Friday, October 29, 2010

Polenta Cakes

*If you haven't entered my giveaway, click here to do that now.  Ends. Nov 2.*

So, none of you showed up to help me out with all my extra polenta.  What's up with that?  I was forced to try to be creative, imaginative even.  I'm from the south ya know, so that's means "why don't we just fry that!".  I guess.  

 I just took that polenta (that I prepared in my last post) out of the fridge and sliced it up while it was cold and cut it into circles.  Sounded good in theory, but it didn't really have much holding power.  

 yeah I'm talking to you there in the middle

I ended up mixing some up with an egg and flour to kinda help bind it a bit.  That seemed to work a lot better.  I wish I could give you amounts, but I'm not that precise.  I'd say maybe about 1 to 1 1/2 cups polenta, 1 egg, and maybe 1/2 to 3/4 cups flour.   Just fried it in a well oiled skillet over med heat till it's golden on both sides, and there ya go! 

I hope all of you and your families have a fun and safe Halloween, fall festival, or harvest.  Whatever it is you do to get strangers to give you candy!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Herbed Polenta, Rolls, and a Giveaway

I thought it was a stroke of good timing that I was contacted by a representative of CSN Stores to be able to offer you a giveaway, as this is my 300th post!  Woohoo, yay and all that!  I never really knew when I started this little blog that I would enjoy it so much and meet so many nice people along the way.  And getting to work with CSN Stores is a perk I never even dreamed of, and I never cease to be amazed at the variety of products they offer from  kitchen bar stools  to pet supplies.  I will fill you in on the giveaway details after I talk about the food :)

 I ran across the recipe for these rolls at a forum called Cuisine at Home, and was intrigued by them since they contain a custard mix.  They called them Custard Rich Rolls, which I thought was a little bit of an odd name, but whatever.  I liked them.  I liked the bakery-like smell and sweetness that the custard mix added to them.  They were pretty darned easy, only one rising, and I'd definitely try them again.  My husband found them too dense.  I tried to make them some little dunce caps for them but it just didn't quite work out.  

Here's the recipe:

Custard Rich Rolls

1 Cup Warm Milk 80F
1/4 Cup Water, warm 80F
1/4 Cup Butter Softened
1 Egg
1 tsp Salt
4 Cups Bread Flour
1/4 Cup Vanilla Pudding mix or egg custard or flan mix (I used the flan mix)
1 Tbl Sugar
1 Tbl Instant Dry Yeast

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. After five minutes of mixing add 1 to 2 Tbl Water or Flour(whichever is needed).
Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Form into rolls, place into pan and cover. Let rise in a warm place. About 1 hour.
Bake in a pre-heated oven 350F for 20 -25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack for five minutes. Coat top with melted butter.

Tonight I also tried my hand at making Herbed Polenta that I saw at Girlichef.  The funny thing about cooking the polenta is that no matter how low I turned the heat and how much I stirred, it kept doing this volcanic thing right in the middle and spewing halfway up to the ceiling.  And onto my hand. 

 But it was worth it, just perfect with the brisket on top...yum!  Only bad part is that it made a massive amount and I'm the only one who likes it.  Anyone want to come over for polenta tomorrow??

Here's the recipe from Girlichef:

 9 c. water
1 Tbs. salt
2½ c. yellow cornmeal or polenta
1½ c. finely grated parmesan cheese
1½ c. whole milk  (I only used about 1/2 cup)
10 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
~½ c. chopped mixed herbs...I used flat leaf parsley, fresh thyme, fresh rosemary, fresh chives
¾ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Bring water to a boil in large, heavy pot. Add salt. Gradually whisk in cornmeal. Reduce heat to low, stirring often, until mixture thickens and cornmeal is tender, ~15 mins. Remove from heat, add cheese, milk, butter, herbs and pepper. Stir until butter and cheese melt. Serve.

So I'll plan to leave the giveaway open through Tuesday Nov. 2nd 10pm...Arizona time, whatever that is.  What's up for grabs is a $60 gift code to any of CSN's stores.  
To enter, just leave a comment of any sort and you're in (preferably a nice comment, if you tell me I suck it will make me cry). (I believe CSN ships to US and Canada)

For a second entry, hop on over to my Facebook page and click that "like" button.  If you do, or you already have, please let me know in a separate comment.

For a third entry, and this is a tricky one, if you can remember what I said many months ago (maybe years) that my favorite song is, you'll get an extra entry. (make this a separate comment too) 

Be sure I'm able to reach you in some way!

I'll plan to announce the winner on November the 3rd and contact you by email to let you know.

Thanks for playing!   


Monday, October 25, 2010

Blueberry Breakfast Cake

Chances are you have everything you need to make this; if you've got some  berries in the freezer, you're good to go.  

And you definitely should make this!  It's delicious and light and moist.  If you're a coffee person it would be great with your first cup of coffee in the morning.  For me, it was great with my Diet Coke :)

It disappeared in a flash!

Here's the recipe I found at Mommy's Kitchen.  I just used a bundt pan instead...if you do just be sure to sprinkle the crumb topping in before the batter.  

2 - cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 - cups sugar
1/2 - cups cold butter
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 - cup milk
2 - egg yolks
2 - egg whites, beaten
2 cups fresh blueberries or
frozen (if using frozen don't thaw)

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour and sugar. Cut the butter into pieces using a knife and add to the flour mixture. Blend using a fork or pastry blender until crumbly. Set aside 3/4 cup of the mixture to use as a topping. Add the baking powder, milk, egg yolks and mix well and set aside. Beat the egg whites til soft peaks form. Add the milk and egg mixture into the flour and mix. Fold the egg whites into the batter and lightly mix everything together. Pour into a greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Sprinkle with blueberries and and add the reserved crumb mixture. Bake at 350 for 30-35 min or until golden brown and toothpick comes out clean.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday Night Sliders and the Winner

That post title didn't sound obscene, did it?  Hope not, this is a family blog, gosh!

Just an easy Sunday night meal of some chicken sliders with bacon and melted cheddar...yum!

 Napoleon, give me some of your tots!

And now for the notepad giveaway winner:

Alexis of Running Away, I'll help you pack was the randomly chosen winner.

Rintoo says hooray for the winner!


Friday, October 22, 2010

Fall On A Plate

Perhaps I should have said "autumn" on a plate.  It sounds as if I'm advising you to trip on dinnerware.  

But you should fall all over yourself to make this dinner...pronto!  It's delish! I knew when I first saw this at My Tasty Treasures I'd be wanting to try it.  Just be sure you have plenty of hungry people to share it with because it makes a lot and the left overs are a little mushy.  

Served up with a lovely roasted acorn squash, along with the temperatures finally dropping a bit, this meal let me know that autumn, or fall, is actually finally here.  

 Here's Donna's recipe:

Roast Kielbasa Supper 

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and pepper

2 pounds baby red-skinned potatoes, halved or quartered, depending on how large they are
4 large onions, quartered with root end attached
2 pounds kielbasa, cut into 2-inch pieces( I recommend one inch pieces)
4 Gala or Honeycrisp apples, cut into wedges ( I used 3 and I recommend thin wedges.)

Preheat oven to 425˚F.
In a large, shallow roasting pan, drizzle potatoes and onions with EVOO, salt and pepper. Roast 40 minutes.

Drizzle the apples with honey, EVOO, salt and pepper; toss and set aside

Add kielbasa 10 minutes into cooking time.

Add apples to potatoes and onions in the last 20 minutes of cooking time.

To serve, arrange kielbasa, apples, onions and potatoes on dinner plates and garnish with the pan juices.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Halloween Cupcakes and a Bonus

 Cupcakes made from a box mix...revolutionary I know.  That Betty chick knows what she's doing, what can I say.  But mostly I made the cupcakes as a vehicle for the cute liners and I wanted to try what I saw touted as "The Best Frosting I Ever Had" on Tasty Kitchen. 

As I started making it I realized..."Hey, I'm making a roux!"  Fortunately it turns out tasting way more like frosting than gravy.

Best ever?  I'm not sure about that. It's definitely got a light fluffy thing going on.  Light and fluffy has it's place from time to time, but for me nothing beats a good old buttercream. 

Here's the recipe from Tasty Kitchen if you're interested.

 5 Tablespoons Flour
1 cup Milk
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 cup Butter
1 cup Granulated Sugar (not Powdered Sugar!)

 In a small saucepan, whisk flour into milk and heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens. You want it to be very thick, thicker than cake mix, more like a brownie mix is. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature. (If I’m in a hurry, I place the saucepan over ice in the sink for about 10 minutes or so until the mixture cools.) It must be completely cool before you use it in the next step. Stir in vanilla.

While the mixture is cooling, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. You don’t want any sugar graininess left. Then add the completely cooled milk/flour/vanilla mixture and beat the living daylights out of it. If it looks separated, you haven’t beaten it enough! Beat it until it all combines and resembles whipped cream.

Now the bonus...

I'm not sure if I've told you lately, but I really love you guys.  And I also really love notepads.  I just can't get enough of 'em.  Do I ever remember to use them when I need paper?  Not a lot, but I love them just the same.  So I was in The Dollar Tree some high dollar paper product store the other day admiring their selection of notepads.  And somehow my love for you and my love for notepads just made sense.  It all came together like some cosmic truth.  Okay, I'm stopping now.   So here's the loot....

Just a few little notepads, pens, some napkins that might  be nice to line your bread basket, and some holiday themed cooking magazines.  I'll leave this giveaway open through midnight this Friday night (the 22nd).  US only please, since I'm cheap.  To let me know you're interested just leave the codeword "zombie" somewhere in your comment.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Meatball Soup and Stuffed Shells

It's a two-for-one kind of day today.  

I was wondering the other day if anyone has ever been served with divorce papers for making soup too often.  But when it comes to a bowl full of warm steamy yumminess, I just can't help myself.

This recipe called for pasta rings, and I wished I'd had some. They would have been really cute in there.  But the plain old macaroni tasted just great.  

Here's the recipe that I found at An Edible Mosaic:

1 1/2 lb lean ground beef

1/2 TB Worcestershire sauce

1 egg

1 egg white

3/4 c bread crumbs

1/2 oz fresh grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish if desired

4 TB minced fresh parsley, divided

8 oz pasta (I used O-shaped pasta)

2 TB olive oil

4 medium-large carrots, peeled and diced

3 large stalks celery, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

5 c water

1 (28 oz) can diced tomato (with juices)

6 oz tomato paste (I forgot this)

2 bay leaves

2 tsp dried Italian herb spice mix

2 beef bouillon cubes

Salt and pepper

In a large bowl, combine the beef, Worcestershire sauce, egg, egg white, breadcrumbs, 1/2 oz Parmesan cheese, 2 TB parsley, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Use your hands to mix everything together, being careful not to overmix. Form the meat mixture into small balls, about 1/2 TB each (I get about 60 balls), and set aside.

Cook the pasta to al dente according to the package directions, drain, and set aside.

In a 5-quart pot with a lid, heat the olive oil on medium heat; add the carrots, celery, and onion and sauté until starting to soften (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic and sauté another minute. Add the water, diced tomato, tomato paste, bay leaves, dried Italian herbs, bouillon cubes, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Cover the pot, turn the heat up to medium-high, and bring up to a boil; turn down to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes (covered), stirring occasionally.

Add the meatballs, bring the soup back up to a simmer, then simmer for 10 minutes (with the lid slightly ajar). Turn off the heat and stir in the noodles and the remaining 2 TB parsley. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with Parmesan cheese if desired.
I also recently made stuffed shells from the recipe I found at The Pioneer Woman.  (just click that link if you want the recipe)

I liked these, but I think I was the only one who really did, judging by how many days I took them to work for lunch.   

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

When Love Comes To Town (and a CSN review)

Well, as you may remember our little doggy friend Cody passed away early last month.  We were all kind of sad and blue.  Just didn't seem right without a dog around.  We had planned to wait until Christmas to get another dog.  I guess Christmas came early.

My husband went down to our local shelter and perused the dogs there.  I didn't go because I'm a wimp.  Seeing all those dogs there makes me too sad.  He decided on this little Terrier mix who seemed kind of laid back and friendly.  So far he seems like a pretty good fit.  He has been named Rintoo, after one of my son's favorite characters on Nick Jr.
I think all of our spirits have been lifted with this new addition to the family.  Nothing like somebody to get all excited and wag their tail at you when you get home from a long day at work. 

So this is where CSN Stores comes into the picture.  I had to chance to review a product from their store, so the timing was just right to get the doggy a new bed.  
First I got this dog bed duvet by Molly Mutt.

They have some really cute ones to pick from!  The idea is that you also purchase a "stuff sack" and just stuff it with things you have around the house to make the bed.  

After careful inspection and research, Rintoo approved.

Because every dog needs two beds,  I also got this giftable set made by Thro

 It come with a little squeaky toy and tiny dog blanket, and it's super soft.  I think if Rintoo had to pick just one, this one is his preference.  

Although we love the stuffin's out of this dog, it hasn't been completely without a hitch.  The dog decided a couple of weeks after he got here he has issues with our son.  Here's the scenario...I've probably told you Simon has autism, and he tends to be somewhat aloof, do his own thing.  Not extremely interested in everything going on around him.  Also his movements can be kind of "jerky", I suppose.  Apparently the dog has either picked up on his overall disinterest, or thinks of Simon as the only family member he can be dominant of.  There have been a few episodes where the dog growled at Simon, and it usually seemed food related (Simon was in the kitchen with me while I was cooking and Rintoo growled when he got close to me and the food), or territorial.  (the dog was allowed to sit in one chair when he first arrived, and he got a bit possessive of it.  now he's a floor dog).  So anyway,we are working to try to show the dog that Simon is indeed the boss of him, and hopefully they can be friends.   So if you have any insights into dog psychology, I'm all ears!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Candy Corn Roll-Up Cookies

 Hey everyone...I haven't fallen off the face of the planet after all!
I made an impulse purchase at the grocery check out and bought Betty Crocker's Fall Baking cook book (or maybe it's a book-let...I never know what to call those things.)   This was the first recipe to catch my eye.

I thought they were as cute as they could be.  My only issue with the recipe is that it said it makes 3 1/2 dozen cookies.  I think I got about 23 or 24.  I think they are quite tasty too.  The orange zest really gives them a nice flavor.

Here's the recipe...make and enjoy!

1 cup butter softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 egg
1 to 2 tablespoons orange zest
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
Orange and Yellow gel food color

In a large bowl, beat butter, powdered sugar, egg and orange zest with an electric mixer on medium speed. Stir in flour, baking soda and cream of tartar.

Divide dough into thirds. Tint one portion orange and one portion yellow; leave remaining portion plain. Flatten each portion into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate for 20 minutes.

On a separate sheets of lightly floured waxed paper, roll each portion of dough into 12x9 inch rectangle. Place orange rectangle on top of the yellow rectangle, using waxed paper ends to help flip dough over. Top with the plain dough. Starting on a long side, and using waxed paper as an aid. Roll dough into a cylinder. Wrap in plastic; refrigerate for 1 hour.

Heat oven to 375. Cut dough into 1/4 inch slices. On ungreased cookie sheet, place slices about 1 inch apart. Sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake 7 to 8 minutes or until edges are set. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack.

I will be entering this recipe in Mommy's Kitchen's Pot Luck Sunday. When you get a chance, head on over there and check out all the different recipes.

I'm hoping to review that CSN product soon, and when I do, you'll get to meet someone extra special who has come into our lives :) 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Seven Sporadic Questions: Brenda's Canadian Kitchen

Happy October good people!
This is the part where a lesser person would whine and complain about continued high temps of over 100, but I'm above all that. Who needs crisp autumn air and blustery winds. Before I depress myself further, let's get on with this month's installment of....

This month we'll be traveling to Canada (where I'm sure the temp's are below 100 and I'm not jealous) to visit with Brenda of Brenda's Canadian Kitchen.

She is one of my newer blogging acquaintances but I never cease to be amazed by the deliciousness she continues to offer up. Let's visit with her now, shall we?

1. What inspired you to start blogging?
Well, whenever I would be looking for a recipe online and I would google that recipe, more often than not I would land on someone's blog. I was so intrigued. It looked like so much fun! Finally I thought, "maybe I can do this." I was a bit intimidated at first as I'm not Internet-savvy so I wasn't sure I could do the whole blog thing. Then once I started I saw how easy it was. I've been baking and cooking since I was in my teens and it just seemed natural to share that with everyone. And fun!  

2. What's your favorite thing to make for a crowd? 
I'd have to say pizza!!! I discovered a new pizza recipe that feeds a crowd, sheet pan pizza. I could make a couple of them, different toppings on each one and I'd be all set. Who doesn't love pizza!?  

3. What's your favorite thing to make for just you? 
This is really boring but I'd have to say grilled cheese and tomato soup. My husband, Joe, often works the night shift so a lot of the time, it's just me for supper so I take the easy way out. A grilled cheese on homemade bread is one of my favourite foods. I should say I make my own tomato soup, but I'm afraid I just open a can of Campbell's.

4. If you could invite 3 famous people (living or dead) to dinner, who would they be?
 Any particular reason?
Princess Di, my maternal grandmother, and Bobby Flay.

I don't admire a lot of people, but I have to say I admired Princess Di. I remember when she died we had been on a road trip and were headed back to Toronto. We were in a motel in the middle of nowhere, Nebraska and I sat on the bed and cried and cried. I felt like I had known her personally. The world lost an incredible person.
My grandmother, Lillian Harper, wasn't famous to anyone but her family but I'm choosing her anyway. It's been almost 20 years since she died but a day doesn't go by where I don't miss her and think of her. She was a wonderful, warm-hearted, "typical" grandmother. She loved to cook and bake and would always make our favourite treats when she knew we were coming to visit. The sweetest, kindest person I ever met.
Last but not least, I would have to say Bobby Flay because the best meal I ever had in a restaurant was at his Mesa Grill at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas. I had the ancho chili - honey glazed salmon and still think about it all the time. Amazing doesn't even begin to describe it. Joe and I are headed back there in November for my birthday and I've requested Mesa Grill for my birthday dinner. I can't wait!!! 

5. When you think of your childhood, do any favorite dishes come to mind?

My Mom used to make homemade applesauce and to this day it's the best applesauce I have ever had. I've had various other homemade applesauce but nothing has compared to my Mom's. She also used to make wonderful biscuits which we would eat warm, with butter and maple syrup poured on top. And one of my favourite desserts she made was her raisin cake. It's made in a loaf pan and she would frost it with the yummiest vanilla frosting. Which reminds me, I misplaced that recipe and need to get it from her! 

6. What do you have in your kitchen that you just couldn't do without? (besides your stove/oven of course)

  That's easy. My KitchenAid stand mixer would be number one. I've had it for I don't know how many years. Around 20 if not longer. I love that mixer! My second favourite item is my KitchenAid food processor. It's just a small one but I use it all the time as I LOATHE chopping. I use it almost every day. Two honourable mentions would be my Black & Decker bread machine and my Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker. Not necessary but certainly fun to have!

7. What's your favorite part of blogging? Do you think you'll keep doing it for a while?

Definitely the people. I can't believe the wonderful camaraderie between bloggers. Everyone is so friendly and helpful. I've never actually met any of my online friends face to face but I feel like I have and I feel like I've known some of them forever. Incredible. And I definitely plan on doing this................forever! I have no plans to stop. I can't imagine not having my blog now and I've only had it for about 8 months. It's so much fun and I get such joy from it and from the people I associate with because of it.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Grilled Chops with Barefoot Wine's Sweet and Spicy Sauce

I was recently given the opportunity to try Barefoot Wine's new release Sweet Red.  (okay, not really recently, it was in August)

 I'm not what you'd call a wine aficionado, but I do love it in my cooking.  So I decided to try the recipe suggested by Barefoot Wines for sweet and spicy sauce on our chops the other night.

In a was yummy.  Just like the name suggests, it's sweet and spicy.  Very bold.  My daughter was asking if I had anymore of "that sauce" a couple of days after that.  

Here's how to make it:
· 6 ounce can tomato paste
· 1 cup Barefoot Sweet Red
· 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
· ¾ teaspoon salt
· 1 ½ teaspoon garlic herb powder
· 1 tablespoon brown mustard
· ¼ cup molasses
· ½ teaspoon pepper
· 2 tablespoons brown sugar
· ½ teaspoon Hot Chili Sauce
I heated all the ingredients together on the stove top and simmered it for a few minutes.  

This is the pasta salad we had with it that I found at Food Network.

 It sounded good but I was underwhelmed.  I think my husband was a bit overwhelmed when it all got stuck in the garbage disposal and stopped up the sink.