Thursday, December 30, 2010

Recipes- Trinidad Slaw

For Christmas Eve dinner, we had this sweet slaw as a side dish.  YUMMY!
Trinidad Slaw
Small cabbage- finely shredded
8oz can of crushed pineapple- reserve the juice
1 medium diced apple
1/2 cup of pecans
Use reserve pineapple juice
1/4 cup mayo
2TBS seasoned rice vinegar
1tsp of poppy seeds
1/2 packet of Splenda or 1/2 tsp of sugar

Shred a whole small cabbage very fine or slice in your food processor (Personally, I would buy already cut up).  Drain a small can of crushed pineapple and reserve the juice.  Add the pineapple and other ingredients in with the slaw.
Mix ingredients for dressing all together and then toss with slaw mixture.
Serve immediately or chill.  It actually tastes better the longer it sits because the flavors blend together.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Borrower Of Books- A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff

Just finished this book and I liked it so much!  A Vintage Affair is about a woman named Phoebe who turns down a promotion at her work to open her own vintage clothing boutique.  She believes that each clothing item carries a history and when you buy one of her pieces, you are actually buying a person's past.

Based in London, Phoebe is a woman in her 30s who -though she seems fine on the outside- is going through a lot of internal struggle and guilt and so throws herself into opening her new store.  During a routine clothes pick up, she meets an elderly woman whose past war-time tragedy far outweighs Phoebe's problems, and it helps her to face her own regrets.

Favorite part:  the story of the blue coat!  So sad.  Also, I liked that though you are HOPING for a certain romance for her, it's not obvious what path her life is going to take.  ...and of course, THE CLOTHES!  Makes me want to shop vintage...and now I know the time period for my body type LOL

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas- Reindeer Food and Chocolate Dipped...anything!

Ever since my 16 yr old was little, we have been leaving a little something extra for Santa's helpers....the reindeer that is!  All of that flying around is exhausting so they need a little snack, too (especially if Santa's packing it on with cookies at each house!).  It started with baby carrots and some celery but we've now moved onto our special concoction that takes a year or more to make ;)

Reindeer Food
Throughout the year, we save little bits and pieces of pantry items that we don't use.  For example, one year we had a huge Chinese dinner so had extra crunchy noodles or I found an old box of rolled oats.  This time, I had a bag of TVP (textured vegetable protein) which started as our base and then we tossed in some old crushed walnuts.  
To help make it smell extra appetizing, I saved some spices that were not as fresh so normally would toss out- ground cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg.  For the extra sparkle and color, we toss in a 1/2 bottle of sprinkles (in this case, an interesting apple flavor).  If you buy sprinkles, the bigger the better to make it easier to see.
We then separate the food into small bags.  It's a good idea- no matter how many kids- to keep the portion small because if there's too much, the reindeer won't be able to eat it all and there will be leftovers on the lawn in the morning!
Then decorate with a ribbon and a cute tag (if giving as a gift, instructions are helpful so they don't think it's granola of some kind).  I've made cuter looking bags before but we were lucky to even do it this year.  
On Christmas Eve, right before heading to bed, have the kids go outside and sprinkle the food in the yard- Santa will be impressed with how thoughtful you were!

Chocolate Dipped Licorice and Pretzels
Since we had a shortage of Christmas Cookies this year (see our Cookie Exchange), I was short on giving goodies to friends and neighbors. While shopping at an event this year, we saw a gal selling chocolate dipped licorice.  She said that it was so popular, that they hire somebody JUST to dip licorice!  Well, as clever as it looked, I couldn't bring myself to pay $5 for a small bag of licorice so we decided to just make it ourself.
Obviously it's very simple, purchase fresh licorice (we bought the variety bag so had thick pieces, rope and black licorice) and melting chocolate.

OK- easy but I'm not that bright!  Thought I'd melt it on the stove (vs a double boiler) and -of course- burnt it!  Scrapped off the top (sorry folks) and finished melting in the microwave.

Dip (I lightly scrapped off the excess on the licorice twists), and then let cool on a sheet of wax paper.  
When dry, put into a baggie, tin or just eat them all quickly yourself!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas- Our Annual Party: Recipes, Cookie FAILS, Gift giving and a GREAT time!

Though we get together each month, December is extra special for obvious reasons!  A time to dress up a little, we give gifts, and we do our annual (and possibly final) cookie exchange. 
It's ALL ABOUT THE FOOD!!!!  Each month we take turns hosting and Dani offered her home for December.  It's so much fun sitting around a pretty table chatting with your girlfriends!  Here are a couple of the things we ate (think I'm still full!):
Stuffed Mushrooms
Remove stem from large mushrooms.  Put a dollup of your favorite stuffing in the bottom of mushrooms leaving room for cream cheese filling.  Put 8oz of cream cheese in the food processor with 1/2 cup of olive tapenade (or finely chopped olive mix) and 1 TBS (give or take to your taste) of Johhny's Garlic Spread and Seasoning.  Pulse until mixed and spoon into mushrooms.  Bake at 400* for about 20-30 minutes.  Serve immediately. 
Italian Pin Wheels
Start with your favorite homemade French bread dough or store bought dough.  Roll into 16x10 rectangle 1/4" thick- brush with olive oil leaving 1" at longest edge and Sprinkle with garlic powder.  Cover dough with 2 cups of shredded cheese then Layer with pepperoni slices and add chopped basil.  Roll dough tightly starting at long edge and dampen opposite 1" edge with water and complete rolling (the water will help seal the roll).  Cut into 1" slices and place on non-stick baking sheet then Cover with cloth and let raise.  Bake at 375* until golden brown.  Serve with marinara sauce- best served warm.

....and of course don't forget the drinks!  Yummy cranberry punch and wine- DANG, why did I drive??
ME (left) with my present of a Mayberry Cookbook, Bunco ornament,
headband and an original jewelry creation from All Wrapped Up.
We also do a gift exchange (with a $30 cap) by drawing names.  LOVE knowing I'm at least getting ONE present from SOMEbody this year!  These kitchen item ornaments were my gift to the gals to show my appreciation for all their hard work this year.
Cookie Exchange
Note:  My Baklava will be on a separate blog
FUNNIEST COOKIE EXCHANGE EVER!  This was the year for epic fails.  Part of us made too-complicated-never-to-be-duplicated cookies, others had batches that made small- causing them to have LESS than the minimum nine dozen, one (whom shall remain nameless) actually PURCHASED her cookies (BRILLIANT  woman!), mine had a Phyllo mishap, and one sweetie....well, completely misunderstood and just brought TWO dozen cookies...TOTAL ("What???!!!  Why would you want NINE dozen cookies???!!!).  Needless to say, the over all consensus was to skip our annual cookie exchange next year ROFL!!

Dawn's Rum Balls
2 boxes (12oz ea) vanilla wafers, crushed
2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups confectioner's sugar
2/3 cup dark rum
2 cups light or dark corn syrup
8oz container diced dried citrus fruits (optional)
shredded coconut or jimmies for coating
Stir vanilla wafer crumbs, nuts, confectioner's sugar and unsweetened cocoa.  Starting with 1/2 the quantity of rum and 1/2 the corn syrup, gradually stir in liquids, adding a little at a time.
Stir together and check consistency.  When you can roll the mixture into a 1" ball, don't add any more run or syrup.  You may not need to add the full amount called for in the recipe (this is because some cocoa brands contain more cornstarch or other fillers than other brands which absorb the liquids).  
Add citrons (optional) and stir until well blended then shape into 1" balls.
Roll in either coconut or the jimmies.
This recipe SAYS it makes 9 dozen but when Dawn made them, it only came out to 5 1/2 

Dani's Chocolate turtle cookies
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoon (1stick) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg, seperated, plus 1 egg white
2 tablesppons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4cups pecan, chopped fine
14 soft caramel candies
3 tablespoons heavy cream
Combine flour, cocoa, and salt in bowl.  With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 2 minute3s.  add egg yolk, milk and vanilla and mix until corporated.  Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture until just combined.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, 1 hour.
Adjust oven rack to upper middle and lower middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Whisk egg whites in bowl until frothy.  Place pecans in another bowl.  
Roll dough into 1inch balls, dipin egg whites, then roll in pecans.  Place balls 2 inches apart on prepared on prepared baking sheets.  Using 1/2 teaspoon measure, make indentation in center of each ball.  Bake until set, about 12 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. 
Microwave caramels and cream in bowl, stirring occasionally, until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.  Once cookies are removed from oven, gently re-press existing indentations.  Fill each with 1/2 teaspoon of caramel mixture.  Cool 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rach to cool completely.

Laura's Pioneer Potato Candy 
original recipe yield 2 dz 
1 lb chocolate, chopped
1 cup mashed cooked potatoes
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 lbs confectioner's sugar
2/3 cup shredded coconut or chopped peanuts
Inn the top of a double boiler, heat chocolate, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and smooth.
In a mixing bowl, combine the potato, salt and vanilla.  Sift the confectioner's sugar over potato, stirring and adding about 1 cup at a time.  Mixture will liquefy when sugar is added then gradually begin to thicken.

When it becomes the consistency of stiff dough, knead it even though not all the sugar has been added.
After kneading, cover with a damp cloth and chill until a small spoonful can be rolled into a ball.  Shape in small 1/2" balls.  Dip balls in melted chocolate then roll in peanuts or coconut.
The special "Italian" cookies (store bought!)
Recipe from Krusteaz (these were my hubby's FAV)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Recipes- Margie's Eggs: Our Family Tradition

This is a tradition in our household that we have on Christmas morning (because it can be put together ahead of time), and it is good for brunches. We got it from my Aunt Margie but don't know where she got it from. 
At our house, we are dragged out of bed Christmas morning by our kids, open our stockings, eat breakfast, and then we take as long as we can opening our presents. So while the dish is cooking, it's a good time to take a shower (most important unless you want to look cruddy in present pics haha). 
My sister Laura does a million variations on Margie's Eggs so there's no way to make it "wrong". Go ahead and change the cheese, put frozen hash browns on the bottom, toss in real bacon bits, etc... Another great thing is that this is one of those egg recipes that actually taste good re-heated later for all day grazing. Thank you Aunt Margie- you've become a legend!


10 eggs

1/2 cup melted butter (* we skipped this step this year on accident and it still tasted good)

1/2 cup flour

1 tsp baking powder

4 oz (or bigger) can of chopped green chilies (* optional- my mom Karen sometimes tosses them on just 1/2)

1 pint of cottage cheese

1 lb of cheddar cheese shredded

Toppings: S&P to taste, salsa (* we prefer mango) or sour cream.

Mix all together and put into a 10x13 greased pan (at this time, you can put into the fridge over night). 
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 400 degrees for TEN minutes and then reduce to 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out kinda clean (don't over cook). 
Cut into squares and serve with topping options.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas- Poker Night Bacon Cheddar Pinwheels

I think the email invite for my husband's December Poker said something to the equivalent that it was a MAN'S night so there would be NO dressing up, NO gift giving and NO cookie exchange LOL.  BUT, we still had to make an appetizer so since I had a Bunco Night the day before (click HERE to see the post), we bought double the ingredients to make the same recipe.  From the Pillsbury Website, this looked very simple with a lot of stuff I had on hand.
Bite sized pieces at my Bunco Night
Bacon-Cheddar Pinwheels

1 8oz can of Pillsbury refrigerated crescent dinner rolls OR 1 can Pillsbury Crescent Recipe Creations refrigerated seamless dough sheet
2 TBS Ranch Dressing
1/4 cup cooked real bacon pieces or 4 slices of bacon, crisply cooked, crumbled
1/2 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese (2 oz)
1/4 cup chopped green onions (4 med).  Hubby doesn't like these so we used finely chopped green peppers instead

  • Heat oven to 350°F.
  • If using crescent rolls: Unroll dough; separate into 2 long rectangles. Press each into 12x4-inch rectangle, firmly pressing perforations to seal. If using dough sheet: Unroll dough; cut lengthwise into 2 long rectangles. Press each into 12x4-inch rectangle.
  • Spread dressing over each rectangle to edges. Sprinkle each with bacon, Cheddar cheese and onions (in our case, we used green peppers)
  • NEXT TIME:  We'll chop bacon smaller and put more in corners
    Starting with one short side, roll up each rectangle; press edge to seal. With serrated knife, cut each roll into 8 slices; place cut side down on ungreased cookie sheet (we saw a tip online that said after you roll it up and before cutting, put into the freezer for about 1/2 an hour).
  • Bake 12 to 17 minutes or until edges are deep golden brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheet. Serve warm.
    This is how my hubby took them to Poker.  They weren't "pretty" enough for me for my Bunco Night so we cut them into bite-sized-fourths (see top photo).

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas- Simple Wreath's not too late!

Every year I buy wreaths from my friend Carolyn but this year she wasn't selling them so she asked if The Hungry Housewives would like to come over to make their own.  So -OF COURSE- my 5yr old who has only been sick twice in his life ended up with a 103* temperature, so I wasn't able to go {sniff}.  BUT, some of the other gals still went and were kind enough to bring me back a wreath!  

SUPPLIES:  You're going to need a frame which can be found at any craft store (remember- the bigger the frame, the more work!), floral wire, gloves, decorations like a ribbon, bells, etc, and greenery.  Depending on where you live, this could be as easy as just looking around the side of the road!  In my case, my lovely hubby cut pieces from our holly berry tree, we kept the lower branches from our Christmas Tree, and then we popped into the local tree farm and purchased bough strands which was just $1 a foot.  Carolyn said that you would need about a garbage bag full for one wreath.
Carolyn suggested cutting the greenery into 4-6" pieces and bunching them together to make a fluffier look. Once that was done, bind them together with floral wire, wrapping tightly, then with more wire, binding them to the frame. Clip any excess wire. Repeat the process, overlapping your bundles so that you're covering the previous bundle wire. 
As you go along, step back to see the whole picture to help you see where you might want to fill in more, or add holly, decorative balls, etc. Once you feel like the greenery is full enough, add a bow and other decorations if you want (Carolyn wired Christmas balls together by themselves to add to the wreath).

My friend Dawn said hers was not as detailed since they were a little pushed for time, and it was her first attempt. She chose to bunch longer pieces, which made for a less fluffy look (which is totally fine since every one is original so you can make it your own).  She did say that if she had the chance to do it again, she'd allow for more time and would make it fuller since she noticed once it was hung up, the gravity kinda pulled the greenery down, exposing a little of the frame (taking time to adequately fill the form would keep this from happening).  She also said this was a great learning experience, really fun, and she can't wait to do it again next year!

When you're all finished, you can hang it with a nail, an over-the-door wreath holder or a free standing holder (see what frames are on on photo at top).

Thank you to Hungry Housewife Dani for taking the pics and to Carolyn for offering your home and expertise so that we can play!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas- Bunco, Wally, and Ornament Exchange!

Every Christmas, a group of gals I know host a Christmas Bunco night with an ornament exchange and a couple games of Wally (see below for how-to).  Everybody brings a dish to share with the Hostess providing drinks and dessert so there's lots of yummies!  The recipe for photo shown here is at the bottom of this blog but for the recipe for MY dish, go to: Poker Night)
THH Tari's Hidden Valley Ranch Sausage Stars (recipe below)

After we've all had snacks, we play two rounds of Bunco.  I ended up being the LAST person to be wearing the Bunco Hat at the end of the night (and came 2nd for most Buncos) so won back my $10 entrance fee.  Woo-hoo!  

Then Hungry Housewife Dawn ended up being a top winner of the night with MOST wins!
Dawn with her Bunco Win Prizes
After Bunco, we moved onto the Ornament Exchange.  This is my FAV way to do this!!!  Every person puts their own wrapped ornament in front of them then Co-Hostess Tami reads aloud the story of The Night Before Christmas.  Every time she says the word "THE", we pass our gift to the right.  Whenever she says "And", we pass it to the left.  At the end of the poem, whoever's gift you have in front of you is the one you get to keep!  No "stealing" involved! 
After we've opened all our gifts, we move onto Round ONE of Wally which involves using quarters followed by Round TWO using dollar bills.
Rules:  You roll the same number of dice that you have Quarters (or Dollars).  As the photo shows above, if you roll a 1,2 or 3, you get to KEEP your money!  BUT if you roll a 4, it goes into the Kitty (the pot).  For a 5, you slide your money to the person to your right or if you do a 6, you pass it to the person to your left.  You do the same thing for EACH dice (for example, if you roll straight 4s, the ENTIRE thing goes into the Kitty!).  
Quarter Wally Winner Heather

Eventually, it will dwindle down to just a few people still with money (time depends on # of players- we had 18 women!).  When it's down to the LAST person, the game is NOT over yet!  She HAS to keep rolling until EVERY Quarter (or $1) is in the Kitty so there is a chance she could lose it all!  

Dollar Wally Winner Dalese
If you are playing Quarters, the Winner will get ALL the money in the pot (so that's $1.25 per person playing).  But if you are playing with one dollar bills, the Winner will get $5 per person so the stakes can get pretty up there (esp if you use $5s or $10s).

Thank you to the hostess- Hungry Housewife Jody for another wonderful, fun night with the girls!

Hidden Valley Ranch Sausage Stars

2 cups (1lb) cooked crumbled sausage
1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups grated Monterey jack cheese
1 cup prepared Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix
1 can (2.25 oz) sliced black olives
1/2 cup chopped red peppers
1 pkg fresh or frozen wonton wrappers
vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 350'. Blot sausage dry with paper towel and combine with cheeses, salad dressing, olives and red peppers. Lightly grease a mini muffin tin and press 1 wrapper in each cup. Brush with oil. Bake 5 minuted until wrappers are golden brown. remove from tins, place on baking sheet. Fill with sausage mixture. Bake 5 minutes until bubbly.