Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Help Me, Please!

I'm in a rut, a funk, a holding pattern, whatever you wish to call it.

While I enjoy green beans, brussel sprouts, spinach, and broccoli, I'm stuck. These are my go to green vegetables. While I enjoy many, many vegetables, most of household does not.

Oh how I long to roast a head of cauliflower, grill some pretty little asparagus, or saute some squash. But unless I'm going to eat the dish myself, AND, make something for the remainder of the fussy pants eaters, I just don't do it.

It's a waste of time and effort.

Help me, please?!

I've Been Cheating On You

I'm sorry, so sorry.

At least I think I am.

No, no, I know, I'm sorry.

I have another blog that I've been working on, so this blog has been getting no attention at all.

I have to fix this.

But, until I do, please enjoy the new blog too!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Matthew Ryan

So, I've been anxiously waiting to share some news with you.  I mean, I've had to sit on my hands so I wouldn't publish this post.   I had to wait until I was given the green light.  And, I was finally given the green light!


I have a grandson!  Matthew Ryan was born on August 17th.  He's a big boy, weighing in at 8 lbs. 15.2 oz. at birth.  And he's perfect!

I mean really, don't you just want to blow raspberries on that little tummy, or steal kisses from those cheeks, or just sniff that baby head (it's a mom thing).

Regrettably, my mom has been too sick for me to travel to Texas to see him.  However, my daughter Holly is planning a trip to Maryland for the holidays.  In addition, my daughter, Sarah is also making noise about coming for the holidays as well. 

So let me tell you, to have this ...       

And to have this ...

at my dinky house for Christmas!  I couldn't ask for more.

Friday, August 13, 2010

I Am So Confused!

Okay readers, I really have a dilemma.  I love this blog;  how could I not, it's my baby.  But, I've outgrown it.  And I'm really confused about moving it.  I mean I am really, really, really on fence, and want someone else's input.  I've actually started two difference blogs on wordpress, but, well, I'm not real thrilled with either one, design-wise.  I just don't know what I want.  I take that back; I know how I want it to look, just not how to get there. 

I want a blog that is simple in design; I think I'm a minimalist (I think that's what it's called).  I want something sophisticated, but feminine, but quirky and fun.  And I would really love the ability to have tabs, or pages (multiple posts listed by subject) which is something I don't think I can get with blogspot.

My blog as diversified, or branch out, or I would like it to, into different directions.  I want to include posts about my life with my mom and some DIY projects I've done, or am planning to do.  I also want to continue with the recipes. 

But, some of my favorite blogs are on blogspot.  And this is my baby, my first born.  It grew up on me, and I don't know what to do!

I really think I need to move.  Help me ... I'm so confused!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sachertorte, or the Most Perfect Flourless Chocolate Cupcake Ever!

I'll give credit where credit is due.  This is not my recipe (and yes, that is the name given to this recipe).  I just finished a book, by Jennifer Ross, about a woman from Dallas, who upon being dumped by her fiance, went to live with her grandmother in New York City.  She ended up opening a bakery called the "Icing on the Cupcake".  It's filled with amazing recipes, that doesn't make a ton of cupcakes (anywhere from 6 to a 12).  I want to try them all.

A Sacher Torte is a flourless cake made with bittersweet chocolate.  These little beauties are a-maz-ing!  They're like eating a dark chocolate cloud.  They melt in your mouth.

I absolutely promise, you will not be disappointed.

First the ingredients:

10 oz of bittersweet baking chocolate, chopped into pieces
5 eggs, separated
1/2 c sugar, divided, plus more for sprinkling
1/3 c pecans, ground (didn't have any, so I used walnuts)
1/2 c butter, room temperature

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and place 12 paper liners into the cupcake tray (her recipe said 6 - I assume she was using the extra large cupcake tray).

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water.  If you don't have a double boiler (as I don't), place the chocolate in a temperature safe bowl, put the bowl in a saucepan of simmering water.  Make sure the water is not touching the bottom of the bowl.

Stir until the chocolate is melted.  Remove the pan from the heat, but leave the bowl on top of the hot water to cool.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and 1/4 c sugar, with an electric mixer, until fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Add the egg yolks and beat for 2 minutes (I stopped midway and scraped the bowl).  Add the pecans (walnuts) and beat for another 2 minutes.
It already looks rich and amazing!
In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until they are light and foamy while slowly adding the remaining 1/4 cup sugar.  Beat for 5 minutes.

They'll look like this.

Fold the melted chocolate into the egg mixture with a rubber spatula.  Then fold a quarter of the chocolate mixture in the whipped egg whites.  Slowly fold the egg whites back into the rest of the chocolate mixture.

Cate decided to lend a hand at this point.  If you'll notice, I have 6 cupcake liners in my pan.  This was before I realized just how much batter I had going on.

Pour into paper liners, filling almost to the top.  Bake for 17-19 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbly coating, but is not wet.  (I baked for 18 minutes, the recipe said 10-15 minutes, but they was still soup at that point).

Cool for 5 minutes, then move to a wire rack and cool completely.  Sprinkle with sugar.

NOTE:  This is not a sweet cupcake!  So I made a raspberry whipped cream by melting 2 tbs of seedless raspberry preserves in the microwave for 15 seconds.  Cool completely (Very important.  I didn't and just look at what happened to mine.  Nobody's perfect!).  Whip 1 cup of heavy whipping cream with 1/4 tsp of pure vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar.  Gently fold in the cooled preserves into the whipped cream. 

Make's 12 cupcakes

Friday, July 30, 2010

A Little Background Music, Please

A little about me .. I am the middle child and the only daughter. I've been married twice, produced two beautiful daughters with my first husband and another beautiful daughter with my second. My two older daughters are wonderfully intelligent, headstrong young women (so is the youngest and I wouldn't have it any other way), married and providing me with beautiful grand babies, as children should. My youngest just graduated from high school in June and is headed to college in August. Whoo-Hoo! I'm practically an Empty Nester! I've been looking forward to this day for so long now!

But this isn't just about me. If it were, I'd end this post here.

This post is mainly about my mother. What can I say about my mother ..

I love her. That really goes without saying. You may not think so after reading this, but I do.

My mother loves easily. She's generous, adores animals, and genuinely tries to be kind to others. She is a fine, upstanding, individual.

My mother is also quite the trooper. She's had to be most of her life. She's been dealt a pretty crappy hand in a lot of respects. She developed Polio at 18 months, and her last operation, as a result of it, was when she was 15 years old. Around the same time, she quit school to take care of ailing grandparents (I assume that was legal way back when). She was so far behind because of her hospitalizations that I think it was a natural decision for her. At 17, she was traveling in a car with my uncle and his girlfriend. They were involved in a horrific accident where she went through the windshield and, among other things, lost all her teeth. She met my dad when she was 18, married him when she was 19, and, over the ensuing years, popped out 5 babies. When I was in middle school, she and my grandmother were crossing the street and she was hit by a car. She had to learn to walk again. Just after I graduated from high school, she was traveling with her father, her step-mother, and an aunt. A kid (drunk) crossed over into their lane and hit the car head on. Her left arm and left leg exploded... literally. And again she had to learn to walk... again. Needless to say, she doesn't drive, has no desire to drive, and really is leery of being in cars. By the age of 45, she was wearing a hearing aide; now, she's pretty much deaf. In 1991, after 35 years of marriage, my parents separated. They've never divorced.

Those are the things she's had no control over.

The things she does have some control over, to a degree,

She's a diabetic. She suffers from an AV Block (heart blockage), high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. She's barely mobile and suffers from Frozen Shoulder Syndrome. Then there's a host of other small problems. She lives in the same house where I grew up. She lives with my brother, who is a paraplegic and also a diabetic. They've never gotten along well.

The problem is that control is not a word in my mother's vocabulary. She's going to do what she wants to do and the rest of you can jump in a lake. And so she does nothing, except read and watch television, eat fried foods, and drink sweet tea. However, the biggest problem I have with my mom is that she put her life, and happiness, in someone else's hands. She was totally dependant on my father for everything and that failed. She had no skills for which to carve her way in the world. She had disabilities, sure, but there are people, worse off, that overcome and thrive. I can honestly say, my mother hasn't thrived. She has no interest in thriving and a "woe is me" attitude. She's miserable and wallowing in it. And because of all this, I love her, but she makes me absolutely crazy.

At the end of April, my mother developed double vision. As a senior, a diabetic, and in general, I knew this wasn't good. And I wasn't told about it until five days after the onset. I immediately rushed her to the hospital. Thank goodness, it wasn't a stroke. It was Sixth Cranial Nerve Palsy; sometimes a complication of uncontrolled diabetes (seeing a pattern here?). Things only got worse. She was released from the hospital to a rehab facility, to get stronger. The problem now was that now mother needed more assistance than she had before. My brother isn't a possibility because of his own disabilities. So, we (by we, I mean I) started looking into alternative living arrangements for my mother. I wanted her independence for her, but I wanted her safe too.

My mother moved in with me a week ago today.

And I'm not happy.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Better for you French Toast

As the only daughter, out of five kids, my next statement should will not come as a suprise to you.  My mother moved in with me, yesterday.  What may shock you is that I am not happy about it.  It isn't that I don't love my mother, because that's certainly not the case.  I love my mother very much. 

The problem is that for 29 years I've been taking care of people, in one form or another.  So, when Catherine, my youngest, graduated from high school in June, I was elated.  You could even say, I was tickled pink.  I finally had my life back.  I've done my duty as a parent (well, the part that I was legally obligated to do anyway).  I was going to turn her bedroom into "The Naked Room" (I've referenced this before; it's from the movie 'Failure to Launch').

However, my mother is at a point in her life that she cannot live alone.  She's needs help.  She's a diabetic, has other has medical issues, balance problems, and very little stamina.  She's not sickly, but she's not well ... enough.  Sigh, so how, as the only daughter, do I turn my back.  I don't; I can't.

So, my mother moved in with me yesterday and I lost my Naked Room.  And this morning, I made her French Toast.  I changed everything I knew about it, so I wouldn't feel bad about giving it to her.

2 whole eggs
3 egg whites
1 cup skim (fat free) milk
1 tps sugar
2 tbs ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
8 slices of 100% whole wheat bread
Cooking spray (such as Pam)

Heat a large (non-stick, if possible) skillet over medium heat.  In a bowl, combine all ingredients, except the cooking spray, and whisk until well blended, about a minute.

Lightly spray the pan with cooking spray.  Lay one slice of bread in the egg mixture for 5-10 seconds and flip with your fingers, or a fork and coat the other side.  Carefully move bread to heated pan.  Cook on one side for 1-2 mintues, or nicely golden brown. Flip and cook the other side until done, approxiately another minute (one way to test for doneness - press your finger into the bread, if it's firm, it's done).  Do not undercook because of the eggs.

Serve with a drizzle of honey or syrup.

Serves 4-5 people.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Black Bean Burgers

I got hooked on black bean burgers when I tried Morningstar Farms Spicy Black Bean Burgers.  They are a-maz-ing, but expensive.  So, I came up with my own recipe.  I hope you like it.

1-15 oz can of black beans
1/3 c of bread crumbs
1/4 c diced peppers (I used a mix if yellow, red, and green)
1/4 c diced celery
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 large egg
1/2 of a jalapeno pepper, finely minced
1/2 a small onion, diced
3 tbs of olive oil
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
good pinch of salt and pepper

Makes 4 burgers

Rinse and drain the black beans.  In a skillet, over medium high heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Add your peppers, celery, garlic and onions and saute until softened, about 4 minutes. 

While the vegetables are cooking, in a large bowl, coursely mash the beans with a fork.  You want to leave some intact.

Add the sauteed vegetables, bread crumbs, and spices to the beans and mix thoroughly with your fork.

It is, ladies and gentlemen, at this point, that you will want to taste your mixture and adjust your seasonings accordingly.  I started with 1/2 tsp of cumin and a 1/4 jalapeno pepper, then adjusted up.  Remember, you can always add more, you cannot take away.

Once you've gotten your burgers to the flavor you want, add the egg and mix thoroughly. 

Form them into 4 patties (they are sticky), cover with plastic, and let them sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before cooking.

Heat a large skillet on medium heat.  Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and let it heat up.  Add the black bean burgers and cook 4 minutes on each side, and you get this ...

Of course, every recipe is trial and error.  This was my first attempt.  It was in a dry cast iron skillet.  I can't recommend you try this.  If not for the jalapenos, it would have been dog food. 

I had mine on an Arnold's Whole Wheat Sandwich Thin with a slice of cheddar.  Feel free to veg up your burger; I'm just not that kind of girl!

Please enjoy!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Thinking, thinking, thinking .....

My middle daughter, Holly, is expecting her first baby on August 10th (secretly, Nana - that's me - is hoping it will come two days early, on her birthday).  I'm hosting a baby shower on Memorial Day weekend.  The date is unfortunate, but that's the way it works out because Cate's (my youngest and the reason for Holly's visit) high school is the next weekend (yes, two major events within a week).  I believe I would be skinned alive if I tried to combine the two.  Since, Holly's only going to be up from Big Assed, Texas (her words) for a week.  My hands are tied as far as timing goes. 

So Holly's coming up and her baby shower is the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend.  This is a co-ed blow out party!  Spouses, and maybe kids, are coming and I want something spectacular.  No finger sandwiches and allowed!  The planning committee is thinking bbq.  But I want cool bbg fare!  I'd rather skip the tired hot dog and hamburger route.  Any ideas? 

Here's the kicker, I don't eat meat.  Everyone else does, but I don't.  In addition, I'm also in the process of trying to drop 75 pounds (on top of the 40 I've already lost).  I'm hoping I'll be well on my way by then.  So, I'd prefer the ideas to be healthy as well. It's a tall order, I know.

In the interim, I've been taking classes on cake decorating.  It hasn't been easy with trying to loose weight.  I can tell you this, being up to your elbows in buttercream several times a week, makes you never want to eat cake, or at least icing, again!  She's going to have a really groovey cake, I hope!  I'll blog it, and the party, for sure!

Calling all troops for ideas!!!!!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili

Oh my Gosh!  It's been forever!  I really don't have any excuse, so I won't bore you with one.  I'll just ask for your forgiveness instead.  Now, on to the recipe...

I can't take credit for this recipe; it came to me by way of my boss.  Chris has a passion for Latin and Indian foods. Wait; let me back up a bit.  I work for a General Contracting business in Silver Spring, Maryland now.  No, I'm no longer doing the retail grocery thing.  Well, that's not entirely true; I still work at the store part-time, but I think that too is about to change.  I'm too damn old to be working 65 hours a week!  I digress (I'm good at that).  Chris' passion isn't the General Contracting part of this business.  His baby is concrete, as is counter tops, fireplaces, mantle, etc.  He's good; he's won awards.  How does this tie into the recipe, you ask.  I'll tell you.  On a bookcase, in his office, is a 3 ring binder, labeled "recipes".  I always just assumed it was his magic recipes for concrete.  I would chuckle every time it caught my eye.  He pulled it out, one day, because, as is often, our conversation was about food (we both love to cook).  He pulled out the binder and made me a copy of this recipe.  He said it was the one that "started it all" (he's collection of recipes that were held in that binder).  I accused him of holding out on me, took the copy, and as luck would have it, we got socked in on the East Coast with a major snowstorm that weekend.  What a perfect opportunity for chili!  Naturally, I didn't follow the recipe to the letter, as is my MO!

2 tbs EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
1 small onion, finely diced
1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 c diced tomatoes
1-1/3 c water
2 tps lime juice (probably half a lime)
1/4 tsp ground chipotle chile (having no idea where to find this, I used hot Mexican chili powder)
1 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (not a fan, so I used flat leaf parsley)
salt, to taste

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and potato and cook, stirring often, until the onion is slightly softened, about 4 minutes. 

Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, chipotle, salt and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. 

Add the water, bring to a simmer, cover, reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the potato is tender, about 10 to 12 minutes.  Add the beans, tomatoes, and lime juice; increase the heat to high (to return to a simmer), stirring often.  Reduce the heat, once again to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook until slightly reduced, about 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the cilantro. 

Serves 2.

Now, this is what I did differently,

First, as I said, I used flat leaf parsley because I think cilantro is evil (just kidding, but I don't care for it).

Second, being a huge sweet potato fan, I used a large sweet potato.

Then, I added the water, tomatoes, and the beans at the same time and let it reduce, alot!  I like my chili really thick (just look at the top pictuce).  In retrospect this may have affected the taste a bit, so next time, I'll do the 4 minutes and just use my immersion blender on it a teensy bit.

After it had reduced, I added the lime juice and parsley.

Last, since I really like Cincinnati style chili, I added a dash of cinnamon.

This was so yummy; I refused to share and saved the leftovers for my lunch the next day!