Pink Marshmallow Cornflake Candy Heart with Cinnamon

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Pink Marshmallow Cornflake Candy Heart with Cinnamon

My husbands favorite Christmas treat is the Cornflake wreath, made with marshmallows and green food coloring.  I’ve been hearing about his favorite Christmas treats for years, but never got exactly what they were called.  Finally, Christmas 2010, he tells me that it’s the Rice Krispie treats he loves, colored green, with red cinnamon candies.  My little boy and I made a big batch of Rice Krispie treats, colored green, with red cinnamon candies.  We were very proud that we made Daddy’s favorite Christmas treat.  When Chris came home we proudly showed him our creation.  To which he says, that’s not like Mom makes it.  Oh. Really.  Just HOW does Mom make them?  He informs us that she uses Corn flakes, not rice krispies.  I remind him, HE said, Rice Krispie treats.

Flash forward to Christmas 2011.  Again.  All we hear about is the favorite, elusive, Christmas treat his Mom makes.  The year before, his Mom made him some, but they were eaten before we were able to get there, in her defense; she does live 5 hours away, and they are really good……

I let him know, since he can not decide what the treats are called, the ingredients, or how they are made,  he will need to produce a recipe, or there will be NO favorite treats for him unless his Mom makes them and he goes to retrieve them before they are eaten.

Finally, a few days before Christmas, I received two e-mails from him each with a recipe attached.  He assured me the recipe is the one his Mom uses.  I, unfortunately, did not get around to making them for him.  I have felt bad about it, so I decided I would make them for him for Valentines day.  A real surprise, don’t you think? He better like them. Just kidding. Okay. No. I’m serious.  (grin)

Here’s what you will need.

Pink Marshmallow Cornflake Candy Heart with Cinnamon

2 small jars of marshmallow creme

1 stick of butter

1 teaspoon of Vanilla extract

Cinnamon hard candies

Pink decorating sugar crystals

red food coloring

4 1/2 cups corn flakes

In a *double boiler combine the  marshmallow creme, butter, and a couple of cinnamon hard candies

Melt together then add the vanilla,

2 drops of red food coloring,

shake some pink sugar crystals then

mix well until a lovely pink color

Add the Corn flakes gently stirring to mix well

Spoon into a heart-shaped pan, or on to a cookie sheet and form into a heart shape

Sprinkle more pink sugar crystals and arrange the cinnamon candies into heart shapes

Let cool and serve

You could also make small heart shapes instead of one big one, pipe a frosting bow on the hearts and shake pink sugar crystals on it

*Note:  If you don’t have a double boiler, you can use a ovenproof or stainless steel bowl and a large pot.  Place water (don’t fill it up, just about 1/4 way) in the pot.  Put the bowl on top (it must fit on top, and not IN the pot).  Heat the water until it steams then you’ll see the butter and marshmallow creme melting.

Easy, Delicious Burgundy Beef Meatballs in the slow cooker

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Several years ago I discovered Rachel Ray. Not literally, as in, I’m who found her and made her famous. I mean, I found her show, “30 Minute Meals”, on the Food Network. I learned how to cook from her, mostly. I did learn some things from my Mom and Sister, but at a young age I was not interested in cooking, so foolishly, I didn’t seek to learn from them. Now, I want to learn from them, from Rachel Ray and from anyone who is willing to give me recipes along with some instructions as needed. One of my favorite, “30 Minute Meal” recipes is the Beef Burgundy, or Beef Bourguignonne, as is the official title.

Recently I was looking through a cook book and found a lovely slow cooker recipe for Meatballs in red wine. That started the wheels turning, and I have combined the two recipes to come up with Burgundy Beef Meatballs. My son liked the egg noodles, but not the meatballs. He likes the regular meatballs with spaghetti sauce, but not so much the burgundy meatballs. He is, after all, just 4 so I wasn’t too surprised the flavor’s didn’t appeal to him. My husband and I, however, devoured them, last night as well as tonight. They taste even better when allowed to sit over night.

The meatball recipe I will give makes a lot of meatballs, so I used some for the spaghetti dinner one night then froze the remainder of them.

For the slow cooker, or crock pot, recipe you’ll have to plan on eating this the next day. The reason being, the meatballs need to be frozen in order to be able to cook them all day without turning them into golf balls. It’s worth it, trust me, I’m the queen of not wanting to take more than a few minutes or an hour to cook, much less one whole day, but you’ll be glad you did! Apparently, I’m also the queen of run-on sentences.

I’ll give an alternative at the bottom though, if you don’t want to wait.

Meatballs:

2 lbs. ground beef

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups regular bread crumbs

11/2 teaspoon cilantro leaves

1 large shallot finely diced

1/4 teaspoon pepper

4 strips thick cut bacon

2 tablespoons flour

Beef stock

Mix the all the ingredients together (except bacon, flour and stock)

Line a baking dish with foil Shape into ‘golf ball’ sized balls, you’ll want about 30 meatballs for the slow cooker

Place in prepared pan (no need to grease or use oil)

Bake in a 350 oven for 30 minutes or until the meatballs are no longer pink in the middle

While the meatballs are baking:

Fry the bacon in a skillet until crispy

Remove and place on paper towel lined plate

Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease

Keep heat on medium,

add the flour and stir until combined and a lovely shade of light brown, being careful not to burn

Add the beef stock 1/2 a cup at a time and stir with whisk until there are no lumps and the gravy starts to thin a bit

You don’t want a very thick gravy

Crumble the bacon into the gravy

After the meatballs are cooked through, add them to the gravy and let them cool

Once cool, place the meatballs AND gravy in a zip lock baggie, or freezer safe container and place in the freezer overnight

The next day, or whenever you are ready to make the Burgundy Beef Meatballs, place the frozen meatballs with the gravy in your slow cooker and add the following:

1 bag Pearl Onions

4 sprigs of Thyme or 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme

2 Bay leaves

2 1/2 cups red wine

1 1/2 tsp dried Oregano

1 cup Sliced mushrooms (preferably not from a can)

2 cups of beef stock

1 cup water

Cook on high for 4 -5 hours or on low for 8 hours

Serve with egg noodles

If you don’t want to wait overnight then simply add the above ingredients into the skillet with, a very thin, gravy. Add the meatballs, allow to simmer together for about 30 minutes, watching carefully that the gravy doesn’t burn, or thicken too much.

Store left overs together with the egg noodles, overnight in the fridge, you will love the way the flavors melt into each other. Divine!

One Pot Chicken Pot Pie

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I love this recipe for Chicken Pot Pie.  I use to hate pot pies, with all the crust and meat, it was all too much for me. When I was a kid, I hated pot pie.  I didn’t think there was anything good about serving a kid a pie crust filled with meat and vegetables.  I hadn’t eaten a pot pie since  my Mom had served me the last one when I was a kid.  Here I am, several (cough) years later and I am in love with Chicken Pot Pie.  Another cook book received last Christmas, gave me the idea for this super easy, super fast recipe.  I modified it, of course.  My whole family adores this recipe, the Chicken pot pie does not last long in this house.

I have a 10″ enameled cast iron pan that I cook/bake my pot pie in.  I posted a recipe for,Slow Cooked Lemon Chicken and this is what I did with the left over chicken.  There are only “so many days” one can eat the same thing.  Chef Michael Symon was commenting on his FB page about food waste, so I’m trying to keep my food waste down and join the  Food Network tackles food waste. In that spirit, I chopped up the remainder of the Lemon Chicken and added it to the pot pie recipe.  YUM!

 

 

 

 

 

One Pot Chicken Pot Pie:

1 Can Chicken broth
salt & pepper to taste
Reduced fat milk
3 tbl spoons butter
2 shallots chopped
3 Carrotts chopped
3 celery stalks chopped
2 cups left over veggies you would like to use
1/3 cup flour
2 cups cooked chicken
1/2 tsp thyme leaves
1 tbl spoon cilantro chopped
1 frozen pastry pie crust

Melt butter in the same pan you will be baking the pot pie in and sautee the veggies until soft, sprinkle the salt.
Add the flour and slightly brown

 

In a measuring cup pour chicken broth and milk to make 2 cups add to the veggies and cook until the mixture boils and thickens.
Take the pie crust out of the tin and place on top of the pot pie.
I invert the tin and push it onto the mixture.  I don’t  smooth it out because once it gets into the hot oven it will form to the pie.

With a sharp knife slice some steam vents in the crust

 

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes until golden brown

http://www.amazon.com/Favorite-Brand-Name-Best-Loved-Casseroles/dp/0785334238

Slow Cooked, Lemon Chicken

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Last year I was given a large Crock Pot for Christmas, or slow cooker.  This year, I was given a fantastic cook book to go along with it.  It’s called “Fix-It and Forget-It, Christmas Cookbook, 600 Slow Cooker Holiday Recipes.”  I am really enjoying this cookbook. There is nothing better than the smell of slow cooked meals permeating the house.
My husband picked out the Lemon Chicken recipe and I modified it a bit to suit how I like to cook.  I don’t like to cook things before I, well, cook them.  So if a recipe calls for braising, or browning, I usually won’t.  Such is the case with this recipe.

MY NOTES:  I did not brown the chicken pieces.  I used about 7 lbs of pre-cut thighs with the skin on.  I also didn’t thaw the lemonade I just put it on top of the chicken and I added lots of pepper.  I love lemon pepper chicken.   I also added the cornstarch to the slow cooker at the beginning.  I got a little ahead of myself, as I just realized I was suppose to add it at the end.  While I was typing it into this blog to be exact.  It didn’t make too much of a difference.  This recipe is delicious and could even be used as a BBQ for the summer.  The chicken is so tender it falls off the bone and most of the above ingredients are found in sweet BBQ sauce. I suggest adding some “red pepper flakes” for some kick and serving with baked beans and cole slaw.  A very versatile and delicious dinner!

 

 

 

 

“Lemon Chicken
Judy Newman
St. Mary’s Ontario Canada
Fix-It and Forget-It by Phyllis Pellman Good
Good Books, Intercourse, PA 17534

Makes 10-12 servings

Prep. Time: 25 minutes
Cooking Time: 3-4 hours
Ideal slow cooker size: 5 qt.

1/4-1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
5-6 lbs. chicken, cut into pieces
2-4 Tbsp. oil, divided
1 can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. ketchup
1 Tbsp. vinegar
2 Tbsp. cold water
2 Tbsp. cornstarch

  1. Combine flour and salt in a shallow bowl.  Dredge chicken pieces in it, one at a time.
  2. Place 2 Tbsp. oil in large skillet.  Brown several pieces of chicken in oil at a time.  Be careful not to crowd the skillet, or the chicken will steam and not brown.  Continue until all pieces are browned on both sides, adding more oil as necessary.
  3. As you finish browning pieces of chicken, place them in slow cooker.
  4. In a mixing bowl, whisk together lemonade concentrate, brown sugar, ketchup and vinegar.  Pour over chicken
  5. Cover.  Cook on High 3-4 hours.
  6. Remove chicken, place on platter, cover with foil and keep warm.
  7. In a small bowl blend cold water into cornstarch.
  8. Stir into juices in slow cooker until well blended. Cover and continue cooking juices several minutes, until thickened and bubbly.
  9. Spoon some of thickened juice over chicken to serve.
  10. Place remaining juices in serving bowl and pass as topping for chicken and cooked rice…..”

Handmade Alpaca Wool winter hat & scarf, and a beaded faux collar

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I found this beautiful beaded necklace in a box of my Omi’s jewelry.  Mom had passed it on to me after Omi died.  I wasn’t able to look through everything, it was just too hard.  I decided to make myself sit down and look, Omi’s been in Heaven since December of 2006.  It was full of the lovely pins and things Omi loved.  As a young woman in Germany she had been a costume jewelry designer.  She loved to work with beads, needle point, cross-stitch, knitting so many creative ways to use her hands.  She still did her needle work until just before her death when her shaking hands made it difficult to yield a needle accurately.  It turns out, this beaded necklace belongs to my Mom but she never used it. I took one look and knew that I would put it to use.  What a creative way to dress up a plain sweater.  It’s a necklace, but looks like a lace collar.  I just love it.  

Growing up I learned to crochet, cross-stitch and sew. I really enjoy making things, but mostly in the winter time.  I’m not very “crafty” in the spring or summer for some reason.  To me, there is nothing better than sitting in my recliner in front of a fire, with a nice cup of coffee reading or creating something.  I also like to see results pretty quickly, so crocheting was fun but it took so much time to make anything that it is a little frustrating for me.  It took me about 3-4 weeks to crochet my little boy a hat and scarf out of  Baby Alpaca wool, a little longer for the hat.  I wasn’t very happy with the scarf but the hat I really like.

Crochete Hat and Scarf

I have also made many Patchwork Stockings. I usually sew them by hand, but more recently I’ve gone to sewing them on the sewing machine.  I enjoy sewing, but with a small child it’s nearly impossible to sit for any length of time in order to get anything done.  Sewing things together requires lining up the material and sewing in a straight line.  It’s very hard to accomplish this when you pick it up, the put it down to do something, then pick it back up again.  Most of my time would be spent straightening it up, as well as, disentangling the thread.  Not fun.  Here are some examples of the stockings I’ve made.  The two on the sides I used a photo material to print off pictures and sew them into the stockings.  The middle stocking I started cross-stitching but realized 1/4 of the way through that it was off center.  My German grandmother, Omi, was the only person I knew that could fix it and enjoy the challenge of it.  Omi finished it, them my Mom completed it by sewing in a liner and the cuff.  It’s very special to me, as you can imagine.

I decided to try knitting.  My friend Ana knits and makes a lot of things, quicker than I ever could crocheting.  While Mom was here, Ana came over and to everyone’s surprise, Ana and Mom knit the same way.  What’s so surprising about that?  Apparently there are different knitting methods, Mom referred to hers as “The German way”, when she showed us, Ana told us that’s the same way she knits.  The lady I now buy my Alpaca wool from knits the “American way”, which looks much to complicated to me.  Between my Mom, Ana and a couple other sources, I have learned to knit.  Their method is relatively quick and easy.  I love it.  Here is one of the hats I’ve knitted.  I can knock out a hat in 2 to 3 days of knitting an hour or so a day.  I have found that Alpaca wool is very nice to knit with.  It seems to be easier and not so prone to knots as synthetic or blended yarns.  I have been knitting a scarf out of polyester and wool, it is taking me forever, it knots easily and doesn’t seem to “flow” as nicely as the Alpaca wool.   I used a worsted weight (tan) and a sport weight (black) in this hat.  The sport weight was too fine for me to knit a hat for a man. It would have been good for a woman, but to dainty for a man’s hat.  So I used them both.  It’s a very soft and warm hat.  My husband has a tan one, and this one is for his co-worker who asked me to knit him one also.  They are outside a lot and these hats are so warm without being itchy.

I used circular needles to knit this hat.  A key to knitting with circular needles, use small needles with a circumference smaller than you want the hat to be.  Otherwise the yarn will stretch and the hat will be misshapen.   I wasn’t sure how to finish the top of the hat, so while at the Alpaca farm I asked Mary how she did it.  She told me to use “double-pointed” needles.  I didn’t want to take up any more of her time, so I went to the craft store, bought a small “learn to knit” guide, some double-pointed needles and went home.  The instructions were a little confusing, so I figured it out myself.  I kept dropping stitches trying to knit with the end of each double-pointed needle.  I found using an empty needle to knit onto is easier.  I knit this hat to the very last stitch on top then tied it off, using a crochet hook to work the tail of yarn into the hat.

No recipes today, maybe some advice.  If you feel like you don’t have anything to do, find something.  Knitting, sewing, cross-stitch, puzzles…..just keep your mind active in a positive way.  If you don’t know how to knit, look on “you tube” there are many very nice instructional videos to be found on there.  I found a site that shows, step-by-step, how to crochet lovely flowers….I can’t wait to get started!

Slow Cooked, White wine & Plum Chicken Breasts

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I got a Slow-cooker cook book for Christmas.  It is super!  I found a delicious recipe for slow cooking chicken breasts.  The only problem, I didn’t have some of the ingredients.  I didn’t want to go back out to get them so I created my own recipe with the help of my Mother-in-law, Susan.  When I was listing the ingredients I would be using, she suggested using the dried plums, or prunes.  It added a really nice flavor undertone.

 

 

Slow Cooked, White wine & Plum Chicken Breasts:


4 large frozen Chicken Breast (skin less)

Fresh Ginger root

10 dried plums (prunes) *see note

2 cups White Wine

1 can of Chicken Stock

1 package of French Onion Soup mix

3 crushed garlic cloves

Salt and Pepper to taste

 

In a slow cooker, place the frozen chicken breasts

Pour wine & Chicken stock over the chicken

Sprinkle the dry soup mix on the moistened chicken so it sticks a little

Peel the ginger-root then cut about 10 thin slices of ginger and place in the cooker

Add the remaining ingredients

Cook on Low for 3-4 hours

 

*Note: I must say it turned out very well, just one note of caution.  The fruit absorbed the taste of the alcohol and ginger, so I wouldn’t recommend eating it.

 

 

Crazy New Year Traditions

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As I get older I’ve taken a turn for the boring where New Year is concerned.  As a child, I was anxious to stay up late and ring in the New Year.  Dreams of elaborate, elegant parties in beautiful dresses, with champagne and confetti pouring all night, kissing my dream man at the stroke of midnight, by a pianist playing Auld Land Syne on a black Grand Piano.  Then walking the streets hand in hand as revelers passed wishing us Happy New Year everyone all smiles and well wishes.

As a teen I was able to stay up late to ring in the new year. No elaborate parties, just a family gathering where Non-alcoholic grape bubbly was served along with Cherries Jubilee, black-eyed peas and other foods I would only eat on New Years.

In my college years I stayed up late on New Years Eve, working.  Yes, every New Year for 4 years I was sitting inside the Community Center on my life guard stand watching a bunch of teens swimming and enjoying themselves on New Years Eve.  At the stroke of midnight, Steve (who also had to work) and I would run into the hallway, a quick “Happy New Year” peck and back to our stations.  Our food of the evening?  If the chaperones thought about it, we had pizza.  If not, we had whatever was in the vending machine.   Still no elegant parties……..but at Mom’s always ham with black-eyed peas.

After I graduated from college and moved to Myrtle Beach, we went clubbing until the New Year came in.  Going home smelling of the club we had just left, smoke and stale beer.  Ick.  Oh, no food too lazy to cook for myself, feeling guilty because I just knew my New Year was going to be awful because I didn’t have any black-eyed peas.

Where were the elegant parties?  The ones I saw on tv as a child?  I guess they are still on the tv being watched by some other young kid with dreams of romance on New Years Eve.  After I moved back to the beautiful state of Virginia,  New Years Eve was spent on the ski slopes, then bouncing from house party to  house party bored out of my head and waiting as each minute drag by to the New Year.  Slowly my New Years Eve revelry dissipated to sitting at home watching the ball drop then lighting sparklers to ring in the New Year.  Texting, “Happy New Year” to a few people then going to bed.  Dinner? Left overs, but always black-eyed peas.

In case you’ve missed the theme, Black-eyed peas.  I’ve never had the movie themed New Year I dreamed of as a kid, probably because it doesn’t exist, but I’ve almost always had Black-eyed peas.  So my favorite New Year traditional food is……..  Black-eyed peas.

 

http://newyears.noo.com/ Picture credit.  This site in no way is endorsing the website from whom the pictures is credited.