Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What I Just Finished Reading...

I just finished reading Made from Scratch by Jenna Woginrich. It is about her experience homesteading. Chickens, rabbits, dogs, bees. She is one motivated lady! She even fiddles. I can walk to a farmers market from my house, and travel 20 minutes to the best one, the Dane County Farmers Market, which is held around the Capital Square every Saturday from May- October. And that is about as homestead-y as I will probably get. Especially since I live in a town. I have flower gardens, grow my own herbs, and tomatoes. I have to admit having my own bee hive does sound interesting. Fresh honey vs potential bee stings. Hmmm? Yep, the farmers market bee guy works for me.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Good Wife Recipe - Beef Bourguignon

This would be my call for my last meal. It's so comforting. It's easy, can be made ahead of time and reheated. Serve with some mashed potatoes and hot French bread. Heaven on a plate. I just made this last week for a Levi's mom and dad.

Beef Bourguignon from The Barefoot Contessa

1 tablespoon good olive oil
8 ounces bacon, diced
2 1/2 pounds chuck beef cut into 1-inch cubes
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound carrots, sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks
2 yellow onions, sliced
2 teaspoons chopped garlic (2 cloves)
1/2 cup Cognac
1 (750 ml.) bottle good dry red wine such as Cote du Rhone or Pinot Noir
1 can (2 cups) beef broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pound frozen whole onions
1 pound fresh mushrooms stems discarded, caps thickly slices

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a large plate.
Dry the beef cubes with paper towels and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. In batches in single layers, sear the beef in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove the seared cubes to the plate with the bacon and continue searing until all the beef is browned. Set aside.
Toss the carrots, and onions, 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper in the fat in the pan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the Cognac, stand back, and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol. Put the meat and bacon back into the pot with the juices. Add the bottle of wine plus enough beef broth to almost cover the meat. Add the tomato paste and thyme. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place it in the oven for about 1 1/4 hours or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork.
Combine 2 tablespoons of butter and the flour with a fork and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions. Saute the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of butter for 10 minutes until lightly browned and then add to the stew. Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Being a "Perfect" Mother

I saw this today at Barnes and Noble and just had to get it. I have their other two books, and I'm sure this is going to be just as good. It has recipes in it, plus rules for being a good Southern Mother.
Example: Always wear nice underwear - you may be killed in a car wreck, and you don't want the EMS workers to take one look at your poor dead little body and say, Well, she certainly wasn't a lady." That would be a fate worse than death.
Of course, I'm trying to be the perfect Northern mother, with lots of Southern tendencies. Today, my 4 year old said, "Mama, look at that car, that's just tacky!" And it was! My heart swelled with pride, as I wiped away a tear. The boy is learning!

Making Whoopie!

The school is having a bake sale on Thursday, and I think I am going to make Whoopie Pies. I've never made them before, but I think the kids will like them. I found this recipe in "The Best Bake Sale Ever Cookbook" by Barbara Grunes

Whoopie Pies

Chocolate Cookie Dough:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temp
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup milk
2 cups all-purpose flour

Marshmallow Filling:
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temp
3 cups powdered sugar
3 cups Marshmallow Fluff
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly spray or grease 2 cookie sheets.
2. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, baking soda, and baking powder until light, about 2-3 minutes. Mix in the egg, vanilla, and cocoa. Slowly beat in the milk alternating with the flour, beating until smooth.
3. Drop the dough by the tablespoonful onto the prepared cookie sheete, spacing the cookies 2 inches apart.
4. Bake in the center of the oven for 7-8 minutes, or until the cookies spring back when gently pressed. Cool on the cookie sheets for 2 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.
5. Make the filling. Combine the butter, sugar, marshmallow cream, and vanilla in a food processor and process until smooth. Or combine the ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth.
6. To assemble the whoopie pies, spread about 2-3 tablespoons filling onto the flat bottom of one cookie. Place a second cookie on top. Repeat with the remaining cookies.

For the life of my, I don't understand why you would use a food processor for the filling. I think I'll use my Kitchen Aid. I'll let you know how they turn out.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Good Wife Recipe - Lemon Chicken

This is a "Good Wife" recipe. My husband comes home from work and the house smells great. He thinks it took a long time, and has no clue I've been watching NCIS all afternoon.
Thank you, Ina Garten! From The Barefoot Contessa - Paris Cookbook

Lemon Chicken over Croutons

1 (4 to 5-pound) roasting chicken
1 large yellow onion, sliced
Good olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 lemons, quartered
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
6 cups (3/4-inch) bread cubes (1 baguette or round boule)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Take the giblets out of the chicken and wash it inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pinfeathers. Toss the onion with a little olive oil in a small roasting pan. Place the chicken on top and sprinkle the inside of the cavity with salt and pepper. Place the lemons inside the chicken. Pat the outside of the chicken dry with paper towels, brush it with the melted butter, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken.
Roast for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh. Cover with foil and allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. (The onions may burn, but the flavor is good.)
Meanwhile, heat a large saute pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil until very hot. Lower the heat to medium-low and saute the bread cubes, tossing frequently, until nicely browned, 8 to
10 minutes. Add more olive oil, as needed, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place the croutons on a serving platter. Slice the chicken and place it, plus all the pan juices, over the croutons. Sprinkle with salt and serve warm.

I serve this with mashed potatoes and a green salad.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Planting a Rainbow

Today the kids didn't have school, so I decided to have them plant a rainbow. We have read a book about this little girl who plants flowers in all the colors of the rainbow, and the kids wanted to do it. We went to the garden center, and they picked out the seeds they wanted. The porch is now filled with trays of Marigolds, Bells of Ireland, delphinium, and others. I know they will enjoy seeing all the seeds become tiny plants. Last summer I planted cherry tomatoes, and J and S were thrilled when they first noticed the tiny tomatoes on the vine. Today I planted a few trays of basil, chives, two types of cherry tomotoes, and mesclun. It will be several months before my garden looks like it did above, but I know it's coming.

Friday, March 20, 2009

These things are so cool!

Are these not the coolest things? They are rock crayons! I found them at www.imaginechildhood.com , and they will be going into a little boys Easter basket. I keep thinking I should buy a bunch to use as birthday presents, for the dozens of parties the boys are invited to. Add some paper, and hours of fun!

Auction Recap

Last weekend was the school auction, to benefit scholarships. About 150 people showed up, drank lots of beer and wine, ate lots of food and went home with some great loot. The suprise of the evening was Matt Lepay, voice of the Badgers, mc-ing our live auction portion. B and I donated a low country boil for ten couples at our house, it was so popular that we announced we would do a second dinner for ten more couples. Both parties should be fun, and I'm already thinking about the complete menu. Barbeque pork sliders, cheese straws, boiled peanuts, etc. The money people are still crunching numbers, but I hope we did as well as last year. I chaired this year, but I think next year I'll sit out.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Dear Levi

Dear Levi,
I know you are only a few hours old, but you have to know what a lucky little boy you are! You have such a wonderful Mommy. She has been waiting, with a huge smile on her face, for 9 long months. Now, I know your Daddy is great too, but your Mommy's feet haven't touched the ground since last fall, so be extra nice to her. Always give her kisses and hugs, try to take crayons, chapstick and legos out of your pockets, before they go into the wash. Tell her you love her, and that she is the bestest Mommy ever, because she is! Welcome to the world, Levi. It's yours for the taking!

Imagine Childhood

Hillcrest Acres blog suggested this website, and I am in love with everything! These are toys and activites that promote creativity and imagination. The realistic stuffed animals, the oudoor adventure things, and especially the fairies and their houses. I want them all. I want them, and I might share with the boys! I would have them in our childrens garden, peaking out, waiting to be discovered.

Hey there, Josie girl!

After months of anticipation, I'm an Aunt! Josephine came into the world on Monday, perfect at 8 lbs, 4 oz, 21 inches. I am already shopping for hairbows! Could she be any more precious?

Friday, March 13, 2009


Thank you R & K for all your help tonight. These amazing ladies gutted over 400 cherry tomatoes for tomorrow nights auction! We covered a lot of topics: weight loss, teenage sex, book clubs, jobs and lack of, new opportunities, many hours, countless topics. What a lucky girl I am, to have such wonderful friends, who come over and help with the grunt work, and do so happily.
I owe you, dessert at Sardine's?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Appetizer 2 - BLT Bites

These are bite sized BLT................ and you can't eat just one! I plan on making about 12 dozen for the auction.

16-20 cherry tomatoes
1 lb bacon, fried and crumbled
1/2 cup mayo
1/3 cup chopped green onions
3 tablespoons grated parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Cut the tops off the tomatoes, gut the insides, sprinkle with salt and let stand upside down for about an hour. Mix all remaining ingredients together and fill inside of tomatoes. Place on a parsley lined tray ( they tend to roll) and enjoy.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Appetizer 1 - Artichoke Dip

I think that this is the best artichoke dip I have ever eaten. Okay, the Great Dane's dip is really good, but they won't give out the recipe, even after I begged. This one is easy and has been very well received. I made 9 lbs of this for last years auction, and there was none left!

1 lb cream cheese, room temp
1/3 cup shredded Asiago cheese
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan
1 tablespoon roasted garlic
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup chopped artichoke hearts, drained (NOT MARINATED)
1/3 cup mayonnaise
chipoltle puree, to taste

Mix, pour into pie plate and bake, until bubbly, at 350 degrees. When I make large quantities of this, I put it in a crockpot to warm, then transfer to chafing dish. Good with breads, crackers, veggies, and from experience, eaten with a spoon!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Man of My Dreams

This is the man who makes my heart all a twitter. Every time I hear his name or see his picture my heart starts beating faster. I hang on his every word, and I can hardly wait till we are together again. We can go several months with no contact, but then suddenly there he is, back in my arms. I hold him tenderly, looking at him, knowing soon we will be alone. Laying in bed with him, is worth waiting for. All those months of longing, wating for that touch. Our time is brief together, but lasting in memories.
He is Robert B. Parker, my favorite author. He wrote the Spenser books, which I have all of, and all the Jesse Stone books, and frankly, if he wrote the cereal boxes, I would read them too. Run to your nearest book store, and discover my passion.

The To Do List

On March 14th, I am chairing a fundraising auction for the boys school. All the donations are received, tables ordered and know I get to start the food prep. I am, with the help that day of 9 fellow Mommies, doing all the food. I know, CRAZY! But, I cannot pay a caterer to do what I know I can. Double the food, half the price. I did the food for last years event, and everything went great. My biggest request was for BLT Bites. I am doing Bourbon BBQ meatballs, artichoke dip, cherry tomatoes stuffed with coucous, and lots more.

I polished all my silver trays, picked the serving pieces, layered all the cocktail napkins (pink, yellow, green, blue, orange, over and over and over), have washed 200 votive holders, blah, blah, blah........... My mind just keeps on going. Checking one thing off, add two more on.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Calling Color

Where is the color in the stores? I want a new outfit for a school function on the 14th, and everything seems to be dark. What gives? All the spring colors should be out, right? Calling pink, bright green, lavender, hello, are you out there? Other than Lilly Pulitzer, which I can't get in this area, it is looking dismal. I almost always wear pink, as Shelby said "It's my signature color". I know the country is depressed, but give us something happy to wear!