Saturday, May 30, 2009


We had a pop-up thunderstorm this afternoon which resulted in a nice bright rainbow.
I shot this through the window, but it didn't turn out too bad. It looks like the pot of gold is in the well house. It was hailing so I didn't feel like running out and getting it.

Happy Saturday,

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Chocolate Cake - Recipe Swap

Please disregard the big crumb on the left side and the big goober where I dropped the knife on the right. It's a wonder I didn't drop the camera in the cake.

I don't make cake that often because I'm to lazy to make one from scratch and for just the two of us most cakes are just too big. If I do make cake it's usually 1/2 of a boxed cake mix. I ran across this recipe in Rachel Ray's magazine, I liked it for it's size and simplicity. It only takes a few minutes to prepare and you don't even have to dirty the mixer.

This cake has a great fudgy taste and is very rich and moist, since it only uses a little over 1/3 cup flour. I did make a small change by adding the instant espresso powder and using a round cake pan instead of the square one the recipe called for. You can leave out the espresso if you want, but it does make the chocolate pop.

Fudgy Chocolate Cake
adapted from Rachael Ray magazine

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
Preheat the oven to 275°. Butter and flour an 8-inch round baking pan. In a medium saucepan, melt the chocolate chips with the milk, heavy cream and espresso powder over low heat. Add the butter and sugar and stir until smooth. Remove from the heat. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add to the chocolate mixture and stir until smooth. Whisk in the egg and vanilla. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

After cake has cooled pour glaze on top and spread out in a circle letting it run down the sides.

Chocolate Glaze
adapted from Rachael Ray magazine

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder

In a small saucepan, melt the chocolate chips with the butter, cream and espresso powder over low heat, stirring, until combined.
For more ideas check out The Grocery Cart Challenge

Mmmm, Mmmmm, chocolicious,


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Italian Sausage Subs

To go along with the fine Broccoli Salad we had Italian Sausage Subs. I haven't decided if this is a strange pairing or not. These are Yummo.

Italian Sausage Subs

1 lb. Sweet Italian Sausage
1 large green pepper, cut in strips
1 large sweet red pepper, cut in strips
1 large onion, cut in strips
3-5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1-2 tbls. olive oil
hero rolls
Parmesan cheese
salt to taste

Cook sausage until done, remove from heat. Place oil in skillet, add peppers and onion. Saute until softened. While peppers are cooking slice sausage into coins. When peppers are almost done add garlic and oregano, saute for 1 minute. Add sausage back into the skillet with any juice that accumulated. Cook for 1 minute. Add salt if needed.

Spoon into hero buns and top with Parmesan cheese if desired.


Broccoli Salad

Hope everyone had a great holiday weekend. We didn't do anything special for the holiday so to commemorate Memorial Day we ate off disposable plates. I know, I know, how could we be so ecologically irresponsible, but it was a holiday and The Little Buddy deserves a day off from the dishes.

I love Broccoli Salad, but in the past it usually consisted of mixing a little sugar with miracle whip and dumping it on broccoli, bacon and cheese. This time I decided to find a better recipe, the problem is there are 53 trillion recipes for broccoli salad. After reading about a dozen, I took components from different recipes to make mine. The biggest inspiration for the dressing was this recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

Broccoli Salad

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tbls. cider vinegar
4 packets splenda or about 1 tbs sugar (sugar level is really personal preference)
pinch of salt

4 cups broccoli florets, chopped bite size
1 medium apple, chopped with peel on
8 slices bacon, cooked crispy and chopped
1/2 small red onion, diced
1/2 cup shredded colby jack or cheddar
1 small snack size box of raisins
1/2 cup toasted almonds or pecans (optional)

Mix together the mayo, buttermilk, vinegar and sugar and refrigerate for a couple of hours to chill and let the sugar dissolve. If you use splenda, it dissolves much easier.

After the dressing has chilled mix with the remaining ingredients except bacon. Return salad to the refrigerator to chill. Add bacon and mix right before serving. If you add the bacon earlier it will get soggy.

You can adjust the amounts for the salad ingredients to suit your own taste.


Friday, May 22, 2009

Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli

This recipe was on the back of a magazine I was reading the other day and the picture looked really good. This is a fairly quick, it can be made in the time it takes to cook the pasta.

The advertisement this recipe was in was for cheese. There was also a coupon, and said cheese was on sale at Kroger so that is what I used. Usually I get my Havarti at the Dairy in our area, it's fresh, it's organic, is yummy. I would use that next time instead of this brand which had a more piquant taste and was so soft I had to put it in the freezer to grate.

I didn't have a red chili pepper and forgot to get one at the store. I substituted 1/2 of a red pepper and about 1 tsp of crushed red pepper flakes. After I cooked the chicken and peppers and broccoli, I deglazed the pan with a little cream sherry(I didn't have any white wine). I couldn't let all that frond go to waste. If you don't want to use sherry, using a little of the pasta cooking liquid would have the same effect. Instead of just topping the dish with the cheese, I used a few ladles of the pasta cooking liquid to thin out the dish and make the cheese melt and the whole dish a little more cohesive. The nice thing about a recipe like this is that it leaves you a lot of room for experimentation.
Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli
1 16 oz. box spaghetti
6 oz Havarti, shredded
4 tbsp. butter
1 lb. chicken breast, sliced
2 cups broccoli florets
3 tbsp. red chili pepper, coarsely chopped
3 small garlic cloves, chopped
3/4 tsp. salt
Slowly melt 2 tbsp. of butter in medium size skillet or frying pan. Add chicken and brown, approximately 3 minutes. Remove from pan. Melt the rest of the butter and add broccoli, chili pepper and garlic: saute approximately 1 minute. Return the meat to the pan and season with salt. Fry for another minute. Cook pasta according to package directions and drain. Serve chicken and broccoli mixture on pasta and top with shredded cheese. Makes 6 servings.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Potato Salad

I almost didn't post this recipe because I wasn't totally pleased with the finished product. But I did learn some things, so what did I learn.
  • I don't like dill pickles in potato salad
  • The first part of the recipe where the pickle juice and mustard is added to the potatoes had some merit.

This recipe came from Cook's Country on PBS. It starts with cooking peeled and cubed potatoes instead of whole potatoes, this was much faster. After cooking, the potatoes are spread out on a cookie sheet where they are tossed with a mixture of mustard and dill pickle juice, then cooled. The idea behind this is that the hot potatoes will suck up and be flavored by the juice. Then once cooled it will not take as much mayonnaise. All of this proved true, and the recipe came together well, I just don't like dill pickles in potato salad. I am a sweet pickle girl. I think I will try this recipe again but with a little tweeking(sweet pickles), and maybe throw in an extra egg.

Potato Salad

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes , peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
3 tablespoons dill pickle juice , plus 1/4 cup finely chopped dill pickles
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 onion, red (small) , chopped fine
1 rib celery , chopped fine
2 hard-cooked eggs , peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice (optional)

1. Place potatoes in large saucepan with cold water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to boil over high heat, add 1 teaspoon salt, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until potatoes are tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
2. Drain potatoes thoroughly, then spread out on rimmed baking sheet. Mix 2 tablespoons pickle juice and mustard together in small bowl, drizzle pickle juice mixture over potatoes, and toss until evenly coated. Refrigerate until cooled, about 30 minutes.
3. Mix remaining tablespoon pickle juice, chopped pickles, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, celery seed, mayonnaise, sour cream, red onion, and celery in large bowl. Toss in cooled potatoes, cover, and refrigerate until well chilled, about 30 minutes. (Salad can be refrigerated in airtight container for up to 2 days.) Gently stir in eggs, if using, just before serving.

From the episode: All-American Picnic
Make sure not to overcook the potatoes or the salad will be quite sloppy. Keep the water at a gentle simmer and use the tip of a paring knife to judge the doneness of the potatoes. If the knife inserts easily into the potato pieces, they are done.
Serves 4 to 6.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Fears then and now

I was talking to my friend Sally the other day about a blog post I had read about childhood fears. I started thinking about my fears from childhood versus now.

Sally also shared with me one of hers. It seemed she had a reoccurring nightmare in which Danny Partridge covered her with leeches. To this day she has a dislike of leeches and is leery of red heads.

I don't have anything quite that good.

1. Tornado's - Growing up in South-Western Illinois there was a lot to be afraid of in the spring and summer month's. We had no basement and my mother took the "if we're going to blow away, we're going to blow away" approach. That didn't work so well for me. Luckily my grandpa would come pick me up, take me to his house and sit it the basement and play cards or Yahtzee with me until the storm passed. I loved my grandpa, he was the greatest.

2. Demon Possession - I was 9 when the Exorcist came out. Normally a 9 yr old wouldn't come into contact with the Exorcist. With 3 older sisters and a brother ranging from 10-16 yrs older, I came into contact with many things I probably shouldn't have. I would lay awake at night waiting for my bed to shake and levitate. Living in front of a train switching yard my bed shook any time a train hooked up. I had some rough nights. I would lie in bed and blow out my breath to see if the temperature was dropping in my room. I knew that should I become possessed my mother wouldn't be able to handle it so I became my sister Claudia's shadow. She was tough, she could handle a demon possession. That next summer my dad moved into a new house, a big white house, that to my by then 10 yr old eyes looked just the the Exorcist house. YIKES

3. Sharks - I remember standing in line at the theatre to see Jaws. It was sold out and this was back in the day of large theatre's with balconies, not the piddly cineplex of today. I remember sitting in the dark, duhn duhn duhn duhn duhn duhn, all the gasps when the chic gets pulled under water and the screams when it chowed down on the little boy. My stepsister and I took turns reading the book on the long trip from Illinois to Boston. By the time we arrived the fear of sharks had taken firm hold. First to be tested when my brother took us to Salisbury Beach, there was no way I was getting into the water.

My dad had a vacation place in the mountains on a lake in Maine, I was convinced there was an outlet to the sea and a shark had swam up and was at that moment cruising the lake looking for me. Did I mention we also read When Sharks Attack, lots of sharks moving up tributaries in that book. Of course we were in the corner over by New Hampshire and Canada, that shark had a heckuva swim.

4. Vampires - My sister Claudie gave me Salem's Lot to read. That book scared the crap out of me. Thank God by that time my dad had moved back to Indiana and we didn't go to Maine that year. Because according to Stephen King, Maine is rife with vampires. I wore a cross for 2 years.

5. Nuclear Winter - I don't know why I was scared of this just that I was. Growing up in the 70's the arms race and the USSR was big news on TV and in the movies. I just knew they were going to bomb us and I'd get radiation poisoning, my hair would fall out and I would get pus filled lesions all over. Or I would have to escape the zombie people. Either one a no-win situation. Dawn of the Dead another movie I shouldn't have watched. Zombie people really freak me out.

Looking back it's funny to see how stupid the stuff that used to terrify me really is. Today about the only thing is Death either mine or The Little Buddy's. And a fear of heights that has developed as I've gotten older.

Although I did have a night last week I didn't get much sleep because of the extreme wind we were having during some storms. Sometimes at night when I go to the kitchen for a drink and look out the window into the dark I still expect to see Danny Glick hovering outside. Even though the scare of nuclear war has diminished, Bio-terrorism could probably produce pus filled lesions or zombie people. And when I woke up one morning last year right as the earthquake hit and my king size bed was jiggling around, earthquake wasn't really the first thing I thought of(in Indiana). I knew I was going to start levitating any minute.

Oh well at least I'm not scared of Danny Bonaduce.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pinto Beans

I have a ton (or 4 lbs) of pinto beans to use up, so I made the Pioneer Woman's pinto beans. I had made this a few weeks ago and it was good as is, but I just feel the need to fiddle with things.

I used apple wood smoked bacon and a medium chopped onion and put them in at the beginning of the cooking. The onions will disintegrate during cooking but will add a nice flavor and thickening to the finished dish. I add chopped ham that was left over from a few days ago and a finely diced jalapeno once the beans had started to soften. I think next time I will add 2 jalapenos as 1 didn't add quite enough flavor. Yummy.

I would usually have cornbread with this but I was messing around with a bread recipe from the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes cookbook so we had that.

I would recommend checking out the Pioneer Woman's cooking section she has some great everyday food recipes.

Happy cooking,

Monday, May 11, 2009


What I learned tonight? I should check the picture to see if it's in focus before eating the subject.

I love Fajitas, but I am too lazy to make them the traditional way. This is the lazy man's version.

I had some lean precooked beef cubes in the freezer so that's what I used this time. You could use flank steak or sirloin. I sauteed the peppers and onions on high heat, removing them when the began to char slightly on the edges. Toss about 1 Tbls seasoning per 1 lb of meat and quickly stir-fry at high heat. When they are almost done add the peppers and onions back in and stir. Serve in flour tortillas. I like an Avocado Pico de Gallo with this but didn't have all the ingredients to make it tonight. This is an all purpose fajita rub. I don't remember where I found it.

1 Tbls chili powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp garlic
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
pinch of cayenne

Store in an air tight container.

Just remember Fajitas don't have to be a pain, you can turn them out in less that 30 minutes.

I'll work on that focus thing.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Taco Soup

I love this soup. It's super easy and quick, you can have it made in 30 minutes. This is a recipe by Frank Farmer.
I didn't have any guacamole today, so I just used the sour cream and added some minced red onion. The taste of this soup can really change according to the type of chili beans and salsa you use. I prefer a smokier taste so I use the On the Border salsa. The heat level can also be changed by using different heat levels of beans and salsa.
Taco Soup
1 cup corn. I usually end up using more that 1 cup
1 can (16 oz) chili beans. I use Bush's Med. heat
1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed. I just use the whole can
2 cups beef stock
2 cups salsa. I prefer the On the Border Medium
1 lb. lean ground beef, cooked and drained
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup guacamole
Totilla chips. I like the blue corn tortillas
In a large pot over medium heat, combine corn, chili beans, black beans, stock, and salsa, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and stir in the cooked beef. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until heated through. Stir in cilantro.
In a separate bowl, stir together the sour cream and the guacamole until smooth.
To serve, ladle the soup into bowls, and top with guacamole mixture. Serve with Tortilla chips.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Welllll. I decided to go all out and get my own domain name. Yeaahhhh. But that has slightly screwed up the site. The comments aren't working like they should and it may take 24-72 hours for everything to work. So if you can't leave a comment at this time please come back and try again at another time.

The address when everything is working will be At this time the blogspot address should still work.


Friday, May 8, 2009

Hello, my name is Jaynie. Welcome to my blog.

I have no idea what I'm doing or where this blog is going. Other than clean my house and find a job I really don't have anything else to do, so I figured I'd give it a go.

One thing you should know about me, I have no grammatical skills at all. So if things like improper sentence structure, bad punctuation and run on sentences bother you. Too bad, oh I mean, sorry.

A little background. I am forty something, married for many many moons to The Little Buddy. I live in a small town with a population of about 500 in the Midwest. I enjoy cooking, reading, music and hopefully blogging.

I am starting this blog in hopes of staying in contact with friends and family and maybe make a few more while I ramble on about whatever mundane drivel pops into my noggin.

Thanks for stopping by.