Friday, November 6, 2009

Abbev. Baking Day

Today, I had grand plans of making a number of things.  Grand plans turned into somewhat lackluster results, but results, nonetheless. 
With the holidays approaching, I am preparing in a number of ways.  One of these is baking and freezing some things ahead of time.  I tend to make lots of food gifts for friends and usually end up baking myself into a stupor mid December.  Well, this year, we are going out of town for the holidays; so I will need to bake myself into a stupor in a more methodical manner this time around. 

On the list for the day:
Cheesecake (for a friend - long overdue)
Vanilla Scones
Smoky Pecans
Coconut-Pecan Cookie Tarts

What made it to fruition?  Sadly, only the Vanilla Scones and the Smoky Pecans (both recipes from Southern Living Christmas Cookbook, latest edition).   Sorry, long overdue, cheesecake deserving friend and family.

Here's the rundown:  I got started on the pecans first and after getting them in the oven realized I should have doubled the batch because they could not be easier to do.  The crazy thing about this recipe is the aroma knocks you back when you go to stir them while they are in the oven...Whoa!  Step back!  The resulting flavor is not nearly as knock your socks off (thankfully), but it is distinct.  These will work well packaged in small bags for my gift baskets this Christmas. 

While the pecans were in the oven, I got started on the scones.  Pretty easy recipe to throw together.  I got them prepped for the oven in the time it takes to make the pecans and get the oven to preheat a little higher for the scones.  I am not the most scone friendly person out there, but I tried these to make sure they were edible before throwing them in the freezer.  They were pretty good and I could see myself sipping some warm beverage whilst nibbling on one.  Better yet, I could see various friends of mine doing this as well.  They make the Christmas food gift list.  I did make them into mini-scones, if you could call them that, instead of what must have otherwise been scones for Frankenstein's monster.  The recipe says they make 8, I made 16.  So if you want to call them Mini Vanilla Scones, go ahead, but I don't think anyone will be complaining about the small portion size. 

Could I have done more today?  Yeah.  Did I?  No.  And that, my dear friend, is why there are seven weeks to Christmas and many more baking days available.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Ham Happiness

For those of you who have read past posts regarding my slow cooker adventures, you will not be surprised to hear that it was with great trepidation that I served tonight's dinner.  As I prepared tonight's foray into the world of slow cooking, I realized, "this may not go well."  You may know one of the rules to slow cooking food is: always add liquid.  This recipe lacked liquid.  I was apprehensive. 
Let me give you the rundown for the evening.  We invited Ken and Conni (Drew's parents) and Stacie and Morgan over for dinner.  Sometime this afternoon I put together the recipe from Fix it and Forget It: Ham and Scalloped Potatoes.  The worst part of the preparation (don't hate me PC) was the slicing of the potatoes.  I used my new and improved, much safer mandoline from PC.  It took quite a while to slice all nine potatoes required for this recipe, so long in fact that I didn't slice the last two.  I gave up.  This mandoline does not seem to work as easily as the last incarnation.  Granted the last incarnation nearly cut my thumb off twice.  This one seems to require much more force behind it and I had to cut each poato in half and then put it on the little food pusher thing, then get it all lined up.  This process took a good 20 minutes.  Not my idea of fun, but I could also blame this on my stubborness.  I had a knife that works and I could have just as easily sliced the potatoes thin, but then I could not rant about the mandoline.  (Remember, I told you PC, you can't hate).   All that said, I got the whole thing together and then checked the recipe for the third or fourth time to try to see where I had missed the liquid.  Alas, there was no liquid and I began to fret.
I moved on to dessert next.  I made Ultimate Chocolate Pudding from Christmas with Southern Living 2009.  I enjoyed the process of making pudding from scratch because, I confess, I have never done this.  I used Ghiradelli cocoa for this attempt and I was very pleased with the results.  I tried a little bit off the spatula, then I tried a little more, and I little more.  Then I had to put the bowl in the sink and run water over it to make sure I did not lick the whole bowl.  If you have never made chocolate pudding from scratch, I highly recommend it.  It was good even whilst warm.  I put it in individual serving bowls and chilled it until after dinner.

So, the reckoning came and I was still very nervous.  I had forewarned our dinner guests that if it was awful, we would order pizza.  AND...It turned out o.k.  In fact, it was better than o.k., it was good, even great.  Everyone really liked it and Ken even got seconds (not a normal thing for him since the stroke).  It was a hit!  It don't know what you are doing to me slow cooker, but you get me every time.  Someday, I will understand your whims and ways.  Tonight, I was just happy that it worked!  Oh, I must add that this does not photograph well, so you will just have to imagine a wonderfully constructed, yet somewhat ugly dish with all the comfort of home.  We served this with crescent rolls and green beans.  A pretty well rounded meal.

Then we had coffee (well a couple of us did) and dessert. The pudding was wonderful!  Mmmm!  The biggest fan was Connil.  I can add this one to the list of her favorites.  She would like for me to consider making her a pudding sandwich.  I will consider this at some future date, after I have gotten over the shuddering. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sublime Sandwiches

We have been taking it easy around here in the way of meals.  I am not sure why.  There is a part of me that thinks you would not be interested to hear about the most recent kitchen adventure, but still I want to tell it for one simple reason...Turkey sublime.

We ventured out to Super Target the other day with a coupon and a short list of grocery items we needed.  When we got to the deli counter to order the ham needed for a previously reviewed recipe, we noticed a turkey they have seasonally.  It is cranberry orange roasted turkey.  Drew and I are averse to cranberry (for the most part) and Drew does not prefer citrusy foods.  Nonetheless, we asked the friendly and helpful deli man about the turkey and he gave us a sample of said deliciousness.  As you may have already figured out: it. was. wonderful.  We were really surprised (this is the second surprise food-like for Drew in the past week) and delighted.   We immediately ordered a half pound for Drew's sandwiches for lunch.

A couple of nights ago, I was feeling a little less than motivated to get in the kitchen and truly cook, so I suggested to Drew we have sandwiches with the turkey.  He (in the way of Elf) said, "YES!"  It was wonderful.  I added white cheddar and onion to mine and needed nothing else.  Drew had half turkey and cheddar (with mustard) and half salami and provolone (with mustard).  We threw some chips with it and viola: a wonderful, easy dinner - very fall too. 

So, I say to you, dear reader, run out to Super Target and purchase some of this Turkey because it is only available until the end of November.   *This is not a paid promotion of Super Target*