants and yes, I’m looking into that therapy now.

Today I’m posting (please to be imagining all of theese in a a Russian accent.) a recipe I came up with for a nice spicy (yes, more spice. If you don’t like spice you may need to check out www.blandfood.com. Now I am going to have to check to see if there is a web site with that name. I’d be willing to bet there is lol) southwestern style burger. I thought about making a mayo or relish to go with this and may do that in future incarnations but this time I wanted the burger to be the centerpiece, not the toppings. So I just used the typical ones to add crunch and cheesy goodness. This is very quickly put together and very flavorful and you can vary the toppings. Salsa, pepper jack, a yummy chipotle mayo maybe.

Southwestern Chorizo Burgers

  • 1 pound ground chuck
  • 1 pound chorizo sausage (if links, just take off the casing)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons Salsa of choice
  • Buns of choice (no, not buns of steel)
  1. Mix all ingredients together, handling as little possible or the burger will be tough. You can’t totally mix the meats together so don’t bother trying.
  2. Shape into four to six burgers depending on what type of pigginess you are feeding. I made five good sized burgers.
  3. Cook by preferred method I grilled them) until no longer pink in the middle. You can’t cook these medium rare (my usual donenes…mmmmm, e-coli!) or medium because of the chorizo.
  4. Top as desired (I topped mine with a fried egg because that is one current trend I can soooo get behind) and enjoy the yumminess.

Ignore the cat hair on my background please πŸ˜€

Don’t Mess With My Hydrogenated Oils, Man!

 

I was feeling nostalgic today and remembering the good old days. You see, I’m an old fart compared to many of you. Quite possibly I could have been your mother. Oh my, I did NOT say that out loud did I? I was lying. I’m really only 29 and just have premature wrinkles and I color my hair gray on purpose. Ok, that’s a lie too. I really AM 46 (47 in August) but to my credit, I am a vampire who hates the sun (well, the hating the sun part is true anyway. I’m full of lies today ehh? πŸ˜› ) and I don’t have a whole lot of wrinkles. There’s my motherly advice for today. Take care of your skin. We won’t discuss the gray hair part. Let’s just say that I love the word Loreal and leave it at that.

Moving on… I say that a lot don’t I? Can’t imagine why. Moving on (see? I said it again. I wonder how many times I can fit those words into one post.)… I was feeling nostalgic for things that were a part of my long ago past. NO, not dinosaurs and stone tablets… don’t be smart! I was feeling nostalgic for beef fat. Now haven’t I told you before that your face is going to freeze like that? Stop it right now or I’ll give you something to make faces over!

Back in the day, when you went to someplace like say McDonalds and ordered fries they were cooked in beef fat. They were also delicious and it was very easy to eat 15 packages of them in five minutes. It was also very hard to get a hold of an ambulance when you had a heart attack before your arteries were clogged with beef fat. But as you died, you could lick your lips and say “my, that was yummy! MEDIC!”

They also had pies. Not that crap they sell now and call pies. These weren’t baked. They were deep fried in pure fat, mannnnn! And O…M…G… they were good. Te outside got all bubbly and crisp and the inside..well, the inside made it up to approximately 3000 degrees and many people had to have tongue transplants because of it. If you ever run into someone with out a tongue who is past a certain age, if they could talk and tell you, they’d say it was due to a fried pie.

Damnnnnnnn, did I wander today. But you’re used to that by now right? What was I saying? Oh yeah, moving on (giggles*), I LIKE my fats. I LIKE my hydrogenated oils. they may kill me, but I’ll die of eating crispy goodness like this fried pie. These are so simple and very tasty. they come from dear old (and she IS heading towards old πŸ˜› ) Paula Deen. I mean, it’s fried; you were expecting it to be from “Hungry Girl”? If Ms. Deen could have found a way to fit a few sticks of butter in this, I’m sure she would have. But barring that, she DID manage to stuff some pie crust with apples, sugar, cinnamon and butter and then deep fry it. I added the glaze to these myself because I wanted a glazed apple fritter effect. Try them. You must. For me and my nostalgia. Because you love me. πŸ˜€

Mini Fried Apple Pies

  • 1 4.5 to 5 ounce package dried apples
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 15 ounce package premade rolled pie crusts
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil (more if needed to get an inch of oil in pot)
  • GLAZE-
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • enough apple juice to make a thin glaze
  1. Cook the apples in the water over medium low heat for about one hour or until water is cooked out and apples are tender.
  2. Add the butter, sugar and cinnamon and mix well. Let cool.
  3. Meanwhile, unroll your pie crust and using either a big biscuit cutter (or a glass like I did because my biggest biscuit cutter was still too small) cut rounds out of each pie crust. I got 7 from each with scraps that I was too lazy to reroll.
  4. Heat oil to 350.
  5. Place one tablespoon on each round. Moisten edge of the rounds with water then fold over to enclose filling. Seal well so they don’t pop open in the oil. Don’t ask me how I know that that can happen. I must have read it somewhere. Yeah, that’s it.
  6. Fry 3 to 4 pies at a time in the hot oil for about 2 minutes or until golden brown. Lay on a paper towel lines cookie sheet while you make glaze.
  7. Mix the powdered sugar with enough apple juice to make a thin glaze.Β  Dip each pie into the glaze and thoroughly coat it.
  8. Eat one. Then eat another. Then another. Erhmmm… moving on. HEH! I got it in one more time!


Ben Needs This Dessert Cause His Parents Are Mean

Can't you just taste that oozing caramel now?

My son Joshie wanted me to read to him the other night. He brought out a book that we’ve had since my older kids were little. It’s called “Ben Finds A Friend.

This has got to be the most depressing children’s book ever written. Poor Ben is a lonely little boy who just wants a pet but the parents from Hell have excuses for every pet suggestion he brings to them. A dog? Nope; too messy and tears up the furniture (Hello? Obedience training anyone?). A cat? C’mon dad, how about a soft tiny purring kitty? No way Ben they scratch and bite and steal food from the refrigerator (Ummm… if that cat opens the fridge and gets food, teach the son of a biscuit to COOK darn it! You can make a mint! Frodo, the cooking kitty!) The picture then shows poor Ben walking off, looking totally dejected, shoulders slumped. I wanted to reach in there and give the kid a hug (and buy him a kitty).

So then he goes back to mom and asks for a Monkey. Hey, I want a Monkey too; I can understand the desire! I want a Monkey that I can name Stash and teach him to stand on a street corner to make money for me. But noooooo, mom says no to a Monkey too because they are dirty and messy and have fleas. The Evil Wench! So it was back to dad and asking for a parrot. Again; no. Even though Ben explained that they didn’t do any bad things or have any of the above mentioned bad habits, it was nil, nada, zilch on a fine feathered friendΒ  cause dads response was that they screech and squawk and say terrible things. Ummm… they will only say terrible things if you TEACH them terrible things. Though in Bens defense, the parrot may end up saying “Mom and dad are evil parents who don’t let me know the joy and responsibility of raising a pet”. As for screeching, two words; CAGE COVER.

Then he wanted a Hamster. A small teenieeeee tinyyyyy Hamster that he could keep in his room and take care of. But Mommy Dearest said she doesn’t like hamsters because they sleep all day ( sounds like a good day to ME plusΒ  mom, you cretin, the kid isn’t asking YOU to love on it and give it a name. HE wants it… duhhhh.) So he goes to his room where we find out he is sick and when the doctor (who does house calls) arrives, doc says Ben has a bug. The boy gets excited because he assumes it came to be a pet for him. Then he begins to daydream about having a pet…ANY PET *sobs for poor Ben*

So how does this ultimately end as you’re trying as a reader to figure out how to call fictional CPS for emotional neglect? The kid sees a Pigeon on his windowsill and asks mom for some bread crumbs for it. A PIGEON!Β  Poor little lonely Ben, who has no parental interaction,Β  has to settle for a wild smelly mite and vermin carrying Pigeon for a pet. WAHHHH!!!!!

Ben needs chocolate. Lots of chocolate. And since this book was written before sweet and salty caramel was around written and Ben is now grown (and needing massive amounts of therapy thanks to his parents) and probably doesn’t get new food treats in the asylum, I made a treat in Bens honor. This is a buttery shortbread crust covered in a sweet/salty sea salt homemade caramel that has been given a nice shot of rum (as was the creator of the recipe because I was so damn depressed over Ben) and then smothered in a thick chocolate ganache. This isn’t HARD to make but the caramel is a precise recipe and takes time. This also has to chill for hours so you need to pre-plan when you want to make this. But oh my; it’s worth it. Sweet, salty, caramelly (yes that is now a word. I said so.) , chocolatey and buttery with a nice crumbly crust. This makes extra caramel. Just store it in a covered container in the fridge and use it for anything you’d use caramel for…like eating it straight from the spoon.

Rum Infused SaltedΒ  Caramel/Chocolate Wedges

On A Buttery Shortbread Crust

  • SHORTBREAD CRUST-
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • splash of vanilla extract
  • HOMEMADE CARAMEL-
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 cups heavy cream minus two tablespoons
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons rum
  • CHOCOLATE GANACHE-
  • 1/2 cup semi sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • more sea salt for sprinkling
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. To make the crust, combine ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix until it is well blended and crumbly. Press down into a foil lined and greased 9 inch pie pan (you can also use a 8 or 9 inch square pan but I like the look of the wedges better). Bake at 350 until lightly browned around the edges, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. For the caramel- While the crust is cooking (don’t forget about it and burn it; I’ve done that lol) melt the 1/2 cup butter in a large saucepan. Add the sugar and sea salt and cook over medium high heat, stirring very often, until the mixture is a deep golden brown, anywhere from 7 to 12 or so minutes. The darker you get it (before you burn it lol) the more intense the caramel flavor is so if you want milder don’t cook as long).
  4. Add your vinegar and rum to your cream and add the mixture to the pan of sugar (do NOT stir). Cover the pan and let cook over medium low heat without stirring until most of the caramel bits dissolve, about 8 minutes or so.
  5. Uncover and whisk until sauce is slightly thick, deep brown and reduced to about 2 1/2 cups, stirring often. If there are still any caramel bits that haven’t dissolved, just fish them out with a slotted spoon. Then eat them; they are yummy!
  6. Let cool for about ten minutes then pour over the shortbread crust. Cover with foil and refrigerate for about an hour.
  7. FOR THE GANACHE-
  8. In a microwavable bowl, mix the chocolate chips and heavy cream. Melt at half power, stirring often, until mixture is smooth and thoroughly combined.Β  Let cool for about 3 minutes (no longer or it will firm up and become unspreadable and you’ll have to reheat it )
  9. Carefully pour over the caramel mixture and smooth. Sprinkle with more sea salt. Let this cool until the caramel has firmed up. This can take about 4 to 5 hours so plan ahead.
  10. Cut into wedges and serve with whipped cream (and maybe some of the extra caramel sauce if you’re really into excess.

Memories Are Made Of This

One of my favorite photos of my dad. It is just so HIM

It’s Fathers Day once again. My recipe won’t have anything to do with Fathers Day; my dad would have pretended to gag and turned his nose up saying I was getting too fancy when he saw what I had done to perfectly good peach jam. He would have then scarfed down half a jar on burnt toast (he liked it that way) when no one was around πŸ˜€ The man did love his sweets.

I miss my dad. He died in April of ’06. He was ornery, opinionated (you could not be right with my dad even if HE was obviously wrong lol), stubborn, narrow minded, broody and had problems with his temper. He was also funny as hell,Β  tenderhearted and easily hurt by inattention and feeling he was unloved. He was generous to a fault, loved to cook (he made one hell of a Giardiniera) and loved to eat (his favorite tease for me would be to eat a gazillion pieces of my fried chicken, which he loved and tell me it was ALMOST as good as a Swansons TV dinner.) and was one of my biggest fans. He lived next door to me for the last 8 years of his life and I made 99.9% of his meals. I would cook dinner, plate his up, take it over and he would usually be sitting there watching Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy. He’d ask what we were having tonight, give the requisite “oooo’s and ahhhs”, I would get him what he needed to eat and he would go back to his TV show while I sat next to him and we chatted while he ate if I had time to sit for a while.

I remember long hours of Scrabble where he would teasingly gripe cause it made no sense to him that I always kicked his ass at the game πŸ˜› . We would have Rummy marathons that would last for days. Back when he drank (he stopped later in life because he was on so many medications for various health problems and couldn’t drink with many of them) these game sessions would involve his contagious giggle when something made him happy. He had a giggle like a little boy…except when he started snorting lol. I also remember hours of talking during all of this. I could tell him anything and often did.

When I took him to do his grocery shopping, I learned to not eye anything on the shelf or pick things up or say that something sounded good. If I did, it invariably went into his cart no matter how much I protested. My kids of course loved to go shopping with him for just that reason πŸ˜€

I miss his smile. I miss hearing him say “Hey hon. Come in and sit a while” when I’d come over. He would be sitting at his kitchen table working on his sweepstakes entries, candles or incense lit and classical music playing. I miss his overly greasy spaghetti or chili (took me years to get him to drain the grease lol.). I miss how everything he cooked had 300 jalapeno peppers in it. I miss his laugh. I miss our Scrabble games and card games. I miss hearing him cuss when people gave stupid answers on Jeopardy. I miss him saying “you’re gonna mess my hair up, girl!” when I would ruffle his mostly bald head. Most of all, I miss the man who was my best friend and my biggest cheerleader. He wasn’t perfect, but he was mine. Happy Fathers Day Daddy.

Lavender Peach Jam With Vanilla

Adapted from the Peach jam recipe in the book “Blue Ribbon Preserves”

  • 3 lbs peeled and crushed peaches (refer back to my Peach Salsa recipe to learn how to peel them easily)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 7 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon butter
  • 5 large sprigs lavender (don’t chop; leave whole) plus more for adding to the jars if desired
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 3 ounce pouch liquid pectin
  1. In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the peaches, lavender and half the sugar. Cover the pan and let sit for about 2 hours, stirring frequently to infuse the Lavender flavor throughout.
  2. Remove the cover. Stir in the remaining sugar, the butter and the extracts.
  3. Over medium low heat, bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar.
  4. When sugar is completely dissolved, turn heat up to medium high and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil (a boil that can NOT be stirred down), stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat and skim off any foam (a ladle works best for this)
  5. Return the pan to the heat and again bring to a full rolling boil. Stir in the contents of the pouch of pectin. Again return to a full boil, stirring constantly. Boil for one minute and then remove the pan from the heat. Skim off any foam.
  6. To prevent the jam from separating, allow it to cool for five minutes, stirring every minute to help distribute the peaches evenly. Ladle the jam into hot sterilized jars, leaving a 1/4 inch head space and adding a small sprig of Lavender to the jars if desired. Make sure to wipe the rims well with a clean cloth. Apply the lids and boil for ten minutes in a boiling water bath. The recipe said that this made 8 half pints but I actually got 11 out of it.

This jam is really quite tasty. I was kind of tickled with it. It has a subtle (Almost too subtle; next time I think I’ll use more Lavender) Herby flowery flavor that melds very well with the delicate flavor of the peaches. I can see using this as a glaze for roast poultry with some Herbs De Provence added to intensify the hit of Lavender you get. Also just adding it to a plain old English Muffin is pretty yummy too :-D. If you try it, please let me know what you think of it. πŸ™‚