Tuesday, August 27, 2013

♥ My Mom's Recipe Cards

 I missed you all yesterday...I had my typical cooking marathon over the weekend and couldn't wait to share the photos with you yesterday but I couldn't keep a connection long enough to do that. So I will share today and throughout this coming week and hope you love all the things I made. Many of them came from my Mom's little recipe boxes which are so precious to me.

I look through those little cards and almost every single one has a heart drawn on it or a little loving phrase or an "I love you" written on the back. It's as if she knew that one day I would still need to see those words when I didn't have her here to say them anymore. Mixed throughout the recipe cards are little notes to herself about what she wanted to teach me next. She so loved raising me...I was her last and she loved teaching me to cook and to garden and she especially loved teaching me about life. Her mission was to raise a daughter who valued every minute of her life and shared as much love as she could with the world. I hope I am making her proud.

My Mom loved me with all her heart. Never in my lifetime will I find a love so profoundly deep. I cannot remember a moment in my life, before she left, that I didn't feel loved by her. It was a deep unconditional love that we shared with each other and I have never recovered from the loss. Oh, I know she is still here. I am sure of it....there are times that I get a strong whiff of her perfume out of nowhere....call me crazy if you will....but it is there and others have been here when it comes. There is no source from where it comes and no explanation....but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt it is my Mom that has come to say she loves me and that I am not alone. Sorry for all the melancholy this morning...just missing her today a little more than usual for some reason. 

©Welcome Home


♥ Sausage Gravy and Buttermilk Biscuits


I can remember my Mom making gravy and biscuits for me when I was little and right on up until I was grown and would come over to have breakfast with her. This has always been a favorite meal for me any time of the day! As a matter of fact I think this might be lunch today! Click on photo for drool mode! Look at the texture of those biscuits!

Sausage Gravy and Buttermilk Biscuits

One 12-ounce tube bulk pork sausage (I like Jimmy Dean)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups half and half (half milk/ half cream)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage, break it up with a wooden spoon, and cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned and cooked through, about 7 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a bowl, leaving the rendered fat in the skillet. Whisk the flour into the fat and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. While whisking, pour the half and half into the skillet and bring the gravy to a boil. You can use whole milk if you do not have half and half. Lower the heat and simmer gently for 2 minutes. Stir in the sausage and season with pepper. Split the biscuits in half and divide them among plates. Top each biscuit with some of the gravy and serve immediately.

Buttermilk Biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, very cold from the freezer
1 cup cold buttermilk

Preheat your oven to 450. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, or in the bowl of a food processor. Cut the butter into chunks and cut into the flour until it resembles course meal. Add the buttermilk and mix just until combined. At this point if it appears on the dry side, add a bit more buttermilk. It should be very wet.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board. Gently, gently PAT (do NOT roll with a rolling pin) the dough out until it's about 1/2" thick. Fold the dough about 5 times, gently press the dough down to a 1 inch thick. Use a round cutter to cut into rounds.

Place the biscuits on a cookie sheet touching each other. Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until they are a beautiful light golden brown on top and bottom. Do not over bake.

Hints: You want your ingredients to stay cold so you want to handle it as little as possible or you will have tough biscuits. So work quickly. If you use a food processor the ingredients stay colder and there's less chance of over mixing. You also must pat the dough out with your hands, lightly. Don't roll these with a rolling pin or you will have tough biscuits.

You can also make them up and freeze them on a cookie sheet. Once they are frozen, drop them into a ziploc bag or container for up to one month. Then just bake frozen biscuits as you need them in the oven at 450 degrees for 20 minutes.

Photograph is the property ©Welcome Home 

Air Tight Plate Toppers

One of my new kitchen gadgets that I just love. These are Air Fresh Plate Toppers with a wide silicon edge that transforms your dinner plates into airtight food storage containers! And they stick like glue. You can't break the seal or pul...l it off without pulling the tab!

I used to fight with plastic wrap and zip lock bags and trying to find separate containers for each food I wanted to store. Now I simply make up my plate, place a plate topper on it and store it in the fridge. And they are stack-able so they take up very little room. When I'm ready to heat up the plate I just pop it in the microwave and the cover acts as my splatter guard. It's also a great way to keep a meal warm while waiting for that family member. When your food is ready to serve, lift the handy pull-tab to release the airtight seal. Love them! They come in a set of two in red, blue, green or yellow. Click on the link below to see more information.

And as usual, when you purchase anything through Welcome Home, proceeds go to The NO KILL Advocacy group to save the lives of dogs and cats that are killed unnecessarily while waiting for their forever homes. The link below will take you to them and you will notice the Welchome08 in that link to let Amazon know you are a friend of Welcome Home.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006ZPTRPS/ref=as_li_ss_sm_fb_us_asin_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=213733&creative=399837&creativeASIN=B006ZPTRPS&linkCode=shr&tag=welchome08-20&qid=1377534084&sr=8-1-fkmr3&keywords=air+fresh+plate+topper

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Homemade Potato and Cheese Pierogis


 
 Homemade Potato and Cheese Pierogis

 Dough:

2 cups flour
1/2 cup warm milk
1/2 cup potato, well mashed
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Filling:

1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup butter
2 -3 cooked russet potatoes, mashed
1 cup grated mild white cheddar

Cook potatoes until fork tender and drain well. Put potatoes back in warm pot to dry. Using a hand mixer, whip potatoes until fluffy and add salt and pepper to taste.

Saute onion in butter until tender and translucent. Mix with potatoes, and add cheese while the mixture is still hot. Let filling cool before using (place in fridge.)

Dough

Mix dough ingredients together. You may have to add a little more liquid or a little more flour to make the dough soft and somewhat sticky. Turn onto a floured surface and knead more flour into dough- just enough to make it easier to handle. The dough will be slightly sticky. Do not over-knead. Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover and let rest for rest for 30 minutes.

Once filling has cooled enough to handle, roll mixture into balls the size of a walnut (about 1 tablespoon) and set aside.

Next roll your dough out on a flour surface to 1/8th inch thick. You may need more flour as you roll. Cut out circles approximately 3 inches in diameter. I use a wide glass for this. Now place your filling balls into the center of the dough circles. Fold dough over ball, and pinch edges to form a half circle. Smear a little water on the filling of the dough at the edges, and keep your fingers floured when you pinch (on the non-filling side.) In order to prevent pierogies from drying out, keep finished pierogies on a floured surface, and cover with a floured clean dishcloth.

Fill a large pot with water and bring to full rolling boil. Place several pierogies in boiling water. Stir once, gently with a slotted spoon. Pierogies are done when they float for a minute (this will take 2-3 minutes). Drain pierogies with a slotted spoon and place in bowl.

In skillet, melt about 1/4 cup butter. Fry pierogies on low to medium heat until lightly browned on both sides. Keep heat low as Pierogies will get tough if cooked on high heat. Serve with sour cream.

Photography property of ©Welcome Home


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

♥ Potato Latkes

 
Potato Latkes

1 package Shredded Hash Browns
2 eggs
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup finely chopped green onion...
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

In large bowl stir together Potatoes, eggs, flour, green onion, pepper, salt, and baking powder. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat.

Cook 4 latkes at a time: spread 1/4 cup potato mixture for each latke into 3 1/2-inch circles in skillet. Cook 4 to 5 minutes, turning once. Repeat with remaining potato mixture and add oil to skillet as needed. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

Recipe adapted from
http://www.simplypotatoes.com/recipes/potato-latkes-recipe/0117a

♥ Stained Glass Fireplace Screen

Isn't this pretty? I love homey things...you know those things that make a place feel like home. I love scented candles and homemade wreaths for my door, and all those things that say welcome to my home.

Last year I treated myself to thi...s stain glass fireplace screen that I found at online store for a great price. Now I see them at Amazon.com for a lot less than what I paid for it. The workmanship on this folding screen is so incredible and it looks like a fine work of art. It's so pretty just sitting here, but when you light the fire, it comes alive as it creates a prism effect all around the room when the lights are dim.

I just love it and thought I would share it with you. If you're interested you can buy it by clicking on the link.....

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002YAP0F4/ref=as_li_ss_sm_fb_us_asin_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=213733&creative=399837&creativeASIN=B002YAP0F4&linkCode=shr&tag=welchome08-20&qid=1376780702&sr=8-2&keywords=stained+glass+fireplace+screen

♥ Fried Bologna Sandwiches ("Baloney Samiches")

























Okay...I am going to dig down to my southern roots today and pull out a sandwich that my Mom used to make for me when I was growing up. I still love them today and I think of her every time I make a fried Bologna sandwich. Oh who am I tryin...g to impress? Make that a fried "Baloney Samich". We didn't eat cold baloney when I was growing up anymore than we would eat cold uncooked hot dogs. My Mom fried our baloney samiches and our hot dogs!

If you've never had one fried you don't know what you're missing! Fry it up crisp and slap it on white bread with a little mayo and you'll never eat a cold one again! Am I right my Southern friends?


Fried "Baloney Samiches"

Three slices of your favorite Bologna
Good quality mayo (I use Helmans)
1 tablespoon of butter
fresh white bread
Optional: Tomato, cheese, lettuce or whatever you want.

Slice the baloney along the edges so it will lay flat. If you don't it will puff up in the middle and the center will not get brown. Melt butter in skillet and fry Baloney over medium high heat until brown and crispy on the edges. Serve on white bread with a little mayo and what ever toppings you choose. Oh Yum!

Photography property of ©Welcome Home




♥ Bacon Lettuce Tomato Sandwich
























We're talking about sandwiches today at Welcome Home....who doesn't love a BLT? Thick sliced bacon baked in the oven, crisp iceburg lettuce, and a big ripe tomato on white bread slathered with good mayo. I just made this one. The bacon was ...still sizzling when I snapped the picture!

Bacon Lettuce Tomato Sandwich

3 slices thick bacon (I love pepper bacon too!)
mayo (I like Helmans Real Mayo)
iceburg lettuce
Slice of ripe tomato

Assemble bacon on rack over foil lined baking sheet bake in oven at 350 degrees until crisp. Bacon will not shrink this way and no need to drain on paper towels. Assemble sandwich with mayo, lettuce leaves and tomato. Top with bacon. Yum!

Photography Property of ©Welcome Home


♥ Hot Dog Crescent Rolls

Sometimes you just feel like a hot dog and not just any hot dog. I like to dress mine up from time to time. I love how this dough puffs up around a Nathans hot dog all smothered in cheese. Dip them in honey mustard for a real treat.

Hot Dog Crescent Rolls

2 hot dogs
2 slices Colby Jack cheese cut into thirds (or your favorite)
1 can (8 oz) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Separate dough into triangles. Lay hot dog on narrow end and start to roll. Stop and lay one piece of cheese on dough under hotdog. Continue to roll and lay another piece of cheese as you continue to roll hot dog to the end of the dough. Place seam side up on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 12-15 mintues until golden brown.

Photography property of ©Welcome Home

♥ Roast Chicken Legs with Lemon Butter



One of my favorite dinners to make because it is so simple and so good. This is a great recipe for roast chicken as you can taste just a touch of lemon. My Dad says I made the creamiest mashed potatoes and fresh peas are always a great side.... Doesn't this just spell comfort food?

Roast Chicken Legs with Lemon Butter

 6 whole Chicken legs and thighs, 
 rinsed And Patted Dry.
 3/4 cups Butter, Softened
  3 whole Lemons
  4 sprigs Rosemary
Salt And Pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Zest two of the lemons. Strip the leaves off of one of the rosemary sprigs and chop it up finely. In a bowl, combine softened butter, lemon zest, rosemary, and salt and pepper to taste. Line a baking sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil and lay the patted-dry chicken on the foil, breast side up.

Use your fingers to smear the butter mixture all over the chicken, under the skin, and inside the cavity. Cut the lemons in half and squeeze the juice of one lemon all over the chicken. Place the six lemon halves (if they'll fit!) and the three remaining rosemary leaves into the cavity of the bird. Place the chicken into the oven and roast it for 1 hour, 15 minutes or until done. Skin should be deep golden brown and juices should be sizzling.
__________________________________________

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

2 lb Yukon gold or russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup of butter
½ cup evaporated milk (more or less as needed)
Salt and pepper

In a large pot, bring 8 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of salt to a boil. Add potatoes and cook uncovered for 20-25 minutes, until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork. Drain potatoes very well in a colander and transfer them back to the pot which will dry them out a little more. Add butter and milk and whip at medium low speed with a hand mixer until smooth and creamy. Feel free to add more butter and milk a little at a time to get the consistency you want. Season with salt and pepper while mixing.
______________________________________________

Chicken Gravy

2 cups of drippings from roast chicken
1/2 cup cold water
1 tablespoon corn starch (or more as needed)
salt and pepper to taste

In the bottom of the baking dish after roasting the chicken in the oven. Pour the drippings into a large sauce pan. If there is lots of fat skim some of it off. Heat the drippings up, over medium- heat and bring it to a boil.

In another bowl add 1 tablespoon corn starch to 1/2 cup of cold water. Mix till all the lumps are out of the corn starch and it is well mixed… then you can slowly add it your chicken drippings. Whisk the whole time, to prevent lumps. Stir at a full boil for 1 minute, then turn heat off and let stand for 1 minute. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve over chicken and mashed potatoes.

If you like your gravy a little thicker add a little more corn starch to your “corn starch water mixture”

Photography ©Welcome Home
Chicken Recipe Adapted from Pioneer Woman

♥ Caprese Pasta Salad (Orecchiette Pasta with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Mozzarella)

Yesterday while shopping at a local grocery store (Wegmans), I watched a simple demonstration on how to prepare this pasta dish. So I came home and made it myself. It's made up of only three ingredients but out of this world good! Sort of ...like a Caprese Salad but even more delicious. You've gotta try this one!

Caprese Pasta Salad (Orecchiette Pasta with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Mozzarella)

1 bag orecchiette pasta (also called little ears)
1 container roasted sun dried tomatoes in olive oil
1 container of FRESH pea-size mozzarella balls
Optional: parsley or chopped basil for garnish

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally

Cook pasta until tender. When pasta is done drain well and set aside to cool. Once the pasta is cool, stir in the roasted sun dried tomatoes along with all the oil that is in the container they come in and toss. Add mozzarella balls and toss again. Enjoy!

Photography ©Welcome Home

♥ Roast Chicken with Lemon Butter

























One of my favorite dinners to make because it is so simple and so good. This is a great recipe for roast chicken as you can taste just a touch of lemon. My Dad says I made the creamiest mashed potatoes and fresh peas are always a great si...de. Doesn't this just spell comfort food?

Roast Chicken with Lemon Butter

1 whole Chicken, Rinsed & Patted Dry
3/4 cups Butter, Softened
3 whole Lemons
4 sprigs Rosemary
Salt And Pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Zest two of the lemons. Strip the leaves off of one of the rosemary sprigs and chop it up finely. In a bowl, combine softened butter, lemon zest, rosemary, and salt and pepper to taste. Line a baking sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil and lay the patted-dry chicken on the foil, breast side up.

Use your fingers to smear the butter mixture all over the chicken, under the skin, and inside the cavity. Cut the lemons in half and squeeze the juice of one lemon all over the chicken. Place the six lemon halves (if they'll fit!) and the three remaining rosemary leaves into the cavity of the bird. Place the chicken into the oven and roast it for 1 hour, 15 minutes or until done. Skin should be deep golden brown and juices should be sizzling.
__________________________________________

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

2 lb Yukon gold or russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup of butter
½ cup evaporated milk (more or less as needed)
Salt and pepper

In a large pot, bring 8 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of salt to a boil. Add potatoes and cook uncovered for 20-25 minutes, until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork. Drain potatoes very well in a colander and transfer them back to the pot which will dry them out a little more. Add butter and milk and whip at medium low speed with a hand mixer until smooth and creamy. Feel free to add more butter and milk a little at a time to get the consistency you want. Season with salt and pepper while mixing.
______________________________________________

Chicken Gravy

2 cups of drippings from roast chicken
1/2 cup cold water
1 tablespoon corn starch (or more as needed)
salt and pepper to taste

In the bottom of the baking dish after roasting the chicken in the oven. Pour the drippings into a large sauce pan. If there is lots of fat skim some of it off. Heat the drippings up, over medium- heat and bring it to a boil.

In another bowl add 1 tablespoon corn starch to 1/2 cup of cold water. Mix till all the lumps are out of the corn starch and it is well mixed… then you can slowly add it your chicken drippings. Whisk the whole time, to prevent lumps. Stir at a full boil for 1 minute, then turn heat off and let stand for 1 minute. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve over chicken and mashed potatoes.

If you like your gravy a little thicker add a little more corn starch to your “corn starch water mixture”

Photography ©Welcome Home

♥ Progressive Collapsible Cake Carrier

I love this food carrier....I am always baking cupcakes, pies and layer cakes and even deviled eggs to take to parties and cookouts. I could never find a carrier that would work for me. If I baked a three layer cake the frosting would alway...s touch the top. Cupcakes and deviled eggs would slide everywhere. But this past week I ordered this carrier and I love it.

It is collapsible so I can make it tall for cakes or short for pies and deviled eggs! I can even fit a tall 5 layer cake in it and it holds up 12-24 cupcakes. And the best part...I can collapse it and store it flat in my cabinet!

Thought I would share my find with you today.....here's the link if you're interested. Remember, anything you buy through Welcome Home supports the NO KILL Advocacy Group to save the lives of dogs and cats who are killed unnecessarily while they wait for their forever homes. So any purchase through my page goes to support a good cause.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00AZSCTMO/ref=as_li_ss_sm_fb_us_asin_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=213733&creative=399837&creativeASIN=B00AZSCTMO&linkCode=shr&tag=welchome08-20&qid=1376943980&sr=8-1&keywords=progressive++cupcake+and+cake+carrier

Thursday, August 15, 2013

♥ Humming Bird Cake

Humming Bird Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar...
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained
1 cup chopped pecans
2 cups chopped bananas

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 (16-ounce) package powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup pecans

Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla.

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; add eggs and oil, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened. (Do not beat.) Stir in vanilla, pineapple, 1 cup pecans, and bananas.

Pour batter into two greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.

Spread Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake; sprinkle 1/2 cup chopped pecans on top. Store in refrigerator.

http://www.mandyeats.com/?p=1580

♥ Chocolate Covered Bananas

What a treat! I love chocolate covered bananas...especially frozen! Try these for a refreshing treat....easy to make too!

Chocolate Covered Bananas

5 bananas, very ripe
5 popsicle sticks ...
3 cups chopped chocolate
3 tablespoons butter, cut up

Make sure your bananas are very ripe so they will be sweet and soft but not past the ripe stage where the peel has turned to brown. Peel bananas and place on sticks. Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper or parchment paper. Place bananas on the cookie sheet in the freezer for at least 10 minutes or longer. Heat chocolate with butter in a double boiler over low heat until the chocolate melts and butter is incorporated. Dip the chilled bananas in chocolate and roll with your favorite topping. Chill or freeze until ready to serve.

Toppings:

Chopped nuts
Coconut
Cookie crumbles
Colored sprinkles or chocolate jimmies
Mini chocolate chips
White chocolate drizzle

Photography ©Welcome Home

♥ Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

























 I don't think there is a prettier cupcake than a red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting. Who says you have to wait until Christmas or the Valentines day to make them...they are good all year round and I made these just for you! 

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
 

  
For the Cupcakes

1 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoons regular or Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cups granulated white sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon liquid red food coloring
1/2 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 12 muffin tins with cupcake liners. I use red ones. In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder.              

In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until soft (about 1-2 minutes). Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Add the egg and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.

In a measuring cup whisk the buttermilk with the red food coloring. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk to the butter mixture, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour. In a small cup combine the vinegar and baking soda. Allow the mixture to fizz and then quickly fold into the cake batter.

Working quickly, divide the batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups and smooth the tops with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcakes comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes and them remove from pan. Let cool completely before frosting. 


























For the Cream Cheese Frosting  
                                               

16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered confectioners sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup heavy whipping cream, cold

Beat the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla until smooth and fluffy. Using the whisk attachment, gradually add the heavy cream and whip until the frosting is thick enough to pipe. Add more sugar or cream as needed to get the right consistency.

Either spread the frosting with a knife or offset spatula, or use a large star-tip to pipe the frosting as I did. Garnish with red sprinkles, or red sugar or do what I did and use red cake crumbs.

♥ A Gift of 86,400 Seconds.

I asked God what he would have wanted me to learn by now and God replied.....

"I would have wanted you to learn that each day of your life I give you a gift of 86,400 seconds. I would like you to use   just one to say, thank you."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
From my book, Life's Lessons: What God Would Have Wanted Me To Know By Now. 
Available at: http://store.blurb.com/ebooks/195682-life-s-lessons

Photography from my garden....©Welcome Home

♥ Blueberry Lemon Streusel Coffee Cake

BlueBlueberry Lemon Streusel Coffee Cake

Crumb topping

1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar...
1/8 teaspoon salt
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup ( 1/2 stick) butter, cubed, at room temperature

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest. Add the butter, using a fork or your
 fingers to cut in the butter until
it is reduced to the size of peas. Loosely cover the bowl, and place it in the freezer while you mix the cake batter.

Cake

6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup plus 1/3 cup sugar, divided
Zest of 1 large lemon
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen, divided
Crumb topping, chilled
Juice of 2 lemons (about 6 tablespoons)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch square baking pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg.

In the bowl, using a mixer, cream together the butter, three-fourths cup sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Stir the flour mixture into the bowl, a third at a time, alternating with the buttermilk, until both the flour mixture and buttermilk are evenly incorporated into the batter. Gently fold 1 cup of the blueberries into the batter.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan and distribute the remaining blueberries evenly over the top of the batter. Remove the crumb topping from the freezer and sprinkle it over the berries. Bake the cake until it is lightly golden and firm on top, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through for even baking. 

Lemon Glaze                                                                               


In a small saucepan, combine the remaining one-third cup sugar with the lemon juice and whisk until blended. Heat the pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid thickens to a syrupy consistency, 6 to 8 minutes. (The glaze will bubble while cooking and may need to be removed from the heat to check that it is the proper consistency.) Remove from heat and set aside in a warm place.

Remove the cake from the oven and drizzle the warm glaze over the entire cake. Cool to room temperature. The cake will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days, covered in plastic wrap.

Photography ©Welcome Home

♥ Mom's Southern Coconut Cake

















My Mom's favorite cake was a coconut cake. She taught me how to make it when I was young and I never missed a year that I did not make it for her on her birthday. It is now my favorite cake to make and always a success! People love my Sout...hern Coconut Cake. I just made it this past weekend for all of you.....


Mom's Southern Coconut Cake 

1 and 1/2 (3 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
5 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
4 ounces sweetened shredded coconut

Buttercream Frosting:

16 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 box confectioners’ sugar, sifted
6 ounces sweetened shredded coconut for for topping

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans and line each with parchment paper. Grease paper and dust with flour.

Mix butter and sugar on medium-high speed of an electric mixer until light and fluffy (about 3-5 minutes). Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add extracts and mix. The mixture will look a bit lumpy.

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Turn the mixer on low speed and add dry ingredients, alternating with milk, in three parts. Mix just until combined. Fold in coconut.

Pour batter evenly into prepared pans. Smooth the tops of each. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until tops are browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 30 minutes. Then, remove from pans to finish cooling on wire racks.

Frosting:

Using an electric mixer on low speed, combine cream cheese, butter, and extracts. Add confectioners’ sugar and mix just until smooth.

Spread frosting on first layer. Place the second layer on top and frost the top and sides. Sprinkle top and sides with coconut.

Photography ©Welcome Home

Thursday, August 8, 2013

♥ Welcome Home Casey

           Casey
 
Hello everyone...meet Casey. He was supposed to die today. But his hopes and dreams of finding a new friend came true this afternoon. I believe every living thing comes into our lives or crosses our path for a reason and it is so well plan...ned in advance. Here is Casey's story.

On the first day of every month for the last year, I have been driving about 40 miles up North to the No Kill Advocacy Group to drop off these big 50 pound bags of dog and cat food along with a check for any of the proceeds that come in from the sale of my books. But I have been feeling a little under the weather for the past few days so I decided to wait until I felt a little better and had more energy to lift all those heavy bags.

Today my brother stopped by to ask if I needed anything while he was out shopping. I told him that it would be most appreciated if he could load those big bags of food and take them to the shelter for me. He said he was going right by there and wouldn't mind doing that for me at all. So he loaded up the bags and I handed him a check for the proceeds from the sale of my new cookbook, made out to them.

These are such good people who are so dedicated to saving the lives of dogs and cats who are put to death while waiting for a friend to come find them. They appreciate whatever you can do to help and so I am always happy to do whatever I can. I was especially eager to present them with this big donation as I had never donated that much before. Those of you who bought my new cookbook made that happen. I usually say hello, hand them the food and the check and stay and chat about all the good things they have done. I never go back to the kennels where the dogs are waiting because I can no longer bear to see them or hear them cry. I always feel happy when I am there and sad when I leave.

I went on about my day and then a few hours later there was a knock at my door. It was my brother who had come to introduce me to his new life long friend Casey. You see the SPCA had picked up Casey after someone spotted him on a 5 lane highway dodging cars. He was scared and hungry and lost. His fur was long and dirty and so matted that he couldn't see. So they cornered him and put him in a cage to transport him back to the kill shelter.

No one claimed Casey. It had been 150 hours and today was the day that his time at the kill shelter was over and his life would end. But that wouldn't be. Because today also just so happened to be that day each month that the NO KILL group goes to the SPCA and rescues dogs that are no longer welcomed there....like Casey. He was the only one scheduled to die today and so they took him back to their facility and gave him a bath and a haircut and all his vaccinations. They checked him out and gave him a clean bill of health and started calling around to find him a foster home.

So in walks my brother....he told them he was there to drop off a check and some food for the dogs and cats. They told him to have a seat and someone would be out to help him unload the bags. He said he heard one of the volunteers on the phone talking about this little dog named Casey and how badly he needed a home. He said he listened for a few seconds and then this overwhelming feeling came over him that said, "stand up and go over to the counter and ask if you can adopt the dog."

He said he began to argue with himself that he already had a dog that he had adopted three years earlier and that he didn't need another one. But he said the conviction was strong and didn't leave. He began to fight with himself and had this hilarious internal dialogue that kept going back and forth. "I don't have the time for two dogs." "Dogs are expensive." "Dogs demand far to much time and energy and I have more than I can handle with one dog."

He stood up and heard himself say, "where is this little dog Casey?" "How long is the adoption process?" "I'm in a hurry but maybe if it wouldn't take too long, I might consider adopting another dog."

They brought Casey out on a leash and he took one look at my brother and broke free to run to him as if he had known him forever. He looked up at my brother as if to say, "where you been?" "What took you so long?" And it was love at first sight. They were meant to be.

My brother brought him straight to my house to tell me what he had done and to introduce me to his new friend. Later he called to tell me that when he carried Casey into his house to introduce him to his other dog, it was an instant friendship and they have played all afternoon until they were exhausted and both snuggled up side by side sound asleep.

The No Kill Shelter decided to waived the adoption process and all the fees in exchange for the chance to save Casey's life. I snapped this picture of this newest member of our family for all of you to see. Click on the photo and feel the love. This was meant to be. It was well planned out and it played out perfectly. Casey was supposed to die today but instead he will be loved more than he could ever imagine for the rest of his life.   Welcome Home Casey. Welcome Home.
 
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♥ Black Tiger Swallow Tail

Black Tiger Swallow Tail

Look what was sitting on my deck this morning. He was laying very still and he let me take his picture before he flew away. This is a beautiful Black Tiger Swallow Tail and he is so handsome. Click on the photo and look at his two red dots on his lower wings. Butterflies develop what are called "eyes" to scare their predators.

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♥ The beautiful Monarch Butterfly



The beautiful Monarch Butterfly

"If nothing ever changed, there wouldn't be butterflies."

♥ Perfect Home Fries

Perfect Home Fries

2 tablespoons bacon drippings
2 tablespoons butter
5 medium/large red potatoes, diced
1 small sweet yellow onion, diced
1-2 teaspoons seasoned salt
 black pepper to taste

Melt bacon grease in heavy skillet (I use my cast iron skillet) until it begins to sizzle. Add the butter. Carefully add the potatoes and onion to the skillet.

Sprinkle the salt and plenty of black pepper over the potatoes and stir gently until all of the mixture is coated in the grease.

 Cover with a lid and cook for 25-30 minutes, until potatoes are fork tender. Turn up heat to medium high and brown potatoes until brown and crisp. Continue to stir potatoes every few minutes or so to prevent burning/sticking.

If you don't have bacon grease on hand, fry 5-6 bacon strips until crisp and drain on paper towel. Use the grease to fry potatoes and if you'd like add crumbled bacon to recipe.
 
You can also add green or red peppers, sausage, cheese or anything else you desire to this dish.
 
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♥ Fresh Panko and Coconut Crusted Tilapia

Fresh Panko and Coconut Crusted Tilapia

4 tilapia fillets (or any other firm, white fish, such as cod)
1/2 cups coconut cream or milk
½ cups almond meal, ground almonds or almond flour
1 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
salt and pepper to taste
Old Bay Seasoning

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together Panko and coconut, salt and pepper and set aside. Pour coconut milk in shallow bowl for dredging.

Pat and dry fish fillets. Sprinkle both sides with a pinch or two of salt and pepper and just a light sprinkle of Old Bay. Dredge fillets first in coconut milk and then in panko and coconut mixture. Turn to ensure everything is coated well. Let them sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Spray a baking pan with non-stick spray and carefully lay the fillets on pan. I also use parchment paper to cover my pan before baking fish. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes until fish is white and flakes easily in the center.

NOTE: Coconut Cream or Milk is found where they sell ingredients to make mixed drinks at your grocery or liquor stores.

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

"Life's Lessons...What God Would Have Wanted Me To Know By Now."

 As I get older each year, I find that I think a lot about my past. I often wonder if I've truly learned any lessons from past experiences in my life. I decided to ask God what are some of life's lessons that he would have wanted me to learn... by now. And God replied.....

"I would have wanted you to learn that it's important to hold hands and cherish the moment, for some day that person will not be there again."

From My Book, "Life's Lessons...What God Would Have Wanted Me To Know By Now."

http://store.blurb.com/ebooks/195682-life-s-lessons

♥ YELLOW TIGER SWALLOW TAIL

From my garden...

"It's the end of the world," said the catepillar. "It's just the beginning," said the butterfly.

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♥ White Chocolate Cheesecake with Glazed Raspberries










White Chocolate Cheesecake with Glazed Raspberries

For the crust

3 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 sticks salted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the graham crackers, sugar, and melted butter until moistened.
Pour into a spring form pan. Press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan and about 1-inch up the sides.
Bake for 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Cheesecake

1/3 cup whipping cream
1 cup good quality white chocolate chips
3 eight ounce packages ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup whipping cream for cheesecake batter
Over low heat in a small saucepan, heat 1/3 cup of whipping cream until scalding. Stir in the white chocolate until melted. Set aside while you make the rest of the batter.
Cream together cream cheese and sugar until creamy and then add one egg at a time beating well after each one. Add the vanilla extract and the melted chocolate. Finally blend in the 1 cup of whipping cream.
Pour your batter into your prepared crust and bake in a water bath at 325 degrees for about 60 minutes depending on the size of your pan. The cheesecake will be slightly brown around the edges. It will be slightly wobbly just at the center. Allow the cheese cake to cool on a wire rack at room temperature. When completely cool remove the cheesecake from the spring form pan by running a sharp knife around the outside edge before removing the sides of the pan and then run a knife under the crust to release it from the pan’s bottom. Cover the top with fresh raspberries and drizzle with raspberry glaze
                                                                                     For the raspberry glaze
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam

1 tablespoon water
Place the jam in a small saucepan. Heat the saucepan over low to medium heat on the stove, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Add about 1 tablespoon of water and stir constantly over low heat, until the berries begin to break down and the sauce develops a thinner, pourable consistency. Taste and add sugar or a little honey if you want it sweeter. Turn off the heat when the sauce has reached the consistency you desire. Let it cool for 10 to 15 minutes or until it's still thin enough to pour but no longer piping hot. If the sauce thickens too much, simply reheat it on the stove for a minute or two.

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♥ Baked Rotini in Meat Sauce



















I love making different pasta bakes with different sauces and cheeses...they are the ultimate comfort food. Lots of gooey cheese and rich sauce. Serve it up with garlic bread and a salad and you have a great meal. And Pasta bakes are       always even better the next day! Click on photo for drool mode.

Baked Rotini in Meat Sauce

1 lb ground beef
1 lb sweet Italian sausage
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small can diced tomatoes in juice
2 tablespoons tomato paste (if you want a thicker sauce)
2 cups of your favorite pasta sauce (see my choice below)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
16 oz sour cream
2 cups whole milk shredded mozzarella
2 cups of shredded Provolone cheese
2 cups shredded parmesan cheese
1 (16 oz) box of Rotini pasta

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large skillet, heat olive oil and then saute onion and garlic until just tender. Add sausage and ground beef and break up into pieces with a wooden spoon. I like my ground beef chunky so I leave large pieces. Drain any excess oil from meat mixture and return to stove. Add the canned tomatoes, your favorite sauce (I only use Ragu Chunky Tomato Onion and Garlic). Turn the heat to medium high and add basil and oregano to suit your taste. If you want a thicker meat sauce add in your two tablespoons of tomato paste. Cover and let the sauce come to a low boil. Then turn down the heat to a low simmer for about 20 minutes.

In the meantime boil pasta according to directions and then drain well and return to pot.

Mix the cheeses all together in one bowl. Pour half of the pasta into bottom of buttered casserole dish. Sprinkle half cheese mix on top of pasta. Layer half the meat sauce on top of cheese. Spread sour cream on top of sauce all the way to the sides of the dish. Add the remaining pasta. Add another layer of cheese, reserving some for the top.

Pour the remaining meat sauce and then finally add the remaining cheese all over the top. Bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted on top and has started to brown.

Recipe and Photography ©Welcome Home