Saturday, May 30, 2009

Welcome Summer

Summer is officially in full swing.  Yesterday we had a extravaganza (yes you must fan out your hands like fireworks and say extravaganza with enthusiasm)  for all the kids on the mountain to welcome summer.  My friend Rebecca made the giant sign so the children could break through the sign to start the party and welcome summer. We had food, jumpy castle, pinata, water balloon dodge ball, cotton candy,  and cupcakes.
 and what I was most excited about, we let every kid make their own cup of ice cream with liquid nitrogen. 

The first question is, how do you make ice cream with liquid nitrogen? You put everything into a cup that you would put into ice cream, then you add liquid nitrogen; you stir it up while it bubbles and boils, toils and troubles,  and walaw! Ice cream! 
Now the second question you might be asking yourself is, how the crap did you get liquid nitrogen?  That I can not entirely divulge, but you need to know a chemical engineer who is just a big kid, I happen to know someone like that.

There are all kinds of complicated ice cream recipes, which I intend on trying all of them when I get a conventional, plug it in the socket ice cream maker (my birthday is Aug 23rd hint hint) but we stuck the basics, milk, cream, sugar, vanilla. Or to be more basic, half and half.

Ice Cream Base
6 c half and half
2 c sugar
1 1/2 t vanilla extract

I poured two inches of this into a Styrofoam cup,  add let them put in some mix ins, various candy bars, caramel, chocolate etc.  (of course they all picked gummy bears and marshmallows) Then I poured in liquid nitrogen, some had to come back for a little more nitrogen, but after some stirring, they had ice cream. I saved the best mix in for the mothers, lemon/pineapple, which I will divulge at a later blog post.
So welcome summer! I am in love you! and not just because I can sleep in and tell my kids to make their own cereal!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day

I love to go to the Provo Cemetery on Memorial Day. It is so beautiful to see all the mums and fresh cut lilacs scattered over the ground. 
I even know any dead people, but I love to go anyway. Normally, I go with my parents because my mom's dad was buried there after he killed in plane crash when she was 12. Her grand parents are also buried there. So those are the graves we always visit. This year I had the children pick wildflowers from our yard. We put the flowers in mason jars and headed to the cemetery.
Can you believe this is my view? I am so lucky, that's our new dog Rock . . .Rock Obama

For the first time both Fairb and my parents are out of town. That is no reason not to celebrate, so I went alone with the kids.  Because of this, I had no idea how to find the tomb stones.  Find the freaky lady tombstone with the weeping eyes, go north east. We wandered and wandered and wandered. The kids were getting a little testy, so I said, just put your flowers on a sad looking grave with no flowers. Which they did and we proceeded back to the car. Just as we were leaving, ancestory! Parley Larsen (my great uncle) right before our feet. I shuffled the kids to go "retrieve" their flowers off the sad little graves, we found family!

Monday, May 25, 2009

I am having so much fun with my pasta maker!

I love to play with toys, my pasta roller is giving me glee. Although I have yet to ravioli.  I am also on the quest to bake a french baguette, it may be futile but it is sure fun to try.  I'm not there yet. Stay tuned.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Another from the Worldwide Cookbook

Sunday's are so lame without Fairb. I can handle the weekdays, but the weekends stink. So last Sunday, I spent experimented with recipes. I made another cinnamon roll recipe from the Worldwide Ward Cookbook, "Cake Mix Cinnamon Rolls" on page 28. What is cool about this recipe is that it is very simple, and can be made into a "mix" to be given away, the woman who wrote the recipe would use the mix as a young woman fundraiser.  Luck for everyone involved, my brother and sister and their respective families showed up on my door step to enjoy the warm cinnamon rolls. Making Sunday not so lame anymore.

Cake Mix Cinnamon Rolls

1 white or yellow cake mix
2 pkg yeast (or 2 tablespoons, I would use instant yeast if you are going the "mix" route. Yeast you know is good)
1 t salt
2 c flour
2 1/4 c warm water
3 c flour
butter (about a stick)
brown sugar 

Combine the first 4 ingredients. Add  water and mix. Add 3 c flour (switch to dough hook) and knead till well mixed and smooth.  Put into a greased bowl and let raise till double.  Push down and shape into a rectangle. Spread with butter then brown sugar, then cinnamon.  Roll into a long loaf and cut into 1 1/2 inch slices.

Let rise until double and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Makes about 18 rolls.
Now I topped the rolls with my sour cream glaze:

1/2 stick butter melted
big spoonful of sour cream
about a 1/2 bag powdered sugar
splash of vanilla
milk to thin accordingly

If you don't know how to turn the above into frosting, find a movie on youtube.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Making art from artichokes

I am obsessed with artichokes in every form.  It is hard for me to walk past artichokes in the grocery store without buying them.  Artichoke dip,  in pasta, marinated, steamed, sauteed, and today for the first time stuffed. 
Tonight the artichoke was the main attraction. I love to have a simple dinner of just vegetables and fruits (my children hate it obviously, too bad for them.)  
The hardest part of artichokes is turning it to art, which means you have to remove the choke (I am so proud of myself for coming up with this clever pun!)  The choke is the little pokey fur in the middle of the artichoke.
First cut off the stem so the artichoke can sit flat in the pan.  Then saw off the top with a big serrated knife. Using your fingers loosen up the leaves, and with a melon baller scoop out the center white leaves, along with the pokey choke.

Now artichokes brown really fast, so have a lemon on hand to rub on the bottom and squeeze a little juice on the inside and rub it around with your finger. Now that your artichokes are art, get about 2 inches of water boiling in a pot big enough fit your artichokes single file.

Time to prep the stuffing:
3 T approx. fine diced onion
2 cloves garlic fine diced
2 T butter
1 T olive oil
2 c approx. fresh bread crumbs (I put a hoagie roll into the blender, use whatever old bread you have don't use the store bought bread crumbs)
Big handful of shredded Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

In a saute pan add the butter, oil, garlic and onion and saute till fragrant, careful to not burn the butter Season with salt and  fresh ground pepper. In a bowl, combine bread crumbs and cheese. Add onions and garlic mixture.  Season with a little more s and p. Combine well with your fingers. Stuff into the center of the artichokes and try to get some in between all the leaves.
 Put into the pot, the water should go up a little less than half way up the artichoke.  Steam them on medium heat until you can poke the bottom and it is tender ( it takes awhile between 30-40 minutes). They are so delicious!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

marinated cucumbers

So remember when I said I cooked for ward temple night and served marinated cucumbers. Well actually, I totally forgot I prepared them until the dinner was almost over. I opened the fridge, and there they were, staring me in the face. So I pulled them out so everyone cook see how pretty they were as they were reaching for their dessert. All I can say is they missed out. Luckily, the are soo good day two.

Marinated Cucumbers

Washed and half peeled cucumbers sliced ( I like the English cucumbers)
red onion sliced
Rice vinegar
apple cider vinegar
olive oil
fresh pepper

Now I am truly sorry to say, I don't have measurements, but measurements doesn't matter. Do equal parts rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar and water.. Give a couple swirls of oil, a good sprinkle of salt pepper and a liberal amount to sugar according to your tastes.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Brandon's wedding

So my brother-in-law Brandon is getting married in three weeks, its a miracle! Brandon is only 1 year younger than me (Fairb "robbed the cradle" according to the ward clerk who told my husband that when he was going over our records when we were first married. We are six years apart) but he feels like 10 years younger. Sorry Boo, no offense.  So we are thrilled, and his fiance Michelle, is so great and its going to be so weird to have Brandon off the "kids table".
Anyway, because they are mostly paying for the wedding themselves, as a wedding gift, I offered to cook for the wedding dinner and host the wedding in my parents backyard. 
So there is an easy way to feed 100 and then there is the good way to feed for 100.  I just can't bring myself to do "ward party" fare, it is not in my DNA. It has to be special.  So I have come up with a menu, now mind you I compromised here, I wanted it to be more special, I wanted beef tenderloin with a little salmon portion, but alas, as Fairb reminded me, we aren't made of money and no one but me will really care what we eat. So this is my plan, please feel free to comment on this.
First, to help pay for girls camp,  I am hiring the YW in my ward to come help me. For a starter, I will do a lettuce wedge of some sort (do most people like Gorgonzola?, I actually hate it, but it is so pretty, maybe just feta).  I will have ranch, should I do another dressing option? Balsamic perhaps? Then some nice crusty bread that I will buy from Costco. Meanwhile, we will be busy in the kitchen plating food as pictured above:

Roasted Asparagus

Seasoned mashed potatoes

Which is the following
Cooked potatoes, ran through a potato ricer
BIG spoonful of sour cream ( I am talking BIG)
HUGE handful of shredded cheese (I am talking HUGE)
Lawry's season salt
fresh ground pepper
a little milk

Then garnish the plate with some pretty strawberries.

So can I pull this off? I have plenty of big pots, two ovens and two outdoor grills.

Friday, May 15, 2009

you can do banana pudding like this, ooh pretty . . .

So early yesterday morning I took Fairb to the airport.  He is going to be gone for three weeks! to make matters worse, my parents are also going to be gone for three weeks. that means I have no one too cook for! (my children don't count, they only eat cereal, candy and dirt) Last night however, I had plenty of people to cook for, about 40 people to be precise. I cooked for ward temple night. Whenever our ward goes to the temple they are shocked by how we can get so many to show up, we offer dinner after, duh!  So I cooked Grecian chicken, with some fresh green beans and watermelon, some marinated cucumbers and watermelon. For dessert I made the magnolia's banana pudding but instead of making a huge pan of it, I dropped the nilla wafers and bananas in the bottom of a plastic cup and topped it with the pudding. Then made is oh so beautiful buy topping it with a strawberry. It worked perfectly!
What can I say, it was a hit. I am warming myself up to cook for 100 people for my brother-in-laws wedding in three weeks.  . .

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

my poll

notice my new poll over there --------------------->

Krista's Caramel Brownies

Marrying into my family is not an easy thing.  Everyone gets scrutinized, no one is safe. When Lisa brought home Troy he was instantly made fun of because he was a male cheerleader for one year at University of Utah. A cheerleader? Give me a break dude!
Laurie, who was scared poopless to come around our family, was instantly mocked because when she went out to dinner with our family for the first time all she ordered was a baked potato and put ketchup on it.  We all order steak and you are getting a potato, are you serious chick?
When I started to date Fairb, my dad took me to dinner and said, " I wouldn't give this guy a no, but a HELL no."  My grandmother asked the family to fast and pray that I would STOP dating him. I mean he had a tattoo for goodness sake!
Krista had it no easier, we weren't too sure that she was the one for Sonny. Too quiet, too shy. We thought she would turn him into a seminary teacher, and we wanted him to be a doctor.
It wasn't until she brought us these brownies was she accepted into the circle. Now we insist that she bring them to every party. This isn't Krista's first appearance on the blog, she also taught me how to make pizza.

These brownies are easy and delicious.

Krista's Caramel Brownies

1 chocolate cake box mix
3/4 c evaporated milk

50 unwrapped caramels (one bag)
1/3 c evaporated milk

chocolate chips

Small ingredient list huh? Now looking at it, no oil or butter, these are kinda low fat! Sweet! Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. While your kids are painstakingly unwrapping the caramels, trying not to take a bite out of each of them, you can mix the batter.  The cake mix, and 3/4 c evaporated milk.  Mix it with a spoon, not a whisk, because the batter is extremely thick. 
Spread the batter into you favorite brownie pan that has been sprayed with Pam (I am using my edge pan, thanks Sherrie again!)
Bake in the oven for 6 minutes. Meanwhile, add 1/3 c evaporated milk to the unwrapped caramels and melt till smooth on the stove (use med-low so they don't burn). When the brownies have cooked 6 minutes, pull them out and sprinkle the desired amount of chocolate chips and pour the caramel on top.
Pop them back in the oven for 15-20 minutes until they start to put away from the edges and you poke a toothpick in and don't see brownie batter.

Of course eventually, all the in-laws were accepted into the family.  It turns out our initial instincts were dead wrong on all of them. Everyone married their perfect spouse.

Monday, May 11, 2009

I'm back jack!

I am back from vacation, and I need a vacation. Those of you who are my facebook friends probably got annoyed by my constant moblie photo updates. We had a blast in the OC, hitting Disneyland and the beach.
Sunday was Mother's Day and I was pretty sure that my husband had forgotten, being thoughtful really isn't his deal unfortunately. The children were really concerned that they hadn't got me a present. Alta woke up early all on her own and made me a piece of toast with honey on it, some yogurt garnished with grapenuts, and a big glass of milk. She sat on the couch and waited for me to come out of my room (because she knows I don't like to be woken up!) to present me with breakfast! It was very sweet.
Fairb did come through ( I have made it very clear that Mother's day trumps every holiday, I told my primary children it was the most important holiday of the year!) and he got me something I have been wanting for a long time. This . . . .

Its a pasta roller and cutter that attaches to a Kitchen Aid.  Porter and Alta came running out of Fairb's office with two wrapped presents. Alta dropped the heavy one right on my foot. Despite it landing on my foot, heavy is good thing.  He also got me the ravioli maker! This is going to bring me hours of fun.
Naturally, I couldn't wait to use it, so I busted it out after church.  I loved it and the pasta came out great the first try.  If you are my bff you can borrow it.  Thanks Fairb and children for making a great Mother's Day!~

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Happiest place on earth

No cooking the rest of the week, I am on vacation with the dam. Check out my facebook for some good moblie photos.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

red velvet cupcakes

I have had an absolute obsession with cupcakes lately!  It all started when my friend Kris gave me the Magnolia cookbook. Oddly enough, I tried the vanilla cupcake recipe and hated it! I called for unsalted butter (which I could accept because most baking recipes do, I just never adhere, unsalted butter is just a tease) but there was no salt in the WHOLE recipe. My instincts were telling me no, but the bakery's notoriety was pressuring me to follow the recipe as written. I even followed the recipe for the salt-less frosting.  So in the end I should have gone with my instincts, they were terrible, I threw most of them away.  One day I will try it again with salt. Now I need to go to New York to try their vanilla cupcakes to taste if they are truly making money off these flavorless cupcakes, or if they are jerking our chains.

Now the same friend, brought me red velvet Sprinkles cupcakes ( don't you wish Kris was your friend,  are you cool enough? I could introduce you.) from Arizona. They were incredible! I was dying, they were so good. I wouldn't even let the children look at them.

Next I heard about this bakery in Provo. They were out of red velvet, so I got the vanilla. They were pretty dang good, but they were 2.25 a piece! and these are pretty tiny cupcakes. Holy Moley! Who do they think they are? Just because you were featured on Rachael Ray doesn't make you exclusive! (yes I am still horribly bitter, have you been watching the competition? pulleezze!)
So I returned to the magnolia cookbook to try their red velvet cupcakes (this recipe called for salt), and topped it with cream cheese frosting.

Here is the recipe ( is this legal? I sure hope so)

3 1/3 c cake flour
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
2 1/4 c sugar

3 eggs

6 T red food coloring (I used two small bottles, which was about 4 T)
3 T cocoa
1 1/2 t vanilla

1 1/2 t salt
1 1/2 c buttermilk

1 1/2 t cider vinegar
1 1/2 t baking  soda

Sift the flour (that is the first time I have ever sifted anything in my life, I'm still not convinced it does anything) and set aside. In a big bowl combine sugar and softened butter and cream till fluffy (about 5 min). Add eggs one at a time, beating well.

In a different bowl combine food coloring, vanilla and cocoa, then add to batter and beat well. In a measuring cup combine buttermilk and salt. In a small bowl combine baking soda and vinegar.
Add flour and buttermilk to sugar in parts, by alternating flour and buttermilk. With each addition, beat till just combined.  Next add the vinegar  and beat till smooth.
Put into lined cupcake tins and bake for about 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

Top with cream cheese frosting.

So they are good, but they weren't sprinkles good. I keep working on it!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The salad dressed to impress

Maybe its just me, but its seems like salads with fruit and poppy dressing are all the rage these days. At any given Relief Society luncheon or bunkco club you will see a salad like this with a different variation. To know the poppy seed dressing is to know an infinite combinations of great salads. In the salad pictured above I did;

Romaine lettuce
Baby spinach
sliced strawberries
diced mangoes
baby sweet peppers (don't know these peppers? look for them they are so good!)
slivered almonds
shredded mozzarella
poppy seed dressing

The possibilities are indeed endless. Candied walnuts or almonds, mandarin oranges, feta cheese or goat cheese, any berries, advacados, pine nuts, dried cranberries, apples, pears . . . it goes on and on and on.

Here is the dressing, this comes from my grandma

Poppy seed dressing

2-3 T diced red onion ( I just cut off a hunk of onion, don't bother measuring I just pulled that number out of thin air)
1/3 c red wine vinegar
1/3 c sugar
1/4 t dry mustard
1 t salt
2/3 c oil (what ever kind you like)
1 T poppy seeds

Do this all in your blender. Combine the onion, sugar, vinegar, dry mustard and salt and puree the crap out of it (till you don't see the onion anymore). While the blender is going, slowly add the oil until well combined. Add poppy seeds and give the blender a couple pulses.

So there it is, it will last in the fridge for almost forever. A helpful hint is to toss just the lettuce with the dressing, then add all the toppings, that way all the nuts and berries don't sink to the bottom, and the cheese doesn't get soggified by the dressing.
So you can impress your book group now, and be in with what's "cook" in the salad world.