Flowers and Fruit

I love arranging fresh-cut flowers with fresh-picked fruit. Something about the vivid color combinations and the blending scents permiates the room with a bright, natural glow! Tim cut the hydrangeas for Jan from the bushes around our house. Aw!

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Like the South Loves Bar-b-Q

Few dishes are as fundamentally southern as barbeque. Spelled a variety of ways (bbq, bar-b-que, bar-b-q), and served for any occasion (parties, cookouts, weddings, even funerals), barbeque is easily the most-consumed summer meal. Don’t quote us, but we’re pretty sure.
BBQ is a great way to use left-over chicken breasts and the recipe we used was fairly simple. Definitely a win-win! Serve it with hamburger or hotdog buns, plain toast, flour tortillas, lettuce, sandwich bread, bagels, etc, etc, etc. Just don’t forget the sweet tea.

B-B-Q Chicken Sandwiches

5-6 chicken breasts, cooked
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/4 cups ketchup
1/3 c. cider vinegar
1/3 c. Worcestershire Sauce
1/3 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
8 large sandwich buns

Using 2 forks, shred the chicken into thin pieces (this is the most time consuming part!).

Set aside in large mixing bowl. Pour oil into large skillet. Add the onion and garlic. Cook gently for about 10 minutes or until tender. Add ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, chili powder and cayenne pepper. Stir well; simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened.
Pour sauce over the shredded chicken and mix well. Return chicken to skillet and heat through.

¬†Serve on anything listed above, or get creative. ūüôā

Rolled Cold

In case we didn’t mention this earlier, we live in South Carolina. Hot, muggy, humidified, sticky South Carolina. The temp will not fall below 85 until sometime in September, so we have a lot of hotness to look forward to! Living here requires a bit of creativity regarding cold¬†meals and desserts. Any oven-baked dish is just not as appealing when you are already drenched in sweat, but avoiding the oven entirely is pretty much impossible.
“Ice cream” were the first two words off the tip of my tongue when Mom asked if I had thought about this week’s dessert. It’s cold, it’s sweet, and it’s simple. Unfortunately, throwing ice cream in bowls does not make for an interesting recipe. So I dug around a little and found this fantastic idea.

Barbi CANNOT cook without Pandora.
Jan started wondering about the lack of butter or oil.
Warning: not for the weak-wristed!
Make sure the cake is completely cool. We chilled it for 30 mins.

Rolling the cake with the ice cream inside was a fun challenge and the whole thing looked so artistic that I waited a full three seconds before digging in! The guys, of course, had no such inhibitions…

Squished out some at the overlap, but pretty sure no one noticed!

Experimental Trials (or, Life Interferes..Again)

Clearly, the wheels that turn the kitchen have hit a serious speed bump. Despite our best efforts, life continues to rear its ugly head at the most¬†unfortunate times, successfully moving any sort of extracurricular activity to the back burner. We have managed to pop out some truly great recipes, but time escapes us every time we sit down to type! What happened to slow, lazy summers with long empty evenings??¬† Jan is finishing up Sunday school lessons, participating in 5K races (oh yes. Really.), and preparing for VBS and various other summer¬† activites. Barbi is working 40 hours a week, interning 6+ hours on weekends, and living with a friend for two weeks (not to mention the other social obligations that come with being a 20-something college girl).¬† Simple summers are a thing of the past. But we are by no means giving up! After Barbi returns home and Jan finishes her pre-summer prep, we will return full force to the Cookbook Experiment. To satisfy your curiosity until then, here is a short list of what we’ve been brewing:

Almond-topped Carrots with Raisins

Mushroom Chicken and Dumplings

Apricot Cake Crumble

Beef and Cheese Baked Paninis

Southern BBQ Chicken with Sweet and Sour Sauce

Encouragements, tips, tricks, stories, and other bits of feedback are definitely welcomed!  Check back soon for more of our recipes, life drama, pictures, and general culinary catastophes!

Fabulous paninis for a church picnic

Cute Fruit

For this week’s¬†dessert, Barbi suggested something NOT chocolate (shock of the century!!!).¬†Searching through one of my many cookbooks, I came across this recipe for Strawberry-Lemon Cream Puffs.¬† After reading through the recipe twice, I realized that it was definitely do-able, even though I didn’t have all the ingredients.¬† That’s not always a problem since I almost never follow a recipe exactly anyway!¬† Here is the original recipe, taken from “The Best of Country Cooking 2004”, with my changes at the end. Who knew fruit could go over so well with a chocoholic?

1 cup water

1/4 cup butter

1 cup flour

FILLING:

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 tbsp. cornstarch

5 oz evaporated milk

8 oz vanilla yogurt

1 1/2 tsp. lemon extract

1/4 tsp. butter flavoring

1 cup sliced fresh strawberries

1/2 tsp. confectioners’ sugar

In a saucepan, bring water and butter to a boil.  Add flour all at once, stirring until a smooth ball forms.  Remove from the heat; let stand for 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Continue beating until mixture is smooth.  Drop by 1/4 cupfuls 3 inches apart on greased baking sheets.  Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove to wire racks.  Immediately split puffs open and remove tops; discard soft dough from inside. Set puffs and tops aside to cool.

For filling, combine sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan.  Stir in evaporated milk and yogurt until smooth. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.  Remove from the heat. Stir in lemon extract and butter flavoring.  Cool.  Fold in strawberries.  Refrigerate until serving.  Fill cream puffs; replace tops. Dust with powdered sugar.

Changes:  Since I did not have vanilla yogurt, I used a 6-oz cup of blueberry yogurt and added 1/4 cup of light sour cream.  I had no lemon flavoring either, which is really a good thing since the man of the house depsises any hint of lemon!  I used vanilla flavoring instead and used almond flavoring for the butter flavoring.  I also added a handful of frozen blueberries along with the strawberries.

  I used a muffin pan instead of a baking sheet, so I ended up with 12 puffs instead of the called-for 10.

Cute!

Love Thy Mother

Many appologies for the lack of posts! Clearly we are off to a slow start with this project, thanks to exams and graduation for Barbi and a house full of company for Jan. Hopefully life will slow down in the next few weeks if we’re lucky.

In the midst of all the end-of-school-year craziness, Mother’s Day kinda snuck up on me (I know.. world’s worst daughter). I managed to grab a sweet gift (monogramed note cards from Minted.com), but the guys had a little trouble. Noticing the absense of gift-wrapping requests or flower advice, I sent out a text message enquiry around 10:30 Saturday night. Mass panic followed, as I suspected,¬†but¬†a midnight Walmart run successfully solved the near disaster and I earned a renewed big-sister respect.¬† We’ll see how long THAT lasts..¬†

Anyway, this cake was not originally intended to celebrate Mother’s Day, but I added the chocolate chips when she wasn’t looking. Sometimes a sneaky nature comes in handy.¬†¬† What are your Mother’s Day stories?

Coco-Pecan Cake

1 c. butter or margarine
1 c. water
1/4 c. baking cocoa
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. sour cream
2 eggs
1 tsp. baking soda

In a saucepan, bring butter, water, and cocoa to a boil; whisk until smooth.¬† Cool to room temperature.¬† In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt.¬† Add cocoa mixture; beat on low speed just until combined.¬† Add sour cream, eggs, and baking soda; blend until smooth.¬† Pour into a greased 13×9 baking pan.¬† Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.¬† Cool on wire rack.

Frost with prepared coconut-pecan frosting (yes, we cheated).

Managed to snap one pic before the hordes descended