Catching Up on Things

Sometimes I get going so quickly that sewing takes a priority but blogging falls far behind on my list of priorities. Here is a little attempt at catching up. I was behind on sooooo many projects, but feel like I am finally caught up and working on a few things.

In the past few days I have finished three quilt tops and am about to cut out a fourth. I’ll share more soon about everything and photos, but I don’t mean to be neglecting this! Sorry!

The Day of Broccoli

We’ve had a few changes in plan as Christmas has approached, but yesterday was the day of broccoli. Without intending to, we have had broccoli several times yesterday. I made Broccoli and Cheese soup for lunch yesterday with garlic bread and last night we ate pork chops, broccoli salad, and cheesy hashbrowns.

Quickly, I am posting the recipes. If you are still looking for a Christmas recipe for a side, the Broccoli Grape Salad I made last night was delicious! Pictures aren’t uploading at the moment, so I’ll get that to you soon!

Broccoli Grape Salad

2 bunches fresh cut broccoli, cut into bite size pieces

1 ½ c celery, chopped

1 ½ c red grapes, halved

1 c craisins

½ lb bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

1 c sunflower seeds

Dressing Ingredients:

1 ½ c light mayonnaise

¼ c sugar

3 Tbsp vinegar

3 Tbsp milk

Place all ingredients except dressing ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Combine dressing ingredients separately. Pour dressing over broccoli mixture, stirring until combined. Cover and refrigerate for several hours to overnight allowing the blending of flavors.

 

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Ingredients

Cooking spray

1  cup  chopped onion

2  garlic cloves, minced

3  cups  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

1  (16-ounce) package broccoli florets

2 1/2  cups  2% reduced-fat milk

1/3  cup  all-purpose flour

1/4  teaspoon  black pepper

8  ounces  light processed cheese, cubed (such as Velveeta Light)

Preparation

Heat a large nonstick saucepan coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; saute 3 minutes or until tender. Add broth and broccoli. Bring broccoli mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; cook 10 minutes.

Combine milk and flour, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Add milk mixture to broccoli mixture. Cook 5 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring constantly. Stir in pepper. Remove from heat; add cheese, stirring until cheese melts.

Place one-third of the soup in a blender or food processor, and process until smooth. Return pureed soup mixture to pan.

 

 

I Am a Delinquent

I have not finished a single one of my quilting bee blocks for this month. Not even for the quilt I am hosting. Between finals and end-of-the-semester chaos, quilting had to move to the back burner. But, I’ve been home with my mom for a couple of days and am reinvigorated.

When I return on Monday, all quilting bee projects will be number one on my priority list.

If I’m in a quilting bee with you, I apologize. It’s on it’s way before January 1. To those of you in the Simple Strings Bee with me, I am soooooo sorry. My sample coming before Tuesday!

Pie, Potatoes, and Sloppy Joe's

Today I had another opportunity to make a bunch of food, which was pretty fantastic. I’m trying to get this entry in before my sister and her husband arrive from Ohio, so we’ll see how far I get.

Someone in my family has decided that they should spend as much time as possible snacking on the desserts we have for Christmas, so my mom and I decided the best way to combat this would be through making dessert for both tonight and tomorrow night. Plus, there were a couple of pie crusts that had been purchased earlier this year sometime that were going to be past their expiration date this week. So, I decided to make an apple pie and a banana cream pie.

They both should taste alright, I think. The banana cream will be eaten tonight and the apple will be eaten tomorrow. However, neither pie ended up looking very pretty. I’ll include the recipes below, but the pictures are from the preparation process of it.

Tonight for dinner we had our family’s sloppy joe recipe, which we found in a Methodist cookbook, and Dijon potatoes, which tasted delicious. I have a pre-cooking sloppy joe photo, and will get some potato pictures later, as I will undoubtedly be cooking a bunch tomorrow as well.

Now, for the recipes:

 

Caramel Apple Pie, courtesy of Cooking Light
Yield:  12 servings (serving size: 1 pie wedge and 2 teaspoons sauce)

Topping:
1.1 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces

Filling:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
4 cups thinly sliced peeled Granny Smith apple (about 1 1/4 pounds)
3 cups thinly sliced peeled Fuji apple (about 1 pound)
Caramel sauce:
1/2 cup fat-free caramel sundae syrup
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1. To prepare the topping, weigh or lightly spoon 1.1 ounces (about 1/4 cup) flour in a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons butter in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until crumbly. Transfer topping to a bowl; cover and chill.

2. Preheat oven to 375°.

3. To prepare filling, combine granulated sugar and cornstarch in a bowl; stir with a whisk. Add apples; toss to combine. Arrange apple mixture in crust, mounding slightly in the center. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes. Remove from oven; sprinkle evenly with topping. Bake at 375° for 25 additional minutes or until golden. Cool on a wire rack 20 minutes.

4. To prepare sauce, combine caramel syrup and salt. Slice pie into 12 wedges, and serve with sauce.

 

Banana Cream Pie

1 c sugar

2 2/3 Tbsp cornstarch

2 Tbsp flour

2/3 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

3 c milk

2 Tbsp butter

3 eggs, separated

Beat egg yolks, add sugar, milk, salt, cornstarch and flour. Cook until thick. Add vanilla and butter. Cool. Put bananas into baked pie shell. Pour cooled custard over.

Beat eggs until stiff. Gradually add 6 Tbsp sugar. Put on top of custard. Bake in 400 degree oven until golden brown

 

Sloppy Joe’s (BBQs)

5 lb hamburger

½ c bbq sauce

¾ c ketchup

½ tsp chili powder

½ c onion

1 ¼ tsp salt

1/3 c brown sugar

Pepper, dry mustard

Bake at 350 for 1-1 ½ hours

 

 

Dijon Potatoes

1 lb red potatoes

2-3 Tbsp Dijon mustard

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp paprika

1 ½ tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

½ tsp thyme

Wash and dice potatoes. Mix seasoning together and pour over, mixing together. Bake at 400 for 30-35 minutes. If you wish, you can spray with cooking spray in the last 10 minutes to help them crisp up further.

 

 

Mmm…Brownies for a Crowd

I have always gone to school/worked at places that are especially well-known for one dish or another. My high school was well-known for its brownies. I remember this growing up, but had forgotten. A few years ago I came across the recipe and hadn’t thought to make it until last weekend when it was time for the After-After Party and I wanted a quick, yet delicious, after the bar sweet treat. Brownies to the rescue.

Mind you, the brownie recipe below is for a crowd. Not just any crowd. A crowd of at least 4 pans. It makes that much. You’ll see it can easily  be broken down, but there was no way I did that. I made all four pans. I served two, brought one home, and have another in my freezer for a future date. If you’re needing some brownies, talk to me. I’m pretty sure we can make it happen.

In the meantime, the infamous Brownie Recipe

Brownies for a Crowd:

2 pounds butter

1 3/4 Cup cocoa

16 Eggs

1/2 gallon sugar (8 cups)

1/2 gallon flour (8 cups)

1/4 tsp. salt

1/8 cup vanilla

Bake at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  Turn pan after 10 minutes.  Don’t over bake or they will be dry.

Frosting

Melt 1 1/4 cups butter, then add 1 1/4 cups cocoa.  Add 1 1/4 cups milk and bring to just boiling (stir constantly).  Add tbsp. vanilla and powdered sugar to consistency (frosting can appear somewhat runny – it will set as it cools.  Beat well until there are no more lumps (mixer works great).  Frost brownies as soon as they cool.

This recipe makes 2 jelly rolls pans or 4 9×13 pans or a large school sheet pan.

A Family that Plans together stays together?…

One could say my family is the ultimate planning family. As I’ve mentioned before, I have a younger sister with Rett syndrome and because of this, she has thrived on routine at various points in (all of) her life. We, therefore, already having a tendency to plan things out, have gone to the excess of planning. We have always planned, but as of late, I’ve started to notice just how much we plan our lives. It affects my life. I’m not very spontaneous. Instead, I’m a planner. I organize group outings. I prepare for the after-after party. I know what’s coming and what will likely be on my to-do list. I don’t always achieve what I have planned, but I always have a plan.

Sunday afternoon, we sat down and planned our meals for the rest of the week. Our week revolves around my sister and her husband returning from Ohio, my other sister coming home, me being here to help out, and hosting members of both my mom and dad’s family at some point. All-in-all, starting on Wednesday, and lasting until Sunday, I believe that the plan is to have close to 50 people in and out of the house. Over several different meals. Of course, as planners, we would attempt to figure out what we would be eating at these meals. Below is our plan. Are you interested in any specific recipes? Or pictures? I’ll do my best!

Thursday:

  • Lunch: Broccoli Cheese Soup
  • Dinner: Hamburgers and sweet potato fries, broccoli grape salad, pie

Friday:

  • Breakfast: muffins?
  • Dinner: Mom’s side: turkey sandwiches, wild rice, green beans, meatballs, cheese tray, herring, crackers, ice cream & cookies
  • 4 & 7:30, 10 p.m. mass

Saturday:

  • 9a.m. mass
  • Brunch: Pancakes, breakfast sausage or something (Dad)
  • 5:15 mass
  • Dinner: steak, French onion soup, salad, hasselback potatoes, lefse,

Sunday:

  • 8 a.m./10:00 mass
  • Lunch: Dad’s side: beef sandwiches, calico beans, salad, salad, ice cream & cookies, meatballs, meat/cheese tray, spinach artichoke dip

Kringle, Sugar Cookies, and Vanilla Spice Nuts

It’s been a busy weekend at home. I’ve got some pictures of the dishes I made last week, but it seems we have barely sat down since I arrived home mid-afternoon on Saturday.

First and foremost, Friday night. It was a wonderful success, I think. My friends came over after the various shenanigans of earlier in the evening, and we drank cider, ate popcorn, spinach artichoke dip, and nuts, and they all got home safely. I ran two loads in the dishwasher and took off Saturday morning, so it worked out well J

When I arrived home on Saturday, we were in the midst of getting some food ready for a friend of my mom’s. Her husband is recovering from illness, so we did some cooking to help them get ready for Christmas. We made our Christmas tradition: ice cream dessert. It’s like they make at Dairy Queen with the Ice Cream cake, but homemade. Everyone who has ever tasted it has liked it (I think)…so I’ll post that recipe sometime in the future. We’ve done some other prep work and a few other experiments which are the primary purpose of my post today.

First and foremost, we made Kringle. It’s a Norwegian treat, or at least, the Norwegian relatives are the individuals who have always made it. And, when I get down to it, my mom is the only one of my relatives I ever remember making/bring it to family gatherings. I don’t know if it’s something people perceive as difficult or why no one else makes it. I am pretty sure we’ve made it every Christmas during my life. Kringle is pretty good. It’s a nice contrast to the sweets we find at the holidays because it’s a little more bland (in a good way).

 

Norwegian Kringle

1 ½ c sour cream

1 tsp baking soda

Mix together.

Add:

1 c sugar

3 egg yolks

½ tsp vanilla

3 c flour

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

Place dough in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Form into figure eight (like a pretzel) and bake until slightly brown, at 350, approximately 8 minutes

 

I also spent part of the weekend decorating the sugar cookies I had baked last weekend. I am pretty pleased with how they turned out. My decorating skills weren’t that great this weekend. I can tell I’m out of practice. And that I like the detail I can do with royal icing. I just like the flavor of real frosting better, so I went with real frosting for this year’s Christmas cookies!

 

Sugar Cookies

1 ½ c butter, softened

2 c white sugar

4 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

5 c flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

In a large bowl, combine butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt.

Cover and chill dough at least one hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 400. Roll out dough and cut with a cookie cutter. Bake 6-8 minutes (or up to 10)

 

Frosting for Décor

1 2/3 c Crisco (white, not butter)

1/8 tsp butter flavor

1 tsp vanilla

3 Tbsp cold water

¾ tsp salt

¼ tsp almond flavor

3 Tbsp evaporated milk

2 lb powdered sugar

Mix at low speed. Thin with warm water. Lasts two weeks on countertop.

 

 

 

And, one recipe I think I neglected for last week’s party:

Vanilla Spice Nuts

Ingredients

1  tablespoon  vanilla extract

1  large egg white

1  cup  sliced almonds

1  cup  pecan halves

1  cup  macadamia nuts

1/4  cup  sugar

1  teaspoon  kosher salt

3/4  teaspoon  ground cinnamon

3/4  teaspoon  ground allspice

1/4  teaspoon  ground cardamom

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 325°.

2. Combine 1 tablespoon vanilla extract and egg white in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk until foamy. Stir in nuts. Combine sugar and the remaining ingredients in a small bowl, and sprinkle sugar mixture over nuts, tossing to coat. Place nut mixture on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 325° for 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven. Turn off oven. Toss nuts, and break large pieces apart. Return pan to oven, and leave pan in oven for 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

(Courtesy of Cooking Light)

And, I’ve added pics from last week 🙂