I know SO many who would like this...

Posted by Linda :
Thursday 10 July 2014 - 23:27:13
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New Flavors AND a New Ingredient/Technique?
It's the beginning of full blown Summer heat, and who hasn't had a Rootbeer float to help cool them down? I mean, that uniquely flavored beverage with a scoop of vanilla ice cream? Yeah, I remember those days... Once in a great while, for a treat, sure. But WAY too many calories for a regular indulgence – but wait! How about getting that combination of flavors – in a cookie wink You read that right - Rootbeer Float Cookies DO exist! Super quick to make once your butter's softened - and they do deliver. They're very similar to a traditional Toll House, but heavier on the brown sugar side, using Rootbeer flavoring instead of vanilla. And the white chocolate (in truth, vanilla flavored) chips add the “float” part. I skipped the step of shaping the dough into balls – just dropped spoonfuls onto parchment.
I ended up with about 50 moderate sized cookies, which was plenty for me to enjoy and even share a bunch at work.
But this was new to me – you add a package of instant pudding mix to the cookie batter? Apparently there's a new “style” that uses this technique - these cookies DID come out the chewy, soft texture that is my preference, and the author says the pudding has something to do with that. Hey – my results were great! I MIGHT add a touch more root beer concentrate to my next batch – odd, but it was hard to identify until you knew what it was? Or maybe it was just that unexpected... But yeah – these are good! Trust me – I turned my oven on for these wink

Posted by Linda :
Saturday 05 July 2014 - 03:23:09
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The MEANING behind the Holiday...
Just another reminder to take a moment to give thanks to those who gave so much for our Freedom. Believe it or not, I'm a direct descendant of Edward Rutledge of South Carolina, one of those 56 that signed the Declaration of Independence... so I ask you:

Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died.

Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.

Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured.

Nine of the 56 fought and died from hardships of the Revolutionary War.

They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.

What kind of men were they?

Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists.

Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well-educated, but they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.

Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.

Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.

Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Rutledge, and Middleton.

At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson,Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.

Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.

John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished.

So, take a few minutes while enjoying your 4th of July
holiday and silently thank these patriots. It's not
much to ask for the price they paid.

Remember: Freedom is never free!

We thank these early patriots, as well as those patriots now fighting to KEEP our freedom!

It's time we get the word out that patriotism is NOT a sin, and the Fourth of July has more MEANING to it than beer, fireworks, hot dogs and picnics.

[Thanks to Howard D]

Posted by Linda :
Thursday 03 July 2014 - 02:25:38
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WOW! (You'll say the same once you try this!)
This kind of blew my mind! I mean, I've seen TONS of different proteins used, different sauces, cheeses... But a GRILLED and SMOKED Mac and Cheese? THIS was a “must do”. Just check out the veggies – yeah, I know we don't think of 'veggies' with mac 'n' cheese – but in this case, they are major players!
My grocers didn't have Pablano or Anaheim peppers – so I used two Cubanelle and three Jalapenos instead - a tad spicier than the intended varieties, so I added a couple green bells to the yellow and red. Pretty, don't ya think?
Just so you know, there is a reason that there are “stopping points” in this recipe (ie, 'This can be done X days in advance'). The grilling takes a chunk of time, then you have to let them cool - and honestly, it takes more than a little time and effort to remove the charred skin and innards of the peppers and chop them (do NOT rinse!!! You'll lose a ton of flavor), not to mention slicing the corn and onion... Sure, it can be done in a day – but I followed the guidelines and took my time wink I've got it in the cast iron, ready to go back on the grill tomorrow with hickory chips on the coals to, well, to put it over the top. I trust that you can imagine a cheese sauce and elbow macaroni mixed in... I've nibbled along the way. and OH MY! Sweet onion and corn, heat from roasted peppers, and - wait for it - smoked cheddar!
Yep, this one's a keeper!

Posted by Linda :
Saturday 21 June 2014 - 03:09:19
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Peanut Butter, Chocolate and Cream Cheese COOKIES! OH MY!!!
Prep time for these is literally about 5 minutes – and I made TWO batches!! Now, that is your actual effort – for best results, you've GOT TO let these chill overnight. But, OH Baby – these are good! I've seen a few versions of Crescent Roll based cookies, so I decided to go with the “wiki” to try myself, and to share with you. First, you whip some room temp cream cheese with sugar and vanilla, and then you spread it on an opened “tube” of crescent rolls. Pinch the seams together first, of course. I mixed my choice of dark chocolate and peanut butter chips, and then sprinkled, well, sort of evenly...
Now, here's the odd part – as you roll this up, narrow end to narrow end, the entire roll grows! Looking at that pic, you've got maybe a 6” x 12” base – yet what I ended up with was a bout a 13” log, approximately 2” in diameter. As I said, I made two batches – so once I rolled each, I wrapped them in plastic wrap, and gently “smooshed” them into an even log – and then chilled overnight (one will be frozen for future use).
Now, it was 80+ degrees today, our first “scorcher” of the season – and I turned my oven on for these wink
Very, very nice! A delightful cross between cookies and pastry – with absolutely NO fuss! Not too sweet (even when you hit that chip!), and superbly simple. I'll agree with the original post – use mini chips, or coarsely chop whatever blend you choose. Every single cookie looks different, and probably has a different flavor palate – actually, I LIKE that! But if you want them uniform, smaller is better. Next time I think I'll add some finely chopped nuts... I am SO glad I doubled this {tee hee}!!!

Posted by Linda :
Wednesday 14 May 2014 - 03:46:25
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Now, THIS is more like it!
I've been wanting to try this since “PurpleRoses” posted – it makes a LOT of soup, with a LOT of cheese (and bacon and onion and... wink ) so when once again my doc advised me to up my calcium intake, I had my perfect excuse! HoChunk Rainbow Casino's Cheese Soup is really pretty simple to make, once you get past all the chopping. Let the bacon and onions go for at least a half hour – the bacon does NOT get crisp, but by then all the moisture from the onion will have steamed off. I started those in my dutch oven – definitely not large enough for the entire pot of soup, but I could crank the heat a little higher than with my stock pot, and this gave me a solid start. Transfer this aromatic mixture into the stock pot, add the potatoes, seasoning... and then time for an educated guess. “Four large cans” did not give me a warm feeling, so by eying my blend, I ended up with 12 cups, or 3 quarts of chicken stock (you could get by with even a cup or two less, especially if you want a more velvety soup). Next assumption – I did NOT like the idea of boiling cream and cheese for 30-45 minutes – I'm thinking that was a typo. After adding the stock, THAT's when I boiled... (the same way you would for say, a potato soup?) Way too much steam for a picture... So it's simply add your cheese, melt, add your cream, bring just to a boil, toss in your cooked wild rice, and done.
This gets thicker as it cools, and while most of the “goodies” sink to the bottom, they are there and are AWESOME! The smokiness of the bacon, the sweetness of the onion, creamy potatoes, slightly chewy rice... Now THIS is a keeper!

Posted by Linda :
Wednesday 07 May 2014 - 15:30:15
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I simply CAN'T
I'm aware that eating meatless once in a while is good for you, and I can handle vegetarian – heck, I've thoroughly enjoyed many options along the way. But VEGAN? Nuh uh, ain't gonna happen frown Even THIS recipe for Sweet Potato Enchiladas, which contains some of my favorite things... I was doomed from the start. For example, I didn't have any vegetable stock (though I'd bought some recently – must've used it elsewhere), so instead of water I used beef stock. BAD, I know. Since it hadn't specified when and where, I added the smoked paprika and salt to my whipped sweet potatoes. I'd recommend spicing them up as much as you want - the sweetness will still shine through, and I wished I had added a touch more. Mushrooms I've got no problem with, and used Crimini, aka “Baby Portabellas”. After tasting, I still wasn't thrilled with the balance, and added a generous dash of Worcestershire sauce. Now, why is this bad? It's got anchovies, don't ya know! But it DID add that bit of umami that was missing. Believe it or not, I actually proceeded without the cheese I was so certain it would need.
I'll never make it as a Vegan, but if you can and do, this recipe is definitely worth a try – as is.
As for the rest of us, my tweaks, and yeah, my final condemnation of adding some cheddar and Monterey jack on top of my second serving, I can definitely recommend this for your Meatless Monday. Relatively quick (not sure how they came up with only 15 minutes of prep tho), and a filling meal with a super-food. Add a salad or some beans, and you're done.

Posted by Linda :
Saturday 03 May 2014 - 15:39:03
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There's still time!
White chocolate (tinted) covered strawberries. They look like carrots!


Cute simple Easter centerpiece. Buy carrots with greens and pretty spring flowers.


Happy Easter!

[Submitted by Salyab]

Posted by Linda :
Sunday 20 April 2014 - 15:08:14
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A Beautiful Bird's Nest
I was inspired by this delightful rendition, but I had to do it my own way. What can I say? So I started with my favorite carrot cake recipe (without the coconut – I'll explain later!), and created from there. First – why couldn't I use a bundt pan? It's circular, sloped on the side, already has a hole... So that's what I did! I didn't want to fill up my standard 12 cup pan more than halfway (how deep are nests anyways?), so I baked an 8”x8” layer to save for later wink. Adjust your timing, checking after about 30 minutes.
Apparently I didn't prepare my pan well enough, or perhaps carrot cake and bundt pans are simply not a good match, so there were some loose pieces. I did what they refer to as a 'crumb coat', a thin layer of icing to help hold it together, and chilled. Oh yeah – the icing... I still can't imagine any frosting other than cream cheese on a carrot cake, so I doubled the original recipe for that – but I added about a quarter cup of cocoa to turn it brown. So far so good!
Now, I don't know about you, but I don't have the patience for intricate icing techniques. Not that there's anything WRONG with that, but I needed a simpler plan. Now, here's why I left the coconut out of the cake – I dyed it brown, and patted it against the cream cheese frosting! Equal parts of red and green food coloring make brown – adjust as you like (in other words, PLAY) to get the shade you want. Add a teaspoon or two of water, and then “smoosh” your coconut strands in a plastic bag until you get the hue/depth desired. [HINT: I set a little coconut aside, used a touch of plain white, dyed a tiny bit green, and then tossed the entire bunch together].
Now, for the best part – fill the hollow with purchased malted milk “eggs” - and you've got an Easter dessert unlike any other!
Thanks again, Vanilla Bean Baker - your idea is magnificent! I truly hope you don't mind my tweaks... wink

Posted by Linda :
Sunday 20 April 2014 - 04:01:15
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How's your Italian?
When I first saw the picture (with link) of this delightful spinach pie, I honestly was impressed with how much Italian I understood in this recipe - but I wanted to get the pastry right, because I'd never heard of using white wine.... So, yeah, I hit the link for English! You still have to translate grams to cups if you're an awkward American like me, so I used two and a half cups AP flour, 3 oz olive oil, a Tblsp coarse kosher salt, and about 7 oz of wine – to start . Needed just a tad more flour, closer to two and two thirds cup? Extremely easy to work with – I might use this pastry recipe for my next savory something wink Now, I cheated on the filling – remember that Butternut Squash and Spinach stuffing for shells? I'd kept some in the freezer, and how could a little squash not simply IMPROVE any dish? It already had the ricotta, egg, parm, and a touch of spinach – along with some delightful seasonings! So I added another 10 oz. package and a half of frozen chopped spinach (along with adjusting the seasonings to the new volume) – the recipe says to boil it, but I didn't see the point. Just wring it as dry as possible, and when it bakes it will be as done as you could want.
I'd forgotten to sprinkle the bread crumbs, so I topped the filling instead wink. Here's part of the assembly... The bad news is that the dough is very tender and breaks easily. The good news is that it is VERY forgiving, and patches are easy.
It seemed to me that the center portion looked a little, well, boring - so since it already resembled a sunflower, I sprinkled that with shelled sunflower seeds!
I'm thinking a batch of sweet and spicy mustard on the side... Not a bad app for Easter dinner with the family – I'm quite pleased!

Posted by Linda :
Friday 18 April 2014 - 22:27:44
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