Dip Because I’m A Dip

 

 

Hard to take a decent picture of dip. I mean, it's DIP... 😛

When I was a kid, people who were ditzy were called dips or dippy. I have no idea if that was a regional thing or just that the people I knew were strange. Please don’t answer that. But suffice it to say that I fell squarely into the dippy category.

Thus the title of this post. I mean, this dip has chicken, cheese, bacon and green onions in it too but titling this “Dip for the chicken” or “dip for the bacon” just didn’t make much sense to me. I can be a bit chicken at times (like when eating liver is involved) but I am not related to pork products in any way. Hmmm, I’ve been known to be piggy. As for cheese, we all know I can be cheesy but “Dip for the cheese” just sounds stupid.

Fine, I admit it!! I couldn’t think of a good post title and this is all just a coverup to make it sound planned! It was “Dip-Gate”! A vast right wing conspiracy!! Erhmmmm, sorry, I think I was channeling Hilary Clinton. *Shudders* Now THERE’S a frightening thought.

Sigh. I really need to get out more.

Moving on.

Still have a couple of big holidays coming up. You may have heard of them. And they tend to be big eating holidays too. Not like Columbus Day… or Groundhog Day. Personally, I don’t go overboard on yummy foods for those two.

In my family, it has become a tradition to have our big meal on Christmas Eve. It has also become a tradition that the meal is mainly appetizers and finger foods. Mind you, with my kids and hubby that still means enough food to feed a small country but still… appetizers.

One of the things we all enjoy is dips. Not so much the ubiquitous kinds like cold french onion dip with chips (I save that for maybe a twice a year craving and TV) but more substantial ones. Preferably with meat. Lots of meat. Or cheese. Lots of cheese. Or even better, with both.

You’ve all probably heard of Buffalo Chicken Dip by now, even if you haven’t tried it. Hot cheesy dip that is SUPPOSED to taste like buffalo wings. Too often however, tasty as it is, it bears no resemblance to wings. With that in mind, I had no qualms keeping the same basic idea and taking it even farther down the path away from “Wingdom”. Ha!! You thought I was going to say that I had created one that tasted exactly like a scoopable buffalo wing. Admit it… you did, you did you did..

Oh heck no. As much as I love wings, I kinda like that the dips aren’t perfectly like them. But being me, as usual, I couldn’t leave well enough alone. So try MY version of Buffalo Chicken Dip. Hot, gooey, cheesy, chickeny (yes, that is now a word) bacony (hey; spell check didn’t say anything. I guess bacony really IS a word!), oniony (damn; not a word. Stoopid spell check.) and oh so yummy with tostitos or celery (if you’re feeling strangely healthful which is a waste of time with this dip) or off of your fingers. You may want to let it cool before you try that last one though. Just sayin’. I will not be held liable for burned fingertips :-p

Newly Revised Deluxe Version Of Buffalo Chicken Dip

  • 2 10 ounce cans chicken, well drained
  • 1 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup ranch dressing or blue cheese dressing
  • 1/2 to 3/4 (if you’re brave) cup hot sauce (I use Franks Red Hot)
  • 1 3 ounce package bacon bits (yes, you could make your own bacon but this is meant to be easy, not work)
  • 3 cups cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup blue cheese (I’d put more if I could but no one else in the family likes blue cheese, the boogerheads)
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat together the cream cheese, hot sauce and dressing.
  3. Stir in the chicken, breaking up any large chunks (but don’t mush the crap out of it; leave some pieces), the bacon, the green onions and 2 cups of the cheddar cheese.
  4. Spoon into a lightly greased 2 quart baking dish or 9 inch pie plate.
  5. Top with the rest of the cheddar cheese, the blue cheese (and some extra green onions if you want)
  6. Bake at 350 until lightly browned around the edges and bubbly, about 20 minutes.
  7. Serve with veggies of tostitos or fingertips.

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas (Foodbuzz/Glad Cookie Exchange!)

Most of you know that I am mom to six children. I have talked about them before and make no secret that they are what I consider my greatest accomplishments in life. I have been blessed in that all six of them, despite my one son being a special needs child for other reasons, have always been physically healthy, Sure, there have been illnesses but nothing life threatening and nothing that went beyond momentarily frightening.

Not all parents and not all children have been that lucky though. Many face this time of year fighting not only to keep the joy of the season but being forced to watch as their children fight for their lives.

Pediatric cancer is the number one cause of death by disease in children in the United States. Why does this happen in a highly developed country you ask? Money. Plain and simple… lack of money. It’s frightening to think that children die because of a bad cash flow but they do. Cures take research and research takes money and that is something that is lacking in the fight against pediatric cancer.

Knowing how blessed I am in the health of my children, I definitely wanted in when Foodbuzz and Glad offered me the chance to do a very small part in the fight against pediatric cancer. The Glad company is sponsoring a cookie exchange to fight cancer, called
The Glad Products Company’s Glad To Give Campaign with the money raised going to Cookies For Kids Cancer . I was ecstatic when I was accepted to blog about this issue. If the cookies I have made make even a few dollars for this cause in a virtual exchange, I’m thrilled!

That site was founded by Gretchen Witt, a mom who lost her son Liam in January of 2011. Liam was diagnosed with cancer in 2007 at the age of 2. Liam’s parents learned then that a full quarter of children with cancer don’t survive because of the lack of funding for research. Sadly, Liam fell into that group. But by the time he passed away, his mother had already founded Cookies For Kids Cancer. It’s a non profit organization that helps people host bake sales or cookie exchanges with the money raised going towards cancer research.

So how can you help? First, go to www.facebook.com/glad and host a virtual cookie exchange., Gather a few friends, email your family members and get everyone over there. The very generous Glad Company will donate ten cents for every cookie sold, exchanged or given during the months of November and December 2011. Second. go to www.cookiesforkidscancer.org and make a donation. Think of every single child you know who enjoys good health and donate for their sake. Go to the site and read the stories of some the children. Donate for THEIR sake. Donate in memory of Liam. Donate because this should NOT be the problem it is in America. Not in this day and age. Donate because I actually wrote a serious post and that alone is worth something.

So what did I make for MY virtual cookie exchange? I wanted to stay classic with mine with things everyone would like. So I made Linzer Cookies and Iced Sugar Cookies. Please keep in mine that I have honestly admitted before that my decorating skills lack…well… skill. In other words, I stink at it. I love to bake and do it often but my artistic skills line in being able to stay in the lines in a coloring book not in making elegant or gorgeous cookies lol. But you know what? They taste good. So make some of these cookies and go have a cookie exchange. Make some money so other parents don’t lose their children too soon.

The Linzer cookies came from Good Housekeeping. I like these because they use ground pecans instead of the typical ground almonds and you know me, I have to be different. I added almond extract though because I am a sad portrait of an addict. The sugar cookies came from food.com and the only thing I changed was to add extra of both the almond and vanilla extracts as well as an extra quarter cup of sugar. Plus I used a non stick cookie sheet and did fine without the use of parchment paper.

Raspberry Filled Linzer Cookies

  1. 8 ounces pecans
  2. 1/2 cup cornstarch
  3. 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temp
  4. 1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
  5. 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  6. 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
  7. 3/4 teaspoon salt
  8. 1 large egg
  9. 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  10. 3/4 cup seedless raspberry jam (obviously you can sub your favorite flavor)
  • In your food processor, pulse pecans and cornstarch until pecans are finely ground.
  • In large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and 1 cup powdered sugar until mixed. Increase speed to high; beat 2 minutes or until light and fluffy, occasionally scraping bowl. At medium speed, beat in vanilla, salt, and egg. Reduce speed to low; gradually beat in flour and pecan mixture just until blended, occasionally scraping bowl.
  • Divide dough into 4 equal pieces; flatten each into a disk.
  • Wrap each with plastic wrap and refrigerate 4 to 5 hours or until dough is firm enough to roll.
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Remove 1 dough round from the fridge; let stand 10 to 15 minutes at room temperature for easier rolling, unless you’re really looking for an arm workout.
  • This dough is very very soft if not chilled well so do NOT however let it get too “unchilled” or it it will stick to your cutters, your counter, your clothes. Please don’t ask how I know this.
  • On lightly floured surface, with floured rolling pin, roll dough 1/8 inch thick.
  • With floured 21/4-inch fluted round, plain round, or holiday-shaped cookie cutter, cut dough into as many cookies as possible. With floured 1- to 11/4-inch fluted round, plain round, or holiday-shaped cookie cutter, cut out centers from half of cookies. Wrap and refrigerate trimmings. With lightly floured spatula, carefully place cookies, 1 inch apart, on ungreased large cookie sheet.
  • Bake cookies 17 to 20 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough and trimmings.
  • When cookies are cool, sprinkle remaining 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar through sieve over cookies with cutout centers.
  • In small bowl, stir jam with fork until smooth. Spread scant measuring teaspoon jam on top of whole cookies; place cutout cookies on top. Store cookies, with waxed paper between layers, in tightly covered container at room temperature up to 1 week or in freezer up to 2 months. (If cookies are stored in freezer, you may need to sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar again before serving.)

Iced Sugar Cookies
  1. 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  2. 1 1/4 cup sugar
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  5. 1 teaspoon almond extract
  6. 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  7. 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  8. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  9. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  10. FROSTING-
  11. 2 cup SIFTED powdered sugar
  12. 1 tablespoon (or more; I ended up with a full 3 tablespoons) milk
  13. 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  14. 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • In a large bowl, combine the butter with the sugar, eggs and extracts. Beat on high speed until light and fluffy
  • In another smaller bowl, mix together your dry ingredients (not the frosting ones of course…just making sure to cover that 😛 )
  • Stir the dry ingredients into all that buttery goodness.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic or put into gallon sized baggies and refrigerate this for at least 2 hours.
  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. I actually did mine at 375 because in the past, I have just found that anything above that for most cookies leads to burned edges.
  • On a lightly floured board or counter, roll out dough to about a 1/4 inch thickness
  • Cut into nice Christmasy shapes. Do at least ONE Christmas tree… because I said you have to. It’s the law.
  • Put 2 inches apart on either a parchment sheet lined cookie sheet or a non stick one.
  • Bake until firm and very lightly browned around the edges, about 4 to 6 minutes if you do it at 400 or about 10 at 375.
  • Let cool COMPLETELY before icing.
  • For frosting, mix together the powdered sugar with the tablespoon milk (don’t add more yet; wait to see if it needs it until after you’ve added the other ingredients).
  • Beat in the corn syrup and extract; keep beating until smooth and shiny. NOW add more milk if it is too thick for spreading.
  • The easiest way to frost the cookies is just to dip them in the icing. Let the excess drip off.
  • Decorate them while the frosting is still wet so that whatever sprinkles you put on will stick. This dries hard so you won’t be able to do that if you wait.
As part of a Tastemaker Program with Foodbuzz, as a Featured Publisher, I received a Baking Kit with baking supplies from The Glad Company to use while making cookies for The Cookies For Kids Cancer Cookie Exchange as well as a stipend to cover costs.
Remember, go to www.facebook.com/glad to host your own virtual cookie exchange and/or go to http://www.cookiesforkidscancer.org to register a cookie sale or donate to help fund research helping Pediatric Cancer

Thank You For Being A Friend (Blogging World Is Awesome!)

It’s been an interesting week in the food blogging world. I have gone from being angry on behalf of some fellow bloggers to being amazed at the bonds that can tie together people who have never met and possibly never will. Let me backtrack a little.

Yesterday, I received an email (I will answer if you’re reading this! I just haven’t gotten to it yet!) that left me so very flattered. A lovely lady named Kris wrote and told me that she was starting a blog and that I had been one of her inspirations for doing so as I was one of the first blogs she had ever started reading. She then asked me for tips on blog etiquette. I was proud when she said that by watching me she already knew that one of the things you did was to give links back and make sure to say where you found your recipe

I found it ironic that she asked this now considering everything that has been happening in our little world in the last couple of weeks.
Most of you know that I am fairly new to the blogging world; at least the food side of it.  My blog isn’t even a year old yet. But not once have I been made to feel new or unwanted or not a part of the community. On the contrary, even when I had bad days and vented via my blog, I was virtually comforted by many friendly hands and hugs. Over the past almost 8 months, I feel as I have become part of a family. It’s one that stretches across thousands of miles and more than one continent.

Unfortunately, every family can be dysfunctional at times & have members who make it hard on the others. The last couple of weeks that has happened in our world. Yet again though, I have been warmed by seeing the responses of others.  When we all learned that a blogger we had known & trusted had been living a lie with her blog for over two years, when we saw more members of the family this week get recipes stolen from them… the whole community had each others backs. NEVER before had I seen the cohesion, the pure warmth and spirit, the feeling of friendship that I have seen in the blogging world in the last weeks.

So, I just wanted to say thank you. To you and you and you and you and yes, even you hiding there in the corner. And especially YOU… the person who was willing to put your neck on the line & take care of the foodie world like a virtual father. You all have my respect and admiration.

Thank you; all of you, for being my friend… thank you for being an examples to myself and bloggers even newer than I, thank you for making this community just that; a community, rather than letting the “bad apples” take over. Thank you for letting me be a part of the foodie world. Thank you for seeming to enjoy my warped sense of humor and my fattening recipes. Thank you for who each and every one of you is and the character you show and live. You are my heroes.

 

Cranberry Fun, Part two (Pithiest Title I Can Think Of Right Now)

Nothing to put with this to make it decorative *sobs*

November 22nd and it is 59 degrees out right now. What’s wrong with this picture? I know I live in Kentucky and all but even for here this is weird. I want cold weather, mannnnnn!!! Snow!! Avalanches! Blizzards! The need to use my wood stove and make a blazing “omg, this makes the pyromaniac in me happy” sort of fire.

But noooo, it’s 59 degrees and it’s supposed to get up to 67 today and 60ish on Thanksgiving. Mind you, it doesn’t seem that warm because it is also raining the proverbial cats and dogs and very dreary and depressing outside. At times actually, I am pretty sure it was raining Mastodons and Hippos it was coming down so hard. My driveway is totally flooded out. One of the joys of country living I guess hehe. Maybe I can conserve water and go out in my front yard nakkie butt, shampoo in hand and take my shower. Nahhhhh, the neighbors would be traumatized. Heck, I’D be traumatized. I close my eyes when looking at myself in the mirror. Makes it a bit hard to see what I’m doing, but I figure it’s safer for my mental and emotional health.

I. Need. Caffeine. Now.

Seven in the morning comes too darn early. Someone needs to pass a law saying that seven am can’t get here until say, noon. Better yet, that we are not allowed to do ANYTHING but sleep until noon and society as a whole doesn’t function until then. Who wants to go petition congress with me?!

In case it’s not obvious, I’m not in top form today 😛 Two nights of a whiny toddler and about 5 hours sleep between the two nights is taking a toll. My wit, such as it is, has taken a vacation. It’s in Bali right now… enjoying a warm breeze and a tropical drink ogling the shirtless men. I mean… um, darlin, if you’re reading this, it’s turning away from the shirtless men in abject horror that they would dare show me their naked rippling abs. Honest!

Hmm, might be time to move on now to the recipe for today.

I’m still in cranberry mode here and will be for one (maybe two) more recipe(s) after this. I mentioned yesterday my love for the cranberry sauce part of Thanksgiving dinner & that  carries over into other forms of cranberry adoration. The following is one of my favorites.

Have you ever had cranberry mustard? Maybe you bought some from the store and thought it was ok. If you’re like me, you did, thought it was decent but kind of…boring. Little too sweet but ok. Years back, that was me. I had tried I believe it was the cranberry mustard from Hickory Farms. It was ok. I liked it on turkey sandwiches but that was really all it was good for. The texture was rather thick and gelatinous. So when I ran across a recipe on Epicurious years back for home made cranberry mustard, I knew I had to try it. I am SO glad I did! This mustard is fantastic. Sweet with a definite cranberry flavor and DEFINITE mustard bite. This mustard has cojones! It is amazing on sandwiches made from leftover turkey, it is great as a pretzel dip, it’s pretty darn good just to stick your fingers into… not that I do that of course. Just know that YOU might want to.

This takes a little watching; it’s rather like making a fruit curd in how it’s done. Eggs, double boiler, yada yada yada. But it’s still easy so long as you don’t go walking away because even though the recipe says to stir (only) occasionally, if you don’t stir often…pretty much nonstop, it sticks. It UN sticks easily and I may just be paranoid but I just have never wanted to take the chance of it burning and going to waste.

If you like fruity mustards or have just wanted to try them, MAKE THIS! Set it out in a pretty bowl when you make Thanksgiving dinner. This is very rustic and hearty looking because it has whole mustard seeds and bits of cranberry in it. If you wanted it smoother, I don’t think pureeing it in the food processor after cooking it would be a problem, but I’ve always liked it as is. Have this with pretty much any meat, pretzels, as a glaze… so many ways.

Home Made Slightly Spicy Cranberry Mustard

  • 1 cup (3 ounces) dry mustard powder
  • 2 tablespoons whole mustard seeds
  • 1 cup raspberry vinegar (this recipe is why I had leftover raspberry vinegar to use in yesterdays cranberry sauce)
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (I have subbed bottled before and it’s fine)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper (I have actually never used the pepper)
  1. Mix dry mustard and mustard seeds in a bowl. Whisk in the raspberry vinegar. Cover and let mixture sit overnight. I have let it sit only about 4 hours when I’ve been in a hurry & it works fine. You just need to give the mustard seeds time to soften up is all.
  2. Blend cranberries in a food processor until finely chopped.
  3. Whisk sugar and eggs in a medium metal bowl to blend.
  4. Whisk in mustard mixture, cranberries, lemon juice, honey and salt (and pepper if using).
  5. Set bowl over a pot of simmering water and cook until thick and temperature is 180 degrees, about 45 minutes (at least according to the original recipe. It’s never taken longer than 20 to 23 minutes or so when I’ve done it.)
  6. Cool mustard to room temp. Cover and chill at least one day to allow flavors to blend. If you taste it fresh, it’s going to taste good but VERY intense. The resting time mellows it quite nicely.

Not Yo Momma’s Cranberry Sauce

When it comes to holiday meals, especially Thanksgiving, I have a hard time choosing what I like best. I’m one of those people who, while I normally have the worlds worst appetite and usually have to be forced to eat (go figure… a food blogger who likes to cook but not to eat), loves Thanksgiving dinner and all the different parts of it. Mind you, I don’t actually EAT much of it the day I cook it because I’m too burnt out from cooking the food. But leftovers and I? We’re BFF’s big time.

When it comes to the poultry, I love all of them…. as I am eating them. I eat roast chicken, it’s my favorite. When I eat roast duck, IT’S my favorite. When I am gnawing on the tail of the turkey (don’t judge… it’s tasty. Plus it makes me smile when I eat it and remember how every year my dad would ask for the tail saying “Hon, save that for me. I’m wanting a little bit of tail right now” followed by a lewd snicker. 😛 ), it becomes my favorite.

When I eat stuffing, I love that even though I don’t eat it much the rest of the year. Stove Top and I are NOT BFF’s and I’m too lazy to make homemade except on Thanksgiving.

I mentioned last post my love for sweet taters buried under a pound or five of mini marshmallows.

Mashed potatoes with approximately 37 sticks of butter in them? Yep… love them too.

But I think my favorite part of the meal may just be the cranberry sauce. I love the stuff. Canned and gelatinous with the ridge marks from the can on it, canned and with whole berries in it, home made and prepared with just berries, sugar and water, turned into chutney (one of my favorite ways of making it)… you name it, I’ll eat it… all of it… growling if you get too close and smacking any appendages that venture too near to my bowl of saucy Heaven.

Though I love it plain, I rarely make it plain. It’s too much fun to play around with the basic recipe. Cranberry sauce takes so well to other flavors. Add different fruits, add spices, extracts, booze, trees, raw offal (just making sure you’re paying attention again) and it tastes delicious. So, being me, aka the woman who can never ever follow a recipe, I never make it the same way twice.

I like to make it a few days ahead of time because it just gets better as the flavors have time to meld. So here’s the one we will be having this Thursday. If you’re wanting something a little different, give it a try. It’s sweet, tart, a little boozy :-P, spicy and just flat out delicious!

Brandy Spiked Spiced Cranberry Sauce

  • 1 12 ounce package fresh cranberries
  • 1 small tangerine, finely ground up in a food processor (peel and all)
  • 1/4 cup (give or take; however much you want to add ) orange marmalade
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup brandy (you could sub whiskey or Grand Marnier)
  • 3 tablespoons raspberry vinegar (cider vinegar would work but I’m doing something tomorrow with raspberry vinegar so just go buy some 😛 )
  • 1 5 ounce bag dried cherries
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Mix all ingredients in a medium heavy bottomed saucepan
  2. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat when it boils and continue cooking until the berries pop. If you want a thicker sauce (I like it a little juicy so that when I serve it with turkey, the liquids run into and flavor everything else but I’m weird that way), cook longer until the liquid reduces down some
  3. Chill for at least 4 hours.
  4. Store tightly covered in the fridge until ready to serve. It can be stored for up to 2 weeks or so.

Yes, You MUST Have Marshmallows…

 

 

This TASTES 9000 times better than my horrid photo attests to. Like I said, use GOOD quality sweet potatoes, not cheap ones. Mine just looks like a casserole dish of caramel sauce covered in marshmallows lol

When you have sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving, you HAVE to have marshmallows on top of them. I am pretty sure it’s the law in all 50 states as well as 492 small countries, all 7 continents and the planets surrounding Earth (this includes Pluto because it IS a planet darn it no one will ever make me say otherwise!)

Sorry… tangent there. Erhmmmm… where were we? *Rewinds head cassette* Yes btw, my head works on cassette. I’m old. Be glad I don’t rewind my mind via 8 track tape or 78 rpm albums. We’d be here all day. I mean… you DO rewind your brain don’t you? Or am I the only one special enough for that?

I just went into tangent mode again didn’t I? Sigh. Well, we’re used to that, you and I. Aren’t we? I was thinking that….

ARGHHHH!! Marshmallows Janet! Marshmallows!

As I was saying about three pages ago before I got distracted… ooo, shiny things! , marshmallows are the law on top of sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving. If not, there SHOULD be a law and I may just go petition congress on this issue. If for no other reason than they look pretty on top of them, all toasty and gooey. One can never have enough gooey.

I normally make the typical sweet potato casserole on Thanksgiving. You know the one. Brown sugar and butter mixed with either fresh cooked or canned (depends on my time constraints) sweet potatoes, then covered in a bag or so of mini marshmallows. Everyone then eats it and falls immediately into a diabetic coma even if they aren’t diabetics. (And yes, I know sugar doesn’t cause diabetes contrary to popular legend. Literary license here people… if we can call anything I do literary… or even literate.) The only thing I do differently is to add unsweetened crushed pineapple to mine because it adds a nice tart taste and kind of gives it a sweet potato/pineapple upside down cake taste.

But in planning to post that one for you, I came across a recipe for sweet potato casserole that while basically the same, had enough difference to make it worth trying. And it had marshmallows on it! Though I suppose if you are really strange and in massive need of marshmallow haters rehab, you could leave them off.

This has sweet potatoes as well as apples all smothered in a caramelly sauce, then baked and topped with marshmallows. This was really quite good. The apples add that tart flavor that I crave when I eat the very sweet sweet potatoes and marshmallows. The original recipe came from
Just Get off Your Butt And Bake and her photo is much much prettier than mine. The blog is great; go give it a look if you never have! I didn’t change her recipe much at all. Just swapped out cream for some of the water and used some spices in it and also increased it some because I live with gluttonous pigs aka teen males :-P. Otherwise, this is all hers. If you make this, I suggest using a good quality canned sweet potato if using canned. The ones I used were from a low cost chain; the kind that specializes in bulk buy and while the casserole TASTED delicious, the sweet potatoes were so overly processed in the can that they practically dissolved into the casserole as it cooked and it really didn’t have any nice chunks in it. Thus why you are only getting a photo of the casserole as a whole lol; not of individual servings 😛 .

So if you’re wanting something traditional yet not quite, give this a try. Sweet tart apples, tender sweet potatoes, caramel sauce and marshmallows all combine to make this yummy to the max!

Apple & Sweet Potato Casserole

(Covered In Gooey Marshmallows Cause I’m Not A Law Breaker)

  • 3 15 ounce cans sweet potatoes (or about half a dozen fresh ones, cooked, peeled then cut into chunks)
  • 4 tart apples such as Granny Smith, sliced thick (I used an apple corer & didn’t bother peeling them)
  • 2 1/3 cups boiling water
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream (brought to boiling with the water)
  • 1 cup Brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
  • 4 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  1. Mix the brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, salt & nutmeg with the cornstarch in a large measuring cup & blend well. Add the water/cream mixture to the sugar.
  2. Mix until well blended. Microwave at full power for about five minutes, taking out and stirring every minute, or until the sauce has thickened and is translucent.
  3. Combine the apples and sweet potatoes in a large greased baking dish (mine is a 2 quart ceramic dish)
  4. Pour the glaze over the yams and the apples.
  5. Bake for 1 hour at 300 degrees, or until the apples are tender.
  6. Sprinkle the marshmallows on top and broil until the yummy marshmallows that are totally legal are nicely browned. Do not NOT use them or I WILL call the law on you.
  7. Eat. Enjoy. Buy more marshmallows.

Baking Therapy

Ever have one of “THOSE” days? Maybe you know the kind I mean.

You get up with a headache… keep forgetting to make yourself a cup of tea or take pain meds (coffee maybe for you strange people) because every time you think of it, something distracts you…like the washer refusing to spin for the 679th time in a week, one of the kittens you kindly let in from the cold last night has pooped all over the floor… twice, the spider your husband kindly killed for you this morning left parts of it’s guts on a book… that you just picked up.

Then you get a call from the garbage company. You are informed that they can no longer do household service for your garbage because your neighbor, from whom you have legal easement to get to your own property, has decided she is going to refuse to let the garbage truck go on the road to get to our property. This means that rain or shine, hot or cold, you will have to cart your garbage 1/4 mile to the road every Thursday night. When asked politely later in the day (honest… I was polite; it’s the only way I COULD be and not hate myself. I even brought her muffins) why she didn’t just talk to you first before calling the garbage company and complaining, you find out that she basically holds a grudge against you because you aren’t family. They were the ones you bought your home from a few months ago and she is resentful that they moved and that SHE didn’t get the house.

Then, to add a little insult to injury, you bite your tongue…drinking that tea you finally made. Which makes you spill it on your shirt and teaches your three year old a new swear word… which he uses when the mail lady is kindly bringing your mail to your front door.

THEN… what; you thought that was it?? Silly you. THEN…. when you check online to see when the package you were expecting from Foodbuzz that was supposed to get delivered today is on it’s way, only to have them tell you that they delivered it at 12:52 this afternoon. While you were here … with a perfect view of the front porch they ostensibly left it on.

So what’s left to do after a day like that?

Baking therapy.

The only thing other than valium and a few stiff drinks that is going to calm you down and give you a few moments of peace. Well, that and Vivaldi playing in the background.

So I baked. Just for you, dear reader. Ok, so it was for me, but it makes me feel better if I tell you that it was all for your pleasure. I made muffins. Two batches, because the first gotten eaten up by the kids and the neighbor you brought them to. They are quite yummy if I do say so myself. Though a little tip if somehow you were in my brain and were going to try something that I tried. Do NOT, I repeat, do NOT, drizzle said muffins with honey BEFORE baking. It makes them spread in a very unattractive way and they get glued to the pan. Yeah, even the baking was part of “the day”. Thank God I made some of them without putting the topping on before baking them. They may not look exciting but they also don’t look like spread out cookies.

These are Cranberry Orange Marmalade. Not cranberry/orange but made with cranberry sauce and orange marmalade as well as juice and zest. They have a depth of flavor that regulr cranberry orange ones don’t have thanks to the sauce and the jam. These would be a perfect extra bread for Thanksgiving or to give to neighbors you don’t really care for but want to keep decent relations with because you know it’s the right thing to do (even if she DID keep my plate) if you have someone who doesn’t like the normal yeast roll. Or just because they are fitting for the season and rather festive tasting. Yes, something can taste festive. Don’t judge me. Just go make muffins. And… she says while smiling like a Wal Mart Door Greeter … have a nice day.

Cranberry Orange Marmalade Muffins

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 2/3 cup orange juice concentrate
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup orange marmalade
  • 1/4 cup whole berry cranberry sauce (home made or canned)
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds for sprinkling on muffins
  • honey for drizzling (AFTER baking 😛 )
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line 16 muffin cups.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and the orange zest.
  3. In another bowl, combine all the wet ingredients.
  4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ones in all at once. Stir with a fork just until combined. Don’t over beat.
  5. Fill muffin cup 3/4 full. Sprinkle with almonds
  6. Bake at 350 until tops are firm and golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes depending on how temperamental your oven is.
  7. Let cool in pan for a minute then turn out onto a rack to finish cooling.
  8. When you put them on the rack, drizzle them with the honey.
  9. Eat. Enjoy. Give some to your neighbors
  10. Smile like the Wal Mart Greeter.

 

You Put Da lime In Da Coconut And Shake It All Up

Hello everybody! Are we all in our places with bright shining faces? Wearing your pearls, makeup and high heels while listening to Mozart as you get ready to make something delicious?

If you are, you are quite possibly on the wrong blog page. Because here, I am in sweats and a t-shirt with no make up on (I’m honestly not sure if I even own any anymore) listening to The Backstreet Boys (Hey! Don’t judge. You can’t tell me you never listen to bubble gum music. Ok, so maybe I’m the only one listening to BSB’s. Still; don’t judge. I’ll cry. And make you eat liver. Or cows tongue.) Erhmmm, sir, does your wife know that you have on her pearls and high heels? I REALLY think you’re on the wrong blog page (*brain bleaches self*)

But I HAVE been cooking something delicious. Can you smell that? That lovely smell of the tropics coming at you from my kitchen? Well, sniff harder darn it! Because it’s there. yeah; there. Oh yeahhhhh… right thereeeee.

Sorry; got distracted for a moment.

Moving on. Wanna know where that smell is coming from? I made muffins! Lovely lime and coconut flavored muffins.

I was contacted recently by the lovely Miranda who was representing the company that makes Melt Buttery Spread and offered some samples of their product and the chance to make something yummy and review Melt™   (buahahahahaaaaa… the power. The poooooooowwwwwwwerrrrrr!. Sorry. I’m fine now.).

I of course said yes after looking at their site because the product sounded delicious. Melt is an organic alternative to butter  made with Virgin Coconut Oil, Flaxseed Oil, Palm Fruit Oil and a few other goodies. Talk about healthy! Flaxseed oil is so good for you and coconut oil is something very representative of the “good fats”. So Melt Buttery Spread is great if you’re trying to watch your weight or cut your cholesterol. Before cooking with it, I tried it on a slice of crusty French bread and it’s pretty darn good. You can definitely taste the coconut oil and anyone who has been following my blog knows I love me some coconut oil.

 

Here are a couple of links from them to go check out. http://www.meltbutteryspread.com/virgin-coconut-oil/ and http://www.meltbutteryspread.com/butter-substitute/

I wanted to make something sweet (go figure huh?) and I wanted something that used the Melt Buttery Spread  in a melted state because a lot of times butter subs don’t work well when baking. So I decided on muffins. Many muffins use either melted butter or vegetable oil so I knew I could sub Melt easily.

One muffin I’ve been making for years is a Lime Coconut one I adapted heavily from one that is on food.com.  These are moist and delicious and smell as fantastic as they taste. I use coconut milk in them (am I the only one who has to force myself to not just stick a straw in the coconut milk can, slurp away and then lick the insides of the can clean?? You’re judging me again aren’t you? Sigh.) which gives them suchhhh a good taste.

The Melt went wonderfully in these due to it’s own ingredients. Like I said, you can taste the coconut oil in the Melt so making something tropical is a natural fit. So give these muffins a try. They’re a quickly made treat. May not be fancy but oh my do they taste great! They’re perfect for breakfast or a light dessert. Then go to the Melt site and check them out. Good stuff!

Tropical Lime Coconut Muffins

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup Melt Buttery Spread, melted
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon lime zest (I didn’t realize I was out of limes so I subbed  1/4 teaspoon lime oil; worked fine.)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coconut extract
  • 1 teaspoon rum extract (optional but adds nice flavor)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin or line with paper liners.
  2. In a a large bowl, combine your dry ingredients, including the lime zest.
  3. In another bowl, combine your wet ingredients.
  4. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ones. Mix with a fork until JUST combined. Never over beat muffins or you end up with a tough tunnel filled mess.
  5. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full.  Bake at 375 degrees until tops are nicely browned and firm to the touch.
  6. Let cool in pan for a minute then turn onto wire rack to finish cooling.

Got Milk….Erhmmm… Eggnog?

You know how everyone waits for the Thanksgiving/Christmas/Holiday season? How people sing cheerful songs all day long and are all happy and everyone gives everybody else big hugs and makes cookies and candy and goodies to give to charities and begin to lead lives of voluntary poverty so that they can help others? Then, to make it even better, they all give home made gifts that are just oozing with love and seasonal chipperness?

Yeah… me neither. But it sounds really good doesn’t it?

That’s why I don’t wait for any of those things. The cynic in me won’t let me. I HOPE for it, I try to live it (except for that home made gift thing. I suck at crafts. You’d be better off getting a “Turkey Hand” from my 3 year old.) but I don’t expect it.

What I do expect however is Eggnog. Yep; eggnog. I cringe when I see stores setting up Christmas decorations/supplies/foods the day after Halloween ( or before in many cases) but I am that person standing in front of the dairy case leaving behind copious amounts of drool when I see them stocking up the refrigerated eggnog. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know; I could make home made eggnog and it would taste different better and would be fresher and not have preservatives. Yada yada yada. I LIKE preservatives. They are why I am 47 and have the skin of a 10 year old in old pictures of me taken when I was 5. I LIKE that fake overly thick texture that clogs up your arteries  throat and leaves you needing a drink of water. It’s yummy darn it! Yummy I say! Go… right now. Drink a gallon or six of eggnog and tell me that you don’t feel all bloated Christmasy and happy.

Seriously. I love the stuff. Wait all year for it. Well, that and Culvers Pumpkin Pie Shakes.

I also like to use it in baking. It is great in cookies and fudge and pot roasts* and cakes and muffins and sushi*. It gives everything a great flavor and starts them doing all that chipper singing and s***.

I was going to make eggnog muffins today and I still may do that in the near future. Any excuse to get my eggnog fix. But as I was pulling out ingredients I decided that I wanted to do something different. Yeah, I know. Me. Something different. Whoda thunk it? I also wanted to make something that was easy and quick so that it was a treat you could make on the fly and add to goody trays without having to put a lot of time into it. So the following cupcakes are what I came up with. Yes, they use boxed cake mix. Shoot me. I said when I made this blog that I was NOT the type to turn up my nose at convenience products. IF they are good. And the majority of cake mixes these days are pretty freaking good.

So give these a try. They are amazingly simple. They are also moist and tender with the flavor of spice and eggnog and the frosting puts them over the eggnoggy (yes, that is now a word. I said so.) top. Then put a straw in the bottle of eggnog and slurp away. I won’t judge. Laugh maybe, but not judge.

Eggnog Spice Cupcakes With Eggnog Buttercream

  • 1 box Duncan Hines Spice Cake Mix (use a white or yellow cake and increase the spices by half if you want a cake with more eggnog flavor and less spice cake flavor.)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon rum extract
  • 1 1/3 cups refrigerated eggnog
  • 1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • Buttercream frosting-
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 6 tablespoons eggnog (may take more or less; add slowly)
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line 21 cupcake tins with liners or grease well.
  2. Beat all the cupcake ingredients in a large bowl for five minutes until well blended and creamy. Stick a finger in there and taste it, then worry about Salmonella.
  3. Bake at 350 until cupcakes are cooked through, about20 minutes. Tops should be browned and spring back when lightly touched.
  4. Cool in pan for a minute or two then turn out onto a rack to finish cooling.
  5. While they cool, make frosting.
  6. Beat all frosting ingredients in a large bowl until well mixed, creamy and the grittiness of the powdered sugar is gone. This will take about 8 minutes or so. Add the powdered sugar slowly. If too thin, add a bit more sugar. If too thick, add more egggnog.
  7. Frost. Eat. Moan in eggnoggy ecstasy.

*You don’t really think I use it in pot roast and sushi do you? Geez, I draw the line SOMEWHERE! Nobody in their right mind would use it in sushi…… just in the sushi dipping sauce 😛

Oui Oui Monsieur and Madame!

 

You must read this whole post in a very bad cartoonish French accent. Unless of course, you are French or French Canadian in which case I would appreciate you trying to read this in  sayyyyyy, a Russian accent, just to shake things up a little. Of course, if you can manage an Antarctic accent, I’d REALLY be impressed. Mind you, I have no Earthly idea what that would sound like (Polar Bear maybe?) but that’s what would make it impressive.

I know y’all are used to coming here for decadent treats and things that make you fat just reading about them but every once in a while I like to post something different. If for no other reason than to make you cry. I mean, if for no other reason than to prove I can.

Having been a foodie for years if not a food blogger, there aren’t a whole lots of foods I haven’t tried. Ok, so I haven’t tried Fugu and I never will. Nor have I had Caviar… again by choice. And while I bought a bottle of Truffle Oil a few months back, I haven’t used it yet because I can’t get past the fact that it smells like old gym shoes one would find in a teenage boys locker. But you know what I mean. At 47, I’ve eaten a lot of different foods.

But one I had never tried until now was Cassoulet. I had read nine gazillion recipes for it, had seen it on menus, had heard others talk about it here and there, but had never made it or eaten it. I think I was scared off by the recipes that usually had 322 directions and 58 ingredients. It just seemed too much trouble. And I won’t lie. For all that this is considered “French Peasant Food” by many, aka NOT the kind of food one would find in a fancy restaurant, but one one would find in the homes of the locals, it WAS a bit of work. One pot meal? Yes. One pot to prep? No. Plus lots of step by step prep work. As for the taste, read the recipe, see if you want to make it yourself and then scroll down for MY opinion of cassoulet.

So now I can say I have had cassoulet. I can also add it to my repertoire of foods I have cooked. So, if like me, you always thought it was too much trouble, give it a try. Let me know what you think of this famous dish.

French Cassoulet

Chicken
1 cup Kosher salt or 1/2 cup table salt
1 cup Granulated sugar
10 bone in chicken thighs (about 3 1/2 pounds), skin and excess fat removed
Topping
6 slices High-quality sandwich bread , cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 3 cups)
3 tablespoons Unsalted butter , melted
Beans
1 pound Dried flageolet beans or Great Northern beans, picked over and rinsed
1 Medium onion , peeled and left whole
1 Medium head garlic , outer papery skin removed and top 1/2 inch sliced off
1 teaspoon Table salt
1/2 teaspoon Ground black pepper
6 slices Bacon (about 6 ounces), chopped medium
1 pound Boneless pork loin roast (blade-end), trimmed of excess fat and silver skin and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 Small onion , chopped fine
2 Medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes , drained
1 tablespoon Tomato paste
1 sprig Fresh thyme ( I subbed 1 teaspoon dried)
1 Bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon Ground cloves
Ground black pepper
3 1/2 cups Chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cup Dry white wine (I used a dry Riesling)
1/2 pound Kielbasa sausage , halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch slices

1. Brining the Chicken: In gallon-sized zipper-lock plastic bag, dissolve salt and sugar in 1 quart cold water. Add chicken, pressing out as much air as possible; seal and refrigerate until fully seasoned, about 1 hour. Remove chicken from brine, rinse thoroughly under cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. Refrigerate until ready to use.

2. Preparing the Topping: While chicken is brining, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position; preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix bread crumbs and butter in small baking dish. Bake, tossing occasionally, until light golden brown and crisp, 8 to 12 minutes. Cool to room temperature; set aside.

3. Bring the beans, whole onion, garlic head, salt, pepper and 8 cups water to a boil in a stockpot or Dutch oven over high heat.Turn your oven off for now. You won’t need it for a while.

4. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the beans are almost fully tender, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. Drain the beans and discard the onion and garlic.

5. While the beans are cooking, fry the bacon in a Dutch oven over medium heat until just beginning to crisp and most of the fat has rendered, 5 to 6 minutes.

6. Using a slotted spoon, add half of the bacon to the pot with the beans; transfer the remaining bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Increase the heat to medium-high; when the bacon fat is shimmering, add half of the chicken thighs, fleshy-side down; cook until lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes.

7. Using tongs, turn chicken pieces and cook until lightly browned on second side, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to large plate; repeat with remaining thighs and set aside. Drain off all but 2 tablespoons fat from pot.

8. Return pot to medium heat; add pork pieces and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add chopped onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add minced garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme, bay leaf, cloves, and pepper to taste; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

9. Stir in chicken broth and wine, scraping up browned bits off bottom of pot with wooden spoon. Submerge the chicken in the pot, adding any accumulated juices. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer about 40 minutes.

10. Remove the cover and continue to simmer until the chicken and pork are fully tender, 20 to 30 minutes more.  Preheat your oven to 425.

11.  Gently stir the kielbasa, drained beans and reserved bacon into the pot with the chicken and pork; remove and discard the thyme and bay leaf and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the croutons evenly over the surface and bake at 425, uncovered, until the flavors have melded and the croutons are deep golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes and serve.

Now for what I thought of it.  Whenever it’s a recipe I haven’t made up or adapted to my own likes, I like to say what I thought of it and since I made this by the recipe, here you go.

Brutal honesty? I don’t think I’ll be making this again. It was a lot of work to make for a dish that to be honest, had very little flavor. I found myself wanting to dump a cup of Franks Red Hot Sauce on it. Not for the heat, but to give this a little pizzazz. I know it’s SUPPOSED to be fairly plain standard country food but it was just…. bland. The meat was wonderfully tender, the beans were fine so each separate component was good but put together the sum of the WHOLE didn’t equal the sum of the PARTS in this case.

So I can say I have tried cassoulet. It wasn’t horrible by any means… but I guess I just like foods with more layers of flavor. But please… give this a try! You aren’t me and you may love it!