Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Goat Cheese-a-holic...that's me



Hi, my name is Sandy and I am a cheeseaholic (more specifically, a GOAT Cheeseaholic, thank you very much)
I actually stole that line from a fun blog, Cheeseaholics Anonymous....hehe!
Well, let me take a moment and describe for you a piece of what my perfect heaven would be: Sitting in the biggest comfy chair on the planet placed next to a beautiful bay window on a crystal clear day overlooking my enormous horse farm in the South in a constructed-to-perfection Southern Living home drinking a fantastic Shiraz and nibbling until my fingers are numb on Winey Goat cheese ~
Whew, was that a run-on sentence or what? :) Heaven, a fantasy....yes, but I'll never stop wishing for it!
This cheese is my absolute favorite....right up there with anything dark chocolate from See's Candies. You pretty much could ask me to do just about ANYTHING while waving this stuff under my nose.
Winey Goat is a soft white cheese made in Spain. The cheese's rind is soaked in a delicious local red wine as it cures and the result - a light, smooth textured cheese that offers a peek-a-boo essence of fruit and nuts. a.k.a. - HEAVEN.
A little goes a long way...and it's fantastic all by itself OR on bread with a "drop" of apricot preserves. What about on top of a salad with candied walnuts, dried cranberries? Yikes, I'm drooling...
I usually find Winey Goat cheese at Henry's Market ..... but this week, I actually found it at Ralphs!
Yes, it's a bit pricey ($21.00 per lb. approx.)..but so worth it.
Many have never tried goat cheese...and truth be told, goat's milk does indeed smell and taste different than the standard cow stuff we've been cubing for decades. However, it's worth a go even for the scaredy cats...not to mention, did you know that goat's milk products are easier on your digestive tract? :)
So there you have it...my mini Five Star recommendation. Drop a line if you get a chance to try it, I'd love to hear your thoughts!!
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Friday, September 25, 2009

Fall is the season....


...for CHICKEN CORN CHOWDER!! (sorry for the bad picture, it sooooo does not do this chowder the justice it deserves!)

Yes, it's still like 100 degrees out there....however, my trusty calendar says it's time to put away my white capris and start thinking along the lines of warm fireplaces and falling leaves.
I love, love, love this time of year! This recipe is based on one of Paula Deen's, however some changes were necessary. Even with my changes, I still consider this a rich chowder...just so you know. I hope this recipe will help you get into the mood of cold crisp nights, overly priced boots and some awesome quality time with a loved one or two! B-T-W, it is majorly kid friendly...

Chicken Corn Chowder serves 6-8
1 stick salted butter
½ onion, small dice
1 carrot, finely diced
1 celery stalk, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup all-purpose flour
3 cobs of corn, boiled and kernels removed
3 cups of quality chicken stock
2-3 cooked chicken breasts, cut into small cubes (store bought rotisserie birds work great!!)
1 cup half-n-half
1 cup milk (2%)
pinch of nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

In 6 qt. stockpot, boil corn cobs for 5-10 minutes. Remove cobs and let cool. Cut kernels from the cobs and set aside in a small bowl.
Pour out water, then melt butter in the stockpot over medium heat. Sauté onion, carrot, celery and garlic for only 2-4 minutes. Add flour and make a roux. Cook roux until slightly brown, then turn off the heat to cool.
During this time, combine corn and chicken stock in another saucepan. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes. Pour the boiling stock and corn into the stockpot with the roux, whisking briskly to prevent lumps. Mixture should be begin to look deliciously creamy!
Let this mixture reach a gentle boil, then turn down the heat to low-medium. Dump in the cubed chicken, stir. Slowly stream in the half-n-half and milk into the chicken corn mixture, whisking to combine. Gently simmer for about 10 minutes until chowder thickens just a bit.
Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
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Monday, August 10, 2009

Real Men Drink PINK LEMONADE...



Some history...

"Henry E. Allott, known all through the Middle West as 'Bunk' Allen, member of the old Chicago gambling syndicate, saloonkeeper, theatrical promoter, circus man, and inventor of pink lemonade, died here today. At 15 he ran away with the circus and obtained a lemonade concession. One day while mixing a tub full of the orthodox yellow kind he dropped some red cinnamon canides in by mistake. The resulting rose-tinted mixture sold so surprisingly well that he continuted to dispense his chance discovery."---
"Inventor of Pink Lemonade Dead," New York Times, September 18, 1912

Sorry gals, it wasn't some Southern Belle in the deep South, on a plantation somewhere, who invented one of America's favorite Summer beverages...
It was actually a 15 year old carny GUY! Wouldn't cha know it...
Regardless, we love drinking it in my house! And my boys love to show off their muscles when it comes time to use the glass juicer. Here is our super-duper easy version of an old favorite -


My Pink Lemonade
12 juicy lemons
10 cups water
1 ½ - 2 cups sugar
2 tsp. Grenadine syrup

In 3 qt. covered sauce pan, bring water to a boil. Turn off the heat, add sugar and stir until dissolved. Set aside and allow to cool a bit.Roll lemons to make them juicy. Juice lemons using an electric juicer, lemon reamer, citrus press..whatever. Remove pulp if desired….In a 3 qt. pitcher, add lemon juice, Grenadine syrup and warm sugar water. Stir to mix well. Serve in glasses filled with ice. The addition of fresh mint or additional lemon slices will make nice finishing touches!

**Don't forget to seek out local lemons...SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL FARMER!"

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Monday, August 03, 2009

Pain d' Epi


Whew! Now that was a long break! I haven't messed with my blog all Summer. The kids will be starting school again in a couple of weeks and I can't believe how fast this pickin' Summer went. ...I'm convinced I need more time off...
Well let me tell you a story. A story of a frustrated hausfrau who moved to the high desert in search of peace and tranquility. She was so excited...she was going to ride her horses, get pedicures while the kids where at school, see her soap company to success, and bake great homemade bread. Well, NONE OF THE ABOVE actually happened. The horses became lawn ornaments and the pedicures never happened because she had to homeschool the kids. The soap business took a back seat and became a hobby, for the same reason. Now the bread...let's just say someone neglected to tell her that at her elevation (3410 ft. approx.), bread comes out like a freakin' brick!
After many failed attemps, she was about to completely give up...until.....TODAY!
I picked up a great little book at the library, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois, this past week. Well, I tried my first bread recipe, Pain d' Epi.
Hello! It's awesome! I did, however, make a couple of minor adjustments because of my elevation...and let's just say, "WOW!"

Here is my adjusted recipe for Pain d' Epi, to make #2 loaves, 1 lb. each.

1 1/2 cups of lukewarm water
2 1/4 tsp. coarse salt (has to be, of course..)
1 1/2 tsp. Fleischmann's Highly Active Yeast
3 1/4 cups bread flour

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until all flour is incorporated. Cover loosely and let proof on the kitchen counter for two hours. Then place in the refrigerator for twenty-four hours.

Time to bake!: Divide the batch in half, placing one half on a lightly floured surface, the other back into the refrigerator. Guess what?? The dough will keep for two weeks!!
Gently work dough into a ball and sprinkle with flour. Roll into a long loaf shape. Let sit for thirty minutes. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Lightly flour the loaf, then make superficial slices across the top. Transfer to a baking sheet that's been sprinkled with cornmeal.
Place a pan on the lower oven rack and fill with 2 cups of water. Place bread on baking sheet on the middle rack. Let bake for 25-30 minutes.

Yum...my kids were begging for more!

For all the folks that don't have a major elevation disability like mine, here is the standard recipe that actually is designed to make #4 loaves:

3 cups of lukewarm water
2 packets of granulated yeast (or 1 1/2 TBL.)
1 1/2 TBL. coarse salt
6 1/2 cups bread flour

Have fun baking!!
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Saturday, May 09, 2009

My Tri-Color Pasta Salad


Yup, EVERYONE has a version of this Spring/Summer salad...but making this delicious side dish can be a challenge if you have picky eaters in the house - like me. Let's see, I have a hubby that turns up his nose to any salad with an obvious vinegar taste, two boys that aren't that crazy about cold salads, etc....This salad is quick, easy and edible..according to my children :) LOL!
WARNING: This is a "throw-together-add-what-you-what-not-very-exact" recipe...and yes, I based this recipe on one given to me by a Southern pal years ago...

Tri-Color Pasta Salad serves 6-8
1 16 oz. box Barilla Tri-Color Pasta
1 pkg. Mann's Steam & Serve Garden Herb Medley veggies
3 TBL. kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 TBL. crumbled Feta cheese
5 squirts? Wishbone Italian Dressing
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

In the microwave, cook the veggies according to label directions, but maybe a few seconds less (I like my veggies on the crunchy side..). Uncover and let completely cool. NOTE: I usually remove the cauliflower because I think it's too mushy for the salad. Besides, it's a healthy snack while cooking ~


Boil in salted water, pasta for approx. 8-9 mins. Not too long, or the noodles won't hold up!
Rinse with cold water, drain thoroughly.
In a large bowl combine pasta, veggies, kidney beans, Feta cheese and a twist or two of pepper.
Fun part: 5 or more squirts of Italian dressing (my kids beg to help with this part!).
Mix gently but thoroughly. Refrigerate for about 4+ hours...
That's it...
What I dig about this salad - it's so basic, you can add more of this or less of that, whatever!
I sometimes add artichoke hearts or cubed salami, more dressing or hot pepper flakes...it's all good.
Enjoy!
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Friday, May 01, 2009

Be Hippy Happy - MAKE Y-O-G-U-R-T


Well, in the 70's my late father, a chiropractor, was hell bent on putting my mother and I on the road to "everything natural!" We begged for donuts, Fruit Loops, Count Chocula (remember than stuff? Loved it! Sorry Daddy...), anything but granola from the health food store, again...Gawd, please ~
His answer to our whining? Homemade yogurt -
No syrupy fruit at the bottom, overly processed store bought slop - actual made from scratch plain yogurt.
So patchwork denim jeans, halter tops and platform shoes aside, I look back and am grateful for his bravery (we threatened to revolt before we tried it!) as I have carried on the tradition to my boys. Not only do they enjoy thinking of new ways to flavor their yogurt, they actually love making it with me.
I could go on and on and on and on about the obvious health benefits of yogurt - but I'll let YOU do that! :)
There are a ton of recipes out there, but let me share with you how we make it....try it, you'll like it ~

SANDY'S YOGURT
I use a yogurt maker, but you can use a crockpot or thermos or storage container! Don't let your lack of equipment deter you.

For 1 Quart of Yogurt -
1 quart whole milk
5 TBL. yogurt starter (quality PLAIN yogurt with live & active cultures or 1 TBL dried culture)
1 TBL. instant non-fat dried milk (makes it creamy and helps to thicken)

STEP 1:
Heat to almost a boil, quart of milk. I used the microwave. Insert a thermometer, cover with Saran wrap.

STEP 2:


When milk has cooled to 125 degrees Fahrenheit, add the yogurt starter. Add instant milk. Whisk until fully incorporated.

STEP 3:


Now pour into your container (s) and place into the yogurt maker. p.s. - I always plug my maker in while I'm preparing the milk...so it's ready to rock after I pour. Now get a towel, and cover your yogurt to insulate. Let it set for 10-12 hours UNDISTURBED!

STEP 4:
After cooking time is over, set your yogurt on the counter to cool and set. Then place in the fridge for at least eight hours before eating. The longer the better - maybe two days, etc..

STEP 5:

A little honey, some nuts..or maybe fresh strawberries...YES!

STEP 6: Optional
My hubby likes thick, Greek Style yogurt - so if that's your "thang," just get some cheesecloth and drain the desired amount for about 30 minutes. Yumm!
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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I Screwed Up!!

Shoot!!
I wanted to show the progress on the baby birds...
And after I took this picture they scattered and FLEW AWAY! OMG, I hope they will survive!
I feel so terrible....like such a jackass. I will swear to NEVER disturb a nest again (sniff-sniff).
Well, here's a shot of them just before the jail break -



Best of luck to you little guys.... Pin It

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Spring has Sprung!!

THE EASTER BUNNY CAME EARLY -
So, this morning I stepped out on my porch to take down my Winter flower basket....ready to snip, trim and remove the dead stuff - making room for a new Spring flower collection, and look what I found....



OH MY GOSH! These are the tiniest eggs I think I've ever seen....
Well, looks like this baskets make-over will just have to wait. :)
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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

It's been too long...

I've had so many challenges the last eight weeks - sorry I haven't posted! I look forward to starting up again possibly this week...so stay tuned :)

- Sandy Pin It

Monday, January 26, 2009

Smeatloaf-Beatloaf- Yummy ITALIAN BUFFALO MEATLOAF


I really hated my Mom's meatloaf...she was otherwise a great cook, but THAT meatloaf...ewww
So guess who didn't eat meatloaf for like two decades? - Right.
Then I came across Michael Chiarello's Italian Meatloaf recipe...and it gave me hope!
Of course I had to tweak it - using buffalo ground meat, more garlic, etc. My family loves it (kids too!) and now, I'll even eat the leftovers - it's delicious. Did you know that early Southern meatloaf recipes actually called for buffalo rather than cow meat? Please don't be afraid of buffalo meat - it's leaner and actually tastes better...slip it in there, then tell em'!!

Italian Buffalo Meatloaf serves 4-6
2 TBL. extra-virgin olive oil (plus a bit extra to brush the pan)
1 red pepper, seeded, small diced
1 small sweet onion, small diced
2 tsp. (about 4-6 cloves) chopped garlic
2 lbs. ground buffalo meat
2 eggs
3/4 cup Progresso Italian Bread Crumbs
1 cup shredded Parmesan
1 TBL. Worcestershire sauce
1 TBL. balsamic vinegar
1 TBL. Italian Seasoning
2 TBL. coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup Ragu (here we go again!) Robusto! Sauted Onion & Garlic spaghetti sauce

Heat 2 TBL. of olive oil in a pan - saute the onions and red pepper until just soft. Throw in the garlic at the end - so it won't burn. Let everything cool, set aside.
Get a big bowl, and beat the eggs well. Then add everything else - except the spaghetti sauce - and combine well. Add the cooled sauted veggies also, and mix well.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Brush a 9 X 13 baking dish with olive oil.
Divide the meat mixture in half. Take one half and shape by hand into a loaf. Make it pretty flat, like about an inch? Place in baking dish, and spread 1/2 cup of spaghetti sauce evenly. Form the other half into a loaf (flat again), place on top of loaf in the pan. Use the remaining sauce, and spread evenly.
Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 15 min. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 35-45 mins. Everyone's ovens and/or attitudes may differ - so when the center of your meatloaf reaches 160 degrees (meat therm.), take her out to rest! And remember, if the loaf is too thick, it can double your cook time.
You might notice the oils around the meatloaf look very dark - almost burnt. Don't worry, your meatloaf will be just fine!
Serve up with some skin-on mashed potatoes, green beans...enjoy!
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Sunday, January 04, 2009

Bad For You EASY PEACH COBBLER


Well...this week I joined this new blog, Operation Skinny Bitch - they have a Wednesday roll call. I think many dieters would agree that Sunday is the last day to scarf what you love before starting a new diet ~
Today, I chose my homemade Peach Cobbler. Super fattening - super sloppy - super rich...and damn good with a great cup of coffee! :) And yes, this is a Southern recipe - obtained while I lived in Doraville, GA. - back in my single days of big hair and lined lips.
I also used this culinary opportunity to school my boys on the art of cooking (reading the recipe, dry and wet ingredient measuring, etc...). It's never too young to start, and I'll be damned if those boys leave this house without knowing how to fix their future wives breakfast! LOL! Enough already...here we go....

Easy Peach Cobbler serves 8-10
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. salt
4 cups fresh or canned peaches (2 29 oz. lite peaches, drained)
1 cup flour
1 TBL. baking powder
1 cup whole milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 TBL. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt butter in 13x9 baking dish by placing in the oven while it preheats.
In a bowl combine flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder and ½ tsp. salt. Add milk and vanilla extract by stirring until all the dry ingredients are moistened and the batter is smooth.
Remove the baking dish from the oven and pour batter over the melted butter. DO NOT STIR!
In a sauce pan, bring peaches, 1 cup sugar, ½ tsp. salt and lemon juice to a boil. Gently boil for 2 minutes. Stirring constantly, pour over batter. Again, DO NOT STIR!
Sprinkle cinnamon evenly over the top.
Bake at 375degrees for 40-45 mins. or until golden. (**higher elevations (3400 ft. +) might need to bake for an extra 8-10 mins.**)

Make sure it sits on the counter for at least 30 mins. to an hour before eating - longer the better, it must set up. Trust me....
Don't forget the CoolWhip or freshly whipped cream! Oh yeah!!
**don't be afraid to reduce the sugar in the peaches if using canned fruit!** it won't hurt my feelings! HA
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Friday, January 02, 2009

It's Official..I'm a hooker

A crochet hooker, that is ~ (gotcha!)
A dear friend from my past taught me the art of basic crochet...and I've been hooked ever since.
During dry friendship seasons, periods of personal challenge, whatever..it makes for a great companion. My little part-time hobby, my little secret.
Over the years, I've managed to keep my interest in crochet alive - a project here and there - just enough to keep my fingers from rusting!
It seems that overnight, my overly protected, sheltered baby boys became Mr. Cool #1 and Mr. Cool #2 this past month. And what did #1 ask for last week? A skull cap...skater beanie, dude.
"Mom, I really want one of those cool hats that look like yarn? You know, the ones that I've seen the big kids wear?"
Oh-my-Gawd - little did he know he was barking up the right tree.......

Two hours after he went to bed - Mom made it happen, and his beanie was finished! You should of heard him squeal in the morning....for a brief glimmering moment, he couldn't believe how RAD I was. :)
Make your own - it's easy. Below I pasted the article/pattern that I used:

Boys Beanie / Skull Cap
This striped beanie hat is based off of the free crochet pattern that was originally published in Stitch N Bitch Crochet - The Happy Hooker, March 2006. (p.s. -I made a couple of changes near the end)
I like it because it's the answer to one of those tricky questions that crafters often face: What can I make for the men (or boys) in my life?
While this pattern is suitable in size for men and women, from teen to adult, it is particularly popular for young men in their late teens or early twenties (one of the hardest age groups to make things for, imho!) You can use up your scrap yarn for this pattern, or pick up some yarn in your son's team colors. If the hat will be worn for hunting or fishing trips, don't forget to add bright orange stripes for safety.
Materials: - #1 Red Heart Super Saver yarn (MC) / #2 Red Heart Super Saver contrast color (CC).
Finished measurements: length = 8”, circumference = approx 20” unstretched. one size fits most ages teen to adult. Repeat round 9 for a longer hat, skip round 9 for a shorter skull cap.
Gauge: using 5.5mm (US size I) hook, after round 4 your swatch should measure 5” in diameter. Adjust hook size to obtain correct gauge.
Stitches: sl st - slip stitch, sc - single crochet, dc - double crochet, sc tbl - single crochet through the back loop only, dc tbl - double crochet through the back loop only.
Pattern notes: this hat design is made crocheting in rounds, each round will begin with a number of chains which will count as the first stitch, and is ended by joining the last stitch with the top of the beginning chain creating concentric circles. “st” denotes the stitch of the previous round.
Begin - with MC ch 3, join with a slip st to first chain to form a ring.
Round 1 - ch 3, 9 dc into ring, join with sl st to top of ch 3. 10 sts. (I actually did a Magic Loop on this).
Round 2 - ch 2, dc into same st, 2 dc in each st around, join with sl st to top of ch 2. 20 sts.
Round 3 - ch 2, dc into same st, dc in next st, *(2 dc in next st, dc in next st), repeat from * 8 more times, join with sl st to top of ch 2. 30 sts.
Round 4 – sl st into back loop of same stitch, ch 2, dc in next st, 2 dc in next st, *(dc in next 2 sts, 2 dc in next st), repeat from * 8 more times, join with sl st to top of ch 2. 40 sts.
Round 5 - ch 2, dc into same st, dc in next 3 sts, *(2 dc in next st, dc in next 3 sts), repeat from * 8 more times, join with sl st to top of ch 2. 50 sts.
Round 6 - sl st into back loop of same stitch, ch 2, dc in next st, 2 dc in next st, *(dc in next 9 sts, 2 dc in next st), repeat from * 3 more times, dc in last 7 sts, join with sl st to top of ch 2. 55 sts.
Rounds 7, 8, 9 - sl st into back loop of same stitch, ch 2, dc in each st around, join with sl st to top of ch 2. hold MC to back of work.
Round 10 - join CC, ch 1, sc in each st around, join with sl st to beg ch.
Round 11 - with MC, ch 2, dc tbl in each st around, join with sl st to top of ch 2.
Round 12 - with CC, ch 1, sc in each st around, join with sl st to beg ch.
Round 13 - with CC, ch 2, dc tbl in each st around, join with sl st to top of ch 2. Tie off CC color.
Round 14 - with MC, ch 1, sc in each st around, join with sl st to beg ch.
Round 15 - with MC ch 1, sc tbl in each st around, join with sl st to beg ch.
Round 16 - ch 1, sc in each st around, join with sl st to top of ch. Tie off MC and weave in yarn ends with a tapestry needle.


Just to give you an idea - the above pattern fit my 9 year old wonderfully. Have fun and keep your babies (no matter how old they are!) and loved ones warm!!

..::Sandy::..

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