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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Merry Christmas to Me!!

    I am so excited.... there is no recipe in this post, but I had to show off my new buffet and art!  I ordered this in December and it finally came!  The Buffet is 9 feet long and the art work is 3' x 3' each so you can get an idea of how big it is.  It is BIG!! 

Strawberries and Cream Popcorn

   Have I told you lately how ready for spring I am?  This snow is for the birds.  This girl is over it.  Even Jax is over it.  He didn't even try to play in it this morning.  He stepped in it, then looked dismayed.  We need green.  We need warm.  We need spring.

   So, we are still trying to make it spring inside.  More strawberries!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Nana's Cajun Crab Chowder

   It is a tradition in Nana's family to not have meat on Christmas Eve.  I love seafood, so this is a tradition that I bought into very easily.   She normally makes a really yummy salmon with lemon, dill and capers. My favorite part of the meal, however, is the soup course (followed closely by the kolacky of course).  She makes a cajun crab chowder that is TO. DIE. FOR.  I mean really, it is good!  It is definitely not a traditional Polish recipe, but it plays into the meat free tradition.  There are a lot of other fun traditions that I will try to remember to tell you about as the holidays get closer.
    If I had any sort of patience, I would make you wait until Christmas for this recipe too.  But lucky for you, I don't!  It seems like lent would be just as good of time as any to share it with you.
     I have made it a couple of times myself now.  My brother and I had been talking about having a seafood feast for months.  We finally decided to do it for New Years Eve. I begged Nana for the recipe.  The crab chowder went really well with the crab stuffed shrimp and fried oysters!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Overboard Bars - Made by MiMi

    If you are following along, you know that my mom has family dinners on Saturdays.  Whichever of us kids are around and available come over for dinner.  She always makes dessert too.  Usually something over the top.  This week was no exception.  She called them overboard bars... because they went a little overboard even by her standards!
It's hard to go wrong combining three of your favorites!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Laura's Chicken Taquitos

     This is one of the recipes my aunt Marlene gave me.  She said she couldn't take credit for it though, it was really one Laura had started making but everyone loved them!  I was really excited to give them a try as Laura is quite the cook.  I wasn't sure if Jax would eat them, as he usually spits out chicken... but it was worth a try.  He actually ate most of one, which is really saying something for him.  He enjoyed his dipped in sour cream with avocado and applesauce on the side.
      These would make a hearty finger food for a party, or you could serve them with a side for dinner like we did.  I threw together some fajita style quinoa, slice an avocado and got out our salsa and sour cream for dipping.  We were all quite happy with the results!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Pizza Pot Pie

    So I have been thinking about pot pies a lot lately.  I mean, you could really put anything in them!  I like the creamy chicken pot pie that MiMi makes so much, that I hardly ever venture from there.  But, she made a really good cheese and broccoli pot pie last time she made them and I have been dreaming about making a beef and mushroom pot pie with a wine sauce.  I mean really, how can that not be good.  It is going to happen people!  I am just not sure when.
    All the while, MiMi's head was going a completely different direction.  Why not a pizza pot pie?  I know, mind blown!  It seems a little strange to put pizza toppings between pie crusts.  But really, why not?  I mean, don't you love it when you get that takeout pizza with the buttery flaky crust?
 Do I need to give you a minute to mull that over?

   Ok. Just trust me, it will work.  See, it works!  Look at that.  Now you are starting to believe!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Oscar Party Ideas

   When I think of the Oscars, I think of red carpets and gold statues.  So, I thought it would be fun to put together a collection of recipes that would bring red and gold to the table as well!  If you start now, there is still time to make them all!

  Here are some sweet ideas for your Oscar party:

Sweet Biscuits for Strawberry Shortcake

    Is it spring yet?!  I sure am ready.  It am so over the cold and snow.  It might not be spring here, but it is somewhere.  The strawberries are starting to look better in the grocery store.  They are big and red and look and smell wonderful.  So, if it can't be spring outside you might as well make it spring inside!
    Strawberry shortcakes are always such a treat when the berries are out.  We were raised in a house were shortcakes were sweetened biscuits.  We topped them with ice cream and strawberries and sometime whipped cream.  Yum!  We sometimes do the angel food cake variety as well, but if you say shortcake I think biscuit.  We used to have drop biscuits made from Jiffy mix and some sugar, but these homemade biscuits are even better!

Sausage, Kale and Mushroom Quiche

   I have been in the mood for Zopa lately.  There is just something about the sausage and kale that just good so good together.  But, when I make soup... I make a big pot.  Sometimes it is hard to stop!  I pull out a big pot and start with my intended ingredients.  Then I add a little something else.  Maybe a bit of this and some of that.  Next thing I know the pot is full.  If there is room, I keep adding!

   So, I decided to take the flavors I love and make a quiche.  There is less room for it to grow! I used hot Italian sausage, but you could use sweet.  Or feel free to use breakfast sausage, that would be good too!  Matt went back for thirds, so that is a good sign.  It really hit the spot!  It made an excellent dinner, but would be a really nice option for a brunch as well.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Moroccan Lamb Stew

   I had to buy a whole leg of lamb when I made Maw-maw's lamb curry, but we didn't need to use the whole thing for just the three of us.  So, I thought this would be a super tasty way to use the rest. It is warm and hearty but is really easy to throw together.  It cooks for a while to ensure tender meat, but is hands off for most of the time.  Everyone who ate it went back for seconds.  It also stretches the lamb, so it is an affordable way to feed lamb to a crowd.

    It is always fun to experiment with different flavors.  I thought this mix of spices really worked well with the lamb.  I added a some more garlic to the couscous as it was cooking and it was so good with a little of the tomato sauce from the lamb.  

Sweet Cheese Stuffed Crescents

   These come together fast and easy.  It is a nice way to have a quick, warm, sweet breakfast without it being to heavy or filling.  It would also be a nice way to end a day if you just want something easy and sweet.  There are only a few ingredients and chances are you already have most of them.   But if you want one, you better claim it fast.  They go quickly!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Nana's White Chocolate Bugles

     Nana makes really good chocolate covered bugles.  It sounds like a strange combination, but they are addicting!!  It is the sweet and salty, and the airy crunch that make them so good.  She mixes in nuts (which of course makes them healthy!) and adds a little extra texture and salt.  They really are so good and easy to make!

Jax's Banana Pancakes

     I made all of Jax's food when he was a baby.  If it could be steamed or boiled and blended, we tried it.  I am sure none of you care too much about the weird concoctions he ate. But, this recipe is something that has broader appeal.
   Jax loved finger foods from an early age.  He enjoyed the independence of being able to feed himself.  I saw a recipe on Pinterest that was for two ingredient pancakes.  Just bananas and eggs.  A perfect food for a wee one that is just learning to eat with his fingers.  Over time I tweaked them a bit to give them a little more texture and flavor.  It felt good to give him a treat that was also healthy for him. They are sweet and tasty with no flour and no added sugar.
  I made a batch of these every other day for months!  He had them for breakfast here and took them to daycare for snacks.  Adults love them too, but they are a great baby and toddler food for sure.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Chocolate Macaroon Pie

    I have been wanting to make Matt some sort of coconut pie.  The problem is, there are so many to choose from.  The macaroon pies have been catching my eye, but they are all missing the best part... the chocolate!  Isn't that what makes the macaroon so yummy?  The chocolate dipped bottom is so good.  So I set out to make my own recipe.  I thought about trying to put a layer of chocolate under a macaroon topping, but I ended up mixing cocoa in for chocolate throughout.  I also amped up the coconut.  After all, that is the key to making it a macaroon.

    What I ended up with was a fudgey, coconutty, sweet and rich yummy pie of goodness.  If you would have asked me a year or two ago, I would have told you I didn't like coconut.  Yet, I have always loved Thai curries and I cook with coconut oil.  So, I decided to give it a try recently.  Low and behold, I like it!  I'm glad I opened my  mind... or this would have never happened.

MiMi's Pork Fried Rice

    Happy Chinese New Year!  You don't celebrate the Chinese New Year?  Well, you should make fried rice anyway!   This isn't the traditional way of making fried rice with leftover rice and a wok, but it is good and this recipe is easy.  It starts with uncooked rice, so there isn't much prep work.  MiMi makes this whenever she is making a Chinese food dinner and it is always a hit.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Oriental Mushrooms

   It is Chinese New Year tomorrow and we're getting the celebration kicked off right!  We knew the baked crab ragoon egg rolls were going to be a hit.  And who doesn't love fried rice?  But we thought we might still need a side dish.  Some vegetables would be good.  It was nice to have a little something lighter and brighter to accompany our favorites.

Baked Crab Ragoon Egg Rolls

     We hardly ever go out to eat.  If we do, it is usually somebody's birthday.  We almost NEVER order in.  Really almost never.  Matt orders a pizza a handful of times a year.  Usually when I am out of town or the guys are in the garage and need something to eat.  Last time I ordered in was a little over 3 years ago.  (See, almost never!)  There is something about crab ragoon.  I feel like I shouldn't like them... but I do!

    So here is a little something to ring in the Chinese New Year.  A tasty little snack that comes as close to the yummy ones you can order without the fryer.  So grab yourself a pack of egg roll wrappers and get to work!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

2 Ingredient Mardi Gras Fudge- Made by MiMi

   Ok, ok.  I know it, we are addicted to two ingredient fudge.  We can't help it.  It is easy, and sweet and so customizable!  Of course another holiday called for another batch.  MiMi was going to try to resist... but she couldn't.  She had to do it, and I think we can all agree we are glad she did!  Isn't it cute?
See, I told you, cute!

     There are so many fun things to make and we have had a lot of fudge lately, so she didn't want to make too much.  This is one batch, split into three and colored and then poured into a 4x6 glass dish.  She thinks it would be even more fun if you did three full batches in a 9x9 pan.  
      Mimi thought it would be fun to try both food coloring and food gel to see if there would be any difference in texture.  She used food coloring for the green and gel for the yellow and purple.  The texture was not affected, but as you can see the gel produced much more brilliant colors.  Feel free to use whatever you have on hand!

Packzi for Packzi day

    Let's get this part out of the way first.  Packzi is pronounced like punch-key.  It doesn't make sense to me.  But it is a lot like gotabki and golumpki being the same.  The Polish alphabet has some letters that look a lot like ours, only with danglies.  Those danglies make them sound a lot different than how we pronounce them.  That is the closest I have to an explanation.  Maybe one of the Hejnars can enlighten me a bit?  Anyway, packzi are donuts that are usually filled with fruit or custard and rolled in sugar.  They are most akin to what I grew up calling bismarks, but this dough is a lot richer and eggier (that's a thing, right?) than a traditional donut.

    I had never heard of a packzi before meeting Matt.  I have had a lot of fun getting to try some of the Polish traditions with his family, and a day dedicated to donuts is definitely something I can really get behind!  I don't know of any traditional Polish bakeries nearby, so Matt's mom usually stops by with donuts for us on Fat Tuesday.  A last hoorah before lent starts.  What a tasty way to celebrate.  It is funny, because now that I am familiar with what a packzi is, I have actually seen them labeled that in the store.  Not around here, mind you, but I have seen them labeled as packzi in larger cities.  It is fun to be in the know now!

Monday, February 16, 2015

I Need Cookies Now - Sugar Cookies

EEEEEK!  I got these cookie cutters in the mail and I just couldn't wait to use them.  For those of you who don't know, I am a chemist.  Or was a chemist. Or sometimes am a chemist?  I work for a lab, how about that?  I am technically a project manager at an environmental lab.  So, I only spend a handful of days working in the lab each year. However, I started working in the lab and have worked with my fair share of glassware.  So, the nerd in me was so excited to get these cutters and I couldn't wait to make cookies for the lab!

   This is a great recipe for making cookies when you don't plan it out ahead of time. There is no need to soften the butter and no chilling the dough for a few hours before you roll it.  As you know by now, patience is not my specialty... especially when I get really excited about something.  So I had to go right to work!  This recipe also worked great for today, because it is a little smaller than my go-to sugar cookie recipe.  I didn't need to swim in nerdy cookies... I just needed enough to show off my new cutters and bring a treat to the lab.

     These are great cookies for decorating.  They are sturdy and don't rise or spread much.  So you can do your fancy decorating.  I don't get too fancy, but I do have fun doing simple icing... and my consistency isn't always perfect, so a flat cookie is nice!

Matt's Famous Trifold Omelet

   Matt thought it was about time he got a recipe on the blog.  He has a few recipes that he really likes to make.  I am sure he will show you his quesadilla recipes at some point.  He has two variations, both are really good and a little unexpected.  But what he is most famous for is his omelet.  He doesn't just fold it once, he goes for the gusto and does it twice.  That's right a trifold omelet!  His secret ingredient is bacon grease, but you are more than welcomed to use butter or oil.

   He says the key is using the right amount of milk.  He says you have to add enough to make it fluffy, but if you add too much it gets too brown.  It still tastes good, but doesn't look as good.  He was spouting off all his omelet knowledge while making them... so hopefully I remember to pass on everything important.  It is hard to take pictures, type and giggle all at the same time.  Especially with a little guy underfoot!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Kristie's Buffalo Chicken Dip

     My sister Kristie makes some really good buffalo chicken dip.   It is always a big hit.  Last time she brought it over, she was kind of hoping to have some leftovers to bring home.  Her hopes were dashed... the dish was licked clean!

     We all like things spicy, so Kristie cooks her chicken with hot sauce and extra peppers to kick it up a notch.  It really adds to the flavor.  This stuff is so good!  Sorry I don't have better pictures, it was eaten too fast.
It's just waiting for some tortilla chips!

Slow Cooker Corny Macaroni and Cheese - A Guest Post by Mimi

    We like to get together as a family at least once a week.  Last summer we were wanting to get in some yard games on a nice day so we fired up the grill to cook burgers while we played.  Since I like to play too, I wanted a side dish that I could throw together in the crock pot and let cook itself.  When I came across this one on Pinterest I knew it would fit the bill.  There are three foods our grandson, Jaxon, especially likes: noodles, cheese and corn.  He ate his weight in this dish.  Carlee has made this for Jaxon and Matt since then.  I'm making it tonight to go with the pulled pork, deviled eggs and a jello salad.  You could say summertime is on my mind even though there are winter weather advisories here now.
     The first time I made this I wasn't sure it would work.  It doesn't seem like it has enough moisture to properly cook the macaroni noodles.  It most definitely works and it was a hit with our family.

The original recipe was from I Wash You Dry.  I made a few adjustments to they way I cook it because I had problems with it getting overdone around the edges.


Friday, February 13, 2015

MiMi's PB&J Dip

   MiMi set out to make up a sweet cheese ball.  She thought it would be fun to make one that combined the age old classics of peanut butter and jelly.  As these things go, everything changed as she went.  So, she made a dip instead!  A yummy, sweet dip that brings back your childhood (only better).
     As we have discussed before, Jax loves to dip.  He also loves peanut butter.  He has it on toast nearly every day.  So, we knew this would be a hit with him.  What we didn't know is how much the adults would love it.  Even the big guys were getting into it between bites of buffalo chicken dip.
     MiMi made two kinds.  One with grape jelly and the other with strawberry. (Mmmmm, strawberry jelly!!)  I apologize for not getting better pictures, there was a lot going on at once.  By the time I got back to do it, they were decimated!

Maw-Maw's Lamb Curry

    Holy cow! I need to detox from pink sweets!  Don't get me wrong, I love pink and I love sweets.  But my goodnesss, even this sweet tooth needs a break every once in a while!  I have been looking forward to making this for a little while.  I just had to find my way through all of the sprinkles.  Also, I had to find some lamb.  It shouldn't be that hard, but apparently grocery stores around here only carry it during the spring (though they can special order legs or chops if you can wait a few days) and the butchers I go to didn't have any in their case either.  Maw-Maw uses lamb neck meant for stew in her recipe, but I had to resort to just cutting a leg of lamb into stew sized pieces.  I am sure the bones would have added depth to the gravy, but you have to do what you have to do sometimes!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Chocolate Sour Cream Cookies

    I knew I wanted to make some decorated cookies for Jax's Valentines Day treat.  Marlene's Sour Cream Cookies were at the top of my list and I knew they would be perfect for making little x's and o's.  But it seemed like there needed to be some chocolate involved.  It is Valentine's day after all!  So, I decided to try a batch of chocolate dough as well.  I have never had a chocolate sour cream cookie before, but they have to be good right?!  Yep!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Grandma Rees's SOS

    The way I came upon this recipe is still cracking me up.  Grandma rides along with me every once in a while when I go on a work trip.  It works out great for both of us.  I get somebody to talk to on the drive.  Then I drop her off at a Barnes and Noble (if it is next to a Michael's all the better!) and I collect her and her purchases when it is time to go home.

    It might not sound like fun to you, but you should know my grandma.  She doesn't know a stranger and will have a half dozen new friends by the time I get her.  Plus they have coffee, food and books.  What more do you need?! Usually she is sad that I am ready to go already.  I don't think she has ever once been anxious for me to come get her.  Usually she has a handful of treasures from Michael's and a handful of books.  One time a couple of years ago she had a couple of handcarts piled up and waiting for me at Barnes and Noble.  No kidding!  She had Christmas darn near wrapped up with all the games and books she couldn't pass up.

   It is tradition on these trips to discuss what we are making for dinner on the way home.  We both mentally walk through our refrigerators and pantries and decide what we are going to throw together. Last time, she had finally decided on making salmon patties if she had the salmon.  I got a phone call later that night saying she did not have the salmon so she ended up making (cover little eyes here!) shit on a shingle.  I thought she was making a joke and told her "oh no! poor grandpa!"  It turns out that "SOS" is a real thing and not just her being funny.

   Her mom made it for their family when she was growing up.  She makes it sometimes still, including one day last week!  My parents were talking about it this weekend.  They thought it was funny I didn't know what she was talking about, because apparently they made it for me when I was little too.  Who knew?
    SOS is basically just chipped beef in a cream sauce served over toast (the shingle).  It seems to normally be served just like that.  My mom and grandma both put peas in theirs.  My dad said when he made it in college he would add a can of mixed vegetables.  I don't remember eating it growing up, but now I am intrigued.  Shit on a shingle it is!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Pink Two Ingredient Fudge

   It turns out the football fudge was a hit.  Everyone at our party loved it.  Since it took only two minutes and two ingredients, it really begged to be made again.  Just think of the options!  With Valentine's day coming up, a pink version was in order.  If you can spare two minutes, this could be yours!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Egg in a Hole - Valentine's Edition

    So, this recipe is nothing groudbreaking.  It does bring back good memories though and it is an easy breakfast that is just a bit more fun than eggs and toast.  My mom made these for us when we were kids.  She found the idea in a magazine and held on to it.  She says it was before the days of Food Network and Pinterest, so new ideas were a little harder to come by.

    I mostly remember cutting the holes in the middle out with the top of a drinking glass.  However you could make them into any shape your heart desires.  A heart is what I desired today.  We are coming up to Valentine's Day and my little guy has been extra sweet lately.  He is growing and learning so fast.  It is amazing what he learns from day to day!  So I wanted to make him and his daddy a little breakfast to start their day off on the right foot.

     I made them plain today, but you can sprinkle cheese or ham in the middle too if you'd like!

Also, on a totally unrelated note: I ordered something I am super excited about for Jax's birthday party.  It is a few months away, so we'll see if I can keep the secret!!  It is one of a kind and soooooooo fun!

Strawberry Striped Rice Krispie Treats

   These are a fun twist on an old classic.  You can just make the strawberry layer, but the stripe of regular krispies is what makes it extra special.  They are easy to make and are cute as can be.  We found the idea on Taste and Tell Blog and we had to give it a try.

    Everyone loved them.  They turned out thicker than we were expecting, but nobody complained.  We decided if we were going to make them again, we would use larger pans so each layer would be thinner.  Below is how we would do it next time.  The picture below is using 3 9x9 pans.

    Don't they look yummy?  And so fun!  They were a hit.  When placed on a dessert buffet with many other options, they were the first to disappear!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Red Velvet Cheese Ball

    Red velvet is everywhere... and Valentine's day is coming up, so that only accelerates the red velvet madness.  Add to that the cheese ball resurgence.  They are easily adaptable for any taste or occasion.  So why not do a mash-up of the two?  This is easy to make, and has that wow factor.  It would be great on a buffet.  Everyone can take as much or as little as they like and it can be made ahead of time.  It can be made ahead of time and doesn't involve much mess.  It would be perfect for your Valentine's dessert buffet.  You are going to have one, right?

Saturday, February 7, 2015

French Onion Stuffed Pork Loin

     So, every time I go to Pinterest I am taunted by pictures of french onion soup.  You know the ones.  There is the super cute soup bowl with the handles that don't store well filled with an unassuming soup.  That in itself just makes me want to buy the bowls... but they take up so much room and would be used so infrequently! Why do they have to be so darn cute?!  What really sells me on it is the floating islands of crusty bread covered in gooey melty cheese.  The pictures get me drooling every time.  This week they have been really calling my name more than normal.

    So, make some soup, right?  Just do it and get over it.  That sounds good in theory, but Matt doesn't recognize soup as a meal.  Especially a brothy soup with no real meat.  So, then I have to make the soup and still make dinner.  Hmmpf!  Too much work.  Then it struck me!  Why not forget the broth altogether? Why not stuff all the good stuff from the soup into a pork loin?  But cheese in a pork loin? I don't know.  That's not a combo I usually put together.  But then again, why not?  According to my boys, there is very little cheese doesn't go with.  Besides, what is the worst that could happen?

    Scary how my mind works sometimes, huh?  It turns out it was on to something.  This was pretty darn good!  I put the rest of the caramelized onions in some smashed potatoes with more cheese and sour cream..... oh my!  They might have been the star of the show.  SOOOOOOOOOOO GOOOD!

Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions

    Mmmmm. There is something about sweet, soft caramelized onions.  This is a great base for a french onion soup.  You can pile them up on a juicy burger and melt a little cheese over them.  They would be great on an artisan pizza.  You could pile some up on a nice steak, or fold them into pasta or stir them into a dip. Oooooh or put them on hunks of crusty baguette and cover with cheese and broil for a minute.  French onion bruschetta anyone?!  Oh my goodness, that would be good!  I may just have to do that!!

    They are easy enough to make.  Slice the onions, Cook them nice and slow so the sugars have a chance to develop.  They get a nice brown color without getting the black scorched flavor.  It can take an hour to do it properly on the stove.  I knew I wanted some nice caramelized onions for something I was making tomorrow... so why not employ the ultimate tool for slow cooking?!  Watch out everyone... I'm busting out the slow cooker.  We'll have tasty onions ready by morning!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Grandma Rees' Texas Sheet Cake

     I remember this cake was quite a treat at Grandma's house when I was a kid.  It is a great cake for a crowd because it is baked in a half sheet pan.   Which is good when there are a bunch of Rees kids running around.  The icing really makes the cake.  This is a fudgy wonderfully sweet and smooth frosting.  You just pour it over the cake, so there is no concern of getting it smooth and perfect.  Besides, it is fun to make a cake and frosting from scratch and not have to drag out the mixer!

    I have seen other recipes for Texas sheet cake, but most don't have the cinnamon.  This is a great touch that makes this cake stand apart.  It is just enough to give some character.  MMMM!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Sweetened Condensed Milk Cookies

     If you like soft simple cookies, these are for you!  The sweetened condensed milk is a different variation.  These cookies are cute and easy.  Just be patient, they take two trips to the fridge to chill.  You can bake them as ball, or roll and cut them.  They are really cute covered in sprinkles!

And here is something fun going on today!  The blog is being featured on a link and mingle! 

Link & Mingle

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Pops' Stuffed Jalapenos (and a peak at his venison meatballs)

   We loved stuffed jalapenos!  It all started when I lived in Springfield.  My neighbors, Ben and Rodney, had the most beautiful backyard full of flowers and vegetables all grown in pots.  You should have seen it!  (I will have to ask Rodney for a picture so I can prove it.)  They grew vegetables that won ribbons in the state fair and then turned those vegetables into BBQ sauce that also won ribbons at the fair!  They helped me start and take care of my container garden too.  Mine was not nearly as large (or as pretty), but I had more tomatoes, pepper and jalapenos than I could eat!
    Each summer, I hosted a BBQ for my extended family.  It worked great because Springfield was an handy spot for family to come from Bloomington, St. Louis and Quincy.  Ben and Rodney cohosted the event, rolling over their grills and helping get everything together.  They were my guardian angels and the best neighbors a single girl in her first house could have asked for.
    So, as one of my dishes one year, I decided to put my jalapenos to use.  I stuffed them with cheese and wrapped them in bacon and cooked them on the grill.  I am not sure where I got the idea, as it seems like they weren't so popular at the time... but they were a hit.  I made dozens of pepper and they were promptly devoured.  Ever since, we have had grilled stuffed peppers in one form or another every summer.
    My dad loves to make stuffed jalapenos too.  We have them almost every week for family dinners when they are in season.  He has a huge garden at the farm, so he was a plethora of chili peppers.  He makes them into hot sauce, dehydrates them for use during the winter and makes his own red pepper flakes.  He has a huge dehydrator, and you can really tell when he is doing his hot peppers!
Anyway, he makes his peppers a little different than we do ours.  We tend to go heavy on cream cheese with some grated cheese mixed in.  Pops prefers to do his mostly hard cheese with just enough cream cheese to hold it together (and sometimes he does all hard cheese!)
   He cleaned some out last summer and stuck them in the freezer for an occasion just like this.  They turned out really yummy!  One of my sisters ate at least a dozen of them, but I won't tell you which one!!  I freeze jalapenos every year too.  I freeze them whole and slice them right out of the freezer for chili and casseroles etc. during the winter.  I have never used frozen jalapenos like this, but I may have to!

Deviled Eggs - A Guest Post by MiMi

   I loved raising many different animals when we had the place to do so.  I was so glad when Pops said we could get chickens.  He knows how special they are to me.  My Grandma McCallum had hes off and on for years.  My dad even had a hen house blow away in a tornado when he was young. (He told me about it when we were in the basement of our house watching a tornado take a garage out a few homes away from us.) My Grandma McCallum felt like her suburban raised grandchildren should experience what it's like to raise chickens.  They built a hen house and fenced off a nice area for the chickens to roam.  One time when we went to visit their Indiana home the mailman brought a very special package.  Grandma had us open that box of baby chicks.  I hope to never forget the excitement I felt at that moment.  I later learned how good those fresh eggs are.  My grandma made the best fried chicken too.  That a story for another time.  We learned a lot about gardening and country life from my Grandma and Grandpa McCallum.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Bacon Cheddar Ranch Potato Salad

     Matt really loves potato salad (as long as it is a good one... and he'll let me know if it's not!), so I try to make it for him every once in a while.  This time I was in the mood for something a little different.  So, I scoured the fridge and decided ranch would be wonderful!  We like a lot of eggs in our potato salad. And we like bacon!!  And we love cheese! So, really how could this not be good?

   We were having some people over for dinner, so this was a perfect make ahead!  You can make it the night before or the morning of.  Then there is no cooking or cleanup when the guests arrive.  The first time I tried it, I felt it was a bit too heavy.  So I added some sour cream and the results were pretty darn tasty if I do say so myself.

Tropical Bread Pudding With Toasty Coconut

  Hey everyone, it's my blogiversary!  It has been a whole month since I started this crazy thing.  A LOT has changed in a month!  I was originally going to just make family recipes for myself.  Something to do.  A mission to go on.  I thought it would be a fun way to mix things up.  Maybe I'd relive some childhood memories and learn some of the recipes of Matt's childhood.  Plus I could pick up some current favorites of friends and family members.  I mean, we were eating good before, but it never hurts to add some variety to the old arsenal.  I'm sure most of us tend to get in a rut and I thought this would be an excellent way to see myself out of mine.
   It was a fun idea that I was looking forward to taking on.  We were all at grandma and grandpa's one night and a couple of aunts gave me recipes.  The fun was about to begin.  On the drive home (all of maybe 15 blocks!)  I got to thinking that it would be fun to share a picture of the dish and how it went with the person who gave it to me.  I don't know why just sending individual emails didn't occur to me, to obvious I guess.  So, I sat down that night and started a blog.  The problem was I hadn't cooked any of the recipes yet!  My mom and I had made some soft pretzels a couple of days earlier, so I made that a post.
    I figured my mom could follow along daily.  She loves food blogs anyway, so I knew she would be on board.  She is my mom after all....  Then, I thought I would email a link to the contributor of the recipe.  No big deal.  The blog could act as an electronic catalog of recipes.  Which is good, because I am not great about transferring recipes from papers to cards and while my recipe cards are organized in the box, the papers and recipes torn from magazines are a mess of mostly unused craziness. Extended family could have access to each other's recipes.  Anyone who was interested could follow along.
     Fun!  It was started... I have a blog!  It didn't take long to realize a blog takes a certain amount of work.  If anyone was going to look at it I wanted it to be decent at least.  Then I realized more people than just my mom were looking at the blog. Yikes!  That inspired me to do a little more refining and a little more work.
    My hat is off to the real bloggers of the world.  There is a lot of thought, planning and work that goes into the good ones.  It has been fun to stick my toe into the water.

    I thought it would be fun to make something fun and special for my blogiversary.  I mean, any excuse for good food is enough, right?  But it turns out we went crazy this weekend with food.  I have so many posts lined up it is crazy and my refrigerator is about to explode with leftovers.  So, I did what I used to be so good at.  Reworked some leftovers, through in some odds and ends and tried to make it into something new.

    I had some pineapple and Hawaiian rolls left from making pulled pork sliders. I had maraschino cherries left from making frozen fruit salad. As we already know, my dad likes bread pudding so this was easy! I baked it off, but thought there needed to be a little something more, so I made a crispy coconut topping. Here is what I came up with:

Monday, February 2, 2015

Southwestern Black Bean and Spinach Egg Rolls: Made by Cori!

    Cori really outdid herself for our virtual Super Bowl party!  She was eating good.  She knew her stuffed mushrooms would have us all drooling.  She has seen us gorge ourselves on them before.  These, however were a fun new recipe.  We may have to plan a family gathering soon so that we can try them in person!

    She said she has made these a few times and has really enjoyed them.  She likes to dip hers in sour cream and homemade salsa. YUM!

Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms : Made by Cori!

    A few of my family members thought it would be fun to have a virtual Super Bowl party since we weren't all able to get together for the big game.  We have been having so much fun passing recipes around lately, this was a great way to show each other what we were making.  Cori shared her sausage stuffed mushrooms.
    She knew she would have us all drooling.  We had a progressive dinner a while back.  Cori and Adam hosted the appetizer course, my parents did the entree and we ended with desserts here.  We all had new homes and had just decorated for Christmas.  It was such a fun way for the extended family to get to see our new houses all decorated for the season.  Cori and Adam had an amazing spread of appetizers.  These mushrooms were on the menu and everyone loved them.  I am pretty sure I had more than my fair share and I enjoyed every one of them.

Macarons with Raspberry Buttercream

   Oh my.  I was going to wait and make these a little closer to Valentine's day to post these.  But, it turns out I am no good at waiting!
    My sweet tooth was acting up and I was in the mood for something pink and cute.  These are certainly sweet and plenty cute.  They take a little bit of effort, but it is worth it.  Macarons aren't in my normal rotation, but I have made them a hundful of times.  They are a lot of fun even if they take a little effort.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Indoor Pulled Pork

   I love a nice pulled pork sandwich.  My dad makes great pulled pork.  It takes all day in the smoker, but it comes out so juicy and smokey and wonderful.  I don't have a smoker... and it is really cold outside.  So, I take to the oven and do a slow braise.  It's no smoked pork butt, but it is moist and flavorful and oh so tender.

   This recipe takes quite a while, but most of it is just letting the pork sit in a hot tub of yummy juices.  The result is well worth the wait.

Pulled pork slider on a homemade Hawaiian roll

Hawaiian Sweet Rolls

   I knew I wanted to do pulled pork sliders for our football party, but using rolls from the grocery store just wasn't getting me excited.  Afterall, my team was knocked out the first round of playoffs.  I need something to keep me looking forward to Sunday!  So, I thought I would try to make something a little different for the sliders.  Why not Hawaiian rolls?

   I mean come, on look at these beauties!  So tender and fluffy and buttery with just the right amount of sweet.  I hope some make it long enough to serve at the party!