Monday, September 27, 2010


It looks like my first attempts at canning have been successful. So far I've canned 7 half pints of strawberry preserves and 6 half pints of pepper jelly. The pepper jelly has apricot, red onion, jalapenos and anaheim peppers and is so pretty. In the future, I need to carefully write down the exact amount of ingredients I need though. Instead of 3/4 of a pound of jalapenos, I ended up buying 3 pounds. Oops. We're not much on salsa (I know, and I live in Texas, right?) but I guess I'm going to end up making some anyway. And canning it. For presents. For everyone. (I can leave jars of salsa on the front steps of neighbors I don't know, can't I?)

Next up: cardamom plum jam, nectarine jam and spiced apple butter from Canning For A New Generation by Lisana Krissoff

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The fail post

Well I was going to do a post on a pesto shrimp recipe that I cooked tonight for dinner, but it was a total fail. When the quinoa spaghetti box says "don't overcook" they really do mean it. It breaks apart into mushy spaghetti. And the shrimp? It was a bit past it's prime when I de-thawed it. So, the kitchen smelled a bit like pesto and iodine/bleach. It wasn't the best dinner.

So, I'll give you a picture of the basil that I made the pesto from. (I made 3 cups of pesto for the freezer and leftover for dinner) Believe it or not, I just thinned out the basil. I still have boatloads more. Anyone want some?

And the running update: I walked for 1 mile with the dogs this morning, dropped them home, and went for my run. I made it 4 miles, but I swear that multiple body parts were complaining. My countdown to the half marathon is 2 months and 9 days. Wish me luck.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dog Toys Update...

Well the dog toys didn't go over as well as I'd hoped. The braided tug toys sold out, and two of the squeaky toys sold, which I'm very happy about. I got a thank you email, complete with this picture, from the doggie parents who bought the big squeaky toy. Their girl is very happy, and is carrying her toy around the house, wagging her tail. So those of us who buy stuffed toys have to clean up debris fields after our dogs play with toys. They're having fun, which the whole point of giving dogs toys.

In other news, the dog cookies were a HUGE hit. I made 8 dozen peanut butter cookies and 6 dozen turkey egg and cheese cookies. Sold out, with requests today at church for the recipes. I am baking another batch of the turkey egg and cheese cookies for my girls, as they're a huge hit at home too. :)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Dog toys!

I couldn't resist posting a picture of the dog toys I made for my church's upcoming fundraising event. I'll also be making dog cookies. We have so many dog-parents that they sell out at our bake sales. :)

All hope abandon, ye who enter here...

In an attempt to make amends to my tastebuds for the recent black bean brownies episode, and in honor of MizFit and Talk Like A Pirate Day, I be bakin' a decadent favorite for the crew!


Here's your cast of scallywags, I mean ingredients:

* 1 yellow cake mix (can be made with gluten free cake mix. My neighbor is gluten intollerant, so that's how I make it when I bring it over for dessert)
* 4 eggs
* 1/2 stick butter (or half cup oil if you're dairy free)
* 1 package instant vanilla pudding
* 1/2 cup of rum (I like dark rum, but feel free to use whatever kind you like or may have on hand)
* 2/3 cup water
* 1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine all ingredients, except chopped pecans if you're using them, in a large mixing bowl and mix with electric mixer for 4 minutes, until there are no lumps.

Grease and flour a bundt pan. If you're using the nuts, sprinkle them in the bundt pan. Pour batter in to pan. Bake for 50 minutes.

Viola. A baked rum cake. Now this is where it gets fun. Time to make the glaze.


1/4 cup rum
1/2 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 stick butter

Combine in sauce pan. Slowly bring to a boil, and let boil for 3 minutes.

Pour the glaze on to the cake while it's still in the pan and is warm. So Miz, this 'tis for you, a slice o' cake with a wee bit o' grog in it. Enjoy!

Yum. Well you didn't expect me not to taste it and make sure it was good enough for other people to eat, did you? I would never be that thoughtless... ;-)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I remember

I had to think a while about what I wanted to write about 9/11, if anything. I worked in New York City for 18 years. The week between finals and graduation I spent interviewing in NYC. I moved to the city immediately after graduation. We moved to Texas almost 5 years ago, but this city will always hold a special place in my heart. We love that city, and we loved those buildings. I went to the observation deck on a church trip in junior high school. We celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary at Windows On The World. What I remember about that night was that the portions were tiny, the dinner was expensive, my feet were killing me because I wore new sandals and the view was breathtaking.

It was pure and utter chance that my husband and I weren't in town on 9/11. We were on a rare vacation, driving through Texas and Florida. That day we were in a small motel in Tampa, with plans to drive up to Atlanta that day to visit a friend. We woke up, turned on the Today Show, and saw that a plane had hit one of the towers. They were still reporting that they thought it was a small commuter plane. My husband worked near the towers, and he immediately called in to his office to find out how every one was. He was on the phone with his colleagues, watching the television, when he saw the second plane coming he started screaming at them to get away from the windows. His co-workers said that the plane flew so close to their building that the building shook.

We joined other guests in the lobby restaurant for a very somber breakfast. Everyone was glued to the television. We watched with horror when the third plane hit the Pentagon. We cried at the horrific, staggering loss of life. We reassured our family, friends, and business associates who called us that we were okay, that we were, amazingly enough, not in town.

Last night I woke up at 3.15 am. My husband was still up, watching one of the programs on 9/11. Nine years later and he is still deeply affected by that day. Nine years later and I still picture when I looked out the motel door to the car and saw him collapsed on the ground, sobbing. I remember our first sight of the trails of smoke rising from lower Manhattan. I remember the burning smell in the city for weeks afterwards. I remember the hundreds of pictures of missing people posted at the New Jersey Waterways ferry terminal and Port Authority. I remember how my husband had to get police escort to lower Manhattan to get our car out of the parking garage where we'd stored it while we were away. I remember seeing the soldiers and police armed with rifles at the bridge and tunnel crossings. I remember freaking out one month later because there was a forbidden truck on the lower level of the GWB when it was bumper to bumper traffic and a police car with its sirens blasting was pushing through traffic behind us. I remember thinking it was going to happen again, that day, any day.

I remember.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Well that was different

Last night we had a friend, The Alpha, over for dinner. He's stuck in town waiting for his and his wife's house to sell. She's already relocated to Arkansas with their furbabies, so a few of us from church are making sure he has a decent meal every once in a while. (I'm not being sexist, I'm sure he's a fine cook, he just has to keep the house spotless and can't mess up the kitchen.) Company for dinner tends to equal DESSERT for me. Those bake and serve brownies are fantastic. Fattening, but fantastic.

So today I thought I'd try baking black bean brownies. I'd heard of them, but never tried them. Here goes.

1 15 oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained
3 eggs
3 T vegetable oil
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1 pinch salt
1/2 t backing powder
1 t vanilla
3/4 c sugar (I used Splenda)
1 t instant coffee

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 8x8 baking pan

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Pour mixture into the prepared baking pan and bake for 30 minutes.

The verdict: I'm not sure. Maybe I was too heavy handed on the coffee crystals, maybe it's because I used Splenda instead of sugar and they have that Splenda aftertaste. Maybe it's because I wanted something more like the brownies I had last night. They were easy to make, out of things I have in my pantry, and they're full of fiber. Other versions of the recipe have you using lots of butter and melting unsweetened chocolate. Maybe I'll give them a try. I wanted something really good to bring to the church auction next weekend that a friend, who's both celiac and can't eat anything with casein in it, could enjoy. Maybe she'd like these. I guess I'll have to bring her some on Sunday and find out!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wordless (kind of) Wednesday

July 23rd

September 8th (today)

September 8th (today)

Lemon Chiffon Cupcakes

Let me start out with my disclaimer: I made these cupcakes for an event at my church. No, they are in no way, shape or form, diet cupcakes. I can't help it if they didn't eat enough of them there and a bunch of them followed me home. The Aussie certainly didn't mind that. He was eating cupcakes without frosting, spread with butter, like they were muffins. The other morning I did make muffins and he was so excited. "Are they the kind you made the other week?" he asked. "Those were cupcakes. I'm making muffins" I replied. Talk about a dejected look. I believe there was a "harrumph" in there somewhere as he sulked away.

These cupcakes are a combination of the golden cupcakes and the lemon cupcakes recipes from the book Crazy About Cupcakes by Krystina Castella.

Lemon Chiffon Cupcakes

1/2 pound unsalted butter (room temperature)
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs (room temperature), separated
1 t vanilla extract
3 cups AP flour
4 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 c milk
2 T lemon zest (from one lemon)
2 T fresh lemon juice or 1 1/2 t lemon extract

1. Preheat oven to 350. Insert cupcake liners in pan. I did one batch of mini-cupcakes and the rest were regular sized cupcakes.

2. In a large bowl (this bowl needs to be bigger than the dry ingredients bowl), cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the yolks of the 4 eggs and beat well. Add in the vanilla. Mix well.

3. In a separate bowl, combine the flower, baking powder and salt.

4. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter mixture, alternating with the milk. Add the lemon zest and the lemon juice. Mix well.

5. With clean beaters, beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form. With rubber spatula, fold the egg whites in to the batter.

6. Fill the cupcake liners to 3/4 full. Bake 11-13 minutes for mini-cupcakes or 20-25 minutes for large cupcakes (or use the toothpick test). Cool the cupcakes and frost.

Lemon Buttercream Frosting

2 c. confectioner's sugar
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
2 t lemon extract
2 T milk

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the butter until soft. Gradually add in the confectioner's sugar, mixing at medium speed, alternating with the milk. Lastly, add in the lemon extract, making sure it's mixed well through the frosting.

Frost your little cupcakes and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Versatile Blogger Award

I love when new readers find there way to my blog. And when they arrive with a present, it's even lovlier. :) A new reader, Brigitte, from Poophees World, has awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award. Thank you so very much!
As part of this award, I have to tell you 7 things about myself, so here goes.

1. I have a watermelon growing in my bed at the community garden.
2. I'm hooked on the True Blood series and the Sookie Stackhouse books.
3. My guilty pleasure is ready trashy romance books (note: the Sookie Stackhouse books don't fall in to the trashy category).
4. I have signed up to run a half marathon in Dallas this December.
5. I love to cook.
6. I'm too much of a mush to watch sad programs on Animal Planet, and the Sarah McLachlan ads and the ones with David Duchovny doing the voice-over just get me. (My two furbabies are rescues and I love them to bits)
7. I went to school in D.C., and some of my twitter pals are alums of the same school.

Now, I get to nominate new bloggers for this award!

I'm Superfantastic
Run Like A Mother
Life Is Not Always Black And White
14 Months To 50
Gazelles on Crack
Learning To Be Less
Good Times Van
Living In A Girl's World
Fat Daddy Rants
Well-Rounded Woman
Physicalee Fit
A couple of these blogs I've followed for a while, like I'm Superfantastic (Lori just ran her first half this weekend!), but most I've just discovered. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I am enjoying reading their stories and hearing about their journeys.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Back on schedule

I had a disasterous week and a half battling computer viruses the last part of August. I was so depressed about the thought that I'd possibly destroyed my computer because I clicked on a link to a friend's blog through Facebook that I didn't even want to run. Thanks to my wonderful husband, the computer is doing much better, as is my frame of mind.

So I'm getting back on my training schedule. There are 14 weeks to the White Rock marathon. I'm re-starting my Hal Higdon half marathon training. Today's schedule is a 4 mile run. I walked for a mile with the dogs and then did a 3.56 mile run in 40 minutes and 19 seconds. It was a beautiful, sunny 75 degrees with 37% humidity.

Favorite song in my running mix: Solar Midnight by Lupe Fiasco. What are your favorite running songs?