Monday, December 26, 2011

Traditional Anise Drops Minus Their Tops!

My husband says they are delicious. I miss my Mom more than ever as she knew when  to make these cookies and when not to attempt to make them. My Mom's cookies never failed to  form the white caps. I have modified the recipe and made them on everything from  parchment, aluminum foil and silicone liners but no caps! The bottoms come out very shiny on silicone, a bit of the cookie seems to stick to aluminum foil, foil being suggested by the "Joy of Cooking" cookbook. My mother used parchment for all of her baking and my husband kept my Mom's house stocked with parchment paper!

My cooking instuctor suggested running a dehumidifier in the winter!   If your anise drops had caps on them this year, let me know where you live  and most important, your secret!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Summer Salads

We love summer pasta salads as they are easy to make and take along. For picnics, concerts in the park and an easy meal, pasta salads can be made ahead and are great for "assemble your own salad".

For those following a gluten-free diet, substituting a gluten-free pasta product is great too!

Holden Arboretum has a Tuesday supper time concert series. I made this pasta salad to pack in our cooler, added some cherries for dessert and my husbands favorite picnic drink, orange lemonade, made with a ratio of 1:1 of orange juice and real lemonade.

Everyone including my 94 year young Mom enjoyed the orange, lemonade.

My sister brought some yummy Greek butter cookies to nibble on during the concert!

For a most generous serving of pasta salad for the four of us, I cooked about 1/2 pound pasta, gluten free pasta may be used, 3 small chicken tenders and a generous helping of peas. I chopped up our favorite fresh vegetables including a whole red pepper, sweet orange and yellow peppers, 1/2 of a medium sized cucumber (I remove the seeds), about two tablespoons of sweet onion and a garden fresh tomato.

Before placing the pasta with the cut up onion, tomato, cucumber and peppers in a quart container, I added Italian and Asian Toasted Light Sesame salad dressing, a bit more than one would normally put on a salad as the peas and other fresh vegetables are added later to each plate, according to each person's preferences. Any of your favorite salad dressing would work!

I kept the chicken cooled in a baggie, separate from the cooked pasta, peppers, cucumber and onion included in the quart container, thus making the meal appropriate for a vegan. For those that love vegetables, I included a baggy of sliced radishes and more sliced cucumbers in our little cooler. Olives, celery, carrots are also welcome additions to pasta salad. I include hard boiled eggs too for those like Mom that love an egg at a picnic.

To serve, I assemble each person's favorite veggies with the basic pasta and chopped vegetable dressed entree, adding the chicken, peas and radishes (if desired) on top of the salad. Serves 4-5.

The great thing about this meal is that the quart container fits easily in our middle-sized Playmate cooler and the other items in baggies fit nicely around the container. The entire meal, paper plates and utensils fit in the cooler, only the orange lemonade was not in the cooler.

A trick to making the orange lemonade is adding ice cubes instead of all the water required to make orange juice and lemonade from frozen concentrate. Adding a bit less water than needed and adding extra ice keeps the drink from thinning too much from the melted ice cubes. The ice cubes also keep the drink cold for the evening.

We had a great time with our family at the concert in the garden!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Barbecue Grill

I finally received my new barbecue grill, made in the USA! I would love personal recommendations on grilling vegetables. My sister has been raving about her daughter's (my beloved niece's) grilled brussel sprouts.

Per clean up I was told to spray the stainless steel grates while hot with cold water and place aluminum foil over the grates. The grates did not come out very clean with either heavy duty or regular strength foil, however, they were a bit cleaner when I covered the grill with the heavy duty aluminum foil. Wonder if I sprayed enough water on the grates, put enough foil over them?

To preserve the stainless steel base, I was told to cover it with a coating of mineral oil twice a year and to use vegetable oil on the top, the black part of the grill.

Any and all suggestions for grilling or tricks to cleaning the new grill are most welcome!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Eggless, Dairy-free Mocha Cake

For my mother's 94th birthday, we ordered a wonderful cake and for those, like my husband, who can not eat eggs or dairy products I made this easy cake in a large heart shaped cake pan:

3 cups flour
1 scant cup sugar (we do not like our cake too sweet)
9 tablespoons of Hershey's cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
4 1/2 tablespoons vinegar
1/2 tablespoon vanilla
9 tablespoons canola oil or (4 canola oil + 4 applesauce)
1 1/2 cups coffee

Mix all dry ingredients together, add coffee and stir well.
At the last moment, add the vinegar, stir quickly and place in the oven.

Oven temp 350F, bake until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Make sure the vinegar is added quickly followed by quick stirrying and immediately place the batter in the oven. The vinegar and baking soda combine to create a batter that will rise in the oven!

Do not overstir after adding the vinegar.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Holiday Traditions

Mom will be 94 in 2011. Happy New Year 2011 from our house to yours!

Our holiday traditions include baking pretzels for New Year's Eve including the age my Mom will be on her birthday in the new year.

I use a different pretzel recipe each year but one thing remains the same, I must make my Mom's new age and the pretzels must be made with yeast dough.

My Mom enjoys the pretzels and deciding what part of her upcoming birthday to eat first.

The tradition was started by my maternal grandmother, Hedwig, for her husband, my grandfather, whose birthday was January 1.

Mom enjoys the pretzels and celebrating her upcoming age on New Year's eve, as do we!
A happy & healthy New Year 2011 to all those that read this blog and share home and traditions as caring for their parents.