Cream Can Suppers

Friday, July 30, 2010
I am still a bit MIA. Sorry! I promise there will be LOTS of new posts coming after I get this party (next weekend) behind me.

I haven't talked much about my weightloss journey. I have lost and regained the same weight a few times in the last 20 years. I am hoping this time to take it off FOREVER. If you've noticed my new picture, my dear daughter insisted my blog needed a new picture to reflect the 45lb loss this year. I still have about the same amount to lose but I am encouraged by the results I'm seeing.

(me at an event I catered in February 2010)

I also noticed some new followers. WELCOME!! I am always thrilled to *meet* new friends.

Today I thought I'd share about a Nebraska thing...The Cream Can Supper! The Cream Can Supper is the Nebraska Farm Country cousin to the New England Boiled Dinner or Low Country Crab Boil. No boiling or crabs involved, in fact, you'll most likely find Kielbasa but the concept is nearly the same except, you are steaming and not boiling the food. You use a cream or milk can and starting at the bottom, layer clean rocks, corn on the cob, in the husks, and whatever wonderful garden veggies you'd like (cabbage, new potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, squashes, etc.,) and end with the meat of your choice (again, here it is likely to be Kielbasa). Pour beer over, cap the can (needs to have a vent hole) and put it on a heat source (propane burner, gas BBQ or camp fire) and cook away for about an hour. When done, carefully uncap and pour the contents out onto a large, paper-lined table. Doesn't that sound like a great party? I am considering adding this to my catering enterprise.

You can read more about Cream can suppers at

Here is an interesting video from the company that will be demonstrating their cans at a local event here in Hastings, NE in August.

Linking up to Michael Lee's Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum!

Vintage Family Pictures

Wednesday, July 21, 2010
I have been semi-MIA this last couple of weeks. My parents 50 Wedding Anniversary is August 8th and my sisters and I are busy trying to put together the celebration. The challenge in that is that we all live in different parts of the country. We will be coming together in two weeks, with all our joint efforts for this party and I can hardly wait....except there is still LOTS of work to do. I am working on table decorations and the cake plan (I am making the cake) and my sisters have been working on the catered lunch, DJ, photographer and a memory book.

For my Vintage Thingie Thursday, I thought I'd share some vintage ME. These are photos that belong to my Mom that have now been scanned (thanks to sister Glenda)and will be part of our table decor (we are framing 50+ photos in gold frames we've been collecting and painting when need be).

My Mom & Dad & I in 1961, right after moving to San Diego (my Daddy was in the U.S. Navy)

I just love this picture taken at my Grandparents home in 1962. I remember that fence but it was later replaced by a chainlength one and that tree also went away at some point and if you look real closely, you can see that the street is not paved, that was done in 1971.

This is our family in the mid-1970's. I am on the far right and about 16 years old. What a funny picture it is for me to look at!

Thanks for baring with me and my lack of new posts! I have a camera full of pictures and will be taking MANY more during our trip so I'll have lots of new posts coming.

Blue Ribbon Recipes ~ Ranch Rolls

Monday, July 19, 2010

A ribbon winner from my favorite fair….the Minnesota State Fair. This yummy recipe was entered into the 2009 fair by Sharon Johnson of Columbia Heights, MN. For the “Bake for the Cure” Contest, she decked out her bread with messages about breast cancer awareness. This recipe took a 1st place ribbon and has become a family favorite at our house! Congratulations, Sharon!!

Ranch Rolls

4-1/2 cups all purpose flour
2-1/4 tsp Active Dry Yeast
1 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter
1/2 tsp salt
2 beaten eggs
2 (1 oz) pkts ranch salad dressing mix
1 tsp dill weed
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup dill weed
1 beaten egg white

In large mixing bowl stir together 2 cups of flour and yeast. In medium saucepan heat and stir milk, sugar, butter, and salt until just warm (120 to 130 degrees F) until butter almost melts. Add milk mixture to dry mixture along with eggs, ranch dressing mix and dill weed. Beat with electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping sides of bowl. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Stir in remaining flour. Turn dough out on lightly floured surface. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes until smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball and place in lightly greased bowl. Turn once. Cover and let rise in warm place until double in size (about an hour). Punch dough down. Turn out on lightly floured surface. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Shape into rolls and place on greased pan. Brush the beaten egg white on top of rolls. Stir together sesame seeds, parmesan cheese, pecans, and dill weeds and sprinkle on top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until nearly double in size (about 30 minutes). Bake in 375 degree oven for 12 – 15 minutes. Remove from pan, cool on wire rack. Makes 24 to 32 larger rolls or about 48 smaller rolls.

Posting to Lisa's Tempt My Tummy Tuesday. Thanks for hosting Lisa!

Adding to Michael Lee's Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum.

Blue Ribbon Recipes ~ Vine-Ripe Golden Tomato Marmalade

Monday, July 12, 2010

This delicious golden marmalade is an excellent accompaniment to any main course, from lamb chops to chicken to roast pork. This is not a heavily sugared marmalade and should be refrigerated to maintain its freshness.

Vine-Ripe Golden Tomato Marmalade

6 pounds ripe yellow tomatoes
1 pound sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1 star anise
3 cloves

With a sharp knife, score the skin of the tomatoes in an X on the blossom end. Place in boiling water for 15 to 20 seconds. (This may be done in batches) Plunge the tomatoes into a large bowl of iced water to stop the cooking process. Slip the peel off and remove any hard cores. Cut in half and squeeze out the seeds.

In a deep pot, combine the peeled tomatoes with the sugar, cinnamon, star anise, and cloves. Bring to a rolling boil then lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the tomatoes are falling apart and beginning to thicken. (This may take more time, depending upon the water content of the tomatoes.) Watch carefully to avoid scorching and stir often. Remove from heat when consistency is similar to a thick jam. Discard the cinnamon, star anise, and cloves. Store in airtight jars, refrigerated, for 2 to 3 weeks or water-bath. Makes about 7 cups.

Posting to Lisa's Tempt My Tummy Tuesday!

Vintage African Violets

Thursday, July 8, 2010

When I was a girl, I had a neighborhood friend whose grandmother lived close by. Often in the long summer months I would walk or bike with Cathy to her grandma’s house. She was a lovely lady and always seemed genuinely happy to see us. She also always was good for some cold lemonade or something wonderful from the oven. My unexpressed reason for tagging along on these trips was what each and every windowsill of Cathy’s grandma held….AFRICAN VIOLETS! Oh, I couldn’t get enough of them. They were every imaginable shade of pink and purple and had wonderfully fuzzy leaves. I just was mesmerized by them. My own Mom had house plants, but nothing like these.

Life moved on, Cathy’s family moved, her grandma passed away and I didn’t think of African Violets again for a very long time. Fast forward about 30 years and I met my lovely friend Sharon. The first time I was invited to her home for tea, I noticed the LARGEST African Violet I had ever seen on her table. It instantly brought back memories of those lovely violets that Cathy’s grandma had displayed in her windowsills and I knew that I had to have one.

Now, I couldn’t imagine my home without violets. I just love them and have as many as I can squeeze into my little home. Many varieties are vintage (any plant coming from a plant that is 25 years or older). My daughter gifted me with 2 vintage violets for Mother’s Day. Isn’t she a dear?!

I thought I’d pass along a few tips on keeping African Violets.

LIGHT- Adequate light is most important for abundant bloom. Any window that has strong, bright, light is good. They prefer bright light, but not direct sun. Which window provides this will depend upon climate, season, and your particular home.

WATERING - Use room temperature to slightly warm water, when the soil surface feels "dry to the touch". You may water from the top, from the bottom, or by wicks but be very careful not to get the leaves wet.

FEEDING - Regular fertilizing is needed for maximum growth and blooming. Follow "constant feeding" directions on the container, usually about 1/4 tsp. of dry fertilizer per gallon of water (follow instructions on the package for feeding every time you water). A balanced fertilizer, such as a 15-15-15 or 20-20-20, for example, is best. Feed each watering. My preferred food is Granny’s Bloomers but Miracle Grow also carries a violet mix.

ENVIRONMENT - African violets thrive in the same conditions in which people are comfortable--not too hot nor too cold, with 40-50% humidity.

SOIL - Use a light, "soil-less" mix, consisting of at least 30-50% vermiculite or perlite. When buying a prepackaged mix, don't believe the "violet soil" label! A bag of a good soil mix should feel like a nice, fluffy, soft, pillow. Most commercial mixes are too dense and heavy, and will need to have perlite and/or vermiculite added. The wetter you plan on keeping your plants (such as wicking), the more perlite you will need to add.

POTTING - Most flowering houseplants will need repotting into fresh soil every 6 months or so. When repotting a violet, remove some of the bottom of the root ball and lower into fresh soil to cover the bare trunk ("neck"). Pot into larger pots only when root ball fills pot, never into a pot more than 1/2 the diameter of the plant. Shallow pots are best.

PROPAGATION - Use very light rooting media. For violets, cut the leaf stem at 1/2" to 3/4" and push down into lightly moistened mix. For streptocarpus, remove midrib from leaf, then firmly insert two halves (rib or center-side) down into media, like "slices of bread in a toaster". Leaves can be protected by placing in a clear plastic bag or covered container. Place in moderate light and separate and pot "babies" when they are big enough for you to comfortably handle, usually when 3 small leaves have formed.

Sharing at Suzanne's Vintage Thingie Thursday! Thanks Suzanne for hosting each week!

Blue Ribbon Recipes ~ Chocolate Raspberry Velvet Pie

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Fair Facts
*There are 3,000 state, county and regional fairs in the U.S.
*One hundred fifty million attend state and county fairs each year.
*The first state fair was the New York State Fair in 1841, in the village of Syracyse, NY.
*The first regional fair was held in Pittsfield, Massachusetts in 1807.
*The largest state fair is the Texas State Fair held in Dallas.

2009 1st Place Winner, Entered into the L.A. County Fair by Patricia Lapiezo of La Mesa, CA

Chocolate Raspberry Velvet Pie
1 – 6 ounce package chocolate raspberry Milano cookies, finely ground
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 – 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 ounce Ghirardelli 60% Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped
1-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, stiffly beaten
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoon refrigerated chocolate coffee creamer
Sweetened whipped cream
Chocolate shavings
Fresh raspberries
For crust: Combine the cookie crumbs and melted butter. Press into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie dish. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Set aside while preparing filling.
For filling: Beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Beat in powdered sugar and vanilla until well blended. Blend in Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet chocolate. Fold in whipped cream. Spread evenly over prepared crust. Refrigerate while preparing topping.
For ganache: Combine the cream, Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate and coffee creamer in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir continuously until chocolate is completely melted. Pour over top of filling. Refrigerate to set.
Pipe a border of sweetened whipped cream around edge of pie. Sprinkle with shaved chocolate. Place raspberries along inside edge of border.

Sharing at Lisa's Tempt My Tummy Tuesday!

Happy 4th of July!

Saturday, July 3, 2010
Wishes for a Independence Day full of freedom, family & (good) food and Happy 27th Birthday to my oldest, Jacob (my little firecracker)! Be safe!

Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Skillet Suppers~Skillet BBQ Chicken

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Another installment in my Skillet Suppers segment. Skillet suppers are perfect for week night and busy night meals. We love BBQ Chicken and use the grill a lot this time of year BUT when I am in a hurry I reach for this recipe (you can even use your grills side burner to keep the heat outside. Serve some grilled veggies (we had grilled Patty Pan squash and onions) on the side. Very yummy!

Editing this post to tell you about a LODGE CAST IRON giveaway at Kristin's Delightful Country Cooking blog. She a fun gal, Gooseberry Patch fan and blogger of great recipes..... Be sure to visit her and get entered in!

Skillet BBQ Chicken

2-3 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
2/3 c ketchup
2/3 c water
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp celery seed
4 split chicken breasts, bone-in (I also use boneless/skinless breasts)

Heat oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Brown chicken pieces on each side. Remove and set aside. Sauté onion until tender. Stir in ketchup, water, vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, dry mustard and celery seed and bring to a boil. Add chicken skin side down, reduce heat to simmer and cook covered for 30 minutes. Turn chicken, cover and simmer an additional 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Spoon sauce over chicken and garnish with fresh, chopped parsley if desired. Serves 4-6.

Linking to Michael Lee's Foodie Friday!