Friday, December 24, 2010

Devilishy Good Deviled Eggs

My eldest son Russell, asked for deviled eggs for Christmas morning snack. So, I set about to find the world's best deviled egg recipe. Imagine my shock at the variances in recipes. I am most familiar with recipes that use mayo, and found that many didn't even call for it. Well, I've been quite adventurous lately with trying new recipes so, here is a combination of a couple along with some great hints I've picked up, to making the best deviled eggs ever! Bring these to a party, and you are sure to be a hit.

Devilishly Delish Deviled Eggs

10 eggs (boiled per the instructions below)
4 oz. cream cheese
3 tbsp. sour cream
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
3 tbsp. onion, minced
3 dashes Tabasco sauce
3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
milk (explanation below)
salt and pepper to taste
smoked paprika for garnish and flavor!

Boiling Eggs (most important!)
  • Make sure your eggs are at room temperature. Otherwise, the shell will split once you lower them into the boiling water, and you'll have egg white leaking from the shell.
Why boil the water first? Because when you put your eggs into boiling water, the hot water will cause the interior of the egg to shrink away from the shell, which makes it really easy to peel.
  •  For boiling 10 eggs: after you bring a large pot of water to boil, lower your eggs into it using a soup spoon. Then set your kitchen timer for 10 minutes.
  • After 10 minutes, turn off the heat and let the eggs sit in the water for 5 minutes. Then pour off the hot water and add COLD WATER to cover the eggs.
  • After a few minutes, pour off this water and add more cold water. In about 8 minutes your eggs will be cool enough to handle, and they'll peel perfectly every time.
Filling Instructions
  • For the boiled eggs: use a sharp knife and slice each boiled egg in half.
  • Use a teaspoon to carefully scoop out the hard yolk, and place the yolks in a mixing bowl.
  • Put the white halves onto your deviled egg platter.
1. To your yolks, add the cream cheese, sour cream and all other ingredients. Use your hand mixer to beat them. Using a mixer makes the stuffing creamy -- and it's a lot easier on your arms than smoothing out the yolks and ingredients using a wooden spoon!

2. Add salt and pepper to taste. (The mustard and Tabasco add a bit of bite, so add only a little salt at first, taste, then add more if necessary. It's easier putting salt in than it is taking it out!)

3. About that milk listed in the ingredients: add it in, a tablespoon at a time, until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Many people don't realize how important the texture is for making excellent deviled eggs. Think about it -- too many people make gummy deviled eggs. The best ones are creamy -- and adding the milk will give you this creamy consistency.

Easy Stuffing
  • Spoon your yolk mixture into a quart freezer bag (not a sandwich bag, which isn't strong enough) then use scissors to snip off the corner. You only need to snip off a quarter inch. 
Now you've made a wonderful (and inexpensive!) dispenser for your deviled egg stuffing.
Simply squeeze the stuffing out of the small hole in the quart bag into the egg white halves. This makes it easy to make really attractive deviled eggs.
  • Sprinkle with paprika and voila!
If you have some yolk mixture left over after all the eggs have been filled, the mixture makes a delicious topping for crackers for an afternoon snack.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cupcakes To Die For

Eggnog Pudding Pie Cupcake

Inspired to bake something time intensive and totally worth it, I took a cue from the Urban Outfitter's blog and tried their recipe for Eggnog Pudding Pie Cupcakes (click for original post). I didn't deviate from the recipe, but if I get adventurous again, I will post another recipe with the changes, and you know it won't be long before I am tinkering. FYI: click on each picture to bring up a bigger picture with more detail. So, without further ado, a true baking adventure!...


Eggnog Pudding Pie Cupcakes

Makes: 18-20 cupcakes that taste just like Christmas.

Eggnog Pudding Pies
1 4.6oz box of vanilla "cook and serve" pudding
3 cups eggnog
1 batch of whatever pre-made pie crust you'd like

1. Put the pudding mix and eggnog into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring regularly with a whisk (this process should take about 10-12 minutes). Once the pudding has boiled and thickened, pour into a mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set in the fridge. (To avoid “pudding skin” put the plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding.)
2. Next, make the pie shells. Pre-heat the oven to 425°F. Roll out your pie crust, and cut 20 small circles using a small juice glass or cookie cutter. They need to be large enough to cover the bottom and the sides of your mini cupcake tin. Press the circles of dough into lightly-greased mini cupcake tins and use a toothpick to poke a few holes into the bottom of the dough.
Didn't have a smaller tin, but it still worked fine.
 3. Bake for 10 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool while you make the cupcake batter! Turn the oven down to 350°F.

Cupcakes
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 cup flour
1 1/3 cup whole milk

4. Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl on medium-high speed until it’s fluffy and pale. Add the eggs, one at a time, stopping between each addition to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat for a minute or so, until the batter is smooth. Add the baking soda, baking powder, salt, and vanilla, and beat on medium-high speed for two minutes. 

5. Finally, add the milk and the flour, alternating between the two ingredients about a cup at a time, and beat until the batter is creamy and without lumps.

6. To assemble the eggnog pudding pies, simple spoon a heaping teaspoon of pudding into the cooled pie crusts. If you’d like (and you would!) top each pie with an extra sprinkle of nutmeg.
7. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of cupcake batter into paper-lined cupcake tins. Gently press one pie into each tin, and then cover with another heaping tablespoon of batter, so the top and the sides of the pie are completely hidden. The tins should be about ¾ of the way full (maybe a little more--that’s okay, too).  
8.Bake for about 24 minutes until the cake sets and starts to turn golden brown. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
Butter Cream Frosting
1 can cranberry jelly (I only had sauce)
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1. To make the butter cream, whip the butter and 1 cup of powdered sugar together on high speed until fluffy. Slowly add the canned cranberry jelly, then mix for a minute or so on high speed again. Add another cup of powdered sugar and then give it a taste. Add more sugar if necessary. If the mixture is too thick, add a little whole milk to it to thin it out a bit. Side note: having sauce meant chunks of cranberry. I think this was fine as it left nice tart pieces that dot the frosting. I did find I needed a little more powdered sugar though.

Inside: See the pie?
2. Frost the cupcakes! If you’d like, top with a drizzle of melted white chocolate and sprinkles. Some nutmeg would be delicious, too.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

This Cannot Stand

I know I am not alone when I express feelings of outrage with our completely broken government system. I feel like the owner of a large undisciplined dog that is dragging me through the muck and I cannot gain control. At this point, not to be inhumane or anything, I just want to shoot it and put us both out of misery. So, why can't we all stand up collectively, WE THE PEOPLE, and say no:
  • I will no longer pay taxes to a government who spends MY hard earned money on ridiculous and overpriced items.
  • I will no longer pay taxes to fund a fat and greedy political machine that is all too willing to take and spend the money of the people, while raising their own wages and increasing their benefits exponentially. 
  • I refuse to fund the lavish lifestyle of long retired government employees, who did little to nothing to benefit our country while in office, much less now.

  • I will not bend to the will of a government who will so willingly harm our military by withholding funding for needed equipment, medical and salary, while they romance known terrorist countries. 
  • I will no longer be held to the laws of this government with regard to payment of taxes, until my voice is heard and I am allowed to review, each tax season, what my money will be going to pay and have a choice in where it goes.
Why can't we all do this? What could the government do? Will it turn into a policed state? Would our own government throw each and every wage earner in jail as an example? What would truly happen if we all stood up and cut off our mad government from it's money. Money we work so hard for, and the government has so little respect for. They spend as though they were teenagers who got a hold of an unsecured credit card and unlimited, unsupervised time at a mega mall. Well, checks are bouncing and still, no one is doing anything.

If you want to see exactly how careless with our money, congress is being, just take a look at the 2010 version of THE PIG BOOK. this online pdf (also available for purchase) is an eye opener to how stupid our government thinks we are and how little respect they have for us. Then ask yourself, "Do I want to continue to enable the spoiled brats in Washington?" What are you willing to do to stop those obese cats?

Flemish Stew = Silent Devouring

Every mother should have a few recipes in her recipe arsenal, that brings about a humbled silence. Food so tasty, words are forgotten so that food can be continuously eaten without interruption. I think I may have found another recipe that falls into that category. It's also one of those cold weather comfort foods, so it has that going for it as well. For this recipe, I thank the Dutch people of Flemish. Apparently, this dish is so wonderful, it is the national Belgian dish. This recipe can be found all over the web, and I consulted three different recipes and only played within the boundaries of what appeared to be the norm. If I get adventurous and find certain additions that make it even better, I'll make note of it here. So, take your family on a culinary adventure.

Stoofvlees
ingredients
  • 4 teaspoons canola oil, divided
  • 2 pounds bottom round, trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3/4 pound sliced cremini or white button mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups brown ale or dark beer
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 bay leaf

directions

  1. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add half the beef and brown on all sides, turning frequently, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a 6-quart slow cooker. Drain any fat from the pan. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and brown the remaining beef. Transfer to the slow cooker.
  2. Return the skillet to medium heat, add mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until they give off their liquid and it evaporates to a glaze, 5 to 7 minutes. Sprinkle flour over the mushrooms; cook undisturbed for 10 seconds, then stir and cook for 30 seconds more. Pour in ale (or beer); bring to a boil, whisking constantly to reduce foaming, until thickened and bubbling, about 3 minutes. Transfer the mushroom mixture to the slow cooker.
  3. Add carrots, onion, garlic, mustard, caraway seeds, salt, pepper and bay leaf to the slow cooker. Stir to combine.
  4. Put the lid on and cook on low until the beef is very tender, about 8 hours. Discard the bay leaf before serving.
I served this dish with cheese bread and concluded, you couldn't do too much more with it to make it better. My husband and I mused that you could make a fresh tomato salsa to have on top to add a sweetness to it or a hard cheese sprinkled on top. Either way, the boys devoured it and were almost quiet the whole time.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Angel Snacks

Pavlova, Bizet, Suspiros (meaning "sighs" in English), Schaum tortes, Resurrection Cookies... no matter what you call them, these meringue cookies are crispy and sweet bites that some have said, are what the saints eat in heaven. I had egg whites left over after making Sweet Corn Sformato for Thanksgiving. I wanted to try something I had never done before and went searching. This is very close to a dessert my mom made during Christmas, called Divinity. I wanted to make a meringue recipe that was versatile, so you can change the flavor to your whim. It seems like it would be harder than it actually is. The trick is to prepping. Have all your ingredients ready and then just go for it. You won't be sorry you made these!

from top to bottom: Chocolate Toffee,
Butter Pecan and Plain





Heaven Sighs

Ingredients

Meringue:
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar OR 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup (6 ounces, about 6) large egg whites, preferably room temperature
Pinch salt

Optional Topping:
2 pints fresh or frozen berries
1/4 cup sugar
Whipped Cream for topping

Method

1 Place rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 275°. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour the vanilla and vinegar (if using) into a small cup. Stir the cornstarch into the sugar in a small bowl.
2 In a large bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, fitted with whisk attachment, whip egg whites, cream of tartar (if using) and salt, starting on low, increasing incrementally to medium speed until soft peaks/trails start to become visible, and the egg white bubbles are very small and uniform, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.
3 Increase speed to medium-high, slowly and gradually sprinkling in the sugar-cornstarch mixture. A few minutes after these dry ingredients are added, slowly pour in the vanilla and vinegar (if you didn't use cream of tartar.) Increase speed a bit and whip until meringue is glossy, and stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted, 4 to 5 minutes.
4 Pipe or spoon the meringue into 8-10 large round mounds that are 3 inches wide on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon liner. With the back of a spoon, create an indentation in the middle of the mound for holding the filling once meringue is baked.
5 Place baking sheet in the oven. Reduce oven temperature to 250°F. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the meringues are crisp, dry to the touch on the outside, and white -- not tan-colored or cracked. The interiors should have a marshmallow-like consistency. Check on meringues at least once during the baking time. If they appear to be taking on color or cracking, reduce temperature 25 degrees, and turn pan around.
6 Gently lift from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack. Will keep in a tightly sealed container at room temperature, or individually wrapped, for up to a week if your house is not humid.
7 Served topped with your favorite filling - lemon curd, raspberry or blueberry sauce, and freshly whipped cream.

Sauce or Filling Directions

If you want to make a berry sauce, heat a couple pints of fresh or frozen berries in a medium saucepan with about a quarter cup of sugar. Heat on medium heat, stirring once or twice, for about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how much the berries are falling apart. Remove from heat and let cool.

Variations
  • add a whole pecan to the top of each meringue before baking
  • 1/2 C. each finely chopped pecans and chopped chocolate (folded in after step 3), after baking time is up, turn off oven and leave overnight. This version is called "Forgotten Cookies".
  • sift 2 Tbsp cocoa powder over meringue, and fold until barely any streaks remain (after step 3)
  • 1/2 C. finely chopped heath bar folded in (after step 3)
  • different flavorings can be substituted for the vanilla or added. Try adding 1 tsp butter flavoring with the vanilla and pecans, or replace the vanilla for peppermint with the chocolate version.

    Sunday, November 21, 2010

    The Agony and Ecstacy of Motherhood

    When my husband and I decided it was time to start a family, we were so sweetly naive. I think you have to be to start down the path of parenthood, otherwise no one would have the courage! I look back on the pregnancy and births of all my kids and with each one, I got smarter and smarter. I started with no real understanding of what I was getting myself into, then gained more and more knowledge with each pregnancy. If there is one piece of advice I could give all women who are about to embark on getting pregnant, it would be this: Don't bother buying any books. Go to the library or online for all your info because all those books "What To Expect The First Year" and so on will go half read at best. I never had time, after the first one, to pick the book up again. All the books I received or bought for myself, to prepare were great and finished reading before my first, and from then on, reading was something I used to do, when I had spare time.... which, I think I have forgotten what that truly means. Spare Time...


    Before Children (BC), "spare time" could be hours of time where I had no where to be, and nothing pressing to do.









    Photo by Richard Baker

    After Children (AC), said time became fleeting moments, 30 min if I was lucky, where the baby was sleeping, or daddy had just enough patience to wrangle. In these moments, I have learned to speed read articles I can find, basically cliff notes online. I have become a master at finding easy quick meals online, printing it out and rushing to the task. In my "spare time", I can unload the dryer, then reload the dryer and washer. Of course, the newly dried clothes may at times sit in a pile either on the bed for a few days or on the floor at the foot of the bed before being finally sorted and put away. I can unload and reload the dishwasher in record time. Or, at the very least, get a shower, and dressed, before the baby has a melt down.

    BC, I was certain I would do cloth diapers, breast feed exclusively for the first two years, then make my own baby food. I was going to teach him to sign, and go to infant learning classes and mommy and me playgroups and, and, and..... And then he came.

    It was so overwhelming and wonderful, but I was SO. TIRED. He was colicky, and we now know he also had severe reflux that went undiagnosed until he was 6yo. I struggled for three months with breast feeding and it was the worst experience ever. He lost weight and the doctor told me that the assumptions of certain family members, that I was starving him to death, were true. When I gasped and started crying, he impatiently added, "Well, unintentionally." My nipples bled, and I went to a lactation consultant, who never noticed he was also tongue tied (we didn't find this out until a dentist pointed it out this year!). I would nurse for as long as he would remain awake, then use a supplemental nurser to add formula to his diet. Then, after he went to sleep, I would pump for half an hour. This was every two hours, without fail. I did this for 24 hours, for three months. One morning, he woke up and was crying. I fed him, and went to burp him and he projectile vomited all over the wall. I was so tired, and so frustrated, I started kicking the wall in exhausted frustration. I thought my husband was already gone for work, when he stuck his head in the door, worried and asked me what happened. I was embarrassed and told him, "Nothing, I stumbled getting out of bed." I was determined to do it all on my own, and in retrospect, I wish I would have asked for more help, but I was afraid of looking weak, and appearing incapable.

    With my second, I vowed I would do better. I got mastitis. Not a severe enough case to warrant antibiotics, but I shudder at the thought that it could possibly be worse. I gritted my teeth through the pain, and was rewarded with thrush that we passed back and forth for a month. At 7 mos, I thought he weened himself after his first taste of food, and gave up, disappointed. I wish I had known what nursing strikes were and to keep offering. With two little ones, I struggled to keep up with my vow to make their baby food, but gave in to jarred organic food. Cloth diapers? Pffft! I wondered in amazement, how women coped, before washing machines let alone disposable. I was too exhausted to make it to too many support groups like Mommy and Me and I slowly found myself quite isolated from any kind of adult interaction beyond my mom, who was a blessing to have close by.

    My third, came years later. I felt I had all the info I could possibly have. I found a doula and was rewarded with an amazing birth experience that made up for the first two, that had so much medical interference. The first three months, nursing was a magical thing. Then, my body betrayed me. My thyroid failed and with it, my milk supply dwindled. My husband gave him his first few bottles as I wept while pumping. I continued pumping and giving whatever I could until it disappeared. I couldn't afford the doctor appointment and blood work to get the medication I needed, until it was too late.

    I had to come to terms, with not being able to have the "perfect mothering experience". Even if I had all the resources and money in the world, I don't think I would I have been able to avoid all the pitfalls. That's life. I love my children immensely and do everything possible to care for them. I am up all hours of the night, catching up on housework, and preparing for the next day, while doing the midnight, and 3am feedings for the baby. I manage my own type I diabetic status (though, not as well as I should due to low funds), as well as my now 6yo's who was diagnosed at age three (see video: Connor Takes Charge). I run them to and fro to play dates and activities. I manage doctor and dentist appointments. My house is rarely "clean" by most people's standards and my filing method is "organized piles" that drive my husband batty before I am able to knock them down temporarily. But you know what? I am a damn good mother! I do my absolute best. I put myself last and give my all for my family and if anyone were to tell me I am not good enough, then FORGET THEM!


    I do get a little hurt, and sometimes it really gets to me, but overall, I know that no one could possibly love them more than me and I am secure in the fact that they never go without what they need: unconditional love and support.

    So if you are a mom who is struggling with depression and feelings of inadequacy, stop fretting and look at the bigger picture! Try to enjoy those fleeting precious moments with your babies. You will never get that time back. What your children will remember most, isn't that the house was spotless, and your hair always just right. They will however remember, that you were there for them, and loved them dearly. For THAT, you are amazing. Each and every one of my fellow mommies. You are all, AMAZING.

    Related Posts:

    Kathryn Ann Sneed: It's Okay Not to be That Mom
    Nicki: Beyond the Boob (a new mum's tale)

    Saturday, November 13, 2010

    Doughnut Pudding... Whaaa?

    You read me correctly. Doughnut pudding. If you have had bread pudding, then you know exactly where I am headed with this. In traditional bread pudding, you take pieces of bread, place in bake ware and pour a milk/egg mixture over it. and bake, creating a soft almost custard like pudding. Well, if you have any stale or dried out doughnuts from a few days ago, this recipe will make a fantastic brunch dessert or great treat to impress a new neighbor with.

    Doughnut Pudding

    Ingredients:
    • approx 4 doughnuts of your choice (except filled)
    • 2C. milk or eggnog (nog is best!)
    • 3 eggs
    • 1/2C. raisins or craisins
    • 2 tsp. cinnamon
    Preheat oven to 350°


    Cube up the doughnuts to bite size pieces. I used a combo of apple fritters, cinnamon twists and a glazed cake doughnut. Place in a single layer in a 9X13 in glass baking pan that has been buttered. At this point, make sure you have enough doughnuts to completely fill the single layer. You don't want a lot of gaps.


    In a large bowl, blend together the eggnog and eggs and pour over the doughnuts, being sure to cover them completely. If you need more liquid to do that, the ratio is 1C. milk or eggnog to 1 egg (I add an extra egg to enhance the texture and richness). Let it sit and soak up the liquid for 10-15 min. Sprinkle raisins and cinnamon on the top and bake for 45min or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

    I prefer it served warm with a little warm milk drizzled on top. My kids like it with a scoop of ice cream. Either way, it is wonderful! Experiment with the type of doughnuts and milk like chocolate milk, various flavors of eggnog and such. This is a great recipe the have the kids help with because it is so easy. Enjoy!

    Thursday, November 11, 2010

    Our Earth Is Dying of Rot

    As I compose this post, I am sick to my stomach. Our world is dying from an infectious disease that is rotting societies across the globe. Often, victims beget victims, and the cycle is vicious and often fatal. The media only brings it into the limelight when a celebrity steps forward with a personal story of their pain and struggle to overcome the effects that linger, or when a pretty blue eyed girl falls prey and the nation is outraged for a few weeks until the next reality show train wreck makes a new scene. Then, it is tucked away and forgotten. Our government does just enough to keep itself from looking totally uninterested in finding ways to combat this sickness, but as far as I am concerned, it is not enough. What is this awful disease I am talking about?

    CHILD SEXUAL ASSAULT

    What goes through your mind when you read those words? Does it make you sick? Angry? Afraid? Or are you like so many, who either want to pretend it doesn't exist or advocate it with your silence. Wait! Back up! Did I just say, "ADVOCATE it with your SILENCE?" Yes. I did. You, the elite who decry all forms of injustice, as long as you can look sexy while doing it. Don't kill seals! Save the whales! End war! All these messages can be done wearing a little black dress or tight jeans and they all parrot the words of the authors of such causes. None can probably even give a single statistic and get back in their limos and forget all about it until the next check has to be signed, fundraiser promoted or talk show wants to do a special on their favorite cause (while also plugging their next film or album). All are hypocrites. If you truly cared, then you would do anything to protect the youngest and most vulnerable of our society. Children who are living in the shadow of pain and guilt, are being destroyed in body and soul at an alarming rate and no one is really shouting loud enough for my liking.

    I was on a road trip with four friends and we were chatting about all kinds of things. Boys, school (we had all graduated a few years before) and life in general. Slowly, the conversations became more serious and dark. One by one we told stories of things in our lives we had never told anyone. Things that aren't discussed over tea or espresso in a local cafe. To our horror, we realized, that all but one had been sexually molested and all knew others close to us or had witnessed another being abused.
    Adult retrospective studies show that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men were sexually abused before the age of 18 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2006). This means there are more than 42 million adult survivors of child sexual abuse in the U.S.
    All but one of us had reported the abuse. The rest of us, have lived with the torment in silence. Pedophiles and their advocates want to eventually be considered a minority like homosexuals. In fact, there is one man who has been the author a few vulgar books, who routinely refers to his kind as "pedosexual" and calls for society to accept that having sex with babies and young children is normal, and only seen as harmful because people have attached a hysteria to it. I am here to tell you, that no one knew what happened to me for decades, and I lived with a knot in my stomach and an emptiness that I am still trying to heal. It is NOT normal or okay. It DOES cause grief, pain and illness in mind and body that for the most part, never goes away. The people who inflict this kind of heartache on children are evil, soulless monsters who are selfish and only interested in fulfilling their sick fantasies and sexual perversion. Some try to claim they "love" the child, but what is love?
    I Corinthians 13:5 It is not rude, it is not self-serving, it is not easily angered or resentful. 
    When you truly love someone, you do not work to get something from them or to control them. Love is a freeing feeling of wanting the best for the person you are attracted to. That is love. Pedophiles are not capable of love because they are only interested in what they lust for. They do not care that they hurt or may even kill the object of their obsession. All pedophiles deal in secrecy and shadows. They tell their victims to never tell, either with threats or lies that trick the child into silence.

    How do you banish the shadows and prevent evil from hiding? Cast a bright light of justice and the glaring eye of an outraged public on it. How can this be accomplished when so many work so hard to ignore it? This is why I am stepping up and shouting, asking everyone who has ever been a victim, knows one or has children they would kill to protect, to do so with me.
    How Prevalent is Child Sexual Abuse?
    FACT: The real prevalence of child sexual abuse is not known because so many victims do not disclose or report their abuse. Researchers have suggested rates varying from 1% to 35%. Most professionals in the field of abuse use rates from 8% to 20%.


    FACT: Even if the true prevalence of child sexual abuse is not known, most will agree that there will be 500,000 babies born in the US this year that will be sexually abused before they turn 18 if we do not prevent it
    I was made aware of a terrible reality yesterday. According to the news, (link here to article and here to the news broadcast) Amazon was selling an e-book entitled "A Pedophile's Guide To Love and Pleasure" by Phillip R. Greaves (this is a second edition btw). After a public outcry was made, Amazon had this to say:
    "Amazon does not support or promote hatred or criminal acts, however, we do support the right of every individual to make their own purchasing decisions."
    The message between the lines, read like this to me:
    "Amazon does not support or promote the illegal and horrifying act of child sexual assault, but supports individuals who feel it is their right to rape children."
    Is this the message they were trying to convey? If so, then I am physically ill at the thought of ever doing business with them and effective immediately, I no longer will be. Until Amazon takes a stand against the wanton disregard for the rights of children, and essentially advocating child sexual exploitation by hiding behind the limp excuse that is "personal rights", I hope others will follow my lead.

    No pedophile needs assistance in learning how to effectively groom a child into believing that his victimization is normal and okay. The numbers are staggering, how many have fallen victim to the predators, who's "rights" Amazon wishes to protect. Freedom of speech carries with it, the responsibility of not causing physical harm to any human. The fact that the smallest, most vulnerable of our population are not of this large company's concern is appalling.

    I believe that anyone and everyone who is willing to look the other way when this type of crime is being committed, or offers advice on how to get away with committing this vile abuse, are all accomplices and should be considered as such in court cases. I believe that judges, who release child molesters, repeatedly who re offend should be disbarred and tried alongside the pedophile as an accomplice and fully investigated. Those in legislature and on the Supreme Court should be held to this as well. Anyone who would defend this group of vile, evil monsters are highly suspect in my opinion. It's almost as if they feel hypocritical to pass laws or judgement that would appropriately punish pedophiles and protect our country. This is not some minor thing either. Child sexual abuse has far reaching effects in our society that damages it deeply.

    If you are interested in educating yourself on the staggering statistics, go to the Darkness To Light (statistics section) website. There is a large volume of information and resources there. It's a start. Use your voice to spread knowledge and raise the public's awareness so we can stop this from continuing.

    How much more noble a cause, than defending the innocence and honor of babies and children?

    Tuesday, October 26, 2010

    Sweet & Salty, Creamy & Crunchy

    Tonight I made a delicious homemade lasagna that was out of this world (will post at a later date)! I tried to do dinner and dessert at the same time, since I had to juggle my time in the oven. I think I did pretty good, but will have to plan on starting earlier or prepping to some extent because we didn't have dinner until 7:30pm. While everyone was starting to chant, "When is dinner gonna be done?" I must say, the pay off is that there is near silence during dinner since everyone is shoveling food into their faces to ravenously to speak. Also, everyone raves about what you just made. Following dinner was a dessert that I was at first skeptical of. The crust is unconventional, but WOW! It makes the whole dessert as far as I'm concerned. It is low sugar, but if you want to go for it, it is easy to convert to all sugar as everything is one to one. So, without further ado, here is:

    Creamy Peach/Strawberry Crunch Dessert

    Ingredients

    • 2 C crushed pretzels
    • 3/4 C butter, melted
    • 3 Tbsp sugar
    Mix crushed pretzels, butter and 3 sugar together and press into a 9x13 inch pan. Bake at 400 for 8 minutes. Cool.




    • 1 pkg (8oz) cream cheese, room temp
    • 1/2 C sugar
    • 1/2 C Splenda
    • 1 (8oz) frozen cool whip (sugar free if you can find it), thawed
    Mix softened cream cheese and sugar. Fold the 2 cups thawed whipping topping into cream cheese mixture and spread over cooled pretzel crust.






    • 1 lrg pkg sugar free strawberry gelatin
    • 2 C boiling water
    • 8 oz frozen strawberries
    • 8 oz frozen peaches, chopped
    Dissolve strawberry gelatin in boiling water and add frozen strawberries and peaches. Chill until soft set, then pour over the cream cheese layer and refrigerate. Cut into squares and garnish with whipped topping. Enjoy!



    The saltiness of the pretzel is perfect with the sweetness of the strawberries and creamy cream cheese. A total hit in my house.




    Friday, October 22, 2010

    A Call To Action

    I find myself gazing at the sunrise, streaking across the sky after dropping my kids off at school. The moon fighting to keep it's position, against the marauding sun. The colors are so amazing and I envy God's artistic mastery of color and composition. The stillness of the morning with the mist burning away slowly, frost clinging to the grass with greedy, sharp claws. Winter will soon be upon us and our thoughts will turn to wishes for spring, then summer. We live in a constant state of dissatisfaction with our surroundings and often miss it's brutal beauty.

    In my dreams I am always someplace warmer. A place without piles of bills, laundry, dishes and duties. Errands are not frantically run, and I no longer am chasing daylight, trying to get ahead, yet never reaching the finish line. In my dreams, there is no burden of money and it's strings that drag us down and we have everything we need, and want for nothing unnecessary. I wonder, "How can we ever find peace like this in reality?" We are taught to lean on God and let go of all our cares, but I cannot seem to release the clutch on my worries. Fear has twisted me into thinking, that if I let go, then I will fall far and fast, and never catch up. Even though I know that my grasp makes me weak and I will never truly gain any new ground. It is a never ending cycle, the desperation of this life.

    I look at my children and wish I could freeze them in this moment. I don't want them to feel disappointment or failure. I want to spare them heartache and cruelty. My six and seven year olds have already felt rejection and it makes my heart hurt. I see the confusion in their eyes as they struggle to understand why anyone would hurt them intentionally when they only want to be friends. It is even harder to control my rage, when the ones with mean spirits are adults who are calloused. I wish I could scrub their souls clean of the memories of mean kids and immature adults who have maliciously harmed them emotionally. I want to confront those who would be so careless with the hearts of children!
    Momma Bear

    I then find myself overcome with sorrow for the kids I see, who's eyes are dark and sad. Who has been hurting them? Why? Where is their champion? I want to help, but what can I do besides pray for their safety? I feel like I should be doing more? If I had a huge house and more money for resources, I would bring them to my home so they can experience love, safety and comfort. Raise them to be strong and honorable. This generation lacks moral fiber and it's sickening. Society is rotten and diseased with the profane, cruel and disturbing. Perversion is celebrated. Violence is cheered and injustice, common place. Where are the men, who would fight for the honor of family? Where are the women who strive for excellence in hearth and home? Where are the officials, who should be holding all accountable to the law? Silence.

    Someday, we will all stand together, and see our misconduct and cruelty, splashed across a massive screen. All the things we thought were hidden. All the filth we thought was a secret, and we will be ashamed. But where is that shame now? Will you take a stand today? Will you decided that NOW is the time to strive for excellence? We are not perfect and we all make mistakes, but when will we learn from them? Work harder not to make the same mistakes over and over and over? Are we willing to acknowledge our own shortcomings and have patience with others?

    I challenge myself, to speak more softly. To let go of my anger. To love more deeply and focus on my family. I am going to try to respect myself, by holding my husband up more often and honor him. I am going to continue to work hard on getting us to a place where we no longer owe anyone. I will respect my body as a temple and work steadily to put healthier things into it, so I have the energy to keep moving forward, never looking back. And every day, I will try to connect with someone and let them know that God loves them, with some small deed. Will you join me?
    The Weight of The World On A Woman's Soul

    Saturday, October 16, 2010

    A Chocolate Fix

    Ever have one of those days? Where you just have to have something chocolate? It can't just be an average chocolate bar and it has to have a richness that forces you to slow down and savor every luscious bite. THAT is the kind of craving I had today. Nothing sounded good. Not ice cream or the various chocolate bars and bits at the grocery. Then, it hit me: Lava Cake! Nothing could possibly satisfy one's craving for pure rich milk chocolate, like Lava Cake. If done right, it is rich moist cake surrounding a pool of steaming chocolate. Choose a rich high quality chocolate bar for this recipe and you will have found the key to slowing time. You cannot devour this dessert with veracity. With the first bite, everything slows as every taste bud strains to hold onto the flavor. But I digress... Make this for someone you love, for chocolate laced kisses of gratitude later!

    Chocolate Lava Cake


    Moelleux au Chocolat: A French classic that literally melts in your mouth, and induces feelings of euphoria.

    Ingredients:

    • 6 oz. Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate (or use your favorite 70% dark chocolate bar)
    • 6 oz. Butter (diced, room temperature)
    • 3 Eggs
    • 1/2 C Granulated Sugar
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1/3 C Flour
    • Butter for Ramekins
    Directions:

    Preheat oven to 350°F

    Melt chocolate on low flame in a bain-marie (double boiler). When melted, take off flame, and stir in diced butter, until it melts.

    In another bowl, beat eggs and sugar, until it starts to whiten. Stir in melted chocolate (making sure to stir quickly while drizzling chocolate in), vanilla and then the flour.

    Butter 4 individual ramekins, and pour in chocolate batter. Cook for about 10 minutes, adding 5 minutes at a time until desired doneness is reached.

    Cool until ramekins can be handled safely, but this is a dessert best served very warm! Tip ramekins upside down onto dessert plates and serve.

    Tips:
    • You can  prepare your chocolate lave cake recipe ahead of time, and then bake 10 minutes before serving.
    • In terms of buttering the ramekins: butter the bottoms first, and then butter the sides, wiping from the bottom up to the top. It helps the chocolate to rise even more.
    • Regarding baking time… it depends on how runny you want it! I like it with the center runny like rich homemade cooked pudding.  For this, you want the top to be cooked through, but the center to be liquid. You can check with a toothpick after 10 minutes of baking. I've also pulled it out of the oven when the top is still shiny and just the edges looking cooked, then let it sit for 10 minutes (it continues to cook from the heat of the ramekin for a little while).

    If you don't like liquid-center chocolate desserts, just cook for a little longer, and you will have an incredibly moist chocolate cake. Either way, it's a treat that is a perfect end to the day.

    Monday, October 11, 2010

    Mother Lovin' Meatballs!

    So, in my post entitled "Love Is In The Meatloaf", I gave the basic recipe for the meat mixture to make meatloaf, that called for reserving one pound to make meatballs. You cannot argue with any warm blooded, proud countryman, that homemade meatballs are sacred and that every homemaker worth his or her salt, should know how to make proficiently. There is something about the savory caramelized crust from the browning of the meat, to the satisfying garlic and herb taste that lingers on the tongue that just cannot be copied in a frozen counterpart. So, without further ado, please take some time to master this dish, even make it your own by adding, subtracting, varying the seasonings and tackle this dish with all your heart! Here is the recipe!


    Homemade Meatballs

    refer to the recipe in "Love Is In The Meatloaf"

    Form the meatballs into golf ball size balls. Place on a cookie sheet and cover with foil and freeze until firm. Transfer meatballs to freezer bags and into freezer until you are ready to make spaghetti or meatballs subs with marinara sauce... or, you could try making my Garlic Zucchini Cream Sauce with thin spaghetti or angel hair pasta. Mama Mia!

    • 2 Tblsp butter
    • 2 Tbsp olive oil

    Preheat oven to 350°

    Heat oil and butter in crock pot over medium heat until butter is melted. Add single layer of meatballs and cook each side until dark brown (caramelized). Cover and place in oven at 350° for 20-30 min. You can split one ball and make sure center is no longer pink. Then, you can add whatever spaghetti sauce you want and continue to heat until the sauce is bubbly, finally serving over noodles. Or, you can do this:

    Garlic Zucchini Cream Sauce

    • 3 Tbsp butter
    • 2 small zucchini finely diced
    • 3 heaping Tbsp minced garlic
    • 1 C. milk
    • 1/2 C. heavy cream
    • 2 Tbsp flour or use Wondra
    • salt and pepper to taste
    Melt butter over medium heat and add garlic. Saute until garlic just starts to golden. Add zucchini and saute until tender. Add milk and cream and continue to stir until heat comes back up and it just starts to bubble. Lower heat and add flour or Wondra and cook until it starts to thicken. Add more milk if too thick. Salt and pepper if needed. Add noodles, and fold in. Next, add your meatballs and enjoy with garlic toast. YUM!

    Love Is In The Meatloaf

    I love meatballs and spaghetti. Especially with a real meaty sauce and cheese on top. I don't like sweet red sauces. The sauce has to have a lot of garlic and top the charts for savory. So, I took a little time to make meatloaf one night for dinner and took one pound of the seasoned meat and made meatballs that I then froze on a cookie sheet so that they wouldn't stick to each other in a freezer bag. So, the following recipe is for meatloaf to be made right away and the meatballs can be frozen for a dinner later in the week.

    • 3 lbs ground beef (I use 80/20 blend)
    • 1 dry onion soup mix
    • 2 heaping Tbsp minced garlic
    • 1/2 C. ketchup
    • 1/4 C. sun dried tomatoes (Italian seasoned) chopped
    • 1/2 C. real bacon crumbles (don't insult the meat w/imitation bacon!)
    • 1 C. plain or seasoned bread crumbs
    • 1 1/2 C. shredded Colby cheese
    • 1/2 C. french fried onions (optional)

    Preheat oven to 350°

    With just the tips of your fingers, blend first eight ingredients well in a very large bowl. Do not squish the meat, as this can affect the texture of the meat adversely.

    Set aside one pound of the mixture for now. Take remaining two pounds of the mixture, and pat into a loaf shape in a large baking dish. I highly recommend topping it with the french fried onions. It makes a wonderful crispy topping that put the dish over the top. Do not cover. I like to add red potatoes around the pan to cook with the meatloaf but it's not necessary.

    Bake at 350° for approx. 1 hour. Depending on your oven, it may take as much as 1 1/2 hours. Follow guidelines for internal temperatures for beef (I believe it is 160°).

    I also serve my meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy (with some of the meat drippings from the meatloaf!). Everyone loves it. If you are lucky enough to have left overs (rare in our house) it makes the most outstanding meatloaf sandwich to surprise the hubby in his lunch at work. Or, for yourself. Next post: Mother Lovin' Meatballs!

    Sunday, October 03, 2010

    The Song In My Head

    So, life is a roller coaster of emotions and feelings. We all have soared high and crashed low. Women are incredibly susceptible because our hormones betray us frequently. There was a time, after getting hurt by a guy, when I tried to be aloof and cold like the men I had the misfortune to experience. I failed. I feel too much some times and it can overflow and overwhelm. This can be a blessing too. When we are faced with a beautiful, awe inspiring moment, it can bring us to our knees spiritually and emotionally and that can be so cleansing. Well, I've been contemplating a lot of stuff lately, and while cleaning, this song started to develop in my head. So I wrote it down. Part of me is tempted to see if any artists out there would be interested in writing the music for it and singing it. Who knows. At any rate, here it is, and let me know what you think!

    "Untitled"

    Who made you feel worthless?

    Who broke your heart,
    And let you down?

    Where are those?
    Who cut you down,
    And left your heart bleeding?
    Don't they know who you are?

    Don't let them win.
    Know you are wonderful,
    And in a short time
    They will wish they had known all along.

    Look at your hands.
    These are the hands that,
    held a small life.
    And wondered in silenced awe.
    Alone.
    But you are not alone!

    Look in your eyes.
    These are the eyes that,
    filled with tears.
    And choked back anger but gave forgiveness.
    Alone.
    But you are not alone!
    No you,
    are not.
    A-lone!

    Don't let them win.
    Know you are wonderful,
    And in a short time
    They will wish they had
    known all along.

    Who broke your heart?
    Who stole your joy?
    Don't they know,
    That this life is so short?
    That what we need is
    mercy.
    Love.
    Compassion.

    Look in your heart.
    This is a heart so open,
    and full of love.
    Ready to give your all.
    Without anything given in return.

    So, don't let them win!
    Know you are wonderful,
    And in a short time,
    They will wish they had
    known all along.

    That you are wonderful,
    And in just a short while
    They'll wish they had known.
    Known all along.
    That a woman's heart,
    is deeper than the ocean.
    As deep and mysterious
    as the sea.

    Saturday, September 25, 2010

    Lovely Cream

    I have always wanted to make Panna Cotta (Cooked Cream). It is such a lovely, light dessert that is a blank slate for pairing with any fruit one desires. Or, you can flavor the cotta. Typically, you use a vanilla bean or, vanilla flavoring if you don't have a bean. But what about dark cocoa or mint? So, I decided to first do the classic dessert and at a later date, I will post my experiments.

    Classic Panna Cotta
    • 4 C. heavy cream (or half-and-half)
    • 3/4 C. packed brown sugar
    • 2 tsps of vanilla extract, or 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
    • 2 packets powdered gelatin (about 4 1/2 teaspoons)
    • 6 Tbsps cold water
    Heat the heavy cream and sugar in a saucepan or microwave. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. If using a vanilla bean, scrape the seeds from the bean into the cream and add the bean pod. Cover, and let infuse for 30 minutes. Remove the bean then rewarm the mixture before continuing.

    Lightly oil eight custard cups with a neutral-tasting oil.

    Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a medium-sized bowl and let stand 5 to 10 minutes.

    Pour the very warm Panna Cotta mixture over the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.

    * I spooned two tablespoons raspberry pie filling into the bottom of each custard cup.

    Then divide the Panna Cotta mixture into the prepared cups, and chill them until firm, which will take at least two hours.

    Run a sharp knife around the edge of each Panna Cotta and unmold each onto a serving plate, and garnish as desired.

    Tuesday, September 21, 2010

    Sweet & Savory Wins Hearts

    Okay, I am drowning in pictures from our trip. I must have taken almost a thousand! I am having trouble knowing where to begin. So, I am avoiding and procrastinating.... sounds like it's time to cook! Pork chops were on sale so I prowled the aisles, wondering what to do with them. Shake and bake, while tasty, is such a cop out. Then, I remembered a delicious recipe that I've wanted to try that used apples. I am wary of sweet and savory, preferring to keep them separate. However, feeling adventurous, I think I succeeded in challenging my previously held notions.

    Apple and Sage Pork Chops
    • 1 1/2 tsp. sage (rubbed w/fingers to crush)
    • 1 tsp. minced garlic
    • 1 tsp. ground thyme
    • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
    • 1/2 tsp. paprika (smoked if available!)
    • 1 Tbsp. flour
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 4 pork chops (boneless or bone-in)
    • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
    Mix flour, all spices and salt in small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of pork chops with seasoned flour mixture. Set aside remaining mixture.

    Cook pork chops in hot oil, on medium high heat until browned on both sides. Remove from skillet and set aside.
    • 1 medium red onion, sliced thin
    • 2 small red apples, sliced thin
    Add onion to skillet and cook 3 minutes or until tender. Add apples and cook additional 2 minutes.
    • 1/2 C. apple juice (fresh squeezed is best!)
    • 1 Tbsp dark brown sugar
    • remaining flour/spice mixture
    Mix juice, sugar and flour/spice mixture together and add to apples and onions in the skillet. Return pork chops to skillet. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until internal temp reaches 160° or no longer pink inside. I didn't specify a time, because it can vary based on thickness of chops.
    Well, the kiddos loved it and had the gravy created, over mashed potatoes. My husband took the leftovers for lunch today. My six month old loved sucking on the cooked apples and I even mixed a little of the gravy in with his mashed veggies and he gobbled that right up. Enjoy!

    Monday, September 13, 2010

    Clicking My Heels: Nearing Home

    Above Flathead Lake, Montana
    What a long journey we have taken as a family. Full of discovery and adventure like I had never anticipated. We got under each other's skin from time to time, but being cooped up for days, driving endlessly would do that to the most sedate of people. Still, we managed and I think we have become closer as a family. I have endless pictures that don't nearly do justice to how beautiful and amazing our world is and how America is STILL, despite many attempts to the contrary, GOD'S country! I could not help but wonder at all the beauty and majesty around me and it just confirmed in my heart that this could never have been the result of accident and coincidence. I am going to share all of this with you in a few parts, because I came upon so many revelations, I had to take notes. Now, I realize I haven't many followers (guess I'm not as interesting as I assume! lol), so I will try not to be too long winded. And for those who are more visually motivated to at least skim a few lines, I will go heavy on pictures. Until I get settled once home (one day away!) here is just a taste of the fun we had!

    L to R: Dad, Mom, brother Iain, Chad, Myself holding Lachlan.
    Down front are Connor and Russell.

    Here of course, is the whole reason for the trip. To see my folks, who sorely missed their grandsons, as well as extended family, not pictured.

    Dad and Mom feeding Lachlan.
    The boys were thrilled, hunting the tide pools of Bellingham, WA's shores.
    My Three Sons and Husband
    Muncho Lake, Canada

    Time flies too quickly and I could have stayed for so much longer. I had fleeting moments where I pictured us moving to Montana. I wouldn't be hurt if we did. I guess I'm a cowgirl at heart, still.

    Going on a hike up Columbia Mt. in Montana.

    *Stay tuned for details and more pictures of our trip!

    Saturday, August 14, 2010

    On the Verge of Adventure

    Through the blessings of my parents, we have been given the awesome opportunity to take an extended vacation to Montana, via RV from Alaska, through Canada. Our very first international travel as a family. Perhaps this will be the only time we get to go on a true vacation, as it is so very expensive, so we are going to try to make the absolute most of it!

    We will be driving from our home in Soldotna to Anchorage. Our first rest stop, will be in Fairbanks after picking up the RV in Anchorage and doing a little shopping to stock up on necessary items. We decided to visit Chena Hot Springs for a low expense spa experience. Chad will be able to let his muscles recover and be ready for the long drive ahead. Then, on to...


    We are praying for no hitches going through the border. There was a hiccup getting our passports (fyi: don't bother wasting your money on expidited service, it isn't guaranteed), but after talking to each border crossing on either end, I was assured that while there is conflicting information on our US government pages (surprise, surprise), the border agents only need a birth certificate, valid driver's license, and receipt from our attempt to get our passports. I verified and all was okay'd. Whew! I'm not sure what all we have available to us, but we have lots of books and I am researching our route. I am hoping to have service here and there so I can do updates at the very least, on Facebook (check the left side bar for a link to my profile).

    Finally, we will arrive in....


    Montana!
    I am so excited to show the kids places I played as a child, hung out as a teen and wandered as a young adult. I had shown them places on google map using the street view. I have started a list of places to visit, that may or may not be totally unrealistic. I just want to soak as much of Montana as I can and take a few jaunts down memory lane. I want to get a real frosty mug of A&W Root Beer at the car hop. I want to watch a movie at the drive-in. I hope we have time to go on a train ride to The West Glacier Park. So, for any readers I may have (anyone out there?), if you are planning a trip to Montana and are toting children, check out Montana Kids for great info. Stay tuned for pictures and updates!

    Wednesday, August 11, 2010

    A School In Need of Votes!


    I thought this would be a great thing to support. Just a week ago, some heartless vandals trashed the Redoubt Elementary School. They smashed anything they could lift, broke out windows, emptied fire extinguishers and left beer cans all over the place. School is set to begin soon and a lot of computers and equipment were destroyed. The ones who suffer, are the kids, who have done nothing to deserve having their education tampered with. This would be an incredible blessing. Please consider voting at least once for our school if you choose to support another. Thank you!

    Saturday, August 07, 2010

    Heavenly Lemon Surrender!

    What is more summertime than ice cold lemonade? Nothing, I tell you! Our neighbors and I decided this weekend would be a good time for a garage sale, and to sweeten the deals, the kids were out selling blueberry iced tea, coffee, and lemon/limeade. Not from a powder mix mind you! Fresh squeezed, ten lemons and six limes, until 2 a.m.! So I still had some lemon juice reserved and the lemon peel, and decided that a zingy lemon cookie would have to be made. This was done the following night, until 3 a.m. Yes, I have a problem, but I can quit whenever I feel like it, and if I needed sleep, then I would eventually pass out... right?

    So, this recipe was found on the web, but I had to fix it, because it had tons of scathing reviews that it was all wrong and didn't work. I figured out the problem (a butter, flour ratio issue and construction problem) and added extra lemon and zing and I am excited to make it again and try doing a batch with candied ginger. So, here it is kids, a wonderful cookie that is a little pucker, very sweet and so very summertime!

    Lemon Zinger Cookies

    Ingredients
    • 4 C sugar
    • 1/2 C lemon zest, about 6 to 8 lemons
    • 5 1/4 C all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 tsps baking powder
    • 1 1/2 tsps salt
    • 2 C (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes room temp
    • 5 egg yolks
    • 2 tsps vanilla extract
    • 1 tsp lemon extract
    • 3/4 C lemon juice

    Directions

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    In a mixer with paddle, add sugar and lemon zest. Process until sugar and zest are well mixed, about 20 seconds. Scrape into a large mixing bowl. Reserve about 1/2 cup of lemon sugar in a separate bowl for later use.
    Add flour, baking powder and salt into mixer and mix just until combined. Add cold butter into flour mixture and process with short pulses until mixture resembles cornmeal and no large lumps of butter remain. Add the sugar and lemon mixture and mix well. I found my mixer (kitchenaide) nearing capacity, so a cover with the shoot is recommended but if you are careful, its not necessary.


    In a medium bowl, mix egg yolks, vanilla extract and lemon juice together.


    While the mixer is running, slowly add egg/lemon juice mixture and mix until well combined and dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 15 to 30 seconds. You may need to add more flour (1 Tblsp at a time if it is still too soft)


    Scrape the dough into a large bowl and refrigerate overnight. Use a tsp to scoop the dough onto parchment-lined cookie sheets.
    make sure the ball isn't too big; btw: the quarter was clean!

    Take the dough balls and roll the tops into the reserved lemon sugar. Do NOT press! Leave in dough balls! If you press them, they might flatten out so much that they risk burning.

    Bake the cookies until slightly browned, about 15 minutes. Remove the parchment paper with the cookies from the tray to a cooling rack and cool completely. Enjoy with a tall glass of cold milk or iced lemonade if you want the full citrus experienced (fresh squeezed!).

    This recipe makes A LOT of dough! I made three dozen before I had to call it quits. I belive I could still have another two dozen. This dough freezes well though. I roll them into logs, in wax paper so I can just cut into discs, peel off the paper and bake!

    Thursday, August 05, 2010

    London Broil: Unknown to London and I'm Not Broiling It

    According to Wikipedia, London Broil is not a cut of meat, but the method in which it is cooked. The cut is typically flank steak. Further, it is unknown to London, England. I chose this meat, because it was on sale and I wanted a large roasting type of meat to cook in the crock pot. For some reason, I am craving red meat, which may or may not be due to me being in the process of relactating (I'll discuss this in another post). I love the process of marinating over a period of time, because the flavor isn't just on top of the meat, but all through it. Here is a wonderful recipe for a marinade that is divine. I put this in my crock pot, because it's so much easier to start in the morning and go about my VERY busy day without worrying about if it's drying out or the house catching fire.

    I was running around with "too many irons in the fire" as is typical for the average mommy and ended up finishing making the marinade one handed, with Lachlan in his wrap, while feeding him a bottle to prevent a break down. I felt pretty accomplished. Only thing that would have made it perfection, was if I could have been nursing. Soon though. Soon.

    Marinated Slow Cooker London Broil

    To begin, the night before the desired day for having the London Broil, make this marinade for the meat and allow to sit in the refrigerator overnight:
    •  1/4 C. balsamic vinegar
    • 4 Tbsp Dijon mustard
    • 2 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
    • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
    • 1/4 C. lime juice
    • 4 lrg cloves of garlic minced or 4 Tblsp jarred minced garlic
    • 1 tsp dried oregano
    • 1 tsp dried basil
    • 1 tsp dried thyme
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1 1/2 C. olive oil
    Place all ingredients into a large zip lock bag, squishing around to mix and then add your 2 to 2 1/2 lb London Broil to the bag. Put in refrigerator overnight.

    In the morning, in the crock, put potatoes and peppers. Pour 1/4 C. water over all the veggies. Carefully remove meat and place on top of veggies, then pour remaining marinade over meat and veggies.

    In the crock, ready to cook!
    Cook on low over 6 to 8 hours.

    The marinade soaks into the potatoes along with the juices from the meat and the onions are almost caramelized. The whole cooking process makes the house smell divine and I am pretty sure I saw some poor hungry single men hovering around the windows of my house, attracted by the smell of my wonderful homemade meal. Poor things. So, single gals, this may be a great trick for luring a good man into your lair.

    Thursday, July 29, 2010

    Comfort Food That's Easy

    So, I am missing my mom right now. We usually talked every single day, and with her in another state (caring for an aging surviving parent) we just don't stay in touch so well. I was craving a memory and decided on stroganoff. My mom made this wonderful dish, with rice and always had dill pickles, and peperoncinis on the side. I didn't have the time to cook up the rice, so I did egg noodles, which my husband prefers over rice.

    Beef Stroganoff

    Ingredients:
    • 1 (16 ounce) package wide egg noodles
    • 1 lb ground beef (20% fat)
    • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 tsp seasoned salt
    • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
    • 1/2 C finely chopped onion
    • 2 (10.75 ounce) cans condensed cream of mushroom soup
    • 1 C milk
    • 1/2 cup sour cream
    • 4 oz cream cheese
    Directions:
    1.In a large, heavy skillet, brown ground beef with Worcestershire sauce, seasoning salt, and garlic. Drain well. Reduce heat to medium low and add soup, milk, cream cheese and stir until smooth. Stir in sour cream and reduce to low.


    2.Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling water until done. Drain.

    3.Return noodles to pot. Gently stir in ground beef/sauce mix and serve immediately. I eat mine with a pickle and peperoncinis. Also, having the sauce over rice is wonderful too.

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