I need to update.

I know!

I know!

I knoooooow!

And I will!  Pinky swear!

I have lots to talk about!

(More exclamation marks!!!!)

(!!!)

So anyway.

I have planted a garden!  And things are actually starting to grow.  This really surprised me.

So far I’ve got 6 tomatoes growing and a fajita bell pepper. (A fajita bell pepper is apparently a bell pepper that has a slight amount of spice to it….say, like, for fajitas!)  I’ve got a few other little tiny things on some other bell pepper plants that may or may not turn into anything, so I’m not going to count them for now, or I’ll just be disappointed when they dry up and fall off.

Cucumbers and beans and banana peppers and jalapenos are also planted and I’m waiting on pins and needles for them to sprout something.

My zucchini didn’t make it.

*sniff*

But my garlic has sprouted up in a shockingly short amount of time.  I planted it and then nothing…..and nothing….and more nothing….and then…nope….still nothing….

And then we got a pretty heavy rain and the next day…

BAM!

(all Emeril-style)

All my little garlics were sprouted!

I’m a little bit stupid excited about my garden and I’ll tell you why.  And it’s for reasons other than I’m just really excited about cooking with things that I’ve actually grown with my own two little hands.  One day….ONE DAY…after I planted my garden, a deer came along and ate everything.

EV – REE – THING!!!

Except my one jalapeno plant (which Lee had already broken half of it off, so yeah.  That.).

My poor little basil still hasn’t quite made a grand comeback and one bell pepper plant is just not happening, but everything else has come back like a champ!  We got this fertilizer stuff that deer apparently HATE and we haven’t seen one in our yard since.  Which is good, because I was planning on setting up a deer sting operation, and these days I just can’t seem to stay up past 11, so I’m not sure how well that would have gone.  I probably just would have ended up sleeping on the deck with the bugs.  Ew.

So there’s that.

And there’s other stuff too!!

Really, really great stuff!

SEEKRIT STUFFS!!

Which I will tell you all about soon!

And I’m making meatloaf tonight, so I may take pictures of that and write about it if it comes out as good as I think it will.

Y’all….It’s wrapped in bacon.

BACON…

Correct me if I’m wrong, but there is just nothing better than bacon.

I’m hungry just thinking about it.

Maybe I should go get a start on that!

Mmmmm…..baaaaaacooooooonnnnnnn…..

*drool*


BRB….

29Mar12

I have not forgotten about you, little blog.  

It’s just that these allergies…

Good grief, these allergies…

I don’t know if any of y’all live in or around Eastern NC, but the pollen here is unbelievable at the moment and it has me just miserable!

Things seem to be slightly looking up, so I will be back just as soon as I can breath comfortably out of my nose for at least 4 hours at a time.

Lovely mental image…I know.

You’re welcome! 😉

BRB


I used to *gulp* make nothing but frozen garlic bread.

And I loved it.

There.  I said it.

Whew.  I feel better.

I’m not sure why I started experimenting with making my own garlic bread, but boy am I ever glad I did.  Don’t get me wrong.  I won’t judge you for making the frozen stuff.  I thought it was the be-all end-all of garlic bread at one time!  But be forewarned…if you make this garlic bread, even once!  You’ll never be able to go back.  Okay.  You can go back.  But it won’t taste as good as it did before you had the fresh stuff. To me, the frozen garlic bread just tastes like freezer.  Sorry, Mom.

So!  With no more time to waste!  Hold on to your britches, here we go!

Here’s what you’ll need…

 A loaf of French or Italian bread (or any kind of crusty loaf you find in the bakery that tickles your fancy!  We’re all about tickling fancies here), somewhere between a half and a whole stick of softened butter (salted, unsalted, doesn’t matter here), 2-4 cloves of fresh garlic (depending on how garlicky you like it, I always go with 4), basil (you can use fresh, but dried works just as well), parsley (ditto), salt, and olive oil.

Chunk up your butter (between 1/2 a stick and a whole stick…I probably go with about 3/4…just to be difficult).

Take a few garlic cloves (I know, I know, I said I always use 4.  I don’t know what I was thinking here).

Take a big ol’ knife (this one is my favorite….I’m actually pretty surprised it doesn’t have a name yet) and turn it on it’s side on top of the garlic cloves and give ’em a good whack.  You could also take a jar or cup or something and pop it on top of the garlic cloves to lightly smash them.

See how the paper is all cracked now?

Comes right off!

Gah!  They’re all naked!  Naughty little garlic cloves!  Children, avert your eyes!!

Now give the little suckers a good chop.  Don’t worry about getting it too fine, we’re going to take care of that.

Now sprinkle a good pinch of salt (kosher for this…please?) on top…

And drip a little bit of olive oil on top of the salt (about 1-2 Tablespoons).  This is going to help the salt and garlic stay together.

Now take that knife again (really have to come up with a name for him), lay it on it’s side over just the edge of the garlic/salt/oil pile and squish it.  Kind of press down and slide your knife out to smoosh up the garlic bits.

And keep smooshing until it’s all…well….smooshed!

Then, if you’re like me (I like it really smooshed), rake it back into a pile, and go over it again until it’s nice and pasty!

Ahhhh….smooshed salty, garlicky goodness!

Now make sure your butter is all nice and soft and spreadable.

Hello again, spatula!

And plop the garlicky goodness right on top.  Mmmm…now it’s salty, garlicky, buttery goodness!  Is there anything better?

Now add a nice big pinch of parsley (maybe 1 1/2 teaspoons?…who knows).

And a nice big pinch of basil (probably more like 1 teaspoon of this stuff)

Throw in another pinch of salt (you don’t have to but Lawd have mercy it’s good!), and give it all a good stir.

Slice your bread in half (do I have to say lengthwise?)

I used slightly thin bread, which I ended up really not being very fond of, so try to use bread thicker (width-wise) than this.  It got way too hard when reheated and my hubby and I, as much as we love this garlic bread, cannot possibly eat the whole darn thing in one night (as much as I’d love to).

Now spread on the goodness, baby!

Don’t be shy…

Don’t leave any in the bowl or the salty/garlicky/buttery police will come and get you.

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!

Now pop the lovely, buttery goodness into the oven at 375 for about 15 minutes until the garlic begins to lightly brown.

 Just like this.

Mine actually took exactly 17 minutes.  You just gotta keep an eye on it.  Trust me on this.  It’s worth it!

You can cut it any way you want it.  I like on the bias.  Or you could just rip chunks off.  Or eat the whole thing.

Trust me.  It’ll be hard not to!


Check it out!!

05Mar12

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This is my very first attempt at making cornbread in a cast iron skillet.

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This one was my Granny’s.

I think she’d be pleased with the finished product.

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**Updated to add: Lands Alive!!! I just tasted it and it’s by far and away the best cornbread I’ve ever eaten! If you don’t make yours in a cast iron skillet, you should! Actually, I insist. You simply MUST try it! You’ll be changed forever.

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I got this recipe from my Great Aunt Babbie, who was a master of all things baking and cooking.  You’ll be hearing a lot about her through her recipes, I’m sure, including the word squiggely and it’s definition.  She was a sassy little ol’ lady and we all miss her dearly here, but she lives on in her (nearly) world famous recipes.

This is her recipe for Banana Nut Bread.

I do not like Banana Nut Bread.

I like this.

Here’s what ya’ need.

Sugar, flour, butter (unsalted), baking soda, walnuts, 2 eggs, and 3 extremely ripe bananas.  This is a great recipe to use up any almost too ripe bananas you may have because your son said “Yeah!  Nanas!” and then did not want them.  Oh…  Just me?

Start by cutting up a whole stick of unsalted butter (or you could let it sit out to soften, but I don’t think that far ahead most of the time…I’m a “fly by the seat of my pants” kinda gal.).  I chose to use a fork to cut down on the amount of dirty dishes I ended up with.  Sometimes I can’t take just one more dirty knife.

Cut up the whole delicious stick of butter (you could even use a knife if you wanted to)

Throw it all into a bowl (I used a big one to cut down on dirty dishes I would have to clean) and pop it into the microwave for 10 seconds at a time until the butter is nice and soft, but not melted.  Of course, if you were smart and thought ahead and softened your butter, you can skip the microwave step.

Add 1 cup of sugar.

Throw in 2 cups of flour.

Finely chop up about a cup of walnuts (I didn’t measure, even though my measuring cup was about 3 inches from my hand)

And throw them into the bowl.

Next, crack in 2 eggs

Now you’re going to need to mash up your bananas.

Here’s the fork I used to cut the butter!  (See?  I had a plan all along!)

Mash it up real good.  Don’t be afraid!

That’s one banana all mashed up.  Only 2 more to go!

Now throw your 3 mashed bananas into the mix too!

Add one teaspoon of baking soda

And finally, one teaspoon of salt.  I used kosher.  I think we all know now how I feel about it.  But regular salt should be fine too, if that’s what you have.

Gotta love these blurry pictures.  Sorry ’bout that!

Now, finally, FINALLY!  We get to stir!  I suppose you could have been stirring after adding each ingredient, but there’s really no reason for that.  And I don’t like to risk over mixing.  We want our banana nut bread to be nice and fluffy!

Now grease, butter, or spray-stuff either a regular sized loaf pan, or two smaller ones…or 4 even smaller ones…or…well, you get the point.  Since I know, even though my hubby asked for banana nut bread, he will not be able to eat an entire large-sized loaf even with help from me and our son, I decided to make two slightly smaller loaves and give one to my parents.  I am lovely like that.  Although, after seeing how much my son loves this bread, they may only get half the second loaf!  (If I can wrestle even that away from him!)

I like to put mine on a thick sheet pan.  Just makes it easier to get them in and out of the oven.  Also something about heat distribution or even browning or something.  Don’t listen to me.  I have no idea what I’m talking about.  That was the product of too much late night Food Network.

If you’re using one loaf pan, plop all the yummy smelling batter into the pan.  If you’re using two or more, try to get an even amount in them.

And you did preheat the oven to 350, didn’t you?

Now put the pan/s into the oven and set your timer for an hour if you’re using one large loaf pan and 45 minutes for two smaller ones.  I’m not sure about anything smaller than what I used, but I’d start checking around 30 minutes.

Now go do all those dirty dishes.

Or if you’re like me, you can go watch a rerun of Supernatural.

Don’t be like me.  Go do your dishes and have a clean kitchen so your hubby doesn’t get all cranky with you when he tries to make you coffee in the morning, but can’t because the sink is full of dirty dishes.

If you’re making just one large loaf, it should take about an hour.  I used two and it took 45 minutes exactly.

Just look at those beauties!  Yummy!

Mmmmmm…..I wish you could smell how fantastic my house smells now!

This picture makes it look slightly too browned on the side, but it’s really not.  I’m still using my phone camera because it’s easy and I’m lazy.  I used all my left over energy to do the dishes because I went and made myself feel all guilty about leaving them in the sink.

My purple bread knife, let me show you it.

It’s soft and moist and yummy!  Go make it now!

You know those bananas are just going to go bad if you don’t.  You bought the huge bunch because they were on sale and then you were just really never in the mood for them, ya’ know?  But now you can make this!

And if you’re allergic, or just plain ol’ don’t want to, you can absolutely leave the nuts out.  I do sometimes.  More often than not, actually.  But I just happened to have some handy, so I threw ’em in there.

**I have this recipe up on the Tasty Kitchen website, but I have come to the conclusion over the past hour that I am just too dumb to figure out how to get the recipe form-thingy onto this page so that it can be printed onto a recipe card or full-page or whatever, so here is the link that the recipe that is printable.  Also, if anyone has any clue how to put that on here, please, for the love of butter, PLEASE TELL ME HOW!  This is driving me crazy!**


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I remembered!

It’s a Christmas miracle! Or maybe a St Patty’s Day miracle! Or maybe just a butter miracle. I’d settle for that.

Also…

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I got this neato spatula at Target on clearance for $.89! It’s cute and green and I totally dig it, man!


You know what I miss?  Salted butter.

Now, before you offer to point me in the direction of the nearest grocery store and give me a swift kick in the rear, let me say this.  I know they still sell salted butter.  But think about it.  Have you read any recipes lately that call for anything other than unsalted butter?  I haven’t.  If you have, please send it to me!

Salt?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Huh?  Oh…wrong Salt….

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello Lover…

Butter?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s not to love?

Other than the resulting jiggle, because saaaaaalt…..buuuutteeeeerrrrr…..saaaaltyyyyy buuuutteeeerrrr….

But back to my original point.  I haven’t bought regular salted butter in…well…so long I can’t remember!  When I go to the grocery store, I try desperately to stick to my grocery list.  I spend at least an hour making out my grocery list and getting my coupons together before I go so that I know exactly what I need and also so that I can get in and out and ON MY WAY!  Because lawsy mawsy!  People get rude in the grocery store!

But that’s another tangent for another day.

So there I am, trying to stick (get it?) to my grocery list and all my recipes call for unsalted butter, so…can you guess what happens?

Yep.

I only buy unsalted butter.

So then I only *have* unsalted butter.

But you know what?  Salted butter is good!

Especially on toast, or biscuits, or toasted pita chips, or homemade breadsticks (which I messed around with earlier this week and turned out so delicious that I’m definitely planning on posting the recipe with pictures some time soon!), or waffles!  Or!  Or!  Or!  The list goes on for quite a ways.

I love me some butter, y’all!  (oh wow, I think I just channeled Paula Dean!  Y’all!)

There was really no point to this post other than to share a thought I’ve been having over the past few days.  What has happened to all the regular salted butter?  In recipes, that is.  I mean, I get it.  Use unsalted butter to better control the final salt content in a dish.  I get it.  But really, how much salt could there be in a tablespoon or two of butter?  Enough to ruin an entire dish?  I highly doubt it.

If you don’t want to risk it, I understand.

I’m one of those people who obsessively follow recipes, so it’s going to be hard to swap out butters, but darned if I’m not gonna try!  Maybe.  I’m still working on that whole “follow the recipe exactly” thing.

(I also cannot drive across the lines in a parking lot all willy nilly.  And most of the time, I will follow the sidewalk even if cutting across the grass is quicker.  I cannot help myself.)

So what about you?  Are you a rule breaker?  Maybe you can be my new role model!


We have been sick.

Sick.

Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiick.

That kind of sick where all you want to do is lay on the couch and call your mom and have her bring you some soup or cake or something, but you can’t because you can’t get comfortable anywhere, anyhow, any way.

Ugh.

My hubby had it last weekend, I came down with it sometime midweek, and my poor little baby got it Thursday. And of course that meant that I couldn’t be sick. Mommies aren’t allowed to be sick when their babies are sick. They have to take care of them and get them juice and watch Bob Bob (what Lee calls Spongebob) and take their temperature (104.5?! Holy shit, Dude!!) and then you freak the holy hell out until the on-call Dr (who will now be referred to as Saint Dr Lady) tells you that it’s okay, just watch him and make sure he’s still acting normal and….oh….maybe a little off topic here?

Yeah.

Sorry.

So…

WE’RE BETTER! YAY!

This is Lee saying “Dweeeeeeeeen!!!” which is obviously “Green”. Like, duh.

So now, Daddy and son are watching videos of trains because TWAINS! TWAINS!!! TWAAAIIIIINSSS!!! YEEEAAAHHH! And who can resist that face? And so it’s up to me again to figure out dinner….wait, what? We can’t just keep eating frozen stuff? I have to like….make things?? *sigh* Fine.

So I resorted back to the Pioneer Woman (go figure!!) and now we have this:

in the oven and I’m looking sooo forward to it! Shockingly, we had all the ingredients (I even had the chicken already cooked, y’all! I was so on the ball and I didn’t even know it. I’m good like that.)

So this is what she calls “Chicken Spaghetti” and what her hubby calls “Mexican Chicken” due to the addition of the cayenne pepper and what I’m considering calling “Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti Casserole” or “CCSC” for short….and also because I’m a dork.

Surprise!

I also had a Red Bull today. Which is something I should never ever do, apparently. Because I make super cheesy jokes on my blog. Cheesy. Get it? Heh….heh heh….

See? There I go again.

Someone stop me.

And also, since I said the word blog (Relax. This isn’t going to become some kind of drinking game blog where every time I say the word blog you have to drink….although….if you happen to have something handy and just need an excuse….blog blog blog blog blog blog bloggity blog blog blog. Blooooooog.) here is a picture of my son saying “blog”, which is apparently his new favorite word since he said it about a hundred times after I said it only once.

And yes, I know my hair looks terrible. We had all just gotten up from a nap two hours before and I still couldn’t be bothered to rake it back into a messy bun/ponytail thing with my scrunchie. Yes, scrunchie. What? It’s not 1995 anymore?

Update! Good Lawd that was tasty! I made one smallish adjustment (maybe smallish, maybe hugeish [what?!] who knows how much of a difference this makes) I decided to 86 the pimentos and instead I added about 1/8th cup of chopped roasted red bell pepper. Regardless, this is delicious! If you like pimentos, go for it as is. If not, try my new twist! You’ll be happy either way, pinky swear!!


I heart the Pioneer Woman.

I know it’s not just me.

If you have not been to her site and read everything, you are missing out.

Go.

Now.

Read.

I’ll wait.

Wait…

That will take awhile.  Read this first, then go…read…enjoy…rinse….repeat.

If needed

(sorry, Friends moment)

Anyway…I made these tonight…

And they were beyond fantastic.  I cannot tell you how serious I am about that.

I have issues with meatballs.

Or maybe it’s meatballs that have issues with me.

Either way, the result is usually the same.  Crumbly, dry, chewy, not-very-good meatball pieces.

It doesn’t matter if I cook them in a sauce or by themselves in a pan.  They hate me.

But not these.  Oh, not these at all.  These meatballs love me and were like little balls of heaven from start to finish.  Easy to mix, easy to roll, easy to brown, easy to cook, and probably a little bit too easy to eat.

Okay.  Waaay too easy to eat.

I had three.

And I’m not sorry.  Not one bit.  I’d do it again.  And probably will, tomorrow.

Anyway.  Try these.  Even if meatballs have never been your friend in the past.  These particular little balls of meat are just dying to be your friend!  They’ve even friend requested you on Facebook!

* * * * *

Over the past week or so, I’ve actually tried a few recipes from the Pioneer Woman, least of which were the cinnamon rolls.  Oh God.  The cinnamon rolls.

I am going to turn into a cinnamon roll if I eat one more.

Pan.

Make these.  And try to give some away.  But if you can’t, I won’t think any less of you.  It was torture handing over a single pan of these to my parents.  What made it sting less, however, was all the ranting and raving that BOTH of them did about how fabulous they were and you made these? really?  from scratch?  really?

Oh God.

I think I just gained another 5 lbs.

I need to just go ahead and publish this before all the drool on my keyboard short circuits my whole laptop.


Nugget

21Feb12

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This is Nugget.

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She laid an egg!

I’m so proud!

The crazy thing is….look how Nugget’s egg compares to regular “Large” eggs from the local grocery store…

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She is….Super Chicken.

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