Sunday, October 28, 2012

~Random~


Lancaster County Beauty

 Smyrna Road
 Kinzers, Pa.
 
This past week was a busy but beautiful one. The weather was perfect and seemed almost Spring like except for the color on the trees. I did a lot of work outside in the flowerbeds. Getting them ready for winter and also doing some thinning and transplanting of the perennials.

 
I went to watch our son Shawn and his team play a soccer game - they won.☺
 
 
I love watching our boys play sports. It doesn't really matter if I don't always know the rules or purpose (football anyone? :) of the game. It's just fun to see them enjoying what they do and encouraging their teammates and having a great time. And I thank God for healthy kids that provide us with this privilege.
 
To me it doesn't matter as much if they win or lose but in how they play the game. Are they remembering to play with integrity? no matter what? Win or lose there is always character building going on. Character can be built on both the winning or losing teams.
 
I love to see how these kids (team members) lift each other up in the tough times and share the glory when it's going well.
 
Currently we are anticipating lots of rain and wind from "Sandy". I guess time will tell whether it is as major as predicted. Kinda wishing it would be snow instead of rain. ☺ To everyone in the affected area, prepare and stay safe, and hopefully dry inside! The kids will be happy about a day off of school.
 
 
Have a lovely week!
 
 ♥Blessings!♥

Friday, October 26, 2012

Baked Potato Omelets


What a fun way to enjoy an omelet! The combination of potato, ham, cheddar, and egg is delicious! I made a few with mushrooms and onions and the other one was just plain without the veggies. That one seemed to cook faster.
 

 
Use Omelet ingredients that work for you .

 
I rubbed olive oil on the potatoes and baked them uncovered in a baking pan @350° until they were done. About an hour and a half. Allow to cool then cut a slice off the top and scoop out the center leaving a little on the inside of the skin. These were smallish potatoes and I used 2 eggs with some milk but 3 eggs would have filled them a little better.
 
3 medium potatoes, baked
3 eggs
1½ Tablespoons milk
diced ham
diced onion
diced mushrooms
shredded cheddar cheese
Homemade bacon Bits
Parsley flakes
salt and pepper to taste
 
 
To those of you who stop in here to read and have taken the time to tell me personally that you do. Thank you! I'm always amazed to know that you take time out of your busy lives to see what might be happening in my kitchen :) You have blessed me!
 
                                                                                   
 
There are like a million and one things I should do today, for instance:
 
The basement looks like a war zone. We were starting an innocent little remodel and discovered mold behind the wall. Not cool! So now it is not such a little thing, and it stinks like Clorox!
 
The weather threatens for the weekend and the leaves should be done before that happens.
 
I have a few flowerbeds that should be done before that happens as well.
 
The usual cleaning and laundry that goes with a Friday.
 
It is overcast and all I want to do is brew something hot and bake some pies and take care of that other recipe that's been on the back burner in my mind for a long time.
 
Okay that wasn't quite a million and one things, but they all take so much time! 
 
But... I do have helpers ☺ so it's all good. The basement wall is ready for the dry lock paint, the boys and Lin are on schedule for that after school/work. The outside work is actually kind of therapeutic and I plan to do that today. Whoever invented the back pack leaf blower was a genius!! The cleaning can be done tomorrow, (Serena can help with that), along with the baby meal I'm preparing for a friend. Which reminds me I need a plan and a menu for that. The laundry can be multi-tasked in today.
 
The brewing and baking, however, may have to wait but they won't be going anywhere. Why is it that the fun things always have to wait, or is that just my business before pleasure mindset?
 
I bet you feel better now that you know this stuff. ☺
 
Hope you have a wonderful day!
 
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♥Blessings!♥

Monday, October 22, 2012

Mushroom Garlic and Rosemary Roast

 
A friend recently gave me a big bag of fresh Baby Bella mushrooms. She drives past the mushroom houses on her way to and from work so they are super fresh and delicious! Love those little things! but I knew I would never "sell" them to my family. So I decided to saute them with some fresh pressed garlic and rosemary leaves and put them through the blender with some beef broth to make a thick "gravy" that I could use to bake a chuck roast in in the crock pot. The flavor was there but not the mushrooms. I liked it too that it was thick without the addition of flour, although it did thin a bit as it cook in the crock pot with all the moisture and juices from the meat.

too pretty and yummy to blend, but...☺
 
3-3½ lb. chuck roast
Coarse Sea Salt
Freshly Cracked Pepper
 
Generously season both sides of the roast; set aside.
 
4 cups Baby Bella Mushrooms, sliced
6 Garlic Cloves, fresh pressed
Fresh Rosemary leaves
1/3 cup Burgundy Cooking Wine
2 cups Beef Broth
 Olive Oil
 
Put olive oil into saute pan and brown the roast on all sides over high heat. Place roast into crock pot. Add a bit more olive oil to the pan and saute mushrooms over medium heat until they are beginning to brown around the edges. Toss in the fresh garlic and rosemary leaves and continue to saute till mushrooms are done. Place into blender.
 
Return pan to the burner and deglaze with the burgundy wine scraping bits off the bottom. Continue to cook and stir until wine is reduced to about a Tablespoon or so. Add beef broth and whisk. Place some of the mixture in the pan into the blender with the mushrooms and blend until smooth. Pour into pan and heat through. Pour this over the roast in the crock pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours or till the roast is tender. Remove roast from the gravy and wrap snugly into a large piece of foil and allow it to steam for 30 minutes.
 
My son called it amazing! I'm sure he WOULD be amazed if I would tell him that he ate mushrooms! I will keep my happy little secret and continue on! ☺ Kind of obvious that he/they never read(s) this blog, eh? ☺ 
 
This would have been perfect to serve with mashed potatoes but because that was what we had the night before as a side dish I kept the mushroom gravy for another use and served the roast with something else.

 
♥Blessings!♥

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Random



My 'Good Morning" from God ☺
 
 
Love how the sun forms a star as it blazes through the trees!
 
                                                                       
 
The hunters that live here have left us for the mountains in hopes of bagging a few deer. So Serena and I will have a quiet weekend of doing whatever we fancy, and eating when, if, and what we fancy. I whipped up a bit of girl food this morning and plan to stay out of the kitchen as much as possible for the rest of the weekend. As much as I enjoy cooking and baking a break now and then is nice! ☺
 
 
 
When I was still living at home we could see both sunrises and sunsets. Where I've lived since I'm married the trees have blocked either one or both of them. I really miss them and so a few nights ago I went to a place where I could see what remained of this one. Ahhh, LOVELY!
 
~Happy Weekend!~

Creamy Lemon Meringue Squares

♥ at first bite!
 

 
My sister Karen makes this creamy, lemon-y deliciousness in pie form, but I decided to try it with a traditional Lemon Bar crust in a larger pan. Wow! The fact that the crust is buttery and flaky and thicker than a normal pie crust and the filling is more evenly distributed with the Meringue on top makes it pretty near to perfect, in my humble opinion.☺ Seriously though, I really, really like them like this! And the sour cream in the filling mellows the lemon flavor just right. The meringue on top takes care of the super sweet powdered sugar that traditional Lemon Bars are dusted with. Try them, I think you will like them!
 
For the Crust:
1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter,
slightly softened
¾ cup powdered sugar
3 cups all purpose flour
 
Place ingredients into a mixer with the wire whip attachment and mix until crumbs form. Or you can cut the butter into the flour/sugar like you do for pie crust. The mixer is much quicker though. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a greased 10 X 15 bar. Bake @350° for 15-20 minutes.
 
 
For the Filling:
2 cups white sugar
½ cup cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
6 egg yolks, beaten
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
(about 2 lg. lemons)
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 cups sour cream
 
For the Meringue:
6 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
12 Tablespoons white sugar
 
In a saucepan combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk together. Gradually add the milk, stirring until smooth. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Blend a small amount into beaten egg yolks; mix well. Add back into the milk mixture in the  saucepan; mix well. Remove from heat and whisk vigorously for 2 minutes. Add the butter, lemon juice, and zest. Mix well and set aside.
 
For the Meringue beat the egg whites until they are light and foamy. Add the cream of tartar and vanilla. Beat until soft peaks form then begin adding the sugar 1 Tablespoon at a time; beating until stiff peaks form. I let the mixer run while I add the sugar.
 
Fold sour cream into Lemon filling and spread onto crust. Top with the Meringue and tease into peaks. Bake @350° for 12-15 minutes or till browned.
 
 
Brew some delicious coffee or tea and sit down for a real treat!

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♥Be Blessed!♥

Scrumptious Chicken Tenders


 
I'm always looking for different ways to make something good even better. I tried these several times before I was satisfied. They are super moist and delicious! And they bake in a hurry!
 
17-20 Chicken Tenders, trimmed
 
1½ cups Mayo
1 cup Buttermilk
1 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
 
16 oz. Italian Panko Crumbs
1 Tablespoon McCormick
Garlic and Herb Seasoning
1 teaspoon freshly cracked Pepper
1 teaspoon salt
 
Trim the Tenders and set aside. Combine the next 3 ingredients. Place chicken Tenders into Mayo/Milk mixture. Make sure each piece is coated.
 
In a separate bowl combine the Panko crumbs and seasonings. Dredge each chicken piece in the crumbs and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake @ 375°-400° for 20-25 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and crumbs are beginning to brown.
 
Serve with a salad for an quick, easy, and satisfying meal.
 
♥Blessings!♥
 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Caramel Sauce

I ♥ Caramel!
 
 
This, my friends, is delicious and a great way to top off  cakes, desserts, or Apple Dumplings , etc.
It's also easy and uses simple ingredients.
 
1 stick butter
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups water
 
2 cups brown sugar
 
1/3 cup (slightly rounded) clear jel
cook type
1 cup water
 
2 teaspoons vanilla
 
Combine butter, salt, and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. After it boils add the brown sugar and stir. Bring to a boil again. Meanwhile combine the clear jel and 1 cup of water and stir till smooth. When the sugar mixture boils the second time slowly add the clear jel mixture while stirring with a wire whisk to prevent lumps. Add vanilla extract.
 
 
♥Be Blessed!♥

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Layered Date Nut Cake with Caramel Sauce

 
Yummy!
 
 
This is a dessert that was often served around the Holidays or at weddings when I was growing up Traditionally the cake was cut into squares and served as a trifle layered with Cool Whip, Caramel Sauce, and bananas. I always think you get more Cool Whip than anything else when it's served like that so I decided to change things up a bit and serve it like this. I think I like it better because the filling and cake and the sauce are more evenly distributed.

 
1 cup dates, diced fine
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup hot water
1 cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon butter
1 cup all purpose flour
1 egg
½ cup chopped pecans, optional
 
In a small saucepan combine the dates, hot water, and baking soda and bring to a boil. Boil till the dates are tender. Pour into a mixer bowl and add the rest of the ingredients; mix. Pour into a 9 X 13 baking pan that is lined with parchment paper and the paper lightly greased. Bake @350° for 20-25 minutes or till toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and lift the cake out of the pan holding the parchment paper and allow to cool completely. Cut in half, or into 1 inch squares if preparing it as a trifle.
 
Spread filling in between and on top.
 
Filling:
1 (8 oz.) Cool Whip
8 oz. Cream Cheese
¼ cup (approx.) Caramel Sauce
 
In a mixer whip the cream cheese until fluffy. Add the Caramel Sauce and beat to combine. Fold in Cool Whip.

 
 

Slice and serve with Caramel Sauce, sliced bananas, and chopped pecans. The bananas and pecans are always optional but add a delicious flavor! Enjoy!
 
 
If you are looking for an easy party to host for your littles and their friends, check out Martina's great ideas at Become A Nanny. They are sure to enjoy the sweet party she has planned!
 
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♥Blessings!♥


Monday, October 15, 2012

Golden Raisin Sticky Buns

 
When I was younger and living at home my Mom used to make these with Pecans and we would call them Pecan Rolls. But when I got married and moved to Pennsylvania I discovered they call them Sticky Buns and bake them with raisins. They also make them with Pecans but since my family prefers them with raisins that is how I bake them. I usually put Pecans on one, just for me ☺. I don't really care for the way they look with the dark raisins so I prepare them with Golden Raisins. I think they look a bit more appetizing this way and the flavor isn't altered. 
 
1 Tablespoon dry Yeast
(I used instant)
¼ cup warm water
 
Combine in a small bowl and stir till all the yeast is wet. Set aside.
 
1 cup milk, scalded
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4-4½ cups all purpose flour
2 eggs
1 cup quick oats
1/3 cup butter,
melted 
 
Filling:
½ sugar
½ brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
 
In a mixer bowl combine the sugar and salt. Pour scalded milk over sugar and salt. Add 1 cup flour;
stir. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and add to the yeast mixture along with the quick oats; stir together. Add this to the milk mixture in the mixer. (tongue twister?) Add flour to form a soft dough. Last add the melted butter and knead for 10 minutes. I never think this is going to work, but it does. I did end up kneading it by hand a little on a floured surface because I enjoy working it by hand. Place in a greased bowl, grease the top of the dough as well. Cover and let rise in a warm place till doubled. About 45-60 minutes. I placed it into the oven with the light on inside.
 
Meanwhile, in a saucepan, combine the gooey syrup for the bottom of the pan.
 
6 Tablespoons butter
6 Tablespoons dark corn syrup
¾ cup brown sugar
 
Bring to a boil over low heat. Boil for 1-2 minutes or until sugar is completely dissolved. Divide evenly into 2 (9 inch) round pans. Make sure they are sprayed with non stick spray.
 
Place a heavy layer of Golden Raisins, Regular Raisins, or Pecans over the syrup.
 
 
When the dough is finished rising, divide equally into 2 pieces. Roll out into a rectangle (approximately 18 X 5 inches) on a lightly greased surface. Brush dough with water, just enough to make it wet so the sugar/cinnamon mixture sticks to it. Roll into a log. Cut into 1 inch pieces. Pinch seam together and place on top of the syrup/raisin mixture

 
Cover and let rise again until doubled.

 
Bake @350° for 20-25 minutes. When done baking invert onto a plate right away.
 
 
♥Blessings!♥
 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Almost-Famous Breadtsticks

 
These breadsticks are perfect with soups like Chili or the Italian Meatball Soup (previous post). They are chewy and flavorful and perfect for dipping. I don't make them very often but when I do they disappear quickly.
 
Ingredients:
Courtesy of The Food Network
1 package (approx. 1¼ TBSP.)
active dry yeast
¼ cup warm water
 
4¼ cups all purpose flour, more for dusting
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1&1/3 cups water
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon fine salt
Oregano
Garlic Powder
 
Topping:
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
very fine garlic salt
 
Combine the yeast and ¼ cup of warm water and set aside to soak for about 5 minutes. Pour into a mixer bowl and add the the flour, butter, sugar, fine, salt, and the rest of the water; mix with the paddle attachment until a slightly sticky dough forms, about 3-5 minutes.
 
Turn out onto a floured surface and knead by hand until smooth and soft, about 3 minutes. Roll into a 2 foot long log and cut into 16 - 1½ inch pieces. Knead slightly and shape into a 7 inch breadsticks. Place on a parchment paper line baking sheet 2 inches apart. Cover with a cloth and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
 
Preheat oven to 400°. Melt butter for topping and brush half of it over breadsticks. Bake 15 minutes or till golden. Brush with remaining butter and sprinkle with fine garlic salt.
 
 
 
I'm pleased to tell you the sun has returned to Pa. I should conquer the flowerbeds I suppose but my sweet husband has invited me to ride along on propane deliveries today so I shall ignore the work and the other things that need doing and go along and enjoy his company till lunch time and then go watch Son #2 play soccer this afternoon. Because of that, supper will be simple. Flatbread Pizza Rollups. They are quick, simple, and delicious! and the kids love them.☺
 
♥Have a wonderful day!♥


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Italian Meatball Soup

 
The season for comfort foods like soups and chowders is here! Yay! There's just something about a pot of soup simmering on the stove on a cloudy, chilly day that gives you a good feeling. The sun in my corner of the world has been hiding behind the clouds for days and soup just seemed appropriate on this particular night. I served it topped with what I call pizza cheese (shredded mozzarella with grated Parmesan cheeses and Italian seasonings) and Almost Famous Bread Sticks from the Food Network for dipping into the soup. Delicious!
 
For the meatballs:
2½ lbs. 80% ground beef
2 eggs
¼ cup milk
1 cup Homemade Crouton crumbs
2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese
2 garlic cloves, fresh pressed
1 Tablespoon dry onion flakes
1½ teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground Italian seasoning
Butter, for browning
 
Combine the milk, eggs, crouton crumbs and seasonings in a bowl and let set for a bit till the liquid is absorbed. Add the ground beef and mix gently by hand (I wear gloves) until everything is combined.
With a size 100 cookie scoop form meatballs. In a large iron skillet melt some butter and brown them on all sides. Drain them well. Set aside. Pour the excess grease out of the pan but leave the bits on the bottom for de-glazing.
 
For the soup:
¼ cup Sherry cooking wine
(for deglazing)
5-6 cups water
4 teaspoons beef bouillon
3 cups Pizza Sauce
¼ cup brown sugar
*15 oz. can beans,
rinsed well, drained, and blended
 
Return the pan to the heat after pouring off the excess grease and de-glaze with the Sherry, scraping the bits off the bottom of the pan. Dissolve the bouillon in the water and add to the pan along with the Pizza Sauce and brown sugar. Heat and stir till sugar is dissolved. Put the beans in the blender along with some soup liquid and blend until smooth.
 
*I would have preferred Kidney beans but didn't have any on hand so I used Pork n' Beans rinsed until no longer foamy. They added a pleasing flavor and just the right amount of thickness to the liquid.
 
Add the meatballs and heat through and simmer till good and hot. Serve with shredded mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.
 
Serves 8-10


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♥Blessings!♥

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Avocado Hummus




I've never been an all out hummus fan. I've tried different ones and just wasn't crazy for them so when I saw this one I wasn't too sure about it but I love avocados and I had heard that white beans have some good health benefits so I decided to give it a try. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed it. I hope you do too.

1 (15.5 oz.) can White Cannellini Beans,
drained and rinsed
1 Avocado, peeled and diced
1 Tablespoon Lime Juice
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Olive Oil
½ teaspoon Kosher Sea Salt
¼ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

Place everything in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Serve with veggies of your choice or Triscuits.

 
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♥Be Blessed!♥


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

White Chocolate Vanilla Bean Latte

 
Something to warm us up on those chilly Fall days when the sky just weeps.
 
 
I was not gonna do this today. But it keeps raining... and it's chilly... and, well never mind. I just needed a bit of reinforcement. 
 
Sooo, I thought, why not?!
It's warm, it's comforting,
 and it will hit the spot!
 
I was right of course, it did indeed hit the spot after doing an errand in the rain. And it uses two of my favorite ingredients. White chocolate and a vanilla bean. So I knew I couldn't go wrong there. The only thing better would have been someone to share it with.
 
2 cups milk
½ cup strong brewed coffee
(Starbucks Vanilla flavored coffee)
½ cup white chocolate chips
1 vanilla bean
(contents of)
 
In a small saucepan heat the milk, coffee, and chocolate chips over medium heat. Meanwhile cut vanilla bean in half and scrape out the contents of each half with a spoon. Add to the milk mixture and continue heating till chocolate is melted mixture is frothy.
 
heavy cream
vanilla extract
 
Beat together till stiff and dollop on top of each latte serving.
 
Pour into 2 mugs, dollop cream on top and serve immediately.
 
 
Hope you all have a good evening!
 
Blessings!