Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Almost Diet Peanut Butter Cookies!

This is Tuesday.  And I should have sunshine and maybe a little green popping up here and there.  But there's white crap falling out of the sky.  So I'm skipping Garden Tuesday, and going to something more cheerful: Cookies!

When I was posting about my falling-apart cookbook, I also thumbed through it.  This recipe caught my eye, because it seemed to have less sugar than other recipes.  Bonus!  I altered it a little bit, and made these Peanut Butter Cookies that are "almost" healthy, diet cookies!

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup peanut butter
3 egg whites + 1 tsp water
2/3 cup flour
2/3 cup white whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Cream the butter with the brown sugar; beat in the vanilla and peanut butter until smooth.  Whisk the egg whites with the water, beat it into the creamed mixture.  Stir together all of the dry ingredients, and beat into the creamed mixture.  Drop onto greased cookie sheets and press a fork into the cookie tops twice, to create the crossed lines pattern; bake at 375F for 8 to 12 minutes, until lightly browned.

These cookies used half the sugar of other recipes, and by using egg whites instead of whole eggs, the cholesterol is reduced greatly.  No one even noticed the white whole wheat flour, either.  For more texture, try using chunky peanut butter.  Trust me, these were good!  Better yet, trust Mark and his father, cookie lovers both!

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Cookbook Wednesday: For Bread Machines

From time to time, Louise's Cookbook Wednesday posts have been about cookbooklets.  And last week, Poppy posted about a recipe book that came with knives.  That got me to thinking about my new bread machine and its predecessors.  The first ones came with some half decent cookbooklets.

The first bread machine I bought was in the late 1990s.  It made a 1.5 pound loaf in about 4-1/2 hours.  It came with this spiffy little book, which has a fairly sturdy cover - standard paperback book cover material.

 It included the basics about the ingredients used in bread,
 and some recipes.

It wasn't long, but it was functional, and its recipes were good.

The second bread machine made a 2 pound loaf in 3 hours.  Oh, happy day!

Its recipe book was 3 times the size of the book that came with the original machine.  Its cover wasn't as good, as you can see from the water damage to it.

But it included color pictures!

I'm not sure where someone came up with the idea for chocolate yeast raised bread.  Sounds suspicious to me.  Plus, they clearly didn't include proper instructions, since the source of the chocolate is chocolate chips, and they don't specify melting them.

Dough setting recipes are included, too.

I don't have many appliance recipe booklets, but I've kept every one I ever got.  Maybe it's time to look through them again.

Happy Cookbook Wednesday, everyone!  Pop on over to see Louise and check out what she and others have to offer.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Garden Tuesday: Melting, Again

It's only been above 30 degrees here one day in the past week, but, somehow, we are losing our snow cover!

And the sky looked pretty today, too.

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Friday, March 20, 2015

First Day of Spring? And A Visitor

Happy First Day of Spring!

Oh, I know the vernal equinox doesn't officially occur until around 6PM, but look at my weather.  Does this look like spring to you?

Nah. Me neither.  Those aren't flowers falling out of the sky.

On another note, Jeffrey came to visit last weekend.  And he brought a new friend.  No, not a new girlfriend; she's the same one who was so enthusiastic about going to the used book sale with me.  I'm talking about a new little friend.

His mother was an Amish father's black lab, a house/hunting dog.  She went slumming with the German Shepherd who lives in his barn.  Jeffrey's clearly quite pleased with him.

When I was cooking dinner, Tank came to the kitchen to talk to me.  I tried to explain to him that dogs are not allowed in the kitchen when stoves or ovens are in use. (Stupid blogger won't show the picture turned in the correct direction, so you'll have to tilt your head.)

He tried to explain to me that puppies have cuteness overload.

Tank found this small Oriental rug which I'd removed from the hall for the winter, which was rolled up in the corner.  The tiny little corner of that rug became HIS perch.

He brought a couple of sticks in to chew on and shred on my kitchen floor.  I hunted up a new rawhide bone I had hidden away for a visiting dog.  Note that the amount of rug he had rolled out greatly increased in one day.

So these were my visitors last weekend, including Jeffrey's new friend.  At least I have pictures of cuteness overload to cheer me through the not-flowers outside on the first day of spring.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Cookbook Wednesday: Family Cookbook

It's Wednesday again, and that means it's time to look at one of my cookbooks!  This one is a tried and true favorite.  You can see that from the condition of the spine.

This is actually the first NEW cookbook I ever bought, in the late 1970s - I wasn't even married yet.  I bought it at Kresge's, which was the older cousin of K-Mart.  This store was in Danbury, CT, and it was a marvelous, dingy home of cheap stuff.

There are recipes for all categories of food.  I can't say that I cook a lot of potatoes; it's just that this is where the book's spine chose to break after about 30 years.
 I like the fact that with each main dish recipe, they suggest a menu.  Plus, who ever knew there was Pot Roast and then there was Pennsylvania Pot Roast?  (Hold the gherkins in mine, please.)
 The Orange Sponge Cake recipe on the left page here is my go-to for Lemon Sponge Cake, my dearly beloved's favorite snack.  I just change it up a little.  All of the cakes and desserts I've tried have been really good!  (This is the book from which my Lemon Angel Tort comes.)
 Then there are frozen desserts.  I like that they put the calorie count on them, back in a time when that was not "in vogue" yet.

Obviously, this book contains only recipes, and none of the pretty pictures we see in cookbooks today.  That's OK, because the recipes are all straightforward and easy to follow.

This is my entry for Cookbook Wednesday with the charming Louise at Months of Edible Celebration!

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Note that the price on the cover is not what I paid; I paid about $2.  I would never have paid $6.95 for a paperback book at a time when minimum wage was $1.01.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Garden Tuesday: Melting

At long last, we've been above 35 degrees for a week (and almost hit 50 one day), so the snow is melting.  A little rain over the weekend and last night helped.

Friday is the Vernal Equinox.  Come on, spring!

Happy Tuesday everyone; I hope your corners of the world are turning green!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Happy Belated Pi Day!

Saturday was Pi Day, and it was the ultimate Pi Day: 3-14-15.

I know you've all been listening to me tell you about Pi Day for years now, and so you all celebrated, right?  Right?  OK, maybe Mango Momma celebrated.  The rest of you are not engineers or number fans; I understand.

Jeffrey came home to see Ryan, and brought a friend, so, of course we had to celebrate Pi Day.  And we celebrated in style.

I made my "classic" chocolate mousse pie, which is really a chocolate cream pie with extra whipping cream in the custard, but "mousse" sounded ever so much more exciting when my children were all yea high.  Plus, I piped the whipped cream into cute little flowerets or whatever those round things are called, so I'm sure I get extra credit for that.

See?  Ryan gives me extra credit!

The other pie was a Lemon Angel Torte.  Jeffrey "hates" meringue, but he sure did love this, as did his father.


4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon extract
1 tbsp butter

4 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract or lemon extract

Whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar, 1/2 cup sugar and the extract until stiff peaks form.  Spread in a well greased 10" pie plate.  Bake at 275F for 45 minutes to 1 hour, then turn off the oven and leave the torte shell in the oven until it cools (or at least an hour, until you get impatient).

Meanwhile, combine the sugar, lemon juice and lemon extract in a saucepan.  Whisk in the egg yolks, then cook over medium-low heat until the mixture thickens and bubbles.  Remove from the heat and whisk in 1 tbsp butter, and let cool before spreading in the torte shell.

Top with whipped cream, if you wish (I did wish) and serve.

This came from my "Complete Family Cookbook", an old trusty standby, and is my entry for Cook Your Books in March!

So, Happy Belated Pi Day, everyone!  If you didn't celebrate on Saturday, it's not too late!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Book Review: Just Add Watercolor

Just Add Watercolor
by Helen Birch

 I don't really know what I expected when I selected this book.  It's a fairly small volume, about 5"x7", hardcovered, with very nice coated pages.  Each page has a contemporary watercolor, with notes about the way the artist created the picture.  I'm not entirely sure what I expected from this book.  Perhaps a little more detail?  This is what the author says in her introduction, in part: "Accompanying each work is a short exploration of the artist's approach and the techniques used, so you can try some of the ideas out too."

Each pair of pages contains a picture to the right, and a paragraph or 2 on the left page briefly discussing what the painting is, and perhaps what the artist intended to create.  Other than the pages about making blooms and similar special effects, there isn't much on how the paintings were created - paper, paint, ink, whatever - in most cases.  It's a pretty little book, and a nice review, but isn't as helpful to the artistic process as I might have hoped.  3/5

Note: I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my review.  Opinions are my own.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Strawberry Angel Torte

I don't know if this is actually a torte.  I know it's not a tort, because that's a legal action.  But I remember making something basically like this, but with lemon, and I'm pretty sure the cookbook involved called it a torte, so I'm going with that.

Before my food delivery last Friday, I had a pesky dozen eggs remaining that I had to use.  And I had a husband who was wailing that there was nothing good to eat.  (That's actually the most common refrain in my house - "There's nothing good to eat!"  By "good" they all mean "instant" and not cold cereal.)  So I dreamed this up.


4 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 pound frozen strawberries, partially thawed
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup water
2 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp strawberry extract

Whip the egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy.  Add the vanilla and beat until soft.  Sprinkle the sugar in bit by bit and beat until stiff peaks form.  Spread in a greased 10" pie plate.  Bake at 275F for 45 minutes, until lightly browned, then turn off the oven, leave it closed and leave the meringue shell in the oven for an hour or so, until it's cooled down.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch; stir in the water and cook until it starts to thicken.  Slice the strawberries and add them to the sugar mixture, along with the extracts (strawberry optional, because it's hard to find, but does add a little flavor).  Cook until thickened, then refrigerate until it's cold.

Remove the cooled meringue shell from the oven, spread the strawberry filling over it, and top with whipped cream when serving, if desired.  (I didn't desire.)

My dearly beloved ate half of this pie the first night, when I served it for dessert.  He finished it the next morning for breakfast.  Enough said?

And I had too much filling for the pie.  I saved the remainder, and put it between layers of yellow cake a couple of nights later.  Ryan and his father loved it; indeed, Ryan ate it for dessert following breakfast and lunch for a couple of days.  At least we slowed his weight loss for this week.

Happy Weekending, everyone!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

English Muffin Bread

A few weeks back, I showed you this bread machine cookbook.  You remember; it's the one that fell apart so I bought a 3 ring binder and punched the pages to hold it together.

Well, with the new bread machine, I've been making an old favorite recipe from this cookbook: English Muffin Bread.  If you enjoy English Muffins, this bread is for you.  Crunchy crust, super soft insides, on the salty side, great with lemon curd, jelly, peanut butter, or just plain butter.


1-1/4 cups warm water
3 cups flour
4 tsp gluten powder (optional, but good)
3 tbsp powdered milk
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp yeast

Put the ingredients in your bread machine bucket in the order listed, set it for a 1.5 pound loaf, turn on your delay timer, and go to bed.  The fresh bread aroma will wake you up the next morning; it's much nicer than any alarm clock.

If you want to make it and wait for it, you can use milk in lieu of the water/powdered milk combination; warm the milk and sprinkle the yeast over it, then add the other ingredients and proceed as shown over there-------->.

Note that the top of this loaf will be a little sunken.  The cookbook even makes note of this.

I've been making this every day since I got my new bread maker, and my dearly beloved is in a constant state of bread bliss.  Of course, if/when the pounds creep up on him, that will be my fault, but I can live with that.  Ryan's been enjoying English Muffin Bread this week, too; the two of them have been finishing a loaf every day.  That's testimony enough for you all to want to make this.

I suppose this even qualifies as a Cook Your Books entry!

Happy Thursday, everyone!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Cookbook Wednesday: Another Present!

I promised you last week that I'd show you the other cookbook Louise sent me last week.  It's a beauty.

Not only is it a cookbook, it's also a history of the 20th century - both in the furnishings of the kitchen and in cooking!

There are many reproductions of new things available for your kitchen, like this cupboard.  There were no kitchen cupboards prior to the early 20th century.  I presume everything was kept on shelves in a pantry.
Canned soup, anyone?  Or maybe a few words about soup?

 How about combining cans of soup to make another flavor?  Seems like a useful tidbit.
 Reproduction of a magazine cover, along with a little history, including the introduction of corn flakes, and the invention of the Hershey's Kiss!
 Cheesecake!  Who doesn't love a good cheesecake?  And the story of cheesecake? Bonus!
 Tales of Twinkies.  Gotta love it.
 And the legendary origin of the Chocolate Chip cookie.
 It's truly a wonder that Louise sent this to me, instead of keeping it and reading it herself.  I've scanned it pretty well now, and there is always something new to read, and there will be plenty new to cook.  Thank you, my friend, for such a wonderful surprise!
Happy Wednesday, everyone!  Pop on over to Months of Edible Celebration and see what everyone else has to offer (and scroll down farther to see tons of scrumptious meatballs!