Saturday, March 25, 2017

Banana Rum Shuttles

Hello, everybody! Mary Jane here and this is a repeat post. This cold has really kicked me to the curb. Everything has been on hold for a few weeks but I finally gave in and now I've got some powerful antibiotics on board. Here's to recovering quickly and SPEEDBO! 

So, this is a repeat of something  I first learned how to cook a few weeks before my 15th birthday (just a baby!) in France. La voila, Banana Rum Shuttles! Of course, over there they called them "tartes bananes" and they didn't have the little arrow-head end that looks like a loom shuttle. But the recipe I found that was the closest was this "shuttle" version and I thought it was really pretty so... I guess my tartes bananes sont "shuttles" now!
 So, you'll need:
3 bananas
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 tbs rum (or more, depending on what kind of day you've had)
puff pastry, frozen or home made (I've tried to make it many times... I just can't. So, I resolved to stop wasting time on the impossible and buy the frozen stuff.)
1 egg white for glaze
 Cut the bananas length-wise. No reason for this except it's easier to dip them in the rum.
 You can't see the rum, but it's there. Really.
 Mix the sugar, cloves, cinnamon. Roll the rum bananas in the sugar. Lick fingers after ever piece.
 You should end up with bananas coated with sugar and spices and rum. Taste test a few to make sure everything is going well at this point.
 Defrosted pastry. Looks bad. Will taste good.
 Put the banana mix on the puff pastry. Sample a few more pieces that fall off the side. Lick fingers again.
 Seal the sides with the fork, cut the ends at an angle and seal.
 Slice the top for vents. Chill in the fridge for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425F. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Take them out, brsh with egg whites, and return to the oven for another 15 minutes.
                                      

 I served these on plates I picked up in Poland when I attended the Warsaw School of Economics after I graduated from college. It was a little odd to serve something from my years in France on plates I bought ten years later during a sojourn in a completely different country. Then my five year old picked one up and proclaimed it "delicioso" and just like his abuelita's empanadas.  I had to smile at the intersection (collision?) of all these cultures in a small Oregon town.
Wishing you joy in the journey, wherever you are and wherever you're going! Until next time!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Another Kitchen Fail

Missy Tippens

It's March, which means Speedbo month at the Seekerville blog (our home blog). Plus, this month I've had my normal family commitments multiplied by about a thousand. So not much time for cooking new recipes. Rather than share the same things I've shared in the past, I thought you might enjoy laughing at me for another kitchen fail.



So maybe this doesn't look so disastrous on the surface. But I messed up twice.

First, I forgot to rinse the beautiful scallops I had bought. ALWAYS RINSE SCALLOPS BEFORE COOKING.

You know why? Because they can have grit in them. Yes, you guessed it. Our scallops that night would sometimes crunch.

Yuk.

And if you look closely at those carrots, you'll see I roasted them way too long. I was in a hurry so cut them small so they'd cook quickly. Then I proceeded to cook them for the regular length of time!

You know how beef jerky feels when you eat it???

These were carrot jerky. Oh my goodness, they were awful to eat. I told my husband they reminded me of dried apricots, too. I could barely chew them.

So, the moral of this story is that even when you're in a hurry to throw together dinner, make sure you slow down long enough to do it carefully.

Yesterday, my son came for lunch. He's on spring break, and we had been dog sitting for them while he and his wife took a day trip. So he came to pick up the fur babies, and I cooked for him. This time I made sure to cut the carrots just the right size so they would roast nicely. And they were wonderful! :)

And so I can leave you with a beautiful photo of food, this is the dish my husband ordered at a new Thai restaurant we love, Fresh Bowl Thai Cuisine. Now, that's how vegetables should look. :)


www..missytippens.com

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Granola Revisited With No Snow or Wind!!!

Two weeks ago Cate Nolan posted my in depth report on Granola: The myth, the man, the legend...

Okay, there is no man or myth or legend, but there is progress!

I wasn't able to post pics that week because of the storm and massive power outages, but this is worth having fun with because I've streamlined the recipe!!!

1. Granola is expensive.   If it's natural granola, it's even MORE EXPENSIVE.
2. It's easy to make Granola. Mix... spread on parchment-lined pan. Bake in slow oven.
3. It's crunchy. Anyone who's ever gone on a diet, or gone juicing, or protein shaking, knows that most of us like to chew stuff.
4. My family loves me even more with this discovery.
5. It's a shame it took CRUNCHY GRAINS to garner their respect!!! :)

So here we go:



Vanilla Spice Peanut Granola

4 cups chopped peanuts
6 cups oatmeal (I used the quick minute oatmeal)
1 cup sunflower seed kernels
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon nutmeg

Mix all of those dry ingredients together in large (like L-A-R-G-E bowl)

Warm on stove or in microwave:

1/2 cup honey
1 cup real maple syrup
1/2 cup Coconut oil

Heat until boiling. Remove from heat and add 2 Tablespoons Vanilla

Drizzle over dry mixture. Mix thoroughly. Spread onto parchment lined cookie sheets or roasting pans about 3/4 inch thick..... Press down lightly. Bake in slow 275° oven for fifteen minute intervals, stirring and pressing mix back down lightly.  In my oven it takes about 35 to 45 minutes to get the granola turning "golden".... and when it does, remove from oven and let set until cool.


Once cool break granola into chunks or pieces.

Store in airtight container.

You can add dried fruits (cranberries, raisins, apricots, etc.) but I didn't want to add empty sugar carbs into the mix. This was just enough to be a fun, chewy snack throughout the day and crazy popular with kids and grown ups alike.

The original recipe had mixed nuts... the dried, roasted peanuts worked great, enough crunch and nutty taste, and the perfect salty backdrop.... and dry roasted rocks!

So here are some pics when we were all "settlers" during the storms:

When the toddler's favorite toy rolls under the fridge, it takes a village!!!


And stovetop cooking was the only option... but we were so happy to do it! Lacey, AKA: Stovetop Mama!

No hot water? No problemo! We heated water on the stove like our ancestors did, so we could do dishes... and there were a lot of dishes!!!! 


And there were snuggle spots set up all over the place!!!

PILLOW FORT! And sunshine!!! :)

We've still got snow.... It's melting slowly, Mother Nature has her sights set on dropping to single digits early today, but then she's going to up the ante back to the 40's by the weekend...

And maybe (MAYBE????) we'll say goodbye to winter!!!

Cate Nolan, I love that pic you shared yesterday! I snagged it and put it on facebook because every Yankee and Midwesterner I know is feeling the same way!!!

MELT THE SNOWMEN!!!!!! 

MAN THE BLOW DRYERS!!!

WHATEVER IT TAKES!!! :) Because the Ruthinator is ready for spring!!!!

Popular inspirational author Ruth Logan Herne loves God, family, country, dogs, cats, kids, babies and she is living her dream of writing sweet books that makes folks laugh... and cry.

Visit her on facebook (where she loves to talk!) or her website ruthloganherne.com or @ruthloganherne on Twitter.... here at the cafe or in Seekerville! But most of all... she'd love to share her love for books, faith, romance and life with you.

Complete book list on her website or here at Amazon....  Ruthy on Amazon!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

March Doldrums (and some pasta)

So, it's the middle of March, and I'm in a March funk.

Lots of reasons, none of them matter, but the big thing is this weather.

Mother Nature...

She teases.

This photo was taken a month ago in the middle of February!



She taunts.



And then she delivers this whack!

I hate March winds!!!!!

video

This is the construction site across from my school. The wind rippling the protective barrier reminds me of waves. #thinkpositive



And if you live in a city, it turns black and nasty very soon.


At least it's melting!


























One bright spot - these flowers survived being buried in heaps of snow. I spied them on my way to the subway.






So not much cooking is going on - between report cards and conferences and state test prep.

I'm SO grateful for the extra hour of daylight. I may be the only person who loves Daylight Savings Time, but it means the sun is still out when I get home from work.  #happiness

So, all this weather weariness is leading to carb overload. Too much soda bread. Too much chocolate cake from hubby's birthday.

I needed something comforting and quick, but I wanted - no craved - something green. To go with the pasta. More carbs. :(

I happened to discover, quite by accident, that when you cook kale in tomato sauce, it makes the kale taste sweeter.

So I simmered some canned tomatoes, added my kale and garlic and herbs. And I had some color and some healthy greens.



Good thing, because that was the side to this deliciousness - white rotelli with ricotta and mozzarella.  See how desperately I need spring to really arrive!






So what are you doing to combat weather woes?



PS:  Please come say hi.
I have to admit, yesterday when the RITA GH calls went out, I was shocked. I think my real life has kept me too isolated from my writing buddies. I had no idea - probably for the first time in 30 years - that it was GH/RITA day.  So that's probably part of the March funk. No writing time available. Nada. Zilch. Sad me.
Soon. After next week, I can breathe again (I hope).

PPS:

I saw this sign while out walking Fenway. It made me smile. Hope it makes you smile too.




Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Kitchen Gadgets - Let's Talk Air Frying

Mindy here, wondering if you all have seen these new air fryers that are on the market. They claim you can fry with little or no oil, yet get the same results as regular frying. I was intrigued, so I asked for one for my birthday.
And, since it was the only thing I asked for, I received.


Guess what?

I love it!
Okay, so I've only used it for a few frozen foods so far, but I am pleased with the results. Best of all, cleanup is a breeze.

We love frozen boneless wings and though we usually cook them in the oven, they just aren't as crisp their fried counterparts. So, we put them into the air fryer and voila!
Crispy on the outside, moist and juicy on the inside.

Cool!

Well, that inspired me to keep playing, so I threw in some frozen sweet potato fries and let them cook for approximately 14 minutes.
All of the deliciousness, none of the added fat. Hubby especially likes those brown ends. Crispy, but with no burned taste.

According to the manufacturer, you can even bake, sauté, grill and roast in it. Of course, I haven't tried any of those things yet. Still, the option is there. You can even make homemade French fries and fried chicken. Oh, and cleanup is a breeze. Simply rinse or wipe out the basket and holder and you're done.

For now, I will enjoy my favorite frozen fried foods without guilt. Something that is especially convenient on those days when we are busy prepping the house to go on the market. The clock is ticking and there's still so much to do.

Now it's your turn. Have you ever tried an air fryer? Would you try one?
What are your thoughts?



Mindy Obenhaus lives in Texas with her husband and kids. She's passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking and spending time with her grandchildren. Learn more at www.MindyObenhaus.com

Monday, March 20, 2017

Cinnamon Spirals

I almost called these treats Cinnamon Snails, but I thought that might make you skip over this blog. After all, not many of us eat snails, especially seasoned with cinnamon! But by the end of the post, I think you'll agree that "snails" is a good name for this easy treat.

One of the things I do before the Christmas season is to stock up on pricey items I think I'll be using for my Christmas baking. Stores often have sales on things like chocolate chips and canned pumpkin in the fall, so I buy when the prices are low.

Sometimes, though, I misjudge and buy too much. Last fall it was Puff Pastry.


I'm not sure you can have too much Puff Pastry, but this box had been half used for a couple months now, and I knew I needed to do something with it.

I browsed through the recipes on www.puffpastry.com, but I was short on time and energy, so even though many of the recipes were simple and easy, I decided to go even more basic.

I promise - this recipe is so easy, even someone who has been down and out with the crud has enough energy to make it. *true story

Cinnamon Spirals

ingredients:

1/2 box Puff Pastry (you can also substitute refrigerated crescent rolls)
1 Tablespoon softened butter
1 Tablespoon sugar
Cinnamon to taste

Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.

Preheat your oven to 400°.

Thaw the Puff Pastry according to the package directions.

Open the Puff Pastry folds, but don't roll, pull, or do anything else to it.

Spread the softened butter evenly on the pastry.

Sprinkle with the sugar and as much cinnamon as you like.


I like a lot of cinnamon. I added more after I took this picture.

Roll the pastry from one side, loosely, and slice into 3/4" to 1" slices.


Lay the slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (Believe me, because the sugar can burn and stick to the pan, you really want to use parchment paper for this.)


Leave plenty of room between the slices so they can spread unhindered.

Bake at 400° for about 15 minutes. Let them cool slightly, then enjoy.

Now admit it, don't these look
like snails?

If we had vanilla ice cream in the house, I would have used one of these as a base for a sundae: Cinnamon Spiral topped with vanilla ice cream and hot caramel sauce. Doesn't that sound fabulous???

Meanwhile, spring is coming to the Black Hills in the usual fashion, which is always wonderful. We hit the mid-70's over the weekend, and the Magpies have come back. We never saw this bird when we lived farther east, but their bright black and white markings are unmistakable.


And the Red-Wing Blackbirds have also arrived. They fill the prairie sloughs and creeks, fighting for the best nesting spot, and then warning everyone to stay away with their distinctive trill.

Meanwhile, we have snow in the forecast for this week.

Yes, spring is definitely coming!





Jan Drexler loves her family, her home, cooking and just about anything made by hand. But she loves her Lord most of all.

Stop by Jan's website to learn more about her books: www.JanDrexler.com

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Baked feta repost and wishing for spring!

Helloooooo, everybody! Mary Jane here. We've had the wettest, rainiest spring in nearly 20 years. Great for farms. Not so great for flooding. We live a few hundred feet from the Walla Walla River and it's getting high... but so far, hasn't crested the bank. So I'm in a SPRING DREAMING MOOD!
I'm reposting my baked feta recipe in hopes all the spring pictures will come true!



 Spring has sprung here in Oregon. And do you know how Richard Armitage (bless his gorgeous self) is related to spring??
 
Well, I'll get to that in a minute. But first a peek at my backyard...
Everything is in bloom. The bees are out (must buy sandals, note to self!), the frogs are croaking, and the tulips, iris, and lilacs are bursting with flowers!
Little boys with butterfly nets are scouring the garden (in snow boots) for prey.
The turtles cavorted in the tall grass as we cleaned their tank. Don't blink. You might miss them. They can actually get quite far away when you're watching for butterflies.
We tried to hem them in with bodies, but the little guys kept moving away and creating a gap for escaping into the far reaches of the lawn.
                                         
Here's a little guy very pleased with his flower, carefully placed in an antique egg cup. I didn't realize he could reach that shelf. He got the egg cup, filled it with water, and picked his own flower. Cute! And now I'll go move those breakables just a bit higher...
Our yellow climbing roses are blooming. They're in the hedgerow. You have to look hard. (Ooooh, I can hear him now!!)
 
*sigh* Isn't he wonderful? here's the full clip here, if you want to watch it. I'll wait... The relevant moment is 3:44. :)

 Ok, now that we've had our Richard Armitage fix for the day, let's see what there is to cook. I'm not feeling the need for anything super difficult. Hmmmmm. Edna reminds me there's some stinky cheese in the fridge and some large sourdough boules. 
 
An older kid is on hand to help with preparations so I'll man the camera while she works. Cutting the top off the sourdough bread is the first step.
Getting the feta cheese, parsley flakes, tomatoes and garlic out is the second step. I have an odd jar of olive and red pepper tapenade so I think I'll make one with that, too.
Hollow out the bread and place it in a bowl, crumbling slightly. This will help hold all the feta and tomatoes together.
Yummy. Give me a fork.
Add garlic, parsley flakes and mix well. Put it back in the boule... HEY. Someone has taken a bite.

And I found him over near the other one. Shoo, shoo!!

*sigh* It seems everything must be taste-tested for freshness before we cook it.

Wrap the boule in foil and bake at 350F for 20 minutes.
This is the olive tapenade and feta version. The red peppers gave it quite a kick! Mmmm. Even the next day, it was good, heated a little in the microwave. This dish is definitely not a 'date night' dish, unless you don't mind feta breath. 

And to round off the spring-y post, here's an old table I picked up for super cheap. It was a wreck. But something about those lines... Edna whispered the legs were mighty fine, quite shapely. I agreed. 
Some scraping and painting (some by small children, don't flip it over since they got to paint the underside) turns into this. And in that stack is- you guessed it! North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. have I mentioned that she's a hero of mine? She wrote her books at her kitchen table, with five kids, a minister husband who gave lessons to the poor in their living room. And she wrote romances that changed LIVES. Just love her! 

  I think she was also a lovely friend. She and Charlotte Bronte were pals but one time visitors came knocking while Charlotte visiting. Being afflicted with crippling shyness, Charlotte was in tears, until Mrs. Gaskell told her to hide in the curtains. So she did. And Mrs. Gaskell entertained them, never letting on that one of the most famous authors of the day was hiding just a few feet away! What a woman. What a hostess!

 Anyway, go out and enjoy the sunshine! If there's no sun, watch North and South. A little Armitage makes everything better.

 Until next time!

Be sure to stop by my facebook pages at Mary Jane Hathaway or Virginia Carmichael for all my up to date book news!