Monday, September 12, 2011

Missing the Blog - Graham Cracker Sand

"I am so busy with all of this stuff...I haven't even blogged!"
"Do you miss blogging?"
"Yes! Blogging is important to me. I haven't even cooked real food, so I don't have any food to blog about."

This was a conversation I had early today re: teaching, selling AVON, helping with a fundraiser, family obligations, and generally losing my mind. I miss this blog!!!! So, I decided that even if I don't have a fab recipe to share with you, I can at least post something. is a pic of a cake I made for a birthday recently. I have no cake decorating expertise, obviously. What I was happy with was the technique of using pulverized graham crackers as sand. The texture was fabulous and the taste actually added to the cake. I highly recommend making a beach cake with graham cracker sand:) plan is to seriously get back to blogging. I miss you guys...I miss cooking. It's time to return!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Off the Edge of the Earth

I know that you probably think I have fallen off the edge of the earth. I swear to you that I haven't. I just completely underestimated the amount of time it would take to get back into school, start a new second job, and plan two giant parties all at the same time. I have barely had time to breathe - I haven't read a single page of a book or cooked something just for myself or gone for a walk for two weeks! It's been epically insane. Tonight I decided that I must blog, even if it is just to tell you that I am not dead.

Here is a bit of cooking. There is not a recipe, as I used a mix, but the idea was quite cute. You can see the directions by clicking here. I baked this cake for my nephew on his last day at his old school (he is a big boy in proper preschool now). Each of the kids is decorated to represent one of his classmates.

Next step is to catch up on all of your lovely blogs:)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Gingery Butternut Squash and Tofu Curry

When I saw this recipe in Health magazine, I was anxious to try it. I love butternut squash but had never thought of putting it in a curry. I adjusted the recipe to use a mix of spices instead of the curry sauce that was called for and was very pleased with the result. Next time I make it, I will be leaving out the tofu. I didn't do an adequate job of soaking up the spices and tasted like an off note to me. However, not everyone who tried the dish agreed with that assessment, so I am sharing the recipe with the tofu for all of the tofu lovers.

Gingery Butternut Squash and Tofu Curry
2 tsp olive oil
20 oz cubed butternut squash
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 cup light coconut milk
1/2 cup water
4 oz tofu, patted dry
1/2 lb broccoli, cut into 1 inch pieces

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and spices. Cook until onions are transparent. Add squash and continue cooking until squash begins to soften (about 10 minutes).
2. Combine coconut milk and water, whisking well. Place tofu in the saucepan; add milk mixture. Cover pot and simmer until squash is tender (about 7 minutes).
3. Remove lid. Add broccoli; simmer until tender (about 5 minutes).
5. Yields 4 servings, each serving plus 3/4 cup rice contains 291 calories

Friday, August 12, 2011

Stewed Collard Greens and White Beans

Two things very Southern: greens; white beans. Combining them: genius. This recipe that I adapted from the geniuses at Living Simple magazine is an instant family favorite.

Stewed Collard Greens and White Beans
12 oz dry cannellini beans
2 tsp chili oil
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 bunch collard greens (about 2 lbs) stems removed and leaves cut into 3 inch thick strips
1 3-4 inch piece Parmesan rind
7 cups water
coarse salt
2 tbsp red wine vinegar

1. Cover beans with 3 inches of water in a medium pot. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and cover for one hour. Drain.
2. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Saute onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes until tender, about 4 minutes.
3. Add collard greens in batches, stirring until wilted. Add beans, Parmesan rind, and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until beans and greens are tender, about 1 hr 20 minutes.
4. Season with salt and vinegar.
5. Yields 6 servings; each serving 350 calories

I am having a busy week getting my Avon business set up. Visiting your blogs is a great, relaxing, just for me activity in which I am about to indulge. Shannon mentioned that Avon sells great bubble bath - indeed they do. They even have Gourmand bubble bath just for us foodies; it comes in Berries and Cream, Chocolate Cherry Cake, and Caramel Truffle (click if you want to see for yourself:) As a disclaimer, I get to tell you that I am an independent Avon representative. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Spaghetti Squash with Scallops, Zucchini, and Salsa

I am always looking for something new to do with scallops, since my husband is the leading world scallop addict. This one was adapted from a recipe I found on

Spaghetti Squash with Scallops, Zucchini, and Salsa
1 large spaghetti squash
1/8 cup olive oil
2 zucchini, diced
2 cups chunky salsa
1 lb scallops

1. Prepare spaghetti squash according to these directions.
2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Saute zucchini until tender.
3. Add salsa and scallops to skillet. Simmer until scallops are opaque - about five minutes.
4. Serve scallops over spaghetti squash.  

Today I started my second or third job (now that the blog is monetized, I am not sure it if is a feels too fun to be a job). I am a brand new independent sales representative for Avon. That's right, an Avon lady! I chose Avon because I was already buying - and loving - their products. I figure this way I get a new job and a discount on the products I already love. For you, I plan to have some Avon giveaways on my blog. The only problem is trying to chose which super cute kitchen product (chili pepper apron? donut cake pan?) or beauty product (vanilla cream bubble bath? pomegranate and mango body lotion?)!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Chicken Marsala

Ode, once again, to the chicken thigh - best of all chicken parts. This is one of my favorite recipes - easy, juicy, spicy, and finger licking good. 

Chicken Marsala
12 skinless chicken thighs
6 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp ground ginger
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp brown sugar
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbsp chopped green chilli
2 tbsp olive oil

1. Wash chicken and prick with a fork.
2. In a large bowl, mix lemon juice, ginger, garlic, chili powder, salt, sugar, and honey. Coat chicken with spice mixture and marinate for 45 minutes.
3. Preheat grill to medium heat. Add the cilantro and green chillies to the chicken thighs and place in a flameproof dish. Pour any remaining marinade over chicken and baste with oil.
4 Grill under preheated grill for fifteen to twenty minutes until cooked through and browned.

Now that I am back on my feet, it is back to life. I have to make a couple of changes in my life. We - the teacher and the librarian - are shockingly (heavy sarcasm intended) in need of extra funds if we are to have any hope of expanding our little family while Stone is in grad school. will soon see my blog monetized. I don't know that it will make me any money at all, but we shall see. Also, I am going to take a bit of a second job. More on that as it develops. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Best Sorghum Cookies: Foods Made for Family and Friends

So...I am finally back on my feet, but two things conspired against my blog. A: I had to go back to work and have been doing a couple of hours overtime every day. B: We had a crazy electrical storm that knocked out the internet two days ago. For no apparent reason, it is back on for the moment (I am not cancelling the service call tomorrow because it will definitely go out again if I do.  Thank you so much for your good thoughts during my recovery. I can't wait to get back to your blogs!

I have mainly been sharing recipes with you that were made for people who had a medical event (childbirth, catastrophic accident) or some personal troubles. These were made for a bit of a different reason - they are "I'm sorry" cookies. I have no idea where my head was and am so embarrassed to admit it, but I completely stood someone up for an appointment. In addition to apologizing profusely and losing sleep worrying about my mistake, I also made her cookies.

These delicious little gems were made using the recipe from the bottle of Muddy Pond sorghum molasses that I purchased at the farmer's market.

Best Sorghum Cookies
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup sorghum
2 eggs, lightly beaten
4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground cloves

1. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in sorghum and eggs.
2. In another large mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. Blend thoroughly.
3. Gradually mix flour mixture into creamed ingredients until smooth.
4. Roll dough into 1 inch balls; dip tops in granulated sugar. Place 2 inches apart on baking stone or greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350F for 11 minutes.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Easy Sausage Muffins: Foods Made for Family and Friends

Another of my pre-surgery written posts. I am looking forward to getting around to your blogs and catching up. In recovery news, I am having my stitches out tomorrow - they have been rather a nuisance. Your good wishes have made this whole ordeal much, much easier.

I love making sausage bread - it is delicious and it is definitely a comfort food. Recently I was introduced to a very lovely woman who greeted me with, "You are the girl who makes the sausage bread!" The lady in question has gone through some troubles of late and as the days went by after meeting her, I kept thinking of her words. When I found out that she would be attending the same event I would be, I decided I had to make some sausage muffins for her. I didn't have time to make my usual recipe, with the bread from scratch, so I came up with this fast - but still fantastic - version. 

Easy Sausage Muffins
2 cans Pillsbury french bread
1 lb sausage

1. In a large skillet over medium heat, fry sausage until cooked through.
2. Empty French bread dough into a large bowl. Add sausage and, using hands, mix until thoroughly combined.
3. Divide dough into 12 muffin cups. Bake at 350F for 25 minutes or until browned.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Banana Cookies: Foods Made for Family and Friends

If things are going as they are supposed to, I should be back to visiting your blogs today. Surgery Monday; in bed Tuesday; able to sit for a while Wednesday. That is my plan. If you are still not hearing from me, assume that I am fine but not quite ready to sit up yet. (Since it is Saturday, you will surmise that things did not go quite as I planned - today is my first day sitting up. I will spare you the blood and guts of it, but it was not a pretty week. Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers.)

These cookies were made for a friend who was just out of the hospital. I love to make these because they have the same flavor of a good banana bread without the v e r y l o n g cooking time, and they come in nice, portioned servings.

Banana Cookies
3/4 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup mashed bananas
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1. Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add egg and vanilla, blend well.
2. Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Stir into sugar mixture. Add mashed bananas, nuts, and oats. Stir just until blended.
3. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto stone or greased cookie sheet and bake at 400F for about 12 minutes. Cook on rack.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Berry Muffins: Foods Made for Family and Friends

I made these muffins to take to a dear friend who just gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. Growing up, this was an easy recipe to make since I just had to go out in the yard and pick some mulberries from our tree. Unfortunately, I have never been able to find mulberries in Tennessee.  A frozen mixed berry combo (raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries) substituted nicely and gave the muffins a pretty purple color.

(Mul)berry muffins
Crumb Topping
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
4 tbsp margarine
1/4 cup margarine
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (mul)berries

1. To prepare crumb topping: mix flour, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Blend in butter with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles crumbs. Set aside.
2. To prepare muffin base: In a large bowl, cream butter and margarine. Beat in egg. Add milk and vanilla. Beat until nearly smooth.
3. In a small bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to milk mixture and stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold berries into batter.
4. Spoon batter into 18 greased or lined muffin cups. Top each with crumb topping and press down lightly. Bake at 400F for 12-15 minutes.

 Note from Stone (the Uploader): Angela is having a rather rough recovery. She appreciates all of your thoughts and prayers.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Delmonico Deviled Chicken: Foods Made for Family and Friends

Today I am having surgery- so I have pre-written all my posts in order to not feel totally out of the blogging world for the next few days. I decided to go with a theme this week: Foods Made for Family and Friends. I didn't intend at first to have a themed week, but it seemed that I had a lot of friends who were either celebrating something or recovering from something last week. It is human nature, I think, to wish to feed people who are experiencing a high or a low or a transition, so I did a lot of baking and slow cooking and roasting. The incredible reward was to be able to spend time with people I love.

I made this chicken for a friend who is recovering from an accident. She is one of the sweetest people I know, and made me feel welcome even from her sick bed.

Delmonico Deviled Chicken from In the Kitchen with AWA
3 lb chicken thighs
1 cup butter, melted
4 tsp mustard
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp white wine
1 tbsp paprika
2 cups bread crumbs

1. Place chicken pieces in baking dish.
2. Combine butter, mustard, salt, wine, and paprika. Pour over chicken. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over all.
3. Bake at 350F for 45 minutes.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Random Recipe Challenge - Oil Pie Crust and Japanese Fruit Pie

I was excited about Dom's challenge (you know Dom, of Belleau Kitchen) to find a random recipe from my favorite cookbook.  I happen to think that my favorite cookbook, In the Kitchen with AWA kicks culinary butt. It is a collection of recipes put together by American ex-pats in Malawi during the late 90's. Those women knew how to cook.

Imagine my complete and utter lack of enthusiasm when my husband (the random recipe flipper) opened the book to a pie crust recipe. Pie crust. Not even a pie. Just the crust. I really, really wished at that moment that Dom was not so strict on the "no bloody cheating" or that I was not a ridiculous goody-two-shoes who would feel bad about bloody cheating.

So, I made the stupid crust. I have tried dozens of recipes from this book. They have all been good. Except this one. Here is my attempt at rolling out the crust. also tasted ridiculously salty. (That might be because the salt in Malawi is not always salty; the recipe may have been adjusted for that.)

Oil Pie Crust from In the Kitchen with AWA
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup milk

1. Sift together flour and salt.
2. Pour oil and milk into a measuring cup but do not stir. Pour into flour mixture all at once and stir with a fork until blended.
3. Divide into 2 balls and roll out on a well-floured board.
4. Bake at 475F until browned.
5. Makes two crusts

What was I supposed to do with this mess? It wouldn't roll out into a crust no matter how I tried. I decided to just press it into the bottom of an 11x9 cake pan and pour filling over it. Thus ends the challenge portion of the recipe. Epic fail. Never make again. Don't know why I bothered typing it up because you shouldn't try it. Seriously, save yourself.

I did go ahead and make a filling, which is not part of the challenge. (What was I supposed to do, bake the crust and eat it plain? Not this crust, for sure.) The pie filling I chose to use was sure to be a success because the contributor was one of my mom's friends - I knew she would not let me down. As I suspected, it was brilliant.

Japanese Fruit Pie from In the Kitchen with AWA
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, well beaten
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 cup chopped dried fruit
2 tbsp vinegar

1. Melt margarine and add sugar and eggs, blended well. Add coconut, nuts, raisins, and vinegar.
2. Pour mixture into 2 unbaked pie shells. Bake at 350F for 40 to 45 minutes.

This is the finished "bar", since I couldn't exactly use my trust traditionally.

Are you ready for your mouth to water? Here is a slice.

It was so good. The texture was that of a traditional pecan or Derby pie, but the fruit and coconut added a richness that reminded me of old fashioned Southern ambrosia. I can imagine that it would be completely sinful if you added a crushed chocolate cookie crust.

My failure, then, was not so bitter since I had pie filling to make me feel better. However, I am hopeful that the next challenge will see me victorious.

I cannot post without adding a word about what is happening in the Horn of Africa. Those of us participating in this challenge are outrageously lucky. We are among the few people in the world who can open a cookbook and find in our cabinets or buy in our stores whatever ingredients we want. There are ten million people in the Horn of Africa who cannot even imagine that. All they want is enough food to keep their children alive another day. If you have even five dollars to donate to the cause, I urge you to do so. There is no good reason for anyone is this world to have to die for lack of something to eat. If you are concerned about where your money is going I can tell you that I lived for years within driving distance of one of the largest refugee camps in the world and, based on that experience, I trust UNHCR, UNICEF, SOS Children's Villages, World Vision International, and The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, among a few others, with my money.

Thank you for your time and better luck for me with the next challenge:)