Monday, December 31, 2007
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Christmas this year was a big occasion. Christmas every year is big. When you have 3 brothers, 2 sisters, 3 stepbrothers, and 1 stepsister, every occasion is a big occasion. Christmas fortunately is split into 2 days for my side of the family. My dad and my stepmom always have the Brain and I over to celebrate Christmas and my stepbrothers and their wives are terrific people and we all get along great. This year was a little different than usual and I'll post on that later.
Christmas at my mom and my stepdad's house happens every Christmas Eve. My mom is big on tradition, and just like when I was a little girl at my grandmother's house, we celebrate with a big fancy dinner on Christmas Eve. We have pickled herring as a starter and it is always my job to cut the pickled herring into bite sized pieces. I LOVE pickled herring and frequently feast on it while cutting it into pieces. Then we have a delicious meal with green bean casserole and twice baked potatoes. Last year we had a crown roast of pork. This year we had chicken cordon blue. My stepdad is a really really good cook.
After we've eaten dinner on the fine china and we are all stuffed to the gills, the adults all help clean up all the dishes, put away one of the extra dinner tables (12 adults and 4 children need two tables), and get things ready. One adult gets the job of working the DVD player and keeping the kids occupied with a Christmas video and somehow Santa always comes to our house first on Christmas Eve. After the dishes are done and the adults are finished cleaning up from dinner, Santa yells "HO HO HO!" and slams the front door. By the time the kids get to the door he's all gone, but he's left a mammoth pile of presents under the tree. It's really cute.
Then we draw presents from youngest to oldest where you can't pick a present for yourself, it has to be for someone else. This way we all get to see what everyone else got. Opening presents can get a little tedious and has lasted well into the wee hours of the night. Not so much now that the adults all draw names so we have far less presents under the tree.
This year, my favorite present is a quilt my mom made the Brain and I. It is a quilt that I started with her and I put 4 squares together. Now that I have a sewing machine and I have successfully put together my apron I was ready to finally come up to Michigan and collect the quilt pieces and do it myself and maybe sometime this century I'd have it finished. Apparently when Mom made our wedding quilt, we had asked for king sized, she felt bad because it is much bigger than our bed. So over the summer she finished the melon ball quilt I had started. Quilts are really hard work and I was teasing my sisters that Mom likes me best because I got 2 quilts in one year. The wedding quilt is the picture here and the Christmas quilt is the one above this paragraph.
After all the presents were unwrapped, we had dessert. Dessert, as tradition dictates, is Rice Bavarian. Rice Bavarian is a delicious dessert of whipped cream and rice and gelatin. it's really really tasty. Then on top we pour brandied cherries and light them on fire. My grandpa would always put loads of brandy in it so it would really flame high. Grandpa was quite the character. As our family has grown bigger we now also accommodate the vegan and lactose intolerant members of our family with a pineapple upside down cake made without milk or eggs. But really it's all about the flaming Rice Bavarian.
1 1/2 pints whole milk
1/2 cup rice
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 oz granulated (unflavored) gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1 cup heavy cream whipped
Put milk and lemon peel in double boiler, when hot, stir in well washed rice and salt. Cook until rice is perfectly tender. Add to hot cooked rice; flavoring, sugar, and gelatin which has been dissolved in water. Mix carefully.
When mixture is beginning to set, fold in cream, whipped stiff. Pour into mold and chill.
"Grandma like to use canned cherries mixed with Cherry Kiafa and set aflame."
* What can I say, it's another family recipe. I asked my mom how much lemon peel and she pulled out of jar and added a couple shakes.
Cherry Kiafa is some kind of cherry liquor. Something with a high proof burns the best.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
It just wasn't going to happen.
So I came home and looked in the pantry and the fridge and I looked at a couple recipes and I Iron Cheffed it. I'm so ridiculously proud of myself I can't even tell you. Remember my OCD tendencies? Need I point out that the cashier at Borders asked me if I was trying to short change her because I had to give her the closest to exact change I had and all my bills had to be facing in the same direction? (She was just teasing, I was obviously flustered by a $20 bill that was out of whack.) SO, for me to not follow a recipe is HUGE! And it turned out pretty tasty. Woooo! Yay me!
OK enough of that. I would tell you what the Brain thinks of it, but he went to bed early because apparently his wife has a unbelievably loud, wake the dead, sort of snoring problem when she has a stuffy nose and she kept him up all night. What can I say, I take after my mother. My poor poor husband!
Basically I made a sort of vegetarian cold pseudo Asian noodle dish. I'll call it Spicy Peanut Noodles with Vegetables. I am so glad there's leftovers. I think it's crazy good and spicy enough that it unstuffs my nose! And I like to think it's healthy too. Well sort of. The fat content is probably a little on the high side with the peanut butter and all, but it's probably good fats. And I think adding even more vegetables would be great, but I was working with what I had on hand. Something like water chestnuts would be awesome in it, but I don't keep those in the pantry. Feel free to take it, and make it yours.
Spicy Peanut Noodles with Vegetables
1 pound whole wheat spaghetti
2 large carrots, peeled and diced small
1 large red bell pepper cut into matchsticks
1 12oz bag frozen brocolli cuts, thawed and brought to room temperature
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
6 Tbsp smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup low salt chicken broth
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
3 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp sesame oil
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (about)
1/2 cup peanuts (dry roasted)
Combine the peanut butter, broth, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, ground ginger and cayenne pepper. Heat in the microwave for about 30 seconds or until the peanut butter whisks easily and you can really mix up the dressing. Set the dressing aside and let cool.
Cook the pasta until it is just tender. Drain the pasta and rinse for several minutes in cold water so that it's room temperature or a little chilled. Transfer the pasta to a big bowl. Add the chopped red bell pepper, carrots, cilantro and the dressing. Toss to coat. Sprinkle individual servings with peanuts.
Monday, December 17, 2007
But the cookies at least are finished and I can share my little round up with you...
I'll list them off top to bottom, left to right:
Top Row: spritz, double chocolate walnut biscotti, 7-layer bars (aka Hello Dolly bars), Aunt Nicky's butter cookies, snickerdoodles.
Second Row: gingerbread man, rumball, chocolate mint cookie, shortbread cookie, Laura Bush's cowboy cookie (ok I'm totally embarrassed about it, but I really like these cookies).
Third Row: peanut butter cookie, Hershey macaroon kiss, oatmeal craisin, lemon coconut pixie, chocolate chip cookie.
Fourth Row: Mexican wedding cookie, pumpkin cookie, Mrs. Eder's toffee bars, golden biscotti, billy goat.
Now I just have to box them up and send them out. Yay! The cookies will be out of my house in less than a week. Be prepared for a January full of vegetables.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
The American Woman’s Cookbook
2 Tbsp gelatin
¼ cup cold water
¾ cup boiling water
2 cups sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
Soak the gelatin in the cold water until it has taken up all the water. Boil the sugar and water to the soft-ball stage (238 degrees F.) Add vanilla and salt to gelatin. Pour the sirup slowly over the gelatin, beating constantly with a whisk until cool and thick. Butter a shallow pan slightly and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Turn the marshmallow mixture into the pan and smooth the top evenly. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Let it stand over night. In the morning cut it into small squares and roll in confectioners’ sugar.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
OH the crumbling. the horror.
Friday, December 14, 2007
I had made my gingerbread earlier this week and was planning to decorate them yesterday after dinner. SO I'm in the middle of making the royal icing and realize that I am one cup of powdered sugar short. I thought I had another bag in the cupboard, but sadly, I was mistaken. I then decided to hop in the car and run over to Walmart. Although I really don't like to support Walmart, at 9:30 at night my choices are limited. To my surprise, Walmart was out of powdered sugar!
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Monday, December 10, 2007
Friday, December 7, 2007
Another month has gone by and that means it's time for another Cupcake Hero event over at Quirky Cupcake! (She's also paired up with Bake and Destroy)! Yay! I have so much fun with these! This month's secret ingredient is mint. That was kind of a toughie because the Brain doesn't like mint and I have to admit I'm a little picky about it.
While I was sitting at work watching the post office. (I have the best seat in town because I know when everyone's at the post office and if I knew who people were I might know some serious gossip. Someday...) I began to think about mint things that I enjoy. I started thinking about peppermint ice cream and its creamy mint flavor. Then I started thinking about those commercials from a long time ago where people bit into a York Peppermint Patty and they got the feeling of skiing naked through the Alps (or something like that). And then I was thinking about all this snow and ice we have on the ground now. And then I started thinking I better get some work done so the Brain doesn't yell at me again.
So I present my Snow and Ice Cupcake. It's a white chocolate mint cupcake with a white chocolate mint buttercream and a peppermint candy brittle piece as garnish. I think the cupcake and frosting really capture the creamy mellow mint flavor I was looking for. Mint can be ridiculously overpowering. The fluffy softness of the frosting makes me think of snow and the peppermint candy brittle has that powerful icy mint flavor. (I have to admit that when I saw the photo of the Peppermint Ice Cream Candyland Cake in December's Bon Appetit, I thought it was really cool and when the secret ingredient was revealed I knew I wanted to make the candy brittle with just peppermint candies.) I found some really cool edible glitter, so I had to sprinkle that on top too. They're so pretty!
I also know that Catholic Charities is getting a dozen of these and the County Recorder's office is getting 6 of them. I have to set them aside because otherwise I might just eat them all for breakfast!
White Chocolate Cupcakes
8 oz. good white chocolate, chopped
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
10 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/3 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp mint
1 1/4 cups whole milk
Preheat oven to 350°. Stir white chocolate in top of double boiler set over barely simmering water until melted and smooth. Leave white chocolate in pot and turn off heat. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in large bowl until well blended.
Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk in 3 additions, blending well after each addition. Add warm white chocolate and beat just until blended.
Scoop batter into muffin tins lined with cupcake papers. Bake for 15 minutes or until just lightly golden and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool on racks.
4 large egg whites
White Chocolate Mint Buttercream
1 cup sugar
pinch of salt
12 oz. unsalted butter (very soft)
1/4 tsp mint extract
2 oz. good white chocolate, melted
Place egg whites, sugar and salt in medium sized heatproof mixing bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk gently and constantly until egg whites hit 140° and sugar is dissolved, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and whip by machine until thick and cooled, about 5 minutes. Beat in butter a little at a time and continue beating until buttercream is smooth and spreadable. Add mint extract and continue beating. Slowly add melted white chocolate and beat until incorporated.
Peppermint Candy Brittle
adapted from Bon Appetit
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 Tbsp light corn syrup
about 30 peppermint candies smashed in a Ziploc with a meat tenderizer
Place a large sheet of foil on work surface. Stir sugar, water, and corn syrup in small saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves, brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush. Increase heat and boil without stirring until candy thermometer registers 300°F.
Being very careful, pour syrup slowly onto foil on work surface going up and down the length of the foil so it doesn't spill onto the counter. Using heat proof spatula smooth the syrup into thin. Sprinkle broken peppermints onto syrup. Press the big pieces in without touching the hot syrup. Let cool completely.
When cool break into jagged pieces and stick in frosted cupcakes. This makes way more brittle than needed, but it's pretty good to eat all by itself too.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
The way it works is I put in bold the things I've done on the list.
"Bold" things I've done in my 35+ years:
01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said "I love you" and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby's diaper
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight (and went to confession for it!)
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and didn't care who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger's table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Played touch football
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business (the Brain did and I think that counts. We're a team.)
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an "expert"
83. Gotten flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Kissed on the first date
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. Raised children
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
98. Passed out cold
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn't stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn't have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Touched a stingray
110. Broken someone's heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone (many)
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone's mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
132. Touched a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey
135. Selected one "important" author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (fish)
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you're living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn't know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone's life
So I've done 68 "bold" things in my life. What a fun way to look back and think about my "accomplishments. If things like falling off a bicycle can be considered an accomplishment.