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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Shrimp Boil

Why wait for warm weather and picnic tables to enjoy a shrimp boil with friends and family?

I had been anxiously waiting for Shrimp Boil day since the day we made up the menu calendar 2 weeks ago! :)

It's so simple and yet so delicious.

You could even serve it with some Homemade Cocktail Sauce. :)

Shrimp Boil
What's In It*:
2 lb raw, unpeeled shrimp
10 mini ears of corn on the cob
12 small red potatoes
1 T Old Bay Seasoning
2 T Old Bay Seasoning (plus more for garnish)

What To Do With It:
Sprinkle shrimp with 1 T Old Bay Seasoning and refrigerate covered for at least an hour (I left mine in the fridge all day).
Bring a water to a boil in a very large pot.
Add potatoes and boil until just tender - mine took about 30 minutes.
Add corn and boil for about 3 minutes less than recommended**.
Add shrimp and boil for 1-2 minutes or until pink.

Strain (or scoop out of the pot with a long handled mesh strainer).
Serve on the table itself or in a dish.  
Sprinkle with Old Bay Seasoning for garnish.

*All of the amounts are very flexible, just adjust your water volume and seasoning level as necessary.
**I have decided that I am incapable of boiling corn without it turning into terrible mushy mush.  So, I season it and then cook in the microwave or oven and then add at the table.

Homemade Cocktail Sauce

The day I purchased the horseradish for the Challenge recipe, I also picked up some shrimp.  Both popcorn, for a quick fix, and some raw for a Shrimp Boil.  I knew I'd be making this cocktail sauce with the prepared horseradish and I wanted to have some shrimp on hand!

I am so glad that I did - this stuff is great!  It has an even better texture than making homemade using the store bought horseradish, but don't think you have to use homemade - I've been making it with store bought for years and it is 100x better than commercially prepared Cocktail Sauce!

Give it a go - it's super easy and so worth it!

Homemade Cocktail Sauce
What's In It:
1 c ketchup
1/2 t lemon pepper
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t garlic powder
2 T horseradish
1 t Worcestershire sauce

What To Do With It:
Whisk together until combined.  Chill.

Prepared Horseradish - Challenge 2013 Recipe #12 name is Melissa.....I love horseradish.

There, I said it.  Admitting you have a problem is half the battle, right? :)

I love cocktail sauce, horseradish mustard, I love horsey sauce - straight, in stir fry's, on bbq, on hotdogs....I have a problem.  :)

I had never even thought of making it myself.  I figured there had to be something tricky to it....I mean they sell it in those little jars like it's gold right?

Nope.  I peeled it, chopped it, whirred it in my ninja, added some vinegar, and BAM!

Now I have all the excuses in the world to make all kinds of horsey dishes....right?   Like some Homemade Cocktail Sauce?  You bet'cha!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Worcestershire Sauce - Challenge 2013 Recipe #11

It's official - I am a Worcestershire sauce snob.

I will never buy store bought again.

This picture is boring, I know.  I could not think of a way to take a cute picture of this.....don't let my creative mind block stop you from trying this!  It's super easy and so good!

Brigadeiros - Challenge 2013 Recipe #10

Until yesterday, I had never eaten Brigadeiros - in fact, until I looked through my DIY Test Kitchen cookbook for the first time, I'd never even heard of Brigadeiros.  I must admit, I feel quite cheated that I have been missing out on these!

The cookbook mentions that people liken them to tootsie rolls....I don't agree.  I think they taste like brownie batter, but with a texture of warm fudge.

These things are fantastic and do you know what is even better....they are so easy to make!  Seriously, three ingredients, if you can work a can opener and stir, you can make these! :)

Make these.....WOW!

The link takes you directly to the recipe.  

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies - Challenge 2013 Recipe #9

This might have nothing to do with anything any of you care about, but do you know the BATTLE I have had to wage to get my daughter into girl scouts at the last two places we have lived?  It has taken months of phone calls, emails, voice-mails (some of which I must admit I started to lose my manners during), I even showed up at the office.  And after all of that, she is currently on a waiting list with 500?! other girls to get into a troop. :(

It is ridiculous!  I can tell you one thing, if I hadn't had the world's greatest girl scout leader when I was in scouts, I would not be trying this hard - I want Ze-Ra to have what I had, while she still wants it.  She has had a few good years and made some AMAZING memories at camp - one year she went for 5 weeks of overnight camp (did I tell you the one time I went to the overnight camp, I cried so hard my parents had to come get me after less than 24 hours?! - Who knew that this "I'm going to move to New York when I grow up" girl is really just a big momma's girl and now all she wants is to live a farm across a pasture from my parents with some chickens, cows, and goats with about 10 kids running around?!?!?!)

Whew - okay....back to the point.  Girl Scout Cookies.  Specifically Do-Si-Do's.....I can, and have, eaten an entire box in one day.  Oh one or two here....a few more with lunch, etc.  You know the drill.  But $4 a box and Ze-Ra isn't in scouts right now and I haven't tracked one down to buy cookies next best thing (actually better) - MAKE YOUR OWN!

WOW!  I mean they are a little bigger than I'd like, so I'm going to play with the size, but the taste is spot fact, even a little better if I do say so myself. :)

The link takes to you the recipe, it is free, but you do have to sign up for it. 

Coffee Liqueur - Challenge 2013 Recipe #8

Did you know that Coffee Liqueur is super easy to make?

Did you know that homemade blows any store bought out of the water? (surprise, surprise!)

What if I poured a shot into a prepared glass of Hot Cocoa?

I've poured us a couple of shots to drink while we make a batch for your house. :)

DIY Test Kitchen Coffee Liqueur

America's test kitchen does not have the recipe posted, but the link takes you to a site that has the recipe posted.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Kale Soup

This soup is phenomenal!  I have been making it for about 2 years now and everytime I make it, I think to myself....why don't I make this more often!!!

Even my 12 year old nephew, who I would consider a non-adventurous eater, LOVES this stuff.  He ate 3 bowls and the only reason he didn't eat more is because we ran out! haha

This past time I made it, I used sweet potatoes because that's all I had on hand and I wanted to use them up since they were from this past year's harvest.

I don't think I'll ever make it with white potatoes again....the sweet potatoes added another little something extra that just put it over the top!

I have also made this with all types of sausage - usually just whatever I have on hand.  Andouille, chorizo, kielbasa, and most recently a Venison Kielbasa with cheese.  All have been FANTASTIC!  I'm telling you, this soup will not let you down.

So...make it with white potatoes or make it with sweet potatoes, make it with kielbasa, heck - make it with chicken sausage....just make it!

Honey Bee Hive's Kale Soup
What's In It:
2 T olive oil
3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 large onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
3/4 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1 bunch Kale, de-ribbed and chopped (about 3 cups chopped)
1 15oz can chick peas, drained
1 can diced tomatoes, not drained
1 lb cooked sausage
1 qt chicken broth

What To Do With It:
Saute potatoes and onions in olive oil over medium high heat for 5 minutes.  Add garlic and spices and cook 2-3 more minutes.  Add remaining ingredients and simmer just until potatoes are tender 20-30 minutes.  

We served ours with some warm crusty Roasted Garlic Potato Bread. :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Citrus Infused Vodka - Challenge 2013 Recipe #7

WOW!  If you would like to receive a citrusy kick in the pants, this stuff is for you!  No messing around here - just vodka and citrus. :)
I used meyer lemons and naval oranges.  I also was not able to get it to filter through a coffee filter like I wanted (i.e. without having to stand there for 6 hours), so I used a fine mesh sieve and it seems to have worked just fine. :)

I am drinking some orange juice spiked with some of this deliciousness as I type this.  :) Well worth the 4 day wait!

The link takes you directly to the recipe....let me know if you make some as well!

DIY Test Kitchen Citrus Infused Vodka

I shared this recipe over at the Slow Roasted Italian's Ladies Night....stop by and check out the other fantastic drinks that were served up!  Like this Perfectly Peach Frozen Margarita! 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies - Challenge 2013 Recipe #6

Until this recipe, poor little Te-Man had never had an oreo.....and to be honest, I can't remember the last time I did either.  Well....that has all changed!

The flavor of these little guys is OUTSTANDING! Crunchy and chocolate-y cookie around a creamy perfect filling.  I was worried that there wouldn't be enough filling or that the cookies wouldn't be crunchy or that the filling would be kinda  greasy.  Why did I worry....haven't I learned anything by now?  :)

You know what I did learn?  I learned that I am not a professional baker. hahaha - as if I didn't already know that. :)  The pictures in the book show cookies that are all beautiful and perfectly round...not mine.  I did keep them pretty consistent where thickness is concerned, but they were not all the same exact shape or size.  That's alright....if people don't like how they look, they can just put them in my mouth and they won't be able to see them anymore. ;)

The link takes you the page for the cookie do have to sign in to view it, but signing in, or up, is free - so go make some!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Meal Planner

Do you (some of you I'm sure, do) know how much I hate asking, "What sounds good for dinner?"?!  I HATE it! I love cooking and baking, but I do not always like being the one to come up with what we eat.  I mean....sometimes, can't a girl get a little help?
You know what you need to do?  Make a menu board and get everyone to pitch in with what they want....makes life a breeze!
Yesterday, I decided the menu board I made last spring* has been hanging out behind the couch for far too long! In fact, it's been there since we moved here in August (that's a tad embarrassing!)
I told Ze-Ra to go grab a piece of lined paper, number it 1-30, but a Z next to lines 1-7 and a D next to lines 8-16.  She was then told to write in what she wanted for dinner in the next month on lines 1-7, she got so into it, she even came up with a list of side dishes she wanted so she made a second list on the back.  Wolverine then filled in his lines, 8-16.  I then filled in the rest with what I wanted, a few left over nights, and a few "adventure" nights for new dishes.

Now, all I had to do was find all of the selected foods on the cards I made last spring - but there have been some new additions to our menu since then, so I used some blank ones, and some backs of other cards.  I got all 30 main dishes set out and set to laying them out on the calendar.
Then I went through the side dish cards and paired them up with a coordinating main dish.
All in all, it probably took me about 30-45 minutes start to finish, but I also went through and organized all the unused cards (because I have a sickness). :)

Now....I can plan my grocery list out and always have what I have on hand.  I NEVER have to say, what do you want to eat?!  I know we usually end up moving a few things around and there might be some food that gets bumped to next month due to a large amount of something in the reclaimed produce boxes, something coming up, or just a massive craving, but it feels so liberating!!! :)

Do you plan your meals in advance?  What system do you use?

*Here's how I made mine:

How to Make Your Own Menu Board 

Step 1:  I took a piece of plywood we had laying around the house, covered it with quilt batting and stapled around the edges.
Step 2:  I then covered the batting with a fabric scrap and stapled that on as well.
Step 3:  Using ribbon, I divided the board into a "calendar".
Step 4:  I then also used ribbon to make a loop for hanging it and three loops for hanging the food cards.
Step 5:  I used scrapbook paper cut into squares for the cards and I just punched a hole in the corner to then thread them onto a binder ring.
Step 6:  I used mini clothes pins from Hobby Lobby to make sure the cards don't slip from behind the ribbon.

I thought I'd include a picture of the back so you could see what it looked like in case you were curious.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Slow Cooker Italian Dressing Chicken

One of my favorite ways to eat chicken is to marinate it all day in Italian dressing and then grill it.  I don't mind if it is boneless skinless breasts, legs, or shish-ka-bobs.  I will be much obliged to eat them all. :)

We still haven't gotten a new bbq grill (after our last one caught fire a few years back) and so, I can not even remember the last time I had my beloved chicken.

Then, I ran across this recipe on Pinterest and I thought - why didn't I think of that?!

So, I changed it a bit, but here it juicy and flavorful!  I think next time I might throw it under the broiler for a few minutes just before we eat it so I can have the amazing charred bits that I love! :)

Slow Cooker Italian Dressing Chicken
What's In It:
2 large chicken breasts
2 c Italian dressing

What To Do With It:
Pour dressing into the slow cooker.  Add the chicken, turning to coat.  Cook on low 6-8 hours.

We served the breasts whole with mashed potatoes and roasted green beans.  I think if you shredded it, or cut the breasts horizontally into thin layers, it would make some tasty Italian Chicken sandwiches with mozzarella cheese! :)

Reclaimed Food Week #7

Strawberries and grapes this week!?  That's awesome!!!  I had plenty of produce to get to share some with Wiley Kat this week and have all kinds of peppers to eat with the Hummus I picked up also.  I want to turn those beets into some beet pancakes, but we'll see if I get around to it.  My fridge is packed to the gills! 

 Tuesday 02/12/13

Thursday 02/14/12

Te-Man is LOVING all of this fruit and corn.  He's turned into quite the corn expert.  I'm also looking forward to some Kale smoothies this week.  I still have a little bit in my garden, but I'm kind of saving it....for what I'm not's just the natural hoarder in me. ;)   

Reclaimed Food Week #6

Well, if things were a little slow last week, this week more than made up for it!  Wiley Kat got three big bags of produce this week and my fridge was overflowing!

No complaints here from either camp though....I mean really who can complain about too many veggies! :)

 Tuesday 02/05/13

Thursday 02/07/13

Check out all those carrots from Tuesday!  We are still eating them :) I bought all the stuff to make this Carrot Pasta from Weelicious....but I haven't gotten around to doing it yet....maybe this weekend.  

We ate almost everything else in salads, but I put the swiss chard in breakfast smoothies and YUM - it was fantastic! :) 

Reclaimed Food Week #5

This week veggies weren't as plentiful as usual, but that's alright, we had plenty left over from last week, so really it was probably a good thing so that we didn't waste anything.  

I totally forgot to take a picture of Tuesday's produce, but it was 3 small zucchinis, an ear of corn, and a large metal bowl of green beans. :) 

Thursday 01/31/13

Te-Man had the corn eaten by the time I was done snapping the green beans that went into the freezer.  The zucchini was turned into bread, the greens were cooked down and frozen for later, we had roasted carrots for dinner one night and the lettuce was turned into salads! :) YUM! 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Toasted Ham Sandwich

I can't just go out to a sub shop and grab a sandwich anytime I want to....and boy do I WANT to, but not badly enough to do it I guess.  Does that mean I'm doomed to a life of boring sandwiches from home?  Certainly not!

I stumbled upon a spiral ham at the organic market and I grabbed that baby up like I was in a timed shopping contest.  I seriously forgot to get 2 different things because I was so excited to get checked out and home. :)

Another random fact you might not know about me....I am addicted to banana peppers.  I'm kinda like the Frank's Red Hot Lady....I could put them on everything. Pizza, burgers, sandwiches, roasts, tacos, enchiladas, nachos, my fork.  :)

Well, this sandwich was so good, I was sad when I was done eating it. :)

Toasted Ham Sandwich

What's In It:
Hoagie or French Bread
Sliced Ham
Cole Slaw
Banana Peppers

What To Do With It:
Slice bread lengthwise to desired size.  Slice in half horizontally. And lay open face on a baking dish.
Place meat on bread, top with onions, then cheese.
Do not put the top on the sandwich, instead, leave it open faced.  
Toast in a 375 degree F oven for 8-10 minutes or so, until the cheese is melted and the "naked" half of the bread is toasted as desired.
Top with banana peppers and cole slaw.

I served mine with some jalapeno kettle chips and some fresh veggies and it was AMAZING!

*I used Muenster

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day Heart Cinnamon Rolls

Happy Valentine's Day!

I thought it would be fun to start everyone's day off with a heart breakfast.  So, I took my Overnight Cinnamon Roll Recipe and instead of rolling them into traditional cinnamon rolls, I rolled both long edges to the center and cut as usual.  Then when placing the rolls into the pan, I pinched the bottom into a little heart shape.

I think they look like smiling theater masks, but once they are iced they definitely look like hearts....Ze-Ra however exclaimed, "Hey, this one looks like a heart!".  haha   Just that one huh...not all of them.  oh well.  It's the thought that counts right?  :)

Here are a few pictures of the process.  :)

Ready for the Fridge:

Just out of the oven:

Iced and Ready to Go:

A little gooey goodness for ya:

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Breakfast Cookies

Would like to make some fantastic cookies that you (and your kids) will love for an on the go breakfast or snack - and that have NO sugar or flour in them?!  Well then, you have come to the right place. :)

These are fantastic!  They are like bowls of oatmeal that you can eat with your hands - well, sometimes Te-Man eats his regular oatmeal with his hands, but that's a whole other story ;)

I made these with Raisins and Dried Cherries.  But you can always use chocolate chips or maybe even butterscotch chips - YUM! I might have to make a batch using chocolate chips just for the rest of the Z-Squad....can't have them suffering through life without fruit and chocolate just on my account. ;)

Breakfast Cookies
Original Recipe Here
What's In It:
3 ripe bananas
1/3 c apple sauce
2 c oats
1/4 c milk (almond or dairy)
1/2 c "mix-ins"
1 t vanilla
1 t cinnamon

What To Do With It:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
Mash bananas, then add remaining ingredients.  
Drop by scant 1/4 cup-fuls onto a lined cookie sheet.  Spread out a bit as they will not spread on their own during baking.  
Bake 15-20 minutes. 
Cool on a wire rack.

I am not sure if it is necessary, but these cookies are incredibly moist so I store them in the fridge.  I figure you can't be too safe ;)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Blackberry Custard Pie

I was always wary of rhubarb custard pie when I was a kid.  I was never quite sure if I liked it.  I would think I did and then the next bite I did not....but it was so really.  And on and on it went.  You wanna know what I eventually started doing?  Picking out all of the rhubarb and eating it and then having just the glorious custard and crust left behind. :) an adult, this seems rather an unacceptable behavior - but I do not wish to live a life without custard.  So - switch up the fruit and life is GRAND!

You can make this pie with Rhubarb, Blackberries, Raspberries, even Apricots.  If you do make it with Rhubarb I would suggest upping the sugar a bit (but that's your call).

Will you pick the fruit out or eat it all at once? :)

Blackberry Custard Pie
What's In It:
3 c blackberries
1/4 c sugar
3 eggs
1 c milk
2 t flour
1/2 c sugar
1/2 t cinnamon
9" pie crust

What To Do With It:
Combine blackberries with 1/4 c sugar and place in bottom of a 9" pie crust.
Whisk together remaining ingredients and pour over berries.
Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes and then 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until custard is set.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

American Cheese - Challenge 2013 Recipe #5

I can not recall the last time I purchased American Cheese.  I do love it, but I'm just so leary of the weird chemicals.

Do you remember the old commercials about how Velveeta melts better than Cheddar?  That has been the story of my life for the past 8-9 years.  I LOVE buying organic cheese, the taste is unparalleled and the peace of mind is worth every penny.  But, it just doesn't melt the same way those chemical filled blocks of cheese do.

To give you an example, I tried to make some Gringo Dip from 54th Street Grill (only my favorite dip of all time) and the most horrific mishap of all time caused the cheese to literally take on the texture and taste of clams.  I actually cried....I have never attempted to make it again - I don't think I could take the disappointment. :)

Well, all of your melting worries can....wait for it.....melt away. HAHA

This cheese tastes fantastic and it melts perfectly! I am so excited to have it in my repertoire and lucky for you, this recipe is posted online!! :)

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken

Sometimes a girl just needs to get her Q on.  Some finger lickin', sauce to the ears, forget napkins - you need a wash cloth, BBQ.

I doctered up the sandwich with some Havarti cheese, onions, and some homemade bread and butter pickles.  I served the BBQ with some baked beans and some cole slaw.  YUM!

This made so much meat we all ate it for lunch on Sunday, then Ze-Ra and I for left overs dinner, then myself again for lunch! YUM!

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken
What's In It:
2lb chicken (I used boneless, skinless, breast)
1 bottle bbq sauce
1 t garlic powder
1 t onion powder
1/2 t mustard powder
2 T vinegar
1 t mesquite seasoning (optional)

What To Do With It:
Place all ingredients, except chicken, into the slow cooker and whisk together.  
Add chicken and turn to coat.  
Cook on low for 5-6 hours or on high 3-4.  
Can serve whole or shredded.    

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Hot Cocoa Mix Challenge 2013 Recipe #4

I am not one to crave a cup of Hot Cocoa.  They are always too sweet and never chocolaty enough and just frankly....well, disappointing.

This mix, however, is not disappointing at all!  It is very smooth - not gritty and it doesn't leave that weird residue on the top of your milk.  It is still a bit too sweet for my taste, but that can not be said for everyone else....they LOVE it! 

DIY Test Kitchen Hot Cocoa Mix*

*I can't find a link to the recipe and I'm not comfortable posting recipes out of the cookbook online - so I'll keep checking back periodically and I'll update this post if I can find a link.