Saturday, December 29, 2012

MY FAVORITE FRUITY GREEN SALAD

This is my ALL-TIME favorite green salad...all the "goodies" have settled to the bottom in this picture.  You can see them in the picture below.

The first time I made it was when Hope Circle,  the United Methodist Women's unit I belong to at my church, was hosting the district meeting that occurs twice a year.  We decided to have soup, salad, and dessert. 



I love the salad because you can use just about any fruit you want (have) in it.  In fact, that first time, we substituted pineapple chunks for the mandarin oranges.  Everyone loved it.  

A week or so ago when I had my friends over for Mexican Train, I decided that was the easiest thing for me to fix to serve them.  Do I need to say everyone loved it?

Since it is one of those recipes that you can make differently every time you make it, my directions will be very general.

You start with a Spring Mix and Spinach.  (If you find a Spring mix that also includes spinach, you don't have to buy additional spinach unless you just like a lot of spinach.)






Add ins can include any of the following: dried cranberries, blueberries, sliced strawberries, chopped dates, crushed or chunk pineapple, raisins,  mandarin oranges, raspberries, chopped apples, and chopped nuts 

Just before serving, toss with a light raspberry & walnut  salad dressing.  (Fruit will settle to the bottom so when serving, make sure you "dig down" to the bottom to get the "goodies". ) 

Friday, December 28, 2012

JANE'S WONTON SAUSAGE CUPS

I have said before that I don't do appetizers well.  I had to make an appetizer again the other night and I made Janice's BACON WRAPPED TATER TOTS again.  They are easy to do and better still they were a big hit at the party especially with the men.

I now have another good appetizer that I think I could manage.  These Sausage Cups were brought by my friend, Jane, to another gathering of friends.  Like my Bacon Wrapped Tater Tots, these were a big hit.  I asked her for the recipe and she more than willingly shared it with me.   She did say when she emailed me the recipe that she made her own Ranch Dressing instead of using the "bottle" one.  She buys the dry Ranch Dressing and follows the directions on the envelop. 


 Sausage Cups

1 Pound Sausage
1 package wonton wrappers
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese - shredded
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Ranch Dressing

Preheat oven to 350.


Crumble sausage into medium skillet.  Cook over medium heat until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.  Drain.  

Spray mini muffin tins and insert wonton wrappers to form a small cup.  Bake 3 - 5 minutes in preheated oven.  Allow wrappers to cool. 

Mix sausage, cheeses and ranch dressing together.  Fill wonton wrappers. 

Bake for 10 minutes until bubbly.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

MOTHER'S DATE LOAF CAKE

There were four things my mother always made around Christmas...Date Pinwheel Cookies, Divinity,  Fruitcake Cookies, and her Date Loaf Cake.  

I planned to make these this year, but so far I have only made the Date Loaf Cake.













 

I don't know where she got the recipe.  A couple of years before we moved to KC, I decided I was going to make the Date Loaf Cake, but I couldn't find my recipe.  I looked in some of my cookbooks, but couldn't find it.  I contacted my "Auntie" thinking that she would have it.  She looked in her cookbooks and sent me a couple of different recipes.  BUT none of them were Mother's recipe.  I eventually found my recipe card and made it.

I like to think of it as my "work-out cake", because by the time I am finished mixing it up, my arms are tired.  I'm not in great shape and all I have to do is take one bite, and I don't regret the work at all.  I hope I haven't scared you off from trying the recipe.  You won't be sorry.  The recipe makes one large loaf.  I have never made it in mini-loaf pans.

DATE LOAF CAKE
 
4     eggs, separated
1     cup sugar
1     cup all-purpose flour
1     teaspoon baking powder
1/2  teaspoon salt
1     teaspoon vanilla
1     lb. dates, chopped
2     cups nuts (chopped)

Preheat oven to 350 degree F.  Grease large loaf pan. (9 x 4-inch)

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in small bowl.  

Chop dates. (I cut date down the center lengthwise and then in about 1/4 wide pieces.  The finer the better, I think)
Flour dates in a small bowl with about 1/4 cup of the flour to prevent them from sticking together. (You don't want the dates to all clunk together when the cake bakes.)
Add more flour if necessary as you add more chopped dates.

Chop the nuts and add them to enough of the flour to prevent them from sticking.
 Add sugar to the egg yokes in a large bowl and combine.
Add the vanilla and the rest of the flour. Stir.  Then add the nuts.
Add the dates a little at a time.  You want to spread the egg mixture evenly with the dates. 
With  the egg white in a mixing bowl, whip until the egg whites are stiff.
Dump beaten egg whites into mixture.
 and start folding egg whites into mixture.
 Keep working...
 until egg whites and mixture are completely combined.  Then spoon and spread evenly in the loaf pan.
 Bake for about one hour.  Cool on wire rack for at least 10-15 minutes.
 Slice when cooled.


Keep the loaf wrapped in foil.  It will be even more moist the next day.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

COLONIAL GINGERBREAD

I substituted for three years after we moved to CA before I was hired by the local school district as a middle school teacher.  One day when I was substituting, I was assigned to a resource classroom at an elementary school.

The assignment that was left by the teacher was to make Colonial Gingerbread with the class.  She had a toaster oven for me to bake the bread in.  I was really surprised that the teacher had left that assignment for a substitute, but I'm glad she did.  It was a successful lesson and I left that day with a recipe that I have never found in any cookbook.  I never had the opportunity to meet the teacher to ask her where she found the recipe.

COLONIAL GINGERBREAD

1    teaspoon ground ginger
2    cups all-purpose flour
1    teaspoon baking soda
1    teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1    egg
1    cup molasses
1/2 cup margarine, softened (1 stick)
3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 324 degrees F.  Grease and flour 9 x 4-inch loaf pan or 3-4 mini-loaf pans.

Into a large bowl, combine dry ingredients.

Add the rest of the ingredients.  With mixer at low speed, beat until blended, scraping bowl with rubber spatula as needed.

Increase the speed to medium and beat 3 minutes, occasionally scraping bowl. 

Pour batter into pan and bake 1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean from center.  (45 - 50 minutes for mini-loaf pans)

Cool completely on wire racks.

Keep wrapped in foil.

To serve, sprinkle with confectioner's sugar.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

IT'S CHRISTMAS (EVE) IN KANSAS CITY

"Christmas in Kansas City" is a song heard on the radio often here in December.  Well, last night we had our Christmas "Eve" in Kansas City with Patrick, Lori, Madison, and Tyler.  Since moving here a little over four years ago, that has become our traditional Christmas celebration in Kansas City.

This year we had an extra family member at the table....Mr. Tyler's first Christmas.  Hard to believe that in three days he will be ten months old. He hasn't "cut" a tooth yet, but I don't think it will be long.  Everything went to his mouth.  He is also getting used to us,  so he is smiling more around us.  He has the cutest dimples.  He was able to tear into his Christmas presents as you will see in some of the pictures.  

Madison is  almost 2 years and 5 months old.  She is talking more and has also learned how to quickly unwrap presents.  She was very pleased with her presents and Tyler's presents, too.  She is always on the move. I have a couple of pictures to prove my point.  I decided to share them with you so you could see.

I hope you will enjoy my pictures.  Christmas is so much fun through the eyes of a child(ren).

Fun Playing Before Opening Presents:
Tyler likes to "stand" behind the baby grand piano.












 
 Mommy looking on.































"Give me a push, Tyler."










  "I can do this myself...
well almost."












 I LOVE to rock.




















I actually got her to sit still long enough to get a pretty picture.












There's that cute smile.














Finally Time To Open The Presents:
 
 Madison had her first one almost opened before I had my camera ready.







 Tyler was a little slower.



















The camera couldn't capture it, but Madison squealed in excitement when she saw what this was.









Tyler's getting the idea.















 Play Time:



































































































Madison liked playing with Tyler's toys, too.










Tyler liked his presents, but he really liked the boxes that he could stand up by.








 

Playing with "Mommy" in the floor was lots of fun too.









 "Now, if I just knew what I was supposed to do next."





She almost stayed still long enough....








One last picture with "Daddy" before it was time to go home.








Mr. Tyler with "Grandad".









I hope all of you had a Merry Christmas "Eve" or what ever "day" is your tradition. 

 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

LINDA'S CHEESEBALL & LYNNA'S ONION SANDWICHES


I told you I would be sharing some of the great recipes from our recent Dinner Club.  I haven't received many of the recipes yet, but I thought I would share two that I have.....Linda's Cheeseball and Lynna's Onion Sandwiches.

LINDA'S CHEESEBALL


Cheeseball

2 packages 8 oz. cream cheese
1 package dry Good Seasons Italian Salad Dressing

Bring cream cheese to room temperature.

In a mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese and the package of Italian Salad Dressing.  Beat until smooth.

Form into a ball and chill.  

Roll in chopped pecans.
Serve with Wheat Thins or other crackers. 


Lynna's Onion Sandwich Appetizer


Lynna made these onion sandwiches for her appetizer.  The recipe is one of James Beard's recipes.  They were very popular when Beard's catering company introduced them on the New York social scene in 1938.

ONION SANDWICH RECIPE

Ingredients:

8   slices firm-textured white bread
8   tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1    large sweet onion, peeled and sliced into paper-thin slices
      Sea salt
2    tablespoons mayo
4    tablespoons of finely minced parsley

Preparation:

Using a small glass or an 1-inch round cookie cutter, cut out two small rounds for each sandwich from the slices of bread.

Spread each bread circle with butter.  Place a thin layer of sliced/chopped onions over the butter on half of the bread circles.  Lightly season the onions with salt.

Assemble the sandwiches with remaining bread slices, pressing lightly to make them adhere.

Spread some of the mayo around the outside rim of each sandwich round.  Roll the rim of each sandwich in the minced parsley to coat completely.

Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for a few hours.

Makes 16 sandwich rounds.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

QUICK CRANBERRY COOKIES

A month or so ago I found a recipe to try that used Cranberry Quick Bread & Muffin Mix, but when I tried to find it in the grocery stores, I couldn't find it.  I think it is a seasonal item and just figured I was rushing the season.  Well, I continued to look every time I went to the store, but it still wasn't there.

Then one day, my friend Jean, from the church's handbell choir, sent me a message on Facebook and said she had remembered my talking about not being able to find it.  She had seen it, bought one, and would bring it to me at that week's handbell practice.  I couldn't believe it...I was so excited.

True to her word, Jean brought me the box and then I went off and forgot it in the practice room.  Another handbell choir practices in the same room, but it was still there the next week.  In the meanwhile, I started looking for the recipe that I had found.....well, I am still looking three weeks later.  I will have to go buy several boxes of it, so that if I ever find the recipe again, I will have the mix to use.

Not to be outdone though, I found another recipe last week that called for the mix, Cranberry Quick Cookies from Pillsbury.  I had some free time this afternoon so I decided to make them.  I made them planning to take them to Hillcrest Thrift Shop tomorrow when I go to "work", but after eating one, I told my husband that I wouldn't take all of them.  

I love the taste that the orange peel adds.  (I never grate a real orange when a recipe calls for grated orange peel....I cheat and use the orange pill in the spice bottle you can buy)  

I also revised the original recipe to cut down on fat by using half unsweetened applesauce for half of the oil.  If you don't have the applesauce, just use 1/2 cup of oil.  (Since I revised the recipe, I am changing the name to Quick Cranberry Cookies because they are so quick.



QUICK CRANBERRY COOKIES

1     (15.6-oz) pkg. Pillsbury Cranberry Quick Bread & Muffin Mix
3/4  cup quick-cooking oats
1/2  cup coconut
1/2  cup sweetened dried cranberries
1/2  teaspoon grated orange peel
1/4  cup canola oil
1/4  cup unsweetened applesauce
1     tablespoon water
2     eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degree F.

In a large bowl, combine quick bread mix, oats, coconut, cranberries, and orange peel; mix well.(I used a wooden spoon.)





Add oil, applesauce, water, and eggs; mix well. (It is thick, so I stirred just until all the bread mix was mixed up.)





Drop by 1-inch cookie scoop two inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.  (I flattened slightly the top with my fingers.)





Bake 10 - 13 minutes (I cooked my 11 min.) or until bottoms are golden brown. 







Remove promptly from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.