Thursday, December 31, 2009

Braided Ball Ornaments

Due to circumstances out of my control, I couldn't make my famous citrus potpourri this year, so I decided to make some braided ornaments instead.

Let's hope it's enough to appease the angry mob beating down my door.*

*Oh yes, I do hear about it when I neglect to make the potpourri.

After my husband distributed these ornaments to his coworkers, he reported that some wanted to know how I made them.

Well, he didn't know.

I'm sure he doesn't.


Oh, I'll be nice and let you know.

But be warned.

It's messy.

First off we start with a 3-inch Styrofoam ball.

I use a thick craft glue

(Aleene's Original Tacky Glue to be exact) and schmear it on heavily to start.

Then I place down the two ends of the braid and secure temporarily with a sewing pin.

(Note: when starting out, it is best to just use only one braid.

Once you get more experienced, you can move on to two or more braids.)

Use lots of sewing pins.

Sewing pins are your friends!

What else is going to hold that stuff in place?


Let's start again, shall we?

Around and around we go.

I told you it was messy.

Just work slowly, adding glue, braiding and pins as you wind your way around the ball.

This always reminds me of Sputnik.

Then, when the glue has dried, carefully removed the pins and

clean off any excess glue with a damp rag.

Add a length of ribbon with glue and another pin

(this one will remain in the ornament).

See, that wasn't so difficult.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Late Christmas Snow
I woke up this morning to see that the sky was red to the east.
Eagerly I grabbed my robe and camera before heading outside to take some pictures.

Hm, what was that saying?
...Red sky in the morning,
Sailors take warning...

Well, what do you know?
Guess that old saying was right.

I believe this is where my husband would start singing,

"I'm dreaming of a Florida Christmas;

Just like the ones I never knew..."

Glad I planned on staying home today.


And now a couple of short videos for my Southern friends.

And in case you are wondering, the sound you are hearing is the furnace.

Yep, it's cold.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Dinner

What better way to celebrate Christmas with the family than with a festive holiday dinner?
Yeah, that's what I thought.
I even found a new recipe to foist on, er present to my dear family.

I happen to like stuffing.
And after much internal debate, I finally decided that I do call dressing stuffing even though I never stuff a bird with the stuff.
Now where was I again?
Dang, these tangents are tough on an old girl.
Oh yes, Sausage Stuffing (please note that I made a half recipe this time around knowing that my husband and the Foodie Daughter are really not into stuffing).
Here we have my mise en place:
5 cups dry bread cubes
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped celery, including the leaves
1/2 tablespoon poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon dried sage, crumbled (or 1/2 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped)
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
dash freshly ground black pepper
1 cup turkey stock*
*Go ahead and use chicken stock if you are "normal" and not allergic to chicken.

The herbs and seasonings were tossed with the bread cubes.

The oven was preheated to 350 degrees.

After the breakfast sausage had been sauteed and removed to drain on a paper towel,
the pan was wiped out and the butter, celery and onion were added.
These cooked over medium-low heat for 5 to 7 minutes or until the veggies were soft.

The veggies in the butter were added to the bread cube mixture.

And then the sausage was added.

The turkey stock was stirred in until all was coated.

This then went into a greased 9"x9" pan.
The recipe directions stated that the pan was to be tightly covered with foil and placed in the oven for 25 minutes.
Then the foil was to be removed and the stuffing was to be broiled for 5 minutes.
As I was using a glass pan and had another dish in the oven, I opted to simply raise the temperature of the oven.

Let's move on to the main course, shall we?
My husband brought home a fully cooked smoked turkey from work.
This turkey, from Burge's, is meant to be served cold or room temperature, so that meant that all I had to do was carve the thing.

I was able to set aside an entire breast for a dish for New Year's Eve
and I have an entire turkey carcass for stock making.

And dinner is served:
the turkey, sausage stuffing and roasted green beans with bacon.
A wine slushie was a fine accompaniment to this festive dinner.

The sausage was good,
but I think this would have been better if the foil had been left off for perhaps 15 minutes,
rather than just 5.
The ratings?
Considering that the husband and the Foodie Daughter really don't like stuffing that much, they gave this dish 3 and 3-1/2 stars respectively.
The Foodie Boyfriend and I each gave this 4-1/2 stars.
I think the bread to sausage ratio could be raised to make it an even better dish - along with crisping the top a bit more.
But it was still good and it was Christmas and we are a family.
What more could we want?

Again, that's what I thought.

Sausage Stuffing

Homemade sausage adds a special touch to stuffing.

See Sausage Stuffing on Key Ingredient.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas
Wishing you and yours the happiest of holidays
From the Foodie Family to you.

See what a difference it makes using the different settings on the camera?
The first picture was shot with the auto setting - no flash.
The second shot was with the night time setting - no flash.

Minx is watching his Christmas present:
five neon tetras.

And now the space under the tree is clear for him once again.
And as for me?
Did I get my Christmas wish?

Nope, still there.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

All I want for Christmas...
is to get these football uniforms out of my dining room!

One hundred plus football uniforms.

At least they are clean.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Standing Rib Roast
A couple of times a year my go-to grocery store, Marsh Supermarkets, has prime standing rib roasts on sale for $9.99 a pound.*
So of course I have to succumb.
Can't you hear the siren's song?

*Wait, what is this? $14.29 a pound?
Me thinks a visit to the service counter is in store.
After all, we are talking about a $4. 30 a pound difference here.
Screw principle, this is about money!
All bets are off and the gloves come off!

At any rate, let's get to the food.
I allowed the meat to come to room temperature before patting it dry.

Then I liberally seasoned all sides with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
For those of you who are afraid of all things saline, relax.
Not all of this salt will actually 'stick' to the food, thus being consumed.

After searing the rib roast over high heat on the stove, I placed it back on my new, smaller roasting pan.
Perhaps this is actually a "lazy rib roast"?
The standing rib roast doesn't want to stand up.
I washed, cut and microwaved some potatoes in salted water for 5 minutes and 55 seconds.
Hey, it's just easier to keep hitting that "5" button than to hit the "6" button and then the "0" button twice.
What, me lazy?
Well, okay, you caught me.
This time.
I then added one thick-cut slice of yellow onion and two slices of bacon, chopped.
The oven was set for 400 degrees and allowed to come to temperature before the food was added.

I inserted the remote digital temperature probe in the thickest part of the meat.
The alarm is set for 140 degrees.
I never cook meat by time.
There are just too many variables.
What is the starting temperature of the meat, what is the mass of the meat, is the oven properly calibrated, are the planets in alignment, am I holding my mouth right?
Go by temperature, instead.
You won't be disappointed, though it does take some getting used to the timing.

I told you this was a "lazy rib roast."

It fell over again.

I removed the rib roast to a platter, covered it with aluminum foil and then covered it with two kitchen towels so it could rest for 15 to 20 minutes.

I put the potatoes, onion and bacon back into the oven for the duration.

I sliced the meat after it had rested.

Note to self:

Next time set the timer for 135 degrees to allow for carry-over heat.*

*This time I set the alarm for 140 degrees.

This resulted in having the meat range from medium-rare to well-done.

Yes, I was playing it safe - eh, everybody has an off day.

As a compromise (since we had been out of state yesterday, I am sick and I'm just plain tired), for the last side dish I just opened a can of french-cut green beans, drained them, added a splash of white vinegar, a dash of sugar and a slice of cooked bacon that was diced.

Once again I asked for ratings from the family.

Surprisingly, the husband gave this 4-1/2 stars.

Somebody take his temperature.

The Foodie Daughter gave this 4-3/4 stars as she would have rather had "real" green beans.

The Foodie Boyfriend and I both gave this 5 stars.

Yes, it was that good.

Standing Prime Rib Roast

A special treat for a special occasion, this prime rib ...

See Standing Prime Rib Roast on Key Ingredient.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Flat Iron Steak for Dinner - and Lunch
I like to keep certain things in my freezer for those times when I need a quick, easy dinner.
Flat iron steak has recently earned its place in this category.
This cut of meat can be marinated for just an hour or two before being cooked.

I had a recipe in mind, but my dear husband ignored my instructions to stop at the grocery and pick up a bottle of whiskey.
Of course, he claims that I told him not to stop.
Oh to have that selective male hearing.
Life must be much easier when one can pick and choose what one hears.
Obviously I was going to have to wing this recipe.
Here I have assembled:
Extra virgin olive oil
black pepper
Light soy sauce
dried thyme
dried rosemary
fresh parsley
chives (in place of the green onion)
flat iron steak

The ingredients were mixed and put with the flat iron steak in a zip-top bag.
This marinated in the refrigerator for an hour before being removed and seared over medium-high heat in a non-stick pan.

The meat rested for about 15 minutes under foil.

I prefer to cook the flat iron steak to rare.

A baked Yukon Gold potato and sauteed broccoli round out the dinner.

This was good, but I think I would have liked it even better if I had been able to use whiskey in the recipe.


The Foodie Daughter gave this 5 stars, while the Foodie Boyfriend and I gave this 4 stars.

The dear husband gave this 3-1/2 stars.

I'd say this recipe passes muster.

I still want to try it with the whiskey.

I promised you lunch also, didn't I?

The next day I made a salad with Romaine lettuce and red onion in a tortilla salad shell.

Seared leftover flat iron steak and my homemade Honey French Dressing finish off this delightful salad.

This was almost better than its first incarnation.

Sherry Flat Iron Steak

A sherry marinade adds flavor to flat iron stak.

See Sherry Flat Iron Steak on Key Ingredient.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The First Snow and a Bowl of Soup
The first snowfall of the season came this week and I decided that a good, hearty soup was in order.

We awoke this past Monday morning to find that it had snowed overnight.

Looks like we got about half an inch of the cold, white stuff.

What better day to make a nice potato soup?
That's what I thought.
Let's get to work, shall we?

For this recipe I assembled:
3 medium potatoes, diced
leftover mashed potatoes
turkey stock
Old Bay Seasoning
dried thyme
cheddar cheese spread (I never have Velveeta on hand)
black pepper
hot sauce (not pictured)

For garnish I have
fresh chives (as I didn't have green onions on hand)
sharp cheddar cheese
The first step of the recipe is to cook the diced potatoes in a bit of water in the microwave for about 5 minutes.
Dice the bacon and cook that over medium-high heat in a 2-quart (or larger) sauce pan.
The bacon is removed from the pot and allowed to drain.
Retain about 2 tablespoons of bacon grease in the pot and add the diced onion.

Saute the onion over medium heat until softened.

Stir in the flour and cook for another minute or two.

Add the turkey stock and mix well.

Then add in the mashed potatoes, hot sauce, dry thyme and Old Bay Seasoning.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Add in the cooked diced potatoes, Half-and-Half and the cheddar cheese spread.

Stir until incorporated and simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes.

Allow guests to top their soup with cooked bacon pieces, chopped green onion or chives and grated cheddar cheese.


Let's skip ahead to the ratings.

The Foodie Daughter gave this 4 stars since she wanted more bacon fat in the soup.

The Foodie Boyfriend gave this 4 stars as he had never had potato soup before and had no basis for comparison.

The husband gave this 3-1/2 stars because "potato soup will never be a 5-star dish but this was okay."

I gave this 4-1/2 stars as I think it still needs a few more tweaks.

Thus the recipe card contains a couple of changes to the recipe.

Chunky Potato Soup

Chunks of potato swim in a creamy potato soup.

See Chunky Potato Soup on Key Ingredient.