Daily Tidbits

Be Kind. Do Good. Love is a Verb.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Top 10 Recipes from 2010

It's interesting to see what recipes garner the most attention.  These are the Top 10 recipes that consistently receive hits here at 2 Kids and Tired Cooks.

Raspberry Pretzel Jello Salad
Can't really blame people.  It's fantastic.

Sausage Plait
Now, this one surprises me because it's not a traditional recipe, or so I thought.  It is, however, very popular.

Gingerbread Bundt Cake
This was good, I didn't think it was fantastic, but it certainly is a popular landing place for visitors and search engines.

Fake Champagne Punch
So yummy.  So easy.  And there's not even a photo!

Meatballs and Gravy
Comfort food at its best.  I love this meal.  I could eat it every day.

Waffle Iron Cookies

Pie Crust
Best pie crust ever.  Seriously.

Chicken with Wild Rice Soup
One of our favorite soup recipes.  It's really good in bread bowls.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies
I know, such an original name.  But, oh so good!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownie Muffins
Even a more original name!  But, even better than the brownies.

Apple Streusel Cheesecake Bars
Evil.  Absolutely evil.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting this year.  I've loved your comments.  I'd love more, especially if you try a recipe!  Happy New Year and Best Wishes for a Wonderful 2011!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pioneer Woman's Perfect Pie Crust

(Photo is not mine, it's from the Pioneer Woman Cooks)

1-½ cup shortening
3 cups flour
1 egg
5 T. cold water
1 T. white vinegar
1 t. salt

In a large bowl cut the shortening into the flour until it resembles coarse meal or oatmeal. I always start with the pastry cutter, but end up using my hands. In a small bowl, beat an egg with a fork and then pour it into the flour/shortening mixture. Add 5 tablespoons of cold water, 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir together gently until all of the ingredients are incorporated. You don't want it mixed well.  You want to see streaks of shortening in your dough which makes it flakier.

Separate the dough into thirds. Form 3 evenly sized balls of dough and place each ball of dough into a large ziploc bag. Using a rolling pin, slightly flatten each ball of dough (about ½ inch thick) to make rolling easier later. Seal the bags and place them in the freezer until you need them. (If you will be using it immediately it’s still a good idea to put in the freezer for about 15 to 20 minutes to chill.)

When you are ready to use the dough to make a crust, remove from the freezer and allow it to thaw for about 15 minutes. On a floured surface, roll it out like you would any pie crust.

Holly's Note:
I have the Pioneer Woman Cooks cookbook and, for the most part, I enjoy it. I really like just looking through it and reading Ree's hysterical commentary.  

I have my own tried-and-tested-absolutely-fantastic-pie -crust-recipe that I use for everything needing a pie crust.  I have found nothing, nothing that is better than my pie crusts.

Now, my recipe makes ~15 pie crusts at one time and I just freeze them.  Making that many crusts and freezing them really takes very little time and it's so convenient to have them already on hand.  And, I absolutely agree with Ree when she says that it's the freezing that makes the crust flakier. 

I was out of pie crusts (something that rarely ever happens) when I decided to make this recipe instead, just to see if it was as good as PW says.  It came together quickly, which was nice, and it made three crusts, which was nice.  Now, I love eating pieces of pie dough as I make pies and this dough didn't taste good, probably because it contains vinegar, I don't know.   The crusts, when they baked up were nice and flaky, but my family noticed immediately that the crust tasted different and they all said that my crusts tasted better.

Ree states in the book that this Perfect Pie Crust recipe has replaced all her others.   It won't replace mine, but it is a convenient recipe when you need a quick crust.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Bread Bowls

Printable Recipe

2 T. yeast
2-1/2 c. warm water
2 t. salt
2 T. vegetable oil
7 c. flour
1 T. cornmeal

Combine water, salt, oil and 2-3 cups flour in the mixer. Mix together. Add yeast and more flour. With the mixer running, continue adding flour until the dough pulls away from the sides and bottom and is not too sticky. I used all 7 cups of flour. Let the mixer knead the dough until it's smooth and elastic, about 3-5 minutes.

Place dough in a greased bowl, cover and let it rise in a warm oven until it's doubled, which was about 45 minutes for me. Punch it down and then form it into 8 round loaves. Place the loaves on a cookie sheet that has been lightly greased and sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover and let rise in a warm place, until doubled again. I let mine go about 45 minutes and I think I should have let it rise longer.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks. To use as bowls, carefully slice the top off and pull out the center leaving at least 3/4 inch sides of bread in bowls. Fill with hot soup and serve immediately.

Holly's Note:
I found this at
Safely Gathered In, a terrific food storage site.  I don't use all 8 bowls, but I freeze the remaining ones and just thaw them in the microwave.  These were terrific.  I've used it with Chicken and Wild Rice Soup as well as Ham and Potato Chowder.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Christmas Apron...Review

About the book:
It’s nearly Christmas, and the seven children in Millie’s family can’t wait for Grandma to arrive with her special Christmas apron, newly pressed and filled with generations of holiday memories. According to tradition, each grandchild will carefully write down the gift he or she wants most in the world, and then slip that wish into the apron’s frilled pocket. Then, on Christmas morning, those wished-for gifts will be waiting under the tree — like magic. Little Will wants Lincoln Logs; nine-year-old Grace wants a horse of her very own. Even eleven-year-old Millie, who’s too old to believe in magic, has a precious wish in mind — a pair of silky pink toe shoes.

But one dark evening, Millie overhears a worrisome conversation between her parents: due to wartime shortages, the family can’t afford gifts for all the little ones. She pictures the terrible disappointment on her siblings’ faces: no toys or games or art supplies to open on Christmas morning (and certainly no horse for Grace!) From that point on, she wrestles with a terrible question: Is she willing to sacrifice her own whole-soul wish so that someone else’s can come true? Full of tender emotion and delightful surprise, this story reminds us of the miracles that unfold when we think of others before ourselves.

Millie is an eleven year old girl living during the bleak days of World War II.  Money is scarce, but love abounds.  All Milllie wants for Christmas is ballet pointe shoes.  All her sister wants is a horse.  When her grandmother arrives with her magic apron, Millie wonders if her family's wishes really will come true this year. 

A beautiful story about families.  One that calls to mind The Gift of the Magi.  I wear an apron nearly every day, all day.  I love that they protect my clothes as I work around my home and care for my family. I absolutely love the sentiments expressed in this lovely little story that, "Aprons help us do the most important work there is--family work.  The work that says, 'I love you'."  This speaks to my heart! 

I love these short, pamphlet-sized  Christmas stories.  This is one that is easily read in a sitting.  I think it would make a fantastic gift and if it was accompanied by an apron, an even better one!

I read my own, personal copy, but you can purchase your own here and here.

Read 12/10

* * * * *
5/5 Stars

Friday, December 17, 2010

Ham & Potato Chowder

Printable Recipe

3/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
2-3 T butter
6 cups cubed peeled potatoes
4 cups water
3 cups milk
4 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules or 4 bouillon cubes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 T cornstarch
1/4 cup water
3-4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 pound cooked ham, diced
1 can corn, drained

In a large sauce pot, saute onion and celery in butter for 5 minutes. Add potatoes and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Stir in 3 cups milk, bouillon, salt and pepper. Add ham.  Combine cornstarch and water until smooth; gradually stir into soup. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Reduce heat. Add cheese, stir until melted.

Serves 6-8

Holly's Notes:
I found the original recipe at Taste of Home and modified it like I do all my recipes!  It's delicious and even better in bread bowls.  It also keeps well in a crock pot.

This post was shared at Carole's Chatter.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Reading when it's time for dinner...

I found a funny that I'd posted last year on my reading blog.  I thought I'd share it here, since it's relevant!
Do you want to know why I like my crock pot so much? Even though the Sunday roast/potatoes had been cooking for about 9 hours; and even though I'd planned to get dinner on the table by 6:00; and even though I picked up my latest book and forgot about dinner and the crock pot, it doesn't matter. The roast was just a little more done than it might have been, but it wasn't burned. Everyone ate well and enjoyed it.

And I got to read my book! Yay me!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

English Trifle...Review

About the book:
High Crimes at High Tea 
Things to Do in England: Visit Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, and the London Zoo. Take the Jack the Ripper tour. Creepy! Sample authentic English scones and crumpets. Discover a dead body.

What begins as a holiday trip for amateur sleuth and cooking aficionado Sadie Hoffmiller and her daughter, Breanna, turns into a bizarre mystery when they discover a dead body in the sitting room of an English manor. Breanna's boyfriend, Liam, is heir to both the family title and the family estate of Southgate, where everyone seems to have a secret . . . or two. 

When the body in the sitting room disappears, Sadie and Breanna are stranded at the estate until the police can clear them to leave. With their departure delayed, they might as well solve the murder. Armed with a jogging whistle, her personal recipe collection, and an unfailing sense of American justice, Sadie begins her own investigation to find the killer. 

But as Sadie uncovers layer after layer of misdirection, secrets, and outright lies, she wonders if anyone is telling the truth or if the case is really as hopeless as it appears to be. Take a missing family history, toss in a secret romance, mix with a mysterious murder, and this is one vacation Sadie will never forget.

A sequel to Lemon Tart, this is the second in the Sadie Hoffmiller Culinary Mystery series. And, this novel is just as much fun! Sadie Hoffmiller returns and manages to find death and mayhem in upper crust England.

Sadie and her daughter Breanna are off to visit England with Breanna's boyfriend, Liam, who is heir to an English title and a fancy English estate, complete with servants and a dead body in the living room.

The body disappears, the staff have secrets and the British police are inept. In true Hoffmiller fashion, Sadie decides that she is better equipped to find the murderer than any British inspectors. And if she can learn how to make crumpets along the way, so much the better!

Like Lemon Tart, this one is laugh out loud funny in places. Sadie is funny and forthright and determined to find out the truth. Like an English Trifle dessert, she uncovers layer after layer of secrets as she works her way through the manor, the staff, Liam's family history and the kitchen!

A fun, easy read, Josi has also included lots of fun recipes, including some authentic English ones. While I had a hard time following all the details of how titles are passed on, and who was who, it didn't detract from the story at all. Definitely recommended!

Thanks to my local library for a copy I could borrow! You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 12/09

* * * *
4/5 Stars