Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cranberry and Dried-Cherry Sauce

I imagine you're all in the thick of your Thanksgiving preparations, as am I, but I wanted to take a minute to pop in and share this recipe with you.

I'm generally not a big fan of cranberry sauce on my turkey, but I did grow up with the oh so attractive gelatinous version on the Thanksgiving table. It always made me giggle that it was on a pretty plate, yet it was in the shape of the can it came in, wearing every dip and curve from the can it was so carefully popped out of.

This recipe is nothing like that. This cranberry sauce is pretty and tasty. The perfect combination. I originally found this recipe in a Bon Appetit Thanksgiving issue, and I've been making it every year since.

Here are the ingredients: frozen cranberry juice cocktail, water, brown sugar, cinnamon stick, ground allspice, dried tart cherries, and whole cranberries.

Just bring the first five ingredients to a boil . . . 

. . . drop the cherries in . . .

. . . and finally, the cranberries.

They're so pretty.

These cranberries have been cooking for about seven minutes now and they're starting to pop, which is what I want.

Almost there.

From there, you just pour it into your serving dish and let it cool. You can serve it cold or at room temperature, either way, it's yummy. With or without the turkey.

Here's the recipe card. Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

There's a Snake in Mah Boot!

Funny story. I was in my classroom this morning, not ten minutes after the tardy bell rang, and our school librarian comes in to tell me that the girls' school is on the phone because my daughter had snuck a snake to school.


That was my first alarming thought. Just back up the bus and run over me again, because I thought I just heard you say that my daughter took a snake to school.

My second and third thoughts came hurtling right after that first one, and they went something like this.

1) The snake is not real. It can't be real.
2) This has Stinkerbell's name written all over it.

I told my sweet librarian that there is no way my daughter could have a snake in her backpack and that somebody needed to look a little closer because we don't have a snake, we don't have access to any snakes, and we don't like snakes. Or something like that. 

So the librarian goes back to the office and then comes back just a few minutes later. At this point she can hardly contain her laughter so she gestures for me to step into the hallway. Apparently the snake is real, and my daughter is afraid to talk to me because she thinks I'm going to freak out.

Really? Me?

Darn straight I'm going to freak out. I'm already formulating the tongue lashing and its accompanying can of whoop *%$ in my mind.

"You had your school call my school and pull me out of my classroom to hear that you snuck a snake to school and I'm not supposed to freak out? Really?"

So I go to the office to talk to the other school. By the time I get there, someone has managed to gather their wits about them and investigate further to find that, yes, the snake is really rubber. RUB. BER. 

Yep. The snake is rubber and Zoe Bug (Zoe Bug?!!!!) is blubbering in the background "Annika put it in my backpack, blah, blah, blah."

Ah ha! That little brat, er . . . spirited child.

Big surprise.

And I ask you this, do you think we call her Stinkerbell for nothing?

I told the school secretary to throw the book at her and I went back to my classroom. End of story.

Now, I'd be lying if I told you that I was not just a tinsy bit amused by this whole adventure. In fact, I couldn't wait to get home so I could get to the bottom of the whole convoluted story. And while I don't think I'll ever have the whole story and its accompanying shades of truth, this is what I did manage to gather from my thorough investigation.

First off, I asked Stinkerbell in my calmest, most unfreaking out voice, "Do you want to tell me about the snake?"

"Uh. Yeah. Good," replies the Stink.

"I'm sorry, but that was not a complete sentence."

"Mom, can I have something to eat?"

Now I know that this sort of verbal exchange is quite typical between a parent and their teenager, but my kids are six and eight, so why is the communication not flowing on a two way street here?

Let's try this again.

ANN-IK-KA. Why. Did. You. Have. A. Snake. At. School?

Sheepish grin alights. S-l-o-w-l-y followed by her version of the truth. "I gave the snake to Zoe at Mattie Cake's house and she just forgot."

Reeeeee-ally? (said in a slightly . . . okay very, sarcastic voice with a bit of shriekage on that last syllable)

Apparently Zoe cannot stand to listen to the sewage spilling forth any longer and she blurts out "She did not! Annika snuck it in my eyeglass case and I did not know it was there and I opened it up and I thought it was real and my friends saw me cry and I was a little embarrassed."

So now we're going from not complete sentences to run-on sentences. I'm getting dizzy. Let's just go straight to the evidence, shall we?

This eyeglass case.

And this snake.

This snake that so does not look real to me.

Now, I can sort of put myself into this little scenario, and it's not difficult to imagine the drama and confusion. Zoe Bug is the Freak Out Queen and she very well could have been hysterical. Plus, she, apparently, prolonged the confusion when she managed to explain to the office staff that the snake wasn't moving because it was nocturnal.


But seriously, if I'm lyin,' I'm dyin.' Does this snake look real to you?

As part of my formal investigation, I measured him, and when I pulled him taut to eliminate his bendy sections, he was a whopping eight inches long.

And because I'm so mean, I looked very closely for a stamp that might inform me that he was MADE IN CHINA, but there was no such thing to be found.

Dang it. That would have been so cool.

So, Grandma, if you're reading this, the Snake Charmer wants to come visit and she wants to know if she can bring her snake.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cornbread . . . by Peanut Head

Remember how I told you that Peanut Head is always experimenting with a good thing? Like he can NEV. ER. leave well enough alone? He has had some pretty strange ideas too, let me tell you. 

One time, he made enchiladas or something for his sister, Marcia, and I, and he screwed up big time. I don't remember exactly what it was he made because my head caught on fire immediately after the first bite and incinerated the memory from my brain forever.

Which probably gives you a little clue about what the experiment was all about. Ahem. The recipe, the recipe he decided to tweak before he even tried it once, called for one canned chipotle chili pepper.

And he dumped the whole can in.

The bonehead.

Marcia and I took one bite and we were all "Nuh Uh. I ain't eatin' tonight. I'm goin' to bed hungry."

He was, and is, so full of pride that he choked his serving down, sweating buckets and exclaiming how delicious it was. "It's got a little kick, but it's very flavorful."

"What-EVER. Like how could you tell? Your mouth is spewing flames like a blow torch."

Geesh. Anyway, this recipe isn't really like that. I just like to make fun of Peanut Head whenever I can. This recipe is actually very good and it wasn't his first tweak at it, so you're safe and you don't have to worry about any kitchen fires.

I promise.

I don't really know how he made it, but he took a lot of pretty pictures, so I'm just showing them to you.

"Ack! Alien hand with pecan halves!"

"Oooh, purty."

Purtier still.

It really was good though, so here's the recipe card.

He made me make a recipe card for you. He held a can of chipotle chili peppers to my head and I did it under duress.

No lie.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Let's talk about birthmarks, shall we? Well, birthday bookmarks, that is. It seems that a few of you thought it might be a good idea for me to make some holiday bookmarks, and I love that idea, I really do, and I'm going to get right on that, but I don't want anyone slinging any blog snot at me for putting my Christmas pretties up before Thanksgiving, so I'm going to hold off a bit.

In the meantime, I thought these little guys might hold you over for a bit.

I'm totally giving these to my sixth graders for their birthdays. It's a perfect teacher gift, don't you think? I think it would be a nifty party favor too. Or a great gift with a Barnes & Noble gift card. Or a fun little somethin' somethin' to stick inside a birthday card. Oh heck, just make some for yourself and celebrate your birthday all year long.

You can't have a birthday without cake, right?

I tweaked the one on the left a wee little bit, so if you're wondering why it looks different down below, it's because these are my prototypes and I thought the one was a little blah.

Oh dear, how did these get in here? You weren't supposed to see these.

Close your eyes and don't hate, okay?

Remember how I made my last batch of bookmarks with freebie magnets from the phone book? Yeah, well . . . I ran out so I had to go and buy some magnets.

And just between you and me, I'll never go back. These are worth the ten cents per bookmark because they have the adhesive already on them and they are STR-O-O-O-NG.

Notice that it's a box of 50 magnets. And each magnet is good for three bookmarks.

And, oopsie, I used all of those (yes that means 150 bookmarks, but really, who's counting?), and I had to go out and buy the gigondo box of magnets so I could bring you some more magnet love.

Can you believe it? I'm a little magnet happy lately. You could say that the kids in my life aren't lacking for bookmarks and you wouldn't be wrong.

As I was saying, I looooooove the self-adhesivity of these babies.

Remember I said that I can get three bookmarks per magnet? This is how I cut them up. I cut them in half, then each of those halves into thirds. I'm reeeeeeeee-al good at fractions. A fact that my sixth graders do not appreciate one little bit. They sort of hate fractions.

Then I cut a little extra off the edge of one of the pieces for each magnet. I do this because the little suckers won't line up perfectly for some dang reason. They go all magnet-mind-of-their-own on me and repel each other when I try to stack them perfectly lined up.

So I had to smother my symmetry issues and deal by making one of them shorter. It still bugs me.

Here's the longer of the two magnets.

And here's the shorter one on top and ready to be stuck to the opposite side of the bookmark.

Smackdown! And there you have it, another magnet bookmark. Bet you needed one too.

Here are the jpgs for you. In case you didn't see the last batch, print these as 4x6 photo prints, cut them in half lengthwise so they are 2" x 6", then fold over for a magnet bookmark.

Also, don't forget to click on each image before saving them to your computer so you get the best resolution.

Happy Birthday!

Pretend, okay?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Portuguese Sweet Rolls

Are these gorgeous or what? They're Portuguese Sweet Rolls and Peanut Head made them. Really. He is a man of many talents. I looooooooove them. I've been known to beg him to make them for me. Sure, I could make them myself, but why would I when I'm living with The Bread Man?

When we got married I was the bread maker. Then the Barefoot Contessa bought Peanut Head a bread machine and my skills were kicked to the curb. Everyone started buying him bread machine cookbooks, he had so much fun baking, baking, baking.  And then he started experimenting, because that's the kind of guy he is, and he can never leave well enough alone. He's like the Enterprise, exploring strange new worlds, yada, yada, yada. 

That's neither here nor there though, you want to know how to make these rolls, right? Well, the recipe is posted at the end if you just want to skip the blah, blah and get right to it. Otherwise, Peanut Head is going to demonstrate how he gets his buns so cute. I mean his rolls.

Oh never mind, watch this.

Peanut Head starts with his dough that has just come out of the bread machine.

Then he starts with a piece of dough equal to approximately a third of a cup, give or take. The size is not super important because you can have little bitty buns, or gigondo buns, like me. You pick.

Then you need to roll that bit of dough into a little snake. Remember doing that with play dough? Same thing.

Stretch it out a wee little bit so you have enough length to tie it into a knot.

See how he holds his fingers as he's stretching his dough around them?

Almost there.

Ta da! It's certainly not rocket science, but it is bread science.

This is what they look like fresh out of the oven. They're almost worth the gigondo butt, aren't they? Who am I kidding? They are.

Here's that recipe card. Enjoy!