Monday, July 25, 2011

What's on the Other Side?

One stormy afternoon couple of months ago, BonnieBlue looked out the window and in a breathless, only-in-the-way-an-awed-4-year-old-can-say-it, whispered, "Mom! Come look! A rainbow!" We did better than look; we went out on the porch. And then she realized it was a double rainbow.

 She was beside herself at the sight.

And then I realized we could see the other ends! That doesn't happen often (I don't think).

I hope I always remember that day (with my memory, not a sure thing) because she was so awed and we had such a wonderful conversation about what is at the ends, do unicorns live on rainbows, etc., etc. Good times.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Monday, July 18, 2011

Mexican Goulash

The 2nd entry for's definition of goulash is "a heterogeneous mixture; hodgepodge; jumble."

The perfect name for this meal I cooked yesterday.

I was inspired by a recipe on The Simple Dollar, one of the blogs I regularly visit. Every week or so, Trent shares a simple healthy meal that he's fixed for his family. First, I am so jealous that he cooks for his family. If Rhett did that, even once a week, I'd think I'd died and gone to heaven. Second, the recipes are usually pretty easy and flexible, so that you can usually substitute in whatever is on hand (at least vegetable-wise).

You can find his recipe, my inspiration, for Enchilada Casserole here. I won't reprint it; I'll just give my version.

Some notes of interest (about the commenters) before I start: Brittany, being from Texas, thought that Trent's dish was "the most Midwestern enchildas" she had ever seen. I kind of thought the same, which is why I call mine goulash, though I kept the "Mexican" moniker. Julia wondered about how uncooked tortillas would work in this recipe. I use only uncooked tortillas now (TortillaLand tortillas from Coscto) because they are delicious. I mean best. toritillas. ever. So I was curious,  too. Cheryl suggested crisping the tortillas in the oven and then crushing them before putting them in the crockpot. I took the first part of her suggestion, but not the second. When I make them again, I will likely leave them out entirely, because when I served this dish I also served TortillaLand tortillas on the side, heated up in a frying pan, and then cut into quarters, and that was a nice addition.

So, without further ado, Mexican Goulash:
Ingredients (substitute, delete, and/or add whatever works for you):
1 can diced tomatoes
1 large tomato, chopped
1/2 large zuchinni, chopped (in retrospect,  I would have used the entire veg)
10 baby peppers (or one large)
1 medium onion, chopped
(Spinach is pictured here, but I actually forgot to the put it in; I would have added 2 large handfuls
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (I like to rinse off as much of the sodium as possible)
2 tsp minced garlic (or 4 fresh cloves)
16 oz frozen corn
2 T chili powder
1 T cumin
1 T basil
1 T oregano
1 tsp cilantro
1 - 2 cups ground turkey/ground beef mixture, already cooked

Chop up everything except beans, rice and tortillas, and mix in a large bowl (add the beans to the bowl but not the rice and tortillas). You might notice a green bean in this picture; we had 5 lonely green beans left over from a gift from someone's garden this week, so I chopped them up and threw them in.

If using already cooked tortillas straight from a package, or not including tortillas in the crockpot, skip this step. If you're going to use uncooked tortillas, crisp them up in an oven set at 400 degrees. After 8 min, turn and cook for 5 more min. The above are before the turn. Your oven might be different, so keep an eye on them and adjust the time if necessary.
Spray crockpot with Pam or something similar. Place about a fourth of the veggie mix in bottom, place tortillas on top (or omit and serve tortillas on the side), and keep layering until the veggie mix is gone. End with veggie mix on top.

This is what it looks like before you put the lid on the crockpot and cook on high for one hour and then low for 4-6 hours (or low for entire 7-8 hours). Serve with rice and sour cream (that's Midwestern!).

I forgot to get a picture of the food plated (mostly because by that time, we had guests over). This fed 5 adults, with seconds for 2 of them, and there was still some left over. Which I had for lunch just now on a freshly cooked tortilla. Yum.

And remember that chocolate cake with coconut sour cream icing I made last week? I made it again and we had that for dessert.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


I'm going to IKEA tomorrow. I  love IKEA. One reason is this:

Call me crazy, but I love their swedish meatball meal. I forgot that on Tuesdays the meal is under $3! I'm going tomorrow, and even though it's not on sale, I'm having IKEA meatballs for lunch!

I'm also buying this for BonnieBlue:
BonnieBlue has a cute little dollhouse that she doesn't play with much and I think it's because it's on the floor. So I'm getting this to put it on. You can put shelves or bins inside; I'm going to get bins for storing her shoes and her dollhouse family and furniture.

I think I'm also going to buy this:
It's on sale for $15! My halogen lamp that I've had for about 15 years finally gave up the ghost, so it's time for a new one. Rhett has FINALLY agreed to get the living room painted, so I can actually start "decorating." Perhaps someday my house won't look like a couple of college kids live here.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Rules are made to be broken

As a rule, I do not make cakes from scratch. This is mostly because I think cake mixes are so dang easy, and imho, taste pretty dang good.

Not anymore.

This is quite possibly THE MOST AMAZING cake I have ever tasted. And I made it myself, thank you very much. My dessert-loving mama would be so proud if she were alive today.

As usual, I found it on a blog, but when I went back to my  3 usual food blogs, it wasn't there, so it must be on a site I do not usually stalk. When I tried to google it, I still coudn't find it. I'm pretty sure it was on one of those "round-up" editions of a blog where people link up things they've done the past week to share them with everyone. Skip to My Lou is probably my favorite, and I made a good-faith effor just now and looked through the past 2 "Made by you Mondays" to try to find it, with no luck. God bless those round-ups; I've found so many cool things that way.

Anyhoo, sorry to the person who deserves the credit, but this cake is too good not to share! Of course, you really can't go wrong when there is cream in the cake AND sour cream in the frosting!

Chocolate Cake with Sour Cream Icing and Coconut
 Ha! When I went to copy and paste the recipe look at what I did! I guess I was so tired of not remembering where I got recipes that I included the link when I took it from the website!

Chocolate Cake with Coconut Cream Recipe

By Woman's Day Kitchen from Woman's Day
January 1, 2011

BUT! I went to the site so that I could double check the link and then just link you to the recipe, but it didn't work. Don't know what that's all about. So here's the recipe, with my changes, additions, suggestions, etc.
Cake Ingredients Cooking spray and flour, for the pan (I am my mother's daughter and use Crisco when "greasing" a pan)
1 3/4 c flour (I use Costco's high fiber flour in all my this time)
3/4 c unsweetened powdered cocoa (I used an 8-year-old unopened can of Hershey's...still good!)
1 1/2 c granulated sugar
1/2 c packed brown suger (I didn't pack so hard)
1 1⁄2 tsp baking soda
1⁄2 tsp baking powder
1⁄2 tsp kosher salt (just happened to have this on hand; can't imagine regular salt wouldn't do just fine)
1 c whole milk (I only had heavy cream on hand; probably one of the reasons it turned out so yummy!)
1⁄2 c canola oil (my oil of choice for baking)
2 large eggs (I used 2 small-medium eggs and added 1/3 cup egg whites from a carton)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract (I used 3 tsp)
3/4 c boiling water

Icing Ingredients1 1⁄2 cups heavy cream
1⁄2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1⁄4 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 cups unsweetened coconut (I used sweetened)
(I tasted the icing before I iced the cake and the sour cream taste was so overwhelming, I was startled. After I iced it and let it sit in 'fridge for a few hours, it tasted great. But I am going to add a tsp of vanilla to the icing next time just to see if it tastes as good or better)
Recipe Preparation
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease two 8 x 2-in. round cake pans (me - Crisco!). Line bottoms with wax paper; spray the paper (love this idea!). Dust with flour.
2. Whisk together flour, cocoa, sugars, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a large measuring cup or bowl, whisk together milk, oil, eggs and vanilla. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and mix until fully incorporated.
3. Add the boiling water to the batter and mix well to combine (the batter will be thin).
4. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Icing Preparation1. With an electric mixer, beat the heavy cream, sour cream and confectioners’ sugar in a large bowl until stiff peaks form (if adding vanilla, do so here).
2. Place one of the cakes on a platter and spread 1 cup frosting over the top. (Don't be stingy; I was. The cake would have been tons better with a nice full middle icing layer, and there's plenty of icing to do it. Also, I thought it would be great to add raspberry freezer jam to the icing for this part.)
3. Gently place other cake on top and frost with the remaining icing. Sprinkle coconut all over the cake. Serve immediately or refrigerate, up to 1 day. (I had it for 3 days and it actually gets better the longer it's in the 'fridge!)

This would be a great cake for a low-key wedding. For other occasions, the cake would look elegant with cocoa powder sprinkled on top. But I have to say, my pictures don't do it justice; it's a gorgeous-looking cake!).

Friday, July 8, 2011

stuffed cookies

The Picky Palate is one of a few cooking blogs I stalk, albeit not too often, mostly because during the time I was a new and regular follower, a lot of her posts were "treats." When I review her recipes overall, that is not the case, but my impression at the time was definitely "If I make and eat even half the stuff she blogs about, I'm going to get fat(ter)!"

Also, in one recent post she writes, "It has been so much fun seeing my stuffed cookies being made around the web." I was reading another blog a few months ago who made a somewhat veiled reference to the copycatter who was posting "stuffed cookies" even though she was the first to blog about stuffed cookies. Both women seem to believe that they invented the "stuffed cookie"; however, a Google search of "stuffed cookies" brings up entries from as early as 2005. There are likely some earlier than that but I had to stop searching because I have to get some work done during my day.

I get kind of annoyed at bloggers who think they "invented" or "created" something original and then get really protective of it. I mean, come on. What are the chances that NOBODY ever did/made/thought of that particular item EVER before?!
Anyhoo, I bring up stuffed cookies because I did actually make Picky Palate's oreo-stuffed cookies for Rhett and couple of other men whom I respect for Father's Day. The wow factor (not from Rhett, who is not easily impressed) was impressive. I will make these again.

Easy directions: Make your favority chocolate chip cookie recipe (Some people say that if you use a recipe with butter, it won't work as well as a recipe with shortening; 'bah!' I say. I don't eat cookies made with shortening, so I just added a tad more flour to the recipe). Place an oreo on a small scoop of cookie dough and place a small scoop of cookie dough on top of the oreo, smush, seal, and bake per cookie recipe directions (usually 350 degrees for 11 min).