There’s always something fun cooking with this crazy group of bloggers I hang out with. This month we’re challenging ourselves with Halloween candy. That could be taken two different directions – a recipe made with Halloween candy OR homemade Halloween candy. I opted for making my own, because…well…what’s creepier than eating eyeballs?
These are so simple. A softened caramel is wrapped around a macadamia nut (you could use hazelnuts if you prefer) and then dipped in dark chocolate and white chocolate. A touch of red food coloring for blood vessels, and they’re ready to pile in a bowl for brave souls to grab.
Here’s what you’ll need:
This recipe gives you more than enough chocolate for dipping, because the chocolate needs to be deep enough for smooth results. If it thickens as you work, simply microwave it for 10 seconds and stir.
12 chewy, crunchy, melty eyeballs...perfect to eat as-is or to decorate cupcakes or cookies.
12 macadamia nuts
12 ounces dark chocolate (chips are okay)
12 ounces white chocolate
12 dark brown mini M&Ms, or chocolate chips
red food coloring for adding blood vessels to finished eyeballs
Place 4 unwrapped caramels at a time on a small plate and microwave for 10 seconds to soften.
Wrap one softened caramel at a time around a macadamia nut and roll in your hands to smooth into a round ball. Repeat until all nuts are covered.
In a small bowl or a coffee mug (make sure the container is completely dry), melt the dark chocolate. Place in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir thoroughly. Repeat at 15 second intervals until chocolate is thoroughly melted. You may thin the chocolate by adding 1 teaspoon of shortening if desired.
Line a baking sheet with waxed paper.
Using a fork or a special chocolate dipping tool, dip each ball in the chocolate. Tap well on the side of the bowl to remove excess chocolate and slide the ball onto the waxed paper. A toothpick can be useful to help slide the ball from the fork.
Add a dark brown mini M&M or chocolate chip (pointy side down) to the top of each ball for a "pupil". For a really creepy look, use a red mini M&M.
When all of the balls have been coated, move the baking sheet to the refrigerator for 20 minutes, or until the chocolate is firm.
Melt the white chocolate in a clean, dry bowl or mug using the same method for melting the dark chocolate. Stir until just barely warm; if it is too warm it will melt the dark chocolate when dipping.
Using a fork or chocolate dipper, dip each ball quickly in the white chocolate, almost to the top. This will leave a dark "iris" and the M&M "pupil" showing. Tap well and carefully slide the eyeball onto the baking sheet. Refrigerate until completely firm.
With a toothpick dipped in red food coloring, make thin lines on the white part of the eyeball, creating blood vessels. Allow the food coloring to dry before serving.
Dipping in white chocolate, using my toothpick method. (See “Note” below.)
A variation on the theme. ..red pupils!
NOTE: I have issues with dipping, lacking the coordination to do it without a great deal of sighing and swearing. So…instead of putting the M&M on the chocolate when it’s warm, I used a toothpick stuck where the “pupil” would eventually go to help guide the ball in and out of the white chocolate, a two-handed method. Then, once the completed eyeball was firm, I used a small paring knife to carve out a spot for the M&M. So…in case you don’t have the dipping knack either, that’s an alternate method. Just sayin’.
My alternate method, adding the pupil after the eyeball is firm.
These little guys are awfully good. Certainly much better than they look! As long as you’re going to the trouble of making them, I’d make as many as you have the patience for. Trust me – they disappear quickly!
Here are the other fun Halloween candy recipes this group has created. As the others are posted I’ll update the links, so please come back and look for them!
Welcome to a Fly on the Wall group post. Today 13 bloggers are inviting you to catch a glimpse of what you’d see if you were a fly on the wall in our homes. Come on in and buzz around my house.
Ahhhhhhhhhhh…finally! It’s October and I can see light at the end of the tunnel. I still have some odds and ends to finish up – chores to be done before the snow flies – but things are slowing down and I’m able to spend more time playing in the kitchen. (Happy dance!)
I’ve baked some fall treats, much to The Man’s great satisfaction (garden and harvest make for a disappointing lack of “goodies”) but here’s something I’ve never made before! The smell of cinnamon, molasses, and oats was heavenly. Here’s what it looked like before I added the eggs, coconut oil, and molasses:
Mixing it up by hand in the big blue roasting pan.
Want a closer look??
Wait a minute. I think there might be a little extra protein in this mixture! Maybe it won’t be so obvious when it’s baked?
Eeeeuw, no, they’re still there. Just a little toasty now.
That’s okay – the ladies have no objection to their homemade “Flock Block”
There are lots of recipes on the internet for Flock Blocks – a nice treat for the girls, especially in the winter when they’re stuck inside a lot and get bored. I pretty much winged my recipe, and it worked really well. They love it! If anyone’s interested, here’s how I did it.
These flock blocks are a real treat for chickens. Don't be too generous with them though, or your girls won't eat their regular food. These aren't as hard as commercial flock blocks, and won't last as long, but you will feel good about the wholesome ingredients you use!
4 cups scratch
2 cups omega egg supplement
4 cups 9 grain rolled cereal
1 cup dried mealworms
1 cup raisins or dried cranberries
½ cup chia seeds
½ cup crushed oyster shells
1 cup wheat germ
1 cup wheat bran
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup molasses
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup melted coconut oil (or lard if you wish)
Heat oven to 350 F.
In a very large pan, mix all ingredients through the cayenne pepper.
In a small bowl, beat the eggs, molasses, peanut butter, and coconut oil together until thoroughly combined. Add to dry ingredients.
Stir well, using your hands.
If you are using disposable foil pans, there is no need to grease the pans first. Simply press the mixture firmly into the pan. If you are using regular pans (bread pans, cake pans, pie pans, etc.) I advise spraying or greasing the pan first. Really pack the mixture down in the pan!
Bake for 30 minutes. Without opening the oven door, turn the heat off and let the blocks sit in the oven overnight.
This makes 6-8 large blocks. Wrap and freeze any that won't be used right away.
Realistically, I can justify the expense and effort by considering it a “last meal” for some of them. I refuse to feed 20 chickens through the cold winter when I’m only getting four eggs a day…mostly from the 7 young hens. I’m afraid it’s time to do something about this situation. I’m heading to the coast to visit a Facebook friend I’ve never met before (squeee!) the first week of November, and hopefully when I come back there will be chicken in the freezer. That’s all I’m going to say about that.
October is when I get the urge to stock up for winter. I don’t know why; we’ve never been snowed in more than a week or two, but I can’t fight the compulsion to stock the shelves!
My neighbor and I went to Costco (a 3 hour round trip) and I spent an obscene amount of money on baking supplies. Ninety pounds of flour. Brown sugar, white sugar, powdered sugar. Chocolate chips. Nuts. Vanilla. Yeast. Cinnamon. Yep – I’m ready for holiday baking! Oh yes, and I got coffee and some basic supplies. My husband almost peed himself when he looked in the back of her truck and realized that everything back there was OURS. Know the best part? I forgot some stuff and she and I are making another trip next week. My list grows daily.
That neighbor, Pam, is so much fun! We think a lot alike, which is possibly a little scary. She had Starz added to her TV just so that I could come over and watch Outlander. I’ve read the series of books a bazillion times, and was dying to see the TV series. Bless her heart! It is even worth risking a mauling by her attack turkey to get to go watch it with her…and believe me, that bad boy wants a piece of me!!! He paces back and forth in front of the screen door, giving me the evil eye while I’m inside her house, then “escorts” me to my car. I hide behind her and get pretty creative with my defensive moves. Next time I go over I’ll take my camera so you can see what I mean!
Where we live, “open range” means keeping our fences mended and our gates closed during late summer to keep unwanted cows out of the yard and garden. If you live in an open range area, it is your responsibility to keep ranging animals off of your property. If you are in a closed range area, it’s the animal’s owners who are responsible. Oddly, the road in front of the house is the dividing line. The people across the way are in open range. We are not. But…cows don’t know this, so we keep our fence closed when cows are on the move.
Most of the time.
I honestly don’t mind it when the cows visit. They look great grazing on our hill, and make me wish we owned a few. But cows leave a lot of runny piles of poop everywhere, and because I leave the orchard gate open so the chickens can free range, the temptation to gnaw on the apple trees is just too much for them. The Man left the gate open and the cows came in and helped themselves to apples. I’d already picked all I wanted, but went to shoo them out of the orchard anyhow. Out of six cows, five of them “shooed”. The other one stood his (yes, this one was a young steer) ground.
Being the tough (cough cough) gal that I am, I picked up the hose and swung it his way a few times. He looked bemused.
He was not impressed.
Daisy and Otis had no intention of herding this guy out, so I picked up Daisy’s ball and lobbed it at the steer. For the record, I throw like a girl.
He was still not impressed.
Daisy did chase the ball as it flew in his general direction, but that just made him kick up his heels a bit.
He was most definitelynot impressed, nor was he amused.
So I went towards him, swinging my arms and yelling. I stomped my feet.
He stomped his back and came towards me…not quite what I had in mind.
He won. Pffft. Those apple trees needed pruning anyhow.
It was dark when The Man got home, and apparently he didn’t understand my predicament.
Him: “Did you lock up the chickens?”
Me: “NO! There were cows in there.”
Him: “Did you close the orchard gate?”
Me: Giving him the look. “NO! There were still cows in there.”
Him: “Did you close the chicken door?”
Me: “What part of “there were cows in there” don’t you understand?!”
This from a man who is afraid to put his hand in the nesting box to get an egg if there is a chicken in there. Pffft.
Even though I know better (I’m sure these sites are gathering critical information from me like what my favorite color is and what genre of music makes me want to dance) I can’t stop playing those stupid quizzes on Facebook. I can tell you that I know almost all of the lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody, my favorite decade is the ’80s, and my nickname is “Sunshine”. I suck at music trivia (unless it’s old country lyrics), identifying books by their last lines, and have forgotten a lot of the old “Friends” episodes. I’m terrible at anything that has to do with history. I’m warm, caring, and should have been a chef. There’s more…way too much more. I think I need an intervention!
In case you’re worried that I might run out of pumpkin for fall recipes, I can assure you…there are lots more where these came from!
The funny striped pumpkins are called “Lady Godiva” because they have naked seeds. – no shells. They pop a little like popcorn in the oven and are delicious. The pumpkin itself isn’t really worth eating, but the chickens and deer love it, so it’s not wasted. I harvested about 20 of these babies…and I’m thrilled. Such a yummy, healthy snack!
Lady Godiva seeds.
I’m very excited, because my sisters are coming to visit this weekend. One hasn’t been here in a couple of years, and the other has never seen the place. I warned them to leave their white gloves at home, but you know how that is, right? I have two days to get this place in shape. I’ve warned Lord Voldemort that if he comes this way he’ll be sleeping on a cot in the shop. We’re going to be looking at carousel after carousel of SLIDES. Slides from when we were young. And cute. Sigh. I should have lots of funny stories for you next month!
Buzz around, see what you think, then click on these links for a peek into some other homes:
I’m one of those rare people who look forward to summer’s end. During the summer my time is stretched to the max between the garden, the house, visitors, and the blog; the thought of being free to play in the kitchen again is just heaven – like a kid bursting out of the classroom on the last day of school!
Of course, adding to my joy is the satisfaction of baking and cooking hearty cold weather foods. Right now I have a big basket of apples in my kitchen, so I used one to make a rich, dense, finger-licking Apple Pecan Whiskey Cake.
I’ve never been one to sneak tastes of cake batter (cookie dough is a different story) but after one taste of this batter, I was like a little kid with those beaters. I’m willing to risk salmonella for that batter any day! Besides, I use eggs from our own chickens, and I trust my girls implicitly.
I was going to leave the cake plain, but at the last minute I added a simple drizzle of glaze. I was in a tearing rush and didn’t beat it well enough, so you will see tiny little powdered sugar lumps where they do NOT belong. I’m sure you’ll plan your time better than I and mix it better…right?
This recipe has been husband AND neighbor approved!
½ cup whiskey (or you could substitute apple juice)
1 tablespoon vanilla
½ cup buttermilk
1 cup chopped, toasted pecans
1 cup peeled, cored, and chopped apple (about 1 average size apple)
Heat oven to 350F. Set rack in the center of the oven.
Sift together twice: the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, espresso powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cardamom. Remove 2 tablespoons of flour mixture and toss it in a small bowl with the chopped apple. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat together the oil, eggs, brown sugar, white sugar, and molasses for 2 minutes.
Add the whiskey and vanilla and beat well.
Alternately add the dry ingredients and buttermilk, beginning with the dry ingredients and ending with the buttermilk, adding one-third of each at a time. Beat on low with each addition, just until incorporated. Don't over beat!
Fold in pecans and chopped apple.
Grease and flour (or use a flour/oil combination spray like Baker's Joy) a bundt pan. Spoon batter evenly in pan an place in preheated oven.
Bake for approximately 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick or wooden skewer comes out clean when inserted into the cake.
Cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then turn cake out to cool.
This cake is delicious when served barely warm with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream.
To make the glaze, combine 1 cup of powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons whiskey, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Mix together well. Slowly add milk until the glaze is the correct thickness for drizzling over the cake.
To make whipped cream to serve with the cake, beat 1 cup of heavy whipping cream until soft peaks form. Add 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla (clear vanilla if you want the cream to be white) and beat until stiff peaks form.
There is no turning back now, you know; it’s officially fall and all of us “Foodies” will be inundating you with pumpkin, apple, maple, and cranberry recipes! Oooooh…and doughnuts. Maybe pumpkin apple maple cranberry doughnuts….
Each month I join a group of bloggers to bring you a series of themed recipes. This month we are saying goodbye to Summer fruits.
Summer is almost gone, and so are the luscious fruits I’ve been taking for granted. Berries, grapes, melons, peaches…I’ll miss them all this winter when we’re down to apples and oranges!
For my last hurrah I made a no-bake dessert with berries in the bottom and peach slices around the sides. The filling is peaches, whipped cream, cream cheese, and sour cream…with a little Peach Schnapps. It’s good cold from the refrigerator, and a delightful treat when eaten frozen.
So grab some peaches while they’re still ripe and luscious, and give this recipe a try. It’s not a slam-dunk recipe – you’ll have to put a little effort into it – but I can guarantee it will get lots of attention!
You’ll need at least 4 large peaches for this dessert, and to really make it special, cover the bottom with raspberries or sliced strawberries before adding the filling. Non-dairy whipped topping may be substituted for the whipping cream – 4 cups for the filling, and 2 cups for decorating.
You’ll also need a springform pan (I used a 10-inch, but a 9-inch pan would be okay…it would take less peaches to go around the bottom and the filling would be higher) and enough time to allow the dessert to set completely.
1 cup raspberries or sliced strawberries, if desired
In a small bowl, combine all of the crust ingredients. Press evenly into the bottom of a 10½ –inch springform pan. Set aside.
In a small bowl or cup, combine Peach Schnapps and ¼ cup cold water. Sprinkle both packages of gelatin over the liquid and let it sit for 10 minutes to soften. Meanwhile...
In a medium saucepan, combine 1 cup cold water, chopped peaches, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Cook for 1 minute.
With a slotted spoon, scoop peaches into a small bowl, reserving peach juice in pan.
Add the gelatin mixture to the hot peach juice in pan, whisking until completely dissolved. Allow to cool.
With an electric mixer, beat the cooked peaches into a puree, leaving some small chunks.
In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add sour cream, powdered sugar, peach puree, and cooled gelatin mixture and mix until combined. Chill until slightly thickened, about 10-15 minutes.
Whip the 3 cups of cream until it begins to thicken. Add 2 tablespoons powdered sugar and beat until very thick. Reserve 2 cups of whipped cream for decorating, and gently stir the rest into the peach mixture.
Cut 2 peaches into slices. Set along inside edge of the pan, round side up. If the slices are thin, you can balance a second layer of peaches on top of the first. If you are adding berries, place them in the bottom of the pan.
Spoon filling into pan and smooth the top. Pick the pan up and drop it gently a few times to make sure there are no air pockets in the dessert.
Pipe the remaining whipped cream onto the top. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours. (Overnight is better.) Before serving, decorate with sliced peaches or berries.
Welcome to our Fly on the Wall group post. Today 14 bloggers are inviting you to catch a glimpse of what you’d see if you were a fly on the wall in our homes. Come on in and buzz around my house,and then check out the other houses too! Links to all of the crazy bloggers are at the bottom of this post.
Summer is slipping past us quickly, which means frantic scrambling at our place. Our first frost meant complete panic, as I picked as much of the harvest as possible. I saved most of it, but the “light frost” turned into a “killing freeze” and anything I missed or didn’t have time to deal with was history. Here’s the sad proof:
Wait, did I say sad? I was so sick of picking beans, that I was actually relieved to see them die, DIE, DIE!!! Whew. I feel better.
Dealing with the bounty means I haven’t posted a blog post since last month’s Fly on the Wall! And yet, I have been lucky enough to have understanding followers, because my Facebook page just hit 5,000 likes – which is incredibly exciting to me! I was trying to figure out what to write on the pumpkin and the pie for my photo. I had some help:
The Man: “Put 5,000 on the pumpkin and gracias (only he pronounced it “graw-shus” on the pie.”
Me: “Graw-shus? Maybe you need to go back to Spanish class.”
The Man: “I was just being fecalcetious.”
As if the garden wasn’t enough to deal with, it was also hunting season. (Here’s where you’ll want to scroll waaaaay down the page if you’re anti-hunting or a vegetarian. Okay…I warned you!)
Let me set the stage here, okay? I love hunting season! We have a deal: I make lots of food and he leaves for 10 days or so. Sweet, huh? Except…he got an elk after just a few days. So not only did he come home early, he came home dragging a bazillion pounds of gory meat with him. While I’m thrilled to have meat security, it took us almost 2 days to cut and package the meat because (and though I say “we” I mean “he”) we cannot have any fat, gristle, or bone in our meat. That means each piece must be cut with surgical precision. All scraps are frozen for the dogs, so nothing is wasted, but my hands looked like prunes before we finished because I had to keep washing my hands, cutting boards, and knives to “start clean”. OCD much?
Do you remember last year when I showed you what a bear penis bone looked like? Well, this year I had something even more impressive, but was afraid of offending too many of you. Let’s just say that a bull elk is called a bull for good reason, and leave it at that! I really don’t want the picture out there for anyone to Google, so use your imagination. Just….whoa!
Now comes the REALLY nasty part. The Man, in his efforts to thwart marauding neighbor dogs and cheat the coyotes, put the poor elk’s head up on the garage roof, under the assumption bugs would clean it off and then he could bleach the skull for the wall in his man cave. (Don’t think I didn’t notice you disappeared for a few days, little fly.) After that frost we had very warm weather, and the smell got worse and worse. I was at the brink of buying a case of face masks or moving to my daughter’s when he gave in and removed it. It’s now soaking in a big tank of soapy water. No smell, so I guess that’s a step in the right direction. Ugh.
The man hadn’t been gone 30 minutes when my dryer stopped dead. No flicker, no pulse. Figures. So I hung everything on the line and resigned myself to roughing it. (It’s a top loading, computerized prima donna dryer, not easily repaired.) My son, Lord Voldemort, rolled his eyes when I wanted to try my computer “cure”, which was to unplug it and plug it back in. Guess what? Uh huh, oh yeah, who’s the dryer fixer here? That be me!
We have two chest freezers, and both are full to the top with meat and veggies. It makes my squirrel instincts happy to see all that food for winter. I’m on to dehydrating things now, because that doesn’t take up much room. A trip to Costco for coffee and wine dog food and I’ll be ready for the snow to fly!
Russ: “Man, that Middle East is a messed up place. Makes you wonder why Israel doesn’t just move their country somewhere else.”
He’s a bright guy – much more into politics than I – so I’m pretty sure he was messing with me. But…WHAT?!
Gardening isn’t all grunting and dirt. Sometimes it provides amusement. Case in point:
Cute little potato family.
I have a few other examples that are also rated “G”.
Just to show how much influence a female has over a male, Daisy has finally taught old stodgy Otis to throw caution to the wind and play! It may not look like much fun, but they’re having a great time wrestling together. Makes me happy.
It’s all fun and games until someone gets a leg chewed off!
This has been an “all work, no play” kind of month. If anything funny was said it probably just went right over my head. I see some calm times coming though – after the tomatoes and apples are processed and the garlic is dried and the dry corn is picked and the potatoes are sorted, and the elderberries are made into syrup…well, I’ll try to make time to jot down funnies as they happen. ‘Til then, click on the links below for some good laughs.
Welcome to Fly on the Wall, where you get to buzz around and see what goes on in my home, and in those of 10 other bloggers. Little happenings that don’t warrant their own post, but may still be of interest. Things that may make you raise your little fly eyebrows! Come see, and then buzz along and visit the other blogs posted at the bottom.
I bailed on Fly last month because my daughter and grandkids were here visiting. I figured they’d give me lots of good laughs for this month’s post, but I was so caught up in the visit I kept forgetting to write the good stuff down. I did manage to scribble a couple of notes, thank goodness! Here’s what I had:
Grandpa tried to “help” Sophie put makeup on. Said he’d get her ready for middle school. Sophie politely reminded him that she wasn’t going to clown college.
Taunee, looking at a pic of her mom on the wall: Mom, you were so pretty when you were little. You looked perfect. You looked just like me! (This child oozes confidence.)
Taunee had a prank planned for Uncle Dean Lord Voldemort, but couldn’t help dropping hints. When he started to question her, she told him it was a “surprise”. He told her she’d be surprised when the Turd Fairy left something under her pillow. I really wish I wasn’t such a visual person.
The girls: “Show us more skulls, Uncle Voldemort. Show us more skulls and bones.” Um, yeah. He has a weird collection. He did make Taunee happy by sending her home with a pair of shed deer antlers…I believe he’d had a bit to drink at the time, because he doesn’t usually part with any of his collection. My daughter’s new name for her brother is “Drunkle Dean Voldemort.”
Mr. Mack discovered “vroom vrooms” I love it! He’s been kind of a city boy, but Pa and me purt near took care of that!
While they were here we had a really, really wild storm. It was brief, but intense. I may have shrieked when lighting and thunder hit at the exact same time and I was with the kids outside by the chicken coop. There was a lot of damage in the area, but we came out of it okay, except for the flour corn. It was just beginning to pollinate when the storm struck, so no cornmeal for us this year. It was very exciting for the kids, though.
I dumped sand into a big tub, added a pile of loose change, and stirred. Instant fun. Here’s the best part: instead of fighting over the coins, I heard Taunee say to Sophie “there’s a quarter over there, by your hand”. How sweet was that? Better yet, Sophie’s response was “Here, you can have it”. Bravo, Mom and Dad – you’re raising those girls right!
Digging for gold.
It was hot and smoky while the girls were here, due to all the wildfires in Washington State. Really hot.
C’mon, you know what you’re supposed to say.
“HOW HOT WAS IT?” you ask?
I’m pretty sure the dogs are laughing!
Our hammock had a tear in it (thanks to Otis, our yellow lab) and I thought I had repaired it pretty well before the kids got here. Oh, it was all fun and games…until Grandpa got in. Luckily, my daughter was right there with the camera when he fell through. On his bad back. Bwa ha ha ha ha. Snort. Can’t help it!
I’ve been curing my garlic on the back porch, and one batch was spread across a wicker basket for air circulation. Working at the sink I heard a weird rustling sound. Since this is snake territory, I was a little concerned and went out back to see. Someone had knocked the basket over because apparently it was the perfect spot to nest. I shooed her off, but an hour later she gave a repeat performance. She won. I love garlic chicken.
So….fire, wind, flood, hail. Where are the locusts? Oh, wait – they’re in the garden…if you consider grasshoppers to be the same thing, that is. I opened the garden gates to let the chickens in so they could eat the hoppers, and they went straight for my buckwheat. That wasn’t the deal – so the gates are closed. I’ll pick and hand deliver the grasshoppers to the girls, I guess. They’re just so freakishly strong! It feels like something is exploding in my hand when I carry them. Eeeeuw.
What was I thinking when I ordered 7 different types of green beans? Usually germination is hit-or-miss, so I planted extra in each row. I’ve picked over 60 pounds of beans. Some were given away, but most were trimmed, blanched, and frozen. Snapping or trimming takes time, so I did something unusual for me, and put in movies to watch while I worked. Not just any movies – musicals! Oklahoma, Hans Christian Anderson, My Fair Lady, Carousel. Terrible, wonderful musicals. The Man has spent a lot of time outside. We do, however, have bean security. And still they keep growing…
11 pounds. This is just 3 rows. I have 9.
Speaking of beans, The Man just turned 60 and here was his cake:
Happy birthday to youuuu.
Just kidding. I made him a peach trifle.
Here’s the recipe, if you’re interested. You’ll need:
One angel food cake (if you’re feeling inspired, here’s my recipe: Angelberry Cake)
Whipping cream – lots! About a quart
4-5 large peaches
One batch of “Peachy Creamy Pastry Cream” (below)
Reserve 3/4 cup heavy cream for making the Peachy Creamy Pastry Cream. Whip the rest of the quart (about 3 cups) until thick. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and whip until stiff peaks form. Keep chilled until ready to use.
Make pastry cream.
Cut the angel food cake into small cubes (or tear it, if you prefer).
Peel and cut peaches into bite-size pieces, dipping them in lemon water (or Sprite…a helpful hint from my friend Cydnee at Tampa Cake Girl) to keep them from browning. (Reserve a few slices for the top)
In a trifle dish, layer CAKE, PASTRY CREAM, PEACHES, WHIPPING CREAM. Repeat. If you have room, top with a layer of cake and then pipe whipping cream on the top. Decorate with peach slices, if desired.
I was making cookies and the man tried to snag one. When I explained I needed them for a photo shoot first, he said:
“You’re not nice to me, and it’s almost my birthday.”
“But it’s not your birthday. I don’t have to be nice to you until your birthday”
“Yes you do, you have to start building up. Nicer and nicer and nicer until my birthday, and then taper off slowly.”
Hmmmm. I didn’t know there was an actual protocol for this. I tried. Kinda.
Here’s what The Man got for his birthday. He calls it his Cabela’s Club Member coffin. It kind of creeps me out, especially when he folds his hands on his chest.
The Man hurt his back and was flat on the guest bed (which is firmer, lower) calling for cookies, medicine, etc. I had just put a load of wash into the dryer when he yelled loudly for me and I went running.
“That comes right in the window when it’s open” he said.
I was drawing a blank. “What’s coming in the window?”
“The dryer” He was taking pain meds, but really?? “The dryer’s coming through the window?”
“Can’t you smell it? The wet. The fabric softener”
I wasn’t using fabric softener, so…it must have been “the wet.”
I closed the window.
My gardening pants have been slowly giving away in the back. Today was the day. The Man said “I think we need to go find you a patch kit”. I felt around, and…..oh, crap. And I’d been bent over weeding with my butt to the road. Lovely. At least I wasn’t wearing my polka dotted undies. At least I was WEARING undies.
I usually get a real kick out of the search engine phrases people use when they find my blog. But…Oh, MAN! This one was either hysterically funny or disgustingly gross, depending on your tolerance level. I have to admit I mostly laughed.
I noticed that I was getting a whole lot of views on an old Fly on the Wall post from a certain group of people. The tough thing is, it will be hard for me to explain it to you without using words that will bring more people with this…uh…inclination to my blog.
I know!!! When I get to one of those words I’ll bold it and spell it backwards, okay?
I posted an appetizer last year in my Fly on the Wall. It was for a baby shower, and featured refried bean filled puff pastry ypoopsrepaid. Apparently this was very attractive to a group of people who like to get together and change each other’s srepaid, and they were kind of excited about serving my appetizers. I’m pretty open-minded and tolerant, but this is a little over the top for me. The views have been tapering off, which is a very good thing. Whatever you do, do NOT Google “repaid parties”.
On that cheery note, (and I realize that since you’re a fly, that might not have been too gross for you) please go visit these other wonderful blogs!
I know it’s only August, and in a previous post I may have promised I wouldn’t bring out the pumpkin recipes until Fall.
Our mornings already have a crisp feel to them, and the corn is almost ready to pick, so I hereby officially declare it…
I’ve made pumpkin cookies for years (they’re a big time favorite in my family) but made a few little changes to the recipe today and loved them even more, if that’s possible. The recipe for the icing is very generous, because – well – it “evaporates”. Or something. Let’s just say it disappears before your very eyes, and leave it at that, OK?
You know how I always give you photo after photo of preparation instructions? I’m taking a wild guess that you can beat ingredients together and scoop dough onto a cookie sheet without looking at pictures. If you’re new to this baking business and need help, check out some of my other cookies recipes…most of the steps are very similar.
In other words, I was in a hurry when I was making these, and forgot to take pictures. Sigh. I’ll be making them again in a couple of weeks for my guys to take hunting, but I don’t want you to have to wait that long!
Delightful, soft cookies that are soft and delicate, but rich and flavorful. Makes 3 dozen.
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup canned solid pack pumpkin
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup raisins
½ cup toasted pecans, chopped (please toast them...it adds flavor!)
1½ cups brown sugar
⅓ cup milk
5 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1¼ - 1½ cups powdered sugar
Pecan halves for decorating, if desired
Heat oven to 350 F.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until creamy.
Mix in the egg and pumpkin and beat well. It may look a little curdled - that's normal.
Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Beat until thoroughly combined.
Stir in the raisins and toasted pecans.
Using a cookie scoop (or a rounded tablespoon) scoop balls of dough about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake approximately 12 minutes. Cookies should be just showing a little brown around the bottom edges. Place baking sheet on cooling rack for a few minutes, and then transfer cookies to the rack to finish cooling.
To make the icing:
In a medium saucepan on medium heat, combine the brown sugar, milk, and butter. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Stir in the vanilla and 1¼ cups powdered sugar. Whisk vigorously until smooth. Add additional powdered sugar if necessary. Icing should be just thick enough to spread on the top of each cookie without dripping down the sides.
Put a generous dollop of icing on each cookie and top with a pecan if desired. Be careful - icing is very hot! If the icing thickens too much to work with, reheat gently on low heat, adding a little milk if needed.
So it begins. My pumpkins are taking their sweet time this year, and I’m guessing they might not be ripe before the first freeze. Luckily, I have no problem using solid-pack pumpkin. I freeze any unused portion, so nothing goes to waste. I guess I’d better stock up, because it’s going to be nothing but pumpkin recipes on Facebook and Pinterest for the next 4 months!
What’s wild and wet and can knock your socks off? A Huckleberry Hurricane, of course.
When the group of nutcase bloggers I post recipes with each month decided to skip the baked goods and bring on our best summer drinks, there was no doubt in my mind what I’d make.
I usually make huckleberry margaritas each year during berry picking season, sort of a reward for the hours of backbreaking work that went into foraging for this bounty. But I’ve got to tell you, white rum or vodka are lovely in this drink too! Margaritaa, daiquiria, or even (gasp) a booze-less version…all are wonderful. The important ingredient? Wild mountain huckleberries. You could use blueberries, but huckleberries have a much richer flavor. And I’m NOT talking about those nasty, sour, bright red huckleberries you find in the Pacific Northwest. These are found at high elevations and are dark purple and sweet; as precious as gold.
I love to add a big blob (that’s a technical baking term) of huckleberry jam to the mixture in the blender, but it’s not necessary. Simple syrup sweetens the drink very well, and in a pinch – if you’re desperately eager for that drink and don’t want to make the simple syrup – you can get away with just using a couple of tablespoons of superfine sugar.
In a small sauce pan, combine the sugar and water. Cook and whisk over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Cool completely. (If you are in a hurry, put ice water in a larger pan and set the small one in it to cool quickly.) You won't use all of the simple syrup, but my guess is you'll be making a second batch of drinks! If not, it will store in the refrigerator for several days.
In a blender, combine ¼ cup of the cooled sugar mixture and the remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth. Taste. Add additional sugar if desired.
Zucchini season is in full swing, and I’m almost afraid to step into my garden. I’ve learned to only plant a few hills of the green stuff, but man, those plants pump out the zucchini! I grate and freeze bags of it, stir fry it, make fritters, and bake with it. And yet, there was a basket full of zucchini on my counter today…just sitting there guilting me.
When life hands you zucchini, make zucchini bread!
I’m really excited about the flavor combination in this bread. Chocolate and orange makes me dream of Christmas, but I’m happy to scarf it down any time of year. Like right NOW.
I was throwing ingredients together really fast because we were having a wild storm here and I was afraid we’d lose power before the bread had time to bake, so I totally forgot to add nuts to the batter. The bread had been in the oven for five minutes when I remembered, so I tossed some chopped pecans on the top. This was not one of my better ideas, since the weight of the nuts made the top of the bread sink a bit. It isn’t picture-perfect, but I can attest to the fact that the texture and taste is amazing.
I know this because I tested it several times. For the blog.
One nice thing about this recipe is that you just use one bowl and don’t even have to mess with a mixer. A wooden spoon is all you’ll need to mix up this batter. It’s a slam-dunk recipe, which is kind of nice once in a while. You’ll want to print this one out; it’s a keeper!
We picked 8 pounds of raspberries yesterday from our garden, and there is no end in sight. This isn’t a complaint, of course…just an observation. The grandkids picked last week – even the baby! Daisy our black lab even learned to pick them. And yet they are getting ahead of me, and the bees are beginning to take more than their share.
So…a raspberry dessert was just what I needed to make for the blog. I played around with a meringue crust, and it was a huge hit here in my home. You could put the filling in a pre-baked pie crust too, of course, but we all loved the melty, crunchy, slightly-chewy-on-the-bottom crust.
The meringue piecrust can be made a day ahead if you’d like, stored in an airtight container at room temperature. Add the filling and give the pie an hour in the fridge to set up nicely before serving. The pie filling is very light and mousse-like, so cut generous portions! The meringue won’t be crispy after a night in the fridge, so you might as well eat it while it’s in its prime.
Baked meringue crusts. Don’t worry about cracks – they just add to the charm.
I doubled the recipe and tried a couple of different pans. Here’s what I learned:
You must spray the pie pans with a non-stick spray! (Next time I might try greasing the pan and lining it with parchment.) Mine stuck a bit and was difficult to cut into neat pieces. But even if the meringue is a little crumbly, it’s delicious and you can just heap little pieces on each spoonful on its way to your mouth!
Don’t try to rush the crusts. They need to dry out slowly and completely in the oven.
Use clean utensils when making meringue, and be careful not to get any egg yolk in with the whites.
This recipe would work very well with other juicy berries too, like blackberries or huckleberries. A lemon curd layer on top would be heavenly – a little tartness to cut the sweet filling. But this has become my husband’s new favorite pie, so I won’t mess with a good thing!
Here are the ingredients you’ll need. (Remember, I made 2 pies…you won’t need as many eggs, berries, etc.)
2 cups fresh raspberries (plus a few for decorating, if desired)
juice from one small lemon
¼ cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1½ cups plus 1 tablespoon powdered sugar, divided
1½ cups heavy cream
Heat oven to 250 F.
In a small bowl, whip the egg whites until foamy. Sprinkle with cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form.
Add 1 cup of superfine sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well between each addition. When all sugar has been added, beat until stiff peaks form.
Gently fold in the grated lemon peel and extract.
Spray a deep-dish pie pan with non-stick spray. Spread (or pipe) the meringue evenly over entire inside surface.
Bake for 1 hour. Turn off the oven and leave the pie crust in the oven until it cools (or at least 1 hour).
While the crust is baking, begin cooking the berry portion of the filling: Place berries into a small saucepan with the lemon juice. Cover and cook on medium-low for about ½ hour, stirring occasionally.
Place the cooked berries in a fine strainer over a small bowl and press the juice out, discarding the seeds and pulp. You should have about ½ cup of juice. If necessary, add a little water.
Put the juice back in the small saucepan and bring to a boil.
Combine ¼ cup sugar and cornstarch and whisk into boiling juice. Turn down to medium-low, cooking and stirring for 1 minute. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. If you are in a hurry, the pan can be set into a cold water bath to cool.
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and 1½ cups powdered sugar together well, until creamy.
Add half of the berry mixture (reserving the rest for drizzling over the dessert) and mix until combined.
In a medium bowl, beat the whipping cream until thickened. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon powdered sugar and whip until stiff peaks form. Fold into cream cheese mixture.
Spoon the filling into cooled meringue crust. Chill for 1 hour. Decorate with whipped cream and raspberries and serve.
Store in refrigerator. The meringue crust will soften during refrigeration, but the flavor will still be amazing.
Fold lemon zest in gently to avoid deflating those pretty stiff peaks.
Spread (or pipe) meringue in pan
Pour cooked berries into strainer and press out juice.
Folding whipped cream into cream cheese/berry mixture
Add filling and chill for 1 hour.
Cool and sweet, light and creamy. How perfect is this for a summer treat? The meringue crust has given me so many ideas. One will involve pumpkin…but I’m not quite ready to go THERE yet. For now, I’m on a mission to use up some berries. If you come my way this summer, bring your bucket!