August 28, 2015

1st Place and a Deep Fried Ding Dong

So . . . I did something I've never done before.  I entered an exhibit in the County Fair.  

I love to knit as much as I love to bake.  I also have a love/hate relationship with golf (but that can be another blog post).

This pattern is adapted from the "Fussy Cuts Blanket" pattern which is in the book Craft Activism.

I did make some changes to the original pattern - probably the most noteworthy being that I crocheted each block together and crocheted the edging.  

Oh, how I love this blanket.  I think it turned out beautifully.  

And to celebrate my 1st Place, I had a Deep Fried Ding Dong.  I have to say, this was a first for me as well, and it deserves a 1st Place Ribbon!!  OMG, it was delicious!
I had never even heard of a Deep Fried Ding Dong.  I asked the young man who took my food order if it was truly a Hostess Ding Dong that was deep fried, and he told me it was.

Well, I brought it home with me and had it while I watched The Bing Bang Theory, one of my very favorites shows.  I haven't had a Ding Dong in years!!   

Well, of course, I Googled Deep Fried Ding Dong, and sure enough, there were several recipes on how to make them.  So . . . I definitely will give this a try.  It didn't look difficult to do, and it will be a lot of fun to have at our annual Labor Day Family Get-Together.  


August 21, 2015

Chicken Salad

We played golf the other day, and after we finished we stopped by the club house to have something to eat.  We got their chicken salad sandwiches, and I believe this was the best chicken salad sandwich I have eaten in awhile.

I came home and tried to reconstruct the recipe, and  I think I came really close.

The chicken was not just shredded; it was the consistency of being pulsed in a food processor.  

It was chocked full of celery and grapes.  I could taste the onion but couldn't see it like I could the celery and grapes.

This recipe for chicken salad is also very pretty with the red grapes and celery.   It is best served on really fresh bread, on crackers, or stuffed into a tomato, especially now when tomatoes are still "in season".

This is how I made this delicious chicken salad:


1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
Boxed chicken broth - enough broth to cover chicken breast
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1 handful of grapes, cut in half
1/4 of an onion
3 to 4 tablespoons of mayonnaise
salt and pepper - to taste

The Process:

Boil chicken breast in chicken broth until chicken is done.  Remove chicken from broth, let cool, and break up with a fork.  Put chicken in a food processor along with the onion and pulse.  Spoon chicken into a bowl adding celery, grapes, salt and pepper, and mayonnaise. (I think how much mayonnaise you use is up to you.  I add in the mayonnaise, look at it, taste it, and if I think it needs more, I add more.  I start with less, so as not to add too much.)

Serve to family and friends!!


August 18, 2015

Stuffed Shells

Stuffed shells anyone?  These are very delicious, and this is a recipe you can make for a weekday meal.  

When I make a recipe, I want to be able to find the ingredients at Kroger, where I typically do my grocery shopping, and I don't want to have to buy a lot of different ingredients, and I want to be able to make something that is "family" friendly.  By that I mean something that everyone will eat.

 I do admire beautiful, complicated recipes, and think I would love to make that,  but when I see a long list of ingredients which equals lots of $$ at the store and lots of time spent in the kitchen, I usually admire it and ooh and ahh over it, and forget about it.  I like simple, delicious recipes.  And as much as I love to cook, I don't love to spend the entire evening in the kitchen.

  Years ago, when I was a young wife and mother, a dear friend of mine told me her daughter made a pasta dish where she stuffed jumbo shells.  What jumbo shells?  I was intrigued by the idea.  My absolute favorite food is pasta.

My dad's family is Italian, and we always had pasta at every family holiday dinner.  Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter dinner were never complete without a wonderful pasta dish, which was oftentimes spaghetti or rigatoni, two of my grandmother's specialities.

When I visited my cousins, it seemed there was always a pasta dish at the ready.

But stuffed shells was never one of them.

Fast forward to when I was a young wife and mother, this one was added to my favorite pasta dishes. Yum!

If you want a dish that is delicious and you can do for a week night dinner or that is perfect for  a potluck, I suggest you give this one a try.  I promise, you won't be disappointed!

Stuffed Shells

1/2 box of jumbo shells
1/2 pound ground chuck
1/2 pound ground breakfast sausage
1 jar of Marinara Sauce
1 1/3 cups of cottage cheese
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 8-ounce package of shredded mozzarella cheese
1 egg
4 tablespoons of parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare shells according to directions on package.

Brown ground chuck and sausage together in a skillet until done.  Pour in one jar of Marinara Sauce, stir, and heat through.

Mix together cottage cheese, parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, egg, parsley, salt and pepper.

Fill each shell with cheese mixture and place in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Pour Marinara Sauce over shells and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.

Serve to family and friends!

August 13, 2015

Coca-Cola Chocolate Cake

I have seen this recipe around for years, but I have never made it nor have I ever eaten it.  This chocolate cake recipe is basically the same as the Chocolate Sheet Cake a/k/a as Texas Sheet Cake, which is my favorite chocolate cake.  The only appreciable difference is one cup of Coke instead of one cup of water.

I needed to run to the grocery store today for hamburger buns for supper, and I picked up a few ingredients I needed for this cake.  I was almost totally out of all-purpose flour (gasp), and I needed buttermilk.

I used a "boiled chocolate icing recipe" that I use on my Chocolate Sheet Cake and did not use Coke in the icing.  I thought Coke in the cake was enough extra sweetness.  Besides,  I love, love this icing.  It is the most decadent chocolate icing.

If you like chocolate cake, you're sure to like this cake.  It is pretty delicious.

Coca-Cola Chocolate Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups sugar
2 sticks of butter
5 tablespoons of cocoa
1 cup of Coca-Cola
2 eggs
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Spray a 9 x 13 cake pan with cooking spray 

In a large mixing bowl, mix together 2 cups of all-purpose flour, sugar and 1 teaspoon of baking soda.
In a saucepan over low heat, melt two sticks of butter, one cup of Coca-Cola, 5 tablespoons of cocoa.
Pour over dry ingredients and whisk together.  In a measuring cup, measure 1/3 cup of buttermilk, add in two eggs, and 1 tablespoon of vanilla.  Beat together with a fork.  Pour into mixing bowl with batter and stir until well incorporated.

Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.

For Icing

1 stick of butter
1/3 cup milk (plus two tablespoons)
5 tablespoons of cocoa
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 box powdered sugar

Melt butter, milk, and cocoa over low heat.  Stir in one teaspoon of vanilla.  Pour over 1 box
of powdered sugar.  (I added a couple more tablespoons of milk to this recipe to make the icing a little thinner and glossier.)

Immediately spread icing over cooled cake.

Serve to family and friends!!!


August 12, 2015

Cake Mix Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you need an easy, delicious chocolate chip cookie fix, here's a recipe for you.  My mother found the recipe in our local newspaper years ago, and my entire family has been making it ever since.  Our kids have loved this recipe and now some of them are making this recipe for their families.

I have adapted this recipe a bit for today's blog post.  I added 3/4 cup of flour to the original recipe and some cute little star sprinkles.  The flour makes the cookie a little more substantial; so it looks prettier, and although I was a little concerned about how the cookies would taste, they actually taste better.

These show up often at family potlucks and holiday dinners.  If we have more than one dessert, these cookies are the first to go.

Cookies are my favorite!

Why don't you try these great little cookies this weekend?

Cake Mix Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 yellow white cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)
3/4 cup of flour
1/2 cup Canola Oil
2 tablespoons of water
2 eggs
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 heaping cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Sift yellow cake mix and flour into a large mixing bowl.  Stir in oil, water,  eggs, and vanilla until all ingredients are incorporated.  Stir in chocolate chips and sprinkles.  Cover mixing bowl and place dough in the refrigerator for a few hours.  Using a cookie scoop, scoop dough onto a cooking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

Serve to family and friends!

(Cookie dough will keep for a few days in the refrigerator.  I only bake a few at a time because I like my cookies freshly baked.)


August 8, 2015

From Local Farm to Table Peach Pie

Because it's peach season, it's time to make Peach Pie.  This pie was fresh out of the oven and still warm and bubbly when I snapped this photo.  The very best way to eat it, warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

I love, love my sweet little star cut-outs.  I found this star cookie cutter at Jo Ann Fabric.  It is a Wilton cookie cutter.  There are probably six graduating sizes of stars.  I also bought the heart cookie cutter, as well.

Fresh peaches, just like all of our wonderful bounty of locally grown fruits only last a short time, and then we have to wait another year for them to reappear.  Perhaps this is what makes them taste so wonderful and special.  Maybe if we had fresh peaches, strawberries, blueberries, or apples every day all year, we wouldn't appreciate them quite so much.

I truly look forward to each of our bountiful seasons.  Southern Illinois celebrates our wonderful harvest with a festival for strawberries, peaches, and apples.

If you want to make this truly delicious pie, here's the recipe:

Peach Pie

1 Box Refrigerated Pie Dough
4 cups fresh peaches, peeled and sliced
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons of flour
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 tablespoon of butter, cut into small cubes
A bit of milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

After setting pie dough out and bringing to room temperature, place one round into the bottom of a pie dish and prick with tines of a fork in several places.

In a large mixing bowl,  stir sliced peaches, 1 cup sugar,  1 cup water,  2 tablespoons of flour, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla together.

Pour into unbaked pie shell.  Place cubed butter on top of the pie filling.
Lay pie dough for top of pie onto countertop and cut out stars.  Roll dough onto a rolling pin and lay over top of filling.  Crimp the top of crust together.  Place the cut out stars on top.  Brush a bit of milk on top of crust.

Bake for 40 minutes.

Serve to family and friends!


August 4, 2015

A Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie made in a Cast Iron Skillet

I've been seeing cookies baked in iron skillets on different blogs and on social media, and I thought I would give it the "old college try".  

Oftentimes, I try recipes I see online, and I wind up pretty disappointed.  You know, you spend the money to buy the ingredients and then the time to make it, and I feel like WTH, but this recipe is great!

My very favorite cookie and maybe my very favorite dessert is a chocolate chip cookie.  I have made them so many times, I believe I could totally make them in my sleep.

This is yummy, chocolatey, sugary goodness.  You should try this recipe right away!

And if anyone is actually reading this blog post, and you happen to notice my different watermarks, I've had a bit of a watermarking crisis recently and am trying out a couple of different apps.  I do like the first one.  Problem solved.

To make this chocolatey, ooey, gooey goodness, this is how I did it:

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Baked in a Cast Iron Skillet:

2-1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of salt
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs - room temperature
1 cup of butter (2 sticks)  - room temperature
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 12-ounce package of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together.  Cream butter with paddle attachment in a stand mixer until light and fluffy.  Beat in sugar and brown sugar.  Beat in both eggs and vanilla.  Mix in dry ingredients, one-half batch at a time, until just incorporated.   Stir in chocolate chips.

Spray the bottom of a 10-inch cast iron skillet with Canola Spray.   Spread cookie dough into skillet and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 25 minutes.  This left mine fairly gooey in the center.  If you want your cookie more done, add another five minutes or as much time as you need to get it cooked to your satisfaction.

Serve to family and friends!