Saturday, May 31, 2008

Love in the Air

Romance. Giddy laughter. Soft whispers. Moonlight. Silk. A tiny bite of something special. Chocolate. Lace. Roses. Yes, especially roses.


As you can see, our rose bushes were absolutely loaded this year.

As many of you know, I belong to Recipezaar, the best recipe spot on the 'net. (Shamless plug!) Anyway, there is a fantastic lady who posts on there as French Tart. She has THE MOST GORGEOUS RECIPES. I don't know how she does it! So she posted this recipe and I just had to have a try.

It is absolutely without a doubt one of THE most sensual recipes a person could ever have the pleasure to make.

Picking roses under the warm spring sun, while being serenaded by a birdie orchestra with a background accompaniment of buzzing honeybees. All the while, the scent of the roses wafting on a light breeze that playfully ruffles your hair as it wends its lazy way past.

Then, as you pull the petals from the roses, their scent again envelops you, while their soft, silken petals slide softly over your fingers.

Then the smell of roses wafting through the house as you cook the jam, the smell lingers for hours, much better than any potpurri. The color! I used pink roses because that is what I had, but red would be gorgeous and even yellow would be pretty. Or the peachy colored ones!

Then, after putting it in jars, the satisfying sound of the little "schnick" when they seal - music to my ears! Then the sight of it in the jar, ruby red and glistening, calling out to you to open the jar and let the magic loose!


Anyway, this is just a fantastic recipe! A must try, just make sure that your roses are not sprayed with pesticides or anything.

My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose: Rose Petal Jam by French Tart
Mine made 3 1/2 pint jars

1 pint boiling water
1 lb strongly scented freshly picked red rose petal
1 lb caster sugar (for Americans, superfine sugar)
2 limes, juice of
2 lemon, juice of
2-3 drops rose water, 2-3 drops (optional)


Fill a large pan with the boiling water. Add half the rose petals, cover and leave to stand for two hours.

After two hours strain off the liquid and transfer to a clean pan. Discard the steeped rose petals.

Add the sugar to the rosewater and stir over a low heat until dissolved. Add the lime juice and remaining rose petals, reserving a handful for later.

Bring to boiling point, reduce the heat and simmer until setting point is reached. To test for this, pour a little onto a cold saucer. Push it gently with your finger. If it wrinkles, it is ready. If not continue to simmer for a little longer.

Add remaining rose petals and simmer gently for another three minutes then pour into a sterilised jar and seal. The rose petals should rise to the top leaving clear jelly underneath.

Pot and cover the jam.

Chef's tip.
You’ll need to sterilise the jars or your jam will go mouldy. Wash them thoroughly in warm, clean, soapy water, drain upside down on kitchen towel and place on a baking tray in a preheated oven at 140C/fan120C/gas 1 for 15 minutes. Turn the oven to its lowest setting and keep the jars inside while you make the jam.

This is her recipe, I made just as above, but used american canning jars and then hot-water bathed it for 5 minutes. They all sealed fine.


The picture does not do this justice at all, it is so lovely.

A big thank you to FT for allowing me to post this on here!

Go on, make some romance!

Until Monday!

Friday, May 30, 2008


Fountain sodas. Old-fashioned goodness. Drink 'em through a straw. Or not and have a milky mustache. They are super easy to make.

Think of a hot summer day, the sun has just sunk below the horizon in a flaming red ball. It is nearly too hot to move. Maybe you have been swimming all day and have a sunburn. Maybe you just got done with a rousing game of baseball. Maybe you have been canning pickles all day.

Gotta have something to cool off. These are just the ticket, and they don't cost an arm and a leg to make. Kids can do them as well as old folks. Everyone that I know enjoys them. There is just a bit of fizz, but still creamy.

I heartily apologize for not having any pictures here, my son has commandeered the camera and I have to steal it back.

Fountain Sodas
Makes 1.

Ice cream - we used DQ soft serve
Chocolate syrup - or whatever flavor you like
Club soda

Place 1 scoop ice cream in tall glass. Drizzle with syrup, as much or as little as you like. Another scoop of ice cream on top. More syrup. Slowly pour in club soda and swizzle to mix. Imbibe!

Check here tomorrow for a sensual recipe!!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Angel Wings

There are just some things in this world that are so light, so ethereal, that they must have been heaven-sent. A baby's kiss. The smell of roses and lilacs. A soft spring breeze. Fresh sheets, just in off the line, with the scent of sunshine in them.

Things that make our lives here on earth just a bit better. For a short time. They don't last forever. But while they last, we should enjoy them.

That is what these cookies are like. It does not make a lot of cookies, around a dozen in fact. So they are not around forever. They are so light. Almost like eating clouds. This is from a Cooking for 2 book by Taste of Home.

Cranberry-Almond Macaroons
Makes 1 dozen.

2 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 Tablespoons sugar or equivalent Splenda
1 cup coconut
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1/4 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips

Put your egg whites in a bowl (remember the small, deep bowl) and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Add extract to egg whites. Beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add in sugar, beating to stiff, glossy peaks. Fold in coconut, almonds, cranberries and chocolate chips. (Mix them together first)

Place 2 inches apart on baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Cool on pan 15 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely.

Quick note about extract: For the best flavor, I use an emulsion instead of an extract. They hold their flavor better. I buy mine at a Mennonite store, but you can get them from King Arthur Flour Company.


Variation: I made one batch as above and they were great. Then I made another batch (I was using up my egg whites left over after making Trifle Cream). I used walnuts in place of almonds, used vanilla flavoring instead of almond, butterscotch chips instead of chocolate and traded the cranberries with about 1-1/2 teaspoons of fresh orange zest. They were wonderful! You could do so many variations: Lemon chips, lemon rind, dates, dried cherries . . . the possibilities are nearly endless!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Parmesan Potato Slices

First of all, I would like to apologize for not posting yesterday. My allergies are acting up and I felt like a Mack truck had hit me, I was discombobulated all day.

My son has been getting into cooking and does quite well. I think maybe he should go to chef school. Anyway, last night he made chicken cordon bleu, peas and these potatoes. Everything was very nice (if heavily calorie-ridden). I could have eaten the whole pan of potatoes!

In fact, they were so good that I snitched the recipe from him and I am sharing it with you today. I promise that my next post will NOT be potato-oriented!

Parmesan Potato Slices
Serves 6 or 4, depending on how much you like potatoes

5 large potatoes
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup mozarella cheese, grated
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup butter (1 stick or 1/4 lb) melted

Peel potatoes and slice 1/4 inch thick. In a medium bowl combine cheeses, flour, salt, pepper and paprika. Place mixture in plastic bag. Add potatoes to bag and shake to coat. Place potatoes in 9 x 13 baking pan. Pour melted butter evenly over potatoes. (Go ahead and add the extra seasoning mix on top of the potatoes). Bake covered in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Uncover and gently stir. Bake uncovered another 30 minutes.

Voila - crispy seasoned potatoes.


The only thing I would do differently is add at least one clove of garlic, minced.

Until tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Foodie Blogroll

I joined the foodie blogroll!! Whoo Hoo! Check it out on the right to see how to join! Tell them I sent ya!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Tater Cakes

Taters. Spuds. Poh-Tay-Toes. Pu-Tat-Ohs. However you want to say it, starchy veggies that are a mainstay around our house. (I know, full of carbs, but delicious anyway!) I come from meat and potatoes stock. No fancy vegetarian dishes were on the menu when we were growing up. Now, I embrace them, but not when I was a kid. We had meat and some kind of potatoes. Not very often did we have rice or pasta, we had potatoes.

There are some varieties of potato that I have never tasted. My UK friends talk about Maris Piper potatoes and others. I would love to try them, maybe someday. I like Yukon gold myself, or russets. Red potatoes to me always mean new potatoes, preferably cooked in cream sauce with new peas. I also want to try the peruvian purple potatoes some day. And sweet 'taters, don't forget them!! It just is not Thanksgiving around our house without the requisite sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top.

"Tater" can be used as an affectionate term, too. At least it is in our family. In fact, my brother has a dog named Tater. "Catch ya later, tater" is a quick way of saying goodbye. "Tater Tot" is a friendly term to use for a small child.

I am going to show you what I did with some leftover mashed potatoes the other day.

Tater Cakes

At least 2 cups left-over mashed potatoes
Chives, snipped
Strong cheddar cheese, shredded
Salt and pepper
Bread crumbs
Olive oil

Set potatoes out to warm. Mix in egg. Add in cheese and chives. Can use a bit of chopped onion instead. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pat out into small cakes and dip each side in bread crumbs. Melt butter with oil in nonstick skillet. Fry cakes gently until crispy on either side. Serve up.


There ya have it, me auld 'tatercakes!

Saturday, May 24, 2008


Refreshing. Light. Tart. Sweet. Fluffy. Creamy. Crisp. Melt-in-your-mouth. Make you pucker. All of these words refer to 1 dessert - lemon meringue pie.


I am a lemon lover. Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order my ice water with lemon. Or my tea. When I was little, I can remember going over to my cousin's house and we would get a lemon, cut it in quarters, sprinkle on some salt and see who could keep their quarter in their mouth the longest. I don't think she had any tastebuds, because she could always outlast me!

I have long been in the search for the perfect lemon meringue pie. Mind you, if I am crunched for time, I am not above skipping the meringue and just topping it with whipped cream, but that is another creature altogether. My piecrust usually does not look the best, but it tastes good and it is flaky. Sometime when I am on vacation, I am going to take about 3 days and do nothing but perfect my piecrust making. Until then. . .

Lemon Meringue Pie
Makes 1 pie.

I am not going to give you a recipe for pie crust, as I will assume that you have your own and it works brilliantly. Just bake it blind and let it cool.


1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons zest from 1 lemon (original recipe says 1 Tablespoon, but I felt it was a bit much)
1/2 cup juice from 2-3 lemons
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

Whisk sugar, cornstarch and salt together in large saucepan. Add egg yolks and then immediately, but gradually whisk in 1-1/2 cups water. Bring mixture to a simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally at beginning and more frequently as mixture begins to thicken, 8-10 minutes. Whisk in zest, then lemon juice and lastly butter. Bring mixture to a good simmer, whisking constantly, simmer for 1 minute. Pour into pie shell and cover surface with plastic wrap.


This is a bit of a different meringue, as it does not use sugar, but marshmallow cream. Very easy and very white.

3 egg whites
pinch of salt
1 (7 ounce) container marshmallow cream

In small deep bowl, beat egg whites with salt until soft peaks form. Gradually add marshmallow cream, beating until stiff peaks form. Remove plastic wrap from pie filling surface and spread meringue over pie, sealing to crust. Bake 12-15 minutes in 350 degree F oven, until browned.


Tip: When beating egg whites or cream, they will whip faster in a small, but deep bowl. I have a stand mixer with 2 sizes of bowls, large and small and the small one works perfectly for this.

Until Monday, dear readers!

Friday, May 23, 2008


I like things that are homegrown. Homemade. I love to go to Farmer's Market and buy fresh produce. Better yet, I like to grow it myself, but I have limited time and space to do that. And usually my allergies will not let me do much. There is just something so satisfying about harvesting, fixing and eating your own produce. That way, you know what has went into it. You appreciate it much more.

We do not have a lot of garden space here. Last year we put in cucumbers and dill and made over 100 jars of pickles. We have several half-barrels that we plant tomatoes in. I think that is the way to go with tomatoes, easier to get the weeds out of for sure.

This year it has been very wet and cool, so we have our tomatoes in, but in the garden spot we just planted dahlias. We did find two bush cucumbers and have those planted in pots and have a few peppers also. We are going to get a bush zucchini, too.

We did plant some lettuce early before it gets too hot. Here in Missouri, we usually go straight from 50 to 90+ overnight and then it stays hot and steamy until late September. Ugh! This spring, however, it has stayed cool and nice and is just now heating up.

So without further ado, fresh from our garden, I give you:

Wilted Lettuce

Fresh leaf lettuce, washed and trimmed
Bacon, fried and crumbled - reserving 1 Tablespoon drippings
Hard boiled egg, chopped
Red onion, chopped


1/2 cup cider vinegar
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup water
2 Tablespoons flour

Into your hot bacon drippings, stir the flour to make a roux. Stir into that the vinegar and water. Cook until thickened and bubbly. Sprinkle over brown sugar and stir until well-blended.


Pour hot dressing over lettuce and top with bacon, egg and onion. Munch down!

It is that simple and you can have a delicious, old-fashioned (if not calorie-conscious) treat! When we have a lot of lettuce, this makes a supper for me!

What are some homegrown pleasures you enjoy?

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Rich. Melt-in-your-mouth. Smooth. Beautiful. Expensive. Worth waiting for.

A little indulgence can go a long ways. A little treat can carry you for a few days, at least! Example: I like pink roses. Now, I know that I cannot have them all the time, but once in a blue moon, I do get a few. They are so pretty and they do not bother my allergies like other cut flowers do. They are an indulgence. Now, if I had them all the time, I would still like them, but they would not be as special. They usually last for at least a week!

An indulgence is a good thing to save for when you are feeling blue or lonely or even are having a bad hair day. Example: I have a Godiva chocolate bar that I am saving for a really bad day. When that day comes, I will indulge and eat it and will not feel bad about it. Sometimes just a simple little indulgence can lift your spirits and make you feel 10 times better than before!

Sometimes an indulgence can be sort of a ritual. We eat oatmeal for breakfast 6 days a week. On Saturdays, however, we fix a nice breakfast - waffles and sausages, pancakes and bacon, biscuits and gravy, the works. We splurge that one day.

The cookies I am sharing with you today are an indulgence. They are very nice, but 1 of them will do you for a fix!

Triple Chocolate Kiss Cookies
Makes 48 cookies

48 Hersey's Kisses, any variety, unwrapped
1/2 cup (1 stick or 1/4 pound) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 Tablespoon milk
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Beat butter, sugars and vanilla in large bowl until blended. Add eggs and milk and beat well.

Stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt, gradually add to butter mixture, beating until well-blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.


Bake 10-11 minutes or until set. Gently press chocolate piece into center of each cookie. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack and cool completely.



Wednesday, May 21, 2008

All Creatures Great and Small

We have 4 kitty-kats. Two girls and two boys. They are great fun to watch. They play, they fight, they are hilarious. They range in age from 2 years old to about 13 years old. None of them are pure-bred, but they are all loved.


This is our oldest kittie, Sable. She is mostly Persian. She is a lap-kitty extraordinare, she loves to be held and will get on anyone's lap. She does not, however, play well with the other kitties. Many a time they have had a nose scratch from getting a little too curious about her. Her favorite things are running outside every chance she gets and kitty treats. She is our smallest cat.


This is Finnegan, our youngest cat. He is part Egyptian Mau and man, can he run. He likes to pester the other cats. He is very timid around company and is not a lap cat at all. His favorite things are chasing flies and kitty treats.


This is Miss Tabby Gray. She is Dad's cat and sleeps only with him. She purrs only for him, too. She is not a lap cat, except for Dad. She is pretty obese and lazy, but we love her. Her favorite things are butter and taking a bath in the water dish.


This is my cat, Moodie. He is totally loveable. (I'm not biased at all!) He is not really a lap cat, but he does like to sleep with me, on his back, snuggled right up to me. He is very playful and likes everyone, even most strangers. His favorite things are nacho cheese Doritos and his fuzzy ball.

Just a small insight into our world today!

Last week, I promised you another easy pizza. Here goes!

Hawaiian Tortilla Pizza
Serves 1

1 flour tortilla
2 Tablespoons pizza sauce
Cooked ham, diced small
Green pepper, minced
Onion, minced
Pineapple tidbits, well drained
Mozarella cheese
Pepperoni (optional)
Parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Lay tortilla flat on baking pan. Spread with pizza sauce and then top with other toppings as desired. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until edges of tortilla are crispy and light brown. The key here, again, is not too much topping. These go together in a snap and are nice when you have unexpected hungry company. Fresh mushrooms, diced, also go well on this pizza.

Sorry no final picture, it was GONE!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Crabby. Cranky. Irritable. Grouchy. Cantakerous. Disagreeable. Petulant. Querulous. Having or showing a bad temper.

I try to keep a sweet disposition at all times. It usually takes a lot to make me snap. I used to have a hair-trigger temper, but not any more. I usually try to go with the flow, grit my teeth, grin and bear it. Because in the heat of the moment, words can get said that will be regretted later. And words don't come with a money-back guarantee. Once they are spent, that is it, you can't take them back.

I have known a few people who have spent their life being crabby and cranky. I think they made it their life's work to be that way. I do not know what circumstances made them to be like that, but I do know how to deal with them. You be nice to them. Just as nice as possible, always smile at them, buy them a Coke randomly. Give them flowers for their birthday. Luke 6:28. Matthew 5:44. Proverbs 25:21-23. God knew what he was talking about! Pray for them. And let God take care of it!

These open face sandwiches I am going to give you the recipe for should not make anyone crabby or cranky or grouchy or petulant or . . .

Crabbie Melts

Serves 8

4 crossiants, split lengthwise
1 cup mayonnaise
1-1/2 ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 cup crabmeat, flaked
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1/3 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
4 green onions, chopped


Crumb crust
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 cup soft breadcrumbs
2 Tablespoons finely chopped parsely
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the crossiant halves on a large rimmed baking sheet. Mix the next 6 ingredients in a bowl and spread mixture on top of the crossiant halves.

Melt the butter in a small pan and cook the garlic in it over low heat until translucent. Mixt the rest of the ingredients for the crumb crust, then mix in the garlic and melted butter. Top each croissant with the crumb mixture.

Bake the crossiants for 15-20 minutes or until heated through.


As you can plainly see, I did not use crossiants. I used brioche rolls, halved. You could use English muffins, crumpets, toast . . . I also was out of green onions, so I subbed some purple onion.

I adapted this recipe from Double Shot by Diane Mott Davidson. If you have not read any of her books, her protagonist is a caterer in Colorado who gets tangled up in murder mysteries. She gives several delicious recipes each book. My kind of book!

Monday, May 19, 2008


Are you driven? Do you feel like you have to have more? Be the best? Have the newest? Or are you content? Able to peacefully amble along, stop and smell the roses along the way?

A certain amount of internal drive is good, helps us get up in the morning and go to work, keeps us motivated to pay our bills. We need that internal drive to keep us going and to keep us feeling good about ourselves.

Being externally driven, however, is a different matter. Being pressured to always have more, be the best, drive the newest car, live in the nicest house - why? To be better than your neighbors? To lord it over someone else? What fun is that?

Personally, I am not externally driven. I have a car that is 10 years old. It don't look like much, but it is paid for. The taxes on it are cheap and so is the insurance and licensing. As for my job, I do not feel like I have to type more than everyone else every day. If I make my quota, I feel like I have done well. I had enough of the pressure at my old job.

When you are being externally driven, you are not driving, you are not in control of your life - other things are exerting influences on you. I think there would be a lot less strife and sadness in this old world if people could sort out whether they have drive or are being externally driven.

Ok, off of my soapbox now! I am sharing a recipe for pizza sauce with you today. Very easy, can be frozen, will keep in the fridge for about a week. Does not make a huge big batch, either. We had homemade pizza the other night using this sauce and it was very, very nice.

Pizza Sauce

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter
1/2 cup onion chopped
1 garlic clove, minced (can use more to taste)
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
2 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 small bay leaf
1 teaspoon fennel seed


In a saucepan, melt butter with oil. Saute onion and garlic over low heat until transparent. Add tomato paste and sauce and stir until well blended. Add remaining ingredients and bring to simmer. Simmer 30-60 minutes. Or don't simmer, just use it now. Your preference. Remove bay leaf and spread on pizza dough. Or use to dip breadsticks. I would recommend if you are not going to simmer it, to add your spices to the onion and garlic and saute them for a bit before adding the paste and sauce. That is it. We made 2 good-sized pizzas with this and had a bit left over.


I apologize for the yikky picture! Until tomorrow!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

When the Moon Hits Your Eye . . .

Like a big pizza pie . . . that's amore! Ok, time to fess up. I like pizza. No, correct that, I LOVE pizza! To me it is the perfect food, got all the basic food groups. Quick and easy to prepare. I don't like it as much as my son, tho!! He could eat pizza 3 times a day and never, ever get tired of it. I do like good homemade pizza, not frozen stuff.

I like to mix it up, tho. Don't like the same old pepperoni, mushrooms and olives. I like to mix and match with my bases, sauces and toppings. So the pizza I share with you today is a bit different.

Today, I am a bit crunched for time, so I am going to share with you a recipe that can be made when you are crunched for time. Super easy, kid-pleasing, not a lot of dirty dishes - you get the picture.

Chicken Alfredo Tortilla Pizza
Makes 1 pizza

The key to this recipe - do not overdo on the toppings! You do not want it very heavy or you won't be able to pick the pieces up. These are nice for a snack, too.

1 flour tortilla
2 Tablespoons Alfredo sauce
minced red onion
grilled chicken breast, diced
minced red bell pepper
black olives, sliced
fresh spinach leaves
sundried tomato or fresh roma tomato, seeded and diced small
fresh mushrooms, sliced
mozarella cheese
parmesan cheese
crisp bacon, crumbled (optional)


Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Lay tortilla flat on baking pan. Spread with alfredo sauce and layer with other ingredients as you like. Again, the key is not to overload. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until edges of tortilla are crispy brown. Remove from oven, slice and serve forth. This is really good if you like very thin crust pizza. There ya go. I will be sharing a recipe for another one of these jewels next week. I really like this topping, but you can mix it up.

Until Monday, dear readers!


Friday, May 16, 2008

The Staff of Life

Bread. That high-carb, best if fresh from the oven slathered with butter treat that most everyone loves. I have found that most men love homemade bread. They don't really care what kind, they like it. Don't matter if it is rolls or a loaf, either.

You can do so many things with bread - make a sandwich, bake your fillings in it, make a pizza, toast it, make stuffing. There are even some restaurants that have made their name by throwing it. Yes, Lamberts, home of the throwed rolls. No matter where you are, the chef will throw you a roll if you hold your hand up.

Bread is comforting. When my brothers and I were growing up, Mom would make homemade bread, 6 loaves and before the day was over, at least 2 of them would be gone. Fresh from the oven, slathered in butter and honey, move over Rover, because we will run you down!

Now that we are all grown, Mom does not make 6 loaves at one time. She does, however, have 2 bread makers. I love a bread maker, to make the dough for bread. I prefer to bake it in the oven, however. Just one of my quirks, I guess.

I like all different kinds of bread. Irish soda bread, french baguettes, naan, puris, lavosh, tortillas . . . . the list is very long. What I do not like is supermarket bread - that white doughy lumps that they call bread. Full of chemicals. Tasteless. That, dear readers, is why I am giving you the following recipe . . .

Brioche Rolls
1 dozen

This dough is made in a bread maker and I am listing the ingredients in the order that I put them in my breadmaker, which is a Wellbuilt. It makes a 1-1/2 pound loaf, if you want to bake it in the breadmaker.

3 large eggs
1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick or 1/4 lb.)
1/3 cup milk (70 to 80 degrees F)
3 Tablespoons water (70 to 80 degrees F)
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
3 cups bread flour
1-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Measure all ingredients into bread machine pan in order suggested by manufacturer. Process on dough cycle. When cycle is done, take dough out and divide it into 12 equal portions. This is a fairly soft, almost sticky dough. That is part of its charm! Place the dough balls in a 9 x 13 greased pan. Let rise for probably about 45 minutes. Snip the top of each roll lengthwise with kitchen shears. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and slather with melted butter. Serve forth with pride!


These rolls are super easy and will make people goggle. They are light, fluffy, buttery delicious. What are some of your favorite breads?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Crunchy or plain?

Peanut butter: The great glue that joins childhood to adulthood. There are so many things you can do with peanut butter. Fluffernutters, cookies, on top of pancakes, if you don't like dinner make a pb/jelly sandwich . . . The list goes on and on. For adults, we like those things too, but you can also use it in satay or on a cold noodle salad in the dressing . . .

There is a great debate in our house over peanut butter. Mom and I like crunchy. Dad likes plain. So we outnumber him, right?? Well, that is what we think, but we still have to keep plain peanut butter around for him!!

There is just something comforting about peanut butter. Crunchy or plain, it is always there for you. At one of the Mennonite stores we go to, they have honey-roasted peanut butter, freshly ground- MMMMMMMMMM.

And peanut butter with chocolate - who can resist? Not me, that is for sure! The Reeses Big Cup is my favorite candy bar! When I was a kid, I used to take a chocolate bar and dip it in peanut butter - heaven!!

Here is my recipe for peanut butter cookies - and you can use plain or crunchy, as you like!

Peanut Butter Cookies
3 dozen cookies

3/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup Crisco
1-1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt


Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine peanut butter, crisco, brown sugar, milk and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed of electric mixer until well-blended. Add egg and blend.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture at low speed until just blended.


Roll into approximately 1 inch balls and place on cookie sheet.


Flatten slightly by criss-crossing tines of fork on top.


Bake, one sheet at a time, for 7-8 minutes. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet and then transfer to wire rack to cool.


There you have it - my recipe for peanut butter cookies. You can take these over the top by adding in miniature chocolate chips or some chopped peanuts. Or . . . take them and sandwich them together with chocolate buttercream frosting! Let your imagination take over and spark up your inner child!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Little Things 2

Little. Tiny. Minute. Miniscule. Small. They all mean the same thing - not big. Not huge, gigantic, enormous.

Little things mean spending a little extra time. Going the extra mile. Staying up a few minutes later to finish. Getting up a little bit earlier to get it all done. Maybe not getting something you wanted so you can give something to someone else. Baking a cake instead of buying one from the local bakery.

I believe that if we will forget the big things for a while, concentrate on the little stuff, that the big things will not seem so important after a while. I have always had a dream of travelling to Europe. A big dream and I still have that dream. But I know that it will not be possible until I get some bills paid. (unless I have a rich relative somewhere that I don't know about!) But instead of bemoaning the fact that I can't go for a while, I am enjoying the simple pleasures, the little ones that don't cost. Watching the humming birds zip past. A cup of tea in the afternoon. Snuggling with my kitty. A library book.

I really think a lot of the pleasure that we get out of simple things is all in a mindset. You have to let yourself enjoy those things. Not take them for granted, or count them as nothing because they are not what you ultimately want. Still have dreams, yes, but do not let your dreams get in the way of enjoying every day life!

Now to trifles. I think what makes the trifle is the custard. Not too sweet, smooth, creamy, delicately flavored. So without further ado, I am giving you this practically fail-proof recipe for custard.

Trifle Custard
Makes 4 cups

2 cups whole milk (or as I used 1 cup 2% milk and 1 cup half and half)
2 cups heavy cream
6 egg yolks
6 ounces granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon rum extract

Put milk and cream in a saucepan and bring just to a boil. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar and cornstarch until smooth and pale. SLOWLY pour the hot milk/cream over the egg yolks, whisking all the time to temper the eggs. Return the mix to the saucepan, then cook over a gentle heat, whisking or stirring with a spoon until it thickens sufficiently to coat the back of your spoon. DO NOT BOIL. This does not get quite as thick as regular pudding. Pass through a fine sieve and refrigerate. Cover with plastic wrap, making sure it touches the surface of the pudding all around. Then cover with another sheet over that. Best to make this the night before. Now, for the best flavor, stir in your vanilla extract after sieving, while it is still warm. Add rum extract just before using, after cooling overnight.

Pour custard over top of fruit in trifle bowl.



Whipped cream

1-1/2 cups whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
About 1/4 cup sugar, superfine

Place cream in bowl. Add extract. Beat with electric mixer until frothy, then gradually add sugar in, beating all the while. Beat until fairly firm.

Cover top of trifle with whipped cream. You can decorate the top with whatever you like, I did not decorate mine this time.

Also, I did not manage to get a picture before the hungry horde at my house had devoured most of it!!


This was greatly enjoyed by everyone. So get out today, enjoy some little things!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Little Stuff

Little stuff. Sometimes it means a lot. Read the fine print. Don't take the little things for granted. In our busy world of today, many times, the little things get overlooked. As for me, I appreciate the little touches. That little bit of extra effort makes everything worth while. A smile on a rainy day . . . a single rose . . . a cup of tea in the afternoon . . .a thoughtful note from a friend. They are certainly little things, but they mean so much.

I certainly can't afford the big things in life, so I try to make what little things I can afford really mean something. I try to put my personal stamp on whatever I make or do for someone, to let them know that I took a little extra effort. A little thing, yes, but I know that I took that extra time to make it special for someone. When I make something, I make it with love. If all I can afford is to make someone a meal for their special day or event, it will be all homemade and of the very best quality I can find.


I like little things. Miniature things seem to fascinate me. Little teapots and teacups. Little trinkets. Miniature roses. And I would much rather receive a few little things than one big thing. Just my nature I guess.

Little things are often called trifles. This term is often used disparagingly, as if the object being referred to is not worthy of notice. Well I happen to like trifles, so I am going to share with you a trifle that I made recently. In fact, this trifle was so big that I am going to give you the cake part today and the custard part tomorrow. I made this trifle by request for my mother on Mother's Day.

Right Proper English Trifle
Serves 12

Almond Pound Cake
2 sticks (1/2 pound) butter
3 cups sugar
1 cup sour cream
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract


Cream butter and sugar in large bowl. Add sour cream. Combine flour and baking soda. With electric mixer at low speed, mix in alternately flour mixture and eggs, beating well after each addition. (1 egg, beat, 1/2 cup flour mixture, beat, etc.)Stir in almond extract. Pour into a greased and floured pan (Bundt or I used 2 loaf pans). Bake at 325 degrees F for 1 hour, 20 minutes or until tests done.

When cool, slice about 1/2 inch thick or so with a sharp knife.


Then spread half the slices with seedless raspberry jam and make miniature sandwiches with it.


Put the "sandwiches" in an attractive pattern in a clear glass bowl.


Now, most trifle recipes call for using sherry, but I don't like the flavor. So I used some Da Vinci amaretto syrup. Just a couple or three soup spoons and drizzled it over the cake.

Then top that with fruit. You can use what you like, fresh, frozen or canned. I had some lovely sweetened frozen strawberries that I used, probably about a quart or so. They were still slightly frozen when I put them on.


Now tomorrow, I will take you thru the homemade custard and then the whipped cream.

Note: I only used 1 of my loaf cakes to make a fairly big bowl of trifle. I also used only about half of the custard recipe, so you can easily half this and still serve probably 8 people at least.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Old Rotten Potatoes

Kids are so cute. When my son was little, there were some things that I would say that he would misinterpret. Like the time I told him that our landlady lived in Deepwater (a small town about 20 miles away). He got this horrified look on his face and said "Oh, no, Mama, she can't!". I asked him why not. "She would drown" was the answer I got.

Then there was the time when, after his first week of kindergarten was over, I woke him up on Monday morning to get up and get ready for school. He said - "You mean I gotta go back???" I could tell then and there it was going to be a long 12 years! He did, however, come out of that and was on the honor roll most of his high school years.

I do indeed miss him when he is not around, but I am not sure about having him back for the summer! Ah, well, I will survive.

Today I am going to give you the recipe for another misinterpretation - Old Rotten Potatoes (You should have seen the horrified look I got on this one!). . . AKA . . .

Au Gratin Potatoes
Serves 6

8 medium-to-large potatoes, peeled and sliced thickly
1/2 medium onion
1 Tablespoon butter

Parboil potatoes for about 20 minutes or so. Meanwhile, in small skillet over LOW heat, saute onion until caramelized. Set aside.

Put potatoes in a greased casserole dish.

Cheese sauce:
3 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons flour
1-1/2 cups milk
1 cup milk grated cheese or diced processed cheese (Velveeta)
Salt to taste
Dash of paprika
Small pinch of cayenne pepper
Small pinch of dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Melt butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour and let it brown, stirring constantly. SLOWLY pour in milk, stir until starting to thicken. Stir in cheese and spices; continue stirring until cheese has fully melted and sauce is thickened.


Pour sauce over potatoes and top with onions. Bake for around 20 minutes or so, until browned a bit and bubbly. Serve forth with love.


Have a great sunshiny day today! Let's not misinterpret each other!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Gallic Lily Pottage


I love pedantic proverbs. You know, those silly things where you take an ordinary saying and make it all verbose like saying: Members of an avian species of identical plumage congregate. Or in plain speak, birds of a feather flock together. Just another one of my curious personality aspects, I guess. I like word puzzles.

I like a challenge. Something, that when you have mastered it, you can sit back and say "Wow, never thought I would be able to do that." Something that gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling. So you can say, Hey, I stretched myself, got out of my box, and I DID IT!!!

Sometimes our greatest challenges in life come from within ourselves. We have to challenge ourselves or we just drift. This blog was a way for me to challenge myself. I am normally a very private person (my DS says I am a hermit). I just don't feel comfortable sharing everything with everyone.

But sometimes, we miss out on great treasures by not sharing things with others. Sometimes we miss a blessing by not blessing others. That is why, dear readers, I am sharing this recipe with you today.

Gallic Lily Pottage (Otherwise known as French Onion Soup)
Serves 6

6 large onions (I used Vidalia), sliced thinly
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon good olive oil
6 cups beef broth
Fines Herbs to taste
Fresh ground black pepper
6 slices French bread, 1-inch thick
Garlic butter
Shreddedd Parmesan and mozarella cheese, about 1 cup

Melt butter with oil in large stockpot. Add onions and cook SLOWLY until onions are caramelized, about 1/2 hour, stirring occasionally. As you are cooking them slowly, they should not burn. Slowly pour in beef broth and add Fines Herbs and pepper to taste. Simmer to let flavors bloom, about 1/2 hour or so.


Butter bread with garlic butter. Top with cheese and broil at 450 degrees F, until lightly browned.


Ladle soup into bowls. Slide bread onto soup and serve.


I know, I know. Purists will say - what???? Well, I used fat-free chicken stock and I do not have the requisite oven-proof bowls that you are supposed to use. Also, we were out of Swiss cheese. But it was delicious nonetheless. Also, as I was crunched for time, I sweated my onions a bit to hurry them along, so they did not caramelize as well.

Hope all of my readers have a Happy Mother's Day! I will be back on Monday!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Aye, yi, yi, yi . . . .

I like Mexican food. There are no 2 ways about it, bring me some chips and guacamole, an enchilada and I am a happy camper.

When I was first married, I lived on base housing in a duplex. On the other side was a Mexican couple. Thomasita was so much fun!! We talked and laughed. She was taking a photography class and chose me as the subject for one of her class projects. For one of the pictures we went down by an aqueduct in a state park and I fell in. We just laughed and she took my picture, wet and all.

Thomasita was such a good cook. Whenever she made enchiladas and rice, she would always bring us some. If I had been interested in cooking then, I would have gotten her recipes.

Although I do not have many good memories of those years, the times I spent with Thomasita are some of the best. We never kept in touch. I am not in touch with anyone from those years. Makes me kind of sad sometimes, but most of our "friends" were not at all kind to me when we were going through our divorce. Thomasita, however, never let me down. She stood by me the whole time.

I would imagine that her and her husband have moved back to California, as that is where their families were.

So this one is for you, Tomi!

Wet Burritos

Makes 6 LARGE burritos!

1 lb lean ground beef
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
3/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomato, in sauce, divided
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded (or you can use mexican blend)
6 large flour tortillas
2 cups refried beans
1 (10 ounce) can enchilada sauce
1 (18 ounce) jar homestyle beef gravy


Brown beef, garlic and onions in skillet. Drain fat off. Add next 6 ingredients and half of tomatoes. In a pan, heat enchilada sauce, remaining tomatoes and gravy.

Assemble burritos: Beans, beef mixture, cheese. Roll up and place in greased 9 x 13 pan. Pour sauce over top. Bake for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Optional toppings include:
Diced avacado, finely diced onion, finely diced peppers, sour cream, shredded lettuce, sliced black olives, sliced jalapenos, guacamole, salsa and shredded cheese.


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Everyone's Favorite

Everyone has favorites. Things, tastes, looks or even people that you like just a little more than you do others. Your favorites. I usually have pretty pronounced favorites, I am a black or white type of person, don't see a lot of gray.

I like cats, anything Victorian, snow, autumn, mysteries, pink roses . . . . I have a big list!

I try to be tolerant of most things, but I still have favorites. For example: when dining out, I prefer to have my food brought to me already plated, not go to a buffet. I have a favorite set of measuring cups and a favorite set of measuring spoons - but I do not use them exclusively. I have a favorite soda, but I will drink others.

And yes, I have favorite people. I will visit with some who are not my favorite, but if I have my druthers . . . .

These cookies today are some of my favorites. Not only do they taste good, but they are easy to make. They turn out perfectly every time.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 3-1/2 dozen

3/4 cup Crisco shortening
1-1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2 Tablespoons milk
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1 egg
1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 bag (12 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips


Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Put racks on counter for cooling cookies.

Combine Crisco, brown sugar, milk and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed with electric mixer until well-blended. Beat egg into creamed mixture.

Combine flour, salt and baking soda. Mix into creamed mixture until just blended. Stir in chocolate chips.


Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of dough 3 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake one sheet at a time for 8-10 minutes for chewy cookies (recommended by me!) or 11-13 minutes for crisp cookies. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet. Remove cookies to racks to cool completely.


What are some of your favorites??