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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tri-County Quilters Charity Bee, Christmas Stockings for Children in need.

Tri-County Quilters Charity Bee is making stockings to fill for a couple organizations which includes Boy's and Girls town...I am so excited that I actually got to work on some of these. It sure warms your heart knowing that this tiny effort for a few hours today will make the difference in 10 children's lives. I hope to be able to help more with this project I so think it is worth it. The Charity Bee had little packs all made up for you to take home to make the stockings....I mean everything was already cut out and included very clear instructions. These were fun to do. This is my first set, (I'm hoping to be able to do another 10 but it might be too late)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Summer Lap Blanket for Ms. Ramona

At the retirement center there are so many wonderful people there.  I wish I had more time to spend with each one.  Every now and again one of the lovely people there ask for something special...I feel so blessed that they feel comfortable with me to make these sorts of requests.  I absolutely love making someone's day.  A wonderful lady that resides at the retirement center, Ramona said she once had a thin blanket that was just made up of a top fabric and a backing fabric with no quilt batting.  She said she gave it away because she thought she had another one.  When she found out that she didn't she wished she still had the one she gave away.  I told her I'd sure make her one like this as it is easy peasy to make.  She said her favorite color was blue.
Then a couple weeks ago a good friend of mines mother sent over some material to make these lap blankets as well as receiving blankets, and to my surprise a lovely blue fabric was in this stash.  I will certainly replace it but I decided this was perfect for Ms. Ramona and so here is my finished project.  Mind you she never mentioned liking flowers so I'm a tad bit worried, but I can't seem to do anything without adding a little bit of "Janet" all over it...lol

so here it is...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Spinach Lasagna with Bolognese Meat Sauce

2 tblsp olive
1 tblsp unsalted butter
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 small rib celery, chopped
1 small carrot chopped
1 pound round
1/2 cup dry white wine (one you would actually drink)
1/2 cup milk
3 cups canned crushed tomatoes
1 tsp salt or to taste
1 recipe of master pasta or spinach pasta recipe
1 1/2 cups Bechamel Sauce
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Heat oil and butter in a large, very heavy copper or cast-iron saucepan. Add onion and saute over medium heat until slightly wilted, about 4 minutes. Add carrot and celery and continue cooking until vegetables soften, about 5 minutes more.

Add meat and use a fork or the back of a spoon to break it into small pieces. As soon as the meat looses its red color, add wine and simmer until the aroma of the wine fades, about 4 minutes. Add milk and simmer until liquid in pan is clear again, about 4 minutes.

Add tomatoes and 1 tsp salt and reduce heat to low. Allow sauce to simmer very gently (sauce can be ruined by high heat but not by low heat), stirring occasionally, for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Finished sauce will be thick with no excess liquid floating on top. Taste for salt and set aside.

Cook and drain pasta. Preheat oven to 400 F.

Grease a 13x9" lasagna pan. Smear 3 tblsp bechamel across bottom. Line bottom with a layer of pasta, making sure noodles touch but do not overlap. Smear 2/3 cup meat sauce over noodles and drizzle with 3 tblsp bechamel. Sprinkle with 2 tblsp cheese. Repeat layering of pasta, meat sauce, bechamel, and cheese four more times. For the sixth layer, coat noodles with 6 tblsp bechamel and sprinkle with remaining 6 tblsp cheese.

Bake lasagna until top turns golden brown in spots and sauce is bubbling, about 20 minutes. Remove pan from oven, let lasagna settle for 5 minutes, and serve.

Cooks note: Since this meat sauce takes so long to cook (preparation time is actually less than 30 minutes), consider making a double recipe. Leftover sauce can be frozen and is perfect with fettuccine, ravioli, gnocchi, or tortellini.

Bechamel Sauce

2 cups milk
4 tblsp unsalted butter
3 1/2 tblsp all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

Gently heat milk in a small pan so that it is warm but not scalded.
Meanwhile, heat butter in a medium sized saucepan. When butter is foamy, whisk in flour until smooth. Stir and cook for 2 minutes over medium heat. Do not let flour brown.

Add several tblsp of the hot milk, whisking constantly. When milk is thoroughly blended into butter and flour mixture, add several more tablespoons. Repeat until all the milk has been added and the sauce is smooth. If at any time the sauce sparates or lumps form, whisk vigorously until smooth.

Add salt and cook sauce over medium heat for several minutes or until it thickens slightly and has the texture of heavy cream. Do not let it bubble. Remove pan from heat and use sauce immediately, or pour into a glass measuring cup and cover with plastic wrap, placing the plastic directly on the surface to keep a skin from forming. Keep at room temperature for up to 2 hours or refrigerate overnight. Reheat if chilled and whisk before using.

Master Recipe for Egg Pasta
Makes enough pasta for 6 layers in a standard 13/9 Lasagna Pan
2 Cups all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
5 Quarts water
1 tblsp. salt

I'm going to post the book cover picture for each Lasagna recipe as this book has no pictures, but I have found the recipes to be very good.

Place flour on a clean, dry work surface (a counter top or wood surface is best). With your hands, shape flour into a 6 inch ring with an empty well in the center. Crack eggs into this well and beat lightly with a fork. Slowly work in some of the flour from the inside of the ring. Continue incorporating flour from around the inside of the ring as the egg mixture becomes thicker.
Eventually the walls of the flour ring will collapse. Continue using a fork to incorporate flour into the sticky egg mass. Use your hands to knead dough into a solid ball for about 1 minute. Incorporate as much flour as necessary to keep dough from being very sticky.
At the point, set dough aside (it will still have chunks of unincorporated flour in it) and clean your hands and the work surface thoroughly. Small bits of dried flour will cause lumps in the pasta and must be removed. so wash and thoroughly dry the work surface. Wash and dry your hands and dust them lightly with flour.

Return dough to work surface and continue kneading by hand. If small bits of hardened dough fall off, sweep them to the side of the surface or move dough ball to a clean part of the work surface. In any case, do not try to incorporate these pieces into the dough. Continue kneading until dough is quite smooth and not sticky. As a Florentine pasta teacher would tell you, "Pasta dough should be as smooth as a baby's behind." Kneading should take about 10 minutes.

Shape dough into a ball, wrap tightly in plastic, and set aside for at least 15 minutes to let dough relax. If tightly wrapped, the dough can be set aside at room temperature for several hours.

Set up a hand-cranked pasta machine and cover a large area with paper towels. Unwrap dough and knead for about 1 minute to incorporate the moisture that has formed on its surface.

Slice a 1/2 inch piece of dough (you should be able to get about 6 slices from the dough ball) and flatten it into a disk. (Rewrap remaining dough to prevent it from drying out as you work). Run disk through widest setting on pasta machine. Bring ends of dough toward the middle and press down to seal. Run the open end through the first setting again. Repeat folding, sealing, and rolling once. Without folding, run pasta through first setting two times or until dough is smooth. (If dough is at all sticky, lightly dust it with flour.) Continue running dough through rollers, narrowing the setting each time until dough is quite thin and the outline of your hand is visible through the pasta (usually setting 6 on the Atlas Machines). If at any time the dough breaks of holes from, roll pasta back into a ball, return machine to the first setting, and begin process again.
Set pasta sheet aside on paper towels. It will probably be quite long and should be sliced in half. Continue the process until all of the dough slices has been rolled into sheets.

Bring the water to a boil in a large stockpot. Add salt and four sheets of pasta when water is at a rolling boil. Cook pasta, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 2 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to retrieve lasagna noodles and transfer them to a bowl of cold water. Once noodles are refreshed, about 30 seconds, transfer them to a clean kitchen towel to dry. Repeat process, cooking about 4 noodles at a time. Use cooked noodles within 1 hour.

Spinach Pasta
1 cup water
1/2 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 large eggs

Bring water to a boil in a small pan.  Add spinach and cook until tender, about 3 minutes.  Drain and refresh spinach under cold running water.  Use your hands to press out all the liquid from the spinach.

Transfer spinach to a cutting board and chop fine.  Press your hands against spinach and tilt the cutting board over a sink to squeeze out any remaining liquid.  There should be about 1/3 cup very finely chopped, completely dry spinach.

Place flour on a clean, dry work surface such as a counter top or wood surface.   With your hands, shape flour into a 6 inch ring with an empty well in the center.  Crack eggs into this well and add spinach.  Beat eggs and spinach lightly with a fork until well mixed.  Slowly work in some of the flour from the inside of the ring.  Continue incorporating flour from around the inside of the ring as the egg mixture become thicker. 

Knead, roll, and cook the pasta as you would in the master pasta recipe.

Cooks note Frozen spinach is easier to work with than fresh, and this is one of those rare occasions when nothing is sacrificed by using the frozen product.  If you have fresh spinach on hand, boil about 1/2 pound in abundant water until tender, about 2 minutes, and follow the same directions for frozen spinach.

Potted Chicken and Ham

7 oz butter
7 oz Cooked skinless chicken or turkey cut into pieces
3 1/2 oz Cooked ham, cut into pieces
black pepper to taste
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground allspice
pinch of cayenne pepper
4 fresh bay leaves

To clarify the butter, place it in a small saucepan and melt over a low heat for 3-4 minutes, taking care not to let it brown. Line a sieve with a damp muslin, place over a bowl and pour the butter into the sieve, discarding the milky deposit left in the pan. Leave the strained liquid (clarified butter) to cool for 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, blend the chicken or turkey and the ham until fairly smooth in a food processor. Add the pepper, nutmeg, allspice and cayenne to taste and blend until combined. Gradually pour in just under three-quarters of the clarified butter, blending all the time until mixed well.

Spoon the mixture into small dishes or ramekins and tip each with a bay leaf. Pour over the remaining butter to seal, then refrigerate for 2-3 hours, or overnight...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

My very favorite Lemon Meringue Pie recipe

For the crust
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup plus 1 tblsp shortening or 1/3 cup lard
2 1/2 - 3 tblsp very cold water
In medium bowl, combine flour and salt. With pastry blender or 2 knives, using a short cutting motion cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.
Quickly sprinkle ice water, 1 tblsp at a time, over pastry mixture, tossing lightly with fork after each addition and pushing dampened portion to side of bowl; sprinkle only dry portion remaining (pastry should be just moist enough to hold together, not sticky)
Shape pastry into a ball; flatten to 1 inch thickness; refrigerate at least 30 minutes or several hours.
On lightly floured surface, roll out pastry to 11-inch circle. Fold rolled pastry in half; carefully transfer to 9 inch pie plate, making sure fold is in center. Unfold pastry and fit carefully into pie plate. Do not stretch pastry.

for the pie...
Lemon filling
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 tblsp all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups water
4 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tblsp grated lemon peel
1 tblsp butter

4 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar

Prepare and bake pastry above and cool completely before filling.
Make Lemon Filling: In medium saucepan, combine cornstarch, flour, sugar and salt, mixing will. Gradually add 2 cups water, stirring until smooth.
Over medium heat, bring to boiling, stirring occasionally; boil 1 minute.

Remove from heat. Quickly stir some of the hot mixture into the egg yolks then return mixture to hot mixture; stir to blend. Return to heat; cook over low heat 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice, lemon peel and butter. Pour into pie shell.

Preheat oven to 400 F.
Make Meringue: In medium bowl, with portable electric mixer at medium speed, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until frothy. Gradually beat in sugar, 2 tblsp at a time, beating after each addition. Then beat at high speed until stiff peaks form when beaters are slowly raised. Spread over Lemon ?Filling, carefully sealing to the edge of the crust and swirling top decoratively.
Bake 7-9 Minutes or until meringue is golden brown. Let pie cool completely on wire rack 2 1/2 - 3 hours. Refrigerate left overs. serves 8

Glamorgan Sausages

3 1/2 oz Potato
Salt and pepper to taste
3 1/2 oz white bread crumbs
5 oz Lancashire or Caerphilly Cheese, grated
1 small leek, finely chopped
1/4 tsp dried sage
1 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 medium egg, plus 3 egg yolks
3 tblsp plain flour
Oil for frying
Cook the potato in boiling salted water for 15-20 minutes, until tender.  Drain well, mash, then leave to cool for 15 minutes.  Mix the cold mash with half the breadcrumbs, the cheese, leek, sage and parsley.  Season with salt, pepper and cayenne and the yolks.  Using your hands, shape into 12 sausages.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Season the flour.  Beat the whole egg.  Dip the sausages into the seasoned flour, then into the beaten egg, then coat in the remaining bread crumbs.  Heat 1/4 inch of oil in a large frying pan and fry half the sausages, turning, for 10 minutes or until golden brown.  Drain on kitchen towels and keep warm while you cook the rest.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Caramel Sauce

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean or 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Mix the water and sugar in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cover and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and boil uncovered until the sugar turns a medium brown, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Watch it carefully at the end, as it will go from caramel to burnt very quickly. Stand back to avoid splattering, and gradually add the cream and the seeds scraped from the vanilla bean (or vanilla extract). Simmer until the caramel dissolves and the sauce is smooth and thick, about 2 minutes. Serve warm, or add another 1/4 cup of heavy cream and serve room temperature.
There were complaints about this recipe....I made it following the instructions exactly except I added a pinch of salt. I am not sure if it gets thicker as it cools but I was wanting a thick caramel sauce for the mini pumpkin cheese cakes. If it stays thin more like something for ice cream then I would decrease the heavy cream to one cup.
Update: The sauce was thick enough so no alterations need to be made to this recipe other than the pinch of salt.

Black Bottomed Mini Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Bites

8 whole Oreos, finely ground in food processor
1 1/2 Tablespoons melted butter
8 oz softened cream cheese
1/2 Cup granulated sugar
1/2 Cup pumpkin puree (I used Libby’s)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
3 Caramel Sauce recipe on this blog
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Combine ground Oreos and melted butter into a bowl until well combined.  Spoon into12 mini cheesecake cups that have been sprayed with cooking spray.  Press into the bottom of each cup so the crust is flat.  Partially bake for 10 minutes then remove from oven.
2.  In a stand or electric mixer beat the cream cheese,  sugar and pumpkin until smooth.  Beat in egg, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg until combined.  Pour evenly into the 12 cups filling about 3/4 way full.  Spoon about a teaspoon of caramel into the tops of each filled cup and swirl with a toothpick gently.  Bake for 25-28 minutes or until cheesecake is cooked through.  Let cool completely.
3.  Remove cheesecakes from pan and top each with a spoonful of remaining caramel and a Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kiss.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.
12 mini cheesecakes

Found recipe here: