How "The Plans" Turned Out

So, Christmas is over and I am grading myself on how I did. If you read my Plans post (if you didn't click through really quickly) it seemed a little ambitious for me and truth be told, I didn't do it all....yet. I think I can finish them up though, we'll see.
In any case, I did all my baking on Thursday the 22nd. I started with this scene:

And my new secret weapon:

I got this as a free gift when I purchased a cookbook from Southern Living. It came with a recipe book out of which I chose Bourbon Pecan Bread for one of my Christmas loaves.
After an entire day with my oven on and three batches of each type of bread, I ended up with the means to send out this:

Truth be told, only two recipients got theirs in the pretty box! I ended up mailing them all out, even to family we would be visiting. I just figured it was the best way to get everyone their breads while still fresh. What I didn't realize was how much that would cost!! Oh, well, live and learn.
Anyhoo, each box contains: Cranberry-Orange bread, Pumpkin bread, Bourbon-Pecan bread, Double Chocolate loaf, Mocha Cappuccino mix, Peach freezer jam and Triple Berry freezer jam (unless I knew for sure that the family didn't like something in there). I had some leftovers after all the boxes were made so I was able to give some to other neighbors and the mail lady, and of course we ate some too. My favorite has got to be the Double Chocolate loaf!! I'm sad to say the Bourbon-Pecan doesn't thrill me though. It's not quite sweet enough. It's too bad too because it had the most expensive ingredient!!
I did not make the dog treats or the chex mix but I still have some time. The chex mix at least should get made today! Dog treats may have to wait until we get back from visiting family! I hope your Christmas was as wonderful as ours. I'll be back in 2012 with more tasty treats and yummy suppers. Thanks so much for stopping by and reading my blog!

Double Chocolate Loaf

Prepare yourself! This stuff is lethally delicious!! I found the recipe on BrownEyedBaker and she got it from Cookin' Canuck. The color of this bread alone is enough to make you drool. I LOVE this one!
The Ingredients:
  • ¾ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used Hershey's Special Dark chips)

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9x5-inch loaf pan; set aside.

    Combine the brown sugar, cocoa, flour, granulated sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix on low speed just to combine.

    In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolk to blend, then add the buttermilk, oil and vanilla; whisk until combined.

    Turn the mixer to low and slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, mixing just until combined.

    Stir in the chopped chocolate by hand using a rubber spatula.

    Give it all a good last stir, making sure to scrap up everything on the bottom and sides and mixing it in. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

    Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the loaf cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

    Marvel at the color of this rich, scrumptious bread. It's divine! It's blissful! It's easy! It's gone? What the what?! hmmmm, better go make some more!!

    Cookin' Canuck includes the recipe for a peanut butter cream cheese spread to put on it. I didn't make this but here is how she says to do it:
    To make the Cream Cheese Spread: Using a spoon, mix 5 ounces softened cream cheese in a medium bowl until soft and fluffy. Add 2 Tablespoons peanut butter and stir to completely combine, then add 1/3 cup sugar and stir briskly, until incorporated.
    Store the loaf wrapped tightly with plastic wrap at room temperature; store the cream cheese spread covered with plastic wrap (or in an airtight container) in the refrigerator

    Bourbon-Pecan Bread

    This recipe came in a booklet that I received along with a 4-chambered mini loaf pan from Southern Living magazine. I immediately hit on the name of this recipe and decided I would have to try it out in our Christmas baskets this year.
    The Ingredients:

    2 cups all purpose flour
    2/3 cup granulated sugar
    2 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp salt
    3 Tbsp butter, cut into pieces
    1 tsp grated orange peel (I didn't have any!)
    1 cup chopped pecans, divided
    2/3 cup milk
    1/3 cup Bourbon
    1 large egg

    Combine the first four ingredients and blend together. Cut butter into the dry mix until crumbly.

    Add orange peel and 3/4 cup pecans.

    Whisk together milk, bourbon and egg in a bowl.

    Add to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened.

    Spoon batter into 4 greased and floured mini loaf pans.

    Sprinkle tops with 1/4 cup pecans. 

    Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes the turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.

    The recipe included a glaze for the top that due to mailing I couldn't use. You combine 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 2 to 4 tsp Bourbon until creamy and able to drizzle. Drizzle on top of loaves. Maybe this would have added a little more sweetness to the bread. It tastes great and you can really smell the bourbon. It just wasn't sweet enough for me. I hope the people we sent it to enjoyed it and I will for sure try out a new recipe before using it for gifts next time!

    French Dip Roast with Round Steak

    We recently bought half of a 2 year old bull that my parents had butchered. It has made my freezer look like this:

    Fully half of the meat is hamburger and then there are several varieties of steaks including a whole mess of round steak. Round steak lends itself pretty well to low and slow cooking so I started looking for slow cooker recipes for it and came across this extremely easy one.

    The Ingredients:

    1 pound round steak
    1 envelope Onion soup mix
    1 can beef broth (or equivalent)
    **I doubled this recipe**

    First I trimmed the fat from the steaks and cut them into smaller pieces, about a serving size each. Sorry but I guess I didn't take a picture of them! Then you mix the rest of the ingredients in the slow cooker.

    Place the meat into the broth mixture.

    Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 but I recommend the low method. We served the meat with rice and the au jus is delicious so I made some French bread to soak it up with!


    The Plans

    I am quite certain that merely typing this out will cause some form of catastrophe to befall my house assuring that NONE of it will get done and I will be shamefully bereft of gifts to give our friends, neighbors and family members. But in order to make some attempt at accountability, I have to put it down somewhere. We'll just keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best!
    SO! The idea this year is to make an assortment of little loaves to give instead of a variety of cookies like in previous years. I got this cute little pan that makes 4 mini loaves at a time and I am going to break it in! I am planning to make two tried and true recipes and two brand new ones:
    Cranberry Orange loaves
    Pumpkin Quick Bread with pecan topping
    Double Chocolate Loaf from Cookin' Canuck
    Bourbon Pecan Bread from the cookbook that came with the little loaf pan.
    After those are done, If I am still standing, I want to make the Peanut Butter Dog Treats from last year and some dipped pretzel rods. I'll probably mix up a big batch of Mocha Cappuccino Mix too. Last but not least I want to FINALLY get around to trying the Coffee Toffee Chex Mix recipe I have been sitting on since last Christmas. I have all the ingredients for it so let's hope it gets made!
    I made a list of how much of every ingredients I would need to make three batches of each bread and bought all I could find of what I needed today. Now to clean the kitchen and organize it and set it up for a day of baking all I can tomorrow. Hopefully I will have everything done by Thursday so I can mail it out to those who live afar and it will be fresh when they get it.
    If I need to bake more I will have the 26th to do it. I will for sure be baking some Amish friendship bread that day since my starter will be ready. I have a couple extra starters too so maybe I'll have enough to make a few loaves to take with us to Houston.
    Typing all this out hasn't killed me so I think I can get it all done. Oh, man, did I just jinx myself?? *sigh*


    Menu 12/17 - 12/22/2011

    Well, the only thing from last week's menu that we actually had was the pizza! So this week there is just a repeat and a slight shuffle. I'm already off to a bad start though because we didn't have what I planned to have last night. I will make it for lunch today though because I felt horrible as I watched Jayme make himself a bologna sandwich to take to work for dinner. BAD WIFE!!
    Sunday-- Hoppin' John
    Monday-- French Dip Roast ( I will post recipe after taking pics)
    Tuesday-- Chicken with Spaghetti
    Wednesday-- Cheesy Potato Soup and Grilled Cheese
    Thursday-- Breakfast, I am hoping my hubby will make his killer waffles!
    I am planning to shop on Friday for our Christmas Eve and day menu so Thursday is as far as I planned this time. Lots of baking to do this week, wish me luck! and Health!!


    Menu 12/10 - 12/16/2011

    Menu time again! There was one thing last week we didn't have, Pumpkin Pancakes. I was too low on syrup. Luckily we had some leftovers and were able to cope. We have also had a sickly 11 year old with not much appetite :(  Hopefully this week will go more smoothly!

    Saturday-- Leftovers
    Sunday-- Tacos (my parents will be here!!)
    Monday-- French Dip Roast (new one, not this one)
    Tuesday-- Chicken with Spaghetti
    Wednesday-- Cheesy Potato Soup and Grilled Cheese
    Thursday-- Hoppin John
    Friday-- Clay has a Christmas party to go to so I really think we'll order pizza! I'm kind of craving it. It's also the last day of school before Christmas break so we'll have to celebrate!!


    Beef Stew

    Along with pot roast, beef stew is a dish I have never failed to ruin. After my recent success with pot roast (thanks to Pioneer Woman's recipe), I thought I would give beef stew another chance. There are bajillions of recipes out there so I decided to go the super easy route of buying a Beef Stew Seasoning packet at the grocery store and following the recipe on the back. Here we go:
    The Ingredients

    2 pounds stew meat (I used a chuck roast that I cut up into pieces)
    1/4 cup flour (I took the picture with plain flour but ended up using my Kentucky Kernel Seasoned Flour)
    3 cup water
    1 pkg Beef Stew Seasoning
    5 cup vegetables

    After I cut up my roast:

    Pour the flour over the beef and make sure all sides are coated.

    Brown beef in a large pot or dutch oven. If there is a lot of fat when they are done, you may want to drain it off. I cut all the fat off the meat so I did not need to do that.

    Add the water and seasoning packet. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours until beef is tender.

    Prepare your veggies. I skipped the celery I had in the picture above and since my favorite part is the onion, I went heavy on them. You do what you like!

    Add the vegetables to the pot and simmer, covered, another 45 minutes.

    In actuality I simmered mine for a little over an hour. The potatoes weren't quite done at the 45 minute mark. I think the heat was too low. I turned it up to about medium for the last 15 minutes.
    I had intended to make a loaf of bread to serve with this but I didn't have enough honey on hand so I just grabbed some biscuits from the fridge.

    I was really happy with this! It was hearty and filling and felt great on Raley's sore throat this evening. A nice meal to cook and eat on a rainy, cold day.


    Menu 12/3 - 12/9--2011

    Here is our menu for the coming week. We had a couple meals last week that were skipped so they are being recycled here.
    Saturday-- kids and I are having Corn Dogs. I just needed them, you know?!
    Sunday-- Raley Gravy
    Monday-- Shredded Pork Wraps
    Tuesday-- Chicken Chili
    Wednesday-- Salmon and pasta
    Thursday-- Beef Stew
    Friday-- I bought some maple sausage that is just screaming out for Pumpkin Pancakes!
    Have a great week!!


    Creamy Baked Ziti

    Here's another recipe from Kraft Food & family magazine. I have been wanting to make it for a while but I thought it would be extra good with some homemade marinara. so today I made both! Here is the step by step for the Ziti...
    The Ingredients:

    4 cups ziti pasta, uncooked
    1 jar (26 oz) marinara sauce (or equivalent)
    1 can diced tomatoes
    6 oz cream cheese**
    3/4 cup sour cream
    8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
    1/3 cup grated Parmesan
    **I happened to have some Philly Cooking Cream so I used it in place of the cream cheese

    You may  have noticed there is no marinara sauce in the picture. Well, it was still cooking. Here you go:

    Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Cook ziti according to package instructions.

    Drain pasta.

    In the pot you cooked the pasta in, combine the marinara, tomatoes and cream cheese.

    Stir and cook over medium heat until cream cheese is melted. Add in the pasta.

    Layer half the pasta in a 9 x 13 baking dish.

    Top with the sour cream and 1 cup of the shredded mozzarella.

    Add the remaining pasta and top with the rest of the shredded cheese and the Parmesan.

    Cover and bake for 20 minutes or until heated through.

    I was very pleased with the flavor here. The recipe also said you could assemble the dish and refrigerate for up to 8 hours. If so, then increase cooking time to 35 minutes or heated through.


    Menu 11/12 - 11/18 2011

    Remember when I used to post my menu for the week? Back when I paid better attention to my poor sweet little blogs? Well, I am going to try that again. Wish me luck!
    In the meantime, here is what we'll be eating this week:
    Saturday-- Pizza
    Sunday-- Raley Gravy
    Monday-- Steak Fingers
    Tuesday-- Chicken Chili
    Wednesday-- Tuna Patties and Mac & Cheese
    Thursday-- Kobayashi Maru
    Friday-- Tacos

    What's on your menu??


    Bourbon Mustard

    A few years ago, I was looking for something I could send out as Christmas gifts that would be nice but not too pricey. One of the things I found was this recipe from Emeril's portion of the Food Network website. It was so delicious I have kept some in my fridge ever since! Easy too:
    The Ingredients

    **I have tripled the original recipe because then it uses the entire jar of mustard, the whole little bottle of bourbon and fills my container to the top. Serendipity!!
    12 oz container (or 1 1/2 cups) Dijon mustard
    3/4 cup honey
    1 tiny bottle (or 3 Tbsp) of Bourbon

    Empty the mustard bottle into a mixing bowl. To help you get the last of the mustard out, pour the bourbon in the bottle and shake it up.
    If you look closely you can see the bourbony mustard at the bottom.
    Add the honey.

    Whisk it all up. And pour it into a container.

    Label your container and enjoy on everything! I'm having some on my pita for lunch.


    Hamburger Noodle Bake

    This recipe is out of my Taste of Home Annual Recipes 2011 cookbook. It was listed in the chapter "cooking for One or Two" but I doubled the recipe and it worked out very well for us. The original recipe only called for 1/2 pound of meat so doubling wasn't very hard!
    The Ingredients:

    4 cups uncooked egg noodles
    1 pound ground beef, turkey, venison or whatever else you like to use
    4 Tbsp finely chopped onion
    2 cans (8 oz) tomato sauce
    1/2 tsp sugar
    1/4 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp garlic salt
    Pepper to taste
    1/2 cup small curd cottage cheese
    4 ounces cream cheese, softened
    2 Tbsp thinly sliced green onion (I skipped this)
    2 Tbsp chopped green pepper
    2 Tbsp sour cream
    4 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

    WHEW! That sounds like a lot and might make you think this is going to be hard or take a long time but it isn't and it doesn't!! First step, cook the noodles according to package directions. While they cook, brown the meat and onion in a large skillet until meat is no longer pink; drain. Remove from heat; stir in the tomato sauce, sugar, salt, garlic salt and pepper.

    In a small bowl, mix together the cottage cheese, cream cheese, green onion, green pepper and sour cream. When the noodles are done, drain them and place half the cooked noodles in the bottom of a 2 quart baking dish (well greased please).

    Spoon half the meat mixture over the noodle base.

    Add the cheese mixture next. Use it all.

    Follow with the remaining noodles. Spoon the rest of the meat sauce on top and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

    Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes or until heated through.

    Enjoy! This was very good. Kind of like lasagna but not as hard to make and it had a great flavor. We will make this again and again for sure.