Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Cheese Fondue on the wood stove

It was cold, we were tired and hungry.  Dave started a fire in the wood stove and I was rummaging for something to eat.  We had Gruyère, some Emmentailer cheese and a baguette from the weekend.  I shredded the cheese, added some garlic threw it in my cast iron pan and stuck it on top of the wood stove to melt.
The cheese went from this...

To this, in no time flat.

Warm, bubbly deliciousness.
We had apples, bread, cheese and some wine. The fire was warm, the cheese was melty and delicious.  It was the perfect quiet night while the kids were at the movies.  I think we'll buy the kids a movie gift certificate and send them on their way again this weekend.

1 year ago:  Oatmeal Cookie Bars with Fudge Filling
2 years ago: Wheat Berry Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash

February 26, 2014   Daylight  9 hrs. 48 min. 23 sec.  Temp. H 24/ L 6°F

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Concession..

So, while I am telling tales on the kids, I'm adding one from the hippy-boy.  This is from when he was in high school and a friend of his was in town so 4 of them planned a sleep-over (do boys call it that?).  Off he went for a night of boy fart jokes, football in the street, fast food, and Adam Sandler movies.

About 11:00 we get a knock on the door.  Dave and I open the door to find the boy, leaning heavily on the door frame and slightly wobbly, and his friends tearing off down the street in someone's car.  The first thing we think - he's drunk...really.

"Dad, dad," he slurs, "I have a concession."
"You have a confession?" Dave asks
"No, no, no.  I have a concession." and he leans over to throw up in the irises by the walk...lovely.
"What's going on?" Dave asks.
"I got hit in the head with a football and I have a concession." he says as he starts heaving in the flowers again.
"Oh, a concussion!" We both state at the same time.
We load him up and head to the emergency room.

This drink of the week is so delicious you will want more than one.  Don't do it.  You don't want to have to have a confession, or concession, and my irises just can't take any more.

The Confession Maker
adapted from the Godiva Liqueur website

2 shots Godiva Liqueur
2 shots Peppermint Schnapps

Pour shots into shaker filled with ice, shake until very cold.  Strain into martini glass.
Makes 1 or 2, depends on your mood!

1 year ago:   Strawberry Cobbler
2 years ago: Thank You Bars
February 24, 2014   Daylight 9 hrs. 34 min. 48 sec.  Temp. H 18/ L -8

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Zachary getting kicked out of Sunday School

He didn't stand a chance, I always told him he was hatched from an egg.
With the Curly haired boy's wedding coming up, we have been doing a lot of talking about him when he was younger.  Like the fact that he was is obsessed with dinosaurs, that he was a little too verbal (the time he asked the checker if she had a 'gina or a penis was not a proud moment) and he was a very active little guy.

He did love dinosaurs, ran raptor laps around the kitchen, pretended to devour his brother who always had to be some poor mammal he caught, had to be a dinosaur on more than one Halloween, always wrote about dinosaurs, and read all kinds of books about dinosaurs.  We really thought he would grow up and be a paleontologist.  When he left for college he left a dinosaur skeleton model on my pillow just to make me cry (and it worked).
The Dinosaur birthday cake for his 7th birthday.
So, this all leads us to the time he got kicked out of Sunday School class.  At the time, our church did children's Sunday School during the church service.  The kids were all downstairs learning and the adults were all upstairs in the sanctuary.  One Sunday morning, Zach's teacher drug him upstairs, he was crying as she called me to the back of the church in the middle of the service, and loudly informed me that Zachary was no longer welcome in her Sunday School Class, he could just stay with me from then on (of course, by then all ears were on her, no one knows what the sermon was about that day).  I asked her what he had done.
"He called me ridiculous." she replied indignantly.
"Zachary David, we do not call names, tell your teacher you are sorry." I scolded.
"No." he flatly refused.
"Zachary, you apologize right now." I was getting so embarrassed, as the pastor told everyone to "sing louder!"
"No, what she said was ridiculous. She said there were no dinosaurs and God just put their bones in the ground.  I told her that was the most ridiculous thing I have every heard."
"See," his teacher puffed, "He did it again."
"Did you tell him there were no dinosaurs and God just put their bones in the ground?" I asked in amazement.
"Yes." She stated flatly, "That is the truth, and there is no proof otherwise."
"Well, that is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard, and you are not allowed to be my son's Sunday School teacher.  Zach, go sit with your dad in church."

I can only be so polite.

The Halloween he was a pterodactyl, I don't know why he HAD to wear the Aladdin t-shirt with it though.
1 year ago:   Twice Baked Potatoes
2 years ago:Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
February 19, 2014  Daylight 9 hrs. 0 min. 45 sec.  Temp H -2/ L -26°F

Monday, February 17, 2014

Saving the Dogs lives

It has been pretty quiet around here that last couple of weeks.  We are back from vacation and getting caught up with work, the Bboy is going to school, the chick is working, the dogs are....being dogs.  So pretty quiet and boring.  Except when I almost killed two of the little dogs and then saved their lives.

Dave and I were headed out the door for dinner on Valentine's Day.  Dave surprised me by making reservations at one of our favorite restaurants.  We were kenneling the dogs and I grabbed two of the little dogs and headed to the kennel.  I stepped down the first step into our entry and fell down the second step, twisted my bad ankle and landed on my nose. I was holding those two dogs and as I fell all I could think of was "don't fall on the dogs and squish and kill them!"  I didn't land on them, I didn't squish them, I held them out to the sides of me and saved their lives...

Needless to say, Dave was just a little mad that I was carrying those dogs in the first place.  He was ready to cancel our reservations and make me ice my foot, but I talked him into going out, I really was shoe did get a little tight that evening, but I managed to dance with Dave (after my second glass of champagne) and we did have a good time.

Dave has been loudly hinting that his favorite cookie was my pumpkin cookies but without the chocolate chips, with o.k.  So I made them for him.  And to ramp up the deliciousness I make them sandwich cookies with a cinnamon cream cheese in the middle.  I loved these...even with the raisins.

Pumpkin Raisin Sandwich Cookies with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Filling

4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups backed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 15 oz. can pure pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Cream butter with sugars, add egg, vanilla, and pumpkin. 

Mix dry ingredients together, add to pumpkin mixture,  mix well.  Add chocolate chips.

Lightly grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.  Scoop tablespoons full, leaving 2" between cookies.  Bake 12-15 minutes until golden brown.

Makes about 8 doz. cookies

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Filling

1/2 cup butter, 1 stick
2-8oz. pkg. cream cheese
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
5-7 cups powdered sugar

Cream butter and cream cheese together.  Add vanilla and cinnamon.  Sift powdered sugar, to remove any lumps.  Add 4 cups of powdered sugar. Mix well.  Slowly add the rest of the sugar until you reach the desired consistency.  Keep in mind this frosting will firm up some once it is refrigerated.

To Assemble:
Place a good dollop of cream cheese on the flat side of one cookie, gently press the flat side of a second cookies on top of the frosting.  Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes before serving.
Makes about 4 doz. sandwich cookies.

February 17, 2014   Daylight 8 hrs. 47 min. 6 sec.  Temp.  H 2/ L -21 °F.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Bacon Jam is another name for Love

I am always trying to make up to my husband for the dumb shit I do find ways to show my husband some love.  Especially around Valentine's Day.  He is not a big sweet eater, he has everything he needs and then some, and I really always have some kissing up to do just want to show him how much I love him.

Bacon Jam.  What more do I need to say?  This makes up for a whole lot of things, like the Walking Dead commercials on t.v. that are giving me nightmares and I kick him in his sleep, or the extra shelving unit I need in the dish room that he had to put together, or when I come home from working a FULL day (I know, you don't want to hear it either), or the pulled shoulder muscle he has to rub....constantly...

What do you do to show your sweetie some love? I need all the ideas I can get!
What is bacon jam good on?  Let's see, toast, waffles, crackers, my husband eats it on his salad, toasted tomato sandwiches, cheese sandwiches, macaroni, baguette, pizza.....

1 lb sliced bacon, cut into 1/2“ chunks
1 large sweet onion, diced fine
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 cup brewed coffee
½ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup orange juice
¼ cup maple syrup
4 tablespoons brown sugar
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ cup bourbon

Cook bacon chunks until browned, then transfer to plate lined with paper towels to soak up excess fat.
Drain all but 2 Tbs. bacon fat from pan, add onions and garlic. Saute on medium until softened, stirring to prevent burning. Return bacon chunks to pan and add the coffee, vinegar, o.j., maple syrup, brown sugar, and ginger. Simmer on low for 45 minutes, then transfer to food processer and pulse until finely chopped. Return mixture to pan and cook on low another 15 minutes. Add bourbon and simmer until thick, syrupy, and dark (approx. 30 more minutes). Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before pouring into jars or other airtight containers. Refrigerate. Will keep 3-4 weeks.
Makes 2 cups
Adapted from “The Best of Breakfast in a Jar”

February 14, 2014   Daylight 8 hrs. 26 min. 38 sec.  Temp. H-8/ L -20°F

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Pumpkin Spelt Sourdough Bread

I am a terrible friend.  I have neglected my friend for so long he almost starved to death, as a matter of fact he even nail polish remover, and it is all my fault.  I forgot to feed him, he sat there in his little jar, in the dark in the cold, all forgotten...

Now, before you call PETA on me, let me explain.  It is my jar of sourdough starter.  I got out of the habit of making bread every weekend.  I love to bake bread, but I don't eat it anymore and if I bake it, I eat it.  So I quit baking it.  But I forgot that my sourdough needs to be fed on a regular basis.

I was cleaning out the fridge and I cam upon my jar of starter, in the back, with this grey looking liquid on the top.  I took off the lid and it smelled like acetone...yech.  I mixed it up, put it in the proofing bowl, fed it some warm water and flour and let it sit for 12 hours.  I poured out 1 1/2 cups, gave it another dose of flour and warm water and left it for another 12 hours.  By this time it was smelling sweet and yeasty, just as it should.  So I decided to make bread.

I was looking through my Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day book and came across a spelt and sweet potato recipe.  I didn't have sweet potatoes but I have canned pumpkin.  I mixed it up, let it proof, and baked up a couple of loaves.  It was delicious.  The house was warmed by the oven (a good day for it, -27 right now as I write this), the house was filled with the smell of baking bread, and my sourdough is happy for another week.  I guess Dave and the Baby boy will have to suck it up and eat bread more often, you can't let a good sourdough starter starve.

Pumpkin, Spelt, Sourdough Bread
adapted from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day

2 cups spelt flour
1 cup all purpose flour
2 full tsp. yeast
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 Tbsp. vital gluten
1 cup sourdough starter
1  cups warm water (or 1 1/2 cups warm water if not using starter)
1 can solid pack pumpkin, about 1 1/2 cups

Whisk together flours, yeast, salt and gluten in large bowl or mixer bowl.  In small bowl mix together starter (if using), water and pumpkin.  Add liquid to flour mixture with mixer running.  Mix until fully incorporated.  You do not need to knead this bread.

Place into loosely covered bowl and let rise for 2 hours or until dough doubles in size.  Refrigerate for at least two hours or up to three days, this makes it easier to shape.

Dust the surface of the dough with flour and divide into two evenly sized pieces.  Shape into a ball or a narrow oval.  Cover a pizza peel or a non-sided cookie sheet with corn meal and place dough on it to rise.  Let rise about 90 minutes, or until double in size.

Preheat oven to 450°F.  Place a baking stone, or cookie sheet on middle rack.  Place an empty broiler tray on the bottom rack.

Just before baking, use a pastry brush to paint the top crust with water.  Slash the loaf diagonally with 1/4 inch deep parallel cut, using a serrated bread knife. ** Slide the loaf (s) directly on the hot stone and pour 1 cup hot water in broiler tray.

Bake for 30 minutes or until richly browned and firm.  Allow the bread to cool before slicing.

**If you hate sliding the loaf off the peel and onto the oven tray place dough on parchment paper to rise.  Lift parchment to transfer dough into oven.  During the last 10 minutes of cooking, carefully remove the parchment from the bottom of the loaf and finish cooking directly on the stone or cookie sheet.
Fed and happy, back in the fridge for another week.

1 year ago:   Ultimate Decadence Brownies
2 years ago: Better than Sex Chex Mix

February 12, 2014   Daylight 8 hrs. 19 min. 48 secs.  Temp. H -15/ L -26°F

Monday, February 10, 2014

Crock Pot Maple Bacon Wrapped Chicken

I have never been accused of having good timing...I am always the one who is one beat late, hesitate too long for a joke's punchline, don't get the sarcastic get the picture.  But just after I posted about not being a good crock pot cook, I read this blog post  by Stacy Makes Cents, now she has good timing.  She posts crock pot recipes once a week and this one just spoke to me. Bacon.  I had to try it.

I made it on Sunday, so Dave would smell the bacon cooking and maybe begin to change his mind about crock pot dinners.  I know I should have done it on a work night to save myself a late dinner again, but this was all part of my "Change Dave's mind about crock pot meals" plan.  It smelled delicious!

 Oh course, mine didn't turn out like the pictures in Stacy's blog, I think I had too much chicken in my crockpot and the bacon just kind of boiled, so when I removed the chicken, I put the bacon in a frying pan and fried it until it was crisp.  The maple syrup caramelized and make these crunchy, sweet bits and the bacon was sweet with just a little heat from the cayenne pepper.  I sprinkled the bacon bits over the chicken and served with warm BBQ sauce.   Everyone enjoyed it.  I'll try it again and see if I can't get it to look like the one on Stacy's blog.

What are some of your favorite crock pot recipes?  I need all the help I can get.

Crock Pot Maple Bacon Wrapped Chicken

adapted from Stacy Makes Cents,click here to see her blog
  • 1 ½ pounds chicken breast (about 4 breasts), cut in half
  • 2 chicken thighs (Dave doesn't like white meat)
  • 12 slices bacon
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • BBQ sauce for serving, if desired
  1. Wrap each piece of chicken with a piece of bacon.
  2. Place chicken in bottom of 5 quart crock.
  3. Combine cayenne pepper and maple syrup.
  4. Pour mixture over chicken.
  5. Cover and cook on low 6 hours.
  6. Remove with slotted spoon.
Yield: 6 servings

1 year ago:   Fried Dill Pickles
2 years ago:  Apple, Onion, and Bacon stuffed Pork Chops

February 10, 2014   Daylight 7 hrs. 59 mins. 20 sec.  Temp. H -11/ L/-29°F

Friday, February 7, 2014

Pork Chops with Chick Pea Mash

I cook for the pickiest eaters in the whole world!  Now,  let's not forget that the kids can't have any milk products, the chick is allergic to coconut and soy, the kids don't like fish, shrimp, or shellfish, Dave doesn't like chicken, capers, bell peppers, olives, turkey, cranberries, curry, salmon, artichokes, chickpeas, beans, or sweets (just to name a few).  I, on the other hand, love it all...perhaps if I was a pickier eater I would fit into my pants.  

So, to add a little stress to the eating situation, I went back to work full time from 3/4 time and dinner has been after 7:00 all week.  Dave made a comment about late dinners and I told him I had a plan.

"I'm not going back to crock pot dinners." he loudly announced to the family.


In his defense, I am not the best crock pot cook.  I have tried and tried, but it remains a skill beyond my reach.  Not that he won't have to suffer through a dry crock pot moose roast once in a while.  You see, I just don't have the knack.  So I think we are destined to have late dinners, fat thighs, and bedtime acid reflux (not that we have it now (the acid reflux that is), but that is what late dinners do to you...I read that on the internet).

This dinner was again a late one.  Dave cooked the pork chops on the grill and basted with some store bought sauce.  I made the brussels sprouts and chick pea mash, knowing that Dave wouldn't like either and not knowing about the kids.  It was delicious (in my opinion), and I would make it again in a heartbeat.  Even Dave liked it.

Chick Pea Mash
adapted from Fine Cooking

Chick Pea Mash
adapted from Fine Cooking

3 cups of Chickpeas, from your freezer with this recipe or canned
1 cup vegetable stock
2 Tbsp. créme fraiche
6-8 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Put chickpeas, 1 cup vegetable stock and 1 cup water in a 4 quart saucepan over medium-high het and simmer for 5 minutes.  Reserve 1/2 cup of the liquid, drain the chickpeas, and transfer to a food processor.  Add 1/2 tsp salt and a dash of pepper and pulse until the chickpeas are coarsely chopped. With the motor running, slowly add the reserved 1/2 cup liquid, the créme fraiche, 1/4 cup of oil and 1 tsp. of lemon juice; puree until smooth.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve warm with pork chops, chicken, or lamb.  Serves 4

1 year ago:    Pear Upside Down Cake
2 years ago:  Chocolate Cake and the Crazy Cooking Challenge

February 7, 2014   Daylight 7 hrs. 38 min. 54 secs.  Temp. H 11/ L -10°F

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Hazelnuts and Dried Apricots

So I went back to work full time since recruiting season is really getting under way.  I do enjoy my work, but damn, it sure gets in the way of life!  I didn't get done what I wanted to when I worked 6 hrs. a day, now that I work 8 hrs. a day nothing is getting done.

I know all of you who work full time are thinking hateful things about me.  But I am old, and tired, and really wrinkly, so I need my beauty sleep.  And now my 3:30 nap is gone.

Well, one of the things Dave has been complaining about is that I told him about 3 years ago I was making a mosaic piece for the backyard.  Some previous owners of our house took out the bathroom window and just put a piece of plywood in that spot.  I told him I was making this mosaic to cover that.  I bought the concrete board, got the glass, chose a pattern...and there all those materials sit.  So I have made this deal with myself, that I will get it done before summer......hahahahahahahaha.

We all have to have goals.

This salad is delicious and easy to throw together with the help of your food processor.  It gives me more time to watch NCIS and read magazines work on the mosaic.  Even if you have to work a full day.

Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Hazelnuts and Dried Apricots
Ellie Krieger, Weeknight Wonders

1/3 cup hazelnuts
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
2 Tbsp. fresh orange juice
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. honey
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
3/4 pound whole Brussels Sprouts (about 20 medium)
8 dried Turkish apricots

Toast the hazelnuts in a small dry skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until browned and fragrant, about 4 minutes.  Set aside to cool slightly, 2 minutes.  Wrap the toasted nts in a clean kitchen towel and rub vigorously to remove most of the skins.

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, orange juice, mustard, honey, salt, and pepper.

Trim the ends off the Brussels sprouts, then thinly slice them in a food processor using the slicing blade.  You can do it by hand, but why?  Coarsely chop the hazelnuts and thinly slice the apricot. 

In a large bowl, toss the Brussels sprouts with the dressing, hazelnuts, and apricots until well incorporated. 

Makes 4 servings.

1 year ago:   Fudge Filled Oatmeal Cookies
2 years ago:  Pina Colada
Photo booth pictures from my niece's wedding reception.

February 5, 2014  Daylight 7 hrs. 25 min. 18 sec.  Temp. H15/ L-4°F

Monday, February 3, 2014

Peach Skillet Cobbler

Usually I would practice this a couple more times before I posted it but 1) I had to finish the binding on a quilt that was for a gift for a friend who was retiring last Friday, 2) I was in Anchorage on Saturday and Sunday morning for my niece's wedding, 3) We had friends over for the Super Bowl (which sucked, even if you were a Seattle fan, there really wasn't a game) 4) I have to start work full time this week and it is 10 minutes before 7 and I have to get ready.

So, I'll tell you how I would do it differently next time and if you try it, let me know how it worked for you....

I have been craving peaches.  Crazy since it is the middle of winter and the only way to get peaches is to buy frozen ones.  Well my favorite store does not have a large variety of frozen peaches so I bought what they had...
I wanted something peachy, saucy, I made a peach and blueberry skillet cake.  The taste was delicious, the texture needed some work.

I served it after a dinner of fried turkey and ham sandwiches, a selection of salads, and lots of wine so no one really cared that it wasn't perfect.  I'll try again with the noted adjustments and see if it helps me get to the end of February without buying any fresh strawberries.

Peach and Blueberry Skillet Cake

1/4 cup butter
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 Tbsp. orange zest
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1 tsp. cinnamon
1-16 oz pkg. of frozen peaches
1/2 cup blueberries
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup milk or almond milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Place cast iron skillet in oven with butter.

Let butter melt completely.  Take skillet out of oven and mix in brown sugar,orange zest, orange juice, and cinnamon.  Sprinkle 1/4 cup blueberries over bottom of pan, arrange peach slices on bottom in a single layer, sprinkle rest of blueberries over peaches.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a medium bowl.  Mix egg, milk and vanilla in a small bowl.  Combine wet ingredients with dry ingredients.  Pour over the top of the peaches and blueberries, spreading to the edges of the skillet.

Bake 20-25 minutes until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.  Cool 10-20 minutes.  Serve with ice cream or whipped cream, scooping sauce over ice cream and cake.

Again, it was tasty, BUT here are the changes I will try tonight.
Use more peaches, I really wanted this to be a peach dessert, but it was a saucy dessert.
Omit the orange juice, just use the orange zest (less saucy that way).
Add more liquid to the cake batter, 1/2 cup made it very thick and I wanted something thinner.
Bake the peaches for 15 minutes before adding the cake topping, the peaches were still a little hard, probably because they were not ripe when they were frozen and needed more time with the heat to soften...also the middle of my cake was not completely cooked, a little doughy, so adding the cake to hot fruit instead of frozen fruit will help with that.

Let me know if you try this and what changes you make.

1 year ago:   Chocolate Mint Martini
2 years ago:  Cioppino

February 3, 2014   Daylight 7 hrs. 11 min. 44 secs   Temp. H 13/ L -2°F