Lemony Lemon Cake

February 11th, 2011

Woo, boy, it’s a good thing pictures of cakes don’t get stale. I made this puppy weeks ago and am just now getting around to posting it.

I pretty much love all things Lemon. And all things Cake. And all things Easy. So, an easy lemon cake… yeah that does it for me. Lets get this party started!

What to gather: White cake mix, eggs, lemons, oil (if you hide it behind Jell-O, it doesn’t have calories), Jell-O (to hide the oil) and powdered sugar. Hardcore stuff here!

First, add the dry cake mix and Jell-O mix to a big bowl. Don’t be like me and use a smaller bowl, only to realize it’s not big enough, and then switch to the right bowl. That just gives you another bowl to wash, and you don’t want that.

Follow that up with 2 teaspoons of your expertly fresh squeezed lemon juice. Seeds in the lemon juice are strongly not-recommended.

And 3/4 cup of water. Seeds again not recommended, but if you have seeds in your water, you’ve got bigger problems.

Now whip it. Whip it good. Or mediocre is fine, too. Just mix that stuff together. You could use a stand mixer, but I didn’t want to move mine over to where the light was, so I just grabbed my 10-years-old-$10 hand mixer.

Start adding the eggs, one at a time, and beat for 1 minute after each egg. We want this to be aerated and fluffy and really subdued.

Once all 4 eggs are incorporated, you should have something that looks about like this. Smoooooth.

The last thing we need to add is the oil. No more hiding it behind various grocery items, it’s time to face it head on. Hopefully your hand has the flesh tone color it should have, and not the hue of the bowl you are using like mine. Weird. My hand is a chameleon. Karma karma… oh nevermind.

Once you mix the oil in, we’re ready to add it to a greased 9×13 pan. I used the spray, because I am the lazy.

Bake that bad boy for around 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean blah blah. Then, voilà! Or, as they say in the south, WAH LAH.

There’s just one thing left to do, and that’s add the glaze. Ok and make the glaze. 2 things. First lets make the glaze. Mix 4 tablespoons of lemon juice, again expertly squozen (it is so a word!), with 1 1/4 cups of powdered sugar. Ita shoulda looka something like DIS:

Now, you have to make a decision. You can just pour this all over the top of the cake, and it will be pretty. I don’t so much care if it’s pretty, because I know that it’s what is inside that counts (my gramma said so!), and I want that glaze all up in my cake’s business. So, I forked it. That’s right, I forked it. Even though I barely knew it. I notice my chameleon hand has failed to adapt to it’s new surroundings.

THEN I poured the glaze all over it. It wasn’t pretty at all here.

Once I spread it around, it was a bit more attractive. But again, if you want this fancy, you could skip the forking. Or just use a skewer and make smaller, single holes. I figure, I’m going to chew it up anyway, so who cares.

And chew it up, I did. Oh yes.

Lemony Lemon Cake

1 white cake mix
1 small package lemon jello
2 tsp lemon juice
3/4 cup water
4 eggs
2/3 cup oil
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 2. Mix the white cake mix together with the lemon jello, then add the 2 tsp of lemon juice followed by the water.

Add the 4 eggs, one at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition.

Pour into a greased 9×13 inch baking dish and bake for 35-40 minutes (or until inserted toothpick comes out clean).

To Glaze: Mix lemon juice and sugar together to form a glaze. Poke holes in top of cake with a fork, and pour glaze over cake.

Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti with White Chocolate

December 20th, 2010

If you haven’t forgotten about me entirely, I bet you were saying “I wish that broad would post already.” Well I am here to answer the plea of no one with a brand new post. With a perfect holiday treat, no less. All hail the Festivus pole. This recipe comes to us via my long-time friend inside the computer / long distance running buddy, Brenda. (That is to say, we run far apart. Not long distances.) I suspect she’s trying to fatten me up so that she can be faster than me. Sadly, it’s working.

One thing I hate is Biscotti you can buy at the store/coffee shop that’s so hard you could kill a man if you hit him with it. This is not that Biscotti. Sure, it’s still got some crunch to it. But, it shouldn’t knock any teeth out, at least unless they were already loose to begin with. I love it for the holidays, especially since the pistachios are green and the cranberries are red. How quaint.

The best part is, it looks like it was hard to make, but it totally isn’t! Don’t forget where you are – we don’t do complicated here.

Lets get busy!

What to gather: Cranberries, Pistachios (shelled if you can find them / are lazy), flour, sugar, baking soda, salt (only if your nuts aren’t salted), eggs, vanilla extract, orange extract, extra light olive oil (more on this later).

Now it’s later. Make sure you use “extra light” olive oil. Not to be confused with extra virgin. You do not want the taste of olive oil overpowering your biscotti, so trust me on this one. Extra Light Olive Oil. Do it.

And then combine it with the sugar in a bowl. Tricky so far, I know.

Then, we’re going to add our extracts! It originally called for vanilla and almond. But I was out of almond thought that orange would beautifully complement the cranberries, and I was right. So, from now on, vanilla and orange it is.

Stir that all together, and add 2 incredible, edible, eggs. (Did I just date myself? Worse yet, do you have no earthly idea what I’m talking about?)

In a separate bowl, combine your dry ingredients. Including the salt, if you are using salt. I didn’t, as my pistachios were pre-salted. If yours aren’t, make sure you add it! So, flour, baking soda, and salt (optional). Then, add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix to combine.

Now we need to add the nuts and cranberries. Before adding mine, I gave them a rough chop. Not chopped to smithereens or oblivion or anything. Just a couple wacks will do. Some will remain hole, some will get cut. It’s ok. Don’t get too wound up about it, really. It’s Christmas!

This dough is sticky, so if you want to mix the nuts and cranberries in by hand, make sure you’ve already readied your pan already. Otherwise, you’re going to have messy hands and no where to turn. Except the sink of course, but you won’t feel like washing your hands right that second. Don’t ask me how I know this. You can mix this with the spoon if you’ve done your pushup(s) today.

If I had a picture of the mixed dough, it would be here. Just imagine it. It’s quite beautiful.

Moving along… line a baking sheet with parchment paper and have it ready to go. Then, we’re going to roll the dough into “logs”. Before we attempt this feat, we’re going to flour our work surface. VERY LIGHTLY!! Don’t be going all Swedish Chef on me with flour flying everywhere. That will dry out your biscotti and make you very sad. Just a very light dusting of flour on the board:

Use one hand to swoosh it around…

Then rub the other hand with the first hand. Now, using just that tiny bit of flour, you’ve floured your work surface, both hands, and make the universe smile. You might consider taking your rings off first. Don’t be like me.

Now form your dough into 2 equal size logs. How wide/long you make your logs is up to you. I wanted smaller pieces of biscotti so that they could go on my cookie platter and not be 6″ longer than any of the other cookies. Wouldn’t want them to feel bad, you know. Sometimes size does matter. So, my logs are about 2″ wide.

Now move them, gently, to the parchment lined cookie sheet, and place in the oven for about 30 minutes. Or until it’s JUST starting to brown. Or really even just shy of starting to brown. You don’t want those death sticks we talked about earlier, remember! In case you need a picture of them again…

Once they’ve finished that first bake cycle, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool for 10 minutes or so. In the meantime, reduce the heat on the oven to 275­° and make some coffee or something. Or take the baby doll away from the dog. Or re-roll your parchment paper that a kid just sent spiraling down the stairs. Or, whatever it is you do during 10 minutes of cool down time.

Once 10 minutes has passed, slice both logs, on the slight diagonal (It just took me 5 tries to spell diagonal. Apparently I should have used my 10 minutes to make coffee.) into slices around 3/4″ thick. Use a fairly decent knife so you aren’t obliterating it!

This is one of the end pieces. Yummy looking, yes? Eat all 4 end pieces immediately.


Line up the slices, on their sides, on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Back into the oven they go, for another 10 minutes, or until they’re dried. Not much will change, appearance-wise, so make sure they aren’t on fire in there! No, they didn’t move during the second baking cycle, I shooshed them together for the purpose of this photo. I’m rebellious that way.

Now, you could stop right here and be done. Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti, a perfect holiday treat. Or, you could get ridiculous. Guess which one I chose?


Keep in mind, if you’re going to drizzle chocolate on yours, they need to be COMPLETELY cooled first. If you try to drizzle on warm biscotti, it will be a calamity of epic proportions. Or, just a mess. Either way, don’t do it. Have another cup of the coffee you made and wait patiently.

Melt the white chocolate however you usually melt white chocolate. That’s another post for another day. Some people use a double boiler, I use my microwave. If you do the latter, just make sure you check it every few seconds. This is not a time to start the microwave and wander off. This can go ugly fast. I used about 1/3 of the bag, and it took just 90 seconds to melt.

It was a little bit thicker than I wanted for what I was doing, so I added about a teaspoon of Crisco, which made it perfect.

There are 1001 ways to drizzle chocolate. I prefer the crudest, most ghetto way possible. A sandwich baggie. Pour it in, zip it up, and cut a SMALL hole in the corner.

Hopefully you’ll be able to find scissors that aren’t these:

Now, just zig zag back and forth across each piece. You gotta move fast, once you start that stuff pouring out, it doesn’t stop. Unfortunately, I don’t have any live action shots of me doing the drizzling, as while I do have mad drizzling skills, I do not have mad drizzling with one hand while taking photos with the other skills. So, imagine me, thin, gorgeous, perfectly dressed and made up, and drizzling like a pro. One half of 25% of one of those things will be how it actually happened.

Oooh. Ahhh. Etc.

Make some today!

Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti with White Chocolate

1/4 cup extra light olive oil
3/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
2 eggs
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt (unless using salted pistachios, then omit)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup dried cranberries – roughly chopped
1 cup pistachio nuts – roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). In a large bowl, mix together oil and sugar until well blended. Mix in the vanilla and orange extracts, then beat in the eggs. Combine flour, salt, and baking powder; gradually stir into egg mixture. Mix in cranberries and nuts by hand.

Divide dough in half. Form two logs (12×2 inches) on a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Dough is sticky, lightly flour your work surface and hands, if necessary. Bake for 35 minutes in the preheated oven, or until logs are light brown. Remove from oven, and set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Reduce oven heat to 275 degrees.

Cut logs on diagonal into 3/4 inch thick slices. Lay on sides on parchment covered cookie sheet. Bake approximately 8 to 10 minutes, or until dry; cool completely. Drizzle with melted white chocolate, if desired.

I’ll have pumpkin…

October 4th, 2010

and you’ll have Apple Butter when the apocalypse comes.

Go check out this awesome (and funny!) post for Allie’s Apocalyptic Apple Butter.

Do it now!

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

September 29th, 2010

Once again, I have taken huge liberties with the naming of this dish. A “Whoopie Pie” is traditionally chocolate, and the filling is a shortening/pudding combination. As much as I love to eat things that are bad for me, something about just eating raw shortening in the filling bothers me. Yes, I realize shortening can’t be raw. Whatever, it’s my brain, I will operate it how I see fit! Anyway, these, obviously are pumpkin. It’s late September, y’all, I gotta have pumpkin! As for the filling, I could think of no better compliment to the pumpkin than cream cheese, so I filled them with basic cream cheese icing. And, it worked! So, as long as the Recipe Police don’t show up to arrest me for my nomenclature violation, lets do this thing!

What to gather: Pumpkin, flour, sugar, butter, vanilla, egg, baking power, baking soda, salt, cinnamon

Hopefully the pumpkin shortage is over? I have no idea. I saw pumpkin at my grocery store the other day and immediately bought 300 cans in case of an apocalypse. Does canned pumpkin help in an apocalypse? I would think so.

Our first step, as it often is in baking, is to cream together the butter and sugar.

Whew, what a work out. Glad I’m not a KitchenAid mixer, that might have been hard. Now, we add the remaining “wet” ingredients. The vanilla, pumpkin and egg, to be more precise.

Give that a whirl.

In a separate bowl, we’re going to mix together all the “dry” ingredients. We don’t want a giant clump of cinnamon in one bite and none in the next 200. Not that any of us would ever eat 200 bites of these. No sir, not me. Nope.

There they are, all in one happy bowl. Now, combine. I used the butter knife that I used to level the flour when I measured it. I didn’t take a picture of me doing this because I didn’t want you to know I used a butter knife to stir it. I’m very low-tech. And terrible at secrets.

Now, it’s time to put it all together. Dump the dry mixture into the wet mixture, and, well, mix.

Oooh it’s looking good! Now, keep in mind, these are not like cookies. Don’t be alarmed if your batter isn’t like cookie dough, it’s not supposed to be. It should be thicker than cake batter, but thinner than cookie dough.

What we have to do now is get them on the cookie sheets. Normally for cookies, I’d use my handy dandy cookie scoop. However, this stuff is way too sticky, and I would end up getting frustrated and throwing my cookie scoop across the room. Then the dog would find it and take it to her secret hiding place to lick all the batter off, and then chew up the handle. When I found it 2 weeks later, I would be very sad. I’d also be out of Pumpkin Whoopie Pies, since 2 weeks went by, so how would I ease my sorrows? Quite obviously, we can’t have that. So, I used a teaspoon. Heaping, clearly, although you could make them far smaller than I did if you wanted. You’d have more of them, but I’m lazy and generally rushy, so I did them bigger.

If you’re still paying attention after that overly lengthy paragraph, the important thing here is that they’re all relatively the same size. Since we’re going to be making them into little sandwiches of bliss, we need the top and bottom to be roughly the same diameter. So, just do it!

Edited to Add: The day I made these, the dog ate them all. Since I had extra icing, I decided to make another batch a couple days later. For that batch, I attempted to do it with my cookie scoop, and it worked perfectly. So, pretty much ignore everything I’ve ever said. Or, at least the paragraph about not using a cookie scoop. I’m sorry I ever doubted my treasured scoop. I won’t let it happen again. Perhaps I need to do an entire series of recipes that utilize cookie scoops to make up for my betrayal.

Pop those bad boys into a 350° oven for 15-17 minutes (less if they’re smaller, of course). You can use that time to file your nails, or file your taxes, or form a single file line. OR, you can mix the icing.

I must inform you that when I made this, I made a full batch of the icing, which ended up being FAR too much. So, for this post, I’ve halved the recipe, so you won’t have this problem. Just make sure you do as I say, and not as I do. Or whatever.

Making cream cheese icing is a very labor intensive and time consuming, not to mention very difficult process. Actually, no it isn’t. You just throw it all in a bowl and mix it. Don’t tell anyone, they’ll want to do it at home.

You can add more or less powdered sugar depending on how thick you need this to be. If you were wanting to pipe it on a cake, for example, you’d need it to be a bit sturdier, so, more powdered sugar. If you were making more like a glaze, you’d use less.

Ours is somewhere in the middle. A pretty traditional icing consistency. A consistently consistent consistency.

By now, your whoopie pies should be ready to emerge from the oven. You can probably smell the pumpkin and cinnamon baking, and your stomach is growling. Mine, too. Lets go get them!

You’re probably excited to get this finished, and I can’t blame you, but! You Must! Be! Patient! These will need to cool completely before you put them together. I really mean it! If you frost them still hot, the warmth will melt the icing and you’ll have quite a mess on your hands. Literally. Figuratively. Spiritually. It won’t take that long for them to cool, maybe 15 minutes or so, you can wait it out.

Once they are cool, you can go to town! Just spread a generous amount of icing on the bottom of one, and add another. Put the bottoms together, so it’s pretty on both sides.

Keep going until you’ve built them all. If you have an odd one, then you are to slather it with an even generouser amount of icing and shove it in your mouth in one bite. But don’t tell anyone.

These turned out so yummy! If I wasn’t already married, and already me, I’d marry me.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

1 15oz can pumpkin puree
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup softened butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 cup softened butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces softened cream cheese

Preheat oven to 350° and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Cream together butter and sugar; mix in pumpkin puree, vanilla and egg. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and blend until combined.

Drop teaspoonfuls of dough onto cookie sheets. Bake for 15-17 minutes. Cool completely on wire racks.

Once cool, spread icing on bottom of one cookie, and press an additional cookie to it.

To make icing: Beat together all ingredients until smooth.

Sweet (Sweet) Sangria

May 26th, 2010

It’s sweet. In case the title didn’t give it away. I like my Sangria sweet. You might not. I’ll give you a couple adaptations along the way in the event that you prefer it not as sweet, but then it’s no longer this recipe so I can’t promise it will be as good. Or sweet. Did I mention sweet?

Shut up and get to the booze, lady, I bet you’re saying.

What to Gather: Red wine (mine is Zinfandel, you can use whatever red you have in the house. I had this kind.), Frozen Orange Juice and Lemonade concentrate (my cans got all frosty and ugly while I was getting ready to take the picture, so I put them in that little bowl to save myself the embarrassment), Gingerale, Apricot Brandy, Grand Marnier, A Crap Load of Fruit.

Now we put it all together. This isn’t as complicated as it seems. Or as complicated as I’d always imagined it.

Start by dumping all your liquids into a glass pitcher (or bowl, but that makes it hard to pour into glasses later). You can use orange juice instead of the concentrate if you want a little less sweetness and orange KERPOW to it. In fact, depending on the type of wine, sometimes the OJ concentrate IS a bit much. Also, if you let the concentrate thaw first (or use orange juice instead), it’s easier to stir later. Continue on adding the brandy (you can use regular brandy also) and Grand Marnier (or Triple Sec to save a buck. Notice my expensive Grand Marnier alongside my grocery store brandy.), and the wine. The whole thing, just go for it.

Now start to slicing up your fruit. You can use whatever fruits you want/have/like/saw/found. I used orange, lemon, lime, cherries and a sour apple. Just slice em up and dump em in. I did cut my apple slices in half because they seemed disproportionate to the other slices, but eh whatever. Do whatchoo want.

Andddd, dump it in there. Refrigerate this overnight, or at least for several hours to allow the flavors to permeate. Or whatever happens in the dark of the refrigerator. Some fruity hanky panky, or whatever.

Oh look, through the magic of these series of tubes we call the internet, it’s the next day!

All that’s left to do now is add the fizzy stuff. I use ginger ale, because I like it sweet. Also, I’m from Michigan, and Vernors is the state beverage or something. They put you to death if you use any other ginger ale, I think. Lucky for me they carry Vernors here on planet Ohio, or I’d be in big trouble. Maybe even extradited.

You COULD add a splash of it to each glass. OR, you could just dump the whole thing in the pitcher and commit to finishing the whole thing with rapidity. Guess which one I do.

Mmm ya.

Pour some yummy Sangria into a glass, fish out some fruit to float around in it so you feel fancy and fruity and stuff, and enjoy!

Sweet Sangria

1 (750ml) bottle dry red wine
1/2 cup Apricot Brandy
1/2 cup Grand Marnier (or Triple Sec)
1/4 cup orange juice (or frozen concentrate)
1/4 cup frozen lemonade concentrate
1 lemon; sliced
1 lime; sliced
1 orange; sliced
1 granny smith apple; halved and sliced
maraschino cherries
16oz bottle ginger ale

In a pitcher or bowl, combine red wine, liquors and juices. Add sliced fruit and stir to combine. Refrigerate over night or for several hours. Immediately before serving, add ginger ale.

KISS: Baked Apples

May 22nd, 2010

You won’t believe this, y’all.

This is so ridiculously easy, I’m almost embarrassed to post it.

But, what the heck. I hope you’ll still respect me in the morning.

The funniest part of this? I STILL managed to forget one of the ingredients in the ingredient shot. My brain, its like a sieve. Get the cooking pun there? Har!

What to gather: apples, cinnamon, sugar, BUTTER

First, we take a bit off the bottom of the apples, so they’ll sit flat on the plate. The flatter they are, the better they’ll hold the goop in the middle. It’ll leak out no matter how flat, but still, flatter = better. In abs and in apples. Don’t feel compelled to make 3, I just was making these at a time when my 2 teenagers were due home, so I made one for each of us. Make 1, make 20, feel empowered.

Now remove the cores. I have this “handy” little device for that. Not once in my entire life have I ever gotten it to go straight through and get the core out right the first time. So, I end up shoving it back in there 2 or 20 more times until I am sure I have the entire core out. Hopefully you’re better at this than me. I have accepted my limitations, and I eat baked apples with giant caverns in the middle. I’m ok with it.

Once you get them all flattened/cored/caverned/, make your cinnamon sugar. Unless you already have the premixed cinnamon sugar, then you get to skip this step. I, however am cheap, and the price of the premixed cinnamon offends my delicate sensibilities. Plus, I like my Penzey’s cinnamon. Dump some cinnamon into your sugar all willy nilly and stir.

Add more cinnamon until it looks like cinnamon sugar. This is very exact as you can see. This time, I got it right the first time. That’s why I get paid the big bucks (ie: $0) to run this site.

Now, game on. Fill the hole in each apple with cinnamon. Don’t worry if it gets everywhere, it’s all going to end up there eventually anyway. Don’t be shy, really fill it up.

And top with a couple pats of butter. Mmm butter.

That’s pretty much it, right there. Now, we put them in the microwave. I start with 3 minutes. At the end of 3 minutes, mine looked like this:

I take this opportunity to scoop up the yummy cinnamon goodness and pour it back in and over the apples. Back in for another 3 minutes; repeat. You’ll know when they are nearing completion when they start to cave in a bit.

At that point, you’ll want to take it a minute at a time until you can stick a fork in and know that they are tender. (You kinda have to stick the fork in the middle, because the peel isn’t going to be tender, only the inside fleshy part. Mine took about 8 minutes, but they were small. The total time for yours will depend on the size of the apples, the power of the microwave, and what day of the week your birthday falls on this year. Or maybe not that last part.

Once again, I have no idea where that ice cream came from. That keeps happening here. It’s a mystery.

Baked Apples
for the microwave!

cinnamon sugar

Remove a small slice from the bottom of each apple to flatten. Core apples. Place on microwave-safe plate and fill with cinnamon sugar. Top each with 2 small pats of butter. Microwave for 3 minutes; scoop sauce back over top of apples. Microwave 3 minutes more and check for tenderness on inside. Check after each additional minute until done to your liking. Serve with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Beer Roast

May 19th, 2010

I feel a bit slackery with all these “easy” recipes but… well I am. This isn’t your mom’s fancy food blog. I’m just keepin’ it real over here. As much as I appreciate a fancy meal, with 5 kids and a dog and all my hobbies and oh look there’s the internet, it just doesn’t happen much around here. Just saying.

Anyway, here’s one of my old standbys. It’s quite possible I make this just so I can have the gravy, but I’d never admit that. Try not to get overwhelmed at the sheer number of ingredients, I know it’s a lot to take in at once.

Also, I cooked and photographed this meal over 2 months ago and am just now getting to the typing part. Good thing this is the internet, because it hasn’t spoiled while we waited!

What to gather: 2-3lb chuck roast (or could be labeled as pot roast), 1 bay leaf, 2-3 (or 4 or 5) cloves of garlic, 1 bottle of beer, olive oil. If you are taking a picture, try to take it as cockeyed as possible so you can be like me.

I know. Very complicated and diverse shopping list.

Lets begin. Hopefully you slept well last night, because this prep is going to take literally minutes. You might need a nap after we’re done, so clear your calendar.

Chop up some garlic. Or mince. Or slice. Or smash like the Hulk. Who cares, just make it smaller.

Now, heat up your cooking vessel with some olive oil and brown the roast on all sides. Even the side sides. Err. All sides.

See, all of them. I mean it!

Dump some beer in there. 1 bottle is a good start. Don’t drink it. Luckily they come in 6 packs, so if you really WANT to drink one, you can. It’s ok to drink whatever alcohol you’re cooking with while you cook, I think I read that somewhere.

Now toss in a bayleaf. Except, it would be better if it were in the beer and not just sitting on the top of the roast all beached and sad. Don’t be like me.

Simmer all of this on low. After one hour, presumably at the end of your post-prep nap, turn the roast over.

Let it go for 2 more hours. You can add more beer if needed, provided you didn’t drink the other 5 bottles already. I’m sure you haven’t, you’re not like that. At the end of the 3 total hours, you should have this:

Now we can make some gravy, if you’re so moved. I normally can’t be bothered, but the gravy from this beer/beef/happiness combo is just too good for me to pass up. I gotta have it. So, pour what is left in the pan aside from the roast, which you’ve removed, and the bay leaf, which you do not want to eat. Not tasty.

You will notice that the fat will conveniently float to the top for easy removal. You can use a turkey baster if a) you feel like cleaning it after and b) your boys haven’t stolen it for some science experiment that you really really don’t want to know about. I don’t ever find myself experiencing a) and b) seems to happen to me far more often than I care to think about, so I use a spoon. I’m very high tech.

Now pour a small amount of the drippings back into the pan. And add some flour. Roughly the same amount as the drippings, but no one is counting here.

Now we are making roux. Do you feel french and fancy? Me either. Whisk this together until it combines and cooks and thickens and whatever else it wants to do. The Roux is the boss of you. Poetry, my friends.

Once that is all worked out, we slowly add the rest of the drippings while whisking. If you whisked your roux right like I said, you will have no lumps. I really mean it! This is the same basic way I make my Thanksgiving gravy and it comes out perfect every time! Just keep adding and whisking until it’s the consistency you desire. Once it boils, it’s reached it’s thickening power, so you can add if it’s too thick, and repeat.

At this point you’ll want to taste it and see if it needs salt and pepper, but I doubt it will. Definitely not salt, it should be plenty salty.

Hopefully you experience what I did: the magical appearance of mashed potatoes.


Bowties in Tomato Sausage Cream Sauce

March 19th, 2010

Or something. I put those words in a different order everytime I make/think about/mention this recipe. Good thing the title means nothing! Woot!

This is my husband’s mostest favoritestest bestest food ever. Or something. In fact, when he sees this post and realizes I made this while he was out of town… well I just don’t know what will happen. He might do something drastic, like send me a nasty IM or something. It won’t be pretty.

What to gather: olive oil, bowtie pasta, heavy cream (DO IT!), diced tomatoes, italian sausage, fresh basil, onion, garlic, salt, parmesan cheese (to be shown later), red pepper flakes

As I’ve done before, we are going to cut everything before we start. It makes it much less stressful when I’m trying to put it all together, plus it makes me feel like I have my own cooking show where people prepared everything and lined it up in little bowls for me so I could just toss it all together and cook it from raw to perfection during the commercial break.

But back to reality, lets start by removing the sausage from the casing. You just squeeze it on out of there.

I remove it in little bits, since we need it in little bits eventually anyway. Save a step / save a life. Not really. Just the step.

During this step, you might find this wily creature. Beware. She’s here for your sausage.

Finish removing all the sausage from the casing, while trying hard to ignore the dog that is currently staring into your soul.

Set it aside, high on a shelf. She’s just waiting for you to look away. Trust me, I know.

Cut the onion and garlic. Feel free to use a yellow onion. In fact I usually do. Today I just happened to have a ‘red’ one. Why do they call them red? Anyone in their right mind can see that this onion is purple.

And the basil. I like to start by rolling it up the long way.

And then chopping it the short way.

Now we’re ready to begin. Note that the pasta cooks for roughly the same time as the sauce simmers. So, now would be a good time to start the water boiling. By the time we get everything else in the pan, hopefully it will be boiling and they’ll both be done at the same time. If not, do not panic. Either of them can wait a couple minutes for the other.

Heat a large and deep skillet (it needs to be big enough to hold everything, including the pasta) and add the olive oil.

Then add the sausage that you so valiantly guarded from predators.

And add a bit of red pepper flakes. As much as you like. I’m a wimp, so I only added a touch. If you want to cry while eating, feel free to add more than this. (You could also use hot italian sausage if you are so inclined. Mine, however, is medium. Again – wimp.)

Saute this deliciousness over medium high heat until brown. Mmm.

Add the onions and garlic to the pan, and saute until the onions are tender.

Now we start to add the stuff our television staff has so kindly prepared for us. I imagine they’ll be by soon to do the dishes, too.

Drain the excess juice off the tomatoes, and add them.

Then the heavy cream. Yeah, baby.

A pinch or so of salt. Pinch pinch.

And the basil. Note: technically and aesthetically you shouldn’t really add the basil until the end, because it doesn’t need to be cooked to death. I, however, can not be bothered with these details and just threw it in at this step. Don’t be like me. I got excited.

Stir that around and simmer on low for 8-10 minutes. It will thicken slightly. You don’t want it so thick that it doesn’t cover the pasta, though, so don’t get carried away or anything.

Add your bowties to your boiling water. You boiled water, right? I TOLD YOU TO BOIL WATER! *ahem* Sorry. Add your bowties to your boiling water.

Mine took 12 minutes because they were bigger bowties. You might have smaller ones that cook faster. Just go by what the box says. That way I don’t steer you wrong on account of me not knowing the cook time of every single brand of bowties known to man. I know a lot of random crap, but sadly not that.

Once the noodles are done and drained, and the sauce is happily thickened, that’s pretty much it! Add the noodles to the sauce and combine.

Add some freshly grated parmesan just before serving.

Wooo boy. Good stuff.

Please don’t divorce me, honey. I’ll save you some!

Bowties in Tomato Sausage Cream Sauce

12 ounce pkg bowtie pasta
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb sweet or hot (your choice) Italian sausage, casings removed and crumbled
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup diced onion
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp minced fresh basil
Freshly grated parmesan

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes, or until al dente; drain and set aside. Heat oil in a large, skillet over medium heat.
Cook sausage and pepper flakes until sausage is evenly brown. Stir in onion and garlic, cook until onion is tender. Add tomatoes, cream, and salt. Simmer until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Stir cooked pasta into sauce, and heat through. Sprinkle with basil and freshly grated parmesan.

Taco Salad Dip

March 10th, 2010

About 94 or so years ago, one of my online groups assembled a cookbook. That is to say, they all sent me their favorite recipes (some even via the POST OFFICE. We were so retro!), and I typed them all up, secretly printed them at work for free, and then took them to the printers to have a spiral binding put on them. At least a year later, we all got together at Kelli’s house for a baby shower and she served this dip. It was so delicious that I was completely outraged that she hadn’t included this recipe in the book. Until she pointed out that she had, at which point I felt like a giant idiot. Until later, when the pregnant person opened one of her gifts only to find 2 mismatched used socks that one of Kelli’s kids had stashed in the gift, leaving the guest of honor very confused, Kelli very embarrassed, the rest of us very amused, and me off the hook for being the idiot of the day.

Ahh, good times, indeed.

At any rate, this has since become one of my go-to recipes for any function requiring me to “bring something”. It’s easy to whip up, and always a big hit.

What to gather: cream cheese (allow to soften first), sour cream , taco seasoning mix, lettuce, cheddar cheese, tomatoes, sliced olives, tortilla chips (not shown, but recommended unless you just plan to eat this with your hands)

We start by dumping the cream cheese and sour cream into a bowl. Note that while I showed a 16 oz container of cream cheese in the photo, the dip only calls for 8 oz. So, I used half. See my tricky math there? I didn’t have a tutor or anything!

And combine. If you’re feeling muscular, you could probably do this by hand. I, however, have the upper body strength of… I dunno, something weak. So, I used my mixer.

One it is happily incorporated, and don’t go all crazy obsessive, it’ll be covered by lettuce and no one will see a lump or 2, add the taco seasoning. Half the package. No, I don’t know exactly how many teaspoons that means. Just roughly half will do.

And once again combine. You’ll need to scrape the sides of the bowl down to make sure it’s mixed well. Once it is, we are going to spread it on a platter.

Don’t get overly hung up on the size of the platter. This one is a bit smaller, so my dip will be a tad thicker. My normal platter has a giant crack in it that I didn’t want you to know about, so I used this one instead. Either one is fine, really. I promise.

Now for the “salad” part of the taco salad dip. Chop some lettuce.

And add it.

Now, shred some cheese. If you are going to the family reunion on your dad’s side, and you don’t like them anyway, feel free to use pre-shredded. But, if you’re serving this to someone you love, or eating it yourself, shred your own. It’s better.

Add the cheese on top of the lettuce. Lookin’ good so far!

Time to chop the tomatoes. As you can see, once I’d chopped them, I did pick out the overly seedy bits. But, I wasn’t obsessively seeding the tomatoes or anything. I just took 10 seconds to fish out the obnoxious parts.

Evenly distribute atop the cheese. Completely forget to take a photo.

And, finally, the sliced olives. Naturally, you’ll want to drain them first. I don’t even LIKE olives, and I still use them on this. I even eat them. Don’t tell any of my olive hating friends what I did.

And that’s it! Serve with tortilla chips and be merry!

Taco Salad Dip

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
8 ounces sour cream
1/2 package taco seasoning mix
lettuce, shredded cheddar cheese, tomatoes, olives

Combine cream cheese and sour cream; add taco seasoning and mix well. Spread on bottom of serving platter and layer with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes and olives (in that order). Serve with tortilla chips.

Amaretto Sour

March 6th, 2010

I made this blog post at 1pm. I always eat (or in this case, drink) whatever I put on the plate for the picture. This means I had an amaretto sour at 1pm for no reason other than this post.

Now that we’ve had full disclosure, we can move on.

I love to go to the martini bar and order the froofiest most girly and ridiculous fruity ones they have. Which might explain why I put this drink in a martini glass, despite the fact that it’s not a martini. Or, it could be that I’m just weird. I don’t believe in formality here, put it in a dixie cup for all I care. Really, after the first one, it won’t matter.

What to gather: Amaretto, Sour Mix, Orange slices, Maraschino Cherries, Powdered Sugar and Ice.

Or, if it’s been a rough day, just the amaretto and sour mix. I do enjoy them more when I go the extra mile, though. so lets do that.

Hopefully you have one of these shaker things, but if not, you can use a spoon or whatever. It does make you feel all Cocktail to use this, though, so if you have one, use it.

First, we add the ice to the shaker. Amount not all that important, since we’re going to strain the drink off of it in 10 seconds anyway.

Then, carefully measure 3 ounces of amaretto and add it to the shaker. Or, just do this:

It’s not that scientific.

Add 2 precisely measured “splash”es of sour mix. Or:

It’s mostly amaretto with a touch of mix.

And shake. Oh wait, first put lid on. Then shake. Emo nailpolish optional.

Now right there it’s good enough to drink, and already better than any amaretto sour I’ve ever had at a bar. But, we’re living it up here. So, we’ll garnish.

Cut an orange by slicing it in half and then slices.

Add one orange slice and one (or 2) maraschino cherries to the bottom of the vessel of your choice. Really, you are supposed to put the orange cutely on the rim of the glass. Bah whatever. I just chuck it in there. We’re friends, right?

And strain amaretto and sour mix on top of it.

Sprinkle powdered sugar on top. Become embarrassed at the condition of your aged orange.

Enjoy drink and forget all about it.

Amaretto Sour
(technically, makes 2 if you put a cherry and orange in each glass)

3 ounces Amaretto
2 splashes Sour Mix
1 orange slice
1 maraschino cherry
powdered sugar

Add amaretto and sour mix to ice filled shaker; shake. Strain into glass, adding cherry and orange slice. Sprinkle top with powdered sugar.

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