Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bye bye boys; have a good trip!

All four of my roosters are heading to a new home in time for Christmas.  They were one of my first paint crafts; it's fun to see them leave the nest.  ;)

I just love it when stuff sells!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pizza Bubble, Part Deux; also known as The Florentine Experimentation

So, if you read my post about the Pizza Bubble, you know that I wanted to play around with the recipe some more. We tried what I think I am going to call Chicken Florentine Pull-a-part.  It was seriously yummy.

Basically, I took Happy Home Fairy's concept and changed up most of the ingredients.  I substituted crescent rolls for biscuits, chicken for pepperoni, added in spinach, a few things like that.

I used:
4 cans Pilsbury Crescent Rolls
1 can chicken (I used Hormel's White and Dark Chicken.)
2 cups shredded mozzerella cheese
1 cup fresh spinach, finely chopped
1/2 cup melted butter (I actually used 1/2 cup of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Spray.)
onion powder (to taste)
garlic powder (to taste)
black pepper (to taste)
Kraft Three Cheese Blend (to taste)

I started by spraying the bundt pan with Pam; over the sink, as always.

Then I opened a can of chicken and drained it really well.

I put the chicken in a bowl and stirred it well, so it wasn't clumpy.  I added the two cups of shredded mozzerella and about half or so of the chopped spinach.  I sprinkled in some garlic power, some onion powder, and a little bit of blackpepper.  Then I mixed it well.
Yes, I am using my fancy Country Crock Ware to mix in.

I opened the crescent roll dough, separated each piece, and spread them out.  I took about a tablespoon or so of the chicken mixture and put it on each piece of dough.  Then I wrapped the dough up around the mixture and formed it into a ball.

In a separate bowl, I added the melted butter, the rest of the spinach, some garlic and onion powder, and some of the Three Cheese Blend.  I mixed this well and added in the balls of dough, a few at a time.  I stirred them around until they were well coated, then moved them to the bundt pan.

Then I baked it.  When I took it out of the oven, I put a plate on top of the bundt pan, turned it over, and gave it a few taps.  It came out easily and was beautiful.

There were some complications though.  I cooked it on 350 degrees, for about 1/2 hour, as I had the Pizza Bubble.  It looked done, but was still a bit doughy inside.  It was pretty brown on the outside, so I was concerned about that burning while I cooked it further.  I decided to go ahead and pull it apart and spread it out on a baking sheet.  I lowered the oven to 300 degrees and cooked it about another 20 minutes.  That seemed to do the trick.  I think I should started at 300, although my oven can run a little hot, so 325 might work well for most people.  I would probably plan on cooking for at least 45 minutes or so.

However, I don't know that I liked the crescent rolls particularly more than the biscuits and I think the biscuits would have cooked quicker.  They did when I made it with the pepperoni.

I do think the butter (or in our case "butter") is tastier than the olive oil I used on the Pizza Bubble.  I think I will definitely stick with buttery over olivey in the future.

I also plan to add significantly more spinach next time, especially in the buttery coating.  The amount I used this time seemed to disappear and I was hardly aware that there was spinach there.

I am thinking it might be good to add some onion too.  Maybe a little finely chopped onion to the chicken mixture.  I thought about adding it this time, but was afraid it might make it too moist.  I wonder how dried minced onion might work.

I ate my serving plain, but I think it might be good with any number of dipping sauces, which would be nice if serving it at a party.  Anyway, it hasn't reached perfection yet, but I would give this one an A-.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Green Bean Casserole - I'm a Traditionalist

I know there are differing opinions, but I am a huge Green Bean Casserole fan.  I have seen all sorts of recipes out there, but I go with exactly the recipe on the French;'s French Fried Onion's can, with only one slight modification - I double the amount of the onion rings.  Yum!  :)

Hmm, French's has new packaging this year.  I am not sure whether I am a fan.

 I gathered all the stuff, Del Monte Cut Green Beans, Cambell's Cream of Mushroom soup, milk, pepper, and the fried onion rings.

Oh my goodness, it's a Thanksgiving miracle!  All of the cans came with pop tops.  Thank you Del Monte and Cambell's!
Handy dandy!

Just mix it all together.  I'm making a double recipe, so it's 4 cans of green beans, 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup, 1 1/2 cups of milk, 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, and a whole package of onion rings. 

Stir it up.

Pam the pan, of course.

Pour it in and it's ready for the oven.

 Pop in the oven for 30 minutes on 350 degrees.
Newly cleaned oven.  :)

After 30 minutes, just spread the other can of onion rings on top.  The recipe now calls for putting it back in the oven for 5 minutes, until it's brown.  I have a slightly different method here though.  Pretty much the only time I make Green Bean Casserole is for holidays and such, so invariably, I am taking it somewhere.  What I do at this point is pop the dish back in the hot oven, then turn the oven off and leave it, while I get ready to go.  The time it takes for my oven to cool browns it perfectly.
Brown and crispy.

Packed and ready to go!

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving and I hope you did too!

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Cinnamon Ornaments

Oooo, look what I made!

 I have been seeing homemade cinnamon ornaments all over the Internet and I decided that I had to make some.  They are actually pretty simple.  I used the recipe from the McCormick website, which called for a 4.12 jar of McCormick's Ground Cinnamon and 3/4 cup of applesauce.  I decided to double the recipe, because I really had no idea how many ornaments a batch might make.
Just two ingredients, cinnamon and applesauce.

I poured the cinnamon in a mixing bowl and added the applesauce, then mixed them up.

 The recipe had warned that I would need to use my hands to get it mixed well.  They were right.

I'm not a fan of ick on my hands, so I donned some gloves.

And dug right in.
After a few minutes, this is what I had:

Lovely, isn't it?

The instructions called for putting a ball of dough between two layers of plastic wrap.  For a minute I thought I was in trouble.
Oops, end of the line.

Luckily, I found another package.
I rolled the dough out.

  Then came the fun part! 

I used a straw to make a hole to be able to hang them.

Ready to go in the oven.
 They bake low and slow, for two and a half hours in a 200 degree oven.

Since I had made a double batch, it only took half the dough to fill two cookie sheets.  I packaged the rest of the dough up in a plastic bag and put it in the fridge to do another time.

Two and a half hours later:

Unfortunately, I was not totally thrilled with how they came out.  The edges had curled up on them, so they looked a bit so-so.

 I went ahead and played with them a bit, trying out various hangers.

They were okay, but I wasn't satisfied.  Happily though, I still had half the dough left in the fridge.

This time I decided to make them thicker, to see if that would fix the curling problem.  I also used my finger to smooth out any rough edges.  When necessary, I dampened my finger a tiny, tiny bit to help smooth it.

I decided to use just the Christmas tree cookie
cutter.  It had seemed like one of the sturdier shapes.
I wondered if the first batch had overcooked a bit, so I shortened the baking time to just two hours  It seemed to do the trick!  Here they are laid out cooling:

Nine little non-curling trees.

Now that is the look I was going for!  I'm happy with them now. 

All ribboned up.

On a related note:  My house smells wonderful!

I'm linked up with:

And the Sales Keep Coming!

Hey, another Etsy sale!  This time it was the Independence Ironstone platter.  It was originally part of my mom's dishes back in the 60s.  I'm thrilled that it sold, but a little sad to say goodbye to a piece of my childhood.  Enjoy your new home Mr. Ironstone!

Independence Ironstone Platter

Monday, November 21, 2011

Showing the Flower Pots Some Love!

Oooo, all three of my green flower pots sold.  :)

Dealing With the Dinner Dilemma, Part 2

We are fairly laid back about the whole dinner thing in our house these days; because we are a family of three adults.  Currently, our household consists of my 24 year old daughter, my 27 year old son, and myself.  On any given day, different people may be going any number of directions, and everyone is more than capable of getting themselves fed.  On most nights, either my daughter or I will cook, and occasionally my son will.  It is not unusual though, to simply have a "catch as catch can" night, where everyone just fends for themselves.  Basically, it is not a big deal for us these days.

That was not always the case though, of course.  When my children were younger and my husband was alive, life was usually pretty hectic.  Back then I had to run a pretty tight ship if I wanted to have a hope of keeping up.

Each week before I went to the grocery store I would plan out a detailed menu.  I still do a simplified version of that, but I am pretty loose these days about what may get eaten when.  Back in the day, I scheduled specific meals for each night, according to what the day and evening plans were. 

For example, if I was going to be running around all day, I would throw something in the crockpot before I left.  Sometimes I would even do the prep the night before and have it in the fridge, ready to start in the morning. 

Other days I might plan something that only took a few minutes to put together or that could be assembled ahead of time, so that it could then be cooking in the microwave or oven, while I oversaw children doing homework, getting ready for church, etc.  Meals that required more preparation were planned for days that I knew we would be home and I would have more time available.

Another trick I used was to have a "master plan" that I used to choose my menu each week.  For example, it might have looked something like this:

Sunday - Dinner out with friends after evening church service

Monday - Casserole night (tuna, chicken noodle, etc.)

Tuesday - Mexican night (tacos, fajitas, etc.)

Wednesday - Crockpot night (soup, chili, pot roast, BBQ, etc.)

Thursday - Sandwich night (hamburgers, hot dogs, sloppy joes, subs, hot roast beef, etc.)

Friday - Italian night (spaghetti, lasagna, manicotti, etc.)

Saturday - Main dish meat night (steak, baked chicken, meatloaf, etc)

Each week the particulars might change, so we would not eat the exact same thing every week.  The general structure was in place though, to help me to plan the details more easily.  Of course, I was flexible and adapted as necessary and changed the structure from time to time to fit our schedules, suit our tastes, and so on.

Of course, I made appropriate sides to go with the various dishes.  I found it handy to have an extra small crockpot or two, so I could have veggies cooking separately, that would also be ready and waiting when we got home.

Those were fun days, when my family was young, even with all of the hustle and bustle involved.  Sometimes I miss them, but most of the time I relish the slower pace we have now.  :)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Dealing With the Dinner Dilemma

I mentioned in my last post we have been in a dinner rut lately.  I guess that everyone goes through that from time to time.  One of the things I do to try to combat it, is to keep a master list on my computer, that I can refer to occasionally. 

My family tends to fall into patterns where we are eating the same things, week in and week out.  It almost feels like we have forgotten any other foods exit, lol.  Basically, the idea of the list is to brainstorm anything we like to eat, have ever liked to eat, or think we might like to eat.  This gives me ideas to draw from and I add to it whenever I think of things or come across new ideas.

I might not even have a recipe for a given idea, if it's not something I have made before.  A quick Google search will bring up numerous variations though and I just pick the one that looks best.  I <3 the Internet. 
This is my list.  What would be on your list? 

Main Dish Meat:
Roast Beef
Roast Chicken
Turkey Breast

Chicken Noodle
Mac and Cheese
Green Rice
Beef Stroganoff
King Ranch Casserole
Mexican Casseroles (various)


BBQ Sausage
BBQ Beef (brisket, ground, shredded, etc.)
BBQ Chicken

Tuna Salad
Chicken Salad
Turkey Salad
Potato Salad
Green Salad (assorted types)
Fruit Salad
Taco Salad (beef or chicken)

Sandwich Stuff:
Hot Dogs
Sub Sandwiches
Chicken Sandwiches
Hot Roast Beef Sandwiches
Meatball Subs
Sloppy Joes
Soup Burgers
Taco Burgers
Hot Links

Veggie Beef
Chicken (noodle, rice, etc.)
Chili (beef or chicken)
Beef Stew
Potato Soup

Eggplant Parmesan
Pizza Bubble

Chicken Breasts and Rice
Stuffed Bell Peppers
Shepherd’s Pie
Sausage and Peppers
Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese
Chicken and Dumplings
Turkey Tetrazzini
Spaghetti Squash
Pot Roast

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Pizza Bubble

Have you ever eaten pizza bubble?  I first heard about it from my sister, Whozat.  She got the recipe from the Happy Home Fairy.  Pizza bubble is basically a pizza version of monkey bread.
Pizza Bubble
 I'm not one to try every new recipe I see, but I have really felt that we have been in a "dinner rut" lately, so I have been looking for some new ideas.

I bought the ingredients to make this a few weeks ago, but when I looked at the recipe, I realized that it wasn't going to work to make it, as described, without a bundt pan, which I did not have.  I ended up just making kind of a deep dish pizza, using the biscuit dough for crust.  It was alright, but we really wanted to try the real thing.  Amazon was more than happy to sell me a bundt pan, so we were on our way!

I decided this would be a good recipe to document for the blog, so here we go:

First I gathered my ingredients.

I made a few changes from Happy Home Fairy's version.  I used olive oil instead of butter, I added onion powder, I used Hormel Turkey Pepperoni, and substituted Kraft's Three Cheese Blend for plain Parmesan.  It has Romano and Asiago, in addition to Parmesan.  Yummy!  I also played with the amounts of the spices, according to taste.
Ignore the little piece of blue tape; it just
says the Time Cook feature doesn't work.

Then I set the oven to 350 degrees to preheat.

I sprayed my pan with Pam.  I always
do this over the sink to try to avoid
getting it all over the place.

Then I mixed up the olive oil, Italian seasoning, garlic and onion powders, and the Three Cheese Blend.  I started with 1/4 cup of olive oil, but ended up adding another glug or two to it later.  I just eyeballed amounts on the rest of the ingredients.
I mixed the olive oil and the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
I opened up the Grand's Biscuits.

I cut the pepperoni in smaller pieces.  I used grated
mozzarella, because that's what I had on hand.  It probably
would have been easier to assemble with bigger pieces of cheese.
I flattened each biscuit a bit, then put
some cheese and pepperoni on it.
I pulled up the sides of the biscuit to
close it, then shaped it into a ball.
The balls then went into the mixing bowl to be
coated with the olive oil and spice mixture.
After each ball is coated, place it in the bundt pan.

Almost there!
After all the balls were in the pan, I took another
dozen pepperoni and cut them in tiny pieces and sprinkled them on top.

In the oven.  It took about 35 minutes.
Turned over, ready to eat.  It slid right out without sticking at all.
Lookin' Good Pizza Bubble!
Ragu Pizza Sauce for dipping.

My plate, ready to eat.

Leftovers.  My family of three adults ate about 3/4 of it, so there is a
serving left.  Hmmm, that might make a good midnight snack...

 Over all, I give it a "B."  I had very high hopes for it; it was good, but not nearly as good as I had hoped.  If I make it again, I think I will leave the Italian seasoning off the dough, so it will taste more like garlic bread.  We also talked about trying it with crescent rolls, rather than biscuits.  My daughter suggested we skip the pepperoni next time and use spinach in it instead, and then use Alfredo for the dipping sauce.  That sounds interesting.

Update: I checked the fridge a little while ago and someone had already eaten about half the leftovers.  I am wiping out the last of it as I type.  No leftovers left by morning is fairly high praise, Maybe it deserves a B+.