Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pumpkins

~Happy Halloween~

Sissy carved her first pumpkin
Here's our attempt at a Sugar Skull pumpkin
and here are our little trick-or-treaters.
Can you guess my favorite Halloween candy?

Banana flavored Laffy Taffy.  AND sissy only got one in her whole bag.  I stole it.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Dia de los Muertos Festival

Last night, Big Sissy and I had a date to the Dia de los Muertos festival, just the two of us.  Daddy kept teeny tiny home out of the cool night air and watched the finale of the World Series.  Sissy and I truly appreciate the art of Dia de los Muertos which is traditionally celebrated November 2nd, but was held early in Corpus Christi this year.  Here are some pictures...
art
fun for the young
and old, alike
even whole families
and dancers
murals on the buildings
sissy holding her shopping loot

fancy ladies
and mariachis

It was a fun night.








Cheater's Manicotti

Well, did that name grab your attention?  I only call it this because it's so easy to prepare and so tasty it seems as though you'd have had to cheat somewhere along the way. And you did!  Taking shortcuts never tasted so good.

1 box Manicotti shells, uncooked
1 (15 oz.) container Ricotta cheese, I used part skim
1 (8 oz.) pkg. whole milk mozzarella, divided
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 pkg. frozen chopped spinach
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 can favorite spaghetti sauce

Prepare frozen spinach according to package directions.  Cook manicotti according to package directions, too.  While those are cooking, preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare cheese filling.

To make cheese filling, add ricotta and seasonings to a mixing bowl.  Shred half block of mozzarella and add to ricotta mixture, stirring to incorporate.  When spinach is thawed, drain and squeeze out any excess water.  Add spinach to cheese mixture, mixing well.

When manicotti is done, after approximately seven minutes in boiling salted water, remove pasta tubes and place on foil being careful that they're not touching one another so that they don't dry and stick together.

Pour enough sauce to cover the bottom of a casserole dish.  Fill one manicotti shell and place on top of sauce.  Repeat until all shells are stuffed and laying in sauce of casserole dish.

Top filled manicotti with remaining pasta sauce and place a layer of shredded or sliced mozzarella on top.  Bake for 35 minutes.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Scarred for Life

I think, fellow readers, that I have scarred a group of kindergarten students for life (for those that don't know, I'm studying to be a teacher)!

As of late, I've been giving a weekly lesson to a kinder class.  This was my second lesson, to be exact.  Today I showed flashcards of coins after reading a story.  The first story didn't go so well; I skipped a paragraph.  I couldn't keep them focused, and they all spoke out at once.  Today, I mastered. the. story.  They all sat quietly.  They raised their hands.  They were able to answer questions.  Correctly.  I was feeling quite proud of this feat.  Undoubtedly, the teacher gave them a big talk before I arrived about behavior, etc., but I felt great.  Still nervous, but great.

I pulled out the penny flashcard.  All was going well.  "Notice the color," I said.  "Notice Abraham Lincoln, a president, on the coin," I said.  Then came the nickle, "Notice the silver color...notice Washington-

I moved right along with the dime and the quarter.  The quarter.  With Washington on it.  "Two Washingtons?" inquires one boy.  In my mind his inquiry felt more like the picture below.  "Hey lady, who's on  this bill?! HAA HAAA HAAAAA!.  WASHINGTON!"
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Crap.  What have I done?  I realize, at this point, the err of my ways.  Two Washingtons!  Why did I say it?  What will they grow up believing?  How can I ever repair their impressionable, fragile minds?

Arghhh.  I hope I get better from here.  I blame it on the nerves.  All the classes and preparation in the world doesn't seem to top good old hands on experience in the classroom.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Friday, October 21, 2011

A to Z



A. Apples or oranges?: Apples
B. Bed: Queen size
C. Chore you hate: Sweeping and Mopping
D. Dog: Pekingese named King George, it's fitting of his personality, we call him George.
E. Essential start to your day: Coffee & Computer.
F. Favorite Color: Blue and Green equally, but I'm not a fan of the primary shades of these colors
G. Gold or Silver: Gold.
H. Height: 5'5"
I. Instruments you play: My voice, I like to sing
J. Job You Most Liked: Being Mom
K. Kids: Two daughters
L. Live in: Texas
M. Make of Car: Old, but paid off
N. Nicknames: Mom
O. Overnight Hospital Stays: C-Sections.
P. Pet Peeves: Crappy drivers
Q. Quote from a movie: 
She said we could give ourselves airs and get ourselves all rigged up like race horses and we were just mules in horse harness and we didn't fool anybody."
R. Right or Left Handed: Right
S. Scary Movies-yes or nosometimes
T. T.V. Shows: The Middle, Modern Family
U. Underwear: You just mind your business!
V. Vegetable You Hate: Bitter Melon
W. What makes you run late: My kids
X. X-Rays: Fractured wrist
Y. Yummy Food That You Make: Any passed down family recipe
Z. Zoo Animal: Monkeys

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sweet Potato Pumpkin Bread


Here's a recipe from a great website dedicated to yams or sweet potatoes.  Loving all things Luizianne, this webpage was right up my alley and found just in time for the holidays; let the baking commence and the good times roll!


Preparation Time: 1 1/2 Hours

"Both sweet potatoes and pumpkins are indigenous to South Louisiana and are most often cooked in desserts or sweetened casseroles. Here, the two are combined with a simple bread mix to create a quick and easy bread recipe that is sure to please."

Ingredients:
3/4 cup cooked sweet potatoes, cubed OR 8-ounce can of sweet potatoes (I used canned variety)
3/4 cup cooked pumpkin, cubed OR 8-ounce can of pumpkin (I used canned here, too)
3 cups sugar
4 eggs
1/2 cup oil
2 tbsps cinnamon
2 tbsps nutmeg
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsps baking soda
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup raisins, (I'd say this is optional for those who just don't care for raisins)
1 cup pecans (I only had a 2 oz. pkg. of chopped pecans which seemed to be plenty)
pecan halves for garnish (I'd also say this is optional since pecans are pricey these days)
Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a saucepot, boil sweet potatoes and pumpkin cubes until tender. Drain, mash and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar and eggs until creamy. Add oil, sweet potatoes and pumpkin. Mix on high speed until creamy. Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients alternately with water. Beat until well blended. Stir in raisins and pecans. Pour batter into a large greased cake pan (I used two greased loaf pans). Bake for one hour or until golden brown (I baked for an 1-1/2 since I was using loaf pans, but just keep a watchful eye.  You know your oven best) . Garnish with pecan halves or for an added touch, glaze with Louisiana cane syrup.

Note: Canned sweet potatoes and pumpkin are precooked. (In other words, if you're using the canned variety, skip the boiling and just add the canned pumpkin and sweet potato to your egg mixture.)

Yield: 6 Servings (or 2 loaves)
Recipe Courtesy:
Lafitte's Landing Restaurant at Bittersweet Plantation
404 Claiborne St.
Donaldsonville, LA 70346
Phone: (225) 473-1232
FOODIE FRIDAY Click for details
sharing @ Designs by Gollum

Just Around the Corner

We've already begun our holiday shopping, picking up little things here and there, and if there's one thing holiday shopping conjures up, it's holiday cravings.

Do you get those? 

Just the thought of Christmas makes my mouth water for sweet-treat deliveries by the postman.  When I was a kid, I especially loved getting fruit cakes (don't laugh) and gift baskets in the mail.  My granddaddy always sent a fruit cake from Collins Street Bakery, and our relatives from New York would enroll us in fruit/dessert of the month clubs. Those deliveries were almost as exciting as Christmas morning.  Lately, I've been perusing the online sites of all my favorite treats.  I have a few...
Bear Claws, Brittle, Baskets; oh my!  River Street Sweets for truly southern treats.
Doberge Cake ½ and ½
Gambino's Half & Half- You have to go to their website to check these Doberge cakes!
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Collin Street Bakery!

Do you have any favorites from your neck of the woods?  Please share : )


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Along Came a Spider

Do you see all those little iridescent green specks on it's back?  Yeah?!  Well, get ready to squeal because those are babies on her back.

Wouldn't you know Big Sissy, Bebe, and I were dancing around like fools in the living room (even the dog was getting in on the fun) when I dropped to my knees in my Jerry Lee Louis dramatic flare only to shoot up like a rocket because this spider was centimeters from my knee.  YIKES!  The picture makes her appear small, but she was at least the size of a quarter.  I think she's a common garden spider-maybe a wolf spider so no harm, but I smacked her just the same.  Can't have these creepy crawlies in my house even though she was adding nicely to our festive decor.

I LOVE Halloween!

Decorating!
We especially love the art in Tim Burton's creations such as Corpse Bride and Nightmare Before Christmas

so when I find decor that reminds me of the artwork in his films, I buy it up.  I also fancy Dia de los Muertos inspired pieces which is next on my want list for Halloween decorations.  

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Do You See It?



My husband told me once that people often say he looks like Nicolas Cage.  I didn't see/believe it.  Then we went to lunch and a guy came up to him and asked, "Hey, did anyone ever tell you that you looked like Nicolas Cage?"  He gave me that "see I told you so" look and I chalked it up to coincidence.  Then it happened soon after at a Brake Check.  Over the course of our years together, he's gotten this from time to time.

I'm partial to the guy on the left.  What do you think?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Texas Sheet Cake

The Texas Sheet cake seems to have caught on in popularity over the years and graces many Southern food blogs and recipe books.  Being from Texas, I've grown up with this cake.  It's a staple at most gatherings whether it be on a table at a 4th of July gathering, a family reunion, a potluck, or funeral.  This cake gets around.


There are probably as many versions of this cake as there are calories in it.  So what makes it a "Texas Sheet Cake" instead of a chocolate sheet cake, say, from Alabama?  Well, your guess is as good as mine.  It seems that the history of the Texas Sheet/Sheath cake is a murky one that dessipates somewhere amid the sixties.  You can read a bit about the mysterious origins here.  I love the foodtimeline.org website, by the way.  You can search the background of just about any type of recipe.

Well, back to the Texas Sheet Cake.  I compared recipes from several cookbooks and decided on this one which is out of a book my Mom's art club puts out.  
Here's what you'll need...
1 stick butter or margarine
1/2 cup shortening
4 tbsp cocoa powder or 2 squares bitter sweet chocolate
1 cup water
2 cups sifted All Purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 tsp. baking soda

Bring butter, cocoa, and water to a boil.  While the mixture is heating, mix flour, sugar, and salt in large mixing bowl.    Pour hot butter mixture over dry ingredients and mix well to incorporate.  Add slightly beaten eggs and soda, stirring well.  Pour into a greased 9x13 pan and bake at 350 degree F oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until tooth pick inserted comes out clean.  While cake is baking prepare the icing.  

Here's what you will need for the Icing...
1 stick butter
6 tbsp. milk
4 tbsp. cocoa powder or 2 squares unsweetened chocolate
1 lb. box confectioners sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans, optional

Heat butter, milk, and cocoa in a sauce pan.  Stir until smooth.  Add powdered sugar and vanilla, mixing until lumps from sugar smooth out.  The icing should be smooth and a little runny, not like a fluffy frosting.

Spread icing on cake as soon as it comes out of the oven.  Top with pecans and let sit for about 30 minutes or until cake is cooled.  Cut into squares and serve.

Sharing @ Designs by Gollum's  Foodie Friday FOODIE FRIDAY Click for details
& Ms. enPlace

How Cute are These Ideas?

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Monkey Bread

The other day Big Sissy and I tried our hand at Monkey Bread, a pull-apart bread recipe from Pillsbury.
I think it went well.  Here's the recipe we followed:

INGREDIENTS

1/2
cup granulated sugar
1
teaspoon cinnamon
2
cans (16.3 oz each) Pillsbury® Grands!® Homestyle refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
1/2
cup chopped walnuts, if desired
1/2
cup raisins, if desired
1
cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4        cup butter or margarine, melted

DIRECTIONS



Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 12-cup fluted tube pan with shortening or cooking spray. In large-storage plastic food bag, mix granulated sugar and cinnamon.Separate dough into 16 biscuits; cut each into quarters. Shake in bag to coat. Arrange in pan, adding walnuts and raisins among the biscuit pieces.In small bowl, mix brown sugar and butter; pour over biscuit pieces.Bake 28 to 32 minutes or until golden brown and no longer doughy in center. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Turn upside down onto serving plate; pull apart to serve. Serve warm.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Texas Style Chili

When it comes to Texas style Chili, the verdict is still out.  It seems that you have some that would swear that Texas Chili doesn't contain beans and others that would swear it does, OR that you should use stew meat instead of ground.  I'm not one to say that there's only one way.  I'll just say, "if it's good, it's right."

I grew up with ground beef in my Chili.  Sometimes we had beans and sometimes we didn't, though I always liked my Chili with beans.  We used Pinto style beans, most often, but I like red beans or "kidney beans" just fine.

What you'll need...
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, medium dice
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 to 1-1/2 lbs. Ground meat (beef is traditional, but I use turkey if I want to lighten it up)
2 tbsp. Paprika
1 tbsp. Chili Powder
2 tsp. Garlic Powder
2 tsp. Onion Powder
1 tsp. Cumin
2 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
1 tsp. Black Pepper
a pinch Cayenne Pepper
2 Cascavel Chilis, seeded
2 tsp. beef bullion dissolved in 2 cups water
1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz.) can Red Beans
Dash of Tabasco

In a heavy bottom pot, heat oil.  Saute onion until soft, add minced garlic in the last minute to flavor the oil.  Add ground meat and begin to cook, stirring often to crumble the meat.  Add seasonings about half way through cooking the meat, stirring to incorporate evenly.  When meat is done, add tomatoes with juice, beans, and beef broth.  In a separate heated skillet, place Cascavel chilis flesh side down for about ten seconds to release their flavors.  Throw them in a blender with a little of the broth ( about 1/3 cup) from the pot of chili.  Puree in blender and add pureed chilis in broth back to pot.  Simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes to an hour.  Some people prefer to cook longer on a low heat, but that's your call.  Adjust seasonings to taste before serving.  Garnish with shredded cheddar, green onion, cilantro, or crumbled cornbread.  Heck, my Grandpa was even known to eat his chili with saltines.  Let your taste buds do the talking.
Miz Helen’s Country Cottage
I'm entering the 2011 Texas Star Chili Cook Off over @ Miz Helen's Country Cottage!