Saturday, December 17, 2011

Apricot-Coconut Cookie Bars

½ cup butter, softened
¼ cup sugar
1 1/3 cups sifted all purpose flour
½ t baking powder
¼ t salt
2 eggs, well beaten
1 can Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
1 can finely chopped dried apricots

In medium bowl, combine butter, sugar, and 1 cup flour. With two knives or pastry blender, cut ingredients together until mixture resembles coarse corn meal. Press pastry evenly on bottom and 1” up sides of a buttered 9” square baking pan. Bake in moderate 350°F oven about 25 minutes. Remove from oven; set aside. Hold oven temperature at 350°F. Into mixing bowl, sift together baking powered, salt and remaining flour. Stir in eggs, sweetened condensed milk, coconut and apricots; mix well. Spread mixture evenly over baked pastry. Return to oven. Bake 35 minutes longer or until top is firm. Cool in pan. Cut into bars.
Makes about 20 bars.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Clusters

2 (4 oz) bars sweet cooking chocolate
2/3 cup Eagle Brand Sweetened condensed milk
1 cup shelled unsalted whole peanuts

In top of double boiler, melt chocolate over hot water. Remove from heat. Add sweetened condensed milk and nuts; stir until all nuts are covered. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto buttered baking sheet. Refrigerate several hours.

NOTE: if desired, pecans, cashews, walnuts or seedless raisins may be substituted for the peanuts.
Makes about 2 dozen 1¾” diameter candies

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Fruit and Oatmeal Bars

6 tablespoons grapeseed oil, or other neutral oil, plus extra for brushing pan
2 cups rolled oats
½ cup mixed seeds, such as pumpkin, sunflower and sesame
½ cup honey
½ cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup
Pinch of salt
1 ½ cups mixed dried fruit, such as raisins, cherries, apricots, papaya, pineapple and cranberries (at least 3 kinds, cut into small pieces if large)
1 teaspoon ground cardamom or cinnamon
2 tablespoons of butter

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-inch-square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, letting a few inches hangs over side of pan. Brush with oil
2. Spread oats and seeds on another baking pan and toast in oven just until golden and fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes, shaking pan once.
3. In a saucepan, combine oil, butter, honey, brown sugar, maple syrup and salt. Stir over medium heat until smooth and hot. In a mixing bowl, toss together toasted oats and seeds, dried fruit and cardamom. Pour hot sugar mixture over and stir until well combined.
4. While mixture is warm, transfer to prepared pan, pressing into pan evenly with an offset spatula.
5. Bake until brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer pan to a rack and let cool completely. Using the overhanging foil or paper, lift out of pan and place on a work surface Cut into bars, about 1 ½ inches by 3 inches.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Date & Coconut Balls

1 egg
½ c sugar
1 c dates
½ c nuts (chopped)
1½ c Rice Krispies
fine coconut

Beat egg and add sugar and dates. Cook in double boiler to moisten dates. Stir in nuts and Rice Krispies. Shape into balls and then roll in coconut.

Yields 2-3 dozen

Sunday, November 20, 2011

ArtFire Collection: Trot Out The Turkeys

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Easy Blueberry Shortcake

4 individual sponge cakes
2 cups blueberries
Reddi wip Original Dairy Whipped Topping

Top each cake with ½ cup blueberries and Reddi wip

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Fruity Pudding Snack

¼ banana, sliced
2 vanilla wafer cookies, coarsely crushed
1 pudding cup (3.5 oz) snack pack vanilla
Reddi wip original dairy whipped topping

Add bananas and cookies to pudding cup mix lightly. Top with Reddi wip Serve immediately

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Blueberry Banana Smoothie

1 medium banana, cut into chunks
1 cup frozen blueberries
¾ cup vanilla soymilk
1 T honey
½ cup ice cubes

Combine all ingredients in blender. Blend to desired consistency. Divide between two glasses.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick-Or-Treat by George L Ehrman

Witches and ghosts and goblins and elves
And all of them almost afraid of themselves,
Sneaking about in the oldest of places
And all of them wearing the scariest faces!

Where do they come from?
Who can they be?
Why every year do they come visit me?
But when the refreshments are gone from the scene,
They soon all depart until next Halloween!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Blueberry Waffle Strusel

¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
¼ cup chopped pecans
1 T butter, softened
½ t ground cinnamon
1 package frozen blueberry waffles
1 (10 oz) package frozen blueberries, thawed and drained
vanilla ice cream if desired

In a small bowl, combine sugar, pecans, butter and cinnamon; set aside.
Place waffles on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with no-stick cooking spray. Top with drained blueberries. Sprinkle with streusel mixture.
Bake in a preheated 375°F oven 20 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Serve with ice cream, if desired.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Presenting: Vanilla Zen Silky Botanical Body Lotion by Essensu

Essensu has done it again. Just when I started to think that I couldn't find a better scent than her Lilac Bloom; along comes Vanilla Zen.

Here's what Tami of Essensu has to say about her Vanilla Zen skin-loving body lotion:

Our Vanilla Zen Silky Botanical Body Lotion is packed with moisturizing plant butters and oils which, soak right into thirsty skin. We include shea, soy and cocoa butters, and nourishing apricot oil to assure moisture is restored to your skin.

❥ Our Vanilla Zen is our own custom blend of a selection of the best smelling vanillas available, and is comprised of scent blends of: French vanilla, African vanilla, fresh, crisp vanilla beans, together with rich, buttery vanilla on a dry down of a sweet vanilla flower, with only a hint of musk.

❥ Further enhanced with botanical extracts such as aloe leaf, fennel and sage, in addition to wheat protein and vitamin E, assures your skin will be left soft, smooth and replenished.

❥ Vegan friendly.

❥ Long lasting moisture retention formula.

❥ No phthalate fragrance oil.

And here is what I have to say about it. Vanilla Zen is a very luxurious lotion. It glides on and doesn't leave a tacky feeling like some lotions can as it soaks into your skin. It leaves your skin silky smooth and smelling heavenly with a very relaxing vanilla scent. Anyone who loves Vanilla will be quite pleased with Essensu's Vanilla Zen scent. 

If your a luxury lotion, vanilla scent lover... then Vanilla Zen body lotion is a match made in heaven for you. I highly recommend this product and if you happen to be surrounded by others either at work or at the gym or at home or at a co-op or workshop or open house who happen to think Vanilla is a superb scent and love silky smooth hydrated skin...Make sure you buy more than one of this item... I'm serious. Learn from my lesson below.

I went to the annual open house for this years workshop to learn something new, for fellowship and to meet new friends. There's usually a light lunch and snacks served at various points throughout the day. I always help out with the clean up after this event and I always leave with my hands seriously dried out from the dish soap used. Not to mention the disinfecting stuff. So this time I came prepared with my bottle of Vanilla Zen. It worked like magic on my hands. The scent was intriguing to those around me. All the ones that like Vanilla were impressed with the long lasting, pleasant scent. Several insisted that I share the name of my perfume and wouldn't believe me when I said it wasn't perfume but my body lotion. Can you see where this is going? Well I showed the two who doubted me the bottle of Vanilla Zen body lotion. I even allowed them to try some to prove that it really was a lotion and not a perfume. Yep, that was the beginning of my misfortune. They loved it. And so they told their friends and pretty soon, I lost track of my bottle cause they just had to show so and so this amazing product. While I couldn't be sure where my bottle was exactly located, I could definitely tell from the wonderful smell of Vanilla Zen that started to waft through the air that others were enjoying it, too. By the time I tracked it down, it was nearly empty. I had just enough to use on my son's dry, itchy back from his having gone swimming earlier in the day. And this my dear friends and readers is why I encourage you to get yourself two. Then you'll always have a back up should others happen to want to take a sample of your luxurious Vanilla Zen body lotion so that they can have a Zen moment, too.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Magic Pumpkin Pie

Magic Pumpkin Pie

1 unbaked 9” pastry shell
2 cups (16 oz can) canned pumpkin
1 can Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk
1 egg
½ t salt
½ t nutmeg
½ t ginger
¾ t cinnamon

In a large bowl, blend together all ingredients. Turn into shell. Bake in moderate 375°F oven 50 to 55 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Slow Cooker Lasagna

1 lb ground meat
1 cup chopped onion
3 cups spaghetti sauce
1 cup cottage or ricotta cheese (optional)
3 cups shredded cheeses – use any kind or use 1 cup of 3 different kinds (mozzarella, cheddar, or commodity)
1 (8 oz) package of lasagna noodles, uncooked

Brown meat, drain and rinse off any fat. Return meat to pan and add onion and spaghetti sauce. Mix well.
Spoon layer of meat mixture on bottom of slow cooker, about 1/3 cup. Add a double layer of broken noodles (3 noodles) on top of meat. Cover noodles with one cup of meat sauce, 1/3 cup of cottage/ricotta cheese and one cup of shredded cheese.
Add second layer of borken noodles (3 noodles) one cup of meat sauce, 1/3 cup cottage/ricotta cheese, and one cup shredded cheese.
Add a third layer using the rest of the noodles, meat sauce and cheeses.
Make sure to cover all noodles by using a spoon to spread sauce and cheese over them.
Pour one cup of water over the top of lasagna and cover with a tight fitting lid. If your lid is not tight enough, cover with tin foil and then put on lid.
Cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 3 or until the noodles are tender.

Yield 8 servings – serving: about 2 cups

per serving: calories 525, fat 31 g, protein 29 g, carbohydrate 31 g, fiber 2 g

TIP: slow cooker lasagna does not cut into squares as traditional lasagna but is spooned out like a casserole. Serve with fresh bread spread lightly with butter or oil and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and placed in the oven for about 2 minutes at 400°F or until cheese is melted.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Mocha Magic Chocolate French Fudge

3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 can Eagle Brand Sweetened condensed milk
Pinch Salt
1½ Tablespoons instant coffee, dry form
½ cup ground nut meats, optional

In top of double boiler, melt chocolate over hot water; stir occasionally. Remove from heat. Add sweetened condensed milk, salt, vanilla extract and nut meats, if used. Stir only until smooth. Turn into waxed paper lined 8” square pan; spread mixture evenly and smooth surface. Refrigerate about 2 hours or until firm. Turn candy out onto cutting board. Peel off paper. With a sharp knife, cut fudge into serving size pieces. Store in airtight container.
Makes about 1¾ pounds

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pom-Orange Granita

1 (32 oz) bottle of Pomegranate juice
1 cup orange juice
1 cup sugar

In large bowl, combine pomegranate juice, orange juice and sugar. Whisk until sugar is dissolved. Pour mixture into 13x9” baking pan; cover with plastic wrap. Place in freezer and freeze overnight or a minimum of 6-8 hours. To serve, scrap a large spoon across surface to create large ice particles. Spoon granita into chilled glasses.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Magic Chocolate French Fudge

3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 can Eagle Brand Sweetened condensed milk
Pinch Salt
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup ground nut meats, optional

In top of double boiler, melt chocolate over hot water; stir occasionally. Remove from heat. Add sweetened condensed milk, salt, vanilla extract and nut meats, if used. Stir only until smooth. Turn into waxed paper lined 8” square pan; spread mixture evenly and smooth surface. Refrigerate about 2 hours or until firm. Turn candy out onto cutting board. Peel off paper. With a sharp knife, cut fudge into serving size pieces. Store in airtight container. 

Makes about 1¾ pounds

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Luscious Lime Chiffon Pie

1 baked 9” pastry shell, cooled
3 eggs, separated
1 can Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk
Green food coloring
½ cup lime juice
2 t grated lime rind, optional
¼ t cream of tartar
1 cup (½ pint) heavy cream, chilled
1 T sugar

In a large bowl, beat egg yolks until thick and lemon-colored. Continue to beat gradually add sweetened condensed milk. Add food coloring. Beat until well blended. Add lime juice and 1 teaspoon of the grated rind. Beat well. Beat together cream of tartar and egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold into lime mixture. Pour into baked shell. Refrigerate 5 hours, or until set. At serving time, whip cream until stiff, Fold in sugar. Garnish chilled pie with whipped cream and sprinkle remaining grated rind over top.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Banana Cream Cheese Pie

1 baked 9” pastry shell cooled or 9” crumb crust
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 can Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup ReaLemon reconstituted lemon juice
1 t vanilla extract
4 medium size ripe bananas
2 T lemon juice

In a medium bowl, beat softened cheese until light and fluffy. Gradually stir in sweetened condensed milk until thoroughly blended. Stir in lemon juice and vanilla. Slice 3 bananas; line crust with banana slices. Turn filling into crust. Refrigerate 2 to 3 hours. Slice fourth banana; dip in lemon juice. Garnish top of pie with banana slices.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Peanut Butter Drops

8 (1 oz) squares semi-sweet chocolate
2/3 cup Eagle Brand Sweetened condensed milk
½ cup miniature marshmallows
¼ cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup coarsely chopped peanuts

In top of double boiler, melt chocolate over hot water. Stir in sweetened condensed milk and marshmallows. Cook; stir constantly until marshmallows are melted. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter, vanilla and chopped peanuts. Spoon mixture into small fluted candy cups.

Makes 1¼ pounds

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Blueberry O Cheese Pie

Blueberry O Cheese Pie
1 baked 9” pastry shell cooled or 9” crumb crust

Basic Filling:
1 (8 oz) package of cream cheese, softened
1 can Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk
½ cup ReaLemon reconstituted lemon juice
1 t vanilla extract

In medium bowl, beat softened cheese until light and fluffy. Gradually stir in sweetened condensed milk until thoroughly blended. Stir in lemon juice and vanilla. Turn into crust. Refrigerate 2 to 3 hours.

1 cup sugar
2 T cornstarch
2 cups (1 pint) fresh blueberries, washed, drained, stemmed
1 cup water

In small saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Measure ½ cup berries; crush. Add crushed berries and water. Cook over medium heat; stir constantly until thickened and clear. Cool. Arrange remain 1½ cups blueberries atop pie. Pour glaze over top of chilled pie.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Peanut Butter Fruit Squares

1 cup pitted dried dates
½ cup seedless raisins
½ cup currants
¼ cup Eagle Brand Sweetened condensed milk
1 cup peanut butter
Confectioners' sugar

Put fruits through food chopper; place in medium bowl. Add sweetened condensed milk and peanut butter; stir until blended. Sprinkle bottom of 8” square pan with sugar. Turn mixture into pan; press evenly onto bottom. Sprinkle top with sugar. Refrigerate until firm. Cut into 1” squares with sharp knife.

Makes 1 1/3 pounds

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Frosted Strawberries

2/3 cup Eagle Brand Sweetened condensed milk
2 2/3 cups flaked coconut
1 (3 oz) strawberry flavored gelatin
½ cup ground blanched almonds
½ teaspoon almond extract
Red food coloring
1 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
Green food coloring

In medium bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk, coconut, 3 tablespoons gelatin, almond extract and enough red food coloring to tint mixture a strawberry shade. Form small amounts ( about ½ tablespoon) into strawberry shapes. Sprinkle remaining gelatin into a flat dish; roll each strawberry to coat. Place on waxed paper; refrigerate

To make strawberry hull: combine sugar, cream, and green food coloring. Spoon into pastry bag with open star tip. Pipe small amounts atop each strawberry.

Other fruits and vegetables may be made from the above recipe by using the appropriate color and flavor of gelatin

Makes 1 pound.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Molasses Taffy

1 can Eagle Brand Sweetened condensed milk
½ cup molasses
1/8 teaspoon salt

In heavy, shallow saucepan, combine sweetened condensed milk, molasses and salt. Cook over medium heat; stir constantly, to 235°F on candy thermometer or until a little drooped into very cold water forms a semi-firm ball which holds its shape when taken from the water. Immediately remove from heat. Pour into a buttered 8” square pan. Let stand until cool enough to handle. Pull taffy between buttered fingers until shiny and light colored. Twist into a rope about ¾” thick. Cut into 1” pieces with kitchen scissors. If desired, wrap taffy.

Makes ¾ pound.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Apricot Coconut Balls

1½ cups dried apricots, finely chopped
2 cups flaked coconut
2/3 cup Eagle Brand Sweetened condensed milk
Confectioner's sugar, optional

In large bowl, combine apricots and coconut; blend well. Stir in sweetened condensed milk. Shape into small balls. If desired roll in confectioners' sugar. Let stand at room temperature until firm.

Makes 1½ dozen 1¼ inch diameter balls

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Chocolate Caramels

1 can Eagle Brand Sweetened condensed milk
1 cup light corn syrup
1 Tablespoon butter
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 (1 oz) squares unsweetened chocolate
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In medium heavy saucepan, combine sweetened condensed milk, corn syrup, butter and salt. Cook over medium heat; stir constantly until temperature of mixture reaches 200°F on candy thermometer. Add chocolate, half a square at a time; stir until melted. Continue cooking over medium heat; stir constantly until temperature of mixture reaches 235°F on candy thermometer or until a little mixture dropped into very cold water forms a firm ball when removed from the water. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Pour into a 9x5x2¾ inch buttered loaf pan. Cool. Cut into pieces.

Makes about 1 pound.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Triple Treat Fondant

½ cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup Eagle Brand Sweetened condensed milk
7 cups sifted confectioners sugar

In medium bowl, cream butter and salt. Blend in sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Gradually add sugar; blend well after each addition until mixture becomes very stiff. Turn mixture onto a clean pastry board. Carefully knead in any remaining sugar. ( NOTE: mixture should be smooth not sticky) Divide fondant into 3 equal portions. Add desired flavorings. With palms of hand, shape small pieces of each mixture into balls or patties. Place on waxed paper lined baking sheet. If desired, decorate tops of candies with chocolate sprinkles, whole glace red or green cherries or whole nut meats. Refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Maple: Add ½ teaspoon of maple extract to one portion of fondant; blend well.

Peppermint: Add 1 teaspoon peppermint extract and desired food coloring to one portion of fondant; blend well.

Almond: Add 1 teaspoon almond extract and desired food coloring to one portion of fondant; blend well.

Makes 2¼ pounds.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Tarragon Chicken Salad

1 cup plain yogurt
1 t dry tarragon
1 T Dijon mustard
3 cups cooked diced chicken
2/3 cup minced celery
2/3 cup minced scallions
1¼ cups halved cherry tomatoes
Salt and Pepper to taste
6 cups mixed greens

In a bowl combine yogurt, tarragon, and mustard. Let stand for 10 minutes. To the yogurt mixture, add chicken, celery, scallions, tomatoes, and seasoning to taste. Let stand for 15-20 minutes. Serve over mixed greens.

Yields 4 servings (12 oz per serving)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Magic Cookie Bars

½ cup butter, melted
1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup chopped nut meats
1 cup (6 oz) semi sweet chocolate pieces
1 1/3 cups (3½ oz) flaked coconut
1 can Eagle Brand Sweetened condensed milk

Pour melted butter onto the bottom of a 13x9x2” pan. Sprinkle crumbs evenly over melted butter. Sprinkle nuts evenly over crumbs. Scatter chocolate pieces evenly over nuts. Sprinkle coconut evenly over chocolate pieces. Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over coconut. Bake in a moderate 350°F oven, 25 minutes or until lightly browned on top. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Cut into bars.

Makes about 2 dozen 1½-inch x 3-inch bars.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

English Toffee

1 can Eagle Brand Sweetened condensed milk
2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
½ cup butter
1/8 t salt

In a heavy saucepan, combine sweetened condensed milk, sugar, corn syrup. Cook over medium heat; stir constantly until mixture begins to boil. Reduce heat to low. Cook; stir constantly to 236°F on candy thermometer or until a small amount dropped in cold water forms a soft ball. Remove from heat; stir in butter or margarine and salt. Pour into lightly buttered 8” square pan. Cool Cut into squares.

Makes 1½ pounds

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Peanut Butter Cookies

1½ cups sifted all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ cup peanut butter
¼ cup vegetable shortening
1 egg
1 can Eagle Brand Sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup finely chopped peanuts

Sift together flour and baking powder. In large bowl, blend peanut butter, shortening and egg. Add sweetened condensed milk alternately with the sifted dry ingredients. Stir in vanilla and peanuts. Shape dough into ½ to 1 inch diameter balls. Place balls on ungreased baking sheet. Flatten each ball by pressing with tines of a fork. Bake in moderate 350°F, about 10 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. Immediately remove from baking sheet. Cool.

Makes about 4 dozen 2 inch cookies.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Raisin Pudding

2 c flour
pinch of salt
1 t baking powder
2/3 cup butter
¼ lb raisins
3 T sugar
1 t vanilla
2 eggs, well beaten
¾ c milk

Sift the flour with salt and baking powder. Rub in the butter or margarine until the mixture looks like fine bread crumbs. Add the raisins, sugar and vanilla. Add the eggs and gradually mix in the milk. Beat well. Pour the mixture into a well buttered cake tin. Bake in a 375°F oven for ½ hour. Serve warm with cream. 

Serves 4-6

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Rich Chocolate Pudding with Vanilla Sauce

1 c sugar
2 T butter
2 eggs
2 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 c flour
2 t baking powder

2 eggs, separated
1 c confectioners' sugar
1 c cream, whipped
1 t vanilla

For the pudding, beat together the sugar, butter, and the beaten eggs. Add flour, baking powder, milk, and melted chocolate. Mix well. Pour pudding mixture in a baking dish and place in a pan of hot water. Cook in a 300°F oven for 45 minutes. To make sauce, beat the egg yolks until they are a pale yellow. Gradually add the sugar, whipped cream, vanilla and stiffly beaten egg whites. Serve the pudding warm with the Vanilla Sauce over it.

Serves 6

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Peach O Cheese Pie

1 baked 9” pastry shell cooled or 9” crumb crust

Basic Filling:
1 (8 oz) package of cream cheese, softened
1 can Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk
½ cup ReaLemon reconstituted lemon juice
1 t vanilla extract

In medium bowl, beat softened cheese until light and fluffy. Gradually stir in sweetened condensed milk until thoroughly blended. Stir in lemon juice and vanilla. Turn into crust. Refrigerate 2 to 3 hours.

Fresh Peach:
5 large fresh peaches, peeled
½ cup sugar
1 T cornstarch
½ cup water

Cut 4 peaches into slices; arrange a top pie. Mash or puree remaining peach. In small saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Add mashed peach and water. Cook over medium heat; stir constantly until thickened and clear. Strain. Add a few drops of yellow food coloring. Cool. Pour glaze over top of chilled pie.

Canned Peach:
1 (1 lb 14 oz) can sliced peaches
1 T cornstarch

Drain peaches; reserve juice. Arrange peach slices a top pie. In small saucepan, combine 1 peach juice and cornstarch. Cook over medium heat; stir constantly until thickened and clear. Add a few drops of yellow food coloring. Cool. Pour glaze over top of chilled pie.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

There are little eyes upon you,
and they're watching night and day
There are little ears that quickly
take in every word you say.

There are little hands all eager
to do everything you do,
And a little boy who's dreaming
of the day he'll be like you.

You're the little fellow's idol. . .
you're the wisest of the wise.
In his little mind, about you
no suspicions ever rise.

He believes in you devoutly,
holds that all you say and do
He will say and do in your way,
when he is grown-up like you.

There's a wide-eyed little fellow,
who believes you're always right,
And his ears are always open,
and he watches day and night.

You are setting an example
every day in all you do.
For the little boy who's waiting
to grow up to be like you.

Author Unknown

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Cherry O Cheese Pie

1 baked 9” pastry shell cooled or 9” crumb crust

Basic Filling:
1 (8 oz) package of cream cheese, softened
1 can Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk
½ cup ReaLemon reconstituted lemon juice
1 t vanilla extract

In medium bowl, beat softened cheese until light and fluffy. Gradually stir in sweetened condensed milk until thoroughly blended. Stir in lemon juice and vanilla. Turn into crust. Refrigerate 2 to 3 hours. Garnish top of pie with chilled cherry pie filling or cherry glaze.

Cherry Glaze
1 (1 lb 5 oz) can cherry pie filling, chilled or 1 (1 lb) can sour pitted cherries
¼ cup sugar
1 T cornstarch

Drain cherries; reserve juice. In small saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch; stir in juice. Cook over low heat; stir constantly until thickened and clear. Add a few drops of red food coloring. Add cherries. Cool. Spread over top of chilled pie.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Goodbye to the Tree

I know to many people it may seem very silly to be upset over a tree being cut down. To my children it's feeling like the end of the world. They love this tree and they don't understand why it had to go away now.  I know how they feel.

Eighteen years ago I first took notice of this tree. I thought it was a wonderful, glorious tree then. I often told my mother that I hoped to have such a lovely specimen in the yard of the house I'd have some day. I was thrilled when we got the news that we'd be able to live in the home we are in with this tree.

Fourteen years ago this tree encouraged a little girl to go for long walks. We had family who lived in this neighborhood and we'd take walks to the bus stop in the picture, up to the post office or gas station. She didn't enjoy or want to cooperate in going on these walks until the day she spotted this tree. From that point on when ever she would see this tree she'd get all excited and run up to it and give it a hug. It was quite something to witness as it seemed this tree was something that broke through the wall she was trapped behind and grabbed hold of her so that she would interact in the present. She never spoke but her eyes would shine bright and she would get a huge smile on her face when ever she saw it. At the time it hurt deeply that she could light up for a tree but not for those who loved her most. At the time we didn't know about the autism.

Eleven years ago this tree welcomed us to our new home. We were very fortunate to be able to move into this place. We thought we were blessed to have family near by, her beloved tree, and a school close. My mother joked that we'd be able to hide behind the tree and observe the children walking to school by themselves. She also joked that while I didn't have my house; I at least got my tree.

The little girl's love for the tree blossomed and grew since we have lived here. Often she would disappear from the house only to be found sitting by the tree. Eventually it got to the point that when she would disappear the tree was the first place we'd go look for her. go sit by the tree and play quietly. The tree became the landmark for her finding her way around the neighborhood.  It became the meeting spot for her and a little girl in our neighborhood. It became a protector from the bullies as she'd hide behind it when they went by. She taught her little brother to love the tree too.

After a season or two of particularly violent weather, the children became very concerned for their tree. After every bad thunderstorm, wind storm, or heavy snow fall they'd rush out to make sure the tree was OK. When the tree had to be trimmed because of power lines; they both watched anxiously from inside and were convinced that the tree would be cut down to the ground. They were horrified by the way the tree was shaped after-wards, fearful it would die from the butchering of it's beautiful limbs. They would go out practically every hour to give it hugs and kisses in hopes it would feel better. They were thrilled when it continued to live and thrive.

This tree has held several bird feeder projects from Scouts, School, Arts & Crafts classes, and Home Depot projects. It's held a bird house or two over the years. It's provided shade during the summers. Especially when we'd have our sales events. It's been base for games of tag and hide n seek. It's been used as the center pole for games of ring around the rosie and as a sort of may pole being festively decked out in ribbons and balloons for a celebration party for both children at various mile stones.It wore a yellow ribbon while their daddy was deployed for a bit.  It was a marker for how big they were getting, too. It's been my girl's focal point for walking around in circles. I'm not sure how many miles over the years she's put in but walking around this tree. I know it's a lot as it's something she'd do for long periods of time each day in all seasons. 

This morning they both went out to give their tree some more hugs and to say goodbye. We had to leave while the men where here to cut it down. Neither child could handle the sound of the saws and chipper or the men talking to each other as they planned out how best to bring the tree and another down. They both swore they could hear the tree crying when the first limbs were being removed. We left quickly after that.

All day long they thought of their beloved tree and hoped and wished that it wasn't true. That their tree would still be standing upon their return. Maybe battered and broken as before when it had been trimmed but still standing strong and tall.

Upon coming home and seeing it totally gone, the stopped and stared for a good 10 minutes unable to comprehend what had happened. My girl was positive that we weren't close to home yet. The landmark she'd used for so long to find her way home was gone. My boy knew that we were a block from home, but didn't want to believe it. Once inside the house, they both broke down and cried as if their life was over. It was all I could do not to break down with them as my heart was breaking for both of them. Both went to bed early. Neither wanted the day to continue any longer.
R.I.P our beloved tree
Thank you for being a landmark, providing shade, 
and marking time as it and the seasons passed.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Strawberry O Cheese Pie

1 baked 9” pastry shell cooled or 9” crumb crust

Basic Filling:
1 (8 oz) package of cream cheese, softened
1 can Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk
½ cup ReaLemon reconstituted lemon juice
1 t vanilla extract

In medium bowl, beat softened cheese until light and fluffy. Gradually stir in sweetened condensed milk until thoroughly blended. Stir in lemon juice and vanilla. Turn into crust. Refrigerate 2 to 3 hours.

1 cup sugar
2 T cornstarch
Pinch of salt
½ cup fresh or frozen strawberries, crushed
1 cup water
1 pint whole strawberries hulled

In small saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Add crushed berries and water. Cook over medium heat; stir constantly until thickened and clear. Strain. Add a few drops of red food coloring. Cool. Arrange whole strawberries atop pie. Pour glaze over top of chilled pie.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Magic Lemon Meringue Pie

1 baked 8” pastry shell, cooled or 8” crumb crust
1 can Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk
½ cup ReaLemon Reconstituted Lemon Juice
1 t grated lemon rind
2 egg yolks

In medium bowl combine sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice and rind; blend in egg yolks. Turn into cooled crust.

2 egg whites
¼ t cream of tartar
¼ cup sugar

In small bowl, beat whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar until stiff peaks form when beater is raised. Spread over filling; seal to edge of crust. Bake in slow 325°F oven 12 to 15 minutes or until meringue is golden brown. Cool refrigerate about 2 hours or until ready to serve.

NOTE: To make a 9” pie: Use 3 egg yolks to make the filling. Use 3 egg whites and 6 T sugar to make meringue. Otherwise, proceed as above.

Makes one 8” pie

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Summer of the Miserable Couch Potato

Every now and then something happens that causes us to remember it by an appropriate name of sorts. When __ is said memories come forth some are fond and others not so much. Ex. the summer of girl scout camp rafting or the summer of the horse or the summer of the family reunion or the summer of cancer or the summer of no or the Seattle summer. I think you get the idea.

There have been some summers where we have done wonderful things, some where we have done not so wonderful things but managed to keep busy. Last summer was an example of the not so wonderful but managed to keep busy. This summer is starting out as a summer of not so wonderful and not so busy. Hence why it's looking like the summer of the couch potato will be it's name.

Why? well it's certainly not going to be because we have a great couch (ours is long gone and not being replaced to soon) or a grand television to watch (it's nice not grand). It's because this is the summer where everything that we'd traditionally do isn't going to be available.

Every summer the children are normally involved in a variety of activities. They participate in a special bike riding program, they take lessons through the local parks and recreations office, they attend educational programs and workshops through out the community, they go fishing, swimming, camping, play at the park, and actively keep busy.

Unfortunately the activities they most look forward to doing aren't happening for them. why? Well there are several reasons. The biggest reason is because the children have gotten older. They are no longer within the age limits to be able to participate in the activities. The other reason is lack of volunteers and giving those who haven't participated before an opportunity to do so. Finally, there is a funding issue. The funding is a many faceted issue. 1) not enough funds to meet the demands of those interested in participating thus creating a wait list 2) increased cost to provide the activity/service so either priced out of affordable range or limited number of participants 3) our income has taken a nose dive while the out going costs for daily living have increased. I can't justify dropping dollars I don't have for a one, two, or three week activity especially for one child let alone two when the activity is several hundred dollars now (ex. special art camp that is $500).

Everyone on the team feels that I should look into the local parks and recreation activities. What everyone on the team failed to consider are my children are over the age of 12. That's a real issue when the programs sponsored by the P&R stop accepting those over the age of 12. So those activities are no longer available for us simply because the kiddos are too old.

The next recommendation was for us to try the local Y. It was a sign of just how hard the down turn in the economy has affected their programs as they were way more than the P&R. Unfortunately, upon further discussion we learned that the kiddos won't qualify for the activities because of again being to old but also because of the special needs they have. We were welcomed to get a family membership. All we need it is $192.00 to get started and then to commit to $72 a month there after. I admit that's not too horrible a price it's just that I'm not sure I'd have $72 a month to spare considering that the cost for food, meds, transportation has gone up. Another thing that was pointed out that I hadn't considered was the time for the activities. Most of the activities that the children would be allowed to do are in late in the day or evening time slots. For several it would involve trying to figure out alternative transportation as for after the bus quits running. That is definitely something we must seriously consider in deciding. Yes, walking is not a problem for us. We do it regularly any ways. It could be a problem in the terms of safety though. See the one child has a condition that means spending x amount of energy requires y amount of time to rest in hopes of recovering enough to be able to function. That means that in order to be safe during an activity at the Y a minimum of energy can be put out prior to the activity. Then there has to be enough of a rest time after the activity that the child has the energy to make it back home. This could be done by using the local bus system but only if the child is allowed to use the pool or gym during the hours the bus runs. This is going to have to take some major thinking about to figure out if it's going to work or not beyond the dollar issue. (Yes, there are scholarships available but that's for those truly in need of them and we're not. As if we made some changes we'd be able to afford the $72 a month. They're right but then we'd be in trouble for not doing other things that we must do that we currently are doing)
The educational programs and workshops that a year or two ago was $75 to $100 per enrollee are now $325 to $500. If my budget can't stretch to cover $72 it just isn't able to stretch enough to cover it.

As for the special bike riding program we've been advised to sit this summer out to allow others to participate. On one hand I understand and can accept it because we've done it every year that we could since learning of it. Yet, I can't understand accept it as we always pay the full price and help out with the activity. That means we don't drop and run like some people do. It was suggested that we try the day camp this year instead. However, the day camp was most heavily stressed as not appropriate for the children to attend by their medical team. Plus it costs way more than the affordable biking program. So this is another door closed.

As for coming up with a biking program ourselves. This would be an option if I could come up with about $800. That's how much it would cost to get the special bikes ourselves for the kiddos. $480 would be for the special adaptive equipment, $200 for bikes the equipment would fit, and $120 would be for getting the adaptive equipment put on the bikes and then bike helmets and visibility flashers/flags. That's not too horrible when one considers that it would be for two children and would last a lifetime per say for each child. 

Now that leaves some of our typical summer fun activities that are cheaper for us to do but require some advanced planning. These are activities that require more hands on deck than just mine and also require a mode of transportation that isn't the city bus.  

Fishing, swimming, and camping are still options if we can get transportation figured out. I've just learned that there is something seriously wrong that may mean the vehicle we borrow won't be available this summer or for much longer. Also the extra set of hands is looking at not being as available for most of this summer as would normally be. This wasn't exactly a shock but it was most definitely something I didn't want to hear. Especially after the fiasco with the activities above and the "new rules" I'll discuss in a minute. I will say that thankfully because of the flooding and snow these activities aren't available at this time. That means later in the month or in July or August we'll have them to hopefully look forward to doing.

So that leaves us to looking at things that can be done at home. I have been informed that there are new rules and regulations that we must follow in order to keep our place of residence. These are as follows:

  • No being in the front yard when the neighbor is around.
  • No being in the backyard when the neighbor is around.
  • No being loud either inside or outside at any time.

These new rules are going to make it tough this summer. I normally send the kids outside to burn off energy and to entertain themselves for a bit with activities like running through a sprinkler or to play catch, Frisbee, badminton, or just to play. The kind of entertainment that an open front yard can provide in nice summer weather. Now that's pretty much going to not be allowed. Oh why oh why did we not turn the other cheek? Why did we allow the worker to address the situation? I feared it would come back to bite us and it did in the loss of being outside. The neighbor and their children will be around more during the time mine usually go out to play. Currently we can adhere to the plan as while they are away at school and work, mine go out to play. When they come home, mine come into stay until the next safe time.

As for the noise I can't help that the way the place is set up that every little sound seems to be happening 3 feet from you no matter what part of the house your in. Especially if it's warm enough to have windows or the screen doors set to let in the fresh air. Things that make noise be it the bouncing of a ball, children laughing, playing noisily in either the front or back yard can sound like it's happening right next to you if your in the bedrooms or living room. Heck, the neighbor can slam their front door and it sounds like our front door was slammed instead. Something I have gotten after my kids for slamming the door only to learn it wasn't them but the neighbor's children heading off to school or taking out the trash.

I had foolishly thought that we'd be able to easily live with the lack of outside use at home because we'd have lots of summer time activities we would be involved in.Now I am scrambling to come up with something for us to do. I am thankful that we'll still be able to go to the library as originally planned out.  I will also need to beef up some of the educational activities that we had specifically saved to use over the summer. It just doesn't make sense to do the water activities in the middle of winter; when they can be more easily and enjoyably accomplished in summer. I'm just sad that they're aren't as many to do this time around. It also looks like I had better plan on getting next years curriculum now instead of waiting until the middle of August as that will be away to occupy some of the time at home. We can go slower and maybe retain some of the skills gained from this school year. Maybe even add a few extra things although what I am not a 100% sure as we need something to do during the regular school year. It seems that the Wii, Computer, and TV are going to become a major center of attention. Something I had hoped would be used way less now that the weather would be nice. Oh well at least it will be better than nothing at all. So now you see why the kids are deeming this summer to be "The Summer of the Miserable Couch Potato".

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Musings II

Happy Memorial Day!

Thank you to all our brave men and women who serve in the United State Military.

“Not only are they commemorated by columns and inscriptions, but there dwells also an unwritten memorial of them, graven not on stone but in the hearts of men.”--Pericles (c.600 B.C.E.)

You are not forgotten.

"In Flanders Fields"
John McCrae, 1915.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Memorial Day is here. I have been thinking about what it means to me. I have been remembering those who have fallen, those who are currently serving both over seas and at home, those families who have loved ones in form of sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles, husbands, wives serving active duty, national guard, reserve, or are on inactive ready reserve. But then I got to wondering about others so what does it mean to you?

Is it the start of summer? A three day weekend to be enjoyed through various outdoor activities like camping, fishing, going to the park? Is it a day or days of watching NASCAR? Is it a day to be cozily snuggled on the couch with drinks and snacks watching the Indy 500? Is it a time of being with friends and family at a picnic or BBQ either at a park, beach or in the back yard?

Is it a day to visit the cemetery in order to pay respect to the dearly departed? Either by laying flowers, wreaths, or placing flags on their graves? Or maybe do a little care taking maintenance of the plot? Do you participate in the 3 p.m. moment of silence or are you not aware or unsure of what this is?

Do you watch the televised coverage of scenes from Arlington Cemetery? Or do you participate in your own local community cemetery tribute to the soldiers who have died? Do you take the time to visit with a veteran on this day or sometime during the weekend? Do you ignore the members of the VFW with their "Buddy Poppy"? Do you accept one and offer a donation? Or are you embarrassed that you were approached or spoken to while others were able to pass on by? Do you stop to say thank you to the veteran and soldiers that you see through out your day to day activities on this day, this weekend, or at any other time of the year? Just what does this sacred solemn day really mean to you?

Today or at some point this weekend you will either be offered the opportunity to or participate in some type of outdoor activity or get together. Maybe it is the start of your summer holiday so you hold a backyard BBQ get together. Maybe it's time for an annual family reunion or get together at a local park or other outdoor location. While your enjoying your food, time with friends and family, and fun; do you give thought to how wonderful and lucky you are to be able to do it? Does how wonderful being free to do your activities and get together cross your mind at all? Do you give pause and thanks in acknowledgment for the freedom to pursue happiness and joy by doing what you do? Do you take time to remember and thank those who died to preserve our rights?

So do you take time somewhere in your busy weekend to reflect and feel thankful for the freedom to have this holiday weekend? Do you reflect and feel thankful for the countless other freedoms that you enjoy daily? Freedoms that are so precious and unique to us here in the United States of America. Do you remember those who died or lost a part of themselves (physically, mentally, emotionally or a combo of all these) so that you can enjoy the freedoms your currently enjoying?

I was actually shocked to hear that Memorial Day means nothing more to some of my friends than the start of the summer fun activities and getting to taste auntie's (or other family members or friends members or friends) potato salad or other favorite food that is associated with summer time. They sadly don't feel that there is a reason to remember a bunch of faceless and nameless soldiers who died in some cases a very long time ago. To another set it is the signal that the school year is over or about to end shortly and that fun can commence.

So let me ask you again what does Memorial Day mean to you? What does Memorial Day really mean? Why do we have it and do you know? With the above questions swirling through your mind let me share some tidbits of information about Memorial Day that I have found.

Memorial Day, originally was called Decoration Day. It is a day set aside for the remembrance of those brave men and women who have died in our nation's service preserving our freedoms.

Memorial Day was first widely observed on May 30, 1868.

It is a patriotic holiday in the United States of America that is celebrated on the last Monday in May. This was established in 1971 by Congress. However, Memorial Day once had a fixed date of May 30th. There are many who feel that we should return to a one day observation and celebration instead of the day weekend that has been ongoing since 1971.

There are many versions as to where Memorial day originated. Many places claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day. However in 1966, the federal government declared Waterloo, NY to be the official birthplace. The Waterloo, NY townspeople were the first recognized group to pay honor to the soldiers who had died in the Civil War. They paid their respects by closing their business for the day, flying flags at half-mast, and placing flowers and flags on the graves of the fallen Civil War soldiers.

Because of lingering hostilities between the Union (North) and the Confederates (South), southerners created their own version of Memorial Day to honor the Confederate dead. It's Called Confederate Memorial Day and remains a state holiday in many southern states.

While the first to be honored by a Memorial Day observance where those who had died, were injured, and had survived the Civil War. Now it honors those who died in the many wars and military actions our nation has been apart of. To name a few: Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, and Desert Storm.

The expansion from only the Civil War soldiers being remembered and honored to any American solider of any U.S. war or military action occurred after World War I.

The Memorial Day tradition involving the Indy 500 race has been ongoing since 1911.

The Memorial Day tradition of paying respects to graves has expanded from just the Civil War solider to all soldiers in U.S. wars or military action to that of friends and family members as well.

Memorial day is meant as a day of dignity and solemnity to pay tribute to those who fought for our freedom. It is also a day to reflect on our freedoms that we so freely enjoy.

All U.S. Flags should be displayed at half-staff during the morning hours. At noon they should be raised back to full-staff.

VFW Buddy Poppies are still assembled by disabled and needy veterans.

In February 1924 the VFW registered the name "Buddy Poppy" with the U.S. Patent Office. No other organization, firm, or individual can legally use the name "Buddy Poppy".

One flower that is associated with war and veterans is the red poppy. It was aided in its strong associated with war and veterans is the red poppy. It was aided in its strong association by the poem "In Flander's Field" written by Col. John McCrae of Canada.

Now that you have some tidbits of information regarding Memorial Day, I ask again what does Memorial Day mean to you? Have your answers changed any?

So take the day to remember those dearly departed friends, loved ones, and spend time with family members and friends who are still with us. Enjoy your BBQ's and picnics and holiday get together and the unofficial start to summer.

Bud do take a moment to reflect on the freedoms your enjoying and remember the brave men and women who gave their very lives so you can have the freedom to enjoy your holiday. If you see a veteran or solider don't look away but acknowledge him or her. Thank them for the sacrifices they either made or are making so that you and I and all the rest here in the United States can continue enjoying the freedoms we have.

In closing I share with you the unofficial yet highly popular words of Taps, links for further information, and a big heartfelt Thank You to our service men and women who are so brave.

Words to Taps (Note: there are no "official" words to Taps below are the most popular.)

Day is done,
gone the sun,
From the hills,
from the lake,
From the skies.
All is well,
God is nigh.
Go to sleep,
peaceful sleep,
May the solider
or sailor
God keep.
On the land
or the deep,
Safe in sleep.

Love, good night,
Must thou go,
When the day,
And the night
Need thee so?
All is well.
Speedeth all
To their rest.

Fades the light;
And afar
Goeth day,
And the stars
Shineth bright,
Fare thee well;
Day has gone,
Night is on.

Thanks and praise,
For our days,
'Neath the sun,
'Neath the stars
'Neath the sky,
As we go,
This we know,
God is nigh.

Here are some Informational links on Memorial Day:

US Memorial Day

Thank you to all who have severed in the military!
Thank you to all who are serving presently in active military and national guard units!
Thank you for the sacrifices you make and made for our freedom!
Thank you for the sacrifices your families make so that you may serve.