Monday, December 20, 2010

Soft Molasses Cookies

I posted the recipe for these a few years ago.  I think it's worthy of a repost.  They are a great old-fashioned-cookie addition to anyone's holiday baking arsenal.

Soft Molasses Cookies (King Arthur Flour Recipe)

1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 c molasses
1/3 c dark rum
5 tbsps butter
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 c king arthur unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp ginger

Step #1 Whisk together the flour, spices, salt & baking soda, & set aside.
Step #2 In a large bowl, beat together the butter & sugar, then beat in the molasses.
Step #3 Add the dry ingredients alternately with the rum.
Step #4 Using a cookie or muffin scoop, scoop out round balls of dough somewhere in size between a ping-pong ball & a golf ball, & place the balls on a parchment-lined or lightly greased baking sheet.
Step #5 Bake the cookies in a preheated 375°F oven for 11 to 12 mins, until they crack on top but haven't yet browned around the edges.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Roast Turkey

I made a really great turkey this year.  I don't have a single photo to prove it, but I finally got the cooking process down to exactly how I want it.

I start by brining the turkey with a jar of Turkey Brine from Williams Sonoma.  I follow the directions on the label (using the apple cider variation). 

As far as roasting it after brining:

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.  Place the turkey in a large roasting pan. Using kitchen twine, tie the legs together. Drizzle the turkey with olive oil and rub it into the skin.  Roast the turkey for 30 minutes at 500 then decrease oven temp to 325 degrees.  Continue to roast to at least 160 degrees F in the thickest part of the breast, about 3-3 1/2 hours for an 18 lb. turkey (the size I typically get). If the skin starts to get too dark during roasting, tent with foil.  I always wrap the wings in foil so they don't get too dark, then uncover them during the last 30 mins. to 1 hr. to let them brown along with the rest of the bird.  I no longer put the stuffing in the bird, but instead bake it in a separate pan.  Stick to the thermometer for checking if the turkey is done--it really helps keep you from overcooking the turkey!  After removing from the oven, allow the turkey to rest under a tent of foil or a large mixing bowl while you prepare your table/sides/etc (about an hour is fine).

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Beef Stew

1-1.5 lbs beef (or venison) stew meat
1 can/bottle Guinness
1/4 stick butter
1 onion (diced)
4 carrots (cut)
4 celery stalks (cut)
4 potatoes (cut)
8 mushrooms (quartered)
2 cups vegetable juice
1 large can crushed tomatoes (appx. 28 oz.)
1 teaspoon beef stock concentrate (or a boullion cube)
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon ground rosemary
salt and pepper to taste (I use about a teaspoon of each)

  • Toss the stew meat with just enough Guinness to coat it and allow to sit as you chop your vegetables.
  • Melt butter in skillet.  Saute onions.  Brown the stew meat.
  • In stock pot, put vegetable juice, crushed tomatoes, stock concentrate/boullion and spices on medium heat.  Allow to simmer.  Add meat and all vegetables except mushrooms (add them when the stew is close to done so they don't disintegrate).
  • Simmer for 2 hours (you can leave longer if you'd like, but I like my vegetables to keep a little bite so I leave it on the stove for less time).
  • Season and serve!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

My favorite pumpkin project of the year

Mini pumpkin
Black spray paint
Thick white paper
Black magic marker
Red paint and thin brush or toothpick (for mouth)
Black felt (I used glittery felt)
2 wooden skewers
Duct or packaging tape (to tape the eyes to the stem and the skewers to the back of the wings)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pumpkin fun

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Hot Chocolate Experiment, Attempt One

Two winters ago, I fell in love with Williams-Sonoma's hot chocolate.  I love good hot chocolate, but they really suckered me into purchasing it with their cutesy tin.  Then my family came to visit and I realized it took an entire $20 can of the stuff to serve our whole bunch (Dad may have had seconds...or thirds...).  So on and off for the next two years, I've grumbled about this--refusing to purchase more, yet wanting the rich hot chocolate.  What makes this particular type of hot chocolate so good is the fact that you're not using powdered cocoa, but milk and CHOCOLATE SHAVINGS!  I don't know about you, but when I want hot chocolate I want it to be rich!  I'm not trying to tone anything down or be healthy here, so proceed at your own risk.  Make it and let me know what you think!

Ridiculously Rich Hot Chocolate
makes 2 mugs

1 regular-sized chocolate bar (I used Hershey since I had it in my pantry)
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups milk

Break the chocolate bar into small pieces.  Put pieces and sweetened condensed milk in a medium saucepan.  Whisk ingredients until melted.  Use low heat so as not to scorch the chocolate or milk!  Add milk and continue to heat.  Stir very often to discourage the skin that forms on top of cooking milk.  Do not allow to fully boil.  Add vanilla extract and stir thoroughly.  

Pour into mugs and add marshmallows to serve (I put the marshmallows in the bottom and pour the hot chocolate over them so they melt more).

Friday, September 24, 2010

It's that time of year again...PUMPKIN MANIA!!!!!!!!!!

I  have to admit that I'm more a fan of pumpkins as decoration than food.  I'm just not a fan of pumpkin coffee, pumpkin beer or pumpkin muffins stuffed with pumpkin covered in pumpkin icing drizzled with pumpkin glaze.  However, I know I'm outnumbered.  And that's ok!!!  

Today it's difficult to write about fall, with the mercury climbing to about ninety degrees here in lovely Wheeling town.  But it's the time of year when I start thinking about what I'm going to do to decorate pumpkins for the season. 

I don't want to steal anyone's photos, so for now this post is a preview of things to come:
  • swiss cheese pumpkins with little mice
  • henna 'tattoo' pumpkins
  • spiderweb pumpkins
  • ribbon pumpkins
  • pumpkins decorated with upholstery tacks/hobnails
Now, for those of you who love your pumpkin foodstuffs, here is a link to a pumpkin puree recipe on a TERRIFIC food blog called Annie's Eats.  Even if you have no interest in making pumpkin puree, check out Annie's food blog.  It's really fantastic!

Some pics of my own from a couple autumns ago...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Monster Milkshakes

Eat Drink your fruits and vegetables!!!  This is still a treat--face it, there's more than a fair amount of sugar in it, but there's avocado hiding in here!!!

  • 2 avocados peeled and pitted
  • 1 cup vanilla milk (or plain milk if unable to get vanilla, just adjust sugar amount below)
  • 1 cup vanilla yogurt
  • 2 cups ice cubes
  • 2-4 tablespoons sugar
Puree in blender and feed to your little monsters.  Don't forget to save some for yourself!  It's pretty tasty if I do say so myself.  This recipe is a modified version of one found in Disney's Family Fun magazine.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

White Lies, part One (aka Falafel pretends to be chicken nuggets)

Parents know that trying to feed kids can be trying.  Sometimes trying to feed ourselves is trying!  We have dreams of our little people eating mountains of vegetables so we can be "that mom (or dad)" who gets to brag about our little asparagus-loving geniuses smiling for all the world to see.  Then those children morph into creatures who decide that the only foods on the planet are grilled cheese sandwiches and marshmallows.  Or beige food.  Or that vegetables are the equivalent of Anthrax.  Kids are great that way, aren't they?

There are books and shows and blogs and such popping up everywhere, all telling us how to sneak what our kids need to eat into the things that they WANT to eat.  When I first noticed this phenomenon, I thought "well, I'm never going to do that...I'm just going to teach my kids to eat right".  Nice theory.  I think what has been decided on in my house is that teaching and talking about healthy eating is important, but often enough, desperate times call for desperate measures. 

One of the things I really try to be sure is present in our foods is dietary fiber.  It helps you feel full (and can help with weight loss), is important for gastrointestinal health, helps regulate blood's just a really good thing.  And most of us don't get enough of it.  So, here is a "recipe" in which I get fiber into my and my little family's diet and trick my kids.  All at the same time.

All you need to do is this--go buy a box of falafel mix.  Blend ingredients as directed.  Then, coat your hands in olive oil and make little chicken-nugget-shaped patties.  Arrange them on a greased baking sheet.  Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes per side.  Fool your kids and giggle that you've just fed them ground chickpeas!  Eat them yourself because they're good for you, too!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Fruity Food Fun

Don't.  Play!  With!  Your!  Food!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Southwest Cider-Spiked Marinade

I have a tendency to throw different things together to make marinades or salad dressings.  Some aren't good enough to revisit--some are.  I use this one a lot, particularly for flank steak.  Today I'm using it for a London Broil.  My son, Grant, asked if he and his sister Sophia could ride trikes while I grill steak.  The terrible heatwave has broken (for at least the moment).  So:  Yes, my kidlets.  Yes, you can!!! I hope you enjoy this quick marinade as much as we do.

  • 1/2 cup oil (I used a canola oil blend)
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 3-5 tablespoons southwest seasoning (I have used Southwestern Dip Mix from Miller's Market in Romney, WV and Pampered Chef's Southwestern Seasoning Mix)
  • 1/2 large yellow or white onion, sliced into rings
Toss ingredients together and marinate meat for a few hours.  Grill the marinated meat as you like it (and grill the other half of the onion to serve with the meat).

Friday, July 23, 2010

Firehouse Breakfast (Egg Bake)

 This recipe was sent to me by my friend Kara (hi, Kara!!!).  The only change I made was omitting 1 teaspoon of garlic salt from the recipe.  This is fantastic and a great choice if you want something that is a little different than the usual egg breakfast bakes.  The consistency of this is like that of a quiche, but there is no actual crust.

-12 eggs, divided
-1 cup rice, cooked
-1 stick butter, melted
-16 oz. cottage cheese, small curd
-1 envelope Knorr Leek Soup mix
-1 teaspoon onion salt
-1/4 teaspoon black pepper
-1 package (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained & squeezed of excess water
-1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided

In a large bowl, beat 9 eggs, then add the cooked rice, melted butter, cottage cheese, soup mix, spices, drained spinach and mix together.

Sprinkle 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese on bottom of a 13x9" greased baking dish. Spread the rice and cottage cheese mixture in the dish. Beat the 3 remaining eggs and pour evenly over the top of the mixture. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese over mixture.

Cover and refrigerate overnight (I didn't have time to do this the first time I made it, and I just baked a few minutes longer). Remove from refrigerator 30 min. prior to baking. Bake uncovered at 325 degrees for 40-50 minutes. Cool 15-20 min. before cutting.

Serves 12

Monday, July 5, 2010

Cherry Almond Cookies

 For some reason, I decided I just had to have cherry almond cookies.  I couldn't find a recipe that was quite what I wanted.  Here's what I've come up with:

Cherry Almond Cookies
makes 6-7 dozen

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons hot water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup oat flour*
1/4 cup ground flax seed (can be omitted)
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup sliced almonds 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cream together butter and sugars until smooth.
  3. Beat in eggs, one at a time.
  4. Stir in almond extract.
  5. Dissolve baking soda in hot water.  Add baking soda/water and salt to batter.
  6. Stir in flours, flax seed, cherries and almonds.
  7. Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes in preheated oven, until cookie edges are lightly browned.
 *  Make oat flour by grinding oatmeal in the blender, then sifting out any leftover large pieces using a mesh colander.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Kids say the darnedest things...

I'm somewhat of a proper-grammar and spelling fanatic (please don't take that statement as an opportunity to dissect my blog-writing, hehe).  But there are a few things my kids say that are so cute I can not bring myself to correct them!!!
  • Pork Chops = "Fork" Chops
  • Backpack = "Pack-pack"
Is there anything your kids have said that you decided to wait a while to correct?  A while as in...maybe never?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Pecan Pie (aka: the only thing I accomplished today)

I've tried several different pecan pie recipes.  I've doctored, added and subtracted, then scratched my head and started over.  I think this is a good, solid recipe for a classic dessert.  Some things are just best kept pretty simple.  Try it and let me know if you agree!  I made a few tweaks to a recipe that claims to be that of The Camellia Grill in New Orleans

Pecan Pie
makes 2-9" deep-dish pies

10 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup salted butter, melted
2 cups light corn syrup
1/2 cup cane syrup*
2 1/2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 unbaked pie shells
2 cups pecan halves

1.  Beat eggs with a wire whisk (I use a stand mixer to make the pie filling).
2.  Add salt, butter, syrups, brown sugar and vanilla extract.  Blend well.
3.  Pour filling into pie shells (tip:  don't overfill crusts--leave room for pecan topping and for filling to bubble while baking).  Top with pecan halves.
4.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.

*more light corn syrup can be substituted for the cane syrup if unavailable

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Re-Introducing Myself...

I've recently been added as one of the bloggers linked to my hometown newspaper:  The Hampshire Review (thanks for having me, Sallie!).  This is exciting because it's another connection to my hometown of Romney, WV even though I now live with my two children in Wheeling (uh oh...the "other panhandle").  I'm the oldest of Royce and Sharon Saville's four kids (hi Mom, Dad, Ashley, Meagan and Philip!).  I don't get home as much as I'd like these days, but love where I had the good fortune to grow up.  I graduated from Hampshire High School in 1994.  I'm currently pursuing my masters of Criminal Justice at UMass.  I guess it's fair to call me a career student--I can't stay away.  I love to cook, knit, make my kids do things that generate good photos and try to wrangle an army of rescued dogs and cats.  You'll probably hear a little about all of that and then some.  Hope you find a neat tidbit to take away if you stop by to read for a bit. 

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Without a Net

I've had a hard time with food blogging because I'm not good at following recipes (or documenting what I do when I'm cooking, period). Do I love recipes? Yes! Do I use them as inspiration? Absolutely! But I often find myself in situations where I've made something that I think is memorable, but I'll have a little trouble telling anyone else how to recreate what I've done.  The biggest culprit is that I'm not good about measuring--I'm certain this is why I do so little baking.

Does this happen to anyone else?  Do you just throw things around the kitchen and can't necessarily nail it down into a follow-able recipe if asked to do so?

Green Beans and Zucchini with Sauce Vert from Bon Appetit

Green Beans and Zucchini with Sauce Vert

I followed this Bon Appetit recipe to a T. I'd absolutely make it again with no changes. BUT! It's nearing the start of zucchini AND squash harvesting in my little garden and I thought the zucchini absorbed the sauce vert flavor a little better than the green beans. So, I'll make it again with zucchini and squash spears, most likely.

The sauce is fantastic. The recipe says leftover sauce is good stirred into cous cous. I made a bowl of rice the other evening (Trader Joe's frozen--I am SO lazy sometimes for someone who loves to cook) and stirred some of the sauce in. Terrific! I'll be thinning some with olive oil as a marinade for chicken before grilling. I think it would make a great pasta sauce as well. Think pesto with more of a kick.

Roasted Fingerling Potato Salad from Bon Appetit

Roasted Fingerling Potato Salad from Bon Appetit

1. This gave me a huge "DUH" moment when it comes to roasting fingerling potatoes. Seriously people, follow the directions from this recipe. Each time. Every time!

2. I will just say no to tarragon the next time I make this recipe. I really don't care for the licorice-y taste and I didn't like the taste with roasted potatoes one little bit. The rest of this recipe really shined as good enough to think of a substitute. Next time I make this I'll be using fresh thyme.

Back to the kitchen

I'm going to be using this blog to log recipes I've tried and alterations I've made. Because let's face it--who cooks and doesn't mess with the recipe?