Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

From my house to yours I wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Gearing up for the New Year

I chose not to participate in a bunch of Christmas posts for a couple of reasons.  One everyone is doing it and doing a wonderful job I enjoy reading everyone's holiday posts and two my biggest reason I'm still having a hard time adjusting to an empty nest.  My Christmas shopping has been done for 2 weeks now and has been shipped out and received which has taken a huge load off my shoulders.

Now I'm taking comfort in listening to Christmas music and planning a holiday dinner for my husband and myself and reflecting on how thankful I am that everyone I love is happy and in good health.  It's been pretty hard down sizing the Thanksgiving and Christmas meals.  I am use to feeding armies of people.  When living in California we had all my husband's single friends over to share the holidays with us, my daughter's friends, we had an open door policy, I miss that.

Wow, I sound like a Debbie Downer and I didn't plan on that.  I'm sorry.  Time to change gears. (no offense to the Debbie's out there)

Between now and until the end of the year I am going to start planning out my short term and long term goals for 2014 and beyond.

Cooking Groups:

I am going to continue with the two Cooking Groups I'm in:

Baking Partners a group of home bakers working on expanding out of our comfort zone 

Cooking from The New Midwestern Table by Amy Thielen  Cooking through Food Network Star Amy Thielen's cookbook

A new Cooking Group that starts up in January:

Baking through Monica Holland's cookbook Lick The Bowl Good

Getting in touch with my creative side:

My husband and I are both going to be working on Art Journals.  I have bought each of us a bound sketch journal.  The plan is to use the two open pages to be creative, sketching, painting, doodling, or writing once a week through the whole year.

I plan to work on my writing skills in 2014.  I have two different writer's kit and will be setting aside time each day to do some writing.

I am going to read up on and take online classes in Photography.

I would like to start dabbling into home decorating - my 2014 project will be my bedroom

I am planning on officially opening my Ranch Delux Etsy Shop.  Which will have handmade and vintage gifts.

Enjoy these last few days leading up to Christmas

Sit down with a cup of tea and some of those holiday treats that friends gave to you or that you made yourself.  Watch a Christmas movie, listen to your favorite Christmas CD,  journal about blessings in your life and look forward to the new year and new beginnings.

Monday, December 16, 2013

French Onion Soup

Two weeks ago we got 14 inches of snow, since that day our temps have been getting warmer everyday.  I'm enjoying the 40 and 50 degree temps, however, the snow isn't melting as fast as I would like.  When you are in the sun it is very comfortable but get in the shade with all this snow around you, it's pretty darn chilly.

I went for a walk around our property which was very nice until I got to areas that the sun doesn't hit and I had snow up to my knees.  That's a sight to see me trying to get out of the snow especially when Olive is attacking me. (Olive is our 2 year old English Bull Terrier, who loves the snow)

After flopping around in the snow I was glad I had a big pot of French Onion Soup sitting on the stove top simmering.  The moment I opened the door the aroma put a smile on my face.  There is nothing like warming up with a bowl of steaming soup.

French Onion Soup

1 stick of butter
4 to 5 onions, sliced thin
1/2 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
3 to 4 fresh thyme sprigs
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 bay leaves
pinch red pepper flakes (because everything is good with red pepper flakes)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon, fresh ground pepper
2 heaping tablespoons flour
1 cup red wine (I used Purple Cowboy, Tenacious Red, tastes good too)
1 32oz box beef stock (low sodium)
Gruyere Cheese, shredded
lightly toasted baguette bread, sliced about an inch

In a large stock pot melt butter, add onions, rosemary, thyme, garlic, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.  Stir until everything has been coated by the butter.  Sauté on low for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Sprinkle in flour and stir, cook down flour for 5 minutes, add wine, stir and reduce on low for 15 minutes.  Add beef stock, adjust salt and pepper to taste, cover and heat on medium low heat for 25 minutes.  Before serving remove bay leaves and thyme stems. Dish up soup in oven safe bowls, top with a slice of bread and a good amount of cheese.  Place under the broiler until cheese is melted and starts to brown.  Sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves.

Shared with Weekend Potluck #99

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Chef'n Banana Slicer

My favorite new kitchen gadget is the Chef'n Banana Slicer that I ordered from Williams-Sonoma $9.95 (I did get free shipping).  I know what your thinking just pull out a knife and slice it yourself.  But then I wouldn't get inform slices of banana.  The banana slices are perfect for cereal, banana cream pie and peanut butter banana sandwiches.  Makes a nice stocking stuffer or to threaten your husband.

Video from Chef'n

Then I find this very funny video about banana slicers.  I'm still standing behind my purchase.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Teriyaki Chicken and Vegetables

It is no secret that I make dinners around the vegetables I have in my refrigerator.  I very rarely put specific vegetable in a recipe.  It comes down to personal taste and what we have on hand.  I am lucky to have a family that loves vegetables so we have a little meat with our vegetables, when I make a stir-fry.  That is the beauty of a stir-fry you can put anything thing in this one dish meal.  Serve with a side of steamed rice and you are ready to go in minutes.

Teriyaki Chicken and Vegetables

3 chicken breasts, boneless skinless, cut into bite sized chunks
your favorite bottled teriyaki sauce
fresh ginger, approx. 2 inch knob peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
2 to 3 tablespoons sriracha
1 large garlic clove, minced
your favorite veggies, cut into bite size pieces
I used - carrots, celery, broccoli, onions, mushrooms, orange bell pepper, and snow peas 
8 oz can sliced water chestnuts
8 oz can sliced bamboo shoots
sesame seed oil
canola oil

Start by cutting chicken breasts into bite sized cubes and placing in a ziploc bag.  Pour enough of the teriyaki sauce  in to cover all the chicken along with the sliced ginger; refrigerate for at least two hours or over night.  In a small bowl or jar place 1 cup teriyaki sauce, sriracha, grated ginger and minced garlic; mix together well and refrigerate the same about of time as the chicken.

Cut vegetables into bite size pieces; if using carrots and celery cut thin on the diagonal, slice mushroom. (I used 2 carrots, 2 stalks of celery, half of a onion, 8 medium mushrooms, one medium orange bell pepper, cup of broccoli florets and a handful of uncut snow peas).  

Using a hot wok or large skillet add a small amount of sesame oil and canola oil (about 1/4 teaspoon of each) on high heat and cook the carrots, onions, broccoli, bell pepper and celery until just tender and remove to a plate, sauté the mushrooms; remove to plate, add chestnuts and bamboo shoots; cook until heated through; while cooking all the vegetables add additional oil if where needed. 

Add additional oil and cook chicken in small batches until it is done; which is about 6 minutes for each batch.  Add vegetables and the uncooked snow peas; pour teriyaki sriracha glaze over chicken and veggies; cook until heated through. Serve with steamed or fried rice.

Note:  If you would like the sauce to be a little thicker after the chicken is done cooking sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of cornstarch and stir for 4 minutes; then add the vegetables and glaze.

Shared at

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Cheese Appetizers Two Ways

Tis the season for parties.......whether it's for work, family, couples or girls night-in it's time to party.  I made two appetizers using two different cheeses and toppings.  These are perfect if you are bringing them to someone's party or at home since you can serve them at room temperature.  Crack open a couple bottles of wine - The brie pairs nicely with Pinot Grigio and the muenster pairs nicely with a Gewurztaminer.

If you are considering hosting a party think about an Appetizer Party and asking each guest to bring an appetizer.  So you don't end up with all chips and dip consider consider talking to your guests on what they are planning on bringing or maybe putting ideas on a slip of paper, placing them in a Christmas stocking and having them pull out a slip of paper.  You don't want to tell them what to bring put an idea, example: cheese plate, chips and dip, meat appetizer, cheese appetizer, flavored nuts, veggie dish, hot appetizer, cold appetizer.

As the host you can provide a couple of more elaborate appetizers and the drinks.

Cheese Appetizers Two Ways

3 baguette loaves
olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon butter
President Brie Log
Cranberry Relish (recipe below)
large onion
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, rough chopped
muenster cheese
fresh sage, minced
fresh cilantro, minced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut the baguette loaves 1/4 inch on the diagonal and place on cookie sheets, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in over for 9 minutes.

Heat a medium skillet until hot on low, add 1 1/2 teaspoons of butter and olive oil.  Quarter the onion and then slice thin.  Add onion to skillet and sprinkle with salt and pepper, stir until all of the onion slices are covered in the butter and olive oil.  Stir occasionally allowing the onions to caramelize I like to cook them about 50 minutes or until they get a deep brown color. Last 10 minutes add the fresh thyme and stir.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Divide up the baguette slices into 3 piles.  First pile top with 1/4 sliced Brie and place on a cookie sheet, second pile top with 1/4 slices muenster cheese and place on a cookie sheet.  Place in oven just until cheese starts to melt.  Remove from oven.  Top brie with a teaspoon of cranberry relish and sprinkle with fresh cilantro.  Top muenster cheese with caramelized onions and sprinkle with fresh sage.  The third pile of baguette slices arrange on a plate and serve with the left over cranberry relish.  You can also do extra onions so guests can help themselves with the leftover bread and relish.

Cranberry Relish

2 bags of OceanSpray Fresh Whole Cranberries, picking out any squishy berries
1 1/2 fresh jalapeños, diced
2/3 cup cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, diced small
1/2 red onion, minced
zest from one large orange
juice from that orange
2/3 cup chopped toasted pecans
2/3 cup sugar or to taste

Using a food processor pulse cranberries doing a quarter of them at a time.  With the last batch of cranberries add the diced jalapeños, cilantro and ginger, pulse.  Add to the rest of the cranberries and stir.  Add orange zest, orange juice, stir.  Add sugar and red onion and mix together.  Allow the mixture to sit for 15 minutes stir again and taste to see if you want it sweeter.  (you want to make sure the sugar dissolves before tasting) add toasted pecans.   Put relish in a strainer over a bowl for 15 minutes that way the relish will not be real wet.

Shared with Hearth and Soul Blog Hop

Monday, November 25, 2013

The question that is baffling the culinary world

Observation and curiosity has prompted this post and asking this very serious question:

When is a Grilled Cheese Sandwich not a Grilled Cheese Sandwich?

This is the question and a serious question I might add.  I have seen bloggers post recipes for their so called "Grilled Cheese Sandwiches" and they have big chunks of chicken, turkey, ham, bacon...well you get where I'm going on this.  Putting meat, veggies on your grilled sandwich to me makes it a sandwich with cheese, not a Grilled Cheese Sandwich.

I have been giving this a lot of thought (I know I'm sure I have better things to do).  I guess you can call it a grilled cheese sandwich if the cheese ratio is greater than the other items you slap between two slices of bread.  Which brings me to another question, is it a sandwich when it is oozing with so much cheese that you are unable to pick it up to eat it but instead have to get out a fork and knife?

You might be asking yourself what prompted this question about a simple Grilled Cheese Sandwich instead of asking something like What's the meaning of Life....

Here it is - My lunch

Okay, let's break this down....the cheese ratio is greater than the prosciutto ratio since prosciutto is sliced paper thin, the tomato ratio is greater than both the cheese and prosciutto (4 slices of tomatoes) and no I did not burn the bread I happen to love to drizzle worcestershire sauce over my grilled sandwich or if I'm feeling sassy tabasco sauce. 

So what is this folks....a grilled cheese sandwich or just a sandwich with cheese on it.

You be the judge

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Time for a Facelift

Living Rancho Delux is getting a facelift and there will be some changes around the Ranch.  

My target date is January could be sooner or or could be later since I'm flying by the seat of my pants.  Right now I'm working it out on paper and looking for someone to help me with a new design and layout.

There will be limited posts until this is completed - I want to do this right.

Wish me luck

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Christmas Place Setting

I bought some new dishes and glasses for Christmas and today I started playing with the place-settings seeing what I liked and what I need to add to make a perfect Christmas Place Setting.

I started with the Williams Sonoma Botanical Christmas dishes.  I knew right after purchasing them I had to have my friend Renee from Kudos Kitchen by Renee to hand paint wine glasses to match the William-Sonoma dishes.  The wine glasses are perfection I just love them and they make the place-setting.  My photos don't do the wine glasses justice.

I found the red dishes and glasses at a local antique shop I am going to go back and see what else they have I am very pleased on how well they go with the dishes.

The charger and napkins I purchased at Target and the flatware are my everyday flatware from Sundance Catalog.  Links for everything except the vintage dishes are below.

Williams-Sonoma Botanical Wreath Dinner Plates

Kudos Kitchen by Renee Hand-painted Wine Glasses

Sundance Catalog Artisan Hammered Flatware

Charger and Napkins bought in store at Target

Red Bowl and Glass Vintage

Now it's time to think about the little touches to take this place-setting to the top, candles, floral, napkin rings, etc...

Monday, November 4, 2013

Roasted Garlic Brown Butter Sage Mashed Potatoes

I made mashed potatoes this weekend they were not the prettiest mashed potatoes but they are so delicious.  My husband does not eat gravy, no way, no how, never, ever!  Who wants to serve plain old mashed potatoes.  I have added sun dried tomatoes, cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese, onions, shredded roasted brussel sprouts, toasted pine nuts, bacon, small diced smoked pork chops, pepperoni, just to name a few things.  I thought with the brown butter craze I really needed to try that and it did not disappoint. 

Roasted Garlic Brown Butter Sage Mashed Potatoes

3 pounds medium yellow potatoes
2 heads of garlic, roasted
1 stick of butter
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh sage, minced
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
salt and pepper, to taste

Wash and cut in half potatoes place in a large dutch over covering with water an inch over the potatoes, salt water and cook until fork tender.  While the potatoes are cooking melt the butter in a small skillet, add sage and medium low heat, allow the butter to brown. Drain potatoes and mash before putting them in your stand kitchen mixer aka KitchenAid. Add cream, roasted garlic, salt and pepper, slowly add the brown butter until incorporated.

p.s.  Have you entered yet?  You know, to win your very own copy of Butter Baked Goods Cookbook.  You haven't! Click here to enter - Ends Soon 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Cookbook Review and Giveaway

Cookbook Review and Giveaway

Butter Baked Goods by Rosie Daykin
Nostalgic Recipes from a Little Neighborhood Bakery

If you love the cover of this cookbook you are going to love what is in this book.  Beautiful photographs, over 100 recipes, helpful hints and how-to's.  What I love about this cookbook recipes anyone can make and if you are my age (cough cough) it takes you back when grandma made those recipes.  These are recipes made with love.

I decided to open the cookbook and whatever was on that page that would be the first thing I would make out of Butter Baked Goods.

I opened to page 115 - Butterscotch Crispy Bars a nice spin on the Rice Crispy Treats.  Only 6 ingredients, simple to make and packed with flavor.  

I'm sorry that I'm not posting the recipe the cookbook just came out and I don't think that would be fair to the author

With recipes like:

Apple Bacon Cheddar Scones
Maple Snickerdoodle Sandwich Cookies
The Campfire Bar
Triple Lemon Layer Cake
Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes
Butter's Famous Marshmallows (you heard right)
Chocolate Honeycomb Brittle

How could you go wrong with this cookbook! And if things couldn't get any better and they have I am giving away to one lucky person Butter Baked Goods Cookbook and this adorable set of measuring cups.

Going to be in British Columbia, Canada stop by and visit
Butter Baked Goods
4907 Mackenzie Street, Vancouver, BC

If you feel the need to share this giveaway with your friends - The "Karma Gods" shall smile down on you with good favor.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Lemon Poppy Seed Zucchini Bread

I am not a magazine hoard.  I go through magazines rip out articles I want to read, ideas for decorating and recipes.  I have folders that I put the articles in except for recipes I have a box.  My stack of magazine recipes is around 6 inches tall.  Last week I started going through the stack and picking out a few I would like to make.  If I like the recipe it will get a permanent spot if I don't care for it in the trash it goes.

This recipe I cut out of the Southern Living Magazine over a year ago in other words this is a pretty new recipe I have some that go back 8 years.  

I had all the ingredients on hand so this was the first recipe I made.  My husband is the type that if I would have said it is zucchini bread he would not have tried it.  I started out saying it was Lemon Poppy Seed Bread.  After he tried it and loved it I told him about the zucchini and he was very surprised.  Something new he will eat, Go Me!  Since I made the 3 little loaves he has eaten two of them.  I had more zucchini so I made another batch.   Being little loaves they would make nice gifts or wrap up and store in the freezer. 

Lemon Poppy-Seed Zucchini Bread
Southern Living Magazine, August 2012

1/2 cup softened butter
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded zucchini
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 325 degrees; prepare 3 - 5x3 loaf pans with grease and flour; set aside.

Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.  Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time; just until blended between each addition.

Stir together, flour, salt and baking soda. Add to butter mixture alternately with sour cream.  Staring and ending with the flour.  Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition.  Stir in zucchini, lemon zest and poppy seeds.  Spoon into loaf pans evenly, about 1 1/3 cups per pan.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a wooden tooth pick comes out clean.  Cool pans completely on a wire rack (about 30 minutes).

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Italian Meat Sauce

A few days ago hubby said it's been a long time since I last made a meat sauce.  Boy was he right I can't even remember the last time I made it.  When you think of an Italian meat sauce you picture hours of slaving in the kitchen and I think a lot of people don't want to deal with it.  Yes, it does take hours to make a good meat sauce but 3 hours of it it's just sitting there simmering.  Every 1/2 hour or so you go in a give it a nice stir and bask in the beauty of what you are making.

What is nice about a meat sauce after you have spent the hours waiting for the sauce it only takes about 10 minutes to boil the pasta.  Or if you want everyone think you really slaved make a lasagna, stuffed shells, manicotti, this sauce is so versatile.  If you like a thick sauce just follow the recipe below if you like a thin sauce I have that in the recipe too.

Italian Meat Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 stocks celery, finely chopped
2 large carrots, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
4 ounces pancetta, diced small
1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup dry red wine
3 tablespoons tomato paste
32 or 35 ounce can Italian peeled tomatoes whole
1 1/2 cup beef stock (maybe more)
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 large bay leaves
1 teaspoons red pepper flakes (1/2 teaspoon for less heat)
1 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
parmesan cheese

Heat olive oil over a medium high heat in a large dutch oven.  Add onions, celery and carrots; sauté for 10 minutes; or until soft.  Add garlic and stir until you can smell the garlic.  Add pancetta; give it a few stirs and then add ground beef, at this point I like to add a little salt and pepper.  Using a spoon to break up ground beef until crumbly.  Cook for 15 minutes; stirring a few times.

Add wine; bring to a boil for 1 to 2 minutes.  Add tomato paste stirring so tomato paste covers everything.  Add the juice from the canned tomatoes, using your hands tear tomatoes up gently so they don't go squirting juice all over the place.  (I like to use my hands that way if I find tomato skin or a really thick piece of tomato I can throw it away).  Add beef stock, oregano, bay leaves and red pepper flakes; stir and set heat to low and cover for 2 hours; stirring occasionally.

Heat one cup of milk and add to meat sauce; salt and pepper to taste.  If the sauce is too thick for your liking add a 1/4  to 1 1/2 cups beef broth until you find the consistency that you like.  Simmer for another 2 hours.  Serve with tagliatelle or fettuccini top with fresh basil and finely grated parmesan cheese.

Shared with Jam Hands: Recipe Sharing Monday #77 and Weekend Potluck #100

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Re-Sharing 2011 Post: Starbucks Gingerbread Bars

Now that we are on the other side of 100 days before Christmas the Holidays are going to sneak up on us and fast.  If you make baked goods for family, friends and neighbors this is a good time to try out new recipes.  The Holidays are stressful enough so try those new recipes early.  Your family will love it and when it comes time to make it to give as gifts you will know what to expect.

Starbucks Gingerbread Bars
adapted from Southern Living Christmas at Home, 2007

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup molasses
3 Tbsp milk

Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl.  Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.  Gradually add sugars beating until well blended.  Add flour mixture a little at a time mixing on low speed, just until blended.  Add molasses, egg and milk beating just until blended.  Spread evenly in a 13 x9 inch pan lined with foil.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8oz package Philadelphia Cream Cheese
3 Tbsp butter
Grated zest of one orange
1 tsp Grand Marnier
1 lb (box) powdered sugar
Candied Ginger

Beat cream cheese, butter, orange zest and Grand Marnier on medium speed until creamy.  Gradually add powdered sugar having the mixer on low then on medium beat until smooth.

Frost gingerbread and cut gingerbread into triangles placing a candied ginger on each triangle.  Store in refrigerator in a air tight container up to 7 days.  If they last that long.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Scrambled Eggs Florentine

One night every other week we have breakfast for dinner.  It is usually poached eggs, hash browns, bacon or sausage patties, with english muffins or toast.  I decided to go with scrambled eggs, we never have plain scrambled eggs.  I always add onions after than it's fair game with what's in the fridge.  I might add ham, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers or salami.  It's always a scrambled surprise. 

Normally I would add some hash browns or cottage potatoes and even some extra bacon as a side,  but we are going to DQ tonight for my annual Pumpkin Blizzard so I am keeping it light, so I can be bad, very bad.

Scrambled Eggs Florentine

3 slices bacon
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 oz container fresh baby spinach
6 eggs
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 black pepper
couple pinches of red pepper flakes
1/2 cup asiago cheese, grated

Slice the bacon down the center lengthwise then chopped into small pieces.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat; cook bacon to desired doneness, remove bacon to a paper towel to drain.  Drain bacon fat leaving approx. 2 tablespoons in skillet.  Add onions cook until tender about 10 minutes, add garlic, stir onions and garlic together.  Add spinach cook with onions and garlic until wilted along with the cooked bacon pieces.  In a bowl add eggs, cream, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes; whisk together; add to spinach mixture and cook until the way you like your scrambled eggs cooked.  Sprinkle the top of the scramble with grated asiago cheese and serve.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ginger Pumpkin Bread with Real Maple Icing

It is that time of month - Baking Partners monthly challenge.  This month I chose to go with the Ginger Pumpkin Bread with Real Maple Icing.  The other choice was a Yeast Pumpkin Bread.  

I loved the bread - delicious flavor next time I make it I will add some candied ginger to the batter I think those little bursts of ginger will taste fantastic.  I did add a Whiskey glaze to my bread just after it was taken out of the oven, this is optional. 

Ginger Pumpkin Bread with Real Maple Icing

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 cups flour, plus more for pan
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 15oz can pumpkin puree
3 eggs


1/4 cup real maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon real vanilla
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup powdered sugar, more if needed
1 tablespoon heavy cream
a pinch of kosher salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, prepare a 8x5 loaf pan by buttering and dusting with flour; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, ginger and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together sugars, pumpkin, melted butter and eggs. Add in the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pan bake for 60 to 70 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool for 10 minutes, remove from pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

For the Glaze: Heat a small skillet over medium high heat. Once the pan is hot, add in the two tablespoons of unsalted butter. The butter should instantly start to melt and turn golden. Once melted and deep golden, turn off the heat and add in the maple syrup and vanilla, whisking constantly (it should bubble up).  Once the bubbles have subsided a bit, whisk in the powdered sugar. Keep whisking while adding the tablespoon of heavy cream and pinch of salt.  Drizzle warm icing over cooled cake.

NOTE:  I did make a whiskey glaze to drizzle over the warm bread so it could soak in before it cooled. I took a 1/2 cup of water and a 1/2 cup of sugar and heated it a sauce pan over medium heat until the sugar dissolved.  Add a 1/4 cup of good whiskey and simmer for a few minutes.  Slowing pour over hot bread allowing it to absorb into the bread.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

I will be back soon

I will be back to blogging soon 

Allergies have kicked me to the curb, stomped on me and left me for dead

and this is the nasty little booger that's doing all the damage


What is rubber rabbitbrush?
Rubber rabbitbrush, or grey rabbitbrush, is a fast growing native shrub. While similar to sagebrush, it grows faster and competes less withforbs and grasses, thus filling an important part of the post-disturbanceplant community.
Rubber rabbitbrush flowers
True to its name, rubber rabbitbrush can be used to make rubber, but the process is not cost-effective. Compounds in rubber rabbitbrush are still being investigated for medicine and as an insect repellent. American Indians used it to make chewing gum, tea, cough syrup, and yellow dye. The rubbery twigs were used in making baskets.
What are its characteristics?
This shrub normally grows 1-7 feet tall and may have several stems from the base that branch to give plants a rounded appearance. Narrow, yellow-green leaves and flexible twigs are covered with felt-like hairs that reduce transpiration and water loss. Rubber rabbitbrush favors sunny, open sites, and is particularly common where recent disturbance has occurred. It is cold hardy, and tolerates moderately salty soils. In the Great Basin, rubber rabbitbrush grows from 3,000 to 8,000 feet elevation.
It reproduces from seeds and resprouts following fires. Clusters of small golden yellow flowers adorn the shrub canopy from mid-summer to early fall. In late fall, seeds are dispersed by wind, but they do not persist in the seedbankGermination occurs easily, but seedlings often do not live unless late spring rains replenish soil moisture. Often, seedling establishment occurs near other shrubs where shading reduces moisture loss. This species rapidly colonizes disturbed sites, but stands decline over time.
What’s its value to the Great Basin? Rubber rabbitbrush plant
Wildlife only lightly forage on this species, but winter use can be heavy. It can be an important early winter food source for mule deer. Black-tailed jackrabbits eat the stems and leaves in the fall and winter. Rubber rabbitbrush provides good cover for many nesting birds. It is of little worth to livestock, though sheep use it some during the winter.
Rubber rabbitbrush is often considered less valuable than sagebrush.
What is its restoration potential?
The biggest benefit of rubber rabbitbrush is that it grows quickly, prevents soil erosion, and provides a shrub component until slower growing species out-compete it. Establishment is relatively easy, and seed dispersal is rapid. Where erosion potential is high, less palatable subspecies can be planted to deter herbivory.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fall Decor

I was excited when I went to the market today.  They finally got the pumpkins, gourds and indian corn in the store.  I pulled out the harvest basket and fall lights that I picked up at Joann's and the antler we found on our property. I went to work on my first decoration for the fall season.  A few pheasant feathers would have look nice but I  have not been able to find them at any of the stores around here.  

 I have it sitting on top of the bar in my kitchen. (please ignore the stuff in the back ground) Not sure if this will be permeant home for the arrangement. I will decide after I pull out more fall decorations then everything should fall into place.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Doughnut That Shall Not Be Named

Baking Partners August Challenge "The Doughnut That Shall Not Be Named"

I saw a photo of a CRONUT on Pinterest months ago, my first reaction WOW! That is beautiful.  I didn't click on it or pin it.  I thought there is no way I would ever made something like that, it looks way too hard and complicated and I went on my merry way.

Fast forward to the present I received my email from Baking Partners - We are making the CRONUT.

Until this challenge I didn't know a thing about the Cronut and just incase you were in that cave with me here is a little history on this lustful "doughnut".

The Cronut is a cross between a croissant and a doughnut developed by Chef Dominique Ansel for Dominique Ansel Bakery in NYC.  In May 2013 Chef Ansel trademarked the name hence the Harry Potter reference "The Doughnut That Shall Not Be Named"

New Yorkers having been lining up at the Bakery waiting for hours in the rain to get this $5.00 gem.  Here is the 411 from Dominique Ansel Bakery

I'm going to be cheating a little on this blog post.  There are a lot of steps for this recipe and I think it is best to refer you to the website for the recipe and photos of the steps.  They are the professionals and I don't want to leave anything out.

Get the Bootleg Recipe Here Kitchensurfing

I have to say this recipe is labor intense.  A 3 day process and some upper arm workout. Which is a good thing when you think about the calories in these babies.

I am very proud of the work I did, look at those flaky layers in my photo.  I chose to dip them in cinnamon and sugar instead of making the glaze to my husbands disappointment.  I promised to make him some plain ole' glazed doughnuts soon.

I think everyone should make these once in your life just to say you did it.  I have never made any type of doughnut and I even own a few doughnut cookbooks.  After making the cronut regular doughnuts should be child's play, right?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Teriyaki Chicken Stacks

I've been in the mood for teriyaki lately.  I started pulling things out of the refrigerator to see what I could come up with.  Chicken, check, ham, check, swiss cheese, check.  I think all of these will go very well with teriyaki.  This is a fast dish to make, what takes the longest is the marinating and when you pound the chicken out it takes no time to cook.  If you don't have ham you could replace it with bacon because bacon goes with everything, right?

Teriyaki Chicken Stacks

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
2 tablespoons butter
8 slices deli black forest ham
8 slices swiss cheese

Pound out chicken breasts place in a ziploc bag with the teriyaki sauce.  Marinate for one hour.  In a hot skillet melt butter and add chicken breasts.  Cook on each side for 4 minutes on each side or until done. Remove and add to a foil lined cookie sheet.  In the same skillet add ham in piles of two slices bunched up and heat through on both sides just a couple minutes for each side.  At this time turn your broiler on high.  Top the chicken with the ham and add two slices of swiss cheese.  Place under the broiler until the cheese has melted and starting to bubble.  Serve as a main dish with sides or you can make it into a sandwich.

Note:  If you are going to serve this as a sandwich add grilled pineapple slices, I like to dip one side into the teriyaki sauce, gives it just the right amount of flavor without over powering it.

Just a reminder there is still time to enter to win John Currence's cookbook Pickles, Pigs and Whiskey.  Just click here for my Facebook Link

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Black-Eyed Pea and Corn Salad

It's going to be one of those days...I'm totally a loss for words.  I could talk about the weather...right now we have a cloud sitting on us and I can't see 5 feet in front of me, that's pretty boring.  I could talk about my day...Hmm, I've got nothing.  Letting out a heavy sigh - that just about sums it up.

Instead of sitting here staring at a computer screen which looks like it could be for hours trying to think of something clever to write about.  I think I should just get to the recipe.  

Black-Eyed Pea and Corn Salad

2 15oz cans black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
2 cups fresh corn or 2 15oz cans of corn
1 cucumber, seeded and diced
2 large jalapeños, seeded and diced
3 tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 red onion, chopped
1 bunch green onions including greens, sliced
1 bunch cilantro, rough chop


2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup canola oil
3 cloves garlic, mined
2 tablespoons ginger, grated
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
lime zest
juice from 1/2 a lime
1 tablespoon sugar

Chop and slice all your salad ingredients and place in a large bowl.  In a jar with a lid put all your dressing ingredients place the lid on and shake hard until all incorporated.  Pour over salad and give it a toss.  Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Jam Hands

Monday, September 9, 2013

Hershey's Ultimate Chocolate Brownies

It's Sunday, football is on the TV and on the internet (my team is not being televised) it's raining and it's in the 50's.  With this chilly weather I'm enjoying a nice big hot cup of coffee.  That's when it hits me...I want some brownies. 

 I was checking out recipes on the web and seeing what I had in my pantry.  Hershey's brownies won out...with just a little bit of tweaking. (not to be confused with Twerking)  The recipe below contains my tweaks. I also tweaked the frosting recipe just a tad.  I have the link to Hershey's for their recipe for the brownies and frosting.

Hershey's Ultimate Chocolate Brownies 

3/4 cup Hershey's Cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup butter, melted and divided
1/2 cup boiling water
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 1/3 cups AP flour
2 teaspoons finely ground instant coffee
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2  cup peanut butter chips

Pre-heat oven 350 degrees and grease a 13x9x2 pan

Stir together cocoa and baking soda in a large bowl; stir in 1/3 cup butter.  Add boiling water stir until batter thickens.  Stir in sugar, eggs and remaining butter, until smooth.  Add flour, instant coffee and salt, blend completely. Stir in chocolate and peanut butter chips.  Spread into prepared pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan.  Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

One Bowl Frosting

6 tablespoons butter
2 2/3 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup Hershey's Cocoa
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup strong coffee
1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat butter in a medium bowl or a stand up mixer. Add powdered sugar and cocoa alternately with milk/coffee beating to a spreading consistency.  (additional milk or coffee may be needed) Stir in vanilla.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Teriyaki Steak Sandwich

Back in the early 1980's I worked in North Hollywood there was this little hole in the wall sandwich place that was between two buildings on Laurel Canyon Blvd.  They made the best Teriyaki Steak Sandwiches.  Sadly they are  long gone.  I have been craving that sandwich and tried my best to recreate something I haven't had in over 20 years.  It is pretty darn close to what I remember.

1 1/2 to 2 lb Top Round Steak
Teriyaki Sauce
olive oil
3 onions, sliced
1 large orange bell pepper, sliced
2 jalapeños, remove seeds and slice
8 slices of sharp swiss cheese
4 large rolls
salt and pepper

Put steak in the freezer for 1 hour, using a sharp knife cut thin slices, salt and pepper, place steak in a zip lock bag.  Pour enough teriyaki sauce in the bag to coat the steak slices.  The steak only needs to marinate for an hour since it is cut so thin.  While the steak is marinating sauté the onions and peppers in olive oil until golden.  In a hot skillet cook the meat small amount at a time.  After all the steak is cooked add enough for one sandwich back to the skillet, add some of the onion mixture and toss together.  Arrange the steak and peppers as you would add to the roll.  Top with two slices of cheese and top with some more of the onion mixture.  Cover skillet for the cheese to melt evenly.  Using a flipper scoop up the meat mixture and add to the bun and serve. 

Note:  The teriyaki sauce I used had sesame seeds this is optional

Until Next Time,

Shared on Weekend-Potluck #83

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Spicy Sausage Bean Dip

Can you believe the first NFL game of the season is tomorrow. The Broncos and the Ravens are going to kick the season off.  Yes I am a little bit Giddy - Not just because I get to fix some game day food but because I love football.  

Thursday September 5th 6:30 (MT)

Do you fix a big spread hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks or do you keep it simple with some manly kick ass finger foods?
I like to trade off - some days I will fix hot dogs and potato salad and other times I just like a bunch of different small bites
No matter what you fix I think you need to have a great dip that everyone can enjoy throughout the game.  Here is one of my favorite dips a Spicy Sausage Bean Dip.

Spicy Sausage Bean Dip

3 links Johnsonville Hot Italian Sausage (remove from casings)
2 16oz cans refried beans
1 onion, chopped small and divided
1 4 oz can chopped roasted jalapeños 
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle 
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 cup chopped black olives
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a skillet cook sausage until crumbly and no pink remove from skillet to a paper towel to drain.  Place 1/2 the chopped onions in the skillet with the sausage grease, add chipotle and cumin and sauté for 5 minutes.  In a saucepan over medium heat add refried beans and half the can of jalapeños and the sautéed onions, heat through.  Spread the refried beans in a casserole dish, top with sausage and cheese. Place in a preheated 350 degree oven cook until the cheese is melted, about 15 minutes.

Remove from oven top with the remaining raw onions, jalapeños, olives and salsa.  Serve with tortilla chips, extra salsa and sour cream.

Who are you rooting for?

I am a die-hard New Orleans Saints Fan

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