Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Ipema Family Canning Exchange 2017 (a wee bit late...)





It has come to my attention that I have not told you about our Canning Exchange this fall! 
How can that be?
Items were canned, bottled, sewing, put together.
Food was eaten.
Laughter had.
Stories were told.
Food enjoyed by all.
That about explains our night.
This year I was even more excited because we recruited a few more of our family members to join in the fun! It was such a good night.
My mom made a knock-off of Texas Road House’s Honey Cinnamon Butter…. Oh, my word… Nicholas calls it sin butter.
There were two of the same fall cookie mixes – which was awesome because that means we get to enjoy these cookies twice!
I made Garlic Bread Seasoning. You can sprinkle it on just about anything, or mix it with butter and spread on bread – bake then enjoy garlic bread.
There were so many more great canned, bottled, shared hard works of love.
I say it every year – because it does not cease to be true – I love these ladies and I love spending time together, share stories and fellowship.
Thank you to my Ipema family! Can’t wait until next time!

Garlic Bread Seasoning
1/2 cup powdered Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 Tablespoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried parsley

Combine all ingredients in a small jar or container that has a lid. Stir mixture to combine and then seal shut with lid.
Sprinkle on top of warm breadsticks OR combine 1 1/2 Tablespoons garlic bread seasoning with 1/2 cup softened butter and spread on a loaf of French bread (cut in 1/2 lengthwise). Wrap in foil and bake at 375 until butter’s melted. (You could also place it open-faced under the broiler for a few minutes, so it gets golden-brown and crispy)

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A doodle of a dandy birthday!


This past September our nephew Jackson turned 3! (That means Nicholas isn’t too far behind – say it isn’t so!!)
I asked his mom what kind of cake I should make. First, there was talk of sports-themed, then she said puppy. Puppy? Really? I can make a puppy cake?! Can you sense my excitement? I, of course, went straight to Pinterest to find puppy cakes! I found individual cupcakes where each one was a puppy or dog, but then found a Betty Crocker idea that included the pattern!
I baked and froze the cakes, whipped up some chocolate buttercream, then I was ready to roll!
I downloaded the pattern and quickly realized the pattern that was included was NOT the pattern that was used to make the cake in the picture. I wanted the one in the picture. I ended up finding the photos of the original pattern that was used, blew it up and printed it to the approximate size I thought I needed it to be. It actually worked out amazingly well.
I used Whipped Chocolate Buttercream, some naturally colored, some with some black food coloring and extra cocoa added for darker fur. I used a grass tip and I pipped… and pipped and pipped. It was so fun to make. Even MORE, fun was hearing Jackson, a boy of few words, call it a puppy! Loved being able to make a cake of one of my favorite things for such a special little guy. 
Happy Belated Birthday Jackson!!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Deliciousness on a homemade crust - Yum.


I’m always looking for a way to make dinner easy but taste good. This was not easy but it tasted awesome. I take that back. I worked extra hard the day before to make the evening of making dinner easy.
Point Blank – I miss Papa Murphy’s Pizza. We had one, we loved it, we must have been the only ones to love it because it’s gone. What jerks! They made me fall in love with their chicken garlic pizza and just left – no note, no call or text… just gone in the night. OK… that’s likely overstating things a tad…
I’ve longed for that chicken garlic pizza, this recipe? Might just be better.
The day before (happened to be Sunday) I made the pizza crusts – yes MADE them from scratch. Sure you can buy them premade and that would make your life easier. I lack the gene were it comes to making my life easier in the kitchen. I made these suckers. I par-baked them so that Monday I could add toppings and get them in the oven quick. I also made the ranch garlic sauce, baked the chicken, chopped the green onion. Monday evening I was ready to go! Toss on the toppings, add the cheese, get them in the oven. Yes, I made two of them. We ate one… but oh the leftovers were not as crispy – but they were tasty!
You can easily skip the homemade crust, get precooked chicken, and make this super quick and easy. Mmm… makes me want this for lunch… maybe I need to get some dough rising…

Pizza Crust
Ingredients
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp white vinegar
3 3/4 - 4 cups flour (bread flour works best, but all-purpose works fine)

Instructions
In a large bowl of a stand mixer combine 1/2 cup of the warm water with the sugar and yeast. Stir to dissolve the yeast and let rest for 5 minutes.
Add the remaining 1 cup of warm water, and the olive oil, salt, and vinegar.
Begin mixing on medium-low speed and gradually add the flour --knead for about 7 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic (it should be sticky, but not soo sticky that it sticks to your clean fingertip.) Cover the bowl with a dry towel and allow to rest in a warm place until doubled in volume--about 1 hour.
Gently punch the dough down and place on a floured counter top. Divide the dough into 2 or 3 equal pieces (depending on how thick you want your crust/how big you want your pizza. I make three medium size, thinner crust pizzas. But you could make two larger pizzas). Roll and stretch your dough to desired size and thickness. Allow to rest for 20 minutes. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 450 degrees F and brush dough lightly with olive oil.
Pre-bake the dough on a pizza stone or in a pizza pan for 6 minutes. Cool and wrap for another day to use or add toppings. Return to oven and bake for 8-12 more minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly.

Garlic-Ranch Chicken Pizza
For one pizza: (Double if making two crusts)
2 cups Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
5 sliced green onions - white and green
1/2 cup bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup chicken, cooked and shredded
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
For the Garlic-Ranch Sauce:
2 Tbsp sour cream
3 Tbsp mayonnaise
2 1/2 Tbsp milk
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/8 teaspoon chopped, dried chives
1/8 teaspoon dill
1/8 teaspoon dried parsley
dash of onion powder
Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions
Mix all ingredients together for the garlic-ranch sauce. Spread mixture over the top of the pizza dough. Sprinkle 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese over top, followed by the chicken, bacon, and tomatoes. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Bake at 450 degrees F for 9-12 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and cheese is bubbly.
*For grilled pizzas: Oil your grill and turn heat to medium-low. Shape dough into long, slipper-shaped pieces. Brush dough with olive oil and grill for 2 minutes on one side, with the grill cover on. Flip to the other side and brush again with olive oil. Cook for 2 minutes, with the grill lid on. Remove crust to a plate and add toppings. Return to grill and cook just until cheese is melted, 1-2 more minutes.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Freshness perfected on a piece of toast

Somewhere about late summer, we start getting somewhat overwhelmed with tomatoes. So far we’ve made bruschetta, salsa, pasta sauce, pizza sauce, canned tomatoes, every dinner dish we can think of with tomatoes. This time – I tried something new. Caprese Garlic Bread.
Imaging garlic buttered bread toasted with fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh tomatoes and basil, and balsamic reduction on top. Wow. Andy and I decided we could just eat the bread for dinner and be happy. Our kids, of course, looked at that and said… ahhh no. Which is fine – they got to have plan old boring french bread. Honestly – how does that compare to the yummy goodness of what we had? It surely does not.
Try this one – I bet you could even get grocery store veggies and be happy with it.

Caprese Garlic Bread
1 loaf ciabatta bread, horizontally cut in half
4 tablespoons salted butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
12 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 medium tomatoes, sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place both sides of the baguette on a large baking sheet with the cut side up.
In a small bowl, combine butter and garlic and spread evenly on bread halves. Place the mozzarella cheese slices on top of the bread, making sure the cheese covers the bread completely. Bake the bread for 12-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
While the bread is in the oven, make the balsamic reduction. Place the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring the vinegar to a boil, decrease the heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is reduced by about half. This should only take about 5-7 minutes. Set aside.
Remove the bread from oven. Top the bread with tomato slices. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the fresh basil and drizzle with balsamic reduction. Cut into slices and serve.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Why is the rice not white?

When meal planning for the week, pretty sure Andy could list tacos for every night and be pretty happy. He might even through fajitas in to mix it up a bit. Even the kids love them. Recently we’ve started having Spanish Rice with our tacos because – carbs and starch!
Our kids eat this rice because – well we make them. It does have quite a few spices in it and I can understand why they’d rather eat more chips with taco meat on them. See, that’s how 3/4ths of us have tacos in our house, we use those little bowl taco chips, fill them with toppings and yum! Andy? He’ll eat those hard plain corn shells all day long, us? Salted little cups of goodness. Now? With rice!

Flavorful Spanish Rice
1 c. uncooked white rice
2 tbsp. olive oil
½ yellow onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. tomato/chicken bullion
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
¼ tsp. paprika
¼ tsp. black pepper
½ (14.5oz) can diced tomatoes
½ (8oz) can tomato sauce
1 (14.5oz) can low sodium chicken broth

Add rice to a large colander, rinse under cold water for 1 minute.
In large pan set over medium high heat, add olive oil. When the oil is hot, add rice and sauté along with the onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes or until fragrant.
When the onion is tender and the garlic is translucent, add the bullion, cumin, chili powder, paprika, black pepper, tomatoes, tomato sauce and chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the rice is cooked throughout. Remove from heat and serve immediately.
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