Thursday, April 10, 2014

Random Assortment of Tips - Parties, Kitchen, Personal & Home

Having a party?
-use cake stands to serve the food - stack them for a dramatic display.-pretzel sticks make clever edible toothpicks for cubes of cheese or meat.
-ordinary ice cubes become extraordinary if you freeze mint leaves, citrus wedges or maraschino cherries inside them.
-skip the balloons and save your breath with clusters of paper lanterns instead: they are reusable and you won't waste time blowing them up.

In the kitchen...
-after grating soft cheeses or other sticky foods, use the pulp side of a lemon to remove hard to clean residues.
-lemons are also effective at bleaching and cleaning cutting boards.
-use a turkey baster to simplify (and to keep things neater) portioning out small amounts of liquid and batters.

Health and Beauty:
-to lighten blond hair slightly, simmer two sliced lemons in water for one hour (add more water if necessary). Strain, pour into spray bottle and mist hair. Even more effective if heading out into the sun.
-roast a halved lemon over a flame until the peel turns golden. Remove from heat and mix juice with one teaspoon of honey; drink. Soothes a sore throat.

Around the house:
-skip bleach, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup lemon juice to wash cycle to lighten whites.
-soak a cotton ball in vanilla or apply a few drops of essential oil then place in your vacuum bag before vacuuming. Will scent the rooms as you go.
-if you worry about your plants when going on vacation, poke a tiny hole in the cap of a bottle and stand it cap side down into the soil of your plant pot. The water will drop out slowly, keeping your plant happy.
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Monday, April 7, 2014

Peach Cobbler for Peaches Geldof


I'm not one for celebrity news.  I don't follow the typical websites dedicated to the inane details of celebrity lifestyle.  Facebook however, has begun including a 'Trending' section in the sidebar and it was there that I learned of the untimely death of a young lady named Peaches, daughter of Bob Geldof, who founded the Bandaid.

Celebrities, despite their big fat bank accounts, nice clothes and fancy vacations, really do have it sort of rough.  They live their life with cameras flashing constantly, not even able to run out to the grocery store in their flannel jammie pants without it being documented for the world to see.  That's got to be extremely stressful.  No thanks!

As a sort of homage to the late Peaches Geldof, I give you Peach Cobbler.

Peach Cobbler
Food.com

Makes one 8 inch dish

2 large peaches, sliced (peeled if using fresh)
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 dash nutmeg
3/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 375F.

Mix peach slices with 3/4 cup sugar and set aside. Pour butter into an 8 inch square baking dish. Mix flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and remaining sugar. Stir in milk until just combined. Pour over butter in baking dish. Top with peach slices.

Bake for 45 minutes or until golden. Cobbler is best eaten day of baking as the fruit tends to render it soggy if left to sit.
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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Kelly's Chewy Double Chocolate Cookies


It's interesting to think about the odd things one remembers from the various homes lived in growing up. We didn't move a lot, per se, but we did live in several houses and thinking back to what I do remember, some of it is just strange. What sticks in your memory, you know?

King Road was the first house I have a memory of. Nothing about the inside of the house but outside I remember our dog got all tangled up in a pile of scrap barbed wire out behind the barn and my uncle cutting him free...poor little dog succumbed to his injuries anyway. On another occasion little Rina decided to head off down that long gravel driveway thinking she'd get the mail and suddenly Mom in that bronzey beigey beast of a car roaring up behind, dust billowing all around and her panicked face. Good gracious.

Then there was the house on the street with the fancy name. I remember vividly watching hockey with my Dad, me eating a banana and him combing out my hair wet from the bath. One of my favorite memories. There was a bridal shower where balloons filled with confetti were popped all over that brown chair in the living room. The backyard where I first learned to ride a bicycle and my Mom suntanning while making garage sale signs with a big black marker.

Oh, the house on the hill. I loved that house because of the big piece of country property it was on - treed and perched just on the side of the hill with a view like nothing else. The forts we built and the fun we had riding our bicycles...Dad building bonfires (because that's how country folk got rid of garbage don't you know) and tossing the odd fuse or lightbulb into the flames just for fun. Finding pieces of broken pottery in the dirt as my Dad landscaped; my littlest brother falling out of the pool and how frightening it was as Mom took him to the hospital because he kept dozing off. Mom hiding pieces of Trident gum in the plants so my birthday party guests could have a scavenger hunt. The cast iron woodstove and how another brother burnt his entire hand on it - the blister, oh my goodness the blister. My sister and I finding our new birthday bicycles in the storage shop under the patio.

Finally, the house where we lived the longest, and where I moved out on my own from. Far too many memories to list, in that house. I will however mention Kelly, our neighbor.

Her Mom passed along a recipe for double chocolate chip cookies to my Mom many many years ago and as a kid, I never really liked them. But boy oh boy do I ever like them now. They're rich and chewy and chocolately and really? There isn't one single reason I can think of for us both not to make them right now.

Kelly's Chewy Double Chocolate Cookies
Makes 4 dozen large cookies

1 1/4 cups butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Blend well. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop by spoonful onto parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 350F for 8-9 minutes, do not overbake!!

The cookies will puff up while baking but flatten while cooling.
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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Gingerbread Granola

So uh...hello again.  Poor blog.  I'm not apologizing, however - life, real life, comes first and foremost always, no? 

While writing up the recipe for this post I felt badly about not updating on life (you know, for all of those readers still hanging around *crickets*).  Perhaps in another post?  I'm just dipping my toes into the blog waters at this point...see how she feels, trying things on for size again.

In any case, hai!  Granola!  I feel bad about granola.  It's like the redheaded step child of foods I like.  When I have it, I'm all over it, a regular yogurt-n-granola-for-breakfast-lunch-snack-nighttime snack-fiend.  Bring it on.  When I don't have it, I don't feel like making it and therefore do not have a fiendish addiction to it.  I'm so fickle.

This granola?  Even Matt (who doesn't typically like yogurt) thought this was delicious.  It's the maple syrup, doncha know.  And of course those gingerbready spices.  I was at first concerned about all of that olive oil - I would suggest using a very light and subtle oil although once baked and tasted you don't really know it's there.  We typically choose Greek yogurt, for the thicker texture and tangy flavor.  Top it off with this crunchy goodness and you are set.  Om nom.



Gingerbread Granola
A Beautiful Mess

2 cups oats
1 cup almond slivers
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves

Combine oats and almond slivers in a large bowl.  Add olive oil and maple syrup and stir to combine.  

Combine spices in a separate bowl and toss with granola.  

Bake at 350F for 15-18 minutes or until golden and crunchy!

I'm caving, but just barely.  Here's the most recent shot of my beautiful family:



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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly.

This year, I’m striving to improve.

Take better care of my overall health. Drink more herbal tea. Relax. Exercise! Go to bed earlier and wake up with the sun. Respect dark chocolate for its beneficial properties.

Be more on top of things. Important emails, especially those with regard to Bear’s homeschooling, should be written and responded to promptly. I must plan ahead and aim to get things done.

Use my abilities in the kitchen towards gifts of gratitude.  A chocolate mayo cake wins over a buttercream spectacular any day.

Improve my planning skills. Contemplate and complete one handmade Christmas gift each month.  Include breakfast and lunch on the menu and take the night before to prepare them. Take note of birthdays, anniversaries, and other important dates and give thoughtfully.

And finally,

...live more. Go outdoors and breathe. Notice everything. Hug my kid and kiss my husband and live in the now. Be in the moments.



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Monday, June 18, 2012

Dutch Baby Pancake

It's been raining. And raining and raining. I don't believe it's ever going to stop. There are residents in my small city who've been given flood evacuation notices due to the swollen waterways and incessant rain. Send a boat, would you?


Perhaps if I make another Dutch Baby pancake for the Bear, the sun shall return.

Do you think I should have allowed mine to brown a bit longer? It was quite eggy and rich (duh?) and although absolutely delicious, the texture wasn't as light as I was expecting. The Bear and I had sliced strawberries and a bit of syrup with ours and it was sugar overload - one or the other, next time.

The recipe uses 3 eggs to serve 2 to 4 people, so if you find yourself with a few eggs needing to be used up (as I was), this is a sweet change from the expected omelet or quiche. However, one could omit the sugar and add a few savory notes to the batter, like rosemary or hot sauce, and serve with cooked ham or sausage and small-cubed cheeses, for a different take on that expected omelet or quiche.

Dutch Baby Pancake
Dinners For Winners
Serves 2-4

2 tablespoons butter
3 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup sugar
powdered sugar, fruit, jam, syrup, etc for serving

Place butter in oven proof skillet (cast iron, preferably) to preheat at 425F. In a blender, food processor or using a stick blender, combine eggs, milk, flour, salt, vanilla and sugar till smooth.

When oven is preheated and butter melted, remove the skillet (use your oven mitts - that sucker is HOT) and swirl butter to coat all sides. Pour batter into the hot skillet and return to oven to bake 20 minutes, or until puffed and browned.

Slice and serve immediately as pancake begins to deflate upon removal from oven. Serve with various toppings.
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