December 18, 2013

Chocolate Pie

I made this chocolate cream pie to take for dessert to my son and daughter-in-law's house for a trial run of a dinner they were hosting for 80 people. 

The menu:

Herb Roasted Pork Chop with Apricot Sauce
Kale Mashed Potatoes
Herbed Butter Carrots

They served a fruit tart for dessert.

I always like to bring something, and they asked me to bring the dessert.  I baked a chocolate cream pie.  My Mimi taught me how to make this pie when I was just able to stand up to the stove.  I honestly cannot remember how old I was.  This is the very first thing I learned to make.  It was my Mimi's recipe, and if my memory serves me right, her sister had given it to her.

It is a family favorite!

Chocolate Pie:

1 pie crust, baked according to directions on package

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
pinch of salt
2 cups milk
2 egg yolks
1 Tablespoon of butter
1 teaspoon of vanilla

In a saucepan, whisk together sugar, flour, and salt.   Add milk, egg yolks, butter, and vanilla.  Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until thickened.

Spoon into pie crust.


4 egg whites
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup sugar

Whip egg whites with a mixer until frothy.  Add sugar and cream of tartar and continent whipping until stiff peaks firm.  

Spread merengue on top of the chocolate cream.  Bake at 350 degrees until browned a bit.

Serve to family and friends!

BTW, the dinner was delicious, and I loved the kale mashed potatoes.  I will make the dinner soon and share the recipes.


December 6, 2013

Crocheting and Baking

Two of my favorite things!

I started this afghan when my husband and I went to New York in September for his birthday.  I love the colors in it.  I used an acrylic/wool blend that I bought as a close-out from WEBS.

It was fun to make all the squares and watch the colors come together.  I was inspired by the Picnic Blanket from Nicki Trench's book, Homemade Gifts.  I love the denim blue.

Here's my little Molly enjoying it when I set it aside while weaving in the mega number of ends!

I swear sometimes I think she sleep with her eyes open.

And yellow cupcakes with chocolate buttercream filling and chocolate buttercream frosting.   I made these for my son, daughter-in-law, and grandson for our get-together the night before Thanksgiving.  If you want to make them, here goes:

Yellow Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Filling and Chocolate Buttercream Frosting 

1 box yellow cake mix - any brand will do

For frosting:

16-ounces of powdered sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
6 tablespoons of milk
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
4 to 6 tablespoons of cocoa 

Prepare cake mix according to package directions.

Line cupcake pan with cupcake liners.  Using an ice cream scoop, fill liners about 2/3 full.  Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 18 minutes.

Completely cool.  


Cream two sticks of softened butter in stand mixer.  Add powdered sugar 1/3 at a time,  cocoa, milk and vanilla.  Mix on high until creamy.

Using a large decorator's tip, pipe frosting in center of cooled cupcake.  Frost with frosting, as desired.

Serve to family and friends!


November 16, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookies

My very favorite cookie by far is a chocolate chip cookie.  I have made more chocolate chip cookies in my lifetime than any other cookie, cake or pie.  I may have made a comparable number of brownies.  I have tried more than one way to make them, and this recipe is my very favorite.

 I use Crisco butter flavored shortening in my cookies along with the butter.  I don't care for a cookie that spreads and is crunchy.  I like mine to be ooey, gooey, chocolatey goodness.

I also use self-rising flour instead of all purpose and add baking soda.  This way they really plump up.

After mixing all the ingredients together,  I refrigerate the dough anywhere from an hour to overnight before baking.  You can store the cookie dough in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days and bake a few at a time so that you have warm freshness each time!

Chocolate Chip Cookies:
2 1/4 cups self-rising flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter flavored Crisco (I use the sticks)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 package of semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli)

Combine flour and baking soda in a mixing bowl and set aside.  Using a mixer, cream together Crisco, butter, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla.   Mix in dry ingredients.   Stir in chocolate chips.  Using a cookie scoop, scoop onto baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 10 to 12 minutes.
Serve to family and friends.


November 5, 2013

A Breakfast Party and Cookie Baking

We recently had breakfast for family that was visiting.  The menu was scrambled eggs topped with cheese, ham, and Sunny Glow Coffee Cake.

 Everyone's favorite.

And how about these sugar cookies with buttercream frosting and decorated with the St. Louis Cardinal's logo?  They were very popular cookies at work.  The decorating was lots of fun.  I am less enthusiastic about the clean up.  I used a basic sugar cookie recipe and buttercream frosting.   Bake at 350 and serve to family and friends!



October 29, 2013

Finally a Finished Crochet Project

There's nothing like a self-imposed deadline to get me to finish a project.  I made this vintage airplane blanket for my grandson's birthday.  The party was October 20, but I didn't finish it in time to give it to him at the party, which was pretty much my whole point.

This is the birthday spread at my son and daughter-in-law's house.  The theme was "Come Fly With Me", and if you look closely, you will see an airplane in the background suspended from the light fixture.  I took a picture of it last month with my iPhone and went from there.

I crocheted mightily trying to get it done in time for the birthday party, but alas, I didn't.  I had to release my angst over this and move on.  He wouldn't like it nearly as much as his "humpDAY" camel!

My grandmother taught me to crochet when I was very young, too young to remember.  This is my first finished crocheted blanket since I made one my senior year in high school.  

This is made by making three-inch granny squares.  I used I Love This Cotton from The Hobby Lobby and a size F crochet hook.

It is very soft, and I am very happy with it.  I already have two more granny sqaure blankets in the hopper and one knitted one.

This is the Mitered Cross Blanket from Mason Dixon Knitting.  I only need to put it together and add a border.

And more awesome squareness.  



October 22, 2013

An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away!

Here in southern Illinois, apples are grown, harvested and shipped all over the Midwest.  We recently bought a bag of red delicious and golden delicious.

We had guests for dinner recently and watched the Cardinals in a play-off game.  We had steaks on the grill, baked potatoes, wedge salad, and for dessert, Apple Brown Betty with vanilla ice cream.

Here it us in the oven alongside the baked potatoes.  And that's the last picture I took of it.  I got too busy and forgot!  Anyway, my company loved it and wanted the recipe. 

This is Dutch Apple pie with vanilla bean ice cream.

And lastly, I made a Caramel Apple Pie.

I found all these recipes on the internet.  Our favorite was the Dutch Apple Pie, next the Apple Brown Betty, and lastly, the Caramel Apple Pie.  The recipe for the Apple Brown Betty called for whole wheat bread.  I would use white bread next time I make it.   Neither my husband nor I cared for the Caramel Apple pie, but it photographed beautifully!


October 3, 2013

Mama's Chicken Soup

My mother is a wonderful cook.  She used to call me and say you've got to try this recipe.  She would sometimes eat something in a restaurant she liked, and she could pretty much duplicate it at home.  Years ago, she and my stepfather would watch Mr. Food on the local news every day and try his recipes.  This, of course, was way before the internet where thousands of recipes are literally at your fingertips or the many cooking shows on television today.

Sometimes she would just make recipes up.  Long story short, this is one of her originals.  I do add pasta to my version because, well, I like pasta, a lot.

It is quite simply delicious.  

Mama's Chicken Noodle Soup:

2 bone-in chicken breasts
1 box chicken broth
1 can mixed vegetables, drained
1 box Denali pasta
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
Cheese Whiz or Velveeta Cheese

Boil chicken breasts in chicken broth.  Do not discard broth.  Debone chicken.  In a small sauce pan, melt two tablespoons of butter, stir in two tablespoons of flour, and one cup of milk.  Stir constantly over medium heat until thickened.  Melt in a few tablespoons of Cheese Whiz.  Strain broth and return to pot.  Add in cheese sauce, mixed vegetables, half box of pasta.  Cook on medium heat until pasta is done.  Add in chicken.   Simmer.  Add cracked pepper to individual bowls.  Serve to family and friends!


September 21, 2013

Chicken Enchiladas

I made these chicken enchiladas to share with family.  They're fairly easy and yummy.  This recipe is adapted from the Magnolia Manor Collection cookbook.  The Magnolia Manor is a house located in Cairo, Illinois.  It is an outstanding example of Italinate architecture.  The house is maintained by The Cairo Historical Association.  The cookbook is a collection of recipes from friends of The Cairo Historical Association and Magnolia Manor.  

This is green pepper sautéeing  in 1/2 cup of butter.  The recipe calls for green onion as well, but I didn't have any, and I was in a bit of a hurry to get these made and delivered.  

 This is a "back-in-the- day" recipe which calls for cream of mushroom soup, but trust me, it is delicious!

Here's the recipe . . .

Chicken Enchiladas

1 cup chopped green onions, including tops
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/2 cup butter
4 cups cooked chicken breasts, chopped
2 cups sour cream
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
3 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
10 flour tortillas
Salt and pepper

Melt butter, add onions, green pepper, sautéed until softened.  Add green chili peppers, soup, and sour cream.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Mix 1/2 cup of sauce with chicken.  Dip each tortilla in remaining sauce to soften.  Fill tortillas with 1/4 to 1/3 cup chicken mixture and roll up.  Pour remaining sauce over filled tortillas, sprinkle cheese on top.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 to 25 minutes.  

Serve to family and friends!


September 9, 2013

Italian Beef and Arugula Salad

How about Italian Beef for supper this week?

I make my Italian Beef in the crock pot; however, if you're short on time, it will work in a conventional oven as well.  I put it together in the morning before I leave for work, and it's done when I get home.

My favorite salad right now is an arugula salad.

My son and his fiancee work at an upscale restaurant in a neighboring community.  My hubbie and I eat there occasionally.  I had this salad there one night, and I have been making it ever since. (Not his favorite!)  It is an arugula salad with dates, slivered almonds, and shaved Parmesan cheese.  Theirs was served with a Champagne Vinigarette.  I used Trader Joe's Fat Free Balsamic Vinigarette.  The sweetness of the dates goes perfectly with the slightly bitter taste of the arugula.  

It's healthier than Lay's Potato Chips, which I actually lurve with Italian Beef.  I try.

Italian Beef

1 roast
1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
1 clove garlic, minced
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon paprika
Red pepper flakes
3 or 4 beef bouillon cubes

Put ingredients on top of roast

Cook in crockpot all day on low.

Serve to family and friends!

(I recommend a chuck roast for this recipe.  I used some other cut for these pictures, and unfortunately we didn't like it as well.  I won't deviate from the chuck roast again!  Just sayin'.)

Arugula Salad

Slivered almonds
Fresh Parmesean Cheese, shaved

Dressing of your choice.  I used Trader Joe's Balsamic Vinegarette.


September 2, 2013

Turkey, Cheese, and Asparagus Sandwich on Asiago Bread

Last weekend, we went to a local winery.  Southern Illinois has many wonderful wineries.  We met my husband's family at the winery for supper.  There was a great band playing that evening.  It was a perfect evening to sit outside, drink  a glass of wine and eat supper.  I had a turkey panini with chipotle mayo, cheese, and asparagus.  I liked the sandwich so much, I decided to make them at home.

I started by roasting a turkey breast.  The sandwich I had at the winery had deli meat on it.  I washed it, patted it dry, coated with olive oil, rubbed in seasoned salt, and roasted it according to the directions on the package.

I bought this asiago cheese bread at Panera Bread Company, and sliced it and toasted it.  I did not make a panini.  I don't know why.  I just didn't.

I boiled asparagus in salted water until tender.

I mixed chipotle and mayonnaise together. 

I sliced turkey for the sandwich, placed a piece of provolone cheese on top, placed some asparagus on top of the cheese, spread the chipotle mayo on the bread, and voila, a turkey, asparagus sandwich with chipotle mayonnaise.  It was great!

Next time, I'll make a panini.  Then it will be awesome.


August 26, 2013

Peach Cobbler

It's peach time in southern Illinois.  There are large orchards of peaches grown here, and the peaches are shipped all over the Midwest.

Peach cobbler is my very favorite cobbler.  I never make it with canned peaches, only fresh ones when they are in season.  So we only get peach cobbler a few times a year.

I use refrigerated pie crust, but if you want to make your own, knock yourself out!  Peaches, sugar, flour, water, vanilla extract (not imitation) and butter. That's it.  

Served here with vanilla bean ice cream.

Peach Cobbler:

Refrigerated pie dough

7 cups fresh peaches
2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 stick of butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Stir together peaches, sugar, flour, water and vanilla extract.

Line bottom of baking dish with pie crust.  Pour in peaches.  Dot butter on top of peach filling.  Cover with remaining pie crust.  Cut slits in top of pie dough.  Sprinkle with sugar (optional).  Bake at 375 degrees F for 50 to 60 minutes. 

If you feel fancy, you can cut pie dough into strips and make a lattice.

I like to serve my cobbler with vanilla ice cream.  

Serve to family and friends!