Becka's blog rotating header image loading ... please wait....

A belated Christmas gift


Sometime last year I saw a picture of this shawl and found the directions for making it. I asked Rob if he would make it for me for Christmas. He agreed to do so and has been working on it ever since. We picked out the yarn together and he began working on it. He started at the narrow end, so each row became progressively longer. I especially like the picot edging. He finished it recently, so now I am all set to hunker down in my warm shawl on chilly fall and winter days.

picture of Shawl

Becka

A good apple cake recipe


We love apples here at our house. I always start getting excited about driving up to NC to look for apples about mid-August. Not many of the apple barns are open that early, but you can usually find some. We like to eat the apples raw, in salads, and in a variety of desserts. We generally buy more than we actually need and when they start to shrivel I make applesauce. One of my first blog posts was about canning applesauce. I get carried away when I find apples for $10 a bushel and just can't resist buying them.

I saw a recipe for an Upside Down Apple Cake recently and it sounded really good to me. That recipe had quite a bit of butter in it, so I did a little research and found one that was a bit more reasonable. I tried it this week and it made a very attractive and delicious cake. We ate ours with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. Here's the link - http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/apple_upside_down_cake I wish I could have baked one for DD Megan who is celebrating her birthday today. Maybe I can make her a belated cake when I visit next month.

If you enjoy cooking you should peruse the Simply Recipes site. I have tried several of the recipes there and have enjoyed them. Her site is very well organized and there is a picture of each recipe.

Some tips about the cake recipe: I cooked the apples in the caramel sauce until the caramel was reduced quite a bit. It had small bubbles throughout. The time probably depends a great deal on how juicy your apples are.The apples I used were called Honey Crisp. I also recommend putting the cake pan on a baking sheet. My pan was pretty full with the apples and the cake batter. It didn't run over in the oven, but a drop of caramel did bubble out. I was a bit concerned about the cornmeal in the cake batter, but you wouldn't know it was there unless someone told you.

picture of Upside Down Apple Cake

Do you have any favorite apple memories or recipes?

Becka

Zucchini Bake


When we were first married and living in Michigan, we often had more zucchini and tomatoes than we knew what to do with this time of year. We had a small garden where we grew zucchini and tomatoes and often people with large gardens would offer us some of their excess crops. Our local newspaper would print lots of recipes for using up an abundant supply of these vegetables. Many of the recipes were quite delicious and became some of our favorite late summer/early fall meals.

Since we have moved to South Carolina we have never been able to produce more than a couple of zucchini. Our only really successful squash crop has been Butternut squash. I now have to buy zucchini and sometimes even during the peak season it costs nearly $2 a pound. So, now, zucchini has become a special treat.

Today's recipe is one I was given by a lady in our church in Michigan many years ago. It is similar to an impossible pie. It's quick to put together and very tasty. So, if you are among the fortunate who have an abundance of zucchini right now, count your blessings and try this casserole!

picture of ZucchiniBake

Zucchini Bake

4 cups thinly sliced zucchini
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup biscuit mix (dry) See substitutions below
1/2 cup grated yellow cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. Italian Seasoning
1 large fresh tomato, diced
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs

Thoroughly combine the vegetable oil and the eggs. (I use an immersion blender.) In another mixing bowl combine the zucchini, onion, biscuit mix, cheese, salt, pepper, and Italian Seasoning. Gently stir in the diced tomato and the egg mixture and pour into a greased 2 quart baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 mins. or until well browned.

Substitutions for the biscuit mix:
1 cup self-rising flour plus 2 Tbsps. shortening or butter
or
1 cup all purpose flour, 1 1/2 tsps. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, plus 2 Tbsps. shortening or butter

Becka

Procrastination


Do you procrastinate about some aspect of homemaking? I know I do at times.

I thought I would share with you a few things that have helped me to avoid procrastination over the years.

1. Many years ago I read an article which talked about the Orange Peel Principle. The basic story was that a woman had a guest drop by and as she sat conversing with her guest she noticed an orange peel on the floor. She couldn't concentrate on her guest because all she could think about was the orange peel (which her guest probably never noticed.) She sat there thinking she should have swept and mopped the floor when all she really needed to do was to pick up the orange peel. Often we make our tasks more complicated than they need to be. There is something to be said for having a basic cleaning schedule and certain standards of cleanliness, but when several people share a home it is going to look "lived in."

Is there an orange peel in your life? Sometimes housework can get overwhelming when we set a standard of perfection for ourselves. If there is some area of your home which really bothers you try to tackle it first. If you keep noticing that your blinds are dusty and it bothers you put that task at the top of your to do list. It will lift your spirits and you may find it takes much less time than you had thought it would.

2. Try to break big jobs down into smaller, more manageable sections. Not many of us can clean all our kitchen cabinets in one fell swoop, but we could clean one or two shelves a day. Most jobs can be broken down like this and often after you start a task that gives you incentive to carry on.

3. Just get started. Often big jobs can seem daunting, but when you get started and see some progress in your work it can actually start to be fun and you can do more than you had originally intended.

4. I once read a book by Marla Cilley, aka the Flylady, who has developed a system of cleaning and organizing your home. One piece of advice in her book I have found to be very liberating is: "Housework, even poorly done, blesses my home." Even when you can't clean as thoroughly or do everything you would like to be able to do, every effort you can put into cleaning, organizing, and straightening up your home will bless it.

How about you — can you share any tips for motivating us in our work?

Becka

This week’s new recipes


We tried a couple of new recipes this weekend. Both originally came from on-line.

Sunday morning Rob made these delicious Sour Cream Cherry Scones that I found on a Land O'Lakes website some time ago. They were delicious and very attractive. Keep this one in mind if you need something different for brunch or for a morning bridal shower, etc.

picture of Cherry Almond Scone

Sunday for lunch we made Brushchetta Chicken. DD Megan has made this recipe for me for the last two years for my birthday, but we had never made it before. Megan is a scrapbooker and she found this recipe on a site by Becky Higgins who is the author of many books about scrapbooking.She has a section for recipes on her blog. (If you go to the link scroll down the page. It is the second recipe pictured.) It worked well for after church on Sunday. Rob grilled the chicken while I prepared the side dishes.

Here's the recipe for those who can't get to her blog:

GRILLED CHICKEN BRUSCHETTA

Sundried tomato salad dressing
8 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
4 medium tomatoes, finely chopped (I used less)
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
1 small pkg. fresh basil, chopped (I used dried Italian Seasoning)

Marinate chicken in sundried tomato dressing ahead of time. Place large sheet of heavy-duty foil over half of grill grate; preheat grill to medium heat. Grill chicken on uncovered side of grill about 6 minutes. Meanwhile, combine tomatoes, cheese, basil and dressing (as much as you desire; I did about 1/3 cup). Back to the grill - Turn chicken over; place on the foil-covered part of the grill, cooked-side up. Top evenly with tomato mixture. Close lid. Grill an additional 8 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

I pounded the chicken breasts to make sure they were all about the same thickness. The trick in the recipe for grilling the chicken first on the grill grate and then flipping it over onto foil works really well.

picture of Bruschetta Chicken

I often find recipes on-line and print them out. Unfortunately I sometimes have a hard time locating the recipe when I want to make it. Recently I have come up with a new system that has been working well. After I print out the recipe I place it in a notebook that I have prepared with dividers for different categories of foods. When I try the recipe I note any changes, comments, etc. If I want to prepare it again I copy the recipe onto a recipe card and put it into my recipe file for future reference. (I still have a couple of files of recipe booklets, pages from magazines, etc. that I need to cull through, but this is helping me keep organized with the new recipes I come across.)

picture of Recipe File

Do you try very many recipes that you find on-line? What are some of your favorite recipe websites?

Becka