Monday, September 26, 2011

Dining Etiquette

I know the holidays are coming, and just in case you want to do a formal setting for a work or family party, this should cover just about everything.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Onion Baked Sweet Potatoes

We had a visitor this week at my house and she brought her recipes with her! Yahoo!

She makes the best sweet potatoes, and I'm not even a fan of the vegetable! Yes, I've had the sweet potato casserole, but it wasn't that tasty.

Until she made these! Cannot. Get. Enough.

It was super easy, healthy, and very delicious.

Onion Baked Sweet Potatoes

You'll need:
* 4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 in. cubes
* 1 packed dried onion soup mix
* 1/2 cup olive oil

Let's start:
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Mix sweet potatoes with olive oil and soup mix. Coat each potato thoroughly.
3. Add to baking sheet so that potatoes are in one layer.
4. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until brown and easily cut.

Serve as a side dish to beef, chicken, or pork.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pumpkin White Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are a staple near the Halloween/Thanksgiving holiday at my house. I always get such praise for them! Keep in mind that these are more "cake cookie." Serve them with ice cold milk for an after dinner treat or bed time snack.

Pumpkin White Chocolate Chip Cookies

You'll need:
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Let's start:
  1. Combine pumpkin, sugar, vegetable oil, and egg. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Dissolve the baking soda with the milk and stir in. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and mix well.
  2. Add vanilla, white chocolate chips and nuts.
  3. Drop by spoonful on greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for approximately 10 minutes or until lightly brown and firm.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I Can Freeze That?

Sorry I've been absent, a friend was in town so we had to shop, eat, and go to the beach. *smile*

6 Things You Probably Didn't Know you Can Freeze (from Better Homes & Gardens, Oct. 2009)

1. Eggs- Lightly beaten eggs, beaten yolks, or whites can be frozen, but not an egg in its shell. Store in lidded ice cube trays (one egg fills two cubes).

2. Cooked Rice- Spread cooled rice on a lined baking sheet. Rub with small amount of vegetable oil so grains separate. Freeze, then transfer to a freezer bag.

3. Ginger Root- Wrap peeled ginger in plastic, then put in freezer bag. Ginger grates well while still frozen.

4. Cheese- Cut hard (parmesan, pecorino) and semi-hard cheeses (cheddar, swiss) into 1/4 inch blocks, wrap in plastic, then put in freezer bag. Grate hard cheeses while frozen, thaw others in refrigerator.

5. Butter or margarine- Store in a freezer bag, in its original packaging for up to six months. Thaw in refrigerator. Don't freeze whipped butter.

6. Nuts- Store in airtight container or freezer bag for up to six weeks. Use right from freezer for recipes- no need to thaw.

Friday, September 9, 2011

That Pretty Flower

I found this little tutorial about changing an ordinary pencil into a colorful statement on the Pioneer Woman's web site. If you haven't been, you are really missing out.

If you have any extra duct tape around, this is a perfect project for the kiddo's.

She starts with this,

And ends with this!


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mac and Cheese? Yes Please!

One of my favorite foods of all time is macaroni and cheese. It's great as a side dish or as a stand alone comfort food.

While browsing through Better Homes and Gardens I found a really great recipe for an Italian mac and cheese.

I've never made Italian mac and cheese, but it sounds super fab with the 40 types of cheese and butter and milk goodness!

Yes please!

Donatella's Italian Mac and Cheese

You'll need:
  • 1 lb elbow macaroni
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter plus more for greasing bowls
  • 1/2 a medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3.5 cups whole milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 9 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 to 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 8-oz. carton mascarpone cheese
  • 6 oz. Taleggio or Muenster cheese (rind removed), diced
  • 6 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
  • 6 oz. Pecorino Romano, coarsely grated
  • 1 cup Garlic Bread Crumbs
  • Truffle oil and fresh thyme (optional)
Let's start:
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter ten to twelve 10-oz. ovenproof bowls or ramekins; set aside.

2. Bring a large pot of water with 1 tablespoon of salt to boiling. Add pasta, stir just until water returns to boiling. Cook pasta according to package directions just until tender to the bite (al dente). Drain, shaking well. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl beat egg whites with electric mixer to stiff peaks.

3. In Dutch oven, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add onion and cook until softened. Sprinkle the flour over onion; stir constantly for 2 minutes (do no allow flour to brown). A little at a time, add 1 cup of the milk, stirring constantly until smooth.

4. For an herb bundle, in an 8-inch square double-thickness of cheesecloth, place the bay leaf, thyme, and peppercorns. Gather corners and tie with 100% cotton string. Add herb bundle to Dutch oven 1 to 2 teaspoons of salt and remaining 2 1/2 cups of milk. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to boiling, stirring frequently (do not let the mixture boil over). Boil for 1 minute; reduce heat to low so milk barely simmers. Cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes more. Remove from heat; let stand for 5 minutes. Remove and discard herb bundle. Immediately stir in plenty of ground blackpepper, the nutmeg, and the cheeses. Stir just until cheeses are melted.

5. Stir cooked macaroni into cheese mixture. Fold in beaten egg whites. Spoon mac and cheese into prepared bowls. Top with Garlic Bread Crumbs.

6. Bake for 15 minutes or until heated through (160°F) and crumbs are toasted. To serve, top with truffle oil and fresh thyme.

Garlic Bread Crumbs: In a food processor, process 5 oz. (3 thick slices) country-style white bread, crusts removed, to coarse crumbs. Transfer to a bowl. Toss with 2 cloves garlic, minced; 1/2 tsp. salt; and 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper. Add 2 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil. With a rubber spatula, work oil into the crumbs.

Enjoy! :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sweater Envy

I had a little taste of the unusual while driving through Alabama this weekend... cold weather. It will soon be here and if you are anything like me, you have a ton of sweaters. You know the one; the one that goes with everything, the sweater that is perfect with jeans, or the one that keeps you warm at the football game. But do you really know how to take care of it? I thought I did until reading an article in Woman's Day magazine.

Before you begin: Check the label for the garment’s fabric content, rather than the care instructions. Even if the label says “dry clean,” you can handwash it if the primary fiber is wool or cashmere.

Step 1:
Fill a basin or sink with cool water and add 1 Tbsp of a mild detergent that’s free of bleach, such as Woolite Extra Delicates Care; swish the water to create suds. Place the sweater into the water and swirl it around until it’s completely wet. Don’t scrub or stretch the sweater, which can damage the shape and fibers. Let sit for 10 minutes while the detergent breaks down soil.

Step 2:
Gather the sweater in your hands, lift it out of the water and gently press a few times (don’t wring) to remove excess water. Empty the soapy water and refill the basin or sink with cool water. Submerge the sweater and swirl around to rinse. Empty and refill the basin again with fresh water, repeating the swirling process until no detergent remains in the water.

Step 3:
Gather the sweater, gently press to remove water and lay it on a white or colorfast towel that has been spread on a flat waterproof surface. Spread another white or colorfast towel on top so that the sweater is sandwiched between the towels. Starting from the top, tightly roll the towels downward together— they’ll absorb most of the moisture in the sweater.

Step 4:
Unroll and pick up the sweater; lay it on a third white or colorfast towel that has been spread on a flat waterproof surface away from sunlight and heat (to keep the wool from becoming brittle). Gently reshape the sweater, extending the arms and buttoning, if necessary. Let dry. To touch up wrinkles, turn it inside out and iron on low heat with steam (but first, test on a small area).

By the way, looking for some great sweaters? Check out Lands End. They have great sweaters for reasonable prices that always last me at least 3 seasons.