Food Fest!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

There is an annual event in my small resort town that I try to never miss. It is the Chef’s Food Fest. It is a fundraiser for United Way, and this was its 21st year. I was too busy eating to take pictures, but I wanted to list for you all of the dishes Jimmy and I tried. It’s a long list!

Crawfish Ettouffe
Lobster Tamale
Sicilian Taquitos
Rio De Janeiro Rice Ball
Mardi Gras Chicken Jambalaya
Black & Blue Burger (Filet Mignon Topped with Maytag Blue Cheese and Wrapped in Pancetta - My favorite!)
Breaded Lobster Cake on a Sun Dried Tomato Foccacia Bun
Black Truffle Mac & Cheese
Banana Split Cheesecake
Exotic Truffle Plate (Chipotle Chocolate Truffles – Spicy and good!)

I’m sure there are items that I am missing…mostly desserts. I filled up two plates and tasted it all. There were also many different types of alcoholic drinks to try, including one called a Bit O’Honey that intrigued me, but since I had to choose between food and drink…Well, you know me well enough to know which direction I chose.


Life Lessions...

Monday, October 20, 2008

This weekend was homecoming for the twins. Their last homecoming. And it made me an emotional, weepy mess.


Stormy made top 5 for senior court. At the homecoming game Friday night, they announced the Homecoming King and Queen. It should have been Storm (that’s another story). But she didn’t win. When she came to see me in the stands after the parade, she was in tears. And I learned a long-time coming lesson. For the first time in any of my children’s lives, this was something I couldn’t fix. WOW, that hit me hard. I have always been able to make things right for my kids, but I couldn’t make this right for her. I seriously considered (for a moment) running over the winner in the parking lot.

Saturday was Homecoming. All of their friends met at our house before dinner. As the hoard of teenagers left for their evening, my house was too quiet. And I had another life-changing realization. They would be leaving for college soon. And my house would always be this quiet. It was at that moment, that I decided I didn’t want them to grow up and move away. I want them to stay with me. Forever.

The whole gang at our house before the dance

Josh and Shelby

Stormy, Anthony, Kayla, Joey, Josh and Shelby
If I’m this much of a wreck now, how will I ever get through graduation? And driving them to colleges hours away and LEAVING THEM THERE! How do parents survive this?


More Cookies!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Here are the other cookie recipes I promised you…

Lime Meltaways

12 TBLS unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 limes, grated zest of
2 TBLS lime juice, freshly squeezed (I like to use 3)
1 TBLS vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups + 2 TBLS all-purpose flour
2 TBLS cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt

With balloon whisk of a stand mixer, cream butter and 1/3 cup sugar together until fluffy. Add lime zest, juice, and vanilla; whip until fluffy. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, and salt. Add to butter mixture, and beat on low speed until combined. Roll the dough into two 1 1/4-inch-diameter logs. I used a sheet of parchment on opposite ends, cradling the dough in the middle and rolled it. Wrap in plastic wrap. Chill at least 1 hour.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place remaining 2/3 cup sugar in a resealable plastic bag. Remove dough from refrigerator and slice into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Place rounds on baking sheets, spaced 1 inch apart. Bake cookies until barely golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool slightly, just three or four minutes. While still warm, place cookies in the sugar-filled bag; toss to coat. Bake or freeze remaining dough. Store baked cookies in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Frozen dough can keep up to 2 months. Makes 4 dozen.

Chocolate Chip Blondies

1-1/2 cups packed brown sugar
½ cup butter, melted
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups AP flour
½ teaspoon baking power
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

In a large bowl (I use my stand mixer for everything) combine the brown sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla just until blended. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; add to brown sugar mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.

Spread into a greased 13x9 inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars.


1 pound butter, at room temp
2 cups sugar
4 cups flour

Combine butter and sugar and mix until fluffy and light in color. Add in the flour one cup at a time. When all the flour is mixed in, shape dough into a ball and place on a large cookie sheet. Spread the dough from corner to corner, until even. With a sharp knife, place a few slits in the dough to keep it from overflowing when baking.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, turning the pan around half way through. The cookies should be just starting to brown on the edges when done. Let cool slightly. Trim the edges off the cookies. (We call these the scraps…they are our favorite part!). Cut the cookies into one inch squares. Will last 1-2 weeks in a sealed container, and these freeze beautifully. But they won’t last that long!



Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I apologize that I haven’t been around for a few days. I can’t seem to get the internet working on my computer, and the option of using the twins computer in their room is just too, too scary. Not only would I have to brave the piles of dirty laundry, the loud music I just can’t relate to, and the incessant chatter of two 17 year olds. I’d actually be forced to work on a 4 year old computer that is just MUCH too slow for this impatient Gemini.

So, I have no pictures for you today. Partly, because I don’t like to upload my cooking photos at work. But mostly because the twins took the camera to school today to take pictures of themselves and classmates during Spirit week. I may get around to uploading the photos later, but you probably shouldn’t count on it.

Sunday was another jam packed baking day for me. Four different types of cookies. Not sure why I do that, as we obviously can’t eat all those cookies. But Jimmy’s and my co-workers definitely enjoy the fruits of my labor.

I made:

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies. Very good, not very sweet, easy to make, and taste just like fall.

Lime Meltaways. My last bash for Summer. I’ve been wanting to make these and just hadn’t made the time. They are a perfect Summertime cookie…the fresh lime zest and juice really makes these a warm weather treat.

Chocolate Chip Blondies. Basically, a chocolate chip cookie in a bar form. Super easy if you need a sweet treat quickly.

Shortbread. My go to cookie. I have never, ever met a person that didn’t like this cookie. And with only 3 ingredients, it goes together fast. Perfect for Christmas baking, as it makes a lot of cookies, and holds up well to shipping.

I’ll start with the pumpkin cookies, and upload the other recipes this week. I promise!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup pumpkin puree
¾ cup sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon milk
1 cup chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Dissolve baking soda in milk and set aside. In large bowl whisk together pumpkin, sugar, oil, vanilla and egg.

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and then stir in the baking powder mixture and the chocolate chips. Spoon onto cookie sheet. Bake 12-15 minutes or until done.

These cookies will have a cake like texture. Because they aren’t too sweet, these would be perfect for breakfast with a cup of coffee.


Longing For Fall

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

We don't get Fall here in the desert.

It's October already. There should be leaves changing color. I should need to put on a sweater to go outside. There should be bushels of apples for sale at the farmers market.

We get none of these things here. There aren't any trees, and the cactus don't change color. Today, the chilly low was 73 degrees, with a nippy high of 95. Brrrrrrr. And if we did have a farmers market (we don't, sadly) there sure as heck wouldn't be any apples there.

But I am ready for Fall! I must have printed 20 pumpkin recipes in the last week. Pumpkin bread, pumpkin cake, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin pancakes. I'm hoping to make at least one of these this weekend.

God forbid, I've even started to plan my Christmas baking! At least it gets down into the sixties here at Christmastime, so the baking doesn't heat up the house so much!

I never thought I'd say I miss Montana in the wintertime, but I do. I miss a crackling fire in the wood stove. The smell of good things in the oven. Having to shake the snow off your shoes before you come in the house. Okay, I really don't miss the snow. But I do miss the seasons. We have two seasons here in the and windy, and lukewarm and windy. Hardly the kind of weather that encourages the baking of pumpkin bread.

But I'm gonna bake it anyway. To heck with the desert...bring on the holidays!


A New Way To Cook Pork Roast

Sunday, October 5, 2008

I'd be hearing about a different way to cook pork roast for quite some time, but never took the time to try it. I'll never cook one another way again.

What's the trick? Searing the roast before you bake it. I'm telling makes for the moistest, juiciest pork roast I've ever had.

And it's so easy. Here are the steps:

Make a mix of the spices you want to crust the roast in. I used granulated garlic, fresh cracked pepper, hot salt, and Cajun seasoning. But any concoctions you can come up with would be just as good. Mix the spices together on a plate, and roll your roast in the spices until completely coated.

Get a pan nice and hot! I used my grandmothers cast iron skillet. Add a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil. Don't use olive oil, it smokes at too low a temperature. Give the oil a minute to get very hot.
Now sear your roast on all sides. Don't forget about the ends! It only takes about 1-2 minutes on each side.
Then just bake as you would normally. I had two roasts that were about 1-1/2 pounds each. I cooked them at 375 for an hour.

You could cut these babies with a fork!
I'm sure this would work with a beef roast just as well. I'll be trying that soon.


White Trash Wonderland

Thursday, October 2, 2008

For the most part, I like to cook things that are good, healthy food, and also interesting to cook. But sometimes, ya just need to get dinner on the table.
Today, I was feeling uninspired. So I texted my family to see what they were in the mood to eat for dinner. The responses I got:

Mr. Indecisive: "I don't know. What sounds good to you?"
Brat #1: "Something with gravy."
Brat #2: "Pizza."
They are so helpful. So I decided to try a Pizza Casserole. Never having made one before, I decided to wing it, and stopped by the store for a few ingredients. I bought more than I bargained for though. In addition to the cheese, sauce and pepperoni I needed for the casserole, I got:

$0.99 garlic bread. Yes, I was too lazy to even make my own garlic bread!

Jello Instant Cheesecake. Yes, it's trashy. But it's still my favorite!
Here are the ingredients for the casserole:


1 pound Pasta (I used egg noodles)
2 jars Pizza sauce (I used half pizza sauce and half spaghetti sauce)
2 poundsMozzarella cheese, shredded
4 ounces Pepperoni
1 pound Ground Italian pork sausage

Boil the pasta.

Brown the ground pork.

Cover the bottom of a 9"x13" casserole dish with pizza sauce.

Layer half of the pasta. Then half the sausage.
A little more pizza sauce.

Half the Mozzarella.

Then the rest of the pasta, sausage and pizza sauce.

The rest of the cheese,
And top with the pepperoni.

Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes, until the casserole is bubbly and the cheese is melted.

Tastes just like pizza!

Serve up with some white trash garlic bread, and you have instant dinner!

As for dessert...

Bet you didn't know Jello instant cheesecake was so labor intensive!

Gotta get the sugar just right in the graham cracker crumbs...
And make sure you pool the melted butter just right!
Make sure the graham cracker crust is even all the way around.
It's gotta be just perfect...
So we can dig in a hour later when it sets up. That is the longest hour of the day!

Hope you've enjoyed our Total White Trash Meal. There are plenty of leftovers (except for the cheesecake) if you want to stop by with some Old Milwaulkee Beer.


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