Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January Foodie Penpals Reveal Day

When I took part in the Great Food Bloggers Cookie Swap during the holidays, one of the bloggers who sent cookies to me was Hannah  of Hannaviolin.  I started reading her blog.  At the end of December she posted about being a part of Foodie Penpals and what she had received from her penpal that month.  I thought that being a part of that group sounded like fun so I signed up for January. 

I was partnered to send a package to Ashley at Simple Food Healthy Life and Annica at Annicanicole was to send a package to me.  Today is  the day that I get to share all the lovely things she sent to me.
  
My package was full of many goodies.  There were chocolate covered crackers and mint tea.

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Of course, I had to try these right away.  See the cute little designs on the crackers.

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These did not last long at my house.

There were these wonderful nut clusters.

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Using extreme willpower, I actually have a few of these left.

There was a wonderful chicken enchilada soup mix.  I had never made this kind of soup before.

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I am a wimp when it comes to spicy food so this was a bit spicy for me, but I added some extra water; and hubby and I enjoyed this very much.

There was a great no-salt seasoning mix.

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Annica said that this is her favorite seasoning.  I used it in a meatloaf I made and have been sprinkling it on my veggies.

There were three other items in the box that I have not eaten yet. 

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I am sure they all will be wonderful.  Except for the brownie mix, most of these brands are ones that I have not seen before.  This is one of the nice things about taking part in this exchange.  Annica lives in Missouri so can purchase items that I cannot where I live.

Because this is called Foodie Penpals, one of the requirements is that something hand written be sent.  Annica’s note was in this pretty envelope.

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Ashley will be writing about what I sent to her on her blog.

This was so much fun, I have signed up to do this again in February.  To find information about joining the group, visit The Lean Green Bean.  Sign up by February 4th is required to participate in February.

I am linking to Foodie Penpal Reveal Day.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Slow Cooked Ranch Pork Roast

This week Safeway has pork shoulder roasts on sale buy one, get one free.  Well, this sale makes the meat $1.75 a lb.  Now tell me, where can you get pork or beef for $1.75 a lb. right now.  Of course, I bought some.

I planned to have one for dinner on Saturday night and wanted a new recipe.  I did a search and found a recipe I decided to try at Recipe.com.  The challenge was that it was a slow cooker recipe.  Hubby and I are not particularly fond of beef or pork cooked in the slow cooker.  I do have a recipe or two that I like: but for the most part, slow cooked meat is too overdone for us.  I was, therefor, a little concerned about making this recipe.  I thought that the recipe sounded good so I forged ahead.  It turns out that this one is a Keeper. Hubby said it was very good, and I will make it often.

The directions called for cooking the pork 9 to 10 hours on low or  4 1/2 to 5 hours on high.  Because I got a late start, I cooked my roast on high.  It weighed almost 4 lbs. and was done in 3 1/2 hours.  I didn’t have the rest of dinner ready, so I turned  the slow cooker down to low, and it did cook another hour.  I should have turned the slow cooker to the warm setting, but I forgot I have that available.
 
The recipe calls for cream cheese, cream of chicken soup and ranch dressing mix.  Commercial products or homemade products can be used.  I prefer the homemade substitutes, but I am not a purist, and do keep the commercial products on hand.  This time I used them.  I used a pork seasoning salt when I browned the meat hoping to give the pork more flavor.  This addition made the sauce/gravy a little too salty tasting for me so next time I will leave that out and also use low-sodium soup if I use commercial soup.

The recipe calls for red potatoes to be added and cooked with the pork.  I am sure that this makes a nice, almost one-dish meal.  I chose to make mashed potatoes instead.  I also served green beans with bacon and pickled beets.

There are a number of recipes for homemade ranch dressing mix on the net.  Here is one that I use that came from a Gooseberry Patch Cookbook, Gifts for Giving.

Ranch Dip and Dressing Mix
Gooseberry Patch, Gifts for Giving
2 t. celery salt
2 t. garlic powder
3 T. dried minced onion
2 t. pepper
2 t. sugar
2 1/2 t. paprika
2 1/2 t. dried parsley
Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container.  Makes 1/2 cup mix.

For Dip:  Blend 1 T. mix with 1 c. sour cream.  Chill in refrigerator at least one hour before serving.

For Dressing:  Blend 1 T. mix with 1 c. mayonnaise and 1 c. buttermilk.  Chill in refrigerator at least one hour before serving.


Slow Cooker Ranch Pork Roast
from Better Homes and Gardens
1 (2 1/2 to 3 lb.) boneless pork shoulder roast (mine was bone-in and almost 4 lb.)
1 lb. small new red skinned potatoes, halved
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened (I used low fat)
1 (10 3/4 oz.) can cream of chicken soup (I would use low sodium)
1 envelope dry ranch dressing mix
freshly ground black pepper (opt.)

Trim excess fat from roast.  Spray a skillet with non-stick cooking spray.  Heat skillet, add roast and brown well on all sides.  Place potatoes in the bottom of a 3 1/2 to 4 qt. slow cooker.  Place roast on top of potatoes.  Combine cream cheese, soup, and dressing mix.  Spoon mixture on top of the roast.  Cover and cook on low 9 to 10 hours or on high 4 1/2 to 5 hours.  Remove pork and potatoes to a serving platter.  Pour sauce/gravy into a container to spoon over the roast.  Garnish roast and potatoes with freshly ground pepper if desired.  Makes 6 servings.
 
Linking to:  Hunk of Meat Monday
Mingle Monday
Mangia Monday
Newbie Party
Made by You Monday
Melt in Your Mouth Monday
A Marvelous Mess
Making Monday Marvelous
Homemaker Monday
What Makes You Say Mmmmm?

 

    Saturday, January 28, 2012

    Perpetual Green Onions and a Dip Recipe

    Back in November, one of my Friday Finds was a tip about keeping green onions in water from Homemade Serenity.  She indicated that the onions would last indefinitely.  I was anxious to try this out.   As I said then, I never seem to have green onions when I need them.  We live a long way from town so I don’t just jump in the car and go buy some.  Most of the  time I would just sub regular onions, but the taste is not quite the same.

    Around Christmas, I finally remembered to buy a bunch of onions.  I put them in a little jar with water to see what would happen.  Well, the onions just keep growing and growing.  I have cut some off and used them many times.  They grow fast as I will show here:

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    This photo was taken on Sunday, January 22, 2012.  I had just cut some onions off to use in a recipe.

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    This photo was taken on Friday, January 27, 2012.  You can see how much growth there has been with some of the onions. 

    I do not have a particularly sunny place to leave these and just set them on my kitchen window sill during the day.  You can almost see them grow.  I pour the water out of the jar and put in fresh every three or four days.

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    Here is a picture of one of the onions.  You can see the new growth growing out between the old growth that was cut off.  I have no idea how long this bunch will last; but, at this point, it has been a month.  A pretty good return on a .44 investment, I think.  Green onions are on sale this week so I am going to purchase one more bunch and add them to my jar.

    Of course, now my challenge is that I have lots of green onions so they go in almost anything I can think of.  We don’t eat green peppers so I use the onions in recipes that call for green pepper so I at least get the color.  If I want some of the white part, I just take a whole onion out of the jar and use it.  There is an outside layer that forms on the white that needs to be stripped off as well as the root removed.

    One place that I use the onions is in this dip recipe.  You can play around with the basic recipe and add cheese, bacon, seasonings, etc.   I often use Greek yogurt in place of the sour cream.

    Green Onion Dip
    from Best Foods Mayonnaise

    1 c. mayonnaise, low fat or fat free is OK
    1 c. sour cream, low fat or fat free is OK or use Green yogurt
    1/2 c. sliced green onions
    1/2 c. parsley sprigs
    1 t. Dijon mustard
    1-2 cloves garlic, crushed

    Blend all ingredients together in a blender or food processor until almost smooth.  Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.  Makes 2 cups.

    Laura over at Real Mom Kitchen recently posted a recipe for Bacon and Green Onion Cheese Ball that I am going to try very soon.

    This idea seems to really work.  If you like green onions, you might want to give it a try.

    Linking to:  Strut Your Stuff
    Weekend Potluck
    Weekend Bloggy Reading
    I'm Lovin' It

    Why I Am Not a Home Décor Blogger

    I have a number of interests beside cooking, and I love to visit some of the home décor blogs and see what wonderful things those bloggers are up to.  They have so many good ideas, and I come away impressed, thinking, “I could do that, too.”

    Then I look around and see my special and unique decorating and realize, probably NOT.  I am pretty much “stuck” with what I have.

    Here is my mantle decoration:

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    Sunday thinks that she is the only thing that belongs on the mantel and will push off onto the floor anything else that is put there.

    Here is my bed decoration:

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    Cally spends most of every day hanging out on the bed.  No, the bed is not made.  She usually gets there before I have a chance to make it and likes to be right in the middle.

    Here is my houseplant:

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    This is the only thing I seem to be able to keep alive.

    No matter how much I admire the home décor bloggers, the above are a few reasons I will not be joining them anytime soon. I think I will just continue to blog about food, so I will be back later to write about those green onions.

    Friday, January 27, 2012

    Friday Finds

    I found so much good stuff this week that it was very hard to narrow it all down to just a few items to post.  Even then, this is a longer list than usual for me.  Here we go:

    Blogchef

    Although these do look very good, the main reason I included these is that she made her own au jus from Better than Bouillon, water, and some veggies.  I do not like to buy the commercial product, but just plain beef broth leaves something to be desired.  I am going to give her version a try and see if it is better.  Blogchef always has wonderful recipes, so I bet it is.

    Simply Recipes

    Cabbage is not a favorite veggie with some, I know, but I like it.  Hubby will not eat cooked cabbage, but I think that I will make this just for myself.  Be sure to read the comments, there are some other great ideas for cooked cabbage there as well.

    Bakeaholic Mama

    When our wonderful hostess Sno White posted her recipe for Ranch Crackers, I remembered how much fun making homemade crackers was.  I have made a couple of different flavors which I will be posting soon.  Although I did not find a lot of crackers recipes when I did a search I did find some.  This week I ran across these, and they sound yummy.

    Accidentally Wonderful

    This soup is made with rather simple ingredients which I think I can get by my hubby who doesn't care for some of the ingredients in most enchilada soups.  I probably will, however, use my Do-It-Yourself Cream Soup Mix in place of the Cream of Chicken Soup and the recipe linked below in place of the can of enchilada  sauce.

    Little Mommy, Big Appetite

    I have a recipe for homemade enchilada sauce which I have used a lot, but I want to try this one.  She gives it big raves. 

    Squiggy Spice

    I can't have too many way to fix broccoli.  This oriental inspired recipe looks like a good one.  I am going to do this one soon.


    The Farm Girl

    Of course, I must include some sweet goodies in this list.  Cookies that contain candy are a extra special treat for this Cookie Monster's grandmother.  Here is one more using Butterfingers.

    Alli-n-Son

    Here is one that uses Raspberry Hugs candy and instant cheesecake pudding mix.  Those two items are going on my grocery list for my next shopping trip.  I love cookies with a little hidden surprise in them.

    As usual, the photos were taken by and are the property of the owners of the respective blogs represented.

    It is always so much fun to see what other bloggers have found in their travels around the net this week.  I am linking up at Friday Favorite Finds.  Pop on over and see what other have found.

    Wednesday, January 25, 2012

    Ingredient Spotlight-Cran/Raspberry Jam


    In 1966, we made our one and only trip to Disneyland.  Our oldest daughter was three and our second daughter was a baby.  We stayed with my aunt and uncle who lived in the LA area and used their home as a base for several days.  My aunt took care of the baby for us while we were at Disneyland.

    While we were there, my aunt served us cranberry/strawberry jam which was made with cranberries and frozen strawberries.  I loved it and the fact that you could make fresh jam in the winter.  She gave me her recipe, and I made it often for a number of years when the children were growing up.  Now that there is just hubby and me, I don’t make jam as often.

    When I saw that jam was the subject of this week’s Ingredient Spotlight, I looked for my old recipe.  I could not find it, but I did find a recipe on the Sure-Jell site.  Since I had raspberries in my freezer that I had frozen last summer, I decided to use them instead of strawberries.  I used my kitchen scale and found that two of my frozen bags weighed 16 oz.  I added 1/4 c. to the amount of sugar since my raspberries were not sweetened.  Otherwise, I followed the cooking procedure from the Sure-Jell site exactly.  I usually put my jam in the freezer so I just poured the jam into clean half-pint jars, screwed the lids on and let the jam cool before putting it in the freezer.

    I did not completely thaw either the raspberries or the cranberries.  I put the raspberries in the pot and turned on the heat to low, chopped the cranberries and added them to the pot and left it on the heat a few minutes,  stirring often.  I then added the Sure-Jell and turned the heat to high to make the jam.

    I like to use a flat bottomed spatula such as the bamboo ones that Pampered Chef sells to stir the jam. No affiliation, I just happen to like these.  They do a great job of keeping the jam mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pot.


    Cran/Raspberry Jam
    adapted from Sure-Jell website
    1 bag (12 oz.) fresh cranberries (I used frozen and they worked fine)
    1 bag (16 oz.) frozen raspberries (can be strawberries), thawed
    1/2 T. butter
    1 box Sure-Jell Pectin
    4 c. sugar

    Chop cranberries in a food processor until fine.  Place raspberries, cranberries, butter and Sure-Jell in a large pot.  Bring the mixture to a full-rolling boil, over high heat, stirring constantly.  (A full-rolling boil is one that doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred.)  Add the sugar.  Return to a full-rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute.  Remove from heat and skim off any foam with a metal spoon.  Ladle immediately into clean jars.  Let cool and freeze or follow the directions for sealing at the Sure-Jell web site.  Makes 5 to 6 half-pint jars full.

    Tuesday, January 24, 2012

    Butterscotch Oatmeal Cake

    I just want to say a quick welcome to my new followers.  As always, thanks to all who take the time out of their busy lives to read this blog.  It is appreciated.

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    Many years ago I clipped a recipe from a Nestles ad for Butterscotch Bark Cake.  It was called that because you used a fork to make the frosting look like bark.  I loved that cake, but over the years the recipe disappeared.
     
    Lately I have been thinking about that cake and wanted to make it.  I searched the Nestle site, and it is not there.  I searched the net and did not find it.  I also had done a search for chocolate oatmeal cake and found one at Are You Hungry that called for semisweet chocolate chips.  I thought why not use  butterscotch chips in place of the chocolate ones and see what happens.  Though not quite like I remember, this did make a very good cake.

    I have to admit that once I made the cake, I didn’t want to work any more; so I just frosted it with some canned chocolate frosting that I had purchased to make candy with at Christmas time and didn’t get to it.

    Butterscotch Oatmeal Cake
    adapted from Are You Hungry

    1 1/2 c. boiling water
    1 c. quick-cooking oatmeal
    1/2 pkg. butterscotch chips (3/4 c. plus 2 T.)
    1/2 c. butter, softened
    3/4 c. sugar
    3/4 c. brown sugar, packed
    2 eggs at room temperature
    1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
    1 t. baking soda
    1 t. salt

    Mix oats and boiling water together in a bowl.  Add butterscotch chips, let stand 5 minutes.  Stir.  Let stand 10 minutes more.  Meanwhile in another bowl cream together the butter, sugar, and brown sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Stir oat mixture to thoroughly blend in  the chips.  Add to sugar/egg mixture.  Combine flour, baking soda and salt.  Add to oat mixture and blend well.  Pour into a greased 9x13-inch baking pan.  Bake at 350 degrees 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool in pan on a wire rack.  Frost with your favorite frosting.

    Linking to:  Tempt My Tummy Tuesday
    Totally Tasty Tuesday
    Tuesdays at the Table
    Sweets for a Saturday

    Saturday, January 21, 2012

    Peanut Brittle Cookies

    Being the extra observant person that I am (NOT, just ask my hubby), I just noticed that Blogger has given us the ability to reply to comments.  How cool is that and when did it happen?  Whatever, Thanks, Blogger.

    Do you ever have a love/hate relationship with something?  It seems I do with many things.  The recipe I am posting today is the result of the love/hate thing with a cookie recipe and peanut brittle.

    Last fall Marsha over at The Better Baker posted a recipe for “Melt in Your Mouth” Pecan Toffee Cookies.  I made the cookies and love them.  Don’t love the cost of the Heath Toffee Bits though.  Next is peanut brittle.  Love peanut brittle, my teeth not so much.  But, I can buy a 6 oz. box of peanut brittle at Dollar Tree for $1.00.  So I thought, “What if I used crushed peanut brittle in Marsha’s recipe instead of toffee bits?” 

    That seemed to have some possibilities, so I gave it a try with my Homemade Cake Mix.   What resulted was a cookie not at all like the original recipe but so good in its own way.  The cookies are thin and crisp but sturdy with a flavor amazingly like peanut brittle.  They develop little craters and even holes where the peanut brittle melts as they bake and tend to be a little free-form in shape.

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    The peanut brittle came in a foil pouch so I just crushed it inside the pouch with my meat mallet.

    The cookies must be baked on a non-stick foil-lined baking sheet, or spray regular foil with non-stick spray.  Let the cookies stand a minute or so after baking to firm up some before removing to a cooling rack.

    Give these a try, you won’t be sorry you did.

    Peanut Brittle Cookies
    1/2 c. butter, softened
    1 (18 oz.) box yellow cake mix (or make you own)
    2 lg. eggs, at room temperature
    1 T. water
    1 (6 oz.) box peanut brittle, crushed.

    Place butter, cake mix, eggs and water in a mixer bowl and mix until well blended.  Stir in crushed peanut brittle.  Drop by rounded teaspoonsful onto non-stick, foil-lined baking sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  Let cookies stand for 1 minute or so before removing from baking sheet.  Transfer to rack to cool.  Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

    Friday, January 20, 2012

    Friday Finds

    My finds this week are "all over the map" so to speak.  I am looking forward to making them all.

    Our Best Bites

    Hubby doesn't eat cauliflower, but I think maybe I could get it past him with this recipe.  I actually have already made this, and I thought it was very good.  The roasting seemed to bring out the sweetness in the cauliflower.

    Picky Palate

    Put a few ingredients in a pot.  Cook for 15 minutes, and you have what looks and sounds like a delicious soup.


    Frugal and Focused

    If you like Nutella, this looks like a great recipe to have on hand if you run out.  I posted a recipe for a spreadable butter, but I honestly think that this one is better.  I am going to give it a try.

    A Little Nosh

    Amy says that once she tried this recipe, she threw out all her other chicken nugget recipes.  I am picking up some split chicken breasts on sale for $.99 lb. this week so want to try these soon.

    Chocolate, Chocolate and More Chocolate

    I "knead" (OK, I couldn't resist) to make more homemade bread.  This looks like a nice, easy recipe.  Who could resist spending some time at a blog named Chocolate, Chocolate and More Chocolate.


    Remodelaholic

    There is a nice conversion chart to print out and keep handy in your kitchen here.  This is going on the inside of a cabinet door in my kitchen.

    As always,  all photos were taken by and are the property of the owners of the blogs represented.

    I am looking forward to checking out what other bloggers have found in their travels around the net this week.

    Thursday, January 19, 2012

    January Improv Challenge-Lemon Sour Cream Cookies

    Improv Challenge

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    Being the Cookie Monster’s grandmother, when I learned that the ingredients for the January Improv Challenge were lemon and sour cream, I knew that I wanted to make a cookie recipe.  The only cookie recipe that I found when I did a search was posted by Sarah Dahl at a recipe sharing site called We Gotta Eat.  She attributed the recipe to “Cook's Country.” 

    These are a soft, cake-like cookie with a very mild lemon flavor.  I wanted the lemon flavor to be more pronounced so I glazed the cookies with a lemon glaze.  The next time I make these, I may add some lemon extract to the dough.  Not a “Cook's Country” approved option, I am sure.  This is a drop cookie, but the dough does need to be chilled for a hour. 

    I used my cookie scoop to drop the dough onto the baking sheets.  My cookies took only 10 minutes to bake and made cookies about 2 inches in diameter.  I got about 5 dozen cookies.

    I made a glaze of melted butter, powdered sugar, lemon juice and milk.  I made this a little on the thick side and brushed the glaze on with a silicone brush which left little ridges that I thought provided a little decorative effect. 

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    Lemon Sour Cream Cookies
    Cooks Country via Sarah Dahl

    3 c. flour
    1 t. baking powder
    1/2 t. baking soda
    1/2 t. salt
    1 c. butter, softened
    1 1/2 c. sugar
    2 eggs, at room temperature
    1 c. sour cream
    1 t. grated lemon rind

    Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Stir well and set aside.  With an electric mixer set on medium speed, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Reduce speed to low and beat in sour cream and lemon rind.  Add flour mixture and mix until well combined.  Refrigerate dough until slightly firm, about 1 hour.  Drop by rounded tablespoonsful about two inches apart onto parchment-lined baking sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees 15 minutes or until just beginning to brown around the edges.

    Lemon Glaze
    3 T. melted butter
    2 T. fresh lemon juice
    1 1/2 c. powdered sugar, sifted
    2 T. milk

    Combine melted butter and lemon juice.  Stir in powdered sugar.  Add milk and stir well.  Add additional milk a teaspoon at a time until mixture is of desired consistency.  Brush onto cooled cookies.  Let stand until set.

    Many thanks to Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Housewife for hosting this challenge and doing such a great job each month.  February's ingredients are carrots and ginger.  If you would like to join in the fun, just hop on over to Kristen's blog and click on the Improv tab.

    Tuesday, January 17, 2012

    Pick-Your-Flavor Hot Milk Drink

    Welcome to my new followers and thanks to all of you who take the time out of your busy lives to stop and read my blog.  It is appreciated, and I hope what you find here is useful to you.  Have a great week.

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    I don’t drink coffee.  It is just something that I never developed a taste for.  Sometimes I want something other than cocoa or hot tea.  I have seen all the flavored syrups designed for use in coffee at the grocery store.  I thought surely there must be a use for those, but not necessarily in cocoa or tea.

    Over the holidays, two things came together.  Marsha over at The Better Baker posted a recipe for Hot Cinnamon Milk Mix which she found at Craftaholics Anonymous.  This recipe used dry milk, flavored non-dairy creamer, sugar, and cinnamon.  I made the recipe, and it was very good.  The original recipe called for French Vanilla Flavored Creamer.  I also made up a couple of batches using Irish Cream and Pumpkin Spice Creamers.  I liked them too.

    Then one of my local grocery stores had Torani syrups on sale for the whole month of December.  I had $1.00 off coupons on these.  That meant that I could purchase the syrups for $3.99 a bottle versus the regular price of $6.99.  I had been thinking that I could take the Hot Cinnamon Milk recipe and use plain non-dairy creamer instead of the flavored  creamer and use the syrups for the flavoring.  That is what I did, and I think that it worked really well.

    I have said that I get bored with food easily.  This way I can make up a batch of the base mix and add whatever flavoring I want that day.  I purchased three flavors:  Butter Rum, Almond Roca, and Hazelnut.  There are other flavors I want to try such as Coconut and Almond.  Cinnamon or other spices could be added to the drink, too.

    I reduced the amount of sugar from the original recipe as I found the drink a bit too sweet for me.  A favorite sugar substitute could be used.  I also use 1/4 c. instead of 1/3 cup of the mix.
     
    Pick Your Flavor Hot Milk Drink
    2 c. instant dry milk
    1 c. plain powdered creamer
    3/4 c. sugar or Splenda

    Combine and mix well.  Store in zip-top bag or air-tight container. 

    To use:  Heat 1/2 c. milk and 1/2 c. water until hot.  Stir in 1/4 to 1/3 c. of the above mix and 1 T. or more any flavor Torani syrup or other desired coffee flavoring syrup.  Makes 1 (8 oz.) serving.

    It is only January, but looking ahead, I think that a batch of the mix along with two or three flavors of the syrup put in recycled spice or similar bottles would make a nice Christmas gift.

    Linking to:  Tempt My Tummy Tuesday
    Take a Look Tuesday
    Tasty Tuesday
    Totally Tasty Tuesday
    Tuesday Time Out
    Tip Me Tuesday
    Show Me What Ya Got
    Success U Wednesday

    Friday, January 13, 2012

    Friday Finds

    I started out this week looking for new ideas for cooking with potatoes.  I did find several, but also found other great ideas worth sharing.  The first two recipes will help me use up some crescent rolls that I have on had, and both are wonderful lunch ideas that I will try soon.

    Making Memories with Your Kids

    Pepperoni Pinwheels
    Will Cook for Smiles

    I really like pasta as a side dish and can never have too many recipe ideas.  Here are two that look delicious.

    Peanut Sesame Noodles
    Scattered Thoughts of a Stay at Home Mom

    Garlic Butter Pasta
    Hot Eats and Cool Reads

    Here are three of the new ideas that I will be using for potatoes.

    Roasted Parmesan Potatoes
    In Him We Live and Move and Have Our Being

    Garlic and Rosemary Potatoes
    Elsa's Cooking Diary

    Roasted Smashed Potatoes
    Little Mommy, Big Appetite

    I have mentioned before that we really like Brussels sprouts.  Here are two new ideas I want to try with them.

    101 Cookbooks

    The Kitchen is My Playground 

    And, of course, I also found this new-to-me idea for Nutella.  I will definitely be putting this in the file for what to make for this year's Christmas goodies.

    Talking Dollars and Cents

    As always the photos here are the property of the owners of the respective blogs represented.

    I will be linking up to Friday Favorite Finds and am looking forward to seeing what other bloggers have found this week.



    Thursday, January 12, 2012

    Warming Split Pea Soup

    This time of year, nothing is better than a bowl of hot, comforting soup.  This is one of my hubby’s favorites.  The whole batch of soup can be made for under $2.00 so it is great for the budget.  I make this at least once a month.  The soup is hearty and filling even though it has no meat in it.   The original recipe was clipped from Woman’s Day many years ago, and I have given it to many people.

    If I am feeling particularly frugal, I use 7 cups water and 1 T. instant chicken bouillon or soup base instead of the can of chicken broth.  I leave out the salt, and this works out fine.  Once  all the ingredients are in the pot, the soup takes very little effort.  It just needs to be stirred once in a while.

    For a smooth soup,  it can be run through a blender or food processor.  We like our soup a bit chunky so I don’t bother with that.  I like to serve this with little cheese crackers.

    I will add some cubed ham if I have it on hand or sometimes cooked crumbled bacon for garnish.  The soup is great without this, however.

    Leftovers will stiffen up some while in the fridge, so a little water may need to be added when reheating the soup.


    Split Pea Soup from Woman's Day
    1 lb. split peas, green or yellow (2 1/4 c.)
    5 c. water
    1 can  (14 oz.) chicken broth or 2 c. water and 1 T. instant chicken bouillon or soup base
    1 lg. onion, chopped
    2 med. carrots, chopped
    2 lg. cloves garlic, minced
    1/2 t. thyme leaves, crushed
    1/2 t. pepper  (freshly ground preferred)
    3/4 t. salt  (I omit if using the instant bouillon)

    Pour peas into pie tin or other flat surface to check that there are no rocks or other foreign objects in with the peas.  Put the peas in a 4-qt. pot.  Add remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 90 minutes or until peas are soft.  Stir occasionally.  Makes 6 servings.

    Update 2/29/12:  Come join SoupaPalooza at TidyMom and Dine and Dish sponsored by KitchenAidRed Star Yeast and Le Creuset






    Linking to: SoupaPalooza
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    Tuesday, January 10, 2012

    Cooking with the Journal-Easy Homemade Dip Mixes


    This time of year I am usually trying to recuperate from all the food splurges of the holidays.  I am sure many of us are doing that.  This means that I am trying to eat more vegetables, so I eat more celery sticks, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, snow peas, etc.  I  try to keep these around to snack on to stave off  the hunger pangs.
    The problem is, by themselves, I find vegetables are kind of boring.  Using a dip makes vegetables a little more interesting.  Unfortunately, most commercial dips are full of chemicals and fat; not a good combination if you are trying to lose a little weight.

    Here are a few homemade dip mixes that can be mixed with low-fat or fat-free sour cream, Greek yogurt, low-fat or fat-free cottage cheese( blended in a blender) or a combination of these.  I also like the combination of half of any of the above and half low-fat mayo.  These all use common pantry shelf or refrigerator ingredients and go together quickly.  Since I am easily bored when it come to food, I usually halve the ingredients and mix with a half cup of the sour cream or whatever so that I can change the dip up every day or so.

    The recipes are from Farm Journal’s “The Thrifty Cook”, 1974.

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    Onion/Cheese Dip Mix
    1 T. instant minced onion
    2 T. grated Parmesan cheese
    1 1/2 t. instant beef broth mix
    1/4 t. garlic powder

    Combine all ingredients.  Mix with 1 c. sour cream, blending well.  Chill at least 30 minutes, but several hours is better.  Makes 1 c.

    Curry Dip Mix
    1 T. instant minced onion
    2 t. curry powder
    1/4 t. instant minced garlic
    1/4 t. salt

    Combine all ingredients.  Mix with 1 c. sour cream, blending well.  Chill at least 30 minutes, but several hours is better.  Makes 1 c.

    Bacon Dip Mix
    2 T. real bacon bits
    1 T. instant minced onion
    1 t. instant beef broth mix
    1/4 t. instant minced garlic

    Combine all ingredients.  Mix with 1 c. sour cream, blending well.  Chill at least 30 minutes, but several hours is better.  Makes 1 c.

    Taco Dip Mix
    1 T.  instant minced onion
    1 1/2 t. instant beef broth mix
    1 t. chili powder
    1/2 t. ground cumin
    1/4 t. salt
    1/8 t. instant minced garlic

    Combine all ingredients.  Mix with 1 c. sour cream and 2 t. ketchup, blending well.  Chill at least 30 minutes, but several hours is better.  Makes 1 c.

    If you are doing as I am, try these to help the veggies go down a little easier.

    Linking to:  Tuesdays at the Table
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    Monday, January 9, 2012

    Greek Roast Beef

    Good Monday morning.  Thanks for taking time out of your busy lives to stop and read this blog.  I hope that what you find here is useful to you.

    I have mentioned that I only cook evening meals three time a week due to my work schedule, and often cook roasts, casseroles, and other meals that will leave leftovers for my hubby to eat the four nights I am gone.

    Saturday I decided to try a Greek inspired roast using a cooking method that was on a recipe card I picked up at a local grocery store.  The recipe was for a sirloin tip roast.  I didn’t look carefully enough at what the roast was that I took from the freezer.  It turned out that it was a rump roast so I used that.  It turned out fine so either a sirloin tip or a rump roast could be used.

    A commercial Greek seasoning can be used or you can make your own. One recipe that I have used is here at Food for My Family.  I like that one because it doesn't call for dried mint which I don't always have on hand.  The recipe called for cooking the roast in beef broth and red wine.  This combination plus the Greek seasoning made a very flavorful gravy.  I also cooked some onions and carrots with the roast.

    I like to stud my beef roasts generously with garlic.  To do this  I make half inch or so slits with a point of a sharp knife and insert slices of garlic into the slits.  I usually make these about 1 inch apart all over the roast.  This takes two to three cloves of garlic.  This step is optional, but if you like garlic, it adds great flavor to the beef.

    I am personally not very fond of beef roast cooked in a slow cooker, but I am sure one could be used for this recipe if desired.

    An explanation about the photo.  Our weather has been very overcast, and we often lose daylight as early as three o'clock.  Since we don't eat until around seven, I had to settle for taking a picture of the roast the next day after it was cold.

    IMG_2024-1

    Greek Roast Beef
    1 3-4 lb. sirloin tip or rump roast
    2 to 3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
    olive oil
    2 to 3 teaspoons Greek seasoning
    small amount of vegetable oil
    1 c. beef broth
    1/4 c. red wine
    1 c. chopped onion
    1 c. baby carrots, halved lengthwise

    Trim roast of any excess fat.  If desired stud roast with slices of garlic.  Brush olive oil on all surfaces of the meat.  Rub roast with Greek seasonings.  Heat a small amount of vegetable oil in a oven-proof Dutch oven.  Brown meat on all sides.  Drain off any excess oil.  Add beef broth and red wine.  Cover and roast at 300 degrees for 1 1/4 hour.  Add onion and carrots and roast another 45 minutes.  I cooked my roast to medium 160 degrees.  Remove roast from cooking liquid.  Cover with foil and keep warm.  Use a slotted spoon to remove carrots and onions to a oven-proof serving dish.  Cover and return to turned-off oven to keep warm.  Remove fat from cooking liquid and measure the amount (I had 3 cups).  Mix about 2 T. flour for each cup of cooking liquid with a small amount of water.  Stir until flour/water mixture is smooth.  Slowly add to the cooking liquid while stirring to mix well.  Continue to stir and bring to a boil.  Stir and boil for a few minutes until gravy is of desired thickness.

    Linking to:  Ingredient Spotlight
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    Sunday, January 8, 2012

    Almond Toffee Butterscotch Brownies

    IMG_2015-1

    I wanted to call these Almond Roca Brownies, but that name is owned by Brown & Haley who make a candy by that name.  During the holidays one of my local grocery stores had Torani Syrups on sale, and I had some coupons so I purchased several flavors:  Hazelnut, Butter Rum., Almond Roca, and Raspberry.  I don’t drink coffee, but wanted to try the syrups in some recipe ideas I had.

    The first thing I tried are these brownies using the Almond Roca Syrup and Heath Milk Chocolate Toffee Bits.  This makes a very sugary, soft bar that keeps well tightly covered.

    I used toasted slivered almonds in these.  I like to break the almonds up further so there are more almond pieces per brownie.  This is extra work so is not necessary if you don’t want to bother.  I only used half a package of the toffee bits as these are very rich.

    I based my recipe on an old recipe from Betty Crocker.  Melted butter, margarine, shortening or vegetable oil can be used in the recipe.  I generally prefer to use the butter.  Because the butter is melted, this recipe goes together very quickly.

    If you don't have the syrup, you can omit it and use 1 t. vanilla or almond extract instead.  The flavor will just be a little different.

    IMG_2017-1

    Almond Toffee Butterscotch Brownies
    1/2 c. melted butter, margarine, shortening or vegetable oil
    2 c. light brown sugar, packed
    2 eggs
    2 T. Torani Almond Roca Syrup
    1 1/2 c. flour
    2 t. baking powder
    1 t. salt
    12 c. slivered toasted almonds
    1/2 package Heath Milk Chocolate Toffee Bits (about 1/2 c. plus 3 T.)

    Melt butter, margarine or shortening and let cool slightly.  This is not necessary if you are using vegetable oil.  Combine fat and brown sugar until well blended.  Stir in eggs and mix well.  Stir together flour, baking powder and salt.  Add to sugar mixture and stir until well blended.  Add the almonds and toffee bits.  Turn batter into a well-greased 9x13-inch baking pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  The bars may not seem to be done, but they are.  Do not overbake.  Cool slightly and cut into bars 2 1/2x1-inch bars.  Makes about 36 bars.  Store tightly covered.

    Linking to:  A Marvelous Mess Monday
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    Saturday, January 7, 2012

    Crazy Cooking Challenge-Chicken Noodle Soup

    Photobucket

    This month's Crazy Cooking Challenge is for Chicken Noodle Soup.  I found the recipe I based my chicken noodle soup on over at Jill’s Recipes.  The recipe interested me because it was more of a creamy soup than most chicken noodle soups.  It also used frozen noodles which I had never used.    The noodles were on sale at Safeway so I thought I would give them a try.

    I will have to admit that I did change the recipe quite a bit.  First instead of the cream of chicken soup it called for, I used the ingredients in my homemade cream soup mix.  I also added celery. red pepper, regular onions, and chopped the carrots instead of grating them.

    The original recipe called for 3 quarts of water.  I started the day before I planned to make the soup and cooked 4 chicken thighs that I had purchased on sale for .99 lb.  I put the thighs in 2 qts. of water with onion, carrot, celery, red pepper, bay leaf, garlic, and salt and pepper.  I brought this to a boil and cooked them about 30 minutes.  I removed the chicken thighs, poured the liquid through a strainer, and discarded the vegetables.  The chicken and liquid were then refrigerated overnight.  The next day, I removed the skin and cut the thigh meat from the bones, chopped it up and set it aside.  There was about 2 1/2 c. chicken from the four thighs.   I removed the fat from the liquid and put the broth in a big pot.  I added the remaining quart of water, the  homemade soup mix, the veggies, and seasonings.  This was brought to a boil stirring very often.  I lowered the heat and simmered the mixture for 20 minutes.  I brought the mixture back to a boil and added the noodles per the package directions and cooked 10 minutes, added the chicken and cooked another 10 minutes until the noodles were tender.
     
    The results were a wonderful, creamy large amount of soup which hubby and I ate for lunch for several days.

    If you want to use canned cream-of-chicken soup like the original recipe did, use one large can or three regular-sized cans and omit the dry milk, cornstarch and 3 34 c. water.  Next time I make this I will add a cup or so of frozen peas when I add the chicken.

    IMG_2009-1

    Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup
    Inspired by Jill’s Recipes

    2 qts. chicken broth from cooking chicken (purchased broth could be used)
    1 qt. water
    1/4 c. chicken soup base (I use Better than Bouillon Organic)
    3/4 c. nonfat dry milk
    4 1/2 T. cornstarch
    1/2 t. dried basil
    1/2 t. dried thyme
    3 3/4 c. water
    1 c. chopped onion
    1 c. chopped carrot
    1 c. chopped celery
    1 c. chopped red pepper
    1 clove garlic, minced
    generous grinding of freshly ground pepper
    2 1/2 to 3 cup chopped cooked chicken
    1 (12 oz.) pkg. Reames Frozen Noodles

    In a large pot combine chicken broth, water, and chicken soup base.   Mix well.  In a large bowl combine dry milk, cornstarch, basil and thyme.  Mix well.  Stir in 3 3/4 c. water mixing well.  Add to water and broth in pot, stirring until well combined.  Add onion, carrot, celery, red pepper and garlic.  Heat mixture to boiling, stirring often to prevent sticking.  Lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Bring soup back to a boil and stir in noodles.  Reduce heat and let noodles boil gently 10 minutes.  Add chicken and generous grinding of black pepper.  Continue to boil 10 more minutes or until noodles are tender.   Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more soup base or bouillon if necessary.   Makes at least 8 generous servings.

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    February's challenge is Chocolate Cake.  If you would like to join in the fun, you can get more details by heading over to Mom's Crazy Cooking and checking it out.   Tina is a great hostess.  

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