Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!!

I'm grateful for many things today, and family is at the top of that list. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Angel Lemon Pie {a melt-in-your-mouth favorite}

It isn't Thanksgiving time without pie. Lots and lots of pies!

Here's one of my faves: Angel Lemon Pie. I've shared it before and I'm gonna share it again because it is SO good. It's different from regular pie because it has a meringue crust. Don't let the word meringue scare you, because it's really very easy to do. The pie is very light, very lemony, and literally melts in your mouth. This pie needs to chill for an entire day before you serve it, so keep that in mind if you decide to try it. Don't worry, the chilling time is worth it!

Angel Lemon Pie

adapted from a KUTV cooking segment

4 egg whites
1/4 t. cream of tartar
1 c. sugar

Beat egg whites until frothy. Add cream of tartar, and beat until stiff. Gradually add sugar, and beat until stiff and shiny. Put into a greased 9-in. pie pan. Bake at 275 degrees for 20 minutes, then turn the heat up to 300 degrees and bake for 40 minutes more. Cool.

The meringue crust before baking.

4 egg yolks
1/2 c. sugar
3 T. lemon juice
1/2 t. lemon extract
1-2 T. water
1 c. whipping cream
2 T. sugar
1/2 t. vanilla

Beat yolks until thick and lemon colored. Gradually beat in sugar. Add lemon juice, grated peel (Or extract) and water. Cook over a double boiler until thick, stirring constantly. (This step doesn't take long, and I cooked it until it was the consistency of yogurt). Chill.

Whip the cream with 2 T. sugar and 1/2 t. vanilla. Spread 1/2 of whipped cream over cooled crust, then spread the lemon custard over that. Add the rest of the whipped cream on top. Refrigerate 24 hours before serving.

Friday, November 22, 2013

How to start a fire in your microwave

Besides sticking something metal or foil in there.  This is a new one. I'm betting no one thought of it before.

I don't know if you can tell, but this method will also give you a nice, black sooty film all over the entire inside of your microwave. It's a joy to clean up, it really is.

So what's this new way of almost destroying a perfectly good microwave? A hand warmer. One of those little bitty packs you just shake and then it heats up. Someone around here wanted a hand warmer during our cold, blustery wind storm yesterday, so they assumed it needed a spin in the zapper to heat it up.

It worked all right. The good news is that by some miracle our microwave still works.

Don't try this at home.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies on a pink Post-It Note.

My title is quite literal today. I'll show you in a minute.

I wrote the recipe for these cookies down on a little pink Post-It note probably two years ago, and ever since then that little gem has maintained a prized spot right on my kitchen counter where I can use it whenever I have one of those I've-got-to-have-chocolate-chip-cookies-now moments.

I know we all have those moments. Ahem.

Anyway, because of where it lives, it looks like this:

Don't judge me--I can still read it just fine. :)   In case you need a little deciphering, it's 1 1/2 sticks of butter, melted and then cooled slightly. Cream the butter and sugars for 2 minutes on medium high speed--really, beat the heck out of it, it's worth the time. When you add the egg, yolk and vanilla, do that again--2 full minutes.

Original recipe lives here: Mel's Kitchen Cafe under "Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies." I named them the BEST because I consider them to be just that. They don't disappoint!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Herbed Chicken with Parmesan Dumplings

Here's the recipe I promised yesterday. It's a good one--perfect for these cold fall-turning-into-winter days.

Herb Chicken with Parmesan Dumplings
adapted from McCormick

1/3 cup butter

1/4 cup flour 
1/4 to 1/3 cup dry minced onion
3 cups water
4 chicken bouillon cubes
1 2/3 cups milk, divided
3/4 tsp. sage
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
3/4 tsp. rosemary
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2-3 cups cooked chicken thighs (or breasts), cubed
2 cups assorted frozen vegetables (peas/carrots or a California blend are both good)
1 1/4 cup Bisquick baking mix
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
2 t. dried parsley

Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet (I use my 12"). Add dry onions and whisk in flour until smooth. Gradually stir in water and whisk until smooth. Add 1 cup of the milk and the chicken bouillon cubes. Stir in sage, garlic salt, rosemary, thyme and black pepper. Continue whisking until smooth. Stir in cooked chicken and frozen vegetables. Bring mixture to a boil. Meanwhile, mix Bisquick, Parmesan cheese, milk and parsley in a small bowl until well blended. Drop by spoonfuls onto chicken mixture. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Cover the skillet and cook 10 more minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the broiler on low. At the end of the second 10-minute cooking time, remove the lid from the skillet and place the pan under the broiler for 2 minutes, or until the dumplings are golden brown on top. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Quick and easy poached chicken {when you need cooked chicken for a recipe}

Cooked boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Lots of yummy recipes out there call for cooked chicken. If you think ahead and throw some in your crock pot for later, it works great. But what about all the times you I don't think ahead and then realize I could make something really great if I had some cooked chicken?

If you're like me, this idea is for you.

Quickly poach some chicken and you'll have the cooked chicken you need, freshly cooked, in a half hour or less. Here's what I do for quick, moist, flavorful cooked chicken.

Chicken thighs just added to the boiling seasoned and buttery broth.

Grab a 10-12" skillet, and set it over medium high heat. Throw in a couple tablespoons of butter and let it melt. Add 2 cups of hot water and two chicken bouillon cubes, and then a teaspoon of rosemary and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Turn heat up and bring to a boil. Add chicken breasts or thighs--and it's important to note that mine are always frozen when I do this. Cover and return to boiling. Once it boils, turn the heat down to a simmer. For chicken thighs, set the timer for 15 minutes. For chicken breasts, 25 minutes. At the end of cooking time, remove pan from heat and drain off the water. Keep the chicken covered and let it cool for 5 or 10 minutes before chopping or shredding.

I used the cooked chicken thighs above to make a delicious Herbed Chicken with Parmesan Dumplings. Come back tomorrow to see the results and get the recipe!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Homemade Rosemary Olive Oil Bread

Hello there!

Today we're talking bread. Specifically, Rosemary Olive Oil Bread. I love me some Rosemary Olive Oil Bread, and my local Smith's sells some La Brea variety. It is good. The only problem? It's $3 a loaf, and the loaves are small so I have to buy two if I want my family to be satisfied--i.e. enjoy any leftovers. I decided there must be a good recipe out there to make it myself. So I went looking.

I looked at several, and the only problem I saw with them was that they only called for 2 measly tablespoons of olive oil. That's how much I put in my French Bread recipe--not enough to earn the name Olive Oil in the title.

Then I found one at Cuisinart. There is 1/3 cup of olive oil in this recipe. Now we're talking!! The recipe calls for rolling the dough into a rope and forming a circle. As you can see from the pic, it makes a huge loaf that looks kind of like a bagel, although there's really not a hole in the middle, just an indentation. You could shape the dough any way you want, and I would recommend making it into two separate loaves. My loaf above is almost a foot in diameter--no joke!

The hardest part of this recipe is just the time. The dough rises three different times, so don't be in a hurry when you make it. Other than that, it's easy-peasy, especially if you hire your bread machine to help.

Rosemary Olive Oil Bread
adapted slightly from Cuisinart

1/3 cup Extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 t. dried rosemary

Combine olive oil and rosemary in bread machine bowl and let stand for at least 10 minutes. (I let it stand for 20.)
1 T. active dry yeast
2 1/2 t. salt
1 1/3 cup warm water
4 1/3 cup all purpose flour

Let the bread machine mix and knead the dough (or mix and knead by hand). Allow dough to rise for one hour. At this point, I removed the dough from my bread machine and transferred it to a large, oiled bowl. Punch the dough down and then cover and rise for another hour. Remove dough from bowl, punch it down and let it rest for 10 minutes. After it rests, roll the dough into a long, thick rope. Shape into a circle and firmly press the ends together to seal. Transfer to a lightly floured baking sheet (or use cornmeal if you have it). Cover the dough and let it rise until double, approximately 45-60 minutes. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Bake the bread for 10 minutes, and then turn the heat down to 375 degrees F and continue to bake for about 20-25 more minutes, or until bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped. Remove to a wire rack to cool. Cool completely before slicing.  I buttered my loaf while it was still warm, and sprinkled it with extra rosemary. That made for a softer crust, so don't butter yours if you want it crustier.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Meet Boston

cutie of the month!
Photo of Boston from PS I Adore You
Boston is a cute little guy, the nephew of one of my daughter Nicole's roommates. Nicole asked me to do a post about him, and I am hoping that sharing this story with you will help Boston and his family.

Unfortunately, Boston was recently diagnosed with leukemia. He is only 3 years old.

This month, Boston is the cancer cutie of the month over at P.S. I Adore You!

P.S. I Adore You is a blog written by three moms who are passionate about bringing more awareness of childhood cancers. As a mom who would like to up awareness of Type 1 Diabetes, I can totally relate to their cause.

Please visit their blog to meet Boston, read his story and find out how you can help meet the needs of Boston and other kids who are fighting cancer. P.S. I Adore You is teamed up with Millie' Princess Foundation to raise money to help Boston's family. Millie's Princess will match every donation made for Boston this month.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Great Reads: The Rent Collector

The Rent Collector by Camron Wright is an excellent read and I absolutely loved it! If you like stories of courage and hope, you should definitely read The Rent Collector.

Wright's story is based on fact. The setting is Cambodia, in the garbage dump known as Stung Meanchey. Yes, there are people, approximately 600 families to be exact, who LIVE IN THE DUMP. They make their living scavenging through others' refuse for anything of value, and they actually have to pay rent to live there. It's unbelievable, yet perfectly true.

The Rent Collector is the story of Sang Ly and her husband, Ki Lim, and their infant son, Nisay, who live in a shack at Stung Meanchey. Sang Ly, Ki Lim and Nisay are real people, and they are shown in the video above. They struggle each month to raise enough money to feed themselves and pay the rent collector on time. On top of that, Nisay is unwell and has been since birth. Sang Ly is matter-of-fact about why she thinks Nisay is not well, saying "We do live in a dump." But her biggest desire is to find a way for Nisay to be healed.

Sang Ly is a hero in my book. She manages to find the humor in life and this humor is interspersed through the book. She also has very thought-provoking ideas. A clock in their home that doesn't even work is still correct "two times a day," and Sang Ly keeps it because one day she hopes to have it repaired. One of my favorite quotes from the book is this: "Sometimes broken things deserve to be repaired."

One day Sang Ly discovers that the rent collector, an unlikeable old woman who seems to like no one, can read! This is a rare thing in the dump. Sang Ly manages to convince the rent collector, Sopeap Sin, to teach her to read in hopes of finding a better life for Nisay. An unlikely friendship develops and some amazing secrets are revealed about Sopeap Sin that change both of their lives.

The Rent Collector reminds the reader that hope springs eternal, great stories change lives and that you can never judge a book, or a person, by its cover. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

What's it like to be Sean Busby, Pro Backcountry Snowboarder?

Like my son Jared, Sean Busby is one of millions of amazing individuals who live with Type 1 diabetes {T1D}.

This year, Sean Busby is going to show you what it's like to be T1D for a Day.

This year's T1D4ADAY challenge is brought to you by Lilly Diabetes in partnership with JDRF.

Take the T1D for a Day challenge by texting T1D4ADAY to 63566. You will receive multiple text messages over a 24-hour period from Sean Busby. These messages will show you what it is like to have to stop what you're doing to test your blood sugar, administer insulin and count carbs before you can eat.

If you take the challenge, the JDRF asks that you use the hashtag #T1D4aDay on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram to help spread awareness of the disease.

As a mom, I say THANK YOU!! Raising awareness of this difficult disease is exactly what is needed to help find a cure.