Archive for January, 2011

Garlic Shrimp and Pasta

1 bag or approximately 40 shrimp (deveined)

1 bag of thin or angel hair spaghetti

1 stick butter

1/2 cup white wine

3 cloves garlic or 1 tsp minced garlic

1/8 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp basil

1/2 tsp oregano

Cook spaghetti noodles until done.

Melt butter in sauce pan.  Add garlic and saute about five minutes.  Add wine and reduce sauce by cooking down 15-20 minutes. Add shrimp and spices and cook an additional 5 minutes before adding spaghetti.  Turn off heat and stir well to incorporate the sauce into the noodles.  Serve immediately or keep warm on the lowest setting.

Got some more flowers done on sugar cubes, still need to put in centers and do the leaves.

Read Full Post »

Ever read the label on your sour cream container?  I love sour cream but I don’t like mystery fillers.  Did you know you can make your own sour cream from home very simply and with only two ingredients?  In fact one of the ingredients you can make at home also and is another very versatile item to have on hand in your fridge.

Sour Cream

2 cups light cream

2 tbsp buttermilk

Combine the cream and buttermilk in glass jar with a lid.  Cover jar and shake to evenly distribute then sit jar in a warm location for several hours to overnight to set and thicken.  Once thickened store in refrigerator and use at your leisure.   It’s that simple.


1 cup buttermilk

4 cups fresh milk (Store bought)

You need a glass jar with lid also.

To make buttermilk it is very simple to do if you just remember this ratio.  1 to 4.   One part buttermilk to four parts milk.

Pour buttermilk into jar, fill with milk and seal with lid.  Shake well to distribute.

Let sit in warm location until clobbered (Thickened). This process takes about 24 hours and should take no longer then 36 hours.

To make additional buttermilk, save 1 cup of your batch of buttermilk to use as starter for a new batch.


Read Full Post »

Aw Nuts!

Ever hear the saying “From soup to nuts?” well this is close.  Today the kids and I went nut gathering along our property edges and out in our woods. Acorn nuts to be exact.  This is a small amount of the pail worth we gathered.  From those nuts came that flour, and from that flour will come some delicious bread and a thickener for gravies and soups.

Acorns long have been a food staple of the Native people in North America and Canada. Not only in turning it into flour, but also in roasting the nuts and grinding them up to make a coffee like beverage, or eating the nuts just as nuts.

Today allowed me not only to teach my children that nature provides for us, but also about the way our ancestors survived without local grocery store shelves or even gardens.

To make acorns edible takes a bit of work.

First you need to crack the acorns and remove the “nut”, a traditional nut cracker works fine for this.

Second you need to boil them in hot water, drain the water, and repeat the process three times to remove the bitter tannin.  This process will also remove any stubborn caps that won’t release.  (I personally save the water I drain off , at end of this post I’ll tell you why.)

Once you have expelled the tannin, take your boiled nuts and place them in a food processor, blender or food mill.  I use a food processor at the finest setting to get it as close to a flour texture as possible.  It will make at this point a paste, that is ok.  Spread the paste onto cookie sheets in thin layers and put in your oven to dehydrate.  You want the temperature around 150 degrees inside the oven for this process. My own oven does not go below 200, but I find by cracking the door open with a wooden spoon handle stuck in top, the temperature inside stays close to 150.   Dry for 2 hours upwards of 4 hours.  When you finish you want a solid “brick” that crumbles.

Return this dried brick to your food processor or blender and grind to flour like consistency. Don’t fret if all your flour is not uniformed.  At this point your acorn flour can be stored in airtight containers or baggies, or you can make it into a number of delicious foods.

Acorn Bread or Muffins

2 cups acorn meal

2 cups wheat flour

1/2 cup milk

3 tbsp butter or olive oil

1 tbsp baking powder

1 egg

1/2 cup honey OR maple syrup.

Combine all ingredients and pour into loaf pan.  Bake 400 degrees for 30 minutes for bread, 20 for muffins.

Indian Acorn Griddle Cakes

2 cups acorn meal

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup water

Combine into stiff batter and let sit one hour.  Fry on oiled griddle and cook like pancakes.  Serve with honey.

Pioneer Acorn Griddle Cakes

1 cup acorn meal

3 tbsp baking powder

1 cup flour

3 tbsp oil

1 tsp salt

1 1/4 cup milk

2 eggs

Mix into batter and cook on hot greased skillet.  Serve with butter, syrup, jam, or honey.

Acorn Flatbread

2 cups acorn meal

3/4 cup flour

2 tsp salt

water enough to make stiff dough.

Mix together to form stiff dough, let sit 30 minutes.  Squeeze into small balls and press each ball into a thin flat cake.  Fry on light greased skillet until brown on both sides.

Acorn Cookies

2 cups wheat flour

1 cup brown sugar (or white)

1 tsp baking powder

1 cup acorn meal

1/2 cup butter (or shortening but you know how I feel about that stuff.)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine ingredients keeping butter and sugar separate. Cream butter and sugar before adding to rest.  Pinch off walnut size pieces of dough and roll into balls.  Place 1 1/2 inches apart on lightly greased baking sheet.  Bake 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden.  Transfer to rack to cool.

A delicious topping for this is confectioner sugar icing flavored with maple syrup or honey.

Now, about that brown water you boiled the acorns in.  It is useful to ease comfort of rashes, burns and small cuts.  Also for poison ivy blisters when froze in ice cube tray and held on wounds.  The cold ice fusion also helps to soothe inflamed tissues.

If you are a hunter that likes to preserve your own animal hide.  The Tannic Acid is used for that very purpose.  To use, soak the clean, scraped animal hides in the brown water to cure.

The brown water also is useful to dye white and lighter colored fabrics, card stock, cross-stitch fabrics, etc.  It takes on a tan coloration which makes for a “old” look.

All that said, I bet you won’t pass a oak tree the same way again.



Read Full Post »

One Lump Or Two?

Valentines is soon approaching and I am far behind in being prepared for it.  I still have fabric and felt heart ornaments to finish sewing.  Cross stitch valentine plaques to finalize for an order. There are gingerbread valentine cookies for all the children in my son’s school.  A PTA party in which I’ve been given the charge of providing sweets, for that I will do an assortment of biscotti .  Then there is this, decorated sugar cubes for the Teachers, Principle and rest of the staff.

As decorated sugar cubes can be made in advance and stored in airtight containers without any issue. I have been working diligently on this project.  Each individual will get a 24 piece gift box.  a total of 35 gift boxes are needed in total.  (This school believes in the “If you bring for one, you bring for everyone philosophy. So that’s 35 staff, 500 students, and 275 PTA members, you do the math.) So far I’ve accomplished getting the ones which will have red hearts done, but have not yet gotten the arrows  completed as the frosting needs time to dry and set.

Should you want to try your own hand at decorating sugar cubes, or even cookies.  I recommend a few tips.

1.) Chose either to use a Royal Frosting, or a thick confectioner sugar frosting.  These are made with confectioner sugar frosting as I wished them to retain a bit of a sheen for the hearts, the arrows will be done with a Royal Frosting.  If you want to do fine scroll work, writing and such Royal Frosting is the best option as confectioners tends to “run” slightly.

2.) Don’t bother wasting time and money on decorator bags if you don’t already own them.  Purchase a good cake tip and the connectors (or several) and use Ziploc or equivalent baggies.  Simply cut a small section off one corner of the baggie, insert your connectors, tip, secure and you are good to go.  They can be rewashed and reused again many times before needing to be discarded.

3.) Unused icing can be stored in the fridge in the baggy, simply pull out and let warm to room temperature before using again. Left over icing is wonderful drizzled on homemade donuts, cinnamon rolls and desserts like puddings or pies.  True you might end up with some strange color rather then white frosting on your cinnamon rolls, but who cares if they taste good right?

Read Full Post »

Why I Need a Maid.

The result from my run in with the cabinet door while suffering lack of morning coffee in system.  I firmly believe I need a maid. Granted not all day and night, but rather just long enough to bring me that first cup of coffee. So I can sip in the safety of my fluffy pillows before being allowed to venture forth.

Read Full Post »

While going through some old bags of clothing from when my children were infants and toddlers. I came across several pairs of pull up pants I had made her to cover her diapers. The fabric was still in good shape so true to form, I began brainstorming.  We had an old artificial Christmas tree I had been storing in the shed as it has gone past it’s prime.  Another item I just couldn’t bring myself to replace, because I “might” find use for it someday.  When the children began protesting to having their Christmas tree taken down, loving to lay by the fire beside it while basking in the soft glow of the lights.  I decided to put the old tree to use, rather then just being a Christmas tree, it would become a year round tree.  Showing the seasons and celebrations on it’s branches and offering it’s soft glow the year through.  The fabric would be the perfect compliment to some Valentine Ornaments, and so, the plan was finalized.

Making these items is so simple, but the memories of that little baby in those polka dotted panties will forever be in my heart, and now that statement is literal.

Read Full Post »

Along with the red velvet mini cupcakes I also made Fudge Brownie Bites for a talent show taking  place this evening at my son’s school.  While this sounds complex, it really isn’t.  It just has to be done in stages.

First step is making the fudge. A simple recipe on how to make it is as follows:

STEP 1: Mint Chocolate Fudge

1 1/2 packages semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

3 cups of sugar

2/3 cups evaporated milk

1 jar marshmallow cream  (you can also make your own marshmallow cream, but I’ll post that recipe later)

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp peppermint extract

1 1/2 stick butter

In large skillet melt your butter, sugar and milk and bring to boil over medium heat.  Stir constantly to be sure the mixture doesn’t burn.  At boiling point, reduce heat and cook for an additional five minutes still stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and add marshmallow creme and chocolate chips.  Whisk mixture until the chocolate and marshmallow mix melts in fully.  Add the vanilla and extract and mix again.  Transfer entire mixture to Pam sprayed or butter lined pans and let set at room temperature for four hours or until set.  At this point you can cut into square or using a melon ball or spoon form into balls.

To make these brownies you need to use the melon ball or spoon method and form into small balls roughly the size of small marbles.  Prepare the amount you need of fudge balls and set aside as you start next step.

STEP 2: Fudge Brownie Recipe

(This recipe is actually from Taste of Home and one of the best fudge brownie recipes I’ve made.)

1 1/3 cup all purpose flour

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup Hershey’s cocoa

1 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp salt

2/3 cups vegetable oil

4 eggs, lightly beaten

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional.)

In bowl combine first six ingredients, then in another bowl combine oil, eggs and vanilla.  Add wet to dry ingredients and mix, be careful to not over mix.

Step 3:   Make the actual Brownies

Take the balls of fudge and place them in the center of your cupcake paper holders.  Then using a table spoon, measuring cup or squeeze bottle fill the remaining holder 2/3 full of brownie batter.

Bake the cupcakes in oven at 350 degrees.  Mini cupcakes = 13-15 minutes.  Regular cupcakes = 23-25 minutes.

Step 4:  Dark Chocolate Ganache Frosting

12 oz dark chocolate chopped into bits.

1 cup heavy cream

Put your chocolate pieces in bowl and heat your cream on medium high until it comes to a boil.  Remove cream from heat and immediately add to the chocolate bits whisking until all chocolate is melted and glossy.  Allow ganache to cool before pouring over cupcakes as a glaze.  The longer it sets the thicker it will set.   To frost cupcakes I use a teaspoon to drizzle ganache in center then use the back of spoon to “smear” to coat.

Step 5: Finished touches

Once your ganache has set, you can choose to decorate with piped frosting, sprinkle with confectioner sugar or cocoa powder, or pretty much decorate in any fashion you desire.  I chose a simple sprinkle of cocoa powder.

That’s it, simple stages to produce a delicious result.


Read Full Post »

My son has a birthday coming up this weekend and for his “theme” he requested dragons.  I came upon these extremely cute figurines and could not resist a mythological theme, after all dragons fall under that theme right? I also liked the idea of each child being able to take one of the figurines home with them.

A recipe for Red Velvet Cake I had written down from Food Network some time past aided in my decisions. My son is not the huge fan of chocolate I am, and I could not bring myself to just do a plain white or yellow cake again this year.

For the “take it to school and share” I chose to do mini cupcakes , while for the actual party I chose to do  full size cupcakes to hold the figurines and candles.  I hope the kids like it, though I’m pretty sure if it tastes good and has sugar in it, they won’t care.

Red Velvet Cupcakes or Cake (Yield 24 full size cupcakes, 48 mini cupcakes)

2 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cocoa powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups oil  (I chose extra virgin olive oil, vegetable is also fine)

1 cup buttermilk , room temperature

3 lg eggs, room temperature

3 tbsp red food coloring

1 tsp white vinegar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit ( 176 Cel.).  Prepare your cupcake cups.

In large bowl, add flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder.  In second bowl combine oil, buttermilk, egg, food coloring, vinegar and vanilla. Whisk liquids together well.

Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients in mixer (or by hand with whisk).  You want to just combine and make into a smooth batter without over beating.

Divide the batter between your cupcake holders.

Bake mini cupcakes 13-15 minutes, regular cupcakes 20-25 minutes.  Test with toothpick.

Remove cupcakes immediately from pan to wire rack and let cool before frosting.


Buttercream Frosting.

2 sticks butter, softened (Do NOT use margarine)

3/4 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar

1 tbsp vanilla extract

3-4 tbsp half and half

Beat butter with mixer at medium speed for few minutes before reducing speed to low and adding powdered sugar.  Beat at low until sugar is well mixed into the butter.  Increase speed back to medium and add your vanilla and 2 tbsp of half and half.  Beat 3-4 minutes.

For thicker frosting, add more powdered sugar,  for thinner more half and half until you get consistency you desire.


Read Full Post »

I have gotten all the pieces cut for the “medieval” banner.  There are 16 pieces total echoing the same designs.  Then “Happy Birthday” in letters, one letter per section. Still need to stitch them to the triangles and add the accessories.  Golden glitter will adorn the edges when all the sewing is finished. Then the final stage of connecting  them all to cording for hanging. Think I can pull it off in 24 hours? I have to, tomorrow I have to start on the treat bags.

Read Full Post »

This weekend I pulled out  smoked ham. Even though it was only a third of the original ham I had frozen in the late fall it still weighed in at just over 14 lbs. I had plans for this monster, not just the traditional meal of ham and scallop potatoes, but also bean soup (from the bone), breakfast casserole, ham and pasta casserole, ground ham for sandwich spread, even mixed with a good cheddar into biscuits. The traditional meal out of the way it was time to begin focus on the left-overs.  Today seen the ham bone hit the stew pot, the “good meats” sliced and diced and the less fine cuts thrown through the grinder.

Around this house Breakfast Casserole isn’t just for breakfast.  While I do make it for breakfast meals, at times just to mix things up I will make it at night also.  Breakfast Casserole is so easy to make it is a must try at any house.


Ham and Mushroom Breakfast Casserole.

4 slices of bread (I use the “heels” of loaves, type of bread doesn’t matter. I have used wheat, white, Italian, French.)

6 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup milk

1/2 onion, diced

1/2 cup mushrooms, diced  (Can also use 1 can of mushrooms, type of mushroom doesn’t matter. I’ve used Button, portabella, shitake even morel.)

1/4 cup green pepper, diced (can use red/yellow/orange also if on hand.)

3/4 cup cheddar cheese, grated (Hold in reserve)

I am going to add the seasonings I used here, but don’t be afraid to play with your own flavors, basil, thyme, sage and rosemary would be wonderful also.

1 tsp parsley flakes

1/2 tsp oregano flakes

1/8 tsp garlic powder

1/8 tsp black pepper

Grease your casserole dish, bread pan, or glass baking dish.  Set your oven to 375 degrees.

Break apart your bread. You can tear it by hand or cut into squares depending on how “fancy” you want to get.  Layer in bottom of the dish.

Add your diced ingredients to top of the bread in dish. Spread evenly.

Put your eggs, milk and spices together in another dish or a tall glass.  Whisk until combined.

Pour the egg mixture over the bread and filling mixture in casserole dish.

Cover casserole dish with lid or aluminum foil and bake in oven for 25-30 minutes or until eggs are cooked through and puffed.  Remove aluminum foil and sprinkle with grated cheese.  Put back in oven uncovered and cook additional 10 minutes until cheese is melted and top of casserole begins to slightly “brown” at edges.

Remove from oven and let set for 10 minutes before cutting so it holds well together.

That’s it…simple.


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »