Monday, February 1, 2016
Sunday, January 31, 2016
|I felt better than I looked...|
Today is a literal day of rest for me. I'm shuffling around the house like I'm 115 years old and it is not bothering me to watch everyone else do everything. While I am no stranger to sitting in my chair looking at Pinterest for a few hours on the weekend, this is different. So, I am listening to my body (with the doctor's orders ringing in my ears) and taking a few more days off.
Monday, January 18, 2016
I used a new-to-me recipe for the frosting. It was a base of marshmallow crème, so it ended up kind of spongy when set. Some of us really liked it, others not so much. I liked the texture and it seemed lighter than regular buttercream. It did not pipe so well, however. Granted, the kitchen was pretty warm, but the frosting was a little too soft for making those roses. I also needed one more batch to be able to completely cover the cake. What you’re seeing here is the least-worst side of the cake. I also have never piped frosting on a vertical plane before, and I was trying to work quickly. Now I know to allow some time to do that. Jess placed the candy pearls on each flower. Those were crunchy chocolate candies that weren’t like little bullets to chew on, but we still didn’t let Layla have one. She got a plain cupcake with a tiny dollop of frosting.
I didn’t use a recipe from any particular web site or blog, rather just read a few, then put it together myself. Here’s what I did:
1 stick butter, softened
7 oz. marshmallow crème
2 tsp. vanilla
Cream together til smooth.
3 C powdered sugar, one cup at a time
pinch of salt
I added the first cup of powdered sugar and pinch of salt, then got that all mixed with the butter/crème mixture. With the second cup of powdered sugar, I added a dollop of gel food coloring and mixed all that together until smooth. Then added the third cup of powdered sugar and mixed.
You can add a tablespoon or two of milk if you want a more fluid frosting, but I was going to for pipeable, so didn’t. Next time I’d add another ½ cup of powdered sugar for a bit stiffer consistency.
I used three batches of frosting for this cake, and could have used one more. It was three 8-inch layers with a thin layer of frosting in between and on the top and sides before I piped the roses.
It was fun to experiment with a new recipe, and I’ll keep it to use occasionally when we want something a little different.
Friday, January 1, 2016
Monday, August 24, 2015
After a few years of breakfast sandwiches and burritos from the local fine fast food eateries, Greg has started taking his morning meal with him from home. I flavor plain Greek yogurt with vanilla and honey, then pack a generous serving with a handful of fresh blueberries on top. As garnish, he sprinkles another generous helping of granola on top before enjoying his delicious nutritious breakfast. At first I purchased the granola - Bear Naked brand because it’s pretty wholesome, and we like it. I bought two bags, thinking it would last through the month. No. Between Greg and Jess, it barely lasted a little over a week. Time to dig out the homemade granola recipe. The ingredients were in the cupboard already, and took less than 30 minutes to assemble, mix, and bake two quart jars full.
The recipe came from an online friend of mine. Melanie blogs at Comfy House and posts lovely healthy, delicious-sounding recipes. I couldn’t find this exact recipe so I could link to it, which makes me wonder if it wasn’t posted in an email instead of on her blog. No matter, she did post a new granola concoction this summer that also would be wonderful. I chose to try the original one printed out quite some time ago and tucked away in my recipe notebook:
3 Cups Old-Fashioned Oats
¼ C vegetable oil
¼ C honey
¼ C brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 325°. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Bake 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Let cool completely before stirring in 1 cup nuts and 1 cup dried fruits. Store in an airtight container.
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
(Recipes at the end of post)
Last night we were blessed to have most of my side of the family here for supper. My sister and one of my brothers were here with their families, so there were 14 hungry pizza-eaters around the table. In shifts, of course. I don’t have that big a table.
My husbands grilled pizza was requested, and since these family gatherings are few and far between, we accommodated that request. Greg and I discussed at length the logistics of feed 14 people homemade grilled pizzas since we have the one grill and the one 12” pizza stone. It meant he would be stuck outside in the hot heat (heat index was over 100°) grilling pizza after pizza while the rest of us were inside feasting. He was okay with that, I think so he could have some time to himself, and because he loves homemade grilled pizza and wanted to share that with my very appreciative family.
My sister came over for the afternoon and we devised our strategy for making the dough and prepping the toppings. For 14 of us, including two young adults and three pre-teens, three of those of the boy persuasion, we decided to make 8 pizzas. My dough recipe makes enough for two, so we threw together four batches of it and while it rose, we made our menu and prepped our toppings. (Menu written by my sister with a purple crayon. That’s just how we roll.)
Each of the eight pizzas was different, but the foundation was the same with rolling the dough, transfer to the pizza peel after dusting both crust and peel with corn meal, a light brush of olive oil, then a sprinkle of Parmesan. After that, toppings were added, then the cheese. A plain pepperoni, a couple that were just vegetables, the rest had meat and veggies in various combinations. We used homemade red sauce and homemade garlic cream sauce, except for the pulled pork barbecue. The ones marked “red” were straightforward, sauce, meat/veg, mozzarella cheese. The chicken and prime rib pizzas used garlic cream sauce. Oh, that is good! We also added torn fresh basil leaves to about half of the pies. Greg cooked each one on his egg-shaped grill, and they came off hot and crispy, melty and gooey. Each one took about 8-10 minutes. As he cooked one pizza, Tonita and I built the next.
I want to talk about the barbecue pizza. Greg made pulled pork for 4th of July, and we used some of the leftover meat for this pizza. He gave me very specific instructions for building this one. Same base of dough brushed with olive oil, sprinkle of Parm, then sprinkle of shredded cheddar. On top of that, the pork, then the barbecue sauce (we like JB’s Fatboy Haugwash). He likes a layer of dill pickle chips, I like some red onion, then more cheddar, and a little mozzarella. It’s hot and gooey and I like it better than pulled pork sandwiches.
There were several leftover pieces for them to take home to feed the masses lunch today. We also had green salad, potato salad, green beans fresh from the garden, fresh fruit, jalapeno popper dip, super-delicious cake that Grace made to practice her 4-H entry, and assorted beverages. It was a feast.
I’m including the recipes we use for the sauces and crust. Enjoy!
Super Easy Pizza Dough (makes 2-12” pizzas)
1 C lukewarm water (I use hot tap water)
¼ C olive oil
1 tsp. sugar
1 packet instant dry yeast (2¼ tsp.)
½ tsp. salt
3 C flour
In mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in the water with olive oil and sugar. Let sit 10 minutes. Add the flour and salt and knead in the mixer until a nice dough ball forms and there is nothing left sticking to the sides of the bowl.
Transfer to an oiled bowl, turning crust to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for an hour or so, until at least doubled in size. After the dough is risen, divide in half. Roll out half on a floured surface and make your pizza.
This dough can be frozen after rising and dividing. Seal in airtight container or zipper bag and freeze. To use after freezing, thaw, then roll out, add toppings and bake.
The original recipe does not list baking temp or time. We usually grill our pizzas at 500+°F for 8 – 10 minutes. In the oven, I do 450° for 15 minutes.
Garlic Cream Sauce
1½ Tbsp. unsalted butter
½ Tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
½ C heavy cream
¼ C 2% milk
¼ C grated Parmesan cheese
Generous pinch of salt (check before you salt this – it might not need it)
Generous pinch black pepper
Small pinch red chili flakes
Melt the butter with the olive oil over low heat. Add minced/grated garlic (I use a microplane), and stir. Turn heat to med/med-high and add cream and milk. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil. Add cheese and seasonings and continue stirring. Once sauce is thickened, remove from heat.
(I usually have to add 1-2 tsps cornstarch dissolved in 1 Tbsp cold water, stir, then simmer til thickened.)
Red Pizza Sauce
(based on recipe in Jessica Fisher’s “Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook”)
¼ C olive oil
2 tsp minced garlic
One 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
3 Tbs chopped fresh basil (or 1 Tsp dried)
1 tsp salt
½ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
One 6 oz. can tomato paste
In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook briefly. Add tomatoes, basil, oregano, pepper flakes. Let simmer 10 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook 3 minutes. Let cool.
This sauce freezes nicely. I portion into tiny jars and chill in the frig overnight before freezing. Thaw in the frig. One batch makes enough sauce for several pizzas.
Sunday, July 12, 2015
The last weekend of June was our mini-vacation to Colorado. This was a quick trip over a long weekend, and we went so the boys could see real mountains. They not only saw the mountains, they got to go to the top of one. That was Silas’s dream - “I want to stand on top of a mountain!”. Of course, the rest of us wanted to see the mountains as well, and getting to spend time with my cousin Jesse, his wife Stephanie, and their family, was a huge bonus.
Stephanie was our tour guide going to the top of that mountain as she led us through Estes Park and up Trail Ridge Road. I had no idea we were on the highest elevation paved road in the United States. The altitude made me a bit lightheaded and caused some anxiety, but I’m so glad we went. The scenery was stunning.
We saw these guys just past the mountain summit. Traffic was stopped and the park ranger was taking pics for the people in the car ahead of us. We were able to snap some of our own.
The boys got to play in the snow. It was cool, but not chilly, just perfect.
A mountain train ride topped our agenda the next day. The Georgetown Loop Railroad was a fun ride for everyone, but of course, the boys were ecstatic. A real steam engine pulled the train and we went over a bridge with a small river beneath.
There were a couple of other tourist stops – Buffalo Bill’s grave on Lookout Mountain, and the evening spent in Denver at Casa Bonita’s.
Most important, we got to spend some quality time with family members we don’t get to see often. We love those guys and treasure our times together. It was a fun weekend and the kids were great travellers. We came back to the Nebraska prairie, missing the view of the mountains, but loving the cornfields for miles.