Posted on July 7, 2011
Just recently, Shannon said, “You oughta put some meat on Kitchen Scrapbook again.” As I thought about it, it did seem like it had been awhile, so just for kicks, I checked… and was surprised… in the last 27 posts, the only thing with meat in it on here was Haystacks! And that’s not a dish where the meat is really monopolized on. So, here we go, something with meat… a main dish, for something different. I know it’s not a CHUNK of meat, but hey, there IS meat here.
One main dish in 27 posts shows you a bit where my interests lie. I don’t churn out full course meals as often as you might think. I like cooking meals, I really do. But you know what I LOVE? Baking, desserts, decorating cakes, and playing around with food. It’s hard to do fun stuff with main course dishes. And main course dishes are necessary… the sweet things aren’t… and we all know that somehow there’s always more fun and passion in unecessary things. I should add in a clause here about meat… I’ve heard and seen enough from the guys I’m around that I DO understand that there is fun and passion in smoking and grilling chunks of meat… but I don’t know a flippin’ thing about doing it, so I’m quite happy to stay on the eating end of it rather than on the fire end of it.
This is the first time I’m posting one of Pioneer Woman’s recipes on my site, even though I’ve made quite a few of them. One I still need to try is the cinnamon rolls. I just need to see for myself that it’s just as good or better to sprinkle on white sugar instead of brown sugar just before rolling them up. When I do try them, I think I’ll do some with white and some with brown… and compare. The best part of all that is that it entitles me to TWO cinnamon rolls. Anyway… why am I talking about cinnamon rolls?! Back to the thing of posting a Pioneer Woman recipe on my site… It’s sorta like what’s the point because it’s already posted in much more finery and humor already on her site. It’s not that I feel threatened by her… because you can only feel threatened by people or things that are in your league. So, here is the link to the recipe on her site: Pioneer Woman’s Sloppy Joes. And in case you don’t feel like clicking to go over there, I’ll post it here, too.
I actually just grabbed my cell phone to take pictures of these because, well, my camera battery needed charged. Also, I made a half batch, in case the quantity in the frying pan looks small to you… you know what I thought of right now, I should’ve made a full batch and put half of in it the freezer for another meal!
Pioneer Woman’s Sloppy Joes
2 Tbsp. butter
2 1/2 lbs ground beef
1/2 onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1 cup water
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. chili powder (more to taste) I actually cut back on this because I wasn’t sure how much kick it would give it.
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (more to taste)
Worcestershire sauce, to taste
2 Tbsp. tomato paste (optional)
Tabasco sauce (optional; to taste)
Salt; to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Add butter to a large skillet or dutch oven over medium high heat. Add ground beef and cook until brown. Drain most of the fat and discard. Add onions, green pepper, and garlic. Cook for a few minutes, or until vegetables begin to get soft. Add ketchup, brown sugar, chili pepper, dry mustard, and water. Stir to combine and simmer for 15 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste.
Also add tomato paste, Worcestershire, and Tabasco if desired. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Spread rolls with butter and brown on a griddle or skillet. Spoon meat mixture over the rolls. And then I added a slice of provolone cheese and put it under the broiler for a few minutes.
These are hands down THE BEST sloppy joes I’ve ever made or eaten! Dancing with flavor. I backed up the spicyness a little and I think it was just right… in my world, sloppy joes aren’t supposed to be spicy. But a little zing was perfect. So, anyway, this will now be my sloppy joe recipe unless I find another one to kick it out of 1st place.
In other news, we’re grilling tonight. Not sure what we’ll grill, but I think I’ll feature it in the next post, whatever it ends up being. The meats we have on hand to choose from are: burger, chicken breast, fish, and a 1.14-lb sirloin steak. Oh, and when I say “we’re grilling”, I am, as usual, using the term ‘we’ very loosely.
What are you grilling tonight? And feel free to use the term ‘you’ very loosely.
Filed Under Beef, Main dishes | 15 Comments
Posted on July 1, 2011
It’s July. And it’s blitzin’ hot! Right now, mid-evening, the thermometer says 89 degrees. Perfect… it’s July.
The girls and I had some red, white, and blue fun today. This is when we were ready to start. Excitement was high. I had a few ideas, but I didn’t know what the end result would be… there was gonna be alot of experimenting going on…
And here was the end result:
It’s basically 4 different things… parfaits, berry shish-kabob decorations, fireworks, and randomly decorated brownies.
I made a big pan of brownies and then cut them out with star cookie cutters. I thought that would be faster because my star baking pan has only 6 wells and I’d have had to bake 3 or 4 batches. But, having it to do over, I’d use the star pan. You know how brownies kind of stick to the knife when you cut (unless you use a plastic knife)? Well, they stick to cookie cutters too. It wasn’t too bad, though, and worked fine, but next time, I’ll use my star pan.
Or, instead of brownies, it could be done just as easily on sugar cookies, cupcakes, or mini cupcakes.
The parfaits tasted awesome and were easy and could be made in a large pedestal bowl instead of individual parfaits. This one is a layer of brownies, then cream cheese filling, then raspberries, filling, blueberries, filling, brownies, and then you can either put Cool Whip or filling on top and garnish with a bit of fruit and sprinkles. You could make a pan of brownies and cut them up into little squares to make this, or you could do what I did and use the brownie scraps left over from cutting out star brownies. The filling is: 8 oz cream cheese mixed with 1/4 cup powdered sugar, then that gets mixed with 8 oz Cool Whip.
The fruit shish-kabob decorations…
These shish-kabob things had serious issues… they kept falling over. We had to keep standing them up before each picture. We originally thought we’d try to make them look like fireworks, but we kept lowering our standards til our only requirement for them was to be red, white, and blue. We should’ve just skipped the sticks and made a mound of fruit on top. Oh well, the girls had fun stabbing the stuff on… and obsessing about making sure to get them in the right order of red-white-blue… but one time, one of them asked, “Mom, would blue-white-red be ok, as long as white is in the middle?” See? Obsessing. And you know what TOTALLY makes my day after all that fuss? I didn’t notice it before, but just now I see that on the one tall one, it’s red-white-blue-white-red-blue.
Oh, what fun! Didn’t turn out quite like I had pictured, but that may be because the girls did most of it (also not what I had pictured) and I mostly just did damage control. We colored white chocolate blue and red and then piped the 3 colors on Saran wrap over a cutting board, then sprinkled on some colored sugar and star-shaped sprinkles, and put them in the fridge to harden.
After 15 minutes or so, they were hardened and ready to assemble, which included jamming the sticks into the frosting on the brownies. Does ‘jamming’ sound a bit harsh for delicate little chocolate sticks? Yep. Harsh, but accurate. I really should’ve taken a video clip of that process… it was hilarious to watch and listen.
So, did it end up looking like fireworks? I don’t know, but we at least have to give them credit for creating something that looks like some type of explosion…
The randomly decorated brownies…
This was fun. I got an inspiration for this that I’ll do more in the future for any occassion. Make a page on the computer of writing or shapes or outlines or whatever. Then, print it out and put it on a cutting board under a piece of Saran wrap. Then, pipe over it with chocolate. It’ll make writing more even and shapes more accurate. Here is the Before/After…
Then, put it in the fridge to harden. Peel off and garnish. The possibilities are endless with this print-out-and-pipe-chocolate thing! One tip is to make sure it’s pretty thick. Another tip is don’t hold it very long before putting it on because your warm fingers will start to soften it and it’ll weaken and break.
Here are a couple of close-ups. Next time, I’d make an extra little thing sticking down to go into the frosting because, like July 4 down there, the Y looks like a V and the 4 looks like a triangle.
And, last but not least, United States rice crispy bars. After cutting it out, I put all the scraps together and re-flattened it out and cut out stars, then, sprinkled colored sugar on top. The flag is M&Ms… I had the kids separate out all the blue and red ones from a package.
I used to have a plastic United States shaped mold. I had put it away for the year and when I went to get it out this year, something heavy was laying on it (a 15-lb dumbell, to be exact… yeah, don’t ask, I have questions myself!) and it was hopelessly smashed. So, I just cut this freehand. The top does look a little odd from Michigan to Maine, but hey, you can at least tell what shape it’s supposed to be, right?
Happy 4th of July from all of us! (even from Shannon, who was at work when we self-timered this picture)
Excuse us for eating in front of you, but we couldn’t help it when we saw that parfait sitting there. We’re going to kick back and relax this weekend, maybe grill a burger or two and watch some fireworks. See ya next week!
Filed Under Cookies and bars, Desserts, Holiday cooking | 5 Comments
Posted on June 30, 2011
Nothing says summer like watermelon cookies. Just kidding. I was only trying to sound cliche. There are probably 50 things that could go in this blank: Nothing says summer like ________ . Flip flops, burgers on the grill, buzz haircuts, sticky roasted marshmallows, sun-kissed cheeks, fresh strawberry pie, laying in the hammock, picnics, etc. etc. Oh! and watermelon. Watermelon anything.
Before we get to the cookies, I want to throw this in here. Watermelon cake. I made it a couple years ago, but you can make it this year!
And now, onto the cookies…
What these cookies lacked in taste, they made up for in cuteness and fun. But, when it comes to eating sugar cookies, you can’t go by me because I’m not a sugar cookie fan. I like them ok if they’re loaded with frosting, and these cookies weren’t loaded with frosting. The girls liked them though, and that’s what counts, I guess. These particular cookies did have chocolate chips in them too, which is good, what with sugar cookies needing all the help they can get.
I didn’t know how I was going to get the cookie dough red, other than just using food coloring. So, I came up with a brilliant plan (sorta kidding about the brilliant part). I mixed up sugar cookie dough (this recipe) and cake mix cookie dough (this recipe, but I used a red velvet cake mix, and I skipped the silly Tbsp of flour). Then, I took about 1/3 of the sugar cookie dough and mixed it with a dollop of the red velvet dough. (Thought of it later that I could’ve tried simply dumping a pkg of red jello in the dough and see how that works, instead of messing with red velvet). Then I mixed in some chocolate chips. I rolled it out and cut circles, baked them, put a rind on, and cut them in half.
Btw, to do the green, I just piped a fat line around the edge, then spread it out.
And ta-da! Watermelon-lookin’ slices!
You know what I just thought of now? WHY did I not think to make some wedges and make some look half-eaten, like just the rind with a bit of red left on it or use a small flower cookie cutter and cut a ‘bite’ or two out of some of the slices?! So, there’s an idea for you if you make watermelon cookies… I can’t do it anymore with these because I made them last week and they are LONG gone. Oh, and another way to make watermelon cookies would be to make regular sugar cookies (not colored dough) and then frost them red, white, and green and press mini chocolate chips into the red frosting.
So, that’s the end of the watermelon cookies. But if you were paying attention up there, you know that I have most of two batches of cookie dough left. What should we do with all of it?
Mix them together and you’ll have a bunch of red cookie dough. Then, make star sandwich cookies for the 4th of July, which is just around the corner!
Speaking of the 4th of July, I’m going to ‘play’ a little this afternoon and make some fireworks out of white chocolate with the help of blue and red food coloring. Then, tomorrow sometime, I’ll do a 4th of July post with those (whether they end up actually looking like fireworks or not ), USA/flag/stars rice crispies, and maybe another red, white, and blue thing or two.
Filed Under Cookies and bars | 3 Comments
Posted on June 23, 2011
This is a perfect summer snack. It’s easy to throw together and it’s cool. Perfect summer snack, as in, if you’re going to make it, summer would be the perfect time to do it. Not everything about the snack is perfect…. the taste and flavor combo is just amazing, BUT the. kids. had. sticky. e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e. I mean, when you’re talking melted caramels and marshmallows, it’s pretty much a given that it’s gonna be sticky.
And it’s also pretty much a given that it’s gonna be yummy.
So, consider the ’sticky’ a warning and the ‘yummy’ a recommendation, and then you decide from there. Maybe the time to serve it would be while the kids are out running thro’ the sprinkler or on the Slip ‘n Slide… think all mess outside and then getting washed off. Now we’re talkin’!
The main thing is that we all kept coming back for more, and they are SO good… which is why I’m posting them and will definitely make them again!
Apple Nachos …recipe taken from Taste of Home Oct/Nov 2010 magazine (and going by the picture they have with it, they only put on about an 1/8 of the topping quantities and their apples aren’t peeled)
1 Tbsp. water
30 large mashmallows
1/3 cup butter, cubed
4 medium tart apples, peeled and cut into 1/4″ slices
1/3 cup chopped dry roasted peanuts
1/3 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
3 Tbsp. Halloween sprinkles (I skipped this)
In a microwave-safe bowl, melt caramels with water; stir until smooth. You could probably use caramel ice cream topping, but I think melted caramels would taste way better.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt marshmallows and butter. I think next time I’ll do these in the microwave too… I do it in the microwave when I make rice crispy treats, so why not for this? I also want to try just putting a a jar of marshmallow creme in the microwave and see if it melts and becomes pourable.
Arrange apple slices on a large platter.
Drizzle with caramel. Love that phrase, the word ’drizzle’ bumps it up a level. “Put the caramel on” just wouldn’t have the same ring to it.
Top with marshmallow mixture.
Sprinkle with peanuts, chocolate chips, and sprinkles.
Serve immediately. Not kidding about serve immediately… we didn’t eat the entire thing and a couple hours later, it was kind of milky and liquidy between the apples and caramel and the marshmallow stuff firmed up. It was fine, just not as easy to eat because huge chunks of toppings wanted to come along with each bite. Still tasted great, though!
Filed Under Snacks | 3 Comments
Posted on June 20, 2011
A year ago, I was memorizing the feel of a newborn in my arms; today I have to curl her legs up so she fits between the arms of the rocker.
A year ago, she couldn’t even hold her own head steady; today she WALKS up to me and raises chubby little arms, asking to be held.
A year ago, she wiggled her little self into my mommy heart; today she is wiggled in even deeper.
A year ago, I’d lay her on the couch and go do some work, knowing she’d stay there; today if I’d do that, I’d probably find her 3 minutes later in the bathroom pulling TP off the roll.
A year ago, I had to guess what she needed when she cried; today I still have to guess some, but she can get her point across very well when she needs/wants something.
A year ago:
3 months old. I saw this 4-generation picture in the 3-months-old category of pictures and decided to put it on here, for a few reasons… because I’m proud of my dad and yesterday was Father’s Day, because my grandma is very special to me and I’m so thankful I still have her, because some of you who know them might be interested in this picture, and because I love seeing 4-generation pictures.
And we’ll zoom in so you can see that at 3 months, Megan had some chubbies going on…
I’m just noticing that this picture is really neat… young baby skin against her great-grandmother’s aging hand.
6 months. All smiles, which was/is very typical of her…
9 months. Wanna pinch those cheeks?
1 year. And yes, she feels as sturdy as she looks.
My little Megan. Easy-going. Happy. Charming. Friendly. Chunky. And surrounded by love. Thank-You, God, for her.
And now for the cake. It was a puppy cake.
Here is the cake sitting beside the inspiration for the cake.
I know, so classy… dig thro’ the toybox for birthday cake ideas. Well, ok, that’s not actually what happened. First, I decided to make a puppy cake. Then, I needed a puppy to look off of. Then, I said, “Tiffany, could you please go find Sammy?”
My friend Kristen helped me with this. She brainstormed with me and we decided to make it pink and brown instead of tan and brown, so if you look closely, or more like just look… it’s not hard to see… you’ll see that everywhere that Sammy is tan, Birthday Puppy is pink, and the dark brown and white are the same on both. And then we added a bow. Kristen kneaded some fondant and made the button on the bow, the nose, and the eyes. She is 13 and she is confident and creative… two things which are very helpful when putting details on a cake!
I only have one progress picture of this cake. It’s one when it was mostly frosted and the legs are already covered with fondant.
The way to spell magic is f-o-n-d-a-n-t. Doesn’t look like much, does it?
But put some fondant on and look what happens…
Yeah, I did smooth the frosting out some, but for some reason a crease showed up where the layers meet. I wanted sort of a lumpy loosely-stuffed look, but not necessarily a crease look! Oh well.
Here is a close-up of the bow.
As I was making the white part of the bow, I told Kristen we’ll need something for the middle of it and right away she started rattling off ideas, so I told her to have at it and here’s the little button she came up with. Cute!
The cake was sitting out on the table and one time when I walked through the dining room, this is what I saw… it was Shannon’s doings.
Ok… we have some kids around here somewhere. Let’s add them to the cake pictures…
Yay! It’s cousins from WI!
Tiffany, Kaitlyn, Megan, Lexi, Chad
I was planning to make a bone to give to Megan to dig in, but then that didn’t really happen, so she just got a leg of the puppy. First, she broke off a piece and tried to give it to Kara. Such a thoughtful giving person at such a young age, making sure other people get cake before allowing herself to indulge.
Then, she dug in herself…
Happy birthday, Megan. I hope you stay this sweet and good-natured forever!
Filed Under Birthday cakes | 9 Comments