Bringing up Beans from the Basement

Black-eyed peas eaten on New Year's Day brings good luck. These 30 year old beans are gonna need it. Or maybe it's those who eat the beans that will need it. Happy New Year's Eve.

New Year's Eve Menu
T-dawgs Hot Dog Stand

Hot dogs and buns
T-Dawgs sauce (my imitation J Dawgs sauce)
Banana peppers
Yellow mustard
Brown mustard
Celery salt

Veggie chips

Cowboy caviar

Soda floats with homemade ice cream

Brownies and chocolate chip cookies (maybe)

Cowboy Caviar AKA Poor Man's Caviar
Adapted from
Any combination of beans work.

1 (14 ounce) can black or kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15.5 ounce) can black-eyed peas or navy beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14 ounce) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 ounce) can white corn, drained
1 cup finely chopped Vidalia or other sweet onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup finely chopped fresh parsley or 1/3 c. dried parsley
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh basil or 1/2 to 1 t. dried basil
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, or amount to taste (optional)

Stir the black beans, black-eyed peas, garbanzo beans, white corn, onion, garlic, parsley, and basil together in a bowl.
To make the dressing, mix the olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, dry mustard, and hot sauce together in a small bowl until well blended. Pour over the bean mixture and toss to mix evenly. Refrigerate for 24 hours before serving.

Calories: about 160 in 1/2 cup

"Is that part of the recipe?"

I am asked. "It's part of MY recipe," I answered as I grind old hard Tang and lemonade in the food processor." I live with nosy ingrates who obviously don't appreciate my economical efforts. I don't know why they are so concerned about what I am feeding them.

Wassail Mix

1 cup Tang powder
1 1/2 cups of lemonade powder (Country Time)
2 to 3 cups sugar, according to taste
2 tsp cinnamon
1 to 2 tsp cloves, according to taste

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container. Place 2 T. in a cup. Add one cut hot water.


Here is another one.
Wassail Mix
3 c. sugar
1 c. Tang
1 1/2 c. lemonade (Country Time)
1 c. Instant Apple Drink
2 t. cinnamon
2 t. ground cloves
1 t. ginger

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container. Place 2 T. in a cup. Add one cut hot water.

This recipe made my crusty instant apple cider much better and I can use butter that is starting to sour.
Hot Buttered Apple Cider Mix

1 pound dark brown sugar
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground cloves
1/4 t. ground nutmeg

Cream butter and sugar. Mix in spices. Place one heaping tablespoon in cup. Add hot apple cider. Can top with whipped cream. Of course in my case I had to make the apple cider from the packet first then add the butter mix.

If your apple cider is already spiced reduce or eliminate the spices if desired. ( and just add butter and sugar-yum! Come to think of it, let's live dangerously and add butter and more sugar to all the drinks).

The Brown Spotted Pear

The young brown spotted pear is an elusive creature as it quickly becomes mature and develops into the brown pear. It can be found the world over but is most likely to be seen in areas of procrastination and general goofing. It is, however, quite tasty. It it recommended to remove the most soft parts. The mature adult, the brown pear, can be eaten as well but only in select dishes.

Grilled Ham and Cheese with Pear

8 slices country style white bread, sliced 1/2 inch think
Ham, thinly sliced. I used about 1 3/4 to 2 oz of baked ham per sandwich
12 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded or sliced
2 pears, peeled and thinly sliced
Butter, softened

Pre-heat skillet on medium-low heat.

Assemble sandwich: Place cheese, ham, pear, more cheese on bread. Top with remaining bread and press to hold sandwich together. Spread top generously with butter. Place buttered-side down into skillet. Slightly press again. Generously butter the remaining side. Cook until cheese is slightly melted and bread is browned, slightly pressing on sandwich with spatula as it cooks. Flip and cook, slightly pressing, until cheese is thoroughly melted and sandwich is golden brown. Serve immediately.

Vary the ingredient amounts to your taste.
Use apple instead.
Spread Dijon mustard on the inside of the sandwich.

History Repeats Itself

Buy bread. Turns hard. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Who even does that? This time I used my hard French bread as bread crumbs.

Cauliflower Gratin
From Taste of Home

1 c. chicken broth
1 large head cauliflower, washed and separated into florets
1/4 c. butter, cubed
1/4 c. seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 c. shredded Parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan, bring broth to a boil. Add cauliflower. Reduce heat to medium; cover and cook for 15-18 minutes or until tender.
Meanwhile, in a small skillet, melt butter. Add bread crumbs; cook and stir for 3-5 minutes or until toasted and browned. Remove from the heat; stir in Parmesan cheese. Drain cauliflower; top with crumb mixture.

I obviously just used plain bread crumbs. Sometimes plain fat works. Also, I used grated Parmesan in the green jar.

Nutritional Analysis: 1 cup equals 150 calories, 10 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 25 mg cholesterol, 459 mg sodium, 11 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 6 g protein.

Clump O'Marshmallows

I had 2 left over sweet potatoes (or are they yams?) sitting on the counter and no one was eating them. I baked them and still no takers. Then I remembered the clump of marshmallows in the pantry. When marshmallows are stuck together in a ball it's hard to measure the right amount.

Candied Sweet Potatoes 

4 pounds sweet potatoes, quarters
1 1/4 c. butter
1 1/4 c. brown sugar
3 c. miniature marshmallows, divided
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add potatoes and boil until slightly underdone, about 15 minutes. Drain, cool and peel.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine butter, brown sugar, 2 cups marshmallows, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cook, stirring occasionally, until marshmallows are melted.
Stir potatoes into marshmallow sauce. While stirring mash about half of the potatoes, and break the others into bite-sized chunks. Transfer to prepared dish.

Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cover top evenly with remaining marshmallows. Top with more if desired. Return to oven and bake until marshmallows are golden brown.

    Merry Christmas to All

    Christmas Day Brunch
    (Yep, left-overs)

    Crab bisque
    Standing rib roast
    Baked ham
    Potato Pie
    Roasted asparagus
    Orange butterflake rolls
    Big soft ginger cookies with lemon frosting
    Hungarian love letters
    French silk pie
    Red mixed drink

    But to this I added the following:

    Quiche Lorraine
    Belgian waffles
    Baked French toast
    Cheese fondue with sourdough or French bread
    Cranberry vanilla cheese ball with assorted crackers
    Winter pear salad
    Fruit salad
    Texas grapefruit
    Fresh orange juice
    Apple cider
    Chocolate milk

    Hot apple cider with buttered spices
    Hot wassail
    Hot chocolate

    Happy Christmas Eve

    Christmas Eve Menu

    Crab bisque
    Standing rib roast
    Baked ham
    Potato Pie
    Roasted asparagus
    Sweet potato casserole
    Orange butterflake rolls
    Big soft ginger cookies with lemon frosting
    Hungarian love letters

    French silk pie
    Red mixed drink

    So Proud of Myself

    Only 2 little mold spots on the cooked spaghetti squash developed and I was all over it like...uh mold all over that unrecognizable food stuff I just threw out.

    Spaghetti Squash Gratin
    From Laura Rebecca's Kitchen
    Also found at

    1 spaghetti squash (2-3 lbs), halved lengthwise (stem to blossom end) and seeded
    2 - 3 cloves garlic, minced
    1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme (optional)
    2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp coarsely ground pepper
    8 oz Creme Fraiche or Sour Cream
    1 cup grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese, or a mixture of both

    Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place squash, skin side up (one half at a time), on microwave-safe dish; cover with microwave-safe plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 10-12 min, until tender.

    Carefully run the tines of a fork lengthwise over cut surface of squash to loosen spaghetti-like strands; scoop out strands. Drain excess liquid, if necessary, and set aside.

    Combine garlic, thyme, parsley, salt, pepper, creme fraiche/sour cream, and 2/3 cup cheese in small bowl. Fold into squash; place in shallow ovenproof 2 qt. casserole dish or glass pie plate. Top with remaining cheese.

    Bake 20 min or until lightly browned. (For a little extra browning, finish under the broiler.)

    The Current State of Affairs

    My Fresh Friday post. Hey, it counts. The tree is fresh. I think this pretty much sums up how things are going around here.

    Carcass Soup

    You know that roasted chicken you bought because
    1. You had no idea what to have for dinner.
    2. You didn't feel like cooking.
    3. If you had to cook another dinner you were going to scream.
    4. Cookies are not considered a well-balanced meal.
    5. Truth be told you don't even know how to cook.
    6. Nobody likes what you make anyway.
    7. There is nothing in the house to make.
    8. You are on a diet and making dinner would ruin it. (my fav)
    9. They smelled really good.
    10. Your kitchen is like a restaurant that is open 24 hours a day and everyone eats at different times and likes different things and you once served 6 meals in a 2 hour period and maybe that is the reason you are getting so fat!!!!! (apparently this one is my fav)

    Whoa. Easy there, girl.

    Anyway, don't throw out the carcass. Make soup out of it. You can do the same with a turkey carcass only increase the ingredients. After all you're not sick of turkey yet are you? That will be another post, you lucky dogs.

    Chicken Soup

    Chicken carcass
    12 c. water
    8 chicken bullion cubes
    1 T. dried minced onion or one medium onion chopped
    1 t. dried dill
    4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 to 1 inch slices
    2 c. frozen green beans
    4 oz thick home-style egg noodles (the kind that take 20 mins. to cook)

    Place chicken carcass in a large stock pot. Add water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 mins. Remove carcass leaving the water. Turn off the heat. Set aside chicken to cool. When it is cool enough to handle, remove any chicken meat from the carcass (translation: dig and pick) and put back into pot. Add rest of ingredients and stir. Return to a simmer. Simmer for 15-20 mins. until vegetables are tender and the noodles are cooked.

    If your noodles take less time to cook, add the vegetables and cook for 10 mins. Then add the noodles and cook 5 mins. more.

    The vegetables can be varied. Replace 4 parsnips for the green beans or 2 parsnips for 2 carrots. Or 2 parsnips for 1 c. green beans. If only using carrots, use 8. Some high level math going on here.

    Now what if your partakers can see through your economical skills and use words like "foisting heinous leftovers?" Or at least think them? Entice them with dumplings.

    Homemade Bisquick Mix

    4 c. flour
    2 T. baking powder
    1 1/2 t. salt
    1 c. shortening

    Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add shortening and mix until blended. Use and electric mixer or your hands to do this. Can halve this recipe for use below with no left over.

    Bisquick Dumplings

    2 c. Bisquick Mix (half the above recipe)
    2/3 c. milk

    Mix both ingredients just until soft dough form. Do not over mix. Drop by spoonfuls onto boiling soup or stew. Cook uncovered on low heat for 10 mins. Cover and cook 10 mins. longer.

    Adjust cooking times of soup or stew when adding dumplings. For example, in the carcass chicken soup, when all the ingredients are in the pot, bring to a simmer and add the dumplings. Cook on low for 10 mins. uncovered. Cover and cook another 10 mins. The dumplings, vegetables, and noodles will all be done at the same time.

    The Never Ending Quest

    Who? Me, and a few other people.
    What? Ate the most delicious roasted squash soup ever drizzled with hazelnut oil and topped with pumpkin praline.
    Where? Tiburon, Naples, FL
    When? November 25, 2004
    Why? Because it was Thanksgiving.
    How? With a spoon

    Now I will spent the rest of my life in a quest to duplicate that soup. And I probably don't even remember what it actually tastes like. This year I made 4 different recipes. Here and here. Too savory. Then I made this one. Good but a little too sweet. This one was voted the best this year. This one looks like a candidate for next year. Call me crazy but I think I better limit it to 2 per year.

    Squash Soup
    Recipe courtesy Alton Brown
    Serves: 4 servings

    6 cups (about 2 large squash) seeded 2-inch wide chunks butternut squash
    Melted butter, for brushing
    1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus 1 teaspoon
    1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper, plus 1/2 teaspoon
    3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
    4 tablespoons honey
    1 teaspoon minced ginger
    4 ounces heavy cream
    8 ounces cream cheese (optional)
    1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
    Brush the flesh of the squash with a little butter and season with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper. On a sheet pan lay the squash flesh side up. Roast for about 30 to 35 minutes or until the flesh is nice and soft.

    Scoop the flesh from the skin into a pot and add the stock, honey, and ginger. Bring to a simmer and puree using a stick blender or blend in blender. Careful hot! Stir in the heavy cream and return to a low simmer. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

    Last year a made a paltry total of 2 squash soups. Below is the preferred one last year. I added one package of cream cheese to try and duplicate the velvety smoothness I remember.

    Butternut Squash Soup
    From Diana Rattray
    Makes about 8 cups

    Garnish this flavorful soup with spiced pumpkin seeds or toasted pecans.

    1 large butternut squash, 2 1/2 to 3 pounds
    1 1/2 cups apple cider
    1/3 cup brown sugar
    2 cinnamon sticks, cut in half crosswise
    2 tablespoons melted butter
    1 cup diced onion
    2 tablespoons butter
    4 cups chicken broth
    dash ground ginger
    dash ground nutmeg
    1/2 cup heavy cream
    salt, to taste
    butter-toasted pumpkin seeds, optional, see below

    Using a vegetable peeler, peel the squash. Cut into chunks, removing seeds and soft fibers with a spoon. Put in a bowl; add apple cider, brown sugar, and cinnamon stick pieces then drizzle all over with the melted butter. Pour the mixture into a 9x13-inch baking pan; cover tightly with foil and cook at 450° for 1 hour, or until very tender.

    Meanwhile, cook diced onion in a large saucepan in the 2 tablespoons butter. When onion is very tender, add chicken broth; bring to a boil; remove from heat and set aside. When squash is very tender, remove from oven. Remove cinnamon from the squash. With a slotted spoon, transfer the squash to the chicken broth and onion mixture. Add about 1/4 cup of the roasting pan juices to the saucepan. If desired, add 8 oz cream cheese. Bring to a simmer. Working in about 4 batches, puree the squash mixture in a blender; return to the saucepan. Stir in the ginger and nutmeg and the heavy cream, along with salt, to taste. Heat through. Serve with butter-toasted pumpkin seeds (below), if desired, or sprinkle with a little cinnamon, toasted pecans, or chopped peanuts.

    Butter-Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
    In a small skillet, heat 2 teaspoons butter; add a few tablespoons of pumpkin seeds and cook over medium-low heat until lightly browned. Transfer to a paper towel to drain; sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

    Bye to Buttermilk

    I finished my container of hard buttermilk powder.
    I celebrated by having a piece of cake.

    Red Velvet Cake

    1 oz. red food coloring
    1 oz. water
    2-3 T. cocoa or Nestle's Quick cocoa mix
    1/2 c. shortening
    1 1/2 c. sugar
    2 eggs
    1 c. buttermilk
    scant 1 t. salt
    2 1/4 c. cake flour
    1 t. vanilla
    1T. vinegar
    1 t. soda

    Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour two nine inch cake pans or just spray with Pam.

    In a small bowl mix the food coloring, water and cocoa. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream together shortening and sugar. Beat eggs into colored cocoa mix and then add to shortening and sugar. Beat until mixed well. Add buttermilk, flour, salt and vanilla. Mix. Stir in vinegar and soda. Pour into prepared pans. Bake for 30 mins. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 mins. remove from pans. Let cool completely.

    Velvety Frosting

    1/2 c. flour
    1 1/2 c. milk
    1 1/2 c. sugar
    1.1/2 c. butter, softened
    1 T. vanilla

    Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off. In medium saucepan, combine flour and milk. Cook over medium heat until mixture is very thick, stirring constantly. Cover surface with plastic wrap; cool completely. In large bowl, beat sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add flour mixture by tablespoonfuls, beating at high speed until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Fill and frost cake, using 1 c. frosting between layers.

    Velveeta Gets an Upgrade

    I have some Velveeta in the basement that is old. Does it really ever get old? I think not. But it does look weird..."it looks like it has been melted." Here is a recipe using Velveeta that ensures your cheese fondue will not ball up, or become stringy or separate. Not that I have ever had that happen to a few pounds of cheese before.

    Easy and Fool Proof Cheese Fondue
    Serves many!

    1 c. water
    2/3 c. water mixed with 1/3 c. white vinegar and 1 T. sugar ( my substitution for 1 c. white wine)
    3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
    1 T. butter
    1/4 t. white pepper
    1/4 t. ground nutmeg
    2 pounds processed American cheese, cubed or sliced
    2 pounds Gruyere cheese. shredded. cubed or sliced

    These directions use a crock-pot for ease.
    Preheat crock-pot on low.
    Place water, wine substitution, butter, garlic, pepper, and nutmeg in a saucepan and bring to boil. Pour into crock-pot. Add cheese. Gently stir. Allow cheese to melt on low stirring occasionally. Stir just to mix. Add more cheese or more water to bring to desired consistency. Keep crock-pot on low or keep warm or place in a chafing dish with the flame low.

    Dip rye bread, French bread or sourdough bread. These can be cut into bite-sized pieces. Apples that have been peeled and sliced are wonderful for dipping as well.

    Don't bring cheese temperature past its melting point or it will ball up. Don't stir too much. Stirring increases the chance of it becoming stringy.

    If you don't use a crock-pot, bring all ingredients except cheese to a boil in a double boiler. Add cheese a little at a time stirring until cheese is melted. Pour into a chafing dish with the flame kept low.

    More Thanksgiving Favorites

    Home-style Stuffing

    For 1 chicken

    1/4 c. butter
    1 t. dried minced onion
    1/2 t. poultry seasoning
    1/2 t. celery salt
    2 T. parsley

    4 C. cubed day old bread
    3/4 c. milk

    Melt butter in saucepan. Add onion, poultry seasoning, celery salt and parsley. Stir. Add bread and toss lightly. Remove from heat and add milk. Mix gently.

    For Thanksgiving I multiply this by 12. This makes enough to stuff a 20 pound bird, with an additional pan, and plenty of leftovers. The bird stuffing will be moist. For moist stuffing in the additional pan bake it covered. If dry stuffing is desired bake uncovered. Bake both 350 for about 30-60 mins. I have never really timed it. I would say 45 mins. if my arm was being twisted. Be sure to place a cookie sheet under it as it spills over butter something fierce. I use fresh Wonder bread that actually turns a day old the minute you open it. For 12X you will need about 2-2 pound loaves of Wonder bread.

    I don't like anything to come between me and my buttery seasoned Wonder bread, but if you want little pieces of things to crunch here are some substitutions:

    1/3 c. onion for the minced onion
    1/3 c. celery plus 1/2 t. salt for the celery salt

    Melt butter. Add onion and celery. Saute until onion is transparent. Add poultry seasoning, salt, parsley and bread. Toss lightly. Add milk. Mix gently.

    3 - 24 oz loaves of bread makes about 10 times this recipe. 

    Caramelized Sweet Potato Wedges
    serves 4
    From Martha Stewart Living

    The potatoes are done when the caramelized sugar bubbles and browns around the sides of the pan. One medium sweet potato is about 2/3 pound.

    2 T butter
    2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled, cut lengthwise, and each cut into 8 1/2-inch wedges (about 1 1/3 pounds)
    3 oz. freshly squeezed orange juice
    1/4 c light-brown sugar
    2 T granulated sugar
    salt and freshly ground pepper
    zest of 1 orange

    In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add potato wedges to the pan, and stir until coated with butter. Add 1 cup water and the orange juice; cover, and cook until potatoes are fork-tender, about 5 minutes.

    Remove cover, reduce heat to medium, and continue cooking, tossing occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated, 3 to 4 minutes more.

    Combine sugars, and sprinkle over potatoes; toss until coated. Continue cooking until the sugar starts to caramelize and potatoes have a brown glaze, 5 to 6 minutes, tossing occasionally to prevent potatoes from burning. When caramelized sugar bubbles and browns around the edges, remove potatoes from pan. Season with salt and pepper, garnish with orange zest and serve immediately.


    Long after the last leaf has been raked and the apples have been gathered in, crisp nights meld into crisp days and the memory of warm apple cider doughnuts and fresh apple cider are still in your mind, you remember the ice cold cider you have been saving for just a time as this...

    ...and it is unpalatable. But it does make a delicious moist turkey.

    Apple Cider-Brined Turkey
    from Diane Morgan

    2/3 c. kosher salt
    2/3 c. sugar
    6 quarter-size slices fresh ginger or 1 t. ground ginger
    2 bay leaves
    6 whole cloves
    1 t. black peppercorns, crushed
    2 t. whole allspice berries, crushed or 1 t. ground allspice
    8 c. apple cider or juice
    2 oranges, quartered

    In a 3- to 4-quart saucepan, put salt, sugar, ginger, bay leaves, cloves, peppercorns and allspice. Add apple cider or juice and stir to combine. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring until salt and sugar have dissolved. Boil for 3 min. then remove from heat. Add 4 c. of ice cold water, stir and set aside to cool.

    Place plastic turkey-size oven bag inside a second bag, then place in a large stockpot. The stockpot will hold the bags and turkey for you. Position bags so they are wide open and fold the top of bags over the stockpot. Remove turkey from its wrappings. Remove neck and bag of giblets. Stuff main cavity of turkey with orange quarters. Place turkey inside bags. Pour brine over turkey. Add another 2 c. cold water. Draw up top of inner bag, squeezing out as much air as possible; secure it with a twist tie. Do the same for outer bag.  Refrigerate 12 to 24 hours.

    Just before roasting, remove turkey from brine. Discard bags, brine and any cured herbs or spices remaining on bird. Discard oranges and ginger. Rinse turkey under cold water and pat dry with paper towels.

    Place turkey on a rack in a roasting pan. Add 1 c. of water to pan. Cover and roast 300-325 until done. Uncover the last few minutes to brown turkey.


    Have you ever left orange juice concentrate in the fridge to thaw and forgot about it? Yeah, me neither. But if I did and it was dark and fermented, it would still taste good in this recipe.

    Red Slush

    3 packages unsweetened cherry Kool-Aid. I use black cherry.
    3 cups sugar
    12 oz can frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed

    Add all ingredients to a 5 quart container. Add 4 quarts of water, leaving an a couple of inches of head space at the top. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Freeze for 24 hours in a deep freezer, longer in a frost free freezer. Thaw for about 4 hours before serving or microwave for 10 minutes. Chop the slush completely before serving.


    These are some favorite Thanksgiving recipes.

    No Roll Pie Crust Dough

    From Bon Appetit

    Makes one 10 inch pie crust

    3/4 c. unsalted butter
    1/4 c. sugar
    1 T powered sugar
    2 c. flour

    Melt butter. Add sugars and stir. Add flour and stir. Spray pie plate with Pam. Press dough into plate. Refrigerate at least 30 min.

    Heritage Pumpkin Pie
    From Bon Appetit
    Makes one 10 inch pie

    1 1/2 c. canned evaporated milk (one can)
    1 c packed br. sugar
    1 can pumpkin
    1 t. ground cinnamon
    1/2 t. salt
    1/2 t. ground ginger
    1/4 t. ground nutmeg
    2 large eggs-beaten
    1/4 c. pure maple syrup

    Stir milk and sugar in heavy saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves. Cool slightly. Using electric mixer, beat pumpkin, cinnamon, salt, ginger and nutmeg in large bowl to blend. Add milk mixture and beat one minute, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Add eggs and beat well. Add maple syrup and beat one minute. Pour into crust. Bake at 375 in the center of the oven for about 50 min. I think baking for about 65-70 at 350 might be better. I might try 425 for 15 minutes then 350 for 40-50 minutes.  This makes a very large pie and will not fit into a 9 inch pie plate.

    To decorate pie with leaves, make 1/2 recipe of no roll pie crust dough. On floured surface, roll dough to 1/8-inch thick. Cut out with cookie cutters in leaf shapes. Brush the rim of the crust with water to moisten. Place leaves around moistened outside edge of pie, pressing gently to secure. Leaves can be in a side-by-side or an overlapping pattern. Cover leaves carefully with foil to prevent over browning while baking. Foil can be removed the last few minutes of baking to brown leaves if needed. Bake a few leaves on a cookie sheet for 5-8 minutes. Place these in middle of pie after baking pie and after the leaves and pie have cooled.

    Cranberry Fool

    1-16 oz. can cranberry jelly
    1 t. almond extract
    1 T. grated orange peel (optional)
    1 c. heavy cream, whipped and sweetened to taste or 1-8 oz container of Cool Whip (can add up to 1/2 c. more cream if desired)

    Mix together the first three ingredients with an electric beater or in a blender (recommended) until smooth. If using a blender, spoon cranberry jelly mixture into a bowl. Fold in 1/2 cup of whipped cream or Cool Whip to lighten. Fold in rest of whipped cream or Cool Whip. Fill parfait or dessert dishes. Chill until set. Garnish with whipped cream and orange slice. May also be used at room temperature as a fruit dip.

    Cranberry Orange Relish

    12 oz. fresh cranberries, rinsed and drained, about 3 c.
    1 unpeeled orange, washed, cut into eighths and seeded
    1 cup sugar

    Place half the cranberries and half the orange slices in a food processor and process until evenly chopped. Do not over pulse. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with remaining cranberries and orange slices. Add sugar and stir. Let stand at room temperature until sugar dissolves, about 45 mins. Best if it is made the day before. Can make up to one week ahead. Store in refrigerator. Makes 3 cups.

    Bottom of the Bag Becomes Bliss

    I had a couple of handfuls of hard dried cranberries that I needed to something with so I could throw out the giganormous bag they were in. This worked out quite nicely.

    Cranberry Bliss Bars

    3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
    1 1/4 cups light brown sugar, packed
    3 eggs
    1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
    1 teaspoon ginger OR 2 T. finely minced crystallized ginger
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    3/4 cup diced dried sweetened cranberries
    4 ounces white chocolate, cut into chunks or white chocolate chips

    4-ounces cream cheese, softened
    3 cups powdered sugar
    4 teaspoons lemon juice
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

    1/4 cup chopped dried cranberries

    Drizzled Icing
    1/2 cup powdered sugar
    1 tablespoon milk
    2 teaspoons vegetable shortening

    Preheat oven to 350°F.
    Make cake by beating butter and brown sugar together with an electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs, vanilla, ginger, and salt and beat well. Gradually mix in flour and baking powder until smooth. Mix 3/4 cup diced dried cranberries and white chocolate into the batter by hand. Pour batter into a well-greased 9x13" baking pan. Use a spatula to spread the batter evenly across the pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until cake is lightly browned on the top. Allow cake to cool.

    Make frosting by combining softened cream cheese, 3 cups powdered sugar, lemon juice and vanilla extract in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. When the cake has cooled, use a spatula to spread frosting over the top of the cake.

    Sprinkle 1/4 cup of diced cranberries over the frosting on the cake.

    Whisk together 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon milk, and shortening. Drizzle icing over the cranberries in a sweeping motion with a squirt bottle or fill a plastic food storage bag with the icing and cut off the tip of one corner.

    Allow cake to sit for several hours or cover and chill in refrigerator for 2 hours then slice the cake lengthwise (the long way) through the middle. Slice the cake across the width three times making a total of eight rectangular slices. Slice each of those rectangles diagonally creating 16 triangular slices.


    Makes 16 bars.

    Its Official. I'm a Wiener

    I won a giveaway over at seriouslysoblessed. I will now collect my booty and spend $400 to fly to Utah to cash in on my $50 gc. Life is good. and i'm an ingrate. no really it was exciting to win.

    Update 12/8/09: It was a gc to use anywhere!!

    Orange Ya Glad I Made This?

    I had some old crystallized orange marmalade and some old butter. They have gone from yuck to yum in one easy step. OK, two, because I had to heat the marmalade to get rid of the crystals. As I look into my fridge I see there will be more butter recipes.

    Orange Butter

    1 c. (2 sticks) butter, softened
    1 (10 oz) jar orange marmalade

    Combine both ingredients; beat at medium speed with and electric mixer until creamy. Cover and refrigerate.
    Makes 2 cups.

    Word of the Day

    Or should I say my life?


    1. becoming putrid; undergoing putrefaction.
    2. of or pertaining to putrefaction.

    pu⋅tres⋅cence, pu⋅tres⋅cen⋅cy, noun

    Orange Julius, Jello Style

    Fact: I only make one Jell-O recipe and it doesn't require orange Jell-O.
    Fact: I have left over orange Jell-O from someone's medical test prep.
    Fact: I have a tower of sour cream and my recipe calls for yogurt.
    Lets do dis.

    Orange Julius Jello
    3 small pkg. orange Jello
    2 c. water
    24 oz. sour cream
    3/4 c. powdered sugar
    2 - 8.4 oz. cans of mandarin oranges, drained

    Heat water until very hot/almost boiling. For ease use the microwave. Stir in Jello and mix until it is dissolved. Spoon sour cream into a separate bowl. Mix in powdered sugar. Add Jello a little at a time, stirring each time until smooth. (You could use a blender for this instead). Stir in mandarin oranges. Chill until set.

    Save the drained juice to make a smoothie.

    Crescent Rolls

    These are a favorite around here.

    Crescent Rolls
    24 rolls

    1 c. milk
    1/3 c. butter flavored shortening
    1 t. salt
    1/2 c. sugar
    1 egg
    3 1/2 to 4 c. all-purpose flour or bread flour
    1 T. yeast
    1 T. sugar
    1/4 c. hot water

    These directions utilize a bread machine.

    Proof the yeast. Whisk the yeast and 1 T. sugar in warm water. I run the tap until it is as hot as it can get as I store my yeast in the refrigerator and it needs very warm water. Let stand 10 minutes. It should be foamy if it is viable yeast.

    Warm the milk. Pour into bread machine. Add shortening, salt, sugar, egg and yeast mixture. Add 3 1/2 c. flour.

    Set bread machine to dough cycle and turn on. Let machine mix dough. Add flour until the ball of dough just no longer sticks to the sides. Allow dough cycle to complete.

    Once the cycle is complete, take dough out of bread machine. Let it rest for up to 10 minutes if desired.

    Cut dough in half. On lightly floured surface, roll out half into 12 inch diameter circle. Divide into fourths. Further cut each fourth into thirds so there are 12 wedges. Roll each wedge beginning at the large end. Place on baking sheet with the points underneath. Repeat with other half. Place all 24 rolls on one large baking sheet.

    Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours. To speed the process, place baking sheet on a heating pad or place in oven that has been warmed by heating it at 350 degrees for 2 mins. Rising time will be about 45 minutes using the faster method.

    Pre-heat oven to 350. Make sure the risen rolls are out of the oven. Bake for 12 minutes, until rolls are just lightly browned. This method will result in soft and doughy rolls.

    If you like your rolls more baked, preheat oven to 375 and bake for 10-12 minutes.

    I mistakenly added 1/2 c. shortening instead of 1/3 c. and they were yummy. I just might do this again.

    Wasn't Halloween Last Week?

    I have a wedding and church this weekend. Think anyone will notice these?

    Crostata with Raspberry Jam


    Crostata with Raspberry Jam
    From Giada De Laurentiis

    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    2 tablespoons sugar
    1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
    10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    3 tablespoons ice water
    Flour for dusting, as needed
    1 jar (3/4 cup) raspberry preserves
    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    1 tablespoon sliced almonds, toasted
    Powdered sugar, for dusting, optional

    Mix the flour, sugar, and lemon peel, in a food processor. Add the butter. Pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add salt. Pulse in the ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until moist clumps form. Gather the dough into a ball; flatten into a disk. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Can be made the day before.

    Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to an 11-inch round. Transfer the dough onto a heavy baking sheet that has been lined with a silpat or parchment paper. Stir the lemon juice into the preserve and spread the preserves on top of dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Fold the dough border over the filling to form an 8-inch round, pleating loosely and pinching to seal any cracks in the dough.

    Bake the crostata until the crust is golden, 35 to 40 minutes. Allow to cool. Sprinkle with the almonds and dust with the powdered sugar, if you wish. Slide a metal spatula under the crust to free the crostata from the baking sheet and serve.

    Viney or Rotten-y?

    The last harvest of the tomatoes were either viney or really overripe. It was hard to tell but not hard to tell they didn't taste very good.
    I hid them in chili.

    Beef and Bacon Chili

    1/2 lb sliced bacon, chopped
    1 lb lean ground beef
    1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped onions or 1 T dried mince onion
    1 green pepper, chopped (optional)
    28 ounces whole tomatoes, undrained
    16 ounces pinto beans, undrained (coarsely chopped if you wish)
    1 cup picante sauce
    1 tablespoon chili powder
    2 teaspoons ground cumin
    1 teaspoon salt

    4-6 servings

    Optional toppings: sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, chopped onion, chopped cilantro, Fritos.

    In a large saucepan, cook bacon over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until crisp. Remove to paper towels with slotted spoon. Pour off all but about 1 tablespoon of the drippings. In drippings, brown ground beef with onion and green pepper; drain. Add reserved bacon and remaining ingredients except optional toppings; mix well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes. Ladle into bowls, top as desired, and serve with additional picante sauce.

    Instead of the bacon you can substitute with 8-10 slices of pre-cooked bacon chopped. Skip the step of cooking the bacon and reserving the drippings. Add pre-cooked bacon with remaining ingredients.

    Apple Butter

    Remember this loverly applesauce? Well it did make some lovely apple butter.

    Apple Butter

    7 cups applesauce, natural
    2 cups apple cider
    1 1/2 cups brown sugar
    1 1/2 cups honey
    1 tsp ground cinnamon
    1/4 tsp ground cloves, optional
    1/2 tsp allspice

    In a slow cooker, combine all ingredients. Cover and cook on LOW for 14 to 15 hours or until mixture is a deep brown and desired consistency. Remove the cover for the last 3 hours, stir occasionally and watch for burning.
    Spoon hot apple butter into hot sterilized jars and seal, then process half-pints or pints 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

    Cookies With a Two Year Old

    To quote that 2 year old: "What a mess!" I frosted, he sprinkled. I did not get a picture of all the orange sugar dumped out.

    This is a sturdy sugar cookie. How is that for a description? If you don't overcook them or I should say slightly undercook them, they are soft. There, that is better-soft sugar cookie.

    Ultimate Sugar Cookies
    from Crisco

    6 dozen cookies

    1 cup Butter-flavored Crisco (or 3/4 cup plain shortening and 1 1/2 t. butter flavor)
    1 cup granulated sugar
    1 large egg
    2 T. milk
    1 tsp vanilla
    3 cups all-purpose flour
    1-1/2 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    Colored decorations: Granulated sugar, colored sugar crystals, frosting or assorted candies

    Beat shortening and sugar in large bowl, with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth and creamy. Beat in egg, milk and vanilla until well blended.

    Combine flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Gradually add flour mixture to shortening mixture at low speed until well blended. Wrap dough in plastic wrap; refrigerate 1 hour for easier handling.

    Heat oven to 375ºF. Roll 1/3 of dough at a time on lightly floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut dough with 2 to 3-inch floured cookie cutters. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Sprinkle with sugar, if desired.

    Bake 5 to 9 minutes or until edges just begin to brown. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet. Transfer cookies to cooling rack. Frost and decorate as desired.

    Variation: drop cookie: Do not refrigerate dough. Drop by rounded measuring tablespoonsful of dough 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 375ºF for 7 to 8 minutes.

    Buttercream Frosting from Wilton

    I add 1 t. butter flavor OR replace the shortening with butter flavored shortening.
    1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
    1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
    1 t. vanilla extract
    4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (approximately 1 lb.)
    2 tablespoons milk
    Makes: About 3 cups of icing.

    Stiff Consistency: In large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer. Add cocoa and vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use. For best results, keep icing bowl in refrigerator when not in use. Refrigerated in an airtight container, this icing can be stored 2 weeks. Re-whip before using.

    For Thin (Spreading) Consistency Icing: Add 3-4 tablespoons light corn syrup, water or milk.

    Have I Gone Too Far?

    Actually I didn't make this.
    Potion by Tracy. Photo by Whitney.

    There's More?

    Finally, the last of the French bread. But I suppose there will be a next time. This loaf lasted so long because it was so hard and dry. There was no chance mold could survive. (Unlike the Italian loaf around here). This recipe is a panzanella style salad. Panzanella is Italian for soggy croutons. Not really. I don't think anyway. Soggy croutons is the common denominator in this recipe and authentic panzanella.

    Panzanella Style Salad
    serves 4

    12 ounces 2-3 day old French bread or other country white style, cut into 2-inch slices (or whatever you can break it into)
    Your favorite oil and vinegar style dressing
    5 c. packed cups of romaine lettuce
    2 large ripe tomatoes, diced

    Preheat oven to 400. Place bread slices on baking sheet and toast until crisp. Cool. (My bread was so dry I didn't have to do this). Cut or tear into 1-inch cubes.

    Place bread in medium bowl. Add enough warm water to cover bread. Let stand until bread is just semisoft, about 1 minute. Squeeze bread gently to release excess water. Transfer bread to large bowl. Add 1/3 to 1/2 c. of your favorite dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let stand at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.

    Mix lettuce and tomatoes into bread mixture. Sprinkle with basil. Pour 1/3 to 1/2 c. dressing over salad and toss to blend.

    Candy Corn Mix

    Candy Corn Mix

    24 oz. bag Brach's candy corn or Indian corn
    16 oz jar of dry roasted peanuts
    14 oz bag of M&Ms

    Mix all ingredients well in a large bowl. Eat. Then try to stop eating it.

    Vary it anyway you like. You can add raisins, more peanuts, or use regular peanuts (that's what I had on hand). Or you can make just a candy corn and peanut mix using one jar of peanuts and one bag of candy corn. It taste's like a Payday. Just don't substitute the Brach's brand candy corn. Other candy corn isn't as good.

    Oh Look,

    my refrigerator...

    ...after I emptied it.

    Is that a tower of sour cream? Why yes, it is. Why do you ask?

    15 jars of assorted jams. 16 if you include lemon cheese. I hope I didn't throw out anything "good" or that I could still use. At least I saved those 10 pounds of slimy carrots.

    Victory Is Mine!

    OK, not really. I mean I had a root canal and still have to have a crown on my broken tooth and the only thing
    that happened to the stale French bread is that it was turned into delicious French toast.
    I did, however, use a very sharp knife to cut it up.

    Overnight French Toast for a Crowd

    2 loaves French bread, cut into 1-inch thick slices
    1 pint (2 c.) whipping cream
    1 dozen eggs
    1 c. honey
    1/2 t. nutmeg
    1 t. vanilla

    Grease two 9x13-inch pans or one large jelly roll pan.
    Lay French bread slices flat in pans.

    Beat cream and eggs until well mixed. Add honey, nutmeg and vanilla and beat until smooth.
    Pour over bread, dividing evenly between pans. Refrigerate overnight.

    Preheat oven to 400. Bake French toast 8 min. on a side until golden brown.

    I like to make mine 24 hours before baking and flip it once (at the 12 hour mark) while soaking. I also don't like to flip it while baking so I just bake it on one side for about 20-25 mins. The bottom will be darker than the top using this technique so don't brown the top too much.

    Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar

    Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar
    from Cook's Illustrated

    1/3 c. Balsamic vinegar
    2 t. sugar
    1/2 t. lemon juice
    3 pints strawberries (about 18 0z) hulled and cut lenghtwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices (small strawberries can be halved or quartered)
    1/4 c. packed light brown sugar (if you don't have light brown sugar you can substitute granulated sugar)
    Ground black pepper (optional)

    Bring vinegar, 2 t. sugar, and lemon juice to simmer in a small heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until syrup is reduced by half (about 3 T.), about 3 min. Remember if you reduce too much you can always add water. Transfer vinegar syrup to small bowl and cool completely.

    With spoon, lightly toss berries and brown sugar in large bowl. Let stand until sugar dissolves and berries exude some jice, 10 to 15 minutes. Pour vinegar syrup over berries, add pepper to taste, and toss to combine. Divide berries among individual bowls or goblets and serve immediately.
    Two recommended supermarket vinegars- Lucini Gran Riserva Balsamico (more expensive) and Monari Federzoni Balsamic Vinegar of Modena (cheap).

    OK now my tip. Vinegar is like salt. It cuts bitterness. Without calories I might add. If you are eating plain strawberries and want to cut the bitterness without adding sugar...just salt them.


    This might be a good time to pass on a medical tip learned from DR.T.
    Botulism - you can get it if you eat food that has it - an
    indication is when a can looks like it's going to burst - botulism
    bacteria produces gas I think - not absolutely positive about it.

    In any event, if someone gets it, it can lead to paralysis that typically
    starts with the muscles of the face and then spreads towards the limbs.
    It paralyzes their diaphragm so they can't breathe, which is why people
    die. So if that happens (truly paralyzed and not just choking), you
    just do mouth to mouth while waiting for paramedics. As long as someone
    or something (like a ventilator) breathes for them for a few days, it
    should be ok. It takes 3–5 days for the symptoms to become apparent.

    Foodborne botulism results from contaminated foodstuffs in which
    C. botulinum spores have been allowed to germinate. This typically
    occurs in home-canned food substances and fermented uncooked dishes.


    I can't feel my face!

    Oh yeah. That is from the Novocaine I had with my root canal today thanks to stale French bread.

    Well, This Looks Appetizing

    This is applesauce that I made in 1993 from 1992 apples. What?
    You couldn't recognize it? There is nothing wrong with it ...
    besides it is brown and watery and...well you get the idea.
    I usually use it to make applesauce bread but while I was looking
    for a recipe to use my fermenting apple cider, I found an apple
    butter that needs both apple cider and applesauce. I am
    wondering if the two will approach critical mass or will the
    double negatives will become a positive. What do you think?
    I will let you know how it goes.