Sunday, February 26, 2012

February 2011

Sad, but true...
Hi! Remember that book, IF YOU GIVE A MOUSE A COOKIE? Well...
If Diane has to take her mom to M D Anderson for radiation treatments at 10:00 a.m., she'll most likely forget to take the package of pork sirloin steaks out of the freezer before she leaves... 
Of course, she'll realize that she didn't take them out when she gets home,
so she'll get the frozen chops out and lay them on the counter next to the sink...under the kitchen window...hoping they will thaw in time to cook supper.
While they are thawing, she'll notice that the counter needs wiping down, so she'll look under the sink for granite cleaner. While she's getting out the cleaner, she'll FAIL to notice the cap is NOT on tight, and she'll spill it all over the floor...
So, she'll get out the mop and clean the floor, noticing how dirty it looks under the fridge. 
She'll pull out the fridge to mop and FORGET that her husband FINALLY hooked up the ice maker, and pulls the tubing loose, getting water ALL OVER the kitchen floor!
Finally, she'll get the floor mopped up, the tubing reconnected, and the fridge back in place...when she'll notice that SOMEONE dropped the ketchup bottle while putting it in the shelf on the frig door, leaving red, sticky goo all over the bottom of fridge. Next, she'll grab a sponge and wipe down the door. She'll, of course, decide to clean out the the refrigerator while she'll she's at it.
So...she'll throw away all the 'unidentifiable' things on the shelves and toss out all of the mushy, rotten vegetables in the veggie bin. In her haste to keep the mushy rotten vegetables from dripping on the now clean floor, she'll hold her hand under the mushy veggies while rushing to the garbage can...kicking the fridge door closed behind her with her foot. Of course, she'll forget she left the vegetable bin pulled out and will crack the plastic drawer front when she slams the door.
Oh, by the way, she won't quite make it to the garbage can with the drippy, rotten celery...causing it will run down the front of the trash cabinet door.
So...she'll get the Fantastic and another clean sponge and start wiping down the cabinets. When she gets to the cabinet by the stove, she'll decide the wipe down the front of the oven, while she's at it. Naturally, she'll look through the glass on the front of the oven and notice that the inside bottom of the oven is terribly dirty ... from the day she made a Turtle Cheesecake and forgot to put foil under the springform pan, hence, the butter cooked out all over the oven.
So, she decides to use the SELF CLEANING oven cycle, since she hasn't tried it out since she bought the oven after the hurricane. Pleased with herself, she'll press the OVEN CLEAN button, fix herself a cup of hot tea, and settle into the den recliner with a magazine while the oven does all the work!
Of course, when the smoke alarm goes off, she'll be so startled that she'll spill hot tea all over herself as she struggles to get the recliner into an upright position. Then, she'll run to the kitchen (tripping on her Yellow Box flip flops she kicked off), only to discover that it is full of smoke...due to a plastic skillet handle melting into a black, oozing puddle on the bottom of the oven (especially since she hadn't noticed that she left a skillet of bacon grease on the top rack INSIDE the oven to 'cool' the day before!)
She'll frantically try to turn off the self cleaning oven cycle, only to learn that, once the cycle begins, YOU CANNOT TURN IT OFF! Maybe next time, she decides, she'll RTDM first (Read The D@#! 10 of the Official Potty Mouth Texting Abbreviation Dictionary!)
When, in a deafened stupor, she frantically tries to turn off the smoke alarm she will, of course, knock it off the wall above the door...onto her head (causing a beautiful goose egg)...and onto the floor where it shatters into a brazillion pieces (remember the blonde that cried because three Brazillion men died in a hang glider accident and she didn't know how many a 'brazillion' was?)
Soooo...she'll finally quieten the smoke alarm and then run back into the kitchen and open the french doors to let the smoke out. Of course, her dog (who, by the way, thinks his name is HERSHEY, NO!) will run into the house with his gigantic muddy paws, leaving dirty prints all over the floor and letting in about a brazillion mosquitoes.
Her eyes still tearing from all the smoke, she'll decide to open the kitchen window to let the fresh air in. Of course, she's not tall enough to reach over the sink, especially since there is a stained glass hanging in the window. So, she'll grab the step ladder, and take the glass down...knocking a glass jar candle off the window sill, onto the granite counter where it will break and shatter all over her half thawed pork chops.
So, she'll throw away the candle, ruin yet another sponge to wipe up the glass and...
THROW OUT the pork chops that started all this mess in the first place!
...and how was your day? 

Jellybeans and Tulips
Clear jar + dollar store jelly beans + bunches of tulips = SPRING!

Turtle Cheesecake
This is THE BEST cheesecake...I promise! The filling is so creamy...

Turtle Cheesecake

3 cups finely chopped pecans
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chip morsels

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Cut parchment paper to line the bottom of a 10" springform pan; grease sides. Mix pecans, butter, sugar and salt. Press mixture in bottom and halfway up sides of pan. (I like to place a sheet of foil under the pan in the oven in case any butter drips out.) Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle 1 cup chocolate morsels in bottom of pan.
Cheesecake Filling
4 (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 (8 oz) sour cream
1 can cream of coconut
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tablespoon vanilla
4 large eggs
Increase oven  temperature to 350 degrees F. Beat cream cheese. Add eggs, one at a time. Stir in sour cream and cream of coconut, mixing well. Dissolve cornstarch in lemon juice; add to filling. Add vanilla. Pour over chocolate morsels in prepared springform pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 20 minutes. TURN OVEN OFF, leaving cheese cake in warm oven for 1 hour. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely; place cheesecake in refrigerator to chill over night.

1 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
1 11-oz bag caramel candy, unwrapped
1 cup milk  chocolate chips
6 tablespoons milk, divided
When ready to serve, remove cheesecake from pan using parchment paper and place on serving platter, then prepare toppings:
  • Toast pecans in oven for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.
  • Unwrap caramels and place in a microwave safe bowl, along with 4 tablespoons milk.
  • Microwave in 30 second intervals until caramels have melted and sauce is smooth.
  • Pour caramel sauce over cheesecake, allowing to drip over sides, and immediately sprinkle on toaste and chopped pecans.
  • Place chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl, along with 2 tablespoons milk, and microwave in 30 second intervals, about 2 minutes total.  Stir until smooth and drizzle over caramel-pecan topping. Allow chocolate to set before serving.
Door Decorations
I know Christmas is long since passed, but somehow I never got around to posting my home-made door decorations back in December. I hope the old adage of 'better late than never' still holds true. I got the idea for this on Pinterest, but living in heat and humidity capital of the world (Texas coast) I had trouble explaining what ice skates were, much less finding one to buy! I finally thought of eBay and found this like-new pair for $8...stuck in some greenery and Christmas picks, and voila...

Pina Colada Cake 
I love to bake! This coconut cake was a big hit at a party I went's so moist inside, covered with 7 Minute frosting and toasted coconut, The secret to the easy (yes, I said easy) cake is that it begins with a cake mix!

Pina Colada Cake
1  white cake mix
3 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 (8 oz) sour cream
1 can Cream of Coconut
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 3 (9 or 10 inch) round cake pans.
Combine cake mix, eggs, oil, sour cream and Cream of Coconut. Mix on medium speed for 4 minutes. Pour into prepared pans and bake according to cake mix instructions, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, remove from pan and allow cake layers to cool completely before frosting.
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup water
4 egg whites, at room temperature
 1/2 tsp cream of tarter
In a saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil. Boil for 3-4 minutes or until a candy thermometer reads 242 degrees F (firm-ball stage). Meanwhile, beat egg whites and cream of tartar in a mixing bowl until foamy. Slowly pour in hot sugar mixture; continue to beat on high for 7 minutes or until stiff peaks form. Add vanilla. Continue beating until frosting reaches desired consistency, about 2 minutes.
Filling (between layers)
1 can prepared pecan/caramel icing
To assemble cake:
Place cake layer on cake plate; spread with half of caramel pecan icing. Place second layer on first; spread with remaining caramel pecan icing. Place third layer on top. Frost entire cake with 7 Minutes frosting; cover sides and top with toasted coconut.

New Toy!
Having spent 30 years of my life as a teacher / librarian, my goal is to go paperless! After years of shuffling and filing papers, and shelving books and magazines...I don't want to handle even one more piece of paper! Soooo...after agonizing over spending a big chunk of change, I gave in and ordered the Neat scanner. I love it! Literally, at the touch of a button, I have turned all my recipes, knitting patterns, receipts (my tax lady is gonna love me this year!), and pictures into PDF files ready to store or share. I now have the equivalent of boxes and boxes of paper stored in my computer and backed up on a flash drive! This product has so simplified my life...

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