Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Betty's Frosted Sugar Cookies


These are the most wonderful frosted sugar cookies I have ever had. And believe me, I have tried many many different ones because they are my most favorite cookie ever. The recipe I use is from my dear friend's mom. I have been eating these since high school! That is a really long time! My friend's mom would make them at Christmas time and other special occasions and I loved going to her house when she had made them.
Betty's Frosted Sugar Cookies
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Cream together butter and sugar til light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Stir in vanilla. Stir together dry ingredients; gradually adding to creamed mixture. Chill dough thorough (3-4 hours).
On well floured surface, roll dough 1/8" thick, cut and bake on ungreased cookie sheet in 375 degree oven for 6-8 minutes. Frost with powdered sugar frosting. Betty didn't give me a recipe -- just keep adding a little bit of milk to powdered sugar until it is spreadable consistency. Betty adds 1/2 stick of cream cheese to help with texture (and taste)!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Lox


Wow! Sooooo yummy AND sooooo easy, too!!
Rinse and pat dry the freshest salmon filet (with skin) you can find. Cut in half. (Or if you want A LOT of lox, just get two equally sized filets.) Mix equal parts kosher salt and sugar (try 1/4 cup of each to start) add about 1 tbsp crushed black peppercorns. Spread a very generous amount of the salt/sugar/peppercorn mixture onto one filet. Add very generous amount of fresh dill on top of that and then spread some more salt/sugar/peppercorn mixture over the dill. Lay the second half of the salmon on top (flesh side down) on top of the other. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Place in glass baking dish. Place another heavy glass baking dish on top and weigh it down with anything heavy -- I used a full bottle of vegetable oil and a full jar of vinegar. Place in refrigerator for 48 hours, turning over every 12 hours. After the 48 hours are up, remove the plastic wrap and wipe off all of the dill and salt/sugar/peppercorn mixture with a paper towel. Slice very very thin on a bias (make sure you have a very sharp knife). . . VOILA! Serve with crackers (or bagels, or baguette slices), cream cheese, capers, red onion, etc. Wasn't that easy?! And how much money do you save by making it yourself? Lots.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Cranberry Margaritas

Rod and I made these Thanksgiving day for our guests. They were a big hit!

Makes 4 margaritas:

3/4 cup cranberry juice
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup fresh frozen cranberries
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup tequila (or more or less depending on how strong you want them)
1/4 cup Grand Marnier
ice

Blend all together in blender. Enjoy!

Now we have to come up with a signature cocktail for New Year's Eve as we are hosting a mini McFaddenFest! I'll keep you posted. . .

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Most Amazingly Easy Toffee Recipe

The other day, my good friend, Jennifer, came over and we baked all afternoon. It was so much fun to spend time with her AND make tasty treats at the same time. Our favorite sweet treat we made was the Butter Toffee. I have OD'ed on this for the past two nights. It will be gone before I can even give any away for Christmas treats!

Pasta with Pancetta, Asparagus and Sun Dried Tomatoes

We made this last night. Rod was supposed to be out of town until today, but called me in the afternoon and said he'd be home in a little bit. I was very excited, but started to panic because I hadn't been to the store this week. I had to whip something up for dinner with what we had in the fridge. It just so happened that we had asparagus and bacon. Hmmmm. . . I thought PASTA! Rod surprised me and said he had stopped and got some pancetta. I would've made this with bacon, but pancetta is even better! Perfect.

4 slices of pancetta, cut into cubes
about 1 cup fresh asparagus, sliced into 1 inch slices
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, julienned
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, sliced very thin
1/4 cup white wine (we used pinot grigio)
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp fresh grated parmesan cheese
salt/pepper to taste
4 oz. penne pasta noodles

Get your pot of water for the pasta boiling, because this is really quick dish to cook up. Boil pasta. While pasta is cooking, saute pancetta over medium-high heat until crispy. Drain on paper towel and put aside. Pour off excess fat from pan, keeping about 1 to 2 tsp for sauteeing the rest of the ingredients. Add garlic and shallots to pan, saute until starting to brown. Add asparagus and sun-dried tomatoes and pancetta and salt and pepper. Saute until asparagus until almost to desired doneness. Add white wine and reduce. Add cream and reduce. Remove from heat. Mix in pasta noodles. Serve with grated parmesan cheese. Enjoy!!!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Homemade Baby Food




I have been busy! Fin is now eating solid food, so I got my blender out and have been pureeing and freezing all kinds of veggies and fruits. It is such a great thing to be able to do for my baby. I did this for Max and now am doing it for Fin. Sometimes people ask why I don't just buy baby food because they think it takes so much time to make it. Actually, it takes me less time to make more food than I could buy in the same amount of time. I make my own for three reasons: 1) so I know exactly what is going into his mouth; 2) it is much less expensive; and 3) deciding what to buy at the store makes my head go 'round -- there are way too many choices!
So what I do is cook the vegetable or fruit or meat and then puree it in the blender or food processor. I pour it into ice cube trays and cover it with cellophane wrap and just pop it in the freezer overnight. Then I pop the little cubes out and put them into a ziploc freezer bag and back into the freezer they go. When I am ready to feed him, I get a couple cubes out and thaw them in the microwave. It's as simple as that. In the freezer right now we have pears, butternut squash, yellow squash, green beans and sweet potatoes. I am planning on doing peas, acorn squash, and white beans this afternoon. And if I can get to the store, I'll pick up some chicken breasts and veal to do as well.

I have also made my own oatmeal powder so that it is not too chunky for him. I just put some old fashioned oats in the blender and blend it into a fine powder, then cook it up and let it cool. I usually make enough to last a few days and put it in the fridge and sppon out what I need. I mix this with mashed bananas and yogurt for him for breakfast. He is such a good eater and has not rejected anything yet.

This is a wonderful book and has helped me with learning what foods to make at what stages. It is well-used.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Yummy Soup in the Crockpot

From my good friend, Grayson:

MEXICAN BLACK BEAN, TOMATO, and CORN SOUP
Two 15 oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained
One 4.5 oz can chopped roasted green chiles w/ juice
One can Ro-Tel tomatoes and chiles w/ juice
One 14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes w/ juice
One 11 oz can yellow corn, drained
1/2 small onion, chopped
One teaspoon garlic powder
One teaspoon chili powder
One teaspoon cumin
1/2 cup beef or chicken broth
Toppings:
shredded cheddar cheese
sour cream
corn chips

Add all ingredients (except cheese and sour cream) to crockpot. Stir to mix well, and then taste for salt & pepper. Add salt/pepper till taste is right (I added 1/2 tsp of kosher salt). Then cover and cook on LOW for 6-7 hours. Add more broth to thin out, if needed. Serve in bowls topped with shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream. Serve corn chips on side if desired.
***We made this tonight and it was PERFECT. It has been cold and rainy here and we have all been sick in this house. The last thing I wanted to do was fuss with cooking a meal. The only thing I would've probably changed about this yummy recipe is (per my husband's request) added some shredded pork. We baked some corn bread muffins to go with this and even my 2 year old boy ate it!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I Have Been Tagged!

Tag you are it. (I hope I did this right!)

THE RULES:

*** Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog.

***Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.

*** Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their name as well as links to their blog.

*** Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.




1. I never cared for chocolate until I became pregnant with my second child; now I can't get enough of the stuff.



2. I love reality TV; current favorites being 'The Real Housewives of Atlanta', 'Dr 90210' and 'Dancing with the Stars.'



3. My husband and I were married barefoot on the beach in the British Virgin Islands.


4. I wish I could get a pixie cut, but my hair would stick straight out on all sides.


5. I was born in Japan.


6. I wish I could sew.


7. I need to eat more veggies.


Tagged:

Life Unscripted: http://www.fivestrongs.blogspot.com/
Peace Love and Yoga: http://www.greengirlwannabe.blogspot.com/
Dandelion Dayz: http://www.dandeliondayz.com/
Jason for the Love of God: http://www.jasonfortheloveofgod.blogspot.com/

Stir Fried Ginger Shrimp

I am back! I can't believe it has been two weeks since my last post. I have been super busy, mostly with my two little ones. By the time I have some free time to sit down and blog, I am so exhausted that I just want to be horizontal on the couch watching some mindless reality TV. I have so many things to get on this blog, but let's first start with this shrimp recipe that I made. I found this recipe in the latest Cooking Light magazine. It was so easy and quick. I changed up a couple of things, because that's just what I do. For example, I didn't use celery and instead I added sliced zucchini. I also used 2 tbsp of mirin instead of the 1 tbsp that the recipe calls for. Mirin may be hard for some of you to find. It is a sweet Japanese rice wine. I get it at a very large Asian super market near here.


Stir Fried Ginger Shrimp
Yield
4 servings (serving size: about 1 cup)


Ingredients
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 teaspoon chopped peeled fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
Dash of white pepper
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon mirin (sweet rice wine) --I used 2 tbsp
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon chile paste with garlic (such as sambal oelek)
1 tablespoon canola oil, divided
1 cup thinly vertically sliced onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup diagonally cut celery (I used zucchini)


Preparation
1. Place shrimp in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with ginger, salt, and pepper; toss well. Let stand 5 minutes.
2. Combine 1/2 cup water and next 6 ingredients (through chile paste) in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.
3. Heat 1 teaspoon canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp mixture to pan; stir-fry 2 minutes. Remove shrimp mixture from pan; set aside. Wipe pan dry with a paper towel. Heat remaining 2 teaspoons canola oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; stir-fry 1 minute. Add celery; stir-fry 1 minute. Return shrimp mixture to pan; stir-fry 1 minute or until shrimp are done.
4. Add water mixture to pan. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute or until thick, stirring constantly with a whisk. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information
Calories:
192 (31% from fat)
Fat: 6.7g (sat 0.8g,mono 2.9g,poly 2.3g)
Protein: 23.8g
Carbohydrate: 7.2g
Fiber: 0.8g
Cholesterol: 172mg
Iron: 3mg
Sodium: 594mg
Calcium: 82mg
Charlene Dy, Vancouver, British Columbia, Cooking Light, NOVEMBER 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

Japanese Women Don't Get Old or Fat


This is a wonderful book/cookbook. I have this book and it totally makes sense. See, my mother is Japanese and she has aged beautifully and of course, she can eat whatever she wants and will not gain any weight. Why, then, was I not blessed with these wonderful genes? Because, according to the book, it isn't about having fantastic genes or amazing metabolisms. . . it is all about WHAT you eat and HOW you eat it. Naomi Moriyama, the author, says that when she came to the states as an exchange student during her high school years, she gained a lot of weight. This was because of the American diet, full of fat and much bigger portions than in Japan. When she returned to Japan and went back to eating the Japanese way, the pounds immediately started to melt away.

The book suggests having many small dishes on the table to choose from and having more vegetables than anything else. I remember back to my time living in Japan and this is so true -- Japanese tables are filled with many small dishes and there is always a bowl of rice served as well as a bowl of miso soup. Instead of the American sized dinner plate, the Japanese eat off of a smaller plate, much like our salad plate. And one more thing: they use chopsticks. Try this sometime. You will be amazed at how much less food you eat and still feel satisfied.

My husband and I did this the other night. I made a smaller amount of the main protein dish. In addition, I made miso soup; rice; sauteed zucchini, carrots and shallots; and we had sashimi salmon. We ate on salad plates and just took little bits of each dish onto our plates and got more as we wanted. We had a big bowl of miso soup with tofu bits and a small bowl of rice. We also ate with chopsticks. I was amazed that we didn't even finish the protein dish (Bulgogi -- Korean 'barbecued' beef -- I will post the recipe for the marinade below), which if I would've dished it onto a normal sized dinner plate, we would have finished it all. I'm sure if we ate like this every day for a while, we would get used to it and eat less and perhaps lose some weight!


Bulgogi
4 servings

1 pound beef (we used rib-eye that was very thinly sliced)
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or less if you don't want it spicy)
3 green onions, sliced thinly (including whites)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp canola oil
Mix all ingredients except beef and canola oil. Put into ziplog bag and add beef. Make sure all beef is coated well. Refrigerate for 30+ minutes. Heat canola oil in frypan or wok over medium high heat. Add beef and cook until browned. Serve with rice.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Naunie's Rolls



I got the recipe for these fabulous yeast rolls off of my very dear friend's mom's blog. Check out her website -- she has lots going on. They were so quick and easy and the smell of the yeast baking permeated the entire house. I hope she doesn't mind that I put a link to her blog on my here?? They were just so luscious that I wanted to share!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

PUNKINS!!!




Woohooooo!! Punkins! Punkins! More Punkins!!! Max was so excited he could hardly control himself. Yesterday we drove waaaaay out into the country to a big pumpkin patch to pick out some pumpkins. When we got out of the truck and started walking up to the patch, we ran into a lady carrying three pumpkins in her arms. Max ran straight up to her and screamed, "PUNKINS!" He tried to take one from her, but we assured him that there would be more for him where we were going. The closer we got to the festivities, the stronger the smell of pumpkin something baking. mmmmmm. We could not have asked for a more perfect day and setting -- cool, crisp, sunny fall day with the leaves just starting to turn; pumpkins everywhere; the smell of pumpkin pie (or pumpkin bread?) baking somewhere nearby; and lots and lots of kids running around picking out the perfect pumpkins for their homes.

The smell of the pumpkin spices baking motivated me to once again get my mini pumpkin loaves baking, so as I type this, I am waiting for another batch to finish in the oven. Rod was so sad because he was out of town the last time I baked them and he didn't get any. . . I had ended up giving away three of the four loaves and Max and I inhaled the one that was left before Rod came home. Lucky for him, he is home this time around! And I just thought of another thing I should make for this pumpkin bread -- a yummy spiced cream cheese spread! ooh. Doesn't that sound delicious?

Happy Fall y'all.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Super Yummy Hummus



Dear Megan,

Hey! Have you tried this hummus? Sabra?
It's super yummy -- even my 2 year old loves it. I know you asked for recipes, but I don't think I have any recipes with hummus; or any that I can whip out at the moment. All I know is that this is the best hummus I have ever had; we buy it in bulk at my house. If you haven't already, you must try it. And I'll keep my eyes open for a kick-a hummus recipe for you.

Bye for now,

A

Panang Chicken Curry











So Thai food has to be one of my all time favorite things to cook. I love all the ingredients involved in Thai cooking. . . coconut milk, lemongrass, cilantro, thai basil, garlic, chili paste, fish sauce, etc, etc. Such yummy stuff!


Rod has been out of town but came home last night and so I decided to whip together his favorite -- some Panang Chicken Curry. We usually make this with duck thighs, but we can't really find that up here in here in Cumming, far away from our favorite farmer's market in Decatur.


I'll try to remember what I threw together for this last night:

4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces (or breasts if you prefer)
3 cloves garlic, minced (we LOVE garlic!)
1/2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1/2 can of panang curry paste (can pictured above)
1 can coconut milk
3 tbsp brown sugar (or more or less depending on how sweet you want it)
1 tsp fish sauce (or less or none at all, if you don't like the taste of this)
juice of 1/2 lime
big bunch of fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1 tsp canola oil


Heat oil in medium-sized pan on medium-high heat. Add garlic, ginger and chicken and cook until chicken is browned. Add curry paste, coconut milk, brown sugar and fish sauce. Stir until paste is mixed through. Let simmer for 20 minutes. Turn heat off. Squeeze lime juice in. Serve with rice. (We like Japanese sticky rice cooked in the rice cooker.) Sprinkle cilantro on top. We usually serve this with a big bag of baby spinach sauteed in olive oil with minced fresh garlic. Beware if you don't like spicy -- this has quite the kick to it. If you want to tone it done, try using less curry paste.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

'Ghetti & Meatballs










Last night it was just Max and I again for dinner, since Rod is still out of town. After Fin goes down for the night (which is very very early), I usually get our dinner together. We had Pasta with Marinara Sauce and Meatballs. The pasta noodles I used were the Gemelli noodles, which are now one of my favorites because of their texture -- I like a bite to my pasta. Max calls all pasta, "'Ghetti!"


The other day I tried to bribe Max to eat his dinner with cookies. Not even a nibble, therefore, there were no cookies. He did not like that idea and kept insisting on cookies, but I stayed strong. Last night was a different story. . . he ate his entire bowl of pasta! So, we baked chocolate chip cookies together. I just so happened to have dough already made in the fridge. I love this because you can just bake as many as you want (and don't eat the entire batch) and put the rest back in the fridge. That way, you always have HOT cookies from the oven! One of Max's favorite things to do is watch things cook in the oven. So he says, "I see it." This means, "Mom, turn the light on NOW!"

Monday, October 13, 2008

Mini Pumpkin Loaves with Spiced Glaze



It has been a while since I have baked, and with autumn in the air, I'd thought these pumpkin loaves were most appropriate. They are so easy, so as soon as I put Fin down for his morning nap, I went to work. I love using these aluminum mini loaf tins with lids (which can be found in any supermarket) because they package up so cute for a great gift idea. In fact, I am making a trip into the city tomorrow to see my good friend who just had a baby; she loves all things pumpkin, so she will be getting one of these treats!

Here is the super easy recipe. Let me know how you like it!


For Pumpkin Loaves:

2 cups sugar
1 (16 oz) can pumpkin
2 eggs
½ cup vegetable oil
2 ½ cups flour
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
¾ tsp allspice
½ tsp salt

Combine sugar, pumpkin and eggs until blended. Add oil and beat. Blend in flour, soda, and spices. Pour into 4 greased mini loaf pans. Fill pans ¾ full. Bake in pre-heated 350°F oven for 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted at center of loaf comes out clean. Cool completely before glazing.

For Spiced Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar (plus or minus a few tablespoons)
2 tbsp whole milk
¼ tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 pinch ground ginger
1 pinch ground cloves

Combine ingredients -- it should be a thicker paste -- and drizzle over cooled loaves. A squirt bottle works great for this, or you can simple use a spoon. If you have some left over, keep it in an air tight container in the fridge and use for your next batch of pumpkin loaves!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Welcome to my BLOG!

Hi y'all! I hope you enjoy my blog about cooking and my life. Please come back often and try out my recipes and let me know what you think. Also, please share with me your favorites. Cooking is my passion and has been for as long as I can remember. Food brings people together. Good food makes everyone happy. What's a better way to spend time than cooking a meal together and sitting down with your family and/or friends and sharing it along with some good wine and good conversation? Bon app├ętit!