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Archive for November, 2012

popover finished

The other day Captain Cavedweller was watching some foodie show and the words cheesy popovers immediately caught my attention.

Deciding I had to try these at home, it was a very tasty decision.

These are super easy to make and so yummy!

Cheesy Popovers

2 beaten eggs

1 cup milk

1 tbsp. oil

1 cup flour

1/4 tsp. salt

1 cup shredded colby-jack cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place a large 6-cup muffin pan inside while you mix up the batter.

In a mixing bowl, beat eggs until light then add milk and oil. Stir in flour and salt. Mix well, beating until smooth.

Remove the muffin pan from the oven and liberally coat each cup with non-stick cooking spray.

Fill the cups half-full. Sprinkle on cheese -you can add less if you don’t want them super cheesy. Try to poke the cheese down into the batter a bit.

Bake 40 minutes or until  firm and golden. Remove from oven and enjoy these piping hot. You can slather with butter, sprinkle with chunky salt or enjoy plain!

She Who Loved These

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The weather in our neck of the woods is miserable – cold, drizzly, freezing rain, fog.

It has caused the fuzzy little felines at our house to act even more abnormal than usual.

Miss Maizy (see photo above) comes charging out to the front yard as soon as she hears our car pull in the driveway. She barricades the front door, refusing to let us in, and loudly lets it be known that she is

1. starving to death

2. freezing to death

3. annoyed that we have let the above situations occur

Drooley, aka The Heinous Cat, does not voice his displeasure with us. He is much more subtle with his complaints.

It starts with a cold, steely glare in the kitchen window. If we ignore that, he moves to the patio door where he sits staring at us with narrowed eyes and twitching what remains of his left ear. He will then curl up in a sad little ball and pretend he is going to freeze to the door mat. At this point, Captain Cavedweller will take pity on him and open the door to pet him. Seeing an opportunity to escape into warmth, the cat will race on and plop himself down on the rug by CC’s chair. Flopping onto his side, he waits for the head and tummy rub that is sure to come.

CC is so easily manipulated by the felines. And they know it.

They have to work a little harder to get me to do their bidding. Although Maizy knows if she sits in the kitchen window and looks at me with big, sad, eyes it won’t take long for her to get what she wants.

Maybe I need to take a few lessons from the cats to use on CC…

She Who Has Crazy Cats

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Before you become fully entrenched in the rush of the holidays…

Before you find yourself entangled in stringing lights and decking the halls…

Before you are elbow deep in cookie baking…

Before you find yourself running from this program to that party…

Before you are exhausted and overcommitted…

Take time to connect with a few friends for a little spa time.

If you want to make salon appointments and go together, great.

If you want to invite over a few close friends and spend an afternoon soaking your feet, sipping some delicious beverage and laughing like only good friends can do – even better.

Keep the refreshments super simple. Think one hot beverage and one cold beverage choice and some healthy snacks like fruit or veggies with cheese and crackers – and don’t forget the dark chocolate (it’s healthy!).

It’s easy to pick up some very inexpensive dish pans at the dollar store. These are great for foot soaking. Add some peppermint soaking crystals or fizzing tabs. Watch a funny movie. Laugh about past holiday disasters.

The whole point is to relax and spend a few hours just enjoying your friends.

When you are knee-deep in holiday chaos, you’ll look back on those spa hours as the calm before the storm.

She Who Needs to Plan A Spa Day

 

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If you are hosting the Thanksgiving festivities tomorrow and have struggled in the past to make gravy that tastes good, you are not alone.

I come from a long line of women who make really, really good gravy. Unfortunately, that gene seemed to have skipped right past me.

For years, I struggled to make gravy that either:

1. Did not look and taste like thin gruel

2. Did not look and taste like lump paste

I watched my Mom and Grandma make excellent gravy with seemingly no effort at all. I copied what they did and still my gravy turned out awful.

Finally, my most wonderful mother-in-law, who also makes good gravy, showed me how she does it. Suddenly, there were choirs singing and people rejoicing (that would have been Captain Cavedweller). I was a gravy-making maniac.

A simple recipe is:

2/3 fat from drippings

2/3 cup flour

2 cups chicken broth

water

Remove turkey from roasting pan. Pour drippings (turkey juices and fat) from pan into strainer over small bowl. Skim 2/3 cup fat from top of drippings and place  in heavy saucepan or cast-iron skillet. If there is not enough fat, add enough melted butter to fat to measure 2/3 cup. Reserve remaining drippings. If you have excess fat, discard.

With a wire whisk, rapidly beat flour into fat in saucepan. Cook over medium heat 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and bubbly. This will removing the starchy flavor from the gravy. Remove from heat.

Measure reserved drippings together with broth; add enough water to equal 5 cups liquid. Gradually stir broth mixture into flour mixture. Heat to boiling over high heat (5 to 6 minutes), stirring constantly. Boil and stir  an additional minute.

You can salt to taste.

Here are a few tips for making tasty gravy so you can leave behind the gruel and paste-like creations.

  • Keep it lump-free by using a wire whisk when adding the flour to the drippings. Beat it fast and furious to keep lumps from forming.
  • Measure accurately. Too little fat can make the gravy lumpy; too much fat can make the gravy greasy
  • If you don’t have enough drippings, you can use water from cooking potatoes.
  • If you have plenty of pan drippings and like lots of gravy or are serving a crowd, just double or triple the recipe. This is necessary with our family! My Dad would eat gravy on everything, given the opportunity!
  • For thinner gravy, decrease meat drippings and flour to 1 tablespoon each.

If your gravy is greasy, put a slice of fresh bread on top of the fat for a few seconds to absorb it; remove bread before it breaks into pieces.

Despite your best efforts of removing lumps, if you still have some stragglers, you can pour gravy into a food processor and process until smooth, or press gravy through a strainer. Return to saucepan and heat before serving.

If your gravy is too thin, dissolve 1 tablespoon of flour in 2 tablespoons of water then whisk into gravy stirring constantly and boiling for a minute.

For some reason, if your gravy ends up too salty, add a raw peeled potato, cut into pieces to the gravy pan. Cook and stir  about eight minutes, then remove potato pieces.

Wishing you lump-free, perfect gravy as you celebrate Turkey Day tomorrow!

She Who Wishes you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

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Just imagine: your picture-perfect Thanksgiving is coming together… well, perfectly! Everything is going along just like you planned than Bam! You realize you forgot to turn on the oven and there is no way the bird will be ready by the time your guests arrive. Your cranberries are curdling and your pie crust is soggy.

You need some help, right now!

Here are some important hot-line numbers that may be of use to you this week. The following list also has some great info on their websites. Check them out:

 

BUTTERBALL

Online Help

1-800-BUTTERBALL (800-288-8372)

REYNOLDS

Online Help

1-800-433-2244

FLEISCHMANN’S YEAST

Online Help

1-800-777-4959

LIBBY’S CANNED PUMPKIN

Online Help

1-800-854-0374

OCEAN SPRAY

Online Help

1-800-662-3263

PILLSBURY

Online Help

1-800-775-4777

BETTY CROCKER

Online Help

1-800-446-1898

 

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Here are some helpful tips on setting a holiday buffet…

One of my favorite things about entertaining at home is presentation– making things look pretty. There is something so fun about deciding what serving pieces to use, what looks good where and then having the whole thing come together just before the doorbell rings.
When you are planning to entertain, think about serving the food buffet style. This method of serving does two wonderful things:
• It keeps the host from being so tied to the food and the kitchen.
•It creates a casual atmosphere where guests feel more at ease and are much more likely to mingle.
Isn’t it awesome to watch your guests connect and have fun? Kind of the whole point of enteraining (well, that an excuse to eat too much good food!)
Another thing I love about buffet entertaining is that it allows the host to get the buffet set up in advance.
Whether you are doing a single or double-sided buffet, make sure all food is within easy reaching distance. You don’t want someone dragging their sleeve or shirt-tail through a bowl of cranberry sauce.
Most importantly, have fun with it! You are the artist and the buffet is your canvas. Get creative and let your personal style shine through.
Start by placing a cloth on your table, counter or whatever surface you are using for your buffet. It can be a neutral shade like white or cream, although my go-to standard is black (hides the spills and stains!). Use sheets for inexpensive and easy care table coverings.

Next, add height to your table. Strategically place boxes, books, whatever you have on hand that is sturdy to give you some height elements.

Now, add another cloth drape over your height elements. I like to use a cloth in the same color as the base cloth. The purpose of this covering is to hide the height elements. On top of this, I add a table covering in a contrasting color or pattern. For Thanksgiving, choose something in an earthy color. Or go wild and crazy and use burlap fabric or something rustic  (rustic… but clean!  You can purchase burlap by the yard at most craft or fabric stores.)

Add a centerpiece. You’ll want it to be off to one side and to the back, if it is a one-sided buffet or in the center for a double-sided buffet. It should be the highest point on your table.

Start layering in your serving pieces. You can get the table all set up today, put sticky notes on each piece labeling it so it will be easy to remember the mashed potatoes go in the big square bowl and green beans go in the medium round bowl, etc.

Finish off the look of the table with a few candles, pine cones or nuts. If you use candles, you might want to opt for the battery-operated variety. No open flame worries there.

Some other quick tips:

• If you want a cake stand and don’t have one, flip a sturdy bowl upside down and place a platter on top. To make sure the platter doesn’t slip, you could dab on a few drops of rubber cement, which is pretty easy to remove.

• To keep your hot foods hot, warm bricks in the oven then slip them under your table coverings (place them on thick pot holders so the heat doesn’t damage your table surface). Place casseroles or plates on top and the bricks will hold the heat.

• To keep cold foods cold, you can fill bowls with ice and nestle beneath your table coverings. Set your serving bowls in the bigger bowls or pans and food will stay chilled.

• Make sure you have plenty of plates, forks and napkins as well as glassware. When we entertain, it seems like it doesn’t take long until all the forks in the house are dirty!

However or wherever you spend Thanksgiving, I hope it is with people who make your heart smile and bring you joy.

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