Saturday, July 30, 2011

Dill Dip

I got a Kindle for Jeff for Christmas this year. He spends a disproportionate amount of his time in motel rooms waiting to get called back to work. And he reads like nothing you have ever seen. We have books all over the house and they were starting to plot their takeover. He loved it and hasn't put it down yet.

So he got me one for Mother's Day. 

I can't honestly say I love it as much as Jeff does, but I don't have any complaints about it, either. What I have become obsessed with is the free books that Amazon offers. Every few days I go a little crazy and download about ten books simply because they don't cost me anything. I have 153 books on my Kindle right now, some of which I am looking at right now and more than a little perplexed as to why I have it, even if it WAS free. 

One day, it was cookbooks. Free cookbooks? Yes, please.

In one of those cookbooks (I think it was the Circle of Friends, but I can't seem to locate the recipe) was a recipe for Dill Dip. When we visited my very pregnant sister last month, we spent a lot of time eating, and this was one of the snacks we decided to try. 

Add lemon juice, dried parsley, dill, dried sage and dried garlic to two cups of sour cream.
Mix it all up and serve with vegetables and crackers. This can be served immediately, but it gets better if you let all the flavors blend together for a few hours.
This was terrific. It is so muggy in Tennessee that you seriously can't even breathe. This dip is the perfect counteraction to that. It is light and tangy and goes with anything you have on hand. My brother-in-law went nuts over it. It worked really well as a sandwich spread, too.

Click here for Printable Recipe

Dill Dip
2 Cups Sour Cream
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
2 Tablespoons Dried Parsley
1 1/2 Tablespoon Dill Weed, minced
2 teaspoons Dried Sage
1 teaspoon Dried, Minced Garlic
In a bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix well, cover and chill.

Friday, July 29, 2011

August 2011 Menu

I was doing so good there for awhile posting an entire month of menus. And then track started. And then summer started. I was pretty lucky to get in a day ahead, let alone thirty of them.

I have had some down time being out of town the last few weeks and so I got on the ball and made out a plan for August. School's going to start before I know it and I have so much to do before then. And I'm also back on my once-a-month-trip to Wal-Mart goal. This helped so much I can't even tell you.

August Suppers
Pork Abodo
Fish Tacos
BBQ Chicken Wraps
Hamburger Stroganoff
Pot Roast

Cream Cheese Chicken

Spagetti and Meatballs

Brown Sugar Chicken

Fish Sticks
Crock Pot Sweet and Sour Chicken

Snack and Desserts
Jello Cream Cake
White Chocolate Strawberry Chunk Cookies

Monday, July 25, 2011

Drunken Mushrooms

The biggest thing that happens in my hometown is the Rodeo. Three nights of great fun and catching up with friends I only seem to see at this event. Well, or Wal-Mart, but that doesn't really count.

On Saturday afternoon is the parade. It starts in Cottonwood Falls, circles by the nursing home, down by the courthouse and down the highway, before finally ending at the rodeo grounds in Strong City. All in all, it's somewhere around 5 miles of horses, floats, ATVs and antique tractors.

My family has mostly moved on from riding horses in the parade to riding on contraptions rolling on 2 to 4 wheels. For several years now, those of us who don't ride in the parade have ended up over in the park where it all starts waiting for the riders to return. This usually took on the form of everyone sitting around in the hot sun getting really hungry. It took us awhile, but this year, we finally decided to do a picnic kind of thing in the shade. Jeff brought the smoker and everyone else brought other stuff.

I brought Ree's mushrooms. She actually makes hers on the stove. I haven't tried that, because I made mine in the crockpot the first time and never looked back.

For every pound of mushrooms, mix together 1/2 cup butter, a chicken bouillon cube, a beef bullion cube, a minced clove of garlic, a dash of ground pepper, 1/2 teaspoon Worchestershire sauce and 1/4 teaspoon dill seed. Heat until the butter is melted.
Add a cup of hot water. Bring this to a boil over medium heat.
Pour in 2 cups of alcohol. This is Burgundy wine. I have also used a stout beer and whiskey to great effect.
Let that simmer a bit while you wash the mushrooms. Just add these to your slow cooker. My large pot holds four pounds comfortably.
Pour the boiling mixture over the mushrooms. Cook on low for 6-9 hours. I have also cooked these on high for a couple hours less, but slow is better.
I cannot describe these to you. There are no words. You can eat these on steak. On baked potatoes. On bread. On the side. You can eat these right out of the steaming hot pan if you want. 

Like I said, you can use pretty much anything as flavoring. Every version I have tried have been devoured. If I were to pick, though, I would probably choose the wine. It gives them a little sweeter flavor that I really liked. The beer was more of a salty flavor that was really good as well. Hmmm...maybe I don't have a favorite. 

Try these. I hearby declare tomorrow steak and mushroom night. You will not be sorry.

Click here for Printable Recipe

Drunken Mushrooms
4 pounds White Button Mushrooms
2 sticks Butter
1-1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 liter Alcohol of Your Choice (I have had great success with Burgundy Wine, Dark Beer and Whiskey)
1 teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2 cups Boiling Water
4 whole Chicken Bouillon Cubes
4 whole Beef Bouillon Cubes
1 teaspoon Dill Seed
5 cloves Garlic, Peeled
Thoroughly wash the mushrooms and add to a large crockpot. 
Add all the remaining ingredients to a large saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Pour over mushrooms. Stir to combine. Simmer on low, covered, for six to nine hours. Add salt to taste at the end if desired. The mushrooms will be very dark in color. Simmer until needed. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Margarita Floats

The last two weeks, I have been out of town learning how to teach physics. The big problem I seem to be having with this is that I don't really seem to KNOW physics. 

When I graduated from college, I had changed my major enough and taken some magical combination of classes that allowed me to add physics to my license. Oddly, only one of those classes covered what is traditionally taught in a high school physics course, and that class appears on my transcript next to the lowest grade I received in any class. Ever.

So I have been spending 8 hours a day with a bunch of other teachers trying to keep up with the vectors, vaguely familiar trigonometry and the ever popular Isaac Newton. 

My brain hurts.

One night we went to supper at Whiskey Creek. On their drink menu they had what they called a margarita float. Since I hadn't done my homework at that point, I figured I had better not chance it. But that picture just kept coming back to me. It sounded so good. Why hadn't I ever heard of this?

And do I even need to mention the weather???? 

So I set out to discover my own. The only thing I could remember from the description was Tequila and Triple Sec. Not much to go on. Now, I love margaritas, I just have never given much thought to how I would make them at home.

So I guessed. Well, I Googled it. Do you know how many recipes there are out there for margaritas? that I think about it, I didn't check to see if there were any for margarita floats. Did I mention my brain hurts?

For each serving, mix together 1 tablespoon Triple Sec, 2 tablespoons Tequila and 1/4 Cup Lime Juice. Add 1 cup of Tonic Water.
Add in a nice big scoop of sherbet. I was going to use lime or raspberry, but all my grocery store had today was the rainbow. I wasn't terribly disappointed because all flavors of sherbet taste pretty much the same to me.
That tonic water makes a beautifully fizzy foam on the top.
Aren't these gorgeous?

Incredibly tasty, too. Maybe a tad strong. I think I would not add full tablespoons next time. But that sherbet swirls in and gives a nice refreshing sweetness to the limes.

Oh, here's another tip. If you happen to be experimenting with drinks made from multiple variations of alcohol, it is probably a good idea to invite a friend over. Just sayin'

Click here for Printable Recipe

Margarita Floats
1 oz Triple Sec
2 oz Tequila
1/4 Cup Lime Juice
1 Cup Tonic Water
Scoop of Sherbet
Mix it up and enjoy.

Note: It is a good idea to have all the liquids chilled before mixing since there is no ice added.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Orange Creamsicle Fruit Dip

The Boy was playing a computer game today and at the end, the little cartoon girl made fruit kabobs with apples. He was excited. We had to go to the grocery store and get red and green apples RIGHT NOW.

Luckily, I apples (and strawberries, a pineapple and two colors of grapes) on hand.

My kids eat a LOT of fruit.

So fruit kabobs it was.

But I wanted dip to go with it. It's just been that kind of a summer.

There are a lot of different mixtures into which you can dip fruit. I found this one over at Madigan's kitchen. The orange part of it intrigued me. The Boy has been downing orange juice like nothing else, so I figured he would go for this.

And it was easy.

And I had all the ingredients on hand. So there was nothing holding me back.

Mix the pudding and whipped topping together. And next time, for goodness sake, help The Poor Girl get all of her fingernails painted.
Stir in the orange juice.
Spend the rest of your day cutting up fruit and pound cake and skewering them onto kabobs. Unless your Boy insists, just skip this part and put all the fruit a bowl. My Boy insisted. That was the whole point of this snack, after all.

This was yummy. The orange went really well with every fruit we dipped it in. We had some left over and took it camping the next day. We didn't bring any back.

Click here for Printable Recipe

Orange Creamsicle Fruit Dip
1 8 oz Container Whipped Topping
1 Small Package Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix
6 oz Orange Juice 
Fruit for dipping (strawberries, mango, grapes, pineapple, etc)
Mix the first three ingredients together. Add a little more orange juice to thin out to desired consistency, if needed. Wash, cut and prep the fruit. Refrigerate until ready to serve. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Roasted Red Pepper Chicken

I have had the cutout of this recipe for a really long time, but I am reasonably sure it came from the Kraft Foods magazine. If you have children, if you work, or if you simply don't get much good mail, I highly suggest you hop on over to their site and subscribe.

NOTE: I opened the Kraft site in order to link above and spent nearly half an hour surfing. I hadn't been there in awhile, but am now aware that it has tons of great stuff. Recipes (duh), videos, coupons...seriously, check it out.

Anyway, add one chopped up garlic clove and about 3/4 cup chopped roasted red pepper to 1 cup of mayonnaise.
NOT "Miracle" Whip. MW is from the devil. Real mayonnaise is from heaven. Funny, when I was growing up, we always had MW and called it mayo. I can remember my grandma calling it salad dressing. I never really understood that until I grew up and discovered that MW and mayo were not one and the same.

Add the chicken and let it marinate about 30 minutes. I have tried freezing this mixture in a plastic freezer bag (if you don't do this with marinades, you must try it - saves sooooo much time on weeknights), but with the mayo, it really didn't work well.
Put the chicken under the broiler for about 10 minutes. If you use full size chicken breasts, maybe a bit more. I use the chicken breast strips, so it doesn't take too long.
I love these. My kids love these.

I just found out my husband does not. I don't know how many times I have made these, but he has never mentioned it. Apparently it's the mayo. Something about cooked mayo does not sit well with him. Of course, food-borne illness are a big thing with him. If leftovers have been in the refrigerator for more than 18 hours, it "is no good." This isn't a big deal in my house, since he is gone so much.  We just work this dinner in on a night when he is not here.

Click here for Printable Recipe

Roasted Red Pepper Chicken
1 Pound Boneless Chicken Breasts
1 cup Mayonnaise
1 medium Roasted Red Pepper, finely chopped
1 clove Garlic, minced
Place chicken in shallow dish Mix mayonnaise, red pepper and garlic until well blended. Pour over chicken. Marinate for 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Remove chicken from marinade; discard marinade. Place chicken on rack of broiler pan. Broil 4-6 inches from heat for 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through, turning once.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

No Bake Cookies

This year we had three incredible exchange students. They were here for less than a year, but they were so involved and easy to get along with that it felt like they have been a part of our school forever. Roxy (Poland) and Alona (Russia) became members of our track team this spring. It took quite a bit of convincing to keep them out. That first week, none of them could even make it completely around the track. By the end of the season, we had them running competitively in the 1600m and 800m. With smiles! I am so proud of those girls and am going to miss them now that they are back home. 

At one of our track meets, we had a series of unfortunate events that left us missing one leg of our 4x400 relay. Roxy was our last hope. It took a little bit, but somewhere in the convincing, the idea of no bake cookies came up. So I promised Roxy that I would make a batch if she would run the relay. 

There are a lot of ways you can make no bake cookies, but this is always what I think of when I hear the name. This version comes out of a 4-H cookbook that my home county printed in 2000. These always seem to be the best recipes, don't they?

Combine 1 stick of butter, 1/2 cup cocoa, 2 cups sugar, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup peanut butter and a pinch of salt in a large saucepan. 
Cook and stir until the mixture melts together and starts to boil.
Boil hard for 1 minute. This is important! If you don't boil for at least one minute, the cookies won't set up and you will be left with soup. Not bad, but not a cookie, either.
Stir in 3 cups quick oats and a teaspoon of vanilla.
Stir this all together.
Drop by spoonful onto waxed paper.
I have tried several versions of this cookie, but this is by far my favorite. I think it's the peanut butter. I probably make these once a month and never seem to get tired of them.

Click here for Printable Recipe

No Bake Cookies
1/2 Cup Butter
1/2 Cup Cocoa
2 Cups Sugar
1/2 Cup Milk
Pinch of Salt
1/2 Cup Peanut Butter
1 teaspoon Vanilla
3 Cups Quick Cooking Oats
Combine butter, cocoa, sugar, milk, peanut butter and salt. Cook until the mixture reaches a full boil and boil hard for 1 minute. Take off stove and add oats and vanilla. Stir together and then drop by spoonful on waxed paper. Cool.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Firecracker Floats

In the same issue of Taste of Home that revealed the layer cake, The Girl found a page covered in different variations of sundaes, floats and other ice cream delights. While they all look delicious and will eventually all be tried in due course, the Firecracker Float just pulled us in. We were going to serve these with the cake when my nephew was here for his birthday. That was the plan, anyway.

The big obstacle was finding Pop Rocks. I went to every store and gas station in town that might possibly have supplied them to no avail. Not a single Pop Rock to be found. We were so excited to try this one and were going to have to give up the dream until we could get to a metropolis large enough to carry such a delicacy.

So, so sad.

I happened to be in the dollar store yesterday and at the end of the aisle was a great big display of Pop Rocks. I KNOW that those were not there when I looked earlier this week, and sure enough, when questioned, the lady said she had put it up the day after I came looking. 

So I stocked up and rushed home to try these out.

Add a scoop of ice cream (any flavor) into a tall glass. Sprinkle with Pop Rocks. The instructions called for a third a package, but I think it needs a little bit more. Be careful. They are called Pop Rocks for a reason. They pop. Everywhere. They are even activated by ice cream. The Boy is forever scarred.
 Repeat these layers until the glass is most of the way full.
 Fill in the spaces with lemon lime soda. The first thing Jeff said was "won't my stomach explode and kill me?" No. It won't. What it will do is cause the Rocks to start Popping. This is good.
 Add a straw and mix it up.

You cannot enjoy this float with out giggling at least once. I'm not sure how these little tiny candies can cause so much joy. And they are tasty.

Click here for Printable Recipe

Firecracker Float
3-4 Scoops Ice Cream
1 Package Pop Rocks
1-2 Cups Lemon Lime Soda
Scoop ice cream into a tall glass. Top with Pop Rocks. Repeat to you heart's content. Top with soda.