Monthly Archives: August 2011

Octopus & Seaweed

Not really….It’s an effort I make to keep meal time fun for my youngest son! Hot dogs are classic and most kids love em’…but how inventive and FUN can a hot dog be? You can only put so many toppings on it that kids will approve of, and it still is just a hot dog. BUT…….

I challenge you to do this! When lunch time rolls around and your kids ask “What’s for lunch?”…..reply, with a straight face, Octopus and Seaweed!

Watch their little faces, you either have a child that will suck it up and bravely not make a fuss about you losing your mind….OR you have a child that will immediately scrunch up their face in disgust. Either is priceless and fun to watch. Please reassure me after you make this, that I am not the only mom that draws out the suspense…. that allows them to keep on thinking they are really gonna get served octopus meat, until the very last-minute when the treat is put on the table.

Please reassure me that I am not the only one giggling to myself while I cook, thinking about the mental torment going on in their young little brains. YOU ONLY GET THE ELEMENT OF SURPRISE THE FIRST TIME…..ENJOY IT!

I remember the first time I made this….I walked up to my oldest, who was then a lil guy, and said rather somberly….”alright (long pause) it’s ready”. It took him awhile to get to the table that day but when he did….RELIEF, EXCITEMENT, AND A QUIRKY SMILE! 

AND FOR EVERYTHING ELSE…..THERE’S MASTERCARD!

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Introducing….The Biscot-TEA

Hmmm not sure the name works, but it tickles my fancy so I’ll stick with it for a bit! In the middle of the night I decided to take my traditional biscotti recipe and change it up a little bit.

Ohh if you could only be inside my brain at night…it’s a great time in there! You know those Vegas slot machines…you pull the handle and all the little fruits and numbers spin around.. sometimes it works in your favor, sometimes it doesn’t? There’s one GIANT slot machine in my brain. Every few nights, my lovely brain will wake me up, toss in one of my recipes and then the handle drops. I watch new ingredients spin around and then CHING CHING CHING…ideas drop into place. Let me be clear, they DON’T always work. But here’s my motto- feel free to make it yours.

100% of the ideas I DON’T try, will fail! What do I have to lose other than a little flour? I shop in bulk, I get a good price, I have a lot of flour! Anyways…..This one worked, and I will admit, I have been awake since 1 am thinking about, seeing in my head what it would look like, mentally combing through the ingredients I hoped to incorporate.

So sit back, strap on your seatbelt cause…..AWAY WE GO!

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Kids’ Berry Favorite Syrup

If you recall, my family took an excursion (I’ll call it that) to the mountains to pick berries the other day. After the flat tire and empty checkbook, we walked away with a nice amount of berries and some great pictures! We’re laughing about the whole adventure…NOW

My son has taken up a morning perch on the edge of my bed since then, asking for his blueberry syrup. It was promised, he intends to collect!

I thought it a perfect way to warm up a chilly kitchen this morning and thought I would share, so off we go!

~Berry Syrup~

9 oz. fresh blueberries

1 cup light  corn syrup

pinch of salt

1/2 cup brown sugar

maple extract

~I measure blueberries by weight…it’s the way I am, however I believe it’s about 3 cups. Add the berries, syrup, and salt to a blender. Now let me pause and explain, for those that might not know, the importance of that pinch of salt. The pinch of salt is like vinegar to Easter Egg dye. Is it possible to dye eggs WITHOUT salt? Of course! Do you get a better result WITH the vinegar?? Yes, it’s more vibrant and let’s the true colors really show through right? Same with the pinch of salt…it has an uncanny way of bringing the individual flavors to their full height and make those flavors a tad bit more vibrant. I don’t question it anymore…I just do it!

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Kids work for peanuts…..Peanuts WORK for kids!

My yard is full of neighborhood kids today… When my children were born I used to dream of days like this, of having a yard and home that all the kids wanted to play in. I smiled at the notion of handing all those little hands fresh-baked treats.

I’m proud to say those dreams have become a reality, that my children are eager to bring their friends to my home….especially when it’s a baking day! As I watched my youngest playing ball with his friends this morning, I decided to treat him to a little surprise! I found a ridiculous deal on peanuts a little while ago and need to do SOMETHING with them, sooooo Peanut Brittle it is!

This recipe is quick enough that you can crank out batches as fast as they disappear, trust me they will fly out the door. My recipe below makes a batch big enough for me….and maybe for my husband if he’s lucky. Now keep in mind, I LOVE brittle, so I’m greedy. It does make enough to share, but make more…always make more!

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My Backyard Berry Patch

I wanted berries yesterday something fierce! I’m not quite sure of the price of fresh berries in the lower 48’s, however in Alaska, the price tag sends me packing….literally!

I am blessed to have a husband who tolerates my wicked spontenaity…It all started via email (keep in mind this poor man is at work)

3:30 pm

Me: “I kinda think we need to go berry picking tonight..in the mountains behind our house. Looks like it’s gonna rain but Hey, it’ll be fun!”

Him: “ok”

Me: “Really??? With no notice, you’ll just go?”

Him: “Yup…it’ll be fun”

I adore this man! I know he must sit at his desk and shake his head at  me at times, heck I shake my head at me at times…He is a better sidekick than Robin was to Batman!

Anyways…I was happy to say the least. I was going hiking in the great outdoors, I was going to save some SERIOUS money on berries, and I was sure to get some decent pictures!

My youngest son was thrilled at the prospect of waffles with blueberry syrup and wanted to partake in the picking, so away the 3 of us went.

Back behind my home are the most beautiful mountains on God’s green Earth….that’s where we were heading, paying no mind to the ominous dark clouds directly over those gorgeous peaks. We had our coats, berry bags were in hand, and NOTHING could slow us down! We wound our way up the gravel road, rounding each bend and gawking at the beautiful view. You can’t buy this experience in a berry basket at the store.

Once at the top, all we needed to do was strap our packs on and head up….SO WE THOUGHT!

Upon leaving the car, we heard a sound that stopped us dead in our tracks!!!  (pause for dramatic effect)

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Fan Favorite….Sound off on Snacks!

As I continue my “Football Fare” recipe list, I thought it would be fun to hear what YOUR favorites are!

Is it a sweet treat like doughnuts or caramel corn?

Perhaps a spicy little tidbit….for example hot wings or jalapeno poppers?

South of the Border Snacks like tacos or queso and chips?

Meat and Potato Munchies like meatballs or french fries?

At my home, nothing pleases the guys more than wings! I make a classic hot wing, and then balance out the spiciness with a honey lime wing. Bacon Cheesy Fries send my kids flying down the staircase and are super quick to make.

Please comment and share the Fan Favorite at YOUR home…..

Signing Off,

Modern Mrs. Cleaver

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Cheating on Chores

There’s nothing friendly sounding about the word “CHORE”… A chore, is a chore, is a chore….no way to sugar coat it!

However, put down your laundry basket and read on, I’m hoping this will help you out even just a little bit. I have devised my own little routine, which has worked for me even through times of employment. Some of the tips below might sound a little silly, but the chores have to be done one way or the other, so why not give one or all a try!

I make myself a list of all my chores…..get all those dirty little buggers out of your mind and onto a piece of paper or dry erase board. Long ago I made a rule that I would spend no longer than 10 minutes in each room for cleaning purposes on any given day. With the exception of my deep cleaning day of course 🙂

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Football Fare #2…..Coin Toss Calzones!

Why coin toss? That’s how the big game starts….and these calzones are one heck of a way to start things off as well 🙂

These are easy peezy lemon squeezy! No time for homemade dough you say? This dough rests for 10 minutes and is ready to roll. No rising, proofing, or doubling needed.

~DOUGH~

3 cups all-purpose flour (I use unbleached)

1 pkg. yeast or 2 1/4 tsp. of instant granules

1 tsp. salt

1 cup very warm water

2 tablespoons olive oil

~In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups of the flour, yeast, and salt. When well combined, stir in the warm water and oil. Mix until all ingredients are combined well. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to create a soft dough. You don’t want it sticking to the side of the bowl, but rather forming together into a nice ball.

Flour an area of your counter tops and place your dough in the center.

Soft Dough

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Football Fare #1….Championship Cheese

You’ll have a line of cheese lovin’ Packer fans waiting at your doorstep when you make these quick little gems!

Normally when making these appetizers, I purchase string cheese from the local grocery store and skip the cheese curds, as they are never as fresh as I want them to be. This time around…I hit the cheese jackpot!

Our friend just returned from a vacation in Wisconsin, and while there, he sent us a delicious care package of several different kinds of block cheese, string cheese, and curds. Ohhhh happy day! I can’t even tell you how scrumptiously different this cheese is from the kind I get at the store. Look how perty they are…..

Sticks and Curds

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Blackening 101

Now for the main event…….  BLACKENING!

How many of you have eaten at a restaurant and fallen in love with a blackened dish? I know I have…..chicken and halibut have been a favorite for a long time. I want to show you just how simple it can be.

 If you’ve never tried blackened dishes, rest assured, it’s not burnt. The seasonings slightly char through the quick, high heat cooking method, and the spices release a natural smoky and spicy flavor. 

Tonight I chose salmon.  Living in Alaska my family has the opportunity to partake in some pretty amazing salmon fishing and we are lucky enough to have a freezer full by the end of the season, so I’m using what I have and trying something new. I need to make one thing abundantly clear before we begin..

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