Thursday, February 22, 2018

Olympic Bites: PyeongChang 2018

It's Olympics time again! Memories of myself pretending to figure skate in my socks on the kitchen floor are coming back as my daughter shows me her own jumps and spins trying to copy the graceful and powerful skaters on the television. My son is setting up his own curling games in the living room and looks on in awe at the ski jumpers. I love it!

My idea of cooking foods native to the host country back during the Rio games became a tradition this year as I scoured the internet for information on Korean cuisine. This one felt a little more intimidating though as Korean food is not something I'm very familiar with, and many ingredients seemed to be something I'd have to get at a specialty market. Not to mention that my distaste for kimchi put me at a serious disadvantage. According to my dad who spent some time in Korea with the Army, Koreans serve kimchi with absolutely everything; breakfast, lunch, and dinner - even on the army base! In the end I did find some recipes that I thought would please my picky bunch and use easily found ingredients.

The first dish I decided on was dessert. Dessert isn't a huge thing in Korea, but I found a few videos about ppopgi, a candy kids would buy from street vendors that only uses two ingredients - sugar and baking soda. Making it is pretty easy, though it can be a little time consuming since you have to make them one at a time. The videos showed them being made by holding a metal ladle over a flame.  I don't have any metal ladles, so I used a metal measuring cup. My family described the flavor as tasting like a toasted marshmallow and the texture as cracker-like.  Traditionally vendors press a design into the candy like a flower or a heart. I used the wide end of a piping tip to make the Olympic rings.


Ppopgi (Korean Sugar Candy)

Ingredients:
Brown or white sugar
baking soda

Directions:

Over medium heat, melt  about a 1/4 cup of sugar in a metal ladle or measuring cup, stirring so the sugar doesn't burn.

Once the sugar is completely melted, add a pinch of baking soda and stir until the sugar is foamy and light in color.

Pour the candy onto a non-stick surface. I used a sil-pat dusted with baking soda. Press the candy down with the bottom of a metal measuring cup or flat side of a chef's knife.

After the candy cools a bit, but before it hardens, (about a minute or so), use a cookie cutter or other tool to press a design into the candy. Let it cool completely and enjoy!

Here's a link to the videos I looked at if you want a live demonstration:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWs0m3auwnc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7goX7b1hJE


I also decided to bring back my St. Andrew Kim day triumph - Crockpot Bulgogi. Using the slow cooker was great since the opening ceremonies were on a Friday and I had to work the whole day before cooking.


 Click the link for the recipe - Crockpot Bulgogi


Next I decided to try my hand at kimbap - basically a sushi roll filled with any variety of ingredients like meat, eggs, and vegetables. I was little more nervous for this one as homemade sushi skills are something I hadn't really tried before, but it proved to be much easier than I anticipated! A bag of short grain rice and nori sheets are also easily available in your regular grocery store and aren't that expensive.  For this dish I used the cookbook Quick & Easy Korean Cooking by Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee as my guide. I've always loved checking cookbooks out from the library since I was little!


Kimbap (Korean Seaweed Rice Rolls) 

Ingredients: 
1 cup short grain rice
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
seaweed sheets (nori)
sesame oil

your choice of fillings. I used:
egg
ham
carrot
sauteed spinach
bulgogi (click the link above for the recipe!)

Prepare your fillings so they are ready to go when it's time to roll.

Cook the rice according to the directions on the package. While it cooks mix the vinegar, sugar, and salt together.

After the rice cools slightly, stir in the vinegar mixture.

Place a nori sheet down and spread a layer of rice on it using a rubber spatula. Place your fillings in a line horizontally at the end nearest to you. Roll it up as tightly as you can, tucking as you go. Brush a little sesame oil onto the seam.

Using a knife dipped in cold water, (don't use a serrated knife), cut the roll into bite sized pieces.


Lastly, I also used Quick and Easy Korean Cooking to make pajeon, or green onion pancakes. According to my friends putting stuff into pancake form is quite popular in Korea. Now, this isn't a light and fluffy sweet American pancake. It's flatter, chewy with crispy edges, and savory. The cookbook suggested using a combination of rice flour and all purpose flour for the best texture, but even with all the alternative flours that are out there these days I couldn't find any. I did find banana flour though, weird. Just like the other recipes I decided on the ingredients were simple and the dish was easy to make. My husband doesn't really like green onions, but he really enjoyed these!


Pajeon (Korean Green Onion Pankcakes)

Ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour (or replace a 1/2 cup with rice flour)
1 teaspoon salt
Dash of pepper
3 cups cold water
6 green onions, chopped
2 grated zuchhini
1 grated carrot
Vegetable oil for frying

Mix together the flour, salt, pepper and water. The consistency should be like a think pancake batter.

Add in the vegetables.

Heat vegetable oil in an 8 inch skillet on medium high. Spoon in enough batter to make a flat pancake the covers the bottom of the pan.

Cook on one side until golden brown, and then flip and cook on the other side. Serve them fresh with seasoned soy sauce for dipping.

Seasoned Soy Sauce

1/3 cup soy sauce
1 green onion, chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon chili powder + a pinch of cayenne (that's what I used to replace the Korean chile powder)

Let me know what your favorite Winter Olympics event is in the comments!



Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Mario Party 8

Well, I finally did it. I gave in and let my son convince me to do a Mario theme for his birthday. And you know what, it was really cute and turned out great!

Thanks to my husband Tyler for the cute power up art on the dry-erase board! Sam made the hat himself.
It was a pretty simple party. Friends came over to play and spend time with us. No big organized activities, mostly free play and a little Mario Kart thrown in. We even encouraged guests to bring "their presence, not their presents," a line I stole from the book The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg. I'm desperately trying to get rid of the clutter in my house, not add to it!  Plus I think it helps put what's really important into perspective. I promise I'm not being a mean mom! We did get him a new book, and of course grandparents can't resist giving birthday gifts either. Truthfully, the birthday boy didn't seem to mind at all. He was happy just to have his friends over for a special day!

Food is easy with Sam. It's always pizza, pizza, and more pizza!  I guess that goes with theme this year since Mario and Luigi are Italian. I made the the drinks  on theme by making fruit punch and labeling it "Mario Punch" and coloring lemonade green and calling it "Luigi Lemonade."  We also picked up some green and red cups from the store.


The centerpiece of the party, and one of the main reasons I finally agreed to a Mario party, was the cake. We've been known to watch an episode or two of Rosanna Pansino's YouTube baking show "Nerdy Nummies." When Sam saw her make a question block pinata cake filled with chocolate coins - well, let's just say I knew what I was doing for his birthday! A couple of Sam's Mario toys on the table next to the cake rounded out the decorations.

This was the first time  I've ever made a pinata cake, and it is actually really easy. And the excitement from all the guests when they see the surprise inside is very rewarding! It was a huge hit. There were a few differences between Rosanna's cake and mine. I used boxed cake mix in chocolate, yellow, and white instead of homemade lemon cake, the bottom of my pinata was the cake stand, not a layer of cake, and I decorated completely with frosting, no fondant.


 As you can see, it took three layers of cake baked in a 9X9 square pan to give us the final shape. . Each layer was one box of cake mix. If you want a true cube you'll probably want a fourth layer. I put the first to layers down and cut a square out of the middle, which I filled with the chocolate coins. These were readily available at the store since it was around Christmas time, (they are often used on St. Nicholas Day and during Hanukkah). Then I put the last layer on top, frosted in yellow, and added the question marks and corner dots in white. I decided to the use the cake I cut out from the middle to make a warp pipe - you don't want to let any cake go to waste!  That just took a little carving with a serrated knife, green frosting, and some melted chocolate chips.


Happy Birthday Sam! You amaze me every day. I can't to see how you grow this year.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Baked Bacon and Egg Cups

For many years we've been spending Christmas mornings at my dad's house. Since he knows that our visits to other family members during the day usually involve more than one big Christmas dinner, he's made it a tradition to make a small but special breakfast. These baked eggs are a Christmas breakfast staple and are super simple and quick to make. Despite how easy these are, there is something about the way they are served that makes the meal feel a little more special and elegant.



The traditional way to make them is by cracking in a whole egg as is, but since my kids only eat their eggs scrambled I like to make a few with scrambled eggs as well. I'm sure putting in additions to the scrambled eggs like meats, cheeses, and veggies would  work well too if you wanted to go that route. I do think the whole egg looks prettier though. They are the perfect addition to any Christmas breakfast or brunch!



Baked Eggs

Bacon Strips
Eggs
Salt and Pepper

Partially cook bacon strips until they are pretty much cooked, but still flexible and not crispy.
Line muffin tins with the bacon strips.
Crack an egg into each lined tin. Salt and pepper to taste.
Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

All Saints Day Costumes 2017

Though we just started doing it last year, I have absolutely loved putting together All Saints Day costumes to help our family celebrate! This year the costumes were extremely simple to put together, but came out wonderfully. It helped that we happened to already have everything we needed around the house! (To see last year's costumes, click here.)

This year Rosemary dressed up as Our Lady of Guadalupe, and Sam once again went as St. Juan Diego, his favorite. For Our Lady of Guadalupe, we just used a pink dress and black ribbon, and for the veil we actually used a dress she happened to have that was blue with gold stars! I just bobby pinned the skirt part to her hair, and tucked in the top and sleeves. Just look at this face! She was so thrilled to dress up as Mary - maybe even more excited than she was about dressing up as Glinda from The Wizard of Oz on Halloween.


For St. Juan Diego Sam rewore the costume we made last year (an oversized shirt with fake roses and a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe hot glued to it), but we had a little fun updating it. We did a photo shoot of Rosemary in her Our Lady of Guadalupe costume, printed that picture, and then glued it to the tilma in place of the old picture. It was a big hit at the All Saints Day mass.


As for the baby, I didn't really come up with a costume for her this year. A friend said she was going as baby Jesus fleeing to Egypt since she was fussy and my husband had to take her to cry room. Works for me!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Pink Princess Party

What is it about little girls that makes them love pink and princesses so much? Since before she was even one year old my little princess would make a point out of wearing the pretty dress instead of the t-shirt and jeans. Now three years old, she was old enough to make her own request for the theme of her birthday party which resulted in an explosion of pink, pink, and more pink! Funnily enough, when my youngest sister turned three, she asked for an all pink birthday too, so we had some inspiration and ideas from all those years ago.

Decorations and Cake

Pink tablecloths, pink plates, pink balloons, you get the picture! We hung a pink plastic table cloth up in a doorway, and the sunlight shining through it from the window even bathed the room in a pink glow.

The centerpiece for all this was a pink princess cake. Strawberry flavor of course, so it was even pink on the inside. I baked the cake in a Wilton wonder mold pan, the same one my mom used to make doll cakes for us when I was little! The doll pick that came with the pan was a little worse for wear after all these years, so I used a full sized doll in the cake. This meant that I had to add an 8 inch round cake to bottom of the wonder mold pan to make the doll fit. I just wrapped the legs in plastic wrap, and carved out a hole in the middle of the cake to help her fit in better.



This was my first time ever piping ruffles, and I was pleased to find that the technique is quite simple, though you do need a large amount of frosting when covering a whole cake with it - as you can see I didn't quite make it to the top of the skirt with the pink ruffles. To create ruffles you use a petal tip. Hold the wide side against the surface of cake and move up and down as you apply pressure to the piping bag and move around the cake. If you have a lazy susan that spins to put the cake on while decorating, I would recommend it. I'm saying this since I do not have one and I would've liked to! All in all, I think it turned out well, and I now have another decorating trick up my sleeve. I'm proud of myself for figuring out how to use something besides a star tip and a round tip!

Menu 

This is the part that took the most inspiration from my little sister, though we did add in a few new menu items.



Pink Rice - Put pink or red food coloring in the water and the rice turns bright cotton candy pink!

Pink Mac 'n Cheese - We just got a boxed white cheddar mac 'n cheese and added pink food coloring.

Shrimp - You can cook your own, but we just got a shrimp cocktail platter from the grocery store. Ham would be another good protein that's pink.

Pink Fruit Wands - I did a post about these a while back for the 4th of July. Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes from slices of watermelon for the top of the skewers. Under that we used strawberries and grapes.

Pink Lemonade


Activities

We mostly just let the kids run around and play with each other unstructured, but we did have a little crown decorating craft that was a big hit with the kids and adults alike!


Happy Birthday Princess Rosemary! Thanks for all the joy you bring to our lives!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

What's So Wrong With This Provincial Life?

Okay 90s girls, I know that you loved Beauty and the Beast and would pretend to be Belle belting out, "There must be more than this provincial life!" I know I did. It's a theme we see often in the modern Disney movie - a female protagonist wishing for more than what her current life is offering. Belle wants adventure and excitement, Mulan wants to be more than a housewife, Moana wants to explore the sea, and Ariel wants to be a different species all together. While I really enjoy these movies and I understand that great stories almost always have a call to adventure for the hero, (check out this video about the hero's journey, also known as the monomyth), lately I've been wondering, "Hey, what's so wrong with this provincial life?" 



First let's look at the definition of provincial. Dictionary.com says that provincial is an adjective meaning having or showing the manners, viewpoints, etc., considered characteristic of unsophisticated inhabitants of a province. Something provincial could be a rustic living space, or a narrow minded person. Ouch. For a movie that seems to be teaching a message about not judging others without getting to know them, Belle is being pretty judgy in her opening song. For the most part the inhabitants of this little town seem to be perfectly nice people living perfectly nice lives, working hard to provide for their families and offer goods and services to the other townspeople. Sure Belle, you may not be able to discuss literature with them, but does that make you better than them, somehow above living a simple life with your family in a quiet town? I know Gaston thinks you're better than everyone else, but he's the villain so...

Disney princesses of the past like Snow White and Cinderella are often viewed as not being as good of role models for girls as the more modern princesses because of their passivity. The story happens to them rather than them taking the initiative to kick butt and take names. I find this comparison troubling. Saying that Snow White is a worse role model than Mulan is just replacing one stereotype of what a girl should be like and what they should want with another. If a girl wants to wear blue t-shirts, play with trucks, and take karate that's great! More power to her. By all means, go for it. But if a girl wants to wear pink dresses, play with dolls, and take ballet, that's great too. Heck, a girl can even do both! We need to stop thinking of  traditional expressions of femininity as inferior - but that could be another post altogether.


I think Snow White and Cinderella actually have some pretty admirable traits. In both stories they are treated horribly, forced to wear rags and basically used as slave labor. While they may hope that things get better they accept that this is the situation they are in right now and deal with it as best they can, facing the world with a positive attitude and treating others, including those who treat them poorly, with patience, kindness, and selflessness. To some this may seem provincial, but I think that this attitude is much more sophisticated than whining about your perfectly nice life, being aggressively rude to your parents and engaging in dubious dealings with witches just to get what you want - I'm looking at you Merida and Ariel!

Let's take a look at the most recent Disney princess movie, Moana, (I know her princess status is not official yet!). In the song "Where You Are" Moana keeps being drawn to the sea and her father explains how the island provides them with everything they need and that she can find happiness where she is. Hey Moana, I get it. I'm drawn to the water too. Looking out on the horizon of Lake Michigan is one my favorite things in the world, but your dad's song is actually incredibly wise! There is value in realizing that you have everything you need and being thankful for it. If you are always trying to find happiness outside of yourself and where you are, it is going to be very difficult to be happy. I like how even though it is difficult at times, Moana obeys her parents and does her best to find happiness on the island, only setting out to sea when it become necessary to save her people. She doesn't go just because it's what she wants. She goes when she realizes there is a purpose outside of herself for her desire.


 The truth is, we are all called to something more. But it's not a magical castle, becoming a war hero, or you know, legs. We are all called to union with God in heaven - we are all called to be saints. The way we get there will vary. Some of us may be called to set off on a grand, exotic adventure, and some of us may be called to love our husbands and raise our kids in a quiet town, and that's okay. Through the saints the Church gives us examples of warriors, scholars, spouses, parents, religious, royalty and peasants in grand variety who were all living out holy lives striving to be the best version of themselves. Remember that. Not the best version of someone else, but themselves. While St. Therese of Lisieux desired to be a missionary traveling the world, it was not what God had planned for her, and the impact she's had on the world by doing small things with great love inside the convent walls is awe inspiring.


Sometimes it's easy to break into song about how you wish your life was different when we feel more like that lady who needed eggs than the effortlessly beautiful Belle. But trust me, whatever else you do in your life, marriage and family is one of the greatest adventures there is. While my husband staying home to watch the kids while I work at an online school is certainly unconventional, our focus on faith and family and a desire to stay close to home may seem provincial to outside eyes.  Sometimes on a bad day I may wish for something different or more, but this is where our family is at right now and we are doing our best. Sure, camping in the next county may be our current idea of a big vacation and no one may ever make a movie of my life, but I find happiness in a loving husband and children, being close to my family, and the beauty of my faith. And if that makes me provincial, so be it.

This post is linked up at the #WorthRevist link up at reconciledtoyou.com/blog. Check it out!
 

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Yesterday was the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in other words, Happy Birthday Mary!


A little family magazine we picked up at church had a few suggestions to celebrate including lighting a prayer candle, bringing flowers to an altar, and saying the rosary. We have recently started up praying a decade of the rosary a day using the Holy Heroes rosary CDs. It just so happened the mystery we were on yesterday was the Assumption of Mary, so the decade was filled with scripture passages about Mary - it worked out perfectly! I highly recommend the Holy Heroes CDs if you are struggling to say the rosary as a family, or you feel you need help getting started. It's led by children and each Hail Mary is preceded by a short scripture verse that helps you meditate on the mystery for the decade. My oldest, (7 years old), immediately took to it, asking to do entire rosaries instead of just a decade, reminding the rest of the family about prayer time each night, and taking the CD player up to his bedroom to pray on his own before he goes to sleep. He is definitely much more focused than when we would try it on our own before! I enjoy them as an adult as well. They do a great job creating a relaxed, meditative mood. We also really enjoy listening to the Glory Stories CDs about the lives of saints on long car trips.

Of course the last suggestion for Mary's birthday in the magazine was the kid's favorite; bake a cake and sing happy birthday! Using ingredients we had on hand I decided to make one of my absolute favorite cake recipes; a chocolate zucchini cake I found on allrecipes.com. It's the same recipe I used for my daughter's farm themed birthday last year. It is a very easy cake to put together, especially since we have a ton of shredded zucchini on hand in the freezer due to an abundance from the garden. It's probably the only thing I've been able to grow in abundance so far! The original recipe also calls for chopped walnuts, but I leave that part out.


I had my own idea on how to decorate the cake for the feast day, and the kids had another. I started with my design, and then let the kids take over. It was the last day of the first week of school so I didn't use any piping bags or anything, we all just had some fun with sprinkles. As I told the kids, Mary is a mom, so she would love whatever way they wanted to decorate the cake for her! My son also made the keen observation that if Mary is everyone's mother, and she's the queen of heaven, than all of us are princesses and princes! That certainly pleased the almost three year old who is currently very into princesses.

"When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, 'Woman, behold your son.' Then he said to the disciple, 'Behold your mother.' And from that hour he took her into his home." John 19:26-27

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
3 cups grated zucchini

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.

Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Mix in the eggs and oil. Fold in the zucchini and pour into the prepared pan. 

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a fork or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool completely before frosting and enjoy!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Kidney Bean Salad

Summer 2017 is coming to a close, and what a summer it has been!  One day after the last day of school we welcomed baby Clara to our family. We had a lot of snuggles, a baptism, a trip to the family farm, and of course the older kid's summer camps and lessons. School and work start up again in a few days, and while it is always sad to bid another summer goodbye, I'm excited for what this new year will bring. As a teacher the new year starts in September, not January!

As one of our last big summer activities, we did a little group camping with a bunch of other Catholic families. Camping with a brand new little one can be challenging, but we knew with all these great friends around us we could handle it. It was an amazing experience. Not only did the kids play outside all day long without ever once seeming to miss t.v. or video games, but we had mass every day in the camp lodge, praise and worship music around the campfire, and overall a great chance for fellowship with other Catholic families doing the best they can to get each other to heaven.

There was quite the large group of us there, so getting everybody fed was a group effort. With everyone pitching in we had plenty to go around! For one of our meals I brought one of my favorite salads my dad used to make a lot when I was little. The official recipe in the family cookbook uses several different kinds of canned beans, but my dad usually stuck to kidney beans, green bell pepper, and onion. For my version I added some fresh green beans, which I think made a great addition. The ingredients are marinated in a simple sweet dressing, which pairs wonderfully with the cool, crisp vegetables. I love the contrast between the soft kidney beans and the crunchy peppers and green beans.

Everyone else loved it too! I had a lot of people tell me how good it was and even ask for the recipe. There weren't any leftovers to take home! It may sound silly, but I think that was one of my favorite parts of trip. As regular readers know, I married a picky eater that comes from a picky eating family and we brought forth picky children who constantly challenge my notions on how to get kids to eat healthy and varied foods. We're working on it and things are slowly getting better, but the only person who would eat this salad in my house would be myself. Coming from a very food-centric family that likes almost everything, this has been one of the great frustrations of my adult life. It felt so good to see so many people truly enjoy a dish that I made;  I knew I had to share it!

Kidney Bean Salad
(amounts for veggies are approximate - I don't really measure for that part. Add as much or as little of your favorite ingredients as you want!)

Ingredients:
2 cans red kidney beans
2 green bell peppers, diced large
1/2 large sweet onion, diced
1 large handful fresh green beans, cut into short pieces

Dressing:
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
salt
pepper

Mix together vegetables and add dressing. Serve chilled. I prefer to serve with a slotted spoon to  help drain any excess dressing. 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

To Die For Blueberry Muffins

It's my favorite season here in Michigan, and no, I don't mean summer. (It's too hot!) I'm talking about blueberry season. While I can and do freeze large quantities of locally picked blueberries for
smoothies and baking during the rest of the year, it is only during these few weeks of summer that I get to enjoy the delicious and nutritious treat of fresh blueberries in cereal, on yogurt, and by the handful. Blueberries are one of my favorite foods not only for their flavor, but because of the
nostalgia factor due to all the wonderful memories of my grandpa's blueberry farm.

 In honor of blueberry season I thought I'd share this amazing blueberry muffin recipe. I have shared a blueberry muffin recipe on the blog before, and it is very good, but this one goes the extra mile by including a crumb topping - yum! Both this recipe and the one I have previously shared are in the family cookbook, so I figure they can both be on the blog too. Those who taste these muffins always say they have been named very appropriately.  Of course fresh blueberries you've picked yourself are the ideal mix in to this muffin batter, but feel free to mix it up. I've been known to substitute cranberries or chocolate chips for the blueberries at times, and have even added shredded zucchini to recipe.


To Die For Blueberry Muffins

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Grease and flour a muffin tin or use muffin liners

Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder

Mix the oil, milk, and egg together and add to the flour mixture. Fold in the blueberries.

Fill the muffin cups 1/2 to 2/3 full, (I like to use an ice cream scoop to get just the right amount), and sprinkle with the crumb topping mixture (see below).

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.





Crumb Topping

1/4 cup brown sugar
3 Tablespoons all purpose flour
2 Tablespoons butter
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Mix sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in butter. Sprinkle over each muffin before baking.




Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Sarah Roses's Dad's Made Up Kind of a Salad Sort of a Thing (plus another side dish)

What a summer it has been! Relaxing and crazy all at the same time thanks to the newest addition to our family, baby Clara. Her older siblings have adjusted incredibly well, showering their little sister with love and being great helpers. We love you Clara!



Last week we celebrated Clara's baptism. It was a wonderful day that brought a lot of our family together. With a one month old baby, it's was important to keep the gathering after the baptism simple with minimal prep. Since it's summer a hot dog cookout was just right! Since it was a special occasion I did opt to get the best hot dogs out there, Koegel viennas, (fellow Michiganders, you know what I'm talking about!). Some family members helped out by bringing fruit and chips and a cake, but I did manage to throw together a couple of my favorite cold summer salads from my handy dandy family cookbook.  Since they are both cold dishes I could make them ahead of time and just pull them out for the party.


The first salad is lovingly named "Sarah Rose's Dad's Made Up Kind of a Salad Sort of Thing." Yes, it's a mouthful, but it's hard to forget! You can always tell which recipes in the family cookbook come from our branch because they always seem to have names like "That Fettuccine with the Stuff," "Stuff in a Pot," and well, "Made Up Kind of a Salad Sort of a Thing." Some may say we need to work on our dish naming skills, but I love it! Sarah Rose's Dad's Made Up Kind of a Salad Sort of a Thing is a spaghetti pasta salad mixed with tomatoes, mushrooms, and olives, among other flavorful add ins. My dad also added some humorous commentary to the recipe concerning different ways you can prepare it, which I will include below.







The second dish doesn't have a humorous story to go with it, but I do remember my dad making it
frequently when I was a kid - Cucumbers in Sour Cream. Cucumbers are one of my favorite vegetables. I'll often eat a whole one just sliced up and sprinkled with salt for a snack. This simple salad preparation mixes things up a little bit and is nice and refreshing on a hot summer day. The cucumbers are marinated in vinegar, salt, and sugar mixture, almost making  kind of a sweet pickle, before being tossed into sour cream.







Sarah Rose's Dad's Made Up Kind of a Salad Sort of Thing

Ingredients:
1/2 pound thin spaghetti -broken into fourths or fifths
2 pints grape tomatoes - cut lengthwise into halves
1/2 to 1/3 diced red onion
1 can (6 oz) small black olives - cut lengthwise in halves
1 package (12 oz) fresh mushrooms - sliced
2 -3 cloves garlic - minced
2 -3 Tablespoons dried sweet basil
salt
pepper
olive oil
some kinda greens (Romaine, kale, chard, etc - Do not use iceberg, it turns soggy too fast)

Directions:
1. Boil spaghetti and drain. While still hot add some salt, pepper, garlic, basil, and olive oil. Mix it up and set it aside in the fridge to cool.
2. In a bowl combine the tomatoes, onion, olives, and mushrooms and season with salt, pepper, garlic, basil, and olive oil.
3. When the spaghetti is cool, combine the spaghetti with the vegetables. Just before you serve it  tear the greens into small pieces and mix them in. Not too much! It's not a lettuce salad - the lettuce pieces are just part of the mix.

(Dad's Commentary): This is very flexible and simple. If you want you can replace half the olive oil with a quarter cup or so of Italian dressing. Or add a couple glugs of balsamic vinegar to the thing, along with the olive oil. If you don't have all the ingredients, that's ok. It's been made with just the spaghetti, tomatoes, plain white onion, garlic, basil, salt, pepper and olive oil and still got rave reviews. If you want to put something else in, go ahead, ain't no big deal. As long as no one starts poking it with a fork and mumbling "had a science experiment look like this once, only it smelled better," you're doin' just fine.  

Cucumbers in Sour Cream

Ingredients:
1/2 cup water
1 cup vinegar
4 Tablespoons sugar
dash of pepper
1 teaspoon salt
4 large cucumbers, thinly sliced
1 pint sour cream

Directions:
1.Combine water, vinegar, sugar salt and pepper. Stir cucumber slices and marinade in the vinegar mixture for 2 -3 hours, and drain.

2. Mix cucumbers with the sour cream. Serve chilled.  
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