Thursday, September 30, 2010

Evil…pure evil

I really should not spread this temptation. They are truly evil. They call your name morning, noon, and night…..from the cookie jar.
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Chocolate Chip-Coconut Teacakes

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) salted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • sifted confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cream the butter until light and fluffy, using an electric mixer. Add sugar and mix well. Add vanilla and mix. Slowly add flour; mix well. Stir in the coconut and chocolate chips, mixing well. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place 1-inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets (I DO line mine with parchment paper). Press each cookie with your thumb to flatten slightly.
Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes, or until edges just start to turn golden. Transfer to racks and dust with powdered sugar while still warm. Cool completely. They may be stored in an airtight container for about a week.*
*Good luck getting them to last that long….although they do taste better if you can make yourself wait a day for the flavors to develop.

These make WONDERFUL Christmas and Valentine’s Day gifts. They are simple to make and they store well.
Enjoy,

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Kitchen Happenings

Today I made this:
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Which turned into this:
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I also made this:
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Did I mention that autumn causes me to want to spend more time in the kitchen?
I also made a biga for making bread tomorrow. Yesterday I made chocolate chip-coconut teacakes. Once I get a moment I will post recipes. Sorry to tease and run, but I have to finish cleaning the kitchen and serve up those chicken-n-dumplings!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Easy No-Bake Peanut Butter Squares

(tastes similar to a Butterfinger)

· ½ cup butter

· 1 cup peanut butter

· 2 cups powdered sugar

· 1 cup graham cracker crumbs

· 1 ½ to 2 pkgs. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Melt butter in microwave-safe mixing bowl. Stir in peanut butter. Add powdered sugar and graham cracker crumbs and stir until well mixed. If needed, you can do this with a hand mixer. Spread mixture evenly into a 9” x 13” baking dish.

Melt chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl for 1 minute. Remove from microwave and stir. Continue microwaving until almost all chips are melted, stirring well every 30 seconds. Remove before all chips are completely melted to avoid overcooking. They will continue to melt as you stir them. Once they are melted, pour over the peanut butter mixture. Spread evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chocolate is set. Cut into 1-inch squares. These are best served at room temperature. Store leftovers in refrigerator.

Healthy, Quick and Cheap: Microwave Popcorn

STOP! Do not buy any more microwave popcorn. That stuff is expensive. Instead get yourself these items:

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Popcorn (I bought Ladyfinger, which has small kernels) $1.50 for 1 1/4 lbs
Butter-flavored popcorn salt, $2.10 for 16 oz (this will last a long time!)
Olive Oil, a pantry staple
Brown lunch bag,$??? (I have no idea what I paid for these, but they are not expensive)
NOTE: You cannot use regular salt. It will not distribute evenly. Popcorn salt has a much finer texture. Of course, you can go salt-free.







Put 1/4 cup of popcorn in bag. Add 1 teaspoon of oil and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Fold the top of the bag down several times. Shake the bag to evenly distribute the oil and salt over the kernels. Place bag on a microwavable plate (paper is fine), because the oil will seep through. Pop it in the microwave on High until popping slows to about one pop every 5 seconds. My popcorn took about 1 minute 45 seconds. The average time for regular-sized kernels is about 2 minutes. Since everyone’s microwave isn’t the same, you will have to experiment to find your correct amount of time. I admit the first time I did this involved lots of smoke and VERY overdone popcorn, because I walked away from the microwave thinking that I could just use the POPCORN button on my microwave. That wasn’t a good idea. Oh well….live and learn.
Anyway, here is the finished product:
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Simple….and it is better than that prepackaged stuff. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Things I Could Live Without....

but am SO glad I don't have to (Kitchen-version):
  • Watercooler/heater (no waiting on a kettle to boil for tea)
  • Kitchenaid stand mixer
  • Kitchenaid food processor
  • Espresso pot
  • and with that, my battery operated milk frother
  • Giant stockpots
  • Boos cutting board
  • Multiple bundt pans (hey, if you're going to mess up the kitchen, might as well make several cakes and freeze a couple)
  • 24-cup muffin tin (like before, may as well make extras and freeze)
  • The island that Man built
  • Electric griddle
  • 4-slot toaster with bagel setting
  • Toast tongs
  • Stainless steel tongs
  • Parchment paper
  • Silicon whisk
I'm grateful for all my kitchen helpers, big and small (even those not listed). I could make meals without any of the above; but like I said: I am SO glad I don't have to. What's your favorite "glad I don't have to live without" kitchen item???

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Quick and Easy Meal-Stroganoff-Style “Hamburger Helper”

Here is a homemade version of Hamburger Helper. It is much healthier than the boxed version. You can mix the dry ingredients ahead of time and store them in a ziploc bag in your pantry.

Stroganoff-Style “Hamburger Helper”

Dry ingredients:
  • 8 oz. dry egg noodles (I usually use whole wheat noodles)
  • 1 cup instant dry milk
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
Combine all the dry ingredients.
Additional ingredients:
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 4 oz. can mushrooms stems & pieces, undrained
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 to 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce (optional)
Brown ground beef in large skillet; drain. Add water, mushrooms, and your dry ingredients; stir to mix. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until water is absorbed and noodles are tender—about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream and Worcestershire sauce.
Serve with a tossed salad.

Quick and Easy Meal-Chili Bean Soup

Recently a friend asked for some quick, easy, INEXPENSIVE meal ideas. I thought I would share my ideas here on the blog. I’m sure she is not the only one that would like some fresh ideas.
First up is a slow-cooker meal that is perfect for cooler weather. Most of the ingredients can be bought at your local Aldi.

Chili Bean Soup

Serves 6 (I double or even triple this…of course, I love leftovers)
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1 small onion, diced or 1 tbsp. dried onion flakes
  • 1 garlic clove, minced or 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 (14 1/2 oz.) can chicken broth
  • 1 can tomatoes with green chilies (Rotel is one brand…but Aldi has its own brand)
  • 1 (15 oz.) can pinto beans, drained
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Brown ground beef with onion and garlic, if you are using the fresh option—flakes or powder can be added later. Drain ground beef, if necessary. Combine browned ground beef and remaining ingredients in slow cooker. Cook on low for at least 6 hrs.
Serve this with cheese quesadillas. My family likes to top their soup with a little sour cream and shredded cheese. We also like our soup a little spicier. Therefore, add a 4 oz. can of green chilies and a little more chili powder and cayenne.
For those with a real time crunch in the a.m., you can brown your ground beef ahead of time and refrigerate until needed. You can even brown several pounds (especially when you find ground beef on sale) and freeze in appropriate portions to use when needed.
Bon App├ętit!

Goodbye and Hello

Something I have learned in my two years of living in Upstate New York is that summer comes late--- that is when it bothers to appear at all. It seems that summer has barely finished introducing itself when autumn makes its appearance, in glorious fashion no doubt, in beautiful shades of gold, orange and red. Autumn is beautiful, yes. However, I long for a longer embrace from summer, to linger awhile, lazily soaking in its intoxication. Alas, it is not to be.
Here are the early autumn showings around our home:
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The colors have slowly been appearing over the past few weeks. The hay fields are mowed and, thankfully, still a vibrant green. Most of the corn has been harvested leaving behind only inches of dry stalk that appear as a sea of tan from a distance.  Yes, summer is saying “goodbye” and autumn is saying “hello”. 
Goodbye, summer. I will keep you in my heart, longing for you until you appear again. May your friend, autumn, be bold in your place keeping the long, cold winter away as long as possible.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Back on Schedule

After almost 3 weeks of feeling AWFUL, I am back to the reality of life. I spent two days regaining overall order in my home. Now I’m ready to go back to my Homekeeping Journal and my scheduled tasks.  Here is my Thursday schedule:
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I don’t always follow my schedule exactly as written, but it does help keep me on track. Real life happens and I have to be flexible. Sometimes other tasks need to take priority. For example: Today I have to make tomato sauce. All my tomatoes have ripened at once. At least they waited until I was feeling better. So instead of working on my “normal” projects this afternoon, I will make sauce. I would rather work on a sewing project, but it can wait a day or two. However, if I wait a day or two to make that sauce, I’m going to lose a lot of tomatoes. My schedule is a tool, not my master.
Well…I have to get busy. I’m going to start on those tomatoes right after lunch….But for now, I’m sticking with the schedule…trying to get as much done as possible.

Have a wonderful, blessed day!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Simple Woman’s Daybook

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Read my daybook entry, then go on over to The Simple Woman’s Daybook to find the daybooks of many other simple women and/or add your own.

Outside my window…a nuthatch and goldfinch are sharing breakfast.
I am thinking…that I still have a lot of “catching up” to do after being sick for over a week (and I’m glad I had a good day yesterday)
I am thankful for...antibiotics! ;-)
From the learning room….making sure Boy Wonder is where he needs to be (after a longer than expected hay season (him) and being on the sofa for most of the week (me).
From the kitchen…I am ashamed to admit: HotPockets and coffee. Man has been doing the grocery shopping while I’ve been under the weather…so convenience foods reign supreme right now. Thankfully I had several homemade casseroles in the freezer…so it hasn’t been too bad.
I am wearing…my pj’s (hanging my head in shame); but in my defense, I am on my first cup of coffee!
I am creating…nothing right now and it is killing me….so many wonderful ideas in my head (MUST clean FIRST)
I am going….NOWHERE.
I am reading…my Bible…Jeremiah (too little time for anything else at the moment)
I am hoping…to get back to “normal” by tomorrow.
I am hearing…the washing machine spinning.
Around the house…order is finally appearing after a week + of chaos. (Man tried….)
One of my favorite things…fresh starts.
A few plans for the rest of the week…today: clean and get back into my routine; then back into the studio…
Here is a picture for thought I am sharing…
I've seen these signs everywhere, but I have not yet seen any Amish in Millers Mills.

Have a wonderful, blessed day, and don’t forget to visit: The Simple Woman's Daybook Blog.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Clean Slate

Anyone who knows me very well knows that I LOVE Mondays. They are gifts from God….a clean slate. Forget whatever happened last week. You are given permission to start from scratch, to make this week the best one yet. However, last week while almost everyone here in the good ol’ USA were enjoying the last day of a holiday weekend, I was MISERABLE. I had developed an infection and had to wait one more day to see a doctor because of the holiday. Once I was finally able to see the doc, I also was given the wonderful news that my blood pressure was elevated. Which explained the light-headedness that had plagued me that day, but also added another worry to my week. My blood pressure has always been on the low side of normal; so having the nurse tell me THOSE numbers nearly floored me….or maybe it was just the light-headedness. ;-)
So last week was filled with naps on the sofa, a few little projects that I could do 5 minutes at a time SITTING down, and a swipe at some dust here and there. Man tried to keep the laundry going and the dishes washed….but he has a job. Boy Wonder (my 14 year old) unloaded the dishwasher and rotated laundry when he wasn’t doing hay or doing schoolwork. So….the house is a mini disaster zone.
As I lay on the sofa last week, I really had the time to take in my surroundings….and to ponder how cobwebs can appear like magic EVERYWHERE. Besides those cobwebs—and dust in general—driving me nuts, I had some shelves that were bothering me. They had the typical displays of family photos and a few little knick-knacks scattered on them….placed there as we were unpacking 1 1/2 years ago, obviously placed without much thought on my part. Since I couldn’t do anything about them at that moment, I just made a few mental notes.  When Saturday rolled around, I realized that I could stand for longer than a minute---though not much longer--- without feeling like I was going to hit the floor. Of course, the first thing I did was start a load of laundry as it was really piling up at that point. The next thing I did was take my mental notes and get to work on those shelves. It took 2 minutes here and 3 minutes there over Saturday and Sunday, but they look MUCH better. I still need to go get my stash of blue canning jars out of the cellar and to buy a few items….but for now, I am much happier. Sorry, but for obvious reasons, there are no “Before” photos. Here are a few “After” shots:
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I still need to find a new home for the turntable. The canning jars are going on top….hopefully the reality of that will be similar to the picture in my mind. The top also needs some type of faux greenery. I saw an olive branch swag in a catalog a few days ago. Hopefully I can find it again. I think it would be perfect. See that print of eggs on top? That came from The Graphics Fairy… LOVE her blog! It is a great resource for all kinds of neat graphics. WHERE does she find that stuff???
Now if I could only get THIS eyesore out of our living room:
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….not exactly MY decorating style. But the nights---and some days--- are getting cooler here. There was NO way these were going to ripen on the vine; so in they came.
Now all I have to do is start feeling “normal” and to at least get the house presentable before they all ripen at once….still hoping to get them canned and stored away for winter soups and chili.
Yes, I LOVE Mondays…..most Mondays. This week, I REALLY needed that clean slate.
And please check out my other blog, Stormy Hen Creations. I hope to soon be busily creating in my studio, and I’ll be sharing those creations there.
Have a blessed Clean Slate Day!!!


I'm bragging about my print from The Graphics Fairy over on her blog for Brag Monday. Go on over and check out her WONDERFUL site! You can find this print under "instant art", and it truly is. I just printed it on cardstock, trimmed it and displayed it!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

What I've been up to....

I've posted on my other blog, Stormy Hen Creations, about my main time consumer for the past week or so. So go on over and check it out!

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