2/28/09

5 Recipe Books and Memories

A recent post from PW Cooks on her 1981 recipe book triggered memories of my favorite recipe book, coincidentally from the same year.

It was my sophomore year of high school.

I was in my sewing class and someone passed around a blank copy of this book, "My Favorite Recipes."
It was just before Christmas and I needed a gift for my mom.

I was always writing down recipes for my mom, as she told me that I "had great handwriting."

Voila! What a great idea! I'll give one to my mom...filled with my handwritten recipes!

In fact, I loved this idea so much, that I got another one...

For myself. As an early Christmas present.

Now this book, missing its cover page, holds many memories:


My mom's soft sugar cookie recipe. It was a holiday favorite.
My grandma's caramel dumplings....mmmmm...yum!
My mother-in-law's Italian Pasta Salad.

In college, I had 6 roommates that loved to cook.
I have their recipes, too.
Teresa's Brownies.
Alison's Cheese Soup and Parmesan Chicken.



Susan's Scalloped Potatoes.
Erin's Mint Cookies and Broccoli Chicken.
Steph's Congo Bars and Chocolate Eclairs.

There's even Robert's Chocolate Chip Cookies. He wasn't a roommate, but he made cookies for us one time. Cream cheese was his secret ingredient.

You can tell the recipes that I used often...there's splashes of vanilla, raw egg, and blurred words...mostly in the dessert section.

I can't give up this book. It holds too many memories! But it was getting hard to read some of the recipes in the midst of the crinkles and splashes. What to do?

Then this caught my eye. It was 1993.

The price caught my eye, too.

And an idea was born.



But I'm pretty sure that I'm not the first person to think of this.

I opened up the photo album and made a slit with an Xacto knife inside the front cover, down the spine.

I took out the original cover and inserted my own.

This was pretty good graphics for 1993!



Then I sat down at my trusty computer and typed up my most favorite recipes...

And slipped them in between the pages.

Ahhhhhh. It felt so good!



It was so great! Now my family knew which chocolate chip cookie recipe (out of the 10 or so that I've collected) to use and it was vanilla stain proof, too! It has served me well for the past 16 years.

It has been used so often, by so many...

The spine is coming apart.


It's making me sad....




I have a friend that prints all her recipes in a full page format, slips them in a protective sheet, and places them in a 3 ring binder. She has three binders: Main Dishes, Sides, Desserts. It works really well for her. She's able to add recipes to her collection and index them...

This is why I have printable recipes in 2 formats: 4x6 (for my mom) and full page for others.

I guess I'm ready for a new method.

My DREAM is to have a touch screen flat panel computer monitor that tucks underneath my kitchen cabinet.

When I want a recipe, I just pull out the monitor, touch it with my dusty floured fingers, and Voila! the recipe I want is there!

But the memories just won't be the same....

So, what do you do? Do you hand write your recipes, highlight them in cookbooks, put them in your computer or do you scrapbook them? I would love to hear from you!

2/27/09

2 German Potato Salad


The first time ever had this potato salad was at Ruby Tuesday's. I enjoyed the light vinaigrette dressing with bits of bacon on new red potatoes.

Unfortunately, the last time I went there, it was no longer on their salad bar.....*sigh*


It seems like given this economy, people are cutting back on eating out and concentrating on eating "in" more....hooray! I love eating in. No noisy restaurants, waiting for the check to come, and the expense that goes with it! But, don't get me wrong, eating out is one of the few things that I enjoy doing...no messy kitchen to clean up!


I found this recipe when I walked into my local Harmon's grocery store. It was in a small leaflet at the end of the checkout counter, filled with Valentine dinner ideas.

I was so happy to see this recipe. It is a hot German Potato Salad, although I enjoyed it even more the second day when all the flavors were melded together and infused into the potatoes.


Hot German Potato Salad
from Harmon's Grocery
(4x6 printable recipe) (full page recipe)

8 med. red potatoes, boiled and sliced thick
2 celery ribs, diced
1/3 c. parsley (I used 2 T. dried)
1/2 medium onion, diced
6 T. cider vinegar (I used 3 T. apple cider vinegar)
1 T. sugar
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 green bell pepper, diced fine (I omitted)
1 hard boiled egg, diced
4 slices bacon, chopped
2 t. all purpose flour
3/4 c. beer (you can use chicken broth, ginger ale, or white grape juice)
1 T. brown mustard (I used spicy brown mustard)

Place potatoes, celery, pepper, egg, and parsley in a large bowl. Brown the bacon in a large pan' remove and drain on paper towels. Lightly saute the onion in the bacon grease until soft. Add the flour, salt, and pepper. Stir to completely combine.
Add the beer (or drink of your choice) vinegar, and sugar. Whisk until smooth over medium high heat. Whisk in the mustard and pour over the potato mixture.
Fold in gently to moisten all ingredients.
Serve immediately.

2/24/09

4 My Favorite Bread...so far!

Multi Grain BreadThis is now my most favorite bread! I took my Multigrain recipe and adjusted it. Slightly.

I added more freshly ground white wheat...it's more healthy than white!
1/2 c. cracked wheat....gives it chewiness
1/2 c. 9 grain cereal...you can use 12 grain

Remember to cook your cereal and cracked wheat, otherwise you'll have birdseed bread!

1/4 c. unsalted sunflower seeds....adds a little crunch

I hope you can see the whole grain goodness in this slice!






Look how nice this slices up!










It is nice and soft...see how it just lays on the next slice?


No more pieces of cardboard for me!






mmmmmmm.....there's nothing better than this bread!

Unless it's toasted...ooooooh...


Give it a try and let me know the verdict!

2/19/09

0 Chocolate Chip Cookie Dunkin' Gang!

Chocolate Chip Cookies






My husband has a soft spot....for kids...and cookies.

He recently had an opportunity to build a wheelchair ramp for a neighbor that was struck suddenly with a paralyzing stroke. While he was building the ramp, he built a relationship with their adopted grandkids, who live with them.

The youngest boy absolutely fell in love with him and became his constant shadow. He wanted to talk like him, look like him, and build things like him.

Then he found out that they might be moving.

What's your favorite cookie? he asked the kids.
CHOCOLATE CHIP!!!

He invited them over to make chocolate chip cookies, not just eat them.


He read the recipe and got all the ingredients.

(look for the recipe links at end of this post)

Notice the oldest is testing out the cookie scoop
while the youngest is playing with a helicopter...





He made SURE he kid got a turn in putting in the ingredients and turning on the machine...

I didn't get a picture of them scooping out the cookie dough...I was helping!







While the cookies were baking, he played games with each one of them.











One of the girls found JENGA and they all wanted to play...









The cookies were done by this time, but they still wanted to keep playing!

Which was good, because I cool the cookies on the sheets.

I love these cookies. They are tender, soft and moist....






The youngest discovered the bowling set, which has balls inside the pins, making a loud 'bowling ball' sound when knocked down. It's pretty loud....and pretty fun to play!









The other girl found our calendar of magnetic Tangrams...she is responding to my husband's challenge to make a square from all the shapes.









Here they all are...enjoying DUNKING their cookies. Every single one of them!

I couldn't bear to watch. The dunking part.






I got my own cookie.

And ate it all...with a glass of milk afterwards!


Chocolate Chip Cookies
(4x6 printable recipe)    (full page recipe)

2/9/09

0 A Round Valentine Sugar Cookie..the easy way!

Valentine Soft Sugar CookieI made sugar cookies last night. The easy way. Meaning, I did not roll, cut, re-roll and cut my cookie dough. The sugar cookie dough I use is a very soft, sticky dough that requires chillin' in the fridge and some extra flour for handling. I have noticed that when I use flour to roll my dough, my cookies are slightly heavier in texture.

I can't remember where I got this idea, maybe from flattening cookies for another recipe, but I thought, why not? Why not try this with sugar cookies?

It worked like a charm! It was sooooo easy! Easy peasy! The cookies were tender and light...melted in my mouth! I now do this every time I want a simple, round, quick, soft sugar cookie that I can decorate any way I want.

This recipe is the same one that I used in an earlier post. Look for it here. My friends have said these are better than Granny B's cookies. Once you have tried these, you won't want to go back!

For these round cookies that require very little decorating, I like to use the creamy Butter Frosting listed below.

Soft Sugar Cookie

(4x6 printable recipe) (full page recipe)

Buttercream Frosting
(4x6 printable recipe) (full page recipe)

After the dough has chilled for at least 30 minutes, I use a 2T. cookie scoop and put it on the bottom of my non-stick cookie sheet. Why on the bottom? No sides on the baking sheet ensures even browning/baking of your cookies.

You can grease a cookie sheet or use parchment paper.





I flour the bottom of a drinking glass (this one is about 2 1/4") by touching the bottom of the glass to my chilled dough and sticking it in the flour.








I press evenly and gently onto the scooped cookie dough. I keep pressing until I see the dough coming out; making it approximately the same diameter as my drinking glass.








That's the right height! Don't worry about the crinkly sides; they'll bake out nice and smooth~


See, no rolling and cutting out!









These cookies can be put closer together as they don't spread out much.






I bake these in the oven and test for doneness. Cookies should barely be turning brown. Touch the tops...if it springs back like a cake, it's done. If the dent stays, it needs more time....or....you need to press down your cookies a little more to make them thinner.








The bottoms can be lightly brown.



I can't wait to eat one. They're good without frosting!

But I gotta frost them...



That's the neat thing about sugar cookies. You can use your imagination. Go wild with the sprinkles! They come in many shapes and colors...

Here's a Fall/Halloween cookie



I've used orange frosting and mini-chocolate chips to make a jack-o-lantern face...




A Fourth of July cookie...









A Spring/Easter cookie...


I CAN'T wait for Spring!!!!






Or a Pink/White Valentine cookie!


Really, you can make these cookies anytime...for any reason!

2/7/09

1 Peanut Butter Cookies: Got Dunkability?

Peanut Butter CookieMy husband informed me that his office is having a baked goods party....and he wanted to bake something. Something to do with celebrating Valentines Day.

Can I bake some sugar cookies?
To me, nothing says Valentine's like sugar cookies.

Uh...No, I'm not a big fan of sugar cookies.

I did not know that. I have been married to this man for almost 21 years and did not know that.

I want to bake something else...err...maybe peanut butter cookies?

Okay, I'll make some for you. Remember, I'm the one that likes to bake!
No. I want to bake them. He sounded very decisive...

Okaaayy...this was like me wanting to make a birdhouse using his shop and tools...I wouldn't know the first thing about using a table saw.

I showed him which recipe that our family likes out of the 10 or so peanut butter cookie recipes that I have collected over the years.

Our family likes this one for one reason only.

Dunkability.

These cookies are crisp on the outside, chewy and tender in the inside and have dunkability. That is, the ability to be dunked in a glass of milk without totally falling apart.

I am NOT a dunker. But, being in a family of boys, they just HAVE to dunk their cookies in milk and drink the cookie mush from the bottom.

That's right. Cookie mush.

After 20 minutes, my husband comes out.

Hypothetically, if I were to forget to turn the timer on, how would I know when the cookies are done?

How long have they been in there?

He shrugged his shoulders. Don't know. Ten minutes?

I race out to the kitchen and take a peek. The cookies are just turning a dark brown around the edges. It's really hard to tell with a brown cookie...but they were ready to come out.

He grabbed a spatula and lifted a cookie onto the cooling rack. It crumbled before he could set it down.

Wait! I said. You gotta let these cookies cool on the baking sheet to help them set up. Dunkability, remember?

This recipe comes from my good friend, Janet. It works every time.

Peanut Butter Cookies
from my friend, Janet
(4x6 printable recipe) (full page recipe)

1 c. shortening
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 c. creamy peanut butter
1 t. vanilla
3 c. all purpose flour
1 t. salt
2 t. baking soda

Cream shortening and sugars together.
Add eggs, peanut butter and vanilla.

Mix in flour, salt and baking soda.
Mold into balls the size of walnuts or use a 2 T. cookie scoop onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Press each cookie with the tines of a fork, dipping the fork into flour if necessary.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until golden.



Got Milk?

Got Dunkability?

2/5/09

1 A Blueberry Muffin

Fresh Blueberry Muffin
As I was walking through the grocery store, I saw that fresh blueberries were on sale...$1 per 8 oz. package.

My youngest son LOVES blueberry muffins, and I have to admit...I have NEVER made fresh blueberry muffins. Yep, it's confession time...

I have always used the mix.

You know, the box that has that little can that you have to strain all the blue liquid out. Yep, that was me. Oh, and when you went to stir the blueberries in, it turned the batter a blue color. Not an attractive feature of a blueberry muffin!


I was surprised at how easy these were to make! I thought about making the mini-muffin version, but how could I ever get those large, juicy blueberries inside a teeny tiny muffin tin?

Another thing I did differently is I decided not to use paper muffin liners. I used a stick of butter and buttered those muffin tins completely. And I'm glad that I did! The end result was a crispy buttery crust that held a moist and tender muffin. My son gave it a double thumbs up...as he was busy gobbling them up!

Fresh Blueberry Muffins
(4x6 printable recipe) (full page recipe)


2/2/09

6 Onion Straws

Frieda Onion Straws StringsI am not an onion lover. Unless...it is deep fried! When I saw these on Pioneer Woman Cooks, I just had to make them! They were the perfect side dish to my smoked pork on no-knead rolls. I was in heaven...

If you like the onion straws at Ruby Tuesdays or the blooming onion at the Outback, you should try making this recipe. It is so easy!

Forget thick breaded onion rings. The thinner the onion strings, the better! The outside was light and crispy, almost like a tempura coating. Just right!

I used a Vidalia sweet onion and 1/4 t. cayenne. It was perfect for me; I like things on the mild side. Try the first batch and if you want it spicier, put in more cayenne!

Gotta eat them while they are hot...but I put some paper toweling in a plastic dish, dumped the left overs in it, and covered it with a plastic lid and put them in the fridge. They stayed crispy. Unbelievable! Zap them under the broiler for a couple of minutes, and you've got the perfect topping for a hamburger, casserole, etc.

Pioneer Woman's Onion Strings
(4x6 printable recipe) (full page recipe)

1 large onion (I like Vidalia sweet)
2 c. buttermilk
2 c. all purpose flour
1 scant T. of salt (almost 1 T.)
freshly ground pepper
1/4-1/2 t. Cayenne Pepper (I used 1/4 t.)
Canola oil

Slice onion very thin. Place in a baking dish and cover with buttermilk for at least one hour.
Combine dry ingredients and set aside.
Heat oil to 375 degrees.
Grab a handful of onions, throw into the flour mixture, tap to shake off excess, and plunge into hot oil. Fry for a few minutes and remove as soon as golden brown.
Repeat until onions are gone.
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