Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Sweet Potato Chips

I'd got myself a deep fryer for myself for Christmas, so I tried it out tonight! Mom had left some sweet potatoes behind after the holiday, and had mentioned how much she liked sweet potato chips, so I had the perfect reason to try out the deep fryer. I sliced them up on the grater, dropped them in the fryer, and sprinkled them with Paula Deen's House Seasoning. I thought they were tasty, but Tom detected the garlic in the seasoning, so he didn't like them. Oh, well, his loss.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Navy Bean and Ham Soup

After the holidays, I've been trying my darndest to use up the leftovers, mainly the ham. Ham and cheese omelets and ham fried rice (also using up leftover rice) were just the beginning. I need to make sandwiches, too, but in today's exploits, I made a Ham and Bean Soup. When I first broached the subject with Tom, he said only if I make it the exact same way his mother used to make it - just beans and ham. I looked through her recipe box and found no reference to that soup. I finally decided to modify this recipe, and here's what I came up with.
Slow-Cooker Navy Bean and Ham Soup

  • 1 lb leftover ham, cut into cubes
  • 1 16-oz bag of dried navy beans, rinsed and sorted
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 2 heaping spoonfuls of finely chopped onions
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/4 t dried thyme
  1. In 3 1/2- to 4-quart slow cooker, mix all ingredients.
  2. Cover; cook on Low heat setting 10 to 12 hours or until beans are tender.
I cooked it on High heat, since I got a late start this morning, and intended for it to cook for 5-6 hours. Because of the late start, I had to go to work, and Tom let it cook for two extra hours (gasp!). By then, he reported that all of the water was gone and the beans were mushy and pasty. He tried it, regardless, adding equals parts water to "soup," and said it was "freaking awesome!" He liked it, he liked it!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Swirled Candy Cane Cupcakes

I don't know why, but for Cookie Day at Huber, I decided that I wanted to make Swirled Candy Cane Cupcakes.

Swirled Candy Cane Cupcakes

  • 1 box (1 lb 2.25 oz) Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® white cake mix
  • Water, vegetable oil and egg whites called for on cake mix box
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 teaspoon red paste food color
  • 2 containers (12 oz each) fluffy white whipped frosting
  • 1 cup crushed hard peppermint candies (about 30)
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Place paper baking cup in each of 24 regular-size muffin cups.
  2. In large bowl, beat cake mix, water, oil, egg whites and peppermint extract with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Divide batter in half. To 1 portion, add food color; stir until uniform in color. In each muffin cup, place 2 tablespoons red batter; top with 2 tablespoons white batter. Swirl white batter through red batter with knife for marbled design.
  3. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to cooling racks. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
  4. Frost cupcakes with frosting. Top each with crushed peppermint candies.
I think they turned out well, with a nice bit of peppermint flavor. The only down side was that the mints melted a little and got sticky.

Caramel Stuffed Apple Cider Cookies

Wanda sent me a link for the recipe for Caramel Stuffed Apple Cider Cookies, so I thought I'd make them for Huber's Cookie Day, in addition to the cupcakes I initially planned to make.
Caramel Stuffed Apple Cider Cookies

  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 box (7.4 oz) Alpine Spiced Apple Cider Instant Original Drink mix -not sugar free- all 10 packets
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 bag Kraft Caramels (14 oz)
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line cookie sheets with parchment. (You really need the parchment!)
  2. In a small bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon.
  3. With your mixer (or an energetic spoon) cream together butter, sugar, salt and all 10 packages of apple cider drink mix powder, until light and fluffy.
  4. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla and mix well.
  5. Gradually add flour mixture to butter/egg mixture. Mix until just combined.
  6. Refrigerate for about an hour. (If you're really impatient you don't have to do this, but it makes it so much easier to work with.)
  7. When you are ready to bake, unwrap your caramels.
  8. Scoop out cookie dough ball about the size of a walnut. (I used a rounded cookie scoop-full. My scoop holds about a Tablespoon.)
  9. Flatten the ball of dough slightly in the palm of your hand. Press the unwrapped caramel into the center of your dough and seal the dough around it, covering it completely. Place on parchment covered cookie sheets 2 inches apart.
  10. Bake 12-14 minutes, or until very lightly browned around the edges. Please don't over-bake! Once the cookies are done, slide the parchment off of the baking sheet right out onto the counter. Allow cookies to partially cool on the parchment. When cookies are cool enough to be firm but still slightly warm, carefully twist off of parchment and allow to finish cooling upside down (either on the parchment or on a rack.) If you forget about them and they cool too much and stick to your parchment, put them into the freezer for a few minutes and they'll pop right off.
I think they were very good. They were definitely the best warm, but they were pretty good at room temperature, too.

Huber Holiday Breakfast

For part of Huber's Holiday week extravaganza, we had breakfast scheduled for today. Upon request, I made a Cinnamon French Toast Bake. There was a lot of good breakfast food, and Santa even visited!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Huber Holiday Luncheon

The luncheon appeared to be a success! Entrees were provided by the Olive Tree in Aberdeen, and the appetizers and desserts were pot-luck. I, of course, made Spanakopita, Cha Gio, Honey-Bourbon Pecan Pie, and Pistachio Christmas Cake with Cherries. Everything turned out well. The Spanakopita was tasty, the Cha Gio was a success, The Pistachio Christmas Cake was super-moist, and the Honey-Bourbon Pecan Pie was delicious.


The third item that I made for today's luncheon at Huber was Spanakopita, which I have a recipe for from the Time Life series, "Food of the World." I made a slight change, and put the mixture into filo cups, to make them easier to eat as an appetizer.


  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup finely chopped scallions
  • ¼ cup finely chopped onions
  • 2 pounds chopped spinach
  • ¼ cup finely chopped dill
  • ¼ cup finely chopped flat-leafed parsley
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • a few grindings of pepper
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 package phyllo dough
  • ½ pound butter
   Heat olive oil in a 10-12 inch skillet, over medium heat, until a light haze forms over it. Add onions and scallions and cook until translucent, but not brown, about 5-10 minutes. Add spinach. Cover and cook for ten minutes. Uncover, and add dill, parsley, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until almost all of the liquid is gone, and spinach sticks lightly to the pan. Transfer spinach to a deep bowl, add milk, and cool to room temperature. Stir in eggs and feta cheese.
   Heat oven to 300° F. Melt butter in a pan. In a 12x8x2 baking pan, using a pastry brush, spread butter in pan. Place a sheet of phyllo dough in the pan and brush with butter. Add 7 more layers, in the same manor. Spread spinach mixture evenly in pan, then cover with a sheet of phyllo dough and spread with butter. Add 7 more layers of phyllo dough, and pour remaining butter on top of pie. Put pan in oven and bake for one hour, until dough is a golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I fixed the filling last night, then got up this morning before work to fill the cups and bake them. I think they turned out well, and helped to add a little bit of variety to the spread for the luncheon.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Honey-Bourbon Pecan Pie

Wanda sent me a recipe for Honey-Bourbon Pecan Pie, so I decided on a whim to make it for the Holiday luncheon on Thursday.

Honey-Bourbon Pecan Pie

  • 1 1 /2 cups lightly chopped pecans
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons Southern Comfort or bourbon OR the malted mocha variation (see below)
  • 1 prepared deep-dish pie crust (store bought or homemade)
For the malted mocha variation:
  • 1/2 cup Ovaltine
  • 2 tablespoons instant coffee
  • 2 tablespoons coffee liqueur
  • 3/4 cup (4 ounces) chopped bittersweet chocolate
  1. Heat the oven to 350 F. Spread the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until fragrant and lightly toasted. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the honey, brown sugar, salt, vanilla and eggs. Whisk in the melted butter, then either the liquor or the malted mocha variation (see below). Place the pie crust on a rimmed baking sheet. Spread the pecans in an even layer in the crust, then pour the honey mixture over them. Bake for 50 minutes, or until it no longer jiggles at the center.
  3. For the malted mocha variation, stir together the Ovaltine, instant coffee and the coffee liqueur. Use this mixture in place of the Southern Comfort. Add the bittersweet chocolate to the crust at the same time as the pecans before pouring in the honey mixture.
I've never made pecan pie before, so I hope it turned out well. It certainly looks good.

Pistachio Christmas Cake with Cherries

So, for the Christmas, oops, forgive me, Holiday, luncheon on Thursday, I plan on making four items. One of those is Pistachio Christmas Cake with Cherries and Frosting.

Pistachio Christmas Cake with Cherries

  • 1 box of white or yellow cake mix {your choice}
  • **You will use the SAME oil, and eggs the boxed mix calls for, BUT instead of 1 cup of regular water, you will use 1 cup of seltzer water!
  • 1 box of pistachio pudding mix
  • 4 ounces of chopped maraschino cherries for inside the cake mix, reserve enough for each cupcake top, or cake top
  • *optional 1/3 cup chopped pistachios, walnuts or pecans–they all work well
  1. Preheat your oven according to the cake box instructions
  2. Grease your muffins pans, cake pans, or bundt pans. I used the all new Pompeian Grapeseed Oil Baking Spray. It works amazing for baking cupcakes, cakes, brownies, cookies, and more. There is no aftertaste at all, a high smoke point, and the bottle is even eco-friendly! You can save $1 Pompeian Grape Seed Oil to try it for yourself!
  3. Chop up your cherries/nuts
  4. In a large mixing bowl, add your cake mix, substituted seltzer water, and pudding mix. Mix all your ingredients until thoroughly mixed.
  5. Add your mixture to your cupcake tins, cake pans, etc
  6. Bake according to the box’s instructions for that particular pan. The cooking time should remain almost identical. I suggest using a toothpick, and checking your baked treat right at the time the instructions call for. My time for cupcakes was right at 18 minutes.
*Recipe makes 24 cupcakes*
Pistachio Frosting

  • 1-1/2 cups cold milk
  • 1 package (3.4 ounces) instant pistachio pudding mix
  • 1 carton (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1/2 cup pistachios, toasted
  • Whole red shell pistachios and fresh mint, optional
  1. In a large bowl, beat milk and pudding mix on low speed for 2 minutes. Fold in whipped topping. Spread over cake. Sprinkle with pistachios. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes before cutting. Garnish with whole pistachios and mint if desired. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 12-15 servings.
I'm not sure how this recipe will turn out - some cake stuck to the pan, so it won't look as good as it possibly could.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Ravens vs. Vikings

What a crazy game! The Ravens beat the Vikings, 29-26, and the weather was just about the worst I've ever experienced at a game. It snowed, and snowed, and we weren't able to perform the halftime show that we labored over, since they needed to clear the field of snow. We ended up playing the song in our seats.
As for the cupcakes that I made for Lorie's birthday - they went over well, but Lorie didn't show up! At least our busmates enjoyed them.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Candy-Topped Cupcake Cones

Tomorrow is Lorie's birthday, and since she said she's choosing band over family, I thought I'd make something special for the bus during lunch. I made Candy-Topped Cupcake Cones. They should have minimal trash (no cupcake liners) and be a nice treat.

Candy-Topped Cupcake Cones

  • 1 box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® cake mix (any flavor)
  • Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on cake mix box
  • 30 to 36 flat-bottom ice cream cones
  • 1 container Betty Crocker® Whipped frosting (any flavor)
  • Assorted candies and decorations, if desired
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Make cake batter as directed on box. Fill 12 cones about half full of batter. Stand cones in muffin pan. Refrigerate any leftover batter until ready to fill and bake remaining cones.
  2. Bake 21 to 26 minutes or until toothpick carefully inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
  3. Frost with frosting and decorate. Store loosely covered.
Makes 30 to 36 cupcake cones
I'll find out tomorrow how they taste!