Category: Cooking & Food (Page 1 of 2)

My days are all filled with an easy country charm

It has been four years since my last SuperGarden attempt. That one was not very successful. Fear not, fellow homesteaders, I am always up for a challenge and I am driven to always succeed. I have spent hours and hours researching and studying before I begin again. I wish I could say I feel confident, but I do feel like one of the most well-educated backyard gardeners ever.

Although I have 2 of 3 of the “main” garden boxes done, we haven’t gotten the keep rabbits/horses/giant puppy OUTTATHEGARDEN fence up yet, so I haven’t planted yet. I do have the seeds, tomato plants and pepper plants purchased and ready to go. I am thinking after our Easter trip to AZ we will get it done.

We did get some planters along the side of the house done. As you can see below, it was an ugly little patch of dirt. Now it is three beautiful planter boxes filled with a blueberry bush, a raspberry, a thorn-less blackberry, a thorn-less boysenberry and one artichoke. All surrounded by strawberry plants. These pics were taken three weeks ago and nothing has died yet. That alone constitutes success for me, ha ha!! In fact, I will try to get some shots tomorrow of the strawberries and they already have berries!!!! I am telling you, I am the best-read berry grower in SoCal. If there is a book on how to raise the best berries I have read it. I have only a vague idea of what to do with all this gardening book smarts, but results seem positive so far!

Before Planter Boxes

During Construction

After Completion Planter Boxes

Food Is The Most Primitive Form Of Comfort

I fell off the WW wagon. Not sure if I can get back on. In the meanwhile, I’ve been riding (exercise!), working (also exercise of a sort) and caring for Calypso (definitely exercise-ever walked and washed a 900 pound dog?). I’ve been busy, busy, busy and trying to find quick and easy but tasty dinners to fit into my busy schedule. Tonight I made something everyone loved. It was quick and easy and, in my opinion, full of excellent flavor. Also? If you are a vegetarian, it’s vegetarian! (Bonus points for being pretty damned inexpensive).

4oz angel hair pasta
18-25 slices baguette, about 1/4″ thick
2 TBL butter, melted
10-oz alfredo pasta sauce (the refrigerated stuff)
3/4 C shredded swiss cheese
1TBL Basil herb blend (the stuff in the squeeze bottle in the produce section)
3 roma tomatoes, chopped
2Tbl parmesan cheese (straight out of the shaker)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cook and drain pasta. While pasta is cooking, brush bread with butter. Line a 9″ pie pan with bread (butter side up), slightly overlapping. Bake bread 10 mins or until brown. Remove from oven and reduce temp to 350. Stir swiss cheese, alfredo sauce and basil blend together with hot (drained) pasta. Spoon onto baked bread crust. Top with tomatoes and then parmesan cheese (I took the pic before I put on the parmesan cheese, whoops). Bake 15-20 minutes and let stand 5 minutes before cutting (although some people couldn’t wait).

Bon appetit!

I had a couple crummy weeks, so I am gonna giveaway something

Ha, ha horrendous title, right? Well, I got nothing good to share. I have rants, vents, grumbles, issues and help to seek; but that shall wait. Today sucked. I am going to spend the evening trying to drown my troubles. How about some COOKIES?

(excuse the terrible segue)

Let’s have a cookie recipe swap. You tell me your favorite cookie recipe (we’ll pretend it’s still the holidays, how about that?) and when you share you will earn an entry to earn a “Happy Holiday Treats” prize pack that includes a package of Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix, a GladWare sample pack and a $25 Safeway gift card (also valid at Dominick’s, Tom Thumb, Randalls, Vons, and Genuardi’s).

So let’s swap cookies and forget the world (and how time seems to disappear like mist in a sand storm lately)! It’s a quickie contest: winner will be chosen by random drawing on Wednesday January 26th midnight PST. For additional entries tweet about this giveaway “You can make your week better…with cookies and $$$. Enter to win a prize pack including $25 GC at” and leave a separate comment with the link to your tweet. Or follow my blog on Facebook and leave a separate comment saying that you did so.

Note: the coupon, prize pack, information and additional prize pack to give away were all given to me from Safeway, Betty Crocker, and Glad through MyBlogSpark. All crabbiness is PURELY mine

And the winner is MARI! Congratulations!

Weekly Winners November 21-27

Click the button to see more weekly winners.First taste of whipped cream.Shared by loving familyMy new favorite recipe adapted by me!Still with the homemade whipped cream. Obviously very popular with the younger crowd.I foresee issues, what do you think?Unadorned

As The Eating Holiday Approaches

There is a mad dash at my house to increase the number of possible dining options in my house. Two years ago, we had celebrated my famous Thanksgiving dinner here at the new tiny house and had to take turns eating. No one was thrilled with that, least of all me. Last year, I cooked over at MacD’s place. But now that they have a baby I really would like to go back to cooking on my own place.

So I came up with a plan…I want Mr. Vixen to make me a set very much like this:

Except, longer on both sides for more seating. Additionally, instead of a bench on the outside, I am saving up for some dining chairs to be added as needed. A table like this will take up a lot less space in my tiny dining corner all year round (which is where I do my sewing) so it is an excellent investment. The only problem? We forget to get started before now!

Maybe by Christmas dinner??????

Heat, ma’am! it was so dreadful here, that I found there was nothing left for it but to take off my flesh and sit in my bones

Abnormal heat has struck southern California. It was 116 degrees in my backyard yesterday. I was at work, but my husband was quick to call me and inform me of my possible death by roasting during my commute home. Great day for my auto AC to be nonfunctioning, let me tell you.

Since it is Fall, I find this terribly unfair. I want cool weather and leaf changing. Of course, I need to move somewhere for that to happen. Still, it doesn’t need to be hot enough to kill me at the end of September. Jeez.

After being grilled alive on the drive home, I saw a tweet by Rachel over at A Southern Fairytale. Now that young lady can cook. You might remember my love affair with her zucchini bread recipe last year. This time she posted about two things I adore and that just scream Fall to me: pudding and pumpkin. To thwart Mother Nature’s evil ways, I immediately jumped back into my un-air-conditioned car and ran to the store for the only ingredient I didn’t already have on hand, Ginger Snaps. And then, inside my cool, air conditioned yet still 83 degree house (you can call me determined, if you like), I whipped up a batch of Rachel’s Pumpkin Pie Pudding. It was truly fantastic. Seriously, you should try it. It made surviving the day so worth it.

Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap.

When we were in Arizona for Memorial Day, my brother’s friend/neighbor came by with some fantastic cookies. I couldn’t wait to try them, so here is my first rendition:

Red Velvet and White Chocolate Chip Cake Cookies

  • 1 package red velvet cake mix
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 bag white chocolate chips
  • powdered sugar
  • parchment paper

Beat eggs and oil. Add cake mix until mixed. Slowly add flour, then chocolate chips. Shape into balls and roll in powdered sugar. Bake at 375 degrees for about 8 minutes on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Don’t over bake, light cake mixes will not look done even though they are. Next up I am trying yellow cake mix with dark chocolate chips and then a chocolate cake with peanut butter chips. Enjoy! Mine were gone in less than 12 hours.

Crunch And Munch

Part of getting my health back on track includes modifying the types of foods I eat (aka DIET). I am hoping that saying about better late than never also applies to me and the kind of food I eat. Last night I decided I wanted a Waldorf Salad. Of course, I’ve never made one, don’t have a recipe for one and actually haven’t eaten one in more than 20 years. So what to do? Besides look up recipes on the internet? Ask twitter. Ask and I shall receive. I got better than a Waldorf Salad recipe, I got a new, super secret, recipe guru. And I hear that back in 1989 Frank Sinatra tried this and loved it!

1 large red delicious apple and 1 Pear

25 baby carrots and 2 stalks celery

1/2 cup raisins and 1/2 cup cranberries

(note: there were no cranberries available so being the fantastic chef I am (not) I substituted grapes and cut them in half)

1 cup roasted Pistachios

2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice

1 tablespoon sugar

The result was a really amazing and tasty combination of flavors. I also loved how it looked when it was done: so many colors and textures! (If I sound like I have been watching too much Food Network? I have.)

Everyone loved it. Seriously, except for picking out the celery, EVEN MY HUSBAND ATE IT. And enjoyed it!

I still am going to try it with cranberries though!

Fire burn, and caldron bubble

Comments now closed. The winner was randomly drawn and is Rebecca from Freaky Frugalite. Thanks for playing!

The Trendy TreehouseIt’s time for food! A recipe from me to you (or rather my mother, since it is her recipe). Recently, CSN Network contacted me about reviewing a product from one of their many stores. It was hard to decide, as they have so very many places to shop! The recipe I am going to share with you has been my favorite since I was a kid. I have made it many times over the year, but it never quite comes out the way my mom’s always did. I decided it was because I didn’t have a large oval baking dish from 1965. Being unable to locate one, I found the Rachael Ray “Bubble & Brown” 3-Qt. Stoneware Baker while searching for something to review. It was the “Bubble and Brown” that caught my eye! You see, a lack of crusty goodness is exactly what has been missing from my rendition of mom’s recipe! That is my fave part of this dish and we’ve (okay just me and my dad) had full on physical battles at the dinner table fighting over who gets to scrape the bottom and sides of the dish!

So, here is my recipe and my review:

Scalloped Potatoes

  • 6 medium potatoes (peeled and sliced)
  • 3 Tbl. butter or margarine
  • 2 Tbl. flour
  • 3 C milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 Tbl onion
  • 1 ham steak (cut into pieces)

Make white sauce of butter, flour and milk. Layer potatoes and ham cover with seasoning on each layer (end with potatoes only). Cover and bake at 350 about one hour. Uncover and continue baking until top is browned (at least another 30-45 minutes) My additions to mom’s recipe: I use a food processor to slice my potatoes really thin-easier and they cook faster. If you know my family, you know onions are not allowed into any food. Of course, I use onion in everything: they just don’t know it. To avoid detection, I food process my onion into mush. To make it even simpler, I go ahead and poor that mush into the white sauce after it’s done. Then all I do is ladle the sauce in and I don’t have to layer the onions. Lastly, I don’t measure the salt and pepper. I just well salt and pepper each and every layer. Well.



The pan is huge. Much bigger than I pictured it would be, but that works for me because I never use the recipe as stated above. I always double the potatoes and sauce. Otherwise, someone in the house wouldn’t get to eat (and it would not be me!). It’s just too yummy to stop with just one serving. My browning issues were definitely resolved with the baker! What I was most impressed with was the cleanup. After baking, this recipe it is really cooked on to the pan (despite my best scraping techniques) and this cleaned up so easily. The handles are awesome for getting it in and out of the oven. The only drawback, if I had to find one, was covering it. I used heavy foil and tucked it into the handles, which worked fine, but for this particular recipe it would be nice to have a lid. All in all, I give the Rachael Ray “Bubble & Brown” 3-Qt. Stoneware Baker a huge thumbs up!

I also made a lasagne in this pan and it was fantastic! I’ve only had the thing a week and already we’veIMG_5381 had two meals in it. But I want more! This is where you, my lovely readers and friends, come in. In the comments, leave me your favorite cassarole recipe so I can try it in my new Bubble and Brown 10 oz. Ramekins in Blue (Set of 4) pan! As a reward (besides access to my mother’s secret recipe-Hi, Mom! Hope you don’t mind I published your recipe to the world) you will get a chance to win this Rachael Ray Bubble and Brown 4-Piece 10 oz. Ramekin Set. How cute are those, right? That is a lot of reward for just a recipe!

This contest runs through next Friday, April 2nd ending midnight PST. To enter you must leave a recipe (or link) in the comment section of this post (required). Make sure you leave a valid email address also. Want additional entries? Okay. Choose any (or all of these), but be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry.

  • Follow my blog on Networked Blogs (widget on the right)
  • Subscribe to my RSS feed (top right, above header)
  • Follow me on twitter AND post about this giveaway (twitter bird on top left sidebar)
  • Add the ApronFrenzy button to your blog (grab the code on the left sidebar)
  • Become a fan of ApronFrenzy on Facebook (link also on left sidebar)

This giveaway is open to US and Canada only. Prize will be sent directly from CSN Network to the winner. I was allowed to keep, free of charge, the item I reviewed. But all opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.

MckLinky Blog Hop
MckLinky Blog Hop

Buns of (stainless) Steel

I got a new (to me) stove this weekend. Hip, hip, hooray! My oven stopped working three weeks ago and it is NOT easy to find something everyone will eat that you can cook on a stove top night after night after night.

The new (to me) on cleaned up really well, just take a gander at this polished beauty:

The old one looked like this:

Use your imagination here because I forgot to take a picture of it and now it’s in the garage against the wall & I can’t get to it. Just picture in your head a 25 year old white, battered and beaten gas range that had the extra benefit of being disgustingly filthy. Now let that picture go, because it will just make you ill to see it anymore. I know it did me.

A couple weeks ago the ol’ white pieceofcrap stove started acting up. When you turned on the oven, it did this crazy, useless thing: Instead of lighting and heating up, it filled the house with gas. Nifty, right? So Fishboy was going to buy a new one; however, there isn’t anyone out there in the entire world who has a tighter grip on his wallet than Fishboy. So he found this baitandswitch cheap range at a store, but no stock. They were unable to convince him to upgrade, so they gave him a two week lead time. After one week, it became two weeks from that date. After the second week, it became three weeks from this new date. I was going insane!!! So I went on CL and found one that met his criteria (black and stainless to match our micro and fridge and super cheap). I don’t know why, but it makes my tiny kitchen look so much bigger to me!

First thing I did was bake in it. I’ve had this giveaway I needed to do, but it required baking. So early Sunday morning I baked cinnamon rolls! “With today’s hectic schedules, leisurely mornings and breakfast with the family are difficult to come by. Luckily, Sundays present the perfect opportunity to reconnect and share a delicious breakfast together.”

Pillsbury and MyBlogSpark provided me with a gift pack that included a VIP coupon for Pillsbury Orange Sweet Rolls (although I went with Grands Cinnabon instead) as well as a photo album to help keep my family’s sweet Sunday morning memories close at hand. Yesterday was the Sunday morning of the “evil Daylight Savings-ness” and my family was still asleep while I baked and made some fancy-shmancy coffee in my press. I love the new range so much, I may just put it’s picture in the album instead of my family. It wasn’t long until everyone started streaming into the kitchen once the waft of baking cinnamon reached their rooms!

Your chance to win:

If you would like to win a Pillsbury Orange Sweet Rolls gift pack that includes a VIP coupon for Pillsbury Orange Sweet Rolls (or the rolls of your choice) as well as a photo album (pictured on right) to help keep your family’s sweet Sunday morning memories close at hand all you need to do is leave me a comment about your favorite Sunday morning activity. Contest ends at midnight PST on Friday, March 19th (yep it’s a quicky). Be sure to leave a valid email!

On a side note, do you see how in the that picture of the album turned out? I put a picture of baby Chewbacca with a hot dog in her mouth in the album, but I didn’t notice until I went to crop the picture that Chewbacca herself (all growed up *sigh*) was peeking out the front door while I was clicking! It is sweetness, isn’t ?

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