"Someone once told me that time was a predator that stalked us all our lives. I rather believe that time is a companion who goes with us on the journey and reminds us to cherish every moment, because it will never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we've lived."
-Jean Luc Picard

Monday, December 29, 2008

Shoppin' at the Ultra-Super-Duper-Gigantico-MegaMart

Mama Hairball sent us a generous gift card for Christmas this year. [Sandra Lee] Whoot!! [/Sandra Lee] We opened it a week before Christmas and decided to wait till now to go shopping as being surrounded by stressed out Christmas shoppers puts both of us in a really bad mood.

So today we had a late lunch/early dinner at a local deli, returned books to the library, updated our car registration with our new address, and went to the Ultra-Super-Duper-Gigantico-MegaMart (USDGMM). Hells bells, if it was that busy when we arrived today at the USDGMM, did we narrowly miss something like this!?!

So we grabbed a cart, did our stretches and jumped into the fray. So what exciting things did we buy today? We bought some candy canes that were on clearance, a lamp, a lampshade, one of those things that turns on lights when it gets dark, a ceramic crock and stand for bottled water, a plastic storage container, a silicone BBQ brush, a plug in LED light strip for under the kitchen counter, and a bathroom shelving unit. We had a few other things in mind that we were unable to find at our local USDGMM. We talked about maybe going across town to the other USDGMM but, an old injury of mine was starting to hurt so we decided to call it quits for the day.

Tomorrow I'll make some spaghetti and if you are interested in more details about that, then skip down to the last paragragh of this earlier post. *smacks head* In reading over the post I am linking to, I realized that I should be more specific about the garlic bread. Please don't put any almond paste, ricotta cheese, or bizarre extracts on your bread! *grins*

The shrikes are chuckling right now and the rest of you are scratching your heads. Have a good week!!

Friday, December 26, 2008

The day after Christmas

I hope everyone who celebrates Christmas had a wonderful day yesterday!

I did end up including celery in the dressing and Mr. Hairball said it was good. I decided not to put the dressing in the crock pot as I was looking forward to that nice crunchiness that the top layer gets in the oven. I should have put a little more broth on it though since I included some leftover cornbread I had saved in the freezer and decided to go ahead and bake it in the oven. Since I only have one oven, I had to wait till the turkey came out and baked the dressing while the turkey rested. I normally let the turkey rest about 30 minutes as I get everything else finished/plated/reheated. Yesterday it took me a little longer to get everything done, so the turkey ended up resting for about 45 minutes. Mr. Hairball said it was the best turkey he ever had and didn't even want any gravy on it! The man loves his gravy so this was truly stunning news. So from now on I'm going to let the turkey rest that long. It was very moist and juicy so I must have done something right! :)

Here's the link to my original post in case you have no idea what I am talking about

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Prepping for Christmas dinner

I'm getting a late start today on cooking as I'm feeling a little under the weather. My throat is feeling kinda sore and scratchy right now. I really hope I don't wake up sick tomorrow! Anyway, today I will :

make a pumpkin pie
start the bread
make the cornbread for the dressing
make the cranberry orange relish
check to see that the turkey is defrosting okay and isn't leaking all over the refrigerator

I forgot to say that I altered the dressing recipe to include celery like in the original recipe. Let's see if Mr. Hairball objects! He's very picky about what cooked vegetables he will eat. Sometimes I just make whatever vegetable I want and he eats his usual salad. I have to remind myself to include salad on the menus I write out as we usually have a big container all washed and ready to go in the refrigerator. Because of that, I don't think about it as something I need to prepare for a certain meal so I forget to include it.

My MIL sent us an Aerogarden for Christmas so we will be eating more fresh herbs in the coming year. I'm excited as I usually just use dried as not having a garden means that we have to buy any fresh herbs and that quickly gets expensive!

Here's the post where I discuss Christmas dinner if you want more details about the menu- clicky

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sandra Lee's Holiday Special 2008

First off, if you are ever in need of a dose of Semi-Homemade snark, then please head over to TWoP and read the Semi-Ho board.

Thoughts on this special:
I watched this twice now and also read all the comments about this special at TWoP to help remind me of everything she did. I've never understood why on her specials it appears that her poor guests have to wait around while she makes everything. What would make sense would be to show us the prep, tell us what order to make the food in, when we need to start cooking so the guests have something to eat when they arrive, and then show us some shots of the guests mingling and eating the food.

The cocktails: Um, she's a lush and should just start mainlining the stuff and be done with it. If you doubt me then watch this video featuring her cocktail tree from a show she did in '06. Thanks to Rosie Hawthorne for the video!

Cranberry Glazed Turkey
I love turkey and cranberries but that poor turkey looked so pale before she put the glaze on! I have to cover up my turkey for part of the cooking time or else it gets way too brown. Ugh.

I can't believe I'm saying this but the Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms would probably be pretty good. I think it would be better with homemade cornbread but, compared to some of her other creations this is a big improvement!! You do need to serve this with plates and forks as
this is not a good choice for finger food.

Potato Leek Fondue Soup Well we've got canned potatoes and canned potato soup so it looks like Sandy is back! Since she's now shilling for Ore-Ida, wouldn't this have been a good opportunity to use their product and this recipe?

Sweet Potato Souffles Um, these are not souffles. They are sweet potatoes with marshmallow fluff on them just call it that and be done with it.

Cappuccino "Cup" Cakes Okay, I'm not a fan of Cool Whip or cake mix but, this would be good with some tweaking. Make up your own favorite yellow cake batter and leave off the Cool Whip and use fresh whipped cream or even Reddi-Whip. Why there is an emphasis on making pretty swirls in the batter when the top will be covered up with the Cool Whip or whipped cream?

Brown Butter Almond Brussels Sprouts
I hate Brussels sprouts! Wasting butter and almonds on this recipe saddens me and using almond extract on Brussels Sprouts has me mystified.

Holiday Wreath Cupcakes

*Whimpers* Make it stop! So chocolate cupcakes and muffins are interchangeable? Canned icing? Crumpled aluminum foil? Fruit rollups?? How do you eat the darn thing without getting it all over yourself??

There's no room for the food after she got through with her tablescapin'. *confused*

It's arts and crafts time !!

A few years ago I made myself a small microwavable rice filled pad to heat up for my feet, back, etc. The design was very simple, just a rectangle made from a queen size pillow case folded up a few times, filled up halfway with uncooked rice and sewn shut. The rice could flow freely within the pillow so if I wanted it flat, I had to put it down and smooth it out with my hands. Since at that time I wanted it to be versatile, this was fine. Now I have decided I need a different design more suited to keeping both the top and bottom of my feet warm in the winter while I'm at my computer desk.

I'm not very good at explaining my design so go grab a hand towel, lay it on the floor, put your feet on it about an inch from one of the short ends, and then fold up the end farthest away from you so it covers up the top of your feet. Got that? Now imagine that the towel is sectioned off into several sections and has rice inside with more rice on the part that is underneath your feet. The width is such that the sides will overlap when the pad is folded over the top of your feet but the sides will not be sewn together to create a pocket.

Be sure to insert your pad into a clean pillowcase to keep it clean as you would need to remove all the rice before you could wash it if something got on the rice pad. Anyway, just thought I'd share if anybody is trying to save on their heating bills and still keep their feet warm this winter.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Songs and cookies!!

From one of Mr. Hairball's favorite Christmas shows, The Year Without a Santa Claus

I've always liked Clarice for not freaking out when she discovers that Rudolph is different from the other reindeer. She's so much wiser than the adults who go bonkers and tell him to wear that ridiculous fake nose so he will look just like everybody else.

Once again, I like the message that the so called "misfits" find homes where they are loved and accepted just as they are. I've always felt like a misfit myself so I choke up a little when I see this scene.

I haven't baked as much this Christmas as some of you have. I enjoy seeing the vast variety of goodies and honestly I've had a hard time picking only a few recipes to make. Earlier this week I made sugar cookies and buckeyes. Both recipes turned out great. I didn't have any colored sugar for the top of sugar cookies so mine are not as pretty as Rosie's but, they are tasty!!

Happy weekend everyone!

Country Butter

I found this recipe years ago in a book that is sadly now out of print. When I get all my books unpacked again, I'll try to remember to update this with the correct source. Edited to add: The source is Cheaper & Better Homemade Alternatives to Storebought Goods by Nancy Birnes.

Country Butter

1 lb softened butter or margarine--- I always use butter.
1 cup vegetable oil--- I use extra light olive oil.
1 cup buttermilk-- I use powdered buttermilk and add the water in with the oil.

Unwrap the softened sticks of butter or margarine and place in a mixing bowl or your food processor. If using your mixer, begin beating the butter or margarine till it is fluffy and *slowly* add the buttermilk and oil. Continue beating until it is nice and smooth.

If using your food processor, place all of your ingredients in the work bowl.

Then add the lid and process until smooth. Scrape it out into the covered container of your choice and store in the refrigerator.

This will keep for about a month in the refrigerator. Use as you would any commercial butter or margarine spread that comes in a tub. I don't recommend baking with it as you will likely be disappointed with the results.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008

Menu for 12/15/2008

Mr. Hairball has requested that I make him some crusty bread that is good for dipping into olive oil. With that request in mind, I have put together the following menu:

Pasta with walnut sauce topped with skillet roasted chicken, salad, and cuban bread with seasoned olive oil for dipping

Nigella Lawson's Pasta with walnut sauce
6 ounces shelled walnuts
1/2 clove garlic, minced ( I add several more cloves)
1 slice bread, crusts removed
2/3 cup whole milk
1 ounce grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil (preferably Ligurian)
Salt and pepper
2 pounds any flat short pasta
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley, for garnish

Put a large saucepan of water on to boil, and toast the walnuts in a dry frying pan until they begin to make a nutty aroma. Put the bread in a bowl and cover with the milk. Put most of the toasted walnuts (reserving about 1 ounce for garnish) into a blender along with the garlic, bread soaked in milk, and Parmesan. Blend until it turns smooth and creamy, then pour in the oil and season well with salt and pepper before blending again.

Pour into a bowl, and set aside. Add pasta to boiling water with salt and cook for the required amount of time. When pasta is al dente, reserve a cup of the pasta cooking liquid and then drain the pasta, but put it in to a large bowl while it's still dripping slightly with water. Sprinkle a little olive oil over the pasta to prevent it sticking together, and then add the walnut sauce, mixing it into the pasta (splash in a little pasta cooking liquid to make the sauce less thick if needed). Roughly chop the remaining walnuts and toss them over the top along with some more Parmesan and the chopped parsley.

Skillet roasted chicken- source unknown
The original recipe called for bone-in and skin-on chicken breasts and then you made a white wine based sauce for the chicken. I decided that I liked the chicken but preferred other sauces so I just started combining the chicken with other sauce recipes till I found ones I liked. Also, after trying this recipe with boneless skinless breasts, I decided that I preferred the harder texture of the exterior of the boneless breasts after roasting when combined with something like the walnut sauce. YMMV.

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1 inch strips
salt and pepper
1 tsp vegetable oil ( I usually need more than this)

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 450F. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season liberally with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a 12 inch ovenproof skillet*** over high heat until just smoking. Add chicken and cook until light golden brown on both sides. Place the skillet and chicken in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove chicken from oven and cut into the thickest piece to make sure it is cooked through. Cut up chicken into bite size pieces and place on top of the pasta with walnut sauce before you add the reserved walnuts, Parmesan and parsley.

*** If you don't own an ovenproof skillet, then use a preheated metal baking dish for the oven portion of the recipe. If you don't own a large enough skillet to brown all the chicken at one time, do it in batches.

Cuban Bread-recipezaar.com
1¼ hours | 25 min prep 2 loaves

2 cups whole wheat flour
2-4 cups white flour
2 tablespoons yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups hot water (120-130 degrees)

Mix the 2 cups whole wheat and 2 cups of the white flour together. Add the yeast, the sugar, and the salt.Pour in the hot water and beat for 100 strokes (or 3 minutes with a mixer).Stir in the rest of the flour until it is no longer sticky. Knead it for 8 minutes.Put the dough in a metal bowl that you have sprayed with cooking spray.Cover it with a damp towel.Let it rise for 15 minutes.Punch it down.Divide it into 2 pieces. Shape each piece into a round loaf and put them on a baking sheet that you have sprayed with cooking spray. Cut an x in the top of each loaf. If you want you can brush the top with water and put sesame seeds or poppy seeds on top.Put the pan on the middle rack of a cold oven.Put a pan of boiling water on the bottom shelf. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.Bake the bread for 40-50 minutes or until it is deep golden brown.
Note: If you want to use your food processor, put all the dry into the bowl. Turn it on and slowly add the water until the dough forms a ball. Let it spin 20 times. *** Be careful with using your food processor with this recipe. Mine was straining a bit at the end.

Garlic and butter rice

Mr. Hairball loves rice and used to be addicted to the boxed rice mixes. I would try to get them as cheaply as possible through watching for sales and using coupons but, I really wanted to learn how to make them myself. Unfortunately I don't remember the source of the recipe so I am unable to give credit where credit is due.

I'm estimating how much garlic I use as I no longer refer to the recipe as it's in my head after years of making it. I just start chopping garlic till it looks right. There have been times when I was sure I'd used too much garlic and he would hate it but, he always wolfs it down. If you are not a huge garlic person then please start with 1-2 cloves and try adding more the next time you make this if you want more garlic.

Garlic and butter rice
2/3 cup long grain white rice
1/3 cup spaghetti or angel hair broken up into 1 inch pieces
6 cloves minced garlic
2 TBs butter or margarine (or 1 TB butter or margarine and 1 TB light olive oil)
2 cups chicken broth ( you can use beef or vegetable if you prefer)
2 TBs Dried parsley

Brown the first three ingredients in the butter or butter/olive oil mixture over medium heat until the rice and pasta is light golden brown. Stir frequently. ( If you like your garlic a little more toasty, then start with the garlic in your butter or butter/olive oil mixture and add the rice and pasta after the garlic has started to turn golden.) Add your chicken broth and parsley and turn heat to high and heat until it comes to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook until rice is tender (15-20 minutes for long grain white rice). Let the rice stand for 5 minutes then stir it all together. I don't usually think it needs salt because of the broth but, be sure and taste it and add salt or pepper or whatever else you think it needs.

Variation: I sometimes add some cooked wild rice to this. I make up a pot of wild rice according to the directions on the package and divide it up into 1/2 cup portions, place in containers and freeze. Then when I am ready to make the garlic and butter rice, I pull one of the wild rice containers out of the freezer when I start making the recipe and then dump the wild rice in the pot just before the lid goes on.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas Dinner

Well I went through my recipes today and found what I'll need for Christmas dinner. I seriously need to go through all my recipes and organize everything so it's easier to find. Since I'm only cooking for two people, the menu will be scaled down as I must have adequate room for storing all the leftovers. So we picked out what to us are the foods we would really miss and include just those. Decide for yourself what those foods are when planning out your own menu if you are doing all the cooking and storing at your home.

This is also pretty much my menu for Thanksgiving when we are at home and not in the process of moving!! So if I get lazy and don't get my recipes all organized in the coming year, then I can just check my blog for them.

Christmas Dinner Menu

Special Roast Turkey with gravy

Cornbread-Bacon-Walnut Dressing

Cranberry-Orange Sauce

Loaves O' Gold


Traditional Pumpkin Pie with whipped cream

Please note that these recipes have been collected and sometimes adapted from various recipes over the years. If I know the original source I will tell you and show you where I do something different. Now onto the recipes!

Special Roast Turkey- this is from the cooking magazine Taste of Home

1 12-14 pound turkey
2 cups water
2.5 cups chicken broth
1.5 cups orange juice- divided
4 Tablespoons soy sauce- divided
1 Tablespoon chicken bouillon granules- divided
1 teaspoon dried minced onion
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Orange Giblet Gravy
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup orange juice
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup water

Place turkey on a greased rack in a roasting pan. Add water, giblets, and neck to pan. Combine 1 1/4 cups broth, 3/4 cup orange juice, and 2 Tablespoons soy sauce; pour over turkey. Combine bouillon, onion and garlic powder; sprinkle over turkey. Bake, uncovered, at 325 degrees for 3 1/2 hours, basting every 30 minutes. When turkey begins to brown, cover lightly with foil. Remove giblets and neck when tender; set aside for gravy. Combine remaining broth, orange juice, and soy sauce. Remove foil from turkey; pour broth mixture over turkey. Bake 30 minutes longer or until a meat thermometer reads 180 degrees. For gravy, remove meat from neck and discard the bones. Chop giblets and neck meat; set aside. In a sauce pan, combine 2 cups pan juices, broth, orange juice, and Worcestershire sauce; mix well. Stir in thyme, sugar, and pepper. Combine cornstarch and water until smooth. Whisk into broth mixture; bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Stir in reserved giblets and neck meat. Carve turkey, serve with gravy.
****I used to baste the turkey as directed but I don't anymore.
Also, I used to just cook the turkey according to time instead of temperature which is obviously not the best way . The recipe calls for cooking the turkey to 180F which is considered overkill from what I've read. This is the first year I had one of those cool meat thermometers that you can use in the oven and run the cord out the door. I inserted the probe into the breast and roasted the bird till it reached 170F . Then, I pulled off the foil I had used to cover the bird after it started to brown and let it roast another 20 minutes or so uncovered to finish browning the skin. Next, I removed the turkey from the oven and let it rest while I baked the dressing and made the gravy. Letting it sit and rest for that half-hour is something that happened accidentally one year and I was pleased with the results, so I have continued to let it rest like that. I don't put the giblets or neck meat in the gravy and if I'm afraid I'll run low on gravy, I *gasp* make up a packet of turkey gravy mix according to directions, and mix it in with the gravy I've just made. I'm usually not a fan of powdered gravy mixes, but when made up and mixed with good homemade gravy, I think they are an okay way to stretch the gravy.

Here's the plan for Christmas 2009:
I'll roast the turkey until it starts to brown and then cover it with foil as the recipe says. Next, I'll take off the foil when it hits 160F, roast uncovered till the temperature hits 165, then remove from the oven and let it rest for a half-hour.

Here's the recipe I adapted my dressing recipe from with my changes after the recipe. The original recipe is from
"Pennsylvania Dutch Cookbook" by Betty Groff

Cornbread-Bacon Stuffing
6 slices
1/2 cup chopped
1 cup chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
3 cups cornbread, cut into cubes

Fry the bacon in a large, heavy skillet until crisp. Remove bacon, drain on paper towels, and crumble. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease. Saute the onion, celery and parsley in the fat over medium heat until the onion is clear, about 5 minutes. Add the broth, cornbread cubes, and crumbled bacon, mix thoroughly. Pour into a buttered baking pan and bake in a preheated 350 F oven for 35 minutes or until it pulls away from the sides of the baking pan.

**** Mr Hairball dislikes chopped onion so I either have to use onion powder, or chopped shallots or garlic instead. He really loves garlic! My family always puts pecans in their dressing. Walnuts are cheaper for me so I frequently use walnuts instead of pecans. So with that in mind I altered the above recipe to work with what I had on hand and came up with...****

Cornbread-Bacon-Walnut Dressing

6 slices bacon
5 cloves chopped garlic
1 cup chopped celery
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
1 1/2 cups chicken broth ( use more if you like a wetter dressing)
One nine inch pan or skillet of your favorite cornbread recipe made in advance and crumbled up

Fry the bacon in a large skillet till crisp. Remove bacon from pan, drain on paper towels, and crumble when it is cool enough to handle. While bacon is cooling, saute the chopped garlic, celery, dried parsley, and walnuts in the bacon grease over medium heat until the garlic is a very light golden brown. Now, if your skillet big enough to hold everything, add the broth, cornbread, and bacon and mix well. If you don't have a big enough skillet then just put the crumbled cornbread and bacon in a large bowl and pour the garlic- broth mixture over it and mix it up well with a big spoon. Put the dressing in a buttered casserole dish and bake it uncovered at 350 F for 30-35 minutes. Can also be cooked in a crockpot on low for 4-6 hours if you are running out of oven space. Please note that if you cook it in the crockpot, the walnuts will turn very dark but, will still taste the same.

Cranberry-Orange Sauce- I got this at the Food Network's website. It's Tyler Florence's recipe.

2 (8-ounce) packages cranberries, fresh or frozen
1 orange, zest cut into strips and juiced
1/2 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick

Put all the ingredients into a saucepan over medium heat and simmer until the cranberries burst and the sauce thickens, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve at room temperature or cool and refrigerate. Remove the cinnamon stick before serving.
**** You may need to adjust the amount of sugar. Add your sugar slowly and be sure and taste it until you have the sweet/tart balance that works for you.****

Loaves O'Gold

This is a recipe clipped out of a newspaper that I found while going through my late grandmother's recipes.Whoever sent it to her wrote this at the top: "You can make these into rolls too- Everyone here is wild about them". I don't know exactly how old the recipe is, but on the back of it, there's an ad for disposable diapers for $ 1.39! I haven't made this before but I am bravely going to try it for Christmas dinner. Be sure and read over this one carefully as you need to start this the day before.

1 package dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
3/4 cup milk
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tsps salt
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup enriched yellow corn meal
4 1/2- 5 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 cup lukewarm water

Dissolve yeast in the 1/4 cup lukewarm water. Set aside. Scald milk and pour over sugar, salt, and oil in a large mixing bowl. Cool to lukewarm. Add cornmeal, 1 cup of the flour, and the softened yeast . Cover; place in a warm place ( about 80 degrees) about 16 hours to ferment.

Stir in 1 cup of the flour and the remaining 1 cup lukewarm water. Cover; let stand an additional 2 hours in warm place.

Add enough additional flour to form a soft dough. Knead on floured board or canvas until smooth, about ten minutes. Divide into 6 parts. Shape each to form a small loaf of bread. Place on a greased cookie sheet about 1 inch apart. Cover; let rise in warm place about 1 hour or until nearly double in size. Bake in a preheated 375 F oven 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Brush with butter.

Traditional Pumpkin Pie - This was on a can of Kroger brand canned pumpkin puree.

1 (15 oz) can Kroger Pumpkin
1 (14 oz) can Kroger Sweetened Condensed milk
2 eggs slightly beaten
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
Whipped topping and nuts optional
1 (9") unbaked refrigerated pie crust

Preheat oven to 425 F. In a large bowl, combine filling ingredients, mixing well. Pour into pie crust. Bake 15 minutes at 425 F. Reduce oven tempurature to 350 F and continue baking 35 to 40 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool pie before cutting. Garnish with whipped topping and nuts, if desired. Refrigerate any leftovers.
*** The only thing I do differently is instead of using the can of sweetened condensed milk, I add the following :

1 cup dry milk powder
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup warm water
3 Tablespoons melted butter or margarine

Mix well so that you don't have bits of undissolved powdered milk in your pie.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Why Sandra Lee drives me completely bonkers

I temporarily have cable TV right now and I could not resist this opportunity to see that crazy loon Sandra Lee. I'm embarrassed to say I hope I still have access to cable TV on the 15th as she's doing another one of her infamous specials and I really want to see what insanity she's managed to come up this time. *hangs head in shame*

Uh, if your cake to frosting ratio is 1:1 you are doing something wrong. After seeing this, I immediately went over to Television Without Pity to read the Semi-Homemade board to enjoy some fresh snark. *sob* I've really missed the company of like-minded people.

Next up is her infamous Kwanzaa Cake which has been reworked to become her Fall Harvest Cake . Please note that what she called acorns in the video are actually corn nuts. See that blue cake with the star on it to the left of your screen? That is her Star of Hanukkah/Star of David cake which has non-Kosher marshmallows stuffed in the hole of the angel food cake. Later in the episode this cake was on her "tablescape" with a baked ham. Gah!!

I have just found a video that shows her Hanukkah/Star of David cake. The video quality is not the highest but, I'm glad to have it to show to you.

I rest my case. Good day everyone.

edited to add: When I originally posted this, the links to the recipes at the Food Network's website were not working. They are currently working so here are the links:
Star of David Angel Food Cake
Kwanzaa Celebration Cake

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Cinnamon rolls, Christmas parties, baking, etc...

Wow! I can't believe it's been over a week since my last post. I've been busy unpacking and getting ready for Christmas. We went to a Christmas party last Saturday night that one of Mr. Hairball's colleagues was hosting. The place was packed and we were told that the turnout was unusual. We had a great time and they did one of those games where everyone brings a small gift and then you draw numbers and can pick an unwrapped gift or steal one from someone else. It's funny to see grown people going nuts for stuff like Hot Wheels and and guns that shoot rubber bands!! *grins*

While mingling, I heard a younger guy talking about how he had never eaten a sugar cookie made from scratch. This made me feel very sad as I do think our "modern and enlightened" way of life is slowly killing off the recipes of the past. I showed up at a potluck once with a homemade cake and had trouble convincing someone that I really did make it from scratch. The woman asked me what brand cake mix I used as she wanted to make it herself. I told her I didn't use a mix and she looked very confused at the concept of baking without mixes. *sighs*

This topic has inspired me to do some baking this week. Yesterday I made a batch of cinnamon rolls and will make another batch tomorrow. These are the old fashioned kind ( no whack-a-dough!!) with yeast, butter, cinnamon, nuts, coffee and maple flavoring. The recipe won a baking contest years ago before whack-a-dough and baking mixes became the default. It's *not* my recipe nor a family recipe but, it's the only cinnamon roll recipe I've made for the last 13-15 years.

Grandma's Cinnamon Rolls

5 ½ to 6 cups all-purpose flour, divided

½ cup sugar
1 cup milk
¼ cup. (1/2 stick) butter
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 (1/4 oz.) pkgs. Quick rising active dry yeast ( 2 1/2 tsps )
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 c. water
2 eggs
No-stick cooking spray
Maple Glaze, recipe follows
Nut Filling, recipe follows

In large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups flour, yeast, sugar and salt, mix well.

In small saucepan, heat milk, water and 1/3 cup butter until warm, butter does not need to melt entirely. Add milk mixture to flour mixture, add egg. Blend at low speed of electric mixer until moistened, beat 3 minutes at medium speed. By hand gradually stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.

Knead on floured surface until smooth and elastic, 5-8 minutes. Place dough in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover; let rise in warm place until light and doubled, about 30 minutes. Spray 2 (13x9 inch) baking pans with non-stick cooking spray. Punch down dough, divide in half. On lightly floured surface, roll or pat each half into a 12x9 inch rectangle. Brush each part with half of the melted butter; sprinkle half of nut filling over dough. Starting with shorter side, roll up tightly and pinch edge to seal. Cut each into 12 slices; place in prepared baking pans.

Cover; let rise in warm place until almost doubled, about 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden. Drizzle Maple Glaze over hot rolls, cool slightly and remove from pans.

¾ cup sugar
1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ cup chopped nuts

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients; mix well.

2 cups powdered sugar
½ tsp. maple flavored extract
3 T. butter, melted
3 to 4 T. hot coffee

In small bowl, combine all ingredients, blend until smooth.

(Yields 24 cinnamon rolls)

Monday, December 1, 2008

The moving is done!!

As the old joke goes, I am hurting in places that I didn't even know I had!

Everything is inside of the new place and we are returning the keys to the old place this afternoon. Currently the new apartment is in the "Crap scattered from Hell to breakfast state" I'm hoping to get it down to "Unholy mess" by the end of the week. Our internet service didn't get transferred over properly so Mr. Hairball called customer service and got it all fixed. I am quite grateful for that as I missed having the internet and needed to do some financial stuff this morning so that everybody will have the pound of of flesh that they are owed. We ended up having the minions for longer than planned so we paid them half their money and Mr. Hairball will give them the rest on Tuesday. He was joking this morning about being glad to go back to work as he doesn't have to haul boxes around at his workplace and can rest a bit from the workout he got over the last few days.

The cats are contained in one room till things are in a better state as they would get into things that could hurt them. I'm getting good at slipping in the door to their room and slamming it shut before they can get out. I took the oldest one out last night and held her in my arms and gave her the walk through. She really wanted to get down and investigate everything thoroughly but, I just told her to be patient that soon she can come out and check out everything. The room they are in has a nice big window for their cat tree/kitty condo thingy which they like but, they are tired of being cooped up!