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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Lemon-Poppy Seed Scones

This past weekend, with hurricane Irene in the forecast, my plan was to cook all day on Sunday while riding out the storm.

How does the saying go........"life is what happens when you're making other plans"......or something like that?

My plans to cook all day were dashed when the electricity went out at 11:30, but thanks to an early start I was able to cook my scones before we lost power!

This recipe is for a small batch (I didn't want to overdo it since only three of us in the house will eat scones), but you can easily double the ingredients and cut the dough into 8 wedges instead of 4.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Marinated Steak Kebabs

How is it possible that it is almost September?  I'm not ready for summer to end.

Caitie has already gone back to school.  Yesterday was move-in day.  It's unsettling to think that she is over 400 miles away.  

There have been lots of preparations for the move during the past few weeks; lots of purchases and checking lists and more purchases and last-minute runs to buy more things that we forgot to buy during all the shopping excursions.  And there are still items we forgot to buy.

Like this colander, which I bought for her today, after speaking to her last night and hearing her describe how she had to drain her pasta by spooning it out of the pot because we forgot to buy her a colander.

The colander went into the care package I put together for her today, the first of many care packages that I'll send to her throughout the year. 

There are some really cool things in the care package, but since she reads this blog I can't share anything else with you because it will ruin the surprise. 

And maybe, just maybe, she will cook a recipe or two from this blog, and not just mac 'n cheese.  Oh, that's right, I forgot to mention that the pasta she was cooking was from a package of Kraft macaroni and cheese dinner.  And I should also mention that I'm not dissing her because she cooked Kraft dinner because I certainly cooked lots of it during my college days.  I'm just saying this:  Caitie-pie-honey-bunch, if you're reading this, you should consider cooking some of the recipes in this blog because a lot of your favorites are on here and all the how-to's and how-much's are all written out for you, dear.  Love, Mom.

And Caitie, while we're communicating here, I may as well tell you that the fabric you picked out for the pillowcase I am going to make you is at this stage in the process:


In other words, not a pillowcase yet.  But you may not be able to tell by the picture that I have already washed the fabric to pre-shrink it and I have ironed it.  So there's been progress.  Now I just have to cut it, and sew it, and decoratively trim it.

When the fabric grows up it will resemble the pillowcases I have made you in the past, I promise.  Probably more like the one on the right, as I am planning on crocheting white trim.  Unless you prefer white pom poms.  Love, Mom.

Okay, I digress no more.  On to today's recipe.  Marinated Steak Kebabs.

You can use whatever type of steak looks best at your market.  If I had my choice, it would be top sirloin, about 1 1/2" thick, cut into cubes.  Second choice, New York Sirloin, ditto.  Of course, tenderloin is also good, but it's a shame to cut such a fine piece of beef into cubes.  Sirloin tip steak and flank steak also work.

As luck would have it, when I went to purchase the steak for this recipe, the only types of the above-mentioned steaks in the meat case were tenderloin, sirloin tips and flank steak.  I nixed the tenderloin (see above) and the sirloin tips (I've cooked sirloin tips twice in the last two weeks) and went with the flank steak.

All of the other types of steak can be cut into cubes, but flank steak is special because of the grain of the beef.  It needs to be sliced diagonally, about a half inch thick, and then threaded onto the skewers.  The good news is that because you slice it thinner, it cooks faster than the larger cubes of other types of steaks. 

Gosh, have I totally confused you?  I hope not.  See the accompanying pictures and hopefully the visuals will explain better than my words. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Pasta With Spinach and Prosciutto.......and Erin's Latest Baking Pics!

I can't believe summer is almost over.  Caitie leaves in five (5) days. *Sigh.*

What am I going to do next year, when Sean will be leaving as well? 

Will my undivided attention drive Erin crazy?

I'm going to stop dwelling, and focus on now.

These are the brownies that Erin made last week for her picnic with Abby.  Brownies and frosting from scratch.  Topped with lots of M&M's!

They tasted just as good as they look, or better.  She made them the night before her picnic, and Mr. Terrific was a bit distraught that she wouldn't let him cut into them that night.  She made him wait until after her picnic.

There were plenty to go around.

They had been meticulously planning this picnic for quite some time.  The only help Erin would allow me to give her was to find a blanket and a picnic basket to put her goodies (brownies, sandwiches and juice boxes) into.  Abby supplied the chips and watermelon, and they spent the better part of two hours eating and talking, and talking and eating.

This is what summer is for.

And this week, her creativity in the kitchen continued.

How cute are these cupcakes?

By the time she was through, we had quite the cupcake-flower garden.

(To make flower cupcakes:  after you frost your cupcakes, simply snip some marshmallows into "petals" and sprinkle with colored sugar.  The marshmallows will stick to the frosting and the sugar will stick to the sticky marshmallows.  Place an M&M into the center of the petals.) 

Okay, okay, back to our regularly-scheduled blog.

The recipe I'm about to give you is a wonderful melange of pasta, prosciutto, mushrooms and spinach with just a hint of gorgonzola cheese in the creamy spinach/wine sauce.  Sound good?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Fresh Tomato Sauce

You remember my bruschetta from a couple of days ago?

When I was dicing up the plum tomatoes, I was wishing that the ones I have growing in my garden would just ripen already so that I can make fresh tomato sauce.

And I couldn't stop thinking about it, to the point where it was all that I wanted.

And then I thought, oh, what the heck, why don't I just go and buy some tomatoes and just get it over with!

So that's what I did.  Bought the tomatoes, and made the to-die-for sauce.  And I still can't wait for my own plum tomatoes to ripen so that I can do it all again!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mocktails for the Family

Because I wanted to make a drink to make dinner seem special, because the heat called for a refreshing drink, because I needed to use the blueberries I bought at the farmers market, because I thought it would be fun for the whole family to drink out of my favorite margarita glasses........I served these pomegranate/blueberry concoctions at dinner last week.

To turn your mocktail into a cocktail, just add 1 oz. of vodka to your glass.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Bruschetta

Inspired by cheese, I was.  (Opening sentence inspired by Yoda and his backward way of speaking. Tee-hee!)

Okay, back to the cheese.

I was at the supermarket, at the cheese counter to get the Parmigiano Reggiano that was on my list, when I noticed a cheese called "Tropical Queso Blanco."

Well, I'm a fan of anything tropical, so I had to investigate.  The package suggested serving it with dessert, such as "crackers and fruit preserves."  Hmmmm, I thought, it must be mild.

Then I sort of squished the cheese, to see how soft it was.  It wasn't soft, it wasn't hard, it was just right.   Hmmmm, I thought, I could dice this cheese easily and it's firm enough to hold its little dicey-cube shape without turning to mush.

And then I thought, it will be perfect for bruschetta.  Just like that.  Inspired by cheese, I was.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Homemade Lemon Ice Cream

Lately, I've been making a lot of meals that I've already blogged about.  Things that are easy to prepare in the summer heat.



But there have been a few minor side trips, one of which entailed pulling out the ice cream maker I haven't used in almost two years.

Hello, old friend!!

I don't know why I didn't make ice cream last summer.  I guess I was just lazy.  Because this is probably the easiest-to-use ice cream maker in existence. 

I speak from experience.  I used to have a much larger ice cream maker, that had lots of complicated parts, and then when I finally figured out how to put the thing together, operating it required lots of salt and ice cubes.  As in, surround the churning tub with layers of salt and ice cubes, and be sure to keep an eye on it because the ice will melt and you will have to add more.  It was a mess.  Clean up was not fun.

I used it quite a bit when my kids were younger and making ice cream with them was a "fun thing to do."  Moms of young children are always looking for "fun things to do" that take up lots of what seemed like endless free time.

And then the kids got older and not only was there a lot less free time, but using and cleaning the inconvenient ice cream maker was no longer fun!  At least not in our house.

This ice cream maker does not require salt or ice cubes.  There are only four parts to it: the motorized bottom, the tub, the paddle and the cover.  Well, I guess there's five if you count the extra tub that it came with.

All you do is keep one tub in the freezer at all times so that the magical filling that is sealed inside is frozen and ready to go on a moment's notice. 

The tub I used today has been sitting in my freezer (my basement freezer, where I store all the overflow that doesn't fit in my kitchen freezer) for two years.  It was beyond ready.

I don't have a playlist for you today, because the ice cream machine is so loud that after I combined the ingredients, poured them in and turned the machine on, all the music was drowned out.  Okay, I did listen to Weezer's "Buddy Holly" while I prepped the lemon and mixed it into the other three ingredients.  So consider this recipe a one-song-on-the-playlist kind of recipe.