January 14, 2011

Save Time Make Soup

My New Year's Resolution...to keep my cooking blog better updated. I've never had a problem with this in the past, but between running around after pea pod and starting a new job as an editor for a farm publication - let's just say something has to give.

But, I've finally got life back on track. It took me awhile to get over the new learning curve and balancing my work life and home life. I work at home most days, therefore that has been a struggled trying to know when to step away from the "home office."

Cooking is still my "get away" from life. I'm always amazed how I can come home, layout fresh vegetables, meat and seasonings and life becomes that much easier. Oh, and don't forget the wine! ;)

To help manage our crazy life my wonderful husband has been cooking a little more too (he's a saint...he truly is) and I've been making HUGE batches of soup. Then, I'll freeze the soup in smaller portions and we can pull it out anytime and instant meal!

A new soup I've been working on is my Chicken Corn Chowder. This soup really does the trick on a cold day paired along some toasty french bread. Let me know what you think.

Chicken Corn Chowder
by Lane
2 large chicken breasts, cooked and chopped (season the chicken before cooking)
1 cup of red onion, chopped
6 cups of new potatoes, diced
5 cups water
1 1/2 sticks butter
1 tsp Thyme
Cooked and crumbled slices of bacon
2 cloves garlic
Sprinkles of crushed red pepper
2 cans evaporated milk
2 cans of creamed corn
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot add butter and saute onions and garlic. Do not burn the garlic. Add potatoes and water and cook until the potatoes are tender. Add the rest of the ingredients and reheat to a slight boil and continue cooking for 15 minutes.

November 17, 2010

The Best BOX Cake

Was it really more than a month ago that I updated my blog? Yes, it’s true. We’ve had a lot of changes come about recently in my family and the blog just wasn’t a priority.

A couple of friends emailed me today and asked if, “I was still cooking?” They were being cute of coarse- “Yes, I’m still cooking….all the time!”

Let me explain the delay in my posting on the blog first.
1.) I have a one-year-old! Yes, Caston will turn ONE tomorrow. Wow…that is so hard to say. Can my baby really no longer be a baby?

2.) I have begun making cakes. I finally finished my professional cake classes (2 night classes a week) and started making cakes. It’s been a blast and a ton of work, but it was on my bucket list and I’ve got it knocked out. I promise to post some of my cakes is the future! (PHOTO: One of my first cakes for my mother-in-law)
3.) I went from a part-time working mama to a full-time employee in October! HUGE change for our entire family, including the youngest- Caston. I was working part-time as a writer and marketing consultant (although the last couple months had really became a full-time job). Then, a blessing and dream job popped into my lap! I’m working as an editor for a farm publication and I get to do what I’ve always wanted to- tell the story of agriculture!
So, between all of this….the blog has suffered. I do hope to change that now! So, stay with me all…I promise not to let you down.

From the title of my post, you can tell I’m going to share a great recipe! I’ve been doing some baking to find the best cake mix and I have a winner! Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Cake Mixes- truly the best cake mix I’ve eaten. And, I’ve ate a lot of cake.

My favorite has become the Golden Butter mix. But, I don’t just follow the mix recipe – I add to it. Lots of folks do this…they take a mix and add some things to make it taste homemade! Well, this really does taste homemade- ask anyone that I’ve made cakes for lately.

Here is how I turn a boxed mix into something delectable!
Add to a boxed mix some of the following:
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 box instant pudding
- ½ cup chocolate chips
- Butter instead of oil
- Milk instead of water
- Add vanilla flavoring
- Add extra butter flavoring
- Add other extract flavorings (lemon, mint, orange, almond)Add some spirits to the spice up the flavoring. Rum is always good, but my favorite is Irish cream or amaretto. You will substitute for half of the water called for in the mix.
- Do the same with coffee (strong). Great with chocolate!
- Grate in some citrus peel
By adding some of the above ingredients you can make a boxed cake mix moist and tasty! You will follow the boxed mix instructions, but replace the water and oil with butter and milk and add extra vanilla flavoring (usually about 1 T.).
Or, you can follow the mix recipe and add instant pudding before you add the liquid ingredients. Next, add the liquid ingredients and mix well. When your mix is mixed well and not powdery add sour cream and beat.
That’s all you do! Enjoy and happy baking….

September 27, 2010

Mama's Chocolate Cookies

I'm going to share a HUGE secret today! One that is probably going to be surprising to many, so sit down.

I make chocolate cookies for a lot of picnics and occasions. The cookies are always gone in no time and a lot of friends have asked for the recipe. I say, "it's my little secret."

Well, I'm going to share the secret recipe and it's going to be a shocker to most that have tried these lovely cookies!

It's starts with a chocolate cake mix (YES, really!) I like to use Duncan Hines Moist cakes mixes. There it is, my secret is no more.

Chocolate Cookies from the Heart
by Lane

1 stick of butter
3 T. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 chocolate cake mix

Mix and place on cookie sheet. DO NOT GREASE THE COOKIE SHEET.

Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes.

September 25, 2010

Caston is Walking

I never imagined Caston would be walking already, but the time has come. He took his first real steps on Charlie's birthday- Sept. 16! Then, two days later he turned 10 months old! It was a very special time and I'm so thankful that I was able to watch it all.

Over the past week he has built up momentum, speed and a little grace when walking. It's amazing to imagine how much a baby changes and learns in the first year of life!

Now, he is walking all over the house and refuses to anything but walking. (Have to practice this new cool skill.)

Here is a quick video of him walking...he's already growing up too fast!

Holiday Jalapeno Jelly

I’m already thinking about Christmas around our house- where to put up all the Christmas trees in our new house, can I even have all my trees out with a 1 year old running around, Christmas shopping for family and making homemade gifts!

One special homemade gift my mother and I also enjoy making together is Jalapeno Jelly. We always have plenty of Jalapenos from the garden and it seems like we always have to find something to do with them.

Making jelly isn’t as difficult as most believe- it’s actually quite simple. Just be sure and wear gloves when preparing the peppers so your hands aren’t burning for a week.

This jelly makes a perfect holiday gift for neighbors and friends. Serve this jelly with a cream cheese topped cracker for your holiday gatherings!

>Jalapeno Jelly
Yields: about 5 half pints
from mom

¾ lb jalapeno peppers (or more if you want more heat)
2 pouches liquid pectin
2 c. cider vinegar (divided)
6 c. sugar
Green or red food coloring

Wash peppers; drain. Remove stems and seeds. Puree peppers and 1 c. vinegar and sugar in a large pot. Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Stir constantly.

Stir in liquid pectin and return to a rolling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute, while continuing to stir.

Remove from heat and skim foam if necessary. Stir in a few drops of food coloring of choice. Ladle hot jelly into jars in a boiling water canner.

NOTE: When cutting and seeding the peppers, wear rubber gloves to prevent hands from being burned.

Don't know how to can? Don't worry, I've got you covered! Check out the University fo Missouri Extension website for info on how to can.

September 11, 2010

Lemon Meringue Pie

Looks pretty delectable doesn't it...and it is! This Lemon Meringue Pie comes from Marty Uhlmann in Dora, she's quite the pie maker!

Any dessert with lemon is blue ribbon in my book! For those of you who aren't a lemon fan- not to worry this pie doesn't have that traditional tart lemon flavor. It's smooth, creamy and the meringue is light and fluffy.

Lemon Meringue Pie
Jello Cook & Serve Lemon Pudding Mix
Heat 2 cups water in medium pan
In a bowl mix pudding mix, 1/2 cup sugar plus 2 Tbsp.
Add 1/4 cup water
Grate lemon rind from half of a lemon
Add 2 Tbsp. of lemon juice
Add 3 egg yolks, stir well & add to hot water. Cook until thick. Add 2 Tbsp. butter. Cool and put in a baked 9" pie crust. Top with meringue.

3 egg whites
1/4 tsp. cream of tarter
dash of salt
Beat until foamy.
Add 1/3 cup sugar, 2Tbsp. at a time, & continue beating until stiff peaks
form. Bake 10-15 min. or until lightly browned at 350 degrees.

Pie Crust
4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/3 cups shortening (I use Crisco & vegetable shortening)
Blend with pastry cutter until well mixed.

In a cup beat 1 egg.
Add 2 tsp. sugar and 2 Tbsp. vinegar.
Add enough water to make 1/2 cup.
Stir into dry mixture & knead until smooth. Roll thin & place in 9" pie pans.

This recipe will make about 3 crusts.

September 9, 2010

Homemade Pizza Pie

Around our house just about everything is homemade- pie crusts and fillings, mac n' cheese, baby food, lemonade- even the pizza!

I was on a recent visit in Dora for an upcoming cooking article when I tasted the very best homemade pizza crust from Marty Uhlmann.
Marty is a family friend that I remember as I child as making the best pies! My parents and the Uhlmann family would have club every Saturday with other farm families, where the men would talk politics and the women would bring some of the best homemade country fixins' and us kids would play in the hay barn or the creek. Good memories....

I interviewed Marty for the article and she had prepared three recipes- pizza, Lemon Meringue Pie and a Custard Pie. (Which I had a piece of each- you know me- I never turn down good food!)

The pizza crust taste like homemade rolls-it's amazing and fairly easy.

During the interview I recall Marty stating: "Back then we didn't go to the store to get a pizza- we made it!" I laughed, it's funny how things change. But, around our house we still do it the old-fashioned way I guess. (Wouldn't have it any other way either.)

Enjoy this pizza and let me know how you like it. This recipe will make two pizzas- we freeze the other one, so there is always one on hand, then there's no need to go to the store.

by Marty Uhlmann
Makes two crusts and two toppings

1 pkg. yeast
2 Cups lukewarm water
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
7 Cups flour
1/4 Cup salad oil

Dissolve yeast in water and mix. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix. Dough will be dry. Set in a warm spot and cover with a towel. Let the dough double in size. Meanwhile- make the topping.

Pan fry the following ingredients:
1 lb. hamburger
1 lb. sausage
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 cups tomato paste
2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 lb. grated cheese (1/2 mozzarella, 1/2 cheddar)

Place ingredients in large skillet (we use a cast iron skillet) and cook.

Punch dough down, split into two doughs and turn out on floured counter and roll the dough thin. (Remember this dough and topping will make two large pizzas.)

After rolling dough out, place in pizza pan and fold crust over and pinch to seal. Cover with towel and let it rest for 10 minutes. Add skillet mixture then add any of the following ingredients: olives, mushrooms, green peppers, pepperoni, smoked wieners and cover with cheese.

Bake at 425 degrees until crust is brown, approximately 25 min.