Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Garden Trellis

I will have a few new updates this week. YAY!! I did try a new recipe this past weekend but it was absolutely horrible so I'm not posting it here. I have another recipe this coming Friday so stay tuned for more Recipes! I have a quick garden update for now though. We have had rain for Eight weekends straight now so I have had a hard time getting everything accomplished in the garden that I need to do.

Steve did get the trellis he designed for our greenbeans finished and installed though! It is fabulous. I can't wait to see how the greenbeans work on it!! They are planted around it and I am waiting patiently for greenbeans to start climbing. Until then, enjoy my husbands handy work..free of charge ;)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Weekend Warrior

Weekend Project: Entry beautification. I know, it is not food related but I was very proud of myself. I had to deweed, hand turn soil and pull out roots, dig a trench and build retaining wall on the back side, haul in rocks and dirt and plant seeds. I have evening primrose, nicotiana, asters and scarlet flax planted in the bare spots to blend with the stella dora's and climbing vine. This also allows for blooms in different seasons. I will try to remember to do an update post when the seeds turn into blooms.











Before Pictures Above, After Pictures Below.

Finally, GARDEN updates

While I have not been doing a lot of creative cooking lately, I HAVE been working outdoors, taking advantage of the pretty weather. So I have some spring Garden updates for you!

We have raked the garden boxes free of winter debris, Stephen tilled them and four of them have been filled with horse manure (two left to do). Two of them have been topped with fresh soil, and one has been retilled and planted with cabbages and various lettuce species. Stephen has also made progress on the new Bean Fences that will hopefully go into place this week as well. Here are some pictures of the boxes in the various stages as of this weekend!
Above is the finished bed newly planted with cabbage and lettuce.
Above is the second bed that has the soil topping and is waiting to be tilled.



Left: Layer of dried manure. Right: Empty bed that has been raked/tilled and is waiting for manure.

FanKAstic

I finally took a picture of the coveted KA Mixer that my darling husband bought me for my 30th birthday. Fellow bakers, cooks, and recipe bloggers will all back me up that this is the most coveted piece of kitchen equipment! There are no words needed really....so I'll just post the picture...it's definately worth a thousand words.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Cake Creations

In another inventive phase I actually printed off several recipes for inspiration and sat down and combined ingredients, quantities etc. to form my own recipe for a desired taste and then made it. I was extremely impressed. There are a few changes I want to make next time to perfect it but I will add those in here in red. If you make this, please let me know what changes you incorporate and how it turns out!!
Sweet Potato Cream Cheese Pineapple Upside-down Cake?
Ingredients:
2 cups self-rising flour (needs more flour, try 3)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 1/2 tsps cinnamon
2 cups sweet potato (make sure its well drained..I used cooked and frozen from my last years garden)
2 tsps vanilla extract
1/2 cup crushed pineapple
1/4 oil (can cut down on this a tad or substitute applesauce)
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 eggs
Filling:
8oz cream cheese (softened)
1 egg
3 tbs sugar
Topping:
Pineapple rings
3/4 stick butter
3/4 brown sugar
1/2 tsp coconut/vanilla extract
Chopped nuts (optional, I didn't use these but thought about adding them next time)
Directions:
Preheat Oven to 375. Mix Sweet potato, eggs, oil, vanilla, pineapple, pineapple juice together. In seperate bowl mix flour, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg. Make well into flour mixture and pour potato mixture into it. Mix gently. Mix Filling Ingredients together in a seperate bowl and set aside.
In skillet melt butter, add brown sugar-stir over medium LOW heat until melted and mixed. Pour into a bundt pan (I use a stoneware bundt pan but this would probably work in other kinds of cake pans). Arrange pineapple slices into mixture. Pour half of pumpkin batter on top, pour cream cheese mix in, swirl slightly and pour the other half of pumpkin batter in. Bake approx. 1 hr or until tester comes out clean.

This created a VERY moist (almost like it wasn't done but it was) cake with a heavenly flavor and delightful aroma. It was a hit but I want to PERFECT it! I hope you enjoy it! AND PLEASE leave comments on your suggested changes, how it turned out and even name ideas!!

Easy Pot Pie

This is one of my favorite recipes that I have come up with. I will often get the desire for something and am too lazy to look up a recipe or I just do not like the ones I find. Inventiveness is the key to my cooking (and occasionally my downfall as well.) The key to the Pot Pie Recipe is my Pampered Chef Deep Dish Baker (a Christmas Gift by a good friend....THANKS TONYA!) that I adore!
Chicken/Turkey Pot Pie
Ingredients:
2 cups cubed chicken or turkey (this is great to use leftovers)
2 Pillsbury Roll Out Pie Crusts
2 cans of gravy (cream soup would work as well)
2 stalks celery (cleaned and finely slivered)
2 medium-large Carrots (cleaned and finely coined)
2-3 small-medium potatoes (cleaned partly skinned, cubed and boiled)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
One small onion (finely chopped)
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 tsp rosemary
1/4 tsp thyme
1 egg
1 tbs butter

Directions: Roll one pie crust (room temperature) into baking pan. Preheat oven to Box's directions. Whisk egg in small bowl with a splash of water and a dash of salt-set aside. Melt One tbs butter in pan, add onion and saute for 2-3 minutes on medium heat. Add salt, pepper, basil, rosemary, thyme and continue to saute for another minute or two. Add in celery and carrots and continue to stir for a few minutes more. Add meat and potatoes continuing to stir until heated through. Pour contents into prepared dish. Pour both cans of gravy over top mixture and toss around gently with fork (do not disturb pie crust). Roll second crust over top of the mixture and pinch sides of bottom crust and top crust to close. Cute a cross/X into the top and brush egg wash over top. Bake for about 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

B is for Barbeque

Living in the South, only 30 minutes from the Famous Barbeque city of Lexington, you would think I would know how to make barbeque. Up until recent years, however, I was not actually a fan of barbeque (the pulled pork variety). Necessity may be the mother of invention, but leftovers are cause for creativity. Stephen does not like having leftovers for some reason. They are fine for lunches but he does not like having the same dinner every night. So far this has not effected our budget much as we eat them for lunch so we do not have to buy lunch type foods (i.e sandwich meat, frozen meals, etc.) although I do try to keep 1 lb of deli meat and a loaf of bread on hand (and some Ramen noodles for him) for those days we do not end up with leftovers. During the recent meal planning stage I noticed that Harris Teeter had pork butt roasts on sale so I had planned a roast into the menu...when I got there, they were fairly large so I knew I would have leftovers. Last night we had a traditional seasoned roast but I decided to try my hand at a quick bbq recipe tonight. Normally, you would think someone in this predicament would look up a recipe but that is just too predictable and logical for me so I winged it. I pulled the leftover roasted meat from the bones, removed the fat, and shredded it with a fork (for a more even consistency you may want to use a food chopper). I placed the meat in a large pot on the stove and added about 3/4 cup Hickory smoked bbq sauce, 3/4 cup white vinegar, and 3/4 cup water with 3 tbs of Lord Byron's Butt Rub seasonings thrown in for good measure. I slapped a roll of Pillsbury French Loaf dough in the oven and what we got was a really good BBQ sub. The meat was not over powered by the sauce at all (one of my chief complaints with Southern bbq). There was not an overpowering vinegar taste (my other complaint with Lexington style bbq) and it was not too sweet either. I think I may try this again in a crockpot to infuse the flavor more and possibly add a dash of Texas Pete to spice it up a tad as well but for winging something I have never tried, not bad at all. I'm going to take some to my Dad and let him try it as he has a great love for BBQ and see what he thinks. I will also try to remember to take a picture of it.....my husbands recent complaint is that he never gets to eat anything without having it's picture made first! LOL..sorry honey but atleast he's a good sport about some of my "experiments!"

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Farm Fresh Orpington Eggs



My father is a unique person. He is full of life, zest and crazy schemes. If you tell him you want something, he will find it. He bargains, trades and scrounges just about everything. He has projects and plans and is a work-aholic. He is a slave driver in the hay fields, and spoilt brat at the dinner table. I love him dearly. One of his most recent adventures: chickens. My father has a long history with chickens. He had them as a child and at one point I believe showed them in competition..or maybe it was just country fairs...I can't remember now. We had them again when I was a child. I had two precious little Banny hens that actually liked to be handled and petted. I don't remember getting very many eggs, and the ones we did get were quite small, so they were just a pet adventure for me. Sadly, my parent's dogs thought they were quite tasty and we never got anymore chickens.....until now. The farm my parents recently purchased came complete with two very nice chicken coups. This was reason enough for Dad to want chickens again.....and did he get the chickens....quite a few of them including a very beautiful breed called Buff Orpington that lays medium brown eggs. He has a few other breeds as well but the Orpington's are everyone's favorites and are quite a pretty chicken to look at. I have grown fond of taking my food scraps to them and getting the eggs. They now have so many eggs that we don't know what to do with them all so they are selling them to neighbors. The point to all this is that this is one of the reasons you will see so many recipes for baking and quiches etc. I'm trying to figure out what to do with my 3 dozen eggs per week!!! One can only eat so many eggs and toast for breakfast!


Just to get you in the farm fresh frame of mind (say that three times fast), I tried to snap a few pictures for you...but they wouldn't pose for me, despite all the yummy scraps I gave them. I'm notorious for feeding them chicken.....chicken lasagna, deviled eggs, baked chicken skins......its kind of disturbing when I think on it too long. I just hope that one day they don't turn on each other because of the cannabilistic dishes I've been feeding them. OY!
History Lesson:
The original Orpington was developed in 1886 by William Cook (great last name for this huh?). Their ancestor breeds were: Minorcas, Langhsans and Plymouth Rocks (who said a chicken is just a chicken?). By 1905, he had created more colors (rather then just the original black) to include white, ,buff and blue. The breed is famous for its great egg-capacity but it was originally intended as a dual-purpose breed (meat and eggs). The popularity grew through the beautiful contours making this a popular breed to show (who knew right?).

Spinach and Ham Quiche



This recipe has become one of my favorites and recently the most requested. I invented this recipe based on other recipes. The other quiche recipe I've posted was good but this one is a meal all in one and is very simple to make. My parents ended up coming to my house for EAster dinner with only a few days warning so I scrounged around for a menu that didn't require any shopping. As this dish was already on our weekly menu I decided to make it for lunch. I served it with grilled salmon filets (chicken for Stephen), deviled eggs, and fried potatoes. For dessert I introduced my Sweet Potato/Pineapple Cake which I will post soon.

Spinach and Ham Quiche

Ingredients:
4-6 eggs (only 4 if they are large eggs) beaten
1 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheese (I used 1/2 cup monterey jack, 1/4 cup cheddar, 1/4 cup italian blend)
1 pkg. chopped spinach, thawed and drained (drain it and place it on a towel for 15-30 minutes to soak out extra moisture.
3 tbsp flour (I use self-rising)
1 tsp salt
1/4 stick butter
1 Pillsbury Roll out pie crust
1 center cut ham steak
1 cup chopped onion (or one small/medium onion chopped)
1 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp parsley


Melt butter in pan and saute onion. Roll out your pie crust into a LARGE pie plate (or deep dish baker) and bake at 425 for 5 minutes. Trim fat from hamsteak, remove center bone and chop the rest of it into cubes. Add salt, pepper, cayenne, parsley to onion mixture. Meanwhile whick flour into milk and egg mixture then add the shredded cheese to it. Throw the spinach and ham into ONION pan and toss for a minute or so till heated through. Pour onion mixture into pie crust and pour the egg mixture over it, mixing it up a bit with a fork. Pop in the oven and bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees then reduce heat to 300 for 30-35 minutes. Let Stand for 10 minutes before cutting and serving. I'm drooling just thinking about this!!