Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Kitchen Dreams

I’ve been ironing today. And dreaming. Dreaming of a wonderful new Ikea kitchen that will someday be MINE. I just know it will happen. Someday.
My house was built around 1965. My tiny oven and stove are original. As are the cabinets and the sink. And the Formica countertops. The original dishwasher (that has since been replaced at least twice in the 23 yrs we’ve been here) and this tiny little oven were both made by Kitchen Maid. Definitely NOT to be confused with the upscale and expensive brand you are probably thinking of right now. I even have the original booklet that came with the oven. My kitchen is very tiny. A “galley”style is what they call it. I call it all kinds of colorful names when I’m cooking and anyone – dog, cat or human -dares to invade my tiny parameters for whatever reason. Someone almost always gets stepped on or snapped at.

This closely resembles my oven in color although it is a little bit bigger than what I have right now. No, I don't have the plank-style cabinets (with Early American hardware).

Here is what I want:What I am visualizing:I suspect that having a whole lot of organization will greatly improve my situation. And new lighting will be such a treat as well. Like having the lights underneath the front of the cabinets:

My husband is a little fearful about what might be uncovered if/when such a renovation occurs. The plumbing and electrical are his main concern. That “hidden costs” will emerge. And I’m sure he’s probably right. Especially the plumbing part. This little kitchen floor has been dug up twice to fix a broken pipe. And under the sink….well, it’s just plain scary. I think it would be great not to be frightened when reaching for a sponge. To open that cabinet and marvel will be worth it.

If I had a really nifty, cool party kitchen:

or this neat tile (this is actually more like my oven, only mine is ugly yellow aka Harvest Gold):

or even this:

then I could understand the concept behind this fun website that urges us to keep, love and cherish our retro homes. But my kitchen is not fun. Nor is it very functional in my humble opinion. I’m sure there is a lot of wasted space in there because of its design (or lack thereof).
And so, I shall just keep on dreaming and visualizing my future kitchen. I'll let you know when it happens!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Family Gathering

It was a fun day today. We went to one of my brother-in-laws houses and had a family reunion of sorts. My husband (this was his side) is from a rather large family; he is the oldest of 7 kids. And every one of those kids had 2 kids- a boy and a girl. So that makes 14 grandkids plus the original 7 kids- now we're up to 21. Then grandkids began getting married and having babies, so the grand total now for the kids + kids + kids is 37 and we aren't even halfway close to being done, what with the youngest just starting high school! Anyway, 21 were present today and we thought of (and missed) the other 16 who weren't. Here are some pictures of the day:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fruit Pizza

While my daughter was visiting earlier this month, she made one of her favorite desserts to take over to a dinner one evening: Fruit Pizza. Fruit Pizza has been around for a long time. I remember having it for the first time in the mid-1980’s, around the time she was born, actually.

The recipe is easy:
1 roll of refrigerated sugar cookie dough
1 medium container Cool Whip
Various fresh fruits (or frozen, thawed)

J got started on this before I had my camera in hand so I didn’t get any pictures of her preparing the cookie dough. Remove dough from package, cut it in half and place on plate. Microwave for 15 seconds to soften. It will spread easily onto a pizza pan, especially if you squirt a little Pam on your hands. If you prefer to roll it flat, then place a sheet of wax paper on top. If you plan on transferring your pizza to a large plate, then place parchment paper underneath before spreading dough on top. Bake according to directions on package and let cool completely.

Next up, prepare the fruits. For her pizza, she used fresh blueberries, strawberries, kiwi and peaches. Just about any fruit will work- including pineapple and grapes cut in half. If you use sliced bananas, dip them in lemon juice to prevent browning.
As she prepared each fruit, J placed it in a bowl with a paper towel in the bottom, then placed a folded paper towel on top, then placed the next fruit etc. and put them in the fridge while the dough was cooling. This draining method prevents soggy crust.
While she likes the easy Cool Whip method, I prefer another one that takes a little more time. I use a small, 8 oz Cool Whip, 8 oz pkg of cream cheese, ½ C powdered sugar and 2 tsp vanilla all whipped together. Another option is 8 oz Cool Whip and 7 oz marshmallow fluff whipped together. All are excellent!
Spread the “sauce” onto the cookie crust

and then go to town decorating your pizza

Some folks like to get fancy with their decorating:
But you know what? It's ALL good!

There is another version of fruit pizza that calls for an orange glaze poured on top that is supposed to be to-die for.

Orange Glaze
1/2 cup white sugar
1 pinch salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon orange zest

In a saucepan, combine sugar, salt, corn starch, orange juice, lemon juice and water. Cook and stir over medium heat. Bring to a boil, and cook for 1 or 2 minutes, until thickened. Remove from heat, and add grated orange rind. Allow to cool, but not set up. Spoon over fruit. Chill for two hours, then cut into wedges and serve.

Reviewers and cooks alike swear this is worth taking the time to do and also say that it tastes even better if refrigerated overnight. I have not tried this glaze and would love to know how it tastes!

Some people:
Like to spread the dough into a 9x13 pan.
Bake the dough on a pizza stone.
Like to slice the pizza after spreading the topping, and then add the fruit.

And others like to have this for breakfast! (who? me?)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Food & Friends

Whew- what a week! I'm finally able to sit down and work on those photos I thought were lost. The ones showing how I make the Hashbrown Casserole that I fixed when my daughter and her oldest friend were here a few weeks ago. This is daughter and (pregnant) friend:

This is how long they've known each other:

That alone is cause for celebration and cooking, in my opinion! Plus the fact that I don't get to cook nearly as much now that my kids live far away from home. So, for this occasion I fixed a brisket, Hashbrown Casserole, Asian Coleslaw, fresh fruit and rolls. And set a pretty table (because, again, I don't get to do this much anymore):Here is the method to the madness that is Hashbrown Casserole (recipe to follow):

Ingredients Chop onions and melt butter in skillet: Sautè onions until transparent then set aside to cool.
Combine the soup, sour cream, milk, salt and pepper. Mix well:

Then mix in cheese and onions:
Dump thawed potatoes into a large bowl and add soup mixture and fold:

Place in a large, greased baking dish and top with crushed corn flakes:

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until bubbly.

This has become a family favorite of ours- and you will see why when you make it!

Hashbrown Casserole

1 (32-oz) pkg frozen shredded potatoes thawed
1/2 C plus 1/4 C butter, melted and divided
1 small onion, chopped
1 can cream chicken soup
1 (8 oz) sour cream
½ C milk
2-3 C grated cheese
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 C crushed corn flakes

Sauté onion in ½ C butter until transparent. Set aside to cool. Combine soup, sour cream, milk, salt and pepper. Place potatoes, cheese and onions in large bowl. Fold in soup mixture. Place in greased 9x13 casserole dish. Combine corn flakes and butter. Sprinkle over top. Bake 350 for 35 minutes or until bubbly.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

I Heart My Camera

Guess what. My camera is smart. Those photos that I thought I deleted..? They're still on the camera. Apparently IT knew they hadn't been saved anywhere and it did not delete them. I love my camera.
But now I have run out of time to post the things I wanted to. We are leaving for Las Vegas tomorrow- for the wedding! In case you didn't get my memo, you can watch them get hitched on your pc! You have to log in when the wedding is happening though- no going back to watch it later. They are getting married Saturday night at 5:00 pm Vegas time, 7:00 CST 8:00 EST.
Log in here and click on the monitor on the left hand side. I tested it out and it did work; I was able to see the lobby area and a wedding party that was either finishing up or getting ready, couldn't tell. I'll turn around and wave to y'all!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

More External Hard Drive Glitches

I took some great pictures over the weekend to share. One set was the making of delicious Hashbrown Casserole. Another set was my formal dining room setting and of daughter and friends who came over to eat the Brisket, Hashbrown Casserole, Asian Coleslaw, cantaloupe feast. I was going to share it all on this blog.
So, I uploaded the images from my camera, clicked to save them on my external hard drive and chose to delete the images from my camera when the upload was done.
I noticed that one thing didn't happen that usually does when the upload is finished; the images are usually shown in the folder where they are saved. That's odd, I thought.
Several hours later I fire up Photoshop to do some editing and........cannot find the images anywhere. Slowly it dawns on me that I can't find the freakin' external hard drive anywhere either! Yup, the computer isn't recognizing the drive (again). Great. Just great. If you haven't read this before, look in the archives and you will see that this isn't the first time this has happened.
Long story short, somehow I was able to get the drive recognized again but the images are no where to be found. Gone. Saved into cyberspace, I guess. Oh well. I will make SURE this doesn't happen with the wedding pictures!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Upcoming Nuptuals

Bryan and Christe will be getting hitched later on this week. In Las Vegas, baby! Here are some of their official engagement pictures:

Needless to say, I'll be MIA for awhile, but know that 1. we are having a blast and 2. I'll have wedding photos to share :o)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Shower Cakes!

OR: Look what I can do!
(OK, the above caption is in reference to Stuart from MAD TV- just ignore this if you don't get it)

2 yrs ago I made a towel cake for a wedding shower using white bath & hand towels and washcloths:

I had no idea what I was doing, but it sure was fun!
We gave a shower for one of my nieces earlier this year who was in the hospital, totally bedridden with a high risk pregnancy. We knew that the baby would be a preemie and a girl and that preemie-sized diapers would be needed, as well as newborn.

I'd heard that diaper cakes were also popular so I thought I'd give that a try. Also fun! And not hard to make, really:

You can buy these professionally made with lots and lots of goodies on them. But, you can also make them yourself, if you are adventurous. Hey, if I can do it, you can too!