Sunday, October 04, 2015

Biscotti Attempts

I have tried to make biscotti twice now (I don't actually like biscotti, but I think it will ship really well and I do a lot of overseas shipping hence this experiment).  Both were edible, but the second was definitely an improvement as there is a learning curve here. The shape does matter as does it being COMPLETELY done to get the right texture. My first batch (the pumpkin) were good, but not "crisp." I got the second batch crisp....definitely keep the logs small and cook completely.  Mine took longer than they said.

Pumpkin Pie Biscotti
Modified from Gimme Some Oven

3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup pumpkin
2 eggs, beaten
1 tbsp vanilla
2 tbsp butter
1 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, raw (they used nuts, I liked this better)
1/4 cup melted white chocolate, for dipping (optional...and I didn't do it)

Preheat to 350.  Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice in large bowl.  Stir well.  In another bowl, combine pumpkin, eggs and vanilla.  Stir well.  Slowly add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture, until moistened.  This will be crumbly.

Melt butter and pumpkin seeds until browned (the seeds never did like nuts might, but I liked getting them all buttery).  Remove and cool.  Knead into the dough. 

Place dough on lightly floured surface and space into a log.  Place on cookie sheet (they greased, I use parchment), bake for 24 minutes and then cool for 15 minutes.  (Make sure this is completely cooked!)  Reduce oven to 300.

After cooling, cut into 1/2 inch pieces on diagonal.  Place on cookie sheet, cut side up.  Bake for 8 minutes and then flip and do 7 more minutes.  Make sure completely cooked and dry.  Cool completely.

Makes about a dozen biscotti. 
NOTE: I tried double this...I don't recommend that more because you need to keep the logs small and it is easier to do with small batches.
Modified from Land O Lakes
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp ginger
3/4 tsp cinnamon (so I was out of nutmeg, so in place of ALL these spices I used pumpkin pie spice, and then some extra ginger thrown in and this tasted right)
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
2 eggs
3 tbsp molasses
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional...I didn't these)

Preheat to 350.  Combine butter, sugars and spices in large bowl.  Beat at medium speed, until well mixed.  Add eggs and beat until well mixed.  Add molasses, continue beating until well mixed.  Add flour and baking powder, beating at low speed until well mixed.  Stir in chips if desired.
Divide dough in half (it will be sticky), shape each loaf into foot long logs on lightly floured surface (the flour is important to deal with stickiness).  Place logs 3 inches apart and flatten slightly (I used parchment versus greasing).  The shape and size do matter in getting them to cook thoroughly. 

Bake for 22-25 minutes or until tops are cracked and golden brown.  You really want this cooked all the way through so make sure it is completely cooked, hence the cracking.  Remove from oven, cool 15 minutes.  Reduce oven to 325. 

Cut logs into 1/2 inch diagonal slices with serrated knife.  Place, cut side down, on ungreased cookie sheets.  Return to oven.  Bake 9 minutes and then turn slices.  Bake another 5-7 minutes or until dry and crisp (again this is for the right texture so make sure it completely dried out).  Cool completely.

Can coat with candy coating (I didn't).

Makes 3 dozen.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Milk Bread

I had a half can of sweetened condensed milk left over from making strawberry trifle and nothing to do with it. So I went to google to see...and found this recipe!  Now the original recipe has you bake in the oven, and just do the dough.  I read the comments and took that advice. This worked great!  I actually only make dough in my bread maker because I don't think the bread is usually that good, but this was tender and yummy and so great.  And SO EASY!!! Plus no waste! :)

Milk Bread
1 cup water
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk (this is a good use up as this isn't an entire can and any receipt that uses some will probably have this much left over...that's why I tried this!)
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp butter
3 1/3 cups bread flour (and I did use bread flour which I keep in the house)
2 tsp yeast

Put all ingredients in bread maker, in the order recommended by your machine.  Set to sweet bread, 1.5 lb loaf, and let go. 

My Husband

This is really cool article - Five Reasons Why I am not lucky to my husband. This actually is a great article and isn't what you think.....the point is that when someone says "you are lucky your  husband helps with your kids," that isn't really a good thing.  Your husband SHOULD help your kids.  It isn't "luck." They are doing their part.  Anyway, well worth a read!  This one as well.

Sauerkraut Fail

So remember that I started sauerkraut?  Yep, tossed it out....I think the issue is that my pantry is too cold and so it was just stewing, not actually fermenting.   I'll have to try again in the future. 

Ah, Craziness....

I was going to entitle this "my life has ended," but I thought that came across as too melodramatic, but seriously that's how the start of hockey season makes me feel.  And now I have two kids in it...although only one has started so far.   It just is SO time consuming.  And expensive....yet, the kids love it and it is great exercise and team building, so we put up with it.  I just wish the season didn't last SO LONG.....I mean we just started - it is September. Andrew will start in October.  Last year the season ended in APRIL!!! APRIL!!! AGH!!!

We also have First Communion for Adam this year, so he just started the first half, which is for First Reconciliation.  That means we have church school now on Saturdays as well as the usual Sunday.  And our parish, in their infinite lack of planning, doesn't have kindergarten at the same time as everyone Adam and Andrew have back to back church school, not the same time.  And since I am not willing to have Andrew miss ALL of Mass this year, that means we have to go to Mass either the night before or before they start, which means 3 back to back things.  AGH!!!  Have I said before that I find my parish NOT child friendly? Because I do.  But our options really aren't all that great....I like Palmer better in regards to the kid portion, but Ray doesn't like the priest (well, let's be honest...he has trouble understanding him plus he is SUPER long winded).  And Adam LOVED Church school at our current parish last year.  So....we are staying put for now.  I can hope for a new  priest, though.....they are supposed to move who is all about kids and kid programs.....and will make some improvements.....if nothing else, next year Andrew will be a first grader and at "regular" time.....we thought of not having Andrew do anything this year, at least formally....but he wants to go and I like that, so we are doing it. 

Adam is also starting ukulele lessons, but those are through the school and before school on Fridays, which actually works nicely.  It also means it is cheap....always nice!  I just had to purchase the ukulele, which was only $40. 

I am volunteering in the library this year, which is a lot of fun and I feel like I am making a difference for the librarian, which is cool. 

I am teaching two classes F2F this fall and then 3 online. In the spring, it will be 3 and 3.  Definitely keeping me busy!

The one other thing I am hoping for this year is swim lessons for the boys...swim lessons are a pain around here as they fill up quickly as they let all the current people register to get into the system is really hard. I am hoping the school will do a program as I know they often do and we got information on it last year, but they wouldn't take Andrew (too young) and I didn't want to have one kid not in it, so here's hoping it works out this year.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Nothing Special Recipes

I just tried two new recipes...both of which I was really excited about...neither of which I felt was worth the time put in. They are edible...just not exciting.

I tried these muffin tin tamale cakes that really were just cornbread...I like cornbread...but if I am going to eat cornbread, I'd rather just make cornbread.  Easier.  Plus the chicken (which is pre-cooked) turns pink from the red sauce...and I am sorry but pink chicken freaks me out....

Then I tried this General Tso's chicken recipe as we love General Tso's chicken.  It was bland....I don't want bland...I was cool General Tso's!   

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


I just updated two of my scrapbooks.  Here are some favorite layouts plus a few cards I made. 

Andrew's First Day of Kindergarden

Andrew's first day of kindergarten was Monday. He was SO excited.  He was thrilled to go and so far and so far he's happy to go back. 

First big boy bus ride!

Friday, August 21, 2015

First Week of School

We made it through Week 1 of school for Adam. Andrew starts on Monday.  We had orientation stuff this week (I had to PROVE he's has the chicken pox so I didn't have to get him an extra shot....yep, really.) for him.

Adam seems like the new school (which we'll be at for awhile hopefully!) and his teacher.  Andrew is super excited to go next week (he wanted to go THIS week).  I went to curriculum night and everything seems about right so here's hoping for a good year!  We won't be moving so I feel we can really concentrate on school this year.  I plan to volunteer in the library once a week (made the librarian's day!) as I think it is important that I be around the school and involved (as I have that ability, I realize I am lucky in that regards) as I think that just helps them and keeps me better in the loop. 

The big push for this year is Adam's reading. We spent all summer on it on our own, hope it pays off! 

Canning Fun

So Grandma found a pickle that got "lost" and was huge....and I had a recipe for sliced that I wanted to we'd decided to pickle. Then I thought well, I should get a few more cukes if we are doing this so went to a local farm stand...and zucchini was dirt I couldn't resist and bought 25 pounds hence we did a bunch of preserving today!  We got 14 bags of shredded zucchini that I'll use to bake with this winter, 6 bags of blanched for lasagna, one double batch of zucchini bread (because why  not!) and then we did a batch of zucchini pickles.  Plus, of course, we deal with the cukes. 

The three types of pickles we did today: sweet dills, polish dill and zucchini pickles

Final haul of canned pickles: 6 pints of zucchini pickles, 8 pints  and 3 quarts of sweet dills, 2 quarts of polish dill
We did have one burst in the canner (first time for me, so can't be too upset and it broke cleanly so it was mainly just a time waster as we had to reboil water) and one not seal, but I reprocessed that one and I think it took this time. 

Zucchini Pickles

These are new to use...we tried a few hot and they seem like they'll be good. The recipe didn't say to wait a month, but we are going to.

Zucchini Pickles
Modified from Taste of Home

11 cups of sliced zucchini
1 large onion, halve and thinly sliced
1/3 cup canning salt
4 1/2 cups white vinegar
3 cups sugar
1 tbsp. mustard seed
1 1/2 tsp ground turmeric

Place zucchini and onion in a large bowl and mix up.  Sprinkle with salt and toss to coat.  Add water to cover, let stand at room temperature for 2 hours. Drain, rinse and then drain thoroughly. 

In large pot, combine rest of ingredients.  Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add zucchini mixture and return to a boil and then simmer, uncovered, for 4-5 minutes until heated through. 
Ladle hot mixture into sterilized pine jars, making sure to leave headspace. Wipe rims and put on tops.  Put into water canner and process for 10 minutes.  Wait at least a month before serving.

Makes 6 pints.  (which is what I actually got...and I went very generous on my 11 cup measurement, but probably a little shy of onions as last time I did bread and butter type like this we had WAY too many onions in each jar so I was conservative there.)

Sweet Dills

So this recipe is from Erika's great-grandma.  The instructions weren't completely clear, so we worked this out, but we wont really know how these turn out for about month. This isn't say to wait a month, but that's pretty standard. It also didn't say how long to process...we did the standard 10 minutes.

Sweet Dills
Modified from Grandma Rose
4 1/2 quarts cucumbers (I measures this sliced....I am not sure how she measured it), sliced
2 onions, thinly sliced
dill (2 heads/springs per jar)
6 cups vinegar
6 cups sugar
3/4 cup salt
1 1/2 tsp celery seed
1 1/2 tsp mustard seed
Put one head of dill and two slices of onion in each sterilized jar.  Fill with cucumber slices.  Top with second head of dill and two more onion slices. 
Combine the rest of ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Pour into the jars.  Seal.  Process for 10 minutes.  Wait a month before serving.
Makes 9 pints (we got more....we got 14 pints and 3 quarts out of about 18 cups sliced (which is 4 1/2 quarts) cucumbers...we actually had to do another batch of the brine when I ran out (I did a third of it, just kept the same ratio, so I think it matters how she was measuring...if you measure sliced, like we did, either do less or just expect to do more brine..  Once you have them packed in jars, you can do the math there.)

Old Gelatin

Been going through Grandma's old canning supplies...the expiration date on this gelatin was November of 1975!  But, hey, it was cheap!

Freezer Prep

I was feeling the need to bulk up my quick meal supply in the freezer. This is one of my favorites - Steak Fajita Roll Ups. I actually did them with moose meat this year. 
I can grab one of the freezer and stick it in the microwave and I have a quick lunch in 3 minutes. :)

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Train Fun

Riding the little train at the transportation museum in Wasilla.

Notice something?

These came from my grandma's basement...notice the date?  March of 1976!!! These lids are older than I am!! Anyone who knows my grandma will understand why she had these....but it gave me quite the laugh! I am keeping the rims, but I'll toss the lids, which the FB consensus is can degrade over the years. And this isn't just a few!

First Day of Second Grade

First, if you are thinking, "school already?," join the crowd. School started obscenely early this year.  I'd rather go two more weeks in May and get back some of August!  Second, if you are thinking how'd he get this old, I agree as well!
Another new school, but I wanted bussing back, so we switched (last year with the move and buying a house and when school started, it just wasn't possible...we guessed, knowing we'd be wrong for sure...and we were!).  The paperwork has been a'd think they'd WANT us at the right school, but AGHH!!!!   Hopefully, though, once we get through this, it will be no problem next year. I also just did paperwork on their bus stop, too (the bus driver seems to think they'll move it to our driveway which would be REALLY nice!).

Sitting at his desk in Mrs. Tardiff's class!
Andrew hasn't started yet - Adam started on Monday, this week kindergarteners are all have appointments to go in and get acquainted with the classroom and he starts on next Monday. 

Chef Andrew

Andrew is getting quite good in the kitchen!  He's helping me make chocolate chip cookies for brother's first day of school here.

He can even crack eggs!

Marriage Website

I saw a link to this site from one of its posts and I actually think it is pretty good.  I tend to dislike most "self help" and/or "advice" sites, so that's saying a lot from me!  For me, at least, I find most of its stuff we do at some level, but still need to read another perspective of. 

Parmesan Baked Swiss Chard Stems

So Ray and I don't like cooked lettuce, but we don't mind things like kale chips (well, I don't....Ray doesn't even really like this, but he can deal with it.).  I had some Swiss Chard that I got from my cousin as part of our CSA and I decided to try to do it like I do kale chips and that was okay, but I had the stems left over and most recipes seemed to do those separately so I tried that.  It was actually really good!  I'd definitely do this one again. 
Modified from Jo-Lynne Shane

2 bunches of chard stems
salt and pepper to taste and for water
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Trim discolored ends from stems and cut into 3 inch pieces.  Preheat to 400.  Cook chard stems in salted water for 6 minutes, drain.  Spray Pam on baking dish.  Place chard in pan and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with cheese, salt and pepper.  You might need to layer up.  Bake for 20 minutes for until chard is softened and cheese is browned.   [So I only had a little and cut them into 1 inch pieces and this only took me 10 minutes as I only had one layer, so check yours as you go as if yours are small, they might be faster like mine where.]

Serves 6.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce

I wanted to try straight rhubarb sauce, so I used this recipe.  Um, yeah, not good.  I think it would be fine in things, but I was thinking more dessert sauces.  I'd also just made strawberry sauce.  I wanted things I can use at the holidays.  So I was debating what to do with I took a page from the "cheap" old trick for strawberry rhubarb jam and through in one packet of Jello (you don't want too much as you don't want this super thick).  Worked really well. This was super yummy.  We actually had some over ice cream - delicious!  And a great way to use a LOT of rhubarb that you can then use at the holidays for a nice addition to things like cheesecake, ice cream, etc. 

Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce
Modified from Recipe Curio

1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 quarts rhubarb, diced
1 pkg (6 oz) strawberry flavored Jello
Put sugar and water in pot and bring to a boil.  Add in rhubarb.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.  Take off heat and add in jello. 
Put in sterilized jars and process for 10 minutes.  Serve over ice cream or other treats.
I got about a dozen jelly jars worth.

Oh, so I also did strawberry sauce, as noted.  Well, I had like ten things going...boiled it over.  Definitely a HUGE mess. Luckily my sweet kitchen hero helped me out!

Italian Penne (or in my case, Rotini!)

So this is a nice simple recipe that allows you freeze it, always nice!  I actually simplified this a  lot. Their recipe was unnecessarily fussy for what is a very basic meal!  They doubled this and did two 13 by 9 casseroles....I only did half and got two 8 by 8 casseroles out of it. They also had extra sauce, I did not. 

Italian Penne
Modified from Real Housemoms
4 cloves of garlic, minced
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1 small green pepper, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 tbsp oil
1 (27 oz) can of tomato sauce
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp basil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 lb hamburger (I used Italian moose burger)
1 lb penne pasta (I used rotini)
2 cups shredded mozzarella (I used this but I also like our store brand Italian cheese blend)
Brown meat and then add in veggies (garlic, mushrooms, pepper and onion) to cook (you may need the oil listed) on medium.  Pour in tomato sauce.  Stir in spices and bring to a boil.  Simmer for about 10 minutes.  Add more seasonings to taste.    Cook pasta.  Put some sauce in the bottom of two 8 by 8 pans.  Mix the noodles in with the sauce.  Sprinkle each with a cup of cheese.   You can freeze one of these if you wish.  If you freeze, fully defrost in fridge before using.  In either case, then or after defrosting, preheat to 375.  Cook, covered, for 20-30 minutes or until heated through.  Remove foil and make an additional 5 minutes to melt the cheese.
Serves 4 each. 


I've been working to catch up my scrapbooks, this is one of my recent ones for Andrew's.

Strawberries and Cream Trifle

I made this as the request of my sister-in-law as she wanted something lighter in calories.  This got rave reviews from both her and my husband.   Definitely a winner and really not hard at all! It also definitely looks really pretty as well.
Strawberries and Cream Trifle
Modified from Taste of Home

1/2 cup sweetened, fat free, condensed milk [they didn't say fat free, but I found some at my store]
1 1/2 cup cold water
1 pkg (1 oz) sugar-free vanilla pudding mix
1 carton (8 oz) frozen reduced fat-whipped topping, thawed
1 angel food cake (8-10 oz) [I plan to make this next time, this time I bought one at the grocery store]
4 1/2 cups sliced fresh strawberries

Whisk milk and water.  Whisk in pudding mix for 2 minutes.  Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft set.  Fold in whipped topping. 

Cut cake into 1/2 inch cubes. 
Spoon a third of the pudding mixture into a trifle bowl.  Top with half of the cake cubes and sliced strawberries.  Repeat layers once.  Top with remaining pudding mixture.  Garnish with strawberries (they used whole, I didn't).

Serves 12.


We've been canning like nuts as summer winds down.  Check out my various canning recipes here.

Making Sauerkaut

One of my new experiments for this year is homemade sauerkraut...given it is still in the crock, I have no idea if this will work....we'll see!  We are using this recipe.
Shredding cabbage...and yes, we used idea if that's okay!

In the we wait like a month!