Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Fruity Appetizer Helps Bring the Magic

Christmas this year with Andy's family was at our house after a weekend of partying in Wisconsin with his extended family. I wanted to make Pretzel Magic but knew I wouldn't have time to get it done and set, if I made it too early - it would be a water mess. Instead, I tried something different, I made a dip out of it!

Instead of the crust, I got Pretzel thins, which normally aren't enough pretzel, but to pick up delicious strawberry cream cheese dip? Oh yes. I mixed the strawberries with homemade strawberry jam so it had the sweetness going for it. It was a winner for us for sure. Also, it counted as a fruit course. You know how important it is to get all those different food groups in.... dairy, sugar, sweetness, awesome, deliciousness, I could go on…

Pretzel Magic Dip
4 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup whipped topping

1 cup diced strawberries
1/2 cup strawberry jelly/jam

Beat together cream cheese and sugar. Fold in whipped topping. Spread in bottom of pie plate or decorative plate.
Combine strawberries and jelly/jam and pour on top.
Serve with Pretzel chips for dipping.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

How to throw a surprise person for the easiest person to surprise, ever.

How to throw a surprise person for the easiest person to surprise, ever.
Order food and have that birthday person help pick it all up. He may never even notice he was picking up food for 30 people, not just 6.
Clean up the entire house making room for lots of extra chairs.
Bring in extra chairs in front of the person, set them up.
Bring in very large desserts in front of said birthday boy.
Set out lots of silverware and plates.
Have people start coming, birthday boy just accepts them coming as a happy thing.
By the time the third set of people come – he’s finally on to something.
My father-in-law? Easiest person to throw a surprise party for. He didn’t have a clue and it was all happening pretty much in front of him. I just laughed because he was so oblivious.
We were in charge of desserts for the party. Dennis likes Apple Pie and Lemon Meringue Pie so we went with both. Since we had a lot of people coming, we decided to do slab pies, they go farther and are easier to cut and serve. Converting the Lemon Meringue to a slab pie was easy – just doubled our standard recipe and away we went. I did make the crust this time.
I felt like the major accomplishment was the meringue rosettes. I had so much fun piping them and watching them brown up in the oven. The pie itself went over well – Andy did a great job on the filling.
Glad we could be a part of celebrating Dennis’ 70th birthday. It’s good to know we could throw another and he’d never know it was coming.

Lemon Meringue Pie
1 1/2 cups flour, sifted
1/2 cup lard (vegetable shortening)
1/4 cup water
1 egg
2 tsp Vinegar

Cut flour into lard until size of a pea. Combine water, egg and vinegar; blend into flour mixture.
Roll out and form into jelly roll pan, poke with a fork. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

For Meringue:
6 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar
2 Tablespoon + 2 Tsp Cornstarch
1 cup Cold Water
For Lemon Filling:
2 cups Granulated Sugar
14 Tablespoons Cornstarch
2 cup Cold Water
2 cup Boiling Water
6 whole Egg Yolks
6 Tablespoons Butter
2/3 cups + 2 Tbls Fresh Lemon Juice
2 Tablespoon Grated Lemon Zest
Also for Meringue:
8 whole Egg Whites
8 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar

Make it!
Before making pie filling, combine 6T sugar, 2T + 2t cornstarch, and 1 cup cold water. Cook slowly, stirring constantly until clear. Set aside. This will be added to the meringue later.
For Lemon Filling:
Mix in top of double boiler 1 cup sugar and 7T cornstarch. Add 1 cup cold water and mix until well combined.
Transfer to direct heat (low) and add 1 cup boiling water, stirring constantly. Cook until thickened over low heat.
Place over boiling water in double boiler again, cover and let cook 10 min.
Beat 3 egg yolks and pour small amount of cooked mixture over yolks, beat. Add a little more and beat again.
Add the yolk mixture to the double boiler mixture. Cook and stir for 3 minutes over the boiling water. Remove from heat.
Beat in butter, fresh lemon juice, and grated lemon zest. Pour lemon filling into baked pie shell.

For Meringue:
With electric mixer, beat egg whites until frothy, add sugar – 1 or 2T at a time – until stiff peaks form.
When all the sugar has been beaten in, gradually add the cooled thick mixture (from the beginning). Pour or pipe meringue over filling, making sure to seal in the edges.
Bake until lightly browned, 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
Don’t touch it… just don’t do it.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Happy 2nd Birthday Nicholas!

Our crazy boy is 2! Somehow when I wasn't looking our baby turned into a giant boy.
We celebrated Nicholas' birthday on his actual birthday this year. Someone else had a 40th birthday the night before, who shall remain nameless... but I will say in the car on the way home from that celebration Nicholas was saying "Love you... Mike! Love you... Mike!" Anyway...
Since this is probably the last year I get to pick the theme I decided to give my hand at Legos or Duplos. My kids LOVE playing with blocks. A year or so ago I bought a bunch of candy molds from AliExpress, one was a lego mold. They aren't real legos, the nubs aren't really equal and there aren't any numbs on the back... but still they look good. The week before I used that mold 9 times and made candy legos. Next time? Since the mold was a buck, don't be cheap and just get a few more. I made boxed cakes, but homemade buttercream frostings. The white/green was OK. The chocolate? I could eat a BUCKET of it. It was so good.

We had a very fun party. Nicholas tried to play with the candy legos and eat them. We enjoyed having our family there to celebrate our big kid. Looking forward to the Terrible Twos. Oh goodie.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

News Flash: Recipes found on the internet CAN be good!

My dad is a diabetic. This means that carbs are not really his friend. He came over after church on a cold Sunday when my mom was working. He had to go back to church to help at a wedding, so I decided to have a big ol’ pot of soup ready. I made Chicken Pot Pie Soup – he read my email as Chicken Pot Pie. You see… he isn’t a fan of soup. Pie? Oh yes, soup? Eh. This soup was certainly thick and chunky enough to not miss the flaky pastry crust, and if you added a slice of Italian bread, good to go.

Both kids darn near licked the bowl – they enjoyed it so much. He liked it too. It’s simple to make. I made it the day before to let it sit overnight for two reasons. 1. To let the flavors meld together and 2. So I could quick stick it on the heat when we got home and have a quick meal.

My dad also isn’t a fan of internet recipes. :) Don’t tell him that’s where this one came from. He liked it! We all did. Certainly worth having again – soon!

Chicken Pot Pie Soup
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 large onion, diced
3 ribs celery, chopped
2-3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup all purpose flour
4 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
salt & pepper, to taste
1 lb. chicken tenders
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup heavy cream

In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Saute onion, celery and carrots 5 minutes. Sprinkle over flour and stir to absorb and cook out raw flour flavor. Pour in chicken broth and seasonings and bring to boil. Then reduce to simmer and add in raw chicken tenders. Cover and cook 15 minutes. Remove chicken pieces to a clean plate and shred. Add chicken back into pot. Stir in frozen corn and peas and heavy cream. Reduce heat to low for another 5 minutes and then serve.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

That's one salty turtle!

My kids have the best teachers, they really do. Our kids go to a daycare where the teachers really care about our kids. They teach them with patience which I don’t know if I could ever muster up. They grow excited as our kids learn and grow to reach new milestones. These ladies amaze me, on a daily basis. We wanted to do something special for them for Christmas. Usually, I make fudge for the teachers, but this year we did something a little different – Pretzel Rolo Turtles. While easy – these treats are awesome, just like our teachers. Having help in the kitchen is always a balance, but with this recipe – having help unwrapping all the Rolos – is great. Bronwyn is a pro at unwrapping. Andy thought it was awesome we had a bowl full of unwrapped Rolos at the ready for his eating pleasure. Um… not so much. Bronwyn is not a fan of chocolate so her unwrapping means she won’t sneak any.

The salty sweet combo – perfect. To add extra salt – toast the pecans with some salt and butter… oh that sounds delicious… perhaps next time.

Pretzel Rolo Turtles
20 Miniature Pretzels,
20 Rolo Candies, unwrapped
20 Pecans, toasted

1. Preheat the oven to 350.
2. Place the pecans on a baking sheet and toast for about 7 minutes or until fragrant.
3. Remove them from the oven. Reduce oven temp to 250.
4. On a small baking sheet, arrange the pretzels.
5. Place one Rolo on top of each pretzel
6. Place them in the oven for about 4-5 minutes.
7. Remove the pan and smoosh one pecan on top of each Rolo.
8. Cool and eat.
01 09 10