Friday, December 30, 2011

Meilleurs Voeux

I finally finished my second bracelet from French General's Botanical Charm Club.

After I finished my first bracelet, I became disheartened with the bracelets and stopped doing anything except looking at the kits when they came in the mail (June's bracelet had some broken glass charms and in July's kit the bracelet chain was too short). It was easy enough to get me interested in finishing up all of those bracelets again.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

I hope that everyone’s Christmas was a happy one. Ours went well, for the most part. For dinner, I prepared a Baked Ham with Brown Sugar Mustard Glaze (from the Food Network website) and a Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes that Wanda had a recipe for.

Baked Ham with Brown Sugar Mustard Glaze
  • 1 (12-pound) shankless skinless smoked cured ham
  • Whole cloves for studding ham
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup prepared mustard
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Score top of ham into diamonds and stud center of each diamond with a clove. Place ham on a rack in a roasting pan and bake for 1½ hours. In a bowl combine the sugar, mustard and vinegar and spread glaze evenly over ham. Bake for another 35 minutes. Transfer ham to a platter and let stand 15 minutes before carving.

Garlic and Parmesan Mashed Potatoes
  • 8 c potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 16 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 c parmesan cheese
  • ¼ c buttermilk
  • Salt and white pepper to taste

  • Put potatoes and garlic in pot and cover with water. Boil until potatoes are tender. Drain.
  • In a mixer bowl, add potatoes, butter, cheese, buttermilk, and salt and pepper. Blend until creamy.
Tom loved the ham, but hated the potatoes. He started off by taking one bite of the potatoes, then said that I made the best potatoes in the world. Then Donnie casually said something about how you can’t even tell that there was garlic in them. Then Tom decided that they tasted funny, and there was a weird aftertaste. I don’t think it was the garlic – he can handle that in small doses – it was probably the parmesan cheese, which he never eats and wouldn’t recognize the flavor of. Donnie and I both enjoyed everything, even the potatoes.
After dinner, we all went out for the yearly Christmas movie and saw Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.

I thought it was good, and Tom thought it was one of the best movies he’s ever seen. He didn’t have any criticism about it, which he usually has for everything, so maybe that’s true.
After the movie, I finished making Peppermint Pattie Cookies, which I had started earlier in the day, but had to refrigerate the dough.

Peppermint Pattie Cookies
  • 2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 24 to 26 small (1½ inch) YORK Peppermint Patties
  • White decorator's sugar

  1. Beat butter and sugar in large mixing bowl; add egg, milk and vanilla, blending thoroughly. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add to butter mixture, blending well. Refrigerate dough about 1 hour or until firm enough to handle. (Dough will be a little soft.)
  2. Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease cookie sheet or line with parchment paper. Remove wrappers from peppermint patties.
  3. Roll dough into 1¼ inch balls. For each cookie flatten ball slightly; press peppermint pattie into dough. Mold dough around pattie so that it is completely covered. Place on prepared cookie sheet. Using knife edge press star design into surface of each cookie; sprinkle with decorator's sugar.
  4. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until cookie is set; sprinkle with additional sugar, if desired. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. About 2 dozen cookies.
These cookies turned out really well, and both Tom and Donnie said they were good.
Then, to end my Christmas extravaganza, I popped in a movie that Donnie had brought with him, Bridesmaids.

It was funny and sad at the same time. The main character had a life that made me cry, but there were a lot of funny parts, too.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Ravens vs. Browns

In typical Ravens fashion, the team almost messed up this game. They started out doing really well, but after halftime, either the Browns pumped up their game, or the Ravens got lackadaisical, because the Browns only lost, 14-20. I don’t think the Ravens even scored in the second half!
For the band’s halftime show, we did a Christmas theme, and played Trans Siberian Orchestra’s “Carol of the Bells” and Brian Setzer’s “Dig That Crazy Santa Claus.” The cheerleaders came out onto the field to perform for the second song, which was an improvement from last year where they only showed up for half of their allotted time.
When I got home, I saw that Donnie had arrived (he’s visiting for the holiday). We popped in a DVD that he brought with him, Horrible Bosses.

I actually chose to watch that one, thinking that it would be the funniest of the three movies that he had brought with him, but it wasn’t as funny as I hoped.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Belated Birthday Gift

My nephew's birthday gift to me came in the mail a few days ago, and I finally put it together tonight. I asked for a necklace that he liked, that I could wear to work, so he and my sister went to Wal-Mart and picked out a pendant, a pattern, and everything else to make the necklace.

I like the way it turned out. Thanks, Dodo!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sugar Plums

I made another Christmas cookie that I found a recipe for in the Food Network magazine called Sugar Plums.

Sugar Plums
Finely chop 1¼ cups toasted almonds in a food processor with 1½ cups each prunes and dried apricots, 3 tablespoons honey, 1 teaspoon orange zest, ½ teaspoon cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon nutmeg. Roll into balls, then roll in coarse sugar.

I think they were delicious. They were chewy and crunchy and slightly sweet, all at the same time. Tom even liked them!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Spiced Rum Balls

Tonight, I made a Christmas cookie that I found in the Food Network Magazine, Spiced Rum Balls.

Spiced Rum Balls
Mix 3¾ cups crushed vanilla wafer cookies, 1½ cups confectioners' sugar, ¾ teaspoon each nutmeg and cinnamon, and ½ teaspoon ground ginger. Stir in 3 tablespoons light corn syrup and 1/3 cup each brandy and rum. Roll into balls and chill until firm. Roll in confectioners' sugar.

I liked them, even though I thought they were a little strong. Tom thought they were way too strong.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ravens vs. Colts

This game was pretty anticlimatic. I gave the Colts the benefit of the doubt, and expected this game to be the only one they won this season, but they were the same team they've been all year, and lost 10-24.
The band did well. We played a medley of country hits by Carrie Underwood, and I'm glad that that's over with. The first medley was unrecognizable by everyone I talked to, but the second medley was good - Before He Cheats and Cowboy Cassanova.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

White Christmas Tags Done

I finished and mailed off my tags for the 2nd Annual White Christmas Tag Swap.

This year, I made white origami christmas trees and decorated them with pearls and crystals for the front of the tag, and crocheted a christmas ornament for the back of the tag.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Triple Coconut Cream Pie

I'm also making this pie for the luncheon at Robin's tomorrow. I started it on Tuesday, when I made the crust and custard, and finished baking the crust, filling it with the custard, making the whipped cream topping, and finished assembling it tonight. I'm not a huge fan of coconut, but when my dad sent me this recipe, it looked so good I just had to try it.

Triple Coconut Cream Pie
Makes one nine-inch pie
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • ½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup ice water, or more as needed

Pastry cream:
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, softened

  • 1 coconut pie crust (recipe above), prebaked and cooled
  • 2 ½ cups heavy whipping cream, chilled
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 ounces unsweetened “chip” or large-shred coconut
  • Chunks of white chocolate (4 to 6 ounces, to make 2 ounces of curls)

To make the crust:
  1. In a food processor, combine the flour, coconut, diced butter, sugar, and salt. Pulse to form coarse crumbs, gradually adding the water a tablespoon at a time. Use only as much water as is needed to hold the dough together. (Test by gently pressing a bit of dough between your fingers.) The dough will not form a ball or clump in the processor. Place a large sheet of plastic wrap on the counter and pour the dough into it. Pull the plastic wrap around the dough, then flatten it into a rough round. Chill 30 minutes to an hour before rolling.
  2. Unwrap the round of dough and place it on a lightly floured work board. Dust the rolling pin and your hands with flour. Roll the dough into a circle about 1/8 inch thick, adding more flour if it begins to stick. Trim to a 12- to 13-inch circle.
  3. Ease the rolled dough onto a 9-inch pie pan. Don’t stretch the dough to fit; it will shrink again when baked. Trim any excess to a 1- to 1 ½-inch overhang. Turn the dough under along the rim of the pie pan and use your finger to flute the edge. Chill the unbaked pie crust at least an hour before baking.
  4. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place a sheet of aluminum foil or parchment paper in the pie crust and fill the cavity with dried beans or pie weights. Bake the crust until the edge is golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the pan from oven, lift off the foil and beans, and return the crust to the oven. Bake until the bottom of the crust shows golden-brown patches, 10 to 12 minutes more. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

To make the pastry cream:
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the milk and sweetened shredded coconut. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add both the seeds and pod to the milk mixture. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and stir the mixture occasionally until it begins to steam and tiny bubbles start to form around the pan’s edges. (But don’t let it come to a boil.) Remove the pan from the heat.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and flour until well combined. As you whisk, temper the egg mixture (to keep it from curdling) by pouring about 1/3 cup of the scalded milk into the egg mixture. Then add the warmed egg mixture to the milk and coconut mixture in the saucepan. Place the pan over medium-high heat and whisk until the mixture thickens and begins to bubble. Keep whisking until the pastry cream is very thick, 4 to 5 minutes more. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the butter and whisk until it melts. Remove and discard the vanilla pod. Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl, then place it over another bowl filled with ice water. Stir occasionally until it is cool. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a crust from forming, and refrigerate until cold, about one hour. The cream will thicken as it cools.
  3. When the pastry cream is cold, pour it into the prebaked pie crust, smoothing the surface with a spatula. In an electric mixer with whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream with the sugar and vanilla on medium speed. Gradually increase the speed to high, and whip to peaks that are firm enough to hold their shape. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a star tip with the whipped cream and pipe it over the surface of the pie, or spoon it over.

To finish the pie:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. On a baking sheet, spread the coconut chips, then place the baking sheet in the oven. Stir the chips once or twice while they toast, watching carefully – coconut burns easily – until they are lightly browned, 7 to 8 minutes. Use a vegetable peeler to shave about 2 ounces of the white chocolate into curls. Just before serving, decorate the pie with the toasted coconut and white chocolate curls.
  2. The coconut pastry cream can be made a day ahead, covered with plastic wrap as above, and chilled in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to serve the pie, fill the prebaked crust with the cream, then top the filling with the whipped cream, coconut, and chocolate.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Legendary Evening

The Pep Band performed for "A Legendary Evening," which was a tribute to people who have been inducted into the Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards in Baltimore. We played a few tunes prior to the evening's events, then retired to a back room where we got a pretty nice dinner.

I know it's tacky, but that was a nice looking plate of food - lemon chicken, a twice baked potato thing, green beans. We're not usually treated that well.
At the end of the evening, after a review of the Baltimore Colts-New York Giants championship game, we played the Baltimore Colts Fight Song, then a short concert while people left the event.

Pete's Shrimp Curry

Last year's holiday luncheon was held at Robin's house, and it was so popular that we're doing it again this year. This year, I'm preparing a shrimp curry dish that my friend Pete makes for his annual birthday celebration. I always enjoy it, so I hope that everyone else does.
Pete’s Shrimp Curry
  • ¼ lb butter or margarine
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 3 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 lb steamed peeled shrimp – I prefer to season the shrimp with Old Bay when I steam them
  • 2 tbsp cooking sherry

This is similar to cooking pudding, so it works best if you use a double boiler. Combine the first seven ingredients and cook over a low heat (Low heat is not as important if you use a double boiler. Otherwise, the mix will burn and stick to the bottom of the pan). I suggest that you pour all but ¼ cup of the milk into the pan. Save the rest of the milk to combine with the cornstarch. The cornstarch is easier to blend in a small amount of cold milk. It clumps if you add it to warm milk – not what you want. Stir regularly, being sure to scrape the bottom of the pan. The mix will thicken as it cooks. The longer it cooks, the more it will thicken. Use your judgment on how thick you want it. You can add more cornstarch if needed, but be careful not to “make dumplings” with it.
Add steamed shrimp.
Stir until shrimp are heated.
Add sherry.
Serve over rice.
You can add Old Bay or more curry to the sauce if you like a spicier taste. You can freeze the leftovers – either with or without the rice.
The luncheon isn't until Thursday, and I hope that it keeps and reheats well.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Falling For Fall Tags

I received my tags from the Falling for Fall Tag Swap a few days ago, and finally got the chance to take pictures of them all.

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They were great. Thanks to Jonelle for hosting!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Herr's Christmas Lights

Tonight, a couple of ladies from the Tidewater went to the Herr's Potato Chip Factory in Hanover, Pennsylvania to see their Christmas light display.

For such a small amount of space, it was really quite nice.
Afterwards, we went to Conowingo Pizzeria for dinner. I really enjoyed my time out with the girls.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Things being what they are, I'm celebrating Thanksgiving today. I hope everyone's holiday was a happy one.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Ravens vs. 49ers

Well, the Ravens rose up to the expectations of the home crowd and won the game against the 9-1 San Francisco 49ers, 6-16. It was hugely exciting to see the Ravens step up to the competition. Honestly, I was surprised to see them do so well.
The band's halftime show turned out rather well. We played a medley of Journey hits, and for only finishing learning the drill yesterday, I think we did a good job.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Almost-Famous Swedish Meatballs

After reading the reviews in the latest Food Network Magazine, I decided to make Swedish Meatballs for dinner tonight.
Almost-Famous Swedish Meatballs

For the meatballs:
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup minced white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ¾ pound lean ground beef
  • ½ pound lean ground pork
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg white, beaten
  • Vegetable oil, for brushing

For the gravy:
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley(optional)
  • Lingonberry jam, for serving (optional)

  1. Make the meatballs: Put the breadcrumbs in a large bowl. Heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, allspice, 2 teaspoons salt and %frac14; teaspoon white pepper and cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the milk and Worcestershire sauce and bring to a simmer. Pour the milk mixture over the breadcrumbs and stir to make a thick paste; let cool. Add the beef, pork, egg and egg white to the bowl and mix until combined.
  2. Brush a baking sheet with vegetable oil. Roll the meat into 1-inch balls and arrange on the prepared baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake the meatballs until cooked through, about 20 minutes.
  4. Make the gravy: Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, whisking, until smooth. Whisk in the beef broth and Worcestershire sauce and bring to a simmer. Add the cream and meatballs. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the gravy thickens, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper. Transfer to a serving dish; sprinkle with the parsley and serve with lingonberry jam, if desired.
I don't think I've ever tried the Swedish Meatballs at Ikea, which this recipe is supposed to copy, but I think they were very good. Tom enjoyed them, too, stating that he wouldn't change a thing - and believe me, he usually has some kind of suggestions on how to make things better.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Ravens vs Bengals

What a crazy game that was! The Ravens and Bengals appeared to be evenly matched on defense, so initially, the game was fairly boring. Then, the Bengals scored and the Ravens had to step up their game. Eventually, the Ravens won 24-31, with an amazing last stand towards the end of the game.
The band didn't do much at halftime, we just formed a huge 3 for Matt Stover's induction into the Ring of Honor.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cheddar & Chive Buttermilk Biscuits

I got tonight off, so to accompany my dinner of leftovers, I made biscuits.

Cheddar & Chive Buttermilk Biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp pepper
¼ tsp baking soda
6 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4 oz extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (1 cup)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
¾ cup buttermilk
  1. Heat oven to 375F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and baking soda. Add the butter and, using a pastry blender or you fingers, cut it in until the mixture is crumbly. Add the Cheddar and chives and toss to combine. Add the buttermilk and stir just until combined (do not overmix; the dough will be stcky).
  3. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it a few times just to bring it together. Gently shape it into a 1-in.-thick disk.
  4. Using a 2-in. round cookie cutter, cut out 16 biscuits (flouring the cutter and reshaping the scraps of dough as necessary). Place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the bottoms are golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes.
I liked them. At first, I thought that the chive flavor was a bit too strong, but after eating three of them, I decided it was perfect.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

On the last day of my vacation, I attempted a lunch that wasn't soup - I made my first actual batch of fried chicken.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

2 cups buttermilk
6 garlic cloves, smashed
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 cup assorted chopped fresh herbs (such as flat-leaf parsley, tarragon, and thyme)
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 4%frac12; lb fryer chicken, cut into 8 pieces
3 cups vegetable shortening
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp onion powder
2 tsp cayenne pepper
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • Whisk first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Add chicken; cover and chill for at least 8 hours or overnight.
  • Melt vegetable shortening in a large cast-iron skillet. Arrange a deep-fry thermometer in skillet so bulb is submerged. Heat over medium heat until shortening reaches 325°.
  • Meanwhile, mix flour, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne in a large brown paper bag. Drain chicken, leaving some herbs still clinging. Season generously with salt and pepper. Working in 2 batches, add chicken to bag, roll top over to seal, and shake well to coat chicken. Let chicken stand in bag 1 minute; shake again.
  • Fry chicken in skillet until golden brown and cooked through, 10-15 minutes per side. Sprinkle with additional salt, if desired. Repeat with second batch of chicken.
Unfortunately, this recipe was a little disappointing - it wasn't as flavorful as I was expecting. That doesn't say much, when my standard is Popeye's Spicy Fried Chicken, but I was amazed at how easy it was to prepare. I couldn't tell you what I was expecting. Now, I will tell you, and I apologize if it disgusts you, that I also fried up the onions that were in the buttermilk mixture with the chicken overnight, and they had a nice bit of zing to them. Tom didn't think I had fried the chicken long enough, and that it was underdone. I can't say I agree with that assessment, because I cooked the chicken for at least ten minutes on each side, and more judging by the overdone parts on the skin. Even though the chicken didn't taste bad (Nutmeg enjoyed it thoroughly), I don't think I'll try this recipe again - I think I'd rather try a Popeye's clone recipe.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Broccoli-Cheddar Soup

For lunch today, I made this soup.

Broccoli-Cheddar Soup

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups half-and-half
1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups chopped broccoli florets
1/3 pound sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 1/3 cups)
Croutons, for topping (optional)
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth, half-and-half, both potatoes, bay leaf, 2 cups water, 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, put the broccoli in a microwave-safe bowl; add 3 tablespoons water and season with salt. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave until tender-crisp, about 4 minutes; drain.
  3. When the potatoes are tender, remove the bay leaf from the soup and transfer the soup to a blender. Puree until smooth, leaving the filler cap slightly open to let steam escape (or puree the soup in the pot with an immersion blender). Return the soup to the pot and thin with water, if necessary. Return to a simmer over medium-low heat; stir in the broccoli and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Add the cheese and stir until melted. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with croutons, if desired.
Well, I was actually disappointed by this recipe. It was a little bland, so maybe it needs a little salt, and the texture was a little off, a tad bit grainy. Plus, the servings are huge. The recipe says that it serves four, I think it should be more like 6-8.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Beer and Cheddar Soup

I am taking a few days off from work while they paint my lab and put in a new ceiling, so for lunch today I made soup.

Beer and Cheddar Soup

½ pound piece of slab bacon, sliced 1/3 inch thick and cut into 1/3 inch dice
1 celery rib, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 large jalapeño, seeded and chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
One 12-ounce bottle lager or pilsner
About 2¼ cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup heavy cream
½ pound sharp yellow cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded
4 ounces smoked cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Garlic-rubbed toasts, for serving


  1. In a large saucepan, cook the bacon over moderate heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp, 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a bowl. Add the celery, onion, jalapeño, garlic and thyme to the saucepan and cook over mederate heat, stirring, until softened, 8 minutes. Add half of the beer and cook until reduced by half, 5 minutes. Add 2¼ cups of chicken broth and bring to a simmer.

  2. In a small skillet, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Whisk this roux into the soup until incorporated and bring to a simmer. Cook until thickened, about 8 minutes. Add the heavy cream, cheddar cheeses and the remaining beer and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick and creamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in the bacon and season with salt and pepper. Add a few tablespoons of broth if the soup is too thick. Serve the soup with garlic toasts.
Let me tell you, it was pretty delicious. I was concerned that the beer flavor might be overpowering, but it wasn't. Tom tasted it and said (what's new?) that it needed salt. Well, I forgot to season it. He also commented that there might be a little too much heat, and he might suffer for it tomorrow, but he's very sensitive that way. Despite Tom's comments, he did say it was very good. I agree, and it was easy to make.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Slow Cooker Pork Chops with Apple Chutney

Tonight's dinner was brought to us by Pillsbury.

Slow Cooker Pork Chops with Apple Chutney

4 center-cut bone-in pork loin chops, 1 inch thick (about 2 lb) trimmed of fat
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
6 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ ground red pepper (cayenne)
¼ cup sweetened dried cranberries
2 medium baking apples, peeled, chopped (2 cups)

  • Spray 3 to 4 quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper; place in cooker.
  • In small bowl, mix brown sugar, vinegar, ginger, cinnamon, red pepper and cranberries. Spoon over pork in cooker; top with apples.
  • Cover; cook on Low heat setting 4 hours to 4 hours 30 minutes.

With my first bite, I thought, "Oh my gosh, this tastes like dessert." Tom thought it was wonderful, too. He wants to same the apple chutney to serve over ice cream. I think not because of the pork influence, but it was quite a compliment coming from him.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Weiner Schnitzel

I had this evening off, so for dinner, I made a recipe that Wanda recommended for Weier Schnitzel. I paired it with some a family recipe for sour cucumbers.

Wiener Schnitzel
1 ½ pounds of veal cutlets
½ cup flour
1 egg, beaten
1 cup finely ground bread crumbs
Salt and pepper
6 Tablespoons butter
1 lemon

Pound each cutlet thin between two pieces of waxed paper.
Place flour in a flat dish or plate large enough to hold cutlet. Place beaten egg in another dish, bread crumbs in a third. Season each with salt and pepper.
Dredge cutlets in flour. Dip into beaten egg. Dip into bread crumbs until thinly but thoroughly coated. Place on waxed-paper-covered platter and place in refrigerator for about an hour.
Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in large skillet. When sizzling, brown cutlets quickly on each side until golden. Remove to platter.
Melt remaining two tablespoons butter in same pan. Squeeze lemon juice into butter, stir, and pour over cutlets.
Serves 4.
Tom and I both think it turned out well. He couldn't handle too much of the cucumbers, but I'm proud of him for trying them.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Chili Cook-Off

We had a chili cook-off at Huber today. I fixed two types, and was pleased with both of them. The first was Lazy Man's Chili Soup with Beans. It was great, brown some ground beef, open a few packages of this, a few cans of that, throw it in the crockpot to cook overnight, and it was ready for work in the morning.

Lazy Man’s Chili Soup with Beans

2 lbs ground beef
1 package (1.0 oz) ranch dip mix
1 package (1.25 oz) taco seasoning mix
1 can (10 oz) tomatoes & green chilies (mild) – drained
2 cans (14.5 oz/ea) tomatoes with onions
1 can (12 oz) chili beans
1 can (11 oz) golden, whole kernel corn – drained
1 Tbsp TABASCO® Brand Pepper Sauce
1 package (8 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
1 package (8 oz) sour cream
1 bag (any size) corn chips – optional

Brown the ground beef in a large pot. Drain the beef and return it to the pot. Add the ranch mix, taco seasoning, drained tomatoes and chilies, tomatoes with onions, drained chili beans, drained corn and TABASCO® Brand Pepper Sauce to the pot with the beef. Cover and cook on medium heat for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove pot from heat and spoon into individual serving bowls. Add 1-2 oz of cheddar cheese and ½-1 Tbsp sour cream. Serve with corn chips if desired.

The second chili was Jamaican Jerk Chili, which was by far the favorite of the two I made. I got so many compliments on it.

Jamaican Jerk Chili
1 large red onion
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
1 Jamaican hot pepper
¾ lb hot Italian sausage (approx 4 links)
1 lb ground beef
1 heaping Tablespoon Jamaican dry jerk seasoning
¼ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cloves garlic
1 can fresh-cut diced tomatoes (1 lb 12 oz)
1 cup ketchup
2 cans small red kidney beans (15.5 oz each)
1 bag shredded cheddar cheese
8 small round breads

Chop up onion and all the peppers. Remove the skin from the sausage and brown in a skillet, chop up as it browns, approx 5 min. Then add ground beef, while browning add jerk seasoning, chili powder and cayenne pepper. Add ¾ onion and all the peppers, then add crushed garlic, continue cooking about 5 min, or until completely brown. Add tomatoes and ketchup, cover and simmer 20 min. While the chili simmers, cut and scoop out the bread to hollow for bowl. Save inside bread to be toasted and served with chili. Add kidney beans and simmer 10 more minutes. Serve in bread bowl topped with grated cheddar cheese and remaining onion. Enjoy! Serves 8

I got both recipes from the Marlboro Chili Roundup Cookbook.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


I went to the Maryland Institute of Food Technologies trade show today. It was at the Marriott in Hunt Valley which was a very nice venue. The show was held in a ballroom, which was nicer than last year's show, which was held in a lobby-type area of the hotel that hosted the show. The food and drink this year were not as nice as last year, though.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Ravens vs. Cardinals

Oh what a game! The first half was a trick, the second half a treat. By the end of the first half, everyone thought that this game would be a repeat of the Monday Night Football game against Jacksonville where the Ravens performed extremely poorly. But, fortunately, the Ravens must have had a serious pep talk, in order for them to pull out of a 24-6 deficit to win 27-30.
The band's halftime performance was slightly better. We played a medley of songs which included Night on Bald Mountain, Thriller, Addams Family, and the song from the Sorcerer's Apprentice with the dancing brooms. Even I heard a timing problem, and I'm not good at noticing things. Oh, well. Our next show should be fine, a tribute to Matt Stover with his induction to the Ring of Honor. Nothing to mess up there.

Monday, October 24, 2011

I'm Mobile

Today, I got my car back. The timing belt on my engine slipped and bent some rods, so a friend at Huber sourced a replacement engine for me. He also found a guy who would install it inexpensively. So, after a week of waiting, it's done! And for half the price that the shop we had the car towed to quoted. I can't tell you how happy I am to be part of a two-car family again.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Apple Cupcakes

Last night, or should I say early this morning, I made Apple Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting.

I found the recipe while I was searching for the recipe for Pumpkin Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting. I had taken some of those cupcake to work with me, and several of the other waitresses thought they were delicious. Well, one of them has a birthday today, so I thought I'd whip these up and bring them in. I think they turned out really well. The only change I made was instead of baking apples, I used Red Delicious (since that's what I had), and added ½ teaspoon lemon juice to try to cut down their sweetness. The cupcakes were great at 2:30 this morning, I just hope they age well. And the only criticism I have is that unless I did something wrong, there just wasn't enough frosting.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Ravens vs. Texans

Today, the Ravens played the Houston Texans, and beat them, 14-29. It was honestly a kind of dull game, and when the Texans finally pulled into the lead after scoring their second touchdown, I thought we'd lose for sure. But the Ravens pulled it out. Joe Flacco impressed me with how well he passed the ball this game, compared to the last couple.
For our halftime show, the band performed a Led Zeppelin show. We played The Immigrant Song, Black Dog/Kashmir, and Rock and Roll. It had a lot of energy, but there were some tempo/phasing issues. Not great, but nothing to be ashamed about.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Spooky Little Books

The Spooky Little Books arrived today.

The bag was packed full of fun little books with a Halloween theme. I was so excited to get it, and I wasn't disappointed!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Second Scarf

I finished my second scarf for the Special Olympic Scarf Project today. I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out. It's nice and thick.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Crochet Hook Case

I finished crocheting a crochet hook case today.

I still need to find a fun button for a closure, and stitch in lines so that each individual crochet hook will have it's own spot, but the hard part is done. You can find the pattern here.

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Purple Evening

Tonight was the Pep Band's annual performance at A Purple Evening. It's an event where ladies can get together and get out on the field to try drills, get autographs, tour the locker room, among other things. Usually, the Pep Band plays outside of the stadium for the ladies lined up to get in to the event. This year, we played inside the stadium next to our recruitment booth (which was near the line for autographs). The people who were standing in our area seemed to enjoy the music, and it was fun playing for them.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Tenderloin and Cupcakes

Recently, I've rediscovered my desire to cook as a hobby, so I filled this evening with cooking.
For dinner tonight, I fixed a recipe that my sister recommended, Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin. It seemed simple, and there weren't many ingredients.

After slicing the pork tenderloin and three scallions lengthwise, the pork was opened like a book, and the scallions placed inside.

The pork was closed up, and, according to the recipe on the Internet, could be rubbed with Dijon mustard. I wasn't sure how Tom would like that, so I only rubbed half of the pork.

The pork was wrapped with bacon,

and the bacon was rubbed with a sugar and pepper mixture.

The whole thing was baked, and looked pretty terrific coming out of the oven.

To add a classy touch, I warmed up a can of green beans as an accoutrement.

Overall, I was pleased. It was simple, and Tom absolutely loved it. He wanted the bacon to be crispier, but when he warmed up the leftovers in the microwave later in the evening, he thought it was perfect. I thought the scallion flavor was a little overpowering, and that the sugar was a little too sweet. That's probably my fault, I used Splenda instead of granulated sugar, which meant there was probably more sweetener there than intended. The next time I attempt this recipe, I'll try to replace the scallions with fresh herbs and work on the sugar aspect.
After dinner, I made Pumpkin Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting.

They turned out well. I thought the flavors were good, but the frosting was a little too sweet for my taste. Tom said he loved them, but he likes sweet. I also made the caramel twice, thinking I messed it up the first time. The second try, which is what I used for the frosting, wasn't as dark or flavorful as the first, since I was afraid of messing it up, but after a little research on the Internet, it looks like I could have fixed the first batch. Oh well, I learned something for next time, and there definitely will be a next time!
What I thought was especially great about tonight's bout of cooking, was Tom asking what I was going to cook next. He seems more open to trying new things than I gave him credit for. Just when you think you know someone...

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Ravens vs. Jets

Tonight's game was weird. It seemed to go really fast - I don't remember a lot of the game. The Ravens won 34-17, which was crazy, since I don't remember many of the scoring drives. What the hell? I must have been concentrating on my Pixie Stix and pistachios waaayyy too much.
For our pregame show, we formed ribbons for Breast Cancer Awareness month.

Cool, huh?
Our halftime show was so energetic, I just loved it. We played Uprising and Knights of Cydonia, both by Muse. I haven't found a video of it on YouTube, yet, but I hope to.
On a note that's a little lower than the great pre-game and halftime shows that the band did, my car broke down on the way down to Baltimore. Jeff, the guy I've been carpooling with, thought it was my timing belt. Luckily, another band member stopped to help us out, so after waiting for the tow truck, we made it to the stadium in time for rehearsal. I'll learn tomorrow how bad off the car is.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Special Olympic Scarf Project 2012

This year, I'm getting an earlier start on the Special Olympic Scarf Project. I learned about the project last year, and after meeting the deadline, I've been looking forward to learning what this year's colors were going to be.
After completing my first scarf, I'm not too crazy about the colors.

Crocheting this scarf made my eyes hurt! I really think it was the pattern, though.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Ravens Rookies Night

Tonight the pep band played for Ravens Rookies night. The weather has been pretty crappy lately, and I was afraid that, as was our usual practice, we would be playing outside of the stadium, in the rain. Luckily, tonight, we played in the concourse. We were waaayyy down at the end, but the people that showed up in our area seemed to enjoy our music. I had a good time.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Spooky Little Book

I completed printing out my Spooky Little Books Sunday night, but have been cutting, folding and glittering since then. I'm really quite pleased with them, and they turned out the way I wanted them to.

The research into old herb names was a little tedious, but well worth the effort.