Thursday, April 30, 2009

More belt tightening

Basic Food Processor Pie Crust
Big Kitchen Instruction Book Copyright 1998

1 ¼ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons very cold butter
2 tablespoons very cold shortening
¼ cup ice water

Put flour and salt in the bowl of the food processor. Pulse 1-2 times to blend. Add butter and shortening, cut into small chunks. Pulse 4-5 times, until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle on 1 ½ tablespoons of the water and pulse twice. Repeat with another 1 ½ tablespoons of the water. Finally pulse in the last tablespoon of water. Do not overmix or the dough will become tough. Form dough into a ball and wrap in plastic. Handle it as little as possible. Refrigerate for 30-35 minutes before rolling out. Do not double this recipe.

Makes 1 9-inch pie crust.

My mother-in-law wanted to give us eggs even though I already had two dozen at home. I don't usually cook eggs for dinner due to my son's egg allergy but that allergy is likely out-grown and I knew he wouldn't eat it anyway. He doesn't always eat what I make so why not add egg-centric entrees back to our rotation?

I pulled out an old favorite, Quiche Lorraine. As part of my money-saving plan, I didn't want to buy the pie crust so I found this simple little recipe. It was very easy to put this dough together and it rolled out nicely. It doesn't really star in this recipe so I can't tell you whether or not it's a great pie crust but it served it's purpose here.

Not much else to say. There is something making it's way through our house and food is not all that appealing to me right now.

Question of the Day: What's the last thing you did to save money?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Back to basics

Green Onion Dressing
The Practical Produce Cookbook Copyright 1997

1 ½ c. mayonnaise or salad dressing
½ c. chopped parsley or 1 T. dried parsley
1/3 c. finely chopped green onion
¼ c. light syrup
2 T. lemon juice
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp. pepper

Combine all ingredients. Mix well. Cover and chill. Makes 2 cups.

For a while we were only eating homemade dressing but somewhere along the way I went back to bottled dressings. Some of them are quite good, others aren't. I find that the creamy style bottled dressings usually aren't as good as I would like.

I made a half-batch of this recipe and I liked it quite a bit. The ingredients really came together nicely. I'm realizing how much I enjoy the flavor of green onions. I need to find more recipes that use them.

I did a lot better on groceries last week. I've been paying for two children in daycare for over 7 months, with about 5 more months to go. It's painful to write that check every week (although the center I use is worth every penny and I'll be very sad when my son leaves it for kindergarten). Push has come to shove in our household. I can't just pick up bottles of salad dressing willy-nilly anymore. I may even start making croutons again (yes, yes I've been buying those too). I even buy storebrand mayo instead of Hellman's (yes, it's that bad).

Question of the Day: What type of onion do you use the most? I actually use sweet onions the most. If a recipe calls for a yellow onion, I've used a sweet onion. I haven't purchased regular yellow onions in years. The sweet ones don't make me cry.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I was working so hard on getting back on track and I forgot to upload the picture and recipe that I planned to blog about today. I'm not at that computer anymore. Darn.

Monday, April 27, 2009

My first rhubarb

Streusel Rhubarb Cake
The Practical Produce Cookbook Copyright 1997

2 c. flour
½ c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
¼ c. butter
1 c. milk
1 egg
4 c. sliced rhubarb I diced it
3 T. strawberry or raspberry gelatin I used 'wild strawberry' flavor
¾ c. sugar
½ c. flour
½ c. rolled oats
¼ c. butter

Combine first seven ingredients. Blend 1 minute at low speed; beat 2 minutes at medium speed. Spread into a buttered 9x13-inch pan. Top batter with rhubarb; sprinkle with gelatin. I tossed the gelatin with the rhubarb before putting the rhubarb on the batter. In small bowl, combine remaining sugar, flour and oats. Cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over rhubarb mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Serve warm or cooled, topped with whipped cream, if desired.

I heard that rhubard was in season but on my first trip to 'Auction' (local farmer's market) this year, there was none to be found. I don't get there until late in the day so it was probably sold out or maybe I just missed it. I really wasn't planning on buying any.

On Saturday I visited a few farm markets in another area and picked some up, with no idea of how I would use it. It just looked too good to pass up. Luckily, I also picked up this cookbook, The Practical Produce Cookbook, at the market where I bought the rhubard. There were many cookbooks there but there I was, standing in a produce market right at the beginning of the produce season in this area. I really didn't have to think too much before decided on this cookbook.

This may be my first rhubarb ever. I remember seeing a rhubarb pie back in my teens but I can't recall whether or not I ate any of it. I've seen rhubard in past seasons but I didn't feel compelled to buy any. It's something that is only seen during it's season so I only had to walk past it a few times and then it was gone until next year.

I managed to buy exactly enough rhubard for this recipe. The rhubard breaks down quite a bit. I wasn't sure if this would work - the rhubard was quite tart - but it did. The streusel topping wasn't my favorite. It tasted fine but it didn't quite all come together. I may not have blended it properly. It seemed like the sugar all ended up on the bottom of the bowl which then ended up on top of the cake. The rhubarb gives off a lot of liquid which seeped into the streusel by the next morning when I took it to work. If you like a crunchy topping, you need to eat this right away.

I'm not sure what to think of rhubard. I liked the tartness of it but I don't know if it had much flavor besides that. Was I tasting rhubard or the strawberry flavor from the gelatin? I think you could put just about anything between cake and streusel and it would taste good so I'm not sure that this recipe highlighted this fruit (or is this a vegetable?) I may have to experiment a bit more.

Question of the Day: What do you think of rhubard?

P.S I'm still working on the decor around here. It seems like a step backwards but I had been working with an old template that I customized myself (messily, right in the code) which prevented me from adding gadgets and all that fun stuff that Blogger now offers. I'm always the last one to get on board with anything.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Pardon my dust while I try to spiff up this joint.

P.S. If I used to link to your blog and I don't now it's only because Blogger lost some of my links. I have them saved on my other computer which I won't get to until Monday. It's nothing personal!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A different cupcake method

The Home Baker Copyright 2006

Scant 1 cup water
6 tbsp butter
Generous ¾ cup superfine sugar
1 tbsp corn syrup
3 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
Scant 1 5/8 cups all-purpose flour

1 ¾ oz semisweet chocolate, broken into pieces
4 tbsp water
3 ½ tbsp butter
1 ¾ oz white chocolate, broken into pieces
3 cups confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 muffin pans with 20 muffin paper cases.

Put the water, butter, superfine sugar and syrup in a pan over low heat and heat, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook gently for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. Put the milk and vanilla extract in a bowl. Add the baking soda and stir to dissolve. Sift the cocoa and flour into a separate bowl and add the syrup mixture. Stir in the milk mixture and beat until smooth.

Carefully spoon the batter into the paper cases to come within two-thirds of the tops. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until well risen and firm to the touch. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool.

To make the frosting, melt the semisweet chocolate in a small heatproof bowl with half the water and half the butter set over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir until smooth and let stand over the water. Repeat with the white chocolate and remaining water and butter.

Stir half the confectioners’ sugar into each bowl and beat until smooth and fudgy. Divide the frosting between the cakes, filling to the tops of the paper cases. Let cool and set before serving.

(I only made chocolate frosting.)

I was intrigued by this recipe. No eggs? I've seen eggless cupcakes before but this was different. It starts with making a syrup? I was too curious not to try it.

My first impression was that the cake wasn't sweet enough and the frosting was too sweet. The next day, however, I thought they had a nice balance. This is a good recipe to make ahead of time. This is also a good recipe to make if you don't want an overly sweet cupcake - just use a different frosting.

The texture was interesting - not dry, not classically moist. There was something about this cupcake that reminded me of a commercial snack cake. Not a Tastycake but maybe something from Drake's or Hostess. I plan on making these again and adding a cream filling and frosting.

My only beef is that they didn't look anything like the picture in the cookbook. In the picture they had flat tops and smooth frosting but I'm sure I could fix the difference by putting less batter in each cup and thinning the frosting out a bit more.

I know, the measurements are sort of funky in this recipe - 'scant', 'generous' - those terms bug me in a baking recipe. 1 5/8 of a cup???? I believe the cookbook was originally published using the metric system hence the weirdness.

Question of the Day: Do you like any commercial snack cake items? I will admit that as much as I like to bake from scratch there are some commercial snack cake items that I still love. Tastycake pies (especially the coconut cream). Tastycake Honeybuns (with the glaze not the frosting). There are probably others that I would still like but I don't really have room in my diet for anything more than the occasional Tastycake. My son can't eat a lot of that stuff (peanut allergy, shared lines, yada yada) so I'm limited to things they sell at the store near work. Anyone remember Zingers? Like a Twinkie with rasberry on the outside and dipped in coconut? I haven't seen those in a long time but I would grab them if I saw them.

I almost didn't get a picture of this

Venison in Sauce
Fix-It and Forget-It Big Cookbook Copyright 2008

3-4 pound venison roast I used chops
½ cup vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. salt
Cold water
Large onion, sliced
Half a green pepper, sliced
2 ribs celery
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½-2 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ cup ketchup
1 cup tomato juice I used 6 oz

1. Combine vinegar, garlic cloves and 2 Tbsp. salt. Pour over venison. Add water until meat is covered. Marinate 6-8 hours.
2. Cut meat into pieces. Brown in oil in skillet. Place in slow cooker.
3. Mix remaining ingredients together; then pour into cooker. Stir in meat.
4. Cover. Cook on Low 8-10 hours.
5. Using two forks, pull them meat apart and then stir it through the sauce.
6. Serve on sandwich rolls, or over rice or pasta.

I was so out of blogging mode that when I made this recipe I was halfway through my plate before I realized that I didn't get a picture. I took a picture of the leftovers. I was surprised there were any leftovers. This may have been the best venison recipe I've made. I really liked the celery flavor in this. It wasn't just good for a venison recipe, it was just plain good. You could use beef or pork in this recipe too of course.

I wasn't all that thrilled with my first Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook so I wasn't sure why I bought this version but I'm so glad I did. I think I'm 3-for-3 with this cookbook so far (Harvest Kielbasa, Machaca Beef and now this.) I think a bit more thought went into this book.

Question of the Day: Do you eat venison? I know I'm not the only one. I'm curious just how many of my readers have a hunter in the family or buy venison (my husband's best friend's in-laws own a venison farm and sell the meat locally but it's expensive.)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Basic and delicious

Classic Crumb Cake
Good Housekeeping Baking Copyright 1999

Crumb Topping:
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup butter or margarine, softened I used butter

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
½ cup butter or margarine, softened I used butter
3 large eggs
¾ cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Prepare Crumb Topping: In medium bowl, mix flour, granulated and brown sugars, and cinnamon until well blended. With fingertips, work in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
2. Prepare Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 9-inch round cake pans; dust with flour. I used 9-inch square pans so my cakes were not as high as they should have been. In medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt.
3. In large bowl, with mixer at low speed, beat granulated sugar and butter until blended, scraping bowl often with rubber spatula. Increase speed to medium, beat about 2 minutes, until well mixed, scraping bowl occasionally. Reduce speed to low; add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
4. In cup, combine milk and vanilla. With mixer at low speed, add flour mixture alternately with milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture, scraping bowl occasionally, until batter is smooth.
5. Pour batter into prepared pans. With hand, press crumb topping into large chunks; sprinkle evenly over batter. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, until toothpick inserted into centers of cakes comes out clean. Cool cakes in pan on wire racks 15 minutes. With small metal spatula, loosen cakes from side of pans. Invert each cake onto plate; remove pan. Immediately invert cakes onto wire racks to cook completely, with crumb topping up. I just cooled them in the pans, then cut them into squares and easily removed them from the pan.

Makes 2 coffee cakes, 10 servings each. Per serving: 330 cal, 4 g pro, 45 g carbs, 16g fat, .5g fiber, 70mg chol, 270mg sodium

Crumb cake, when done well, is one of my favorite foods. It's just the basics - butter, flour, sugars, vanilla, eggs, milk, cinnamon and bit of leavening - but boy does it taste like something special. This wasn't my dream crumb cake but only due to the amount of crumb, which believe me was plenty, but my dream crumb cake would have more. The crumb on my dream crumb cake would be excessive. This wasn't excessive, it was just enough, probably more than enough for most people. The flavor was great and the cake had a nice moist texture.

One of my strongest food memories, one of my favorite things I've ever eaten, was the crumb cake that I bought at the Superfresh grocery store when I lived in Philly. It was from their bakery section and I didn't see it very often (thank God - I'd have left Philly big as a house). There was more crumb than cake and it was soooooooooooooo good. I miss that crumb cake more than any cheese steak.

OMG! I just looked at the Superfresh site and they have a store in my general area. I had no idea they had a store anywhere in this area of the state. It's a bit out of the way but if I thought they might have this crumb cake there I would be there in a heartbeat. However, it's been over a decade and store bakeries change their offerings. Many things that used to be baked in-house are now shipped in. I think this is one of those things that will only live on in my memory. If you live near a Superfresh, please let me know if you ever see crumb cake in their bakery section. I want a detailed description of it LOL!

This is one of those foods that I've wanted to make for a long time yet avoided for some reason I can't quite pinpoint. It might be because crumb cake can be a dangerous food for me.

Question of the Day: Is there a food from your past that you miss? Tell me about it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Back but not with a bang

Zesty Italian Chicken
Busy Woman's Cookbook Copyright 2000

6 chicken fillets
1 (8-ounce) bottle zesty Italian dressing
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Place chicken in baking dish. Pour dressing over chicken and sprinkle with garlic powder. Marinate 1 hour or overnight. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

Chicken marinated in Italian dressing is always good but I think I'll stick to grilling marinated chicken from now on. I think it tastes better grilled, even on the Griddler, and it definitely looks better grilled. This chicken wasn't very attractive after being baked. It would have been a lot faster to grill it too. Oh well, I'll remember next time. Maybe. My brain is Swiss cheese.

After being away for so long I should have come back with something fancy or complicated. However although the party may be over and life can return to normal now, I have lots of catching up to do, everywhere, not just on this blog. So this week you'll have to settle for the few random recipes that have been sitting on deck.

Realistically speaking, I don't expect to be able to devote the attention to this blog that I'd like to until the baby gets a little bit older. He's at that stage now where he gets into everything and needs almost constant attention. He's learning new stuff everyday and I'd rather not miss any of by having my head in a cookbook so I'm just going to do the best I can here right now. I doubt I'll be making anything complicated for quite a while.

Question of the Day: So how are you doing?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Chomping at the bit

A little vacation truly does one good. I can't wait to get back to blogging! I have nearly finished up the project I am working on for my Dad's 80th birthday and then I can breathe a little and get back here.

I also can't wait to get back to auction on Friday nights AND they are starting a new swap meet kind of thing in the next town on Saturday mornings. Maybe I will find some cookbooks there. I'm not sure if there will be produce vendors there or not - that would be fantastic. It's killing me that I have to wait until next weekend (although maybe, just maybe I might get there on Saturday morning this weekend).

So, please hang on. I'm coming back soon.

I'll give you a funny story, my husband 'Oscar'. I made a Deep-Dish Taco Pizza last night and he must have thought he was putting garlic powder on his food but I looked at his plate and his food was covered with dried parsley flakes. Both spice containers look the same. Bah ha ha! Serves him right for always pouring crap over his food.

Monday, April 13, 2009

What I've been cooking

I have one more busy week left before things get back to normal around here. In the meantime, I'd thought I'd tell you which recipes I've found worth repeating recently.

Braised Ginger Pork:

I made a bad pork loin recipe recently that was really tough and flavorless. I wasn't sure if it was the recipe or the loin so to use up more of that same pork loin, I went with this tried and true recipe. I knew it would tender and delicious and it was.

Kielbasi with Beer & Onions:

I wanted a fast recipe that wasn't expensive. Kielbasi was on sale buy one get one free and this recipe only takes about 5 minutes to get in the crockpot. A no-brainer.

Big Game Baked Round Steak:

We have a ton of venison that I tend to forget about since it's in a separate freezer. This is one of my favorite venison recipes.

Deep Dish Taco Pizza:

I made up the meat portion of this pizza on Sunday and then during the week I just need to bake the pizza.

Amish Friendship Chocolate Bread:

I made this twice so far. I recently pulled some out of the freezer and remembered how delicious it was. I was just given more started so I'll have to make it again soon.

Cheeseburger Macaroni:

That's a fall-back recipe I go to often.

Grilled Chicken Marinade:

Grilling season is back but it's so easy to use the Cuisinart Griddler that more often I just use that.

Out-of-This-World Waffles:

I've made these waffles for my husband quite a few times. Sometimes I healthy them up with bran and whole wheat flour but they are best as the recipe is written.


Everybody loves porcupine meatballs. They are very flavorful for such a simple recipe.

Pizza Dough:

I'm still using this recipe and sometimes I make stromboli with it which my husband LOVES. However, the meat is $$$ so I can only make stromboli about once every month or month and a half.

Stuffing Topped Chicken Bake

This is a simple recipe that's easy to fall back on.

Crock-Pot Pulled Pork:

I've made this twice already (two big batches with leftovers). It's not only great as a sandwich but I took some of the leftovers and added ground chipotle and cheese and made fantastic quesadillas.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Cooking without blogging is no fun

So I haven't been blogging but I do need to get dinner on the table every night. And you know what? It's not fun. I'm sick of cooking. It's just not as fun when I'm not trying new recipes and blogging about it. I can't wait to get through these next couple of busy weeks. I miss blogging!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Drowning (yet again)

Sorry but I just have too much going on right now to blog with any regularity. Things should calm down by the end of the month but right now the blog is going on the backburner.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

I need sleep

Applesauce Bars
Best Recipes from the Backs of Boxes, Bottles, Cans and Jars Copyright 1979,1981 and 1982

2 1/2 c. flour
1 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. soda
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 c. shortening, softened
1/2 c. water
1 (1 lb., 1 oz.) can applesauce I used jarred applesauce
1 lg. egg
1/2 c. chopped nuts I omitted these
1 c. chopped raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 15x10-inch jelly-roll pan. Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and allspice. Add shortening, water, applesauce and egg, beat with mixer on medium speed for about four minutes. Gently fold in nuts and raisins into batter. Pour into prepared panand bake for 30 minutes. Cool. Frost with Caramel Frosting. Cut into 48 bars.

Caramel Frosting
1/4 c. butter, melted
1/2 c. brown sugar
3 tbsp. milk
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 c. sifted powdered sugar

Combine butter and brown sugar in a saucepan. Boil and stir for 1 minute or until slightly thickened. Cool slightly. Add milk and beat until smooth. Add powdered sugar and beat to spreading consistency. It was a tad lumpy and softer than I thought it would be but still very delicious.


Sorry that I've been MIA. I'm tired so very tired. The baby had one great week and then, now, a horrible, horrible week. I'm just cooking what is easiest which is usually something that I've already blogged about or something that I don't have a recipe for. April is a super-busy month for me so it may get even slower around here.

I decided that I wanted to make something besides chocolate. Everybody in my treat circle loves chocolate so I seem to always fall back on that. I saw this recipe and it looked so good. I thought, well whoever likes it, likes it. I can't please everyone all the time.

Turns out everyone loved it. Maybe everyone needed a break from the chocolate. It was so moist and flavorful. Definitely a keeper. I'm excited about finding more non-chocolate recipes.

Here's the little demon who's been keeping me up at night. He's 9 months old today - can you believe it?

Question of the Day: What's your favorite non-chocolate treat?