I think that all of us have to admit that this has been a strange summer, weatherwise. Thankfully, our normally three digit temps did not appear, however, three monstrous tornadoes – one right after the other – destroyed much of our local landscape. Fires and floods in other parts of the nation have wreaked all kinds of havoc and our prayers go out for those in Colorado who are struggling through some of those floods, right now, after having to endure fires. Abnormally cool temperatures up north have kept places like Alaska in igloo conditions. But now, the days are growing shorter and there is a different feeling in the air. County fairs are popping up and the sound of college football, with its background of cheering fans, dominates the television on Saturdays.
Fall used to always be hard for me. No joke. It seems that everything bad that happened, occurred in the FAll. For the longest time, when that crispness in the air appeared and the tell-tale muted sunlight of autumn days rose, I would get this feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach – a heaviness of spirit if you will. But that has since passed and now the Fall is my favorite time of year with Spring my second choice. I can’t wait for Thanksgiving and I so enjoy the baking, canning and preparation that I do like a squirrel storing up nuts for the winter! I’ve included a recipe for one of those meals below.
I’ve decided to give you a peek into one of those “bad” Autumns so that you might get a little picture into my ready-for-psychiatric-research psyche. Perhaps you won’t find me so strange after all. And then again, this story may make me that much more strange!! Read on.
It was the end of August of 1992. I was 38 years old, skinny, full of energy and the mother of two young children. My sister and her family had invited us to Dallas, from Mt. Pleasant, TX, to join them at Six Flags Over Texas. The kids were excited. I was ready for a fun day. And it was fun…that is…until we hit the kiddie ferris wheel (emphasis here on “kiddie”). My daughter, all of 11 years old, begged me to ride with her and so I hopped beside her in a swinging chair and watched as the safety bar was lowered over our midsections. Shortly thereafter, the gears ground, the music started and we were lifted probably a whopping one and a half stories into the air. As we came to the highest point, open swing rocking and pitching, I discovered, for the first time in my life, that I am afraid of heights. And I don’t just mean “close your eyes and don’t look” afraid of heights. I mean “scream in abject terror and beg for mercy” afraid of heights. I began to hyperventilate. I started to cry. My heart raced and I gulped for air between screams emitted through clenched teeth. My daughter grabbed my arm and tried to soothe me. She looked genuinely stunned and dismayed – not embarrassed that her mother needed a straight jacket and an ambulance waiting at the foot of the ride. My family members in the crowd below, however, looked like they wanted to change their names and claim no acquaintance with the crazy woman who was unraveling on the kiddie ride.
When the ride finally stopped, I fell out of the chair, onto my knees, and struggled to stand. My makeup was a mess but that was no comparison to my mental well-being. My daughter led me to find our family which had scattered in embarrassment and someone brought me a Coca-Cola to fill me with caffeine and make me crazier. I finally gathered my wits and returned to a state of calm, trying to laugh off my apparent phobia. We moved on to food and more fun. We knew not to put me on anymore rides that went more than a foot off of the ground.
I know. You are thinking, “So?” I understand. But that isn’t the end of it. We continued our Six Flags experience and as darkness descended, my niece indicated that, as a last ride, she wanted to do the Splash Water Falls, a ride that sends a boat down a steep slide to hit, bow first into a deep pool of water, sending a wall of water over a walk bridge that acts as the exit for the ride. Those standing on the bridge, at just the right location, get drenched by water cascading over them. I was actually able to handle that ride and even enjoyed it as we plummeted into the water. I’m thinking that it had to do with the idea that falling into the water is safer and less painful than spatting onto concrete from the height of a ferris wheel. My children and I exited our boat and climbed to the bridge to watch my sister and niece take their turn. I pressed way against the back, concrete wall to avoid the water that would inevitably come from their trip. My daughter ran forward to the railing to get a better look. In a series of actions that could only have taken seconds, I first realized that my daughter would be soaked (and would soak the car as well, since we were leaving immediately). I then ran forward to attempt to pull her back as I called out for her to move. She moved. But I was caught in the very center of the width of the bridge. That wall of water came over the top of the structure, full force, hitting me squarely in the chest, picking me up off my feet and tossing me like a rag doll against that back concrete wall and then onto my back on the concrete walkway. All of the air was knocked out of my lungs and I gasped, looking, I am sure, like a goldfish poured out of its bowl, flopping in a huge puddle of water. There was not one inch of me that was dry. Did I mention that I had on white cotton shorts and a white cotton t-shirt? I’ll leave you to imagine the result of soaking white cotton. The guy running the ride and a number of visitors ran to help me up. I could see, “Lawsuit” written all over the poor Six Flag employee’s face. Down below, my entire family was rolling on the ground laughing so hard that they couldn’t even get up the stairs to help me. They didn’t stop laughing until they realized that they hadn’t gotten a video of the whole incident to win $10,000 on America’s Funniest Home Videos.
I headed back to Mt. Pleasant, beaten, bruised and assured that my children were going to be advertising for a new, less embarrassing mother. And again, you say, “So? What’s so bad that you would hate Fall?” I’m not finished.
The following week, still literally blue and smarting from my tumble and embarrassed by my fits of hysteria, I went about my normal work which included taking care of our pet raccoon. Rascal the Raccoon had shown up at our home as an unweaned baby whose mommy had been hit by a car while he was clinging to her back. We took him in and nursed him, bottle feeding him to weaning. Rascal readily accepted house training like a cat and soon had run of our home.
A couple of days after the trip to Texas, I let Rascal out for a stroll. He was still pretty tiny and so I watched him carefully because I did not want him climbing into one of the huge trees of Northeast Texas. Of course, the first thing that he did was head for the biggest of those trees. I called out to Rascal and walked quickly to retrieve him from the tree trunk, not seeing the large tree root in front of me. The tip of my toe clipped under that tree root and I pitched forward. I tried to catch myself on my left leg, but my leg twisted so that my foot was inward as I continued to fall forward. The sound of a large tree branch snapping echoed through the Fall air as I hit the ground and I noticed that the lower half of my left leg, about 8 inches below my knee was laying in the totally opposite direction of the rest of my leg. It wasn’t a tree branch that had snapped. It was the bones in my leg. I did what any normal person would do. I screamed and screamed for help. And I reached down and picked up the wayward portion of my leg and tried to put it in the right position. Bad idea. My poor, stoic 11 year old daughter was the only person home and she came running out to see what had happened. She quickly assessed the situation, called a neighbor and brought me two ibuprofen and a glass of water without me asking. I was too in shock to know what I needed!! My neighbors arrived and slid a cutting board under my leg, securing it by wrapping and wrapping with a horse lead rope and then slid a blanket under me. They took corners of the blanket and lifted me to a car seat where I passed out. Two surgeries and a $20,000 hospital bill later, a year and a half of physical therapy and the leftover scars and arthritis of 3 plates with 13 screws, I walked out of the physical therapist’s office one Spring, relieved that I would not be a cripple the rest of my life.
Rascal finally grew up and wandered off to find a woman Raccoon, but he left us with an unlimited list of funny stories and precious memories. He was a wild raccoon and needed to go back to his habitat. We eased him from his home life to the great outdoors and he finally did not need us anymore.
So there is an example of ONE of my bad Autumns. As I have said, those memories are a distant past and now I can’t wait until I see our first scorpion – emphasis on the word SEE – because we know that Fall is just weeks away. I start getting the urge to cook heartier meals and fill the house with the smells of baking. Here is a recipe that I came up with to use our Shawnee Mills Country Gravy Mix for a hearty, lower calorie pasta meal (I’m on a diet you know) and Mr. Fix-It, my critic, gave it a two thumbs up.
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbs butter
1 lb chicken breasts cut into strips
1/2 lb ground Italian sausage or 1/2 lb ground pork mixed with salt, pepper and fennel seed
8 large shrimp, shelled
6 large mushrooms, sliced
1 – 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
1 pkg Shawnee Mills Country Gravy Mix or Peppered Gravy Mix prepared according to directions
1/2 to 1 cup chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned (depending on your taste)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tbsp. chopped red sweet pepper
1 cup smoked gouda cheese, grated
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
4 cups cooked bowtie pasta
Prepare Shawnee Mills Gravy mix according to directions. As 1 1/2 cups water is heating, add tsp garlic powder and oregano to the 1/2 cup water and powdered mix.
When gravy has thickened add tomatoes
And add chopped peppers
Add gouda and parmesan cheeses. Stir until cheeses are incorporated, cover with lid and set aside onto warm eye.
Toss chicken and shrimp with Cajun seasoning. Separate chicken from shrimp. Add 2 tbsps. olive oil and 2 tbsps. butter to skillet and heat skillet to smoking. I am using a cast iron skillet here because I think it is best for a blackened meat. Put chicken into skillet and sauté until browned with black areas. Add shrimp and toss until no longer opaque.
Add sausage and chop and stir until crumbles are cooked all the way through.
Place meats into a bowl and put into the oven that has been preheated to warm or put into a warming oven if you have one.
Return the skillet to the heat and add mushrooms to the skillet. Stir fry, constantly stirring.
Cook mushrooms until browned and add to bowl of meats. Toss to mix.
Prepare pasta in salted boiling water with a tablespoon of olive oil added. Drain well. Stir gravy sauce and slowly add to the pasta, stirring to coat until pasta is covered according to your tastes.
Spoon pasta and sauce onto 4 plates and divide meat and mushrooms to top each plate of pasta. Drizzle leftover sauce over the meats and then garnish with grated gouda and parmesan cheese with chopped tomatoes. Serve with garlic bread and a salad.
So there’s a Fall meal for you! Hope you are ready to dive into this year’s season like I am!!!
Posts Tagged ‘recipe’
First order of business….I forgot to announce that we had a winner on the 17th of the month. We drew a name out of the hat for the Red Gold Tomato apron and Jalapeno Ketchup and reader, Jonni from Kentucky is our winner. She has been notified and responded with surprise and her address. Congratulations, Jonni!!
Now, I have an admission to make. I’m on a diet. Yep, I am. I’ve been on one since March but when one has thyroid disease, a diet feels pretty much pointless. Your metabolism ceases to exist and a stalk of celery adds 10 pounds to the waistline!! Actually, LOOKING at a stalk of celery adds 10 pounds to the waistline. It’s just a little depressing. Having been one who has always loved to cook and to eat what I cook, it’s been a difficult journey over this past year and a half, but there IS a tunnel and I’m seeing a light at the end of it!! I’ve lost 17 pounds! I still have a ways to go, but that’s a real achievement for me!!
And in that tunnel, there has actually been food – really good food! I have discovered that no matter what fad diet is out there – eating blue or red foods, Atkins, South Beach, HCG, low carb, high carb, low protein, high protein, juicing, you name it – the reality is that the secret to losing weight is this formula: Calories In minus Calories Out. That’s it. So the way that I track that is by a free website called SparkPeople.com. It is wonderful. It even gives me a pie chart to try to match my perfect amounts of fat, carbs and proteins per day. And I get to eat whatever I want. It is the Dave Ramsey course in calorie budgeting! I have my 1200-1300 calories to spend and it is my choice how I spend them. If I make up a recipe, I can enter the exact recipe and how many servings I get out of it. The site then figures up all of the nutritional info plus calories per serving. Then, I can put a serving into my daily budget easy as pie. Well, sorry, didn’t mean to be thinking about pie.
So today, was my baking day. I always keep something sweet in the freezer for me and Mr. Fix-It to enjoy in the evening with a cup of one of our tasty teas. I usually bake some type of scone or cookie to be heated in the toaster oven. I leave 200 calories open for that possibility. This afternoon, I made my usual round of cranberry scones and still had 1/2 cup of heavy cream left. I thought, “Hmmm. I wonder what would happen if I added cocoa and chocolate chips to the basic scones recipe?” I guess you know that I had to try.
I did. Yummy!! Chocolate scones. I have a feeling that High Tea in England does not include chocolate scones, but here in America, we believe in chocolate in everything!! So here is the recipe that I concocted. They are a true English scone – heavy and flaky – but have a little bit of the flavor of an American brownie. And they are 186 calories each! I stayed under my 200 calories and so I am one happy camper. So here you go. If you want detailed instructions on making scones, you can hop over to that post at English Scones.
Preheat oven to 400º. In a mixing bowl, add flour, cocoa and butter that has been cut into cubes. Either by hand with a pastry cutter, or with a mixer, cut butter into the flour mixture, until the mixture is like tiny crumbs. Add sugars, salt and baking powder. Mix. Add the chocolate chips and mix.
Add the cream, vanilla and egg white and mix until a very stiff dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Divide dough in half and put onto a floured surface – you need an Oklahoma Pastry Cloth™ here!! Pat out first half to about a 4″ circle. Cut into 8 triangles. Repeat with the second half. Place scones onto a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Mix leftover egg yolk with 2 tbsps. half and half and brush the tops of the scones with the mixture. Bake at 400º for 13 minutes or until done. While scones are baking, mix melted butter, powdered sugar and milk to make a glaze. Dip tops of scones into the glaze and place onto a cookie rack.
Serve the scones warm. I bet raspberry jam would be great with these!! This picture is of the two different scones that I made this afternoon. Oh! And the china is my grandmother’s Thomas Ivory Bavarian china, made by the Rosenthal company, that my grandfather bought in Germany during WWII – paid for with cigarettes!!
On August 1st, we drew a name out of the hat and Frankie, from Silver Spring, Maryland, won the gift certificate to the Grangeville Rose Tea Room and Emporium. The gift certificate has been mailed to her sister, who lives right here in Oklahoma City, as an early birthday present. Lucky her!! And so, another Okie will get to experience the lovely atmosphere of our newest tea room. Congratulations Frankie and sister, Liz. And thank you to all who entered the drawing.
Now, we have a new giveaway. Red Gold Tomatoes, the best canned tomatoes in the world (if you can’t do your own!!) has sent me a couple of items that I thought I would give away to a lucky reader. On August 21st, we will be giving away this Red Gold Apron and a bottle of their Mama Selita’s Jalopeno Ketchup. Just comment at the blog and you will be entered. Plus, Red Gold Tomatoes is having their own celebration. I will post here exactly what my letter from them says:
“Come join our Red Gold Summer Grillin’ Party that will run from July 24th through August 30th on Facebook — #RGParty. During this period, we will share our new RG Tomato Grillers Recipes. They are tomato-licious!…As part of this promotion, we will be giving away 1,000 Red Gold “Summertime Tomatoes All Year Long” Aprons every week via a random drawing – that’s 5,000 total winners! There will also be one grand prize winner who will win a large Big Green Egg Grill – that’s a $1,000 value. Anyone who registers for our promotion is automatically entered into both the weekly drawing and grand prize drawing. Here’sthe twist – anyone can earn additional entries into ourgrand prize drawing! For each person they refer, who opts to participate in our promotion they will earn additional entries int the grand prize drawing. Our goal is to have 150K Red Gold Facebook Fans by the end of the summer. Each week we will be releasing new recipe videos, as well as sharing summer grilling tips.”
You can also find them on Pinterest at www.pinterest.com/RedGoldTomatoes
And by the way, Red Gold is an Indiana based, 3rd generation Family-Owned company that has been making premium quality tomato products since 1942!! We need to support small businesses!!
Now, on to cooking….in the past, I have shown how to can meats like chicken breasts, ground beef, sausage and etc. I even can my own chili, a recipe that I am not at liberty to share because it is not my own. However, my point is that meat is an easy staple to put up for long-term storage much longer than freezer times. Many of these meats can be bought as well, canned, off of the grocery shelf, but sometimes we are at a loss what to do with them. Here, I am going to show you a quick way to make enchiladas with your canned chicken breasts, canned chili or canned roast beef. You can even use your canned cheeses and dehydrated onions, rehydrated with water.
You will need for 4 people:
8 – 10 White corn tortillas (yellow corn are fine but I like the lighter texture of the white corn tortillas)
1 pint canned, boneless chicken breasts
1 pint canned chili or canned roast beef
1 package taco seasoning mix (I prefer Taco Bell)
1 8 oz sour cream (light is fine)
1 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
1 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese (you can use your canned cheddar)
2 slices American Cheese (You can use your canned Velveeta)
1 small onion chopped
2 tbsp. chopped green pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 jar salsa verde
1 can red enchilada sauce (not picante sauce)
Place canned chicken breast with broth into a small sauce pan and add 1/2 pkg of taco seasoning. Stir until chicken is shredded and mixed with seasoning. Add a little water or broth if the meat is too dry. Simmer until liquid is reduced to a thick sauce. Set aside. Put 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil into a skillet and heat. Place one tortilla at a time into the hot oil and sear lightly. Turn and lift out to a paper towel to drain. Do each tortilla, placing a paper towel between each one.
Place a line of hot, seasoned chicken mix down the center of each tortilla. Roll tightly and place on a microwaveable platter, seam side down. Repeat until desired number of chicken enchiladas is achieved.
In a bowl, add sour cream, chopped onions, chopped green peppers, garlic powder, 1/2 cup Monterey jack cheese and salt to taste. Stir and add just enough buttermilk to make a nice, thick sauce. Spread the sour cream sauce over the chicken enchiladas, evenly.
Spoon salsa verde down the center of the enchiladas.
Now, with remaining tortillas, (here I am just making two for the two of us but you can make more) we will make beef enchiladas. If using canned beef, do the same as with the chicken breasts and place into a pan with the broth and 1/2 pkg of taco seasoning, simmering until hot and liquid is reduced. If using your canned chili, heat it first, cooking it down to very thick and then spoon onto the tortillas. Roll the tortillas tightly and place onto the platter with seam side down.
Slice the American cheese into strips and lay the strips down the tops of the enchiladas. Sprinkle with a mixture of the cheddar and Monterey jack cheeses and then spoon red enchilada sauce over the top of the cheese.
Microwave the enchiladas a length of time according to your microwave’s power level (you can carefully cover these with foil, making the foil stand up away from the enchiladas and heat in the oven) I usually microwave about 2 minutes or until the cheese is melted and sour cream sauce is hot. Remove from the microwave and sprinkle a mixture of cheddar and Monterey jack cheeses over the chicken enchiladas.
Serve with Mexican rice and refried beans and you’ll think you are at a restaurant!
Ha! I bet you thought that I am going to educate you on people who refuse to accept the fact that this earth on which we live is a three dimensional sphere! Nope. I’m going to talk about travelers who are flat! Really, really flat.
Well, yes…I know. I have been remiss in posting over the past few weeks. But we have been up to our elbows in soap…200 pounds of the stuff. We are preparing for the Central Oklahoma Lavender and Herb Festival at the farm of Country Cottage Primatives on June 1st. If you would like to have a lovely day of classes, vendors and lavender picking, set aside this day and make your way to this beautiful place. Look for our canopy and be sure to introduce yourselves!! Oh! And we did have our April drawing and Janet Black of Weatherford, Oklahoma was the winner of the canning tool set. Thank you for all of the entries. Stay tuned for the next give away.
I have been working on this post for two days. That’s ridiculous. But I had it nearly finished yesterday, hit ‘save draft’ and instead of saving my draft, it got wiped out!! All of it!! There was some glitch that I have not figured out. It happened again this morning. I hit save again and it said, “You do not have permission to edit this document” and, “kerplooey!” everything was gone. I came very close to losing my normally pretty even temper with a shoe through the computer screen. But I didn’t and so third time is charm.
But back to Flat People…Facebook is awesome. There were so many people about whom I have wondered over the years, having lost touch with them for as many as 45 years. Facebook has put me in touch with those wonderful people, letting me see what they look like, what they are doing, what accomplishments they’ve made, their families and it has given me a chance to rekindle old relationships. One of those people, a former high school friend and classmate, Carol, contacted me and told me about a geography project in which her 8 year old granddaughter, Ali, was participating. The students were sending a paper doll, drawn by each student, out to as many people as they could find to be photographed at locations that would introduce the students to new and wonderful places. The doll’s name is Flat Stacy.
Mr. Fix-It and I volunteered to take Flat Stacy on our 2000 mile trip recently. It meant that we would stop along the way and take pictures of Flat Stacy in front of places of interest that we thought would be useful to the class. Now, there is nothing like watching the looks on people’s faces as a gray haired woman happily slaps a laminated, cut-out paper person that has been created by an 8 year old, up against some landmark to then step back and shoot pictures with a pretty nice camera. I figure that they wrote me off as some demented older person. But there WAS one place where a couple of young, college-age girls bounced up to ask, “That’s one of those flat people projects, isn’t it?! We did that when we were in school!” They hadn’t been out of school long enough to forget those kinds of things!! I do wonder, though, if they thought that I was somehow still in the third grade!!
Mr. Fix-It joined into the project with gusto. Normally, ready to drive without stopping until bladders are screaming for mercy, he would see a sign and say, “Heh! That looks like a good place for a Flat Stacy picture!” and we would detour from our designated route to take in a site, complete with pictures to prove it. I just love that man. Anyhow, I thought that I would share with you just a few of the many places that we visited on Flat Stacy’s behalf.
And Carol also sent me a recipe, to try, that her children, grandchildren and their friends brag about and can’t wait to eat when they are at her home. My granddaughter and I had a cooking day and tried these delicious treats so the recipe is posted below.
We stopped in Tupelo, Mississippi to visit the birthplace of Elvis Presley. Very impressive. Flat Stacy had her picture made with the “King” in front of the Tupelo City Hall.
Flat Stacy looked for the checkered flag at Talladega International Speedway in Alabama. I looked for Ricky Bobby.
In Newnan, Georgia, we found Flat Stacy’s store – or, at least it SAID it was her store! She was kinda dwarfed by the structure.
Outside of Wilmore, Kentucky, Flat Stacy had her picture made at Shaker Town, in front of a rock fence that was built before the Civil War.
Our little, long-haired dachshund, Ellie, was Flat Stacy’s traveling companion. Unfortunately, Ellie wasn’t feeling very good on this trip and when we got back and her to the vet, we were sad to find out that she is suffering from congestive heart failure. She is too young for that – just 8 years old. We are treating her with natural remedies and prescription medication to help her quality of life. We want to keep her around for a long time because she is such a joy in our life!
Near Mitchellville, Tennessee, Mr. Fix-It spotted these flat people who were just like Flat Stacy! In doing the research to find out about this sculpture, I found that the state of Tennessee has commissioned artists to do sculptures for each of the welcome stations. It just so happens that this one of the flat people was done by my former drawing professor at MTSU, Phillip Vanderweg! Small world.
Of course, we had to get a picture of Flat Stacy in Oklahoma and what better place than in front of the only working oil well in the United States that is located on the grounds of a capitol building. Our beautiful capitol building in Oklahoma City is in the background.
Those are just a few of the pictures that we took. What a fun way to make a trip! And according to Carol, Flat Stacy went as far as Afghanistan for Ali!
Here is Carol’s great cookie recipe for you to try. They are light, crisp and buttery.
1 cup butter
1 cup oil (I used coconut oil)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
4-5 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. vanilla
Now would be a good time to introduce our newest product: Bakewell Cream. I was actually introduced to Bakewell Cream way back in the 70′s in Maine but had not used it since because it is not available around here. Now I can have it!! Yay. It is the most wonderful baking Cream of Tartar that makes the most incredible biscuits. I have tossed baking powder and use the Bakewell Cream with soda and oh my….You can find it at our shopping page.
My granddaughter, Miss Peachy Pie, got her first cooking lesson, complete with her own “Li’l Cook” apron.” Typically, the batter wound up in her hair.
Cream butter and oil with sugar and eggs.
Sift flour, salt, soda and cream of tartar.
Stir into creamed mixture, add vanilla and mix well.
My granddaughter “helped” put the dough balls on the baking sheet. If you are wondering why I cut faces in pictures – after the photo of my mother got stolen and used for unsavory purposes, I have ceased to show the faces that can be photoshopped and misused!
Place small balls of dough on cookie sheet.
Flatten each with a small flat bottom glass dipped in sugar.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
(Do not grease pan!)
Yep, they are TAAASTY! Miss Peachy Pie loved them.
1/3 cup butter
3 large eggs
1 cup live culture yogurt
1 tsp soda
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 cup of your favorite berry jam (I used strawberry)
1 cup chopped pecans
1 Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe white cake mix
Lemon Curd from Recipe (Best if made ahead of time and chilled)
1-8oz pkg cream cheese
1 stick of butter
Beat in 1 lb box of powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Cream the butter with a mixer and add eggs. Beat until smooth.
Add spices and blend well
Add jam and continue to beat
Add yogurt. Cream together with other ingredients
Add box of cake mix and beat well until smooth. Stir in nuts. Pour batter into cupcake papers that are supported in muffin tins or pour into a greased and floured 9 x 13 sheet cake pan. Bake at 350º for 20 – 25 minutes or until a knife or toothpick comes out clean.
While the cupcakes are warm, using a scoop or apple corer, core out a hole in the middle of each cupcake
Fill each hole with lemon curd that has been made from the linked recipe. Place in the refrigerator or a cool, dry place. Make Butter Cream Cheese Icing
Hi all. Haven’t been able to stand writing much lately. Writer’s block has reared its ugly head and then another issue just gave me more excuses. Most of you know that I have Graves and Hashimoto’s Diseases with the accompanying Thyroid Eye Disease (also known as TED). Lately, focusing on a computer screen for any amount of time has not been fun. I’ve tried. Best intentions and all that kinda thing. My eyes throb, burn and tear up and then, everybody wants to know what I’m upset about and what should send me into tears. Of course, assuring, “nothing,” doesn’t cut it and pretty soon, discussions of Prozac and other drugs of comotosity (is that a word?) become whispers behind my back where my “mom’s eye in the back of my head” is also throbbing, burning and tearing up. I then win the day and all involved relax as I pile ice onto my face, over a sleep mask, and I lay down on the couch to listen to the clickity clack of the Wheel of Fortune wheel. Ya know, something gets lost in that show when one can’t see the board and can only hear the ‘dings’ of the letters turning and the squeals of the contestants. Just not much brain stimulation there. And there’s no use looking because with the occassional double vision of TED, when a contestant buys a vowel, two show up side-by-side along with double consonents and the board looks like Russian! Last night, I asked Mr. Fix-It if he noticed the firelike flames of the headlights of oncoming traffic. He looked sideways at me like I was crazy and said that there were no firelike flames. Huh.
January is Thyroid Disease Awareness Month. Now, a year ago, I would have giggled and said, “Are you kidding? They have a month dedicated to the thyroid, of which nobody cares? Sheesh.” But things sure do change when you become one of the stories told by the countless number of people in all parts of the world who have been struck with these really aggravating autoimmune diseases. All of a sudden, you get this primal urge to wear a ribbon or get pledges and walk or something. You try all kinds of natural remedies and keep a journal of what works and what doesn’t work. I have to say that I have discovered that my Rosemary/Peppermint with Sage soap seems to sooth my painful eyes and keeps them from being so red. That’s pretty cool. Literally. But suffice it to say that one feels a new empathy for people who are struggling with diseases that are not necessarily life threatening but that are life altering. I went into Walmart awhile back and the checker was peering with difficulty at the price of my item. One eye was droopy and the other was terribly swollen and watery. I knew immediately that she had TED and I felt such a pain for her having to stand there, trying to see what wasn’t going to be easily seen. I wanted to just grab her to take her to a recliner for an ice pack and relief. I have been blessed. My eyes are not that bad yet. It is very possible that my day will come or it may not, but God has been gracious in allowing me just enough discomfort to keep me humble and not so serious a case so that it keeps me grateful. “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (II Corinthians 12:10) But I’m still kind of impatient about sitting in front of a computer screen!!
Many things have been happening over the past month…pretty exciting things, in fact. We have the privilege of welcoming Eric and Denyce and their wonderful site Breadtopia.com. They have decided to carry the Oklahoma Pastry Cloth™ at their Iowa business. Be sure to hop over and check out their site and their great baking blog. You will learn a lot! Then, the gift store, The Pink Pistol, recently opened in Tishomingo, Oklahoma by country music singer Miranda Lambert, is carrying our soaps packaged especially for them. Privately labeled for The Pink Pistol, the soaps have swarovski crystals centered on the ribbon that ties around the package of pastel tissue paper for a tidy gift with ‘bling’! We have been humming here, producing like Lucy and Ethel in the chocolate bon bon factory and just as organized!! (note my sarcasm)
So please accept my apology for the long absence. A combination of writer’s block, eye problems and sheer burnout have plagued this blogger granny. I’m thinking of getting a bottle of Vitameatavegamin.
In the interim, reader Lacey from Texas, sent a recipe that Mr. Fix-It and I really liked. It is very easy and very tasty and REALLY fast. The recipe actually calls for chicken thighs with the bone in, but since we especially like white meat, I used boneless chicken breasts, cut into chunks. I think that next time, I will cut the breasts into strips but you can use any part of the chicken you like!! Thank you, Lacey, for a new recipe!
1 1/2 lbs chicken thighs or boneless breasts
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup Maple syrup
1 Tablespoon Rice/rice wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
Line a baking dish with aluminum foil and preheat oven to 450º
In a bowl, mix mustard, maple syrup and vinegar until creamy.
Place chicken pieces into foil lined casserole dish and salt and pepper chicken
Pour the sauce mixture over the chicken and turn pieces to dredge in the sauce.
Bake at 450º for 40 minutes, basting with the sauce halfway through the cooking. For breast strips, it may not take 40 minutes until done.
Remove the chicken from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Serve portions, spooning sauce over the meat and sprinkling fresh rosemary leaves liberally over the pieces. This is an important addition!!
I served the chicken over rice – but heh – that’s just me. We eat so much rice, we should invest in a rice paddy!! Enjoy!!
I sure hope that everyone’s Christmas was beautiful, meaningful and filled with love. Our home was a little quieter this year, as much of the family was unable to make it due to weather, but those of us who were together had a lot of fun. The grandbaby was here and so all was well. Can’t go wrong with a one year old and her first real Christmas!!
The tree was bare underneath until presents magically appeared Christmas morning! They must have come by train.
I can’t resist waxing philosophical after this past holiday season. Shopping was a truly different experience this year. I don’t know if I have just become more observant or if my patience isn’t what it used to be or if I just naturally see the absurd in my surroundings, but I picked up on a phenomenom at the department stores that I just hadn’t noticed before. People don’t read signs. The best way to get an individual to do exactly what you don’t want them to do is to put up a sign and watch them do the exact opposite – like the lady who was trying to force a baby stroller, full of baby, onto an escalator beside the sign that stated, unequivically, “Absolutely no strollers on the escalator!!!”. It’s like people’s minds go into reading in a foreign language because they obviously don’t understand the English before them. “Je ne comprend pas.” “No comprende.” “Me no speaka de English.”
Now, I try very hard to be a patient line-stander. The reality of today’s society is that we stand in lines. We stand in lines at checkout stands. We stand in line for concert tickets. And we even purposely CHOOSE to stand in lines on Black Friday at 3:00 in the morning just to be first to make a dive for a Doggy Doo game where the child who gets three piles of dog poop on his shovel first, wins the game. I’m not sure if this teaches a child environmental responsibility or the best way to get worms, but it was certainly popular at Toys R Us. But I digress. I really do try to be a very patient line-stander. I use the time in line to pray for those people in front of me or for the checkout personnel. I browse over the titles of the magazines and make mental notes of Jennifer Aniston’s latest flame and what Vladimir Putin’s alien baby looks like. But on Christmas Eve afternoon, I’m ashamed to say, I kind of lost my patience – and I tapped my foot in frustration.
I needed one, measly item that I had forgotten in all of my weeks and weeks of careful planning and lists (yeah, right). A run into Walmart gave me that item – and cheaply I might add – and I decided to go through the express ‘self-checkout’ line because it said “express”. Now, express to me means “faster” or “quicker” or at least “moderately speedier than nonexpress”. It means that the normal person would recognize the word and take it to dictate the necessity to have just a few items. Oh no. People on Christmas Eve can’t read. I think that they read the word “express” and think that it gives them permission to express themselves about every, single item of the 300 in their basket as they swipe them across the barcode reader.
In the particular line in which I was standing, one such woman was at the stand with a buggy piled so high with purchases that she had to get a second buggy in which to place her finished bags because there was no room in the first buggy. There were 6 more people between me and her and these six people each had a maximum of 5 items. The first woman did not know how to use the scanner and contemplated each item, of her pile of approximately 400 things, to determine where in the world she was supposed to swipe for a price. She announced the price as there was final success and carefully moved to the next of her 600 items. The man in front of me held tightly to an ice scraper of which he must have been sorely in need because he tenaciously stood in this line with the optimism of Eeyore. He turned to me, rolled his eyes and said, “You would think that they would put ’10 Items or Less’ on the sign.” I thought to myself that if the word “Express” hadn’t been interpreted correctly, what made him think that this woman could count (with her basket heaping with 700 items)?!
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw that the self-checkout to my left and in front of me was miraculously void of all but one customer. I hated to do it to the young man in front of me, but I made a beeline for that stand, careful not to knock him to the ground in my escape. I was also careful not to look smug at my stroke of luck. The woman, who was checking out at that moment, pulled out her card and pressed, “Finish and Pay”, right under the sign that stated, “Credit card, Debit card or Cash Only”. She ran the red card through the reader and promptly got a “Read Error” flashing light. She contemplated the card and tried again. Same response. She turned to her daughter and said, “I guess it wants me to pay the balance first and then use the gift card.” Gift card? The sign didn’t say anything about a gift card. But then, it didn’t say anything about a check either which didn’t stop her from writing one and trying to force it into the cash recepticle of the machine. The check was spit back out and a voice screeched, “Please wait for assistance!!” 15 minutes later, the store clerk, after working on the machine with no resolution, and continually reprimanding the customer for attempting to use a gift card on the machine, flatly stated, “Just go to my stand and I’ll have to check you out there.” She promptly wiped out the entire order and left the lane open for me and my one item. I quickly paid, turned to look at the line of people which had formed behind me and then, as I headed toward the exit, I noticed the young man with his ice scraper still standing in line behind the same lady with the two baskets who was evidently working on item number 800.
I have a recipe for which my family stands in line. It is our traditional “New Year’s Day We Have To Have It To Watch Football Games” recipe. I always wind up making two batches – one before Christmas to give as gifts to neighbors and then one for munching. I have been making this for as long as I can remember and it is one of the recipes that you will find in my family cookbook at the shopping page. I really think that you will enjoy it if you like toffee popcorn and nuts crossed with Cracker Jacks. It is truly yummy. Oh, and my favorite popcorn to use in this is the Act II Butter Lovers brand. It takes 3 – 4 bags of popped corn to make a recipe. I pop it and then make sure to remove any unpopped kernels. This brand has no trans fats and quite a bit of the good fats.
Candied Popcorn and Nuts
5 Quarts freshly popped corn
1 cup salted cocktail peanuts
1 cup butter (you have to use the real thing!)
2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup traditional pancake syrup like Karo
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp butter flavoring (optional)
Variation: Use pecans or roasted almonds instead of peanuts
Preheat oven to 250º
In a very large bowl, place popcorn and nuts and toss
In a medium sauce pan, melt butter with brown sugar and syrup and bring to a boil.
Boil until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage. You can check this with a candy thermometer or by dropping a little of the syrup into a bowl of ice and water. Feel to see if the syrup forms a soft ball in the cold water.
When the soft ball stage is reached, remove the syrup from heat and stir in vanilla
And add the soda, stirring quickly. The soda will make the mixture start to bubble and turn to a foamy light tan color
Pour the mixture over the popcorn and nuts and then begin turning and mixing the popcorn and peanuts to coat
When all of the popcorn and nuts are coated, spread the mixture onto a large, buttered cookie sheet and bake in 250º oven for about an hour, stirring and turning about every 15 minutes to keep it from burning. When done, remove from oven and quickly transfer the hot popcorn by spatula to an airtight container. The popcorn will be a little sticky, but it will come off of the cookie sheet easily. It gets harder to remove as the popcorn candy begins to harden. Once the toffee coating has hardened, shake the popcorn to break it into individual pieces.
This is all that is left of the batch that I just made. Oh wait. No. I’m sorry. I just ate it!!
Just 5 days to go!! Don’t forget to comment to enter this month’s giveaway for the treats pictured above. Just in time for Christmas: Shortbread cookie mix and a set of cookie cutters to make a cookie Christmas tree!!
I told you in my last post that I would put up some “finger food” ideas for the holiday entertaining season and this is the next in that list. Hope you can use it!!
A long time ago, an employer took me and friends to a restaurant in Knoxville, Tennessee. It was quite an experience for a younger person who didn’t have two pennies to rub together. There were no prices on the menu and so I have no idea how much the meal cost. However, I’ll bet that the bill would be considered astronomical even today!
Appetizers were ordered first and I chowed down on the Crab Louis on crackers. I had never had caviar and made a pig of myself. As has always been my habit, I took mental notes of the tastes and the ingredients as the flavors slid over my taste buds. I have no clue what I had for dinner and dessert. I just remember the appetizers!
And of course, when I went back to the real world of the lowly, young wife of a farmer, I experimented until I created that appetizer to use for my own entertainment occassions. It may seem like a bit of work, but the neat thing is that you can make the sauce days ahead of time and just keep it in the frig where the longer it sits, the more the flavors combine. You can cook the crab ahead of time or you can use frozen claw meat or lump crab meat. Assembling the treat just takes a matter of minutes so it’s all in the planning! You will impress your guests and they will think that you are really posh. Do we use that word anymore???
For a lighter version, you can use light mayonnaise and the low-fat half and half. And if you think that I spent a bunch of money on caviar, think again! Shhhhhhhh. It was on the top shelf at Walmart with the canned oysters, canned shrimp and canned tuna!! That means that anyone can serve the “Toity” without it being so “Hoity”!!
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp heavy cream (or half and half)
2 Tbsp Heinz Chili Sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp shredded, fresh horseradish
2 Tbsp finely chopped green pepper
2 Tbsp finely chopped green onion
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
In a small mixing bowl, add mayonnaise
And chili sauce, worcestershire sauce and horseradish
Add chopped green pepper and green onions
Pour in 1 Tbsp lemon juice
Mix all ingredients together until sauce is smooth. Place in the refrigerator to cool. May be made several days ahead of time. This sauce is very good as a substitute for tartar sauce with fried or baked fish or shrimp.
Steam enough crab to make one cup of meat when cracked. For a quicker preparation, frozen lump or claw meat is acceptable too.
Shell the crab using kitchen shears and a nut pick.
Place crackers on a plate and put a small dollop of sauce in the center of each cracker.
Toss one tablespoon melted butter with the crab
Put a mound of crab onto the cracker and into the sauce.
Place another small dollop of sauce on top of the mound of crab
Add a small mound of caviar onto the sauce.
And there you have it. Tasty appetizers!!
I know. I know. Where have I been? Did I fall off of the earth? Did I get swallowed by a giant batch of soap? Did I get discovered by Food Network? (I wish!) While none of these scenarios is probable, the fact is that I had a variety of much less exciting happenstances occur at once. First, as I left you last time, I had a house full of teenage young men who stayed with us for 7 nights as they campaigned for our state representative. It was rather hectic here. But on top of that, my eye disease decided to rear its ugly head and I was having a hard time reading or typing for very long. It’s just no fun when you see two of everything!! And then – more company and more cooking. And then – two canning classes and a case of hives and more double vision. All in all, with excuses aside, it all boiled down to one main culprit: Writer’s block!!!!
Yep. My brain has been fried. I have not had one single thing to write about. I’d start, but the words wouldn’t come and when they did, there were two of each. Soooo, I gave up. I have now chilled, rested and used not just a few ice packs and I am back in business.
And speaking of business, we had a winner for our Fall Giveaway, reader and FaceBook fan, Sue Feely won two packages of our Frontier Fixin’s bread mix. Next week, right after Thanksgiving, a new giveaway will be introduced just in time for Christmas! So be watching.
With this being Thanksgiving week, a time for family, memories, gratitude and turkey, I thought that I would give you a way that I like to use my leftover turkey that is pretty tasty. The recipe originated from a cookbook that I’ve had for years and is evidently no longer in print, titled “Favorite Brandname Cookbook”. I tweaked the recipe for leftover turkey but use chicken as well and home canned chicken or turkey is really great in it. If you want to can your turkey after Thanksgiving and then use it later, this is a good way to use that, but straight off the bone is fine too. I like white meat in my recipes but both white and dark work well too. It’s all a matter of preference. In this tutorial, I am using chicken, but will be making it with turkey on Friday!! And just as a note, I use dehydrated celery, mushrooms and onions and they work great.
1 cup sliced carrots
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup chicken or turkey broth
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 pkg turkey gravy mix (if using turkey for the meat) mixed with 1 cup cold water
1 cup sour cream
3 cups cubed or shredded chicken or turkey
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 Tbsp. chopped green pepper
1 Tbsp. chopped pimento
1 1/4 cups shredded cheddar cheese (sharp is good)
In a bowl, place the meat, either shredded or cubed. If using canned meat, it will shred.
Place veggies, minus the peppers and pimentos, into a saucepan with 1/4 cup chicken broth, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Add a little water if needed to keep from cooking dry.
Add sour cream to the meat
Add cream of chicken soup and turkey gravy mixed with 1 cup water to the meat and sour cream
Add Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper
Add remaining 1/4 cup chicken broth and mix all ingredients well
Pour the meat mixture into a casserole dish. I am using a Pampered Chef stoneware deep dish baker here. Set dish aside.
In a bowl, add flour, salt and baking powder and stir.
In a separate bowl, lightly beat eggs and milk together
Add cheese and peppers to the flour mixture and toss until the cheese is totally incorporated with the flour
Pour egg mixture in with the flour mixture and stir well
By spoonfuls, place the batter mixture in a ring around the outside top of the meat mixture in the casserole dish. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes at 350º until golden brown.
It’s pretty and it’s good! Serve hot with a salad and you have a meal!