Hello? This Is Exotic Deliciousness Calling You! Pick Up Please!!

Recently I was contacted by the wonderfully gracious Jen; one of the lovely people from Kelapo, which is aย  company that sells coconut oil. Very very yummy, OMG this smells fantastic coconut oil. Jen asked me if I would be interested in receivingย  some of their coconut oil to use and tell all of you about. I of course jumped on that chance because I am a piggie butt foodie who loves coconut oil.ย  Hmmm, it probably would have sounded better had I said that I graciously accepted out of the kindness of my heart and because I am the consummate professional food blogger wouldn’t it have? Yeah, well, we all know better. That piggie butt factor was a large part of it though I DO like the idea of being able to maybe give some exposure to a growing company, as I understand the “trying to grow” part myself.

Seriously (well, as much as is possible for me) I really do love coconut oil. But all I had ever used before was the large vats of it you can buy from your local grocery store. That stuff is pretty darn good but Kelapo’s coconut oil just blew me away.ย  I spent the first few days after getting it just taking it out of the cabinet 75 times a day and smelling it. The smell is so…. pure. It is the essence of the tropics in a small jar. Again, comparing that to the store bought, the store bought smells good but there is always a bit of an off smell to it… the smell of something produced in large large large quantities without any love behind it. Kelapo’s oil wasn’t like that. Like I said, the scent was pure. Coconut, nothing added.

Coconut oil can be used in so many ways that you can’t really use vegetable oil or olive oil for. Well, I suppose you could but it just wouldn’t be the same. One of the things I did with this and it’s not so much a recipe as a technique which is why I’m not posting it as a recipe (but yes, facebook fans, this is the bonus I was referring to.) is make a body butter from it. Just go buy a small tub of cocoa butter. Mix the full tub with about 1/2 cup of Kelapo’s coconut oil (easiest if you melt all this over a low heat). Stir while it melts to mix well, then pour into a clean jar (small canning jars work well). You can scent this with maybe two drops of coconut extract (or maybe a drop of peppermint oil to create something a bit more energizing. Mmmm, coconut mint scented) to intensify the scent but it’s not really needed. This smells fantastic as is! Just scoop out a small bit after your shower and rub in well to those rough spots like your knees or elbows or wherever your skin is really dry. You will be sniffing yourself all day (though if you manage to sniff your elbow, I want photos) and you will be soft as a baby’s tushie. You can also use a small amount of plain coconut oil in a hot bath. But be careful! It IS oil and will make it quite slippery.

Cooking wise, I wanted to make something simple with this; something that highlighted the flavor of the coconut oil but yet had more flavors to it… flavors that fit with it and didn’t overpower it. I think I succeeded quite nicely if I do say so myself. I oven roasted some potato wedges in coconut oil and some Indian spices. God help me, I can’t stop eating them lol. I WAS going to have these as a side dish to my dinner (the rest of the family ate earlier) but this has BECOME my dinner, they are so good. The coconut flavor is wonderful. It’s subtle yet definitely present and mixed with the flavors of the curry and spices it is out of this world. My husband was grinning at me saying he hasn’t seen me eat this well in a long time. And yep, it is because of the Kelapo’s coconut oil and NO, I’m not just saying it because they gave me some. I have given bad reviews before and won’t hesitate to do so if it’s deserved. This however deserves every single glowing word I’m saying. Before I get to the recipe for the potatoes, I wanted to share the coupon code that the Kelapo people are giving my readers. It is good for 20% off of your purchase until 9/29/2011. Seriously; go buy some of the coconut oil. Cook with it. Slather it all over your body lol. Smell it 75 times a day like I did. But buy some! It’s wonderful!

Coupon code to be used at Kelapo is Cupcakes20 (case sensitive). It’s good through 9/29 so go…shoo… buy. Ummm, after you read the recipe and drool.

Indian Spiced Roasted Potato Wedges With Coconut Oil

  • 2 pounds potatoes (I used Yukon gold), cut into 4 to 8 wedges (depending on potato size)
  • 1/4 cup Kelapo coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon good quality mild curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. In a small bowl, mix together all your spices and the salt.
  3. Spoon (if solidified which coconut does at fairly high temps compared to other oils) onto a foil lined 13×9 inch baking sheet. Put into oven long enough to melt the oil.
  4. Tilt the pan to let the oil cover the bottom of it.
  5. Making sure to coat each one in the oil (just turn it over and move it around in the oil… it isn’t rocket science ๐Ÿ˜› ), lay your potato wedges on the baking sheet in a single layer.
  6. Sprinkle the potatoes with the salt/spice mix
  7. ย Roast at 425 until the potatoes are tender and golden brown, about 45 minutes. It helps to brown them if you put the pan on the lowest rack on the oven about halfway through cooking.
  8. Transfer to a serving plate; taste to see if it needs more salt and then enjoy them… because I promise you, you will. Then go buy 322 containers of coconut oil. ๐Ÿ˜›

*I received a jar of Kelapo Coconut Oil to use and review. All opinions in here are my own*

Basil Basil Everywhere And Lots Of Drops For Me (Crisco Oil Review)

Yum, yum yum... and yes, that's the bottle of basil Oil next to it. Such a purty green color.

I don’t have a garden. Yet. I have a small back porch that I use for potted herbs and such. I plant them and as of recently I dream about what it will be like when we move to the new house and I can have a garden about 1/2 acre large. Me… that much land… plants… equals scary. I have a bad habit of thinking “Oooo, I LOVE such and such and need to plant lots and lots of it!!”. I kinda did that this season with potted basil. I bought five plants. Now I love basil, but there are only so many times one can make Caprese pasta or Caprese Salad or add 72 cups of basil to spaghetti sauce before you start watching your skin turn a funny shade of green and have people ask why they smell basil every time you are in the room.

So when I was lucky enough to be chosen through the FoodBuzz Tastemakers Program to receive some of the new Crisco Olive Oils, I was tickled green pink. I knew what I wanted to use it for the second I opened the box. On a side note, is it just me or is it like Christmas when you receive an unexpected box of something yummy in the mail? ๐Ÿ˜€

Moving on, I knew what I wanted to use it for. The only oil I use when it comes to vegetable or canola is Crisco because I trust the brand (no, I’m not just saying that because I received the olive oil; it’s the truth ๐Ÿ™‚ ) so I knew that their olive oil would be good. I received one of each of the three types they market- Extra Virgin, Light and Pure-

So with all the basil I have (I am thinking of trying to spin it all into Basil yarn or maybe make a Basil Pillow; possibly sell it on the Basil Black market for those addicts who can’t get enough of it.) I decided to make Basil Oil. I absolutely LOVE flavored oils and have used Crisco Vegetable Oil before to make other flavored oils (yes, I will post those recipes too). I used the Extra Virgin because I wanted to add a nice fruity olive flavor along with the basil flavor and extra virgin olive oil has the strongest flavor, not to mention a wonderful aroma. If you’ve never made basil Oil before don’t be nervous and don’t listen to all the scare stories about botulism from home flavored oils. Yes, that can happen if you use unsafe practices or leave the oil sitting out but if you make it and keep it refrigerated all will be fine. This is extremely easy. You just need a pot, a strainer, basil, a cooking thermometer and some yummy olive oil. So c’mon… stop spinning that Basil pillow and get out a pot and go buy some Crisco Olive Oil. This makes about 2 cups of oil.

Bottom line? I loved this oil. It was just as good, if not better in some cases, than many of the more expensive olive oils I have used. It had a wonderful aroma, a mellow yet nice flavor and while it may be a small thing, I liked that this comes in a plastic bottle rather than a glass one. Glass is always an issue when you have kids around. So will I get this again? Definitely.

Home Made Basil Oil Using Crisco Olive Oil

  • 3 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cups Crisco Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  1. Rinse your basil leaves. Dry them well by rolling them around in a wad of paper towels. Don’t be afraid to use some pressure. You actually WANT to bruise the leaves anyway because that releases some oils.
  2. Take them out of the towels and just wad them up in your hands. Same reasoning applies; releasing the oils.
  3. In a large pot, combine the Crisco oil and the basil.
  4. Put over low heat and slowly heat up to 165 degrees. Keep it at that temp for about 4 minutes.
  5. Turn off heat and let the basil sit in the oil for at least one hour.
  6. Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the oil into a two cup capacity container. Store in the fridge. This will solidify some in the refrigerator but will liquify again when heated.ย  Keep refrigerated when not using.
  7. This can be used soooo many ways. Use to drizzle over meats or veggie; use as a dipping oil for bread (you can use as is or add herbs and spices to it), drizzle over pasta (the picture at the top is my dinner tonight- Cheese ravioli with Asiago and Mozzarella cheeses, Some Sopresseto salami, Heirloom tomatoes & drizzled with some of my basil oil. So so yummy and oh so simple!)

 

*I received Crisco Olive Oils as part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program (Crisco Olive Oil). The opinions posted here are my own.*

Yes, We Have No……Tomatoes.

Hard to make a bowl of roasted tomatoes look good. You just have to trust me ๐Ÿ˜€

 

When I was a kid, I was allergic to tomatoes. I was also allergic to strawberries which back then, bothered me a great deal more than the tomatoes, even if tomatoes ARE a fruit. You try being a little kid and not allowed a peanut butter and strawberry preserves sandwich. *sobs piteously* I guess I must have outgrown that one fairly young though because I remember eating strawberry things in my childhood. Oh well… moving on. Tomatoes. Allergy. Hives. Itch. Ouch. Mom!

The tomato thing lasted into early adulthood then just disappeared as childhood food allergies can sometimes do. It didn’t hurt that I didn’t really like tomatoes anyway other than ketchup which didn’t seem to bother me. It was only raw maters and I was happy without them. Such a young stupid pup I was. I think growing up in Chicago the tomatoes I had were hard store bought rocks so I thought they all tasted like that. This was before the day of farmers markets in cities, of CSA’s, Heirloom tomatoes, etc etc etc. If you didn’t live in the country and/or grow your own, you got pale pinkish rocks for tomatoes. End of discussion.

As I grew older and started cooking more outside my comfort zone, I was forced by the circumstances of cooking to try tomatoes. Surprise surprise (please use a Gomer Pyle voice when you say that; it’s much more fun), I liked them. Still not the type to really pick up a tomato and salt it and eat it (though I get in the mood at times) but I love to grow them, I love to cook with them and I love to eat them in salads and other ways. But my favorite way to eat plain tomatoes is oven roasted. I love love love them. Did I mention that I love them? I have kind of given a condensed version of this recipe in This Post but it was tucked into a separate recipe so I wanted to give it by itself. The recipe being, btw, oven roasted tomatoes. These are soooooo delicious made this way. The flavor is concentrated but they aren’t as chewy as sun dried which means they make a good accompaniment to things like sandwiches and salads. You can eat them without trying to take a bite and having the whole piece of tomato pull out BECAUSE they aren’t so chewy. They are also extremely simple. If you can slice a tomato and turn on an oven, you can make these. The possibilities for uses are endless. Where ever you would use sun dried maters, you can use these yet you can use them MORE places because, as I mentioned (because I’m repetitive like that) they aren’t so darned chewy. They are yummy just eaten out of hand…erhmmm… bowl… and you can’t get much healthier snack wise than something like this.

Oven Roasted Herbed Tomatoes

  • 1 pound Roma (Plum) tomatoes, sliced in 1/4 inch slices (You can of course use more or less tomatoes. I tend to do them about a pound at a time.)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons McCormick Grill Mates Garlic and Onion Medley Seasoning (don’t use garlic and onion powders. Part of the tastiness of this comes from the caramelized pieces of garlic and onion)
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed Rosemary
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Line a 13×9 inch baking sheet with foil (trust me… use the foil.)
  3. In a large bowl, CAREFULLY toss the sliced tomatoes with the olive oil.
  4. Put the tomatoes in a single layer on the baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with the garlic/onion medley and the rosemary.
  • I had some cherry & grape tomatoes I needed to use so I just tossed them in there too.
ย ย  5. Roast the maters at 325 degrees until they are slightly shriveled (remember; we’re not going for the tough chewiness of sun dried or many hours of 200 or so degree heat like some oven roasted tomatoes. These will still be soft and pliable.) but still moist, about 2 to 2 1/2 hours. You’ll end up with a sheet of this-
6. Let cool and then transfer them to your mouth a bowl. Store covered in the fridge.

Whadda Ya Mean You Don’t Like Oatmeal??!!

 

Your mother made you oatmeal when you were a kid didn’t she? It was the consistency of school paste and the flavor was probably similar too with the school paste maybe a touch ahead in the running for flavor. She may have thrown a spoonful of white sugar on it, a pat of salty greasy margarine and maybe a bit of milk. So what you ended up with was a pile of gluey oatmeal covered in overly sweet cold milk with a strange salty greasy edge to it. Oh yeah buddy… yum city. Point being though that all of the above is why you have convinced yourself that oatmeal is evil. Right up there with cod liver oil, those chewable vitamins shaped like Fred Flintstone that tasted like you were sucking on a mud covered penny and…well… liver. On an off note (imagine that… off notes from me.) was anyone else freaked out chowing down on Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble? I always felt guilty but never as bad as when I ate Dino. That just seemed so wrong. Poor Dino…. all chewed up. I fully expected to turn on the TV for my afternoon Flintstone fix and find a Public Service Announcement saying “Janet, there is no more Flintstones. Wilma and Betty are now widows weeping into their stone pillows at night and Pebbles and Bam Bam are going to grow up to be fatherless gang members who rob old ladies at stone point and tormentย Velociraptors for fun. Why you ask? BECAUSE…YOU…ATE….FRED…AND BARNEY…. YOU EVIL….GIRL!!!!!!!!!

I’m weird. I love oatmeal. But the above was pretty much my childhood experience of it just as I know it was for many of you. Our mothers generations (except for those of you who are young enough to be MY kids… I make darned awesome oatmeal ๐Ÿ˜› ) made oatmeal as a source of nutrition and warmth not for yum factor. And oatmeal IN things can be pretty awesome too. Like pie. Back in the day when people didn’t sit on their butts all day in front of computers (not that I know anything about that cough cough), food history tells us that pie for breakfast was fairly common. It was filling, a good energy source and warmed you up if eaten hot (because cold things don’t warm you up in case you were wondering that). Oatmeal pie was a good breakfast dish. Buttttt….. being the humans we are, things have to change. Including oatmeal pie. This one here isn’t just an oatmeal custard in a crust. It has dark brown sugar, maple and butterscotch chips, though if you don’t like them, feel free to omit those. I will only cry for a little while. This makes two pies so feel free to cut this in half. This is loosely adapted from a pie I saw on Taste Of Home. Feel free to eat this for breakfast. It has oatmeal after all.

Butterscotch Oatmeal Maple Pie

  • 2 9 inch pie shells (I used the frozen Marie Callander ones; they’re actually pretty good & I was too lazy to make a pie shell)
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • Scant 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon (optional. You can still try this Ann ๐Ÿ˜› )
  • 1 3/4 cups oats
  • 3/4 cup dark corn syrup
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon imitation maple flavoring (I used McCormick Brand)
  • 1 11 ounce bag butterscotch chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line your middle oven shelf with foil just in case of drips.
  2. In a large bowl, combine eggs, flour, sugars and cinnamon.
  3. Stir in the oatmeal, butter, syrups (all 3) and extracts.
  4. Stir in the butterscotch chips
  5. Divide evenly between pie shells
  6. Bake for approximately 60 to 70 minutes for two pies or until it is nicely browned and the center is just barely set. There should be a slight jiggle but no liquidy look. One pie won’t take as long to cook so if you cut the recipe in half, start checking after 40 minutes. If you are unsure of doneness, stick a butter knife in the center. if it comes out almost clean, with a little bit of filling on it, it’s done. If it comes out with drippy liquid on it, it’s …well… not.
  7. Let sit for at least an hour or two before trying to cut this. It is similar to Pecan pie in that if you cut it too soon, you’ll have a oozing mess all over. It needs to finish setting up as it cools. The texture is also similar to pecan pie but w/out the pecans. ๐Ÿ˜›
  8. Serve this with vanilla ice cream or sitting in a puddle of warmed cream. It’s very rich and quite sweet so cut small pieces. Trust me on this.

The Meatloaf That Ate Manhattan

The Meatloaf That Ate Manhattan is happy... and full of Manhattanites ๐Ÿ˜›

“Meatloaf, Scmeatloaf!!!” Anyone else love the movie “A Christmas Story”? You know the one… set during the depression, narrated by Ralphie, the main character? I love the scene where they are sitting down to dinner and meatloaf is being served. He lets out a groan and mumbles under his breath, “Meatloaf, Schmeatloaf” and the narrator says something to the effect ofย  “My brother had not eaten voluntarily in three years” followed by the mother getting him to eat in ways which still leave me both grossed out and laughing my butt off. I definitely identify when the narrator says “My mother had not eaten a hot meal in twenty years”. Yeah… I can get behind that one :-P.

Meatloafย  has a really really bad reputation and so many people are convinced that they absolutely hate it. I personally think they just haven’t had a good one. Because made incorrectly, meatloaf can be some nassssttttyyyyyy stuff. I actually knew someone once whose idea of making meatloaf was to take ground beef, throw in some oatmeal, salt and pepper and then bake that. *shudders* There you have the reasoning behind the bad rep. People don’t do anything to season it well or they cook it until it is a rock; they don’t glaze it etc etc etc. Add all the bad skits in movies and on TV surrounding it and it’s no wonder no one likes it.

Personally, I love meatloaf.ย  Well, when I am the one that’s made it.ย  By now, you know I can’t do anything that is screaming “I’m PLAIN!!!!”. I have to give things a bit of kick. Not necessarily heat; just a lot of flavor. I’m not any different when it comes to making meatloaf. I want flavor, not a dry crumbly loaf that tastes only of ground beef. B…o…r…i…n…gggggg.

So give this a try if you like meat loaf. Give this a try if you think you dislike meatloaf. Give this a try if you are the parent or s/o of a meat loaf hater. If you still don’t like it (or they don’t), I’ll make something sweet and creamy. Ok, so we all know I’ll do that anyway but you get my drift. Give it a try.

This meat loaf is HUGE by the way. Seriously. This could be a small uninhabited island if it weren’t a meatloaf. Or a rocket ship to Pluto, which btw, IS a planet. So feel free to cut this in half. I make it big here because we like the leftovers for lunch for a month or twelve. Nuttin’ better than a meatloaf sandwich. YUM!

Chili Cheese Stuffed Meatloaf

Aka The Meatloaf That Ate Manhattan

  • 2 pounds ground beef (preferably ground chuck)
  • 2 pounds ground veal
  • 2 pounds ground pork
  • 2 cups finely chopped onion (I use red onion because it tends to be more flavorful)
  • 1/4 cup chopped garlic (yes, you read that right)
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped green pepper
  • 2 tablespoons McCormick brand “Perfect Pinch Steak Seasoning” (or your favorite steak seasoning)
  • 2 teaspoons ground chipotle pepper (optional. It doesn’t really add heat in this amount, just a nice smokiness.)
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup Heinz 57 sauce
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 2/3 cups rolled oats (not instant)
  • 8 deli slices sharp cheddar or Colby cheese (I used 4 slices white cheddar and 4 slices Colby)
  • 1 small (3 ounces) can chopped green chilies (drained as well as one can drain a can of chilies)
  • GLAZE-
  • ย 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a LARGE baking pan with foil.
  2. In a large bowl, mix all the loaf ingredients other than the meats, the cheese and the green chilies.
  3. Add in the meat and mix well. Clean hands are the best tool for this because it’s hard to break up lumps otherwise. Remember; this is a lot of meat.
  4. Scoop half of the meat mixture out onto the baking pan. Shape into a large (did I mention how large this was?) loafish shape.
  5. Make an indentation all through the center of the meat, leaving about a half inch edge. Think of it as making a moat. ๐Ÿ˜›
  6. Pour the chilies on top and spread to the lip, edge, moat… whatever you want to call it.
  7. Lay the slices of cheese on top of this.
  8. Take the other half of the meat and cover the bottom half, sealing well around the edges (bye bye moat).
  9. Bake at 350 for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
  10. About halfway through baking, mix all the glaze ingredients in a medium bowl. Spoon about half of it over the top of the loaf and continue cooking. Heat the rest in the microwave and serve on the side with the meat loaf or drizzle over the top of each slice.
  11. This makes great sandwiches the next day drizzled with some of the glaze and a slice or two of fresh tomato

Yummy meat loaf, home made mashed potatoes and fresh corn. Can we say yummy!?

 

 

Birds Eye Voila Dinner Review & Free BOGO Free Coupons For My Readers

Recently, I received a coupon from the wonderful Birds Eye company to obtain one of their Voila Skillet Entrees for free if I would then review the product. Having enjoyed the “Birds Eye Chefs Favorite Creamed Spinach” so much, I was tickled to have the opportunity to review this also. I chose the Garlic Shrimp flavor because I love shrimp. I really really love shrimp and I don’t get it often because I’m not Donald Trump ๐Ÿ˜› and I don’t live near the ocean and it’s hard to farm shrimp in my bathtub. The soap tends to bother them plus they constantly try to take my rubber ducky.

With as much as I loved the creamed spinach, I had high hopes for the Voila Garlic Shrimp. I hate to admit it, but I was rather disappointed. It wasn’t horrible, not at all, but it wasn’t really that good either. The vegetables in it were great, as I would expect from the Birds Eye company. The broccoli was crispy with a fresh from the ground flavor (minus the dirt ๐Ÿ˜› ). The corn and the carrots were also good and anyone who knows my blog knows I don’t even like carrots so that is saying something. The problem was with the shrimp, the pasta and the sauce. The package said to cook this for 12 minutes in my microwave. After 8 minutes, I checked it and it was obviously done. So I pulled it out and poured some on the plates. It SMELLED great. Nice garlicky smell and it looked appealing though the shrimp was rather sparse and what was there were tiny.

I gave it a few bites and again, I hate to say it, but I was disappointed. The shrimp, even cooked for less time than they said, were tough and rubbery without a whole lot of flavor. I think that if they had cooked for the whole 12 minutes, they would have been inedible. The sauce, while it smelled great, was fairly bland and I ended up adding salt to it and I’m not a big salt person. The pasta was also rather rubbery, kind of like what it would be like if you made a noodle dish one night and then reheated it in the microwave for lunch the next day. My son, the 14 year old who will eat anything, said “I didn’t even know it had garlic in it until you told me”.

Bottom line- it was ok. I will give it another chance or two with some other flavors because they DO have some really awesome sounding flavors; Chicken Teriyaki, Chicken Alfredo, Beef Lo Mein, Cheesy ranch Chicken… this one just wasn’t that appealing or flavorful.

I’m looking forward to trying some of those because I know Birds Eye is a good brand and I’m willing to go for the idea that maybe it was just this particular flavor. After I do, I’ll let you know how they were. I still have high hopes. ๐Ÿ™‚

In the meantime, I am going to give out three coupons for “Buy one Voila entree, get one free” apiece to the first 20 readers who make a comment telling me which flavor of the Voila Entree they would like to try. You can find all the different ones here-

http://www.birdseyefoods.com/prod_voila.html

I ask one favor though. If you are one of the Food Buzz Bloggers who also received these coupons, please let me know that in your comment because we all got a lot of them and I can’t see that you’d need more lol :-P. I’d like to share them with other bloggers and readers who didn’t receive any.

 

 

*Note-As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received a coupon for a free 23 ounce bag of any flavorย  Birds Eye Voila Entree. The opinions in here are my own.

Still Craving Autumn

I don’t like Summer. There. My shameful secret is out. I don’t like tank tops (if you had my body, you wouldn’t either ๐Ÿ˜› ) or shorts, I don’t like laying in the sun (I prefer no wrinkles and no invasive surgeries to cut out skin cancer) dripping sweat to obtain a skin color that isn’t what I was born with. I don’t like mosquitoes and I don’t like opening my back door on a Summer night only to have 3,897 bugs fly in the house and into my hair while I screech like a three year old who has just been shown a clown picture.

I DO however like beaches or pools and I love to grill out. But then I do that in January because I’m weird that way and unfortunately, until I can win the lottery and build a house with a very very large heated pool, I can only swim during those hot months. Darn it all anyway.

I like Autumn. I also like Winter but I KNOW that’s strange so I won’t ruin my rep too much here.ย  I like shorter days and longer nights. I like the smell of a wood burning fireplaces (gas logs are the devil and should be banned from the face of the earth). I like sweaters and cozy blankets to cover up with as I sit with my family in the nice warm house watching TV; preferably Christmas specials like The Grinch or Charlie Brown. I like soups and stews and fresh baked breads. I love anything made with pumpkin or cranberries and anything that smells spicy and…well… Autumnish.

I like this bread. I found the original recipe somewhere on line years back and when I made it, it was dry and heavy and just not a lot of flavor. So I played with it. Because that’s what I do. ๐Ÿ˜› And now it is sweet and moist and bursting with the flavors of Autumn. Pumpkin and cranberry sauce and spices all meld together into a bread that tastes of Fall and football games; fireplaces and steaming cups of hot cocoa shared with those you love. It’s one of my favorite quick breads and it is oh so easy and gives you something that tastes amazing. So give this a try and then close your eyes and imagine that it’s NOT 90 degrees outside. And yes; this really IS the worlds most awesome. I took a poll. ๐Ÿ˜› No, btw, it’s not a typo. There are no eggs in this. Yet it is still incredibly moist.

Worlds Most Awesome Pumpkin Cranberry Quick Bread

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 (16 ounce) can whole berry cranberry sauce
  • 1 (16 ounce) can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling; just pureed pumpkin)
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease two 9 inch loaf pans.
  3. In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients thoroughly.
  4. In second large bowl combine all wet ingredients; mix thoroughly.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients into bowl of dry ingredients. Mix just until thoroughly combined. Do not over mix as this will cause tough bread with lots of little peek a boo holes all throughout it.
  6. Bake at 350 for approximately 60 minutes or until sharp knife inserted in center comes out clean. If necessary, cover lightly with foil during the last 20 minutes to prevent the edges from burning.
  7. Let cool in pans for ten minutes then turn out onto racks to finish cooling.
  8. This is yummy spread with cream cheese or, like I like it, with a ton of butter. But it’s also so good that leftover a couple of days later, at room temp is still pretty awesome.

 

Sometimes Simple Is Best- Even When It Has A Touch Of Fancy

Some of these with a glass of Shiraz and it was a wonderful meal

I’ve never been a fancy person. I mean, for heavens sake, I openly admit that two of my favorite foods are Cheetos and Twinkies. I’d say that qualifies as simple tastes. I also like Liverwurst, pickled herring and ham and cheese sandwiches (those rare times I even eat sandwiches that aren’t hot and gooey) on smooshy white bread spread with butter. Not sure if I just qualified myself as having simple tastes or just never having progressed past age six in my eating habits. ๐Ÿ˜›

But I do prefer simple foods for the most part. I have the worlds worst appetite especially for a heavy woman and forget to eat half the time. Were it not for my husbands prodding, I would probably live on tea, yogurt and the occasional lean cuisine meal. Give me some cheese, some bread, (a bottle of wine and thou? sorry; tangent) fruit and I’ll be happy unless it’s one of those times when I have a craving for a 20 inch thick ribeye steak cooked to a perfect medium rare.

So what I’ve made today appeals to me a lot on both the simple level and the not too much level and I hope it does to you also. Like the post title says, it has a bit of fancy to it. This comes with goat cheese which unless one owns a goat and makes it oneself is fancy based on price alone if nothing else (thank God for finding it on sale!). But otherwise, this is a simple homey meal (or appetizer) that is fairly quick to throw together and yet fancy enough to serve to guests. That goat cheese thing does that. Makes people think it’s fancy when in reality goat cheese has been a source of food for many many centuries.

Give this a try. I think you’ll like it. ๐Ÿ™‚ The creamy slightly salty cheese with the fresh Spinach and the sweet caramelized tomatoes all atop of piece of crusty French bread is pure Heaven.

Goat Cheese, Spinach & Oven Roasted Tomatoes Bruschetta

  • 1 loaf French Baguette
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 1/2 pound oven roasted cherry or grape tomatoes (the store bought ones in oil are fine if you prefer)
  • 1 6 ounce bag prewashed baby spinach leaves, stems removed and thoroughly dried
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil if roasting your tomatoes yourself
  1. If roasting the tomatoes yourself, preheat oven to 325. Slice the tomatoes in halves or quarters. Sprinkle with salt, pepper (and I also use McCormick Garlic/Onion Grill mix. It has nice pieces of both the onion and the garlic and adds both flavor and a wonderful aroma to the roasting tomatoes.) and drizzle with a good quality olive oil. Toss to coat the tomatoes well.
  2. Roast at 325 until the tomatoes are nicely caramelized and softened. You’re not trying for the texture of sun dried tomatoes here; just browned and soft.ย  Let cool somewhat.
  3. Slice your baguette into thin slices. Toast if you prefer it crunchier. I heated mine up in the oven but didn’t toast it.ย  Spread with the goat cheese and top with a spinach leaf or two and a little bit of the tomatoes.
  4. Eat and enjoy the simple things.

Eating My Curds And…This Is WHEY Too Good!

Don't worry about those drips on the edge. I...erhmmm... cleaned them up.

Yes, I know. that was really really bad. But admit it, you smiled a little as you groaned. And that is really all that’s important to me with this blog. If I can get just ONE person to maybe smile a little as they read my nonsensical posts, especially if they have had a bad day, then all the eye rolling and groaning is worth it. Because believe it or not, you only see the silly side of me in this blog. Well, usually. I guess I’m not being particularly silly right now. Other than the post title hehehe.

I think sometimes that people can a certain idea of what another is like and if that perception is challenged, they don’t like it. It’s rather a “stay in the box I put you in because it makes me nervous if you try and get out” sort of thing. And I’m not very good at being boxed. I tend to try to claw at the cardboard and make a mess or I bring really bad snacks into the box and it ends up smelling like old Cheetos.

I lost a handful of fans from my facebook page today. I can only guess it is because I brought up personal things on the page… i.e., left the box. I wasn’t silly Janet. I wasn’t cutting one liners or just talking about recipes. I was opening the box and letting you see the person inside of it; letting you see that I have worries and flaws and sometimes gets scared. Guess what? I’m human. I know the vast majority of you realize this. You’re the ones who have grown to care for me, silly jokes and all; sometimes serious and all, the same way I have grown to care for you and your lives.

But, contrary to urban myth and legend, I am a real person here on this side of the computer screen. I have bad days too. Mind you, I still tend to get through them with one liners and bad puns *glances at the post title* because that is simply my personality; laugh at things and you get through them… but every once in a while, the bad day wins.ย  Today, it’s winning. Tomorrow, I’ll be fine and probably follow this post with one chock full of idiocy because I’ll be embarrassed at my openness. But, while I know there are many bloggers and readers that are going through worse than anything I have experienced, I’m still human. Today anyway.

Thanks for listening. Now, on to the recipe! I made home made Lemon Curd. It had been a while since I had and I was craving it. I like the jarred stuff but it just can’t measure up to home made. I used a different recipe. This one is from Ina Garten and I love it. BUT… and this is a big but (no, not a big BUTT; that would be MY butt.) I made a double batch and I’m not sure if that is what caused the following issue, but OMG, my back STILL hurts. The recipe says that this will take about ten minutes of cooking with constant stirring before it thickens. Logic dictates that double the volume would mean double the cooking time, especially if you use a large enough pot so that there is more surface area and less depth. Right? HA! My back is still killing me today because I stood over that stove for an hour and ten minutes before this got to temp and thickened lol. AN HOUR AND TEN MINUTES!! I wanted a back transplant when I was done :-P. That or a taller stove. But… I’m full of buts today… it was worth it. I added some vanilla to this and the end result is a lemon curd that is sweet and tart and delicate and has a slight almost floral essence from the vanilla. Doing a double batch, I ended up with two pints of the most delicious lemon curd to put in my fridge… and take back out and eat with a spoon cook with. THAT btw, will be happening later this week. I have a pie idea in mind that involves this curd, mascarpone cheese and all sorts of yummies. But for now; here’s the curd recipe. The regular recipe; not doubled.

Ina Gartens Lemon Curd

  • 3 lemons
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 pound unsalted butter, room temp
  • 4 extra large eggs
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  1. Use a veggie peeler and cut the peel off of the lemons, making sure not to get any of the white pith. Put the zest and the sugar into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the zest is very finely minced and mixed with the sugar.
  2. Cream the butter in a large bowl and then add the sugar mixture. Add the eggs, one at a time and then add the lemon juice, vanilla and salt.
  3. Pour into a large saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, which will happen at about 170 degrees. In theory this will take about ten minutes. In reality, who knows lol. The double batch took me over an hour and I even upped the heat to medium at one point. Make sure you have a hot beverage near you and the radio on for company ๐Ÿ˜›
  4. One thing the recipe didn’t mention is straining this but if you don’t, you will have a LOT of teenie tiny bits of lemon zest in it and the mixture, while it still tastes fantastic, won’t be smooth and creamy. So I strongly suggest straining this through a fine mesh strainer ( I LOVE my strainer) by pouring about a cup or two in it (depends on the size of your strainer) and pushing it through with the back of a rubber spatula. Clean it after every time you finish with a cup or two or it will get clogged and take forever. But straining it like this is worth the little bit of extra effort it takes.
  5. When strained, pour this into a covered container (I use canning jars) and store in the fridge.
  6. Use on scones, biscuits, in recipes or just off the spoon hehe.

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Rhapsody On A Theme

I mentioned on my facebook page earlier that this is one of my favorite pieces of music-

Rhapsody On A Theme Of Paganini

 

It’s also kind of the way I cook.ย  Well, except when the baby is whining, the teens are ornery and my husband is oblivious. Then… not so rhapsodic. ๐Ÿ˜› But generally speaking, cooking is a sort of rhapsody to me. It’s melodies and lyrics and booming orchestras all wrapped up in my cooking. But the problem is this…. like those horrid people who cover classics and remake them in Pop music *cough Michael Bolton/Mariah Carey* cough*, I am incapable of making something and keeping it as it was originally intended to be. Sometimes, this leads to total disaster and we just aren’t going to talk about that because I’m old and vain and refuse to have you laugh at me when I haven’t meant for that to happen. ๐Ÿ˜€

But other times, it works out quite well and that is when we have “Rhapsody On A Theme”.

Today, the theme was me wishing it were already Autumn and wanting something made with Pumpkin;ย  preferably scones. But could I just make Pumpkin scones and call it done? Nooooooo… not me! As you already know is par for the course, I have to mess with things and make them…well… MINE. So I did. I had just brought up from downstairs a bag of butterscotch candy. You know the ones. The little hard golden yellow ones. So the thought struck me that something about butterscotch and pumpkin and all the spices going with it seemed to go together. So I crushed up some of the butterscotch and mixed it in with the scone dough. Then sprinkled some on top before baking them. Then sprinkled a bit more on after glazing. And when it comes to pumpkiny treats, I have always been of the mind that 99.9% of recipes never have enough spices. I mean, c’mon… 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon and other yummy spices!? No way mannnnnnn. I need more! More I say!! So…erhmmm… I added more. If you aren’t as fond of lots of sweet spice, go ahead and use less.

The result was a moist tender scone with a yummy Pumpkin spice flavor and a hint of butterscotch. That came with a spiced glaze and more hints of butterscotch. All in all, I’ll call ths one of my more successful rhapsodies ๐Ÿ˜€ These are quickly put together if you use the food processor. I didn’t use a mixer but I can’t see it taking much longer if you did. I hope you like it. If not, mail them to me. I’ll eat your share. ๐Ÿ˜›

These taste like Autumn and I don’t know about you but I’m ready.

Pumpkin Butterscotch Scones With A Spiced Butterscotch Glaze

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 7 tablespoons cold butter, cut into thin slices
  • 35 butterscotch disc candies, ground in the food processor
  • SPICED GLAZE-
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoon milk
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine flour, baking powder, 1/2 cup of the ground butterscotch discs (set remaining aside to use to sprinkle on scones before baking and after glazing), salt, sugar and spices in bowl of food processor.
  2. Add the butter to the food processor and pulse until no chunks of butter remain.
  3. Add in the pumpkin, egg and cream. Pulse until the mixture comes together into a soft ball.
  4. Dump the dough out onto a VERY lightly floured board. Pat out into a round about 3/4’s of an inch thick.
  5. Transfer dough to a lightly greased baking pan. Using a sharp knife, score all the way through the dough, cutting into 6 to 8 scones (I did six very large ones cause I know the guys I live with but normal people would want smaller ones lol) but don’t separate the scones. Sprinkle with half of the remaining ground butterscotch discs.
  6. Bake at 425 for 14 to 16 minutes or until they are light golden brown and firm on top.
  7. Cool on a wire rack.
  8. While they cool, whisk together all the glaze ingredients.ย  Spoon the glaze on top of the cooled scones, spreading to cover. Sprinkle with the remaining crushed butterscotch. Let the scones sit for about half an hour so that the glaze can set.
  9. Eat. Wish for a warm cozy fire and a cup of hot cider.