Thursday, December 27, 2012

Best of 2012 lists

I’ll admit if I see an article entitled “Best of” I’m clicking on it.  Writers are most likely aware of their popularity or why would we see so many.  I try to remember these lists are usually one person’s opinion.  Or that the author might be influenced by another best of list.

That possibility of being influenced especially comes to mind when an article I read listing the author’s 2012 “best of” book list just happens to include most of the Amazon monthly recommended books.  Then again, these might just be excellent books.

At any rate, I decided to put them on my library “wish list.”

 Dear Life by Alice Munro
The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker 
Defending Jacob by William Landay
Wild by Cheryl Strait
The Dog Stars by Peter Heller
Light between Oceans: A Novel by M. L. Stedman
The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe
The Organ Master’s Son: A Novel by Adam Johnson
Gone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn

I’m a little backlogged right now after finally finishing  Winter of the World by Ken Follett, a mega book--excellent, but long.  I’m currently enjoying the easy story of The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks and  I have Life of Pi by Yann Martel checked out and is due soon.  

Any other winter reading recommendations welcome…..

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Holiday recipes

I thought now might be a good time to post several recipes that were winners this Holiday season. 

First is Drue’s Cranberry Salsa.  Very unique and would be a good choice for New Year’s Eve. 

Cranberry Salsa

1 Package (12 ounces) fresh cranberries, chopped
1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple in juice, drained
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped green pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (I added more)
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion (I added around 1/2 cup)
1 1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
In a large bowl, combine cranberries, pineapple, sugar, green pepper,
cilantro, onion, jalapeño pepper and salt. Cover and chill 2 hours to
let flavors blend. Yields around 3 cups salsa.

Dan really likes the stuffed mushroom appetizers at the Blind Tiger in Topeka.  This recipe is our attempt to copy them.  The only difference is the Blind Tiger deep fries.  We decided we could do without all that fat so we baked.

Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms

1 cup crab meat
1/2 cup cream cheese
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
House seasoning (recipe follows)
2 portobello mushrooms caps or 10 white mushroom caps
1/2 cup bread crumbs
nonstick cooking spray

Preheat to 375

Combine the crabmeat, cream cheese, parsley, green onions and Parmesan.  Season with House Seasoning to taste.  Stuff the mushroom caps with the mixture and top with breat crumbs.  Spray the tops with nonstick spray to help them brown.  Transfer to the oven & bake for about 20 minutes or until the filling is hot & melted.

House Seasoning:
1 cup salt
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder
Mix ingredients & store in airtight container for up to six months.

Finally, as I mentioned, we tried Fondue for our Christmas.  I kept it simple:  steak, cheese squares, bread with a salad.  I asked the butcher which cut would work best for the meat and he recommended beef loin top sirloin steaks.  I trimmed the fat and cut into about 1 inch cubes.  I made two marinades from scratch.  The recipe I’m posting was the best.     I like peanut oil for fondue.  I don’t think it smokes as much.  I used Velveeta and Rotel for the cheese sauce because I knew the kids liked it.   And BBQ sauce for dipping the meat, although the marinade was good enough that I thought it stood on its own.

Steak Marinade

Soy Sauce
Canola Oil
Crushed Garlic gloves
Crushed red pepper
Agave nectar (I used honey)
Ground ginger (or fresh)

Mix marinade using proportions as to how much needed.  Put steak cubes in plastic bag with marinade for 2 to six hours.  Periodically turn bag.

Cheese Cubes

Use favorite hard cheeses.  I used the marbled Monterey Jack/cheddar, mozzarella, and  Pepper Jack.  Cut in 1/2 plus inch cubes.  Mix together one egg and a little milk.  Dip in egg mixture then bread crumbs (I used Italian seasoned bread crumbs).  Let sit a while then repeat.  After two dippings, let sit again for a while—1/2 hour or so then refrigerate.  Set out about a half hour before cooking.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Today, Christmas Eve Day, was our Christmas celebration so it has been very Merry around here.

Kim, Marc, Aaron, Adam and Evan were here for dinner and the afternoon.  We did fondue, which is a leisurely meal. Everyone agreed it turned out well.  More on that later.

483333_565926320087543_241927608_nThen we just spent some time visiting.  Everyone has been so busy, it was nice to catch up.

I am so excited about the gift they gave us—a fire ring!  It has deer and elk cutouts around the side, just like the one I have admired so often. It came with a Lowe’s gift card for anything else we might want to complete a landscape area down by the new pond.  Then to top it off, they are going  to help us with the whole project next summer! 

Our Colorado family did not come back for Christmas. They were here for Thanksgiving and it was a super celebration then. We missed them today.  They brought our gift when they were back in November.  It’s been under the tree since then.  Such a temptation to peek.  I kind of thought it was a bottle of wine, but I didn’t know there were four dessert wine glasses, hand decorated by Carly and a bottle of premium Colorado Port. My goodness it is good. 

The day ended with the candlelight service at church.  We are Blessed.