Wednesday, February 29, 2012
As I said yesterday, I have a lot of produce to use up, and no, it's not all lemons. Good thing, too, because I can only eat so much pie.
Our mom has been making this particular kind of curry since she returned from her LDS mission to Japan. I have made it several times when we've had company and I always get requests for the recipe. There's just one--okay two--problems. 1-There's no recipe and 2-I completely and totally cheat on this one. But I will give you the basic idea.
First, have a bunch of veggies you need to use up (you could buy them for this express purpose, too.) Second get a package of S&B Golden Curry Sauce Mix. It's in the oriental section of stores that carry it. In my town, the only store that carries the mild, which is the version I buy, is Macey's, which is owned by Associated Foods.
My mom made it pretty much how it's shown on the front of the box, with meat, potatoes, carrots and onions. On the instructions, at least the instructions written in English, it only says to add meat and onions. I use any kind of vegetables I happen to have on hand.
Last night, I used cabbage, onions, carrots, yellow summer squash and cauliflower. I would like to have used more carrots, but that's how much I had. If I had had zucchini, broccoli, peppers or celery, I'd have used them.
Cut up your veggies in roughly bite size pieces. If you're using meat, cut it into chunks, too. Then saute everything in a couple of tablespoons of oil, starting with the things that take the most time to cook, and adding the things that require less cooking time as you go.
Once everything is mostly cooked, add your curry and water. I use a whole 3.5 oz package of curry with my 12-inch skillet completely full of vegetables. If you're not making that much, don't use as much curry. I also pour in water almost as high as the level of the vegetables.
Now cook it, stirring occasionally, until the curry is all mixed into the water and has formed a thick sauce.
You're done. Serve over rice.
Popcorn is a staple in my house.
I come by the affinity honestly. When we were children, we had an old electric air popper. It was bright 70s yellow and may even have been a wedding gift to my parents. It earned it's keep. Sis 2 was the queen of popcorn. She made sure we pulled out the popper at least every Sunday night.
We used to fight over who got to measure the popcorn seeds into the little cup at the top of the popper. Rotating the cup on its pegs to drop the seeds into the heating cavity was a thrill not to be missed.
Once the "on" switch was flipped, magic began. We watched as the seeds swirled around faster and faster, until "POP", one little white kernel would appear. A few seconds later. POP. POP. POP, POP, POP! The kernels multiplied until they began to force their way up the throat of the popper and finally spew out the mouth. Then it was a rush to position the popcorn bowl just right to catch the flow.
We had a giant stainless steel popcorn bowl that moonlighted as a bread mixing bowl. It was big enough for 7 loaves of bread or two full batches of popcorn. For a family of 9, large quantities were essential.
As the popcorn spewed out, we carefully turned the bowl to ensure proper distribution and to prevent overflow. Invariably, after most of the popcorn had been expelled, a few last kernels would be left spinning powerlessly in the bottom of the popper. Without the propelling force of the mass, they were trapped. Not to worry. We made sure to shake out every last one.
Our popper had a metal tray that fit into the top, right above the mouth. This was supposedly for melting butter. The heat from the popping corn was supposed to be enough to melt the butter. It wasn't, or maybe we just used too much butter. In any case, we only used the tray as a plug to keep the popcorn from flying out the top. (Leaving the tray off was quite exciting, but rather frowned upon by the higher ups.)
Instead, we melted our butter--or margarine rather, since butter was too expensive a luxury--in the microwave. When the margarine was all golden and liquidy, one of us would pour while another spun the popcorn bowl. Next came salt. Lots of salt. A few good mixes from several pairs of bare hands and we were set!
Occasionally, we'd add taco seasoning instead of salt. When were lucky, Mom would let us make carmel to pour over. Usually, we stuck with plain margarine and salt. Whatever the flavor, popcorn never lasted long in our house. When finished, the bowl took the place of honor in the middle of the living room floor, with us kids surrounding it. We each filled a paper towel with booty and munched away, refilling as needed. Sometimes we played games as we ate. Sometimes we watched a movie. Usually, we just talked and joked and laughed.
Although I'm married now and live away from home, I still think a week is vastly improved by a bowl of popcorn. I've graduated to a stovetop "Twirly Pop" and ditched the margarine, but still like salt. Lots of salt.
Making the salt stick is an art. The secret is to sprinkle it on just as soon as you pour the popcorn into the bowl. If you catch it when it's still warm, the steam produced from popping is enough to adhere the salt, without you having to add more butter or oil. Just the teaspoon of oil required for popping is sufficient.
You know what? I think I'll make myself a bowl of popcorn.
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
When I left for my vacation 10 days ago, I had my kitchen well stocked with plenty of fruits and vegetables for my mother-in-law to use in cooking. When I returned, they were all still there, with the exception of the apples, bananas and oranges that the kids ate for snacks.
My in-laws live in a very small town in rural Idaho--so small that there's a sign when you get off of the freeway that directs you to each resident's home. But they used to live in the second-largest city in Utah, and it seems they had been missing having opportunities to eat out. My kids enjoyed eating every dinner (and some lunches)at a restaurant, too.
But I have a whole bunch of produce that needs to be used pronto. When life gives me lemons, I make pie.
Fluffy Lemon Cream Cheese Pie
1 9-inch graham cracker crust (I cheated with a Keebler.)
6 egg yolks
1/4 plus 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
1 pinch salt
3/4 cup butter, cut into peices
The Other Stuff:
6 oz. cream cheese
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
lemon zest for garnish
Whisk together egg yolks, lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Remove from heat and stir in salt and butter until the butter is melted. Let cool.
Using an electric mixer, beat together cream cheese and granulated sugar in a large bowl until smooth. Add lemon curd and whipping cream. Whip together on high speed until mixture is fluffy and soft peaks form.
Pour mixture into pie crust and top with lemon zest. Chill at least 2 hours before serving.
I have this great friend who likes to bake and sew, just like I do. So we have a lot of fun getting together and working on different projects. I met my friend at church, we were asked to be in charge of activity days or achievement days for the 8 and 9 year old girls in our ward. We had fun doing that, but we also became friends, and thankfully our kids liked to play together too. So we would find a project we wanted to do and get the kids to play, so we could do our sewing or baking. I recently moved (well, it still seems recent to me, but I guess it has been 9 months now) and live a few suburbian cities away, so it is harder to get together than it used to be. But when we can find the time we still like to get together and work on some project. The latest project we sewed was this super cute bag. My friend already had the pattern for it, so we just had to find materials. We decided I would take the pattern and cut out my fabric first and then she would take the pattern and cut her fabric, and then we would get together to sew. Well, life got busy for both of us, and so that took us quite a while. My friend and I decided to get together for lunch to celebrate our birthdays (mine is one day and hers is the day after) and then we would sew after lunch. We didn't end up getting much done that day because it got pretty crazy at my house. We finally decided that we would finish the bags on our own. So, unfortunately I didn't get to sew with my friend as much as we had planned. But, I'm lucky to have a friend who has great patterns and lets me borrow them, and also who comes up with such great ideas and projects for us to sew together. She really is the brains behind all of our projects. AND the bag turned out really cute. I thought it was pretty easy to sew; though, it might not be so easy for a beginning seamstress. Plus, it is really useful and fun. Find a pattern you like and make a bag today!
Monday, February 27, 2012
According to Wikipedia, Jerusalem Artichokes got their name from both the italian word for sunflower, "girasole", which got changed into "Jerusalem" by we lame-tongued english speakers and their artichoke-like flavor. They are neither an artichoke nor from Jerusalem, but, as the italian word suggests, the tuberous root of a species of sunflower native to eastern North America.
They provide an amazing amount of nutrition, but contain little starch, so they don't trigger the same insulin response as a potato does, which is what they commonly replace in diabetic diets.
I have always been slightly curious about Jerusalem Artichokes, but never enough to buy them at the grocery store. I participate on occasion in a produce co-op, however, and got a few of them in my basket the last time.
I looked up several recipes online to find out what to do with them, but in the end, I decided that if I want to know what they really taste like, I needed to cook them with little other flavoring.
So I scrubbed them, chopped them up, melted some butter in my frying pan and cooked them with a little salt and pepper.
My oldest daughter had seconds. The second daughter only ate them because we have an "eat what's for dinner or don't eat" rule. The third daughter said that she liked them enthusiastically, but didn't take seconds. And Bear ate all of his. My husband hasn't yet tried them, since he just got home from work. I'm actually looking forward to his reaction, since he doesn't know that they're not potatoes, yet.
I think that they taste less like an artichoke than a very mild parsnip. As you can see, when cooked this way, they look very similar to potatoes, but they don't have the satisfying rich, starchy taste (ya think?). They taste lighter and greener. I would definitely eat them again, but I still like my comfort food.
I taught Young Women Manual 1, lesson 8, "Attitudes About Our Divine Roles" yesterday. I found the idea to make divine cinnamon rolls for the lesson here.
I began the lesson by asking what each girl's dream job was. Then I asked them if that particular job could ever be difficult. If they couldn't see how, I helped them. I also asked if their dream jobs could ever be boring. Again, I helped them see situations in each job that could be boring. Then I asked them, "If being a (veterinarian) could be difficult and boring, why would you want to do that?" After they answered, I continued with the lesson pretty much as outlined in the manual.
Between the sections about being a wife and being a mother, I paused and served the cinnamon rolls, calling them "divine rolls", of course. Then I drew a spiral on the chalk board and asked, "What's the best part of a cinnamon roll." They all answered that it was the middle. I labeled the outermost ring of the spiral physical. The next layer was mental; the next was emotional; and the innermost circle was labeled spiritual. I told the girls that when the world thinks of being a mother, they think mostly of the physical needs a mother has to take care of, ie., laundry, bus driving, cooking, cleaning, changing diapers, etc. Those things don't have to be drudgery. Based on the right attitude, they can be fun and fulfilling, however, as you get nearer and nearer to the center, or heart of the divine role of motherhood, you find more and more fulfillment and joy.
Then, of course, I had to hurry through the rest of the lesson.
So here it is, the recipe for Divine Rolls:
Divine Cinnamon Rolls
3/4 cup mashed winter squash, drained if juicy (canned pumpkin would work)
3 Tablespoons powdered milk
1 1/4 cups warm water
2 teaspoons yeast
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup shortening
5 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup very soft butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 to 2 Tablespoons milk
6 oz. softened cream cheese
1 cup white sugar
2 Tablespoons orange juice concentrate
Mix all ingredients for the rolls in a mixer bowl. Knead about 6 minutes, adding flour if necessary. Dough should be soft but not sticky. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about an hour.
Lightly grease a large flat surface and turn dough out onto it. Form a rectangle with the long side closest to you. Lightly grease a rolling pin and roll the dough to about 1/2 inch thickness, keeping the same rectangle shape (just larger).
Gently spread the butter all over the top of the dough rectangle, leaving just a small portion of the edge closest to you uncovered. Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon thoroughly and sprinkle evenly over the buttered portion of the dough.
Starting at the furthest edge, roll the dough into a long cylinder, ending with the edge nearest you down. Cut a piece of thread, about 7 inches long and, holding the thread tightly against the greased surface, slide it under the end of the cylinder of dough. Stop about 1 3/4 inches from the end of the cylinder and pull the ends of the thread up, crossing them above the top of the cylinder of dough. Pull the two ends of the thread tightly across each other until they make a clean cut through the roll of dough. (I'm sorry my picture is fuzzy.)
Place the slice of roll in a greased 9 x 13 pan. Repeat until the pan is full. You may need to start another pan of rolls to use up all of the dough.
Now you must make a choice. Do you want to bake them today or tomorrow? If today, cover and let rise until they nearly reach the top of the pan. If tomorrow, spray a piece of plastic wrap with cooking spray and cover the pan, greased side down. Place in refrigerator immediately. When you are ready to bake them tomorrow, you'll need to take them out of the fridge about 1/2 hour before you plan to bake them. Placing a pan of boiling water in the cold oven next to the pan of rolls will help to proof them.
If your rolls are in the oven proofing, remove them. Preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit. Bake cinnamon rolls about 26 minutes, or until lightly browned on top. Mix the glaze ingredients in a small bowl while the rolls are baking. Immediately after removing the rolls from the oven, spread the glaze evenly over the tops of the rolls.
With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar together until smooth. Add the orange juice concentrate and mix thoroughly. Spread evenly over cinnamon rolls while still warm. Serve warm. If you don't use them all while they're still hot, you can reheat them for a few seconds in the microwave.
Note: The winter squash makes your rolls yellow or orange looking, but not one of my young women asked about the color and they all loved them. (They just didn't know they were getting some vitamin A and fiber. My kids don't know, either. Hee hee!)
Saturday, February 25, 2012
My husband and I just got back from a 6-day vacation to Freeport, the Bahamas. We spent several hours of one day walking up and down beaches, looking for cool shells for our kids. Toward the very end of the day, my husband found a conch (said conk) shell that was whole, but in bad condition. We were pretty excited, since we had found a plethora of conch shells in various levels of badly broken. Not long after that, I found a very small, but whole and in good shape one. Elated, we decided to head back to our hotel.
The next morning, I took a bike (included with our room) and rode to a public beach. I hid the bike in some bushes and walked down the beach, trying to figure out what had dug the holes and made the tracks that we had discovered the night before. (I found out later that they were sand crabs, but I was never successful in scaring one out of its hole.) After a while, I gave up and went back for my bike, but I had hidden it too well. I started searching for it in all of the bushes in the general vicinity, and to my surprise, found a conch shell.
It has definitely seen better days, and I spent the better part of 2 hours scrubbing it today. It was covered with a layer of what looked suspiciously like the wrappers from sushi, so I'm guessing it was kelp. Apparently, a small army of large red ants had also taken up residence. I'm glad I tied it in a grocery bag for the trip home.
Conch is a very popular food in the Bahamas. It's a sea snail, and, next to escargots, it's the most commonly eaten snail in the world. (Which, to me, doesn't say much, since I don't know too many people who eat escargots.)
At our hotel, we were served conch fritters, breaded conch, and conch chowder. The fritters are dough with cut up conch and peppers, dropped in hot oil and fried. Breaded conch is a lot like breaded shrimp, but somewhat frilly and without a tail to be removed. I expected the chowder to be similar to clam chowder, but it was nothing like that. Conch chowder is a tomato-based soup that has chopped potatoes and carrots and a good dash of hot pepper sauce, a long with slices of conch. I must say that I like conch much better than clams. They aren't rubbery at all and have a milder flavor.
If you're curious, this site shows how to remove and clean a conch.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
How about some Hot Fudge Sundae Cake? Would you like some? So would I. Our mom has been making this cake since I can remember. It is very yummy and easy to make. It is a little bit like a chocolate lava cake, but easier I think, because it is in baked in one big pan and not in individual ramekins.
Here is the recipe.
Hot Fudge Sundae Cake
By: Abbey Hatley
1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking cocoa (I like 3 tablespoons just because I like it even more chocolatey)
2 teaspoons baking powder ( I use 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, because with 2 teaspoons I can taste the baking powder)
1/4 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup nuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350. Spray an 8x8 baking pan with cooking spray. Mix together dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Then, stir in the milk and melted butter. Spread the batter in your pan.
In another mixing bowl, mix:
1 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons baking cocoa
Make sure the brown sugar and cocoa are well combined and then sprinkle this miture on top of the batter in your baking pan.
Then slowly pour 1 2/3 cups hot water over the top of both layers in your baking pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the top is cake like and a little crusty. The bottom will still be runny, chocolatey syrup. Let it sit for a few minutes after you take it out of the oven so it doesn't burn your mouth. Then dish into bowls with ice cream on top. Delicious!
Sunday, February 19, 2012
My husband is a CPA and external auditor. Thus, from November to March, I am an accounting widow. Monday through Friday, he leaves the house at 7:30 a.m. and returns at 10 p.m., with just enough energy to turn on his laptop for another hour of work. His down time is watching 10 minutes of Sports Center while brushing his teeth before bed.
Weekends are better. My CPA only has to work 6-8 hours on Saturdays and put in a few hours from home on Sundays. As a bonus, we usually make it through church without any phone calls from the audit team.
I'm pretty independent, but even for me, a two-hour-a-week relationship leaves a bit of a gap. Last "busy season," I decided to fill the gap with a bit of creativity.
My mother taught me to sew when I was very young. With her help, we kids made everything from doll clothes to prom dresses. Quilts were frequent and favorite projects. Our living room would be swallowed for a week at a time with a quilt stretched out on the wooden frames. When we could escape the actual sewing, we loved to camp out under the colorful canopy and watch movies. About the only time my mother ever watched movies was while quilting or canning. We grew up with a love of canned peaches, John Wayne, pieced patterns, and Cary Grant.
So, when faced with an empty house and time on my hands, I turned to quilting. I found a great pattern online at allpeoplequilt.com--a luxury my mother never had. I modified the pattern a little to suit my creativity and then took advantage of a great sale on cotton print. Armed with a couple of good ol' black and white movies, I was in business.
Piecing the top went smoothly enough. The tricky part came when it was time to quilt. I'm woefully frameless. Unfortunately, our California apartment has no room for storage, so buying frames wasn't practical. Instead, I resorted to safety pins.
I moved the couch, then stretched the quilt back across the room. With heavy-duty straight pins, I secured it to the floor. Next, I layered on the batting and finally the pieced top, which I pinned to the floor as well. Once everything was nice and taut, I pinned the layers together using large safety pins. Presto!
Although the safety pins didn't keep the layers quite as straight and bunch free as frames would have done, I did like the freedom they allowed. I could stitch for an hour or two in the evenings, then fold the quilt up and put it away until the next opportunity. Of course, that did mean I missed out on the movie-perfect-tent...
This week, I finished my quilt! I'm quite happy with the results.
Now, with another busy season in full swing, what's next?
Friday, February 17, 2012
I have been participating in a points contest since the beginning of the year. There are few things that you have to do every day to earn points, and then at the end of the contest the person with the most points wins. If we exercise for 1/2 hour we get 3 points, if we exercise for 1/2 hour more we get 5 more points. If we don't eat any sweets during the day we get 2 points. If we eat 3 vegetables and 2 fruits we get 5 points. I have been doing pretty good on the contest. There have been a few days that I have eaten sweets and a few days that I have eaten after 7pm, so I have lost points for those things. But, I have exercised an hour a day 6 days a week (we get Sundays off) since the beginning of the year. And, I am starting to see results. It's definitely a Love/Hate relationship, but I'm loving it a little more. Along with all the other health benefits from exercising, it's one more reason I will get up and do my hour of exercise tomorrow.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
After I had been dating my (now) husband for about a month, he dropped a bombshell on me. He did not like whipped cream. I couldn't believe it! Who doesn't like whipped cream? I really thought this might be a deal-breaker. Better to find out early in a relationship, right?
Then, I found out that he loves whipped cream, he had just never had the real thing. (Whew!) For some reason, all of his life up until that point, he had been under the erroneous impression that the whipped topping you get in a tub from the grocer's freezer section is actually whipped cream. I don't know how anyone could be so cunning and devilish as to let their kids believe such an incidious lie. (I do get along rather well with my mother-in-law, and if not for this and a few minor things, she'd be nearly perfect.)
When I was a kid, I had quite a liking for whipped topping. Maybe that was because it was such a rare item in our household. But, as I have always enjoyed figuring out how to make things on my own, I convinced our mom to let me try making it. I looked at the ingredient list, which was probably about 30 ingredients, but the four that were recognizable were: water, oil (can't remember if it was veggie or soy), high-fructose corn syrup and vanilla flavoring.
I've never seen high-fructose corn syrup on a retail shelf, so I had to settle for regular-fructose corn syrup. I mixed it and the other three ingredients in a bowl. Hmmm...Not much like whipped topping. Mom suggested that I freeze it somewhat and then whip it. That worked. I had no idea how much of what to put in, but the proportions that I used came out surprisingly like whipped topping. And not much like whipped cream.
After such a successful experiment, one might think I'd be making whipped topping often from then on. Not so. I think that's about the time I became disillusioned with the stuff. I guess that knowing my dessert was topped with water, oil, and corn syrup just ruined it for me.
Now, back to the cream. My husband is not nearly picky enough. He actually likes spray cream. In fact, he will buy it and spray it straight into his mouth. Ewwwww! Have you ever noticed that when you spray it on something and let it sit for more than half of a minute, it turns into a watery mess? Not appetizing. The cans assure me that they contain real cream, but I don't know what black magic they do to make something as wonderful as cream turn into that. And I don't want to know. I'm not fond of happy gas, either.
In my opinion, whipped cream, when used as a topping, should be whipped enough to add volume, but not too stiff. It should be able to run into the nooks and crannies of whatever it is garnishing. I buy mine in the cardboard cartons that open like a school-lunch milk. I like the screw-top lids, but they're not often available. So, to keep my cream fresh and from tasting like the onions that are frequently in my fridge, I staple the carton shut after using it. It's very easy to remove the staple on the next occasion that calls for cream.
Use whipped topping if you must, but as for me and my house, we'll serve real cream. And whatever you do, don't perpetuate the notion that whipped topping is cream. It's just not fair.
Saturday, February 11, 2012
After you've made a cute picture card of your kids, as in this post, turn it into an mp3 player. This is a modified idea from Family Fun Magazine.
Wrap a box of conversation hearts in foil.
Tape your picture to the front.
"Glue" on licorice and gummy candy "earbuds" with gingerbread house cement icing.
I know it's completely crazy, but there are some people out there who are on a diet. Even worse, there are others who just don't like sweets. So, if you have any of THAT kind of people on your Valentine's list, here's an idea of what you can give them. And, they're mailable, so you can give them to long-distance sugar-hating valentines!
I put the nuts label on a package of nuts, the apple label on a squeezy pack of applesauce, the berry label on a squeezy applesauce and berry pack, and the banana label on a bag of banana chips. You could use all dried fruit, if you wanted.
If you don't need to mail these, use fresh fruit. All the better.
Here are my labels. You can click on it and "save as" and then print them yourself, if you'd like.
One day, while sitting at work at Tamara Pluth Design, about 13 years ago, my boss's mother (I believe her name was Betty Taylor) came in and gave me a brownie. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I had never had or even heard of grasshopper brownies before, but I was instantly in love. I got the recipe as soon as she could get home to copy it down for me. I don't know where she got it from.
Since then, whenever I've made them, almost everyone asks me for the recipe, so here it is, except that the actual brownie recipe is mine. I decided I like it better, but with her mint frosting and chocolate glaze.
1 cup magarine or butter
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
Several drops each mint extract and
Green food coloring
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 T. Crisco
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Mix butter or margarine and cocoa powder in a large saucepan. Heat until the butter or margarine is melted. Remove from heat. Stir in sugar completely before adding eggs, unless you like chocolate scrambled eggs. Stir in remaining ingredients and spread evenly in a 9 x 13 pan. Bake about 24 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely.
For the frosting, you must use butter. Margarine or crisco will not work well. Make sure your butter is very soft. Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until the frosting becomes frosting. It will work. Don't add liquids other than the food coloring and mint extract. The softer your butter is, the faster this will come together. Also, if you have cookie paddle(s), they will work better than a whisk-type mixer. Spread the frosting evenly over the cooled brownies. Dipping your knife in HOT water and shaking it off will help you to spread the frosting more easily.
Place the chocolate chips and Crisco in a small saucepan. Do not use butter or margarine. Only shortening will work well for this step. Melt on low heat, stirring until smooth. Spread over the mint frosting and allow to cool. If you're in a hurry, throw it in the refrigerator for a while.
If you're not in the mood for mint chocolate, you can use my special variation. I don't know why mint and chocolate are called grasshopper. I think it has something to do with alcohol, but I don't drink. I just decided that cherry and chocolate will be called ladybug. So there.
Follow all instructions for Grasshopper brownies, except on the frosting, you will change the "several drops each of mint extract and green food color" to "several drops each balsamic vinegar, cherry flavoring and red food color".
Anybody know of an orange and black bug? I like the same recipe with several drops each balsamic vinegar, orange extract and orange food color.
You could also do Bumblebee brownies with lemon, but I haven't tried it.
Friday, February 10, 2012
If only confidence were based on the number of diets attempted. There's the coffee and grapefruit diet, the protein diet, the fruit diet, the vegetable diet, the only-green-things diet, the only-whole-food diet, the only-handmade-food diet, and even the cookie diet.
I've actually never tried the cookie diet, simply because it sounds too good to be true. The idea behind it is that you eat so many cookies, you'll get sick of them and then just stop eating. Stupid idea really, considering how many different kinds of cookies there are in the world. With all the choices, I wouldn't get sick of cookies in time to loose any weight before I had to get gastric bypass surgery.
Honestly, the only plan that really succeeds when it comes to weight loss is cutting back on what you eat and getting more exercise. (I know, you're all astounded. I've just told you the secret to the universe and everything you've ever known is completely turned upside down.) Except, that doesn't always work either.
In my latest escapade to achieve the perfect weight, I've been counting my calories with the help of my smart phone and a free app, "Lose It." Lose It is actually a pretty amazing app. It scans bar codes, has a huge database of food and exercise options, and is very easy to use. To use it, you start by entering your current weight and telling it your goal weight. Then it tells you how many calories you can eat a day and when you can expect to reach your goal. Any exercise you add gives you a bonus on the amount of calories you can consume.
I thought for sure, this time, my efforts would work. And I'm convinced they would work, if I could also convince myself that I can live on 700 calories a day. Okay, I'm not being completely truthful with that number, but the magic number Lose It gave me really wasn't much higher. Despite the ridiculously low number, I was determined to make it work.
I started logging my food intake and exercise. I started taking the stairs at work and skipping the three o'clock sugar break. I stopped drinking soda altogether. I even bought a new digital scale so I could see the progress in ounces—even if it was only ounces. Weeks went by and I really didn't get anywhere.
So, in a moment of weakness, I caved. I exceeded my calorie intake by a thousand for one day, ate a chocolate chip cookie, drank a soda, and ate some chocolate. Know what happened? The next morning, the number on the scale was down. Fluke right?
That's what I thought. But I was too dissuaded to count calories the next day too. I ate what I wanted, and low and behold, the number on the scale was down again. What is going on? I'm eating candy, I'm drinking soda, I'm not counting anything and the number on the scale gets smaller. It's not right. It's not fair. So for the last week, I have skipped counting calories and steps, I have drunk a lot of soda, I have eaten cookies, and candy and everyday I've floated within six ounces of where I was.
So, the next time you're feeling like you need to loose a pound or two, remember, it's nothing a chocolate chip cookie can't fix.
This year I was looking through my "Taste of Home" magazine and saw some chocolate mint cookies dipped in mint chocolate. I thought they looked pretty good. But, I also thought, I have to make sugar cookies and the recipe I use makes a huge batch so maybe I should just make some of them chocolate; and so that is what I did.
I made my favorite kind of sugar cookie dough, and then took half out and added some cocoa powder and peppermint extract. How's that for scientific??
My favorite recipe for Sugar Cookies happens to come from the Lion House Desserts Cookbook.
Cutout Sugar Cookies
pg 103 Lion House Desserts Cookbook
2 cups granulated Sugar
1 cup shortening ( I always use butter)
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon extract (this time I omitted the lemon, since I would be doing the chocolate later.)
6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
In a large bowl cream sugar, shortening and eggs. Add milk and vanilla; mix at low speed. In a separate bowl, mix flour, salt, soda and baking powder. Add to the sugar mixture until well incorporated.
This is where I changed it up. I took half of the cookie dough out of the bowl and wrapped it in some saran wrap and put it in the fridge. To the other half of the dough that was still in the bowl I added 1/4 cup of baking cocoa and 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract. I then put that dough in the fridge also. I always leave my dough in the fridge until the next day. When you are ready to bake the cookies preheat the oven to 350. Roll out the dough to about 1/8 in. thick; cut out in desired shapes. Bake for 6 minutes, or until when you lightly touch the top it doesn't make a dent. Be careful not to overcook them. I iced the regular sugar cookies with a can of store bought icing, and then sprinkled them with fun stuff. The chocolate sugar cookies I dipped in melted Andes mint pieces and then sprinkled with fun sprinkles.
To melt the Andes mint pieces put them in a microwave safe bowl and put it in for 30 seconds on power 5. Then I stir it up and work in increments of 15 seconds keeping the power setting on 3 or 4. You don't want to burn your chocolate.
They are cute, and so delicious.
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Sunday, February 5, 2012
Saturday, February 4, 2012
Friday, February 3, 2012
These are a yummy appetizer to take to the football party.