Monday, December 30, 2013

Beef and Mushroom Gravy

I've been hungry for sautéed mushrooms and onions for quite a while so I figured if I combine it with beef chunks and serve it all over mashed potatoes I could please the big guys and get my fill of mushrooms and onions. It was amazing! So full of flavor, very filling, and just really, really good!
4-5 cups beef cubes
(aka stew meat)
1 large sweet onion, sliced
8 oz. fresh Crimini mushrooms, sliced
Olive Oil, for sautéing
dash of Worcestershire Sauce
1/3 cup Burgundy cooking wine
¾ cup all purpose flour/ water
¼ cup beef bouillon
1 quart water
In a Dutch Oven sauté the mushrooms and sliced onion in Olive Oil until they begin to caramelize. Pour in the wine, scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon to deglaze and turn to low.
In a separate iron skillet sauté the stew meat in olive oil over medium high heat until browned on all sides. With a slotted spoon remove meat from iron skillet and place into Dutch Oven with the mushrooms and onions. Stir occasionally.
In the meantime add 1 quart of water and the beef bouillon to the juices in iron skillet. Heat through. Make a thick white sauce with the flour and water and whisk into the bubbling beef broth. Season with salt and pepper and pour through a sieve into the Dutch Oven. Cover and bake at 335 degrees for one hour. Reduce heat to 275 and bake for another hour and fifteen minutes. Stir several times during baking time to avoid sticking to the bottom of the Dutch Oven.

Serve with mashed potatoes or noodles.
Be Blessed!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Spicy Yellow Rice

If you like spicy and rice in the same dish this will make you happy. I have been enjoying this rice in a variety of ways for the last few weeks and I'm still not tired of it! I love the kick it gets from the red pepper flakes and the chipotle powder and the corn adds just a touch of sweet to it to mellow some of the spiciness.

1 cup Basmatti Rice
1 cup whole Kernel Corn
2 cups water
1½ Tablespoons Butter or Oil
2 teaspoons Dried Parsley Flakes
1 teaspoon Dry Onion Flakes
1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
1 teaspoon Salt
½ teaspoon Turmeric
¼ teaspoon Chipotle Chili Powder
Peperoncini Slices, optional
Place all ingredients except Peperoncini Slices in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Stir and reduce heat to simmer, covered, for 10-12 minutes. Fluff with a fork and enjoy. Makes approximately 4-5 cups.
I have enjoyed this rice in wraps, mixed with Fajita Chicken, Taco meat, in salads, or alone. I have yet to try it with a scrambled egg mixed in with a serving of it but I think that would be tasty as well. And it depends what I'm eating it with whether I add the hot pepper slices or not.
with lettuce, fajita chicken and sour cream
Happy Weekend!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Blessed Christmas to All!

Every photo has a story:

So every year I hope to take the perfect family Christmas photo.
Funny, because I always procrastinate about this. And... well... the guys are never actually begging to pose.
But this year I felt all organized and clever because I was going to get it done when we went to Ohio for my nephews wedding. In September, no less!
But alas, I forgot my clothes that I had planned to wear!
(This wasn't the first time this year that this kind of thing had happened!)
What's happening to me?!?!
 I had everyone else's but mine.
 So out of necessity I begged some from my sister. She was happy to share and, um, out of her 2 closets and quite a few drawers we were able to make me look reasonably presentable.
To add to the drama we waited till right before we left for the wedding and had to rush a bit... then my husbands phone rang... sigh...
Then the silliness took over... yes, even teenagers do it!
Just don't ask me why it's usually the same one being a clown. :)

So here is my conclusion:
We are not perfect so the perfect photo will probably never happen, but we love to laugh, we love to have fun, and sometimes life is just plain funny, even if it doesn't go as planned. It's best to roll with it and not obsess about what could have been. :) Because sometimes what is, is wonderful just the way it is.

Merry Christmas from my house to yours!


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Creamy Finger Jello

I was asked to bring finger Jello to serve with a hot lunch us room Mom's were serving to Serena's classroom at school. Jello isn't something I typically serve,but I have about 2 or 3 recipes using Jello that I make about once in a blue moon.

One reason I make this one is because it isn't a typical, plain finger Jello. But also because it looks like a two step process when it really isn't. Everything is mixed as one and it separates as it sets. And the cream adds a good flavor.

2 large boxes Jello
4 packages plain gelatin
4½ cups boiling water
¼ cup cold water
1 cup heavy cream

Combine the Jello and gelatin and whisk together. Add the boiling water and whisk until Jello is dissolved. Add the remaining ingredients and stir. Pour into a lightly greased (this helps to remove from the pan in a cleaner cut, spray the pan then wipe it down with a paper towel) glass 9 X 13 pan. Cover and chill till firm. Cut into desired shapes or squares and serve.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Monster Munch Biscotti

 I don't know about you but sometimes cookie baking seems so time consuming! So I decided to take a favorite and try it as a biscotti. It worked quite well with a few adjustments. I don't really know if it took less time than baking them as usual but it was more interesting, more fun, and they are just as yummy usual!
3 eggs + 2 egg yolks
½ cup butter, softened
¾ cup brown sugar
¾ cup white sugar
1½ cups creamy peanut butter
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4½ cups quick oats
12.6 oz. peanut M&M's
Mix together in the order given. Let dough sit for a bit so the oatmeal absorbs some of the moisture. Divide evenly and spread on two lined cookie sheets.
Bake at 325° for 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Cut into strips with a pizza cutter. (Cut across then in half for better handling ability). Move them apart so there is some space between pieces then bake again at 300° for 5-7 minutes. Allow to cool completely. Dip the bottoms in chocolate and drizzle some over the tops.
Brew some coffee and enjoy!
♥Be Blessed!♥

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Dressed Up Chocolate Layer Cake

Inspired by Pinterest and this photo from Annie's Eats I decided to try my hand at extreme cake layering. I've been wanting to make it for a looong time but knew I needed a good reason to make a big cake like this! It is really tall and serves a good many people! I took it along to a ladies Christmas supper at church and a lot of us just cut down through as many layers as we wanted and left the rest of the layers of the same piece for the next person. This works well except it cheats someone of the rich but yummy chocolate glaze. :(
 The cake itself is yummy, the strawberries add pizazz, and the Ganache is fabulous!

For the cake:
5 large eggs, separated
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2½cups all purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa
1¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk*
Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form; set aside.
Beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the yolks one at a time, beating until blended after each addition.
Combine the dry ingredients; add to the butter mixture alternately with buttermilk beginning and ending with dry ingredients.
*(I didn't have buttermilk on hand but it works fine to place a tablespoon of lemon juice in a 1 cup  measuring cup and filling it the rest of the way with regular milk. Allow it to sit until it thickens and is curdled.)
Fold in the beaten egg whites.
Spray 3 (8 inch) round cake pans with non stick spray. Fit the bottom of each pan with parchment or waxed paper. (Trim to an exact fit)
Divide batter evenly and bake at 325° for 25-30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool in the pans for 10 minutes then invert onto paper lined cooling racks. Remove the paper from the bottom of the cake and allow cakes to cool completely.
To assemble cut each cake in half and layer with cream cheese icing.
For the icing:
3 (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
3 sticks butter, softened
3 teaspoons clear vanilla extract
1-2 Tablespoons milk
Powdered sugar,
enough to reach desired consistency
After I was done with the layers I refrigerated the cake to firm up the icing before covering the outside. Refrigerate again before pouring Ganache over the top.
For the Ganache:
6 oz. Dark chocolate chips
6 oz. heavy cream
pinch of salt
dash of vanilla
1½ teaspoons light corn syrup
Combine the chocolate chips, salt, vanilla, and corn syrup in a heatproof bowl.
In a saucepan heat the heavy cream until tiny bubbles appear around the edges. This should be good and hot but not boiling. Pour over the chocolate chip mixture and let sit for about a minute. Stir with a wire whisk until smooth. Allow to cool to almost room temperature but still pourable.
Pour slowly onto the center of the top of the cooled cake until ganache begins to run down the sides a bit (or a lot). No spreading should be necessary.
Garnish as desired.
Enjoy your work of art! :)!

Next up is a white cake with lemon curd and raspberry fillings.
Wouldn't that be pretty?! Not to mention delicious!! :)
We are anticipating more snow today (fingers crossed). I hope it comes!
I have a cookie recipe that I'd like to convert into a biscotti recipe so Serena and I plan to do a bit of baking and experimenting today and perhaps some chocolate candy dipping. But if it snows I may not be able to resist going outside to walk in it. So we will see what happens I guess. :)
The guys are at the cabin for one last weekend doing some hunting for the two that are not tagged out, the other two will be winterizing the cabin and taking down tree stands, etc.
Happy Weekend to all of you!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Cotton Colored Happiness...

The snow has been refreshing and lovely the last few days! The kids had a snow day today. The boys helped Lin at work then came home mid afternoon to skin the deer (4) they brought home from the hunt in the mountains over the weekend and to shovel snow from the driveway. Serena spent most of the day sledding with the neighbor kids which made it feel like a normal day here because all was quiet.

I baked some breads, regular and banana and did some other odds and ends around here.

I took a walk through the snow this afternoon, who could resist such a lovely thing?!

Wishing you a warm and cozy evening!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Honeyed Pomegranate Citrus Vinaigrette and a Giveaway Winner

Has any of you noticed the Pomegranates in the grocery store lately? They are quite large and have a beautiful deep red color.
And they are delicious!!
The heavier menu over Thanksgiving had me wishing for something light and refreshing. I had two Poms in the fridge so I decided to experiment with them. I was quite pleased with the flavor that came out of it!! The seeds are also a refreshing addition to a salad. Little bursts of flavor in every bite! :)
Taste bud happiness!
¾ cup Pomegranate Juice
(approx. 10 oz. seeds)
1½ Tablespoons Orange Juice
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1½ Tablespoons White Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Honey
Orange Zest, for garnish,
Blend the seeds just enough to break them all open. Push through a sieve and discard the pulp. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well with a wire whisk. Serve over Artisan Lettuce (my favorite!), Feta Cheese, Orange Glazed sliced Almonds, Pomegranate Seeds, Avocado slices, and Onion for a delightful, and refreshing salad.
And yes, it's good any time of the day, even for breakfast! :)
Thank you to all of you who participated in the Giveaway :) it was great to have you here!

Congrats to Carmen, you are a winner! :)
Her comment:
(Great! Count me in! Love your pics! Carmen)
♥Blessings to all of you today!♥

Saturday, November 30, 2013

"Nature Channel" (Feeling Blue....)

 'My' Bluebirds are back!! I was so excited!!!
Thanks to this Suet Recipe they stay around here all winter. I can never get enough of them, they are beautiful!!
This guy was bossy. Whenever he showed up everyone else would leave.

I've got my eye on you...

And when he came around the Bluebirds all left.

Family dining.
Hey there...
The sunset a few days ago...
Into the Blue...
We are enjoying our Thanksgiving Vacation of mostly doing nothing. It feels good to slow down and hang out with the kids. "Doctor Quinn" is helping out with this :) I hope you are enjoying your vacation as well!
Be sure to stop in (previous post) for the Giveaway if you haven't already.
Enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Latte Roundup and a French Press Giveaway

Because I'm thankful for all of you and I love your 'visits' and because it's my Birthday month (44 if you're wondering) and because giving things makes me smile I'd love to share some favorite things with someone. (dark chocolate truffles and one of my current favorite books a mug and a French Press)
So leave a comment to let me know you were here and share if you'd like. And I'll enter your name for the giveaway! Giveaway open till December 2.
And be sure to check out the lattes if straight coffee is not something you enjoy.
The French Press can also be used with tea bags. I love mine!
 Thanks for stopping by!
Have a wonderful, blessing filled Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Savoy Dip Bowl

I was recently looking through a book written by Martha Stewart about her catering business long ago and noticed that she used hollowed out cabbage heads for her dip bowls.
Kinda cool.
So because us room Moms are preparing lunch for Serena's classroom today I thought I'd give it a try.
This wasn't exactly on the menu we had planned but I stopped at the grocery store this morning and the frilly Green Leaf Lettuce spoke to me... then I noticed the Savoy Cabbage...
I mean, who could resist eating their veggies when they look so fresh and pretty?!

Rule #1.
Always eat your veggies!
♥Have a wonderful day!!♥

Saturday, November 16, 2013

White Fudge Bars

This is definitely my new favorite bar recipe. And the festive colors are just in time for the Christmas season. :) They are chewy and nutty... and delicious with a hot drink!
Give them a try!

Oatmeal Mixture:
 1-2/3 cups brown sugar
1 cup butter
2 eggs + 1 yolk
2 teaspoons clear vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups quick oats
5 ounces chopped Macadamia Nuts
 2½ cups flour (Gold Medal)

Fudge Mixture:
16 ounces Yogurt Coating Wafers
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons butter
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons clear vanilla
 ½ cup Craisins
1/3 cup Pistachios

Press approximately ¾ of the oatmeal mixture into a 10 X15 inch bar pan sprayed with non stick spray.
Place the first five fudge mixture ingredients into a microwaveable bowl (or double boiler) and melt/stir till smooth. Add the dried cranberries and pistachios and spread evenly on top of the oatmeal mixture. Press the remaining oatmeal mixture into flat pieces and randomly place on top of fudge mixture.
Bake at 350° for 20-23 (max) minutes. About a half inch around the edge turns brown but doesn't affect the taste, and is necessary for the center to bake completely. :) Anything more than 23 minutes in the oven turns the rest of the top brown as well. Not really the look you're after. 

♥Have a Blessed Weekend!♥

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Simple Pleasures...


The Maple leaves have finally fallen. Most of the time I get the boys to pick them up with the mower without even blowing or raking them but tonight there was quite a pile and I knew Serena wanted to play in them so I made an enormous pile and told her to enjoy. She did! :)

I was in the kitchen a few days ago doing some baking when I had a sudden inspiration. Instead of making regular Fudge Bars why not make some White Fudge Bars?! After thinking about some of the details I baked them for some friends that came over last night, and I shared some with my neighbor and the school teachers this morning. I was told they pass the test! :)  I'll share them with you after I bake them one more time. :) They look festive and I think they're scrumptious, but then, I may be biased! haha