Saturday, December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas!! And Happy New Year!!!

I would like to appologize for not writing sooner. I had all these great plans and recipes I wanted to share this month. But time and the flu had gotten the better of me. I would like to thank my dear friend Fiona over at the Cottage Smallholder for nominating me for the Happy Meme and the True Blue award. Thanks!!!!

For the first one I am to list 8 things that make me happy...
1. My husband reading to me or just holding my hand.
2. Seeing photos of my little Grand Daughter.
3. Hearing from my family and friends.
4. The cats. Especially when they are in a snuggle mood.
5. When a recipe or meal comes out as planned.
6. Hearing a robin sing and watching them bob around with their little chests puffed out.
7. Making cards or gifts for others.
8. A flower, a song, the taste of chocolate, a baby animal.... I think I could go on and on....

Now to nominate 8 folks for the Happy Meme......
Granny Pat
The Crafty Gardener

The True Blue award.

I think this is an award given to say thanks for the comments and reading on a regular basis.
As such I would like to award it back to my friend Fiona as she is a True Blue Blogger, commenting on my blog and answering me on her blog.
I would also like to award it to
And everyone that actually reads my blogs and comments. You all are true blue Friends!!! thanks!!!

Herman and the Potato Bread dough.....
Amanda at Little Foodies blog posted on her blog back in November about trying the potato bread recipe that all at the Daring Bakers were trying out.... So I decided to give it a try with Herman and to see how I got on with it. The dough is very wet and very very sticky. Like she said in her blog, I think the yeast loves Potatoes. The recipe can be found here at Tanna's blog My Kitchen in Half Cups. I cut the recipe in half as I know from experience this would produce more bread than Brian and I could eat in a weeks time. And for 1/2 cup of the potato water and 1/2 cup of the flour I substituted 1 cup of Herman. You will need more flour..... I didn't use the bread maker on this one instead I used the largest bowl I have my large mixing bowl. And it was just barely big enough to hold half the recipe!!!

I ended up making a foccacia with half the dough.

And Rolls with the other half. This was a new and different texture and flavour experience. And one I plan to do again and again.

Christmas Cookies

Okay I had best intentions to bake lots of Christmas goodies this year. And to send some to my sons back in the US. But coming down with the flu really put a hamper on getting them done. I did bake a batch of Snickerdoodles, but they seemed to have disappeared already, so after I finish typing this blog I am off to bake another batch. They are becoming the fav cookies around here. And never stick around long enough to ever go stale. Good thing the recipe makes a big batch..... Not good for dieters....
Snicker Doodles
1 cup Shortening/margarine/butter, softened
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 cup all purpose/plain flour
2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda/bicarbonate of soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
And Cinnamon and sugar for rolling
Heat oven to 400 F/200 C. Mix shortening, sugar and eggs thouroughly. Blend all dry ingredients together and stir into the egg mix. Roll into balls the size of small walnuts. Then roll into a mix of 2 tablespoons of sugar and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon. (I like more cinnamon). Place about 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. I use one of those teflon baking sheets on my baking trays. No mess!!!

Rolling in the cinnamon sugar mix.

On the baking tray.

Warm from the oven!!! Warning they disappear fast!!! Can't eat just one!!!

Magic Bars
This is another recipe I make at this time of the year and another bad for the diet recipe. But ohhhh they are soooooooo nice!!!
Take 1/2 cup butter or margarine and place in a baking dish that is 13x9 inches and place into a preheating oven at 325 for glass(which I use) or 350 for metal. Once the butter has melted stir in 1 1/2 cups of graham cracker/digestive biscuit crumbs and press into the bottom of the pan.
Next pour on one ( 14 oz) Can of Condensed Milk (NOT EVAPORATED). Then sprinkle on 1 cup of chocolate chips, 1 cup of flaked coconut and 1 cup chopped nuts (I use pecans). Then bake for 25 to 30 minutes until lightly browned. Cool. Chill throughly and cut into bars.

You can add other ingredients but I like them with just the chocolate, coconut and pecans.

People Chow
Another recipe I make at this time of the year is people chow. This is my own version of the recipes that are out and about.
Take 1 bar of good chocolate or 1 cup of chocolate chips and melt in the microwave with about 1 cup of peanut butter and about 1 large tablespoon butter or margarine.
Take a very large bowl of mixed cereals, (depends what country you are in) US I would use Chex and Cherrios here in Britain I use Shreddies or equivalent and cherrios. You can add other things like peanuts, or other nuts, raisins or currants. Mix all together with the melted chocolate mixture. Then in a large plastic bag pour in about 1/2 cup icing/powdered sugar. And fill as much as you can of the cereal mixture and shake to coat with the sugar. Keep repeating the icing/powdered sugar shaking until all the cereal is coated. Pour into large containers and enjoy. You can add other bits to this now too if you like, such as M&M's or Smarties, Cinnamon red hots or what you think might go well with the mix. Be warned it is very morish and you will get powdered/icing sugar all over your fingers and clothes.

I will try to add more recipes at a later date of other things I like to make for Christmas as presents to hand out to friends and family. Sorry for not getting done in time for this year. But you will be ahead for next year.

Cold Weather Food
When the weather turns cold and you are needing something to stick to your ribs this is a nice dish to make.
Corn Bread and Lentil stew.
When I moved here to Britain I didn't ship over my cast iron pans. Thinking the shipping cost would be more expensive than the pans were worth. That is wrong. If you move take the things you think aren't important, because you may have a hard time finding them. I was lucky and I did find a cast iron skillet. I am still in search of the corn bread stick pan like I used to have.
Anyway this is the only way to make proper cornbread is in a skillet. I also have had to improvise and instead of cornmeal here I use Polenta to make my cornbread. Almost the same but there is a difference.

1 cup corn meal/polenta
1 cup all purpose/plain flour
1/4 cup sugar/granulated
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/4 cup about 56 grams butter (melted)
Pre heat the oven to 425 F or 200 to 210 C Depends how hot your oven is.
Take your skillet (mine is roughly 8 to 9 inches in diameter) and place your butter into the skillet I add just a tiny bit more. Now place into the preheating oven till melted.
Mix your dry ingredients together in a large bowl and then add the milk and egg and stir till blended. Once your butter is melted then take your preheated skillet out of the oven and swirl the butter around the pan and then pour the melted butter into the cornbread mixture and stir till the butter is combined. Place into the skillet and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes just till a lovely golden brown. You can test the centre with a toothpick for doneness. It should come out clean. This is how I have always made my cornbread. There is a southern version that uses Buttermilk I think and no sugar. I remember when I was a kid eating some lovely cornbread when I went to Kentucky, but haven't been able to duplicate it.

Lentil Stew

I adapted this recipe from an old Light and Tasty magazine that I have.
1 Package of Low fat smoked sausage
2 to 4 medium carrots, sliced
2 to 4 ribs of celery, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 cups water
2 to 4 medium potatoes, diced
1 cup of chicken stock could be from homemade or canned or made with stock cube
1 cup dry green lentils
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 can of chopped tomatoes
chopped chilli peppers
In a large Dutch oven, cook the sausage, carrots, celery, oniona and garlic in oil until vegetables are almost tender. About 5 minutes. Stir in water, potatoes, broth, lentils, cumin and cayenne. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 40 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally. Add the tomatoes and chillis to taste along with any seasonings. This is when I add salt as I have found out with dried beans if you add salt early on they don't soften. I also add a bit of oregano and thyme as it gives it a better flavour. Heat through and serve with Hot cornbread and butter.

Brian and I are always laughing that Jingles is going to be the first Cordon Bleu Cat Chef. (not that I am anywhere near being a Cordon Bleu chef) But he is very very interested in watching me cook. I sometimes let him see or smell what it is I am doing. It is so funny having a cat so interested in the process of cooking.

Have a very Merry Christmas all and A Happy New Year!!!


Crafty Gardener said...

As usual you have many tasty recipes.
Happy Holidays to you and Brian.

Pat said...

Thanks Linda!!!!! And to you and yours!!!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Hey, sweetie! Long time no see!
Good to know you're feeling better.

Thank you for the award - it's a pleasure and an honor!

And your focaccia looks so good! Beautifully golden - I made focaccia once, it tasted ok, but it was too pale. I didn't even post it. :)

Pat said...

Thanks Patricia!!! I will try to do better in the upcoming year. I enjoy making focaccia. I love poking the bread to make the dimples for the oil. Secret is to make sure you have a hot oven. I usually put rosemary in and on my foccacia as I have two lovely plants growing here.

Cottage Smallholder said...

So sorry to hear that you've had the flu - hope that you are feeling fine now.

Missed your blogs.

Happy Christmas Pat and Brian!

Thanks for passing the award back to me!

Cynthia said...

My darling Pat, thank you sincerely for both awards! I am touched.

Sorry to hear that you were not well but as I can see from the post, you have still been busy.

Merry Christmas to you, Brian, Jingles and the entire family. May fair winds always blow your way.

Warm hugs.

katiez said...

You've been busy! Thank you for the award, and I accept, with honor, the meme!
Isn't it the truth about not taking the simple things (when moving) thinking they will be so easy to replace. I've sprained my leg many times kicking myself over one thing or another!
Then I made a rule: Everyone that comes to visit has to bring me something. One person half-filled her suitcase with good old wax paper!
Have a Merry Christmas!

Pat said...

Thanks Cynthia, Fiona and Katiez!! Merry Christmas to you all!!!

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Happy happy Christmas to you & Brian. Hope you have a wonderful day. Thank you for being so lovely!

Wendy said...

Looking forward to doing this meme! Thank you! And a happy new year! :)

David Hall said...

Thanks for the nomination Pat, and hope you are better and had fun.
Happy New Year, all the best for 2008

David x

Pat said...

Thanks Amanda, Wendy and David. Hope you all have a happy New Year!!!