Archive for September 30, 2011

A Chicken Bath

How do chickens clean themselves?  With a feather duster, of course.  Actually they give themselves a dust bath.  They scratch out a shallow hole and lay in it and fluff around flinging dirt up on their backs.  Then they stand up and give a good shake to get it all out.  The dirt cleans their feathers and help with mites and other parasites.


Pecan Tartlets

The original recipe name of these little beauties is Tea Time Tossils.  That name just doesn’t fit…what’s a tossil, anyways? So I changed it to Pecan Tartlets.  A friend of mine gave me this recipe 10 or so years ago and I stuffed it in my recipe box along with all those other recipes with good intentions.  Occasionally I would run across it and thought of making them.  Then one day a few years ago, I finally made them and am I ever sorry I didn’t make them sooner.  All those wasted years…wah!


1 3oz pkg. cream cheese
1/2 C. butter, softened
1 C. flour
1 egg
3/4 C. brown sugar
1 T. butter, softened
Dash of salt
1 tsp. real vanilla
2/3 C. pecans, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Pastry:  Let cream cheese and butter soften to room temperature (I never remember to do this, so I microwaved them both for about 20 seconds).  Blend together with the flour.  Chill about 1 hour (um…yeah that didn’t happen either.  I put it in the freezer while I made the filling). Once chilled (sorta), shape into 2 dozen 1 inch balls and place one ball into each cup of a mini muffin pan.  Press dough onto the bottom and sides of the cups.

Filling:  Beat together the egg, sugar, 1T. butter, vanilla and salt until smooth. Divide the nuts evenly into the cups (oops, I accidentally threw them into the filling, so I stirred it all up and then filled each cup). Spoon filling into cups.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until filling is set.  Cool before removing from pans. 

Even with all my distractions and alterations, they turned out great!


Warm Apple Crepes

Suzanne and I both worked in downtown Tacoma at the same time a long, long time ago.  Occasionally, we would manage to meet up for lunch.  We loved to go to a crepe restaurant in the Old City Hall building that made divine crepes stuffed with crab, or chicken and spinach with a rich cream sauce and lots of cheese.  They had an apple crepe filled with warm vanilla pudding and apple filling that we would sometimes split for dessert.  I saw a recipe for crepes the other day and it jogged my memory of how much I loved this apple crepe.  That crepe restaurant is no longer there, in fact, the Old City Hall building has been converted into professional offices.  So, here’s my take on the apple crepe at Old City Hall (it tastes just like I remembered!)….It seems like there are a lot of steps to this recipe, but each step is super simple.

Vanilla Pudding
2 C. milk
1 tsp. real vanilla extract (or if you’re super cool -1 vanilla bean, split)
2 eggs
1/2 C. plus 2 T. Sugar
3 T. flour
1/4 C. (1/2 stick) butter, softened

Combine the milk and vanilla in a saucepan and heat on medium-high heat till it almost comes to a boil.  In a bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar and flour till well combined.  You will need to ‘temper’ the eggs, which means you will need to warm them up gradually by adding 1/3 C. of the scalded milk to the egg mixture while whisking, so that the eggs don’t scramble.  Add the warmed egg mixture to the pan of milk and whisk over medium-high heat till the pudding thickens and begins to bubble. (Remove the vanilla bean, if using).  Keep whisking for 4-5 minutes until the pudding becomes very thick.  Remove from the heat and stir in the softened butter until it melts.  Set aside to cool down.

Apple Filling
2 apples (I used Gala), peeled, cored and cut into small chunks
1-1/2 C. apple juice
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1-1/2 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 C. apple juice

Cook the apples and the 1-1/2 C. apple juice  in a saucepan on medium heat until the apples are tender, about 25 minutes.  Stir in the cinnamon and sugar.  Increase the heat to medium-high heat.  Thoroughly mix the cornstarch with the 1/2 C. apple juice and stir into apple mixture.  Cook for 3-4 minutes until the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally.  Set aside to cool down.

1/2 C. flour
1 C. milk
4 eggs
3 T. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. salt
1 T. sugar

Combine the flour, salt and milk in a bowl.  Add the eggs and mix well. Stir in the melted butter and mix well.  Pour 1/4 C. batter into a shallow, non-stick frying pan lightly greased with butter (or crepe pan, again if you’re super cool) on medium heat.  Swirl the batter around until the bottom of the pan is coated.  Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the edges are just need to flip the crepe. Slide the crepe onto a plate.

Fill the crepes with 1/4 C. warm vanilla pudding topped with 1/4 C. warm apple filling.  Roll or fold up the crepe.  Top with 1 T. apple filling and a dollop of vanilla ice cream..

Giant M&M Cookie

I made this giant M&M cookie last night.  It’s a lot easier than having to bake pan after pan of the Toll House cookie recipe we usually use and its totally scrumptious.  Buttery goodness and freckled with M&Ms……

1 C. M&Ms
1-1/2 C. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 C. butter, softened
1/3 C. sugar
1/3 C. packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350.  In a small mixing bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and salt.  In a medium mixing bowl, combine the butter, sugar and brown sugar, then add the egg and vanilla and mix well.  Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture till combined.  Fold in the M&Ms.  Spread the dough onto a round cookie sheet or baking stone until its about an 11 inch circle (I lightly flour my hands and pat the dough out).  Press a few more M&Ms into the top.  Bake for 16-18 minutes.  Cut with a pizza cutter..

Canning 101

With the abundance of free garden produce and berries this time of year, what better way to take advantage of them then can them?  Suzanne and I got together and made zucchini relish, blackberry jam and raspberry jam.  Canning is super easy and is a fun afternoon project especially with a friend or family.  We started off by making zucchini relish ~ a great relish for hot dogs, to add to your homemade potato salad or just as a side.  My neighbor had given us some huge zucchinis from his garden. We’re both going to shred the rest and freeze in 2 cup portions for making zucchini bread all fall and winter.

Ball has a great intro to canning on their website, but the basics are:

1)  Wash jars, lids and rings in hot soapy water.  After washing, we simmer the lids and rings in hot water until ready to use.
2)  If the recipe calls for hot water processing, fill canner half full with water, or enough to be able to cover the sealed jars completely, and simmer until ready to use.
3) Prepare your recipe exactly as written – this is not the time to experiment as even the slightest change can throw off the balance of the recipe.
4) Fill each jar and wipe the rims clean.  Place the lids on, then twist on the rings till tight.
5) Process according to the recipe.  Some recipes require water baths, while others do not.

Shawn Heffron VanderPuten’s recipe for Zuchini Relish

10 C zucchini, chopped (about 9 med.)
4 C onions, chopped (about 3 lg)
5 Tbsp salt
Mix the above and let stand overnight – rinse and drain (then squeeze the water out)
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp celery seed
1 sweet red pepper, chopped and seeded
1 green pepper, shopped and seeded
5 C sugar
2 1/2 C vinegar
1 Tbsp tumeric
1 tsp black pepper
Add remaining ingredients and simmer 30 minutes
Pour into hot sterilized jars and seal (I process for 10 minutes) Makes about 7 pints

After sitting overnight, the zucchini is rinsed
A pretty color addition of red and green peppers

Filling the jars
Suzanne’s great idea to use a magnet to pick up the hot lids
and rings out of the simmering water
We used a turkey fryer to process the canned relish

For the blackberry jam and raspberry jam we both had frozen berries; we each picked berries right out of our yards ~ we had tons of blackberries and Suzanne had beautiful raspberries this year.  We followed the instructions inside the SureJell package to make cooked jam which was basically to crush the fruit (which we do by hand or you can use a potato masher) and put in a large pot, mix in one box of SureJell and let come to a full rolling boil.  Next, add the sugar (which is a lot, but remember you only use a small amount on a PB&J or toast) and let that come to a full rolling boil.  Pour the hot jam into the prepared jars and seal.  We used the processing method where after the hot jam is poured into the jars and sealed, you simply turn the jars upside down for 10 minutes, then turn right side up again.

Letting the jam sit upside down for 10 minutes

Its fun to hear the sound the lids make when they complete their vaccuum seal – its a little metal popping sound…..and look at the beautiful rewards…….


Corn on the cob for a crowd

Life Hacker posted a great tip today on cooking corn on the cob for a crowd. Just fill a clean cooler with the corn and pour boiling water over it. Shut lid and wait 30 mins. Voila! Done! This is so much easier than trying to boil them in a pot or trying to fit them all on the grill..

Zucchini Bread with Pineapple

I’m finally resigning myself to the fact that fall is on its way.  Ready or not here it comes.  Last night I made zucchini bread and it really got me in the fall spirit.  Now I’m seeing soups and stews, roasts and squash ravioli in my future.  I’m getting excited about candles, fall wreaths, pumpkins and sitting by a warm fire in the woodstove.  My neighbor has been giving me zucchinis lately; some are the size of a small car! Suzanne and I made zucchini relish with one of them and I shredded up another one and froze it in 2 cup portions for making zucchini bread.  This recipe makes the most moist and delicious zucchini bread ever…

3 eggs
1 C. oil
2 C. sugar
2 C. shredded zucchini
2 tsp. Vanilla
1 8oz can of crushed pineapple, drained
3 C. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1-1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 C. walnuts (optional)
1 C. dates/raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Beat the eggs, oil and sugar together.  Stir in the zucchini, vanilla, and pineapple.  In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.  Fold in the nuts, dates and/or raisins, if using.  Grease 2 loaf pans and dust with cinnamon and sugar.  Divide the batter into the two loaf pans and dust the tops of the batter with cinnamon and sugar.  Bake for 1-1 1/4 hours or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pans..

Three Coupon Inserts and Albertsons Doublers Today!!

Three coupon inserts and Albertson’s Doublers are in the paper today 9/11/11!  Remember, the Dollar Store sells the Sunday paper for $1 each. The Seattle Times does not carry the Red Plum coupon insert in the Sunday paper, so try to get the Tacoma News Tribune, or some other local paper if you can……AND….look through the paper BEFORE you buy it to make sure all the inserts and sheet of doublers are in it!!!.

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