Monday, November 30, 2009

Pioneer Woman's Hot Artichoke Dip

I have a favorite artichoke dip recipe that I have been using for years. It's a good, simple recipe that friends and family love.

When I got the Pioneer Woman's cookbook, I vowed to make every recipe because they all look so good. Sunday, I made her Hot Artichoke Dip found on page 30.

It is different from my standard as it uses cream cheese, green onions, cayenne pepper and salt/pepper. But I thought, "Give it a try, Cindy. It's got to be good."
Here's the final product.
I enlisted family members to taste test for me. Here are the Sister and The B-i-L taking their first bites. The Sister gave it a thumbs up!
I used a bit too much cayenne pepper, so the dip was pretty spicy. It got your attention, so to speak. The consistency was different from my old recipe, due to the addition of the cream cheese. The green onions were a unique taste in the dip also. Unexpected, but good.

We all like PW's dip, but ultimately decided my old, simple recipe was our favorite. It is found in the Stir Ups cookbook on page 29.
Jeannine Bower's Hot Artichoke Spread

1 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed and chopped
1 cup Hellman's mayonnaise
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Lemon juice to taste
Dash of Tabasco

Combine all ingredients. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Serve hot with assorted crackers.

I think the next time I'm asked to bring an appetizer to an event, I will make the PW's recipe again (with less cayenne pepper) and ask for additional comments.

Have you made the PW's artichoke dip? If yes, what did you think of it and what kind of comments did you receive?

Now, which PW recipe do I prepare next?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

I hope your Thanksgiving was great!

Ours was fun. The Husband had company during the turkey frying portion of the day. Our B-i-L and his brother observed closely.
Below is The Husband removing our turkey from the fryer.
Here's a portion of the lovely table my sister fixed for us.We had a small problem with the french fried onions on the green bean casserole and the marshmallows on the sweet potato casserole getting a little overdone in the oven. No problem. Sister and B-i-L just scraped off the burned stuff and we all called it good!
Here are the B-i-L's parents. We were very glad they were able to visit Tulsa this year!
Here is the B-i-L's nephew, who is 7 years old. Note the missing teeth...
You can tell he and Big Sister A are cousins, yes?
And here is Baby L with her own mini pumpkin pie. Life is good!We are grateful today for so many things and spending time with the family is just one of them.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Cajun Fried Turkey

In this post, I shared our friend Robert's recipe for Cajun Fried Turkey.

At the end of the post, I had mixed all the spices and was beginning the filtering process. This picture is the result of the filtering process. Spicy, filtered liquid to inject into the bird and golden sludge to rub on the skin.
Below are a couple of short videos that document how to prepare the bird.

The men of the family will gather together on Thanksgiving morning to drink cold beer, while frying the bounty of the hunt.

Pictures to come, of course!!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Neighbor's Gift

Our neighbor, David, has been most generous to us.

He has gifted us with the marble rolling pin and marble slab we used to make the salt dough cookies.

How sweet is that?

Of course, he did indicate he would be happy to accept any portion of edible items we make using this equipment.

He certainly understands quid pro quo, doesn't he?

Thank you, David!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Shopping List

I mentioned recently that I would share my easy method to create my Thanksgiving shopping list.

NOTE: You do need basic excel skills; i.e. creating sheets within the file, copy/paste, sorting, etc.

Click here to view my file; notice there are separate spreadsheets in the file.


The first three sheets are:
  • main & side dishes
  • appetizers
  • desserts
I list all ingredients for our standard holiday recipes. I note the menu type (main, side, appetizer, dessert, etc) and number them 1 through whatever.

I discuss with my sister what dishes she would like for me to be responsible for making for the current year. After we agree, I highlight in the ingredients from the first three sheets. I then copy & paste all lines to the fourth sheet "shopping list #1." This view gives me an overview of the ingredients I will need for each dish.

I then create the "shopping list 2" sheet and sort the list by ingredient name. As you can see on this sheet, sorting by ingredient name groups them together regardless of what dish you are making. This gives you an overview of the total amount of each ingredient you require.

Using "shopping list #2", I inventory those items I already have in my kitchen. If I do not need to purchase an item, I put "N" in the "need to purchase?" column. If I need to purchase the item, I put a "Y" in the column.

I then create the "shopping list 3" tab. I copy the contents of the "shopping list 2" tab and sort it by "Y" or "N" and then by "ingredient." This gives me the final shopping list, grouped by ingredient, with quantities visible.

I print "shopping list 3" and head to the store. If I am successful in obtaining every item on this list, then I can complete every dish for which I am responsible.

This sounds like a complicated process, I know. But if you have basic Excel skills, it is extremely easy.

The beauty of this process is that you can keep this file year over year. The initial file I have was probably created in 2000 or 2001. I have just added recipes over the years.

Because I have this excel file and my sister and I have our "Thanksgiving Recipe" binders, we can quickly plan our holiday dinner with the minimum of stress.

If you have any questions about this process, please leave a comment and I will respond.

More importantly, if you have a BETTER process, please leave a comment and tell us about it!

Happy Thanksgiving!
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Monday, November 23, 2009

A Busy Sunday

Our Sunday started with a BANG!

We were both still in bed at 7:30 am, half asleep, when we heard "bang, bang, bang." Both of us jumped up to look out the window, asking each other "Were those gunshots?"

As we peered out our upstairs windows, we looked directly across the street and saw our neighbors doing the same. We saw two older people walking down our street and The Husband said "I should go get them to come into our house."

Duh...we figured out a couple of minutes later the sound was the starting gun for the Route 66 Marathon, which started near our house. Talk about feeling silly. But, good grief, three shots? And they were really loud...really they were.

Our neighborhood is the site of many runs, but that is the very first time we've ever heard the starter's gun so clearly. Not a good way to get out of bed!

Later in the day, my sister and I spent a couple of hours at The Affair of The Heart show. We had a good time and spent a bit of money.

One thing I purchased is the wine bottle below with lights inside and a Pilgrim couple with a babe in arms on the front. I asked the artist to create another bottle with an Indian couple with a babe in arms. I thought together they would make great Thanksgiving decor.
They are made by Misty Baker in Bella Vista, AR. Her company is Elegant DeLites and her website is found here.

This afternoon I put together the seasoning we will use on our Thanksgiving fried turkey.
Our friend Robert is a born and bred Cajun who grew up frying turkeys before it became mainstream. Honestly, we are both so happy he shared his recipe with us a number of years ago. It makes the best turkey ever. HONEST!!!!

Bert's Cajun Fried Turkey Seasoning

2 jars
1 coffee filter
6 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons dry mustard
2 tablespoons Tony's seasoning of Slap Ya Mama seasoning
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Tabasco or other Cajun-style hot sauce
1 tablespoon celery salt
2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon onion salt
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
4 tablespoons Zatarain's concentrated crab and shrimp boil liquid

Two-three days before you cook, mix all seasonings in one of the jars. Fill the jar almost full with HOT water. Shake well and let stand for at least an hour.

Filter the sludge through the coffee filter into the other jar. This is slow going and does take several hours, as you have to keep adding more liquid to the filter as it drains. Be sure to keep shaking the liquid prior to adding additional to the coffee filter, otherwise all the good stuff will be left in the first jar.

The goal of this process is to separate the liquid from the solids in the mix. The liquid part should not contain any solids as they will clog the injection needle. DO NOT dispose of the solid sludge. This stuff is more valuable than GOLD.

At least 24 hours before you cook the bird, inject the liquid into the bird in about 35 places. Don't put more than 3-4 cc in any one spot as it will make the meat pink and people will think it is not done.

TRICK - To limit the amount of liquid that runs back out of the bird, slide the needle under the skin and make the injection and inch or two from the puncture, then change spots with the needle without pulling out of the skin. The fewer holes in the skin, the better.

Now take the sludge left in the coffee filter and coat the outside of the bird. Rub the skin well and the bird turns an orange color.

Place the bird in the fridge and let set overnight until you are ready to cook.

Follow the turkey frying directions that came with your equipment to safely cook the turkey.

Enjoy!

I promise, this recipe makes the most flavorful fried turkey ever! Our family will never eat turkey cooked another way...

Thanks, Bert, for sharing your seasoning with us!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Phrase A Week

As I have confessed here, I'm a word nerd. I love learning the correct spelling, usage, and origins of words.

A few months ago I found this site, which educates readers on phrases. Love it!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Birthday Celebration

We celebrated The Husband and The Brother-in-Law's birthdays here on Friday. The B-i-L's is Nov 11th and The Husband's is Nov 19th.

We frequently celebrate the birthdays together, which works out well.

I forgot to get a picture of the two of them together. Oh well...next year!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Recipes

How do you organize the recipes you gather from various sources, such as the newspaper, mailings, magazines, friends, etc?

I accumulate a small stack of them on top of my cookbooks, then take a few minutes to place the recipes in clear page protectors and insert them in a 3 ring binder.

Obviously my stack of recipes (below) is a bit out of hand. Give me a day or two and I will correct this situation! Promise.
Here's my recipe binder. Yes, it is a 4" binder. And yes, I've made tabs to sort the recipes by category.
I started down this recipe road because I told my sister I would do the first pass of planning for Thanksgiving.

Which made me think of a question for you. How do you keep your holiday recipes organized?

I "borrowed" the idea of separate holiday binders for Thanksgiving and Christmas from my sister a few years ago.

Any recipe we make for either of these holidays is automatically added to our binders, so we can duplicate previous holiday meals if we wish.
And how, you may ask, do we know what we served from year to year?

We know because I make our own version of a chalkboard for the holidays! I put our menu in a picture frame and it is placed on the buffet to let everyone know what is being served.

I started creating menus and place cards when my sister and her husband were dating and came to our house for dinners. She and I thought it was fun. He thought we were a bit crazy at first, but now he's the first one to mention these little details if they are missing for some reason.The young nieces love all the extra things we do for our "dinner parties" and our binders will be a great resource for them in planning their family holidays when they are adults!

I'll share the easy way I create my holiday grocery shopping list in a couple of days. It works great and saves me lots of time and aggravation!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Grungy

Tuesday I cleaned one of those areas in the house that gets grungy over time and the cleaning of it you put off, put off and put off. (No, it's not one of the bathrooms!)

It was the appliance garage in the kitchen. You know...you reach in and take appliances out of there practically every day, but you don't look inside because the space is fairly small and dark (at least ours is.) By the time you notice it's getting dirty, you (I) say "I'll get that later."

Tuesday was the day I pulled everything out of the area, grabbed the 409 and paper towels and went after it.

I have another grungy, hidden area identified to tackle next week.

What grungy areas do you have in your house?

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Weekend

The Husband and I went to Norman, OK this weekend.

We attended the OU - Texas A&M game Saturday. We had a great time at the game, but the most fun was had spending time with our extended family.

Below is a picture of The Husband and nieces Mary and Tracy.
Plus, we spent time with Mary's fiance, Joel, his family and roommate. Joel and his mom, Pam, below. (Inside joke.)
OU was well ahead at half time, and I was happily impressed with how the OU crowd respected and appreciated the Texas A&M marching band. My GAWD...the band was superlative! This is a video I found on You Tube. It's not the performance we saw this weekend, but close.

I said the obvious to The Husband, "The kids in the band work just as hard as the football team." I was proud of all the OU fans as they stood, cheered and applauded for the A&M band.

OU won the game BIG - which is what students, alumni and fans want.

We stayed at the Sooner Legends Hotel. If you ever want to be overwhelmed by OU photos and yearbooks, please schedule a weekend here. Oh...my...goodness!

The hotel bar was quite a hoot. They have karaoke on Fridays and Saturdays. We went in to get a bite to eat & drink and ended up enjoying quite a show!

Sunday morning, as we were leaving the hotel, The Husband took a lot of photos of the OU sports history pictures that line the walls of the hotel. Here's a photo I took of him with a mural of the famous Selmon Brothers!
As we drove to Norman on Saturday and as we drove around Sunday morning, The Husband reminisced about his freshman year at OU.

This weekend was great! I'm so glad we got to experience it together and with our nieces!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Paperwork, Paperwork...

I sat at my desk most of the day Friday reading and completing more retirement related paperwork, as well as some routine paperwork. Forms here, there and everywhere!

Sitting at the desk was strange. I had not sat there for any length of time since my last week of employment. I decided I certainly don't miss being tied to that desk during business hours, Monday through Friday!

The Husband and I are looking forward to going to the OU game in Norman on Saturday. We'll have fun with family while we are there.

I hope you have a fun-filled weekend ahead of you also!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Salt Dough Christmas Ornaments - #2

Tuesday was "do over" day for the salt dough ornaments.

Our next door neighbor, David, loaned me his marble rolling pin and surface. It was much easier with these tools to roll out the dough, cut the shapes and pick them up without distorting them! And, let me just say this rolling pin is awesome!

David helped with the first batch by supervising me and poking the holes in ornaments before they were baked.
Here is the batch just out of the oven. Look...no puffy ones!
All the ornaments are thin like this:
Baking them at 200 for 1 1/2 hours did the trick.

I researched salt dough ornaments this week and found this project for Thanksgiving. Very cute. I need to review this blog more closely because it appears has lots of fun projects.

Now that I've had one good batch of ornaments, I only need 4 or 5 more for our party on December 6th! Wish me luck.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Salt Dough Christmas Ornaments - #1

Monday I made the first batch of salt dough ornaments for painting at our annual Christmas party.

Three cups flour, 1 cup salt, 1 1/2 cups water.
Knead, knead, knead. Roll, roll, roll with The Husband's grandmother's rolling pin. The left handle kept falling off...arrrrgh!
Cut out Christmas shapes.
Place on cookie sheet and use skewer to make a hole in the top of the ornament to allow hanging by hook or ribbon.Bake at 350 for 20 minutes if you want PUFFY ornaments, which I did not.

Doesn't that one Santa shape look like "Saturday Night Live?"

Tomorrow is "do over" day. I'll bake at 200 for 1 hour (or 1 1/2 hours) and hopefully end up with flat ornaments.

Sigh...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Mary and Joel

We had dinner at McGill's Saturday night with our youngest niece from OKC and her fiance.

Mary and Joel's wedding is set for August 7th, 2010. So, the months ahead will be filled with finalizing wedding details, as well as school and work. Busy, busy...

We had a very enjoyable evening with them...despite OU losing!

I forgot to take pictures. Oh well, next time...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Twin Great Nephews

One of the best things about retirement so far is being able to spend quality time with the family. On Friday, Tracy (our middle niece in OKC) came to Tulsa with her twin 3 year old sons, Charlie and Jesse.

I kept the twins Friday afternoon for several hours. I had so much fun. They found "their" room and Aunt Cindy's stash of books, which occupied them for a quite a while.
Jesse reads books one at a time, while Charlie prefers to have several open at once.
They also had Aunt Cindy's stash of toys spread throughout the living room.
We all went to dinner at El Rancho Grande - Tracy, the twins, me, The Husband (on the right below) and The Husband's brother, Bill and wife, Claudia. Don't these guys look great?
Saturday morning The Husband made bacon and pancakes for breakfast. Following is the show we had while he was cooking:
I look at these twins and always think of them as our family miracles. They suffered from twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome and Tracy had to have surgery when they were in utero.

We are so fortunate they are here, healthy and happy and so funny. We love them very much!

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Last Couple of Days

I've been busy the last couple of days running various errands, completing retirement paperwork and generally just enjoying the gorgeous weather.

I'm imprinting the gorgeousness in my memory so when the rain and the cold and the dreary gray days appear, I'll have a wonderful picture in my mind to recall these days.

I went to lunch with my mother and sister on Wednesday at McGill's on 21st Street. It was mom's treat to celebrate my retirement. It was so nice to have a leisurely lunch with them and be able to sit and visit for a spell.

The Husband and I are looking forward to having nieces from OKC visit this weekend. Should be loads of fun.

I hope all of you have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What Kind of Cook Are You?

Are you messy?

At the end of meal preparation, do you end up with a sink and counters filled with dirty measuring spoons/cups, utensils, pans, etc?

Or, are you clean?

Do you wash the measuring spoons/cups, utensils, pans, etc. as you complete each step in meal preparation?

I fall into the clean category. I think I cook this way to allow me space between each preparation step to think about what to do next. Or, maybe my perfectionism is getting worse.

The Husband also falls into the clean category. Which is good, because we take turns with the cooking and cleaning up. If he were a messy cook, that would stress me out!

So, what kind of cook are you? Clean or messy?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes From An Accidental Country Girl

I have finished reading every page of the Pioneer Woman's new cookbook. Hmmm...I've never been able to say that about any cookbook I own...

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed the photography, the stories and the recipes. My goodness, the recipes!

I told The Husband there was not one thing in that book that I would not cook and eat. He looked at me and said "Are you going to do the Julie & Julia thing?"

You know what? I think I will. How much fun will that be?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Another Beautiful Fall Day...

Sunday was another beautiful day in Tulsa.

I was up early and read the newspaper in solitude for an hour before The Husband appeared. We enjoyed quiet time together and then got busy with projects.

I packed away Halloween decor and pulled out Thanksgiving decorations.

The Husband ruthlessly cleaned his closet.

The United Cerebral Palsey truck will be in our neighborhood on Tuesday and we will have plenty of clothes and household goods to donate.

I keep a box in the basement at all times as a repository for donations. It's amazing how you can pretty much always say "Yes, I have something for you to pick up when your truck is in my neighborhood."

Ask yourself these questions every time you open a closet, cabinet or drawer and reach for an item:

When is the last time I used this?
Do I need this?
Do I love this?
Does this has sentimental value?

If the answers to any of the questions are "No", put the item in the donation box.

You will be surprised at how happy you will be when the items are picked up and taken away from your home!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween 2009

Another Halloween come and gone. It was a beautiful night and a good time was had by all.

Baby L was a little leopard.
Big Sister A was Bat Girl. Very dramatic.