If that doesn’t peak your interest, I don’t know what will. As promised, I have a very full post today with lots of great ideas. Once again, I am going to tell you how much I adore Pinterest. While on vacation, I even managed to get my mom hooked on it, which just gives me another reason to love it. One of the things that I love about it, is that you come across things you might not otherwise see. I enjoy reading fairy tales, and was delighted to come across the minimal, yet striking posters by Christian Jackson. Besides being beautiful, these posters gave me a great idea. Why don’t we have more posters about books. My love for a certain movie or musical artist could never compare to my love for my favorite books. When I have my own house, I want to create a library in it and decorate with posters like these. Aren’t they perfect? I think my favorites would have to be Little Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel. Which ones strike your fancy?
Do you remember a couple of months ago when I told you about a FB sweepstakes to win a free tube of mascara? I told you that I had won one. Some of you got to win some as well, and hopefully you’ve received your product already. I received mine last month, but hadn’t gotten around to trying it until yesterday. The mascara being given out was their newest product: Voluminous False Fiber Lashes; they were touted as being so good that you wouldn’t need to ever wear fake lashes again (though I’ve never worn them at all). I wasn’t expecting anything that dramatic, but I did hope that it would a decent mascara. Normally, I use the Cover Girl mascaras because I like the rubber brushes that really cut down on clumps and help separate the lashes. Though the brush on this one is a regular bristle brush, the mascara is amazing. It really does lengthen your lashes dramatically. A few years ago, L’Oreal had a Double Extend mascara that produced similar results, but you had to apply the extender then the mascara. This one seems to be a streamlined version since the single wand blackens and lengthens. If you want to make your lashes stand out for a special occasion, I would definitely recommend the False Fiber Lashes mascara.
Now, I did promise you recipes and I do not plan on disappointing you. Before we start, I wanted to share about a tasting experience that I got to have. Like many people, I enjoy honey but wonder if it’s worth it to pay more for the “flavored” varieties. While at my parent’s house, I got to try my mom’s orange blossom honey, and I could really tell the difference in flavor. For baking, I still plan to use whatever’s got a good price. But when it comes to using honey as a topper to drizzle over something or a main flavor component, I hope to start experimenting with different flavors.
Since we spent the week relaxing and just enjoying each other’s company, we didn’t worry about cooking for every single meal. We did get to try several new recipes, and that’s what I want to share with you. In the main dish department, we tried a salad and a sandwich. The salad was a BLT Sandwich Salad from Food Network Magazine and was a nice, light meal to counter some of the richer food we were eating.
We didn’t make a lot of changes, but I do think I would adjust some in the future for my personal tastes. Because not everyone would be a fan of the various components, we didn’t toss the salad together. Each person picked out what they wanted and tossed their own personal salad. For me, I’m not a fan of raw onions, so I left those off. The bacon was nice, though if you can’t handle or don’t like spice, you might want to cut back on the paprika and pepper. We didn’t have any thyme, so we left that off and still enjoyed it. My biggest problem was the dressing. It had a good flavor, but was very thick. I know the point was to mimic the mayo and mustard you’d find on a sandwich, but I would make it into a vinaigrette for the next time. I want to try subbing olive oil in for the mayo, to see if that makes me like it more. (I’ve had it several times since with a vinaigrette, and I really prefer it that way. I usually just a dollop of mayo, then add olive oil til it reaches a nice pourable consistency.)
BLT Sandwich Salad (from Food Network.com)
For the salad:
1 head thinly sliced romaine
1/2 c. chopped red onion
2 seeded, chopped Roma tomatoes
4 slices white bread
1 tbsp. butter
For the bacon:
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. Hungarian paprika
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp. black pepper
6 strips center-cut bacon
6 sprigs thyme
For the dressing:
1/2 c. mayo
1-2 tbsp. maple syrup
4 tsp. whole grain mustard
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the lettuce, onion, and tomatoes; set aside.
2. Cut the bread in crouton-size cubes. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the bread cubes and toast, tossing, til golden about 6 minutes. Set aside to cool.
3. In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, paprika, lemon zest, and pepper. Add the bacon to the bowl and press it to coat both sides with the mixture. Line a baking sheet with parchment, place the sprigs of thyme on the parchment, and top the thyme with the bacon. Bake the bacon til it’s caramelized and crisp, about 20 minutes. Let the bacon cool slightly, discard the thyme, cut the bacon in bite-sized pieces, and add the bacon to the salad.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayo, syrup, mustard, and lemon juice. Add the dressing to the salad, toss the salad together, and top the salad with the croutons.
One of those heavier meals that we were trying to counterbalance was the Pioneer Woman’s Marlboro Man sandwiches. My mom saw these on the Pioneer Woman’s show, and thought they’d be perfect to try out on vacation. My dad is a big fan of cube steak, while my mom and husband are big fans of Philly cheese-steak sandwiches. We thought this would be a great combo of those. We all really enjoyed these, and I was able to put my own spin on them. My husband and I actually tried these a couple of months ago, and he fell in love with them. When my husband and I tried them by ourselves, we sauteed some peppers with the onions and enjoyed that. Both times, I added Swiss cheese which I thought really added to them. Now, I’m not a huge meat-eater, so what (you may ask) did I think of these? I loved it, BUT I didn’t eat the meat. (I know, that’s cheating.) I used the same cooking technique to saute some button mushrooms, and those made up the “meat” of my sandwich. Personally, I can’t imagine that the meat tasted better.
Cube Steak Sandwiches (from the Pioneer Woman’s blog)
1 c. butter
2 lb. cube steak
Lawry’s seasoned salt
1/2 c. Worcestershire sauce
Several dashes of Tabasco sauce
4 deli rolls
1. Slice the onions and cook them in 1/4 stick butter til soft and light brown. Remove and set aside.
2. Slice the cube steak (against the grain) into strips. Season the steak with the Lawry’s seasoning.
3. Heat 2 tbsp. butter over high heat til melted and beginning to brown. Add the meat in a single layer. Cook on 1 side til brown, then flip and cook til brown, about a minute per side.
4. Once all the meat is cooked, add the worcestershire, Tabasco (to taste), and 2 tbsp. butter. Add in the cooked onions and stir to combine.
5. Butter the halved rolls and brown them in a skillet. Top the rolls with the meat/onion mix and the pan juices.
One of our breakfasts on vacation was a fabulous NY-Style Crumb Cake which I thoroughly enjoyed. You may remember me getting to have a piece of this fabulous cake on a visit to Panera, and I was very excited to try recreating that taste at home. Since the recipe was courtesy of Martha Stewart, I was not surprised that it turned out to be just as delicious as I thought it would be. We only put jam on half, since we wanted to see which way we preferred it. Though the jam (we used black cherry) was good, we prefer it without. I think it’s best served warm, but any way you slice it, it’s delicious.
New York-Style Crumb Cake (from Martha Stewart)
6 c. cake flour
1 2/3 c. sugar
2/3 c. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/4 c. melted butter
3/4 c. softened butter
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla
2/3 c. buttermilk
1. In a medium bowl, mix together 3 1/2 c. flour, 2/3 c. sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Pour the melted butter over the mixture and mix til large clumps form.
2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9×13 pan. In another bowl, whisk together 2 1/2 c. flour, baking soda, and 1/2 tsp. salt.
3. Beat the softened butter and 1 c. sugar on medium til pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs and yolks, 1 at a time, then add in the vanilla. Beginning and ending with flour, alternate adding the buttermilk and flour mix in 3 additions each. Beat til well combined.
4. Spoon the batter in the pan and spread it evenly. Sprinkle the crumb mix over the batter. Bake til golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center removes cleanly, about 1 hour. Cool at least 15 minutes, then dust with confectioner’s sugar.
My mom and I are big fans of fruitcake (not the stereotypical brick, but a real, moist fruitcake), and we enjoyed trying a new recipe from King Arthur Flour for a golden fruitcake. For the fruit, we used golden raisins, craisins, dried pineapple, dried apricots, candied lemon zest, candied, cherries, and some maraschino cherries. We soaked them in orange juice. I think that next time, I’ll decrease the amount of cherries (both kinds – because I prefer them fresh), up the pineapple, and maybe add some new dried fruits (figs?). I think the best part of the recipe was the Fiori di Sicilia which is a special product available from King Arthur Flour. It’s touted as a blend of citrus and vanilla, and I think it’s amazing. Vanilla always smells so strong and medicinal, but this was citrus-y and floral. I definitely want to buy some and start experimenting with it. Sadly, I forgot to pack some of the cake in my luggage (We made it the day before I left.), so I only got to try one piece, but even that was delicious.
Golden Fruitcake (from King Arthur Flour)
2 c. raisins
1 c. craisins
1 c. chopped dried apricots
1 c. candied lemon peel
1 3/4 c. candied cherries
3/4 c. apple or orange juice
1 c. softened butter
1 3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. lite corn syrup
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. Fiori di Sicilia (You can sub in vanilla if you don’t have the Fiori di Sicilia.)
3 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. milk
2 c. diced walnuts or pecans
1. Combine all the dried fruit (not the candied cherries) and the fruit juice in a bowl. Cover the bowl and let the fruits steep overnight.
2. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Lightly grease 2 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 loaf pans. In a large bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, corn syrup, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and fiori di sicilia.
3. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Alternate stirring in the flour and milk. Add the undrained fruit, candied cherries, and nuts.
4. Spoon the batter into the pans, filling them 3/4 full. Bake for 50-80 minutes. When the cakes are done, they’ll be golden brown all over and a toothpick inserted in the center will remove cleanly.
5. Remove the cakes from the oven, brush the cakes with more orange/apple juice. When the cakes have completely cooled, wrap them up well and let them cool for 24 hours.
We also tried making meringue cookies, which both of us had been wanting to try for a while. I’m not really a fan of food with a whippy texture (marshmallows, whipped cream, meringue on pies, etc.), so I wasn’t sure if I’d like them. To my happy surprise, they are not whippy at all. The drying time in the oven makes them crisp on the outside with an inside that melts in your mouth. (I thought it was similar to cotton candy in how it melted on the tongue.) We used this recipe and found it very easy to work with. (I’ve tried other recipes since, so that’s why I’m not writing this one out.) With the help of my mom’s Kitchenaid mixer, we had the cookies in the oven in 5 minutes. When we tried them the next day, they seemed a little softer, so we popped them in the oven at 200 degrees for a couple of hours. I think that mini chocolate chips would meld into the cookie better, so I’ll probably try that next time. I’m excited to try different flavored meringues, so don’t be surprised if you start seeing more of these types of recipes crop up.
Another highlight of our trip was getting to hear a couple of speakers from the Bill Rice Ranch (A great camp with an amazing ministry to the deaf.). My dad is friends with many of their staff, and they stop by periodically through the year. Dr. Bill Rice III preached the Sunday morning service, and I wanted to share a particular point from his message. Philippians 4:19 says, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Dr. Bill was pointing out how blessed we are that God supplies according to His riches, not our need. If He supplied according to our need, he would give us just the barest minimum. But He supplies according to His riches, which is truly a blessing above what we deserve. We need salvation; He provides a loving relationship. We need forgiveness; He provides grace. My husband and I had picked a song to sing that evening that (unplanned by us) dovetailed with this part of the message. I’ll leave you with the main phrase of that song, “I asked Him for water, He gave me the well.”