Monday, February 21, 2011

Win a Tamron 18-270mm lens on MCP Actions!!

Here is a link to win a Tamron 18-270mm lens on MCP Actions site!!  I entered as many times as allowed and am keeping my fingers crossed that I could win this!  Who couldn't use a free lens for their camera?  And who couldn't use this focal length?  If I had this... I might actually be able to take some photos of my little boy without him running from that camera and then wanting to see the photo immediately!  HA
Go here to enter and good luck on winning!!
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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Time to Plan

It's time to plant a Spring garden!! We have gotten a little behind on our garden planning this year and are quickly trying to decide what we want to grow.  With everything going on around here, it's easy to get distracted!  We've been cleaning up the yard a little bit and attacked our grape vine a few weeks ago.  I hope we didn't kill it.... it has thick, old roots and hopefully will produce good grapes this year.  Also, we have two pear trees and an apple tree.  Yes, an apple tree in way down here!  They are very old and were absolutely full of fruit last Spring.  Unfortunately, we had not purchased the house in time last year to properly fertilize them and prune them.  Then, when we signed on the house, we had to immediately get to work on the interior, etc.  This year we hope to take care of them and see how well the fruit do.

Hank has found some great raised bed plans online and we are deciding which one we like best.

Here is The Sussex.  I really like the simplicity... just a square, uniformed shape.  Very simple.

This one is the Stafford.  The top left corner bed is not only a raised bed, but has another raised bed within it.  I like having a bench in the garden, but I'm not so crazy about the small bed in the center.  We could just leave that one out.

Next is the Westminster.  I just love the shapes of these.  Again, I really like the bench on one edge and the small circle could contain the herbs.  I don't really know what I think of the small rectangular bed, but we could decide on that as we go.

And lastly is the Trowbridge.  We like the shapes, still has room for a bench, still has the small circle to keep the herbs separate, etc. 

I think our favorites are the last two... the Westminster and Trowbridge.  We really like how these look neat, clean and orderly... season in and out.  Our yard is plenty big to do this, so size is not an issue for us.  The beds are not too big or wide and therefore should make the planting, weeding, etc easy.  I like how I should be able to reach in and get to everything... and not have to step in and ruin anything.

Which design do you like?  And what are you planting in your garden this year???  Any ideas and tips would be helpful!!
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Friday, February 11, 2011

Lemon Pie

My husband just told me that this is the "no name lemon pie".  It's not quite a lemon meringue... not quite a lemon cream... but I guess a lemon pie.

Shortly after Christmas I posted my lemon meringue pie that I make for holidays and mentioned that I had been given another recipe that I needed to try.  On Christmas day, my aunt quickly jotted down the recipe that my great-grandmother used to make for lemon meringue.  I thought it would be more of a comparison, rather than a totally different texture.  There is truly no comparison.  To me, they are just different pies.

This recipe is really very quick.  I literally decided on a whim to make this today.  When the little king went down for his nap, it took me about 35 minutes to make. 

I already had some pie dough in the freezer, so I rolled it out and placed it in a pie dish.  I use PW's pie crust recipe and keep some in the freezer often.  Let it thaw for a few minutes and I try to roll it out while it's still pretty cold.

Poke the crust with a fork, line with aluminum foil and pie weights.  Bake on 400 degrees for 12 minutes, remove pie weights and foil... and continue baking for 8 more minutes or until golden brown.

Pour the condensed milk in a mixing bowl and add the lemon juice.  Mix well.

Add the egg and mix together.

Pour into the pie crust.
 Then prepare the meringue.  Take the two egg whites and cream of tartar and beat on high until frothy.  Slowly add in the sugar.  Beat until stiff peaks form. 

Scoop the meringue out onto the pie and smooth it out over the pie.  This is such a thin layer of meringue, that I didn't even try to form peaks.  I didn't want to get too far down into the filling.

Bake on 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until meringue is browned.  

The pie came out perfectly.  I have to admit... while preparing it.... I thought it was a strange mixture and it couldn't possibly be right.  I was definitely proven wrong when it was finished and I tasted it.
It's wonderful!!


One pie crust
8 oz of Eaglebrand sweetened condensed milk
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup lemon juice


2 egg whites
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
8 tsp sugar

This post is linked to:  Hearth & Soul Vol. 35
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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Shepherd's Pie

I've learned that it's best to make a one dish meal at some point every week.  My husband gets home late sometimes and it's easy to just dish out something with a spoon.  This is such a simple recipe... should I even be posting this?  But to be honest, I used to never be able to find a shepherds pie recipe that I liked.  This one we love.  It's so simple and the flavor is just right with the onions and green beans in it.  Even for those of you that say you can't cook... you could do this with your eyes closed.  :)

Begin by chopping up and boiling your potatoes.... 

While the potatoes are cooking, chop up an onion.  Brown your meat and throw in the onion.  
Cook them for several minutes and drain the fat.  Set them aside.

In a large baking dish, line the bottom with green beans.  
Sometimes recipes call for corn too... it's all up to you and what you like!

Then layer with the beef and onion mixture.
When you potatoes are finished boiling, drain and leave a small amount of water in pan.  Then add butter, sour cream and some milk.  To be honest... I always just "eyeball" this.  I think the recipe truly calls for one tablespoon butter and one tablespoon of sour cream... but I load it up, mix it and then add more sometimes.  
I want really creamy potatoes.

Layer the potatoes on top of the beef mixture and smooth it out. 

Repeat the whole process again.  Layer until dish is almost full.

Top with shredded cheese, cover and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. 

This is a wonderful, filling, comfort food!  Enjoy!!


Potatoes (4 or 5)
1 lb ground beef
1 large onion
1 can green beans
1 tbsp milk
1 tbsp sour cream
1 tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste
shredded cheddar cheese

This post is linked to:  Hearth & Soul Hop vol. 34
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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Swedish Tea Ring - Redux!!!

So, in this household, it's no secret that yeast and I don't get along.  Any recipe that I make with yeast has to be made at least twice.  The first time is a flop with text messages to my husband during the day that say, "it's not rising", "it's too sticky", "it's not getting firm enough", "was I supposed to dissolve it first"?, etc etc etc.  See, my husband can actually tell me more about baking than I can tell myself.  He used to be in the kitchen often when his mother was baking and somehow just saw enough of this and that to give me help when I need it.  So, here is another recipe that had to be made a second time.

The first time that I made the swedish tea ring I couldn't get the dough to rise properly.  This time, I didn't add quite 5 cups of flour... it was more like 5 (scant) cups of flour.  When I combined everything, I started with two cups at once... and then added a cup at a time so I could see how it was combining.  Like I said, not really five full cups of flour.

When the dough had doubled in size, I punched it down and turned it out on a floured surface.  It really was so much better this time.  Much easier to roll out and work with.  Don't forget... add LOTS of butter.  The more butter you add, the more moist it will be inside.

And LOAD it up with everything that you want.  You can't have too much.  Just ask my thighs....

Form into a circle, seam side down.  Make your cuts on the top of the dough and turn the dough out slightly.  This will make it open up beautifully when baked.

Another thing I learned this time around... it only took about 12-14 minutes to bake.  The recipe calls for 25-30 minutes and it was really dry for me.  I know all ovens are different and this time I basically kept my eye on it until I saw the top browning slightly.  It was a much shorter baking time and it was so much better.

This typically makes two small rings... and I think I ate a whole one by myself.  This is such a wonderful dessert!!!  So worth the second time around!  ;)


2 pkgs yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk, scalded
5 cups all purpose flour
melted butter
brown sugar

Bake at 375 degrees for 12-14 min.  (keep your eye on it)
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