Cheese Muffins

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Had some family in town this weekend. I didn't want to spend all my time in the kitchen, I wanted to spend time visiting with my family.

Uncle Larry and Aunt Lola

So for dinner, I wanted E.A.S.Y. And that spells crock-pot. Sounds like pinto beans with bacon to me. Doesn't get any easier than that.

I made cornbread to serve the beans on, but I've been wanting to try these cheese muffins I found on The Pioneer Woman blog. They are a keeper. And also very easy. I was busy visiting with family, so not too many pictures.

Fig’s Cheese Muffins

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups shredded colby-jack cheese (I used cheddar)
1 cup milk
1 egg
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter (I used salted)

Whisk together dry ingredients, then stir in cheese.

In a separate bowl, whisk egg, milk, and butter together. Pour milk mixture into dry ingredients and stir with a spoon to combine.

Bake in greased muffin tins at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

I filled 3/4 full

Makes 12 tasty muffins

Best if eaten warm.



Food Memories

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Many of my favorite memories involve food. And I'm not talking about Thanksgiving with the family. I'm talking about non-food centric activities, where my strongest memory is of the food.

One of my favorite stories to share is of my paternal grandmother. I must have been about 8 years old. Granny was a Southern cook, to be sure. One morning while visiting her, she made breakfast. I remember thinking that Granny's scrambled eggs weren't very good...they were kind of grey. But I knew better to say anything (my parents taught me manners!) and ate as much as I could. When I was done, Granny asked me how I liked the eggs. I, of course, told her they were good. It was it that point she rocked my world. "There were calf brains scrambled with those eggs". I remember the smiles on the faces of the family around the table as my head was spinning. Ha ha, very funny Granny. I haven't eaten calf brains since. Never will. Too traumatic a memory. What a horrible thing to do to a little girl!

One of my other favorite memories is around the same age. My dad used to burn piles of leaves on our property every fall. And every fall, one of those burn piles got out of control and the fire department had to come. We lived in a small, rural area, and the fire department was all volunteer. To pay them back for saving our ranch from burning to the ground, my Dad had a big barbecue for the neighbors and firefighters. It was a feast, with beef and pork we raised ourselves, as well as whatever animal Dad could shoot from the attic window. I even remember the frog legs jumping on the grill - Dad and friends had gone gigging for frogs the night before.

We didn't eat out much when I was a kid. But I remember the trips to town with my maternal grandparents. We always got to go to lunch. And it was always a treat! Chucks for Chinese food. The Blue Bell Cafe on Fridays for clam chowder. And occasionally, if I was very good, they would take me to Jimboy's Tacos for the best, greasy, cheesy tacos on the planet.

The other food memory I have of my grandmother is that she always made soup and sandwich for lunch. And her sandwiches weren't like the PB&J my mom made. Grandma's sandwiches has different stuff on them. First off, they were on whole grain bread. Mmmmm, chewy. She used Saffola mayonnaise, turkey, Swiss cheese, and sprouts. Oh, how I loved those sandwiches. Usually served up with a bowl of minestrone or bean with bacon soup. I miss lunch at Grandma's house!

I used to love going to my Dad's for the weekend. There were fast food choices galore in the big city that we didn't have in our small town. Kentucky Fried Chicken for Friday night dinner. Long John Silver's (still my favorite!) for lunch on Saturday. And Winchell's donuts for breakfast on Sunday. It was all about the apple fritters and the lemon filled.

Speaking of mom used to make homemade donuts on the weekends for a treat. I've been dying to recreate those donuts for my kids...Mom - still got the recipe?

As good as the donuts were, they weren't my favorite breakfast my mom made. We lived in apple country, and in the fall when the apples were harvested, my mother made apple pancakes with apple syrup. To this day, one of my top 3 favorite foods. Hey Mom, send that recipe too, okay?

I hope my jaunt down memory lane has stirred up your own favorite food memories. There are worse things to daydream about!



Wonton Pepper Cheese Appetizers

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Way, way back, when I was in school, we made these appetizers. I haven't made them since, but I have never forgotten how much I like them.

4 ingredients, that's all they took.

Wonton wrappers
Pepper jack cheese
Cream Cheese
Canned Diced Green Chilies

I didn't have any Pepper jack cheese, so I tried them without. And they were still damn tasty. Serve at your next party with pepper jelly for dipping, and you will have friends for life.


Let the cream cheese soften to room temperature. Mix in shredded pepper jack cheese, and drained diced green chilies.

Mix it all together. It should be very soft.

Place about a teaspoon of filling in the middle of the wrapper. Seal the edges with eggwash. Put in refrigerator for an hour or of so before frying, so the cheese has a chance to get firm. Otherwise, the cheese will melt out the sides of the wrappers when frying.

Carefully drop in the deep fryer. These will cook FAST, so don't walk away.

TASTY. Serve with jalapeno pepper jelly or sweet and sour sauce



I have food issues...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Question Of The Day:

What moron drives 4 hours round trip through this:

Just to go here...

And here...
Hello. My name is Christine, and I'm a food addict.

So now you know what I do on a Sunday when I'm bored. I told you I lived in the middle of nowhere, and there isn't a dang thing to do in this town.

So periodically I take a little field trip to the big city. But unlike most of my friends, I don't go to the mall. I go the the food markets.

But just look at this selection...

And the produce...
OH, how I love the produce!

Bulk foods galore!
Would you look at this selection of cheese! This is only about 1/4 of what they had.

Gourmet meats! Beats the bologna in my hometown market!
There were going to be many more pictures for you, but the "Whole Foods Police" told us to stop taking pictures. Why do you think they don't want pictures taken in their store?

Now, can you blame me for my little road trip? Beats the hell out of doing laundry



For The Love Of Food

Sunday, September 21, 2008

It's not a surprise to anyone around me that I love food.

I love to make it. I love to read about it. I love to smell it. I love to talk about it. I love to share it. I love to buy it. I love to give it. And I especially love to eat it.

I believe it's genetic. Almost all members of my family, on both sides, have a deep connection with food. Everyone in my bloodline can cook, and HOW!

My Uncle's plum pudding at Christmas is to die for!

My Dad makes the undisputed worlds best biscuits and gravy.

My mother can feed an army a vast array of comfort foods on 20 minutes notice, without a trip to the market.

Even the non-cooks in my family Step-Dad's homemade ice cream is the highlight of summer get togethers.

So how is it that 2/3 of my brood have ZERO interest in food. They don't want to make it. They don't want to talk about it. They only eat it because it keeps them from passing out. HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?

Thank goodness for my youngest. You've seen her here in my posts before. She's a little me when it comes to food. This morning, as she was eating leftover chicken alfredo on penne for breakfast, she broke out the block of Romano cheese and grated it fresh over her pasta, because it tastes better than that stuff in the green can. What 10 year old does that, seriously?

She eats sushi. She's tried the soft shell crabs at the Chinese buffet. She loves calamari. In fact, I can't think of anything the child doesn't like. Except she's not a big chocolate fan. SIGH, I guess nobody is perfect.


Hoisin Chicken Eggrolls

There is no good Chinese food in this lousy little town in the middle of nowhere. Not that I claim to make good Chinese food. That's always been one of the cuisines that I wanted to learn to cook, but never have.

But not being good at something has seldom kept me from doing it. And I've been craving eggrolls. They are also pretty fun to make.
This recipe is just a rough guideline. You can put whatever flavors you like. I love Hoisin, and happened to have ground chicken around. This works just as well with leftover shredded pork roast. These also lend themselves to vegetarian quite well also. Play with the recipe, have some fun!



Egg Roll Wrappers
1 head Napa cabbage julienned
1 container bean sprouts
2 carrots (shredded)
1 pound ground chicken
3-5 heads garlic chopped
1/2 cup Hoisin Sauce (find in the Asian section of your market)
Soy Sauce
1 egg, beaten


Brown the ground chicken. As it's cooking add hoisin sauce, and soy sauce to taste.

Break into small pieces as it's cooking. Set aside when done.

In a bowl, combine:
Bean sprouts

Shredded carrot

Chopped garlic

Julienned Napa cabbage

Mix well
To a very large skillet, add a couple tablespoons of oil. I used canola, but if like the flavor of sesame oil, it would be nice here too. To the hot oil, add your veggies. You are not really looking to cook the veggies so much here as to reduce them. You will end up with about half the volume once they are cooked. I added hoisin sauce to the cooking veggies, but it's not necessary.

After the veggies have reduced, about 3 minutes, add the cooked chicken to the pan and mix everything together.

The mixture is going to create a lot of liquid, and you don't want soggy eggrolls, so it's a good idea to drain them before you are ready to start rolling

On a clean, dry surface, begin assembling the eggrolls. This is what I have Summer for!Seal the edges with a little eggwash

Lay out on parchment paper. It's okay if the wrappers get a little dry as you are working. They hold together better when fried.

Now if you are one of those fancy smancy people with a deep fryer, this would be the time to dig it out of the cupboard. For the rest of us. a pot filled with vegetable oil works just fine.These cook FAST. Don't walk away while they are cooking or you will burn them.

Serve up with some more hoisin sauce for dipping, or go traditional with some sweet and sour sauce.

Warning! These are like molten hot lava when they come out of the oil. Let cool a few minutes before eating. Except I never do that. And then I never taste anything for 2 days. But you all are smarter than me!



Learnings From Food Blogs

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

It's hard to believe that until July of this year, I had never been on a food blog. I had never been on any blog. Then my mother got me started on The Pioneer Woman, and now I'm completely obsessed.

But my hours of surfing food blogs has not only provided me with a distraction from the real world. They have provided me with a lot of knowledge. Let me share with you some of the cool things I have learned from food blogs.

I've learned that EBAY sells food. Yup, its true. And CHEAP! I just ordered 1/4 pound of Tahitian vanilla beans, delivered for under $8. I got 1/2 ounce of organic basil, grown 60 miles from here, picked this month and hand dried, delivered for under $4. So I'm sure you can guess what my next obsession will be!

I've learned that is like heroine. Impossible to kick. It collects all the best food blogs into one location. Thru it I have found some great blogs. Half of the things I've cooked in the last month have originated on I log on at least half a dozen times a day to scroll through all the updates.

I've learned that just because a recipe made it to someone's food blog, doesn't mean it's good. Take Hungry Girls 2 ingredient recipes. I was so excited about her chocolate muffins: a devils food cake mix and a can of pumpkin. Sounds good, right? The muffins looked like dirt clods, and tasted about the same. I was so dissapointed. Even cream cheese frosting couldn't help these poor things.

Simple and easy, right? (Hi Shelby!)

Dirt clod muffins. Mmmmmm!

Figs. Anyone that visits food blogs has to have noticed that figs are all the rage this year. There are several recipes every day featuring figs. I have to try them. Except, that I can't find figs here in the middle of the Mohave Desert. Maybe EBAY has them?

I've learned that all my children read my blog. My older ones think it's funny I talk about them. My youngest wants her own blog. Here is her contribution...Jiffy Blueberry muffins:

She set this picture up herself!
I've learned that there are types of food out there I've never heard of, never imagined, never, ever want to cook with! I'm all for experimentation, but there are just some things that really don't need to be tried. Ever.

What have you learned from food blogs?



Square Peg in a Round Hole

Monday, September 15, 2008

We recently got a doggy door for the sliding glass door in our bedroom. That way Biscuit can come and go as she pleases, and there is no more wet nose in your *(&^% in the middle of the night when she wants to go out.

Yesterday, I walked into my room and saw this.

Poor biscuit, outside in the heat, and Spooky the killer cat guarding the doggy door. They sat like this for some time. Biscuit, staring through the door with forlorn eyes. Spooky not budging, just daring Biscuit to stick her nose through that door.

We are a family of "cat" people. And even though we have had Biscuit 9 years, she has never really fit in. The cats are so independent, that we sometimes get frustrated with how high maintenance a dog can be. Biscuit wants attention all the time. The cats don't want you to even look their direction, let along SPEAK to them.

Biscuit is a square peg trying to fit into a round hole.

I sometimes know how she feels.

Here are pictures from my Corporate America job.

Here's my office. Yes, it's pink. No, I didn't pick the color.

Here are some of my employees (who are fabulous!)

Here is more of my cube farm

Here's where that whole square peg thing fits in. I'm not an office kind of girl. I need to be where there is some action. The dining room or kitchen of a busy restaurant. The gaming floor of a busy casino. The lobby of a busy hotel. You get the point. People. Busy. Not a cube farm.

My gut told me when I took this job I wasn't going to like it. But instead of listening to my little voice, I allowed external forces to influence me. Don't ever do that. I loved my last job. I hate my new job. It isn't a good time in the economy to be looking for another job either, so here I sit. Complaining to you all. And writing a blog that brings me a lot of joy. So tell your friends to read this blog. It's my little bit of sunshine in an otherwise "pink" day.


Mustard Creole Pork Roast

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I bought this huge pork roast before the hubby had his surgery. It was on sale, and a great deal. Now, looking at this monster, I realize that I can't buy big things anymore. We are gonna be eating this pork roast for a week!

I wanted something simple and easy, so I combined olive oil, yellow mustard, spicy brown mustard and creole seasoning.

Simple and easy ingredients...

Smeared it all over the pork roast...

Baked it at 325 degrees for 2 hours.
Then I decided I wanted to throw some potatoes in with it. So I took some red potatoes and cut them into wedges.

Put them in a zipock back and tossed them with some olive oil, minced garlic, kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper.
Dumped them in with the roast, and set the timer for another 60 minutes.
Family said it was the moistest, best tasting pork roast ever.

I love when an experiment works!



It's Finally Happened...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I knew it was coming. I knew it was unavoidable. Today, reality hit me smack upside the head.

I've turned into my mother.

I know, I know. I should have seen it coming. And the signs were there. Every once in a while, I'd hear a phrase pass through my lips that was my mother's phrase. I'd gasp and cover my mouth in horror.

But today, it was much more than a random phrase that had been burned into my subconscious. Today it was everything. Let me give you some examples:

When the grocery clerk commented on baking items in my cart (pumpkin puree, chocolate chips, nuts, etc) I said "It's so much better if it's homemade"

I have a jar of sun tea brewing on my front porch

There is a batch of beans and ham in my crock pot

When I put away my canned goods from the store today, I had to triple stack some because the pantry is so full

When I saw vine-ripe tomatoes in the grocery ad this morning, I told my hubby "I should buy a bunch of those and can them"

I have a cheese drawer, that is so full of different types of cheese that it barely closes

There are many more examples, but you get the idea.

Now don't get me wrong. There is absolutely nothing wrong with my mother. It's just that her way of life and mine...Well, lets just say I never thought there would be any similarities. Next thing you know, I'll be planting a freaken garden and looking up zucchini recipes on the Internet.

Someone please slap me. Remind me that I don't do homemade. I don't bake from scratch. I buy my damn ice tea at a drive-thru window. And I most certainly don't CAN!



City Life

Sunday, September 7, 2008

For the most part, I consider myself a small town girl. I have lived in a couple of big cities, but they never felt like home. I much prefer when the grocery checker knows your name, the bank teller's kids go to school with your kids, and everyone in town knows your business. In fact, today my grocery checker commented on how relaxed I looked, and said it must be my day off. Does that mean I normally look like a big stress ball? Or just that I spend WAY to much time at the grocery store? Probably a little bit of both.

Back to big cities... There are a couple of things I truly miss about living in the city. Mostly, that would be shopping. And I'm not talking about clothes, or shoes. I'm talking about foodie stuff.

Trader Joe's is heaven to me. I could easily put a cot in Whole Foods and live there. And a good farmers market? Fuggetaboutit!

The designer pasta. The selection of cheeses. The heirloom tomatoes. It makes me weak in the knees.

A food utensil I've never seen before? Gotta have it.

A Kitchen Aid mixer in the color orange? I lust for it. No matter that I have one in white. I want the orange one. No, I NEED the orange mixer. How can I possible use a white mixer? It doesn't match my Mario Batali dutch oven. We just can't have that!

What's that? A Williams Sonoma store? I feel faint.

Do any of you feel the same way? Do you enjoy checking out new grocery stores? Do you desire every new kitchen gadget you see? Do you have drawers and cupboards of kitchen equipment that never, or rarely gets used?

Or is it just me?


Weekend Mornings

Saturday, September 6, 2008

I love Sunday mornings. It's the only day we are all home, with nowhere in particular to rush off too. We eat a leisurely breakfast together, while we decide on our plans for the day.

Sometimes there aren't any plans. Sometimes there is a stack of movies from Netflix on the counter and our only responsibility that day is to wade through the movies.

Sometimes we are heading our own directions. I'll be cheffing soon on Sundays. The hubby is helping a friend open a business in Lake Havasu. The girls always have somewhere they'd rather be than with the parents.

But at least for those few moments, after the smell of cooking bacon has woken everyone up, but before the pancakes are done, we share some time together as a family.

Even the cats are lazier on Sundays...

If that is even possible

We are headed out today to attempt to find some baking this small town that is tough. Heading to Vegas tomorrow, maybe a visit to Trader Joe's or Whole Foods. I'll take my camera!

Enjoy your lazy Sunday!



P.S. What do you think of my new layout. I'm learning new tricks for this blog everyday. Thank God for computer savvy teen-agers.

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