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Posts from ‘March, 2010’

An Egg-speriment

I saw a neat idea for decorating Easter eggs recently and was able to experiment with the technique last weekend. The idea was for dying the eggs with printed silk. Who knew you could even do such a thing? Here are my two "Egg-speriments":

picture of Red Silk Egg

picture of Blue Silk Egg

You can use any printed silk fabric, but the sources I found suggested using old silk neckties. Here's how you do it:

Deconstruct an old necktie (it must be silk):

picture of Silk Tag

picture of Deconstruct Tie

Cut a piece large enough to cover the egg. Wrap around the egg with the outside of the silk facing the egg and secure with string or a twistie.

picture of Silk Wrapped Egg

Cut a piece of white fabric large enough to cover the egg and wrap this around the silk-wrapped egg and secure with string or a twistie.

picture of Cloth Wrapped Egg

Place the eggs you have prepared as described above in a large saucepan of water and then add 1/4 cup white vinegar. Bring to a boil and boil for 20-25 mins. Remove the eggs from the saucepan (I used a slotted spoon) and place in a colander to cool.

When the eggs are cool enough to handle unwrap them, shine them with a paper towel dipped in a bit of vegetable oil and then step back and admire your finished work!

The sources I found suggested that you use these eggs for decoration rather than eating since the dyes used for the silk are not necessarily food safe. Some said you could reuse the silk several times if desired, but I haven't tried reusing it. You can also stitch together small pieces to make them usable.

I'm hoping to make some more eggs closer to Easter to use along with another experiment I began last weekend. I soaked some wheat kernals overnight and then planted them in hopes of growing some wheat grass in time for Easter. The kernals have grown tremendously fast. Here is a picture of the wheat grass after just five days:

picture of Wheat Grass

One of our cats, Adelaide enjoys eating greens, so I planted her some wheat grass too:

picture of Epi Eating Grass

Do you do any creative egg dyeing at your house?


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Canned Biscuits

This is a busy week for us, so I tried to think of some quick meals. One quick meal idea is these Double Cheeseburger Pizza Rounds. I have adapted the recipe from one of those Pillsbury magazines that you can get at the checkout counter.

picture of Cooked CB

Double Cheeseburger Pizza Rounds
1/2 pound ground beef
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 can of Grands biscuits or something similar (you need the large biscuits for this)
about 1 1/2 cups of spaghetti sauce
2 Tbsps. sliced ripe olives
pepper to taste
garlic powder to taste
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 cup mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Brown ground beef and onions. Drain and set aside to cool. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with foil or a silpat. Open the biscuits and press each one to form about a 3 1/2 inch round. Combine the ground beef with the spaghetti sauce, olives, seasonings, feta cheese and half the mozzarella cheese.
Divide this mixture onto the biscuits and then spread it evenly. Top each biscuit with the additional cheese and then bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 mins. or until the cheese is melted and browned to your liking.

Here's the dough pressed out and ready for the filling:

picture of CBDough

Here they are ready to pop into the oven:

picture of RawCB

Another thing that I tried recently from the canned biscuits was making flatbread. I got the idea from this blog. For those who can't get to Blogspot, here's how you can make the flatbreads:

Using large biscuits, such as Grands, roll each biscuit to approximately a 6" circle.

picture of Biscuit Flatbread

Cook in a dry skillet or on a dry griddle until browned on each side.

picture of Griddle Flatbread

We used these for fajitas and they were very tasty.

What is your favorite quick and easy meal?


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Blueberries and Garlic

picture of Blueberry Coffee Cake

As some of you may remember, DH Rob usually bakes something for our breakfast on Sunday mornings. We still have a few blueberries in the freezer from the garden, so this past Sunday he made this delicious Blueberry Coffee Cake. We hadn't had it for quite a while and we both really enjoyed it. Here's the recipe that was originally from Quick Cooking magazine:

Blueberry Coffee Cake
1/4 cup margarine or butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup plus 2 Tbsps. flour, divided
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup milk
1 cup blueberries (do not thaw if using frozen)
3-4 oz. cream cheese, cut into small cubes

2 Tbsps. flour
2 Tbsps. sugar
1 Tbsp. margarine or butter

Combine the 2 Tbsps. flour,2 Tbsps. sugar, and the 1 Tbsp. butter with a pastry blender or your fingertips. Set aside.

Grease and flour an 8" square baking pan. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg. Combine 1 cup flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture alternately with the milk. Toss the blueberries with the remaining 2 Tbsps. flour. Gently stir the blueberries and the cream cheese cubes into the batter. The batter will be thick.
Spread in the prepared 8" square pan.

Sprinkle the topping on the batter. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 mins. or until the cake tests done. (Take care not to test in a pocket of cream cheese!)

After Rob made the coffee cake we had half of an 8 oz. block of cream cheese left so I made Boursin. If you have ever purchased it in the store you know that it can be quite expensive -- nearly $5 for a small container. This is quite tasty. It can be used as a spread or in recipes. It also freezes well. I am hoping to try a new chicken recipe that calls for Boursin that DD Megan sent me recently. I'll keep you posted if it turns out well. ๐Ÿ™‚

picture of Boursin

Boursin on a Budget

1 clove garlic, pressed, chopped, or minced
3-4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/4 tsp. oregano
a small pinch each basil, dillweed, marjoram, thyme, pepper
(I used a grinding of pepper and about 3/4 tsp. Italian seasoning instead)

Cream together all ingredients and then store in the refrigerator until needed. This will keep for about a week in the refrigerator or 3 months in the freezer. You can easily make a larger batch if needed. Use as a spread on crackers or fresh vegetables, in pasta dishes, in mashed potatoes, stuffed chicken breasts, or anywhere else you might use the commercial Boursin.

*Note: You will need to let this warm up a bit before using, especially if you have made it with butter, or it will be too hard to spread.


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The other white meat

I have noticed that boneless pork has been on sale here locally for several weeks. Some cuts are even less than $2 a pound. Today's pork is much leaner that the pork of yesteryear. It is one of my favorite meats.

I had a pork tenderloin in the freezer I needed to use up. I sliced half of it and cooked the medallions in a skillet with garlic powder, pepper, and a little soy sauce for supper one evening. I used the other half to make some chop suey. Here's the recipe:

picture of Chop Suey

Pork Chop Suey

1 Tbsp. oil
1/2 - 1 lb. cubed boneless pork (pork loin, pork steak, country style ribs, or pork chops)
1/2 onion, diced in large (about 1/2") dice
1-2 stalks celery, sliced
1/4 c. red pepper, chopped
1 1/2 cups water
2 Tbsps. finely chopped or shredded carrot (I used my julienne peeler)
1 cup bean sprouts
4 oz. sliced mushrooms
garlic powder
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp. cornstarch

Heat a large skillet. Add the oil and let heat. Add the cubed pork in a single layer and cook until nicely browned. Add the onion, celery, and red pepper and cook until slightly browned and wilted. Add the water, cover, and simmer 5-10 mins. or until meat is thoroughly cooked and the vegetables are cooked as tender as you like them. Season with garlic powder and pepper. Dissolve the cornstarch in the soy sauce and add to the skillet. Bring to a simmer and then let boil for about a minute. Add the bean sprouts, carrot, and mushrooms and cook for a few minutes more. Serve with rice.

Sautรฉ the pork:

picture of Pork Cubes

Add the vegetables:

picture of Pork Celery Onions

Thicken the sauce:

picture of Thickened Chop Suey

If you are really in a hurry and don't have all these vegetables on hand you can just cook the pork (and onions and celery if you have them) and then add a can of drained oriental vegetables. You can also substitute other vegetables such as baby corn, bamboo shoots, more mushrooms, water chestnuts, etc. About 2 cups of vegetables would be a good amount to aim for.

picture of Canned Suey Vegetables

Chop suey was one of the first meals I ever cooked as a teenager. I used a recipe from an old edition of Better Homes and Gardens called Speedy Chop Suey. It was a speedy recipe because you were supposed to make it in a pressure cooker. We did not have a pressure cooker, so I had to simmer it a bit longer, but it was still pretty good.

When I taught high school home economics we could borrow educational films through the county library system to show in our classes. I tried to preview them before class, but one week I ordered a film called "How to Buy Pork" to show to my class and it arrived late and I was unable to preview it. When I showed it to my class I was dismayed to find that it was a film about how to purchase hogs! It was an old black and white film showing farmers examining the pigs at a market. Fortunately I have never had to buy that kind of pork. ๐Ÿ™‚


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Big Cookies

I was trying to think of an idea for a blog post and realized that I had never posted the recipe for these Big Cookies.

picture of Big Cookie

I got this recipe many, many years ago from my friend Sue. Over the years my daughters and I have made hundreds of these big cookies. One year DD, Nora, made these cookies in heart shaped pans for every room on her hall in the dormitory!

You can put all the dough in a 9" x 13" pan and cut them into bars or you can bake the dough in two 8 or 9 inch round cake pans. The round "big cookies" can then be turned out onto a paper plate or cake board and these make really nice treats, especially for hungry college students. They are also a nice dessert to include when you are taking supper to someone.

Here are the ingredients:

picture of Big Cookie Ingredients

Here's the recipe:

Big Cookies

1 box yellow cake mix
1/2 cup oil
1 egg
1/4 cup water
1tsp. vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Mix cake mix, oil, water, egg, and vanilla until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. Spread in two 8 or 9 inch round cake pans that have been greased and floured and lined with parchment or waxed paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 mins. Cool in pans for 10 mins. and then turn out onto a cooling rack covered with a towel. Immediately turn right side up onto a plate or cake board. Cut into wedges to serve.

If you are baking in a 9" x 13" pan you don't need to line the pan with waxed paper. Bake the same way and cut into bars. You can decorate these with the person's name and a border of icing for a birthday or other event. You can also use a chocolate cake mix for a brownie like version. You can also drop the dough onto cookie sheets and bake as you would bake regular chocolate chip cookies.

Here I'm tracing the pan onto waxed paper:

picture of Tracing Wax Paper

Here is the pan greased, floured, and lined:

picture of Greased Lined Pan

Here's the cookie dough ready to go into the oven:

picture of Big Cookie Dough

This picture shows how to flip the cookie out onto a towel lined cooling rack:

picture of Cookie Towel

Here's the important step of peeling off the waxed paper before flipping the cookie right side up onto a plate:

picture of Peeling Wax Paper

One of DD Megan's friends made a batch with a lemon cake mix one time -- I don't recommend the lemon. ๐Ÿ™‚


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