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Archive for January, 2013

Yesterday I shared a few ideas for Super Bowl Desserts.

Keeping in the football theme, here area few ideas for a Super-Duper Super Bowl Party!

Fun Football Burger from Hungry Happenings. If you don't want to freeze your buns off cooking burgers now, I found some great sliders in the freezer section at the grocery store.

Fun Football Burger from Hungry Happenings. If you don’t want to freeze your buns off cooking burgers now, I found some great sliders in the freezer section at the grocery store.

Try some spicy deviled eggs from Southern Living. They're sure to be a hit with your football fans!

Try some spicy deviled eggs from Southern Living. They’re sure to be a hit with your football fans!

Yummy Bacon Double Cheeseburger Dip from Too Stinkin' Cute.

Yummy Bacon Double Cheeseburger Dip from Too Stinkin’ Cute.

Taco Bites are always a crowd pleaser.

Taco Bites are always a crowd pleaser.

Porky Pie Pockets are super easy and good to make and can be eaten with one hand while the other is madly waving to cheer on the winning team.

Porky Pie Pockets are super easy and good to make and can be eaten with one hand while the other is madly waving to cheer on the winning team.

Tortilla Wrap Appetizers are also quite tasty and easy to make.

Tortilla Wrap Appetizers are also quite tasty and easy to make.

I love this idea for serving popcorn from Divine Party Concepts. You can also use canning jars for serving drinks, snack mix or candy.

I love this idea for serving popcorn from Divine Party Concepts. You can also use canning jars for serving drinks, snack mix or candy.

Keep the decorations simple and to a minimum. Most likely the people coming to your house could care less about centerpieces and much more about the snacks and how well they can see the game. Use team colors for some streamers or balloons. If you want to do something fun, put prize slips inside balloons and let guests pop them at half-time. Prizes could be things from the dollar store or even a coupon for a free coffee. Nothing elaborate or that will break the bank.

You’ll have enough mess to clean up without spending hours taking down a bunch of decorations. Fill jars with candy in the favored teams colors and set them around.

Do light a few candles so your home smells inviting. Make sure your bathroom is spotless and be sure you are stocked up on the basics.

Plan to have plenty of seating, loads of extra napkins and put out a few garbage cans where people can see them. They are much more likely to pick up after themselves if you make it easy for them.

For the non-game watchers who get dragged along, set up a TV in another room with some fun movies. If kids will be attending, make sure they have a play area with plenty of activities. If the gathering is large, you may even want to hire a babysitter to keep an eye on the kiddos.

Most of all, remember to have fun and please, if any one drinks – make sure they don’t drive.

She Who Needs to Plan a Menu

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If you are the lucky host for the Super Bowl this year, you’re probably already starting to work on a menu for the masses of shouting, hungry die-hard fans that will descend on your house Sunday.

Here are a few fun ideas for some football themed desserts.

Football Whoopie Pies from The Finer Things

Football Whoopie Pies from The Finer Things

Rice Krispie Football from Life, Love, Beauty

Rice Krispie Football from Life, Love, Beauty

Truffle Cupcakes from Taste of Home

Truffle Cupcakes from Taste of Home

 

Chocolate Covered Strawberries by Calligraphy by Jennifer

Chocolate Covered Strawberries by Calligraphy by Jennifer

Football Brownies from Betty Crocker

Football Brownies from Betty Crocker

She Who Needs to Make Something Fun for CC

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bread- rolls baked and buttered in pan

On rare and random occasions, I’ll make a batch of home-made bread or dinner rolls.

They are soooo good right out of the oven, hot and yeasty with butter melting into every crevice.

This recipe is one my mom taught me when I was young and she learned it from her mom.

It isn’t hard to make, just takes a little time while you are waiting impatiently for the bread to rise so you can bake these babies and enjoy all that fresh bread goodness.

Ingredients

Ingredients

Mix milk, shortening, sugar and salt in a saucepan. Stir over medium heat until milk is scalded (180 F).

Mix milk, shortening, sugar and salt in a saucepan. Stir over medium heat until milk is scalded (180 F).

 

Pour warm milk into a large bowl to cool.

Pour warm milk into a large bowl to cool.

While milk is cooling, add yeast to 1/4 cup lukewarm water, stir until yeast is dissolved then leave it alone to do its thing for a few minutes while the milk cools.

While milk is cooling, add yeast to 1/4 cup lukewarm water, stir until yeast is dissolved then leave it alone to do its thing for a few minutes while the milk cools.

Stir yeast into milk mixture when the milk is about the temp of a baby's bottle.

Stir yeast into milk mixture when the milk is about the temp of a baby’s bottle.

Stir in flour.

Stir in flour.

Knead dough, form into a ball, cover and let rise for an hour.

Knead dough, form into a ball, cover and let rise for an hour.

 

Dough should now be doubled in size. Punch down dough and knead again.

Dough should now be doubled in size. Punch down dough and knead again.

Pinch off a piece of dough, about the size of a golf ball, roll into a ball and place in a greased baking pan. Uniformity is NOT my middle name, so mine are all uniquely sized. Continue with this process until you've filled the pan with rolls, leaving space between each one. Cover and place a warm spot to rise for another hour.

Pinch off a piece of dough, about the size of a golf ball, roll into a ball and place in a greased baking pan. Uniformity is NOT my middle name, so mine are all uniquely sized. Continue with this process until you’ve filled the pan with rolls, leaving space between each one. Cover and place a warm spot to rise for another hour.

Your pan of rolls will go from this...

Your pan of rolls will go from this…

to this. Bake in 375 preheated oven until tops are golden brown.

to this. Bake in 375 preheated oven until tops are golden brown.

Slather the tops with butter and refrain from gobbling up a few while it oozes into every little corner and crevice.

Slather the tops with butter and refrain from gobbling up a few while it oozes into every little corner and crevice.

Cut one open, add butter and take a bite of yeasty bliss!

Cut one open, add butter and take a bite of yeasty bliss!

Home-made Dinner Rolls (or Bread)

2 cups milk

4 tbsp. shortening

1 tbsp. sugar

pinch of salt

1/4 cup lukewarm water

1 pkg. yeast

4 + cups of flour

Combine milk, shortening, sugar and salt in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until shortening is melted then continue to stir  until milk scalds. Keep a close eye on it because you don’t want the milk to scorch in the pan.

(Note: Scalded milk is milk that has been heated to 180 °F. At this temperature, bacteria are killed, enzymes in the milk are destroyed and many of the proteins are rendered inactive. The bacteria have to be killed off because any “wild yeasts” in the milk can alter the texture and flavor or the bread.)

Once the milk mixture is heated up to temp, pour it into a large bowl to cool.

Pour the lukewarm water into a small cup or bowl. Gently stir in the yeast and let set for a few minutes, working its magic. I love that smell. It takes me back to childhood days when my mom made some yeasty treat on a weekly basis.

Test your milk mixture with the tip of your finger. You want it to be cool, but not cold when you stir in the yeast. Think the temperature of a baby’s bottle for a good point of reference. Stir the yeast into the milk until it is well blended.

Start stirring in the flour, a cup at a time. You might end up using closer to five or six cups by the time it’s all said and done, but four is a good starting point.

Work the flour into the milk mixture. When it gets hard to stir, you can get your hands in there and start kneading the dough. If you’ve had a stressful day, this is a great way to work out some aggression. Punch the dough down with your fist, flip it around and keep going. It’s also a great work-out for those arm muscles! See, you are burning calories, destressing and making something delicious all at the same time. Talk about multi-tasking!

If the dough is  really sticky, continue adding flour, about a half cup at a time until you can work it without it globbing up all over your fingers.

Keep kneading until the bread has an elastic feel to it (meaning you can feel it pop and give as you knead).

Grease the sides of your bowl with a little butter, placing your nice ball of dough in the center of the bowl. Cover with a tea towel and set someplace warm to rise. My favorite place is right in front of our fireplace. It’s warm, but not hot, and creates a perfect environment for the bread to rise.

Force yourself to leave the bread alone for an hour. By that time, it should have doubled in size.

Although this seems like cruel and unusual punishment, you are going to punch down the dough and knead it again. Just a couple minutes worth of kneading is fine.

At this point you can do any number of things with the dough – shape it into a loaf in a bread pan, form it into bread sticks or dinner-rolls, make fancy little shapes with it.

I generally make dinner rolls because I can freeze what we don’t eat for another day.

To make the dinner rolls, pinch off a piece of dough about the size of a golf ball. Roll it around and drop it into a greased baking pan. Leave a little space between each roll because they will expand. In a 9 x 13 pan, I probably end up with about 24 rolls.

Once you have the rolls all shaped, cover the pan with the tea towel and return to that warm spot for another hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. When the rolls have doubled in size, pop them in the oven and bake for about 12-15 minutes, until tops are golden brown.

Remove from the oven and immediately slather the tops with butter, while trying not to drool at the wonderful yeasty smell that is filling your home and making your mouth water.

Serve with butter, jam, honey or use to soak up the juice from a hearty bowl of stew.

You won’t be able to eat just one!

She Who Loves Home-made Bread

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scratch-and-sniff

The other day I received a catalog in the mail.

Nothing unusual about that. Just ask Captain Cavedweller. He could tell you how I clog up the mail box with my junk mail taking up room for his important stuff like Cabela’s sales flyers and hunting magazines.

Anyhoo, I was flipping through the catalog and came across a page with a dotted circle next to the words Rub & Smell. So I did. That turned out to be a very good decision. The catalog is full of beautiful candles and you could get an idea of the fragrance simply by browsing through their lovely, glossy, scented pages.

As I rubbed and smelled my way through the catalog, it reminded me of my grade schools days when the teachers would put Scratch ‘N Sniff stickers on our work if we did a good job. There were the ever popular lemon stickers.

scratchandsniff

I also remember these. The grape one was good and the popcorn one was okay but I always thought the other two smelled weird.

Despite the smells, they were really fun to get on your homework.

Evidently, in the grown up world, though, we’ve evolved from scratching and sniffing to rubbing and smelling. I guess that does sound a little more dignified.

Regardless of what you call it, it’s still pretty fun!

She Who Had Way to Much Fun Rubbing and Smelling Her Catalog

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I realize I can find the most obscure and weird things to get excited about, but a new on-line tool has me quite excited.

The Make Room by Urban Barn allows you to enter your furniture details, your room size and come up with the perfect configuration for your room.

the make room

It’s a very helpful and useful tool  (much easier than making your husband move the couch six times while he grumbles with irritation after the fourth time you say “no, that just doesn’t work”).

It’s also a lot of fun.

Check it out and see what sorts of designs you can come up with.

She Who Needs to Not Move Any Furniture Around

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Learnin the Ropes cover 09-12

Go to An Avid Reader’s Haven today to check out an interview with your truly.

Down at the very bottom, you can enter to win a copy of Learnin’ the Ropes. I’m giving away one e-book copy and one paperback through Rafflecopter, so enter for your chance to win!

Thanks to Louise and Deanna for inviting me over to their blog!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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cheesecake plated

The other day I got a wild idea to try and duplicate a dessert I’d eaten while we were in Las Vegas last month.

Part of the complex, involved, slightly frightening directions included a cheesecake layer.

Deciding to actually make a cheesecake from scratch, I combed through several recipes and finally came up with this one.

It is the best home-made cheesecake to ever come out of my oven. They are usually either dry, taste weird, or just not up to snuff.

This one was perfect. Captain Cavedweller even thought so and that is saying something.

Without further ado, here’s the directions.

cheesecake ingredients

Ingredients

Blend cream cheese until smooth and creamy.

Blend cream cheese until smooth and creamy.

Add sugar and salt, blending well.

Add sugar and salt, blending well.

Add eggs, one at a time.

Add eggs, one at a time.

Add sour cream, whipping cream and vanilla, mixing well.

Add sour cream, whipping cream and vanilla, mixing well.

Place the springform in a large roasting pan or deep skillet then pour batter into springform.

Place the springform in a large roasting pan or deep skillet then pour batter into springform.

Pour water around outside edge of springform. Make sure you've wrapped the springform pan in foil to keep any water from leaking into your cheesecake batter.

Pour water around outside edge of springform. Make sure you’ve wrapped the springform pan in foil to keep any water from leaking into your cheesecake batter.

You want the water to come about an inch up the side of the pan.

You want the water to come about an inch up the side of the pan.

Bake in a 325 degree preheated oven until no longer jiggly and set. Remove and cool completely.

Bake in a 325 degree preheated oven until no longer jiggly and set. Remove and cool completely.

Cheesecake

2 (8-ounce) packages of regular cream cheese, at room temperature

2/3 cup sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

2 large eggs

1/2 cup sour cream

1/3 cup whipping cream

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place a pan large enough to hold your springform pan in the oven to warm. Put a kettle of water on the stove to boil.

Spray a 9-inch springform pan with non-stick spray and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper. Spray it with the non-stick spray as well.

Wrap a double layer (or a layer of heavy-duty foil) around the outside of your pan, making sure it comes well up the sides of the pan. You want to make sure no water can sneak in a crack and get into the springform pan.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until it is smooth and creamy. Add sugar and salt and mix on medium speed for about two minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Mix in sour cream, whipping cream and vanilla until mixture is smooth.

Remove the large pan from the oven where it has been warming. Place your springform pan into the pan then pour the cheesecake batter into the springform pan. Carefully pour boiling hot water into the large pan so that it comes about an inch or so up the sides of the springform pan. (You can use a large roasting pan. I found a skillet I never use in the back of my cupboard that was just big enough to hold the springform.) Place in the oven and bake for about 45-60 minutes.  (The cheesecake should have been done in 45 minutes, but yours truly got busy writing in her next novel and lost track of the time. An hour had passed when I realized it was long past time to remove the cheesecake from the oven. It was done to perfection. )

Remove from the oven when the cheesecake is set and no longer jiggly. Remove the springform pan for the larger pan and let cool on a rack for at least an hour. When it has cooled, serve immediately or freeze for later eating pleasure.

I served this one with fresh blackberries and whipping cream but you could top it with whatever strikes your fancy, fruit, chocolate, nuts, caramel. This is a nice basic cheesecake that you can add to as you like. You will notice this cheesecake does not have a crust  – and you can certainly make it with one if you choose.

Enjoy!

She Who Likes Cheesecake Way More Than She Should

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