Saturday, June 23, 2012

What's For Dinner?

It's been quite awhile since I updated this blog.  So hear I am back at it.  This blog and cooking are sort of a therapy to me, quite frankly to keep me sane.  I'm wondering if people were this busy 100 years ago? Did Grandma come home after a long day at the office and put a healthy meal on the table? I think not but it does make you wonder what and how our ancestors cooked meals.  Since the advent of electricity and old ice boxes have been sent by the wayside a new way of cooking has popped up.  Once a Month Cooking, Freezer Cooking or Frozen Assets.

When my sister was hugely pregnant with her last child we tried one of those places where you assemble meals, bring them home and freeze until you are ready to serve.  We spent a fortune on all the already prepped veggies, meats and felt wonderful about it because we were "making" dinner. I'll admit the complimentary coffee or soda was nice, the serene stainless steel atmosphere was heavenly and the fact you didn't have to do the dishes fabulous.  Nicer still was that you could bring a bottle of wine and drink while you cooked.  This make ahead meal store was the best - that is until you cashed out.  So I'm wondering how can I preserve the gourmet wanna-be inside me dying to get out and really have enough meals ready on a moments notice that I'm not stressed about the age old question "What's for dinner?"

Then amazingly I found OAMC on Pinterest.  I've researched it for days now and I'm getting a healthy meal plan in place. I've bought freezer bags, I'm making recipe cards, starting a shopping list and wait for it - I may even clip coupons!  Stay tuned for my adventure in to OAMC.  I'm sure it will get off to a bumpy start but hopefully the ride will be worth the wait.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Halloween Treats

I love Halloween, it's my favorite holiday!  In past years I've carved dozens of pumpkins, bought pounds and pounds of candy and when my nieces and nephews were small I would host a buffet of gory treats for a family dinner before the Moms and Dads took their princesses, ghost busters, clowns and witches door to door.

My table has seen hot dog worms, eyeball deviled eggs, mashed potato ghosts and even personal chicken pot pies baked in small sugar pumpkins.  Desserts could be tombstone brownies, worms in dirt and Halloween shaped cut out cookies.  Every year I try and make a special treat to hand out to the special little people we are blessed to have in our lives.  This year I made Amish Caramel Corn and bagged them up into individual portions and added little Halloween themed bag toppers that I made using scrapbook paper and stickers.  So fun!

Amish Caramel Corn

6-7 quarts (24-28 cups) of freshly popped  popcorn
2 cups dry roasted peanuts
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon salt if desired
1 cup margarine or butter (2 cubes)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 250 degrees.  Place the popcorn in 2 shallow greased baking pans, disposable roasting pans, or a large roasting pan.  Add the peanuts to the popped corn. Set aside.  Combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter or margarine, cream of tartar if used and salt in saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to blend.  Bring the mixture boil for 5 minutes while stirring constantly.  Remove from the heat. Stir in the baking soda and vanilla - beat vigorously. The mixture will become light and foamy.  Immediately pour over the popcorn in the pan and stir to coat. It is okay if not all pieces are coated at this point. Bake for 1 hour stirring every 15 minutes. Line your work surface with waxed paper. Dump the corn out onto the waxed paper and separate the pieces.  Cool completely and then store in an airtight container.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Baby It's Getting Cold Outside!

I will admit that fall going into winter is my favorite season but I really dislike cold and snow.  Last weekend was so cold and wet it felt like winter was just about here.  I was thinking of the tastes that winter brings and immediately hot chocolate popped into my mind.  I'm not big on really sweet hot chocolate, I like a little spice in it.  I decided to see if I could come up with a recipe for a cupcake that tasted like a spicy hot chocolate.  This is what I came up with using a standard box mix I had on hand.

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes with Marshmallow Creme Icing

1 box of chocolate cake mix and
 ingredients to prepare or favorite chocolate cake recipe
1/4 tsp of chili powder
1 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
1 tsp of vanilla

Add all ingredients to the bowl and mix. Add liners to cupcake pans and fill 3/4 full. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until cupcake springs back when you touch the center. Cool completely.

For the frosting:

7 ounces marshmallow cream
1/2 cup butter softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk

add all ingredients except milk to bowl. Beat until well incorporated. Add milk a Tbls at a time until frosting is desired consistency. Refrigerate cupcakes as frosting is very much like marshmallows and is gooey and sticky good!

I've made another batch to bring to a party tonight and I am going to add Mini Hershey bars for decorating the tops.  I think you could use candy canes, cocoa powder, chocolate shavings, crushed peppermint candies to make these delicious treats fit any fall/winter occasion.  Enjoy!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Blog Photos

I have to admit that the blogs I am most attracted to have tons of pictures that make your mouth water, that make you need to bake right away, that make you want to braise exotic cuts of meats for hours on end.  Unfortunately I keep forgetting to buy batteries to take photos of my latest kitchen adventures.  I feel substandard in that respect.  Generic if you will.

Does that mean the recipes I use, alter or create aren't as delicious? Absolutely not!  So until I remember batteries on my shopping list I will have to blog without photos.  Stay tuned........ I will be blogging my favorite Halloween recipes this weekend.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Four Cups of Love

So here I sit embarking on two of my passions.  Cooking and writing.  Now I'm not much good with the mechanics of writing. I can't  seem to get my sentence structure and puncutation right however I am one heck of a home cook and baker!  Let me qualify the remark about writing... I love to write and enjoyed creative writing in school and college and usually what I write I don't share.  Writing to me is like baring my soul and I don't like to share my thoughts and feelings with people, it's just to intimate.  What is ironic is that cooking is sometimes an intimate process for me.  I pour my heart and soul into my creations.  I love being in the kitchen, I love creating delicious meals for my family and friends. I love the conversation around the dinner table, the story telling, the laughing and the togetherness.  Another reason I create is for therapeutic reasons.  After a stressful day or event I don my apron, grab a complex recipe and shut out the world around me and practice my chosen form of art.

I decided to write a blog to share what I love about being a home cook and baker.  My goal is to share anecdotes, my failures and successes and best of all my favorite recipes.  Some are my own, some are inspired by others and some are straight from my favorite cookbooks, chefs and friends.  This is also sort of a journey for me, to challenge myself to become a better writer, a better cook and a better baker.

That is my introduction and I hope you join me on my adventure and along the way we each learn a thing or two.   In the meantime I'll leave you with a little poem:

~ * ~

Recipe for a Happy Home

4 cups Of love
2 cups Of loyalty
3 cups Forgiveness
1 cup Friendship
5 Spoons of hope
2 Spoons of tenderness
4 quarts Of faith
1 Barrel of laughter 
Take love and loyalty, mix them throughly with Faith. Blend it with tenderness, kindness and understanding. Add friendship and hope, sprinkle abundantly with laughter. Bake it with sunshine. Serve daily with generous helpings.
author unknown