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.