Monday, October 30, 2006

The Aunt's Corner - Maxine

As I have mentioned before, I have several aunts, (my mom's sisters) that I have been very close to all of my life. Over the next little while I am going to feature each one of them and post one of their recipes. This is my Aunt Maxine. She is the youngest and is only 9 years older than I am. I actually just call her "Maxine", without the aunt title. She lives here in Birmingham and has a husband, Mike, a daughter Tanya, a son, Chad, a daughter-in-law, Victoria, and a grandson, Reid.
I wanted to be just like her when I was a little girl. When she was a teenager, I used to spend the night with her a lot at my grandmother's house, which I thought was amazing. I don't know how amazing she thought it was, though. I used to try to tease my hair like she did. Her hair always looked great and all I ended up with was tangles. I wanted to know all the songs on her records and sing along with them (and sometimes cry while I sang the sad songs) like she did, and put Noxzema on my face every night. Maybe her Noxzema regimen is why she is still so cute. She is one of the sweetest people I have ever known.
Today I am posting her bacon dip recipe. It is a crowd pleaser. I hope you enjoy it

Maxine's Bacon Dip

2 cups mayo
2 cups grated swiss cheese
2-8oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1 cup chopped green onion
1-3oz pkg Oscar Mayer Real Bacon Bits

Combine all ingredients except bacon. Spread into 13x9 pyrex dish. Top with bacon. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Serve with fritos.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Handkerchief Gift Wrap

For a small gift, such as jewelry, you can use a scarf, or, as in this case, a handkerchief. For those of you who live in Birmingham, I bought this handkerchief at Smith's in Mountain Brook.
Lay your gift like so:

Fold the 2 outer corners, one at a time, toward each other on top of the gift, and tuck them over it.

Bring the bottom corner up and then the top corner and tie a bow to secure it. You could also secure this with a vintage pin or a pin with their initial, or buy a handkerchief or linen hand towel with their monogram on it. (Smith's also has monogrammed linen hand towels.)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Baby Gift Wrapped in a Blanket

I have always enjoyed wrapping and giving gifts. I like to make the giftwrap special, and sometimes the giftwrap can be a part of the gift itself. Today I am posting a baby gift that I recently gave to a friend.
I started out by going to the craft store and buying an unfinished letter, which was the first letter of the baby's name. I went to A.C.Moore, but Michaels and Hobby Lobby also have them. The letters varied in size and font. I thought this "E" was particularly cute. It was only 79 cents. I painted it with white acrylic paint, let it dry, and oversanded it slightly to give it an aged look.
I wanted a blanket that was extra snuggly and I love pom poms, so I made this blanket, but you can use a purchased blanket for this project. I sometimes will give something small, like baby wipes, and then put a gift card on top. Just whatever fits will work. I folded in the 2 side corners over the gift, one at a time, then folded the bottom up, and then the top over so that it looked like this:
I secured the corner with a diaper pin and tied a bow around it. I tied a white ribbon onto the letter, and then tied it into the bow.

Thank You

I want to say thanks to the reader who wrote about her adventure of seeking "the gouda". It was so funny. I really enjoyed it and I'm glad you and your husband like my recipes. (Her comment is written after my ham quiche post, for those of you who haven't read it). It was also nice to hear from you, Jenna. I will post those recipes soon. Thanks to everyone else who have left comments. Spread the word to anyone you think might enjoy reading my blog!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Recipes for Kids

I love kid's cookbooks. The Boys and Girls Cookbook (above) was my very first one and it was given to me by a neighbor when I was 10 years old. I made alot of the recipes in it and the appetizer I am featuring, Bunny Salad, is one that I made as a child, and then I made it for my own children. You can often get kids to eat something they might not normally eat if it's something that looks cute or funny. I continued to collect kid's cookbooks while my children were growing up and they made many of the recipes in them. One time, for our anniversary, Amby and Zac made us an entire dinner from one of these cookbooks as a surprise. They served it to us in their playroom, played beautiful music, and they set their pint-sized table up on blocks so we would be comfortable. It is one of my sweetest memories from when they were growing up. Amby is now a great cook. When people meet her, they, of course, see how beautiful she is, and Nathan adds,"and she cooks, too". I encourage you to involve your children in your cooking adventures, including your boys. Men make great chefs.
These recipes are really fun for children's parties, too.

Bunny Salad

Canned Pears
Cottage Cheese
Sliced Almonds
Whole Cloves
Place lettuce on plate. Arrange pears as desired. (It is helpful for serving to place each bunny on his own leaf of lettuce). Use cloves for the eyes and nose and almonds for the ears. Carefully form the tails with cottage cheese. Arrange carrots in the middle. ( If you are using baby carrots, they look brighter and fresher if you peel off the outside layer with a vegetable peeler).

Zany Hamburger Men

Hamburger meat made into patties
Sliced cheese
Olives, black & green
Alfalfa sprouts
Cut cheese into rounds using a biscuit cutter. Cut into 2 sizes and layer 2 colors, if desired. Grill burgers and add cheese at the last to melt. Decorate with kooky faces.

Lion Cookies
Peanut Butter Slice & Bake Cookies
M&M Minis
Chow Mein Noodles
Decorating Icing in brown or black
Shape cookie dough into rounds. Place chow mein noodles around top for mane and use for whiskers. Place M&M's for eyes and nose. Bake at 350 for 9-11 minutes. Cool. Draw mouth with icing.

Witch's Brew

This is a fun idea that can be used for Halloween, or maybe for a children's party. One night, I hosted the dessert portion for a progressive dinner for our church youth group. I turned all the lights in my house off and lit about 100 candles and set them everywhere, including my front porch. We had a variety of desserts on the dining room table and we had ginger ale with dry ice in it to drink. It really had a magical, enchanted feel.
Tonight I am posting a delicious recipe for a cold apple juice punch that you can put dry ice in to get the amazing smoking effect. Dry ice is actually frozen carbon dioxide. Its surface temperature is -109.3 degrees F (-78.5 degrees C). It is not something you want to touch with your bare hands and touching metal to it will make a wierdly goulish screeching sound. I suggest plastic tongs and/or rubber gloves. An advantage to dry ice is that it breaks down by sublimation-it turns directly into carbon dioxide gas instead of a liquid, so it doesn't water down your punch. You should store it in an ice chest or cooler only, never in your freezer or refrigerator. Publix sells it for $1.09/lb and there are a couple of sizes to choose from. It is completely safe to consume. Just don't put a piece directly in your mouth.
Now that the science lesson is over, go have some crazy fun.

Smoking Apple Punch
1 quart apple juice
6 cinnamon sticks
16 whole cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 quart chilled ginger ale
dry ice
Combine first 4 ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Strain. Chill. Pour into a punch bowl and pour ginger ale into it. Add dry ice just before serving.
Yield: 2 quarts

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Feelin' Better Bags

These are flannel covered bags which are filled with rice, eucalyptus, and mint and they have a very comforting smell. You place them in the microwave for about 2 minutes and they have a moist warmth that lasts for about 30 minutes. It is great to use when you are stuffy with a cold, have muscle aches, or just need some comfort. When I come home after a 12-hour shift, or after I've been exercising, I love to take a hot bubble bath and crash on the sofa with one of these. They come from a place called Hartley's Herbs, ( They have many interesting products that would make great gifts and stocking stuffers. They also ship to you really quickly. I recommend this bag for everyone on your Christmas list.

Smoked Gouda Grits

While we were in Seaside, we ate at a wonderful restaurant called The Great Southern. They served grits made with gouda cheese with several of their entrees and it was incredible. I have rarely used gouda cheese but I wanted to try it, so I found a recipe online and altered it. The results were outstanding and the recipe is VERY easy. I served it with ham steaks and biscuits.

Smoked Gouda Grits

3 cups chicken broth (almost 1 full carton of Swanson)
1 cup milk
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 bag frozen white shoepeg corn
1 cup uncooked quick-cooking grits (not instant)
1 cup grated smoked gouda cheese
3 tbsp butter
Bring the first 4 ingredients to a boil in a medium saucepan; gradually whisk in grits. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until thickened. Add cheese and butter, stirring until melted. Yield: about 6 servings

Friday, October 06, 2006

Oatmeal Scotchies

This is a very old recipe that I used to make many years ago. I baked them the other night and my family really liked them, so I decided to post it. The recipe is also on the back of the Nestle Butterscotch Morsels bag.

Oatmeal Scotchies
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups quick or old-fashioned oats (I use old-fashioned)
1-11 oz pkg Nestle Butterscotch Morsels
1 cup chopped pecans (I added this)
Preheat oven to 375.
Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Beat butter, sugars, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl.Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in oats and morsels. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto greased cookie sheets. Bake 7-9 minutes or until lightly browned. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Brunswick Stew

Brunswick Stew is really good any time of the year, but especially in the fall. There is a wonderful recipe for it in Bay Leaves, which is a very good cookbook, but I use it as a guide for my own version, which to me, is equally as good. I am going to post the original recipe and then my interpretation of it. I use chicken breasts instead of a whole chicken, simply because I don't like dark meat. My recipe is also basically doubled. There are several other subtle differences. You really can't go wrong either way.

Brunswick Stew

1/2 pound onions, chopped
1 stick margarine
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tbsp hot sauce
3 ounces vinegar
1- 3-oz can tomato paste
1 cup barbeque sauce
1 cup creamed corn
1 pound potatoes, cooked and mashed until lumpy
1 chicken, cooked and diced

Saute onions in margarine. Add other ingredients except potatoes, meat, and water; cook 30 minutes. You may need to add a small amount of water to prevent sticking, especially when using fresh corn. Add potatoes and chicken; cook 15 minutes. Add water (2-3 cups as necessary) and cook 1-2 hours. Also very good with fresh pork.

Brunswick Stew (Revised Version)

1 small onion, chopped
1/2 stick butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
6 ounces apple cider vinegar
1-8 ounce can tomato paste
1 bottle Kraft Hickory Smoke Barbeque Sauce
1 small bag frozen shoepeg corn
1 pound new potatoes, scrubbed and chopped, with skins left on
6 chicken breasts

Saute onion in butter and set aside. In a large saucepan, cover chicken with water and cook until tender. Remove chicken from water and allow to cool. Cook potatoes in chicken broth. When potatoes are done, add remaining ingredients. Shred chicken and add to mixture. Add as much water as needed to achieve desired thickness and consistency. Simmer for about 30 minutes. This recipe yields about 12 servings.