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.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Celebrating our Kindergartener!

The first day of school, real school is pretty special. What did I do on my first day of school? Cry – I cried. Every first day of every year (and many more) I cried. I hated school. So guess how nervous I was for Bronwyn on her very first day of Kindergarten? Thankfully – she was so very excited, could not wait to go there. She also couldn’t figure out why we weren’t there longer. Oh and me? I was totally fine. Sure I got misty eyed once when the principal told the kids how very excited she was they were all there and how they had been preparing all summer for their arrival. Otherwise? I was not one of those moms sniffing in the corner. Bronwyn and I were cheering! YAY Kindergarten! But what does one do with almost a full day off of work and life when they go to kindergarten for one hour the first day? Have a Grandma day! Yes! My mom came out and the three of us went to McDonald's for lunch, WalMart for some shopping, watched the solar eclipse through the special glasses and clouds, and made Snickerdoodles. Bronwyn LOVES baking. What better of a thing to do on a super fun day? Bake! She and I mixed up all the dough, then she and Grandma rolled them out and into the cinnamon sugar. What a great way to celebrate our 5-year-old Kindergartener!

Perfect Snickerdoodles
1 cup butter, room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
1 egg, plus 1 yolk
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
½ tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2¾ cup flour

Cinnamon Sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 325°
Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper, set aside.
In bowl of stand mixer beat butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. With mixer on medium speed add in egg, yolk and vanilla and beat for another minute, scraping the sides as necessary.
Turn mixer to medium low and mix in baking soda, cream of tartar, salt and 1 tsp cinnamon. Mix for 30 seconds, scraping sides as necessary.
Turn mixer to low and add in flour, mixing until just combined.
In a separate small bowl make your Cinnamon Sugar by mixing together cinnamon and sugar, stirring until evenly combined.
Using a cookie scoop or spoon, measure out about 2 Tbsp of dough and roll into a ball. Then roll each cookie dough ball into the Cinnamon Sugar mixture.
Place on prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes, turning cookie sheet halfway through baking.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

When worst case scenario isn't actually the worst that will happen...

I have a feeling the term “worst case scenario” shouldn’t be used in our house. I used to say “what’s the worst that could happen?” to Andy and he’d tell me what actually was the worst thing that could happen. Great – thanks – neat. Well, let’s talk rainbow frosting and how my kitchen and shirt will never be the same again.
Picture it – my coworker’s birthday. Well… several days before her birthday because she’s sneaky and takes her birthday off to try to hide it. Well some of us, being sneaky, discovered the date and that it was a special year this year. Operation rainbow cupcake was born. Ok, that sounds far more elaborate than what actually happened. I decided to make cupcakes with rainbow frosting to bring to work to quietly celebrate her birthday. It’s not uncommon for me to bring in baked treats – likely people wouldn’t notice.
Baked the chocolate cupcakes – they came out perfect. Decided on cream cheese frosting because the last time I made it, it was pipable and tasted great. I guess I should state this at the start… it was hot in our house… humid and hot. Andy says it wasn’t that hot, but humid? I was melting. Ok, that’s said. Well… my cream cheese frosting didn’t really hold it’s shape that great. I hoped with some refrigeration it would hold up. I colored the 6 colors – 2 (red and purple) of the 6 turned out awful, tried as well as I could and called it OK. I refrigerated the individual colors, then piped them onto plastic wrap and rolled them up like a tube of rainbow goodness. Oh, wait – the first one worked that well – yes. The second one – slopped all over and the plastic wrap didn’t seem to bond to itself so I grabbed another piece. In the process Andy came over and I told him it was worst case scenario, the frosting was soupy, the roll wasn’t rolling well, and with that, I flipped it over to roll it up – like I did to the other - and rainbow-colored frosting flew out all over the stovetop, the counter… and me. My shirt, my face, and hair. Now history shows me crying and being upset in these situations. This time? I could NOT stop laughing. I think Andy was even a little worried. Thankfully he cleaned it all up for me. We laughed and moved on.
I hauled out a can of white frosting from the cabinet and went to town. I did have the one tube in the fridge so I did some testing… wasn’t happy with my initial idea, so I did some simple dollops and they seemed to pipe OK but really not hold their form.
Lessons Learned from Rainbow Frosting (I’ll try not to swear):
  1. Use McCormick Food Coloring. Just do it. Stop trying the gels that just make things look weird. 
  2. A/C is your friend – just use it. 
  3. Buttercream – find a good recipe that holds up to all the stupid things you want to do to it. 
  4. Even when I think something looks like crap – other people love it and appreciate – so shut up.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Pee-Can or Pee-Con - either way it's a hit\

My dad LOVES pecan pie. I mean LOVES it. His blood sugar on the other hand – let’s not talk about it. Especially don’t tell his doctor!
We celebrated his birthday on a Sunday for lunch. For dessert, I made a French Silk and Pecan Pie. The Pecan Pie was far more successful this time around. Also – far more people wanted to eat it than I thought too! I made sure to add lots of chopped pecans and also whole pecans – even added a little fancy design to the very top! Thankful for another year of my dad – he’s a pretty special guy.

Classic Pecan Pie Recipe
1 cup Karo® Light OR Dark Corn Syrup
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon Spice Islands® Pure Vanilla Extract
1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) pecans
1 (9-inch) unbaked or frozen deep-dish pie crust

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
In a medium bowl, mix the corn syrup, eggs, sugar, butter and vanilla. Stir in the pecans. Pour the filling into a pie crust.
Bake on the center rack of the oven for 60-70 minutes. The pie is done when the internal temperature reaches 200ºF and springs back when the center is touched lightly. Cover the edges of the pie crust with a pie shield or foil if the crust is browning too quickly.
Let the pie sit for 2 hours before serving.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Comfort in a ball of meat - never would have thought I'd say that. Ever.

Growing up we never had meatballs. Oh sure at family functions people would bring meatballs in a crockpot with grape jelly (eww right?). Andy once or twice made meatballs in the time we were married – but it hasn’t been a thing. Now – it will be a thing. We had dinner at friends – where I brought the cheese cake I was so worried about. (Check back a few post.) What did our friend serve? These amazing meatballs. Now let’s be clear – I would have never said meatballs were amazing – ever in the history of ever, but these are pretty much awesome. Kelly was quick to say they were from the Pioneer Woman but I like to think the maker of the meatball had something to do with it too. Now I’m scheming to figure out how to make these as a freezer meal to get them into our regular rotation. I have faith I can do it! :) These are like little tiny meatloaves of delicious sauce. It’s even making me rethink how I make meatloaf. So make these – YES... make them – you will have zero regrets. None. Maybe I should make them again soon! Hrm...
Comfort Meatballs
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
3/4 cup quick oats
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons very finely minced onion
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Plenty of ground black pepper
4 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup ketchup
4 to 6 tablespoons minced onion
3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Dash of hot sauce, such as Tabasco
For the meatballs: In bowl, combine the ground beef and oats. Pour in the milk, and then add the onions, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Roll the mixture into tablespoon-size balls and refrigerate them for 30 to 45 minutes to firm.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Dredge the meatballs in the flour, and then brown the meatballs in batches until light brown. As they brown, place them into a rectangular baking dish.
For the sauce: Stir together the ketchup, onions, vinegar, sugar, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. Drizzle the sauce evenly on the meatballs.
Bake until bubbly and hot, about 45 minutes.
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