Saturday, January 30, 2010

It Is Super Chilly....So Let's Make Some!!


The weather in New England the last couple days has been down right raw. Windy as can be, feels like the house will blow away! So I decided to make the family favorite....my rendition of Wendy's Chili. Super easy to put together, since I always have the items on hand this time of year.

My family has been skiing a lot, and this is their favorite after skiing treat with a baked potato. Now doesn't that sound healthy? Looks like the sun is coming out today and it will start to warm up. Only 15 degrees below on the mountain today, could be better tomorrow. If your feeling a little chilly this weekend, as it seems most of us are across the US. Give this recipe a try , you'll love it!



INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 pounds of lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes (liquid included)
1 29 oz. can of red kidney beans (with liquid )
1 29 oz. can of pinto beans (with liquid )
1 16 oz. can of original Baked Beans (Secret ingredient)
1 8−ounce can tomato paste
1 medium white onion, diced
3 stalks of chopped celery
4 Tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 Tablespoons ground cumin
1/2 Tablespoon of Cayenne pepper (More if you like it spicy..)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cup water


DIRECTIONS

**1. Brown the ground chuck over medium heat, breaking into small pieces with the spatula. Add a dash of salt and pepper while cooking.

**2. Empty the cooked meat into a spaghetti strainer, and drain well. This removes the bulk of the fat.

**3. Transfer the beef into a crock pot, and add the remaining ingredients. Stir together to combine thoroughly.

** 4. Cook on high for 4 hours or a longer time on low, if you have all day!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Onion Soup for the Soul and the Sinus......

What choice of soup would you choose for a sinus infection?
My soup of choice was French Onion,
my ultimate favorite since I was a kid.
Since I've been suffering a terrible Sinus problem this week.
I thought this would sooth my head and feed my soul.
My secrets to making great onion soup are:
*using red, yellow, and white onions and
*the broth needs to be 2/3 beef and 1/3 chicken
FRENCH ONION SOUP

INGREDIENTS
6 large red, white or yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced. (I use all 3)
Olive oil
1/4 teaspoon of sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups of beef stock (2/3) and chicken stock (1/3)
1/2 cup of dry vermouth or dry white wine
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
8 slices of toasted French bread
1 1/2 cups of grated Swiss Gruyere

DIRECTIONS
** In a large saucepan, sauté the onions in the olive oil on medium high heat until well browned, but not burned, about 30-40 minutes (or longer). Add the sugar about 10 minutes into the process to help with the carmelization.

**Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the stock, vermouth or wine, bay leaf. Cover partially and simmer until the flavors are well blended, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Discard the bay leaf.

** To serve you can either use individual oven-proof soup bowls or one large casserole dish. Ladle the soup into the bowls or casserole dish. Cover with the toast and sprinkle with cheese. Put into the broiler for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F, or until the cheese bubbles and is slightly browned. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Nanaimo Bars



Yep, I had no idea what these were. Here’s the blip from the challenge description:


Nanaimo Bars are a classic Canadian dessert created in none other than Nanaimo, British Colombia. In case you were wondering, it’s pronounced Nah-nye-Moh. These bars have 3 layers: a base containing graham crackers, cocoa, coconut and nuts, a middle custard layer, and a topping of chocolate. They are extremely rich and available almost everywhere across the country.


The first part of the challenge was to make the graham crackers needed for the bottom layer from scratch. We were also encouraged to make them gluten-free. But being a bit short on funds these days I had to make due with a wheat version since I already had all the ingredients. The second part of the challenge was whipping up the actual bars….


After the crackers were made the rest was a breeze, especially if you have everything on hand. I thought they were way too sweet, and would probably do a cream cheese middle the next time. The bottom crust was awesome. I would probably use it for my chocolate silk pie. to find the recipe head over to Lauren's site HERE.



The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and http://www.nanaimo.ca/.
Between yesterday and today,
I'm getting chocolated out!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

CoCo NaNa Bread....

This week's choice of Coco Nana Bread had everyone in the group going crazy. Some didn't want to mix chocolate and bananas, and some thought they would never eat this for breakfast. I guess their not too adventurous.
I have to tell you, the two mixed together were great. And no, you do not just eat this for breakfast. I thought it would be great with an afternoon cup of tea. Although you might want to change that tea to a glass of milk because it was a bit chocolaty. The comments said it lacked the flavor of banana, so I added more by substituting the buttermilk in the recipe with Banana Yogurt and 2 tablespoons of low fat milk. I also added 1/4 c. of shredded coconut, which added to the flavor.

It came out pretty good. And yes, like the comments it was a little dry. Perhaps cutting down on the cocoa powder from 1 cup to 1/2, would help out that issue. Maybe add another 1/2 c. of yogurt.

To get the recipe, check out our host this week, Steph of Obsessed with Baking. Or if you have the book, Baking From My Home to Yours, turn to page 46.

We give this 4 glasses of Milk.
for utter goodness!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Project Runway Jr.

A few years ago, my oldest was in the Mentor Program at school. She and her friend really wanted Fashion Design. They were unable to find a mentor so I stepped in. With years of designing clothes for myself and my family, and my dream of going to Parsons when I was younger. I knew I could stand up to the position.

With Project Runaway having just become so popular, everyone wants to be a designer. They think it's glamours. But, little do they know the work and time that go into it. These girls certainly knew what it would take to make a line and have their own Project Runway Jr.


^^^^^^^^^
**First they had to come up with a theme throughout their line , which they chose African-Asian. This was after seeing the fabric that was available at JoAnn's.
**Next was drawing out the design on paper.
** Then drawing and cutting a pattern out of Muslin fitting it to the doll, before cutting it out of the purchased fabric. You want to make sure it works before the expensive of the fabric.
**After the first fitting, they cut out of the fabric, and then were taught to sew. I chose not to teach buttonholes this time around. So they used Velcro and snaps to secure.
**They then fitted the actual garment to the doll,and added any final touches.


They had to then come up with a name, and chose to combine their names:
Mackenzie and Elizabeth
KenzieBeth Designs

They even made the accessories to match.


Thier American Girl Dolls looked so much like they could
walk the Red Carpet.



They even added in casual and day wear.
Because, when you design,
your line needs to be diverse.


These dolls really did shine out amongst
the other mentor projects.


The girls had made story boards of their progression.
Which made it easier to tell onlookers about the process.



Needless to say, I was very proud of the girls and their project.
And the way they were able to bring out their ideas.
They should enter a Project Runway JR. whenever they can!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Almost Like a Candy Bar......

For bars, these rank pretty high!
It's Tuesday folks and,
These are Dorie's Chocolate Oatmeal Almost Candy Bars

I had everything on hand,
so they were pretty easy to put together.
The batter for the bottom,

was a little bit more wet than I thought it would be.


After spreading the 2/3 of batter on the bottom,
you fill the middle with the chocolate mixture.
Then place the remaining 1/3 batter on top.
A little sticky and tricky.....


The best thing about this recipe,

was the fact that it popped out of the pan with ease.
I will definitely make this again.
And I suggest you do too!

You can get the recipe here

or check out "Baking from My Home to Yours"

Monday, January 18, 2010

What to do on a Snowy Day!

Keeping with the Winter Theme......

We decided to make some mitten shaped cookies,
and a snowman door hanging.


Both are super easy projects,
which can be made with items you may already have on hand!


You can find my favorite sugar cookie recipe HERE.
I decided to go without the frosting and just colored sprinkles.


This project the kids will love,
my group really enjoyed designing their own!


*First you staple 3 different size plates together.
* Then cut out a orange nose out of felt, and a scarf out of felt.
*We attached buttons for the eyes, mouth, and stomach
*Cut the hat out of construction paper and attach
*Glue on two twigs for the arms and add some mittens.
*Then you can tape or hang on the door.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Alice Springs Chicken


No doubt, that after the Blooming Onion, this dish comes in a close second, as the most popular dish at the well known place called the OUTBACK. I know that it is my favorite dish! And because we do not go out to dinner all that often, (With a big family it tends to get pricey). I have decided to come up with my own version and make it at home.
I saute the onions and mushrooms in a separate pan, because there are only a couple of us who will eat the dish with them.

This dish is super easy to make. I fry up a bunch of turkey bacon and keep it on hand. It can be high in salt, so if you have high blood pressure, you might want to stick with the original bacon. I serve mine with some good garlic smashed potatoes and a side of steamed veggies. And I take the leftover maarinade that I didn't use and place it in a small dish in the side.



ALICE SPRINGS CHICKEN
INGREDIENTS

4 skinless, boneless breast halves
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 c. sliced mushrooms (10-12)
1 small onion, sliced
2 Tbsp. butter
Salt & pepper (to taste)
8 slices Turkey bacon, cooked
1 c. Low Fat Monterey Jack /Cheddar mixed cheese, shredded
2 tsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped (optional)
Marinade:
1/2 c. Dijon mustard
1/2 c. honey
1 1/2 tsp. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. lemon juice

INSTRUCTIONS
**To make marinade:in small bowl, combine mustard, honey, oil and lemon juice; whip about 30 seconds.
**Pour about 2/3 of marinade in a ziploc bag with chicken. Marinate in refrigerator about 2 hours. Chill and reserve unused marinade.
**After marinating chicken discard used marinade, preheat oven to 375° F.
**Heat ovenproof frying pan (large enough to hold chicken) and 1 Tbsp. oil over medium heat. **Sear chicken for 3-4 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Remove pan from heat. Keep chicken in pan.
**While chicken is cooking, saute mushrooms and onions in butter in small skillet. Brush each seared breast with a little reserved marinade (still save some to serve on the side). Season chicken with salt, pepper and dash of paprika.
**Place 2 pieces of cooked bacon on chicken in an X fashion. Spoon sauteed mushrooms evenly over bacon. Spread 1/4 c. Jack cheese over bacon; follow with 1/4 c. cheddar.
**Return to oven for 7-10 minutes or until cheese is melted and starting to bubble. Sprinkle with parsley, if desired. Serve with remaining honey-mustard marinade. Serves 4.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Baked not Fried.....

Mrs. Vogel's Scherben Baked Not Fried

This week's TWD choice was to be a fried delectable treat.

And because of wanting to watch my waist,

and not wanting to waste the oil.

I chose to Bake not Fry


These actually came out pretty good, light and crunchy,,
The texture was like a Cheez-it.
They may have been better fried,
perhaps tasting like a Pita chip....
They were super easy to make.
You could probably make these a little savory,
subtracting the sugar, and adding a little garlic and basil.
Then rolling in a little Parmesan, instead of powdered sugar.
This week's hostess is Teena of Spork and Foon
You will get a great step by step on her site.
I think I'll try the savory kind the next time,
and serve them with some humus.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Happy 75th Birthday!

Today is the 75th birthday of a famous Rock n Roll King.
Had he lived, I wonder what he would be up to now.
Would he still be crooning some tunes,
and how many wives would he have had by now?
OR
Would he have gone back to his true love, Priscilla.
And would this sandwich have made it onto
every restaurant menu.
Unfortunately we will never know,
but I'm sure thousands are mourning his death on this day......


For this special day,
I thought I would GRILL up the big guys favorite PB&B,
with an added feature.......I drizzled a little honey on it.
It was delish!!!!
I've never had it grilled, and let me tell you it really adds to it.
This sandwich is definitely a keeper!
(Just grill Peanut Butter, Sliced Banana, and a little Honey,
Between two of your favorite slices of bread)
Yummy...........

I will always remember Elvis's Birthday,
because I too, have my own little Elvis.
His code name is ELVISBLUEYES!
Born on the same day as Elvis, 10 years ago!
We call him the 1-800 baby,
because he was born January 8, 2000!
And just look at those eyelashes!
Sure to make the girls swoon when he gets older....
Happy 10th Birthday Little E!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Cocoa-Buttermilk Birthday Cake



Happy 2nd Anniversary TWD!
To celebrate this special anniversary, TWD members voted on recipes. Tarte Tatin was the winner, with the Cocoa Buttermilk Cake a close runner up. Laurie, our spirited leader, allowed us to choose from either recipe. I have been a member now for a year, and it has been fun. And challenging of course, because I actually bake on the Tuesday, so sometimes I post a little late at night. I imagine myself baking with hundreds of others around the world at the same time.

Moving on with the recipe.......Trying to cut down on so much baking after Christmas, I decided to half the recipe and make some mini cupcakes instead. I make cute little minis in these nut cups that you can find a a couple of sizes. No need for the cupcake pan. You can set them right on a baking sheet, fill and bake. They come out pretty good. And to eat them just peel away the cup from the edge.

There were some comments that the Malt Frosting was a little gritty, so I subbed in some confection sugar instead of the brown. I also added a bit extra malt, because I just love it! And a little extra chocolate in both the batter and frosting. Who doesn't love more chocolate, right? The little cakes came out pretty good. Not super moist , but OK. I found the chocolate cake on the cover of the book to be better. The frosting with the changes, was quite tasty.

If you would like to try this recipe you can find it on "slush" by Laurie, the founder of Tuesdays with Dorie, or within Dorie Greenspan's fabulous book Baking From My Home to Yours , on pages 256-7.

Thanks Laurie and Dorie for a wonderful year!