Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cream Cheese Frosting

No need to buy cream cheese frosting.  It is four ingredients!  I do not see the need to purchase something I can make so easily. Also, it does not have all the extra crap in it like the store bought kind does.

2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 eight ounce package of cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened

Add butter and cream cheese to a bowl and mix on low til blended.  Add vanilla to bowl.  Add 1 cup of powdered sugar to the sifter. Add powdered sugar little by little to the bowl.  Mix on low until all is blended.

Freezes well for up to one month in an air tight container.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


I am part Lithuanian (in case you didn't know).  My grandmother on my moms side carries the Lithuanian heritage.  We call her Nan and she just loves to bake and cook.  She is not as mobile as she once was and cannot cook/bake as much as she would like. She told me it makes her so sad because she enjoys it so much. My sister and I must have gotten our cooking/baking genes from our grandparents who both adore this wonderful hobby.  My mother is not a huge fan of cooking/baking for fun. Everything she makes is yummy, but she would rather do many other things than whip up something in the kitchen. She would joke when were in high school that if she could have given us a pill packed with a complete meal then she would have done that rather than cook. Some people cook/bake because they have to feed the family and that is quite alright. I make many of the meals my mother made us. Pure comfort food especially since it reminds me of her and how I felt when eating the dish way back when.

I love to cook/bake for fun and take on bigger recipes.  My sister is the kind of girl who wouldn't bring chips and a dip, but rather whip up some tacquitos and bring in enough for everyone at work. 

Our Nan really wants to teach us some traditional Lithuanian foods.  Especially a common Lithuanian cookie called Ausuki and sometimes referred to as Kruscuki, which means "little ears".  They are a deep fried cookie sprinkled with powdered sugar.  Mainly they are made around Christmas or Easter.  I do not remember eating these, but Nan says I have. My mother loves them as well, but does not have a ton of interest in learning how.  Based on how my grandmother explained it to me, it is involved.  If you don't like the bake then I can understand why you would not want to learn.  However, my sister and I are excited to learn the process and hopefully carry it on within our families. My grandmothers mother made these and her mother and so on. I do not want the tradition to come to a halting end.

My sister and her fiance just bought a house and are moving in the first week of January.  Once they are settled I will make a trip from Richmond to learn how to make these cookies.  Most likely this will be in February and I will post how the process went.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Beef and Turkey Chili

This could be done in the morning during the work week if you pre-chop the night before. Otherwise, best to save it for the weekend.

1 lb 85/15 ground turkey
1 lb 85 or 90 percent lean ground beef
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 medium red bell or orange pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 garlic cloves minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 (28oz) can tomato puree
1 (28oz) can diced tomatoes
2 (15.5oz) cans red kidney beans, rinsed
pepper to taste

I used my 5 quart crock pot.  Turn crock pot on high and let it get hot. I chopped the onions and red pepper and set aside. Heat oil in the crock pot and let it bubble. Add onions and bell pepper along with chili powder, salt, cumin, and cayenne pepper.  Cook until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic, stir and cook another minute or so.  Add beef and turkey. Break up and stir. Add oregano, cocoa powder and cinnamon.  Cook for 10 minutes.  Stir in tomato puree and diced tomatoes.  Cook on high for 4-5 hours or turn down to low and cook 6-7 hours.  Stir in kidney beans 1 hour before the chili is done.  Taste and add salt and/or pepper.  Top with shredded cheese, scallions, sour cream or whatever your heart desires!

I made cornbread using the Jiffy Cornbread Mix. I used my cast iron skillet so it would be crispy on the bottom.

Freezes well for about 4-6 months so long as you put it in an air tight container.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are my husbands favorite cookies and they are so easy. I was eating my oatmeal and reading the container and I saw this recipe. I already had all the ingredients so I decided to whip some up!

Found on the back of the Old Wessex Irish Style Oatmeal

3 cups Old Wessex Irish Style Oatmeal (or any steal cut oatmeal)
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg or cinnamon (I chose nutmeg)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup honey or maple syrup (I chose syrup)
3/4 cup softened butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1/2 cup walnuts
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly spray cooking sheets with cooking oil. Comebine the dry ingredients and mix well. In a separate bowl add butter and put in the microwave until melted. Add the rest of the wet ingredients and stir until combined. Add wet to dry and blend. Add walnuts and chocolate chips. Using melon baller (about a tablespoon) drop onto the cookie sheets. Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until done. Let cool on sheet for a minute or so and then move to wax paper on the table.

Also, this is an almost vegan recipe.  I cannot have lactose so I use dairy free butter in all cooking. I always use the dairy free chocolate chips too. If you are vegan just use the egg replacer for this recipe. So easy! I sometimes do not advertise that it has dairy free ingredients because some people are hesitant to taste it. But you can never tell so it is fun to let them know later on.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


One of my favorite things are goods that have been upcycled.  Upcycling is the process of converting otherwise useless goods/materials into a new product. I am sure you have heard of it since it is a trend now. I went to the Virginia Christmas Market in Doswell, VA.  Many vendors had Christmas decor or gifts that would be great for Christmas.  Most are local to the area.  One vendor really caught my eye.

Company is called  Bottle Hood and she makes beer/wine/liqour bottles into drinking glasses.  She has other non-alcoholic bottles as well. By slicing off the top portion of the bottle and smoothing it out creates a lovely drinking glass. I got a kick out of it and I knew my husband would too. Such a great gift! I was going to wait to put this in his stocking, but I just had to show him. So neat!

She does local craft shows or you can contact her and come to her house. Her name is Tammy Mormando and email is

Apple Cinnamon Ornaments

YOU CANNOT EAT THESE! Also, this is what we started with, but added to the dough so no true measurements for this.  We started with this (approximately):

1 cup cinnamon
1/2 to 3/4 cup applesauce
1 tablespoon craft glue (that dries clear)
Christmas cookie cutters
1 drinking straw

Combine in bowl to make a dough.  Depending on the doughs wetness or dryness you will need to add either more cinnamon or more applesauce. Dust table with cinnamon and roll out dough with rolling pin. Place cookie cutters on dough and press firmly.  Roll out remaining dough and place cookie cutters on top. Repeat until dough is gone. We did this recipe three times to get a higher yield of ornaments. By the second time we did not even measure. Using the straw, make a hole at the top of each ornament so it can be hung with ribbon. Wait 24-48 hrs for them to harden.


Glitter paint in a variety of colors along with paint brushes
Old plate to put the paint on
Googly eyes, black beads, pearl beads, multi color beads
Craft glue
Paper towels
Cup with water to rinse brushes

Place an ornament on a paper towel and go to town! Set aside and wait 24-48 hours to dry.

Spray lacquer to set paint
Red and Green ribbon that is not too wide

Place ornaments on newspaper and take outside.  Use lacquer according to directions on the bottle.  Wait to dry and then thread with ribbon.  To store, use tissue paper.

 Have fun!

Beef Stew with Dinner Rolls

Beef Stew:

1.5 pounds stewing beef cut into pieces
3 cups beef broth
4 cups water
1 can (10.5 ounces) of condensed French Onion soup
1.5 ribs of celery, sliced
1/2 cup of chopped onion
2 medium carrots washed and sliced
3 medium red potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
3/4 cup canned corn or frozen
1/2 tsp ground cloves (or 6 whole cloves)
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
4 tablespoons flour mixed with 4 tablespoons of cold water

In a stockpot combine beef, broth, onion soup, water, celery, onion and all seasonings. Bring to a rolling boil. Turn heat back so it is at a simmer and then cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Cover and cook over low heat for about 45 to 60 minutes. Add carrots and potatoes and cook for 20 minutes more.  Add corn. Cover and cook for about 10-20 minutes. Combine the flour and water in a separate bowl. Stir into the stew mixture. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally for about 10 to 20 minutes, until thickened and flour is dissolved.

Dinner Rolls:

1 package quick-acting active dry yeast
1 1/3 cup milk, slightly warmed
3 cups flour 
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 tablespoon honey
coarse sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Dissolve yeast in warm milk and sugar in a big enough bowl to use an electric mixer.  Stir in 1 cup of the flour, oil, and salt.  Beat until smooth.  Stir in the remaining flour and beat again.  Cover and let rise in warm place until it double which is about 45 minutes. Punch dough down and fold a few times half way through rising time.

Spray muffin tins with cooking spray. Fill cups a little less than half way full. Melt butter in a microwave safe bowl and add honey.  Brush with butter and honey mixture. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Bake 12-15 minutes or until crust is a light golden brown. Remove from pan and serve!

When the stew was about 15 minutes from finishing up the first 45 minutes, I started the rolls.

The soup freezes well for about 4-6 months so long you put in an air tight container.

Chocolate Chip Pecan Bread

(makes 1 loaf)

My mom and grandmother requested this although I never made it before.  Very yummy and great with a cup of hot mint tea. 

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
1/4 cup cooking oil, plus 2 tablespoons
3/4 cup pecans (or almonds, walnuts), toasted
1/2 cup mini chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a loaf pan.  Spread pecans or the nut of your choice on a baking sheet and place in oven for 5-10 minutes.  Keep a close eye so they do not burn.  This will bring out the flavor of the nut. In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  In a medium bowl combine the egg, milk, and oil.  Make a well in the flour mixture and add egg mixture all at once to the well.  Stir until moistened.  Fold in nuts and chocolate chips.  Pour into pan and bake for 50-55 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean .  Let cool before storing.

Pumpkin Walnut/Pecan Bread

(makes 2 loafs)

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 cups white sugar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
(or 1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice if you do not have all the spices. I used Penzy's Pumpkin Pie Spice)
1 cup walnuts or pecans
Handful of mini chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease baking pans. In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and vanilla until well blended. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger (or pumpkin pie spice). Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Fold in walnuts/pecans. Pour into the prepared pans.  Sprinkle chocolate chips on top of the loafs if you desire. Lightly press them into the batter. Bake 50-55 minutes or until center comes out clean with a toothpick.