Wednesday, April 23, 2014

this and that


It's been a busy week as we are getting ready to go on vacation soon. That makes it the perfect day to just share a bit of this and that. So grab a cup of coffee and catch up with me...

:: Today is my birthday. As always, I'm giving thanks to God for blessing me with another year on this earth. I've never been one to shy away from age or birthdays - I'm always just happy to be alive and embrace every single day.  We'll celebrate with family later this week, but tonight we're keeping it low key - cheese pizza (Landon's favorite) and cupcakes. He's looking forward to blowing out some candles. 

:: How cute is this precious face I woke up to this morning? He's ready for summer with his brand new haircut and ready to hit the beach.  He's also a little scared. He's going through a phase where he's scared of just about everything. A few evenings ago, he said this...  "I'm scared of spiders, bats, monsters, aliens, sharks and that it. You think of anything else scary for me?"  He's so funny! 

:: Speaking of vacation and the beach... Last year I took a journal along and wrote a letter to Landon every evening, talking about what we did that day. I got the book out yesterday to pack for our upcoming trip and it was so much fun to read about what we did last year.  These letters will be a great keepsake for him one day. 

:: Now that Easter is over, I'm working on putting out some summer decor. I love that touches of red, white and blue can be displayed all summer long. I'm working on a great canvas project that I can't wait to share. I'll have a tutorial up by May 11th, giving you plenty of time to create your own. 

:: I have a new addiction: Untold Stories of the ER on Discovery Health.  It is so good. You can't help but wonder how some of these people end up in the situations they are in.  

:: Have you tried the white chocolate M&Ms? They are a Target exclusive for spring. I might be hoarding four bags right now. They are that good! Go get some now!

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Cranberry Orange Pistacho Shortbread

 
I've shared this recipe before, but I thought it would be good to share again today. It's my mom's absolute favorite cookie so I make it for Christmas, Easter and anytime we're going on vacation. It's perfect for your Easter brunch table or just because. Be sure to put a few back for yourself - they don't last long!  I usually make two batches so I can have two rolls in  the freezer at any time. 

Cranberry-Orange Pistachio Shortbread
 
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon orange juice
1/2 cup finely chopped dried cranberries
1/4 cup finely chopped pistachios
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Beat butter with an electric mixer at medium speed until creamy. Gradually add confectioners' sugar, beating until smooth. Stir in vanilla, orange zest and orange juice. Add cranberries and pistachios, stir just until blended.  

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.

Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating at low speed until blended.

Shape shortbread mixture into 2 logs. Wrap in wax paper & aluminum foil. Refrigerate overnight or up to 3 days. Remove from refrigerator 10 minutes prior to using (while oven preheats).

Pre-heat oven to 350F. Cut each log into  1/4” thick slices.  Place on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until edges of cookies are slightly golden (mine take 10 minutes).  

You can store these in an airtight container but mine never last that long.  

***It's important to let your cookie dough rest before slicing to bake. Otherwise the logs are hard to cut and the slices crumble easily.***

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Amish Custard


This year I'm making two dishes for our Easter dinner. For dessert I'm making a treat called Amish Custard (see yesterday's post for Loraine's Macaroni Salad). It's not really a custard, so I'm not sure how it got its name.  I love all things Amish, so it's no surprise that I adore this dessert. It's a delicious blend of sweetened cream cheese & chocolate on a flaky pecan crust. There's never any left over, so sometimes I make two to be sure we have some to eat at home. I hope this dish makes it on your Easter menu.

We usually go to Amish Country in Ohio twice a year  - June and October.  It's a nice, relaxing two days filled with food, shopping and a buggy and train ride for Landon.  Once we're back home, I try to live the simple life, much to Mike's amusement (that man really loves me, you guys!). It usually doesn't last long, but it does always cause me to take time to reflect on how simple life could be without the daily distractions we allow - but that's another post.

Happy Easter! Jesus lives & because He was victorious over sin & death, we too can be.

Amish Custard
1 c. flour
1 stick butter
1 c. chopped pecans
8 oz. cream cheese
1 c. powdered sugar
1 c. Cool Whip
Instant chocolate pudding

Melt butter, add flour and pecans. Spread mixture in bottom of 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden. Let cool. Make pudding according to directions on box. Mix cream cheese & powdered sugar, add Cool Whip & stir until blended well. Spread cream cheese mixture onto cooled crust, followed by chocolate pudding. Top with remaining Cool Whip and sprinkle with chopped pecans.


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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Macaroni Salad

For me, Easter marks the beginning of spring and summer dishes, especially cold salads.  I am not a huge fan of macaroni salad, but I loved my grandma's. I could never quite duplicate hers, until now...  This recipe is my idea of the perfect macaroni salad. It's amazingly creamy but doesn't contain too much mayonnaise. Be sure to drain the pimentos well - I use a paper towel in a small mesh strainer.

One of my biggest regrets is that I never had a chance or took the time to sit down with my grandma and write down her recipes/methods.  Everything that came out of her kitchen was pure magic. I can make most of her dishes from taste, but some, like her macaroni salad, have been trial and error trying to duplicate. 

Loraine's Macaroni Salad
(named after my grandma)

1 pound small ridged elbow macaroni
Salted water
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp sugar
1 1/3 cups mayonnaise

1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 green pepper, finely chopped
1 jar diced pimentos (4 ounces), well-drained.*


Cook pasta in salted water according to directions on package for  al dente.  Drain pasta and rinse well in cold water. Pour pasta into large mixing bowl. 

Add garlic, salt, pepper and Dijon mustard to pasta and stir until well combined. Let set 15-20 minutes. Mix together mayo, vinegar and sugar.  Stir into macaroni.  Add green peppers and pimentos - stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate 2-4 hours. Add salt to taste before serving. 

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Friday, April 11, 2014

five on friday


I'm linking up with Five on Friday this week. Here's a bit of what's going on in our world.

1. Landon has a sleepover with my sister and her husband  every week, usually on Wednesdays. Lately he's been getting a belly-ache at bedtime and comes home around 8:30pm. He's not in my arms more than 15 minutes before he's sound asleep. Last night right before bedtime, he caught a glimpse of our family photo, got tears in his eyes and put the photo under his pillow. A few minutes later..."I miss my mommy & daddy. I better just go home".  Such a sweet little story. It was one of those sweet, sweet moments that made me teary-eyed. It's amazing the love our babies have for us.


2. I've talked about my pajama addiction before. Landon has two new pair that will be going in his Easter basket. Here's one pair that I think is just too cute. Can't wait to see him in these.



3. I decided mommy needed some new pajamas too. This pair won out. How cute is the fabric.  I would usually never pay this much for pajamas, but I had some reward points to use up AND a credit balance, so... It is my birthday month, after all. 

4. Mike will be cutting the grass for the first time this season on Saturday, plus we're having a bit of other yard work done. I'm ready to clean the front porch and have everything fresh and pretty for spring. I'm hoping we have plenty of days of spring weather instead of going straight into summer. 

 
5. Did you see the super simple peach bellini recipe that Fancy Ashley posted on Everyday Cheer? I cannot wait to try this. A super-simple treat for lazy evenings on the porch.

Have a great weekend! 
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Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Year with Six Sisters' Stuff



Do you struggle with meal planning?  I definitely do. I plan meals but end up doing something different at the last minute that doesn't require as much effort. This momma is TIRED!   That's why I was so excited when Michelle at Shadow Mountain Publishing sent me an early copy of the new book from Six Sisters' Stuff - A Year with Six Sisters' Stuff: 52 Menu Plans, Recipes and Ideas to Bring Families Together.  The book offers menu planning, a list of pantry staples, a food storage plan for beginners, and craft ideas. It also has something to keep the family communicating during meals - 52 dinner conversation starters.  I love that idea, as the art of good dinner conversation sometimes seems to be a thing of the past. 

The recipes are featured in a ’52 Menu Plan’ format that groups three dishes together for a delicious meal. You can mix and match the recipes to suit your family's taste and needs.  There's a good variety of recipes and nothing is too challenging. The Honey-Lime Chicken Enchiladas have become a fast favorite at our house, along with oatmeal scotchies, one of my favorite cookies.

Are you ready to add this book to your own collection? You can buy it here or I'm offering a lucky reader a chance win a copy of their very own. Here's how to win...

1. Like The Hillbilly Chicks on Facebook and leave a comment. 
2. Follow The Hillbilly Chicks on Instagram and leave a comment.

Contest ends Friday, April 18th. Random winner will be drawn and notified via email. Good luck! 
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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

tiramisu


My uncle is going through a serious illness right now and I wanted to do something special for him. Over the weekend, I made him a batch of shrimp bisque and cheddar garlic biscuits, along with tiramisu for dessert.  It was nice to be able to do something for him and have a chance to visit with him and my aunt. I am not a person who does well with illnesses, so this was kind of a big step for me.

I used a different recipe than my usual because I didn't want to risk my uncle having uncooked egg yolks. I also used Kahlua instead of rum, which I think gives a much better flavor. 

Did you know that tiramisu actually means "pick me up"?  That's because it truly does just that.    

Tiramisu
6 egg yolks
3/4 cup white sugar
2/3 cup milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup strong coffee
1/4 cup kahlua
Ladyfinger cookies (about 48)
unsweetened cocoa powder

In a medium saucepan, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until well blended. Whisk in milk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils. Boil gently for 1 minute, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Cover tightly and chill in refrigerator 1 hour. 

In a medium bowl, beat cream with vanilla until stiff peaks form. Whisk mascarpone into yolk mixture until smooth. In a small bowl, combine coffee and kahlua. Dip each ladyfinger in coffee/kahlua mixture about 3 seconds. Arrange half of soaked ladyfingers in bottom of a 7x11 inch dish. Spread half of mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers, then half of whipped cream over that. Repeat layers and sprinkle with cocoa. Cover and refrigerate 4 to 6 hours, until set.

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