Saturday, January 28, 2012

Here Comes The Bride!

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Don't you love a wedding?  I made these cookies for a wedding shower, and since the wedding was so close to the holidays, my friend decided to host a shower after the wedding, which I think is a great idea.  How fun for the bride, and her friends and family to reminisce about the big event!  I also made an early batch of Valentines.  So here we go...and stay tuned, I am getting ready for my first give away! I am excited, I hope you are too!  So for now, get in there and bake!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Craft Day!

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Red Neck Wine Glasses

Photo Fabric Pillows

Over Christmas, Christina wanted to make gifts for her friends, and of course I am all in, but she HAS to help.  I don't generally ask for help when the project involves an oven, but a craft project for her friends meant it would be a project for us both!  So a shopping trip to Hobby Lobby and a day in the sewing room.  It was the perfect ending to Christmas vacation!

The first project was redneck wine glasses.  Nic joined the fun on this one.  I came across these at a Dirty Santa party and everyone passed these silly glasses around.  When we discovered how easy and cheap they were to make, I had a group of friends over with glue and jelly jars and we made 4 dozen.  When the kids came home for the holidays, they decided they wanted some too.  You will need glass candle sticks, little short ones.  We found them at the dollar store and at Hobby Lobby.  You also need a jar for the top.  I saw them all over the internet with Mason jars, but the ones we had were the faceted jelly jars.  You will also need glass glue that dries waterproof, a little sandpaper and some fingernail polish remover with acetone.

You need to gently sand the top of the candle holder, and wipe with the acetone and wipe the bottom of the jar as well.  Lay a ring of glue on the bottom of the glass and place on table upside down.  Top with the candle holder (also upside down) and be sure it is level.  Keep it where it won't get bumped and dry overnight.  We found that setting the jars on the lids was more stable than the candle stick, they are top heavy, and can slip making it a little crooked.  We found some cool stickers that are all the letters, and Christina put her friends initials on the label section of the jars.  Pretty cute.  Then she put her glasses in some home made fabric bags and tied them with ribbon.  Of course Christina's aren't wine glasses, they would be soda glasses.

Then to the sewing machine for photo pillows.  We started with a photo of her and her friends that we printed on photo fabric.  The brand I use is no longer available, but we printed the pictures on various types of silk.  You should be able to find a similar product at the fabric store.  I should have paid closer attention to the types, because the thinner silk wasn't great.  We bought a black and white print for the back of the pillow, and she chose different solids for the fronts.  Everything was cut 15"X15" for a finished pillow of 14"X14", and we just appliquéd the photo to the solid fabric.  We also bought some white pom pom trim.
Basically you appliqué the trimmed photo to the solid fabric first, anchoring and stabilizing it with some fusible interfacing.  Then you need to baste the pom pom trim to one side of the pillow (on the right side) and then sew the two side together, right sides facing, leaving a small opening.  Stuff the pillow and then hand stitch it closed.  They turned out great, an easy and fun project for college kids!  So now, back to the kitchen, I have baking to do!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Grandma Tilton's Cinnamon Rolls

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My husband does't talk about a lot of food memories, unlike me who remembers every meal of every event in my life!  But he does have this obsession with his Grandma Tilton's cinnamon rolls.  His mom was happy to send him the recipe, and I sort of sat back thinking he might try them some day.  I vaguely remember him doing it, but I can't remember how they turned out.  So I decided as I was getting things done ahead, that maybe I could make them to the point of the last rise and freeze them.  Then, in the morning I could take the thawed rolls out and bake them up for an amazing surprise!  

Grandma Tilton's Cinnamon Rolls

1 package yeast dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water (under 110˚ F)

1 cup milk
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt

Scald milk and remove from heat.  Add butter, sugar, salt and allow to cool. Note that most times yeast doesn't rise, it is because it has been killed.  Yes, murdered by too hot of a liquid.  Use an instant read thermometer and make sure that nothing is over 110̊ .  In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the scalded milk and 1 1/2 cups of flour until smooth.  Add yeast mixture and mix and then add 2 eggs and mix well.  I use the dough hook so it is always on a slow speed.  Add another 1 1/2 cups of flour   and mix until smooth and elastic.  Knead for about 7 minutes.  I add flour in small amounts until the dough cleans the bowl as it is kneaded.  Remove from bowl and place in oiled bowl and cover with a cloth and let rise a few hours until doubled in size.  

Roll out on floured board, I did one half of the dough at a time.  Roll to a large rectangle.  Drizzle a little butter, about 3 Tablespoons, melted on the dough, and then sprinkle brown sugar and chopped nuts (I used walnuts).  You want the toppings to reach the edges of the dough.  Begin to roll on one long end and tightly roll the dough.  Cut into slices about 2"-3" thick.  You can make them bigger, just adjust the baking time.  Place the cut rolls in a 9x9 square pan that has 2 Tablespoons of butter and a little brown sugar and chopped nuts on the bottom.  Repeat for the other half of the dough.  Cover well with plastic wrap and then with foil and freeze.

A note: There were no measurements for the butter, brown sugar and nuts, but I always err on the light side.  These are not health food to begin with.  If they are a little dry on the day we bake them I can always whip up a little confectioner's sugar glaze.  But since the bottom of the pan will be a little gooey and caramelized, I thought they would be fine.  

So here's what I need to change.  I do not like the brown sugar, I am not a fan of that dark gooieness.   I cut the rolls too small thinking it would make portions easier, but they really were a tad dry, I think big rolls that are a little doughy in the center is the way to go, but I did put a bit of glaze on them, and that helped.  They smelled fantastic, they tasted good, but they are not my favorite.  (And I forgot to snap photos of the finished rolls!) I have an old standby for a traditional, non brown sugar, no nut, cinnamon roll that I will blog soon.  But hey, these are what Scott loves, they are his memory, and thankfully he knows how to make them!  

Monday, January 9, 2012

Aunt Evelyn's Ham Balls

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Aunt Evelyn's Ham Balls

I know, they sound nasty, but hang in here with me.  You won't be disappointed.  First, let me fill you in on Aunt Evelyn.  She was my Great Aunt, married my Grandpa's brother.  They were so much fun, never had kids, and they came to visit us every summer for the Bix Beiderbecke Jazz Festival.  Uncle Paul had been a musician back in the 30's and 40's.  They were very special to me because my Grandpa passed when I was pretty little, and I was always around in the summer to hang out with them at the Bix Fest.
This is her recipe, and it is classic 50's food.  I am sure they ate this over rice for dinner, but it is one of my favorite things to make as appetizer.  It sure beats Costco meatballs, and you know who you are out there, buying those! I always make more, meatballs are so time consuming, and freeze them for later.  Scott's favorite pizza is ham and pineapple, so little tiny meatballs would be perfect for his pizza.  Sounds like a blog for a cold winter's night!

1 1/2# ground ham
2# lean ground pork
2 1/2 cups soft bread crumbs
1 cup milk (a little more may be necessary depending on the moisture in the ham)

I run the meat through the grinder attachment on my Kitchen Aid mixer, and mix it well.  Form meatballs, keeping them uniform size.  I like them one-bite size, and I did make some little ones.  Bake in a well oiled cookie sheet at 350 for about 30 minutes.  Roll them about frequently, and baste with the sauce a couple of times.

Juice from large can of pineapple chunks
1/2 cup juice with 1 cup dark brown sugar
add 1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dry mustard

Heat sauce to melt sugar, and place the cooked, drained meatballs and the sauce in a casserole and bake 15 minutes, add drained pineapple chunks and bake 15 minutes more.

Now, confession time.  I make this recipe, as is, and the men especially eat it up.  But while at work one day, we were sampling a sauce we sell called Tiki Pork.  It is a pineapple based sauce with a little heat in it, courtesy of a little ginger and red pepper.  Not necessarily spicy, but a little residual heat, and darn if it isn't good.  So I bought this sauce for my Aunt Evelyn's Ham Balls and served them at our New Year's Eve party.  They were fantastic, and I will tinker with my recipe to recreate this updated taste!  Happy 2012!

Monday, January 2, 2012

So long to 2011, on to the New Year!

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Happy Joe's Taco Pizza

So I am a bad holiday blogger.  Part of it is work, well, a lot of it was work.  Plus I was without my big oven from Thanksgiving until somewhere around the 15th of December, and of course those last 10 days really ramp up at work.  So I did cook and bake, but I was a little lax on blogging.  I decided before I do a quickie on what I did accomplish, I would look at the year that has passed.

In January I posted some sewing projects, and that makes me think I have got to get back in there!  I also made crack pie (yuck) and macaroons (yum, the meringue, coconut kind, not the trendy ones).

In February I made lots of Valentine sugar cookies, some fresh garbanzo beans and I made a cookie in honor of the best dog ever.  We also drank Dark and Stormys, and I am thinking how good that tasted!

In March, I cleaned my copper, no small feat.  I also made a fantastic Mardi Gras pizza and welcomed spring in the South.

I was pretty busy in April.  I made a lot of Easter cookies, and cookies for the premiers of Something Borrowed.  I blogged a lot!  And I even baked for the Royal Wedding watch party.  Well, it isn't really baked, but it is the future King's favorite cake!  One of my more popular blogs appeared too, but more on that later!

May was really all about the cookies.  Frosting For the Cause, graduation, my handyman and lots of others.  It was also Mother's Day, so I wrote a tribute to my mom.

June was all about the cookies again.  Seashells, Frosting for the Cause again, the Mailman, and Cars 2, among others.  I did make a gorgeous dinner and blogged it lest anyone think all we eat is flour and sugar!

July was a hodge podge of blogs.  Of course the 4th of July and my birthday.  But also some barbecue and an assortment of cookies, my favorite would have to be Bigfoot.

There's just too much in August to pick.  We became empty nesters, I had a family reunion that could only have happened because of this blog, and another popular post I will get to.

September was busy and I did a rerun.  But I baked a lot of cookies, my favorites being for the sorority girl.

October was all about our amazing trip to Wine Country, St. Helena and meeting my chef crush, Michael Chiarello.  

November was all cookies until I recreated our Bottega dinner.  Then my oven died.

There were no sugar cookies in December, how sad is that?  I made some green tomatoes though, and found an old family recipe and story that was published on the Smithsonian Magazine online. 
Minnie's Chocolate Pie

But I have to highlight the big 2 posts.  They continue to generate emails and comments and page views.  The first is Happy Joe's Taco Pizza.  Every Iowan it seems loves this stuff, and I get many comments from people who are happy to see how to make it at home.  It is not the exact recipe, but for this girl, it takes me back! The photo is up top.
The other post is Minnie's Chocolate Pie.  The movie The Help was a blockbuster no doubt, at least here. I have had many versions of chocolate pie and fudge pie, but it was fun to do this blog and share it.  I even had a blogger friend down under baking it!  But the last comment was the best, she reminds me I left out Minnie's key ingredient!  
Here's to 2012 and all it holds.  May it be happy, healthy and prosperous to us all!