Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Sweet Potato Pie

Hello dear readers! I hope you are all enjoying the amazing food specialties that accompany this holiday season. I have been on a pie kick.

You could say I have been crazy for sweet potato pie.  Now, normally we have pumpkin pie with Thanksgiving Dinner, and that is the only time of the year canned pumpkin is in the house.

Well, I always have at least one sweet potato lurking somewhere. I don't know what got me so fired up, but I just had to have sweet potato pie.

So I made one, for practice. Then we ate it. It did not suck.

So I made another one. That one didn't last more than two days. It may have been breakfast one morning.

Then, I had to make one more so we could have pie for the whole family at my folks' house for Thanksgiving. After mowing down three of these babies in a row, I knew I had to post this for everyone to enjoy.

Unbaked single crust for a 9" pie, use either Pie Crust No. 1 or Pie Crust No. 3
2 garnet yams or other orange flesh sweet potato = 2 1/2 cups mashed
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
1 stick salted butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 c. half & half
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
3/4 tsp. cinnamon

1. Peel the sweet potatoes and slice into rounds about 1/2" thick.  Boil about 30 minutes, or until the flesh is soft.  Drain and cool slightly. Mash the sweet potato. Measure out 2 1/2 cups and to be used for the pie filling. If you have extra sweet potato, save it. I'd eat it later.

2. Preheat the oven to 400F. Add the remaining ingredients to the measured sweet potato mash. Mix with an electric hand mixer until smooth.

3. Pour the mixture into an unbaked 9" pie shell.

4. Place the pie in the hot oven. Immediately reduce the oven temperature to 350F and bake for about 45 mins or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

I hope you enjoy this recipe. Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Your Bijoux Box November 2016

Hello, dear readers. I'm back with a great mystery box of sparkly good stuff.

Welcome to the Black Box! Well, Your Bijoux Box is still sending their cute little Tiffany-blue boxes in the mail, but this month they have a theme. It's black and classy.

Let's check out the product card.

First, the Exotic Leather Bangle by House of Harlow, Nicole Richie's jewelry brand. This is amazing! What a great piece to layer with other bracelets for some serious arm candy.

Second, the Noir Jacket earrings. Jacket earring have been quite the rage lately. These black faceted crystals are great alone. The jacket really dials up the glam, though.

Third, we have the Noir Collar Necklace. Wow! Black faceted crystals and brassy golden chain are great together.

And lastly, a bonus piece, the Cocktail hair pin. It's so small and cute. This is a nice way to add something special to your hair.

If you can't tell, I'm loving this box. Thanks for stopping by!

P.S. For the sake of transparency, I paid for this subscription myself. It was in no way "free" or provided to me for some exchange of services. I just really liked the products and wanted to share my opinion. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Scalloped Potatoes and Ham

Hello, dear readers!

Comfort foods seem to be a no-brainer when the weather gets chilly, especially here in the mountains near Lake Tahoe. Soups, stews, casseroles, and the like come to mind.  One of my favorite comfort foods is scalloped potatoes and ham. It's also seasonal for us since we only get a big ham a couple times a year, usually near a holiday, if not for a holiday meal.

My dear hubby is also a fan of scalloped potatoes although his Italian grandmother makes hers a little bit differently.  She puts whole pork chops on top of the potatoes instead of mixing in diced ham. Her way is pretty darn good too.

One of the best reasons to make this is that it's easy to assemble. The second best reason is that it's kid-friendly.  Any parent of a picky eater knows how foods tend to be white and full of potatoes. So, yes, this is guilty as charged! Although who's going to argue with you for making this?

3 lbs Russet potatoes, peeled and sliced about 1/8" thick
2-3 cups diced ham
1 small mild yellow onion, diced
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup AP flour
4 cups milk
black pepper, salt, garlic salt to taste

1. Grease a 9"  x 13" deep baking dish. Add sliced potatoes and diced ham.

2. In a frying pan, saute the diced onion in the butter until softened. Add the flour and cook about 2 minutes to make your roux. Season to taste.  Add all the milk, bring up to a boil, and stir well to break down any lumps. It's OK for the sauce to be thin.

3. Pour sauce over the ham and potatoes. Stir it gently in the pan.

4. Cover the pan with foil and bake in a preheated 375F oven for 1 hour. The potatoes should be fork-tender at this point.  (It is completely edible now, but I like to continue to step 5.)

5. Remove foil and bake another 20 minutes or until the top is browned to your liking.

6. Serve with my favorite sides cornbread with honey butter and succotash!

Thanks for stopping by! See you again next time!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Your Bijoux Box October 2016

Hello dear readers! The weather here is starting to cool down.  That means leaves are turning lovely shades of orange and red.  Everywhere you look there is pumpkin spice something or caramel apple flavored goods.  So I have to admit that as soon as I saw this month's gems, I thought of caramel!

Your Bijoux Box had a great theme of Spicy Fall, so the colors were all toasty and golden.  Another plus is that everything works together so I can take all the goodies from the box and have a complete ensemble, no thought required.

There was one sneak peek released right away. They showed off the Tortoise Layered Bracelet. Very nice for Fall and it reminds me of bracelets I've seen from pricier sources.

The second sneak peek revealed the long and fringey Ombre Tortoise Pendant. This looks great with my oatmeal cardigan and a sage green tee.

Third, the Ella Amber Earrings are very warm and cozy.  They're a good length and bit chunky.

Fourth, there was a makeup item.  The Spice Me Up eye color palette by City Color was included as well. Yes, four items! What a great deal! I am definitely a fan of makeup.

So, another box of great products. They just keep getting better. Thanks for stopping by!

P.S. For the sake of transparency, I paid for this subscription myself. It was in no way "free" or provided to me for some exchange of services. I just really liked the products and wanted to share my opinion. 

Friday, September 30, 2016

Nugget Rib Cook Off 2016

Hello, dear readers. What did you do for Labor Day weekend this year? We consumed mass quantities of ribs, like we always do!

We split up the rib-snarfing over two evenings.

I was keen to go Friday night because of the live band. It was Vertical Horizon! The kids hung with a grandparents so hubby and I could cavort in public with other grown ups.

We enjoyed a few cold ones with the music, some food like these piles of fried potatoes, and meandered through the market.

We ate a few rib samplers, fried pickles, and funnel cake, but we didn't actually get any alligator. You know that stuff isn't native around here.

The next day, we came back with kids and one grandma. We did the Rib Village. Baby N was not patient. She was starved and devoured applesauce and ice cream after sampling some ribs too.

We did some shopping in the market stalls. It was perfect weather.

We walked our behinds off. Thank goodness for the bus ride back to the parking lot in the evening!

Now for the important part.  The winners! Did we agree? Mostly yes (because somehow we missed Montana BBQ). The Rasta Joe ribs were very tender, so good call, Judges.

And the winners of the 2016 year's cook off are...

  1. 1st – Rasta Joe’s BBQ
  2. 2nd – Bone Daddy’s BBQ
  3. 3rd – Texas Thunder BBQ
  4. 4th – Montana BBQ
  5. 5th – Texas Outlaw BBQ
  6. Best Sauce – Checkered Pig BBQ
  7. People’s Choice – Montana BBQ

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Your Bijoux Box September 2016

Hello, dear readers! It's again time to reveal the latest box of affordable jewels! 

To be honest, I really missed getting the box in August. The bank sent me a new card, so I ran into a few problems with payment continuity between old card and new card. I got that resolved and I'm back to monthly delivery of these blue boxes!

Did you notice that there are four things? Four, instead of three? Yes!!! There was a bonus fourth item this month. Also, the pieces are matchy-matchy. I love when things coordinate so I don't have to think too hard about what to wear together.

First, the card reveal with the names.

Now for the actual goods.

The Laurel Jacket Earrings are very cute. I really like the falling leaf style of the jackets. They are also removable so the crystal stud can be worn alone.

The golden Zoe Cocktail Ring is wonderful. The crackly glass center is surrounded by small faceted crystals so it has a nice amount of sparkle.

Next, the Zoe Byzantine Pendant long necklace. The color is a really nice pinkish wine shade with soft pink faceted crystals for accent.

Finally, the Deepa Gurnani Pony Holder was included as a bonus piece. This is honestly my favorite thing out of the box ! But that doesn't mean any of the other things are no good. After I wore the Deepa Gurnani pearl headband from the June box, I knew that this was a quality piece that I was going to love immediately. 

So, another box of great products. I think the longer I stay subscribed to Your Bijoux Box, the better they get. 

Thanks for stopping by!

P.S. For the sake of transparency, I paid for this subscription myself. It was in no way "free" or provided to me for some exchange of services. I just really liked the products and wanted to share my opinion. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Fresh Peach Ice Cream

Hello, dear readers.  We've had a great season for fruit.  The peach tree is absolutely drooping it's so loaded with peaches. One of my favorite things to make with juicy fresh peaches is ice cream!

Mom used to make peach ice cream when I was a kid. It was basically vanilla ice cream with peaches mixed in.  Simple enough, right? Yes, but also so good! There are two versions of ice cream base that are good with peaches.

The first one is a cooked custard base.  It is a richer, thicker ice cream with nice yellow tint from the eggs. It takes slightly longer to make this since you have to cook it and then let it cool overnight. It's super buttery and luscious. It freezes very hard and keeps a smooth texture.

The second base is still really luscious without the cooking. It's a mixture of creams and sugar. I think I prefer this one. It's not quite so rock solid when frozen and it lends a really pure creamy flavor.

The peaches really need to be ripe, dripping sweet juicy ripe, for this to be good.  Slightly firm and tart peaches just won't do it justice.

Choose one of the ice cream base recipes and go from there.  Don't make both or you will be making ice cream until the cows come home. (And I don't have any cows, so it would be a very, very long time!)

On a side note, I have a Krups ice cream machine. It makes a smallish batch so I have to churn and freeze the first half of the mixture, then churn the other half. It works out well enough. Just know if you have a similar machine that it will not work right if you try to freeze the whole batch of ice cream at once.

1 cup pitted and peeled peaches, small dice
Fruit Fresh or other similar anti-browning ingredient, about 1/2 a teaspoon
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 recipe Ice Cream Base (see below)

1. Prepare the Ice Cream Base in advance. Make sure it's cold.

2. Sprinkle the peaches with Fruit Fresh and sugar.  Let them get syrupy. Keep this in the fridge until you're ready to churn.  Cold things freeze faster!

3. Place freezer insert into ice cream machine base with paddle and lid. Pour half of the batch of very cold Ice Cream Base into machine and turn on immediately. Keep the other half of the base cold in the fridge for now.

4. Let the machine run about 10 minutes.  Keep an eye on it. When it starts to look like ice cream, let it run another 5 minutes or so. You want it pretty firm.

See, just starting. It's freezing along the edges.

Getting more frozen texture. It can hold a spoon standing up now.

5. Add the peaches. Yes, all the peaches. Continue churning until it looks firm again.

6. Stop the machine and scoop out the first half and place in a freezer-friendly container.

7. Place the first batch in the freezer,

8. Add the second half of Ice Cream Base to the machine. Turn on and let it run until it looks firm.

9. When it's firm enough, scoop this into the container with the first batch. Fold them together. I like that it's not all peach all the way through, that there are some peachier flows and  some creamy flows.
(By the way, if you have any caramel syrup you love, add a squeeze and gently fold it in while you're mixing the two half-batches. Peach with caramel is really delicious.)

10. Pop the whole thing back in the freezer and consume when it's frozen hard.

Ice Cream Base 1: Custard recipe
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup 2% milk
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs

Method for Ice Cream Base 1
1. Combine ingredients in a sauce pan.  Bring up to a simmer over medium-low heat. Stir often.
2. Simmer for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened and there are no lumps.
3. Remove from heat and let cool a few minutes on the counter
4. Transfer to a dish and refrigerate over night.

Ice Cream Base 2: No-Cook recipe
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup sugar

Method for Ice Cream Base 2
1. Mix all ingredients while cold. Don't worry if the sugar doesn't dissolve.
2. Transfer to ice cream machine and start churning.