cooking

Oh my gut….

I was feeling pretty chipper this morning.  Nearly restless!  So, I made a Blueberry Pie. 

Thinking that the guys would be working outside later, I decided to make up a batch of  Tomato Soup. Carly had told me the recipe in the book I have mentioned here (Slow Cooker Revolution) previously was delicious.  As a little aside….that book disappeared from its “home” for several days.  I searched everywhere…through drawers, dirty laundry,  under mattresses, all over the floors, and even the basement and garage.  The book was nowhere to be found.  Totally disappeared.

I was bemoaning the fact that I no longer have a BJ’s Wholesale Club membership as I had let it run out.  I had seriously begun to think that I would have to rejoin so I could buy another book.  Yes, THAT book is THAT important!

Well, as I sat in my favorite chair (rocking) the day before yesterday, there on the floor, next to the chair…..was my book! I immediately asked the kids if they had found it and placed it there.  Both of them got perturbed by my nagging and said they absolutely, positively did NOT put it there.  Nor did they find it.  So, I am now left with the explanation that the Lord knows just how important that book is…important enough to send an angel to place it where I would find it!

Phew…anyway, I made the tomato soup up in the Crockpot and let it cook.  Of course, what goes better with soup than a tasty loaf of bread?  I pulled out my bread machine book.  I never, ever use the machine anymore as I have found there is something therapeutic in kneading bread by hand!   I searched around and found a recipe for Carmelized Onion Bread. 

I love onions!  Mmmm…..Or maybe not! The recipe called for two onions.  The instructions were to cook the onions in butter until they were golden.  Then the liquid from the mix was to be placed in the mixing bowl.  I got quite a bit of thick, almost syrupy-looking liquid.  I mixed up the bread and then after it was almost finished being kneaded,  I added the (mostly dry) onions.  In working them into the dough,  I thought there were far too many onions.  I had used a huge onion instead of two smaller ones and it seemed there was just too much!

Well……let’s just say those onions cooked in butter sure were yummy! Here is how the bread turned out.

The tomato soup was a BIG thumbs up.  The bread was astronomical!  Yes!!! A winner, indeed.  Usually when I make bread, it gets too heavy.  This time, it was light, airy, and delish! I ate a tiny bowl of soup and a slice of bread.  Afterwards, I had a piece of pie.

By about four this afternoon,  my stomach looked like someone had pumped it up!  It was so bloated and let’s just say my “gastrointestinals” were revolting!  Apparently the probably quarter cup of onions I had demolished were now playing with my digestive system.  I am still experiencing some discomfort.  My stomach is making so much noise, it is ridiculous.

Wow….I cannot believe I just wrote about this whole situation….for awhile, I felt genuinely ill!  From now on,  I think I will not use giant onions….they might be just a tad upsetting to the stomach when “overdone”! 

So, tonight, I am so thankful we are “fearfully and wonderfully made”.  It is so incredible that we were designed to recuperate from our over-indulgings!

What an Amazing October Day!

Wow!  This hardly seems like October.  With temperatures pressing near 80 degrees, it hardly seems like fall!  Well, the thing is, we all know this isn’t going to last, right?

This morning, I awakened to a chorus of tree frogs screeching out their raspy song.  I got up with the Soctties and was pleasntly surprised at the mild temperature as we stepped out the door!  The sun just poured out all day today and it was so incredible with the vivid colors of fall, lighting up the sky against a backdrop of sapphire blue skies.  Oh, so beautiful!

We had dinner a bit on the late side.  I made Old Fashioned Chicken and Dumplings. It was after 6:30 by the time everyone sat down.  I had set the table on the front porch….hy should we eat inside when it is so mild after all?  I lit a candle and we just enjoyed the entire experience.  Apparently, eating outside makes everyone a bit more hungry than usual.  Although my BIG Crockpot was nearly full when I placed it on a small side table, there were hardly any leftovers!

We topped dinner off with Indoor S’mores! Okay, you twisted my arm….here is the recipe.

Indoor S’mores

8 cups Golden Grahams Cereal

1 12 ounce bag Milk Chocolate Chips

4 Tablespoons butter

1 bag mini-marshmallows

1 teaspoon Vanilla

In a heavy saucepan, melt butter,  chips, and mini-marshmallows.  Stir constantly and do not leave pan unattended!  After butter, chips and marshmallows are melted, add vanilla, then add cereal and mix well.  Place in 9 x 13 inch pan and refrigerate until cool.  Cut into bars and enjoy!

Mark says these are SICK!  (as in delicious!)  This is an awesome little treat to have on hand if company is coming and you don’t have lots of time to spend making goodies.  I think most everyone would like these!

Here are a few more photos I took on Friday afternoon. (I was too lazy to get the card from my Nikon camera!

I wish I would have taken a drive to see all the pretty leaves today, but Michelle and I did some cleaning in the camper.  Yes, it seems like we were just getting the camper ready for spring, and now it is time to store it away once again until next year’s adventures!

What a book!

The other day, I had to pick up a few things at BJ’s.  I was drawn to the book section where I found a book called Slow Cooker Revolution.  I looked at the photos and suddenly felt hungry, but put the book back, thinking I really don’t need a cookbook.  I finished my shopping and headed toward the checkout.

As I walked past the book section once again,  I just grabbed the book off the table, placed it in my cart, and went to the checkout!

Yesterday,  I made Honey Mustard Drumsticks. The recipe began with a rub for the chicken,  then a blend of honey and mustard was put on the drumsticks as they cooked in the crockpot.  When they were done, they were brushed with the honey/mustard mix and placed in the oven for several minutes.  Wow. The family went ballistic! 

Today, Mark took Michelle up to Rochester for her classes, while Ben and I stayed home.  I looked through the book and found a recipe for Old-Fashioned Chicken and Dumplings.  The recipe was a little involved, but as the aroma permeated the house this afternoon,  it was almost magical.  Before the meal was done, Ben took a snitch of chicken.  It was then he named me the Queen of Chicken.  hahaha

I was on a roll…..I got my little GE pot and made up a Chocolate Pudding Cake.  YIKES!

Let’s just say I am well loved by the family tonight! If you like cooking with a slow cooker, but would like some “gourmet” style recipes, this is THE book! As I said, the recipes call for some more prep than just tossing ingredients into a crock, but,  these recipes are fantastic!  Mark commented that this evening’s dinner reminded him of a Thanksgiving meal! (and it was nowhere “that” complex!)

It is rare that I would take a cookbook to bed at night to think about my next recipe, but…..hehehe

Apple Stuffed Chicken Breasts

In looking around on the web for a new chicken dish,  I came across a recipe for stffed chicken breasts.  WHY have I not made these before?  Oh my goodness! They are so easy to make and everyone ranted and raved about how deliecious they tasted.  Mark said they taste a lot like a Thanksgiving turkey dinner.  The good thing, though, is that they are not made with lots of bread crumbs!

The first thing you need to do is take the breast in your hand and slice it about midway through…make a slice from about  one inch from the top to one inch from the bottom.  Just be careful to try to stay in the middle of the thickness of the breast so the stuffing doesn’t all fall out.

I made my recipe a little different than the one I found.  Here is what I used.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

STUFFING:

1/2 apple diced into small pieces (the Scotties enjoyed the other half!)

2 Tablespoons Cheddar cheese

2 Tablespoons Italian flavored bread crumbs

1 teaspoon granulated onion (I cannot even begin making stuffing without onion!)

2 Tablespoons grated carrot

2 Tablespoons pecans, chopped

Mix the stuffing ingredients together until well mixed.  Drop stuffing mix into “pockets” in chicken breasts, tapping to make sure the mix fills the cavity.  Once cavity is full, use toothpicks to seal the pocket together.

In a large skillet or small roasting pan, heat one Tablespoon of olive oil.  Carefully add the chicken breasts and cook on medium flame until breasts are nicely browned.  Remove the breasts from the pan and add 1/2 cup white cooking wine and 1/2 cup water. Heat and stir to mix in the juices and pieces from browning the chicken. Add 1 teaspoon chicken base (or buillion) and continue stirring until everything is all liquid.  Mix 1 Tablespoon cornstarch in water and add to the liquid in pan, stirring constantly.  Once the mix thickens,  place the chicken back into pan and place in oven @350 F. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from pan and baste breasts with sauce.

The next time I make this, I think I will try to line the “pockets” with some baby spinach to add a little bit more color and flavor.  Mark commented that the gravy didn’t have any fat..it was rich tasting, but not fatty at all.  I made some steamed Italian style veggies and macaroni salad to go along with the chicken.  I think mashed potatoes would be great, too, but I just didn’t feel like making them today. 

If you try this, let me know what you think….it is low calorie and oh, so TASTY!

Happy Summer!

Well, today was the longest day of this year and for the first time in a few days,  I actually stayed awake the entire day!  I have been battling a bug that didn’t knock me off my feet, but was rather annoying!  It felt like I had a head cold with some sneezing, but more than that,  I was exhausted.  Thankfully, I never suffered through the blazing sore throat the kids had before…I have not had a sore throat since I was pregnant with Ben.

So…I did some laundry, washed dishes and put them away, and also grilled chicken outside today.  I made Broccoli Cheese casserole to go along with the chicken as well as some asparagus.  One of the frustrating parts about feeling sick but not appearing sick is that everyone kept forgetting I was sick! 

I was going to put some photos I took today of the kids in the pool, but it seems like someone snatched my camera and didn’t return it to me.  Hmmm… So, I will post a couple of photos I took a while back….

The day I took these, it was windy and as I looked through the pictures I took, I could see how the wind was blowing the daisy and butterfly back and forth!

Early this evening, I had a customer stop by with her daughter-in-law.  Verna has been a customer for quite some time and I found out she is now eighty-five years old.  It was good to see her, as she has not been by for a long time.  She is now legally blind, but still makes soap.  She said she must use magnifying glasses to see anything, but she is able to see when using them. What a remarkable woman she is.  Her family all lives nearby…not too far from her home, so they are able to help her out.

I had called Verna earlier to give her a total for her order, and we chatted for probably a good forty-five minutes.  I found out that when a lot of dogs died from the problem with mold in the corn in their food (I think that was correct?) a few years ago, she lost her dog, Foxy, the Fox Terrier.  I felt so bad when she told me and then we talked about dogs and she said she would ask her daughter-in-law to bring along her miniature Dachshund, Tasha.

When the ladies arrived, Verna was anxious for me to see Tasha….she was adorable!  My parents have a black and tan (why do they call it tan anyway, they are red!) long-haired Dachsy, but Tasha is short-haired!  She was so cute.  Jerry (the DIL) told Tasha to “spin and roll over” and the obedient little pup spun in a circle, then rolled right over!  What a good little girl! Verna said when her family goes away for vacations, she watches the dogs and enjoys their company.

Speaking of dogs…I shared this on Facebook, but I’ll do it here as well. 

I know my little boys love a cold treat on a hot day.  When we eat ice cream, they both look longingly at our cold treats! So, I make the Scotties their own treats!  I mix together plain yogurt and about an equal amount of pumpkin.  I had bought some pie pumpkins last year…I baked them, then scraped the insides and froze the pumpkin in the freezer.  I had measured the pumpkin in one cup increments in a sandwich bag, then dropped them into a gallon freezer bag.  Of course, canned pumpkin works too!

Place the mix into an ice cube tray…I had found some little trays that were silicone and the cubes are heart-shaped.  These are nice for the pups because they aren’t real big and hard to bite into.

As an aside, pumpkin is fantastic for the canine digestive system!

My last photo was taken when it rained…this was last week.

Not such a great quality photo, but the little hummer had come to sit on the feeder under the roof overhang, while it rained!

Yesterday and Today

Yesterday was really Monday, but that wasn’t so far off.  Really.  Anyway,  on Monday afternoon,  I had to run an errand, so before coming back home,  I decided to see what was happening down in Woodville.

I happened to catch a couple with a youngster heading out in a boat.  The young person was so excited! 

After the boat left,  I looked at the dock and realized there wasn’t much of it  above the water anymore! 

As one can see, there is some water creeping up out of the lake and covering places it isn’t supposed to be!

In fact, the water was teasing to come up onto the parking lot. We sure have had a huge amount of rain this April and in thinking back,  I don’t think I have ever seen the lake so high.  Although the water level of the lake is adjusted, (I think in Canandaigua)  it would be impossible to lower the lake significantly without flooding other areas!

After dinner,  I went upstairs to relax for a few minutes.  We had such a downpour!  But coming through the screen was sucha pretty pallette of color.

Who would ever believe the sky could produce such a lovely sunset after such weather?

Today,  I took another look at Woodville.  We keep getting  more and more rain.  At times,  it seems just a bit too much for comfort,  but it all works out in the end.

Waterfalls are beautiful, but right along the road, particularly in Woodville,  this could be a not-so-good thing.

Okay….Woodville is set down deeply near the lake.  It is almost like a little community carved into the walls of shale with just a small amount of space allocated for homes and cottages.  When the rains come down,  the lake rises and Woodville  looks like its very life is in danger!  Thankfully, many cottages have good walls between the lake and buildings so the lake doesn’t “move in”!

When I saw the lake today, however,  I was a tad shocked!

Ummm…..the parking lot appears a “bit” flooded!

Those trees and signs are not really supposed to be in the water!

That same dock  I saw the people leave on yesterday is now completely submerged!  It would be a trick to launch a boat in these conditions!

My curiosity was now piqued,  so I needed to see how the river south of the lake was faring.

Funny how just a few hundred feet from the boat launch,  life seems unscathed by the torrents of rain we have gotten this week!  This fellow was just sitting on a five gallon bucket and patiently waiting for “the big one”  to come along!

I have been spending some time in the kitchen,  making up goodies that I never knew I could make!  It is incredible how one can find tremendous recipes online quickly and easily.  I love it that many of the recipes have also been critiqued by others and even have comments left about how to improve upon the recipes.

Late this afternoon,  I decided to make Barbequed Pulled Chicken sandwiches for dinner.  Since I was making the chicken,  I decided to make some tasty rolls to mound the chicken upon.  After all,  homemade buns are always so much better than store-bought.  I made up a recipe of Zesty Italian Dressing for Mark…he loves broccoli lightly steamed, then drizzled with Italian dressing.  The dressing recipe must have contained twelve different ingredients! I finished my kitchen adventure with Zucchini Casserole for the kids.  I was pretty tired and hot after all this, so I stepped outside…..

and was blessed with another fabulous sunset!

We have been under a barrage of alerts, watches, and warnings regarding the weather.  Fortunately,  our ditches have proven to be reliable even for massive amounts of water,  so we have done okay.  We had to make a few minor adjustments when the first downpours arrived,  like raking leaves out that caused blockages and sent water spilling into places it was not supposed to be.

Tonight,  we remember those in areas that have indeed been hit hard by this unusual spring weather.  I heard several people died today where heavy rainfall and tornadoes wreaked havoc.

Happy April!

Yesterday, I spent the day running in circles…actually, I was running in and out of the house.  I was cleaning house on the inside while evaporating more sap on the outside!  I had enough sap to produce two more pints…I am now up to ten pints…one gallon and one quart!  AND…the sap keeps on coming!

One funny thing that happened as I was boiling down the sap….The trees were dressed in white as yesterday’s photo shows.  Well, as the day went on, the temperature warmed up enough to cause the “dressing” to melt.  And, in so melting,  I (and my boiling pan!) became targets for the trees to pelt huge snowball like “plops” in the most unusual places.  Several times, I had to adjust my hoodie to let the snow that slithered down my spine fall to the ground!  I also got plopped on the head….more than once!  And the poor pan….the sap was boiling away when it suddenly lunged out of the pan as a huge sloppy wet “plop” fell into it! Unfortunately, along with the snow came other things, such as bark and dirt! (Don’t worry, this was all filtered right out!)

We are having a great year for syrup making because the weather is cooperating so nicely.  The weatherman said a couple weeks ago that the temperatures we are experiencing are running about fifteen degrees below normal.  That makes for more sap! 

This morning,  Mark asked me to make pancakes, but I declined!  I hate making pancakes!  I have no idea how people make them and have them cook all the way through.  My pancakes are consistently raw in the center.  I did, however, make some waffles.  I bought my little stovetop waffle iron about 100 years ago…oops, slight exaggeration!….maybe about 30 years ago.  I ordered it from a catalogue and was intrigued by the hearts that form a circle.  The iron was made in Denmark and it really dodn’t take long to figure out how to make good waffles!

Mark and I opened a wee jar of syrup I had made and we ooohhhed and aahhhhed over the sweet topping.  The kids just asked me to pass the bottle of artificiallymapleflavoredhighfructosecornsyrup. Blech!  My children have no taste. But that is okay, as it means there is more of the real McCoy left for us adults.

The snow we got is now nearly all gone, although we keep getting little bursts of snowflakes every now and then.  We are officially well into mud season….it is everywhere!  As I was hustling back and forth the day before yesterday, I nearly slipped on the mud twice!  It is so “greasy”!

Last night, I used 1/4 cup of my syrup mixed with 1/3 cup Dijon mustard and 1 teaspoon of Balsamic vinegar to make the most tasty chicken breasts!  Oh my, they were so good.  I found the recipe online and wasn’t sure about it at first, but it really did taste gourmet!  One could always use honey in place of the syrup and that would be good, too.  I baked the breasts at 350 for about half and hour, then brushed the glaze on.  I then baked them for ten more minutes. 

No photos today. I have been doing things inside the house today and just didn’t feel like going out.  It was such a dismal day with gray skies and snowlakes coming and going all day. 

Ben did his annual “gotcha” April Fool’s Day gag of placing packing tape on the sprayer next to the sink so when I turned the spigot on, I got a good spraying.  The only catch that was different about this year was that instead of doing this early in the day,  he waited until I was preparing dinner tonight. 

So, Happy April Fool’s….hope you weren’t the brunt of any nasty pranks!

Enjoying them While We May!

Yikes!

This morning, I had my day kind of plotted out before me.  I had a lot of sap that needed my attention, so that needed to be tended to.  I quickly took a look at a friend from Ohio’s Facebook photos showing beautiful little Crocuses.  I was turning green with jealousy….I was thinking it would be a few weeks before we would see any spring flowers.

I started a fire outside on my little makeshift fireplace and began filling my pan with sap. After getting everything set up, I knew I would have a little time to do something else for a few minutes.  I got my camera and walked around to the front of the house to have a look.

The snow melted away a great deal yesterday and I was surprised to see several little crocuses all up and nearly ready to open!  The sun was shining brightly most of today and those crocuses could not have looked any more beautiful!

This purple flower was just radiating sunshine!!!

I wish I would have had more time to spend with the flowers, but my project needed my attention.  Syrup making requires a lot of work, especially keeping the fire going to keep the sap boiling.  I was gathering cutoff pieces of wood from the garage and had to walk back and forth a lot.  The worst part is that it is full-blown mud season and the mud near the fire was as slippery as an ice skating rink!  I nearly fell a couple of times before realizing I needed to be extra cautious!

I had pulled up a chair on the back deck, toted out a couple of books and my laptop…how crazy to think I would have spare moments to read or get online!

I did have to stop for awhile to pack some orders.  I had one huge one for a girl in Missouri and even while packing orders,  I would hop out the door to feed the (ravenous!) fire.

So, why did I entitle this entry Enjoying them While We May?  What else?  Tonight’s forecast: snow!  Of course!

Mark’s New Love…

Ain’t me! hahaha

As I was reading on Facebook this afternoon, a friend of mine posted that she was making up a batch of Buffalo Chicken Wing Soup.  My curiosity piqued!  Our family loves Buffalo Chicken Wings. We have even traveled to Buffalo to buy authentic wings.  With about 10 grams of fat per wing, however, this is not a food we would desire to frequent.

After giving up his love of spicy, hot wings, Mark and I put our heads togther and came up with Buffalo Wing style chicken breasts.  These are good and I make them with boneless skinless breasts, so they really are healthy compared to wings!

I began searching the internet for a Buffalo Chicken Wing Soup recipe and several came up.  I gleaned ingredients from a couple of the most appealing to me recipes. Here is what I came up with.

I sauteed 3/4 cup onion  and 3/4 cup celery in about a tablespoon of butter.  (as soon as the juices from the onion began to come out, I covered the mix and turned the heat to very low so they would remain hot) When I make this again, I will up this to almost double this amount.

Into the Crockpot, I placed:

5 cups milk 

1 cup water

3 cups chicken (I used the leftovers from a WaMart Rotisserie chicken)

2 cans cream of chicken soup

1 can cream of celery soup

Franks or your favorite hot sauce to taste

1 cup sour cream

The onion and celery from above. Mix together well.

Turn heat to low and allow to cook about 3 hours.

How easy is that?  The best part is that if some family members want more spicy soup, they can add more hot sauce.  And, speaking of hot sauce,  the Dollar Tree has a nice sauce that is more tasty than just plain Frank’s.  That said, I make my own hot sauce.  The recipe was given to me by a cowboy as he was breathing his last breath…

1 Tablespoon butter or margarine

8 ounces Frank’s Hot Sauce (Yes, I buy this stuff at Sam’s Club by the gallon)

2 ounces Tabasco Sauce

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

pinch of sugar

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Dash of Worchestershire Sauce

This is a (very) spicy sauce with a more flavorful “bouquet of hot” and sometimes to make it even spicier, we add a tiny bit of Habanero powder! Weehaw!

Well, that does it for the fare on our table this evening.  Oh, I did make some Magic Cookie Bars from a recipe on the side of Eagle Brand Condensed Milk.  They turned out YUMMY! I also made some rolls that will go into the oven in a few minutes and I will add a salad as well.

What better meal on a cold winter’s evening?  So glad my friend, Debbie, mentioned this!!

***Will add a photo in a bit***