Therapy is only a few ingredients away…

 

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A couple days ago, our neighbors across the street begin a major kitchen remodel, and will be without the necessities for a few weeks.  Without cabinets, countertops, a stove, or a kitchen sink, cooking dinner will be impossible.  So since today is a work-around-the-house day trying to tackle a procrastinated project or two, I thought it would be a nice gesture to take them a hot meal to break up the take out or restaurant food they’ll be eating for a while.   Dinner was an easy choice: one of my favorite meals to take to anyone is chicken pot pie.  It’s been in my rotation for years, and I’d be hard pressed to find another that is so easy and so delicious.  If you’d like to check out the recipe, look here.

With dinner decided, I began to search for a dessert to add to the pot pie.  After perusing Pinterest for a while and not finding anything I liked, I turned “old school” and did a google search.  Whoa.  I know it sounds archaic (and maybe even a a little bit frightening), but this time it worked out just fine.  I searched for something crazy: apple zucchini muffins (in my haste, I may have typed in zuchhini the first time, but I quickly saw my mistake and corrected it).  Lots of choices popped up, but after filtering through the recipes that called for ingredients I didn’t have, I finally settled on the choice that only needed one substitution.  I do not make it a habit to keep buttermilk in the house, but mostly because the sub is so easy.  Lemon and juice and milk? I almost never am without those two staples.  So I stirred that up to let it process while beginning on the other prep work.

The first job was shredding the zucchini.  Not a difficult task, but it did need to drain out some of that pesky zucchini juice.  (eeeeeew)  This is one of the many times when I am so thankful for my food processor.  The thought of shredding my knuckles on a hand grater just sends chills up and down my spine.

Hand grater.  How ironic.

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After that, it was time for the apples, and another wonderful kitchen tool.  My slicer peeler corer tool has saved us hours of those tedious tasks.  If you’d like your own, look here.  Once the apples were chopped, I knew I had to work quickly.  Brown apples, who needs ’em?

The rest of the recipe mixed together in a rather predictable fashion.  I mean, really, there are only so many different ways you can combine flour, sugar, eggs, oil, flavoring, etc.  to make delicious baked goodness.

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See? Not that complicated.  The hardest part is making sure not to overmix the batter.  It’s always a bit unnerving to me.  On the one hand, it needs to all be mixed together, but on the other, I’m left wondering, “Did I stir one too many times? How will I know?”

I’m just kidding.  It really doesn’t take that much out of me.

Once it’s mixed but not overmixed, into the tins it goes.  Cruising right along….

 

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They smelled wonderful while baking, and in 25 short minutes, they were ready to remove from the oven.  Lovely.

For the sake of a blog picture, I had to break one open to take a good shot.  (The things I have to do…)  As a result, Andrew and I taste tested one and they were delicious.   The apple flavor and texture add a lot to these treats.   Hopefully the neighbors will enjoy them as well!

It’s been a productive day so far:  Patrick tackled the job of sifting through his clothes (many of which he’s outgrown), and the two youngest kids worked on cleaning out the “secret room” downstairs.  Todd’s holed up in his office laboring on accounting, the middle boys are at a bible quiz event, and Hannah is working today.  We’re all keeping busy.

Happy Saturday, everyone!

 

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***Apple Zucchini Muffins***

2 1/4 cups  flour
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tablespoon oil (melted coconut oil, canola oil, or vegetable oil)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup grated apple
1/2 cup grated zucchini, moisture slightly squeezed out
1 cup chopped peeled apple

topping ingredients:
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners or spray with cooking spray. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and all-spice. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, applesauce, oil, egg, and vanilla extract. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Gently stir in the grated apple, zucchini, and chopped apples.

3. To make the topping, combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Stir well.

4. Fill the prepared muffin pan with muffin batter, filling each cup about 3/4 the way full. Sprinkle each muffin with cinnamon sugar topping. Bake for 20 minutes, or until muffins are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let muffins cool to room temperature and serve.

Note: I doubled this recipe and the yield was 24 full muffins.  Just sayin’

 

taken from http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/apple-zucchini-muffins/

 

 

 

 

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Pumpkin has taken over the world…love it or lump it?

It’s officially fall around here, but even before the weather felt “fallish,” pumpkin was enjoying its usual seasonal popularity.  It’s in coffee, baked goods, and soups (among other things), and it seems to appear just about everywhere.  I will admit that I find pumpkin cravings only wash over me during the cooler months of the year.  Very rarely–if ever–will I dream of a pumpkin pie around Independence Day.  And although I love almost all things baked with pumpkin, I cannot bring myself to drink it. I don’t really care for Pumpkin Spice Latte (Starbucks may revoke my membership now that I’ve publicly stated such offensive language), and for that matter, I don’t relish the thought of any pumpkin-flavored drink.

Show me some grace, though, or convince me why I should even try to drink my pumpkin, especially when it can be found in such delicious treats such as pumpkin bars, pumpkin cinnamon chip bread, and the latest delicious offering I tried: chocolate pumpkin bundt cake.  Apparently I’ve been wanting to try this recipe for a year because it showed up in my TimeHop app last week as a recipe I posted last October, and I had also just seen it on someone else’s posting around the same time. It was time, I supposed, to give it a try.  We made it as a dessert to finish out a dinner we brought to a family who recently welcomed a new baby, and all I heard at our house was baby-like belly aching from my own kids as to why I hadn’t made two cakes! Go figure.  Since it was so easy to put together and it smelled and looked really good, I decided to give in to their whining just this once and make one.  You know, it’s for the kids…

It was yumm-o-licious.  I didn’t hear any complaints about it except for the fact that we tried to eat it too soon after it baked.  In that respect, it was much better today than yesterday.  If you have unsweetened chocolate, a can of pumpkin, and a few other baking staples, you too can create this yummy treat.  I recommend it!  One note: since we have nut allergies, I left the pecans out.  Nobody complained (but then again, how would they? They have nothing to compare it to, really.)

So what say you…Are you a fan of all things pumpkin?  If yes, do you love it in any form, or are you particular about how you take your pumpkin?  Please, do tell!

 

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cake

3/4 cup butter, softened
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans, divided

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon; add to the creamed mixture alternately with pumpkin, beating well after each addition. Fold in chocolate chips.

Divide batter in half. Stir melted chocolate into one portion. In a well-greased 10-in. fluted tube pan, sprinkle 1/2 cup pecans. Spoon chocolate batter over pecans; top with pumpkin batter. Sprinkle with remaining pecans.

Bake at 325° for 65-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. Yield: 12 servings.

 

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Recipe taken from http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/chocolate-chip-pumpkin-cake#ixzz3FPVkAtcN

Spinach + Cheese + Crescent rolls = An Appetizer to Write Home About

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Last night our two oldest kids had a formal dinner to attend as part of their high school curriculum affectionately referred to as protocol. Being reminded that manners are not for sissies, yet proper behavior is not necessarily intuitive, the students are instructed how to act graciously and properly at formal functions. In an era where respect for anyone or anything seems to be less and less important, I’m thankful yet again that we found Classical Conversations and can share these social graces with our kids. (For more information about our kickin’ homeschool group, click here.)

Actually, last night’s dinner was a practice session for the Spring Protocol, where the group will dine at a fancy restaurant and attend some sort of performance. One of the CC moms graciously opened her home to host the night, and along with other Challenge tutors, prepared, served, and cleaned up the meal. From what I heard, it was quite a delicious spread!

Truth be told, however, one of our children was less than thrilled with the prospect of dressing up and suffering through an evening of formalities. (Until he or she actually went, that is. The entire ride home, the two were a-flurry with happy details from the night.)

I volunteered to make the appetizers for the evening, both because I knew it would be a huge undertaking for the hostess to get her home set up AND prepare all the food necessary for such a large dinner party, and because I like to make food. It took me until two days before, however, to make a final decision as to what I was going to make. Thankfully, my email inbox was seemingly inundated each morning with new holiday recipes. On Wednesday, the perfect appetizer recipe came to my inbox, and I knew it was the one. With spinach, cheese, and a warm crescent roll encasement, what could go wrong? Put with my tried-and-true veggie tortilla pinwheels and my sister-in-law’s famous sausage balls, I had a plan. Finally.

I know better to prepare a recipe for the first time when I have to make it for a function, but I still did it anyway. Next time, I think I’ll make some changes, but on the whole, this recipe is a keeper.

Start with a short list of ingredients, none too complicated:

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The first step is to completely thaw the spinach and drain it well. Then mix the spinach, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, onion-flavored cream cheese, and egg yolk until all are completely incorporated. I used a fork to make sure everything was mixed into the spinach. *Here’s where I would have made a change: I definitely would have added some minced garlic and salt and pepper to the mixture.

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Next comes the geometry problem, and admittedly, geometry was very close to my least favorite subject in any level of my education. The recipe says to cut each crescent roll triangle in half, but with the shapes of crescent rolls being what they are, they don’t easily lend themselves to being cut in…how you say…half. Nevertheless, I pressed on and cut them as close to half as I could figure out. Judge for yourselves….

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After placing a bit of the spinach mixture in the middle of each crescent roll “half,” just draw up the corners and seal the seams. Easy peasy. Especially while chatting with two children who happen to wander through the kitchen. And listening to Christmas music.

Once they’re all assembled, I brushed the tops with egg white and sprinkled a bit more Parmesan cheese.

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They baked for about the same time that a plain old boring crescent roll would, and smelled wonderful during and afterwards. A beautiful golden brown top on each also added to their appeal, so much so that Todd and I had to try one before I packed them up to go with the kids.

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All in all, I love this recipe and will happily add it to my list of go-to appetizers. In addition to the changes I mentioned above, I might also be tempted to stir in a bit more of the onion and chives cream cheese than the recipe originally called for. While it wasn’t exactly dry, I felt that it was missing *something* that would catapult it from good to great. I suppose I should just keep making it until I find the perfect combination.

It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it. Right?

Cheesy Spinach Bundles

1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, well-drained
1/2 cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1/3 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/4 cup Chive & Onion Cream Cheese Spread
1 egg, separated
1 can (8 oz.) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
make it
HEAT oven to 375ºF.

MIX first 4 ingredients and egg yolk until blended.

SEPARATE crescent dough into 8 triangles. Cut each triangle diagonally in half. Spoon 1 Tbsp. spinach mixture onto center of each triangle. Bring corners of dough to center over filling, overlapping ends; pinch ends together to seal. Place on baking sheets. Beat egg white lightly; brush onto bundles.

BAKE 12 to 15 min. or until golden brown.

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(taken with love and respect from http://www.kraftfoods.com)

Is it wrong to want to eat the entire pan myself?

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This is Christmas party extravaganza week in our lives, much like it may be in many, many other people’s lives, and with parties comes the opportunity to create something delicious to bring along to the gatherings. Of course, there are always the usual treats (i.e., Christmas Crack, which seems to be my go-to December dish), but every so often I like to dig down deep for goodies I have either never made before…or have somehow fallen out of my rotation.

This recipe falls into the latter category. I first discovered it over a decade ago in our newspaper, and probably made it so often that I decided–no, needed–to take a break from it. The clipping that I had kept a close eye on for so long (and gotten grease marks on from overuse) had somehow been lost, but thankfully, with the advent of the internets (thank you, Al Gore!), I was able to find it again. I’m actually a bit disappointed in myself that I don’t have it memorized.

In any case, it’s the perfect combination in my mind of the finest flavors imaginable: chocolate, raspberry, and shortbread. These are rich, no doubt, but are easy to make and even easier to put away. I have to employ every ounce of self control not to just stand over the finished product and absolutely inhale. (Do you understand just how much I love these?!)

Like I said, however, they are straightforward to make and look fabulous on any Christmas treat platter. I’m taking them tonight to our CC mom’s Christmas party. I hope with other moms around that I’ll be able to just walk. away.

Start with softened butter. After beating it until it’s creamy, add flour, light brown sugar, and a wee bit o’ salt.

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Mix it up until it’s crumbly, like this:

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Measure out 1 3/4 ish cups (if you’re like me and like to eyeball rather than carefully measure) and press it into a greased 9×13 pan.

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The base gets baked for about ten minutes, and after that, microwave some sweetened condensed milk and chocolate chips until they easily combine into a chocolately velvetness. (Hey, if you re-read, you will see that I make no inference of healthiness. I claim December as my reason!)

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After all these years, I wised up and did this step in a two-cup measuring cup so it was much less messy to pour over the base. Finally. With age comes wisdom, about something…even if it is just about pouring chocolate.

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Once that is all evenly spread over the cookie base, take the remaining shortbread dough and crumble it over the chocolate.

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Next, drop teaspoons of raspberry jam throughout the pan. I microwaved the jar for just a bit to make it easier to spoon out. Also, I didn’t bother to measure out 1/3 cup. Eyeball, I say. Eyeball. After the jam, sprinkle the leftover chocolate chips over the about-to-be-yummy goodness.

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It is now ready to go back in the oven to bake for an additional 25-30 minutes, or until is displays a lovely golden brown color.

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After allowing your creation plenty of time to cool completely, the only job left is to cut it into small squares for your tasting pleasure. Watch out for little helpers whose “Mom’s cutting the cookies!!” radar will invariably start to sound at this point, but for me, it was helpful because I had them clean off the knife…because they seem to wear it so much better than me. The initial reviews from the family were encouraging. Perhaps we shall all have to walk away from these together….

Chocolate Raspberry Bars

1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups (12-ounce package) semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1/3 cup seedless raspberry jam
Directions:

PREHEAT oven to 350° F. Grease 13 x 9-inch baking pan.

BEAT butter in large mixer bowl until creamy. Beat in flour, sugar and salt until crumbly. With floured fingers, press 1 3/4 cups crumb mixture onto bottom of prepared baking pan; reserve remaining mixture.

BAKE for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are golden brown.

MICROWAVE 1 cup chips and sweetened condensed milk in medium, uncovered, microwave-safe bowl on HIGH (100%) power for 1 minute; STIR. Morsels may retain some of their original shape. If necessary, microwave at additional 10- to 15-second intervals, stirring just until morsels are melted. Spread over hot crust.

STIR nuts into reserved crumb mixture; sprinkle over chocolate filling. Drop teaspoonfuls of raspberry jam over crumb mixture. Sprinkle with remaining chips.

BAKE for 25 to 30 minutes or until center is set. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.

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(taken with love and gratitude from http://www.meals.com)

Why Spilt Hairs When We Could Split Peas Instead?

For anyone who really knows me, this post does not come out any craving whatsoever. Let it be known that I do not care for peas. In fact, I quite hate them. As a child, I would practically throw fits whenever they were served for dinner, and I would go out of my way to avoid eating them almost to any cost. While I know that the main reason is because of the pea’s squishy, disgusting texture, I also may have actually had an allergy to the little buggers since they are part of the legume family that peanuts come from. Since I carry no bitterness towards peanuts but am highly allergic to all forms of them, it’s quite possible that my distaste for the green spherical vegetable was more than just preference.

In any case, as I’ve grown older (ahem, and wiser, I hope?), I can at least tolerate them…For instance, they appear in my chicken pot pie without the accompanying fits, and I’ve been known to toss a couple on top of my lettuce as I peruse a salad bar. But even though my age has matured me, I still have a line, and that line is split pea soup.

Enter my loving husband, who just happens to enjoy a hearty bowl of the split vegetables, but you’d never know it, since as long as we’ve been married, I’ve never cooked him one. (He has a few grievances in the food department, and would like to see more shepherd’s pie turn up on the dinner table every now and again. Sadly, that happens to be another of my no-no meals: I have a thing with ANYthing in my mashed potatoes…)

So HOW did we end up together again?!

No, no, no, this is not about food-related marital counseling and the need for it. Perhaps another day and another post. Let’s just say that I know it wouldn’t hurt me if I put on my big girl panties and cooked something I didn’t care for. Like…today. We just got caught up on all the laundry in the house, and lookie, lookie! My big girl panties are clean! What shall I do with the power?

All joking aside, a few days ago, I received an email with a recipe of the day and lo, and behold, the recipe was for “the best split pea soup.” For some reason I didn’t immediately delete it, but actually read through it. It certainly sounded easy enough… I recalled the several times Todd has mentioned how good split pea soup is, and the memory alone didn’t make me gag. I started to actually consider it. THEN when Hannah told me she had to have dried peas for a science experiment, I knew it was a sign. It was time to make some split pea soup. Sometimes, a cook has to reach a milestone year to realize that it’s worth trying even the recipes you have no intent to eat.

The list of ingredients is quite simple: peas, carrots, onions, celery, broth, ham hocks. Um…ham hocks? What part of a pig exactly is a hock?

That tripped me up. I arrogantly thought I could run to the meat department at my trusty store and head to the pork section and just find the “hock” area? Not so simple. I texted my mother-in-law, who gave me great advice, but I had already painted myself into a corner in terms of time and had to run out in order to pick up Hannah on time. My ham hocks would have to wait for another day.

The next afternoon, she came to the rescue in the form of a text, not only to give me the hock’s alias–the ham shank–but also that she’d spied some while grocery shopping herself. Yay! I picked one up, tried not to think about the fact that a ham hock is actually the ankle of a pig, and just paid for it and shoved it in a grocery bag. Never mind that the four youngest kids who were with me followed me out of the store asking, “Why do you need pig ankles, Mom?!?!” Yeah, that.

Finally, today was the day I could make the split pea soup. I hoped it turned out. I hoped he liked it! I hoped I could handle the extreme mushiness.

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I will say this is an incredibly fast and simple recipe to prepare: it literally took five minutes to chop and assemble the ingredients.

Before long, my crock pot was filled with all the necessary parts to create the masterpiece.

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After that, it was just a matter of waiting. 8ish hours of waiting. At first, the soup smelled delicious, but as it cooked, it took on a definite pea smell. No matter, I thought. It wasn’t for me. I stirred it and continuted to wait.

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When the time had come to complete the last step, the peas definitely looked ready. My stick blender had no problem whisking them and the other ingredients into a silky smooth soup. I wondered if it tasted good, but I just could not bring myself to try it. Besides, I reasoned with myself, how would I even know what good split pea soup tasted like for comparison? Better not mess with it at all. Thankfully, Todd came in and offered to taste test. It did need some extra seasoning, but after that, he gave it a thumbs up.

We have a rule in our house that you can eat what is served for dinner or you can not eat, but being the cook and meal planner offers some distinct advantages, I will say. In other words, I made something else for the rest of us to eat for dinner! But here’s what the finished product looked like:

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Todd was pleased and thankful and complimentary, though he didn’t do somersaults or anything like that. I mean, what was I expecting? It is split pea soup! How excited can any one person get?!

Here’s the recipe I used, taken from Taste of Home

The Best Split Pea Soup

1 can (49-1/2 ounces) chicken broth
1-1/2 pounds smoked ham hocks
2 cups each chopped onions, celery and carrots
1 package (16 ounces) dried green split peas
2 bay leaves
Salad croutons, optional

In a 4- or 5-qt. slow cooker, combine the broth, ham hocks, vegetables, peas and bay leaves. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or until ham hocks and peas are tender.

Discard bay leaves. Remove meat from bones when cool enough to handle; cut ham into small pieces and set aside. Cool soup slightly.

In a blender, cover and process soup in batches until smooth. Return soup to slow cooker; stir in reserved ham. Heat through. Garnish with croutons if desired. Yield: 7 servings (about 2 quarts).

And Mom, before you call me, frantic and certain that I’m having some sort of reaction to a strange medication, it’s OK. I’m not. I’m of sound mind and body. I promise! 🙂

If you like it, then put a biscuit ring on it!

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I shall be the first to admit it: I like bread. And carbs. So if you’re doing gluten free or no or low carb, this probably is not the recipe for you. But on the other hand, if you enjoy a good piece o’ bread every now and again, this may appeal to you.

We had a small dinner celebration this evening to welcome Todd’s mom and dad back to Kentucky after their fall vacation to the Gulf. My sister-in-law is the queen of lasagna, and she made a killer pair of pans tonight. Mom brought some greens, and I volunteered to bring some bread to round out the meal (and my waistline). At the time, I figured that I would run to the store after CC and pick up something from the bakery. Once we got home after our incredibly busy and full day, however, I wanted nothing less than to leave the house. What to do, I wondered….Bake some quick bread? Suck it up and go to the store anyway and stop my bellyaching?

Then I remembered that the last time I was at the store with Ben, we picked up some biscuits at a 10/$10 deal.

Ohhhhh yeahhhhhh. I started to see a plan coming together.

I’ve made these biscuits many times before and they are always a winner. (Welllllll, maybe except for that time that I undercooked a pan and had a slimy mess….but you know, we shall call that the exception that proves the rule…) On the whole, though, these are a sure-fire winner. Easy to put together, appealing presentation, and a dream to smell while it bakes. It can easily be adapted to different tastes, such as the addition of Italian seasonings or a bit of Parmesan cheese as an extra bonus.

To make this buttery, garlicky goodness, start with a few simple ingredients. I like to use 2 cans of Grands biscuits, butter, poppy seeds, and minced garlic. Oh, and salt and pepper.

Once you the butter is melted, mix in the seasonings. I have also found that sprinkling a bit of garlic and poppy seeds directly into the bundt pan helps distribute the toppings to all the biscuits better.

From then on, it’s just the easy–but slightly messy–of dipping each biscuit in the butter, and then standing each on its end around the ring of the pan. When it’s done, it will look like so:

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The original recipe states that it should take between 14-16 minutes to bake, by with the larger Grands, I have found it takes closer to 20-25 minutes. Watch that the middles are completely cooked, even when it seems sure that they are because the tops get such a deep golden brown. Just pry them apart slightly with a fork to see exactly how done that middle section really is and what your oven has been creating.

When the ring is finally done (not until every. member. of. the. family. has asked what smells SO GOOD!!!), it should look like this:

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It was a well-received dish indeed!

Poppy Seed Biscuit Ring

1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 teaspoon dried minced onion
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tubes (12 oz each) refrigerated Grands buttermilk biscuits

In a bowl, combine butter, onion, poppy seeds, and garlic. Separate each tube of biscuits into 8 biscuits; dip in butter mixture and stand up on end in a lightly greased 10-in bundt pan.

Bake at 400 for minutes or until golden brown. Immediately invert onto serving plate. Serve warm. Yield: 16 biscuits

Modified from a recipe found here

Isn’t it pasta your bedtime?

I have been trying to think of a recipe worth sharing for a while now, but always seemed to come up short. Little did I realize that I only had to go into my past to remember one of the best recipes someone has ever shared with me! I’ve had this little gem in my repertoire for over a decade (which is a sad realization, really….that can’t mean I’m getting older, can it?!?), and it is a hit every time I make it. It’s an incredibly simple combination of pasta, spinach, tomatoes, and cheese. With just a wee bit of time needed to assemble, the end results are delicious. .

Here’s a combination of the characters, although everything is empty, since I had the bright idea to take a picture after I’d finished.

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This time, since I needed to make a large amount, I prepared two boxes of rotini pasta, used one whole bunch of fresh spinach, used almost all of a container of shredded parm, asiago, and any other of the variety of cheese, the entire bottle of Italian dressing, and all of the sundried tomatoes. For the usual sized crowd, I would probably halve all of that. Unless, of course, you really really enjoy pasta salad.

Here’s a shot of the completed salad, ready to go in the fridge until tomorrow:

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Sundried Tomato Spinach Rotini Super Salad

1 lb. pasta (I like rotini best)
.5 bottle zesty Italian salad dressing or other dressing of your choosing
.5 package of sundried tomatoes
1 bunch fresh spinach
7 oz shredded Parmesan, Asiago, and Romano cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions; rinse immediately with cold water. Use kitchen shears to cut sundried tomatoes into bite-sized pieces and mix into pasta. Remove stems and tear washed spinach into small pieces and add to pasta (as much as you like; in my opinion, the more the merrier!). Add cheese to your liking, pour dressing over all, and mix everything well. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Refrigerate for a few hours to overnight to incorporate flavors. Stir before serving.

Makes 6-8 healthy servings

Many thanks to one of my longest (notice I didn’t say oldest) bff’s mom, who gave me this recipe oh so many moons ago

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