JELL-O

Who couldn’t resist the headline (no bake) on this box of Jell-O brand cheesecake?   On a hot, extremely busy Memorial Day weekend with lots of other fun things to be doing, I for one couldn’t.

I do however, have a couple confessions to make.  I always try to make my baked goods from scratch.  Sometimes on a rare occasion I cheat a wee bit and buy a box mix, or a store-bought item.  Sure I know, and can tell the difference, but there are times it’s warranted (in my mind). 

The second part of my confession is that I have never made a homemade cheesecake.  It’s not that I don’t want to.  For one,  I don’t own a springform pan, and secondly, I know homemade cheesecake recipes make enough to feed an army, and I don’t have an army to feed. 

As it stands now, I give at least half of the baked goods I make away to friends and neighbors.   In many cases the extra goodies end up in our freezer for a day that I don’t feel like baking.  Right now there’s only a loaf of lemon-blueberry bread in our spare freezer.  Probably due to the fact that our Frigidaire side by side that I used for freezing my goods has broken down for the 2nd time this year. (Did I mention it’s only four years old? And of course there is no warranty left on it.) My last call to the company ended in frustration when I was transferred to a young woman who I could tell was very proficient in Spanish, and not so much in English.  She also had me on hold more time than she spent conversing with me, and could offer very little to remedy the problem.    Okay, enough about Frigidare…

Any who… I’ve made cute little mini cheesecakes before with Nilla Wafers and a real cream cheese mixture.  They are yummy little devils.   I’ve made this cheesecake from the box before too.  The one thing that stood out when I made this today was how little time, effort, and ingredients it took to throw this together.  Even the most apprehensive person in the kitchen could handle this recipe.   A little melted margarine, some sugar, and milk, and a topping of your choice (I’m opting for fresh strawberries from our garden)  – it’s just that simple.    

Now, I’m not advocating boxed foods – but sometimes a girl just has to do, what a girl has to do….  And, one of these days when I’m expecting an army of people  I’ll buy that springform pan and make a real homemade cheesecake.

Berry Happy

 

     

My homegrown strawberries

 

As I picked  fresh strawberries from our garden I couldn’t help but be reminded it’s the little things in life (like homegrown strawberries) that make me happy.     

I guess I can’t deny I’m a simple girl.  We spent the day yard sale hopping.   $5.25 later, I came home excited  at the prospect of being able to use the treasures I found. I got a heavy-duty enameled pan ( I intend to use for the homemade brownies/and a strawberry-basil Italian ice that A Spicy Perspective posted and  I’m going to make), a pair of porcelain candlesticks made in Bavaria, West Germany ( I plan on using on our deck for candlelight dinners on summer evenings),   Ball jelly jars ( that will come in handy when I make homemade jams, jellies, and corn relish this season), and a gardening book (loaded with tons of information, and will hopefully help me keep my fruits, veggies and flowers healthy).      

I guess the old saying is true  “One man’s junk, is another man’s treasure”)  Or in this case, one berry happy woman’s… 

Brownie/Strawberry Basil Italian Ice Pan

  

West German Candle Sticks

  

Ball Jelly Jars

  

Gardening Book

Beer Bread – a bakers nightmare – drink it, don’t bake it..

It was close to 90 degrees today.  But aside from spending a good portion of today out in the hot sun I decided I wouldn’t let the intense heat deter me.  Geared up and ready to bake, I briefly searched for a quick bread recipe that I could throw together in a pinch.  I was looking for a wee bit out of the ordinary recipe to go with our simple dinner of grilled chicken and greek salad.

After careful deliberation I decided on “Easy Beer Bread”.  I’m sorry to say I might better drank the beer and foregone the baking  – I would have been much more satisfied I’m sure.

For the most part I followed the recipe which was very simple – 2c. self rising flour (I didn’t have self rising flour on hand so I followed a substitute recipe – 1 c. flour + 1 tsp. baking powder + 1/2 tsp. salt per cup),  3 tbls. sugar, 1 bottle of beer, and because the recipe didn’t call for any type of shortening which I thought odd, I added a tsp. of olive oil for good measure. 

The bread smelled wonderful making, baking, and cooling.  It tasted fairly good  – except I thought it was on the bitter side.  But the failure was the texture.  The bread was – to be blunt – rubbery.  YUK…   The first sign was its failure to brown in the oven – at that point I became slightly suspicious.  It became all to clear when I sampled it before dinner.

For a second opinion I passed a piece off on hubby at dinner (and I loaded the margarine on it too.)  His conclusion – the same as mine – rubbery.  He said it tasted good but reminded him more of cake.  Oh well….

 The moral of the story here.  Drink your beer on a 90 degree day and forget baking beer bread.

Finally found time to bake – lucious lemon blueberry bread

What a combination

 

The batter

 

Bottom side of bread fresh out of the pan

 

Life is good, and busy.  This time of year the nice weather calls me outside.  Because of this I  put baking on the back burner, so to speak.    

This week we planted our garden which now has a variety of fruits & veggies and herbs packed into it.  Today was more or less, a day of rest, and I finally found time to bake.    

I found some nice looking blueberries at the grocery store and they help inspire me.  I had been wanting to make something on the lemon side so with that in mind I dug through my (not quite organized yet) recipe box and found a great recipe I’ve made many a time.  Lemon Blueberry Bread   

The recipe is as follows:  3 tbls shortening, 3 tbls margarine, 1 c sugar, 1 tbls lemon juice (I used real lemon extract), 2 eggs, 1 1/2 c flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 c milk (I used skim), 1 cup fresh blueberries.  Mix in order.  I used  3 mini bread pans and baked for 37 mins in a 325 degree oven.  You know the routine.  Whatever you bake it in, make sure the toothpick comes out clean in the center.  Enjoy!   

We are enjoying it as I type….. Moist and tasty – not overly sweet.

Mac Salad – good ole summer time classic

Macaroni salad has always been one of my favorites.  I particularly prefer it in the warmer months complimenting specific foods like bbq ribs, chicken, burgers, etc.  

I’ve taken my mother’s recipe, intermingled it with my grandma H’s recipe, and added a bit of my own creativity to come up with a salad to satisfy my taste.

Grandma H always used Miracle Whip in her salads, my mom always used mayonnaise.  I use mayo too. Grandma always added a touch of sugar to her recipe, my mom didn’t.  I do.  Neither used green olives in their salads but I generally do.  I think the olives add a little zip to the salad.

Now, if you ask me for my recipe it would be a little of this, a little of that.  No measuring,  just a lot of little tastes until I’m satisfied with the results.  

What about you?  Do you have a recipe you follow?  Or, are you a creator like me?

Time to get organized

It’s been a busy week/weekend.  I am ashamed to admit I haven’t had time to bake a single thing, and my postings have been scarce to say the least.  I even cheated and bought Chips Ahoy cookies at the grocery store this week.  I did so in an effort to satisfy my (lazy) sweet tooth.   

One thing I decided to do in the near future is organize my recipe cards.  I am guilty of throwing my recipes in a fairly large box and spending quite some time searching through the mess to find the one  I’m looking for.  

While shopping yesterday I think I found the perfect solution.  A sleeve that holds two recipe books.  The object is to write on the blank recipe cards that are provided in each book, label them, and tidy things up a bit.   Now I just have to find time to write out each card!  

Wish me luck!  

Recipe box now

 

 

Organized recipe box (I hope)

 

 

“Corn Bread & Chicken – Where I come from”

Corn Bread Recipe

Fresh baked corn bread

I think I’ve heard those words before, maybe in a county song.  We had chicken, asparagus and fresh fruit salad for supper.  It’s been awhile since I have made corn bread so I got busy and made some to go with our dinner.  This recipe tasted good but it’s not the Johnny Cake my grandma use to make.   I’m have shared the recipe – let me know if you try it.

“Try it you’ll like it”

Brussel Sprouts Galore

“Try it, you’ll like it.”  Who hasn’t heard that line before?  My parents tried desperately to get me to try new foods.   There wasn’t any amount of convincing that was going to get me to taste or eat certain foods as a little girl.  Specifically, vegetables.  Sure, I liked potatoes and corn but forget the cauliflower, broccoli, peas, brussel sprouts, artichokes,  and asparagus.

As I’ve aged so have my taste buds (thankfully).  Veggie recipes have come a long way too.  What I remember about  brussel sprouts?  The strong odor they produced as my mother cooked them.  What I’ve learned since then?  She probably was over cooking them creating glucosinolate sinigrin, a sulfurous acid to emanate from the pot convincing me they were horrid long before she set them on the dining room table.

Slowly, over the years, I have come to like all of the vegetables I disliked as a child. It wasn’t until my husband and I took a recent trip to Charleston SC  that I was brave enough to try brussel sprouts.  A restaurant where we dined served pancetta braised brussel spouts.

These sprouts were so tasty.  When we got home I bought some on my first trip to the supermarket.  Winging their preparation without a recipe, my husband who is an awesome cook, whipped up a special marinade of olive oil, red wine vinegar, herbs, and garlic to brush on them as he grilled them.

These little beauties were to die for.  I’m now looking for plants or seeds to put in our garden so we can grow enough to stock our freezer for next winter.

Does anyone have a good veggie recipe to pass on?  I’m game…

Double Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Double Peanut Butter Cupcakes

In appreciation for a favor a friend did for us I made his family a batch of these beauties.  I don’t ever remember having peanut butter cake before.  Anxious to try out a recipe I found for it I decided no time like the present.  The recipe came from a vintage cookbook copyrighted 1947 (Shown below).

The cake is moist with a light peanut buttery taste,.  The frosting recipe came from a former co-worker and I’ve used that many a time on chocolate cupcakes, and brownies.

If you would like either recipe please leave a comment with your email address and I’ll forward it your way.

Have a great weekend!