July 27, 2015

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake


You're looking at my daughters birthday "cake".  Best birthday cake ever for several reasons:


  1. It takes little to nothing to decorate (I'm a terrible decorator)
  2. It tastes amazing!  Soft inside, chewy edges, plenty-o-chocolate
  3. Easy to transport, because there was hardly any frosting and weren't any layers. The frosting that is on there is only so the candles I put on top would stay in place. 
  4. It won't melt much, and any chocolate chips that do get melty make it that much better. 
  5. Much easier to make than a cake.  I served this with regular sized cookies for the kids to take home with them. 
My daughter and I will both eat cake, plenty of it actually, but cake isn't necessarily our favorite.  This year for my daughters birthday she originally said she wanted cookies decorated like a peacock (one of her favorite birds) but I quickly talked her out of that.  Remember, I can't decorate.  Luckily it didn't take much convincing that a chocolate chip cookie would be loved by all.  And they were.  I'm such a good parent. 



Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake


Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar, light or dark
  • 1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º
  2. Spray a 9 inch round cake pan with non-stick spray
  3. In the bowl of your stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the softened butter for 1 minute until light and fluffy.
  4. Add brown sugar and beat for another minute.
  5. Add in the egg, egg yolk and vanilla and beat on medium high speed. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides as needed.
  6. In another bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt.
  7. Slowly add the flour mixture into the mixing bowl and mix until incorporated.
  8. Add 1 1/4 cup of the chocolate chips and mix briefly.
  9. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish and press down until level. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  10. Cover with aluminum foil after the first 15 minutes. Baking could take up to 30 minutes.
  11. After you remove from the oven, let sit for a few minutes until slightly cooled and then press the remaining chocolate chips onto the top.
  12. If you're going to remove it from the pan, use a butter knife to loosen the edges around the sides and then let cool before removing to another dish. Otherwise just serve it out of the cake pan.

July 21, 2015

PW's Burgundy Mushrooms


I've been meaning to post this recipe for some time.  I was going to do it before vacation.  Now it's two weeks after vacation and I'm just getting around to it.

So here's the thing.  I wasn't sure about this recipe.  I mean, I've heard The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond brag about this recipe for years.  She's never led me wrong before, but still I procrastinated. I did that because I like wine, but I don't love it.  I love it in recipes but I don't really sit down all that often and drink a glass of it. So I was afraid that this recipe would have this overwhelming taste of wine.  I mean, it's cooked in 1 quart of the stuff, now could it NOT taste like wine?

I don't know how.....it just doesn't.

I made this recipe for a gathering at a neighbors house.  Actually it was a birthday party, but it was an adults birthday party.  I was told they didn't need anymore desserts (my usual go-to party contribution). I knew that most of the people attending had a fondness for wine so I figured that this would be perfect.

Prepare yourself, this is an all day cooking process but it's oh so worth it. The flavor is hard to describe but there is both chicken and beef bouillon and you can definitely taste them.  There is a little hint of garlic and the butter makes the sauce that's leftover at the bottom is just silky and decadent. It's good to have a good loaf of bread to soak up all that tasty juice.

Also, I couldn't find burgundy wine so I used a cupcake red wine and it was wonderful.


Burgundy Mushrooms
Recipe from The Pioneer Woman


Ingredients
  • 4 pounds white button mushrooms
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 quart burgundy wine (or other red wine)
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 4 whole chicken bullion cubes
  • 4 whole beef bouillon cubes
  • 1 tsp dill seed
  • 5 cloves garlic peeled
  • 2 tsp salt
Cooking Directions
  1. Put all of the ingredients except the salt in a large stock pot. Stir together and heat to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to simmer for 6 hours, covered.
  3. Remove cover and simmer for 3 more hours.
  4. Add salt before serving. Serve with some good crusty bread to suck up the juices.

July 16, 2015

Crusty Rhubarb Pie



The number one reason I liked this recipe was the fact that you don't have to make a pie crust.  Sounds lazy I know, but I just didn't feel like finessing a crust. After I made it, the taste made me want to make it again.  Love it.  Again, this recipe tasted like I had added some strawberries but there were none in there, I promise. Just sweet rhubarb.


Easy to assemble, it was a hit at the cookout I brought them too. Easy to eat because they stay together quite well in this bar form that we made them.  The recipe is usually for a pie but I like the bar idea too. We just used a small rectangular dish instead of a pie plate.

This is another great idea for an outdoor pool party or cookout.  Does great in the heat because there's nothing in it that will melt.  

Crusty Rhubarb Pie
Recipe on Relish.com by Barbara Maggs of Washington


Ingredients

Pastry
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp milk (I used 2%)
Filling
  • 6 cups rhubarb, diced
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp butter, cold and cut into small pieces
Topping
  • 1/4 cup butter, cold and cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º
  2. In a medium or large bowl, combine the pastry ingredients and mix until smooth. Press into the bottom and sides of a deep dish pie plate.  A small rectangular or square dish will work also. 
  3. Prepare the filling by mixing all the ingredients except the butter.  Pour it into the dish over the bottom crust and then dot with butter pieces. 
  4. Mix the topping ingredients together in a small bowl using forks, pastry blender or your hands to break up the butter.  The mixture should resemble wet sand. Sprinkle over the top of the pie. 
  5. Bake for 1 hour. 
  6. Set aside to cool. 

July 13, 2015

Old Fashioned Rhubarb Pudding Cake



While I was on vacation in Montana a week ago, I wasn't totally useless.  I did actually bake some.  My sister just moved into a new house and when she arrived she realized that someone had planted rhubarb in the backyard.  Yippee!!!  She's been cutting and freezing it until I could arrive and use it up.

The hardest part was deciding what to make.  She picked, I baked.  Worked out perfectly.


This recipe was a new one for me.  I honestly can't say that I've ever made Pudding Cake before. Bread pudding yes.  Regular old pudding yes.  Cake, yes.  Not pudding cake though. I have to tell you, it's pretty darn amazing.  I want to try this recipe with other types of fruit too.  The middle really does form a soft bread like pudding.  The top is crusty and sweet and the edges are a bit chewy.  I loved it!

We all couldn't get over how much it tasted like we had added strawberries.  We didn't but it tasted like we did.  Sweet, tender and delicious.  This would also be a great treat for an outdoor picnic or barbecue.

Old Fashioned Rhubarb Pudding Cake
Recipe from Common Sense Home


Ingredients
  • 2 cups rhubarb, chopped
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
  • 3 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
Cooking Directions
  1. Cover the bottom of a 8x8 inch or a 9x9 inch square pan. You can also use a deep dish pie plate.
  2. Mix together 3/4 cup of sugar, butter, baking powder, salt, milk, both extracts and flour and whisk until smooth.
  3. Pour over the rhubarb, if its too thick add a little more milk until it's pourable.
  4. Mix the remaining cornstarch and sugar and sprinkle over the top.
  5. Pour the boiling water over the top of it all (don't stir).
  6. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes.
  7. Serve hot or let cool and then invert onto a plate so it's upside down.
  8. *This recipe can be doubled to use a 9x13 inch dish.

July 10, 2015

Our Montana Vacation 2015

My family and I made our yearly trip to Montana to see my family this past two weeks.  First we spent a couple of days in Colorado to look around and get a feel for the area.  A move there is in our future and we wanted to know what the area was like.  We loved it. 


Evergreen Colorado is just stunning.  Ton's of trees and mountains and water.  I could see myself bundled up next to a fire during a snowstorm here, or fishing, hiking or just driving around.  It's so pretty.  We'll definitely be making our way here again.


Next we headed over to Montana.  I try to visit once a year.  Montana isn't for everyone but it's my home and it always will be.


My daughter caught grasshoppers.


We headed to the rodeo in Livingston.  It's every year on July 2,3, and 4th and there are fireworks every night after the rodeo is over.  The 4th is the biggest night for the fireworks but all the nights are excellent.


My fathers friend from high school let us come up to his place and hang out by the most picturesque creeks you've ever seen.  He's got the most perfect little swimming hole just steps from his cabin.  If you can stand how cold the water is that is.  My daughter walked around in it a little bit but it was pretty chilly.  However, since a lot of the houses in this area don't have air conditioning, a swim in a cold creek is just the thing to cool you off.


I took way too many pictures to put on here but I wanted to show you the guests that stopped by for a morning visit the day before we left.  These little deer love to eat the leaves off the trees even though they have to stand up on their hind legs to reach them.  

We had a great vacation.  Waking up to the nice cool air in the morning was such a relief.  I can handle heat and humidity that we get here in the South but I definitely miss the mountain air.  Seeing family and friends was great.  I can't wait to get back there again soon. 

July 8, 2015

PW's Sloppy Joes


I just got back from my annual trip to Montana, so please forgive the lack of posts lately.  I'll try to get some pictures up in the next couple of days.  We had a fantastic time, I just love it there.

This is a recipe I made right before we left on vacation. Sloppy Joes are just one of those meals that kids love.  When I was a kid it was just a matter of opening that famous can and dumping it in with some ground beef, but this version is tastier and still super easy.  Just some quick chopping and you have a quick meal, ready in no time.

My daughter, also known as the pickiest eater ever, even gave me the thumbs up.  I avoided the spicy stuff listed below as optional just to appeal to her more.  I just gave my personal sandwich a nice couple of dashes of Tabasco right before eating. So delicious!

Sloppy Joes
Recipe from The Pioneer Woman


Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 1 whole large bell pepper, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp dry red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Worcestershire sauce, to taste
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste (optional)
  • Tabasco sauce, to taste (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Cooking Directions
  1. Add the butter to a large dutch oven or pot and melt, add the ground beef and cook until no pink remains. Drain the fat.
  2. Add the onions, bell pepper and garlic.  Cook for a few minutes until the vegetables get soft. 
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and let simmer for about 15 minutes while you prepare the rolls. 
  4. Spread a little room temperature butter on rolls or bread and grill until golden, top with the sloppy joe mixture (add cheese if you're feeling daring) and serve hot. 

June 23, 2015

Refurbishing Furniture



I know I've mentioned before, how I'm not good at decorating.  I am, however, good at projects. Or at least I like to think I am. 

I have to give all the credit to my neighbor and good friend, Emily, for guiding me through this process. We went to Goodwill just on a whim before heading to an antique store.  Lucky we did because we found everything I was looking for there.  Well, technically, everything Emily knew I was looking for. She spotted this dresser and grabbed the claim ticket before anyone else did.  When I first saw it I was like, oh that's nice.  But she was in LOVE with it. Then she showed me some pictures of how we could refurbish it and I began to see what she had in mind. 


This wasn't exactly a quick project because, you know, life and all.  But I was able to sand it and get it painted in about a months time.  Obviously it could have been done sooner if I was more ambitious.
I sanded all the original finish off but you don't actually have to do that.  You just need to scratch it up  with some sand paper.  I used rough sand paper.  Then apply the paint in the color you choose.


After being painted, I just needed Emily to come help me distress it.  I've never done it before and she has so I didn't want to try it on my own.

To distress, just take a piece of rough sand paper (wear some gloves) and sand off the paint in areas that would normally show wear over time.  Like under or over the handles.  Corners, edges, that sort of thing.  You can do as much or as little as you like.  Start small and just keep stepping back to look it over.


The finished piece.  I am in love with it now.  I don't have the vision that Emily has so I wasn't able to see the finished product when I looked at the dresser at Goodwill.  She also picked out the lamps at Goodwill and the mirror was one she had that she let me have.

We left the top the original color and didn't need to finish it at all.  All we did was use this amazing solution that Emily had heard about and it worked wonders for the top.  It brought back the luster and shine, it conditioned it and it made all marks all but disappear. Ready for the amazing recipe? Here it goes.

1 part olive oil
1 part white vinegar

That's it.  Seriously.

Cost associated with the project.
$150 for the dresser at Goodwill
$15 paint
I already had sandpaper and paintbrushes.
I also used a mask for the sanding portion, I think it was $10 or less.