Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Crispy Roasted Potato Rounds

This recipe combines the flavor of roasted potatoes with the crispiness of french fries into one wonderful crispy potato round. This is a simple side dish to make and will go over equally well with kids and adults.



Recipe adapted from Melissa's Cuisine
Crispy Roasted Potato Rounds

2 large russet potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Prepare a sheet pan by lining with aluminum foil. Wash and dry potatoes; slice into 1/4 inch thick rounds. In a large zip top bag, combine olive oil, sea salt, and potato slices. Seal the bag and shake carefully for about 2 minutes until all slices are covered in a starchy paste. Place potatoes in a single layer on the prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, until the bottoms of the potatoes turn golden brown. Flip the potatoes over, then return to the oven for about another 10 minutes.




The simple ingredients are russet potatoes, olive oil, and sea salt.


Slice the potatoes in 1/4 inch thick rounds, then combine with olive oil and sea salt in a zip top bag.



The sea salt adds the perfect bit of saltiness to these potatoes, and the small bit of olive oil produces a nice crispiness to the outside.




Sunday, July 29, 2012

Crockpot Roast Beef

This recipe is a tasty and super simple way to cook a beef roast in the crockpot. With a minimum of prep time you can have a delicious meal that cooks itself while you attend to other business during the day.



Recipe adapted from Food.com


Print Recipe

Crock Pot Roast Beef
1 (4 - 5 pound) beef roast, any kind
1 (1 1/4 ounce) package brown gravy mix, dry
1 (1 1/4 ounce) package Italian salad dressing mix, dry
1 (1 1/4 ounce) package ranch dressing mix, dry
1/2 cup water
Carrots, onions, or potatoes, if desired

In a small bowl, combine the brown gravy mix, Italian dressing mix, and ranch dressing mix. Use the combined mixes as a dry rub on both sides of the beef roast. Place the roast in the crock pot. Pour the water around the roast. Add vegetables as desired. Cook on LOW for 7 - 9 hours.




Combine the three mix packages together.


Place the roast in a shallow pan.


Rub the roast down on both sides with the combined mixes. My roast was not as large as the recipe indicated, so I did not need all the seasoning. You may want to reserve some of the seasoning for another time if your roast is small. Place the roast in the crockpot with the water and any vegetables you choose.




This unique blend of seasonings adds a little extra pizzazz to an ordinary beef roast, and nothing is easier to prepare than a crockpot meal!




















Saturday, July 28, 2012

Mission Organization: Week 30 - The Microwave Oven

My microwave oven is one of the handiest appliances that I own. If I decide that I would like to have a baked sweet potato for lunch, I can have one in minutes in my microwave oven. I also use the microwave for its speed when making recipes that require melted butter or chocolate. At my house our microwave also gets a good workout heating leftovers.



Those kinds of microwave cooking jobs can mean splatters and a mess if someone should forget to cover the food.


As you can see, that has happened at my house before! It is very distressing to me to open the microwave door and see splatters all over the walls and ceiling, but I have finally found a solution that makes it so easy to wipe it clean again.


A messy microwave oven like mine can be steam cleaned with a vinegar and water solution.


Just place 1/4 cup vinegar in 1 cup of water in the microwave and zap for 5 minutes at the highest setting.




Be sure to use a bowl or cup that has extra room so that the mixture won't boil over.


Let it set in the oven until it cools down enough to dip a sponge or cloth in the liquid, then wipe away the stains.

All the gunk wipes off so easily!


Even my messy microwave sparkled after the steam cleaning. The only drawback to this method was that my grandson complained that he did not like the smell when I heated the vinegar.


So to make the oven and the kitchen smell better I heated a tablespoon of vanilla in a cup of water for 1 minute in the microwave oven, and that completely changed the scent. The vanilla took care of the complaints about the smell, and microwave is clean and shiny!



Saturday, July 21, 2012

Mission Organization: Week 29 - Unclogging a Drain the Simple Way

Before I get into my mission this week, I want you all to know how much it meant to me to know that you were wishing me well as I was battling the kidney stone. The battle is not completely over, but most of the time I am feeling much better now, so hopefully I will be back to my normal self soon.

Sometimes I have a tendency to get a little "compulsive" about certain things, and one of those things has become my weekly Mission Organization posts. So stone or no stone, I felt compelled to complete a home project this week for my mission. My goal is to get through this year with an extra project completed each week.

My household drains are something I never think about unless they are not functioning properly. My bathtub has been draining lately at the speed of slow molasses, and it needed an intervention before the drain was totally clogged. In fact, it must have been on the verge of being totally stopped up, because I would pull the plug to let it drain, then find it still filled with water 20 minutes later. I think it must have been dripping out only a drop at a time.


This book, Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things, is a household resource that I often consult in situations like this.





According to the book, the solution for a slow or clogged drain is to pour one cup of baking soda into the drain followed by 1 cup of hot vinegar (heat the vinegar in the microwave for 1 minute). Give this combination several minutes to work, then flush with 1 quart of boiling water. This can be repeated if necessary.

This was such a simple way to get my bathtub draining quickly again. There was nothing extra for me to buy, and it took only a few minutes to unclog the drain. My bathtub is draining freely now. I am very impressed with this method because there are no harsh chemicals, just ordinary vinegar and baking soda, and it works!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Battling the Stone

Just a note to let all my friends know that I will be out of the kitchen for a bit. I'm dealing with a kidney stone and infection that have zapped my energy. After a little R & R, I hope to be back to cooking and baking and posting on a regular schedule.

I need to publicly apologize to my computer chair, as I have been blaming it for my back pain in recent weeks. I was ready to replace the chair when the fever and chills came on, and I found out it wasn't the chair's fault at all.

In the meantime, please use the Recipe Index and enjoy the recipes that are already posted. As always, I'll be looking through my cookbooks and magazines for new recipes to try. When this stone and I have finished the battle, I'll be back!

Best regards,
Anita

Lilies 2012

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Mission Organization: Week 28 - My Photos

This week for Mission Organization I made an attempt to get my photos organized. The photos that I worked on were the loose prints that I had stored around the house, some in drawers and some in boxes. I have photos that date back to my grandparents, but the bulk of my loose prints were pictures of my own children and family members.


The first thing I did was to make a trip to Hobby Lobby and buy some of these photo boxes. They are made to protect photos for the long term.


I also bought one of these photo pens so I could write identification on the back of the photos. These pens don't smear, and they don't fade with age.


My next step was to pour out a big pile on my kitchen table. If you do this at your house, don't be like me - I promptly lost my photo pen because I had covered it up with the photos, so I had to dig for it.


Then I used sticky notes for some general categories, and I started sorting. This took a long time, but not as long as identifying and writing the names on the back. I had to ask my mother for help with some of the older ones. I also did something that I have never dared do with my photos before - I threw some away. If a picture was out of focus or terribly unflattering, I tossed it. I also tossed some that I had in multiple copies.


When I finished I had only used two of the boxes that I bought. I am very pleased to have the pictures organized into categories. Having the photos organized like this will make it easier to do albums or to find a picture quickly. Perhaps another time I'll get energetic enough to tackle the digital photos as well!

I have no connection with Hobby Lobby or the products mentioned in this post; they simply were available to serve my purposes very well.

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Golf Cake for the Seventh

My grandson Landon celebrated his seventh birthday this week. My own children grew up in a blink, but my grandchildren are growing up at an even faster pace. It seems that it was only yesterday when I was putting up safety latches and gates, and now he's into golf clubs, soccer balls, and four wheelers. When I asked Landon what sort of cake he'd like baked for his birthday this year, his reply was that he wanted a number seven and a golf cake. This is what I came up with to fulfill his wish.


I learned that my niece Kristy had a cake pan that would bake numeral and letter shapes, so I was eager to borrow it for Landon's cake. After using the pan I was totally in love with it, so I had to order my own. I found the same pan on Amazon, and lucky me, I had a gift card that I had won from Shannon at Cozy Home Scenes, so I used part of that to buy the pan.


Talk about speedy shipping; my new pan has already been delivered! The pan is divided into a grid and comes with 12 spacers that are used to create any numeral or letter in either a large or a small size. The booklet that comes with the pan has clear instructions with pictures that show how to arrange the spacers to create the cake you want. Cool pan!


I'm not a great cake decorator, but I can get by for family birthdays and events. I also added a new tip for this cake, the grass tip #233 that I used for the top borders. A little plastic golf cart, a buttercream golf ball, and some fondant lettering completed Landon's cake.


Happy seventh birthday, Landon!





I have no business connection with Amazon or the manufacturers of the products mentioned in this post; I just love baking cakes.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Vegetable Tian

This Vegetable Tian is a great way to use the bounty of summer squash and tomatoes, and it is such a colorful and delicious dish. The roasted vegetables are sitting on a layer of caramelized onions, and they are topped with Parmesan cheese. Vegetables just don't get any better than this!







Vegetable Tian

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Olive oil spray
1 large sweet yellow onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 - 2 russet potatoes, unpeeled
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
3 large Roma tomatoes
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Dried thyme
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a baking dish by spraying with olive oil cooking spray. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cut the onion in half from tip to root and slice; add to the hot oil. Saute onions until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another 60 seconds. Spread the onion mixture on the bottom of the greased baking dish.
Slice the potatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, and tomatoes in 1/4 inch thick slices. Layer the vegetables alternately on top of the onions, arranging them in a spiral, making only one layer. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and thyme. Drizzle the remaining teaspoon of olive oil over all. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Remove foil and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 25 - 30 minutes, or until browned.


The cast of characters - Potatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, onion, and garlic.


Saute the onions and garlic, then spread the mixture in the bottom of a greased baking dish.


Slice the potatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, and tomatoes, then arrange the slices over the onions and garlic.


Bake covered in foil for the first 35 minutes, then remove the foil and add the Parmesan cheese. Bake an additional 25 - 30 minutes, or until browned.





Sunday, July 8, 2012

Ultimate Salmon Fillets

Salmon is one of my favorite restaurant meals, mostly because I seldom cook it at home. Usually at my house my kitchen is run more like a short order restaurant, and I cook what everyone else orders. Well today I was home alone, and since I love salmon, I baked some just for me.


Recipe source Food.com


Ultimate Salmon Fillets

1 pound salmon fillets
Salt
Pepper
1/3 cup sour cream or yogurt
2 teaspoons prepared mustard
2 teaspoons onions, finely minced
2 teaspoons dried dill weed
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated
Paprika

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place thawed fillets in a greased baking dish. Season the fillets with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, combine sour cream (or yogurt), mustard, onion, dill, and mayonnaise. Spread the mixture evenly over the fillets. Bake in preheated oven for about 10 - 12 minutes. When fish is done, sprinkle with a dash of paprika and the parmesan cheese. Broil for about 1 minute or until the cheese is bubbly and begins to brown. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.



Place the salmon fillets in a greased baking dish. I used olive oil to grease my dish, and they did not stick. Season the fillets to taste with salt and pepper.



Mix the sour cream, mustard, onions, dill, and mayonnaise together, then brush the mixture on the salmon. Bake until done, then add a dash of paprika and the parmesan before broiling.



I love salmon when it is grilled plain with very little seasoning, but it was even more wonderful with all the added flavors. The melted parmesan put it over the top.





Saturday, July 7, 2012

Mission Organization: Week 27 - My Closet i.e. The Black Hole

Somehow my closet got out of control. It didn't happen all at once, it built up over time. I outgrew some clothes, and pushed them back when I replaced them with a larger size. The shelves became cluttered with stuff, and it became harder to find what I needed. I threw a pair of shoes in the floor and forgot to put them away. . . a few times. Finally, I knew my mission had to be to tackle my closet i.e. the dreaded "black hole".

I didn't tackle it all in one day, I have been working on my closet for several weeks, on and off. In my younger years I would have pulled everything out one day in a massive clean-out and got the job done quickly. But now just the thought of cleaning like that makes all the blood drain from my face. I simply don't have the energy to do it all at once. I'm afraid that if I dragged everything out of the closet at once now it might end up sitting there for a few days while I rested up and got back to the job.

In looking at the "black hole" I saw two big problems. One was there were too many clothes stuffed into the closet. I needed to go through the clothing and purge the ones that I could no longer wear. I had hung onto them long enough. The second problem I saw was that I had too many loose shoes. I had the boxes stacked on the closet shelves, but I rarely returned the pair I had worn to its proper box.


This is how I had all my clothing stuffed into the closet - there's not much room to slip another hanger in.


This lower rod doesn't look quite as crowded as the upper, but about half of these slacks are no longer my size.

The shelves were stacked and messy.


One of the first things that I did on this overhaul was to change my hangers to this non-slip kind. I've heard good reviews from friends about hangers like these. Purging the clothes took longer than any other part of the mission. I tried a lot of them on, I guess as a last hope that they might fit again.


This is a stack that I had after one of my purging days.


I dealt with the shoe problem by getting rid of all the boxes and adding these shoe cubbies. These are from Lowe's. They came unassembled, but they are not difficult to put together. These only require a Phillips screwdriver and a hammer to assemble, and fortunately I had my toolbox, so I didn't have to hunt for any tools. If I can build them, anyone can!


I decided to move the slacks to the upper rod with the jacket and skirts.


I moved my tops to the lower rod, and nothing is crowded!

This unit serves as extra drawer space for pajamas and undies.


Some baskets for organization - one for socks, another for gloves, and a third for flip flops.


I decided to use a basket for the flip flops instead of putting them in the cubbies with the other shoes.


My scarf rack was the only part of the closet that was in order and didn't have to be organized or straightened. 


This mission took quite a while to finish, but I think I got rid of the "black hole".



I have no business association with Lowe's or the products mentioned in this post; I just love organizing.