The post otherwise known as “I am still here”

Wow!  It’s been a long time since I’ve posted here.  I honestly have been very busy!  The boys and I went back to my hometown to visit my parents for five weeks over Christmas.  Chief was able to meet us there for about five days in between his flights and snow storms.  My Mom and Dad had a fabulous time with the boys and of course we had lots of fun with them too.  It was a lot of work to get everything ready to go for our trip and then it’s been a busy week getting back into the groove of things here at home.  So to sum up:  I have been busy, as has everyone else, and now I am back!!  🙂

Engineer enjoying his yogurt in style at Grammie's house

Today, for Everything Kitchen I would like to share a couple of recipe links with you of things I have made recently.  The ladies, from the blogs that I am about to link to, all have pretty pictures of their food and lots of great recipes on their sites.  I have made quite a few recipes from both Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures and Tammy’s Recipes and they have all turned out wonderful.  If I recommend a recipe on my blog you can be assured that my entire family likes it.  Chief loves to experiment with new foods, but has quite set ideas of how certain things should taste.  Like pudding is always to be vanilla and maybe chocolate but nothing else.  However, today I made a peanut butter pudding from Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures, which I have made a few times before, but Chief has not tried it until today.  After trying it he pronounced it good!!  I know that peanut butter pudding is probably not going to eclipse vanilla in his world, but as long as he enjoys it with me, I am happy!!  Now this pudding is very rich, so I would suggest serving it in 1/2 cup servings or less.  To dress it up for serving, it would look nice with a few mini chocolate chips sprinkled on top.  (Also, be sure that you use a good quality peanut butter for this, as the peanut butter flavor is understandably dominant).

Peanut Butter Pudding from Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures

Momma's angel boys all dressed up and ready for church with their "Bi-Books" (Bibles in Captain's language!)

The next recipe I would like to share is for Mediterranean Herb Chicken Pizza from Tammy’s Recipes.  This pizza is the perfect pizza if you wish to wow your special someone or maybe show off to friends!!  🙂  It is very simple to make and delicious as well.  The only thing that I have changed in this recipe is to increase the sauce ingredients slightly.  The pizza pan that I use for this is quite large and I find that there isn’t enough sauce for the whole pizza.  Other than that, I make it exactly like Tammy’s.

Mediterranean Herb Chicken Pizza from Tammy’s Recipes

Sharing snacks at Grammie's house and trying to smile for Momma with their mouths full!

Tonight for supper I made Pulled Beef Sandwiches with my Mom’s recipe for Roasted Parmesan Potato Slices.  Here are those recipes:

Pulled Beef – Slow Cooker

I have combined ideas from a few recipes to make this pulled beef recipe.  Feel free to change it to suit your tastes.

In a slow cooker, combine the following ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 Tbsp. dried minced onion
  • 4 tsp. beef bouillon powder
  • 1 tsp. EACH onion powder, oregano, basil and dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed dried chilies
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1/8 tsp. EACH salt and ground pepper
  • 3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. water

Once the above is mixed together, put a 3-5 pound roast on top of everything.  Turn your slow cooker to high and enjoy smelling the roast cook for at least 6-8 hours.  Once the roast is well cooked, take it out and shred the meat.  Then place the shredded meat back into the liquid mixture.  Stir beef and liquid well to combine and turn slow cooker to low.  Leave the shredded meat for another 30 min – 1 hour.  You can serve this with a slice of buttered bread (if it’s me) or on top of a thick slice of whole wheat bread (if you are Chief).  It is excellent warmed up.  Enjoy!!

The grocery store that my Mom shops at had this really neat shopping cart - and you can tell that the boys loved it!!

Roasted Parmesan Potato Slices

  1. Sliced desired number of scrubbed, unpeeled potatoes crosswise into 1/4″ slices.
  2. Lay potato slices on an ungreased cookie sheet or pizza pan.  Overlapping a bit is fine.
  3. Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil and sprinkle with a bit of coarse salt.
  4. Broil the sheet of potatoes in your oven about 4″ from the broiler for about 8-10 minutes, turning once.
  5. Sprinkle the potato slices with parmesan cheese and broil for another 3-4 minutes until cheese melts and potatoes are brown.  Make sure you don’t burn the cheese!  Enjoy!!

Captain was invited up to the cockpit on our flight back home, you can't tell he was the least bit excited, can you?? 🙂

In closing, here’s a great quote, from a fabulous cook, that can apply to all areas of our lives:

Find something you are passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.

– Julia Child

The maker of cakes, prefers cookies!

I have always made cakes for those that I love (one of my favorite cooking memories is that of my cousin and I making a cake for my Mom’s birthday when we were about 9 and 12 respectively.  My Mom still has the note that my cousin wrote with her mother’s instructions “Do not get your hands caught in the beaters”.  It was a wonderful cake and we heeded my aunt’s advice well 🙂 ).  For Engineer’s first birthday, this year, I decided that I was going to make him a cake that would be a lasting memory.  Why pay all that money when I could make it myself??  Here are a few photos of Engineer and his cake …

Master Engineer's Puppy Cake

 

Ohhh!! I want to touch that ...

 

Here we go!

 

This made all the hours of making his cake worth it. He loved it!! And what an adorable little mess, eh??

So now a Pilot family tradition has begun.  Captain asked for a “Bob the Builder” cake for his 3rd birthday.  Here are a couple of pictures of him and his cake …

I obviously learned a lot from Cake #1 ... notice the lack of cake glaring through the icing in Bob compared to Puppy??

Such a happy little boy!

So, when it was coming up to my birthday, Captain was determined that I needed to make myself a Tigger cake.  I was not so convinced.  So I decided to make myself a cookie pizza for my birthday.  M’mm … it was so good!!  Here is my “cake” …

Awww ... now you know how old I am 🙂

 

Isn't the most darling glass ever??

My Mom was always very considerate of the fact that I really am not fond of cake and came up with some creative alternatives for my birthday parties.  One year she made me a massive cookie, similar to the one I made, and I have always wanted another.  This year I had it!!  Here’s the recipe …

Peanut Butter Cookie Pizza

  • 3/4 c. peanut butter (I used smooth)
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 1 c. brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 c. white sugar
  • 2 lg. eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 c. flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 c. chocolate chips
  • 2/3 c. butterscotch chips
  • 1/2 c. M&M’s or Smarties

Make sure your oven is turned on to 350.  Lightly grease a 16″ pizza pan with shortening (if you are using a smaller pizza pan, decrease the chocolate chips and butterscotch chips to 1/2 c. each).  Cream peanut butter and butter together.  Beat in both sugars.  Add eggs one at a time, making sure each egg is beat in well.  Stir in vanilla.  In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Stir flour mixture into peanut butter mixture, just until combined.  Press into pizza pan, using your hands.  Bake for 7-9 minutes, until the cookie is lightly browned.  Once out of the oven, sprinkle hot cookie pizza with chocolate and butterscotch chips.  Let stand to soften.  Using a knife, spread melted chips over cookie to create frosting.  Scatter candies over chocolate mixture and lightly press into melted chips.  Let cool before serving, and make sure there is some cold milk on the table for the having.  🙂  Enjoy!

Inexplicit recipes give me the hives

 You know – those recipes that call for a dash of this and a pinch of that.  Acck!!  I need measurements, people!!  The recipe I am going to share today is one of those recipes though.  Hmmm … that’s interesting 🙂  Actually it is the recipe that I used to ease myself into not completely freaking out over vague recipes.  Don’t get me wrong – I prefer a well detailed recipe over a generalized one any day, but I have at least learned that I do not need to run screaming away from them.  If this one is any indication, I may actually be semi-decent at this cooking guessing game.

My father-in-law is British and my husband spent a bit of his growing up years in England with his family.  So some of the things he asks for me to cook are, well, a little strange to me.  Steak and kidney pie anyone?  Apparently the kidney is truly kidney and not lovely kidney beans as I had allowed myself to believe.  One of the British dishes that I can get onboard with are “Cornish Pastries”.  They are comfort food at it’s best and while making them requires a bit of work, they freeze really well and are perfect for lunches or for those days that you just do not want to cook.  I even took pictures – which I have to admit I would rather eat the food I cook than take pictures of it, so my food photography skills leave a little to be desired.  If you want gorgeous food pictures, check out Smitten Kitchen’s blog on the right of this screen.  Gorgeous.  Mine, well, they are functional, shall we say?  Also, I was so keen on sharing this recipe as it helps with cooking anxiety, I never thought about the fact that Cornish Pastries are not an overly exciting looking dish.  Oh well … trust that it is one of those dishes that tastes about 100 times better than it looks.  Well, enough rambling from me … let’s get cooking!!

Cornish Pastries

Dutch ovens filled with yummy turnip and potatoes

Peel and chunk up an equal portion of turnip (rutabaga if you want to be technical) and potatoes.  Bring to a boil (each in their own pot) and cook until fork tender.  Drain and mash.  Brown ground beef, along with an onion.  Now, here is where this recipe gets a little heeby-jeeby for me.  I would say that the ratio I use is this:  2 parts turnip to 2 parts potato to 1 part browned beef (with as much onion as you wish in it).  In real terms – when I made these last week, I cooked a dutch oven half full of potatoes and again of turnip (see picture above) and used one pound of ground beef and two small onions, diced.  Stir the mashed potato, mashed turnip and browned beef together until well mixed.

At this point, stop and give Baby Caleb a bowl full of the mixture, as he has been yelling and banging on your leg with an empty bowl and fork. Also give in to his whim to eat on the floor. Hey, it’s not as far for him to spill the food!!

Crust

Now if you are making a small amount, or have lots of room in your grocery budget, the easy and not-so-cheap way is to use puff pastry.  This makes a very nice Cornish pastry, however, one time that I made Cornish, I stopped after I had purchased $30 worth of puff pastry.  Yes, I honestly believe in going big or bust when it comes to making these things!!  I just made these this past Wednesday and Friday.  I cooked my turnip/potato/browned beef mixture, made one batch of pastry and assembled about 12 decent sized Cornish Wednesday night.  I then covered my turnip/potato/browned beef mixture, put it in the fridge and made two more batches of dough on Friday and finished them.  I now have about 35 large Cornish and 10 baby Cornish (for Masters Terence and Caleb) in my freezer.  We also had them for supper both nights.

So, back to the pastry discussion.  After plunking down $30, I vowed that I would have to find a more economical way to do this, as the rest of the Cornish is a very frugal meal.  So, my mother recommended a pastry recipe that she used to use for a similar pastry meal.  It makes a great, frugal alternative to store-bought puff pastry.  Here it is, with my tweaks:

  1. 4 c. flour
  2. 3 Tbsp. baking powder
  3. 1/2 tsp. salt
  4. 3/4 c. shortening
  5. 1  1/4 to 1  1/2 c. milk

Combine flour, baking powder and salt.  Cut in shortening, to flour mixture, until shortening is all incorporated.  Add one cup of milk, combining well.  Continue to add small amounts of milk and combining, just until you can handle the dough.  If your dough is too sticky, add a bit of flour.  Turn dough onto floured surface.  Lightly knead in any excess flour.  Roll out thin (about 1/8″ to 1/4″ inch thick).  Using a round template (I used a cereal bowl for our Cornish and a dessert bowl for the boys’ Cornish) cut out circles of dough.

Note:  If you are using store-bought puff pastry, cut squares of dough.  Your finished product will be a triangle instead of a half circle.  You will have less waste of pastry, this way.

Please use this photo solely as an instructional aid, and not as a “Ohmygoodness, I need to make these” photo.

Place some of the turnip/potato/browned beef mixture on one half of the circle of dough, in about 1/2″ from the edge (see above photo for guidance).

I promise, I have four fingers and a thumb on my right hand. Not just a solitary finger as this picture would lead you to believe.

Fold the dough over the turnip mixture and seal edges well.  Use a fork to press a decorative edge over the sealed portion.

M’mmm … some gravy and a fork, please!

Bake at 450 for 12 – 15 minutes, until lightly browned.  Serve with brown gravy on top, or cool and freeze.  After freezing Cornish, first thaw them and then reheat in the microwave or in the oven at 350, until the center of the mixture is hot.  Enjoy!

And in case you are like me, and can’t get enough of pudgy little baby fingers and round baby cheeks, here is another picture of Caleb for your viewing pleasure. You’re welcome!

Everything kitchen …

In deciding to start a blog, there was one thing I knew that I wanted to definitely do.  And that is have a weekly kitchen post, a weekly book review/education related post and a weekly crafting post.  I believe that we all have a lot to share with our world, and so I am going to start living that and sharing through this blog.  That being said, Monday is the day that I have decided to do a kitchen post.  This will range from sharing a new recipe, to sharing a cooking technique, to a cookbook review, to a cooking utensil/appliance review, to how to keep a baby from climbing on top of your cupboards while you cook.  And yes, I am quite sure that I will have information to share regarding that last statement very soon, as I have a very agile, quick baby who loves to climb on things.  My life is taking on a whole new level of busyness, since Caleb has learned how to climb!!

But I digress.  So quite honestly, this week I do not have any fabulous words of kitchen wisdom to share other than cooking is really truly a lot of fun and I will do my best to convince any of you doubters about that, as I am a former “non-cooking lover”.  If you have any kitchen subjects that you would like me to tackle or any questions, feel free to leave me a comment and I will address them during next Monday’s post.  (Hint, hint – comments are always welcome!!)

I’ll leave you with a quote …

“Cooking is like love.  It should be entered into with abandon or not at all”. 

Harriet Van Horne