Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Pumpkin Patch

Lots of birthdays in October in our family.... thought I would make a pumpkin patch instead of a birthday cake.  The pumpkins are cake pops placed on top of rice krispie bars and cupcakes... I thought the krispie bars would look like bales of hay and the stems are made out of Tootsie Rolls... Decorate with green buttercream icing and you have a really cute treat for that special birthday or Halloween party.





"Life's short...eat dessert first!"



Thursday, July 26, 2012

Watermelon Pickles



Summer is flying by.  For us folk that live in the northern part of the country, where summer goes by way too fast and winter sets in way to quick, we tend to burn the candle at both ends so we can enjoy every second of the warm weather.  I haven't had much time to put anything on my blog, but hopefully this fall things will be a little less hectic.  We had a new baby born into our family in June.  We also had a wedding and graduation parties, like everyone else.  I was also lucky enough to be baptized two weeks ago.  What an amazing celebration to have been a part of.  There were 991 participants.  It was wonderful.....

Anyways back to my post.... I've always wanted to try watermelon pickles.  This past week end was the perfect opportunity to do so.  I had just cut up a whole watermelon for my granddaughter's graduation party and I had a little time, so I thought what the heck.  I checked out the internet for recipes and I found this one.... I had all the ingredients and the necessary equipment to make them so I went for it.  They turned out great! 

Update:  May, 2013... Made my first batch of watermelon pickles on Monday.  My husband absolutely loves them.  We had gone to the lake and purchased a watermelon which we never got around to eating. When I got home, I sliced it up and saved half of it for eating. The other half I put in a blender with some strawberries.  Then I strained the pulp and seeds out and added some vodka to it and made "Adult Slushies".  Will use them the next time we're at the lake.  Then I peeled the rind and made watermelon pickles.  So that watermelon went a long long way.... Enjoy!

Pickled Watermelon 

Ingredients:
  • 2 pounds watermelon rind
  • 1/4 cup pickling salt
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon broken stick cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons whole cloves
  • 1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 5 maraschino cherries, halved,optional

Preparation:

Trim the dark green and pink parts from watermelon rind. Cut rind in 1-inch cubes and measure 7 cups. Soak watermelon rind overnight in a mixture of the pickling salt and water. If it takes more to cover, use the same proportion salt to water. Drain and rinse watermelon rind. Cover rind with cold water in a large saucepan; cook just until tender. Meanwhile, in a 6 to 8-quart kettle or Dutch oven, combine sugar, vinegar, cinnamon, whole cloves, and 1 cup water. Simmer mixture 10 minutes, then strain. Add drained watermelon rind, lemon slices, and maraschino cherries, if using. Simmer the mixture until watermelon rind is translucent. Fill hot half-pint jars with watermelon rind and syrup mixture, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Adjust lids. Process in boiling water bath for 5 minutes.
Makes 2 1/2 pints.

http://southernfood.about.com/od/picklesrelishes/r/bln223.htm

Enjoy!


Sunday, May 20, 2012

It's Rhubarb Time...



I just love this time of year.  We have access to really fresh tasting produce instead of the plastic tasting stuff we've had all winter.  One of the first items that pop out of the ground is rhubarb.  I love rhubarb.  As a kid we would go to my grandmother's garden to pick a bunch of rhubarb and then we would run home to get some sugar.  Yummy... it always tasted so good.... sweet and tart at the same time.  It could have been the fact that we had been starved all winter for something that tasted fresh.  Rhubarb is the start of everything wonderful for summer.... strawberries, raspberries, watermelon, yummy, yummy home-grown tomatoes...
Last year I tried a new recipe,  Rhubarb Crumb Bars from Martha Stewart.  They were delicious.  This is a very versatile recipe.  You can substitue other fruits for the rhubarb and have a different taste.  I tried making them with some frozen raspberries I had left over from last year and they turned out just as delicious... 
Rhubarb Crumb Bars by Martha Stewart

Ingredients:

For the streusel
6 T. unsalted butter, melted, plus room-temperature butter for pan
1 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt

For the cake
1/2 lb. rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 T. light-brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides. Butter and flour parchment and pan, tapping out excess flour.
  2. Make streusel: Whisk together butter, brown sugar, and salt. Add flour and mix with a fork until large crumbs form. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Make cake: In a medium bowl, combine rhubarb, brown sugar, and 1/4 cup flour. In another medium bowl, whisk 3/4 cup flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy; beat in eggs, one at a time. With mixer on low, beat in vanilla, then flour mixture. Spread batter in prepared pan. Sprinkle with rhubarb and top with streusel.
  4. Bake cake until golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool completely in pan. Using paper overhang, lift cake from pan. Cut into 16 bars.
-------------------------------------------------
I also tried another recipe from Martha for Rhubarb Meringue Pie. This was also a big hit! I used my own pie crust and made the rhubarb juice from a recipe I found on Cooks.com.
If you get a chance to try either one of these recipes I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
     Rhubarb Meringue Pie adapted from Martha Stewart
but I made a few changes....

Before you start making the pie, you will need to make some unsweetened rhubarb juice...

Recipe:
1 lb. rhubarb
1 qt. water
Juice from 1 lemon

Cut rhubarb in 1 inch pieces.  Cook until soft.  Strain.  Add lemon juice.

Now it's time to make that pie crust...yummy!!!

Barb's Best Ever Pie Crust

Ingredients
1 1/4 c. lard (yes lard...you can find lard in the meat section of your favorite
market or just ask the butcher)
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt

Cut the lard into the flour and salt until when squeezed in your hand the mixture holds it's shape.
Mix:
1 beaten egg
5 T. water
1 T. vinegar

Add this to your flour mixture.  Don't over work your dough.  Form into a disk and put in the refrigerator for about a half hour.

Remove from refrigerator and cut dough in half.  This recipe makes 2 pie crusts.  Put the other half in the refrigerator for a later pie.  Or you could roll it out and put in a pie plate, wrap it up and freeze for another day.  That's what I usually do.  Anyways, place some flour on your counter and roll out your pie crust.  Fold in half and place in pie plate.  Trim the edges and crimp the edges.  Dock the bottom of the pie shell.  That means take a fork and put a lot of holes in the crust.  Place a piece of parchment on top of crust bottom and pour some beans or pie weights on top.  Bake in oven at 375 degrees for about 20-25 minutes.  Remove weights and parchment.  Return to oven and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes or until bottom is golden brown.  Let cool.

Pie filling:

Ingredients
2 cups rhubarb juice
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Coarse salt
3 large egg yolks
plus 4 large egg whites (for meringue)
2 T. unsalted butter

Whisk together 1 cup sugar, the cornstarch, and 1/2 tsp. salt.  Whisk in juice, bring to a boil in a medium saucepan, whisking.  Cook for 1 minute.  Place yolks in a bowl and whisk; gradually whisk in the hot mixture a little at a time.  This is called tempering.  If you pour the hot mixture into the eggs all at once they will curdle.  Once you have added about half of the mixture to the egg yolks pour it all back into the pan.  Cook over medium heat, whisking, until thick about 1 minute.  Whisk in butter and pour into cooled pie crust.  Refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours or overnight.

Meringue
Preheat broiler with rack  about 6 inches from heat source.  Heat whites and remaining 3/4 cup sugar in a double boiler or a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, whisking, until sugar dissolves and mixture is hot (160 degrees), about 2 minutes.  Transfer to the bowl of a mixer. Whisk on high speed until medium peaks form. Dollop meringue onto pie.  Pop in oven and broil until browned, about 1 minute.

I do hope you will try these recipes.  They really are excellent...

Until next time...enjoy!!!!









Sunday, May 6, 2012

Cinnamon Rolls - Just like Cinnabon's.... Absolutely the best!!!

Cinnabon Copycat Rolls


This past week I was a little under the weather.  So this weekend I decided to stay low, rest and just hang out at home.  I made the first posting on Bread, Bread, Bread yesterday and decided "ah what the heck, I'm home I might as well bake"...
I also cleaned out the refrigerator and freezer.  I found lots of fun stuff that really needed to be cooked before I would have to throw it away because of freezer burn. So first there were some shrimp.  I thawed them out and made shrimp with tomato basil sauce with pasta (that will be another post, someday).  I had that for super and froze the rest for lunches.  I had a ham bone left over from Easter and lots of broth from roasts and chickens that I had cooked awhile ago.  I threw them all together and made a wonderful bean soup.  It turned out great.  So I have super for tomorrow night with bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches and several individual servings that I will take to work for lunch.  (My favorite lunch, bean with bacon soup and a braunschweiger and mustard sandwich)... My mom use to make them when I was little.  When I eat them it reminds me of her.  I also chopped up a bunch of rhubarb to make some rhubarb bars which I will have in my next post.
This morning I woke up and went to church and then came home and decided to make my favorite cinnamon rolls.  I love to bring them to work.  It always puts a smile on everyone's face.  I thought I would show you how I make my rolls.  They always turn out and are such a treat.  This recipe is a copy cat recipe for Cinnabon's.  They taste just as good and the recipe makes 18 rolls.  So there's always enough for everyone.

Let's start...
To make these rolls you will need the following: 

1/2 cup warm water (roughly 110 degrees)
2 packages dry yeast
2 T. sugar
3 1/2 oz. package vanilla instant pudding
1/2 cup margarine, melted
2 eggs
1 tsp. salt
6 cups flour (plus a little more)

I'll give you the frosting recipe at the end.

In a measuring cup combine 1/2 cup warm water with 2 packages dry yeast and 1 T. sugar. (Add the sugar to the dry yeast mixture.  It makes the yeast guys wake up faster)  It should start frothing within about 5 minutes.  (See picture above... the yeast is ready to pour into the mixture)
In a large bowl make the pudding according to the directions on the package.  Once it starts thickening, add 2 eggs, the melted margarine, the remaining sugar, the yeast and salt and mix really well.

Start adding the flour 1 cup at a time...

It will start looking a little lumpy, but that's OK.  I usually add 5 cups of flour at this point and add the other cup while I'm kneading.
Again, it looks kind of lumpy and messy, but that's OK.  Start kneading.  If you have never kneaded before, pretend like you are giving someone a massage.  Work the dough with the heals of your hands.  Keep adding flour until the dough is not sticky anymore.  You might need even more flour to achieve a non sticky mass.  That's OK.  Just keep adding until it sticks together, but is not sticky.
Fold your dough over and over kneading with the heal of your hand...
After a very short while, you will have a beautiful ball of dough that's not sticky. 
Now it's time to proof...
Oil (cooking oil) a large bowl and drop your ball of dough into the bowl.  Flip it over and add a little more oil to the top of the ball and rub it all the way around.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise.  I learned a little trick from Alton Brown.  I'm sure you are wondering what the bowl is sitting on.  It's a heating pad sitting inside a large casserole dish.  This keeps a constant low heat on the dough and it rises much quicker.
Once the dough has risen (about an hour or so), punch it down in the middle and let it rise again.  The second rise will go much quicker than the first rise. 
At this point, put about a cup of flour on your counter and turn your ball of dough out on the counter and start rolling with a rolling pin.  Your finished measurement should be approximately 36" wide by 21" long.

Once the dough is rolled out, take about 1/2 cup of softened butter and brush it all over the dough.  Then take about 2 cups of brown sugar and 2 or so tablespoons of cinnamon in another bowl and mix.  Spread this mixture over the dough and butter.  Then start rolling the dough into a 36" log.  I use a measurng stick at this point so I cut the rolls equally.  Each roll should be 2" wide and you should have 18 rolls when you are done.  I also learned another trick from I'm not sure where, but it works really well.  Take some sewing thread or meat twine and slice the rolls with it.  Loop the thread around the dough and pull.  It cuts them perfectly.
Because you have 18 rolls when you are done it's hard to figure out what kind of pan to put them in.  After many different trys, I finally came up with using 3 brownie pans.  Each pan holds 6 rolls.  You don't want too many more than that in each pan because the rolls in the middle won't cook completely and you will have a big doughy mess. 
Take your 3 pans and place a sheet of parchment in the bottom of the pan and place 6 rolls in each pan, cover and let rise one more time.
As Alton Brown always says, "you're patience will be rewarded"!  (LOL!!!)

Once they have pretty much risen to fill the pan, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  I bake each pan separately.  I suppose you could cook them together, but I don't.
The final product looks wonderful... and tastes even better....

Look how pretty and yummy!!!! They're the best!
Now for the frosting....
You will need the following:
Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup margarine (I use butter, because I can)
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar
1 T. milk

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and mix until creamy.  Frost your rolls when they have cooled and enjoy!  You will get a lot of smiles out of these rolls and once they bite into them they're eyes will tell you that you did good! 
I do hope that you will try these rolls, they're the best!  They were definitely sent from heaven...
until next time....
enjoy!



Saturday, May 5, 2012

Bread, Bread, Bread....Yummy!!!

"3" Wonderful Bread Recipes...

Bread Making Basics by Connie Q....the best!

Before Pinterest, I spent hours searching for recipes or videos on things that I would like to make, but didn't know how to do. I love to bake. The one thing I was not very good at was making bread. I wanted to learn more about it and see if it was really as hard as I had made it out to be.  Well.... boy was I wrong.  Like everything else it's just a technique.  Once you learn the technique, bread making becomes so easy. I have become proficient in making bread and rolls thanks to the wonderful contributors from Pinterest and a wonderful website by Connie Q.  I hope you try a few of these recipes.  They are easy and taste so good.  Your family will be amazed at your talent and you will be amazed at how easy it really is...enjoy!
- - - - - - - - - - -
One of the first websites I came across for learning how to make good bread was ConnieQ Cooking...http://www.connieqcooking.com/how-to-bake-bread.html  Her tutorial is wonderful. Her technique is easy.  Please check it out if you are a novice and would love to make some good homemade bread and cinnamon rolls.  Her website does not have any photos of the finished product, but has 4 videos showing you step by step how to make bread from start to finish.

Here are links to You Tube Videos by Connie Q

Bread Making Basics..... by ConnieQ


Bread Making (Part I)

Bread Making (Part II)

Bread Making (Part III)

Bread Making (Part IV)

Thank you Connie... I finally learned how to make good bread from your techniques!!!


Crusty French Bread
My husband's 60th birthday was in March.  I decided to have an Italian dinner for family.  I started with a Chicken Alfredo Lasagna recipe from Pinterest.  I made a great green salad and then I added Crusty French bread.  I found the recipe on Pinterest, of course.  This was without a doubt the easiest recipe I have come across to date.  The bread turned out beautiful.  I made several loaves and the family loved them.
There's nothing better than warm crusty French bread with butter.... yummy!!!!
I found the bread on Joan's blog, http://chocolatechocolatemorechocolate.blogspot.com/
She has a great tutorial on how to make this bread.  She does a wonderful job showing you step by step. 

Check out her blog for this great, easy recipe..... you won't be disappointed!





4 Ingredient Over-Night Bread
Last week I came across a bread recipe on Pinterest that intrigued me.  It used only flour, yeast, salt and water.  How simple!  It did however need to be cooked in a cast iron dutch oven.  I didn't have a cast iron dutch oven so I was on a quest to find one.  The gal on the blog was using a Le Creuset 5.5 quart dutch oven.  These puppies are really expensive.  I found this ad for them on Amazon.  The best price is $34.73, which is not terribly bad.  I do use mine all the time.  It's great for soups, stews and of course 4 Ingredient Over-Night Bread!
According to the recipe you have to leave the dough on the counter overnight.  So last night I mixed up the dough which took about 2 minutes and went to bed.  This morning I baked the bread in my new cast iron dutch oven.  OMG!!!! this bread is unbelievable.  It is like an artisian bread.  It is crusty the way I like it and wonderful. 
Here's how it turned out...

This bread was without a doubt the easiest thing I have ever made.  The taste is out of this world.  The recipe came from http://simplysogood.blogspot.com/2010/03/crusty-bread.html  Janet has many variations to make from this simple recipe.  Check out her blog for more ideas on adding different ingredients.  I checked out all the comments on her blog and everyone is in agreement that this bread is wonderful.  Some of the variations are...sharp cheddar, Rosemary, lemon and gruyere and cranberry, orange and almond.  You could make your own variations.
Here is the recipe from Janet's blog...

Crusty Bread
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon yeast
1 1/2 cups water
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt and yeast.  Add water and mix until a shaggy mixture forms.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 12 - 18 hours.  Overnight works great.  Heat oven to 450 degrees.  When the oven has reached 450 degrees place a cast iron pot with a lid in the oven and heat the pot for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, pour dough onto a heavily floured surface and shape into a ball.  Cover with plastic wrap and let set while the pot is heating.  Remove hot pot from the oven and drop in the dough.  Cover and return to oven for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes remove the lid and bake an additional 15 minutes.  Remove bread from oven and place on a cooling rack to cool. 
This recipe is a keeper!

Until next time....enjoy!!!



"Life's short....eat dessert first!"

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Cookie for Every Season

Sunshine Cookies...
http://glorioustreats.blogspot.com/p/cookie-decorating.html

The sugar cookie has got to be one of the most versatile cookie around.  You can create a million shapes with wonderful cookie cutters.  This cookie is not just for Christmas anymore... This year our family will be celebrating a new baby, a wedding, and a graduation.  Decorated sugar cookies are always a nice addition for showers and parties.  Of course Pinterest has many pictures and links to great ideas for sugar cookies.  The trick to a good sugar cookie, however, is a good recipe.  I've tried many different recipes and found the one I've posted below to be the best.  I found it on Allrecipes.com submitted by Jill Saunders.  It's a crisp cookie with lots of flavor.  It rolls out great and when baked holds it's shape.  I hope you will enjoy this recipe.  Also, don't forget to check out Pinterest and my board "The Cookie Shoppe"
http://pinterest.com/hoffy6675/the-cookie-shoppe/
for lots of great blogs to find very cute designs...

Eastertime!

Baby Shower Cookies...
http://www.flickr.com/photos/50612107@N07/galleries/72157624260846358

Tulips...

A little birdie told me...

Graduation 2012...

Candy shaped cookies...

Lots of wonderful designs and as we all know....everyone "loves" frosted sugar cookies!

The Best Rolled Sugar Cookie Recipe
Submitted by Jill Saunders

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups butter, softened                                 5 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar                                     2 tsps. baking powder  
4 eggs                                                           1 tsp. salt  
1 tsp. vanilla extract                                                                  
Directions:
1.  In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
2.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.  Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
3. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely before frosting.

Enjoy!!!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Dessert Pizza




From our friends at Pampered Chef... this is a quick dessert that the kids just love.  Using packaged sugar cookie dough and adding cream cheese and strawberries makes this quick and fun!

Ingredients:
1 package (18 ounces) refrigerated sugar cookie dough
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
4 cups assored fresh fruit such as sliced strawberries, kiwi, bananas or peaches; blueberries or raspberries

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degress.  For crust shape cookie dough into a ball. Place dough in center of medium round stone with handles; flatten slightly with palm of hand. Using lightly floured baker's roller, roll out dough to 12 inch circle, about1/4 inch thick. Bake 18-20 minutes or until light golden brown, cool 10 minutes. Carefully loosen cookie from stone using bread knife.  Cool completely.  For topping, combine cream cheese and sugar in Small Batter Bowl; mix well. Spread mixture evenly over top of cookie. Slice strawberries, peeled kiwi, or bananas using Egg Slicer Plus® slice peaches using Paring Knife. Arrange fruit over cream cheese mixture. Refrigerate. Cut into 16 wedges with Pizza Cutter. Serve using Mini-Serving Spatula.     Yield: 16 servings.

Enjoy!!!


Chocolate-Raspberry Tart


What a creation!  Chocolate and raspberries... could anything be more delightful!

Ingredients
  • Crust:
    28 cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • Filling:
    1 box (3 ounces) devils food or chocolate instant pudding and pie filling
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup cold milk
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons creme de cacao
  • 48 raspberries, rinsed

Directions

Crust:
1. In food processor, crush cookies until no white filling remains visible. Add butter; pulse until blended and crumbs begin to stick together. Transfer to rectangular 14 x 4 x 1-1/4-inch tart pan with removable bottom (see note); press up sides and over bottom to form 1/4-inch-thick crust. Refrigerate.
Filling:
2. In large bowl, whisk pudding mix and cocoa powder. In small bowl, whisk milk, 1/3 cup sour cream and creme de cacao. Add milk mixture to pudding mixture; beat on low until just moistened. Increase speed to medium-high; beat 2 minutes (consistency of frosting). Scrape into tart shell; spread level. Refrigerate 1 hour. (Recipe may be prepared up to this point, covered in plastic wrap and refrigerated for 4 hours or overnight.)
3. Gently spread the remaining 1/3 cup sour cream over the filling. Arrange raspberries over the top. Serve immediately.

Note14 x 4 x 1-1/4-inch tart pan available from Wilton, 800-794-5866 or www.wilton.com


Strawberry-Chocolate Tart


This is a not only beautiful to look at, but wonderful to eat...
Ingredients
  • Crust:
    14 chocolate cream-filled sandwich cookies
  • 3/4 cup pecans, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Filling:
    1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 8 ounces white baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups strawberries
  • Garnish:
    White chocolate curls
  • Fresh mint sprigs

Directions

Crust:
1. In food processor, finely chop together cookies and pecans. Add melted butter; pulse until crumbs begin to hold together. Press mixture over bottom and up sides of 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Refrigerate while preparing filling.
Filling:
2. Sprinkle gelatin over cream in small bowl. Let stand until gelatin is softened, about 5 minutes. With electric mixer, beat cream cheese in medium-size bowl until smooth. Add cream-gelatin mixture; beat just until smooth. Transfer to small saucepan. Add white baking chocolate; cook, stirring, over medium heat until gelatin is dissolved, chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, about 4 minutes. Pour into tart crust. Refrigerate 1-1/2 hours or until firm, or overnight.
3. Hull strawberries; rinse. Halve some of berries. Remove side of tart pan. Mound berries in center of tart. Garnish with chocolate curls and mint sprigs. Makes 12 servings.  Enjoy!


Orange Glazed Coffee Cake

This coffee cake is incredible.  If you like citrus, you'll love this recipe. 
Ingredients:
  • 1 pkg active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (105 - 115 degrees)
  • 1/2 cup warm milk (105 - 115 degrees)
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 Tbsp grated orange zest
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • Glaze:
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • Icing:
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 1/2 to 2 Tbsp fresh orange juice
Directions:
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in warm milk, orange juice, sugar, ricotta, orange zest, salt and egg into yeast mixture. Using a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and set on low speed, beat 2 cups flour into yeast mixture until a wet dough forms. Beat in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until stiff dough forms. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 5 to 10 minutes, adding more flour as needed to prevent sticking. Place the dough in a large, greased bowl, turning to coat. Cover loosely with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours. Grease a 10-inch springform pan. Punch down the dough. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead for 1 to 2 minutes. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll each into a 20-inch-long rope. Braid the ropes together. Coil braided dough in prepared pan; tuck ends under. Cover loosely with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Brush the dough with glaze. Bake until the top of the cake is golden brown., 25 to 30 minutes. Turn the cake out onto a wire rack to cool slightly. To prepare icing, in a small bowl, stir together confectioners' sugar and orange juice until smooth. Spread icing over warm cake.
Serve warm.


Friday, March 2, 2012

Button Pins

Button Pins


I love to experiment with different mediums.  Because I love to sew, like so many others, I love buttons.  Over the years I have collected a lot of buttons.  You look at them and say what the heck can I do with these little gems.  Well, I also love to wear pins, or as my friends call them "broches"... LOL!!! They always tease me about my "broches"... Anyways, I love them.  I'm not a jewelry person, but love to wear pins.  So these are made from a bunch of buttons I had in my sewing box.  I tried using jewelry glue, but found out that it not only smelled really bad, but it didn't work the way I wanted it to.  About the same time I was making these, my sister-in-law was making bridesmaid bouquets out of buttons for her future daughter-in-law.  She also tried using jewelry glue and found that a glue gun worked much better.  I had to agree.  The glue gun worked perfectly.  I purchased the findings from the internet and now I have a host of button pins that I love to wear.

Button Bouquets



This is very similar to the bouquet that my sister-in-law made.  They were just gorgeous.  Her daughter-in-law had inherited massive amounts of buttons from her grandmother.  So this was a nice way of honoring her grandmother and using those beautiful buttons.



Meal of the Week

Another busy week at work with no time left over to work on my blog. I finally have some time and thought it would be fun to create a "Meal of the Week" post. So here goes....

"Meal of the Week Menu"
Mixed Greens with Parmesan Crisps
Pork Chops with Mushroom Gravy
Smashed Potato Casserole
Fresh Green Beans & Basil
Dessert:  Strawberry No-Bake Cheesecake

Sounds good?  I hope you enjoy the menu that I put together...looks like a lot, but would be a great meal for the family on Sunday afternoon...with hopefully some left-overs for Monday's lunch.

Mixed Greens with Parmesan Crisps


1 cup Kraft 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese
2 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
8 cups baby mixed salad greens
1/2 cup seedless red grapes, halved
1/2 cup Planters Walnut Pieces, toasted
1/2 cup Kraft Light Done Right! Red Wine Vinaigrette Reuced Fat Dressing


HEAT oven to 400°F.
COMBINE cheese and rosemary. Spoon 1 Tbsp. onto baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray; spread to flatten. Repeat to make 16 crisps, allowing 1 inch between each.
BAKE 6 min. or until golden brown, turning after 5 min. Cool on wire rack.
COVER 8 plates with greens; top with grapes, nuts and dressing. Serve with Parmesan crisps.

Pork Chops with Mushroom Gravy

February/March 2007

4 bone-in rib or center-cut pork chops, 3/4 to 1 inch thick
2 tsps. vegetable oil
3 T. unsalted butter
1 lb. white mushrooms, sliced
1 small onion, chopped fine
3 T. all-purpose flour
2 C. chicken broth
2 tsps. minced fresh thyme
1 T. Dijon mustard

  1. Pat chops dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Cook chops until well browned and meat registers 145 degrees, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to plate and tent with foil.
  2. In now-empty skillet, cook butter, mushrooms, onion, and 1/4 tsp. salt, covered, until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove lid and cook until moisture has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle flour over mushrooms and stir to coat. Slowly stir in broth, thyme, and any accumlated pork juices and simmer until gravy has thickened, about 3 minutes. Off heat, stir in mustard and season with salt and pepper.
Smashed Potato Casserole

This is a favorite of mine.  A friend gave me this recipe many years ago and it's a hit every time.

6 large potatoes of your choice
1 3 oz. pkg. cream cheese
1 beaten egg
1 green pepper chopped
1 small onion chopped
1 small package of shredded cheddar cheese

Peel and cut potatoes.  Place in pan, cover with water, add a little salt and cook until tender.  Drain.  Combine pototes and the rest of the ingredients and beat.  Spray a casserole pan with oil and place the potato mixture in casserole.  Bake for about 40 minutes at 350 degrees.  Remove from oven and add the shredded cheddar.  Return to oven for about 15 minutes longer.

Fresh Green Beans & Basil


1/3 cup Kraft Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette Dressing
1 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed
1 red onion, sliced
3 T. chopped fresh basil

HEAT dressing in large skillet on medium heat. Add beans and onions; cover.
COOK 5 min. or until beans are crisp-tender.
TOP with basil; cook, covered, 1 min.

Dessert - Strawberry No-Bake Cheesecake-Yummy!


12 Honey Maid Honey Grahams, finely crushed (about 2 cups crumbs)
6 T. margarine, melted
1 cup plus 2 T. sugar, divided
4 pkg. (8 oz. each) Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup straberry preserves
2 cups fesh straberries, chopped
1 tub (8 oz.) Cool Whip Whipped Topping, thawed


MIX graham crumbs, margarine and 1/4 cup sugar; press onto bottom of 13x9-inch pan. Refrigerate while preparing filling.
BEAT Neufchatel and 3/4 cup sugar in large bowl with mixer until well blended. Add preserves; mix well. Place strawberries and remaining 2 Tbsp. sugar in small bowl; mash with fork. Stir strawberry mixture and COOL WHIP into cheese mixture. Spoon over crust; cover.
REFRIGERATE 4 hours or until firm. Store in refrigerator.


The nice thing about this menu is that the potatoes and dessert can be made the day before and then all that's left is the salad, pork chops, and green beans to put together.  The chops and beans cook quickly and the salad is a snap to put together.  What a great meal for the weekend when we have a little more time to make something special.  You could also serve this during the week with a little planning.

Enjoy!