Sunday, May 13, 2018

Beef Jerky

Lately, I've been wanting to make beef jerky, and today was the day! I used my American Harvest Snackmaster Elite, which I haven't used in forever, and the American Harvest Original Beef Jerky Spice and Cure that must have come with the dehydrater.


Tom was a complete nay-sayer when I broached the idea with him - he said he probably wouldn't like whatever I made. Boy, was he wrong, we both loved it! The flavor was great - not too much pepper, and just enough salt.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Ashley's Wedding Shower

This morning, at work, we celebrated the upcoming wedding of Ashley. For the breakfast potluck, I made Eggs Benedict and Eggs Florentine. I combined a few different things while putting them together.
I cooked the eggs in the oven in a muffin tin - it wasn't quite as easy as all of the web sites made it seem. The oven was preheated to 250°C. One tablespoon of water was added to each cup of a muffin tin. Eggs were cracked individually into a small bowl, then poured into each cup in the tin. The muffin tin was put in the oven and the eggs were cooked for 12 minutes - an average of the times from different websites that I researched. The tin was removed from the oven, and the eggs were allowed to cool for a few minutes. Using a spoon, the eggs were removed from the muffin tin. Now, they didn't come out of the tin as easily as I had hoped, and they were done more than I wanted, so next time, I would cook them for less time and use a small spatula to loosen them up before taking them out of the cups.
For the Eggs Florentine, I made Speedy Creamed Spinach, a recipe I got from the McCormick website. I've used this creamed spinach recipe for years, so it just seemed logical for the dish.
Speedy Creamed Spinach

Ingredients
  • 2 pkgs (10 oz each) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 4 oz regular or reduced fat cream cheese, cut into small pieces
  • ½ t garlic salt
  • ¼ t onion powder
  • 1/8 - ¼ t ground nutmeg
  • 2 T butter
Directions
  1. Thaw the spinach and squeeze dry, reserving the liquid. Add enough water to the liquid to equal ¾ c liquid total.
  2. Place a 12-in skillet over medium heat until hot, add cream cheese, spinach liquid, garlic salt, onion powder, and nutmeg. Whisk until melted and completely smooth, about 2 min. Add spinach and stir until well-blended. Cook 3 min or until thoroughly heated, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add butter and cook 1 min longer or until butter is completely melted.
For the assembly, I started with English muffins which were split, toasted and buttered. For the Eggs Benedict, the next layer was Canadian Bacon that had been warmed in a skillet, for the Eggs Florentine, about a tablespoon on creamed spinach. The next layer was an egg, and then each was topped with Hollandaise Sauce. For the Hollandaise Sauce, I used the Betty Crocker recipe, which follows:
Hollandaise Sauce

Ingredients
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ cup firm butter
Directions
  1. In 1 1/2-quart saucepan, vigorously stir egg yolks and lemon juice with wire whisk. Add 1/4 cup of the butter. Heat over very low heat, stirring constantly with wire whisk, until butter is melted.
  2. Add remaining 1/4 cup butter. Continue stirring vigorously until butter is melted and sauce is thickened. (Be sure butter melts slowly so eggs have time to cook and thicken sauce without curdling.) If the sauce curdles (mixture begins to separate), add about 1 tablespoon boiling water and beat vigorously with wire whisk or hand beater until it's smooth.
  3. Serve immediately. Store covered in refrigerator. To serve refrigerated sauce, reheat over very low heat and stir in a small amount of water.
The sauce was super easy to make, but a little too lemony for my taste. Either way, it worked well for my purposes. The dishes worked out pretty well, but they were overdone, since I assembled them the night before, put them in the refrigerator and reheated them in the oven while I was getting ready for work in the morning. I would definitely make them again, but not do the make-the-night-before thing.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Brussels Sprouts Gratin

Happy Thanksgiving! With family coming over, Dad put me in charge of providing the vegetable dish, and Wanda sent me a recipe for Brussels Sprouts Gratin - so I thought they'd be perfect to try. I enlisted the help of my nephew, and together we made a pretty good tasting dish.

Brussels Sprouts Gratin

Ingredients:
  • 16 oz brussels sprouts, trimmed of outer leaves and sliced in half
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • black pepper, to taste
  • olive oil spray
  • 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup chopped shallots
  • 2 tsp all purpose flour (or gluten free flour for GF)
  • 3/4 cup fat free milk
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 oz grated Gruyere cheese, divided
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray an 8"x12" gratin dish or casserole with olive oil. Add the brussels sprouts and season with salt and pepper. Spray more olive oil over the brussels and place in the lower third of the oven. Bake 15 minutes, toss and bake an additional 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a medium nonstick pan over medium heat. Add butter and let it melt, add the shallots and cook until softened, about 4 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the shallots to make a roux, whisking for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the milk and stir with a wooden spoon until the roux is incorporated into the milk. Cook over medium-low heat for about 4 minutes, stirring, until the sauce thickens. Add fresh thyme, parmesan and half of the grated Gruyere cheese into the white sauce and stir until the cheese is melted and incorporated into the sauce.
  3. Pour over the brussels sprouts, and top with the remaining cheese. Bake for 15 minutes until top is lightly browned and bubbly.
The grocery store was out of Gruyere cheese, so on a recommendation that I found on the Internet, we used Jarlsberg. As I mentioned, I think it was a good dish, but the best part was the bonding time with my nephew!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Recliner Pillows

Well, after eight months of working on them on and off, I've finally completed the pillows for the recliners.

They are very simple, but I kept putting off finishing them because we wanted to put zippers in them - something I've never tackled before. I, of course, am concerned with all of the imperfections, but Tom is pleased, so I'm glad they're done.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Halloween Potluck

We had a potluck at work today, and these were my contributions.


I made regular old deviled eggs, but decorated them with spiders made from cut up black olives.


This was veggies and dip.


And finally, I made Candy Corn Poke Cake.
Candy Corn Poke Cake

Ingredients
  • one box of white cake mix plus the fixn's needed to make it
  • food coloring
  • 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
  • whipped topping
  • candy corn
Instructions
  1. Make the cake batter as directed. Then divide it into three equal parts. Color one yellow, one orange, and leave one alone. Make sure you add enough to make it really vibrant.
  2. Spray the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan . Spread the yellow layer evenly across the bottom, and then stick it in the freezer (make sure it is sitting flat). Leave it in there for 20 minutes.
  3. As soon as you pull it out, very carefully add the orange layer, pouring it as evenly as possible around the pan, and gently spreading it out to cover the yellow. Put it back in the freezer for 20 more minutes.
  4. Preheat your oven to the temperature specified on the cake mix.
  5. Taking out the cake batter pan, again, carefully spread the white layer. Let it sit on top of the preheating oven for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Bake according to package directions. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, poke holes throughout the cake with the end of a wooden spoon. Pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the cake, making sure to fill each hole.
  7. Refrigerate overnight. Right before serving, top with whipped topping, candy corn, and enjoy!
  8. **Note, the candy corn tends to bleed into the whip cream, so if you aren't going to be serving it right away, you might want to wait to top it
I think the hardest part for me was creating the colors, that food coloring is hard to work with.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

R2-D2 Diaper Cake

Today we held a baby shower for Alyson, and had a Star Wars theme, since she's a big fan. For my part, I got to make the "Bantha Bites" and I made the Cuban Sliders, which were a request (later titled "Hans Hoagies"). For a gift, I decided on an R2-D2 diaper cake, but since most of the items I was able to source were green, it's more like an R2-A6 diaper cake.

Here's what I had to buy to make the cake:

  • 1 white plastic colander
  • 1 box of 120 size 1 diapers
  • 2 plastic utensils
  • 2 bottle brushes
  • 2 boxes of wipes
  • 1 spool of white ribbon
This is how I assembled the cake:
  1. I rolled up three layers of diapers, using 35 diapers for each layer. Each layer was wrapped with a length of white ribbon, and secured with some pins.
  2. The boxes of wipes were turned upside-down, and placed where the "feet" should be. A cardboard circle was placed on top of the wipes so that the first layer of diapers would have a flat surface to sit on.
  3. The layers were stacked on the cardboard circle/feet, ensuring that the layers were turned so that the pins securing the ribbons were in the back.
  4. The colander was turned upside down and placed on top of the top layer of diapers.
  5. The bottle brushes were taped to the boxes of wipes and the handles of the colander. The containers for the bottle brushes weren't actually tall enough to reach the handles of the colander, so there is some empty space there.
  6. The utensils were taped to the lop layer of diapers.
  7. Using Google Images, I looked up "r2d2 printable pattern" and chose one that I liked. I printed it out, cut out the individual elements and taped them onto the cake.
She loved it!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Diaper Jeep

One of my former co-workers from the Tidewater is in town to visit her family, and they decided to throw her a baby shower. My contribution was a diaper Jeep.

I am pleased with the way it turned out, especially since I'm not crazy about the proportions of the Jeep in the only tutorial I could find on-line.