Tuesday, October 25, 2011

84. Pumpkin Bread, French Toast and a few awards

This year we have had a lot of pumpkin food.  There has been Gingersnap Pumpkin Cheesecake, Pumpkin and Chocolate Chip Cookies, Pumpkin Scones, Pumpkin Curry Soup, Pumpkin Pancakes and Pumpkin Milkshakes.  That's  a whole month of treats and yumminess for October.  Not that October is considered a "pumpkin" month but it does seem that a whole bunch of pumpkin is consumed this time of year and in the month of October…LOL

My friend Jenni, over at A Little Bit Crunchy A Little Bit Rock n' Roll, shared a pumpkin recipe that I could not pass up…Yeasted Pumpkin Bread!  WOW…the name alone sounds amazing and let me tell you the bread did not last long once it was cool enough to slice!  The recipe was easy to follow, made a large loaf and turned out perfect the first time I made it.  We scored a winner in our house!

I made the bread the night before because I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it…french toast!  At first I thought there would not be enough left over but my family stopped just in time to leave me half a loaf and that provided me with enough to make the french toast with caramelized pecans and almond paste butter.  Needless to say, we devoured the whole loaf of bread in under 24 hours…LOL

You can find Jenni's recipe here for her Yeasted Pumpkin Bread.  Jenni has a wonderful blog and she is a very talented photographer.  I encourage you to dive into her blog and find out for yourself how talented this amazing foodie is.

Recipe:  French Toast

1 loaf of Yeasted Pumpkin Bread
6 eggs
1 cup of milk
1 tsp of almond flavoring or vanilla
1/2 tsp of cinnamon, more may be needed as you use the mixture

Bake your loaf of Yeasted Pumpkin Bread the night before or early enough for it to completely cool.

Mix in a pie plate the eggs, milk, vanilla and cinnamon.

Heat a large griddle to about 350 degrees.  Coat your griddle with Pam.  Dip each piece of bread into egg/milk mixture and lay on griddle.  Cook until each side is golden brown.

Serve warm with syrup, butter, caramelized pecans or cinnamon syrup.

This past month has been crazy busy for me and because of that I have not been able to respond and share with you those blogs that I value and appreciate. There are so many lovely ladies and gentlemen in this foodie world that are my friends, fellow foodies, inspiration, motivation and mentors.

I have learned so much about cooking, photography, living and celebrating life.  They are positive, influential and they bring joy to my small world.  In fact there are too many to list but I will share 5 pages.

I recieved this award from several foodie friends.  They are: Mom! What's for dinner, An Affair from the Heart (Michaela), Cooking with Mel and Recipe for my Boys.  Thank you so much!!!


In German liebster means loved or beloved,dearest:

They are not in any order.

1. A Little Bit Crunchy A Little Bit Rock n' Roll,  I enjoy Jenni's recipes, I admire her photography and I notice that we pin a lot of the same things.  If we lived closer, I think we would be great friends…LOL  I shared just a sample of the many recipes she has on her blog.  I enjoy this foodie friend!

2.  Rich and Sweet  Bia is one of the first people I clicked with in the blogging world.  She is one of the sweetest and busiest people I know.  I love her cooking style and she always goes above and beyond with what she creates.  

3.  Dishing the Divine,  Paula is awesome!  We have become friends through email and she is also an amazing photographer.  I love her sense of humor..she is one funny lady! Her food will rock your world.

4. Sumptuous Spoonfuls  I think Ann has shared more of my recipes with the foodie universe than anyone I know. She is very generous with her page and shares lots of recipes with her followers.  I can always count on a wonderful and kind remark from Ann, for this I am so appreciative.  Ann has a great blog to visit.  

5.  Mia's Domain, Mia is always so supportive and I love to go out to my page and she has always taken the time to say hello…that means a lot to me.  She is an awesome cook!   

I hate to stop at just 5 but I am almost out of time..dinner, kids, work…the list goes on and on, but because of the great friendships I have with my foodie friends, I look forward to my few minutes here and there catching up, sharing and laughing with all of them. 

 Heather, Ally, Debi, Tanja, Karie, Michelle, Sawsan, Kay, Nami, Michael, Valerie…just to name a few…are all awesome and I am so lucky to call you friends.  Thanks!

There are some rules to this when you are picked,
First and foremost you should always link back to those who gifted you the award.
You also need to pick your 5 , and let them know they have been awarded by commenting on a recent post of theirs, lastly write your own post about all of this as I have.

Monday, October 24, 2011

83. Meatloaf and Ego Lighting

It's been a while since I have talked about ideas for your food photography.  I thought today I would share a few pictures with you about the use of the Lowel Ego lights.  I bought these two lights about 4 years ago and have loved them ever since.  They have been in storage and I just got them back…YAY for me.

The lights are less expensive than a full set of studio lights, they are quite portable and light weight.  In fact, they fit perfectly inside of a pillowcase and this makes carrying both of them with one hand much easier.  I am looking at purchasing two more for a larger lit area.  These are great for offering white light with a fluorescent bulb.  I bought 4 day time light bulbs for 18.00 at the hardware store and they worked great.

This is my set up in my office for what I have been working on this week.

This past week has been very busy for me with work.  On weeks like this, I am overwhelmed with Mommy and Working Mom duties.  I like to keep our meals simple and easy.  Last month I bought this cool meat pack: veal, pork and beef.   A trio of ground meat.  I was unsure why they would combine three meats but felt that their must be some dish or type of meal this was prepared for.  I asked on my Fb fan page and got lots of suggestions but the two with the most votes and ideas were  meatloaf and meatballs.

I asked my family which one they would like and the unanimous vote was meatloaf.  I will admit that my meatloaf is not anything fancy or different.  It's a standard, everyday recipe by most meatloaf types.  We like it and that is what counts and on weeks like this one, I don't have time to "create" new, I just need the old stand by that works.  I am sure that you can relate to this.  We all have our favorite recipes that just work and there is a lot of comfort in these recipes.

I did get fancy with the potatoes.  Pinterest is always sharing this picture of these potatoes that are sliced very thin, sprinkled with salt, pepper and olive oil.  I thought they looked fun and tried them out on the family.  I don't think they were impressed and I probably won't do them again.  You lose the fluffy baked potato texture and you get in return a cross between a chip (on the edges)  and a sticky potato.  It was cooked but the texture was funky. Of course, this is just my opinion.

I used these two very basic and easy foods: meatloaf and potatoes, to demonstrate the lights for you to see how they work.  These images were taken at night, with my lowel ego lights and a standard white paper back drop.  The full back drop is not necessary to shoot food. I just happened to have this already set up for the seasonal pictures I have been working on for a client.  

SOOC (STRAIGHT OUT OF THE CAMERA)  Notice that the image has been brightened (post processing), the crumbs on the plate removed (post processing) and the gray has been lightened (post processing).  

This would be my final image.   These images were taken in a dark room with only the lowel lights on.

Recipe:  Meatloaf

1.5-2 pounds of a meat combination of : veal,  beef and pork, ground
1/4 red onion, diced
1/4 green onion, sliced
1 tsp. garlic,  minced
2 eggs
1 cup of uncooked oatmeal
1/2 cup ketchup
3-4 shakes of Worcestershire sauce

Top with more ketchup

I combine all of the above ingredients in a large bowl.  I use a bread pan (mine is Pampered Chef stoneware) and shape the mixture so the top is rounded.  I take the ketchup bottle and zig zag ketchup across the top.  Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until done.

In the past I have also added a cheddar cheese middle.  Grate your cheese.  Put half of the meat in the bottom of the pan, add cheese and then add remaining meat.  Make sure the edges are sealed and that the cheese cannot ooze out the sides.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

82. Homemade Breadsticks

If you know me very well, then you know that we have moved a lot.  Over 20 times in 24 years (this is just my married life..LOL)  My husbands job and education have had us traveling and exploring most of our married life.  With each move, I have made great friends.  With every friend, I inherited some amazing recipes!  This is one of them.

While living in Tacoma, WA, I met a woman who could do everything, so it seemed.  She cooked like there was no tomorrow and her food was always the hit of any event or party.  She was very gracious with her recipes and had no problem sharing them with everyone.  I have two bread recipes that are amazing, quick and taste so good.  I learned to make bread with these two because they were very user friendly.

Today I will share the breadstick and in a future post I will share the other rolls.  What I love about her bread recipe, is that it can be an after thought and still get made in time for dinner.  So many times bread is an after thought for me at a meal.  This happened to me yesterday as I was preparing the potato soup.  Then I remembered that I had an old cookbook that I just unpacked and all of my old bread recipes would be nicely tucked away.  I looked and there it was.  YAHOO…bread sticks were made in under an hour and they were a huge hit with the family.  Enjoy!

Recipe:  Easy Breadsticks

1 T yeast, dissolved in 1 ½ cups warm water; add 3 T. sugar.  Let sit for a few minutes until bubbly. 

Add ½ tsp salt and 3 1/4  cups of flour.

Mix and knead for 3 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes.  Melt 1 stick of butter in cookie sheet.  Roll dough on counter and cut into strips.  Dab both sides with butter and line them into the cookie sheet.  Sprinkle with garlic, parsley flakes, seasoned salt, and parm cheese.  Let raise 10-20 minutes, bake for 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees.

NOTE:  The dough is very soft, if it's too soft, add a bit more flour so that you can handle each strip.  I know that one stick of butter sounds like a lot, but the butter is soaked up by the rising dough and breadstick when cooked. If you happen to use less, please let me know if it turns out.  Thanks!

BAM..your done!  Was that not super easy or what?  I have added the pictures below to help with each step.

The above strips were a bit too soft to be picked up, so I ended up cutting them down the middle too.  They will stretch the length of the pan and make thinner bread sticks.  They still taste just as good.

The bread sticks will immediately start to rise in the hot pan with the melted butter.

Season your breadsticks and let rise.

Bake and watch them mesh together, but they pull apart so easily.

This is a quick shot to show you how easily they pull apart and how much they rise.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

81. Rouladen with Brown Gravy


What the heck is Rouladen?  You might be asking yourself this question or you already know.  It's a german dish made with beef and served with gravy. I was introduced to this dish in my husbands family.  His mother made this dish on nice occasions and for special birthday requests.  This week I was watching Guy's show Dinners, Dumps and Dives and he featured a restaurant where it was made.  Like food usually does for me, it triggered a memory.  I was reminded of our time spent traveling to his family home for special dinners where this was served.  I never got the recipe and this is why I needed to do some snooping around for myself.

I had to do some research with this dish because I wanted to make sure that when I made it , the rouladen was not dry.  I wanted lots of flavor too.  In reading about this dish, I found that there are several ways to make it.   This made sense to me because the way my MIL made the dish was very different from the way I had just seen it on Guy's show.  The main difference was the addition of pickle and possibly mustard.  I don't ever remember tasting those flavors and this, for me, sounded awesome!  I love both of those ingredients and then together…match made in heaven.

I learned that the dish is prepared differently based on the regions that you may live in around Germany. I also found that there were slight variations on cooking, gravy and types of mustard and bacon that were used.  It's hard to decide on one recipe with all of the options available.  I did the only thing that I could do.  I decided to take what I liked from several recipes and combine them to make what we ate tonight.  

If you are a seasoned cook this recipe is not difficult.  It does take time to cook and a bit of time to prepare the rolls but it's not hard.  As with most of my recipes, I encourage you to look through the recipe and add what you like to it or take out what you don't like.  Some of the folks, did not include the pickle and this dish still tasted wonderful, in their opinion.  The mustard is the other option that could easily be changed to meet your needs.  I used a honey mustard, but you may want to use a Dijon or one of your favorites, or simply what you have on hand.

Recipe:  Rouladen with Brown Gravy
make 8 rolls ( I planned on 2 per person)

NOTE: You will need thinly cut pieces of steak.  I used Chip Steak, which is London Broil.  I read that some recipes used Flank Steak as well.  If you use Flank Steak, I would use a mallet and pound to a thinner thickness…1/8 thick.  The steak pieces should be about 3 inches by 6.  I had some pieces that narrowed at one end, which was fine.  I used this end to start the rolling process.   You want enough meat to roll multiple times. I was hoping for three rolls and found that I was able to get pretty close.

8 pieces of thinly cut meat, roughly 3X6 inches in size
1 large dill pickle, cut very thinly or diced very small
8 pieces of bacon, uncooked and thin
1/4 red onion, sliced very thin
honey mustard
1 package of Onion dry soup mix, like Lipton
2.5 cups of water (the measurement is two and a half  cups)
1 T. oil
1/4 cup of flour (GF, use brown or white rice flour)
cooking twine or tooth picks

Preheat your oven to 325.

Prepare you pickles and onion by cutting them very thin.  I ended up chopping up my pickle because I did not cut them thin enough.  Either way works fine.  Take your 8 slices of raw bacon and cut them in half.

Remove your meat from packaging and line them up side by side.  Doing them in batches saves time.  I did 4 at a time.  With a spoon, take about 1 tsp of honey mustard and spread all over one piece of meat. Separate your slices of red onion and scatter them on top of the mustard.

Take two strips of bacon and lay them long ways on the honey mustard.

Lay a pickle slice or the chopped pieces last.

Cut enough twine for each one to have at least two pieces of string. I had a few that needed three.  Try to tie one on each end and this is where the third might come in handy.  If the middle is bulging and things are trying to escape out of the center add a third string to it.

In a large fry pan, add the oil.  Lay the rouladen bundles in the oil and cook on all sides.  I used a medium high heat and this took about 4-6 minutes to complete.

In a large stock pot, add your water and package of onion soup mix.  Stir well.  Lay your bundles down inside the pot and add the drippings from the pan.  This will enhance the gravy as it cooks.

I cooked my rouladen for 2 hours.  The first hour the heat was set to 325 for one hour.  The second hour, I bumped up the stove to 375 and cooked for an additional hour.  This last hour is when I started preparing the mashed potatoes.

You will know the rouladen is done if the meat is very soft to cut, you should not need a knife.  Remove the rouladen to a serving bowl.  Put the gravy onto the stove top and add your flour.  Bring the gravy to a boil and it should thicken.  If the gravy is not as thick as you like,  then remove from heat and add a bit more flour and return to a boil.  Pour the gravy over the rouladen in the serving bowl.  I also added gravy to a gravy bowl for those that wanted some on their mashed potatoes.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

80. Breakfast Sweet Potatoes

So many things are running through my mind…LOL    This is the list:

1.  I am up way to early…airport run this morning! I should eat some breakfast.
2.  I had to google the word "hash" for this blog posting, only to learn it's not the word I wanted.
3.  I am so excited that our moving trailer will be here on Thursday. I can almost not contain my    excitement. Only to be stressed because I am not sure when we will have time to unload it.
4.  I want to share my pictures of our beach visit from Sunday.
5.  I have to go to Food Network and collect a recipe for Rouladen before I forget.
6.  My son over slept while I was driving to the airport.
7.  I have a list a mile long of responses to email that I neglected yesterday.
8.  Grocery shopping needs to get done today, we are out of so much stuff.
9.  I have a photo shoot next week that I need to buy props for this week.
10.  My house looks like a bomb went off in it, thanks to a minimally supervised 4 yo yesterday…LOL

That's just the beginning!  Often times my brain thinks much faster than I have the ability to do.  In fact sometimes my brain thinks so fast that my words and sentences are not complete…it's one big mess, goulash or stew.

So I will keep this simple and easy.  This is my style. I will start at the top and work my way down.  Do the best I can to accomplish what is on the list.  I won't stress about the things I did not get done, just be glad that I was able to do something today.

I will start with getting this yummy recipe up and posted to my "log".  This is what Isabella called it last night.  We were watching the food channel and she mentioned that I should make what was being made on TV and post it to my "log" for my friends to see and make too.  I thought it was cute.

As you know, on Saturday, I shot a band tournament.  This is a lot of work.  Once it starts you don't get a break.  They come onto the field every 15 minutes  for 2-4 hours or longer.  It depends on the size of the tournament.  Ours happened to be a small one, only 6 bands and a performance by the younger kids in the area.  I was at the school from 10am to about 9pm.  I took 800 pictures.  You can imagine how tired I was.

When we finally crashed that night, the hubster and I both decided that going to the beach on Sunday was out of the question…it was a two hour drive, hot and it would include lots of walking.  These old bones don't work like they used to….LOL

Sunday came and I woke up early and thought..Dang it, I am going to the beach.  I need a break.  I need to go.  I want to go.  I will go even if it is just me.  To my surprise, I went up stairs and announced I was still going to the beach, and my husband had decided the same thing.   I love it when we are so in tune with each other that this happens.  It was a great day!  Not only did we walk a lot but we also rented a surrey to ride around in for an hour.

 I hope you enjoy these pictures of Ocean City, MD.  It is nostalgic to go to a boardwalk with a huge Ferris wheel.  The day could not have been more beautiful, sunny and hot if we had planned it ourselves.  Time spent with those you love is amazing.

So how did I get to this recipe for breakfast?  I love sweet potato anything…fries, bread, mashed….etc.   You name it and I will try it.  Saturday night, we took Drake out to dinner and I ordered a basket of sweet potato fries.  Of course they insist on ruining the fries with cinnamon sugar (I don't like this).   I order mine plain…just give me some salt and ranch and call it good.  I think I might have been too tired to eat and had to take my fries home.

Sunday morning while deciding to go to the beach, I knew I wanted to eat a big breakfast…something warm, filling and yummy.  I opened the fridge and my first thought was I would warm up the fries and then I thought,  "How about frying up the sweet potatoes like I do with my baked potatoes?"  It worked.  I grabbed a tart apple, some onion and garlic…fried it together and we had the best, tastiest sweet potato mixture with our eggs and toast.

Recipe:  Breakfast Sweet Potatoes

1 order of sweet potato fries
1/4 red onion, sliced
1/2 tart apple, cubed
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 T. olive oil
salt/pepper to taste

You can make your own sweet potato fries by purchasing the sweet potatoes.  Peel the potatoes and slice them into 1/4 inch thick disk (the long way of the sweet potato). Take each disk and cut into 1/4 inch strips.  Try to make them all the same size.  Heat oil in a pan and fry your sweet potatoes.  Drain the fries on paper towels.  Add salt.

With the freshly made fries or left overs, cut them into 1 inch long pieces.  Cut your apple and onion.  Heat your oil in a frying pan.  Add the garlic, onion and sweet potatoes.  Fry until the onion starts to turn transparent.  Add the apple cubes and continue cooking.  I cooked mine for about 15 minutes total time.  This is pretty quick, you just don't want to over cook your apple and have it get too soft.  You want the crispness and flavor to not be lost.

This can be served for breakfast or as a side dish.  It has lots of fall colors and definitely can be changed to fit your taste buds.  Remember the combination of the sweet and tart are what makes the flavor so good.

If you would like to see Ocean City and how beautiful and unique it is, I have shared a few pictures below.  ENJOY!

You must know that I abhor bridges.  I get sweaty palms, anxiety out of this world and usually do not breath the whole time we are on them.  My biggest fear is drowning in a car going off of a bridge.  Now you know way too much information about me…LOL  But I do love this picture of the Bay Bridge that I took while driving.

The smell of a pier takes me back to my childhood of when we lived in San Diego.  I loved this picture too.  

The sand was so clean.  The beach was not crowded.  We are in off season and the weather was perfect…clear blue skies for as far as the eye could see.

This is down by the Ferris Wheel.  I honestly don't know how many miles the walk it, maybe 3 or 4 miles.

Clams Casino…this was fantastic!

We rented this surrey to drive up and down the boardwalk.  There is no way we could have walked it with Isabella and no stroller.  This was fun!

This lady showed up with her two great danes.  They were so beautiful!  I laughed because they really wanted her bucket of french fries.  LOL

This building is a mess, but in an artistic way.  Inside they sell posters, artwork and paintings.  

You can't go an amusement themed board walk and not get cotton candy.  She struggled with the wind and her hair.  They were both a sticky mess that night.  But, oh she had a good time being in the sand and at the beach.

Friday, October 7, 2011

79. Cheesy Cauliflower Casserole

Yesterday was like any other day for me in the kitchen.  I open the fridge and think to myself "what am I going to make today?"  I start digging around and I find this cauliflower that I bought at the beginning of the month.  How do you forget that you bought a cauliflower?…LOL  I usually have a few things in my fridge that I forget about but this one did not smell and was not slimy…thank goodness!

We love cauliflower and often times when I buy it, we make a yummy salad mix that is great on a grilled cheese sandwich.  That recipe can be found HERE.

What I love about this picture is the cow on the right with her calf…they are so subtle and make this image.  I shot this picture driving up behind our house in UT.
I was not thinking of a sandwich, I wanted something cheesy, warm and ,possibly, something I could use as a side dish for the fall.  I saw the Brat sausage, that was not used the day before,  in the fridge from my Kraut and Brat Potato Soup. Then my mind caught fire and I started pulling things from the fridge left and right.  My family must have thought I was in a hurry or something because it just clicked.  I went for some cheese and discovered I had bought a package of gorgonzola cheese!  YES…here was my secret ingredient to give it that extra "woodsy" taste.

This is a common sight in UT..beautiful yellow leaves!

Fall always reminds me of trees and color; hiking in the mountains.   Smelling the fresh air and sometimes the damp air.  I wanted all of this to be in one dish…color, woodsy and a perfect fall/autumn dish.

This was a tree in our neighborhood.

As we anticipate the turning of the leaves in our beautiful east coast state, I am reflecting on our home we left in Utah and how beautiful our fall was every year.  The colors were so inspirational: red, yellow and orange.  It was truly a sight to see and often brought lots of visitors to our small valley to enjoy the beauty of it all.

This recipe is a blend of rich flavors, that when paired together make the most mouth watering side dish or main dish.  You can leave the sausage out and have no meat or change the sausage for bacon or ham. Play with the cheese blend too.  If you don't like what I used, change it.  I encourage you to get "funky" in the kitchen and cook to how you want it to taste.  I just give you a map…you decide which route you will take.  Enjoy!

Recipe:  Cheesy Cauliflower Casserole

1 head of cauliflower, steamed and cut into chunks
2 carrots, peeled and sliced thin
1/2 cup celery, diced (3 stalks)
1 T. olive oil
2 bratwursts, fried and diced  (Bratwurst are like polish dogs, but not hotdogs)
2 tsp. garlic
salt and pepper to taste


3/4 stick of butter, soft
1/3 cup of flour (GF use brown rice flour)
1 1/2 cups of milk  ( I used almond milk, because it's what I had and needed to use it.)
1 cup of cream
salt to taste
1 cup of provolone cheese ( I bought the sliced and cut them into small strips)
1 cup of cheddar, grated
2 T. gorgonzola cheese (This should already be crumbled)

NOTE:  The gorgonzola cheese is strong on its own, but when blended with the other two cheese's the flavor is not strong, in fact, it gives it that "woodsy" flavor, ever so slightly.  If you're not prepared to use this strong cheese, just leave it out.

In a large pot, add steamer tray.  Boil 2 inches of water and add cauliflower that has been rinsed and chopped into large chunks.  Cook for 15 minutes.  You do not want this mushy.  It should be firm but soft when pierced with a fork.

While the cauliflower is steaming, prepare the other ingredients.  In a large frying pan, add olive oil and brats.  I usually take the sausage out of the casing and fry.  Remove brat when done and add the veggies.  Fry the veggies and garlic for 5 minutes.  Add the meat back to the veggies and set aside.

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter and add the flour.  Stir and cook for 1 minute.  Slowly add the milk and then the cream.  Continue cooking on medium heat, stirring often, until thick.  When thick add the cheese and stir.  The gorgonzola cheese takes a minute to completely melt.

In a large 9X13 pan or two smaller pans, place the steamed cauliflower.

 Add the veggie/meat mix on top of the cauliflower.

Add the cheese sauce on top.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. It should be bubbly.  You don't want to over cook this dish.

We ate the whole thing yesterday….my family (teenagers included) LOVED it!

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