Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays!

I would like to thank everyone who has stopped by to visit my blog.

Some of you are old friends, and through this blog I feel fortunate to have found new friendships as well.

I thank you for your comments and suggestions and appreciate all of you.
To all I wish much happiness, good health,  peace and prosperity.

Merry Christmas


Friday, December 24, 2010

Cinnamon/Cranberry Bread Pudding

I'm sorry I've been so absent this week, but workwise, this is one of the busiest times of the year, so I 've stayed away from the kitchen. Last night I got up enough energy to make this bread pudding. I didn't go through the whole picture process as I have posted bread puddings before (click here), but for this one I used some re-hydrated craisins (leftover from Thanksgiving) instead of raisins. I'll be back with more recipes soon. In the meantime, here are some pictures of the snow that fell today.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Semi-Homemade Crackers

So on my last post I told you about everything defrosting in my Garage freezer, well among the defrostees was a package of flat bread.

I had originally bought the bread planning to make pinwheels for a small get-together that was cancelled at the last minute because of a snow storm, so I put the bread in the freezer figuring I'd make something with it sooner or later... I guess it's sooner.

The package came with 4 flat breads. I baked 2.  I layered a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

On one of them I brushed on some olive oil and sprinkled it with sea salt, pepper and fresh rosemary. The second, I brushed with olive oil and sprinkled it with parmesan cheese.  I scored them all with a knife and baked them (one at a time) at 350 F for about 8-10 minutes each. Really good!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Dates Wrapped in Bacon

I  usually make dates wrapped in bacon on New Year's Eve. For no particular reason this is the only time of the year that I prepare them. (I made an exception for the blog)

Years ago, late in December, I went to the local supermarket with my daughter (she was about 11) to shop for our New Year's Eve tradition.  The supermarket was packed with last minute shoppers. We could barely get our cart through the masses, and when we reached the produce department we couldn't spot the dates anywhere.  I glanced up and noticed a produce boy wearing his apron.  He must have been about 17 years old.  "Yoo  hoo, young man!"  I waved to get his attention.  "Can you help me? My daughter and I are looking for dates for New Year's and can't seem to find any."  The kid took off through the swinging back doors (to retrieve my dates I assumed), but alas, he was never to be seen again... at least not until we left! LOL

This is very simple to do, and almost silly of me to describe. All you need are dates (preferrably pitted), bacon strips and toothpicks.

If your dates are not pitted (as mine weren't) slice them down the middle and you will see that the seed can be removed very easily. Cut your bacon strip into three equal parts. Wrap your bacon strip around a single date and insert a toothpick. Repeat.  Pre-heat your oven to 350 F.  Place your dates on a rack (if you don't have one, don't worry, just place them on a baking pan) and roast for about 20-30 minutes, just keep your eye on them. You may have to turn on the broiler for the last 3-4 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Oreo Truffles

I had never made this before, but it's really simple, only three ingredients: oreo cookies, cream cheese, and chocolate.

Okay, you know I can't eat this stuff, just looking at it makes me gain weight, so I'm going to make half the recipe. For about 16 truffles you will need:

21 oreo cookies (I actually counted)
4 oz cream cheese (half a package)
8 oz. chocolate morsels (more or less)

Put your Oreo cookies in a plastic bag and crumble them, you can bang them with a rolling pin, or if you wish, you can put them in a food processor. Small chunks are okay. Combine your crumbled cookies with the cream cheese, honestly, you'll have to use your hands to form a ball that sticks together. Place wax paper on a cookie sheet and take one tablespoon of the mixture into your hands and form a small ball. Place your truflles on the cookie sheet. Refrigerate them for one hour.

As for the chocolate, I had never melted chocolate for dipping before and I didn't do a very pretty job, but the instructions say to.... melt your chocolate over medium heat in a double boiler. When all the chocolate is melted turn the heat down to low. Use toothpick inserted into the truffles to dip them one by one into the chocolate. Place them back on the waxed paper and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

That's it, you can be creative with these and add sprinkles, or crumbled cookies, or whatever your heart fancies.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Feed the World

Many years ago there was a time when I had to choose between bus fare to get to work and lunch.  I was very thin then.  :)

We had a client, an elderly man who was working past his retirement years.  He would stop by once every couple of weeks, always around lunch time, and every single time, he would call first and ask if we wanted anything to eat.  I would always reply "no, thank you."  One day he walked in, came right up to me and handed me a Cuban sandwich.  Surprised, I said "I can't pay you for this."  He responded "I know, but you don't deny people food just because they can't pay."

I follow his example to this day.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mama's got a brand new bag

My husband lives in Levi's, and every now and then, it's time to let a pair go. This one was too ripped to donate to charity so I made a large tote out of them. I recycled a Polo shirt for the straps. What do you think?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Venison Chili

A lot of people up here hunt deer. Friends and relatives are always offering us deer meat. Being unfamiliar with it, I wasn't sure what to make with it. Everyone seems to make chili, so I thought I'd give it a try.  I've made chili many times using beef hamburger, but I'm not a big fan, and I'm no expert. One bowl a year is good for me, but the weather has been unusually cold, and I had this ground venizon in the freezer.... chili it is. This is how I prepared it:

1 1/2 lbs ground venizon (not really sure how much it was, I estimating)
3 strips bacon
4 cups chili beans (I used canned)
4 - 6 oz tomato paste
2 cups diced tomatoes
6-8 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2-3 medium sized onions, chopped
2 cups beef stock (or 2 cups water and bouillon)
1 bay leaf
hot sauce (to your liking)
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil
cheddar cheese (optional)

Everyone told me that deer meat is very lean (too lean) and that I should combine it with regular ground beef or sausage. I thought that defeated the purpose, so I ignored them, but there was a nagging thought that I should add some sort of "fat" so I cooked three strips of bacon, removed them when crisp and browned my venizon in the bacon fat. Okay, so in a large pot saute your onions and garlic in olive oil, add your cooked venizon and all other ingredients, stir and simmer for about half an hour to let the flavors meld. Serve in a bowl and sprinkle with cheddar cheese.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Meatless Monday: Sopa de Papas • Potato Soup

4 medium potatoes, diced
2 cups vegetable broth (I made my own, but canned is fine)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cups milk
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup sour cream
shredded cheddar cheese (optional

In a soup pot boil your potatoes in 2 cups of vegetable broth until tender but not mushy. In the meantime, sauté your onion, celery and garlic in butter. Add this to your soup pot, add the milk and sour cream and season with salt to taste. Stir. Bring to a gentle boil, cover and turn off the heat. Serve in soup bowls and sprinkle with cheddar cheese. (You can refrigerate leftovers but may have to add more broth if it thickens too much when reheating).

P.S. My husband, of course, wanted bacon bits. So if you're not doing the vegetarian thing, go right ahead and sprinkle some bacon bits on top with your cheddar cheese.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Devil's in the Details

I'm really a very practical person. I don't have a problem with paper plates and store bought desserts, dollar store wine glasses and deviled eggs, hand made notes, and plastic flowers... but the designer in me has to make it look good. Presentation is important. Think Hollywood; appearances matter.

During the holidays I believe there are certain things that deserve my hard earned cash, but really, wrapping paper and ribbon is going to end up in the trash (most of the time).  I wouldn't serve a steak on a paper plate, but simple appetizers that will be picked up with a toothpick... c'mon? As long as the food is fresh and tastes delicious, you're good to go!

First Snowfall of the Season

The snow started falling last night...

A view from my window of the white sky this morning.
Good thing we covered the fountain a few weeks ago.
I think the fox we had wondering around earlier this year ate all the rabbits. There are no tracks in the snow.
From the kitchen window.

A couple more inches expected today.