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Monday, July 23, 2012

Pesto Pasta and Sausage

Pesto Pasta and Sausage
This was my first time making Pesto sauce on my own.  J got me a lovely food processor for my birthday last year that I need to utilize more.
2 cloves of garlic, a few quick food processor pulses.  Or 3 cloves if you really like garlic, which I do.
2 cups basil leaves.  I found a Basil plant at Winco for $3 and that seemed to be enough.  Process that for a couple of seconds until it looks like a paste.
3 Tbs pine nuts, lightly toasted is best.  Or walnuts, or pecans, or peanuts, or almonds.
A pinch of salt and pepper.
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
Process that all together and add 1/2 cup olive oil, or more until you get the right consistency you want.
Use immediately or it can be store refrigerated for 2 - 3 days.  For longer storage stick it in the freezer.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Potatoes and Sausage

Red potaotes and Sausage
This was our dinner last night.  A quick dish of meat and potatoes since my husband is a meat and potatoes kind of guy.

Wash and cut up bite sized chunks of red potatoes.  Boil until soft, about 20 minutes.  Drain.  Saute green onions and sausage with butter in the potato pan.  Add potatoes back with more butter, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and chives.  Serve with a spinkle of parmesan or asiago. 

Russian Teacakes

Russian Teacakes
Swedish Teacakes
Mexican Wedding Cookies
Italian Butternut cookies
Southern Butterballs
This cookie has many names, but my 1978 Betty Crocker cookbook calls them Russian Teacakes and they are my favorite cookie of all time.  I made them for my wedding.  Well, the day before my wedding.  It was my stress relief activity.  The day before I got married I made a batch of these cookies and ate them.  This recipe makes about 50 cookies, but to me anyway, that is never enough.

1 and 1/2 cup butter (3 sticks) melty
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 and 1/2 tsp vanilla
Mix that all together and add
3 and 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Mix that all together and with a small ice cream scoop form dough balls and set onto a parchment covered sheet pan.  Bake 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  When cool enough to touch, but still warm, roll in powdered sugar. 
These are my cookies in my Trifle dish.  I hate my trifle dish.  It is number 3 on my worst wedding gifts that we received.

#1 - Ceramic Santa Claus candy dish made in China with lead paint.  Not only was it 14 inches tall, hideously ugly, but it was also ineffective at holding candy because of the lead based paint.  That first Christmas J set it in next to his truck at the mall parking lot while he went to work hoping someone would steal it.  No one touched it.  We took it to the D.I. the next day.  It was deemed too ugly to stay in the house.

#2 - Made in China stuffed snowman.  We were married November 11th, 2006.  NOT CHRISTMAS.  I can't tell you how many Christmas and Halloween themed items we got and nothing for Thanksgiving.  I hated them all.  We kept the snowman though.  We put him out every Christmas to get into the cheap and tacky holiday spirit.

#3 - The Trifle Dish.  First, I had no idea what a trifle was.  It is an English layered dessert with cake, berries and cream.  I made it once before but it makes so much food and even with my extended family at a Fourth of July BBQ no one could eat it all.  Another reason I hate it is transportation.  My family live about 30 minutes away and it is difficult to transport in the car.  Someone has to hold it the whole way or it is not going.
We had a summer BBQ at work, because my work is awesome like that.  A co-worker was looking at Trifle dishes to give as a wedding present.  I told her not to do it because I hate my trifle dish and I find it big, awkward to transport, and stupid.  She dared me to use my trifle dish more, like putting cookies in it.
Here you go Cyndee.  Here is my trifle dish filled with cookies.  It was hard to transport and fell over in the car one block from my house.  Because it has no lid and sort of forseeing this would happen, I put handywrap on top to keep the cookies in.

Enjoy the cookies.  Not the trifle dish.

Tomatoes and Cheese

Broiled Tomatoes and Parmesan
This is one of my favorite comfort foods.

Cut thin slices of tomato and lay them out on a parchment covered sheet pan.  Drizzle each slice with a little bit of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and Italian seasoning.
Broil tomatoes for about 5+ minutes, take them out of the over and add shredded parmesan or asiago cheese on top.  Stick them back in the oven for another 5+ minutes to melt the cheese.
I like eating them as is, but they also taste great on toast or in a sandwich.

Gearing up

Our Civil War wall tent came this week.  Three very large and glorious boxes awaited us on the porch when we got home from work.
Along with my corset boots and stockings.
It is now sitting in various piles in our bedroom.
This is my first time wearing a corset.  I have never been so excited to take my clothes off as soon as I got home so I could try it on.  I lost two inches from my waist and it greatly hindered both my breathing and flexibility.  I felt so 19th century.
I wonder how tight I can go before I pass out?
Then I realized I needed to put the boots on before the corset and hoop skirt.  I have always been a fairly flexible person.  I took gymnastics for years.  This was the first time I could ever remember not being able to bend over and touch my feet.  J helped me lace up the boots which I found limited my mobility even more.  I could not even begin to imagine how the pioneers crossed the plains in these boots.  I cannot move my ankles and they are very slipperly.
Now that I finally have my period correct underclothes I will no longer be ashamed of flipping my skirt up for the crowds to show how many layers of clothing women of the Civil War wore back then.  No more must I apologize for my modern yet oh so comfortable sneakers.  No longer will I hear random strangers call out, "Your wearing the wrong shoes." or "I see your sneakers under there."  I even had one person, in all seriousness, ask "Were they bell shaped back then?"  No.  They did have stunted legs though, and because of this rode giant chickens, but were so embarrased that they invented hoop skirts to hide them.  Which is what I should have said instead of automatically flipping up my skirt and showing off my hoop and worn out sneakers.  But with my boots I will no longer be riding that chicken, but dining upon it.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Chocolate Cupcakes

The Great Chocolate Cupcake Dilemma
My Mom asked me to make 36 chocolate cupcakes with chocolate ganache frosting to bring to her work for a co-worker's birthday.
My recipe only made 30 cupcakes.  So I thought to myself, just use half the recipe and have a few extra.  Then as I was making it I realize that I was adding the same volume of ingredients again instead of only half.  I ended up with 60 chocolate cupcakes.  Then I ran out of Chocolate Ganache at cupcake number 37.
At least I had a full 36 of what my client (Mom) had asked for.  For the rest I just made a quick chocolate butter cream frosting.  That lead me to my great dilemma.  What to do with all these chocolate cupcakes?  Yes, my life is full of such problems.
I brought them to my work and my friends and co-workers ate them with much guilt, regret, self loathing, and a little childish glee.  To clear up a question someone asked me today, No I have not started my own bakery.  Yet.  The bakery boxes used for transporting said cupcakes are doughnut boxes swiped from Smith's Grocery store.  They were too shallow, when I closed the lid the frosting would get smushed.  I cut the top off, and taped wooden dowls to the four corners of the box so that when I replaced the lid it would sit higher and keep the frosting from smushing.  

Independence Day Cake

In celebration of America's Independence Day, Happy Fourth of July, I made an American Flag Cake.  Now what I should have done was buy a white cake box mix, divided it into three and dyed one third red, one third blue, and left one third white. 

Instead, I made three different cakes with three different recipes.  Why?!  Because I am insane and masochistic, and I need to make everything way more complicated and harder then it needs to be.  Don't believe me, ask my husband.  Here are my three cake recipes.

White Cake
5 Tbs butter
1/4 cup sugar, cream together butter and sugar
Add 1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp almond extract
Stir that all together and in a separate bowl stir together
1 and 3/4 cup cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
In a separate bowl whip 3 egg whites with 3 Tbs sugar until soft peaks form
Alternate adding flour mixture with
2/3 cup whole milk
Fold in egg whites
Red Velvet Cake
Cream together
3/4 cup sugar and
1/2 cup (1 stick) of room temperature or melty butter.
2 eggs
In a separate bowl add together 1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp vinegar
1 Tbs Red food coloring
In a separate bowl add together 1 and 1/3 cup flour
1 Tbs cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
Alternate adding dry and wet ingredients.  Mix well.

Here is the money shot.  Cut the cake and there is an American Flag pattern. 
Blue Velvet Cake
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) melty butter
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 Tbs Royal Blue food coloring from Wilton
1 dab violet
1/2 Tbs vinegar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 and 1/4 cup cake flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 Tbs cocoa powder
Follow the same instructions as Red Velvet cake.

Your own American flag with every piece of cake.
I used all 5 of my round cake pans.  Bake at 325 degrees for about 15-20 minutes.  Cut white and red cakes in half length wise and stack alternating red and white with cream cheese filling in between layers.  For the Blue Square layer cut out the middle of the Blue Cake.  Cut out the middle of a stack of red and white and set the red and white middle inside the blue ring.  Set that on top of the cake.  Frost the entire cake and decorate with blueberries and raspberries.  With the extra blue center and red and white outside ring I made cake pops.
Cream Cheese Frosting for the center of the cake
8 oz (1 package) softened
1/2 cup butter (1 stick) room temperature or melty
2 tsp vanilla
5 - 6 cups powdered sugar
White ButterCream Frosting for the outside of the cake.
1 cup butter (2 sticks) room temperature or melty
1 cup shortening
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbs heavy whipping cream or milk
6 - 8 cups powdered sugar

Muffin Tin Pot Pies

Mini Chicken Pot Pies
I love making these because not only is it an easy recipe but I can also use it in a variety of ways.
1 can cream of chicken soup with half a can of milk, mix together in a large bowl
1 can peas, drained
1 can of carrots, drained
1 can of chicken, drained, or two cans
1 can of potatoes, drained
Stir that all together with some salt and pepper.
1 can of Pillsbury seamless dough. 
With a biscuit cutter cut out circles in the dough.  I only got 6 circles and squished together the rest to make 2 more circles.  Spray the pan with Pam and place the dough circles down in the bottom.  Fill dough circles with chicken pot pie filling.  Bake at 375 degrees for 12 minutes.

Then with the extra chicken pot pie filling I added it on top of rice the next day, then mix it in with pasta the day after.  Three dinners.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy.