Monday, October 31, 2011

Cheddar Bacon Dip aka "Crack Dip"

Crack Dip1


First of all let me preface this post by asking......do you Pinterest?

OMG. I am addicted. Addicted in the worse way I tell ya. Never heard of Pinterest. Don't feel bad, up until a few months ago I hadn't either, then I noticed I kept getting lots and lots of blog hits from it. So many that it made me look into it. I asked around, found out a lot of my blogging buddies were on it so I checked it out and that's when it happened.

I got addicted.

Think of a page when you can bookmark something every time you say "oh that looks good" or "man that looks delicious, I need to make that" or "what I great idea, how am I gonna remember that??"

It's a visual bookmarking page that you can share with your friends. You see what they like, they see what you like. It's like a happy little sharing space.

Crack Dip

I have mentioned it before. My kids are really into dip. I think most kids are, but my youngest will sit with a bowl of dip and some crackers and put a hurtin' on it in one sitting.

I see several entries for this "crack dip" on Pinterest. Hmmm. Sounds interesting. The word crack implying that it's as addicting as....yeah we get it. I actually see that not only is one crack dip featured, but several, some a buffalo chicken crack dip, and even though buffalo "anything" is high on Evan's list of goodness, I decided to try the Cheddar Bacon Dip.

This needs to sit for 24 hrs so I made this Saturday afternoon as a "test dip". You certaintly can't serve a dip that you never made before right? So Sunday morning I go into the fridge and give it alittle mix and decided I should taste it.

It's 10am.

My son and nephew come down the stairs, just haven woken up, and they see dip. They see crackers. They dive in.

After 10 minutes of non-stop dipping, I assume the dip is a hit. My nephew declares it "awesome". He is the ranch dressing addicted child, so I knew this dip would be a hit with him.

Cheddar Bacon Dip (a.k.a Crack Dip)

16 oz sour cream
1 packet Ranch dressing mix
3 oz REAL bacon bits (in the bag not jar)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Mix together and refrigerate 24 hours. Serve with chips and/or veggies

Recipe from plainchicken.com

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Snow in October

Snow in Oct

I love snow.

I really do....but in October? Before Halloween?

It's just not right I tell ya.

Snow in Oct3


We woke up to about 3 inches of heavy wet snow. So heavy that it destroyed our gazebo. The whole thing came crashing down. I can't even post a picture of it cause it's just too depressing for me.


Snow in Oct1


We're off tomorrow so I guess we'll be spending most of our day doing demo. *sigh*

I do love the snow, but it could have waited a little longer to make an appearance.


Snow in Oct2

Friday, October 28, 2011

Before & Afters - Part 2

The breezeway is finally done! We actually finished it about 2 weeks ago.

My anxiety level is finally dropping.

I just can't take it when things are a mess or my routine is broken. I am a creature of habit in the worst way.

So my floor went in, my furniture is all refinished, and the walls are painted. All I had to do was decorate.

Thought you might like to see a picture of the ugly dry sink before.

Dry sink before

Here it is with the top partially off.

Dry sink before 1


Ugly right? It was a horrible 70's green. This piece belonged to my parents before I inherited it back in the 80's. It was green stain no less with a nice thick coat of polyurethane on it. What a joy to strip!

John spent hours sanding. That was not a fun day.

Dry sink before 2

After a few coats of paint and some new hardware, my ugly old dry sink was barely recognizable!

Dry Sink After

Not bad hey?

The project haven't ended though, in fact they are just beginning. We have Christmas woodworking ahead of us. I'm really excited about this years project. I also picked up 4 step stools at yard sales. I've refinished 3 of the 4 so far. I don't know why but I have a thing for cute little step stools. Two of them are just the cutest little pieces made in Romania no less.

So we begin our busy season. Every year there's lots of crafting and canning going on. I have apple sauce and apple butter to can up over the next few weeks and I have to start working on this years Christmas ornament.

I love Fall.

Have I mentioned that????

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Monday, October 24, 2011

Dutch Apple Pie & a personal loss.

Dutch Apple Pie

I have a heavy heart today. I lost an old friend this weekend.

Andy was 42 years old. He had two little boys who he affectionately called "the punks". He was the kind of friend that even if you hadn't seen him in years and years, you'd just pick up where you left off. He was always smiling. He was a drummer. He loved heavy metal. He gave great hugs. He loved life.

Two weeks ago he crashed the bus that he was driving into a tree. It took too long to get him out. He laid in a coma for weeks. Saturday he passed away. I read about it on Facebook. Sign of the times I guess.

This is the 2nd friend that I've lost in the past 2 years. Both too young to leave this earth. Both with children who won't grow up with a father in their life. It just tears me up inside.

I cooked a lot for Andy back in the day. He was a young kid living on his own for the first time in his life and I can't tell you how enthusiastic he was when I made him a meal. The joy on his face was just contagious.

I was cooking most of the day when I heard he was gone. Cooking for me is like cheap therapy. It's takes me to another zone.

While I was chopping and dicing he was in my head the whole time. I thought about whether or not I should even post about Andy here. I know most people want to come and see recipes and photos and hear about all the happy stuff, but life isn't always happy, and if I'm gonna keep it real as they say, I thought I should share this part of my life too. The not so happy part.

I'll miss him forever. We shared part of this life together and for that I am thankful.

Dutch Apple Pie whole

So in honor of Andy I bring you PIE.

Sweet Dutch apple pie with a crunchy topping no less. This recipe was a snap to make...NO PIE CRUST involved.

I think Andy would have loved it.

Dutch Apple Pie slice

After reading the reviews of this recipe, I decided to add in some cinnamon as suggested by many. Glad I did.

Dutch Apple Pie
recipe from Taste of Home
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup quick cooked oats (I didn't use quick cook, came out great)
3/4 cup butter, melted
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons of corn starch
1 1/4 cups cold water
3 cups diced, peeled apples (about 3 medium)
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla

For the crust and topping:
In a large bowl combine the flour, brown sugar, oats and butter. Set aside 1 cup for the topping. Press the remaining mixture into an ungreased 9 inch pie plate. Make sure to push the mixture up the sides a bit too.

For the filling:
Combine the sugar cornstarch and water in a saucepan until smooth. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla, cinnamon and apples.

Pour into pie crust, top with reserved topping mixture. Bake at 350 for 40 - 45 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Friday, October 21, 2011

2 Ingredient Appetizer!

Honey Apple Butter and Brie

What could be easier?

Company is coming and you need a quick and delicious appetizer. You don't want to spend a whole lot of time in the kitchen. What to do? What to do?

Pick up a jar of Trader Joe's Honey Apple Butter (love, love, love, love, LOVE!) and a piece of brie or any other soft, melty cheese of your choice. Bake the cheese in the oven just until it's soft and gooey, then pour over some Honey Apple Butter, break out a few crackers and the appetizer is ready.

How easy is that?

Honey Apple Butter

No I didn't come up with this great idea on my own. This was demoed at my local Trader Joe's. They even took it a step further and added some finely diced sauteed spiced apples to the top. It was so good it made me walk right over and grab a piece of cheese so I could make my own.

Don't even get me started on the Honey Apple Butter. I love this stuff. Between this and the Fig butter, I am in heaven.

Honey Apple Butter and Brie 1

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Monday, October 17, 2011

Curried Cauliflower Rice

Curried Rice Cauliflower 1

I love a lot of the vegetable that lots of people don't.

I love cabbage and Brussel sprouts and artichokes and broccoli and turnips and spinach and I love cauliflower.

I do draw the line at beets and lima beans. I just can't eat 'em, but cauliflower. I LOVE.

Maybe my Mom instilled my love for it when I was younger. She would bread it and fry it and it would get all golden and crispy around the edges and the flavor was nothing like the taste of raw cauliflower. I need to make her cauliflower and share it with you guys, but for now I bring you this Curried Cauliflower Rice.


Curried Rice Cauliflower

This beautiful one pot meal that looks as lovely as it tastes.

My friend Krysta posted this a few weeks ago.

The minute I saw it I knew I had to make it for my Dad. He's a cauliflower lover like me.

Curried Rice Cauliflower 4

I am a wimp when it comes to heat, so I reduced the curry to just 2 teaspoons. After tasting it, I think I really could have put in the 4 teaspoons. There really wasn't heat, just great flavor. I also skipped the cilantro cause I'm one of "those" people who thinks it tastes like soap.

I also substituted jasmine rice for the basmati cause when I went to look for my basmati I then realized...I was out! So jasmine it was. Worked perfectly too!

One Pot Curried Cauliflower Rice
from Everyday Food and Evil Chef Mom
4 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 large head cauliflower, cored and cut into 1 1/2 pieces
salt and pepper
1 medium yellow onion, diced small
2 cups of basmati rice
4 teaspoons curry powder
1 can (15.5 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 3/4 cups of low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
chopped cilantro

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a Dutch oven or other heavy pot, heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium high. Add cauliflower and cook, stirring frequently, until browned in spots. This might need to be done in batches.

Transfer to a plate and season with salt and pepper. Add 2 teaspoons of oil and onions to pot; cook, stirring occasionally , until onion is translucent, 5 minutes. Add rice, curry powder, and chickpeas and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until rice is coated, about 2 minutes. Add broth and cream and bring to a boil. Scatter cauliflower over the top (do not stir to combine) Cover and bake until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, 15 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with cilantro before serving.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Apple Molasses Cookies

Apple Molasses Cookies


These used to be my favorite cookies. I first posted them way back when this blog was just taking it's baby steps. They are great cookies, and I make them faithfully every Christmas cause they are one of those cookies that have become part of a food tradition in this house. They used to be my favorite.

Used to be. I think I have a new favorite now.

Hello Apple Molasses Cookies.

Hello spicy, sweet, just the right amount of chewiness cookies with an added bonus of diced apple in every bite. I adore these!

I adapted this recipe from one I found online at Tasty Kitchen from Coupon Clipping Cook. I changed it up from her original recipe. I omitted the pumpkin pie spice. I just didn't think it was right for this cookie. I also increased the amount of apple from 2 tablespoons to 1 small apple diced. I didn't think that 2 tablespoons was really going to be enough apple. I'm glad I increased the apple, cause my apple to dough ration was spot on. Just make sure to use a small apple and dice it finely.

Apple Molasses Cookies1


Apple Molasses Cookies
makes 32 cookies
3/4 cup butter, at room temp (1 1/2 sticks)
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg, room temp
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 small apple, peeled and finely diced
granulated sugar for rolling

Oven to 375.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar. Add in the molasses and egg and mix until combined.

Sift together the  flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add to to mixing bowl in small batches, about 1/3 cup at a time. Stir in the diced apple. Dough will be soft.  Chill for 20 - 30 minutes to make it easier to work with. Roll into 1 inch balls. I used my small cookie scoop. Place some granulated sugar in a bowl to roll the dough balls in. Place on a parchment lined pan and bake for 10 minutes. NO MORE, NO LESS! 10 minutes is the perfect amount of time for these cookies. Let them sit on the pan for 1 minute before removing them to a cooling rack.

Apple Molasses Cookies CU

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Monday, October 10, 2011

Right Now

Forest in a blur

Time: 7:41am

In my mug:
honey and lemon tea.


In my ears: Colin Hay. Thanks to Jennifer for sharing him with me. (Yes that voice is familiar...think Men@Work. Who woulda thunk??? Love his voice.)

In my belly: just the tea. Waiting on John to get home from work so our vacation can begin.

On me: My "I'm in the Moooood for love" t-shirt. Picture two cows in love, in a row boat....hey it's a sleepin' shirt!

Last watched: Dexter. I am addicted.

By my bedside: Latest issues of Savuer & Bon Appetit. 

Under my nails: Paint. Been doing a lot of that lately.

Looking forward to: VACATION! read on:

October is my favorite month.

Not only because of all the obvious reasons (the fall leaves, the fall foods, the fall clothes, my anniversary, pumpkins, warm socks, cozy blankets, etc. I really could go on and on here). It's also my favorite month cause I always take vacation time. I rarely take a full week, but October is an exception.

So we're on vacation this week. We will be off to Boston with friends, we will be taking care of odds n' ends around the house, we will be celebrating my baby turning 15 and I will be cooking and baking, not only for Evan's birthday party, but with all the apples we picked this past weekend.

Get ready for some apple recipes.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Millie's Quick Dessert Cake

Millies Dessert Cake 1

I have made this cake and posted it before. It was a long time ago.

This is my Gram’s cake. A cake she made all the time.

Its official title was Quick Dessert cake, but I changed that to Millie’s Quick Dessert cake.

My Gram is 87 years old. She has Alzheimer’s. She lives in an assisted living facility. She doesn’t know any of us anymore. Along with her mind, her body is growing weaker too. We recently had to get her a walker to keep her steady on her feet.

When I think of my Gram I remember her standing in her kitchen with her apron on, coffee pot brewing, and soup simmering on the stove. My Pa was always sitting at the head of the table, newspaper in hand. She’d bring over a plate or bowl of whatever she had cooking, and he would always say “thank you darlin’” and she would smile. She was always smiling, still is.

  • She offered everyone who came in the house a cup of coffee, even if you didn’t drink coffee. She must have asked me a hundred times if I wanted a cup. “No Gram, I don’t drink coffee” and she always seems puzzled by my answer and would say “oh no”?
  •  She also liked to offer ham sandwiches, which she pronounced “ham sangwiches”.
  •  She always pronounced the letter H… “haitsh”.
  •  She ate salad sandwiches (or sangwhiches). She'd take a breadstick, slice it down the middle and put salad in it and eat it.
  •  She loved Little Debbie snacks and hard candies.
  • She has naturally curly hair, just like me.

I know it almost sounds like she’s gone, and in a way she is. The Gram that I grew up with, who sewed almost all my clothes and even my wedding dress, just isn’t there anymore. The Gram who make ham and cheese pies and grapenut pudding doesn’t know who my mother is anymore, but if you bring her a piece of this cake she will still smile and when you tell her this was a cake she made all the time she’ll turn her head to the side and say “oh really, I did?” Yes you did.

So I know that when she’s gone I’ll still make this cake and think of her and all the little things that made her my Gram. Funny that some sugar, flour and butter can hold so many memories.

I love this cake not only for all the reasons listed above, but because it’s made with staples that you always have in the house and you can totally change it up by changing the fruit you add to it.

My favorite combination is this one of apples and blueberries. You can add any soft cooked or canned fruit that you like.

The fruit will sink into the cake like a cobbler as it bakes.

Millies Dessert Cake 4

Millies Quick Dessert Cake
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temp
1 ½ cups sugar
4 eggs
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon almond extract
Fresh berries (when fresh berries are not available, I use fruit pie filling and it works great. In the fall and winter I often use Comstocks country apple pie filling with some frozen blueberries. This combo is really wonderful).

Preheat the oven to 350.In large bowl cream together butter & sugar. Beat the eggs in one at a time then add almond extract.

In a separate bowl mix the flour & baking powder and then combine into the wet mixture. Mix until smooth. Grease 13 x 9 pan. Spread batter into pan.

If using fresh berries just sprinkle them all over the top of the batter. They will start to sink into the cake as it bakes.

If using pie filling: Take pie filling and randomly drop it all over the top of the batter. (I use a little over half a can) When using fresh or frozen berries along with the pie filling, I kind of tuck the berries in between the filling so everyone gets a bite of your filling and the fruit.

Bake for 40- 45 minutes until golden brown, or until tests done. Cool, dust with powered sugar. Cut into squares to serve.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Before & Afters

I live in the oldest house on my street.

That was very apparent when I moved in almost 25 years ago. There were was a lot of updating going on back in the 80's.

Since then we've really almost transformed the house entirely.

Almost.

There was the breezeway* (see explanation here if you don't know what a breezeway is) that we never seemed to get to. It was always last on the list and seemed to get pushed back when another project came along.

Last month we finally decided to bite the bullet and re-model it. First we had to decide on a floor. It's a heavy traffic area that gets dirty and muddy and snowy, so we needed something that could stand up to the elements, yet be easy to clean. We chose tile.

tile

I love the tile. It's easy to clean and looks so much better then my peel and stick tile that was peeling more than it was sticking lately.

So the floors in and now cause the floor looks so beautiful I need to re-vamp all the furniture in the room. Kinda like when you get new furniture then you look around the room and decide you need all new drapes or rugs. You know what I'm talkin' about ladies.

I had been searching out pieces at yard sales and estate store. I had an old deacons bench that I didn't want anymore. It held all my outdoor flags, no one really sat on it and I needed something smaller. I got lucky and found a sturdy wooden hamper at a Lion's Club Garage Sale for $5. This is what it looked like when I bought it:


Hamper before

This is what it looks like now:

Flag holder after

Amazing what a little paint and a little distressing will do huh? This little beauty holds all my flags perfectly. Happy Mama.

Next up was the onion or vegetable bin. A piece I bought back in the early 80's. I really did use this for my onions and potatoes so I didn't want to replace it with something else, but it needed help.

We took off the doors and hinges. John sanded it. I painted it. I searched around for baskets to fit it and it went from this:

Onion bin before

To this. A little bit of an improvement dontcha think?

Onion Bin after

So those are two of the pieces that we worked on. The big piece was the old nasty, green dry sink. It wasn't pretty but I saw potential in it. John and I totally transformed it into a piece I now love. That'll be coming up next!

Tomorrow the painting begins. I'm so very excited!