Sunday, September 4, 2011

Well, it smelled good anyway

We have several plum trees in our backyard. We hate the trees because they have prickly branches and we have scraped hands, arms and legs when dealing with them.  But the best grass in our yard is under these tree......?
 Usually we only see the plums on the ground after they are over ripe and bees are busy feeding on them.
This year I wanted to finish something on my to-do list. I was going to bake with the fruit in our yard.  I could reach a few branches by standing, then I went and got the golf cart and stood on the  seat, stretching to reach ones higher.  They were a nice reddish-purple color and they smelled really good.  I searched on line for recipes using plums from trees in Minnesota. I found one that looked promising.

It took quite awhile to chop all the plums as they are quite small. I tried to peel a couple, but it took so much flesh with. I was hoping if I cut the pieces small, they would disintegrate while baking in the oven.  I was concerned with the amount of sugar in the recipe-1/2 cup sugar and 3/4 cup of corn syrup.  I followed the directions and it smelled so good in the kitchen.

I eagerly waited for Dude to come home and have some. Yep-not a good experiment. The peels didn't disintegrate and the cobbler was waaaaaaay too tart. With all that sugar?  But I crossed part of my baking with fruit from the yard. As we speak (or as I write this) I have about 6 pounds of apples off our tree stewing to make home made apple pie filling I can throw in the freezer and make Dude a pie in the middle of winter-and it will taste like summer.  So I add this to the fail category, but nothing ventured, nothing gain.  On to the next challenge.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Grandma Oney's Pickles

My Grandma Oney was a really good cook. She made meals out of nothing it seemed like sometimes. Having been through the Depression she knew how to stretch a buck. She had a large garden up into her late 60's.  It was really no secret that Grandma didn't really care for my Mom a whole lot-other than birthing me. Mom said while it seemed petty, she got a kick out of it when my Dad proclaimed that Mom's fried chicken and potato salad were better than Grandma's.

 While Grandma was never outright mean to my Mom, she would be condescending and snarky.  However, she did share some recipes with Mom so she could keep her little boy fed. This is a refrigerator pickle that my Dad really likes, so when Mom found it in a drawer with other recipes, she collected several cards and sent them down to me.  Dude really liked the pickles. Of course, there are several jars in the fridge since the cukes are going crazy, but on the recipe it says "these last a really long time in the fridge". I am going to bring some to work though-just to clear some room for more pickles!

Grandma Oney's Refrigerator Pickles

6 cups unpeeled thin sliced cukes
1 cup onion, sliced thin
1 TBSP salt
1 tsp celery salt
1 small green pepper, cut into thin strips
1 small red pepper, cut into thin strips
1-1/2 cup sugar
1 cup vinegar
Dissolve sugar in the vinegar. Toss the cukes, onion, peppers, salt and celery salt in bowl and let stand 2 hours. Pack the pickle ingredients into freshly cleaned jars. Pour the liquid over the veggies and place in fridge. It made 2 full quart jars for me.

Dude and I spent a glorious 5 days camping and boating on the St. Croix river a week ago. We had so much fun-we cruised, we beached, we swam, we ate. The best vacation I could have asked for.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Snicker Salad and the Photo that didn't happen

I never thought it would be so hard to photograph a plate of food. I tried inside, I tried outside, with a flash, without-I just couldn't make this look pretty.

But it does taste good!

Snicker Salad

3 medium Granny Smith apples
2 standard size Snicker candy bars, chilled
1 tub of Cool Whip
lemon juice

Cut apples into bite size pieces. Sprinkle with the lemon juice so they don't brown. If you have juice that has accumulated in the bowl, carefully pour it out.
Remove candy bars from fridge. Cut in half length-wise and then cut the each half into small slices. Chilling the candy bars makes them easier to cut.
Place candy bar pieces in the bowl with the apples. Scoop the Cool Whip into the bowl and stir to combine all of the elements.

Lick the Cool Whip spoon.

While it didn't photograph well, it was gobbled up quickly.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I've Linkedin

I've linked up my apple salad recipe to the Hearth and Soul Hop. ”Hearth
Yeah, I still can't figure out the linking thing....old dog, new tricks ya know.

Check out Alea's site. She has so many great ideas about saving money, using fresh ingredients, and has wonderful recipes!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Apple Salad

 Real heat has hit Minnesota. It is hot. It is humid. No one wants to cook in this heat.

We took our boat out to the St. Croix river which separates Minnesota and Wisconsin in the middle section of the state. The St. Croix is a nice river for water sports-tubing, skiing, jet ski(ing) and just taking a ride.

We brought our friend J along again, this time with both of her daughters and Dude and I. We boated for about an hour and a half, then beached our boat on one of the several islands that sit between Hudson WI and Lakeland MN.  Most of them were pretty full, but we motored around one larger one and found the one side empty. We got our bag of snacks, the cooler and the portable gas grill out and set up camp on the beach.
I had made hamburger patties and wanted something a little sweet, a little tangy for a side dish. Something without mayo that could sit out for a little while when we had our picnic.

Enter the apple salad. I first had this dish about 23 years ago when I was first dating Dude.  We had gone up to his parent's lake home for a weekend and my MIL (to be at this time)  put this dish out with our grilled burgers and brats.

I have stated (numerous times) that I'm not a big salad person, but have come to like several over the last 10 years or so. This one however, it was love at first bite. It included three ingredients-6 if you count the lemon, water and cornstarch-and I love all three.

It is sweet from the pineapple, tart from the Granny Smith's and just plain tasty.

Apple Salad

3 Granny Smith apple, washed, sliced and chunked into bite size pieces
1 small can of pineapple tidbitd  (6-8 oz), juice drained into small saucepan
1/3 to 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 TBSP cold water
1 to 1/2 tsp cornstarch
Half of a lemon

Drain pineapple juice into small saucepan. In small container, shake the water and cornstarch together until well mixed. Heat pineapple juice to slight boil. Shake the water-cornstarch mixture again, and slowly pour into hot juice, whisking constantly. Bring to a boil and stir until thickened-maybe a minute. Remove from heat, and pour into another container to help it cool faster.

Chop the apple slices into bite-sized pieces, place in a medium size bowl and squeeze lemon juice over apple pieces several times as you are chopping the apple so it does not brown.

Place drained pineapple in bowl with the apple chunks. Chop the walnuts into smaller pieces so they are easier to chew. Place them in bowl with the fruit.

Pour cooled dressing over the fruit and stir to distribute the dressing over all of the pieces.

Cover and chill in the fridge until serving time.

Sneak some into a small container and hide in the back of the fridge to take to work the next day.

Oh, and if a boat beaches next to you that has a dog.....make sure all the meat is off the grill and eaten or stored in the cooler. We had a guest help himself to our last burger while we were all chatting. It was the funniest thing ever! His owner came over with a $10 bill and offered to pay for whatever his dog had grabbed. We laughed and waved away his offer and told him it was just a burger and we hope he enjoyed it.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Independence Play

 I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe 4th of July. We celebrated with our good friend and one of her daughters. You may remember me speaking last year around this time about my friend. Her and her husband were our very best friends. We went on vacation, had BBQ's, went to car shows, out to dinner, spent most of the past 17 years together on New Year's Eve eating junk food and playing cards. He cheated, for the about the whole time we knew them, and it broke her heart. She is picking up the pieces of her life and mess he left her with.

We had been waiting to get her out on the boat and as we normally spend the 4th together, we thought this would be the perfect way to celebrate.

We laughed so much-all day. After boating and tubing we came back to our house and grilled up dinner, played a game and laughed some more.

It was the ultimate 4th of July celebration-my hubby, my girls and our dearest friend.

We are so very blessed.
 Hermit Crab

 Drama Queen and Hermit Crab holding on for dear life!

 Our friend J and her daughter B

 J and B on the tub-squealing

Drama Queen and Hermit Crab-one last ride before we leave

Saturday, June 25, 2011

What has been happening around here.....

I celebrated my 45th birthday. Dude took me away to Minneapolis for a weekend.

We enjoyed rooftop bars, an awesome dinner, and just hanging out.

Drama Queen graduated high school.

How did this happen so fast?

We have cruised the local lake in the boat.

                                      There is a new skipper in town, or so she thinks!

Enjoying Father's Day night on the boat.

It has been really busy-graduation, the party, getting her registered for college-that starts in 4 weeks.
I've been a little overwhelmed and taking some time to get stuff in place and trying to relax. Throw in a couple health'ish things and I'm looking for a lounge chair, a pool boy and a bartender!

Off to make some stuff to hopefully put up here soon.

Hope all is well with everyone, and I will see you soon!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Where in the World is Waldo?

Just a quick note-I haven't fallen off the face of the Earth, but we have our youngest daughter graduating in about 4 weeks and her party in 5. We are busy with projects, planning, renting, yard work and finally enjoying some sunshine!

Whatever has been on our table lately is not blog worthy (burgers, sandwiches, grilled chicken) so once the madness is done, I'll  be digging in again.

Until then, have a wonderful Mother's Day to all you Mom's!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Creamy, dreamy pie

It was a beautiful, sunny day out today. After rising pretty early, Drama Queen and I went to the grocery store for food for the week. We have pantry items up the ying yang, but got some fish, shrimp, veggies and dairy. And almost fainted at the bill.

I was in the mood for baking and had asked Dude recently what other types of pie he liked. He popped off a few and then said "coconut cream". Hmmm, don't ever remember seeing him order this in a restaurant or at his grandma's house, but I was game.

I looked in a couple of cookbooks......and the recipe was exactly the same in all 3. Is there really only one recipe for Coconut Cream Pie?

This is from Best of Country Pies-Taste of Home-but it was the same in a church cookbook from Idaho and also community cookbook from, well, I think it was Wisconsin.

Coconut Cream Meringue Pie

1 unbaked pastry shell
6 TBSP sugar
5 TBSP flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups whole milk
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup flaked coconut
3 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
6 TBSP sugar
1/2 cup flaked coconut

Line unpricked pastry shell with a double thickness of tinfoil. Bake at 450 degrees F. for 8 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 5 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool. Lower oven temp to 350 degrees F.  In a saucepan, combine sugar, flour and salt. Slowly pour in milk and whisk together. Turn heat on to a medium-high and heat until thickened, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and cook two more minutes while still stirring. Add a small amount of hot milk mixture to beaten egg yolks, then stir yolk mixture into the saucepan containing the milk mixture, stirring while slowly adding. Stir constantly while bringing mixture to a gentle boil. Cook and stir for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and then coconut. Pour into cooled shell.

For meringue, pour egg whites into stand mixer bowl. Add cream of tartar and beat on medium speed until soft peaks form. With mixer still running on medium, add sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until stiff peaks form. Pour over topping and spread over filling, making sure you cover all the filling. Sprinkle with the coconut. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

Let cool on a wire rack. Store in the fridge.

Dude was a member of the clean plate club-times two!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Haters need not reply

I'm a nice person. Really-I have been told on numerous occasions that I always have something nice to say to someone, a ready smile, and a helping hand.While I know how FAR from perfect I am, I think when I reach the pearly gates they will know I always tried to be a nice person.

 our Ash tree that succumbed to the evil bug

I received an email a while back regarding my blog. It wasn't awful, but it wasn't full of loving remarks regarding my blog either. Briefly, I am boring, food is bland and not imaginative and pretty much people are looking for more than I had to offer.
 the fire pit is almost visible!!

Then I was thinking back to what another blogger I follow posted about people who say they create recipes, etc on their blogs but they truly don't (I'm paraphrasing here).  Hmmm, maybe this person has a point. While I have never, ever stated here that I create my recipes, maybe I don't make it clear enough that I make old family favorites from my childhood that I 'created' out of memory, but surely didn't make up Tater Tot hotdish. I get recipes from my MIL. I get recipes from other blogs. I get recipes from cookbooks that I mashup together because of an ingredient I or another family member do not care for, or we may not have it on hand. I have several subscriptions to different cooking magazines that I read cover to cover the day I get them. I get recipes from friends. I get recipes from co-workers.

  I love how the ice formed around the leaves and in the indents in the stones

While I stated that I feel that I am a nice person, I also suffer from being very shy and I always have had a problem with self esteem. I admit I was this close to taking my blog down completely. Not out of spite or hurt feelings, but more from the feeling that if one person was honest ballsy enough to email me, maybe others felt the same but never said anything.

my strawberry leaves never died off this fall-I don't know what that mean for this spring

After several weeks of re-reading my posts to make sure that I had given credit to others, or said that I combined recipes from various sources, or that it was a family favorite on a battered old recipe card-I realized something. Who cares if this person doesn't like my blog. Like I say to people who complain about music or programs that offend them-TURN THE CHANNEL!  If what I offer isn't what you think it should be, there are 1,498,633 other blogs you can look at. Maybe they are professional chefs or actual recipe creators, cookbook authors or just way smarter than me. I. me.

So there it is. I'm just a middle aged wife and Mom. I enjoy my job. I enjoy my kids and hubby. I enjoy my cat (who wouldn't-she is cuter than the dickens). I like to make people feel good with my food. I enjoy watching them eat something and really enjoy it themselves. I enjoy beer, and wine, and apparently last night a little too much Cuervo. I love bonfires, camping, fireflies, tulips, fresh cut grass and riding around our yard on our white trash golf cart.

And I like hanging out here.

all the pics were taken today on a walk around the yard. I can't wait to plant the garden, use the fire pit, and barbecue. It has been winter waaaay too long!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

It's Easy gettin' Cheesey

I love bread. Like, A LOT. I am the first one in the bread basket when it arrives at the table. Bread, butter.....a match made in heaven.
I get email updates from Kraft, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury and I click and look and will say "Hmm, that might be good" or "my family would bolt from the table if I ever served that". One day I got the email and it was a round Sourdough loaf that was cut, drizzled with butter, stuffed with cheese and then baked.
I'm really not a Sourdough fan. Please do not send the hate mail (like the ones I received when I admitted to not liking ice cream, strawberries or any pie other than pecan and chocolate). I know lots of people enjoy the taste of Sourdough, but not in this house. I kept looking for a round loaf I could use and finally found this in the bakery section of our local grocery store.
mmmmmm, bread

The recipe, if you can even call it that, is pretty much 3 ingredients-bread, butter and cheese. I, however, wanted to bump up the flavor, so I added a fourth element. Garlic powder. I mean, c'mon-who doesn't like garlic bread?

Cheesey Party Loaf
(adapted from on-line recipe**)

1 loaf round bread

1/2 stick butter, melted

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1 cup shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Slice across the loaf in 1-inch increments, not cutting through the bottom of the bread. Turn the loaf 90 degrees and cut across the loaf again in 1-inch increments. The bread will have 1-inch 'fingers' now. Fan the bread a little to open it up. Stir the garlic powder into melted butter. Pour the melted butter down the rows of the cut bread, making sure to cover horizontal and vertical rows. Take pinchfuls of the shredded cheese and stuff down each row, again making sure to go across all rows, tucking the cheese down into the crevices.

Wrap the loaf in heavy duty tin foil, or a double layer of regular tin foil. Place wrapped loaf on your oven rack that is placed in the middle of the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the cheese is all melty and gooey.

The second time I made this, I melted a little extra butter and just sprinkled a little more garlic powder in then brushed it over the top of the loaf.
It is so simple but oh so good. My family devoured it at our family Christmas a couple of weeks ago. You just break off a hunk and go. I also made it last weekend for our Girl's Night and brought the half loaf home and we re-warmed it to go with our leftover Prime Rib.
Your tummy-and your family-will thank you.

On to other business.
Twenty years ago at about 5:25 AM, we were blessed with our first daughter Ally. Happy Birthday Baby! I love you even more now than I did when they placed you in my arms all those years ago. I'm sad that I don't get to make you a special dinner or a cake, but I know you have fun plans tonight with your high school BFF and your sister who are driving up North as we speak. Be good, be careful, have fun!

** I checked all of my on-line recipe e-mail sites and can't find the original recipe, so I'm not sure who gets proper credit. UPDATE: it is from Taste of Home, just got an update and checked their site :)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Raise your hand if you are sick of winter...Or, how delish are these leftovers?

photo by Amanda Glaus from MN

This is what the weather looks like where I live right now, and this is good compared to what it was like down in the country where we live. It was Girls Night tonight, but got pushed to Girls Afternoon due to the impending weather. I get together with my friends C and M, whom I used to work with at the Bank. We get together not as often as we would like, but usually every other month or so. We all make food then sit and eat said food and talk about what is new in each of our lives. Today, our food was awesome like always! C made turkey meatballs with a glaze of Cocktail sauce and grape jelly and some mustard and her famous guac, M brought veggies and dip and a pan of chocolate chip cookie bars and I made popcorn salad and made a loaf of cheesy bread (which I will share this upcoming week). I also brought a bottle of Rose Regale for them to try-it was a 10 on everyones list.

My plate of food this afternoon

Last night Dude and I were going to have date night and decided to ask Drama Queen to come since we were going out for Prime Rib-and she hadn't had any for a long, long time. We went to Wiederholt's in Miesville, MN. It is an old fashioned supper club that has been owned by the same family for maybe 60 years. It is old school. Dark paneling, red curtains and carpeting, old fashioned chandeliers with the orange bulbs. They serve you a tray of crudities with dip and ice sprinkled over the veggies to keep cold, an assortment of crackers and fresh buns, a stick of REAL butter, salads and your main course. It is always busy on the weekends, so a nice man offered DQ and me his chairs and we all enjoyed a cocktail while we waited-DQ had a Shirley Temple only (she was our sober cab-I must say it is quite handy!) We all ordered the Prime Rib-Dude and I had the 24 ounce cut will Boo had the 16 ounce. We knew we would have enough to bring home and enjoy this evening. I made some baked potatoes, warmed the meat in au jus and reheated the remaining cheesy bread from this afternoon. It was delightful. Just enough for a small supper after watching an awesome Daytona 500. We are not big sports buffs in our house, but we love us some racing! We have a local track only 16 miles from our house, so we like to get to at least one race each year.

So, while the weather is awful (I don't even want to think about us having to drive in this crap-thankfully DQ is off due to the holiday) we had our fair share of wonderful food this weekend. Can't remember the last time we had a dinner bill of $114......darn Cosmos!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

And they didn't even bring a Hostess gift

Some freaking bug has entered my body and refuses to leave. I had to cancel my lunch date with my best friend from high school and feel the need to go back to bed again. So much for plans of cooking this weekend.

I do hope to have an appy to share with you, as I am having Girl's Night with my former co-workers tomorrow (if this personal attack on my immune system will allow me). It was so easy-saw it on Kraft or Pillsbury maybe? I made it last weekend for my family Christmas party---and forgot to take a picture, so am making it again for the girls for tomorrow, along with Meg's favorite Popcorn salad.

I'm off to drink hot water and honey, gargle with some salt water, and slowly chip away at the layers of skin on my nose.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Devils Food Heath Bar Cake

While perusing several of the blogs I follow, I found this over at Framed. I did change it up a bit as I'm not a big fan of Butterfingers. Plus, since Hermit Crab was home with her boyfriend, I totally missed a step and an ingredient, but I actually liked it better this way. The cake the original way was very good, but it totally fell apart. I like my cake a little more...toothy, or at least in one piece on the plate. It is VERY rich, so we cut it in 12 pieces; next time: 16.

Devils Food Heath Bar Cake

1 box Devils food cake mix
--ingredients called for on box
1 jar Hot caramel sauce (for ice cream)
1 container Cool Whip (or homemade-I didn't have the facility to whip the cream)
2 regular size Heath Bars (I had minis, so we crushed up about 12)

Bake cake according to directions on package for two 9-inch round pans. Let cool in pan for about 5 minutes. Flip out onto wire rack, then flip again onto a cookie sheet. Poke holes all over the top of the cake. I used a chop stick. Heat up the Hot caramel sauce in the jar in the microwave for about 40 seconds. Pour over the cake and let it seep into holes and pool on top. Let the cakes cool, then place one top of the other and let cool completely. Right before serving, top with Cool Whip (if you have limited options) or fresh whipped cream. Sprinkle with crushed Heath Bars.

You can check out Kathleen's site for original recipe from where she got the recipe. The original includes mixing the Hot caramel sauce with a can of sweetened condensed milk, then pouring it over the holey cake. It was terrific, but you need to not layer the cake or it will crumble, and it will crumble a little on the plate.