Friday, November 29, 2013

Lemon Butter Flank Steak

I made this a couple of years ago.  It was one of the last meals that I made for my granma, before she passed away.

This is from Better Homes and Gardens.
This was really quite delicious, if you don't believe me, ask the dishes!  (Sorry couldn't resist)

Lemon Butter Flank Steak

1- 1/2           pound beef flank steak

1/4                cup chopped fresh cilantro

4                   Tablespoons olive oil

4                    teaspoons finely shredded lemon zest

2                   Tablespoons lemon juice

2                    cloves garlic, minced

1/4                teaspoon crushed red pepper

1                   recipe lemon butter (below)

4                   cups shredded napa cabbage (I didn't know what that was, so I just got regular cabbage.   
                     Same thing?)

1                    cup fresh bean sprouts

2                    green onions, bias- sliced into 1-in. pieces.

1.  Place Flank Steak in a shallow dish.  Add cilantro, half of the olive oil, the lemon peel and juice, garlic, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper,  and the red pepper.  Turn steak to coat.  Cover; chill 30 minutes to 1- 1/2 hours.

2.  Meanwhile, prepare lemon butter (I didn't have any lemongrass, so I just used more lemon zest.  It turned out just fine, but I can only imagine how much better it would have been with the lemongrass!); set aside.  In a 12-inch nonsitck skillet heat remaining oil over medium heat.  Remove steak  from marinade; discard marinade.  Cook steak for 5 minutes or to desired doneness, turning once.  Cover; let stand 10 minutes.

3.  Add vegetables to skillet.  Cook and stir over medium heat for 2 minutes or until crisp- tender.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve steak with vegetables and lemon butter.  Makes 4 servings.

Lemon Butter:
In a bowl combine 3 Tbsp. softened butter, 3 Tbsp. minced lemongrass, 1/4 cup cilantro, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, and salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Gingerbread Men Cookies

A McCormick recipe.

Photo by:  Me, Tiffiny Hargrave

Gingerbread Men Cookies

Makes:  2 dozen or 24 (1 cookie) servings...  
(I got about 4 1/2 dozen.  I may have used a really small cookie cutter)
Prep:  20 miutes
Refrigerate time: 4 hours
Cook time:  8- 10 minutes per batch

3      cups flour

2      teaspoons Ginger, ground

1      teaspoon Cinnamon, ground

1      teaspoon Baking soda

1/4  teaspoon Nutmeg, ground

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4  cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter, softened

3/4  cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2  cup molasses

1      egg

1     teaspoon vanilla

Mix flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt in large bowl.  Set aside.

Beat butter and brown sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add molasses, egg, and vanilla; mix well.

Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until well mixed.

Press dough into a few flat discs.  Wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350º.  Roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness on a lightly floured work surface.  

Cut into gingerbread men shapes with cookie cutter.

Place 1-inch apart on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake 8- 10 minutes or until edges of cookies just begin to brown.

Cool on baking sheets 1 to 2 minutes.

Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Decorate cookies as desired.

Store cookies in airtight container up to 5 days.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Nantucket Cranberry Pie

I have made this pie a few times and it is not only easy, but it is super delicious.  The people seem to love it as well.

Nantucket Cranberry Pie

Difficulty:  Easy
Servings: 8 (or less depending on how much you want to eat in one sitting)... or more.

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook time:  35- 45 (depending on your oven)

Butter, For Greasing

2 cups (heaping) Cranberries

¾ cups Pecans, Chopped (measure, Then Chop)

⅔ cups Sugar

1 cup Flour

1 cup Sugar

1 stick Unsalted Butter, melted

2 whole Eggs, Lightly Beaten

1 teaspoon Pure Almond Extract

¼ teaspoons Salt

1 Tablespoon Sugar For Sprinkling

    *Adapted from a recipe by Laurie Colwin*

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Generously butter a cake pan or pie pan. Add cranberries to the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle on chopped pecans, then sprinkle on 2/3 cup sugar.

    In a mixing bowl, combine flour, 1 cup sugar, melted butter, eggs, almond extract, and salt. Stir gently to combine.

    Pour batter slowly over the top in large “ribbons” in order to evenly cover the surface. Spread gently if necessary.

    Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. 5 minutes before removing from oven, sprinkle surface with 1 tablespoon sugar for a little extra crunch.

    Cut into wedges and serve with ice cream or freshly whipped cream.

    Tuesday, November 26, 2013

    Christmas Cookies: Butterscotch Fingers

    I have made some great cookies from Good Housekeeping over the years.  I was thankful to receive their Christmas Cookies cookbook, from my best friend Nicki.  The following recipe comes from this book.  Butterscotch Fingers are super easy to make and they taste great.  Just keep in mind that they need to chill for a substantial amount of time, before slicing and baking.

    Butterscotch Fingers Good Housekeeping

    Active time:  30 minutes, plus chilling
    Bake time:  12 to 14 minutes per batch
    Makes:  66 cookies

    2-1/3      cups all purpose flour

    1/2         teaspoon baking powder

    1/2         teaspoon salt

    1            cup butter or margarine (2 sticks), softened

    1            cup packed dark brown sugar

    1            teaspoon vanilla extract

    1            large egg

    3/4         cup pecans, chopped

    1.  On waxed paper, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.

    2.  In large bowl, with mixer on medium speed, beat butter and brown sugar until creamy, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula.  Beat in vanilla, then egg.  On low speed, gradually add flour mixture; beat just until blended, occasionally scraping bowl.  With spoon, stir in pecans.

    3.  Shape dough into 12" by 3-3/4" by 1" brick.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm enough to slice, 6 hours or overnight; if using margarine, freeze overnight.  (Dough can also be frozen up to 3 months.)

    4.  Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Grease large cookie sheet.

    5.  With sharp knife, cut brick crosswise into 1/8-inch thick slices.  Place slices, 1-inch apart, on prepared cookie sheet.  Bake until lightly browned around edges, 12 to 14 minutes.  With wide metal spatula, transfer to wire rack to cool.  Repeat with remaining dough.

    6.  Store cookies in cookie jar up to 1 week.

    Each cookie:  about 65 calories, 1g protein, 7g carbohydrate, 4g total fat (2g saturated), 0g fiber, 11mg cholesterol, 55mg sodium

    Monday, November 25, 2013

    Christmas Cookies: Melt- Aways

    The name says it all - these cookies melt in your mouth.

    Active time:  25 minutes, plus chilling
    Bake time:  19- 22 minutes per batch
    Makes:  42 cookies

    Melt-Aways  Good Housekeeping

    2      cups all-purpose flour

    1/4   cup cornstarch

    1/8   teaspoon salt

    1      cup butter (2 sticks), softened (no substitutions)

    2      cups confectioners' sugar

    2      teaspoons vanilla

    1.  Preheat oven to 325ºF.  On waxed paper, combine flour, cornstarch, and salt.

    2.  In large bowl, with mixer on medium speed, beat butter until creamy.  Beat in 1 cup confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy.  On low speed, beat in flour mixture, then vanilla.  Cover bowl with plastic and refrigerate 1 hour.

    3.  With hands, shape dough by heaping measuring teaspoons into 1-inch balls.  Place balles, 1-inch apart, on ungreased large cookie sheet.  Bake until set and lightly golden around edges, 19- 22 minutes.  With wide metal spatula, transfer to wire rack to cool slightly.

    4.  Sift remaining 1 cup of confectioners' sugar into medium bowl.  While cookies are still warm, roll in sugar to coat; return to rack to cool completely.  When cool, gently roll cookies in sugar again.  Repeat with remaining dough in sugar.

    5.  Store cookies in a cookie jar up to 1 week.

    Each cookie:  About 90 calories, 1g protein, 11g carbohydrate, 5g total fat (3g saturated), 0g fiber, 13mg cholesterol, 55mg sodium.

    Sunday, November 24, 2013

    Christmas Cookies: Spiked Eggnog Chews

    These are on my list of cookies to make between now and Christmas.  I just found the recipe in Redbook magazine.  I hope that you'll try them out.

    Photo by: Andrew Purcell

    Spiked Eggnog Chews Redbook

    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Chilling time: 1 hour
    Cooking time: 22 minutes

    1      stick unsalted butter, melted

    1-1/2      cups sugar, plus more for rolling

    1      Tbsp canola oil

    1      large egg

    2      Tbsp milk

    1      Tbsp dark rum (or 1 tsp rum flavoring)

    1      Tbsp vanilla extract

    2      cups all-purpose flour

    1-1/2      tsp baking powder

    1/4   tsp baking soda

    1/2   tsp nutmeg

    1/4   cup decorating sugar

    1.  Heat oven to 350ºF.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.

    2.  In a large bowl, stir butter, sugar, oil, and a pinch of salt until combined.  Stir in egg, milk, rum, and vanilla extract until combined.  Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and nutmeg; stir until just combined.  Tightly cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.

    3.  Form 3-Tbsp dough balls; place onto pans.  Place sugar for rolling in the same bowl.  Roll each dough ball in sugar and place back on pan, leaving at least 2 inches between each cookie.  Flatten each dough ball to about 1 inch tick and sprinkle with decorating sugar.  Bake one pan at a time, until cookies' centers have risen and are beginning to crack, 11 to 13 minutes.

    4.  Remove pan from oven and tap on counter to help cookies deflate.  Let the cookies cool on pan, 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.  Repeat with second pan.

    Makes 15 large cookies.

    **  I made a few batches of these and they turned out really well.  They were a big hit at my cookie exchange, too.  I used dough balls about 1 Tbsp in size and the cookies were big.  So, I suggest that you cut the 3 Tbsp down.**

    Saturday, November 23, 2013

    A Book in Review: Waiting for Wren

    Well, I have finished this book. First, I would like to thank Cate Beauman for giving me the opportunity to read her work as part of 'First reads' (a signed copy!). Not only did she send the book along, but it came with a bag of Dove chocolates and a pen. Awesome! So, thanks!

    If the timeframe in which I read this book tells you anything (1 day... or 10 hours once you cut out sleep and work), you should read this book. I enjoyed the mystery, I enjoyed the connection between the characters. I had the bad guy picked out, but Beauman did a good job of convincing me that it wasn't him. But, in the end, I was right! I didn't really realize that this was a romance novel until I reached the second half and there was a bit of sex. However shocking that was for me at first, I got over it and didn't let it overpower the story line.  And what is life without a little romance every now and again, even if you have to read about it?  I don't have any romance in my life, so this is the route I shall take, for now.

    There were some side characters in this book that were the stars of the show, earlier in the series. I now have the pleasure of going back and reading the first four books, when money and time permit.

    I recommend this book if you want a fun, easy mystery to get you through your day!

    4 out of 5 stars, I really liked it

    You may check out this review and many others at my Goodreads page. Plus, it is home to thousands of books and many people share their opinion on any book that you can think of!

    Tuesday, November 19, 2013

    The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

    There are songs, there are commercials, movies...

    All of which tell me that this time of the year is the best.  It is filled with kindness, heart warming family time, thoughtful gifts, shared meals, cheer, and fun activities.

    Usually I agree, but more and more as the years go by, I am not certain.

    You see, growing up, my family was the family that got kicked out of my grandparents house on Thanksgiving day.  My family was the family that always got in fights.  My family is the family that has the troubled older brother that causes anguish for everyone, when we should be hugging by the tree.

    Luckily, I had people in my life like my Aunt Jeri and the Richey's.  My Aunt Jeri took us in when we got kicked out and the Richey's took me in when my mom worked on the holidays.  I don't think they know how much this has meant to me.  As the years went on, we got invited over less and less, which is just how things happen to go.  I went off to college and my mom moved, but we still lived near.

    This has left just me and my mom.  This is sad to me.  My grandma passed away 2 and a half years ago and she was always willing to meet up, if just for a little bit.  Now that she is gone, my grandpa doesn't want to go anywhere.  This year he decided to leave the house, but he won't be joining me and my mom.  No, he'll be going on a cruise with some woman that none of us know.  My brother is always in jail and is really a hard person to get along with, so count him out.

    My Uncle never leaves LA and when he got re-married in the late 90's he converted to Judaism.  So, he is out for Christmas, but hey Thanksgiving is still a perfectly suitable holiday for all religions, is it not?  Just before my grandma passed, my uncle and his family joined us twice. It was really nice.  I enjoyed seeing everyone.  We ate food, we laughed, we sang karaoke.  It was grand! I love times like this and I will remember them always.

    Because my mom, a nurse always worked on Thanksgiving, we started a tradition of inviting friends over the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  We did this so that we could share the holiday with the people that we really like and love... our friends... those that mean the most to us.  We would plan a menu and make a great evening out of it.  Fewer and fewer people have been coming and this year, no one has responded to my invitation at all.  I was never sad about missing actual Thanksgiving, because I knew we would be making it up a couple of  days later.

    Don't get me wrong, I am thankful for everything that I have.  I am educated, I have a career, I am able to pay my bills on time, I have a place to live and I am able to buy food.  I am also thankful for the handful of amazing friends that I have.  I cherish the time that we get to spend together...

    Now listen, I don't want pity.  I guess my reason for writing this is to understand that while we often focus our attention to those in need (homeless, foodless, etc.), during the holidays, it would be nice to also remember those who do have a home and food, but are left wanting in another way... family.

    We all desire a human connection this time of the year and that is what makes it perhaps that saddest part of the year and not the best.  Never stop giving compassion to those in need, but make some room in your heart and home for those who need a surrogate family. I know we all get busy and have our own things to worry about and get done, but friends, for goodness sake open your eyes and perhaps take the time to invite someone to your house to celebrate!

    You will probably argue that my mom should be enough and I enough for my mom and you are right.  I am glad that she is alive and is someone that I can connect with on a daily basis, but sometimes it just doesn't feel like we are cared for.  Perhaps that is what it comes down to, our friends say they love us, they say they think about us, but when it comes down to the nitty gritty... are they there for us?  It is great to have friends around when all is well and peachy keen, but it is better to have them around when you are feeling down in the dumps and a little left out.

    On a more positive note, I do know that my friends truly do care about me and when it comes down to brass tacks, they would do anything for me and I for them. (I realize that I probably sound a bit off my rocker, pondering if my friends care for me and then declaring that they do moments later, but sometimes thoughts don't make any sense.) So, it is with this at the moment sad heart that I know all will be alright and that all will be well and that I shall enjoy the family I do have and the time I get to spend with them, even if it is made up solely of my mom.

    Just something to think about as you plan out your Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas.

    After writing this post, I feel better.  I just needed to get it off of my mind and I am thankful for this avenue in which I can do so.  I also realize that in times like these it is in my best interest to rely more heavily on God.  I am just a stubborn person and always try to do things on my own.

    Monday, November 18, 2013

    A Book in Review: Her Reluctant Bodyguard

    Her Reluctant Bodyguard by Jennette Green

    I am finding that I quite like Jennette Green's books.  Yes, they are cheesy Christian romance novels, but they are great!  They are easy to read and I enjoy the stories. 'Her Reluctant Bodyguard' is about a woman named Alexa and she writes for a living.  In short, she ends up meeting a well know musical artist, who she happens to have a crush on.  Over the course of time, many things occur that cause Alexa to rely on her flummoxing bodyguard.  In the end, she has a to make a decision between Colin the star and Jamison the bodyguard. I think you'll see that her decision is not that hard to make.

    4 out of 5 stars - I really liked it!

    Sunday, November 17, 2013

    Pinwheel Sampler Quilt

    I love to quilt!  I found this pinwheel sample quilt in 2010.  I just made it this year.  I think it turned out really well, so I thought that I would post the links to each pinwheel.

    About the Quilt

    Block 8- You choose the block you want to do.  There are links for different blocks on this page.  I chose 'Pinwheel Block' for my 8th block piece.

    The great thing about this quilt, is that you can make it using any old fabric that you would like to use.  Any colors and any designs!

    Be careful when putting this quilt together.  For some reason, I had a bunch of trouble with the size of the finished blocks.  They are supposed to end up 12x12, however, only a few of mine turned out that way.  I think it would be a great idea for you to have some extra fabric on hand, just incase you need to add some material, to make the block the appropriate size.

    Here is what the one I made looks like:

    Have fun quilting!

    Monday, November 4, 2013

    A Book in Review: A Nantucket Christmas

    A Nantucket Christmas, by Nancy Thayer

    I received this book as a first reads advance copy, from Goodreads. I had high hopes because I love Christmas and I love dogs, but I especially love dogs at Christmas! However, I was just so sad about how badly the daughter-in-law, Kennedy treated the main character, Nicole. Kennedy is a grown woman who thinks that her parents can get back together, even though they are divorced and both have moved on. Nicole comes off as a strong and confident woman, but allows Kennedy to walk all over her. It does have a happy ending, but it all seemed a bit rushed.

    2 out of 5 stars, It was ok

    Sunday, November 3, 2013

    Date a Reader

    I saw this on Pinterest a while ago and my friend just posted it on Goodreads and I was reminded of how much I like it.  So, I thought I would post it for all of you to read.  Now, I just need to find a guy that wants to date a reader!  Might not happen, as I am almost 29 years old and have never dated a single soul, but I like to think that it could happen.

    “ You should date a girl who reads.

    Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes, who has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

    Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she has found the book she wants. You see that weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a secondhand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow and worn.

    She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

    Buy her another cup of coffee.

    Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

    It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas, for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry and in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

    She has to give it a shot somehow.

    Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

    Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who read understand that all things must come to end, but that you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

    Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.

    If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

    You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

    You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

    Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

    Or better yet, date a girl who writes." - Rosemarie Urquico 

    Saturday, November 2, 2013

    Stepping it Up

    From October 1st- November 1st we had a contest at work.  Every member of the staff was given a pedometer and we were encouraged to take as many steps as possible during the month long contest.  Immediately people were saying that that is not fair, because I would win, due to the fact that I am a runner (they have legs too, right?  What is stopping them?).  Little did they know that I am in the biggest running dry spell that I have ever been in and that I would suffer for a cold for the entire month (and beyond!  It has been two months! My longest relationship!).  So, we all went off to count as many steps as possible.

    Boy, if you want to see the ugly side of your co-workers give them a competition like this.  The complaining!  The claims of cheating!  It was never ending!

    The average amount of steps one should take in a day is 10,000.  This ensures normal health, supposedly.  I wanted to get more than that per day, because I thought for sure that I would get 10,000 at work alone.  I spend most of the time in my class walking around to all of my students.  However, I found out that my average was between 7,000 and 8,000 steps.  I also found it very hard to encourage myself to go out and get those extra steps in, once I had gone inside my house after work.

    I knew I would not win this competition, because a co-worker walks her dogs every day and dances the night away with her kids, but I still gave it my all because my students were really into it.

    Over all, I registered 232,557 steps... plus the countless others I logged when I forgot to wear my pedometer.  I mean I danced the night away at a wedding!  I walked through Los Angeles!  I am pleased with these results.  I am also pleased with the fact that my waist line is a little smaller, because I was getting out there and stepping it up.  As I move on from this contest, it is my goal to keep on trying to get those 10,000 steps per day and if I am lucky, I will get more.

    Get out there and step it up!  It really is fun (at least for me) to see how many steps you take in a day!