yogijen

Blog about my thoughts, feelings, interests and my life

Wish List Item #5?

So, I haven’t wanted for anything these past several months, but that has changed! I am back on board with my Wish List Items.  First up, I am on the lookout for a really nice chef’s knife, either a 6 or 8 inch. My cousin, Nick, is a chef, and he suggested a few knives for me to look at before making a purchase. The only knives I have currently are Cutco, but I am ready to move on up to something a little more professional.

Knife #1 found at Williams-Sonoma – Zwilling J.A. Henkels Pro Series

Knife #2 also found at Williams-Sonoma – Zwilling J.A. Henkels Cronidur

I pretty much have it narrowed down to these two knives. I also looked on Amazon, but WS’s price on the Cronidur series was about $30 cheaper.

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Chewy Oatmeal Pecan Cookies

Chewy Oatmeal Pecan Cookies

One of my dad’s favorite cookies are these chewy oatmeal (pecan) cookies. Every time I make these, I always think they would be divine with mini white chocolate chips (do they even make those?). I go to look in the cabinet where I store all my baking good, and no white chocolate chips. No worries though, these cookies are still delicious without the chocolate. Did I really just say that?

I enjoy eating these right out of the oven with a big glass of cold, organic milk. Yum Yum! My favorite part of this cookie is I love how the center stays chewy and the outside edge of the crust browns. Mmmm…

I try to talk myself into the notion these cookies are more healthy than baking up a homemade chocolate chip cookie or a cake simply because they contain three cups of oatmeal. My husband doesn’t buy into that notion as easily as I do.

If you are looking for a quick and easy, yet very yummy cookie, give these cookies a try. They will not disappoint. I don’t usually add raisins to the cookies, but if I did I know they would still be eaten all the same. In the future I am going to try raisins and white chocolate chips.

Ingredients:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

1 cup firmly backed brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated white sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)

3 cups Quaker Oats (I use Quick oats)

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1 cup raisins

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Beat together butter and sugars until creamy.

3. Add in the eggs and vanilla; beat well.

4. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. (Note: I acutally sifted these ingredients together before adding them into the butter-sugar mixture.)

5. Stir in the oats, pecans and raisins. Mix until well combined.

6. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. (Note: I like to use Pampered Chef’s scoop to make a larger sized cookie. )

7. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. (Note: Since a increased the cookie side I also had to increase the bake time. I baked the cookies for 16 -18 minutes.)

8. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack.

Source: Quaker Oats

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Spelling Bee Champ in the House!!

Only two boys left…one was mine. Here we are all over again. I felt my heart rate escalating, my breath quickening and my nerves going crazy. What’s happening, you ask? Why the 3rd grade spelling bee!  To understand this post I must fill you in on its history. Just last year my son was in the same county-wide (district) spelling bee (but for 2nd grade)…it was down to him and another kid, Mason. C missed a word and Mason finished in first by spelling his two words correctly eliminating C from the competition. C walked away the 2nd place winner and as parents, we were elated, thrilled, proud and so excited for C.

But like I said, here we were all over again…except this time it was down to C and Matthew. I was rocking my knees franticly as I remembered the year before. It was happening all over again. The other kid, Matthew, was an awesome speller just whipping out those letters to every word like he was the one that actually came up with the spelling for them. I was so nervous and excited, but C was calm and cool. I remember being so impressed by his ability to stay calm under the pressure. He would look at me and smile as his eyebrows lifted. All I could do was smile back and give him a confident, reassuring look.

What was that? Matthew missed a word? My first thought was poor Matthew. I would not even be able to think of words, or letters for that matter, under all that pressure. While I take a deep breath C stands up, takes a second or two, and starts spilling out…”K – I – N – S – M – A – N.” Shew!!!!!!! He spelled Matthew’s word correctly. But to win, he had to spell another word. The bee facilitator gave out his (hopefully) final word. Already standing, Colin waits, thinks and then delivers the following letters…”L – A – N – C – E”.

He did it!!! He won the 3rd grade district (county-wide) spelling bee!!! He was so happy and excited! I was very, very proud of him! Good job, C! Matthew was an excellent speller…all the kids were. After all, they are leaders in their own classes, at their school and in their county.

We were so proud of C for his hard work! People are still coming up to him asking him if he was the kid in the newspaper who won the spelling bee. He delivers a grin calm and cool.

C with his Dad after winning 3rd grade county spelling bee.

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Homemade Southern Molasses with Biscuits

When I think of homemade molasses, I can not help but think of my Granny D. She made this for us for breakfast whenever we stayed over at her house. Looking forward to molasses on a cold morning by the fire felt like home to me. Isn’t it amazing how something like molasses can make life simple and satisfied? I like to make these for my kids, but really dont make it as often as I should. Perhaps this winter I can change that by putting this recipe into our weekend breakfast rotation.

Now my sister-in-law, Kim, still makes it for her kids. I am so grateful to know she is passing on this wonderful, simple, southern tradition in country cooking!

 

 

Ingredients:

1/2 c. white sugar

1 c. light brown sugar (1/2 cup packed, 1/2 cup loose)

1/2 c. water

Directions:

1. In a small sauce pan, mix together sugars and water over high heat. Whisk constantly until boiling. Boil for 4-5 minutes.

2. Remove from heat and let rest for 3-5 minutes.

3. Pour over warm biscuit (with or without butter). Unless you do it the Granny D. way…you simply tear up the hot biscuit into bite-sized pieces and pour molasses overtop. She did this for me even as an adult. 🙂 I love and miss that great lady!

Mmmmm…delicious!

Source: Granny D. and SIL, Kim

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Simple Hershey Pie

Hershey Pie

This dessert recipe is S-I-M-P-L-E and quick to put together. We had company over to eat dinner and watch the NFL playoff games this weekend. Well, I knew most of my time would be consumed in making dinner so I had to fall back on a simple dessert. And, Hershey Pie it was. You only need three ingredients! I realize it could look a little prettier and I really did have the best of intentions in adding something extra to the top of it, but just flat ran out of time.

 
Ingredients:
 
4.4 oz. Hershey chocolate bar (the big bar)
1 lb. (16 oz.) Cool Whip (I used Lite)
6 oz. Oreo Crust
 
Directions:
 
1. Break apart chocolate bar and melt in a sauce pan on medium-low heat. Stir so the chocolate does not burn. This step will not take long.
 
2. When chocolate is completely melted (no lumps anywhere) and smooth, remove from heat. Slowly add in the Cool Whip. Use a whisk to fully mix and incorporate the whipped topping into the chocolate. The Cool Whip will melt and appear light. This is fine…it will firm up more once it is frozen.
 
3. Pour into the pie shell. Freeze until ready to serve.
 
(Notes: Keep stored in freezer. Also, you can also use any flavor pie crust you prefer like graham, chocolate, etc.)
 
Source: Lynda J.
 
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White Chili with Chicken

White Chili

Looking for a healthy, low calorie soup that is still packed full of yummy flavor? Well, right here in front of you is everything you are looking for when it pertains to all those things. White Chili…it is one of my husband’s favorite meals. He especially loves his with heat. You can make this dish as hot or mild as you like. Regardless, it is still yummy no matter the level of heat you like.

 

 

Ingredients:

4 chicken breasts, cooked and diced

¼ c. vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped

2 small cans green chilies

1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced (completely optional)

4 c. water

½ red bell pepper, chopped (optional) I don’t always add this – sometimes I substitute with crushed red pepper, or sometimes I use both

4 chicken bouillon cubes (1 cup water per bouillon cube)

3 cans Luck’s Great Northern beans

1 ½ tsp. ground oregano

1 tsp. ground red pepper (more if you like it warmer)

2 ¼ tsp. garlic powder

1 ½ tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. salt

2 Tbsp. parsley flakes

 Optional Toppings:

Sour cream, Monterey Jack cheese, Green onions and/or Crackers

 Directions:

1. In a pot add oil, onions, green chilies, and peppers.  Bring to a boil. 

2. Add water, cooked chicken, spices, bouillon cubes…everything EXCEPT the beans.  Cook for 15 – 20 minutes.  Then add the beans.  Be sure and take out the fat pieces, if any, from the beans.  The beans will thicken the soup.  Cook for an additional 5 minutes.  If you over cook the chili, the beans will cook down.  I always add the beans at the end to keep this from happening. 

 (Note: If you are wondering what the red thing is in the top of this picture, it is a chili pepper. My older brother, Chris, suggested I add one (or two) to any chili I fix.)

Ladle the chunky soup into a bowl. Add sour cream, Monterey jack cheese, crackers and green onions to your chili if you prefer!  Enjoy!

 Source: Yogijen

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Le Creuset!! My first piece!

Oh I am very, very excited! I just bought myself my first piece of Le Creuset!

Le Creuset 5 1/2 qt. Round French Oven (Ocean)

Every time I walked into Williams-Sonoma or a cooking store, I was always sure to take a hard, hopeful look at the cast iron collections. Every trip in the store I would think to myself…”one of these days I will make you mine”.  And it happened. I did it! I picked out a 5.5 quart Ocean piece of Le Creuset! Ah!!! The force behind me helping me make this substantial purchase was the fact they were on sale for 20% off and I had a gift card which I had received for Christmas. So, it was easier for me to take the plunge! Next on my WS list? A pizza peel and salad tongs! Next on my Le Creuset list? The Grill plate.

Innaugural meal? Homemade Spaghetti and Meatball recipe by Pioneer Woman!!

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2011 in Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,300 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 38 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Holiday Classic Red Velvet Cake

When you marry someone, you marry their family too. That is something my mother has always told me. She is right. I had no idea when I married my husband, I would be marrying into a Red Velvet Cake crazed family. I am the lucky one you see. I love hearing the story about T’s grandmother making Red Velvet Cake for their family’s Christmas dinner and Grandmother accidentally using glitter on the cake instead of the colored sugar crystals. Yes, I think they all ate the cake with the glitter. I told you they were a Red Velvet crazed family. This cake is a staple at all of my husband’s family get-togethers.

I began making this cake several years ago to take to my Granny’s house on Thanksgiving Day. Every year it is gone. Another one of those recipes where if you make it well one year you are stuck with making it the rest of your life. Coming from the Red Velvet family, my husband doesn’t mind. Even our kids love Red Velvet cake, and my son requests it quite often.

When I make this cake, I like to make it on a day I know I have plenty of time to prepare and focus, usually the night before Thanksgiving. After all I want to impress my husband, right? I mean he does come from a family with aunts and a mom that can cook a pretty heavy Red Velvet cake.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa
  • 2 (1-oz.) red food coloring
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 1/2 cups of sifted cake flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 Tablespoon vinegar

1. In a large mixing bowl, cream shortening, sugar and vanilla. Add 1 egg at a time and beat separate with sugar mixure.

2. In a small bowl or prep cup, make a paste of food coloring and cocoa. Add to the sugar mixture.

3. In a large bowl (separate from sugar mixture), sift flour and salt.

4. Alternate buttermilk and flour to the sugar mixture, beginning with flour and ending with the flour.

5. In a small bowl or prep cup, combine soda and vinegar. After fizzing, add to the cake mixture.

6. Pour batter into two 8-inch gcake pans, greased and floured.

7. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

Icing:

  • 7 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (skim works fine)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups butter / margarine
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla1.

1. In a sauce pan, cook milk and flour until thick (like play dough). Use a wire whisk to help prevent lumps. Let cool.

2. Cream sugar, butter and vanilla until fluffy. Add milk/flour mixture to butter when completely cool.

3. Split cake layers in half longways or horizontally making 4 cake layers.

4. Spread icing between layers and on the top cake but do not ice the sides.

Source: Pam W., friend of the family, SSBC Relay for Life Cookbook (Purple Edition)

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DIY: Glittering Glass Ball Christmas Ornaments

Last year I decided to purchase a new tree for my dining room. In the past we had two trees…one in the living room which is the “family” tree with all the kids school creations along with all of our Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments, and in the kitchen was the snowman tree. But I was looking to add a more elegant tree into the mix and I thought the dining room was the perfect place.

After making several trips to Garden Ridge, I finally decided on the right tree. Then came time to decorate the tree…I had already spent at least $100 on the tree itself and I did not want to spend $100 more on decorating the tree. So, I decided to make most of the ornaments myself.

Searching the internet was how I came up with Martha Stewart’s instructions on how to create dazzling glitter ornaments. I LOVE glitter and sequins…anything sparkly really. Now, there are some recipes out there on the internet which show you how to glitter the inside of a clear glass ball ornament using ink, but that really wasn’t the look I was going for. I wanted the full scale dazzle!

List of Supplies:

8-count glass ball ornaments

1 bottle of Martha Stewart glittering glue

1/2″-1″ paint brush

1 Tbsp. Martha Stewart fine glitter (color of your choice)

1 Tbsp. extra fine Recollections glitter (color of your choice)

8 wooden skewers

Piece of foam/Styrofoam board

Ribbon color of your choice

Paper

2 bowls

Directions:

1. To prepare your workspace, lay down a sheet of paper or cardstock.

2. In a bowl, combine the glitters together; mix well. You should have another empty bowl on hand so you can sprinkle the glitter over the ornament and the bowl acts as a “catch-all” for the falling glitter. Plus, you are able to recycle and use the glitter on the rest of the ornaments. You will repeat this step over and over. If the glitter lands on the paper, that is fine…simple transfer the glitter from the paper back into the bowl to use on a new ornament.

3. Remove the silver cap from your glass bulb.

4. Insert a pencil into the opening in the ball ornament. I like to use my pinky finger because I have better control of the ornament as I apply the glue.

5.Using a paint brush, generously apply the glittering glue on the clear bulb until the entire area is covered with glue.

6. Cover the glue area with glitter.

7. Slowly slide the skewer into the opening to replace the pencil.

8. Stick the skewer into the foam board to dry.

9. Once dry, replace the silver cap back onto the ball.

10. Shake off the excess glitter back into the bowl of mixed glitter so you can use again, if desired.

11. Tie a ribbon bow onto the silver cap.

12. Hang on the Christmas tree.

This is really a very simple process. Last year, I made red and black glitter balls using only Martha Stewart glitters. This year I added the extra fine glitter to help the ornaments have more of a “winter” look about them.

When I used only the Martha Stewart fine glitters, the measurements were 1 Tbsp. glitter (color of your choice) with 1 tsp. Sterling Silver glitter. Mix together well.

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