Sunday, May 31, 2009

An Open Letter to Dogs and Cats!!!

From my very good friend Angie of Love The Prim Look!

The following was found posted very low on a refrigerator door.

Dear Dogs and Cats: The dishes with the paw prints are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Placing a paw print in the middle of my plate and food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.

The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Racing me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn't help because I fall faster than you can run.

I cannot buy anything bigger than a king sized bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort. However, dogs and cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other, stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out on the other end to maximize space is nothing but sarcasm.

For the last time, there is no secret exit from the bathroom! If, by some miracle, I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, meow, try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge in an attempt to open the door. I must exit through the same door I entered. Also, I have been using the bathroom for years - canine/feline attendance is not required.

The proper order for kissing is: Kiss me first, then go smell the other dog or cat's butt. I cannot stress this enough.

Finally, in fairness, dear pets, I have posted the following message on the front door:


(1) They live here.. You don't. (2) If you don't want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture. That's why they call it 'fur'-niture. (3) I like my pets a lot better than I like most people. (4) To you, they are animals. To me, they are adopted sons/daughters who are short, hairy, walk on all fours and don't speak clearly.

Remember, dogs and cats are better than kids because they (1) eat less, (2) don't ask for money all the time, (3) are easier to train, (4) normally come when called, (5) never ask to drive the car, (6) don't hang out with drug-using people; (7) don't smoke or drink, (8) don't want to wear your clothes, (9) don't have to buy the latest fashions, (10) don't need a gazillion dollars for college and (11) if they get pregnant, you can sell their children ..

Friday, May 29, 2009

TGIF!! Tipsy Pots & Snickers Bar Cheesecake!!

I simply love these and you will to...They are so simple and easy to make..

First pick a spot in the lawn where you want the Tipsy Pots to go. Remove the sod & drive a 66" long piece of re-rod (Get at Menards) into the soil two feet, then surrounded the rod with newspaper to help prevent weeds from coming up through the mulch. It's important to pound the rod into the soil at least two feet so that the rod will support the weight of the pots when full.
Then place a 12" round clay pot at the base, threading the re-rod through the drainage hole. You must fill the pot full of soil at this point so that the next pot has something to sit on. Press the soil down and water it in to firm it up a bit. Use 10" pots for the remainder of the tower, although you can also use pots in ascending sizes. Thread the second pot through it's drainage hole and tilt it to one side so that the base of the 10" pot is resting on the soil.
The next three pots will be threaded onto the rod and tilted on opposite sides of each other so that the weight is distributed evenly.

These three pots will have their bottoms resting on the rim of the pot below as shown in the picture. When planting,make sure you leave a 1" to 1-1/2" space at the top of each pot so that when you water, the soil does not run out of the pot along
with the water. I found that mulching the tops of the pots will help prevent this also. I prefer to mulch clay pots anyway to help conserve moisture as clay pots tend to dry out quickly in the summer heat. When watering, water slowly, allowing the water to be absorbed by the soil before adding more water. A layer of mulch on the ground, over the newspaper finishes it off beautifully..

Snickers Bar Cheesecake

1 (9 ounce) package chocolate wafer cookies
4 tablespoons butter, melted
24 ounces cream cheese, softened, each
8-ounce block cut into sixths
1 cup granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream, divided
1 1/2 pounds Snack-size Snickers bars

Heat oven to 325 degrees F. In a food processor, grind cookies into fine crumbs. Add butter and process until well blended. Press into bottom and about 1 inch up sides of a 9- or 10-inch springform pan.

In a large bowl, beat together cream cheese and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla extract and 1 cup of the cream; beat 3 to 4 minutes. Fold in 1 1/2 cups cut-up Snickers pieces. Turn into a crumb-lined pan. Bake 1 hour and 15 to 25 minutes, or until cheesecake is almost set but center still jiggles slightly. Let cool to room temperature.

Sprinkle remaining candy pieces over top of cheesecake. Refrigerate at least 4 to 5 hours before serving.

Run a knife around edge of pan to loosen cake and remove springform side of pan. Just before serving, drizzle fudge topping over cake. Whip remaining 1 cup of cream until stiff and spoon a dollop over each slice.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

This & That Junk Drawer Wednesday!! Faux Stained Glass Window & Brownie Tips With A Recipe!

Sorry for my absence the past few days...Had a family emergency!...

My 20TH Week "Down That Road Again" saw another .5 pond lost...Better than nothing I say...

Faux Stained Glass Window

Use these instructions to make a beautiful stained glass window decoration -
Materials Needed:

Old window frame with glass intact
Sand paper
Window cleaner
Simple drawings to fill the panes. (coloring books)
A bottle of Liquid Lead (#16076)
Stained glass paint. The paints needed for this project are Gallery Glass® Window Color™, a paint developed specifically for use on glass surfaces to create faux stained glass.
Paint brushes
Sand frame to remove any loose paint.

Clean the window panes.

Sketch your drawing, coloring books make great sources for your stained glass pictures (spring flowers, animals...) on a piece paper to fill the pane. Tape it to the back of the window, right side to the glass.

Following the drawing, make an outline with the Liquid Leading. Simple drawings are best.
If it’s a new bottle of Liquid Lead, remove the tip from the bottle, take out the paper seal, and replace the tip. Holding the bottle upside down, tap it firmly on the table top or other hard surface to get the lead to flow into the tip of the bottle. If you find the tip isn’t producing a decent line, make a tape tip for it. Periodically holding the bottle upside down and tapping it on the table while you’re working with it helps to reduce the air trapped inside and keep the lead from ‘spitting’ out the bottle.

The key to painting successfully with Liquid Lead is to keep the bottle tip away from the surface while you gently squeeze out the paint, not scrape the tip along the surface. Hold the bottle close to the bottom (flat end) of the bottle. Squeeze to start the flow of Liquid Lead, lightly touch the surface with the Liquid Lead at the start of a line of the printed design, then lift the bottle tip up at least half an inch off the surface and, while lightly applying pressure to the bottle, move your arm freely along each line of the design. Do not rest your arm or hand on the table as it will hinder the free movement needed to paint the Liquid Lead.

When leading dries, paint inside all the lines with glass paint. .Now that you’ve finished the leading and it’s dried completely, you’re going to fill in each section with your glass paint. Don’t use too much paint -- you want to avoid having paint flow over the leading into another section. It’s far easier to add more paint than to remove excess paint.

Bottle of paint don't have a paper seal like Liquid Lead, they're ready to use straight away. Holding the bottle upside down, tap it firmly on the table top or other hard surface to get the paint to flow into the tip of the bottle. Now you’re ready to paint with that color.

Work from the center of the project out to help keep your hands and fingers out of wet paint. Turn the project as needed to work on each section.

Start by running the tip of the bottle along the edge of the leading; this helps eliminate any ‘light holes’ without paint. Fill in each section with the color listed on the design. Unlike with Liquid Lead, the tip of a paint bottle should touch the surface as you use it

Work systematically, adding your colors in a section before moving onto the next one. Start with the color adjacent to the 'lead' edge, and work inwards.

Use a cotton swab to clean up or remove unwanted paint from the surface if necessary. Get into the habit of wiping the tips of the paint bottles with a piece of paper towel regularly. This helps prevent unwanted drips, or contamination of the color.

Leave the project to dry for eight to 12 hours, or until all painted areas are transparent and clear of milky shadows. Be careful where you put the project while it dries, as you don’t want anything to touch the surface or dust to blow onto it. Do not allow paper, fabric or other such materials to touch or cover the painted surface before it is totally dry as it’ll mess up the paint.

This is not only a great way to decorate a dull panel of glass, but it can cover chips, small cracks, discoloration and other problems to renew an old glass surface.

My breakfast for the week!

I mix together:
1 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1/2 cup blueberries
1/4 rounded cup Grape Nuts cereal
1/8 cup chopped walnuts

Yummy Good!!!!

Ten Tips for Better Brownies

1.Always use the finest ingredients when making brownies; sweet butter, premiere chocolate and homemade vanilla extract if possible.
2.Homemade baking powder is a must along with soft wheat flour .
3.Make sure your nuts are fresh, and toast them lightly for better flavor.
4.When testing for doneness the center will seem a touch underdone. This is the time to take them out of the oven if the sides are done as they will continue to bake in the pan while cooling.
5.The last five minutes or so watch them carefully as even a minute or two can make the difference between a moist or dry brownie.
6.Nuts make the batter lighter, if omitting them the brownie will be more dense and you will need to adjust the baking time.
7.Melt the butter adding the sugar till dissolved makes for a moister brownie.
8.When mixing the chocolate with the batter if a small portion of the chocolate isn’t melted don’t worry as it will give you pockets of creamy chocolate in between bites.
9.A thick batter will give you moist fudge like brownie, where as a thin batter yields a more cake like brownie.
10.Brownies will firm up upon cooling so do consider this when taking them out of the oven.

Texas Pecan Brownies

1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups dutch cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons homemade baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon homemade vanilla extract
12 ounces best-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup toasted pecan pieces

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9×13 inch baking dish or pan with butter
n a saucepan, melt 1 cup of butter over medium heat; add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Keep mixture warm.
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.
Add the butter mixture and stir to combine.
Add the eggs, vanilla extract, chocolate and the nuts.
Stir until the chocolate is almost all melted and the ingredients are combined. (This is a thick batter)
Spoon the batter into a prepared pan and spread the top to even the mixture in the pan.
Bake until set, 25 to 35 minutes.
emove to a rack to cool.
Cut into pieces and serve.
Store into an airtight container for up to 3 days. Frankly, they won’t last 3 days!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Frosted Glass Windows & Candy Bar Cake!!

Now is the time to start on those Christmas projects.....I figured--this would be an AWESOME gift to make for someone for the holiday gift giving----here's how it is done-----
This is from my friend Renee at "BirchBerry Farms"
She made these and sold them at a local shop...I think you could pick up some old picture frames at garage sales/thrift shops and use to make smaller items...Just let your creative juices run wild....Also check the garage sales for the Christmas items you will need to make these!!

1. Gather some really cool white and off white painted pane windows
2. Clean WELL
3. Used clear contact paper and cut the letters after tracing them onto the contact paper from a stencil---if you do not have a stencil-----worry not---here's a famous trick---use your computer and print the letters out Large and then trace them through the contact paper with a sharp pen---then cut them out and place them onto your window----whatever words you like---JOY---Let it SNOW--blah blah blah the possibilities are endless---You can also use some cheap snowflake stickers to place here and there on the window as well---that large snowflake is actually a rhinestone studded metal one that came from Target in the ornaments dept. and then glued it on there with 'Fusion' a clear polyurethane non foaming glue---it's a miracle glue---like magic it is so STRONG----also put a masking tape line to keep from going astray in your letter placement when you stick them on there---it takes a long time to get them all on there very straight and beaut-eeee-ful---so patience is totally a virtue!
4. Go to a well ventalated area to spray this really cool spray on there that FROSTS the glass---you can get it at most craft stores and it is a spray--the particular one that is used is from Valspar and it is called Frosting for Glass and was by the stained glass painting supplies----spray nice and evenly taking great caution in overspraying your amount so it does not drip onto your glass----Give that window 3 SEPERATE coats letting it dry 1 hour between coats-----then let it dry WELL and CAREFULLY peel your stickers off and then you can glue your other embellishments on there and VIOLAAAA---BEAUTIOUS WINDOW CREATION---by you!!!
PS. You can also do the reverse of that option and have your letters be frosted and I also think it would be WAY cool to add some white lights on the backside of it---to hang on the wall---or mantle---OMGosh--the picture doesn't really do it justice--they are really very pretty---have fun with this!

How to Make a Homemade Candy Bar Cake

Baking a cake using Milky Way candy bars will please the palate of any chocolate candy lover. When melted and added to the cake mix, it will enhance the taste of any flavored cake and when served, will have others asking for seconds. Use the same cake recipe and add other chocolate bars for a different taste and flavor. No matter what type of candy you add to this freshly baked cake, or what shape or form the cake looks like, the taste will be outstanding!

8 Milky Way bars (or other candy bar)
1 3/8 cups butter or margarine
2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Jar of Milky Way Topping (optional)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Make a Milky Way Bundt Cake
Use a microwave-safe bowl and add half a cup of butter to 8 Milky Way candy bars. Place in the microwave to melt to a smooth consistency. Check on it every 15 seconds to make sure it is not overly melted. Remove from the microwave and place on the stove top to cool.

Soften the butter in the microwave or in a small pot on top of the stove. In a large mixing bowl, cream the sugar with the softened butter using a fork. Continue until the mixture becomes smooth and fluffy. Break the eggs (one at a time) into the mixture. Using a wooden spoon, blend each egg separately, until they all are completely blended with the mixture.

Using another bowl, blend the flour and baking soda. When blended, add it to the creamed mixture (above) by adding first some of the mixture, then some of the buttermilk, ending with the flour mix. Fold in the melted mixture of the candy and vanilla extract. Stir until completely blended.

Grease your Bundt pan only to about an inch or so from the top. Sprinkle flour lightly over the grease to keep the mixture from sticking to the pan. It is very important not to grease and flour clear to the top; it will run over, make an awful mess in your oven, and the cake will fall. Place into an oven that you have preheated to 325 degrees F. Bake for about one hour or until the toothpick test shows that the cake is dry inside. Remove and allow to cool before you add the topping.

Make the glaze for the cake by heating up the Milky Way topping to a thin consistency, then pouring it slowly over the top of the cake, allowing it to melt down the sides. Sprinkle with chopped nuts if desired.

Friday, May 22, 2009

TGIF! Tricks For Your Coffee!!

Cold-Brewed Ice Coffee

Yield: Two drinks

1/3 cup ground coffee (medium-coarse grind is best)
Milk (optional)

1. In a jar, stir together coffee and 1 1/2 cups water. Cover and let rest at room temperature overnight or 12 hours.

2. Strain twice through a coffee filter, a fine-mesh sieve or a sieve lined with cheesecloth. In a tall glass filled with ice, mix equal parts coffee concentrate and water, or to taste. If desired, add milk.

How to Make a Low-calorie Heart Healthy Coffee Drink at Home:

You'll Need:
Decaf coffee
Sugar free flavored syrups
Almond milk (or soy milk or skim milk)
Add to taste some sugar-free flavoring to a cup of fresh, hot coffee. Flavored syrups can be found in most grocery stores, in the coffee aisle.
Almond milk is delicious in flavored coffee. It has less fat than skim milk, and has such nutrients as antioxidants, calcium, magnesium, selenium and copper, that are necessary for good health. You can find almond milk on the shelf, not in the refrigerator section, in rectangular cardboard boxes.

Coffee, sugar-free flavored syrups and almond milk make a delightful, full bodied morning beverage. If you want your coffee even sweeter, add Splenda to taste.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

This & That Junk Drawer Wednesday Crock Pot Recipes!!!

For all you gals that are so busy you forget to start cooking supper! There is the always the old CROCKPOT....Yummy, Yummy meals

Crockpot Porcupine Balls

1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef
1/2 c. raw rice
1/2 c. onion, finely chopped
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
3 cans tomato soup

In mixing bowl combine ground beef, rice, onion, egg, salt and pepper. Mix well to blend. Shape meat mixture into 24 meatballs, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Place meatballs in slow cooking pot. Mix soup with a little water to make it a bit runnier. Pour soup over meatballs. Cover and slow cook at low 7 to 8 hours or high 4 to 5 hours. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

How to Bake Potatoes In Your Crock Pot

Wouldn't you love to come home and have a nice hot baked potato waiting? Follow the steps below and all you have to do when you get home is broil your steak, make a salad and dinner is ready! They would also go good with the Porcupine Balls...
Aluminum Foil
Crock Pot
Decide how many potatoes you'll need. Wash potatoes well, be sure to scrub off all the dirt. After your potatoes are washed, melt butter and brush all over the skin of the potato.
Sprinkle the potato with salt and pepper to your taste. You can also add other spices you'd like, such as chili powder, garlic powder or onion powder.
Cut aluminum foil to fit each potato and wrap potatoes tightly.
Place inside the empty crockpot and cover. Turn on high to allow your potatoes to cook for 4-6 hours or low and you can cook them for 6-8 hours.
Remove potatoes from crockpot using pot holders. They will be hot. Tear off aluminum foil and allow to cool for about 5 minutes. Serve with butter and/or sour cream.

Crock Pot Tater Tots

2 lbs. frozen tater tots
1 small can evaporated milk
1 can cheddar cheese soup (undiluted)
1 can of French onions

Place frozen tater tots in a crock pot that has been sprayed with Pam.
Mix together the soup and milk; pour over tater tots.
Sprinkle onions on top.
Cook on low heat for 4 hours.

Chocolatey Chocolate Crock Pot Dessert
1 Chocolate cake mix (I like Duncan Hines)
1 small box instant chocolate pudding
16 oz. Sour Cream
4 eggs
¾ cup Vegetable Oil
1 cup water
1 cup Chocolate chips

In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix and the pudding. Add the sour cream, eggs, vegetable oil, and water. Stir well until all ingredients are combined. Add the chocolate chips and stir to mix.

Spray the inside of your crockpot with cooking spray. Pour the mixture into the crockpot and cook on low for 4 hours. DO NOT let it cook longer than 4 hours as it can burn. Dessert will not be firm and will not be gooey. If you cook for the full 4 hours it will come out just perfect, and is great with ice cream!

A Woman's Work
One afternoon a man came home from work to find total mayhem in his house. His three children were outside, still in their pajamas, playing in the mud, with empty food boxes and wrappers strewn all around the front yard.
The door of his wife's car was open, as was the front door to the house. Proceeding into the entry, he found an even bigger mess.
A lamp had been knocked over, and the throw rug was wadded against one wall. In the front room the TV was loudly blaring a cartoon channel, and the family room was strewn with toys and various items of clothing.
In the kitchen, dishes filled the sink, breakfast food was spilled on the counter, dog food was spilled on the floor, a broken glass lay under the table, and a small pile of sand was spread by the back door.
He quickly headed up the stairs, stepping over toys and more piles of clothes, looking for his wife. He was worried she may be ill, or that something serious had happened. He found her lounging in the bedroom, still curled in bed in her pajamas, reading a novel. She looked up at him, smiled, and asked how his day went.
He looked at her bewildered and asked,
"What happened here today?"
She again smiled and answered,
"You know every day when you come home from work and ask me what in the world did I do today?"
"Yes" was his incredulous reply.
She answered, "Well, today I didn't do it!!!"

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"Nineteen Weeks Down That Road Again"-Hardtack & Johnnie Cake!!!

Getting to that point where I don't want to diet any more and it is getting harder for me...I always have trouble in the summer...Get busy outside and forget to eat lunch or it gets to late to prepare a proper supper...You must know what I am talking about...I did lose .5 pounds last week....Mowed the grass today, cleaned out the pond and got it set up and then planted flowers & tomatoes...I have 20 tomato plants in containers (Black Walnut tree kills them if I put them in the ground)They are all heirlooms and different varieties....Also have some grape & cherry tomatoes...It was so hot here today..Got up to the high 90's and my face and arms got sunburned a little....Will have to get the pond plants out of the basement and into the water tomorrow and then restock my fish....Always something going on....
This is my 2 year old great-granddaughter Evelyn at her birthday party Sunday

< and her 3 year old brother Ethan


"'Tis the song that is uttered in camp by night and day,
'Tis the wail that is mingled with each snore;
'Tis the sighing of the soul for spring chickens far away,
'Oh hard crackers, come again no more!'

'Tis the song of the soldier, weary, hungry and faint,
Hard crackers, hard crackers, come again no more;
Many days have I chewed you and uttered no complaint,
Hard crackers, hard crackers, come again no more!"

Hardtack was a biscuit made of flour with other simple ingredients, and issued to Union soldiers throughout the war. Hardtack crackers made up a large portion of a soldier's daily ration. It was square or sometimes rectangular in shape with small holes baked into it, similar to a large soda cracker. Large factories in the north baked hundreds of hardtack crackers every day, packed them in wooden crates and shipped them out by wagon or rail. If the hardtack was received soon after leaving the factory, they were quite tasty and satisfying. Usually, the hardtack did not get to the soldiers until months after it had been made. By that time, they were very hard, so hard that soldiers called them "tooth dullers" and "sheet iron crackers". Sometimes they were infested with small bugs the soldiers called weevils, so they referred to the hardtack as "worm castles" because of the many holes bored through the crackers by these pests. The wooden crates were stacked outside of tents and warehouses until it was time to issue them. Soldiers were usually allowed six to eight crackers for a three-day ration. There were a number of ways to eat them- plain or prepared with other ration items. Soldiers would crumble them into coffee or soften them in water and fry the hardtack with some bacon grease. One favorite soldier dish was salted pork fried with hardtack crumbled into the mixture. Soldiers called this "skillygallee", and it was a common and easily prepared meal.
Would you like to make some hardtack to display in your primitive home? It's very easy to make and here's the recipe…

2 cups of flour
1/2 to 3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon of Crisco or vegetable fat
6 pinches of salt
Mix the ingredients together into a stiff batter, knead several times, and spread the dough out flat to a thickness of 1/2 inch on a non-greased cookie sheet. Bake for one-half an hour at 400 degrees. Remove from oven, cut dough into 3-inch squares, and punch four rows of holes, four holes per row into the dough. Turn dough over, return to the oven and bake another one-half hour. Turn oven off and leave the door closed. Leave the hardtack in the oven until cool. Remove…It should be very hard and dry….If it isn’t then turn the oven on to 150% and leave the hardtack in till hard & dry…These look nice in old jars with a waxed calico covering tied with grungy butcher string…


Does your taste lean more to the southern side? Then try a "Johnnie Cake” that the Confederate soldiers enjoyed with their meals. The recipe is also very simple:
two cups of cornmeal
2/3 cup of milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
Mix ingredients into a stiff batter and form eight biscuit-sized "dodgers". Bake on a lightly greased sheet at 250 degrees till brown and hard, and you have a real southern Johnnie Cake to display in your primitive home….You can spray the Hardtack & Johnnie Cakes with matte clear acrylic sealer if you are worried about bugs getting in them….
If you want to make the Johnnie cakes to eat, then you… Mix ingredients into a stiff batter and form eight biscuit-sized "dodgers". Bake on a lightly greased sheet at 350 degrees for twenty to twenty five minutes or until brown. Or spoon the batter into hot cooking oil in a frying pan over a low flame. Remove the corn dodgers and let cool on a paper towel, spread with a little butter or molasses, and you have a real southern treat!
My Mother use to make these and she called them “Kentucky Dodgers”….We loved them with pinto beans, butter beans & fried potatoes….No wonder I have a weight problem!!!

Here is a label for your old Jar!

I got this label from a blogger, but I don't remember who it was...It was in a widget box, so someone please let me know....It is A Primitive Journey that has this label plus some more for you to grab...Just click on the name to go there...Thanks Diane for letting me know!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Strawberries, Strawberries and More Strawberries This Way & That Way!!

Strawberry Lemonade Recipe

2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
2 cups cold sparkling water or club soda
Mint sprigs, garnish
Whole strawberries, garnish
In a medium saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves. Add the lemon peel and lemon juice, stir, and remove from the heat. Let cool completely, then strain into a clean pitcher.

In a blender, puree the pint of strawberries and add to the pitcher with the lemon juice. Stir well to combine and refrigerate until well chilled.

Add the sparkling water and stir well. Pour over glasses filled with ice and serve, garnished with mint and strawberries.

Strawberry Soda Pop Cake

1 yellow or white cake mix
1 large pkg. or 2 small pkgs. strawberry Jell-O
1 cup boiling water
1 cup strawberry soda pop
1 small box vanilla INSTANT sugar free pudding
1-1/2 cups skim milk
1 large container of lite cool whip
Prepare cake mix according to package directions; bake in 13x9x2-inch pan. While still warm, puncture cake with a fork, about every 2 inches.
Combine Jell-O and boiling water. Stir to dissolve. Add strawberry soda pop to Jell-O and stir. Pour over cake while warm. Refridgerate this cake for at least 4 hours before serving.
Mix pudding with 1 1/2 cups skim milk, and beat until thick. Stir in Cool Whip and spread over cake before serving.

7 Up Fresh Strawberry Pie Recipe

1 pie shell (8" size) baked & cooled; or crumb crust if preferred
1 pint fresh ripe strawberries, washed,stems removed, well drained
1 cup sugar
1 cup 7up (or Squirt)
5 tablespoons arrow root or cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon red food coloring
1/2 lemon, juiced
4 tablespoons cranberry jello
Place strawberries in pie shell with flat side down.

Glaze: In a medium non-aluminum saucepan mix all ingredients EXCEPT the cornstarch or arrow root. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, add cornstarch or arrow root and cook until thick. Remove from heat & stir in the jello. Stir until dissolved. Let cool.

Spoon glaze over fresh strawberries in pie shell. Completely cool, then chill in refrigerator overnight.

Decorate the outer edge of the pie with whipped cream or cool whip.

If using pre-made crumb pie crust, melt 1/3 cup chocolate morsels; with small slanted cake spatula, spread a thin coat of chocolate in bottom only, of pie shell. Apply chocolate in a circular motion making sure you cover the complete bottom of shell. This prevents the crumb crust from breaking up when you slice the pie. When using a chocolate crumb crust I use white chocolate chips for the coating

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Tips for Cake Baking & White Chocolate and Sweet Potato Cake Recipe!!!

Tips for Cake Baking:

I’ve baked dozens of cakes, certainly hundreds of cupcakes, in my time- and while I’d like to be able to say that they were all mouthwatering successes, the truth is that I’ve had more than my fair share of failed cakes. The problem with cake baking, you see, is that it’s so very easy to screw up- all it takes is one forgotten ingredient, or one stir too many on your stand mixer, or forgetting to set the kitchen timer…

Today, I share with you my essential tips for cake baking. Hopefully, they bring you many deliciously successful cakes:

Take your measurements seriously. It’s all very well to dump in a little bit of this and that when cooking, but baking requires precision. After realizing that a one-cup measuring cup differed so much from another, I bit the bullet, bought a weighing scale, and use that to measure almost all my ingredients. I recommend the wonderfully affordable Escali Primo Digital Multifunctional Scale.

Use fresh ingredients. You wouldn’t use rancid butter or rotten eggs in your cooking or baking, and you want to make sure everything else is fresh as well. Check your flour for bugs, the expiration date of your baking powder and baking soda, and so on. Trust me, it matters.

Measure out everything first. It’s called mise en place - literally, “put in place” in French - and here’s its description from Wikipedia:

Recipes are reviewed, to check for necessary ingredients and equipment. Ingredients are measured out, washed, chopped and placed in individual bowls. Equipment such as spatulas and blenders are prepared for use, while ovens are preheated. Preparing the mise en place ahead of time allows the chef to cook without having to stop and assemble items, which is desirable in recipes with time constraints.

Don’t rely completely on the recipe. Why? Because cookbook and recipe writers and editors are only human- they make mistakes too. If something strikes you as very odd, like a missing ingredient or a method that doesn’t make sense, stop and think about it. Go online and search for user reviews on the recipe

Cream your butter and sugar well. By that, I mean at least three whole minutes. And I don’t recommend softening your butter, unless it’s pretty rock-hard. If it’s a couple of degrees below room temperature, it will cream beautifully right in your stand mixer.

Beat the eggs in one at a time. Add your eggs one at a time. I like to add an egg, run the mixer for twenty seconds, and so on. At this point, there’s no danger of overbeating your cake batter, so really get it well incorporated.

Fold in your dry ingredients gently and just barely. Here’s where you want to turn your mixer off- and once you add your dry ingredients (flour, etc.) you never want to go above the “stir” (or the lowest) speed. This right here is where you must not overbeat, or you’ll end up with a tough cake.

Use buttermilk. I almost always substitute buttermilk for milk in any cake recipe. It makes for a more tender, moister crumb. You can also add a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice to a cup of milk for “instant” buttermilk.

Line your cake tin. I buy huge rolls of baking parchment in bulk, and use it for everything- baking and cooking. I like to line the bottoms of my cake tins with parchment paper, adhering it to the pan with a light spray of baking spray (e.g. Crisco spray, Baker’s Joy or PAM). It makes it so much easier. Note: whatever you do, do NOT line your cake tin with plastic wrap. It will melt. Not pretty.

Start checking your cake a few minutes early. Most unsuccessful cakes have been overbaked. The best thing is to get to know your own oven, its hotspots and cold spots. And remember that your cake will continue cooking for a few minutes after you remove it from the oven, so you want there to be at least a few moist crumbs stuck to your cake tester.

White Chocolate & Sweet Potato Cake Recipe

Wow, does this cake look amazing & you will certainly knock off the socks of your guests with this cake recipe!
This cake recipe is truly one of a kind. I had never made this particular cake, but have tasted something very similar. The subtle taste of the sweet potatoes gets along marvelously with the delicate flavor or white chocolate. This cake recipe is a true keeper. Enjoy!

2 pounds sweet potatoes(about 3)
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
Unsalted butter, for pans
2 cups cake flour(not self-rising), plus more for pans
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons brandy
1 1/2 cups unsalted macadamia nuts, toasted, coarsely chopped
1 pound white chocolate
2 cups heavy cream

Heat oven to 400 F or 200 C. Coat potatoes with 1/4 cup vegetable oil, and place on baking sheet. Bake until tender, 30 to 40 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove skin, and mash flesh with a fork into coarse purée.

Lower oven temperature to 325°. Butter two 8-by-1 1/2-inch round cake pans, dust with flour, and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat eggs and sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add remaining 1 cup vegetable oil; beat on medium speed until well combined. Add the cooled sweet potatoes; mix until combined.

Sift together cake flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg; mix into sweet potato mixture. Mix in vanilla and brandy until combined. Remove batter from mixer; fold in 1 cup macadamia nuts by hand.

Evenly distribute cake batter into prepared pans, and transfer to the oven. Bake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let pans cool on a wire rack 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto rack; cool completely, about 1 1/4 hours.

Meanwhile, chop white chocolate into small pieces; set aside. Bring 1 cup cream to a boil; pour over chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted. Chill for 30 to 40 minutes.

When chocolate mixture has cooled, pour remaining cup cream into an electric mixer; whip on medium until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. Fold whipped cream into chocolate mixture until fully incorporated.

Cut each cake layer in half horizontally, creating four layers. Spread 2/3 cup chocolate frosting on one layer, then stack next layer on top, and frost. Repeat frosting-and-stacking process until each layer is frosted. Spread remaining frosting on sides and top of cake. Arrange remaining 1/2 cup macadamia nuts on top of cake, and serve with a smile!

Eat well & Laugh often!

Friday, May 15, 2009

TGIF & Laughter Is The Best Medicine!!

George Carlin's Views on Aging


Do you realize that the only time in
our lives when we like to get old
is when we're kids?
If you're less than 10 years old,
you're so excited about aging
that you think in fractions.

"How old are you?"
"I'm four and a half!"
You're never thirty-six and a half.
You're four and a half,
going on five! That's the key

You get into your teens,
now they can't hold you back.
You jump to the next number,
or even a few ahead.

"How old are you?"
"I'm gonna be 16!"
You could be 13, but hey,
you're gonna be 16!
And then the greatest day of your life .. .
You become 21.
Even the words sound like a ceremony

But then you turn 30.
Oooohh, what happened there?
Makes you sound like bad milk!
He TURNED; we had to throw him out.
There's no fun now,
you're Just a sour-dumpling.
What's wrong? What's changed?

You BECOME 21,
you TURN 30,
then you're PUSHING 40.
Whoa! Put on the brakes,
it's all slipping away. Before you know it,
you REACH 50 and your dreams are gone.

But wait!!!
You MAKE it to 60.
You didn't think you would!

So you BECOME 21,
TURN 30,
PUSH 40,
REACH 50 and MAKE it to 60.

You've built up so much
speed that you HIT 70!
After that it's a day-by-day thing;
you HIT Wednesday!

You get into your 80's
and every day is a complete cycle;
you HIT lunch;
you TURN 4:30 ;
you REACH bedtime.
And it doesn't end there.
Into the 90s,
you start going backwards;
"I Was JUST 92."

Then a strange thing happens.
If you make it over 100,
you become a little kid again.
"I'm 100 and a half!"
May you all make it to a
healthy 100 and a half!!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Rambling Thursday...Some Of This & Some Of That ...

Kool-Aid Pickles Recipe

1 jar (46-ounce size) whole regular dill pickles, drained
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups water
2 packets Unsweetened Cherry Kool-Aid

Drain and discard the juice from the pickle jar. Remove the pickles from the jar and cut each one in half lengthwise. Return the pickles to the jar and set aside. Pickle chips can also be used. In a large measuring cup, combine the sugar, water and Kool-Aid. Mix until the sugar has completely dissolved. Pour enough of the liquid into the pickle jar to cover the pickles. Discard any excess. Cover the jar and refrigerate at least 24 hours. Several days to a week is better. Makes a red colored, sweet, sour, salty pickle treat.

Apple and Spinach Salad
Serves 6

2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp fresh orange juice
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp honey
1/4 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
8 cups fresh baby spinach (about 8 ounces)
1 large apple, cored and thinly sliced
1/4 cup (1 ounce) crumbled blue cheese
Combine juices, mustard, honey, salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisk together. Place onions and spinach in a large bowl. Add dressing and toss together. Top with blue cheese.

Fresh Herbs

Looking for healthy, simple ways to take a dish from bland to brilliant? Do what professional chefs do: Use herbs.
Have you ever wondered why everything tastes so exquisite in fine restaurants? If you've talked to anyone in the food industry, you know: lots of butter. (Indeed, I even had a chef confess to me that the dastardly secret to his delicious egg white omelets was heavy cream.)
But there's another tack you can take at home: liberal use of fresh herbs. They add a sprightly complexity that can't be matched by dried, and are perhaps the single most transformative ingredient you can use to make your own cooking taste more like the work of a professional chef.
Growing your own herbs in a kitchen box takes little work other than daily watering; fresh herbs are also available year round in grocery stores, generally for under $2. So make it a policy to have at least one kind in the fridge, and see what a difference they can make in your cooking.

Lucky is the gardener with a thriving basil plant; these emerald-green satiny leaves emit the perfume of summer.

These oniony shoots are a boon to any busy cook. When you don't feel like getting out the cutting board to chop up an onion, snip these crunchy greens into a dish with a pair of scissors.

A somewhat polarizing herb, cilantro is prized in Chinese, Thai, Portuguese and Latin American cooking.

Don't let the delicate fronds fool you: Dill packs a lot of punch and tastes like a cross between celery, parsley and fresh fennel.

Though in the same family as oregano, velvety-leafed marjoram is more mellow, with floral notes as well as hints of sage and thyme.

Anyone who's tasted fresh mint can remember the shock of its bright, herbal pungency.

If you have trouble telling oregano's somewhat fuzzy leaves from marjoram's, that's because they're so closely related.

Parsley deserves a seat of honor in the pantheon of herbs for its ability to freshen almost any dish as well as to boost the flavor of any other herb paired with it.

Fresh rosemary looks, tastes and smells as if it's been stripped from a pine tree, along with some citrusy notes.

These fuzzy, sometimes silvery leaves are beautiful and strongly scented with the high notes of menthol and the low notes of the woods.

With its long, slender, pointy green leaves, tarragon has a lovely, gentle combination of licorice, basil and green-tasting qualities, plus a pleasant lemony-sour aftertaste.

The foundation of many slow-cooked French dishes, thyme tastes deeply herbal and almost meaty.

Need Some Humor?

There was a very self-sufficient blind man, who did a lot of traveling alone. He was making his first trip to Texas and happened to be seated next to a Texan on the flight.
The Texan spent a lot of time telling him how everything is bigger and better in Texas. By the time the blind man had reached his destination, a large resort hotel, he was very excited about being in Texas.
The long trip had worn him out a little so he decided to stop at the bar for a small soda and a light snack before going up to his room to unpack this clothes.
When the waitress set down his drink, it was in a huge mug. "Wow, I had heard everything in Texas is bigger," he told her.
"That's right,"she replied. The blind man ate his snack and finished his drink. After drinking such a large amount, it was only natural his next stop was going to have to be the restroom. He asked the waitress for directions. She told him to turn left at the register and it would be the second door on the right.
He reached the first door and continued down the hall. A few steps later he stumbled slightly and missed the second door altogether and ended up going through the 3rd door instead. Not realizing he had entered the swimming area he walked forward and immediately fell into the swimming pool.
Remembering everything he had heard about things being bigger in Texas, as soon as he had his head above water he started shouting "Don't flush! Don't flush!"