CHICKEN FRIED RICE

CHICKEN FRIED RICE
1 tablespoon avocado oil
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup Bragg’s liquid aminos or soy sauce
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
FRESH ground black pepper
1 red pepper, diced
1 LARGE carrot, diced
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
1 cup snap peas, trimmed
1 bunch green onions, sliced on the diagonal – reserve a few for garnish
4 cups cooked rice, chilled
2 cups chopped rotisserie chicken

  • In a large skillet heat half of the oil over medium-high heat.
  • Add eggs and swirl to coat pan bottom.
  • Cook 1-2 minutes until set.
  • Transfer egg to cutting board.
  • Cool slightly.
  • Roll up like a jelly roll and thinly slice crosswise. Set aside, keeping warm.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the liquid aminos and chili sauce. Set aside.
  • Add remaining oil to skillet and heat over medium heat.
  • Add peppers, onions, corn and peas, cooking 4-5 minutes.
  • Add rice, chicken pieces and reserved sauce mixture, cooking 4-5 minutes until heated through.
  • Toss with reserved scallions and egg pieces.
  • Serve immediately with additional soy sauce if desired.

SMASHED CUCUMBER SALAD

SMASHED CUCUMBER SALAD adapted from Molly Yeh

Evidently smashing cucumbers is quite common in Asia. Oddly it provides a deliciously rustic presentation and releases the excess moisture.

2 LARGE English cucumbers
2 LARGE green onions, sliced thin
FRESH ground sea salt and tri-color pepper
2 tablespoons Bragg’s liquid aminos
2-3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
Toasted sesame seeds and fresh cilantro, for garnish

  • Peel strips down each cucumber and cut off ends.
  • Place the cucumbers in a resealable plastic bag.
  • Seal and use the palm of your hand to lightly smash the cucumbers.
  • Take the cucumbers out of the bag and cut into 1-inch chunks.
  • Add to a bowl and season to taste with FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper.
  • Toss to coat.
  • Combine the liquid aminos, vinegar, sesame oil, sugar and chile flakes in a medium bowl.
  • Whisk well to dissolve the sugar. 
  • Add the cucumber chunks and green onions, toss to coat.
  • Garnish with the toasted sesame seeds and cilantro.

NOTE: The recipe does NOT call for tomatoes, but I had a few that I threw in for color 😀

BLOGMAS 2020 ~ DAY 19 ~ WINTER MUSTS

I originally had this as TAG questions also, but I honestly don’t think any of us are up for that this year so let’s leave it at Winter Musts. 😀
What I CANNOT live without in winter is many many things, but these are my top items! The one thing I am absolutely sure of is that if I have a sore throat, dry skin, cold feet or hands, cold food or catch a cold I am NOT happy.

I drink a cup of green tea every night and try to make very balanced comfort food meals to warm up my family from the inside out.

I also have a favorite new hot toddy, a Lemon Avil Pota Hot Toddy courtesy of McMenamins one of our favorite resort chains.

2 oz. Aval Pota Whiskey
2 bar spoons honey
5/8 oz.  fresh-squeezed lemon

  • Pour ingredients into a coffee glass or mug and top with hot water.
  • Garnish with a lemon zest twist.

Here are a few of our favorite soups and stews links for you.

HOT HONEY LIME BUTTER CHICKEN

Hidden in a stack of my magazine tear outs, I found this delectable recipe for a chicken recipe that is as sweet as it is spicy and is an eye catching appetizing dish. I made just a very few changes to appeal to my liking.

HOT HONEY LIME BUTTER CHICKEN
4 chicken leg quarters
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup Frank’s Original hot sauce
2 + 2 + 2 tablespoons butter
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon avocado oil
Zest and Juice of 2 limes, separated (see notes)
2 green onions, sliced thin

  • Preheat oven 425°.
  • Stir together cumin, salt and pepper to make a dry rub.
  • Pat chicken pieces dry.
  • Rub chicken all over with the dry rub.
  • Melt 2 tablespoons butter and avocado oil together in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add chicken, skin side down and sear 4-5 minutes per side until golden on both sides.
  • Transfer chicken to baking sheet or baking dish, skin side up.
  • Wipe skillet clean.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of butter.
  • When melted add honey, hot sauce and garlic, cooking a few minutes until well blended.
  • Pour honey mixture evenly over chicken.
  • Place baking dish in pre-heated oven for 20 minutes, or until chicken pieces register 175°.
  • Turn off oven and let chicken rest 5 minutes
  • Transfer chicken to platter and keep warm.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of butter to skillet to melt.
  • Whisk lime juice into drippings and transfer back to skillet with butter, cooking until slightly thickened.
  • Spoon sauce over chicken and garnish with scallions and lime zest.

NOTES: Oranges or lemons work just as well as limes and have a subtle change in the flavor profile.

BLOGMAS 2020 ~ DAY 18 ~ FAVORITE ORNAMENTS & DECORATIONS

When do you decorate for Christmas?  Do you go BIG or keep it simple?  What we’ve done in years past and what we will do this year are entirely different.  I honestly just haven’t “felt” the motivation yet this year! COVID has changed so many things in our lives and I hate to admit it has changed this for me too, but it has. There will be no 3RD annual munchkin baking day or munchkins for Christmas dinner… so until I “feel” it, let me describe Christmas past.

I LOVED our tree last year.  We bought all new LED lights so I worried a lot less about the lights getting too hot and it was full of all our favorite ornaments.  I found a great antique tree topper that I really like. 😀

In reality how I decorate each year changes based on my mood, weather, where we are living, pandemics, etc… so it will never be the same twice! But, it will at least be the same components. This is last year’s tree… hubby is still trying to motivate me into a tree this year…

This is my Snowman Family arranged from 2 different years. They were so much fun to make out of second hand store finds.  The were also a lot of work.  I only made two families, shipping one to a friend who lives in Florida and never sees snow 😀
We made candle yule logs for Advent craft night at church one year and they were a HUGE success and soooooooo easy to do.  The decorations below are a few of my all time favorites, several of which I’ve made over the years.
The ornaments below are some of our homemade bulbs.  Several years ago I made quite a few and then did them with my girl scout troop also.  Hubby liked them so well that we have now donated all our store bought bulbs and made enough of these for the entire tree.

My cousin that passed away in 2014 made the ornament below for me.  It will always be hung by my shooting stars in her honor even though I’m still mad at her for leaving the mess called A HOUSE FROM HELL for me to deal with.
And our handmade ornament by Design Chick Creations.

WET & DRY BRINED ROAST TURKEY

Preparing turkey breasts instead of the whole turkey is a sure fire way to make sure everyone has the white meat they desire. It is also EASIER – no carcass or bones to mess with. AND it looks more elegant when served. No wait time while someone has to carve it is a real plus too! PLUS you still get enough drippings to make a GREAT gravy with.

I use one 3 pound breast per two people. This gives you enough for the BIG day as well as leftovers for sandwiches. I also use both a WET BRINE and a DRY BRINE.

For Thanksgiving I take the turkey out of the freezer on Monday and move it to the refrigerator. It will thaw in less than 24 hours generally. Then on Tuesday I submerge it into the wet brine. On Thursday I drain off the wet brine an hour before I want to roast it and bring it to room temperature.

WET BRINE
3 cups WHOLE milk
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup sea salt

  • Whisk together until salt is dissolved.
  • Place turkey breast in large ziplock bag.
  • Place bag in baking dish or large bowl.
  • Pour brine in bag and seal tight.
  • Refrigerate 24-48 hours.

DRY BRINE
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon orange peel

  • Drain wet brine for turkey breast and pat dry.
  • Combine ingredients in mortar and finely grind.
  • One hour before you plan to start roasting, rub turkey breast on both sides, lightly cover with cheesecloth and allow to come to room temperature.

3 pound half breast
2 carrots, washed and sliced (optional)
2 stalks celery, washed and sliced (optional)
1 SMALL onion, diced (optional)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon COARSE Kosher salt
FRESH ground black pepper

  • Preheat oven to 450°. This will start the browning process.
  • Adjust oven shelf to low position.
  • Add any veggies you might be using to the bottom of the roasting pan. If using veggies I add a couple tablespoons of butter to the bottom so they don’t burn. Also if using veggies you can place the breast directly on top eliminating the roasting rack and another thing to wash!
  • Top with roasting rack.
  • Transfer DRAINED brined breast to a roasting rack.
  • Brush turkey with melted butter. Loosen the skin and brush a little butter under there also. Make sure skin is covering as much meat as possible. This helps keep your turkey moist.
  • Season with Kosher salt and FRESH ground black pepper.
  • Move pan to oven.
  • Reduce heat to 350° when you place turkey breast in the oven. This will slow down the cooking to keep the meat juicy. With no bones the turkey breast will cook much more quickly.
  • Roast 1 hour or until internal temperature reaches 165°. Check every 15 minutes – NOT to baste, but to make sure your skin is no browning too fast. If it is, lightly cover with foil for the remainder of the roasting time.
  • Remove turkey to carving board, cover with foil and rest 15-20 minutes while you prepare the gravy from the drippings.
  • Prepare gravy.
  • Carve turkey.

NOTE: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container 5 days or frozen up to 2 months. LOL like any leftovers will last that long! I see serious turkey sandwiches ALL weekend long!

BLOGMAS 2020 ~ DAY 17 ~ OUTDOOR DECORATIONS & LIGHTS

Well I was hoping to have found my Christmas MOJO by now and be all decorated. Sadly, it hasn’t happened so I’m offering your the outdoor lights from the 2 local festivals, Festival of Lights and Shore Acres that we’ve been to locally over the years. Hubby did “announce” that we will be going to find a parking space to watch the Timber Town Toy Land Electric Light Parade on Saturday and I hope to get pictures that I will update this post with later.

The Festival of Lights is now over 20 years old and a great way to kick off the holiday season. It’s ALL Volunteer and NON-Profit.  It began as a fundraiser sponsored by the Rotary Club to help get the city out of debt and then took on a life of its own and now helps with scholarships and special projects. The festival runs every night from Thanksgiving to New Years and was perfect for this year since it is a truly socially distant event.  You can drive your own car or take a horse drawn carriage ride (normally and hopefully the carriage rides will be back in 2021) through the displays.  They have also coordinated a local radio station to listen to as you view the displays.  The night we went through the fog was moving in early so a few of the pictures look a bit “smoky”.

As of that year they have the world’s tallest (41 feet, 16,000 pounds with  working jaw) nutcracker built by a local company (unfortunately the nutcracker was a no-show for 2020 because of COVID), 500,00 lights, 90 animated displays, 3D displays, horse drawn carriage rides through the displays and a Holiday Village with Santa, hot cider with a bake sale and a synchronized light show in the courtyard (also closed this year due to COVID).  The displays depict fairy tales, the military, patriotism, the local logging industry, local vineyards, local fishing and the traditional Christmas songs and scenes.  People come from all over to see it. Unfortunately for locals, it doesn’t change much, but is still fun every few years. The lights were all the same this year though!

Three of my favorite munchkins from next door were coincidentally there that same night we were so had to snap a few pictures of the discussions with Santa.  They were sooooo young!

Even the lights with errors turned out cute.  It was difficult to get great pictures or continuous pictures of the animated scenes since there were so many cars behind us.

This snowman is on a corner in our neighborhood hugging a light standard.

Last year we went to HOLIDAY LIGHTS at Shore Acres on the Oregon coast.  ALL of our travel is “AROUND” Christmas and never ON Christmas. And while it was beautiful I am so glad to be home with nowhere to go until 2020.  We arrived fairly early, just before dusk so we could walk through and get the lay of the land before walking through a second time after dark.  The displays were animated and themed.

Shore Acres is literally perched on a cliff above the Pacific Ocean and began as a private estate for Louis J. Simpson, a shipbuilder. Simpson developed the 3 story mansion complete with an indoor heated pool and ballroom as his “summer home”.  The surrounding grounds included 5 acres of formal gardens full of shrubs , trees and flowering plants brought from around the world by himself and various lumbermen.  There is even a 100 foot lily pond and caretaker’s cottage.  The cottage still stands and was really decorated cute!  I’d live there.  I really wish I had seen the original mansion, but it has since been torn down after a fire in 1921 and the rebuild was never finished because of the depression and fell into disrepair.  Oregon bought the property in 1942 for use as a public park.  The gardens, lily pond and caretakers cottage were restored while the mansion was razed.

Shore Acres Holiday Lights is by decorated sponsors and volunteers.  This was the 33rd Annual event. and is famous for its beautiful 7 acre botanical gardens and Japanese lily pond on the Oregon coast among the trees.  It has over 350,000 lights, animated displays, Santa, choirs… A beautiful holiday tradition for the whole family.

Even on the years we travel to SIL’s party, we are home by Christmas itself.  I love having our tree and decorations with a relaxed Christmas Day schedule.  We do try and take 1 trip to see some sort of “City Sidewalks” type event.

These are a few of my favorite pictures from our trip to Holiday Lights at Shore Acres on the coast last year.  We took some time to play in a couple of the small towns and stayed over so we didn’t have to drive the windy roads late at night in the rain. We were fortunate to be able to have lunch with an old friend to catch up the next day before we drove home.  It was super rainy, COLD as all get out, but ALSO really beautiful. It’s a walking tour so umbrellas were a MUST, but also a hindrance at really seeing the true beauty of it all.

MILK COFFEE BUNS

I found this recipe for these incredible buns over at TrickNTreat.

The dough is topped with a milk wash and sanding sugar forms the perfect crust. The instant coffee adds a wonderful flavor and the aroma while baking is mouth watering. You can use colored sanding sugars like I did here for different holidays and add a touch of whimsy.

Eat them warm from the oven while they are soft with that sugary crunch. These are going to become a Sunday morning brunch favorite.

MILK COFFEE BUNS yield 10 buns

2  cups all purpose flour
2  teaspoons instant yeast
3  tablespoons  butter
2  tablespoons  sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup  milk
2 teaspoons QUALITY instant coffee
2  tablespoons  milk and sugar for topping

  • In a saucepan, scald the milk.
  • Add in instant coffee, butter and sugar.
  • Cool until lukewarm.
  • Place the flour and instant yeast in a mixing bowl.
  • Gradually add the milk mixture and salt, forms into soft  pliable dough.
  • Knead by hand for 10 minutes until smooth.
  • Transfer into greased and covered bowl and let rise until double for 1-1 1/2 hours.
  • Punch dough down, divide into 8-10 balls.
  • Shape into smooth balls and place onto baking sheet.
  • Brush tops with milk.
  • Sprinkle with sugar.
  • Re-cover with a flour sack towel and let sit in a warm place for 45 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Bake 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
  • Transfer onto cooling rack.

BLOGMAS 2020 ~ DAY 16 ~ FAVORITE CHRISTMAS FOODS & RECIPES

This is another easy topic.  The one thing I am noticing as I type each entry is that by doing this, I am remembering so many silly stories and anecdotes about aunts, uncles, cousins and such that keep bringing smiles to my face.  These memories are part of what this season is all about to me.

I’d like to say that our table looked just like the one in the picture. Well Christmas day was close, but Christmas Eve was ALWAYS much more casual.One of my earlier memories is of a very warm Christmas Day, a backed up sink/garbage disposal (I don’t think we ever had a holiday in that house where the garbage disposal didn’t have an issue of some sort) and then having to transport all the prepared food from my parent’s house to my grandparent’s house via my grandmother’s RED (kind of like a Christmas sleigh) Chevy station wagon (remember those?) while my uncle and I sat in the back keeping the food from toppling over.

CHRISTMAS EVE – Served Buffet style since this was the night we did most of the present opening and the adults didn’t want to spend all their time in the kitchen – in later years we would have it catered (so to speak – they prepared the food, we picked it up and displayed it) from Rattler’s BBQ.  We also began to use “FINE CHINA” as hubs calls it aka as decorated paper plates, bowls and napkins.

  • Sandwich makings – roast beef, ham, cheeses
  • Potato Salad
  • See’s Candy boxes
  • Wintergreen ribbon candy
  • Chocolate covered cherries

CHRISTMAS DAY – This is where we dug out the REAL fine china and crystal as well as the silver and cloth napkins.  I loved setting the table for this meal. There were always enough people that we had a KID’S table too.  I hated the kid’s table – all the good stuff was sitting at the grown-up’s table.

  • Roast Turkey, Baked Ham or Roast Beef
  • Daddy’s Stuffing – now recreated from scratch to taste virtually the same as my Oatnut Sourdough Herb Dressing
  • Mashed Potatoes from scratch – it was these potato peels that were one of the biggest garbage disposal problems
  • Giblet Gravy
  • Cranberry Sauce – my family always used Ocean Spray from a can but nowadays we make my homemade sauce ALWAYS  – Cranberry Sauce
  • Baked Ham – in later years it was always HONEYBAKED HAM and I loved making Split Pea soup with the left over bone.
  • Glazed Carrots
  • Green Bean Casserole (THEN) Brussels Sprouts Casserole (NOW) 😀
  • Gran’s cranberry salad – she’d make two, one for mom and aunt Liz and one for everyone else.
  • Rolls and butter
  • Traditional pies like pumpkin, Cherry and as well as Cherry Pineapple Dump Cake.
  • See’s Candies

When we go to my SIL’s family for Christmas (or any other big family get together)  we do Hor’deouvres style.   The family is so big that over the years we have found that if each person brings an hor’deouvre to feed 10+ people that we can make a HUGE feast.  We just serve it buffet style (skipping the sit down meal) and mingle and play – it is ALWAYS the best time.

CINNAMON BUN CUPCAKES
CUPCAKES
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 LARGE eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons PURE vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream

  • Pre-heat oven to 350°.
  • Line cupcake tins with papers.
  • Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together. Set aside.
  • Whisk eggs for about 1 minute. They will become frothy and lightened in color.
  • Add oil and whisk again until combined.
  • Add sugar and whisk for about 1 minute.
  • Add vanilla extract.
  • Add sour cream to the batter, whisking until combined
  • Now add the sifted dry ingredients to the bowl and whisk gently. Whisk batter until JUST until combined. DO NOT OVERMIX!

CINNAMON SWIRL
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons white sugar

  • Make the Cinnamon Swirl: mix 1 1/2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of white sugar. Set aside.

ASSEMBLY

  • Now start by pouring about 1 heaping tablespoon of the batter on the bottom of each cupcake tin.
  • Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of the Cinnamon Swirl mixture.
  • Top with another heaping tablespoon of batter.
  • Now, sprinkle another 1/2 teaspoon of Cinnamon Swirl mixture over batter.
  • Top with another heaping tablespoon of batter.
  • Using a toothpick, swirl the batter a few times to create a swirl effect.
  • Top already swirled cupcakes with one final 1/2 teaspoon of the Cinnamon Swirl mixture.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes, checking halfway to rotate pans.
  • Remove from the oven once cupcakes are lightly golden brown and puffed.
  • Cool 10 minutes.

GLAZE
+/- 1 cup powdered sugar sifted
+/- 2 tablespoons milk

  • Mix powdered sugar and milk together.

NOTES:  There are many factors that will affect your glaze consistency.  The brand of sugar you use, whether you use a scale or a measuring cup…  If your glaze is too thin and runny, add more sifted powdered sugar and test for consistency again.  If the glaze is too thick and not spreading, add a very, very small amount (1 teaspoon) of milk at a time, until you achieve your desired consistency.

GRASSHOPPER BROWNIES
11 ounce package dark chocolate pieces
1/2 cup butter
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
Creme-de-Menthe Filling (BELOW)
Dark Chocolate Ganache (BELOW)

  • In a medium saucepan, melt and stir 4 ounces (3/4 cup) of the dark chocolate pieces, butter, and the unsweetened chocolate over low heat.
  • Remove from heat; cool.
  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Line a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with foil, extending the foil over the edges of the pan. Grease foil; set aside.
  • Stir sugar into the cooled chocolate mixture in saucepan.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, beating with a wooden spoon JUST until combined.
  • Stir in vanilla.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  • Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture, stirring just until combined.
  • Stir in the remaining 7 ounces (1-1/2 cups) dark chocolate pieces. Spread batter evenly in the prepared pan.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack.
  • Spread Creme-de-Menthe Filling over cooled brownies.
  • Place uncut brownies in the refrigerator while preparing the Dark Chocolate Ganache.
  • Spread slightly cooled Dark Chocolate Ganache over Creme de Menthe Filling, spreading to the edges with a spatula.
  • Cover and chill about 1 hour or until set. Using the edges of the foil, lift the uncut brownies out of the pan. Cut into bars.
  • Place brownies in a single layer in an airtight container; cover. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

CREME-DE-MENTHE FILLING
3 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons GREEN creme de menthe
Milk (optional)

  • In a large bowl, combine cream cheese and butter.
  • Beat on medium speed with an electric mixer for 30 seconds.
  • Gradually beat in 1 cup of the powdered sugar.
  • Beat in creme-de-menthe.
  • Gradually beat in remaining powdered sugar. If necessary beat in 1 tablespoon of additional milk to make the filling slightly thicker than a frosting

CHOCOLATE GANACHE
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 11 ounce package dark chocolate pieces

  • In a medium saucepan, bring whipping cream JUST to boiling over medium-high heat.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Add dark chocolate pieces (do not stir).
  • Let stand for 5 minutes. Stir until smooth.
  • Cool for 15 minutes.
  • Pour over brownies and QUICKLY spread evenly.

NOTE: You can substitute 2 tablespoons milk, 1/2 teaspoon mint extract, and several drops of green food coloring for the GREEN Creme-de-menthe.

Here are some of my FAVORITE RECIPE LINKS to make for a crowd. They make some pretty impressive foods and drinks for a buffet table.

STRAWBERRY (FRUITY) LEMONADE BARS

I found the original recipe in an old cookbook that called for FRESH strawberries only – never frozen, but I wanted to make them in December when fruit, even FRESH can have virtually no flavor.  So, I have adapted it to use FREEZE DRIED fruit powder, Which opens up all sorts of possibilities for future flavors.  So far we’ve used strawberry and raspberry – so YUMMY! A shortbread crust topped with a fruit custard are the perfect combo for this sweet and tart bite. I’m anxious to try this recipe as a cherry limeade.

STRAWBERRY (FRUITY) LEMONADE BARS

CRUST
1 1/4 cups AP flour, sifted
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon FRESH lemon zest
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, COLD AND CUBED (see notes)
1 LARGE egg yolk

  • Preheat oven 350°.
  • Combine the flour, sugar, sea salt and lemon zest quickly in the food processor.
  • Add COLD, CUBED butter, pulsing until mixtures is coarse crumbs. (see notes)
  • Add the egg yolk, pulsing until incorporated.
  • Transfer dough to a 9×9 lightly greased baking dish.
  • Press dough down evenly.
  • Bake 18-20 minutes until lightly browned.
  • Set aside to cool while you prepare the filling. DON’T TURN OFF THE OVEN.

FILLING
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
5 LARGE egg yolks
1/4 cup FREEZE DRIED strawberry powder
1 tablespoon FRESH lemon zest
Juice of 4 lemons (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup cornstarch

  • In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over a low heat.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and stir in sugar until dissolved.
  • Let cool slightly.
  • Mix in egg yolks.
  • In a food processor combine the lemon juice, lemon zest and strawberry powder.
  • Add the cornstarch, pulsing to incorporate.
  • Add the strawberry mixture to the butter mixture and cook over medium heat, stirring continuously, 8-10 minutes until you reach a custard consistency that coats the back of a spoon.
  • Pour strawberry mixture evenly over the cooled crust.
  • Bake 10 minutes, until filling is set.
  • Cool on wire rack 20 minutes.
  • Transfer to refrigerator for 3-4 hours to chill.
  • Cut and dust with powdered sugar if desired.
  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

NOTES: If you don’t have a food processor, you can make this recipe easily by grating your butter with a cheese grater to make it easier to cut into the flour with a pastry cutter by hand.

BLOGMAS 2020 – DAY 15 – CHRISTMAS PARTY FOOD IDEAS

WOW this is a HUGE category!  I HAVE SO MANY FAVORITES! 

Because of growing families with plenty of munchkins being born and in-laws to accommodate, one of hubby’s sister’s family traditions is to celebrate the weekend before as a LARGE group and then be at each respective home for Christmas itself or with their in-laws.  As the family has grown, Christmas dinner became a larger and larger production.  Eventually instead of a “dinner”  it became a “cocktail” party with each person bringing an appetizer type dish for 20.  So Christmas dinner became a HAPPY HOUR and it has worked out fantastic over the years.  Everyone pretty much has a “signature” dish so we end up with a WIDE variety of everything from homemade Egg Nog to Salads and Chicken Skewers on the BBQ with plenty of tasty fudges and goodies too.

A few years back some friends took us to lunch at Jack Allen’s Kitchen when we were visiting in Round Rock, Texas and the food was SOOOOOOOOO good that I bought the cook book and have been experimenting ever since.

One of our favorite recipes is for pimento cheese spread made from scratch.  I now make it in bite sized balls so you don’t have to mess with a knife and and all the cracker crumbs.

I had some fresh pecans and ground them fine.  Then I rolled the cheese spread into small balls and then rolled each one in the pecans.  I chilled them overnight and then used toothpicks for serving. Sorry I didn’t get a picture when they were on the pretty plate.

PIMIENTO CHEESE
8 ounces softened cream cheese
1/2 pound Monterey Jack cheese, grated
1/2 pound Medium Cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup Duke’s mayonnaise
1 large Red Bell Pepper, washed, seeded, roasted and chopped fine
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Sherry Vinegar*
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • Mix together the cream cheese, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, Vinegar and salt until smooth.
  • Blend in the grated Monterey Jack cheese and grated Cheddar cheese.
  • Fold in bell pepper until well distributed.
  • Chill well.
  • Serve with crackers.

NOTE: *I didn’t have any so I used Golden Balsamic Vinegar

We also love to make VAMPIRE SLAYER ARTICHOKE BREAD and cut it into small bites for appetizers. OMG This appetizer replaces any entree – it’s ooey, gooey, cheesy and literally melts in your mouth all the while tantalizing your taste buds from the very first bite!

VAMPIRE SLAYER ARTICHOKE BREAD Adapted from Crumb
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced fine

14 ounce can artichoke hearts, drained REALLY WELL and chopped small
1 cup shredded Face Rock Vampire Slayer Cheddar cheese
½ cup shaved Parmesan cheese
¼ cup sour cream
1 bunch green onions, finely minced
1 package Seattle Sourdough Ciabatta rolls
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
  • Preheat broiler, and line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  • In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, melt the butter until foamy.
  • Add garlic and green onions sauteing until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Remove from heat, and stir in artichoke hearts, mozzarella, cheddar, Parmesan and sour cream until combined.
  • Slice the bread lengthwise.
  • Place the bread halves on the prepared baking sheet, cut side up, and spoon the cooled cheese and artichoke mixture over top.
  • Lightly salt and pepper to taste.
  • Broil until cheese is melted and bread is hot.
  • Cut each half into pieces and serve right away, while the cheese is still nice and melted.

Another of our go to “PARTY” foods that I tend to only make at Christmas time is Cowgirl kisses.

COWGIRL KISSES
8 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons Foothill Salad Seasoning
1 slice bacon per pepper
Jalapeno Peppers
Raspberry Chipotle Sauce (see below)

  • Mix cream cheese and Foothill Salad Seasoning until well blended.
  • Clean and remove seeds from peppers.
  • Fill peppers.
  • Wrap each pepper with a slice of bacon.
  • Bake or grill over low heat until bacon is crisp.
  • Serve with raspberry chipotle sauce.

RASPBERRY CHIPOTLE SAUCE
1 cup Raspberry Jam
2 tablespoons diced chipotle peppers
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons apple cider or rice wine vinegar

  • Whisk all ingredients until well blended.
  • Chill until ready to serve.
  • Warm before serving.

HAPPY HOMEMAKER & MENU PLAN MONDAY week 51 of 2020

GOOD MORNING my sweet friends.  There are only 10 days to Christmas Eve and only 17 to New Years. Are you ready? It’s just crazy to me that 2021 is almost here. I’ve been enjoying doing BLOGMAS every day and it really is helping me get into the spirit. We did Christmas with my mom and stepdad last night because they are leaving later in the week for the desert.  That too is helping me get into the spirit.

Be sure to join us for Happy Homemaker Monday and link up
with our host, Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

OUTSIDE MY WINDOW & THE WEATHER OUTSIDE, WHAT I’M WEARING & HOW I’M FEELING THIS MORNING It’s gray and rainy.  Mid 40’s – that’s the highs and the lows this week to go along with the gray and rainy.  On my way home from the grocery store last Saturday the guy on the radio started to give the weather forecast and after the 2nd day he said, “Oh hell it’s going to be cold and rainy through at least Wednesday, but probably all week”. 😀 As usual I have on Levis, a soft fluffy hoodie and UGG’s.

ON THE BREAKFAST PLATE Hot water, yogurt and a banana

THIS WEEK’S TO DO LIST, PROJECTS & APPOINTMENTS
  • LAUNDRY & CLEANING I did most of the laundry on Saturday, but have a couple more loads to do later in the week
  • GROCERIES & ERRANDS I’ll do the grocery shopping for Christmas on Wednesday so I don’t have to go out again before Christmas. Hubby has been concerned with my lack of “Christmas spirit” so I’m trying to get more in the spirit by making a menu and stuff.
  • PAPERWORK & PHONE CALLS I’m still waiting on some callbacks that may not happen until the new year at the rate things have been going 😀
  • RECIPE RESEARCH & MENU PLANNING
WHAT’S ON THE DVR/TV
  • NETFLIX – Virgin River
  • HULU – Melissa and Joey reruns to go to sleep by
  • CABLE – a bunch of Hallmark & Lifetime Christmas movies, Young Sheldon, American Housewife, Unicorn, MOM, BULL, ALL Rise, Chicago series (Medical, Fire & PD), L&O SVU, Blue Bloods, Magnum PI, MacGyver, FBI & FBI Most Wanted, SWAT, NCIS (Regular, LA & New Orleans)

I’M READING

  • I’m still reading South of the Buttonwood Tree by Heather Webber

FAVORITE PHOTO FROM THE CAMERA Looking for that Christmas spirit I have been working on the new ornament hangers and told hubby I’d put up a tree if I could finish them. The ones on the right are completed and I’m working on finishing the ones on the left that are still in pieces – literally. Hopefully, I will be able to show these to you attached to ornaments next week 😀

INSPIRATIONAL

LIFE TIP

HOMEMAKING/COOKING TIP

MENU PLANS FOR THE WEEK

MONDAY
TUESDAY
WEDNESDAY
THURSDAY
FRIDAY
SATURDAY
SUNDAY
DINNER
MOLLY YEH KUNG PAO CHICKEN
MOLLY YEH PORK SOUP DUMPLINGS
C.O.R.N.
C.O.R.N.
POTATO GNOCCHI & MEAT SAUCE
FRENCH ONION SOUP & BUTTERMILK BISCUITS
PULLED PORK PARFAITS
DESSERT
CHRISTMAS SUGAR COOKIES

SUCCESSFUL RECIPE LINKS FROM LAST WEEK

FEATURED PARTY LINKS FOR THIS WEEK

RECIPES TO LOOK FOR THIS NEXT WEEK OR SO

  • CHICKEN PEANUT STEW
  • SMASHED CUCUMBER SALAD
  • STRAWBERRY (FRUITY) LEMONADE BARS
  • CHICKEN FRIED RICE
  • HOT HONEY LIME BUTTER CHICKEN
  • ROADKILL STEW
  • MILK COFFEE BUNS