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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

What's on your April Fools Table?

It's April First!  Last year I had time to make a much more elaborate dinner - I'll post some pictures of that below.  This year I just don't have the energy or time so dinner is much more simple.   

Our menu:

Chicken Burgers

If children aren't interested in this menu they may replace the chicken with some pulled turkey, and the chips for carrots. 

We'll see if there's room and time for dessert!

Happy April Fools!

April Fools 2013  -   Meatloaf Cupcakes, Mashed Potato Sundaes, and Jello drink.   Dirt cake for dessert!

Photo: April Fools Dinner.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Mom's Delicious Oatmeal Cake

If you like German Chocolate Cake topping, you will like the topping for this delicious oatmeal cake!  

My Dad joins us for dinner every Sunday and I've enjoyed making some dinners and desserts that my Mom used to make.  This Oatmeal Cake is one of those desserts that I remember Mom making on special occasions as I was growing  up.  We often had it in addition to pies at Thanksgiving dinner, and it was a cake she took to pot luck dinners.   The topping for this is carmeley and full of nuts and coconut.  The cake is a bit heavier and moist.  

Personally I count this cake as a health food considering the oats, cream, and eggs that are involved here. :)

Total mixing and baking time, including the topping that you put back in the oven, is around one hour.  Time well spent!

Mom's Oatmeal Cake

1 1/2 C. boiling water
1/2 C. butter
1 C. uncooked quick oats

Mix together, cover pan and set aside for 10 minutes.

Mix together the following dry ingredients:

1 C. white sugar
1 C. brown sugar
1 1/2 C. flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Add oatmeal mixture AND 2 eggs and beat well.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

Topping: (prepare while cake is baking)

6 T. melted butter
1/2 C. chopped walnuts or pecans
1/4 C. cream or canned milk
1/2 C. coconut flakes
1/2 C. brown sugar

Mix topping ingredients and spread on cake soon after it comes out of the oven.  Return to oven and bake at 450 degrees for 5 minutes more.

Joy's Note:   If you double the topping it is EXTRA delicious!  I love the edges of the cake when the topping melts down the sides and soaks into the cake!  YUMMY!  :)   

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Shirley's Sugar Cookies

Happy Valentine's Day!   I decided to bake cookies to decorate for my family for Valentine's Day this year.  I usually make sugar cookies but I don't always do more than slather frosting across them and sprinkle with pretties.  Sometimes I have time and it's fun to make them pretty - my girls who are 11 & 13 and my granddaughter who is 7 will LOVE these. (and I'm pretty sure my sons and grandson won't pass up a cookie just because it's pink and prettied up!)

I used to work with Shirley at a restaurant years ago.  She was like a second Mom to me for several years as we worked and chatted together several evenings a week.  One year for my birthday she gave me a Dough Disc which you can see HERE .   It's a plastic disc with a cotton cover that you slip on when you're ready to roll dough.  It works AMAZING!  Holds the flour nicely and when you're finished you just shake it in the trash & toss the cover in the laundry.  ANYWAY, along with that Dough Disc she gave me her favorite sugar cookie recipe.  It turns out a firmer dough that will hold its shape when using cookie cutters.  It's easy to work with and perfect for fancy decorating.  (For just a tasty, soft, puffy sugar cookie, I love Sour Cream Sugar Cookies best - but they don't work as nicely for pretty decorations - great slathered with frosting and sprinkles though!)

Shirley's Sugar Cookies

1/2 C. butter, softened
1/4 C. shortening
1 C. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. lemon or vanilla flavor
1 tsp. baking powder
2 1/2 - 3 C. flour

Mix together shortening, butter, sugar, eggs and flavoring.  Sift flour, baking powder and salt in separate bowl.  Mix dry ingredients into creamed mixture.  Chill at least 1 hour.  Roll out on floured surface and cut into shapes.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 8 minutes or until cookie is set.    Cool and frost.  Make approximately 2 dozen 3 inch cookies.

Joy's Notes:   I like to use the frosting recipe posted HERE.  The frosting recipe is just below the cookie dough recipe.   

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Coconut Pecan Frosting and Cool Egg Trick

I love the frosting on German Chocolate Cake.  So carmeley and nutty and sticky and wonderful!  I needed to make some cupcakes for a birthday today and since there was no school, my girls had fun helping.   I love having the kids help in the kitchen.  They always want to to the fun stuff  like cracking eggs, or measuring sugar, or stirring.  I hardly EVER have a child beg me to help with the dishes or put ingredients away.  Hmmm... 

For this recipe we needed 3 egg yolks.  My friend sent me a link to a video that showed an innovative way to separate eggs, and though I think just using the shell is easy enough, we gave this new method a try, just to see.  It was fun!    You can find that video HERE.  Essentially, you just crack an egg into a bowl and use an empty water bottle to suck the egg yolks up out of the whites.  It was pretty easy as long as you didn't break the yolk while cracking the egg.   Here are a few pictures of our trial... 

Cool trick, right?!  Who thinks of this stuff?  If I had a lot of eggs to separate I'd use this method again, but for one or two, the old fashioned way is just fine.  Your kids will love trying it though, next time you make scrambled eggs is a good time to try it just for fun...  save one of those empty flexible water bottles.

Once your eggs are separated, the Coconut Pecan Frosting is easy to do and just takes a few minutes of stirring to cook.  You do need to leave time for it to cool a bit though before using.

Coconut Pecan Frosting

1 C. evaporated milk
1 C. brown sugar
3 egg yolks
1/2 C. butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 C. chopped pecans
1 1/3 C. shredded coconut

In saucepan combine everything EXCEPT the nuts and coconut.  Cook over low heat stirring constantly until thickened.  Remove from heat and stir in pecans and coconut.  Let cool before frosting cakes or cupcakes.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Baked Chicken and Rice

When I was growing up, most of the time Mom fixed meals using foods we grew in the garden and meat we had raised.  Most meals were meat and potato meals.  Usually four items on our plates at dinner:  Meat, potatoes, vegetable, and some sort of salad. Most always a dessert accompanied that, often though it was a bowl of home canned fruit.  Once in a great while, Mom would make a casserole or dinner using ingredients we had to buy such as cheese, pasta, or rice.  It was such a treat to have a meal out of the norm.  This is so much a comfort food for me, creamy and soothing.  Mmmm!

One of the dishes Mom would make once in a while for Sunday dinner was Chicken and Rice.  So easy to make throw in the oven while you do other things.

I buy whole chickens and cut them up into 10 pieces for this, or sometimes I buy chicken leg quarters and cut those apart.  It depends on which is the best price per pound.  I've tried using boneless/skinless breasts and I don't like it nearly as well.  The fat from the skin really flavors the rice.  However, if you're really watching fats, the boneless/skinless breasts will work.

Chicken and Rice

1 fryer cut up or 6-8 other pieces of chicken
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 1/2 soup cans of water
1 pkg. dry onion soup mix OR 2 T. bulk onion soup and dip mix
1 C. long grain rice

Scatter the uncooked rice in teh bottom of a greased 9x13 pan.  Lay chicken on top of rice.  Mix mushroom soup, onion soup and water together.  Pour over chicken.  Cover and bake at 325 for 2 hours.  Uncover the last 25 minutes.  

Joy's Notes:  I double the rice and soup mixture for our family but have to use a deeper pan to hold the liquid.  I love adding a 1/4 cup or so of wild rice to the rice mixture.   This recipe freezes well after it's cooked so if you're cooking for a smaller group it's easy to portion off and free in individual servings OR do the recipe in 2 8x8 pans.  


* By the way, pictured above was double the chicken, triple the rice & soup and baked in a much larger pan.  We're feeding 9-10 people here most days.