Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A REPEATER - MOCK CHICKEN FRIED STEAK

I usually look for new recipes to try so that I can share them here on my blog. Yesterday I felt like making an old favorite. Mock Chicken Fried Steak is one of my earliest recipes and one I used to make a lot. 

Last Friday my 40 lbs of ground beef were delivered. I ordered it from Zaycon Fresh; the same place I got the 40 lbs of chicken breasts that we are still enjoying. It came in four 10 lb rolls.



I made 14 hamburger patties but the rest I cut in 1-lb chunks and sealed them using my Food Saver vacuum sealer. One "bag" didn't seal so I just put it in the refrigerator and said I would make something with it.

That's when I decided I really would like to eat one of my mock chicken fried steaks. The recipe makes up quickly and doesn't take long to fry. Yes, it is fried, but ever once in a while is okay. I made it into 6 patties as the recipe instructs, cooked 2 of the them for our dinner, and prepared the other 4 and froze them individually for us to enjoy at another time - two times actually. (I have never tried this before. After the boys left home, I would just make 2 or 3 for us, put the rest of the mixture in the refrigerator, and then cooked them the next night. This time I went on and coated the patties with the cracker crumbs, placed each patty in a ziplock sandwich bag, and then placed the four bags flat in a gallon freezer bag. I will let you know how it works out.)



Since I have already shared the recipe in an earlier post, I hope you will forgive me if I just direct you to that POST and not rewrite the recipe here. I did have to crush more than the 10 crackers for the "breading" to make the 6 patties. I did just crush 10 crackers for the mixture.

Oh, btw, if you missed my post yesterday for the Loaded Banana Bread, you should certainly check it out. It is so good and so moist. My husband ate his first piece last night after dinner. I don't even think it was an hour later that he said, "That cake (he always called "breads" cake) was really good. I know I shouldn't, but I'm going to get me another piece."

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

LOADED BANANA BREAD

Taking down and packing up the Christmas decorations is not something I look forward to each year. I have been waiting for several days for it to warm up enough so that the attic wouldn't be as cold when I pulled the periscope stairs down in the hall to get to the attic. I had asked my husband if he would help me by handing the containers up to me after I climbed the stairs and got in the attic. 

I must be a sight when I go up in the attic in the winter wearing my gloves and coat. I wear my gloves because the metal stairs are so cold. I usually end up taking my coat off after I make several trips up and down the stairs. Today, though the coat stayed on. The temperature was in the low 40s when I started but it was cloudy and rainy so it felt cold. 

When I was ready, I called my husband. Some things were loose on the table and needed to be packed away in containers that I had left in the attic. Those I told him I would take up later. I told him we could start with the two containers right inside my sewing room. When he saw them, he asked me if they were the same size as the ones I had used to pack up the Christmas tree ornaments. (He had found a place to store them in the garage so that I wouldn't have to put them back in the attic.) I told him yes, they were. He said, "Well, I think I can find a place to put them in the garage, too." I couldn't believe it. 

I did have to put some of the decorations back in the attic, but most of them are going to be in the garage. It will be so much easier for me next year (this year) when I have to decorate for Christmas. So after a couple of hours, Christmas is gone and winter (snowmen) is here (in my house). (See below.)

With that done, I decided I should bake something to have in the house that wasn't real sweet but would really hit the spot, when we wanted something. Whenever I have a bowl full of bananas that are starting to ripen, I start looking for a recipe to use a few of them. I wonder if there are more banana bread recipes than any other? I have made quite a few in my lifetime. And yesterday I found another one. I especially liked the word "loaded" in the title. It is loaded with lots of "extras".




LOADED BANANA BREAD

6       tablespoons butter, softened
1/3    cup sugar
1/3    cup packed brown sugar
2       eggs
3       ripe bananas, mashed (3 of my bananas made almost 1-1/2 cups mashed bananas)
1/2    teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups flour
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4     teaspoon salt
1         can (8-oz) crushed pineapple, drained (I measured 1 cup of crushed pineapple from a 20-oz can and drained it)
1/3     cup flaked coconut (I used unsweetened  coconut)
1/3     cup mini chocolate chips
1/3     cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray with nonstick cooking spray a 9 x 5 - inch loaf pan. (My Wilton loaf pan is more like 8-1/4 x 4-1/2.)


Combine the butter and sugars in a large mixing bowl.
Beat on medium with electric mixer for 3 minutes or until light and fluffy.


Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.


Beat in bananas and vanilla.


Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt together with a whisk.


Add flour mixture all at once and stir just til combined.


Add pineapple, coconut, and chocolate chips.
Stir til well blended.


Pour batter in pan. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts, if you like.


Bake for 60 to 70 minutes. Check doneness with a toothpick inserted in center of loaf. I had to bake mine the full 70 minutes.


Remove from oven and cool on wire rack in pan for 1 hour.


Remove from pan and finish cooling. (I had to hit the bottom of the pan to release the loaf as a few of the chocolate chips had baked in the bottom and were sticking to the bottom of the pan.)



Cathy Mitchell presents Quick & Easy Dump Cakes and More.




Monday, January 16, 2017

SATURDAY MORNING WAFFLES

I know the name of these waffles are Saturday Morning Waffles, but don't let that keep you from making them any morning you like. I certainly didn't let it keep me from making them yesterday morning (Sunday).

Normally we would be at church and Sunday school and then going to eat at Roxanne's Cafe, our go-to eating place on Sundays. January has not been normal though. Besides getting a sinus infection that I think has healed but am still having lingering issues, our weather seems to be getting in a pattern of a few-days-cold and then a few-days-warmer. We had some snow during some of the few-days-cold earlier in the month, but then it melted easily during the few-days-warmer. Then ice this weekend during our few-days-cold. Fortunately we didn't have as much ice in the Northland as the weathermen predicted, but enough that we couldn't get out of our driveway Saturday or Sunday mornings early. Good to be retired!

Because of the icy weather prediction our church decided to have the Saturday night 5:00 service but cancel the three services on Sunday morning. (Gosh, the NFL even rescheduled the playoff game between the Chiefs and the Steelers until Sunday evening because it was supposed to warm up and the ice melt as the day progressed.) Going Saturday night meant we were home Sunday morning though. I couldn't believe I slept til 9 and my husband slept even later. (He has been dealing with an ear problem this month.) He always says he needed to sleep late when he sleeps late so I guess I will say I needed the rest.

When I finally got around to fixing something for breakfast, my husband had already had his yogurt and said he wasn't hungry. I decided I was going to go on and make the waffles anyway. I told him he could eat some later.

I got out all of the ingredients and decided I would cook myself a couple of pieces of bacon while I made the waffles. Just about the time the bacon was cooked, my husband walked upstairs to the kitchen and said, laughing, "You know what they say - there is something about bacon cooking that makes you hungry even if you don't think you are." I cooked him two pieces and he ate them and a waffle with me. He even added the cherry pie filling after telling me he would just butter his waffle. (He probably wouldn't have though if it had been a no-sugar-added cherry pie filling.)

The recipe will make 5 waffles. If you don't want that many, just cut the ingredients in half.



SATURDAY MORNING WAFFLES

2       cups flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour)
6       teaspoons baking powder
1        teaspoon salt
1/4    cup sugar (I used just 2 tablespoons truvia baking blend)
2       cups milk (skim milk is fine)
2       eggs
1/3    cup oil

Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. 

Whisk together the milk, eggs, and oil til well blended.

Add the flour mixture to the milk mixture and whisk together til well blended.

Spray waffle iron and preheat.

Fill iron and cook til done.

Butter and serve.


We had some no-sugar-added cherry pie filling that we topped our waffles with. Could have added some whipped topping, but it was all frozen.

Don't you just hate for the batter to run out when you bake waffles? I do, but...


waffle turned out okay.


I tried putting less in the iron, but then I had holes in the waffle.

I finally decided if you want a perfect -no-hole waffle, you just live with the batter running over.

The iron will clean up nicely anyway.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

MINT CHOCOLATE BROWNIES

I think I have mentioned that I started 2017 off with a sinus infection. At least that is what I think I had. The official diagnoses was an acute supperative inflammation of the nasal sinus. I didn't see that title until the nurse came in to give me my discharge papers so I asked the pharmacist when I picked up my prescriptions if that was a sinus infection. She said she thought so.

I was almost through with my medication when I broke the corner off of one of my molars eating a granola bar so that I could take my antibiotic with food. I was almost finished with the bar. I only had one more bite to eat. I couldn't believe it. I really like my dentist, but going to the dentist has always been on my list of least favorite things to do. Since I always try to find something good in every situation, I was thankful that there was no pain. My tongue hasn't been too happy - the molar was in the bottom and my tongue rests against it.

I managed to get to my dentist for him to check it out yesterday. I prayed that my cough would be quiet and my nose too. You see as soon as my meds ran out, my sinuses started draining again and my cough which I developed the day after I saw the doctor, got worse. For the most part I thought my prayers were being answered until I ate lunch. Whether eating was the reason or not, by the time I got to my dentist at 2:30, my cough was nonstop and my sinuses were almost as bad. I was surprised that the dentist was willing to start the prep work for the crown with my coughing. I stopped him and told him I was concerned. Long story short, I will be going back next Thursday to do the prep. He did smooth the edge of the tooth off so my tongue would be happier. The gold inlay in the tooth is a different matter but the exposed edge of it doesn't bother my tongue too much as it is on the top of the tooth.

One reason I bothered you with this story is I usually bake something for my dentist and the staff when I go see them. Since I usually go only twice a year for my 6 month cleanings, at least Dee, the office manager, didn't ask me if I had brought anything when I walked in. (like Volunteer Mark does at Hillcrest Thrift Shop) I did tell them when I was leaving that I was about to mix up some brownies to bring them when my husband asked me to drive him to his doctor as he thought he had an ear infection or something. (He was dizzy and didn't think he should drive.) She laughed and said laughing, "So it is your husband's fault we didn't get anything." I told her I would bring something next week when I came back.

To be honest yesterday has been the first day that I really felt like getting back in the kitchen and these Mint Chocolate Brownies sounded so good. Nothing would do me but I decided to mix them up and put them in the oven to bake while we ate leftovers for dinner.

I asked my husband if he preferred fudgy brownies or cakelike brownies since the recipe had two different cooking times. He said he preferred fudgy ones so I only cooked them 25 minutes. We tried them after they had cooled a little and they are so good, so minty. I will have to make them again next Thursday when I go back to the dentist.  

Personal note: The Andes creme de menthe baking chips might be a seasonal item in the grocery store. I always buy several bags when I see them during the holidays so that I have them through out the year. You can buy the small Andes mints during the year. If this is all you can find, I would highly recommend doing this and just chop them up and add. They do melt in the baking so you just have that delicious minty taste.


MINT CHOCOLATE BROWNIES

2/3       cup sugar
1            stick of butter
2           tablespoons water
1            cup semisweet chocolate chips
1-1/2     teaspoons vanilla
2           eggs
1-1/4     cups flour
1/2        teaspoon baking soda
1/2        teaspoon salt
1            cup Andes creme de menthe baking chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a 9 - inch square baking pan with cooking spray.

In a large microwavable bowl (I used my large batter bowl), heat sugar, butter, and water in the microwave for 2 minutes til butter melts.
(Just a little bit of the butter had not melted, but after stirring it with a wooden spoon a little bit, it completely melted.)

Add the chocolate chips
and stir til they melt and mixture is smooth.

Add the vanilla and let the mixture rest for 5 minutes.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until mixture is smooth.




Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a smaller bowl.

Add the flour mixture all at once
and stir til smooth. (I continued to use my whisk til the end and switched back to my wooden spoon to add the chips.)

Stir in the mint chips with the spoon.

Pour mixture and spread evenly in prepared pan.





Bake 25 minutes for fudgy brownies or 30 minutes for cakelike brownies.


Cool on wire rack.


Fudgy brownies will sink as they cool.



(If you want to have nice clean cuts on the brownies, cut brownies with a plastic knife.)


Then get ready to eat the absolute best brownie you have ever eaten.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

OUR CHRISTMAS TREE

This year as I was decorating our Christmas tree, I was a little more sentimental than usual. I got to thinking about the ornaments and how they came about being on our tree. 

I grew up with mostly real Christmas trees, but my parents and I even had the aluminium tree with the revolving light. We lived in a small rural community and didn't have tree lots. We found a live tree and my daddy cut it down. The needles, if it were a pine tree, made a mess the closer it got to Christmas, but probably not any more of a mess than the icicles did that we always had on the tree. I miss those.

Not sure why when my husband and I celebrated our first Christmas together that I wanted only ornaments on the tree that I had made. The only ornaments that I remember on our first little tree were three wise men that I made from felt, sequins, and decorative tape. I tried to make the camels, but I remember that their legs were so narrow, I just couldn't stuff them with cotton and then hand stitch them together with an overlapping stitch. They never got finished. I need to find a picture of our first Christmas tree. I am sure I have one. I remember a picture of our first Thanksgiving turkey and our new puppy, Nikki, that I was holding. That will serve as evidence of that first Christmas tree. I am curious to see if the oldest ornament that I have was on that tree. It was made by one of my students the first year I taught school (Christmas, 1969). I don't remember his name but remember that he was a cub scout.

Here are the three wise men I made. The green robed one on the right suffered some damage several years ago when one of our pets pulled it off the tree. I need to repair it, but never have. I always make sure the other two are hung high on the tree now.



Other ornaments that may not have been on that first tree but might have been were two "bells" from our wedding cake. They have really aged and so this year when I found two more in a drawer, I added them to the tree.



The next ornaments to be added to our tree were these - Santa's boot and a "liberty" bell. I first made a bowl of fruit with this method. The Styrofoam shape was completely cover with a straight pin, a bead, and a sequin. Labor intensive work. 




Later ornaments I made depended on what craft was popular at the time. In this picture you can see what variety that was...



The stuffed decorated felt ones (candy cane, stocking, tree, and drum) are probably the oldest one here; made during those first years we were married. The clothespin solders with a pompom on their "heads" were made by my mother and me early on. Counted cross stitch was something I did a lot in the early 80s. The framed NOEL ornaments says that Mother and I made it. My guess is she started it and I finished it for her. I don't really remember it. I think the Disney characters were made last. (Since Grandson Tyler loves Mickey Mouse, he especially likes those when he sees them on the tree.)

These little "manger" scene ornaments were made when we lived in CA.  I think we made them at church at an Advent Night gathering. They are so pretty. Made with 2 Christmas cards and flat toothpicks, they have a picture on each side of the ornament. It is a great thing to make with your children using old Christmas cards.



There are a number of decorations that my mother and my Auntie crocheted and gave me. I have enough of the snowflakes Mother crocheted and the medallions of two different sizes to totally decorate a tree. I have never done that. Next year I should have a smaller tree and just decorate it with them.




Mother also crocheted some beautiful individual ornaments that I really love and always include them on the tree.







These angels Mother made using a cotton boll are very special to me. She made them and sent them to me when we lived in CA. I usually put one on the tree and then I have another small tree that I place on a table that only has them on it. Here are two of them...



After Mother and Daddy both died, I took most of their ornaments (except glass ball ornaments) and added them to ours. At about the same time, I gave to each of my sons, ornaments that I had made or gotten for them each year. I didn't really realize until this year how many of Mother and Daddy's ornaments I had on our tree. It took two pictures to show them all. A lot of them are wooden. She painted the wooden angel and made the beaded ornament. I had three of those similar and gave one to each of our sons, her grandsons, and kept the other third one.



She made the candy cane stockings and the  two elephants and snowman. I assume she made the beaded angel.


There are three wooden ornaments that she and I painted together. This is one of them...



There are a number of beautiful shell ornaments that we bought when we lived in CA. The largest "star" is always at the top of the tree. (I used to have a crocheted angel that Mother made and gave us on top but the thread yellowed after a few years and I discarded her.)



Our tree wouldn't be complete without ornaments that students gave me over the years. Some I got in gift exchanges also.



I always enjoy placing the personalized ornaments for us. It isn't always easy finding the grandkids names, (Colby and Hallie are really hard to find). I think this year though I will look for personalized ornaments for them all to add to the tree next year.



The birds on the left of the above picture are favorites of my husband. I am not sure where we got them; I just remember how he always made sure they were on the tree early on. They are kinda cute on the tree.



Not sure when we got each of these. Jeffrey always liked Bert (and Ernie) when he was little. We got the Energizer Bunny when he was a fad. Not sure about the story with Snoopy.



I think a student made this beaded star and gave me but I don't really remember.



I made this post for my sons and their wives so they would have a record to turn to if they wondered about any of the ornaments (after we are gone), but if you stopped by to read the post, I hope you enjoyed seeing our Christmas tree. The one thing I never did was take a picture of the whole tree. I tried but never could get one that showed the tree and the ornaments well. Next year.....