What do these three things have in common? Amazing Tastes Seasoning. I was recently given the opportunity to try a variety of these packets and I found them really tasty and convenient. There's something for everyone but I think my favorites so far are the chili, the poultry, and the pork seasonings.
I don't know why I thought making pasta was hard. I've been making home-made noodles for Chicken noodle soup for years, literally since I was a kid in my mom's kitchen, but throw the Kitchen Aid pasta accessories at me and suddenly I'm intimidated. WAS intimidated. Now I'm going to be a pasta makin' fool! So all of you folks out there who've been making your own pasta for a while just smile gently and nod your head. I GET it now. Wow. Huge difference between fresh from my counter and dried from the store. HUGE.
The cannelloni wasn't hard to fake either. I've had it at several different chain restaurants: Zio's (love it), Macaroni Grill (love MG, was neurtral about that dish so will go back to ordering the lobster ravioli), Pasta House (uh...not good). How hard can it be? Chicken, spinach, cheese, alfredo....it's not hard. You do have to prep a few different things but once you get the filling put together and the pasta dough has rested, it's all downhill from there.
Guess who loves her Auntie Miranda so much she made an extra small pan and froze them so Auntie could have some when she gets home from her business trip?
The Chicken & Spinach Cannelloni is my entry in this week's Presto Pasta Nights started by the wonderful Ruth Daniels at Once Upon a Feast, hosted this week by the lovely Nilmandra of Soy and Pepper. Nilmandra's round up of all the great pasta dishes from the week will appear on her blog tomorrow. Go check them out for new pasta ideas!
The mom of the little fella I made the turkey butt hat for left several messages for me with the RN's and RT's that she'd love it, pretty please, if I could make her little bubba a Christmas hat with antlers....well...come on now, not only is that a challenge...it sounds to me like a Mom who shares my perverse sense of humor!
So behold, I give you the Antler Hat.
Man, I so expect these folks to return to the NICU reunions so we can see how this little buddy makes out and also to torment him with tales of how much hat abuse we heaped on him as a wee little 2 lb bubba.
I'll take the hat into the NICU after Thanksgiving and I'm really hoping I can get permission to take a pic of him wearing it and permission to blog it. Ya wanna see this little guy in it?
When you have fruit this good on its own, you don't need a lot of accoutrement. Gene and I both love the brandied peaches we get from The Amish Country Store in Branson. We like to eat them straight out of the jar with a fork but if I pick up an extra couple of jars when I go I try to also save one to throw into a cobbler. One quart is the perfect little cobbler for Gene and I for dinner and then some leftovers for Gene's breakfast.
Here's the recipe: remove peaches from the jar and slice. In a bowl, mix the peaches with a Tbsp of all purpose flour, and a couple of Tbsps of juice from the jar. Turn that into a greased 8"x8" pan or even a 9" or 10" round cake pan. Then cover it with a pre-made pie crust from the freezer (my own or commercial). Last night I got a little artsy and decided to roll roses and cut leaves out of the leftover crust. Brush egg white over the crust and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes or until crust is browned and peaches bubble.
It's that simple.
Check the blog Foodie Rachel out. For one, it's a great blog, and for two, she also is a southwest Missouri blogger who's a big Amish Country Store fan. Loved the baby marshmallows she bought.
Last year I baked my first true Christmas cake. Unlike the dry compressed fruitcake bombs of my youth, I was inspired by Angela of Spoonful of Sugar and her fellow Christmas cake enthusiastic Brits to give the real thing a try. The experiment was a huge success and the hit of our family party. I even promised Dad this year to bake BIGGER so there would be leftovers to squirrel home.
To read about my adventures last year, check out these posts:
Since I have lids for those 9"x13" pans I figure they will be easy to store and "feed" in and then I can cut out strips when it comes time to sharing. They smell delicious already. By the way, all of my dried fruit came from the Amish Country Store in Branson: pineapple, mango, cranberries, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, raisins, golden raisins, red apple, etc.
Below is the recipe from Emeril I used this year and it's a keeper, although I modified a few things:
I didn't prepare the simple syrup for soaking the dried fruit. I soaked it in 2 cups of Mandarin Orange Bacardi instead. And then again, I used MOB where it says Grand Marnier or other orange flavored liqueur and I omitted the bourbon. Instead of vanilla in the recipe, I split and scooped the seeds out of a real whole vanilla bean and threw it in with the fruit as it soaked. Just prior to mixing the fruit in with the batter I removed the vanilla bean, scraping it in between my fingers to get as much flavor off of it as I could. The marinating fruit smelled like vanilla-y paradise.
I used closer to 12 oz of dried fruit per batch (made 2 cakes) which included: pineapple, mango, apple, cherries, strawberries, raspberries, dates,cranberries and figs. Where did I get my dried fruit? My favorite place to shop for specialty foods: The Amish Country Store in Branson. Aunti Miranda and I ran down there yesterday and stocked up for the holiday season. The only problem was all those pesky tourists in our way. Kidding! We just usually try to go off season so we can selfishly have the store to ourselves. (Grin)
I won't be making the whiskey sauce to serve it with as I'll be "feeding" my cakes Southern Comfort twice a week until Christmas, covering them tightly, and storing them in a cool dark corner of the guest bedroom closet.
Six and a half weeks until Christmas, kids! Can you believe it?
One of my favorite little regional cookbooks is this one, Thirty Years at the Mansion by Liza Ashley, the former head chef/cook for the Arkansas Governor's mansion. The cookbook came out in '92 when Clinton was elected and through my job at Dairy Hollow House in Eureka Springs, I was fortunate enough to work on a brunch on the inaugural line-up. The brunch primarily featured the food of Crescent Dragonwagon, the cookbook/children's book author who owned DHH. Liza was also in attendance at that event.
In person she's just the sweetest little old lady you'll ever meet, someone whom you immediately want to hug and sit down in her kitchen and ask her to tell stories. Like a substitute mom and grandma all wrapped up into a sassy little person.
The cookbook is available as a reprint on Amazon.com. Click here: Link to Ashley
You know, gambling's only really fun if you win. Gene plays a lot of slots and a lot of poker and he usually wins. Like on this trip. He played a lot but he also hit several jackpots, one of the $1,250.00 category. I don't ever win that big but I do seem to have pretty decent luck on the penny and nickel slots. Mostly I play the ones that remind me of old tv shows I liked to watch as a kid or the silly ones that are a combination of slot machine and video game. The Munsters are usually very kind to me. Like on this night. I put a $20 in a Musters machine and won $100. I was giddy with that. I took that ticket and put it into this Coyotes on Parade (it's Wolf something, CoP is my pet name for it) and won $500.00. Read the bottom line on the machine. I cashed out a $600 ticket, winning 48,200 PENNIES on this sucker.
When you win, it's a blast. When you lose, it's boring as hell. I'll take winning any day.
All of this slot fun took place at the Monte Carlo resort & casino. I've always liked this hotel. It's theme of Monte Carlo is elegant and understated, as compared to some of the more gaudy (a relative term in Vegas) themes of other hotels on the strip.
A long time ago they had a bar called the Houdini bar with Houdini memorabilia, nice bartenders, and great martinis. It's a small thing but I always liked that bar and remembered sitting in it for hours reading a book one time while Gene played poker. It was a relaxing afternoon.
Having spent a dozen years of my first career in the hotel business, I really pay attention to where I stay and I have adapted a philosophy of a kind:
It's time to show off the preemie hats I'm taking into work tonight for November/Fall/Thanksgiving and I have an extra bonus. Sarah over at Mom's Knitting hosts an annual Preemie Knit-a-thon through the end of November in honor of her pretty little Preemie Peewee who is growing marvelously. If you click on the link above you can read about her experiences in the NICU and see pics of little Peewee at her littlest--so adorable!
I love these rich fall colors. They're beautiful to work with and look at. I branched out into a few different hat styles this time, some the traditional ski cap type with pompoms, some the more non-traditional 2-point jester type with leaf buttons up at the corners, and the one green one in the middle is gorgeous but more complicated with it's band of multi-colored leaves. It really is beautiful in person.
Turkey butt, anyone? Okay, I only made two of those and made them specifically for parents whom I've been working with who seem to have the same twisted perverse sense of humor I do. Hee hee. But you have to admit. The hat's pretty damn funny. It will fit a 3-4 lb Preemie, while the pretty hat to it's right will fit a 1 1/2-2 lb baby. Hey, no reason to add insult to injury to an 18 ounce kid, right? On the itty bitty hat, the little green and orange stockintette "v"s look like little fall hearts in person. It's pretty darn cute too. It will fit a little head about the size of a lemon.