Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Just wanted to wish all my blog readers a very Happy Thanksgiving. We will spend our time with family and friends this year. I just love Thanksgiving and all that comes with this holiday. No pressure of gift giving. Just enjoying each other.

So many of the dishes I cooked this year have special meaning as they were my Mamon's. Rice Dressing and a very tart Lemon Meringue Pie. It is amazing how a taste or a smell can transport us back.

I am trying a new recipe using our Louisiana Satsumas from the backyard. It is a candied yam recipe from one of my ancient treasured cajun cookbooks. (From Momma to Me). It sounded so good, so I'm giving it a shot. Normally I wouldn't try out a new recipe for a holiday, but her recipes are always delicious!


Here is a peek at my table all set for company.





Monday, November 23, 2009

Fresh Apple Cake with Hot Caramel Sauce

My Mamon gave me this recipe years ago. I finally decided to make it today. It got rave reviews so here is the recipe.

FRESH APPLE CAKE

1 1/4 c. oil
2 cups sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup fresh chopped applies (I used granny smith)
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
3 c. cake flour (I used unbleached)
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt

Beat oil and sugar well. Add eggs, beating well, add pecans, apples and vanilla. Add these sifted ingredients, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Beat well.

Lightly grease and flour bundt pan (I use Baker's Joy for a perfect result)

Bake at 350 for 1 hour then reduce heat to 325 for 15 minutes.

The recipe didn't originally call for it but I spooned over warm caramel sauce.

Caramel Sauce

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tbl. cornstarch
1/2 cup half and half or light cream
2 Tbl. light-colored corn syrup
1 Tbl. butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla

In a small heavy saucepan combine brown sugar and cornstarch. Stir in 1/4 cup water. Stir in half and half, corn syrup and butter. Cook and stir over medium heat until bubbly (mixture may appear curdled). Cook and stir 2 minutes more. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Serve warm over cake. Cover and chill any leftovers for up to 3 days. (from Better Homes and Gardens cookbook)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Cheap, but Classy Gift Ideas for pre-teens and young teens

As a continuation to my "Cheap, but Classy, Christmas Ideas" entry from last year, I want to give you some more inexpensive gift ideas for a difficult-to-buy-for group, pre-teens and young teens. Both of my boys fall in that category this year and I have found it a challenge to purchase for them this year.

Here are a few ideas for this group:

  • iTunes gift card (Sarah, I'm giving you the credit for this one). I was easily able to find them at Wal-Mart this year.
  • Cool "message" T-shirts. Kids in this age category are beginning to assert their independence and love showing it by wearing fun T-Shirts! I've found some great T-shirts at Target and the Christian bookstore. 
  • Band T-shirts. Music is such a big part of their lives at this age. This gift will be appreciated all year long.
  • Games. My kids love getting a new board game.
  • Gumball machine.
  • Magazine Subscription. It's a gift that gives all year long.
  • Trendy Belt. I found some very reasonably priced and trendy belts for boys at Target this year.
  • Wallets. I really like the ones made with Duct Tape.
  • Sheet Music. My oldest son is into his guitar this year. I was able to find a large book of sheet music at our local Christian bookstore.
  • Cookbook. Add an apron or potholder for a nice gift. My favorite is "Anyone Can Cook" by Better Homes & Gardens.
  • Charm bracelet. This is a great gift for girls. You can give them a new charm every year for their birthday and Christmas. Maybe a little pricey to start off because you have to purchase the bracelet.
  • Gift certificate to the mall or store. You just can't go wrong here.
  • Magic Kit or Magic Book.
  • Joke Book. Be prepared to listen to hours and hours of really lame jokes.
  • Guinness Book of World Records Book. Be prepared to listen to hours and hours of fascinating facts.
  • Starbucks gift certificate.
  • Pocket knife or pocket gadget holder.
  • Duct tape and a book about Duct tape. The ultimate boy gift!
  • Gift certificate to their favorite Movie Theatre.
  • A gift certificate for an experience. This can be anything to encourage growth. Pottery shop, painting ceramics, golf lesson, cooking class...
  • A lava lamp. disco light or salt lamp. Funky and fun.
  • A gift certificate a month to different fast food restaurants and pretzel & ice cream shops. Make an envelope for each month. Stick a different gift certificate in each one. Tell them they can only open it on the 1st of each month. They will really look forward to opening their envelope each month and seeing the surprise they have.
  • A comfortable chair for their room. It's fun to cuddle up in your own chair to read.
  • If you homeschool... "Day off of Homeschool" certificate. My friend Shannon suggest this one. I love it and wanted to put it here.
For gift wrapping ideas and solutions click here.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Homeade Pizza - a quick lunch or supper

Nothing is simpler or more delicious than pizza made at home. Here is my recipe for homemade Pizza sauce and dough. I usually double this recipe and freeze 1/2 for another pizza on a day when I'm rushed or for a topping of raviolis. I get the pre-made frozen raviolis at my local grocery store. It is a quick and delicious meal too! You can also double the dough and sauce and make another pizza to freeze after cooking for another day.

I love to make this pizza on a baking stone preheated in my oven. It helps the dough cook beautifully.

PIZZA DOUGH
1 package active dry yeast
1 c. warm water
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbl. olive oil
2 1/2 c. all purpose flour

PIZZA SAUCE
1 can tomato paste + 2 cans water
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. minced garlic
1/8 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbl. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. anchovy paste (optional)

TOPPINGS
1/2 pkg. sliced pepperoni
8 oz. grated mozzarella cheese
other toppings your family likes

SAUCE: Saute garlic in olive oil. Mix rest of the ingredients together on top of stove. Cook for about 15 minutes.

DOUGH: Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in remaining ingredients. Beat vigorously 20 strokes. No rising necessary. Spread on pizza pan or preheated baking stone. Put sauce, cheese and then other toppings.

Bake 425 for 15 minutes.

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