Sunday, November 22, 2009

Orange Marmalade

I remember making Orange Marmalade one of the summers I spent at my dad's house back when I was a kid.. I think I was maybe 10 or 11. I don't remember the process or even how it turned out, but I love marmalade and since I had all these mason jars leftover from last week's experiment I decided to give it a go.. now I have 6 jars of sunny orange marmalade chillin' in the little storage space I have here under the stairs, it's dark and cool and I can keep checking on it so I can open up the jar that's 1/2 full when it's set and see how it tastes.

The recipe I used it from a Preserves book that I bought years ago at some little book store in NYC and it's pretty straightforward with few steps.. it just requires patience..

Orange Marmalade

2 lb. Oranges
1 Lemon
8 cups water
6-7 cups sugar

Scrub the fruit & slice fine. Let sit overnight in a bowl with enough water to cover (about 8 cups)

In the morning transfer all to a pan and bring to a boil, then simmer until the peels are soft and the contents are reduced by half, about 2 hours.

Measure the contents and add 1 cup sugar per each cup of fruit, stirring until dissolved. boil gently until set (about 40 minutes)

Cool slightly and carefully pour into sterilized jars (I used a funnel to reduce mess) place the lids on and screw on the caps. Invert for a few minutes and then turn back upright and let cool completely. Check the seals, label and store in a cool, dry place.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

My First Holiday Giveaway

This is my first Holiday giveaway and I'm really excited!

I use many Kraft products and the Kraft Foods website has been a great help when I need a recipe or I’m looking for some ideas for dinner or dessert. They have also recently re-launched their Facebook fan page and The Kraft Foods Channel on YouTube. Both sites have delicious recipes and seasonal tips...just in time for the holidays! They also provide a forum to exchange ideas and recipes, ask questions and provide feedback.

I have a gift basket that has been generously provided by Kraft Foods filled with 4 delicious holiday recipes from the Kraft Foods Kitchens, a Zak Designs garlic peeler, an HA Mack olivewood mixing spoon, NEW Velveeta Rotini and Cheese Whole Grain, Planters cocktail peanuts, Planters pecans, Baker’s semi-sweet chocolate, Stove Top, Honey Maid cinnamon crackers, Jet Puffed marshmallows, Oreos, Kraft salad dressing, NEW Maxwell House Blend coffee, NEW Ritz Brown Sugar Cinnamon crackers and NEW Wheat Thins Flatbread crackers.

Initial Entry: Share your favorite Holiday dinner, dessert or appetizer (you don't have to include the recipe if you don't want to)

Bonus Entries:

  • Follow Me & KraftFoods on Twitter (Leave your Twitter ID) (1 entry)
  • Tweet this Giveaway (1 entry per tweet, Max of 3 a day, 1+ hours apart)–>Enter to win a Kraft Foods Gift Basket from @ChefAshbabe @ Memoirs From my Kitchen #MMKraftGiveaway
  • Leave a comment anywhere on my blog from 11/21 to 12/6 and gain an entry for every comment! Leave the link to the post you commented on. (1 entry per comment)
  • Put this giveaway on a CURRENT Mr Linky, sweeps sites, forum or blog it. (leave the link) (1 entry per submission or 3 entries for a blog post)
  • Add my button to your side bar or link to your blogroll (Code on the right, leave a link to your blog)(1 entry)
Please leave a separate Comment for each Entry. Giveaway is open to US residents only who are 18 years of age or older. I reserve the right to remove any entry from this giveaway. This giveaway ends 12/6/09 at 11:59 pm EST.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Home made Vanilla extract

I started a project on Saturday, lets see how this pans out.

I have 4 pint size mason jars of home made Vanilla extract brewing in my kitchen cabinet. I’ll be keeping tabs and taking pictures weekly to keep this post updated and in February when it’s ready I will be offering up a jar (or two) to one lucky winner!

Home made Vanilla extract is surprisingly easy to make, you just need LOTS of patience.. Like, 3 months worth of patience, lol.

I went and did something I’ve never done before and went to the liquor store and bought a ½ gallon of vodka (cheapy stuff, it was like $14, I don’t care, I don’t drink & it smelled like poison to me anyway.. But that’s besides the point) and then I went and bought a case of 12 mason jars at the little family store in town (1 jar was $4, a case of 12 was $9.99, so I went with the case.. I’ll be making Marmalade soon too) I bought 30 vanilla beans on ebay a while back that I keep in a special bottle with a rubber stopper & latch so no air gets in, so I used those.

To make 1 cup of vanilla extract you need:
1 cup vodka
3 vanilla beans
1 tightly sealing jar

a cool, dark spot to let it brew.

Pour the vodka into the jar, slice the vanilla bean down the center leaving 1 inch intact at the top of each bean. Place the beans into the vodka, seal the jar and give it a good shake. Store it in a cool dark spot and give it a shake every day. The extract will be fully mature in 3 months but will keep indefinitely. Add more vodka as you use it and you can also replace the old beans as you go along too to keep it going.

Happy baking!

Vanilla Extract day 1

Vanilla Extract day 7

Friday, November 6, 2009

The best Creamed spinach I've ever had!

I get a LOT of emails.. I’m on a ton of email lists so I get a lot of different newsletters and such and I find a lot of great recipes from a lot of pretty unlikely places.. Like this absolutely amazing creamed spinach recipe that I got from the Real Simple magazine newsletter a few weeks ago. Now, I’m really lucky to have a kid that is NOT a picky eater, there are very few things he won’t eat and he’s always game to try something new.

Last night I made roast chicken and decided to give this recipe a try and HOLY COW, it was so good! It’s got very few ingredients and it’s quick and easy (really, can it get much better than that?) It makes a huge portion too.

Creamed Spinach

Serves 6 Hands-On Time: 20m Total Time: 20m

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
kosher salt and black pepper
1/2 8-ounce bar reduced-fat cream cheese
3/4 cup 1 percent milk
2 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg


1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring, until soft, 6 to 7 minutes.

2. Add the cream cheese and milk and cook, stirring, until the cream cheese is melted.

3. Squeeze any excess liquid out of the spinach, add the spinach to the sauce, and cook until the mixture is heated through and thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle with the nutmeg.

I got my cupcakes

I was going to get my cupcake from Mo'Joe's after the ladies came back from lunch yesterday.. but as things tend to go around here I got psycho busy and before I knew it, it was time to go home and it's bad enough that it's dark at 5:00 now, but it was Raining.. Yuck!

I figured to save myself the stress I would just go home, and if my cupcake was still there tomorrow, that would be absolutely awesome.. if not, well.. then I would have understood that too. So on my way in this morning I went and stopped to get a cup of that amazing cocoa and see if my cupcake was still there.. AND IT WAS!! I was really, honestly so happy that they were cool enough to put it back in the display case in the box, you just have no idea. It was totally cool of them! So, I decided to be cool back and get another cupcake to share with the kid later. So in addition to my carrot cake cupcake I got a Samoa cupcake.. Oh yeah! chocolate, toasted coconut with a caramel center.. {Drool!}

ok, the pic isn't great.. I'll try again when I go to lunch to get a better pic with my cell.. but the fluorescent office lighting doesn't help, lol..

Mmm.. Cuppycakes!

(yea, I need to redo this pic later, it's bad!)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Café Mo'Jo

I had to run out today at lunchtime.. I HAD to get gas or there was gonna be trouble. Now, I very, very rarely take a lunch hour and even more rare do I have to drive anywhere.. But this was a biggie since it was creeping too close to Empty and I am not too fond of it being dark by the time I get home now (Farking daylight savings) but anyway..

I decided to stop at this little teeny place on the corner that I’d been to about 2 years ago with The Kid when he was off during the summer and lunch break is mandatory. Well.. This little place has made themselves known, that’s for sure! Café Mo’Jo in Mineola, NY is what looks to be a little converted garage on the corner of Mineola Boulevard and 2nd street down by the train station in Mineola, NY. This place is funky and cool without being overwhelming or “too much”. The tables are wooden and are so cool that I wish I could grab one for my apartment! They are scattered with change and postcards that are lacquered over like an old Gymnasium floor with the lacquer dripping down the sides as it dried.. It’s just, well. It’s very unique and I like it! They have a few coin operated old school arcade games scattered around (although I’m not sure if they work or not) 2 comfy leather sofas in the back along with a sign that says “please act appropriately’ I really loved that one!

The lighting is dim, but it’s got a very relaxed atmosphere and an absolutely impressive menu! I went there today seeking French Toast and boy was I in for a treat! I got 2 thick slices Challa bread cut into 4 triangles that were perfectly flavored and cooked topped with powdered sugar with a big helping of granny smith apple chunks and honeydew melon on the side and a nice container of syrup. It was Perfect! It was So good even, that I ate 3 pieces and saved the last for The Kid. Since it was already almost 12:30 when I got there instead of coffee I decided on a cup of hot chocolate.. And WOW.. It’s REAL hot chocolate.. Not anything that comes from a packet.. This is the stuff that I make at home with Hershey’s coco, sugar and milk.. It was FANTASTIC!.

To make this place even better.. THEY HAVE CUPCAKES!! I got a carrot cake cupcake (then like a dummy I left it on the table when I went to grab my lunch and leave, but miraculously it was still there when I got to the office and realized I was missing something and called) Good peeps there, they said they would hang onto it until I could get back after work.. Sweet! The guy behind the counter told me they usually have Red Velvet cupcakes (which, I have never tried, but will soon!) But the carrot one caught my eye today.

All in all, I’m impressed, I liked them 2 years ago and I really love them now! They have a great menu, great people working there and the service is pretty fast even during the lunch rush.. And did I mention the portions are HUGE? Best of all.. The price is right! I got 1 cupcake, an order of French toast and a small hot chocolate for $10.65. Everything was fresh and delicious and now I just have to find out if they deliver because I will be getting lunch there again soon, I just don’t always have a chance to run out and go that far.

Here's their info.. If you're in the area.. Stop on bye =o)
Café Mo'Jo
95 Mineola Blvd
Mineola, NY 11501
(516) 294-0714

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Atom cake project

Thursday night my kid says to me "Hey mom, I have an extra credit science project to do..."

I’m pretty sure any mom reading this knows what comes next... so I asked my kid “well, when is it due?” Um... November 3rd. That’s Tuesday! Arrgh! So, what’s this project about? “Atoms” ok, so what are you going to make this atom of? “Well, I told the teacher that I was going to make it out of cake and share it with the class” Oh, so loosely translated this means that mom has to bake the cake and put some icing on it and then he will decorate it as the atom of his choice. *sigh*

Science is 4th period, which means it’s 10:07-10:50 so I figured ok, I have some super ripe bananas and I was going to make banana bread anyway, so lets make a banana cake.. At least it’s kinda healthy-ish for that early in the morning.. Banana is fruit after all, right? (LOL. Like the 13 year olds really care)

So I collect all my ingredients and I realize I’m short on sugar, I have 1½ cups and need 2½ cups grr.. Fine, there’s a bag of ‘splenda for baking’ in the cabinet so I use a cup of that to make up for the rest of the sugar... that was my big mistake, my total downfall in this cake making process. Now, I should have known better.. I’ve made this mistake before with the lemon bars but the result was not this... um... disastrous, at least those were edible... these.. Um, notsomuch really.. More of hockey pucks. They were dense and chewy at the same time, yet I’m sure had I tossed one on the floor it would have bounced.

This is the recipe:

Banana Cupcakes
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 1/8 cups canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 ripe bananas, mashed
1 1/2 cups milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard sized muffin pan with muffin liners or spray with cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients. Mix until just blended.Fill muffin cups a little more than 3/4 full. Bake for about 20 - 24 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool completely.

The failed batch..they baked for almost 40 minutes because after 25 minutes they were.. GLUEY and then the cupcakes stuck miserably to the paper cups.. I had greased the aluminum pan with Crisco and so it slid right into the trash can with ease *sigh* maybe I should have tossed it out to feed to the birds.. but then again.. I don't think they would have eaten it either.

Ok, so good thing I decided to do this Sunday night when the project is due on Tuesday.. I was leaving time for the cake to rest and cool so that it could be decorated as an atom today.. But no, that wasn’t going to happen with that frisbee.. So off to the grocery store I went on my way home tonight to get more bananas and another bag of sugar and there we went again.

The result...

Moist and fluffy and perfect.

This recipe makes a TON, I made a 9" round cake and 12 cupcakes (this recipe makes 36 cupcakes!)

Cake is cooling now and it will be iced & decorated later by the kid and I'll get a pic before it goes off to school tomorrow :)


The finished cake:

(BTW, it's a Potassium Atom)

Finished cake = kids report & presentation =90%