Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Who loves chocolate and peanut butter?

I missed yesterday as we headed back to work after having a blissful whole 7 days off. The plant was freezing as it was shut down for 4 days and it took awhile for all the machinery to be up and running. I was going to try and post from work, but I couldn't get on a computer and then realized, duh, my photos are loaded on my home computer. I wanted to share one of our favorite cookies with you. I only make these at Christmas-I don't know why. I think it may be due to the fact that we only made Peanut Butter Blossoms at Christmas time in my childhood home. This is the same cookie recipe that I make my PBB cookies with. My Grandma Isabelle made the PBB with those Brach Stars. Ick. Sorry Brachs, but those were not creamy and full of goodness like Hershey's Kisses. Okay, here we go:

Peanut Butter Cups

2-1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1 c. shortening (I use butter flavored Crisco)

2/3 c. creamy peanut butter

1 c. granulated sugar

1 c. packed brown sugar

2 large eggs, room temp

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Reese's mini peanut butter cups, 2 bags unwrapped

extra sugar for rolling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flour, soda and salt in small bowl; stir to combine all ingredients. Set aside. In large bowl, cream shortening, peanut butter, both sugars, eggs and vanilla. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, mixing a little after each additions so the kitchen doesn't take on wintery blizzard look. Grease mini muffin tins with a spray of non-stick cooking spray. Roll small balls, about a tablespoon of dough. Place about 1/2 cup of sugar in a small bowl. Drop a couple dough balls in sugar and roll around so there is a light coating of sugar covering each ball. Place one ball into each of the greased muffin cups, but do not press down. They will fill cups when they bake. Bake for 10 to 11 minutes. They should be golden brown. Remove cookies from oven when golden and immediately press one peanut butter cup into each cup. Let cool a few minutes then remove to a rack to cool completely. The greasing and the sugar should help them slide out easily, but I always have one that will pull apart as I am removing it. That is okay-I use that one to taste test to make sure they are edible. This will make about 5 dozen.

I made them Saturday night at 11 PM; they were gone by Monday at noon. I would never be able to keep boys full-my girls are sweet chow hounds! Sweet as in cookies, cakes and bars, not sweet as in temperament.......well, maybe sometimes. Who out there has two (or more) teenage girls? I love my children, but good grief, I look forward to the day when there is no shouting "I hate you, you loser" and slamming doors and sulking moods. I swear, I was not this bad-was I? And the nice 'artwork' on my plastic canisters is from the youngest. She didn't like my labels, so she went postal with a black marker. You should see her room-it looks like the Crayola 96 pack threw up on her walls. I should post about that someday.
**I was chastised by my children that they sound like awful little beasts and would prefer that I take back the screaming/door slamming/I hate you comments. So I apologize to Hermit Crab and Drama Queen for suggesting that they are only mere mortals and subject to teenage behavior. I am rolling my eyes.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Gimme some spuds

I must confess. My biggest love-next to my hubby and children-is potatoes. Top of the list is mashed, but my family gets a little grumpy if the only potato they ever find is mashed, so I need to mix up the rotation a little bit. Last year when my grandma died, I wrote a page of memories that I had her pastor read (I choke up when I see puppies on TV-didn't want to try making it through a reading). I wrote about many memories I had, but the one that stands out the most is how she made my favorite meal every time I came to visit. Pot roast, mashed potatoes, corn, and lettuce salad with Western dressing. I told everyone how I sat there in my kitchen when I got the call that she had passed and thought about that meal, how I would never taste pot roast as good as hers every again (I'm tearing up as I write this-I'm such a wuss). And I wondered why I never asked her for her recipe. I have tried and tried, and I make a pretty good pot roast, and a few that were barely edible, but none that compare to Grandma Owney's. I think it was her legacy, if you will. I think I never asked because I feared that if I knew how she did it, the meal would never taste as good as I anticipated on every visit. So Grandma Isabelle made the most righteous Swedish Meatballs and Grandma G. made the bomb of a pot roast. Owney is just how we pronounced her first name. I do have to say thought, my mashed potatoes are better than hers. I can say that now that she is looking down upon me-but she is probably wiggling a finger at me! After all that ramble, I'm not even making mashed potatoes, but oven roasted. My love of the mashed just overtook me and the love oozed out onto the keyboard.

Oven Roasted Potatoes

3 pounds potatoes-any good roasting type, I used Idaho russets

1/4 cup olive oil or vegetable oil

1 packet onion soup mix (I used Lipton)



Scrub up potatoes. Cut in half, and then those halves in half again. Cut to make chunks (sorry, that sounds gross, but best word I came up with) that are about the same size so they all cook evenly. Preheat oven to 400 degrees while cutting up the spuds. Place potatoes in roasting dish-whichever type you choose. I used a stoneware one as I love them. Drizzle the oil over the potatoes then sprinkle with the soup mix. My kids don't like the big pieces of onion so I usually roll a soup can or something similar over the envelope before sprinkling on, but you don't have to. Use hands and toss potatoes so they are all covered with oil and onion mix. Sprinkle with Paprika. Place the pan in the oven. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes so they don't stick to bottom of pan. Start testing for doneness after 45 minutes in case your oven may cook faster than mine. To quote Rachael Ray, Yum-O!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

I don't cook no fancy vitals

When it is cold outside, I can't wait to turn on the oven. Of course, given the price of propane these days, I would rather make a salad, but that won't cut it with the family. Tonight on the menu was roast chicken. As the title would suggest, I don't cook a lot of fancy dishes. I do attempt occasionally, but the last time I tried I was disappointed. Not in the dish, as it turned out great. My husband was the one who ruined it. Our daughters were going to see the University of Minnesota marching band play. Our oldest had a conflict, so the hubby ran her up to the restaurant they were eating at before the show to catch up with the bus. So I thought I would make us a nice dinner. Individual Beef Wellingtons, potatoes, a salad and dessert. Yeah, he decided to eat with the kids. So I sat down in the candlelight and ate my portion all by myself and he came home in the middle of it. When he asked why I didn't tell him to come right home I nearly spit fire at him-"It was a surprise. Do you need a definition of a surprise?". He promptly left the dining area. The next day at church it was our service group's turn at bringing treats, and trust me-the whole crew knew how he messed up. Several gave me their numbers and said that the next time he messes up they would be glad to come over and share my meal. Take that, hubby!

So, I am digressing from the topic. I don't fix many fancy foods. I am not into duck or brie or eggplant or other types of fu-fu foods. I have to admit early on-a lot of the things I cook are made for my husband (who eats most anything) or is tried out on people we work with (we work at the same factory). I love to bake-I hate almost all pies except for pecan and some chocolate concoctions. I don't like many cakes-my favorite is yellow with chocolate frosting. Basic, plain, boring-like my vanilla self. I like only a handful of veggies. Spuds (but not potato salad), carrots (only raw), corn, lettuce (not on sandwiches, only in a bowl with dressing). I am probably one of the most picky eaters you will find. Wrapping up my childhood-I didn't have my first piece of pizza until I was about 12. I lived on mostly mashed potatoes, pot roast, chicken, Spaghettios, peanut butter, tuna fish, Fritos, cereal and milk. I was a very skinny child. But, alas, I grew up and my taste buds are changing. A little. I always tell people who ask how I can cook and bake so much but not eat it. Can you imagine how large I would be if I DID eat all I cooked. Not a pretty thought. It takes a lot to keep this nice, round figure! I'm in shape-round is a shape. So basic food is mainly cooked in this country kitchen.

Roast Chicken:

1 roasting chicken, giblets and neck removed

1 lemon, sliced

1 orange, sliced (I only had a clemantine)

Couple pats of butter



Glass of wine

Rinse and dry the chicken thoroughly. Sprinkle a little salt in the cavity. Place sliced lemon and orange in cavity and neck cavity. Use fingers to separate skin from meat. Slide butter pats under skin and squish around. Sprinkle top of chicken with Paprika. After washing hands, take a drink of wine. Place in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 1 and 1/2 hours. Check with an instant read thermometer for internal temp. It should be about 165 degrees. Let sit on counter, tented with foil, for about 15 minutes so all the juices redistribute.

Okay, you do not need to have a glass of wine while cooking-hopefully I didn't offend anyone. I do enjoy the stomped grapes. My husband and I went to the local liquor store the day before Christmas Eve and bought a case. They let you mix and match the case and get a 15% discount. My hubby is not a big wine drinker-nor a fancy wine drinker. His favorite is Pink Truck. About 9 bucks a bottle. But I got him to drink wine. Not always beer. So we wandered around and picked up about 8 bottles of various pink wines. The remaining few went to some of my favorite whites and sparkling. In case anyone out there possibly reading this lives in Minnesota, there is a great winery in Cannon Falls, Minnesota. The town is right off of Highway 52, south of the Twin Cities about 35 miles. It is called Cannon River Winery, as the Cannon River flows right through town. It is a family business and is a remodeled old car dealership. They have the most beautiful wood bar inside. I have a couple of favorites. Go Go Red and Sogn Blush. If you are around the area, or want a short day trip, look them up on the web. I think they are closed Mondays and Tuesday. You need to check them out. They do the small tasting cups to see which ones you might like. They do the flight for maybe 6 bucks and you get to try 3 different wines. It is a fun trip-they are very nice there and explain anything you want them to explain. You can even do a tour at the winery or out at the vineyard-which I haven't done yet but want to do this upcoming year. See, digressing again, but really-it is worth a trip to Cannon Falls. And another tidbit: Cannon Falls Minnesota is the only town named Cannon Falls in the entire USA. How about those apples? Or rather grapes?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Dinner, not quite

Well, I had hoped to do some cooking tonight, but after we got home from errands we found that our youngest was entertaining friends and had made them dinner. Yeah, nothing against Kraft at all as I use about a thousand of their products, but I was the kid in the neighborhood who hated mac and cheese-and still do. So we called the oldest daughter who is working tonight at the local taco place to have her bring dinner home. Yep, no money, so we dug leftovers out and washed them down with some rum and colas. After the friends leave she will be cleaning the pan!

Cooking and a new faucet!

Today was a good day. I finally went and bought a new faucet for our kitchen sink. Small thing, but our old one has been leaking for several months. If only I could have also bought a new sink, but that wasn't an option for the hubby as he didn't want to remove all the plumbing and garbage disposal, etc. I fell in love with it instantly. It has a soap dispenser on the left, the spigot in the middle, the handle to the right and spray hose to far right. I had the two handled version, but hated it as I alway have gooey hands and would have to waste a paper towel to turn on the water to wash my hands. This way I will be able to lift it with my wrist. I know, it sounds dumb, but it was a big problem for me. I had a good Christmas-it was nice and quiet. I don't know that I have said, but I have a small problem with cookbooks. I need an intervention and a 12-step program. I received 3 more cookbooks for Christmas and have been paging through them all day. My aim is to get my recipes (both my own and those I love from other places and people) up on here. As I am a newbie and just starting out, I have been perusing other people's blogs seeing how they do it. I did post that on Christmas Eve my pork roast and Lemon potatoes were not a big hit. And they dug into the food before I could whip the camera out to snap a photo. Of course, the youngest had the camera with her friend and filled up the memory card. Note to self, go to Target and get more SD cards and hide from the princess. Christmas dinner was a better sucess with ham, mashed spuds and veggies. Again, they dug in before the camera came out. I guess I will need to let them know I need to get the photos before the feeding frenzy starts. Because of how the holiday fell for our rotation at work, we are off for a whole week, so now that the holidays are winding down, I will spend the rest of the weekend cooking. Because of our work schedule, I usually only cook every two days. It was an adjustment, coming from and 8 to 5 world to 12 hour rotating days off schedule, but after 2 months I am getting the hang of it. I also got a 7 qt. programable slow cooker which will replace my 5 qt one. It is being retired to the camper. This is a life saver for the days I don't cook. I throw in chicken, roasts, beef stew when we get home and then have food for work plus the kids get a hot meal. I know it is 'kind of' cooking, but not a lot of effort goes in, so that isn't really cooking to me. But I digress. I'm off to kitchen to bake, so will hopefully get those pictures and recipes up soon.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza. Whatever your personal holiday is, I hope it is filled with love, peace and personal fulfillment. May the reason for your season fill you with hope.

We are celebrating this year at home-alone. For the past 20 years we have spent Christmas day with my husband's family. When my father and stepmom still lived in MN, we would go out for pizza with them on Christmas Eve and then see my siblings and Mom around New Years. There are 4 kids in my husbands family (as in mine) and we each take turns hosting, so we host every 4 years. We hosted last year. It was a terrible Christmas. I had lost my paternal grandfather at the end of November and then my grandmother on December 21st. My Dad made two trips 3-1/2 weeks apart, and while it was wonderful to see him, it wasn't on those terms. We had pizza with Dad on the 23rd last year, an ode to our old ritual and then he was off to sunny Florida again. I had to work part of the day Christmas Eve, then fix dinner for 14 people on Christmas and be at work at 4 am on the 26th. My hubby and I decided that enough was enough. We wanted to start traditions for our girls, most importantly being to be able to stay home to enjoy whatever Santa brought us and not have to open gifts, take 4 showers, hop in car and pray for good weather to travel for an hour to two hours depending on who was hosting. We decided that we would rather see family when we do family fun night. It is potluck, no stress of decorating and doing all the cooking and it was all about fun. It didn't sit well with some members of his family and I'm pretty sure I am taking the fall for it, but the hubby is the one who said last Christmas night-'we are not doing this anymore'. And today was wonderful. We got up later, opened gifts (while the girls texted boyfriends and best friends about what was under the tree), had a nice leisurely breakfast, and then took naps. Now I have dinner in the oven, some are still napping and I'm going to finish the Prosecco I used for mimosa's this morning and read one of the 3 new cookbooks I received today. Note-the lemon potatoes for last nights dinner were not a success. There was too much lemon flavor for the family and the eye of round roast didn't have much flavor. The girls said that since they were Greek potatoes that must be why they didn't care for them. I told them that if we had a traditional Scandanavian dinner (which is a large part of our DNA) I would have had to make lutefisk. That shut them up right quick! Next time, I will marinade the roast for better flavor. But the ham that is bubbling away smells awesome and I usually never screw up mashed potatoes, so I think tonights dinner will be a sucess. Plus, we will have movie time afterwards. Last night we watched "That Thing You Do" which was one of our favorite movies when the girls were young. Our youngest's boyfriend was here. He might have thought I was (am?) a little nuts as I sang along with songs and Randy and I recited most of the lines of the movie. We are a little wacky that way.

Tonight it is Mamma Mia and maybe Forgetting Sarah Marshall-which is not appropriate for Christmas, but makes me laugh out loud-a lot.

Warm wishes and full stomachs for all.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas Eve

It is finally sunny here in MN but still cold. One is playing with makeup and outfits in her room and one is making me a small quilt for displaying their sports buttons. Hubby is out in barn working on a car and I am doing laundry. My father just called from Florida to let me know they were having the traditional pizza for Christmas Eve and wanted to know if we were doing the same. We had pizza every Christmas Eve together before he and my stepmom moved to Florida. We have a hard time doing pizza because all the places around us are not chains and the owners of course want to have time with thier families, so now I cook on Christmas Eve. Tonight it will be a Eye of Round roast and Lemon potatoes (courtesy of kayotickitchen.com). The youngest's boyfriend will be joining us after dinner for church and to open their presents to each other. I am trying to get us out the door to go sledding for a little while before starting dinner. The hubby bought he and I some righteous hats yesterday at Ragstock, so I need to show the public how awesome they are. I just got the go ahead for sledding, so I need to find some long underwear.......
Here we are at the college getting ready to stop for some cappucino and hot chocolate before heading home to get dinner started and crack some wine. Hmm, the hubby won't like this one-too dry. Good thing there are a few other bottles chilled!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Let it snow

Having one eye on the sky and another on HGTV, it looks like MN is going to get nailed this weekend with snow. I don't mind snow, but it would be great if it would be able to just fall on grass, not roads and sidewalks. Our driving daughter had her first accident on Tuesday while we were at work, but it was minor. She slid off the road into the ditch while picking her younger sister up from practice. She was calm, called the police, turned on her flashers and politely told all that approached the car that they were staying in the car until the Sheriff showed up. Her sister on the other hand was a raving lunatic. All parents know the clutching fear when the phone rings and you have a screaming, hysterical 15 year old and you can't make out a word other than 'accident'. I felt like the most awful mother since I was at work and not there to make it all better, but I guess pretty soon I won't have the power (or the power I think I have) to fix everything. One is leaving for college soon, the other will be driving soon and I will probably end up in the Betty Ford clinic before long. Of course, the one in Mazatlan is quite nice. Our friends have a time share there and we can see it from their resort. Hmm, note to self, check into that.
Time to figure out what I want to put in the crock with the round steak and check the weather channel one more time before finishing the tie blankets I am making for the girls-with only a couple days until Christmas and I work all weekend. Might be a late night/early morning for this underplanned woman. Is that even a word?

Why this name?

Butter my Kitchen? What, like a cake pan? No, actually Butter is the name of the paint I used to paint my kitchen in 2007. After we did a remodel in 1998, we just repainted good old white, and I looked at it for 9 years and thought, why? There are so many beautiful crayons in the box, why would I be inspired to cook and laugh with my family while looking at white walls. So I told the gearhead (hubby) I would be home later and spent a couple hours at the paint store finding the perfect shade......for the livingroom. But while there, I found this most inviting, warm color called Butter. It would be yellow, like butter, and would not go with the the wine colored couch and chair or mauve carpet in the livingroom, but.......wouldn't it look great in my kitchen with the blue and yellow utensil holders my Mom gave me? Why yes, Tamilyn, it would. So with Butte Rock for the livingroom (a warm brown) and Butter for the kitchen, I happily took my B named paints home, took a week off work and transformed part of my house. If only I could afford the Viking appliances for the kitchen now......

My first blog

Well, welcome to the real world. Full of bloggers and on-line friends. A country mouse like me blogging on the big 'ol web? Scary. Why, oh why, would I choose to do this? The best answer would be that due to an utterly scary upheaval in my life, I find myself at a crossroad. Given the boot (downsized) by a company that I had worked at for 8 years, I was lost and searching. Full of fear and anger, I didn't know what to do next. So I decide to do a 180 and leave the white collar workforce behind and work at a factory. What??? A factory? Didn't your father toil at a factory (albeit a good factory job) for 35 years with hopes that his child would fare better than he? Yes, but it was a good fit for me. I have found that the older I have turned, the less butt I was willing to, well, you fill in the blank. I know this isn't the answer for everyone-you don't even want to know what my family has thought and said-but is working for us. I love that I go in, put in my 12 hours and can see the fruits of labor at the end of my shift. I know that I have done a good job and have benefited the public in some small way, and that makes me feel good. So back to why I would do this? It is so very much out of my comfort zone but that is the only way we grow as people. Pushing the envelope, thinking outside the box, all of those million of stupid sayings coming true for me. Through this blog, I hope to learn about myself, learn new lessons to make me a better person, and honestly, just rant and rave to someone who will listen and not make excuses for why for the fifth day in a row the dishwasher didn't get loaded or that they forget to tell me the lunch account has been overdrawn for the past week and the poor woman in charge of lunch accounts had to leave me an embarrassed message that I need to bring it current. Yep, totally selfish, but hopefully also helping me grow. Being a grown up-did your parents ever tell you it was this hard?