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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Hot Stuff!

I love Mexican food!

That's it. I love Mexican food!

This week I've been craving the hot sauce I've made for years. In looking up that recipe, I ran onto another I wanted to try. They're both easy.

HOT SAUCE
(This makes a quart--enough to share with others. Although it's called hot sauce, it really reminds me of thin salsa.)

2 28-oz cans tomatoes, drain one can and discard juice
8 jalapeno peppers (I always use pickled peppers. Insert tongue twister here.)
4 cloves garlic
1 1/2 Tbs vinegar
4 Tbs oil
1 tsp salt

Place 1 can of tomatoes with liquid in blender with remaining ingredients, reserving the 1 can drained tomatoes. Blend for about 6 seconds. Place drained tomatoes in blender, and blend for 2-3 seconds more. Be careful not to overblend. Store in refrigerator.



SALSA
(I made this one today. It's amazing that these few ingredients combine to make a wonderful garnish or dip!)

4 ripe fresh tomatoes, diced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 (or less) small jalapeno peppers, finely chopped (I used sliced pickled ones from a jar; about 2 Tbs' worth.)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup vinegar

Mix and refrigerate. Will keep for several days. This makes about 1 1/2 cups of salsa.


I cooked crumbled hamburger meat today, seasoned with salt and pepper. Put it into a tortilla with some shredded cheese and brown rice. Topped it all with this salsa. It was yummy!

Pinterest Breakfast

I find that Pinterest is a new obsession for many people, including me. I've especially enjoyed trying new recipes that I've found while perusing others' pins. This one came from a blog called All Things Delicious, and is called


STICKY BUN BREAKFAST

2 small tubes refrigerator buttermilk biscuits OR 1 tube Pillsbury Grands buttermilk biscuits*
3 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
1/2 C. pancake syrup
1/3 C. packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 C. chopped pecans, opt.**
1/4 C. chopped almonds, opt.

Spray a fluted pan with non-stick spray. Combine the melted butter and syrup in a small bowl and set aside. In another bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and nuts (if desired).

Place about half of the syrup mixture in the bottom of the pan. Then sprinkle half of the brown sugar mixture on top.

Lay the biscuits on the bottom of the pan, standing them on their sides closely together to form a ring.

Top with remaining syrup and sugar mixtures.


*I didn't have 2 cans of biscuits or any Grands. I used a tube of Pillsbury's Rustic French Bread, slicing it into 1/2 inch slices that looked liked biscuits. Then I added biscuits from the one can I had. I ended up using 8 biscuits. Next time I make this, I will use 2 tubes of the French bread. It was awesome!

**I used walnuts.


It was a great thrown-together breakfast and looked gorgeous. (I'm taking pictures and promise to one day learn how to add them here. I'm a doofus!)

If you're not a member of Pinterest, you need to be! You must be invited to join. You can go to pinterest.com and request an invitation, or you can email me at debjo77@yahoo.com and I will invite you.

Resolutions, Challenges, and Goals

A resolution is the same as a challenge is the same as a goal. My goal to write a blog a day has taken a detour, just as many resolutions do by this time of January! I've noticed that many things we resolve on New Year's Day are often forgotten by January 14, in my life as well as many others. Many people create the challenge, but cannot live up to the goal. I have made many grand statements since my retirement in May, 2011, and even at the beginning of January 2012. Some have gone by the wayside, but my goal to cook something new every day is still hanging tough. I find, though, that life is getting in the way of writing on this blog every day. Sometimes you have to call uncle. I'm calling it! That's not to say I'm not going to post recipes and blog about my kitchen trials and trails. Creating new things in the kitchen continues. The blog continues, too, just not at the pace I had challenged myself to attain


I've got new neighbors! Great neighbors: they invited me to supper this past weekend. Yea! Pedro and Alyssa are People Who Grill. That's a capitalized title because I DON'T grill. I'd like to learn how one day, but for now, I depend upon the People Who Grill like my dad, my brother-in-law Karl, and now Pedro and Alyssa. Because they treated me to supper, I repaid with iced sugar cookies. I love a sugar cookie, but have always cheated when it comes to icing them. I would buy the ready-made vanilla frosting in a can/tub. It's great, don't get me wrong, but it doesn't harden. Tub frosting is for when you're sitting at the table and eating the cookies as you frost them. (Don't pretend that isn't a dream of yours. Now you know why I need Weight Watchers.) Anyway, I made my very own frosting this time and cheated on the cookies. I used a roll of cookie dough right out of my grocer's refrigerated section and went for the made-at-home frosting, which hardened and was perfect for being able to wrap the cookies for someone else. I chose this recipe from allrecipes.com because the comment along with the recipe was "This icing dries hard and shiny and the colors stay bright," which is exactly what I was looking for. It was very tasty too!

SUGAR COOKIE ICING
(This is enough to ice only 12 cookies, so you will need to multiply it for the amount of cookies you're making.)

Ingredients

1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 Tablespoon milk
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (lots of recipes call for almond extract. I don't like it. Changed it to vanilla.)
assorted food coloring

Directions

In a small bowl, stir together confectioners' sugar and milk until smooth. Beat in corn syrup and vanilla extract until icing is smooth and glossy. If icing is too thick, add more corn syrup.
Divide into separate bowls, and add food colorings to each to desired intensity. Dip cookies, or paint them with a brush. (I'm reading that last sentence and say, "WHAT? Dip or paint with a brush???" I used a knife and frosted them!)



Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Absenteeism!

I've been absent. For THREE days! Absenteeism is a very big deal in the work world, and I consider it an even bigger deal in school. How are kids going to learn if they're gone all day, and often more than one day at a time??? Do people realize how many little, tiny skills kids learn in a day? Then when a student has been gone, the teacher has to reteach everything they've already taught, so that the child can catch up with the others. Now, I understand sick. I don't want them in my classroom when they're sick. As a teacher, I had my own little microcosm. When one came in sick, I got to have my own Contagion movie right in front of my very own eyes, except without Matt Damon. One child would come in sick, and I'd watch 2-3 fall out that day. The next day even more would be out. The next day, more! That's a nightmare, I'm tellin' ya!

Nope, I'm not talking about a sick absentee. I have a problem with students who are taken out of school to go on vacations with their families, or to go have their hair cut or nails done. To some of you, this may seem like I've taken leave of my senses; you would never, EVER consider taking your child out of school for such a frivolous reason! Thanks for that thought! Others are probably offended that I would even mention there was something wrong with removing your very own child for your very own reasons. I agree: you DO have the right to take your child wherever you want whenever you want! However, I don't think it's the best thing for most children. (Notice I said MOST.)

You won't believe this, but this post is actually about my absenteeism from this blog, not school or work. I have been out three days--not at DisneyWorld or on a cruise, or even getting my nails and hair done, sadly. I just haven't gotten on this computer much. I've definitely been cooking, though, so I owe THREE recipes for the three days I've been absent.

The first comes about because my mom has been sick with a cold. I made her an old stand-by:
CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP
(A serving of about 1 and 1/2 cups = 7 Weight Watchers Points.)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 fresh bay leaves or 2 dried bay leaves
salt and pepper
6 cups chicken stock
1 lb chicken breast tenders, diced (that's about 2 cups' worth)
1/2 lb wide egg noodles

Place extra-virgin olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
Add the chopped carrots, celery, and onions.
Add bay leaves and the salt and pepper, to taste.
Add stock to the pot and raise flame to bring liquid to a boil.
Add diced chicken tenderloins, return soup to a boil, and reduce heat back to medium.
Cook chicken 2 minutes and add noodles.
Cook soup an additional 6 minutes or until noodles are tender.
Remove the bay leaves and serve.
This is a thick soup. I usually end up adding 1 cup of chicken broth to make it have a little more liquid.




On the same day Mom needed soup, I had already planned to make a chicken and broccoli stir fry that I had seen on allrecipes.com. It had to wait a day, and when I made it I ended up not doing so well. It was super tasty, though!

SWEET AND SPICY STIR FRY WITH CHICKEN AND BROCCOLI
(A 1/4 serving of this recipe with 1/2 cup of rice is 5.5 Weight Watchers Points.)

3 cups broccoli florets
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into 1 inch strips
1/4 cup sliced green onions
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon chile paste
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/8 cup chicken stock

Place broccoli in a steamer over 1 inch of boiling water, and cover. Cook until tender but still firm, about 5 minutes.
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat, and saute the chicken, green onions, and garlic until the chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.
Stir the hoisin sauce, chile paste, and soy sauce into the skillet. Season with ginger, red pepper, salt, and black pepper. Stir in the chicken stock and simmer about 2 minutes. Mix in the steamed broccoli until coated with the sauce mixture.

***Here's what I did wrong....I had some chicken I'd cooked the day before, so I just used cooked chicken and waaaay too much! I ended up not having enough sauce to coat the broccoli, tried to add a little more liquid (I added soy sauce, because I love it!), and that made it too salty. I wouldn't serve what I made to other people, but I sure liked it since it was only for me!

**Also, do you know an easy way to get the garlic cloves cleaned quickly? Put the whole garlic cube? plant? rock? into a metal bowl and put another metal bowl on top of it so that you've created a hollow inside the two bowls. Then you shake, shake, shake it, which is good exercise, but I didn't count it as Activity Points on Weight Watchers (and I could have!)! The garlic rolls around in there, and when you peek inside, you'll find some cloves without any husk? skin? papery junk? anywhere! They were completely naked! I took out the naked cloves and shook some more until I had 4. Cool!





Today's recipe is NOT a Weight Watchers recipe. In fact, I am even afraid to figure the points per serving! I hope I don't eat any...I think I won't eat any....maybe just a smidge....OMG! I've used all my weekly points! Just kidding. We'll have to wait and see how I do after lunch with....

BANANA CREAM PIE WITH COCONUT-OATMEAL CRUST!!! Just typing it makes my mouth water. Yum! OK, see, the story is this: Mom and Dad invited me over for lunch. Dad is cooking steaks and I asked what I could bring. Mom said, "Well, we're having steak, baked potatoes, and salad." Being the good-girl-on-a-diet that I am, I said, "I will bring some steamed asparagus!" As the morning continued, I was concerned that I have lots of ingredients, sinful ingredients, living in my fridge (sinful for a diet girl): sour cream, whipping cream, half & half, buttermilk, and on and on. There's a neat Google tool, Google Recipes, that allows you to put in the ingredients you want to use and it will search out a recipe you can make. After much searching (OK, playing around!), as search terms, I put in bananas (they're about to be old), oatmeal, cream, and pie and this wonderfully yummy recipe arrived.

BANANA CREAM PIE WITH COCONUT-OATMEAL CRUST
(from Tastebook.com)
This recipe can be made into a Banana Cream pie, a Coconut Cream, or a Chocolate Cream. I want Coconut next!

Crust


1 1/2 cups (5 1/4 oz) old-fashioned rolled oats
2/3 cup (2 oz) sweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup (1 7/8 oz) firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
2 pinches of salt
5 Tbs (2 1/2 oz) unsalted butter, melted

Filling

5 Tbs cornstarch
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3 1/4 cups half & half
3 eggs
2 Tbs butter
1 tsp vanilla

Whipped Cream


1 1/2 cups heavy cream
4 tsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla


Crust
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grind the oats and coconut in a food processor for 30 seconds. Add the sugar, salt and butter, pulsing to combine. Pat the crust into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch regular (not deep-dish) pie pan that’s at least 1 1/4 inches deep.
Bake the crust until firm, 10 minutes. Remove it from the oven and place it on a rack to cool while you make the filling.

Filling
Mix cornstarch, sugar and salt in a 3-quart saucepan.
Add half & half and cook over medium heat until smooth and thick, stirring constantly.
Pour small amount of hot mixture into eggs; blend thoroughly, then pour back into saucepan.
Cook another 2-3 minutes.
Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla.

Whipped Cream
Combine ingredients. Whip until as stiff as desired. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Variations

Banana Cream: Slice 2 bananas into pie shell. Pour filling over bananas. Chill 3-4 hrs. When ready to serve, whip cream and spread over pie.

Chocolate Cream: Decrease sugar in pie to 3/4 cup. Add 1/2 cup chocolate syrup to cooked mixture. (Or use the full cup of sugar and 1/2 cup melted chocolate chips.) Pour into pie shell. Chill 3-4 hrs. When ready to serve, whip cream and spread over pie.

Coconut Cream: Add 1/2 cup coconut (toasted if desired) to pie filling. Pour into baked shell. Chill 3-4 hrs. When ready to serve, whip the cream and spread over pie. Top with another 1/2 cup coconut.



Lunch was great, and the pie was a hit! And, YES, I ate a piece--eek! Enjoy your day! Don't be absent!



Saturday, January 7, 2012

Finding Happy

I swear, the title of this post is just a blog from me waiting to happen. That's for later, though. Today it's for this recipe I found. I'm on Weight Watchers, you know (I promise to quit mentioning it soon!), and I crave sweet lately. I found these healthy bars, like cereal bars, that satisfy my need for chewy, crunchy, and sweet! This is an "expensive" snack as Points go, but if I have a craving that a piece of fruit (ZERO points!!) can't hamper, then I may not mind using 6 points to find my happy!

MORNING HEALTH BARS
(adapted from a recipe found on JustAPinch.com)

1 cup peanut butter [I used Jif Extra Crunchy]
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (can reduce amount or replace with stevia or truvia)
1/2 cup honey or pure maple syrup (can reduce amount or replace with stevia or truvia) [I used 1/4 cup honey & 1/4 cup Splenda]
1/2 cup cup butter, melted (can sub 1/4 cup of mashed bananas or applesauce for replacing the butter) [I used 1/4 cup applesauce]
3 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract [I am NOT a fan of almond, but stuck with it on this recipe. It turned out well and tastes good, but I probably won't use it again. I don't like the smell!]
3 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup flaked coconut, sweetened or unsweetened*
1/2 cup chopped roasted and salted pecans (can sub sesame or sunflower seeds, or any other kinds of nuts)
1/2 cup dried cherries (can sub raisins, craisins, chopped dates, currants, dried cranberries or any other dried fruits)[I used Pomegranate Craisins.]
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (can sub carob, bittersweet, or milk chocolate chips)

*I made a half-recipe with coconut and the other half I substituted 1/2 cup Kashi GoLean cereal.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 pan (I used a spray of Pam).

In a large bowl stir together the peanut butter, the melted butter (applesauce), the brown sugar, the honey or syrup and the vanilla and almond extracts until smooth.

Add all the other ingredients. Stir well.

Press the mixture into the greased pan and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes, or just until lightly browned around the edges.

While still warm score into 24 bars, but let cool completely on wire rack before removing bars to a serving platter or storage container.

Store any leftover bar in the refrigerator as they keep best that way.

Recipe Note: You can individually wrap each bar for a quick on-the-go healthy breakfast bar. You can freeze them for long-term storage that way too.



I love all the online tools you can use to calculate Points, calories, etc. They are part of my happy!

Weight Watchers Points: I used the Weight Watchers Online tool called the "recipe builder," and recorded all of the ingredients I chose to use in this recipe. Each bar is 6 Points.


Did you know about the Spark People Recipe Calculator?
http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp
It tells me all this information about this recipe (the one with coconut):
24 servings
Amount per serving:
Calories 161.2
Total Fat 7.1 g
Saturated Fat 2.3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.1 g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.5 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 24.5 mg
Potassium 134.1 mg
Total Carbohydrate 31.7 g
Dietary Fiber 3.4 g
Sugars 14.3 g
Protein 2.9 g
Vitamin A 0.0 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 1.7 %
Vitamin C 0.2 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 3.0 %
Calcium 1.9 %
Copper 9.7 %
Folate 3.4 %
Iron 7.8 %
Magnesium 11.3 %
Manganese 63.8 %
Niacin 4.7 %
Pantothenic Acid 3.4 %
Phosphorus 13.0 %
Riboflavin 2.5 %
Selenium 0.6 %
Thiamin 12.8 %
Zinc 7.0 %


Friday, January 6, 2012

Eye on the Mass (aka "Watching My Weight"!)

I'm a Weight Watcher for the ummmm... maybe 6th time in my life. Not that it doesn't work; I just start going waaaay overboard with what I should be eating! I have a great recipe to share. It's just a humble ham and cheese omelet, but with an adjustment or two, it has less Weight Watcher points and it is tastier than the ones I usually make.

HAM AND CHEESE OMELET (I always want to spell it OMELETTE, but my computer says that's wrong ...)
(5 Points per serving, and a serving is HALF of the omelet!)

4 large egg whites
2 large eggs
2 Tbs uncooked scallions, minced (I used a white onion because it's what I had)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp hot pepper sauce (I used Tabasco)
1 spray cooking spray
1/2 cup cooked, lean ham, finely diced
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (I didn't have Parmesan. Ended up using 1/8 cup of cheddar.)


In a large bowl, beat together egg whites, eggs, scallions, salt, pepper, and hot sauce.

Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium heat. Pour in egg mixture and tilt skillet so bottom is completely covered with egg. Cook omelet until eggs are almost set, occasionally lifting egg in skillet to let uncooked egg to move to edges of skillet, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Sprinkle ham and cheese over eggs. Using a spatula, ease up edges of omelet and gently fold in half; cook until heated through, about 1 minute. Yields 1/2 of omelet per serving.


My two favorite things about this recipe: (1) the onions--ahem, scallions--are crunchy! I'm a "saute the onions until clear" kind of girl, so I was skeptical when the recipe called for them to be uncooked. I loved the crunch in this recipe! (2) I would never have thought to add Tabasco, so I just threw in a dash. I really, really liked the small amount of spice. I'll probably do TWO dashes next! Watch out! I'm goin' nuts!!

I do love this new Weight Watchers. I basically haven't been planning too much. It's all online, and I input what I've eaten after each meal, but could do it just as easily at the end of the day. It calculates everything for me. It also has a collection of recipes, restaurant foods, activities, etc. (I do not work for Weight Watchers, so they're not paying me for this plug!) The coolest part, in my opinion, is that I can input any recipe I decide to cook, and it will calculate it to tell me how many points each serving would be. Awesome!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

String Dance

I walk my dogs every morning, sometime between 5:00 and 6:00. I like to beat the traffic; in my neighborhood there's not too much road traffic, but it does get busy around 7:00. We live down the block from Wharton County Junior College, and during the holidays, we've enjoyed walking on the campus down every sidewalk, smelling EVERYTHING! On windy days, I say that it's like I'm walking two kites, my dogs on strings. During the past couple of mornings, I've noticed our string dance: the leashes between the two dogs would be tangled if I didn't understand which way Daisy would move and where Rose would stop to sniff. (Yes, my girls have flower names! They came to me with those very names, and I didn't change them. My mom calls my dogs "the flowers." "How are the flowers today?" she'll ask in our daily telephone conversation. Love that!) Daisy darts and Rose lumbers more than anything else, and our string dance continues on our mile-long treks.

There are many string dances in our lives. I notice it more these days with things like Facebook, Pinterest, and the other social sites. We dart (I sometimes lumber) into each other's lives; friends we have now may disappear and show up later, friends we've had in the past will show up again and we continue our dance. Our little strings keep us connected until we meet again, whether for weddings, reunions, or God forbid, funerals. I have many, many former students after having taught elementary school for 30 years, and sometimes I don't recognize the dancer on the other end of the string. Those faces have changed from the 9- and 10-year-olds I once knew! The strings continue their dances, though, when I hear from one of them, who reminds me of another, and another.

Food often exits and re-enters our lives. Isn't that funny? We have dances with the recipes our family members share with us. My Aunt Ima Dell was a master of the macaroni and cheese! If there was a Johansen family reunion, there would BE some mac and cheese! I'm talking about a casserole from the oven, with a thick layer of cheddar resting atop milky elbow pasta, not Kraft! This wonderful concoction, after having left my life with the death of Aunt Dell a few years ago, appeared again at Christmas when my sister Becca brought it in for Johansen Family Christmas (and the dance continues!).

Sister Di called me the other day and told me she made "Granny Wiley Taco Soup" for lunch. I was confused. Granny never made taco soup! She had to explain that she used my Taco Soup recipe (on this blog, called "An Old Favorite"), but made it like Granny Wiley would have. Our Granny (Mom's mom) was a master of substitution! Whenever she made a meal by using a recipe, she would just change items. If she didn't have green beans, well broccoli would do just as well! If a recipe called for milk, maybe she would instead put sour cream. We never knew what we would get, even though she told us what she was making! It is a memory that now brings a smile to all who knew her. What Di made last week was taco soup according to my recipe, but she didn't have corn, so she put in...., and those beans weren't quite right, but she just added them.... and on and on. We decided taco soup was the perfect recipe for Granny Wiley. She would've loved that it comes out well no matter what goes into it! We will have string dances with Granny forever.

I started Weight Watchers last night (one of the great string dances of my life: it comes in and out!), so I haven't made a new recipe today. I've spent my day looking at recipes online and in books, making my grocery list. I plan to blog soon about ways you can make your recipes more healthy by making substitutions. I'll also post Weight Watcher recipes as I cook them, as well as the points for each serving. Until then, though, I hope you will look up an old family recipe that you have danced with through the years. Life's all about the string dances!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

No Matter What Occurs, I Will Find You!

This is one of my sister Becca's favorite lines from the movie, "Last of the Mohicans." I'm using it today to reference a long-sought-after recipe. My niece Reeci Ellington loves a raspberry thumbprint cookie. Not just ANY raspberry thumbprint, but the ones from The Cake Lady, a bakery in Friendswood, Texas. Since she doesn't live in Friendswood, though, that's a really big problem! She craves the cookies, and anyone who happens to be traveling her way has to go by The Cake Lady to get thumbprints, or don't even bother darkening Reeci's door! Well, I think I've found a comparable recipe. I made them today and have spread them throughout Wharton: took some to Mom and Dad, some to Becca's house, and some to Ricki's house (Reeci's mom). Well, they've all given me the thumbs-up for the thumbprints!

I found these on food.com, which is quickly becoming my go-to for all my foodie needs.
RASPBERRY THUMBPRINT COOKIES

1 cup butter, softened (no substitutes)
1/2 tsp almond extract (The Cake Lady always uses almond. This I have noticed!)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup powdered sugar*
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
24 tsp of raspberry jam (or strawberry, blackberry, etc)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Lightly grease a cookie sheet.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer at medium speed, beat the butter with vanilla and almond until fluffy.
In another bowl, combine the powdered sugar with cornstarch and flour; add to the creamed mixture and beat until smooth and combined.**
Use hands to shape into 24 round balls, then place on prepared cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.
Push down slightly using the palm of your hand, and then make a small indent with your thumb in the middle of each cookie.
Spoon about 1 tsp jam into the hole.***
Bake for 8-10 minutes, watching closely that edges do not brown too much.
Cool on wire racks.

I have several notes about this recipe:

*I didn't have 1/2 cup of powdered sugar! I was short about 2 Tbs worth! On food.com, you can click on the ingredient and they'll give you a definition and other information. It's where I found out that you can make powdered sugar from granulated: 1 cup granulated sugar and 1 tsp cornstarch. Put in blender (not food processor) and mix until it's fluffy!

**My dough came out really, really dry. I did try to form balls with it, but they wouldn't hold together. I ended up putting it back and putting drops of water, 3-4 at a time and then mixing. The final total was about 9-10 drops, and the dough became workable.

***I used raspberry jam, but then realized that some people have dentures or appliances which catch the seeds and might make eating these cookies very uncomfortable. I decided to make some with seedless blackberry jam also. Those didn't turn out too well! The seedless jam ran out of the bottoms of the cookies onto the pan! They still tasted good, though. ;O)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happppy New Year!!!

Happy 2012 to all of you. If the Mayans are right, we have approximately 354-356 more days to finish our bucket lists! I guess I'll be bungee jumping this year if I can talk someone into going with me....

Since today is the beginning of a new year and I want the good luck needed to survive until God or the Mayans call me home, I have my blackeyed peas on the stove, and my sister Ricki is bringing over cabbage rolls later. This morning I was in search of a banana cake recipe. The best-looking one I found was a Martha Stewart cupcake recipe, but I gave it up for changing the sheets on the bed and washing some clothes. Well....lo and behold, I get a text from my friend, Kathy McVey. Her text said, and I will quote part of it: "I just made THE most incredible banana cake for a New Year's Eve party and wanted to share it with you." Can you believe that? We are 75 miles apart and saw each other last on December 18. She reads my mind, I tell you!

I called her and got her secret recipe, which she just happens to have found on food.com. And here it is, with some tweaks of hers and some twists of mine:

BEST EVER BANANA CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

1 1/2 cups bananas, mashed, ripe (about 3 bananas)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 1/8 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Frosting

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/2 cups icing sugar

Garnish

chopped walnuts


Preheat oven to 275°.
Grease and flour a 9 x 13 pan. (I used a bundt pan and increased cooking time about 10-15 minutes.)
In a small bowl, mix mashed banana with the lemon juice; set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
In a large bowl, cream 3/4 cup butter and 2 1/8 cups sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat in eggs, one at a time, then stir in 2 tsp vanilla.
Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk.
Stir in banana mixture.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for one hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Remove from oven and place directly into the freezer for 45 minutes. This will make the cake very moist. (I had to clean out my freezer to make a spot for it!)
For the frosting, cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth.
Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla.
Add icing sugar and beat on low speed until combined, then on high speed until frosting is smooth.
Spread on cooled cake.
Sprinkle chopped walnuts over top of the frosting, if desired.


This cake was so awesome!!! I split it up and took part to Mom and Dad, part to sister Ricki's, and part to sister Becca's. Everyone liked it, so you have to try it too! Tomorrow, the thumbprint cookies! (I keep thinking it will be tomorrow....)

Friday, December 30, 2011

Daily Recipe Challenge

I have challenged myself to try to make a new recipe every day. This morning, I looked through some old recipes and came up with a cookbook from the Groesbeck Study Club, probably published around 1990, that I got from a good friend, Kay Driscoll. I found a recipe for a quiche, but wanted to add a few things. It turned out pretty good, and I will note what I added at the end of the recipe.

CRUSTLESS QUICHE SQUARES

1/2 cup flour
1 Tbs baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
8 eggs, well beaten
3 cups grated Monterey Jack Cheese
1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
2 4-oz cans chopped chiles, drained

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt.
Add eggs and mix well.
Fold in cheeses and chiles.
Turn into a greased 9x13 dish.
Bake 40 minutes.
Remove from oven and let stand 10 mins.
Cut into small squares and serve hot.

Looks good, doesn't it? But NO, I had to have MORE. I added about 1/2 cup of sauted onion and 5 slices of cooked bacon, 2 of them crumbled into the recipe, and 3 cut into pieces and laid on top, after it was in the pan.
(If there's ever a time to add bacon to a recipe, my dogs suggest that I do it. They got the two leftover pieces today.)

Tomorrow: Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies! My niece, Reeci, has spoken!

My Favorite Breakfast Daddy Makes

As I've said before, my mom and dad ran a B&B for several years here in Wharton, Texas. The breakfasts they created were varied, and each more wonderful than the last. In fact, if you stayed at the B&B for a full 7-day week, you'd never have the same breakfast twice; even the biscuits were different from one day to the next! And the biscuits weren't canned by that fat doughboy on TV. They were homemade from scratch every morning! Those biscuit recipes may still be closely guarded secrets--I'll look into that one day.

My favorite breakfast is what I'm posting here:

JOHANSEN HOUSE GREEN CHILE EGGS
(from my dad, Royce)

6 eggs, beaten
2 Tbs butter, melted
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup milk
8 oz cottage cheese, small curd is best
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 4.5-oz can chopped green chiles, drained
paprika

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9-inch deep dish pie plate generously.
Combine eggs and butter in medium bowl.
In small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and milk until there are no lumps.
Stir the flour mixture into the egg mixture.
Add all the other ingredients and stir.
Pour into the pie plate and sprinkle with paprika.
Cook 10 mins at 400 degrees. (Dad says he usually leaves it in a little longer.)
Reduce heat to 350 degrees and cook 20-30 mins more, until the eggs are set. (I start watching it at 20 mins, and it's usually done in about 24 mins.)
Cut into wedges and serve with picante sauce.

Christmas Treasures

The Jacks came to my house to spend 3 days at Christmas. That's my sister Diana's family. What a blessing! One of the best parts of their visit was that I learned about their family traditions during the holiday. One of the BEST is the Christmas morning breakfast!

The night before Christmas, while no-one-is-stirring-not-even-a-mouse, Diana is, with Dennis at her side! They're putting together the cinnamon buns the family will enjoy after opening stockings on Christmas morning.

CHRISTMAS EVE SHORTCUT CINNAMON BUNS
(shared by Diana Jack, who got it from www.savingdinner.com, Leanne Ely, CNC)

20 unbaked frozen dinner rolls (Bridgeport or something similar)
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup instant vanilla pudding mix
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, melted

Lightly grease a 10-inch bundt cake pan. Place frozen rolls in the pan and sprinkle with brown sugar, the pudding mix, and cinnamon. Pour melted butter over the top. If you don't have a bundt pan, you can use a muffin tin, but they turn out better in a bundt pan.

Cover with a clean, damp cloth and leave overnight at room temperature to rise.

In the morning, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake rolls for 25 mins, until golden brown. Turn rolls out onto a serving plate and dig in!

(note from Deb: I heated the leftovers in foil 2 days later, and they were still awesome!)

An Old Favorite

This is my standby, stand-alone, stand-and-salute Taco Soup recipe. I've used it for years, and it's so easy! I don't know who to credit with this recipe; it's just always been there....


TACO SOUP

2 lbs ground beef
1 onion, diced & sauteed
2 cans Rotel, mild or hot
1 28-oz can tomato sauce
2 14.5-oz cans white or yellow corn
2 14.5-oz cans beans (ranch, black, chili--any you like)
2 pkgs taco seasoning
2 pkgs Ranch dressing mix

Brown and drain ground beef.
Add all veggies, with liquids.
Boil, then add seasoning packages and let simmer.
Garnish with cheese and sour cream.
Add tortilla chips, if you like a crunch in your soup.

Chicken Enchiladas!!

I found the end-all, be-all chicken enchilada recipe. I got it from Pinterest, which was pinned from the "Joyful Momma's Kitchen" blog, which was first pinned by Kathy Sellers (thanks, Kathy!). This is the recipe, Karon Woolet, that tastes like Tamale Inn's (in between Groesbeck and Mexia, Texas!)!


CHICKEN ENCHILADAS WITH GREEN CHILI SOUR CREAM SAUCE

10 soft corn taco shells
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
3 Tbs butter
3 Tbs flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 4-oz can diced green chiles
1 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9x13 pan.
Mix chicken and 1 cup cheese. Put some of this mixture into each tortilla, roll up, and place in pan. (I had to use toothpicks to keep them rolled until I added the sauce, then removed the toothpicks.)
In sauce pan, melt butter. Stir in flour and cook 1 minute. Add broth, then whisk until smooth. Heat over medium heat until thick and bubbly.
Stir in sour cream and chiles. DO NOT BOIL (it will curdle the sour cream).
Pour over the enchiladas (remove toothpicks, if necessary!), and top with remaining cheese.
Bake 22 minutes and then under high broil for 3 mins to brown the cheese.

Pie, Pie, Me oh My!

I love the song that Andie McDowell sings in the movie "Michael," called "Pie:"
"Pie
Pie
Me oh my
Nothing tastes sweet, wet, salty, and dry..."

I've made several pies lately, the most recent being just yesterday, my mom's birthday. We ended up having this pie as her birthday "cake" because of a cake mix-up in the Johansen House kitchen. This Blackberry Cream Pie recipe was in an old cookbook that my dad had, and it was meant to be made with dewberries. Well, I didn't have dewberries! I changed berries and kept the recipe the same:

BLACKBERRY CREAM PIE

Blackberries or Dewberries, approximately 1 1/2 cups
1 unbaked pie shell
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sour cream
pinch of salt
8 Tbs flour
8 Tbs sugar
4 Tbs butter

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Fill unbaked pie shell with berries.
Mix next 5 ingredients and pour over berries.
Mix last 3 ingredients with a fork until butter is pea-sized. Sprinkle over pie and bake at 325 for 30 mins, then at 350 degrees for 15 mins.



I made two chess pies at Thanksgiving and they came out perfectly; used this same recipe a couple of weeks later, and had to throw out the pie! I will try again some day, because when it's right, it's very, very good!

CHESS PIE
(from JustAPinch.com)

1 Tbs cornmeal
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 Tbs flour
3 eggs
1 stick butter
1 Tbs vanilla
1 Tbs vinegar
1 unbaked pie shell

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt butter in microwave.
Mix cornmeal, sugar, and flour.
Add eggs and butter. Cream thoroughly.
Mix in vanilla and vinegar.
Pour into pie shell and bake for 45 minutes.