November 24, 2010

The Pie that was really a Cake

Here are the details for our Thanksgiving pie -- that's really a cake and a fabulously easy cake!

November 23, 2010

Park it Right Here for a Better Roll Recipe

So it seems that the same restaurant that created Boston Cream Pie (not a pie but rather a cream-filled cake) also created the Parker House rolls that are creamy inside and toasty, crunchy on the outside -- and not that hard to make if you're BRAVE enough to spend a few hours babysitting some yeast. Need some delish homebaked bread for your Thanksgiving feast? Can't you smell that aroma now? Check out this recipe that started in the great state of Massachusetts, our featured state of the week.

November 22, 2010

The Storm Before the Calm

Hubby is out of the house today working partially because he has a lot of writing and maybe because he's afraid I'll put him to work helping me clean the house. I don't just make a nice "to-do" list like my mother did when I was growing up. I've pondered just e-mailing and texting little reminders or for the girls -- leaving notes in their rooms since they're not yet into texting. (Thank the Technology Gods -- for the moment -- that they're semi-reachable by voice and not hooked to a wired network.)

I yell out instructions, at least the fourth or fifth time I'm having to repeat myself. (Husband may disagree here.) And the girls are learning how to operate the sweeper though they're acting like it's a monster they cannot control. So while they're at school I'm cleaning the oven...

My oven that needs some self-cleaning time.

... so my baking project for the day is getting delayed. I've found Boston's Parker House hotel's recipe for Parker House rolls that I'll be attempting later today. And I'm calling a friend to get her easy Boston Cream Pie (really it's a cake!) recipe, so check back for more cooking excitement.

In the meantime, I'm hitting corners of the house that need my attention:
Just soap scum in the guest bathroom

and heaven knows what on my table! Ugh!

November 18, 2010

Plymouth Celebration means Massachusetts

Since it's closing in on Thanksgiving, we've skipping a few states (since we're a virtual tour!) and focusing this week and next on Massachusetts.

For more info for that first Thanksgiving, check the Pilgrim Hall Museum site HERE. More info about the state can be found at the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism site.

And even if you and your family aren't necessarily cranberry fans, here are some fun facts on the vivid berry.

I've made homemade cranberry sauce before but my husband prefers the canned version, likely because that's what he grew up eating every Thanksgiving. I could just let those fresh cranberries simmer (anything simmering on the stove top is always so comforting) for a sauce that just sits on the table and looks pretty. But with my mother-in-law's extensive menu (menu to be posted soon!) we'll likely just buy a can of Ocean Spray's finest and just call it good.

Though this Cranberry Festive Sparkler looks good and Grandpa Steven looks his seltzer.

November 12, 2010

Chicken and Rice Casserole, Arkansas Style

If your town is anything like mine today, it's time for some good ol' comfort food. I asked my good friend Jennifer Ingraham for insight into her home state's culinary legacy. 

Here is Jennifer's insight:

"Nationally, Arkansas ranks No. 1 in rice and poultry production. I know this because I learned the rice fact in fifth-grade Arkansas history and I’ve seen some of the rice farms along the Mississippi River. I know the chicken fact because I grew up in Northwest Arkansas and my high school was next to a Tyson chicken plant. So it seems only appropriate that I offer a simple, traditional chicken and rice casserole, loaded with fattening ingredients and topped with butter and Ritz crackers. Mmm, mmm, good!

"This recipe took 3rd-place honors at the 2006 Arkansas State Fair," Jennifer says.

Check out this link at Serious Eats to see the new food items that popped up at this year's Arkansas State Fair. If you like your entrees and desserts deep-fried, you'll be pleased with the deep-fried and battered hard boiled eggs and deep-fried bacon bombs followed by chocolate smooches and chocolate cream cheese bites!

Jennifer Ingraham's 
State Fair Chicken & Rice Casserole
4 chicken breasts, boiled and boned
1 10 oz can cream of chicken soup
1 10 oz can cream of mushroom soup
1 1/2 cups cooked rice
1 cup sour cream
3 cups chicken broth
2 packages Ritz Crackers, crushed
1 stick (1/4 pound) butter

Chop chicken. Combine chicken, soups, rice, sour cream, and broth. Place in two 2-quart dishes. Crush crackers and add dollops of butter. Sprinkle over dishes. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

Thank you, Jennifer. This seems a great dish for a good weekend meal and another dish to freeze for another quick meal for a busy weeknight. What's better than a meal in the freezer?

MORE FUN: Here's a fun kids site with more Arkansas info.

November 8, 2010

The Dessert Loving State of Arkansas

You know a state takes its desserts seriously when the state's First Lady hosts a pie contest at the state fair. (Missouri's First Lady also hosts a pie contest, too.) Click HERE for a previous year's winning chocolate pie recipe from Arkansas.

First Lady of Arkansas Ginger Beebe points out on her website that 38 percent of Arkansas youth are obese compared to the national average of 29 percent. Click HERE for some of the fun and HEALTHY recipes she shares on her site.

So in search of a healthier dessert I found a carrot cake recipe from David and Ruth Glass.

David Glass grew up in Missouri, but is the previous CEO of Wal-Mart based in Bentonville, Arkansas. David has been CEO of the Kansas City Royals since 1993, and I found their family recipe for this dessert in a charity cookbook "From Our Plate to Yours" with recipes from Royals players and management that was a benefit for The Children's Place. The note below the title reads — I'm thinking this if from Ruth — "This is a very old recipe that never fails. Good for new brides and dessert loving husbands."

Grating carrots might be more fun than eating them.

David and Ruth Glass' Carrot Cake
4 eggs
1 ½ cups vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup pecans, chopped (we left this out, but added ½ cup of raisins)
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 cups carrots, grated (about 1½ small packages of regular-sized carrots)

8 oz cream cheese, softened
½ cup butter, softened
16 oz package powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla

Beat 4 eggs well then stir in oil and sugar. Mix flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl, then combine with other mixture. Stir in carrots and pecans. Grease and four two 9" cake pans and pour ingredients into pans. (Inspired by Ina Garten's Parties! cookbook carrot cake cupcake recipe, we opted to make cupcakes instead of one big cake. There was enough batter for 24 cupcakes and a mini-bread loaf.)

It can be messy prep, but it's worth the extra work.
Bake at 350 degrees until cake is no longer doughy. (We baked our cupcakes about 35 minutes.) When finished baking, cool in pans for 10 minutes then invert onto wire racks. Cool completely (may refrigerate.)

Icing: Combine cream cheese and butter, beating until smooth. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy. Ice cakes after completely cooled.

In his fun and informative cookbook, United Cakes of America, Warren Brown states that this scrumptious version we know today that's paired with cream cheese was published in a women's club cookbook in Wichita, Kansas, in 1929. (Not sure I'd think of Kansas as being in the vanguard of carrot recipes.) But tossing carrots in cakes goes back even further. T.W. Barritt at his blog 'Culinary Types' shares more about the event where George Washington was served a carrot tea cake in New York City in 1783.

"The Giant Carrot" by Jan Peck, illustrated by Barry Root
"The Carrot Seed" by Ruth Krauss, illustrated by Crockett Johnson

See the Warner Brothers' Bugs Bunny Hopping Carrot Hunt game HERE.
Check out this soundtrack "Bugs Bunny at the Symphony" for some entertaining music from the one and only famous rabbit while cookin' up this tasty carrot recipe.

November 5, 2010

A Polk Recipe from Flippin, Arkansas

My friend Gwen VanAsselt is today's guest to discuss the culinary delights from Arkansas. Gwen's polk shoots recipe is from her grandmother who grew up eating this in Flippin, Arkansas, and brought the recipe with her to Missouri when she moved to Missouri's Lake Ozark in her 30's.

You, like me, may be wondering about polk shoots (also called poke or pokeweed). Here's a good link for more info.

Gwen says: "One of the wonderful things about my grandma is that she doesn't beat around the bush and isn't afraid to speak her mind. She came to stay with us for a week after the birth of our first child. After the first day of my recipes (lots of lentils and tofu) she told me I didn't have the right ingredients to make anything. She couldn't believe that I didn't have a can of bacon grease on my stove. She said, 'all good recipes start with a little bacon grease.'
"At some point during her trip she noticed that we had polk growing in our landscaping.  (We are not the best at yard maintenance.)  She picked a full pot of it out of our landscaped beds and served it to us that night for dinner.
"I called her to get the recipe. 

"In Arkansas you know that poke is up when the Oak trees put out leaves.  It is best in the spring when it is tender.  It grew later in Michigan because the climate is cooler.  It will grow into fall and make berries.  Never eat the berries. They are almost poison.

Polk recipe:
1.  Pick a full pot of polk because it will shrink.
2.  Wash it three times to get the dirt and sand off.
3.  Put it back in the large pot with some water and cook it until it is tender.
4.  Lift the polk out of the water and put it in a frying pan with a few tablespoons of bacon grease. Add salt and pepper.
5.  Go by taste and make sure it is tender.

She reminded me several times not to eat the berries in the fall and never to eat polk raw because it will cause diarrhea.
Enjoy the recipe!
Thanks for sharing, Gwen. I think I'll wait to try this until your grandmother can peruse our landscaping. (See below for a previous year's "garden" that kind of took over. I'm sure there was something edible here!)

November 2, 2010

Ode to Oklahoma and on to Arkansas — Land of Hope

First, it's election day and I hope you've found time to vote. (Continue reading after you've finished voting, we'll still be here waiting for you.)  Trying to teach the students about voting our Kindergarten teacher used the book "The Little Red Hen" to show the students to vote for the animal individual who is the hardest worker. On a recent stop on his road trip through the country Time's Joe Klein mentioned that politicians are some of the hardest working individuals in the country. It's easy to forget that with all the negative campaign material floating around. I wrote about ballot revisions - design revisions at least -- on my Mom2MomKC blog HERE.

So for just a few Presidential items (though it's not a presidential voting year) I thought it would be fun to include:

From the Diamond Bear Brewing Company in Arkansas.

How about a Presidential Pale Ale Beer? (From Arkansas, our next state to explore!)

Click HERE to hear how former President Clinton ate when he was growing up in Hope, Arkansas. (From an interview on Rachel Ray's TV show.)

Try this Presidential food trivia test HERE.

And one of our favorite books with stories and great illustrations of the White House and its families is "Our White House, Looking In, Looking Out."
It has a great collection of short stories and information on all our past presidents and their families. It's a treasury of great authors and illustrators on a topic that should be of interest to all children (and parents) interested in the history of their country.
Presidential illustration by Bob Kolar in "Our White House"

So as we depart Oklahoma (with a pledge to return when we have more recipes and stories), we give you our new-found recipe for Oklahoma Caviar, that features blackeyed peas, of course! I've heard this zesty bean dip for chips referred to as poor man's cavair, too, but the Oklahoma title fits our needs just fine. (I'd happily call it Texan caviar, too.)

Oklahoma Caviar
1 (12 oz) can of black beans
1 (14 oz) can of shoepeg corn (I choose frozen)
1 (15 oz) can blackeyed peas
2 (15 oz) cans chopped tomatoes
2 bunches of green onions, chopped (I used 3 stalks only)
1 (16 oz) bottle of Italian dressing (I didn't use all of the bottle)

Drain and rinse beans and corn from the cans. Add the ingredients in a bowl with the canned tomatoes, green onions and dressing. Mix well. Refrigerate and marinate overnight. (But can be served right after mixing though the flavors are best after marinating.) Serve with corn chips.

My eldest really liked it, though the youngest thought it was a bit too spicy for her taste. I may try to find a less "zesty" Italian dressing, but I love finding new ways to serve up vegetables for the girls.