Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Gator Eyes! (Good for potlucks!)



In my home state of FLORIDA, there are lots of gators!  For fun, we actually like to go out and shine headlights or spotlights on the water to see if we can see some GATOR EYES (the eyes shine in the lights!  It's way cool.)   (Yes, this is true!  And you definitely don't want to get too close, right?)

But even more fun than spying gator eyes, is eating some gator eyes... except we ONLY eat the ones made out of pickles, cream cheese, and lunchmeat ham!

My sister-in-law is SUPREMO at making these.  Her gator eyes far surpass mine.  But, luckily she shared the recipe with me and I gave 'er a whirl this weekend.  They were delicious!  Not as beautiful as my sister-in-law's gator eyes, but delicious!

These are great for potlucks, packing for lunch, pretty much any holiday or picnic.

This is how we make Gator Eyes, AT HOME MY WAY:

 
Gator Eyes
  • 1 jar of large whole pickles (We prefer kosher dills from Vlasic but sweet pickles are also really, really good!)
  • 1 (8 oz) cream cheese (I use low fat)
  • 1 package of lunch meat ham (the packages that are rectangles and it should be "cooked ham" not honey ham or boiled ham (I don't know why this makes a difference, but it does.)
(I bought this kind and it worked great):
 
 
 
Instructions:
 
Bring the cream cheese to room temp or so that it is spreadable.  Dry off each slice of ham that you use (1 ham=1 pickle), dry both sides very well.
Dry off each pickle that you use very well.
Spread cream cheese on each slice of ham, then wrap the cream cheese/ham (cream cheese side to the pickle) and wrap up.
Place all the wrapped pickles on a plate, wrap with plastic wrap, and place in the fridge for several hours or overnight.
Right before serving, slice the pickles.
 
The Plus:  The maker of these pickles gets to eat all of the ends!  Woo-hoo!
 
 

 
 
 
 



Monday, December 10, 2012

Good Monday morning!

I decided to go ahead and start the week off on the right foot with a menu plan.  This week, I am trying to plan meals using what I have on hand, and to try NOT to waste food by eating and re-serving leftovers.  I have a pretty well stocked pantry and freezer though, so I should be good to go for most of these meals.

Here's my meal plan for December 10, 2012 through December 16, 2012.


Meal Plan (12/10/12 through 12/16/12)

Breakfasts:



  • Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal using overripe bananas, sliced, and stashed in my freezer.  (I baked these this morning in a super sized muffin tin, no papers - just sprayed the tin with cooking spray.  This way I can freeze leftovers if I get tired of having this, for eating another day.)
  • Chocolate Granola - I am trying a recipe this week from one of my favorite blogs - Lynn's Kitchen Adventures.  (I'm thinking this may remind me a little of chocolate krispie cereal, so I plan on eating it with milk and also with yogurt/fruit.)
  • Toast with HM peach preserves (My daughter made this for me this summer YUM!)

  • HM Cinnamon Rolls (My daughter is coming home from college for the holidays!  Gotta make a special treat!)
Lunches:
  • PB&J - using more of those HM peach preserves
  • Freezer burritos using leftover chili/cheese & rice I keep in the freezer)

Suppers:





Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Cinnamon Sugar Quick Bread



I shared yesterday that in the last couple of weeks I've been in a cooking funk.  Well... really I guess it was a non-cooking funk ha.. since I haven't been doing much cooking.

My pantry was slim pickings last week and yet I was in the mood to cook something.  I also needed something for my breakfasts and remembered this recipe for Cinnamon Sugar Quick Bread.

This is a frugal, pantry cooking recipe.  It uses ingredients I normally keep in my pantry.  It does call for buttermilk which I almost NEVER buy unless I'm making ranch dressing.  But, that's no problem.  Just measure the milk and add a spoonful of lemon juice or vinegar.  Let it sit a few minutes and it works fine in this recipe.  I don't actually measure the lemon juice.  

My husband also loves this recipe.  He's not much of a sweet eater but if we have a loaf of Cinnamon Sugar Quick Bread on the counter, then he will be slicing into it.  It reminds me of zucchini bread, but without the zucchini.  Its not a yeast bread.  Its a quick bread, more like a muffin. 

Here's how I make Cinnamon Sugar Quick Bread AT HOME MY WAY:

Cinnamon Sugar Quick Bread
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (unbleached is best)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk/sour milk (1 T. vinegar/lemon juice, then add enough milk to equal 1 cup)
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 eggs (slightly beaten)
Streusel:

2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoon butter/margarine 

In a large bowl, combine all of the bread ingredients.  Beat for 2 minutes.  It will be very thick.  Pour the batter into a sprayed/prepared pan.  In a separate, small bowl, combine all streusel ingredients until crumbly.  Sprinkle over the batter and swirl slightly to marble.  Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes or until a toothpick/knife inserted into the center comes clean (my loaf took a little longer).  Cool 10 minutes and then loosen with a knife and remove from the pan.  Makes 1 loaf.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Brownies Without a Box


Sorry I haven't posted in so LONG... I've been in a cooking funk lately and nothing new or wonderful has been coming out of my kitchen.  Just a little of the same old - same old.  Even frozen pizza - eeeek!!!!  

This evening I had the oven on while I was baking oven fries and I decided to stick something yummy and ooey gooey in the oven while I had it all heated up.  I'm not exactly sure why I decided to heat up my oven on one of the only December evenings that I ever remember in Missouri with the temperature outside at over 75 degrees, but I did.  It was SO worth it!

I made a favorite brownie recipe.  I love really good, chewy and dense brownies.  Yes the Black Bean Brownie was an option, but I wanted to make a more traditional brownie.  

Several months ago I tried a recipe I found for brownies that taste just like the box kind.  You know... with the little shiny, paper thin top that almost lifts off the brownie.  Yep!  Those are the ones!  And I have discovered the way to make them at home - without the box!  They do use chocolate chips instead of cocoa but I usually have some stuffed in the depths of the pantry. 

This recipe is the closest recipe I have ever come to those brownies in the red box that we all grew up eating.  

This is how I make Brownies Without the Box AT HOME MY WAY:

Brownies Without The Box

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter (I used margarine)
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Heat the butter/margarine in a small pot until melting.  Add the sugar.  Cook just until the sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat, stir in the chocolate chips.  Stir until they are melted into the margarine/butter & sugar.  Let cool to room temp.  In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until blenDed. Add a spoonful of the egg to the melted chocolate to temper the eggs.  Then add all of the eggs into the pot with the melted chocolate.  Stir in the baking soda, then vanilla, then flour.  Stir well.  Add nuts if you want (we like chopped pecans).  Pour into greased/sprayed 9 x 13 pan.  

Bake in preheated 350 oven for 18 to 20 minutes.  Try to let them cool before slicing.  And remember, slicing brownies with a plastic knife will leave a smoother slice for cutting the brownies.


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