Monday, January 11, 2016

The Saga of the Green Bag

While I feel like I grew up in a "small town," I have to admit the Wasilla really doesn't feel "small" to me anymore.  The school district actually makes it feel smaller to me because so many people know my mother (and I am constantly amazed at how people can just look at me and see her...I get we look alike (doesn't bug mother still looks very young, that bodes well for me!), but I don't think we are clones which it seems a lot of people believe).  I also realized that we knew a lot of people in the area and we were related to absurd amount of them as well (I had cousins in my graduating class), but that's true any place you live awhile - you see people you know. 

Yet what happened with the green bag made me think that Wasilla really is still a "small" town.  So before Christmas, Ray took the kids to Adam's hockey game and was meeting my parents there (I stayed home to do work).  They finished up the game and because they were going to the VFW next to see Santa, they went to Wendy's for lunch.  My mother and I usually each have a bag going for the other one and so she had a bag (the "green bag" henceforth) for Ray to take.  In it were my Christmas card labels (my father had printed them for me), two wrapped presents that Ray, in an effort to hide them from me, had sent to my parents' address (as a note, what he should have done was ordered it through their account as well as Amazon does NOT make it easy to not see things...which I told him upfront, but anyway), and some cookies cutters.  My father was charged with sticking these in our car in the parking lot.  He, not paying attention, put it into the wrong car.  No one realized this until much later in the day.  We called Wendy's and they didn't know anything. Later it turned out someone had tried to return the bag and Wendy's refused to take it.  So we figured this was a lost cause and really it wasn't anything irreplaceable.  I mean, how would anyone know where this random bag came from?  Well, turns out my address list....the person whose car it was stuck in was very confused by this, as we all would be.  But looking at the address list, noticed there were a lot of Cottles...and she knew a Cottle (my cousin Kelsey).  So she contacted my cousin, who at first didn't know what this was about, but at a family Christmas event heard the story of how my father lost the bag and put it together.  She had a number and my mother called the woman and we ended up getting the bag back. Turns out the woman works at Mat-Su college as an adjunct like I do and lives about 2 miles from me.  Ray had already repurchased the presents, so we'll donate these (they are games), but it is a pretty cool story. 

Monday, December 28, 2015

Crown Royal Cookies

Ray saw this recipe online and talked me into trying it.  My husband barely drinks, but if he does it is only the "hard" stuff and usually Crown Royal so these make sense for him.  They were pretty good.   They taste like a chocolate cookie - I am not sure I'd pick out whiskey in then if I hadn't cooked them, but they were a fun novelty. 

Crown Royal Cookies
Modified from Bailey's Bites

1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder (I used unsweetened)
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup Maple Crown Royal (the original recipe I saw had the maple version in it and that's what I used, but you can use any version you want)
12/ tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 cups flour
Preheat oven to 375.  Cream butter, cocoa powder and sugar.  Add in eggs one at a time.  Add vanilla.  Mix in whiskey.  Add in flour, baking soda nad salt until combined.  Drop onto cookie sheet by tablespoonful.  Bakes for 12 minutes (mine took about 14).  Cook on a rack.

Makes 2-3 dozen.

Gearing up for Lent

I always cook more fish during Lent and one thing that I have issues with is leftover fish as I think it reheats poorly (I don't like fish much to start with...).  We serve a lot of halibut well because my family goes halibut fishing. So this recipe, which uses leftover (already cooked) halibut is a good for me. These are very rich cakes, so one with a salad is good.  It might want a sauce...I might try it with the sauce from my tuna cakes this Lent and let you all know. Anyway, while this says halibut, any white fish would probably be fine.

Halibut Cakes
Modified from The Halibut Barn
1 lb halibut, cooked and flaked
1 cup breadcrumbs (preferably Italian, but whatever)
1 large egg
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dry mustard
Oil for frying

Mix together all but halibut.  Add halibut and mix gently.  Shape into 6 cakes and cook in hot oil until browned (aout 5 minutes). 
Makes 6 cakes. 

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Busy Semester

Sorry I haven't been posting much - it has been a very busy semester for Ray and I and rather stressful. Here's to a good 2016, although spring is shaping up to be crazy for me - teaching 6 classes and taking 1!

The boys' hockey schedule keeps up hopping!  And we have several more months....sigh!

Crockpot Breakfast Casserole

I hosted Christmas breakfast again this year.  I liked last year's casserole, but it wasn't perfect for Ray so I tried a new one. He liked this one much better and I even liked it and I don't like breakfast sausage.  I used Italian sausage last year and I think that was part of the problem for Ray. I used maple breakfast sausage this year. 

Breakfast Casserole
Modified from Stockpiling Moms

1 dozen eggs
1 cup milk
1 pkg (32 oz) frozen hash browns
1 lb sausage and/or bacon (I used both and probably close to 1.5 lb total)
2 cups Colby  jack, shredded
1/4 tsp dry mustard (I think this wasn't enough...I will use some more in the future)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced

Spray crockpot with nonstick cooking spray.  Layer potatoes, meat, onions, green peppers and 1 cup cheddar in crock pot in three layers.  Sprinkle remaining cup of cheese on top.  Beat eggs, milk and spicees.  Pour over cheese evenly in crockpot.  Cook on low for 7-8 hours or until eggs are set and thoroughly cooked. 

Makes 8-10 servings (a lot!)

Friday, December 11, 2015

Mini Blueberry Pie

Rather than making a full pie, I did mini pies this year. I used this idea and did it in the muffin pan (I used my 6 muffin pan, so the larger ones).  It took me about 30 minutes. I used my blueberry pie filling recipe and my own crust recipe.   I did one batch of pie crust and then (I think...) half of the pie recipe...maybe 1/4....I'll have to figure that out again last year. I got three mini pies in any case. The biggest issue I had was getting them out of the muffin that's something I also need to work on next year. 

Wheat Bread

I've been trying to get back into the bread machine use for more than just pizza dough (which is a good enough reason to keep it around!), so I tried this one.  Pretty decent! I've had issues with dryness in the bread machine bread, but this was good.  I might do a little more water next time, but otherwise pretty happy!

Wheat Bread
Modified from Taste of Home

1/2 cup warm milk
1/2 cup warm water
1 egg
3 tbsp honey
2 tbsp butter, softened
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 cups bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

Place items in bread machine.  Use basic setting. 

Makes 1.5 loaf.

Monday, November 16, 2015

New Math?

So Adam is working on double digit addition (math is easy for that kid...he's totally going to be an engineer...he's a geeky loner who rocks at math...stereotypical engineer!).  And a lot of the tricks they are teaching him I don't disagree with...we learn to do mental arithmetic with them, but then I got this worksheet back.  Again I get the point of the tricks....but the kid can add.  So what if he doesn't rewrite it their this looks like his teacher agrees with me, but still....

Working on...

I made this last week with a bunch of broccoli stems...a good use of them! I feel this still needs some work, so I plan to try again, this time with some tweaks. I also made this and want to work on it.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Andrew at Hockey Practice

Some video of Andrew at hockey practice.

BBQ Chicken Sliders

Ray LOVED these.  I think they need some coleslaw to go on top....but I only make one kind.  My weird Polish stuff.  But I have been converted to coleslaw on BBQ sandwiches and that is usually the "normal" stuff, so I might have to try my hand at it here in the future!

BBQ Chicken Sliders
Modified from Taste of Home

1 1/2 quarts water
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp liquid smoke
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp dried thyme

2 lbs chicken
1/3 cup liquid smoke
1 1/2 cups hickey smoke-flavored BBQ sauce (I didn't measure this....I just added until it looked and tasted right)
slider buns
In large bowl, mix the brine ingredients, stirring to dissolve the brown sugar.  Reserve 1 cup of brine for cooking chicken.  Cover and refrigerate.  Place chicken in container and add brine.  Seal and refrigerate for 18-24 hours.  They used a plastic bag and took out the air and whatnot...I just put this into a Tupperware. 

Remove chicken from brine and put in crockpot.  Discard brine.  Add reserved 1 cup of brine and 1/3 cup liquid smoke to chicken. Cook in crock pot on low for 4-5 hours or until chicken is tender. 

Remove chicken and discard cooking juices.  Shred chicken with two forks and return to crockpot.  Stir in BBQ sauce and heat through.  Serve on buns.

Serves 8.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Works in Progress

I really like this recipe, but it needs tweaking.  Now Ray didn't like it...but that's not a shock given he doesn't like cream soups.  I LOVE them.  My issue is it needs more rice and less sour cream. I plan to switch out most, if not all, of the sour cream for something else next time. I could taste the sour cream, which I didn't like. 

Good, but....

So I made this recipe like two weeks ago.  Ray actually liked it more than I did, which was a bit of shock to me, based on the recipe and who I thought would like it. The problem?  The chicken was still raw in parts...and I CHECKED thoroughly before serving.  So my issue is that I think this will prove very hard to get completely cooked without burning parts of it.  And well, raw chicken is BAD.  So not sure if I'll even bother to try again.