Russian Tea for Terri

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I was the last person on earth to make the afore-mentioned chili cheese log, but my friend Terri is the last person on earth to make Russian Tea.  She is the very last person including every Russian and every American.  I’m quite sure of it.

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The weather jumped up into the fifties today.  Perfect for a fire in the outdoor fireplace.

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Unfortunately, the fire is mostly smoking and not burning. My wood is too old.  I love my outdoor screened porch but my social life is sadly lacking and I haven’t been out there much lately. I might be turning into a lonely, crazy cat lady.  What are the symptoms?  Is it that I’m growing whiskers and a hairy upper lip. That could be hormones.

But I do have a cat now.

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And I dress my dog in argyle sweaters.

DSCF2502And, if you look back to the second picture, I still have Christmas decorations out. (Although I do think everyone could use a little JOY all year long.)  The evidence is becoming incriminating.  Please save me from a life of solitude and pet obsession.  Come over soon so I can make you a smoky fire and some Russian tea. Enticing, eh?

 

Russian Tea 

2 cups Tang

1 cup instant tea (I use decaffeinated)

1 cup Country Time Lemonade Powder

2 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Sift together all ingredients.  Keep in an airtight container.  To serve, use 2 rounded teaspoonfuls per cup of hot water.  Serve with cinnamon stick, wedge of lemon or orange slice.

 

Let me just taste that for you.

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Chili Cheese Log

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Apparently I am the last person on earth to make this cheese log.  Last week you recall I was going through my old recipe boxes to play Recipe Box Roulette.  While inside those yummy vintage files, I found a recipe for Chili Cheese Log.  I thought I had stumbled upon some rare long-lost recipe from the files of my ancestors.  Not so much…I Googled the recipe only to find 20,000 variations.

I made it anyway even though it isn’t rare or unique. The recipe took me back to a time in the 1950’s whereupon I would meet my hubby at the door in my heels and pearls with a martini and this appetizer cheese platter.

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But wait…I don’t have a hubby. Only a dog. (Where’s my dogtini?)

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Wait again…I don’t drink martinis.  This fantasy is going downhill fast.

 

Chili Cheese Log

1 3-ounce package cream cheese

2 cups shredded sharp American processed cheese (I used Land-o-Lakes)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (or 1/2 small garlic clove)

Dash red pepper

1/4 cup chopped pecans

Sprinkle with:

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon paprika

Soften cheeses to room temperature.  Use a food processor to blend cheese, lemon juice, garlic and red pepper.  Blend in nuts. Shape into a 1 1/2 inch roll.  Sprinkle a mixture of chili powder and paprika until well coated. Add more spices if necessary.  Place log in plastic wrap and chill.  Allow the log to stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.

I honestly didn’t know Land-O-Lakes made something as mundane as American Cheese.  You could substitute Velveeta but it won’t have the sharp taste. Don’t forget to take the paper out.  Olivia can attest to the fact that food is harder to eat when your mother forgets to remove the paper when making a sandwich with sliced cheese for the lunchbox.

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I added some of my homemade organic blackberry jelly to the plate.  I loved the combination with the sharp cheese.  Admittedly not everyone else did but hey, this is my recipe box fantasy and I can mix things up a bit if I want to.

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Chicken Paprikash

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I went to Sam’s Club yesterday and spent a lot of money.  We now have toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates, dish soap, hand soap, moist towelettes, and nothing to eat. Ha! Tell me I’m not the only person who does this!

I did pick up this giant-sized bottle of paprika.  It cost the same as the small one next to it from the grocery store.

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I thought I’d better start learning how to make some Hungarian food to use this giant bottle up.  My internet sources tell me that it loses its flavor in a year.  That’s a lot of goulash by next March.  It is rainy and cold today so a nice plate of Chicken Paprikash hit the spot.

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Chicken Paprikash

2 boneless chicken breasts, cut into pieces

1 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 +2 tablespoons butter, divided

1   14.5-ounce can chicken broth

2 tablespoons or more paprika

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup sour cream

In a large dutch oven, soften the onions and garlic in 1 tablespoon of the butter.  Add the chicken  and brown slightly.  Add the broth and paprika and place the lid on the dutch oven; simmer until chicken is tender, about 30 minutes.  In a small skillet, melt the butter and stir in the flour to make a roux.  Add some of the liquid from the chicken to make a thick sauce.  Add the sour cream.  Place mixture in with the chicken and heat through.  Serve over noodles.

Two tablespoons down, many more to go.

 

 

 

 

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French Hillbilly Heater and Chicken Soup

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After trying the Hillbilly Air Conditioner and not being particularly successful, I was a bit skeptical of this heater find on Pinterest.  I saw a video tutorial with some French artist living in the eaves of a gothic loft heating his studio with only three tea light candles per day.  Could that be possible? Just like Snopes, I’m here to say “Oui, it’s true!”

I was surprised at the amount of heat these little pots put out.  While it certainly wouldn’t heat a house or even a large room, I could see where It would heat a little closed room while I ate my baguette and drank wine and dreamed of Monet.

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The heater was easy to make.  You need 3 tea candles, a small loaf pan, a small clay pot, and a larger clay pot.  I can’t really give you the sizes of the pots because it depends upon the size of your loaf pan.  I took my loaf pan to Michael’s Craft Store and quickly tried the pots out before buying.

Find a spot on your counter away from flammables, children, and pets. Place the three tea candles in the loaf pan and light them.

 

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Put the smaller pot inverted on the loaf pan. Seal the hole in the bottom of the smaller pot. I didn’t get crafty.  I just used the price tag.

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Next, invert the larger pot and place it over the smaller pot.  That’s it.  The air is drawn in under the pots, surrounds the warmer small pot and rises out of the hole in the larger pot.

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If you are still cold, I have another way to warm up. Chicken Soup!  This recipe is from my friend Gina and it is delicious.  We all love it.  In fact, Davis had friends over and as typical with teens they didn’t wake up till noon.  I had made the soup for my lunch but at the same time I was making pancakes for the gentlemen guests.  Davis tasted the soup and ended up eating that for breakfast instead of the the pancakes.

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Cream of Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

6 cups chicken broth

2 chicken breast halves (cooked, boneless and cubed)

1   6-ounce package long grain and wild rice blend, quick cooking version (You will use the seasoning packet.  I used Uncle Ben’s quick cook variety)

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup butter

1 cup diced carrots

1 cup diced celery

1 cup diced onion

3 cups light cream

Open rice, pull out seasoning packet and set aside.  In a small bowl combine pepper and flour, set aside.In a large pot bring broth and chicken to a boil.  Add rice, cover pot and remove from heat. In a medium sauce pan add butter, carrots, celery, and onions.  Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Stir in contents of seasoning packet and continue cooking until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes more.  Add seasoned flour mixture to butter mixture.  Stir to form a roux (paste). Saute roux for 3-5 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste. Whisk in cream a little a time until fully incorporated.  Cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir creamed mixture into broth and rice.  Cook until heated through and  rice is done, about 15-20 minutes.

Here are a couple of tips to make the soup faster.  Cut all of the vegetables ahead of time. and place in a bowl.  Sharpen your knife first!!!! It goes quicker.

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Use the Fast Cook Uncle Ben’s.  Can you tell I’m all about speed today?

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Here’s a bonus photo which has no specific tip.  It just shows the sauteed vegetables with the spice packet added.  Almost done!

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I hope you are keeping warm this winter.  We haven’t really had much of a winter in south Atlanta just enough to make some good soup and relax by a fire….or loaf pan.

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Recipe Box Roulette – Snow Day 2015

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We had a not very snowy snow day today.  I didn’t mind staying home and I certainly applaud our school superintendents in the various counties for trying to avoid another horrible snow jam like last year.  When I have a bit of extra time for leisure cooking, I like to play Old Recipe Box Roulette.  I doubt I originated this activity but I didn’t specifically steal it from someone so I am going to claim the origins of this game until I hear differently.  DSCF2421

I have several old boxes of recipes given to me from my mother and grandmother.  Some recipes are handwritten.  Some are magazine clippings.  Some are food-stained and others look like they never quite made it into the dinner rotation. When I have time, I like to open an old recipe box, close my eyes and pull out a recipe that I have to make.  It doesn’t matter if I think I would like it or not, I have to make it .  That’s the rules.

Today I selected the “Eggless – Milkless – Shorteningless Cake.”  No kidding, that’s the name.  It must be from the sixties because all during the 1970’s the cakes had names like The Robert Redford Cake, Pig Pickin’ Cake, or to be really racy…The Better Than Sex Cake.  Someone was very literal when they named this cake.  Is shorteningless really even a word?

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Eggless – Milkless – Shorteningless Cake

1 cup granulated sugar

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 cup Miracle Whip

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup water

Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl.  Add Miracle Whip, water and vanilla.  Mix until well blended.  Pour into a greased and floured 9 X 13 inch pan.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cake tests done.  Cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

The verdict?  Yes, I would make it again.  It was one of the easiest cakes I have ever made.  It is light and extremely moist.  I might have to transfer that card into my current recipe box.  Maybe I’ll give it a new name.  How about the Brenden Fraser Cake or the Gerard Butler Cake?   Yummy!

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17 Trips Around the Sun

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Happy Birthday Davis!  We started the day with our traditional birthday breakfast before school.  This year Olivia had to Skype into the celebration from Scotland.

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Chupa joined from under the arm

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Davis opened his gifts before school.  You can see the sky starting to lighten.  We had waffles, grits, bacon, and fresh fruit.

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For dinner we went to the City Cafe in Fayetteville.  It is a German restaurant and bakery. I ordered the fried green tomato and steak salad.  It was pretty tasty although the picture makes it look a little strange. It kinda looks like a sock puppet on a bed of lettuce.

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I am supposed to inform you all that my mother’s hair is not really orange, it was the reflection from the lights.

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We came home to have some Cap’n Crunch Cake and birthday candle wishes.

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DSCF2399 (2)   Were you savvy enough to notice that the Cap’n Crunch was only one side of the cake?? I wasn’t too sure about how Davis’ birthday cake request would come out so I kept half of it plain, however it actually did taste quite good with the cereal garnish.

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Hope your wishes come true, Davis!

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The High Museum and Nearly Vegetarian Lasagna

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I was asked to submit a painting to the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.  Hard to believe, I know. I didn’t realize my artistic talents would be in such demand.  Let me take you on the journey that led to my artistic triumph.

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The story begins when I requested a “car” to pick me up at work at 8:30 (and by “car” I mean “The Big Cheese”).

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Mr. Frank was a careful driver navigating through the heaviest of Atlanta traffic. I called dibs on the front row and with my esteemed position as teacher, I was able to sit there without too much of a struggle.  Score!

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By now you might be a little suspicious of my blog entry title.  But wait, I speak the truth…in a roundabout sort of way.

As soon as you get in the museum, look up.  Even the building is a work of art, I think.

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But there were many more exhibits to see than than the atrium. We walked around with our amazing docents while they explained animals in art.  That was our chosen theme for the visit however,  I was able to take a few photos of other pieces as I walked around.

For example, I named this one… Who Took the Last Brownie?

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And….

Where’s my Beau? Get it?  Look again…(she’s got arrows but no bow or beau in spite of her lack of bra.)

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Crystal condiment stand not to be used at Krystal’s.

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Finally, our tour is nearing its end, however we signed up for the bonus class.  Down into the bowels of the museum we went, single file, with eager anticipation.  Apparently, too eager of anticipation.  But this is where the story gets good because now is when I was asked to paint and display my work at the High.

“Uh, Dr. Murphy, your students are talking over at table three will you sit with them?”

Here is my face at this request…

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Oh man! I was just about to make a break for it and sneak over to the gift shop to buy overpriced replicas of artworks on coasters.  Instead, I joined the table of esteemed fourth grade artists and we painted “Bunches of Snakes.” That was the title and pretty much the extent of the instruction.

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And 30 minutes later after utilizing my french fry container of art supplies, my painting was admired throughout the High Museum of Art!

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After that rigorous day of culture, I needed a quick supper.  Creativity can be exhausting.  I made a really wonderful, fast, and nearly vegetarian lasagna.  We are trying to cut back on meat but we are admittedly not quite there.  I guess we are at the point of lessening the meat and increasing the vegetables.  Before this regime, we would have had an all meat lasagna. Today, we had a 1/2 pound of meat and lots of added vegetable lasagna.  It was very good.  Not as heavy or greasy.  Win Win

I bought these instant lasagna noodles at Earth Fare in Athens,GA thinking they would be a waste because most instant pastas are a gummy mess when cooked.  Not so with these.  I had a perfect lasagna prepared, cooked, and on the table in about 45 minutes.  That is the same time I would still be just cooking the traditional noodles and letting them cool.  I didn’t measure much but I will give approximations.  You can’t really mess this up.

Nearly Vegetarian Lasagna

1/2 pound ground beef cooked with onions and garlic, then rinsed and drained

2 small zucchini, chopped

2 small yellow squash, chopped

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 can diced tomatoes

1 small can tomato sauce

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 small carton ricotta cheese

1 egg

1 tablespoon parsley

1/4  cup (or more)  shaved Parmesan cheese,

2 cups mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Soak 3 sheets of instant lasagna noodles in warm water according to package directions.  Mix drained meat, vegetables, tomatoes, tomato sauce and seasonings in a skillet.  Simmer while you mix the ricotta cheese, egg, parsley, and parmesan cheese together.  Drain the noodles. Place a noodle sheet in the bottom of a greased 9X9 dish.  Layer with one third of meat mixture, 1/3 of ricotta cheese mixture and 1/3 of cheese.  Repeat 2 more layers ending with mozzarella cheese.Bake covered at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until bubbly in center.

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I like to rinse the ground beef before adding the vegetables.DSCF2192

You can eyeball the sauce amount.  You may not need the whole can of tomatoes or sauce.  DSCF2193

This is the meat and vegetables with the ricotta cheese mixture on top.  Repeat.DSCF2198

The noodles look like corrugated roofing but they do get tender without getting gummy.DSCF2201

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It was a quick dinner for a Tuesday night.DSCF2206

 

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Sales, Snacks, and Sleep

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I am currently getting ready for a garage sale.  Yes, I know that EVERY time I have ever had a garage sale I say that I AM NEVER DOING ANOTHER ONE!!! Yet here I am knee-deep in discarded household items placing little neon stickers everywhere indicating my exorbitant prices.  50 cents, $1.00 and then a few whopping $3.00 items.  These prices don’t seem outrageous to me however inevitably most people will haggle over every stinking dime.  Makes me beyond crazy. DSCF2176

I made some snacking crackers to fuel the “fun” today.  This is my mom’s recipe. Hope you like it, too.

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Oyster Cracker Snack

1 12-ounce box oyster crackers

1 1/2 sticks butter, melted

1 teaspoon dill weed

1/2 envelope (1 1/2 tablespoons) ranch mix

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Melt butter, add dill weed and pour over crackers. Mix  to coat crackers.  Sprinkle ranch mix over crackers and stir again.  Spread on a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes stirring every 5 minutes.

 

Personal Pet Picture Alert : Daily Dez and Daily Chupa

My helpers pooped out.

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Come buy my junk!!!!!!!!!

 

 

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Still Here

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Yes, I am still around.  I think about the blog a lot and try to decide whether I want to continue.  The answer always comes back to “Yes.”  So, here I am….again.

Not today, but soon I will try to fill in with some photos from the last 5 months.  For now, I will start with my morning and just go from there.

I got caught up in the Pumpkin Shortage of 2013.  Ghastly tales of no pumpkin to be found just in time for Thanksgiving had me rushing to Publix to buy every can in sight.  I think I bought a bazillion cans of pumpkin.  (I date my canned goods with a sharpie so I can eat them before they expire without having to search the can for the date over and over again.)

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Of course the shortage did not occur so I still have a bazillion cans minus the two I used for the last two Thanksgivings to make pumpkin pies.  As you can see from my oh-so-sophisticated dating system, we have some pumpkin eating to do.

This morning I made a double batch of Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins with quadruple topping. Now all of that doesn’t seem very exciting or blogworthy other than the fact that there is a twist to this story.  I did one tiny step wrong and I ended up with Baby Barfing Muffins.

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What was this teeny, tiny mistake?  I melted the butter for the streusel topping instead of using softened butter.  One slight change and I get muffins worthy of a horror movie.  The topping was too heavy and sunk to the bottom of the batter instead of floating daintily on top.  Then, to add insult to injury, I ran out of cupcake papers.  I had to dig deep into the drawer to find these long lost pirate papers and I still didn’t have enough.

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With the rest of the batter I decided to make one big cake layer since I ran out of papers.  Unfortunately, I had the same result with the streusel.

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Big canyons of streusel.

Big enough for British soldiers to patrol the colonies.

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(Excuse my cruddy camera and the color-changing muffins.)

Even though pocked with streusel, the muffins were delicious and I highly recommend you making a batch or two or more if you got caught up in the pumpkin scare, too.

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Yay, breakfast bags for the freezer.

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The moral of this story is to READ YOUR RECIPES CAREFULLY.  The second moral of this story is to STOP BELIEVING THE NEWS.  Next stop on this pumpkin train is pie town.  Stay tuned.

If you don’t like looking at children and animals, you can skip to the end of the post and say howdy and be done.  If you don’t mind a few personal photos then read on.  The reason I am posting animal pictures is because my child is away in the Highlands for a semester abroad.

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Look how homesick she is……

She likes to keep up with the antics of her pooch so here is the Daily Chupa. He is spiky chinned from drinking from is water bowl and of course dripping everywhere.

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And here is the Daily Kitty.  He is calm as always.

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Say hello below and I will be back again soon!

Julie

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Hillbilly Air Conditioner FAIL

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Living in Georgia, I thought I might be the perfect candidate for a Hillbilly Air Conditioner. We proudly live near the famous Honey Boo Boo.

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And are just a stone’s throw away from this exciting outdoor event….

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When I saw a Hillbilly Air Conditioner on Pinterest, I thought to myself…”Hmmm, we sure could use us some cold refreshin’ air when we “set” out on our porch drinking from mason jars and swattin’ at skeeters.”  So, I went to Publix and got a $3 cooler and I went to Ace Hardware and got a $2 pvc pipe.  I already had a fan.

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First, trace and cut a hole in the top for the pipe.

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Next, cut a hole in the back for the fan.

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Add a block of ice previously frozen in an ice cream tub.

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Next, put ear plugs in to shut out the mockery from your family. In case you can’t tell, this is not a ” great job, mom” face.  This is a “you’re crazy, mom” face.

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Last, enjoy the marginally cool breezes from the Hillbilly Air Conditioner.

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All parts proudly made in America! Ain’t that “sumpin”?!

(Okay, here’s the scoop.   I really did think this might be a great way to make a cheap and portable air cooler for the screened porch or for camping.  HOWEVER, it really didn’t cool all that much more than just the plain fan.  Back to the Hillbilly Drawing Board I guess.)

 

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