Friday, December 31, 2010

YOU: On A Diet

Anyone ever read this book.  I did a couple years ago and it completely made sense to me and my weight problem.  Problem was I wasn't ready to do anything about it then.  Am I now?  I don't know.  It's difficult to be so successful in most areas of one's life, but to have one that is so out of control.  It really makes me wonder why do I let it be out of control?  When there is something in my life I want to change I take the bull by the horns and make it work.  I've taken the weight issue on SO many times and failed every time.  Not failed at losing weight.  I always lose weight.  I fail in keeping it off.  Ten years ago I struggled for 2 years in keeping it off.  Then slowly it started to creep up on me.  I felt like I had locked myself in a room and it was filling with water.  Very slowly week by week a little more water seeped in.  Until one day I was at the ceiling gasping for breath and I finally unlocked the door and let myself out.  I was so overwhelmed with disappointment.  I felt like watching what I ate had became so oppressive.  I was following the Weight Watcher plan.  I vowed about 5 years ago that I would never sign up with Weight Watchers again.  Not that their plan doesn't work, but that it doesn't work for me.

So, I've spent the last 5 years doing absolutely nothing about my weight.  I've just been living fat, dumb and basically happy.  What has happened to make me want to change my status yet again?  I'm going to be doing some flying in the next couple years.  I swore last time I flew I wouldn't be so big. 

I took a flight to visit some friends a couple years ago.  I'm sitting in coach on the aisle and I barely fit in my seat.  I wasn't lapping over into another's seat, but I was one piece of cheesecake away from it.  I felt like I had to fold my arms the entire flight to keep myself in my seat.  I literally had to hug myself to keep me in my seat. 

Even though the 6'4" man to my left felt no qualms about lapping over into my seat.  He was a normal weight for his size.  Just a big man.  I felt sorry for him having to sit next to me.  Had I been a normal weight he'd have been more comfortable.  Well, as more comfortable as a man can who has 6 foot long legs stuffed into coach seating.

I've never given up on myself.  I always had hope that I'll one day gain control of my weight problem.  And when I say I'll gain control I mean me, myself and I.  No one is going to help me.  I've talked to the doctor in depth about this issue and basically being overweight is looked at as easy as putting on a cast for a broken leg.  I get the "just don't eat so much" look all the time.  If only it were that easy!  I heard the other day that 1/3rd of the population is overweight.  So, if it were that easy don't you think it would be done.

I do a lot of difficult things in my life.  Why should this be any easier?  My doctor did say that I'm almost over weight enough to qualify to have my stomach stapled.  I looked at her quizzically... and said, "Are you saying I need to gain more weight to qualify to have my stomach stapled?!"  Wow is that the easy out?  I was shocked, dumbfounded and grateful that I didn't qualify.  I have 2 people close to me that have had their stomachs stapled.  One sailed through the surgery and weight loss.  She vomits a lot to this day though.  She actually looks great and feels great.  The other friend nearly died more than once after the surgery, because of the surgery.  He looks terrible.  He's my husband's friend and a man, so I don't feel like I can quiz him on why he looks terrible.  Some of it may have nothing to do with stomach stapling and other health issues.

I just feel like for myself stomach stapling is just not an option.  Not that I don't think I'll escape the melted candle look, but because I feel like why chance surgery and a possible life time of vomiting.  Yet, if I don't do something complications from being overweight may very well kill me.

Last summer I bought the new revised "You:  On A Diet."  I haven't even cracked it open.  I've wanted to many times, but just haven't.  So, I've decided to challenge myself to read the book every day for 30 minutes until it's finished.  I can read more if I feel like it, but a minimum of 30 minutes is required.  I will start today.

I'm not saying I'm going ON a diet.  I'm just going to read the book and see what happens from there.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Meet George Jetson!

That is my text message ring tone.  I seldom hear it as I have my phone set up to vibrate twice before ringing.  It gives me a chance to pull my phone out and answer it before it makes a sound.  That all goes out the window if I'm asleep though.

Usually I turn my cell phone off at night.  I figure if anyone has an emergency in the middle of the night they can call my land line.  BUT if I have a family member, mainly my child, out of town I'll leave on the cell so they can call me... well you know teenagers... text me.

I didn't sleep well last night due to a creepy incident involving a light turning off by itself.  That's another story.  So, I was trying to sleep in today.  When at 7:30am I hear "Meet George Jetson!"  I roll over fumble around and look at my phone.  My dear daughter away on a skiing trip with friends has texted me "Are my snow pants in my room?"  I roll out of bed take a look and sure enough they are.  I also see her medical card laying on her bed I'm sure there to remind her to put it in her wallet.  Why was it out of her wallet?!  I just roll my eyes stumble back to bed and begin to text her back.  "Yes, you're snow pants are here."  I get a "Oh no!" response.  I don't respond with any solutions.  Why... I'm tired and really just want to go back to sleep.  Also she's on a trip with 6 friends and 2 grandparents.  I think they should figure this out themselves.  Really what can I do I'm 2 hours away if the weather is good.  4 if it isn't.  I get about 3 separate texts saying, "NOOOOOOO!!!" "I LAID THEM OUT AND EVERYTHING!" "I can't believe this!"  I figure she's fishing for a solution from me.  I finally text back "You'll figure something out."  I'm sure not what she wanted to hear.

Life is really about solving problems.  Staying calm and figuring out solutions.  This particular problem isn't serious.  Worst thing that can happen is she doesn't go skiing.  Or she does go and is cold.  Very very cold.  As a mother I'm good with that.  Lots of learning can come from this.  Learn how to pack.  She's always been a bad packer.  Leaves things behind nearly every trip.  Usually mundane things like PJs, underwear, tooth brush or hair brush to name a few.  This time she was going to have to solve a problem that could end her fun.

I remember being young and with a group of friends and having a problems.  Half the group thinks and says, "Sucks for you" and goes on with their day.  The other half helps to brain storm and we get it figured out.  That's exactly what happened with Dear Daughter.

I got a text "I'm going to have to rent some snow pants."  I sent her with plenty of money for contingencies.  A while later I receive a text "They don't rent snow pants."  30 minutes later "Snow pants are expensive here."  All the while I'm not answering.  I'm just imagining their brains ticking.  Thinking of solutions.  Then I get the final text "Found a pair of cheap snow pants."  I text back "That's my Deal Queen."  She's had a gift of getting things on sale for prices I'll never see ever since she made her first purchases at age 5.  I don't have the luck of the Deal Queen.

I figure she'll get some Christmas money and I'll have her reimburse me for the pants.  Another learning experience.  Mom will buy you only one pair of snow pants.  You pay for the rest.

At 10am I get this picture.  All must be right in the world again.  Now I can get some sleep!

Monday, December 20, 2010

My Friend Kelli's Peanut Butter Balls

When Kelli and I first met online we decided to have a cookie exchange for Christmas that year. That was about 15 years ago. Everything she sent was good, but one item was a stand out and I had never had anything like it. It was the Peanut Butter Ball. So, creamy, so peanutty, with a slight crunch from the peanut pieces. I loved them and had to have the recipe. She gladly sent it. I've been making them for 15 years. I've made them for friends and also passed the recipe on to delighted recipients on the West Coast.


Crunchy Peanut Butter Balls

1 cup butter
1 pound crunchy peanut butter
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 pound box of graham crackers, crushed (approx. 3 cups of crumbs)
dipping chocolate (milk or semi-sweet)

Combine butter, peanut butter, powdered sugar, and graham crackers until well mixed. Shape into balls. Melt chocolate and dip balls. Cool on waxed paper.  Makes about 80.

Lynne's note: I used 3 cups of semi sweet chocolate that is what I always have on hand. I add some grated paraffin wax to chocolate. About 1/8 of a stick. It's edible and smooths out the chocolate giving it a nice thin shiny coating. If that freaks you out try adding 1 T or so of shortening. Does a similar thing. I found not thinning out the chocolate gives the balls a thicker chocolate coating that overwhelms the flavor of the peanut butter filling. If you love chocolate and are thinking "thicker coating is a bad thing?!" Then leave it out and go for it.

Used cookie scoop for 1 inch ball size and rolled balls by hand to smooth out.

Dipped in chocolate that was melted in a double boiler.  If you don't have one melt chocolate in microwave 30 seconds at a time stirring after each 30 seconds until all chocolate is melted.  Reheat chocolate when it cools and doesn't cover peanut butter balls well.

Left over chocolate no problem throw in some pretzels, maraschino cherries, dried fruit.  Stir around until coated pour out on waxed paper to set.  Break up for another holiday treat.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Where Am I?

I've been busy machine knitting.  You can find me over at my machine knitting blog.  I did take the time last night to make up one of our favorite Christmas snacks.  It's very rich and sweet, so I like to make it when there are going to be a lot of people around to eat it.  That way we won't eat ourselves sick.  Yes, it's that good.

White Christmas Snack Mix


2 cups Chex® wheat, corn or rice cereal
2 cups broken graham crackers
2 cups pretzel sticks
2 cups broken rice cakes
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1 cup craisins
1 cup slivered almonds
1 pound white chocolate baking pieces or baking bars, chopped
1/3 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

In a very large mixing bowl, mix together cereal, graham crackers, pretzels, rice cakes, marshmallows, raisins and nuts; set aside. Line a very large baking sheet with waxed or parchment paper; set aside. Place white chocolate, whipping cream and corn syrup in medium saucepan. Heat over low heat until melted; remove from heat and stir gently until smooth. Stir in extract.
 
Pour warm chocolate mixture over cereal mixture. Toss gently until cereal mixture is coated. Immediately spread onto prepared baking sheet. Cool about 60 minutes or until chocolate is set. Let stand up to 12 hours. Seal in plastic bags for longer storage.
 
Lynne's note:  This I believe was a Chex recipe from the 90's.  This time though *looking over shoulder* I used Crispix cereal.  It has rice on one side and corn on the other.  I never can decided between corn or rice Chex.  The wheat is just too healthy for this mix.  I like to use Teddy Grahams instead of breaking up graham crackers.  When I bought the white chocolate it came in a 12 oz. bag, 4 oz. shy of what the recipe calls for.  I put a tad less cream in.  It worked out fine.  Just as rich and tasty.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Crocheting My Little Heart Out

It's like I'm possessed.  My daughter asked if I could make her a beanie with a brim.  I said sure.  I asked her to go on Ravelry and "favorite" hats she liked.  I then looked over the ones she picked and started with the one that had a free pattern.  Why not.  Well, I need a lot of hand holding while following a pattern and this patterns lacked some important details like stitch counts.  How many stitches are supposed to be in that row.  So, I returned to Ravelry to look for a pattern to buy that would have more details.  I found one.  Problem is my daughter and I really liked the colors from the first pattern.  It had a yarn that was doubled.  Black yarn with red to get a kind of tweedy look.

Using my purchased pattern I finally reduced my hook from a J to a G to get a hat that would fit on my head.  After all was said and done it still was a bit big.

After she wore it a few times it got bigger and bigger.  Finally, I asked her if I could have it and use it for my felting experiments?  She said yes.  I said I'd make her another hat.  I threw the hat into the washer on hot and out came a felted hat.  I shaped it back into a hat shape and put it on my head.  To my amazment it had shrunk down to the perfect size to fit a head, but now it didn't cover the ears.  So, the experiments continue.  I want to make one big enough to cover the ears after it's felted.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pulled In Many Directions

I have so many projects I want to finish, I want to start, I want to learn.  I'm just not a person to sit still and veg.  I have to have a project to do.  When I see friends and family state on facebook "I'm bored."  I don't even know what they are talking about.  I can always find something to do.  Boredom isn't in my realm of possibilities.

Right now I'm finishing up an afghan in a CAL on Ravelry.  I have a pattern for a hat that my daughter wants to learn how to crochet.  I have a pattern for some fingerless gloves I would love to start for myself since it's fricking cold out.  I've also challenged myself to learn some new techniques and patterns on my knitting machine.  Mainly socks since it's fricking cold out.  Yesterday, I was picking out cookie recipes to teach my young protégé.  Today I'm juggling finances so every thing is paid on time while I'm doing laundry.

When does someone have time to be bored?  I welcome a few minutes when I give myself permission to just sit and do absolutely nothing.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving With All The Trimmings

I've come to realize that "all the trimmings" means something different to everyone.  My daughter asked, "Would it be too weird to have Cheddar Potatoes Slices for Thanksgiving this year?"  My answer, "YES!"  It's going to be mashed potatoes.  What would one put the gravy on?  I, by the way, made the best turkey gravy I've ever made this year.  Then I was watching the Thanksgiving episode of "Mike & Molly," as he described the crispy cheddar cheese on scalloped potatoes for Thanksgiving.  I told my daughter, "Mike's got your back."

My daughter asked why would it be weird.  I said it really wouldn't be weird it just wouldn't be the Thanksgiving I look forward to every year.  I told her when she cooks Thanksgiving dinner she can serve whatever she wants.  I did say keep in mind you don't want a riot on that day, so you might want to have a few traditional foods.

Lynne's Thanksgiving with all the Trimmings
Turkey (big enough for leftovers for everyone)
Dressing
Mashed Potatoes
Gravy
Jellied Cranberry Sauce
Oven Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Big Green Salad
Pumpkin Pie
Apple Pie
Pecan Tassies

Lynne's note:

Best Turkey Gravy Ever

In the pan under a 25 pound turkey place roughly chopped celery, carrots and onions.  Add one quart of chicken broth.  Bake turkey covered with foil for half of it's baking time.  Remove foil and bake until turkey is done. Strain vegetables out of broth in bottom of turkey pan.  Skim fat off of broth.  Measure broth.  I had 6 cups.  To skillet add 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of flour per cup of broth reserved.  When butter is melted and flour incorporated add turkey broth.  Stir until thickened.  Add garlic powdered and Lawry's Season Salt to taste.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sniff Sniff Tear!

I received this email tonight thinking the train was back on.  I was sadly disappointed.

Dear Stitch ‘n Rider:


We regretfully announce that we will not hold Capitol Corridor’s annual “Stitch ‘n Ride” on-board event to Stitches West in 2011. In the five years that the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) staff ran this event, we have truly enjoyed accommodating the knitting/crocheting community and appreciate the support and loyalty you’ve shown us.


As you are well aware, state-funded services have taken quite a hit in the past two years and Capitol Corridor is not immune to the state’s economic crisis. As a result, our marketing dollars have to work harder for all of our promotions and we do not feel that we can create a quality experience with the limited budget we have for this event. Costs to charter a special, dedicated train, have also increased significantly, and we are unable to offer a reasonably-priced ticket as in the past. Another determining factor to consider was that many of the knitting businesses, which helped fill our Stitch ‘n Ride bags with the goodies you have come to expect, had to cut back on their donations due to the poor economy. In fact, many of those small businesses are now closed.


The CCJPA marketing team carefully considered many options to hold a Stitch ‘n Ride event, but none of these options would allow us the chance to bring you the caliber of event you’ve come to know and expect. Therefore, with heavy hearts we made the decision not to run a special train to the 2011 Stitches West conference. We are working on a possible discounted fare offer for our stitch ‘n riders and will post that information once the details are confirmed.


For those of you who rode our trains to Stitches West in years past, we hope you continue to use the Capitol Corridor as your travel option when traveling to the Santa Clara Convention Center or any other destination along our corridor. Knitters and crocheters are always welcome onboard our trains. We still offer regularly scheduled service to Great America Station in Santa Clara for Stitches West, although we will not have a special shuttle between the station and the convention center. We appreciate your support, your love of the Stitch ‘n Ride train and thank you for your loyalty and your understanding.


Sincerely,


The CCJPA Marketing Team

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Pepper Report


Pepper is the new puppy my parents got back in June.  He's doing well and as cute as ever.  My mom was a bit worried that he was so unruly.  Next to my grand dame Little Star, who is 8 years old he was quite the heathen.  I reminded my mom he's still a baby.  Don't worry about him.  He's right on track.  He still needs training, which she's doing.  Just keep it up and when we're here we'll help with the "don't nip my nose," "don't lick my eyeball," "stop scratching by neck," and my brother's favorite "stop punching me in the crotch."  He's learning more with every trip up there.

Pepper is learning to get along with my Little Star.  As you can see from this photo he's getting a healthy respect for her as he leans away from her.


He had to be held in the photo and with the quick jump out as with all babies.



They aren't the best of buds, but they do pal around in the yard.  Every now and then Pepper can't stand it and tries to jump on Little Star.  She gives him a gentle, but firm growl down.  He goes right into a submissive pose, which meets with Little Star's approval.  Then they continue their tour of the  2 1/2 acres.

Which way did she go?  Caught Pepper's ears in mid flight as she looked around for which way Little Star had gone through the garden.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Day That Warms A Mother's Heart

I get my heart warmed a lot with my kids, but Sunday was a particularly heart warming day.  My daughter belongs to a group at school called "Caring for Cancer Patients."  I thought it would be great to host a machine knitting day, so they could make Chemo Caps for donation.

My plan was to teach them to machine knit and to feed them.  Both went off without a hitch.  They all really enjoyed learning to machine knit.  They were very excited to have knitted hats themselves. 

While they were machine knitting I tried a new appetizer call Chile Relleno Bites.  Excellent Recipe.  The recipe is not kidding when it says "cool and cut into squares."  When fresh out of the oven my daughter couldn't wait and asked to dip in.  I said sure.  It was a gooey mess.  I suggested she scoop some out and eat it with tortilla chips.  She made a bowl for all her friends and it was great.  What was left in the pan actually cooled.  It cut up into beautiful squares that one could pick up and eat as the recipe intended.

Chile Relleno Bites


2 small cans diced green chiles
5 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
6 eggs, beaten well
1 dash Tabasco sauce


Preheat oven to 350. Spread the green chiles on the bottom of a 9x13 glass baking dish. Sprinkle cheese on top. Add the Tabasco sauce to the beaten eggs, and pour over the chiles and cheese. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Cool and cut into squares.


I also had dinner plans.  Thank goodness my son came home as I found out I couldn't make dinner and machine knit.  I had started dinner, but couldn't finish.  My son came home and asked, "Anything you need help with?"  What a nice son.  I said, "Yes, could you finish dinner?"  He jumped right in.

We were knitting and dinner smelled so good.  The teenagers couldn't wait to eat.  My friend that was over helping with the knitting couldn't wait to eat.  Next thing I knew Diana was back from Pennsylvania.  She is the leader of the CCP group.  She lives next door and she and her older brother (who picked her up at the airport) stopped in to see the progress of the knitted hats.  Allison announced, "Diana's here to see the hats!  Andy's here to raid the fridge!"  Allison laughs.  Andy laughs.  I laugh.  Then Allison says, "No really Andy here's looking for food."  I laughed again and told Andy to get a plate and help himself.

We all ate and knitted and it was just a really fun day.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Bean Pot Pizza

How many of you out there own a Home & Garden Bean Pot?  They were sold at Home & Garden shows, which were run like Pampered Chef or Avon shows.  It was so adorable I had to have one.  Ten years ago!  Now what to do with it other than collect dust.  I decided to drag mine out and try this recipe.  It could be cooked in something other than a Bean Pot.  Maybe 2 layers in a 9X13 inch pan with aluminum foil.  It's that good you'd want to make it.







Home & Garden Party Bean Pot Pizza

By Nancy Westbay, OH

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
16 oz. box rotini, (spiral pasta), cooked
1 small can mushrooms stems and pieces, drained
32 oz. pizza sauce
16 oz. mozzarella shredded cheese
3 oz. pkg. pepperoni
Brown ground beef and onion together.  Drain and combine with cooked macaroni, mushrooms and pizza sauce.
Prepare your Home & Garden Party Bean Pot with a vegetable oil spray and then layer  ingredients as follows:
Approximately 1/3 of the rotini and beef mixture, then 1/3 of the sliced pepperoni, and 1/3 of the shredded cheese.  Repeat the layers, ending with a layer of pepperoni and reserving about 1/3 of the shredded cheese.
Cover with lid, place in oven and bake for 1 hour at 325 degrees F.

After baking, remove from oven and top with reserved cheese.  Cover with lid and let it set until the cheese is melted.

Serve with salad and garlic bread.

Lynne's note:  After it was baked I couldn't add the cheese AND replace the lid.  The rotini had puffed up to the very top of Bean Pot.  So, I threw on the cheese and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.  Worked out great.  Everyone raved about it and said it should be made again.  I fed 6 people generously and had enough leftover for 2 lunchs today.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Menu Planning Continues

This is month number 2.  Decided to do it again.  It worked out fairly well.  Having nearly all ingredients readily at hand was such a time saver.  Having all the meals written out and on the fridge made for a great work sheet for the month.  No wondering what's for dinner tonight.  Check the list.  When the kids would ask what's for dinner I had have them refer to the list.  If I hadn't picked out something I'd have them choose.  Once something was made I found it handy to write the date next to it and cross it out.  This worked out well for leftover questions.  Is this still good?  Check the date next to the recipe.  "Why yes it is still good, but today's the last day for it better eat it."

As the list was getting many crossed out items I found it more handy to highlight them.  I knew what was done and what wasn't at a quick glance.  It turned into a great work sheet.  Some things added.  A thing or 2 not made.  Some meals tweaked a little different, but all in all a big help to my daily cooking duty.  Next month's list will be further down from top of page as the magnetic clip covered a few meals and for some reason it really bothered me. 

We still used the same rules as last month.  One meal veto.  Can't veto the same meal 2 months in a row.  Chicken Curry seems to be my son's least favorite meal.  He vetoed it last month and couldn't this month.  So, he paid his sister $1 dollar to veto it this month.  She took him up on the offer.  Dear Hubby laughingly said, "That's not right!"  It's his favorite meal.  I told him I'd sneak it in some night when both kids are off doing their own thing.  It will be our special "parents only" meal.  No kids allowed.

This month's menu plan as worked on by the whole family is...

Turkey and Trimmings
Hot Turkey Sandwiches
Turkey and Dumplings
Beanpot Pizza (attached)
Beanpot Enchiladas (attached)
*Beef & Barley Soup
*Chinese Simmered Chicken
*Deviled Short Ribs
Burgers & Mac Salad
*Slow Cooker Meatball Subs
*Artichoke, Spinach & Feta Shells
*Bierox Casserole
*DeAnn's Basil Sauce and Meatballs
Steak with *Cheddar Potato slices (hot links)
*Polka Dotted Macaroni and Cheese
Country Fried Steak
Eggplant Parmesan
Nachos w/Refried Crack
*Western Meal In One
*Biram Ruzz
Chicken Delish
*The Best White Chicken Chili
*Hidden Valley Ranch Chicken
Paninis and Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup
Tipsy Chicken with rice pilaf
Make your own pizza night
*Cheddar Waffles w/scrambled eggs & bacon

The star before the meal reminds me that I already have the recipe written down in the recipe box.

Here is one of the recipes from this month's plan.  It's been a family favorite for many years.  Please see the notes at the end as I make it slightly different for our tastes.

HIDDEN VALLEY RANCH CHICKEN

1/2 c. butter
3/4 c. corn flake crumbs
3/4 c. Parmesan cheese
1 pkg. of Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing mix (powder)

Combine corn flake crumbs, Parmesan cheese and dressing mix, set aside. Melt butter. Dip chicken in melted butter and then coat chicken with crumb mixture. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Lynne's note:  I did not like the flavor of the corn flake crumbs.  They has a strong distinct flavor of their own.  I use bread crumbs, cracker crumbs, Panko crumbs anything on hand instead.  This way the great flavor of the ranch and Parmesan shines through.  I also use half as much butter.  I brush it on and then roll in dry mixture.   Otherwise... err I never thought I'd hear myself say this ... it becomes too buttery.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween Cake Pops

Or Cake Pops Redux.  My first cake pops were successful in that everyone enjoyed them.  I on the other hand felt there were a few tweaks that could be done to make them more successful in my eyes.  Last time the cake pop dough was very moist and keeping them on the stick was difficult.  Good thing I didn't have any Styrofoam and stood them up as they probably would have all slide down the stick.  This time I decided on a less gooey dough and a smaller dough ball.  I call it dough, because it reminds me of cookie dough in it's consistency.

I baked a Duncan Hines Devil Foods cake in a 9X13 inch pan.  I then crumbled the cake into tiny little bits in a large bowl.  I had bought some store bought chocolate frosting.  I added 1/2 the plastic container to the crumbled up cake bits.  I found no easier way than just sticking my freshly washed hands in the bowl and squishing away.  The amount of frosting I thought was just right.  Not too gooey this time.

After washing the chocolate goo off my hands I got out my cookie scoop and portioned out the dough.  This time I made balls that were more quarter size as Bakerella suggested and I ignored the first time.  I rolled each ball by hand to create a nice smooth round ball.  I thought the smaller ball wouldn't be much of a treat, but it takes me 3 bites to eat one.  So, even someone who put the whole thing in their mouth would find it to be a delicious mouthful.

This time I had the chocolate melted in a double boiler and ready to go when it was time to put the candy sticks in the cake balls.  I dipped the stick in chocolate and then into ball.  The chocolate did pool up around the bottom of stick.  This concerned me that there would be a lump on the bottom of each Cake Pop.  Once I started coating the Cake Pops with melted chocolate I quickly found out it wasn't a concern and covered up quite nicely.

When I dipped Cake Pop in melted chocolate one wants it in the hot chocolate as little time as possible.  I found it faster to use a spoon.  I would dip the pop into the chocolate.  I then rotated it quickly as I pushed the chocolate up on the Cake Pop.  I then pulled the Cake Pop out of the chocolate shook it gently to remove any excess chocolate that might drip down the stick once standing in Styrofoam.  Next I quickly pushed a small piece of pretzel stick into the top of my Cake Pop.

To get a smoother look to the chocolate I ended up adding a small about of Crisco.  This made the chocolate smoother and shinier on my Cake Pops.  When I say small amount I used about 2 T to 1/2 a big of Wilton's Candy Melts.  I find the candy melts in the Wilton section of either Michaels or Joanns.


I had precut the pretzel stick bits to have ready when it came time to push them on top of Cake Pops.  Bakerella had used green Tic Tacs for the top of hers.  For some reason I got it into my head that lime, spearmint whatever flavor green Tic Tacs would be just didn't appeal to me with a chocolate cake pop.  Now pretzels and chocolate is a great combo.

(Only one casualty this year slid down the stick)

I had wanted to draw Jack O Lantern faces on the pumpkins, but the Wilton's FoodWriter Edible Color Makers Fine Tip totally suck.  Suck suck suck.  I know you're saying, "Come on Lynne don't sugar coat this tell us how you really feel."  They did not work at all.  This was all that was available in the stores around me.  I will find my receipt and return these as we found them to be a complete waste of time.  I really don't know what they could be used for. 
Fortunately, the pumpkin look of these Cake Pops was good enough to amaze and treat all our friends to some Halloween fun.
(Do we really need to show the empty stick?  Yum!)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Barbecued Pork Buns... in your spare time

OK I jest about making these in your spare time.  I won't lie these take some time to make.  What I do is get the whole family to help.  They are made up and ready to bake in no time.  Totally worth the effort they are SO good.

I usually make these for Chinese New Year.  When we were writing up this month's menu plan though my daughter asked if we could make them to go with Hot and Sour soup.  I thought why not.

As my son and daughter were preparing the filling I was getting a little bit of guff.  First comment was from my son, "Black mushrooms! I don't like black mushrooms in my Bao (pronounced wow with a 'b' the word bao simply means 'bun' in Chinese)."  My daughter's comment, "Chopping why all this chopping?!"  My son, "Hoisin sauce?  Why Hoisin sauce it tastes nasty."  My comment, "This is the recipe we eat every year and you guys love it.  Keep chopping and stop the kibitzing."

(2 ounces of dough, 1 T of filling)

We like the baked bao better than the steamed bao.  My only problem is probably half of mine usually burst open during the baking.  Not badly, but enough I'd like it to stop.  No one has ever said, "My bun is broken I'm not going to eat it."  I was watching a cooking show with Ming Tsai.  I've always enjoyed him.  He was making bao and said to not only pinch the bottom of the bun, but twist it.  My son sealed the first batch of bao I sealed the 2nd.  I not only pinched and twisted, but I put a smidgen of water to help seal them too.  End result more of my son's buns stayed sealed than mine.  He kind on pinched and folded his quickly.  I put a lot of effort into making mine seal.  Geeze!  So, I'd say from now on I'm not going to spend as much time sealing it's a waste of time.

(my son's folded seal was better than my pinch and twisted)

I got this recipe at a community center class back in 1989.  It was a class on how to make Chinese Appetizers.  It was a great class.  I got several great recipes.  This being one of them.

(pinch and twisted baked bao and this is as much as they leak if they are going to)

Barbecued Pork Buns

3/4 cup Bar B Q pork (chopped)
2 T green onions (chopped)
3 dried black mushrooms (Soak in warm water for 30 mins.)
2 T Hoisin Sauce
3/4 T Soy Sauce
1/2 med. onion (chopped)
2 1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 T cornstarch
1 T water
1/2 tsp Oyster Sauce
1 T peanut oil

Squeeze excess water out of black mushrooms and mince.  Combine pork, green onions, mushrooms, Hoisin Sauce, soy sauce, 1 tsp sugar and oyster sauce in bowl and mix well.  Set aside.

Heat wok or skillet; add oil and stir fry onions for about 4 minutes until soft.  Add chicken broth, water cornstarch and remaining sugar (1 1/2 tsp).  Cook until thickened.  Remove from heat and  add pork mixture; mix well.

Cool meat mixture.  Using Bridgeford bread dough, cut and flatten dough to make 2 1/2 inch diameter shells.  Place 1 T filling into shells and seal by gathering.

Place on small wax paper squares on baking sheet gathered side down.  Bake at 375 degrees F for 10 -13 minutes.  Can steam 20 to 25 minutes.

(We made about 32 and after 2 days there were none to freeze)

Lynne's notes:  I buy the BBQed pork premade from local grocery store with a Chinese food section.  Dried Black Mushrooms are easy to find in most grocery stores in the Asian food section.  Same with Hoisin Sauce and Oyster Sauce.  I seldom have peanut oil in my house and vegetable always works fine.  Bridgeford bread is frozen bread at the grocery store.  I usually whip up a batch of white bread in my bread maker.  This time I grabbed a bag of pizza dough at the grocery store.  It worked well.  About 2 ounces of dough per bao.  I usually make a double batch of bao.  While you're doing all this chopping may as well.  If they are not all eaten they freeze well and heat up in the microwave well.  I bake mine now on a Silpat and skip the wax paper.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cookie Fail

Upper right cookie is the cookie fail, bottom right cookie is what color it should have been, cookie on left is my famous Gingersnap.

That's what my kids called the cookie dough my husband made last night.  DH needed to make a dessert for a potluck at work.  I suggested the very easy Chocolate Chip Cookie.  He liked that idea.  I suggested he use a large cookie scoop, so the cookies look real impressive. 

He used my Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, but I was shocked by the color of his cookie dough when he asked me to come in and help him get them baking.  The dough was a chocolate brown.  I started questioning his ingredients.  Which I got a snarky reply "I know how to read."  I said, "I know you know how to read, but clearly there is something drastically wrong with your cookie dough.  It should look like this!"  I held up the rubber spatula he had used early on before things went terribly wrong with the proper colored cookie dough clinging to it.  The dough tasted fine.  OK it wasn't so terrible, but it wasn't very appetizing and with food things need to look good as well and taste good.  I could see this sad look come across his face.  The one my children get when they feel like they've made a big cooking mistake and think everything is ruined.

I found out he had put the chocolate chips and pecans in the mixer turned it to high and let it go for a few minutes.  When I went to make the Gingersnaps 30 minutes later the mixer was still hot to the touch.  I said, "Chocolate chips and pecans should be hand stirred in at the end."  He said, "The recipe should say that."  I replied dryly, "It does."  At this point I knew there was no reason for continuing this line of conversation.  He was looking defeated.  I took another tack and said, "The cookies will be fine they're just extra chocolaty.  If anyone says 'what's wrong with this cookie' snatch it away from them and say, 'thank you more for me.'"  He chuckled and we starting scooping the dough on to the cookie sheets.

I have to say they did taste fine.  They were a bit tough and they did look oddly colored.  BUT I sent him to work with 30 good sized Chocolate Chip Cookies and 20 good sized Gingersnaps.  There were only 3 cookies left.  Chocolate Chip of course.


Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies
3/4 stick Crisco® Baking Sticks Butter Flavor All-Vegetable Shortening
1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 3/4 cups All Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans (optional)

PREPARATION DIRECTIONS:

1. HEAT oven to 375ºF.

2. COMBINE shortening, brown sugar, milk and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed of electric mixer until well blended. Beat in egg. Combine flour, salt and baking soda. Mix into shortening mixture until just blended. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.

3. DROP by rounded measuring tablespoonfuls 3 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheet.

4. BAKE 8 to 10 minutes for chewy cookies, or 11 to 13 minutes for crisp cookies. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet on a cooling rack. Remove cookies to rack to cool completely.

TIP* If nuts are omitted, add an additional 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Make Your Own Pizza Night

Always popular at my house.  For years I made my own dough in my breadmaker.  I've had a breadmaker since 1991.  Now at my local market they sell pizza dough for about a buck.  Can't hardly beat that.  So, for "make your own pizza" night I got 3 bags of dough, Boboli Pizza sauce (I like the flavor and that it's packaged in small servings if you don't use it all it saves for next time), and all the various toppings my family likes.  Tonight we had pepperoni, salami, mozzarella, green pepper, purple onion, mushrooms, black olives, and green onions.  My daughter also wanted an avocado, which she slice and put on her pizza after it was baked.

(Sure love my convection oven.  I can bake multiple racks at the same time without having to shift things around.)

We were SO hungry I barely got any pictures of this adventure.  The kids helped slice and grate the cheese while I rolled the dough out on the Silpats.  I love rolling pizza dough on Silpats.  When it is dough it sticks to the Silpat.  You don't have to fight with it shrinking back quite so much.  When it's baked it doesn't stick and slides right off on to a cutting board.  Do not cut on a Silpat!

Next each kid got to top their own pizza.  I topped one for my husband and me.  Because the husband I generally share a pizza each kid has to give their dad a slice of the theirs.  That way he gets to sample their pizza and he gets enough to eat.  He even ate my daughter's slice with avocado on it.  Even though he doesn't particularly like avocado.  He said it was a pretty good combo though.

Gingersnaps


I discovered this recipe when I was a teenager.  My mom bought me a cookbook from a used book store.  This purchase combined our 2 loves.  Mine of cooking and hers of used book stores.  The cookbook was called "Spices of the World by McCormick."  It was copyrighted in 1964, but still had recipes that sounded great.  I loved the book, because it pushed one into the spice rack with both feet.  Of course their purpose was to sell spices and herbs.

From this book came the most beloved recipe of all.  The recipe for Gingersnaps.  I always thought it was good.  During my poor years I used it quite a bit as a gift.  Buy a cheap nice looking plate or container and fill it with Gingersnaps.  It was ALWAYS a hit.

It wasn't until my kids were in Elementary school that it's greatness was truly felt.  For the yearly carnival I was toying with what I'd make for the bake sale.  There were always a lot of chocolate chip cookies and brownies.  I decided to do something different to offer some variety.  I made the Gingersnaps. 

My job at the carnival was to run the Silent Auction.  That's where I was the whole night pretty much.  Someone came up to me and had a question.  About the Silent Auction of course.... no the question was "Are you the lady who made the wonderful Gingersnap cookies?"  At that point I wasn't sure how many people made Gingersnaps and said so.  They said, "Oh no there is only one Gingersnap and they are great.  I was told to come ask you for the recipe."  At this point I was shocked how did anyone know I had donated the Gingersnaps.  I was happy to take their email with a promise to send the recipe.  I walked out to the bake sale and behind the table was a friend of mine.  She's standing there with about 6 people around her purchasing goodies.  She looks up, points and joyfully yells, "THAT'S THE LADY WHO MADE THE GINGERSNAPS!"  The 6 people turn and coming running at me!  I knew my recipe was good great even.  I just didn't know how great until I turned into a Gingersnap Celebrity at my kids' carnival.

This went on for about 4 hours.  At the 3 hour mark I said to the person who was asking me for the recipe, "Haven't they run out of Gingersnaps by now?"  She said, "Oh yes they ran out a long time ago, but I was told I could get the recipe from you."  Fortunately, I'm not one of those people who believe in secret recipes.  I like to share.  I want everyone to go home and make something delicious for themselves.

Gingersnaps

3/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground ginger

Cream shortening and sugar together.  Add molasses and egg, beat well.  Sift flour, measure and sift again with remaining ingredients.  Add to creamed mixture and mix thoroughly.  Roll into small balls and dip into additional granulated sugar or leave plain.  Place 2 inches a part on greased baking sheet.  Bake in 375 degree F oven 10 to 12 minutes.  Makes 6 to 7 dozen.

Lynne's note:  This recipe doubles and triples well for making larger cookies.  They are beautiful rolled in sugar and just as good if you're in a hurry not sugared.  I don't sift.  I put all ingredients to be sifted in a big bowl and stir them with a wire whisk.  Use a cookie scoop.  It saves a lot of time and everyone is so impressed when your cookies are all the same size.  When I don't sugar them I don't roll them into a ball either.  Just cookie scoop them right onto cookie sheet.  If you're going to sugar them.  Use cookie scoop to measure all the dough.  Then roll into ball and roll in sugar.  I found it faster to use my good sized flat bottomed round plastic bowl.  I put a few tablespoons of sugar in plastic bowl.  Then I throw in 3 or 4 balls and swirl the bowl like I'm panning for gold.  Make sure to keep balls from sticking together.  Separate and swirl if needed.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Grandma Parker's Macaroni Salad

I'm not a big macaroni salad person.  In fact until my Grandma started making this recipe I didn't like it at all.  She brought it to nearly every family get together.  Finally when she was 70 years old and I was 27 years old I got to thinking I better get that recipe while the gettins' good.  I asked her for the recipe and she said she really didn't have one.  I asked if I could watch her make it some day and she said yes.  Next family party she called and asked if I wanted to come over and help her make the macaroni salad.  I jumped in my car and came right over.  As we made it I wrote down the measurements of all the ingredients.  I don't cook much without a recipe.  If a dish is delicious I want it to turn out that way every time.  I don't want it to be kind of sort of like the original.  I think that is why my friends turn to me for recipes.  They know it's good and they know I'll have a recipe!

There has only been one wrinkle with this recipe.  There is one ingredient it has to have in order to have the right taste.  That ingredient is McCormick's Vegetable Delight.  Well, the wrinkle is they stopped making Vegetable Delight about 5 years ago.  Fortunately, they made something called Vegetable Supreme.  It was very similar to Vegetable Delight.  Only difference I could tell was it wasn't quite as buttery in flavor and they added sesame seeds.

Now I've found out from an urgent call from Portland, OR they don't make Vegetable Supreme any more.  On the McCormick website it is listed in the Discontinued Product list under Seasoning Blends.  Be still my heart!  I was told by my friend's in Portland that they wanted to make my Mac Salad and couldn't find the seasoning at any store or on the internet.  They instructed me to quickly search the stores in my area for it.  I went to Raley's today and McCormick had a whole new display system.  It was clear that Vegetable Supreme had long been squeezed out.

This recipe is even more precious to me as my Grandma passed away last year at the ripe ole age of 92.  It seems so sad that McCormick feels there is no market for this Seasoning blend.  I've contacted them and hope to find out how I can make this seasoning on my own.  I have a precious 2 tablespoons left.  Just one recipe of my Grandma's Macaroni Salad.  I may have to sniff and taste and figure it out on my own, because I refuse to let this recipe die.  I have many friends and family that love this recipe and make it themselves.  Without further adieu...

Grandma Parker's Macaroni Salad
Over the years friends have made the salad and on occasion I'll be at the event.  Certain liberties have been taken with the ingredients over the year, but not so extremely as this one occasion.  I got to the party and was quickly grabbed by the elbow and whisked into the kitchen.  My friend says hurriedly, "I made your mac salad and it doesn't taste quite right could you take a look at it and give me some pointers."  I said, "Sure."  I took one look at the salad and wondered why she would need my help.  It was obvious what was wrong.  The salad was made with bowtie pasta, red onion, no pimento and sliced dill pickle.  She's looking at me with that "Well?" look and I said, "You used bowtie pasta instead of salad macaroni.  She says defensively, "Well, I didn't have any and I wasn't going to make a special trip to the store."  Again, she gives the the "Well?" look.  I said, "My recipe calls for green onion."  She says again defensively, "I didn't have any green onion and I wasn't going to make a special trip to the store."  Now I don't want to say anything else, because she purposely didn't follow the recipe.  BUT she continues to look pleadingly at me for help.  I say, "What's with the sliced pickle?"  She say excitedly, "I like sliced pickle so I threw it in."  In my head I threw my hands up in the air and then I said, "I'm sure it's going to be a wonderful salad it's just not going to be my salad," and I walked away.  Everyone enjoyed the salad.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

She likes me. She really really likes me!

One of my daily blessings is my adorable poodle Little Star.  As you can tell she's my bud.  Last night I was working on Clue #3 in the Bernat Crochet Along and there she was keeping me company.  I kept thinking the yarn would tickle her nose and she would get up.  She actually stayed there quite a while.  Probably because I thought she was absolutely adorable and she loves it when I notice that fact.

Truth be told her 5 O'Clock shadow was poking threw my pajama bottoms and was a bit prickly for me.  I wasn't about to shoo her away though.  I could endure it to enjoy such cuteness.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Western Meal-in-One

Monthly meal plan going well.  Only one hitch I was looking at the September calendar when I made my plan, so I wasn't so far behind when I made it.  Added 2 more meals to the plan to compensate for flipping calendar to new month 3 days late. :)

This meal was already on the list though.  I got this meal from my MIL's stash of recipes.  I don't know where she got it.  My MIL passed away about 6 months into our marriage.  My FIL has passed 6 month before we got married.  There was DH and I newlyweds living 2 1/2 hours away in an apartment and a whole house and garage of stuff to tend too.  I felt so bad for my husband.  He's an only child and I know he was feeling like an orphan at this time.

He put me in charge of sorting the kitchen.  I got to thinking what reminds one of home?  Mom's favorite recipes!  Only problem was DH and his family ate breakfast, lunch and dinner out everyday most of his childhood.  I know weird huh?  Or maybe I think that, because my family ate every meal in.  The amount of times I ate "out" as I child I can count on one hand. 

DMIL did start cooking when she retired, which had only been one year.  She also cooked sporadically over the years for special occasions.  It was a challenge finding recipes.  I found a few written recipes and then I looked through the few cookbooks she had for pages with splatters on them.  Always the sign of a recipe that's been used and could potentially be a good one.

Some where in there I found "Western Meal-in-One."  DH remembered liking it.  I made it a few times as newlyweds and we liked it.  The recipe however had languished in my recipe box for years when I came across it again on meal planning night.  DH and I wondered why hadn't this been made in years?  It was in a category called "Casseroles" in the recipe box.  There were only 2 recipes in that catagory and neither had been made in years.  I mostly look under the type of meat or style of cooking when needing a recipe.  So, this recipe has been refiled under "Beef."  It was very good and hope to make it again in the near future.

Western Meal-in-One


(The colors in this dish were just beautiful.)

1 pound ground beef
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 can petite cut tomatoes, undrained
1 can kidney beans, undrained
3/4 cup uncooked rice
1/4 cup chopped ripe olives
3/4 cup grated Cheddar cheese

Brown ground meat in oil until crumbly. Add garlic, salt, onion, green bell pepper and chili powder. Saute for 5 minutes or until vegetables are limp. Mix in tomatoes, kidney beans and rice. Add a little water or tomato juice as needed. Turn into a greased 2-quart casserole. Bake, covered, at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes.

Sprinkle with olives and cheese. Uncover. Bake 15 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

Serves 8.

Lynne's note:  I worried there wouldn't be enough liquid to soften the rice, but there was.
(Recipe calls for 2 quart dish.  I only had a 3 quart (9X13).  It worked fine.)


Check out Mommy's Kitchen for some more delicious recipes.

Mommy’s Kitchen

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Menu Planning not a new concept

I've tried menu planning in the past and it never works out too well for me.  Seems like a great idea.  I think I've figured out that I've been too rigid in my planning.  I found a gal who does a list of meals mainly dinner and they eat from the list.  She has a blog called "Mommy's Kitchen."  The meals are not assigned a day.  That was our problem.  We may not be in the mood for or have the time for say Chicken and Dumplings the assigned meal of the day.  Something so simple and yet it made me smack my forehead "Of course" when I was reading her description on how she creates her menu plan.

This way I can pick a meal that suits the schedule and mood of the family.  She also made the suggestion to not to plan all 30 or 31 days of the month.  (yes I know one month has 28 or 29 days)  She plans for 25 of 30 days.  Things happen.  Sometimes we eat out.  Sometimes not everyone is home.  Life of having teenagers and a husband who refs soccer.  One can grab something simple maybe even eat some leftovers rather than cook a whole meal.  Since I was getting a late start on the month I planned 17 meals for the remaining 25 days.

I quizzed the family as to what they'd like to eat this month.  I also looked through my recipes and recipes I'd like to try.  Made a list and an accompanying grocery list.

Here's what we're having...

*Uncle Brad's Spaghetti Sauce, Green Salad and garlic bread
Baked Chicken, mashed potatoes
*Chicken and Dumplings
Pot Roast
Paninis and Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup
Cheeseburger Casserole (Paula Deen Recipe)
*Hamhocks and Chili Beans, cornbread
*Beef & Bean Enchiladas
*Hot & Sour Soup, *BBQ Pork Buns
Nachos
Make your own pizza night
Marinated Tritip, Cheddar Potato Slices
Chicken Caesar Salad
Hot dogs and Hot Links, Coleslaw, Ranch Beans
*Western Meal In One
*Mexican Lasagna
*Fideo

Once I started making my grocery list I realized I may need to adjust the menu next month for more variety.  We are going to eat an awful lot of ground beef and cheddar cheese this month.  Not that anyone will complain, but just doesn't sound too healthy on a regular basis.  Since the family was excited to be a part of the process I decided to leave it as is this month.

As we were making suggestions we came up with a couple ideas one was the power of one veto.  I suggested one veto, because we'd never get enough recipes if we let everyone veto anything they didn't like.  I also said one can not veto the same meal 2 months in a row.  Some meals most of us love and would hate to never have them again.

This month DS vetoed Chinese Simmered Chicken (one of my personal favorites that hurt), DH vetoed One Dish Chicken and Rice, DD vetoed Curry (DH's favorite).  My son jokingly suggested BBQed poodle ribs and I vetoed it.  Not that I didn't think they wouldn't be delicious and tender, but my DPoodle looked up at me with adoring eyes and I vetoed for her. :)

Here is one of this month's recipes.  Been a family favorite for years.

Beef and Bean Enchiladas

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 med. onion, chopped
1 (1 lb.) can refried beans
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/3 c. taco sauce
1 c. ripe olives, quartered
2 (10 oz.) cans enchilada sauce
Salad oil for frying tortillas
12 corn tortillas
3 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Crumble ground beef in a frying pan; add onions. Saute until meat is browned and onions are tender. Drain off excess fat. Stir in beans, salt, garlic powder, taco sauce and olives; heat until bubbly. Heat enchilada sauce; pour half the sauce into an ungreased shallow 3 quart baking dish.

In small frying pan, heat salad oil about 1/4" deep. Dip tortillas, individually, in hot oil to soften; drain quickly. Place 1/3 cup beef filling on each tortilla; roll to enclose filling. Place seam side down in baking dish. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over the filled tortillas. Cover with shredded cheese. Bake, uncovered 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.

To Serve: Top each serving with sour cream combined with green chili salsa. May garnish with sliced, pitted ripe olives. Serves 4 to 6.

Lynne's note:  I have microwaved and warmed tortillas up in the enchilada sauce in an effort to skip frying.  Both methods lead to fragile tortillas and frustration.  I stick with frying.  How often does one have enchiladas?  I have found frying them all up and draining them allows them to cool off.  Enough so as to not burn my fingers and they stay flexible enough to roll.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Eating Out... Overwhelming?

Boy that is sure what happened to me when DH and I decided to go to a new restaurant in town.  Now that the kids are teenagers we like to go out occasionally by ourselves... you know like a date.  Remember those.  They are usually very relaxing enjoyable times.

We went to Buffalo Wild Wings.  DH hubby loves wings and I enjoy them too on occasion.  Thought I'd surprise him and suggest going some where he wouldn't think I'd like to go.  He was surprised and looked forward to going.

We walk through Buffalo Wild Wings doors and the first thing that hits you is the noise.  OK this isn't going to be a quiet experience.  One can barely talk to their companion it's so loud.  They wanted to seat us at a 2 person table right by the entrance and hostess stand.  Really?! Do we need a little more noise added to our experience?  We asked for another table.  Hostess then points to the next table.  How about this one?  It's a big round table for 8 people.  Really?!  You want 2 people taking an 8 person table when there are plenty of 2 and 4 person empty tables in this room.  Now I'm starting to sound like a pill when my hostess really doesn't have any common sense.

OK we're seated at a 4 person.  Our waiter comes over immediately and gives us a game controller and wants our drink orders.  "Want me to show you how to operate the game controller" he asks?  What do you want to drink?  Controller? Drinks?  Controller?  Drinks?  With the noise, lights, TV screens, choices and decisions to make so suddenly we are totally overwhelm.  Then we get the menu.  I should have turned and left before the menu came, because DH doesn't do well at making food choices in a new restaurant when things are calm and quiet.

He is clearly ready to throw one of his "I'm overwhelmed tizzy fits."  I remain calm and do the things girlfriends do.  Give him a squeeze, a wink, hold his hand.  He's distracted enough to look at the menu calmly.  BUT he snatches his hand back as I see the wheels in his head start whirling.  I can't blame him I'm totally confused too.  They don't serve just wings.  They serve all sort of things like burgers, wraps, salads, flat breads and ribs to name few.  How I deal with a new menu is I simplify.  I pick the first thing that appeals to me and I close the menu.  I know there are many choices I want, but I can't have them all so why agonize.  It's a wing joint I'm having wings.  DH on the other hand has all the choices whirling around in his head.  If I hadn't put a stop to it he might have gotten a nose bleed.

I asked him, "Anything appeal to you?"  He says, "I DON'T KNOW.  THERE ARE SO MANY CHOICES.  EVERYTHING APPEALS TO ME."  I ask in my loving syrupy girlfriend voice, "Why don't we share a wing platter."  He says, "I DON'T KNOW THERE ARE SO MANY WING PLATTERS AND WING SAUCES!"  I suggest we try a traditional wing sauce.  We'll get one platter with bone in wings and one with boneless wings and we'll share.  We'll get a side of hot sauce for him and blue cheese for me.  Crisis dialed down no one's head is going to explode.

We order.  First thing we are told is there are no french fries.  We can have potato chips or potato wedges at no extra charge.  I love crispy freshly made potato chips and DH loves potato wedges.  No problem.  Out comes our order.  We have 2 cups of blue cheese dressing, and 2 cups of ranch dressing.  Wings were your typical hot wings.  Nothing special, but good.  My potato chips were very thick and squishy.  They were just chip shaped potato wedges, which I don't like.  The potato wedges were at least seasoned and had a flavor.  DH offer to share his wedges.  When out of the corner of my eye I see 2 kids eating french fries.  WHAT?!  I was told no how no way was I getting french fries.  I grab one of my husband potato wedges and what do I get a lone french fry.  You know one of the non existent french fries.

The mild sauce was starting to get a little hot for me so I looked around for my celery.  No celery.  My platter was clearly pictured with celery.  What did they run out of celery too?  I stop the waiter and ask?  He tells me that since I have 2 different flavors of sauce I get no celery.  I didn't order 2 different kinds of sauces.  DH doesn't like ranch and I only like the blue cheese.  Sorry you have 2 sauces no celery for you.  WHAT?!  I didn't want to push it at this point.  I just wanted to go home.  The noise level and the disappointment of this meal was just at its apex for me.  I don't throw tizzies in restaurants, but I sure wanted to at this point.  I just remembered I was enjoying lunch with DH on a rare day off that he had during the week.

Before I left though I took a quick movie of a quarter of the restaurant.  I counted 32 TV screens in the whole restaurant.  Some might think that's a good thing, but with each one on a loud different channel... it's not.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

In Limbo

My 18 now 19 year old son is having a rough time deciding what he wants to do in life.  After a lack luster year at the Junior College he was put on academic suspension.  He missed the cut off to appeal and found himself without a school to go to this semester.

He has also been looking for a job for about a year.  He can't seem to get arrested in this economy.  When I found out he wasn't going to be in school and he had no job.  I asked my brother to put him to work.  I'm thinking volunteer work something to get him out of the house maybe get him some experience.  My brother says, "No, I'd have to show him how to do everything.  I'd rather just do it myself."  GEEZE!!   His own uncle won't hire him.

After my husband and I hit the roof and lengthy discussion we decided not to kick him out of the house.   We haven't given up on him.  We just need to convince him not to give up on himself.  The men in the family have all put a piss poor effort into High School.  Then gave college a sniff and joined the military.  All the men have done great and some even graduated from college later.  My son is dead set against going into the military.  We discussed with him that his options are getting narrower and narrower.

Anyhow his plan he proposed to us was to keep looking for a job this semester.  Get back into school in January.  With the job he's going to get pay us back for all the money we paid for him to go to school last semester and fail.  Until he gets a job he said he'll be my "man servant."  I prefer to call him my "house elf."

One morning he asked me if I'd like waffles for breakfast.  Wow that sounded great.  Yes please.  He was dressed to go out to an interview.  So, he threw on my apron to protect his clothes.  I had to chuckle and take a picture.  He was truly looking like my man servant.  

Never Thought It Would Happen

My poodle Little Star is 7 years old.  Will be 8 in a month.  She's the most darling thing until you get her in a car.  She's just never been a good car rider.  She whines, pants, barks, patty cakes, occasionally sits, but never lays down and goes to sleep.  All my other dogs would get in the car find a comfortable spot and go to sleep.  Some how they'd sense we were near our destination and they'd wake up and be ready to get out of the car. 

The first few years I think Little Star would know we were close to our destination by the sheer desperation sweat coming from our every pour.  We would be so stressed out from her anxiousness.  Didn't matter if the trip was 30 minutes or 3 hours.  She's barking the kids are yelling.  We're yelling and the dog is SO whiney.  Not her fault I'm sure, but what did we do wrong this time around?

She sits in the back seat with the kids, so it's been their job to keep her at least quiet.  Also their job to keep her from patty caking the back of my driving arm with her dagger sharp poodle nails.  I'm the driver for the most part.  Years ago I had a neck injury and the pain from it coupled with my already in place motion sickness just made it easier on me if I did all the driving.

Little Star hasn't experienced riding with me in a car when I'm not driving.  A couple years ago I tried riding in the back seat and about 30 minutes later I cried UNCLE.  Dear hubby pulled over and let me drive.  I was SO sick I just felt awful the whole rest of the 3 hour trip.

Well, this past labor day weekend I don't know what got into me, but I decided to give it another try.  This time around I swore I'd make sure I did no reading and look out the front window as much as I could.  I don't know what was different this time, but I felt great.



Then something happened that made us all relax.  Little Star did a few scratching nest building twirls and laid down and went to sleep.  I guess I didn't dare get sick and disturb this freakish event.  She slept all the way to our destination.  Then she slept all the way back.  I was in the back seat both times.  I am her alpha dog.  Was she afraid to disobey me?  Or was she able to relax and lay down next to me like she does at home?  I'm not sure what it was, but I'm going to try riding in the back seat and do some car training.  Maybe we can stop her anxious behavior.

I've felt so bad for her in the past.  In fact after our Memorial day trip this year I thought maybe I should consider getting her a sedative.  I hate having her so upset, but I hate the idea of drugging her more.  I didn't get her a sedative for this trip, because I figured she's been doing this for years and it hasn't killed her.  I did though get in the back seat to see if it would help.  Surprisingly, it worked GREAT!  To coin and old phrase "A picture is worth a thousand words.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Famous Kit Kat Cake



Believe it or not there is a cake under all that candy. Erik's favorite candy is Kit Kats. I asked what he wanted for his birthday treat and he said surprise me. He's been teasing me all summer to make him a Kit Kat salad. So, I did a search and found this Kit Kat Cake. It was so adorable I knew I had to make one for Erik.

I baked a Devil's Food cake in 2 eight inch cake pans. Then I made the chocolate frosting in the below recipe. Once cake was cooled I sliced the hump off one layer and placed it on my plate. I put a layer of frosting on it. Then I placed the 2nd layer hump up on top of first layer. I thought the hump would help with the shaping of the M&M top. I then frosted the whole cake. Next I began unwrapping and breaking the Kit Kats into 2 piece sections. Someone on the internet suggested putting the Kit Kats in the freezer for cleaner breaks and less finger prints on the candy. I think this would be a good thing to do. Well, for me next time. I bought 2_6 packs of regular sized Kit Kats. Had to open 11 of the packs due to some breakage in the package. I didn't break any they came that way. Normally not a problem as they'd be very tasty. They just weren't pretty.

After placing all Kit Kats on the cake I dipped into my scrapbook stash for a piece of ribbon. I tied a ribbon on which snugged up the Kit Kats, but they didn't seem like they'd have fallen off. Maybe the M&M might force them off. So, I wouldn't skip the ribbon. After ribbon was on I took my 19 oz bag of M&Ms and starting pouring them on. They were sliding to the Kit Kat edge, so I started to press them on all over. Then poured more M&Ms on to hide the frosting. It took about 2/3s of the bag.

I started baking the cake at 7am. Took a shower while it baked. Pulled it out to cool while I went to store for cake decorating supplies and dinner fixings. Made frosting, decorated cake and was done by 10am.

Fast and gorgeous cake. When Erik saw the cake his face just lit up with a giant smile. He started laughing and then said, "You sure did surprise me. That cake is GREAT!"

Erik was VERY pleased with the cake I surprised him with.

Chocolate Fudge Frosting

4 ounces (120 grams) unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup (150 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups (160 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Frosting: Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy (about 1 minute). Add the sugar and beat until it is light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the chocolate and beat on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until frosting is smooth and glossy (about 2 -3 minutes). Frosts about 16 cupcakes

Lynne's Note: I melted chocolate in microwave. This frosting was very soft great for a cupcake. I wanted to frost a cake and added more powdered sugar to make frosting a bit stiffer. DELICIOUS