Cobbler to Celebrate Spring Cleaning Project, Phase 1 is Done! Glory Be!

Easy stir together Blueberries and Peach Cobbler to celebrate that Thursday I finished!  Right on schedule and just in time to have my knees worked on first thing Friday morning!  I had planned to have every closet, drawer, cabinet, nook, and the crannies gone through and cleaned.  Every bed moved and cleaned under and behind and I got it all done.  Bags and bags went to the Good Will truck parked at the shopping center.  I will admit to having watched for the response of the trash truck fellas from a hidden window as they came upon my pile of discards!  Glad to say they didn't seem to mind but I know my husband has given them cold beverages on especially hot days and tried to be good to them, so they didn't seem to mind the unusually large heaps of late.

The shots in my knees are not a lot of fun but no worse than a trip to the dentist I'd say.  The next couple of days are a bit uncomfortable because it takes the body a while to absorb all of the medication they pump into the joint.  The pressure is a bit uncomfortable but after that look out!  I feel almost young again.  I fly up and down the stairs with great ease!  I am most grateful.

Next week I plan to get the tax stuff together for my hubby's business and sent off to the CPA we use.

Then the next week I will start on the down stairs!  So, look out here I come! By the time Easter rolls around I plan to be done.  The most difficult part was starting because the project seems always to be so daunting.  I started small and before I knew it I was on a roll and every day I looked back with a feeling of having gotten something done.

So to celebrate I made this special cobbler for Sunday dinner.  It went well with the baked ham, peas and carrots, potatoes and homemade bread.  We had a very nice day.  Our sons Mike and Joel helped with some  computer issues and Emily brought me a sculpture she made at collage!  I think it was her first big completed project.  Elsa,  their new puppy visited too and frolicked with Molly until they both tired and took naps!

Ingredients for Blueberries and Peaches Cobbler:

3 pints sliced peaches (I used 6 cups frozen)
1 pint  blueberries (2 cups)
1 C. sugar
1/2 C. brown sugar
1/2 C. flour
1/2 t. cinnamon
pinch of salt

Stir the ingredients listed above well and blend.

Empty into a buttered 9" x13" baking dish.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

3 C. flour
1/3 C. sugar
1 1/2 t. baking powder
pinch of salt
5 T. diced cold butter

Assemble the above ingredients in a bowl and cut in the cold butter with a pastry blender until it is as coarse meal.

1 1/2 C. milk
2 large eggs

2-3 T. sugar

Add the eggs to the milk and beat with a fork to break up the eggs well.  Form a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the milk and eggs.  Stir with a fork until a sticky biscuit like dough forms.

Pinch off pieces and drop across the top of the fruit until it looks sort of "cobbled" together and the fruit is covered.  I use walnut sized pieces.  This is a bit sticky but it turns out nicely!  Lastly sprinkle with sugar to form a sparkle on the top and bake about 30 minutes until browned.

Serve with sweetened whipped cream or ice cream.  Yield 8-10 servings.

This is sort of like a shortcake topping and similar to several recipes I have.   I've "cobbled" them together from what was on hand!


Banana Pudding, that Old Favorite!

When I think of old fashioned desserts Banana Pudding always comes to mind.  I remember Mom making the billowing meringue and topping the banana and cookie layers in her round clear Pyrex baking dish!

Yesterday after finishing my allotted "spring cleaning" chores set about to make one for my husbands dinner dessert.  I haven't made one in a very long time and must admit it was delicious.

Ingredients for Banana Pudding:

1 C. sugar (scant)
1/3 C. flour
pinch of salt
2 C. milk
3 large or extra large eggs separated
1/2 t. vanilla
1 T. butter
4 or 5 ripe bananas
1/2 box vanilla wafers  (about)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and select a 1 1/2 to 2 quart glass baking dish and set it aside.

Using a heavy bottomed saucepan or a double boiler mix the flour, scant 3/4 C. sugar, and salt together well.  (Milk had a tendency to scorch when heated to a boil.  Constant stirring and using a heavy bottomed pan or double boiler over simmering water will help prevent this from occurring.)

Mix the egg yolks and milk together and beat with a fork to break up the yolks.

Add the milk and eggs to the dry ingredients and cook over medium heat to a boil whisking or stirring without ceasing.  Cook for one minute after the boil starts while continuing to stir.  Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and the butter.  Stir until dissolved and blended.

Place a small amount of the custard in the bottom of the casserole dish.  Slice a banana to cover for the layer.

Next place a layer of vanilla wafers atop the bananas to cover.  Then a second layer of the custard. Continue this until you have completed three layers.

In a large glass or melt bowl combine the egg whites and a pinch of salt.  Beat using an electric mixer until very soft peaks form then add the 1/4 C. sugar very gradually as you continue beating until stiff peaks form.

Pile the meringue atop the last row of custard and spread forming peaks and swirls.  Bake in the preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes until golden.  Remove and allow to cool.

This can be served warm, at room temperature, or chilled.  I leave it out  to cool to room temperature then refrigerate after serving to keep it until the next day if there is any left!  Yield 6 servings.


Megan's Steel Cut Oatmeal

This recipe is adapted from a site I have enjoyed for some time.  Until today I had never tried steel cut oats but in my endeavor to improve out diets it was time!  They are good!  I especially like the nutty flavor from toasting the oats before cooking.  I served with fresh blueberries and maple syrup.  Delicious!

Ingredients for Steel Cut Oatmeal:

1 T. butter
1 C. organic steel cut oats
3 1/4 C. filtered water
1 C. whole milk
1 T. natural cane sugar
1/2 t. kosher salt
maple syrup and blueberries or whatever you enjoy

Using a cast iron or other heavy skillet melt the butter.  Add the oats and stir toasting until fragment and lightly browned, about 5 minutes.  Set aside.

Take a heavy bottomed 2 1/2-3 quart saucepan and add the water, milk, sugar, and salt.  Being to a simmer watching closely as this can quickly boil over.

Stir in the toasted oats.  Adjust the heat to a slow simmer and partially cover the saucepan.  Cook stirring occasionally to keep from clumping for 25-30 minutes.  The cereal will still be a bit loose.  Not to worry!  It will continue to thicken.  Remove the pan from the heat and allow it to rest for a few minutes with the lid still partially covering.  Then serve hot with fruit, maple syrup, brown sugar, or honey.   Yield 4 servings.

WARNING;  While this was tasty it did NOT agree with me and have been up all night!  Feeding the rest of the package to the critters and wishing them well!  If you make this try a partial serving the first time out to be sure your system will handle it gracefully.  Just a word to the wise.....diane


Blueberry Chef Salad

Fresh Blueberry Chef Salad with Homemade Ranch Dressing.
Today is our first day of a 70 degree temperature and it is a stunning sunny day!  SNOW flurries tomorrow ....would you believe?  It is true but I am inspired!  Since yesterday I have had a compulsion for smoothies and salads.

Today after hauling 4 large trash bags to the garage and then 2 big boxes I sat with a glass of ice water to cool off.  Now doesn't that sound nice!  To cool off!  At any rate good old Dr. Oz came on the TV preaching all about blueberries and all sorts of good for you berries.  I remembered I had tucked back a couple of cups of fresh blueberries and thought they go great on top of the chef salad I had just fixed for lunch.  You know, they are not too why not?  They were delicious with the ranch dressing and white cheddar cheese I had topped the salad with!  I will make blueberries a regular o my green salads from now on!  Here are links to three of my homemade salad dressings, 2 for ranch and 1 for thousand island.

Ingredients for Blueberry Chef Salad:

6 washed, dried, and torn romaine leaves
handful of cherry tomatoes
handful of diced carrots
handful of diced celery
handful of croutons
1/4 C. diced ham
1/4 C. shredded cheese of your choice
1/4 C. ranch dressing (3-4 tablespoons to your liking.)
1/4 C. fresh blueberries

Arrange the ingredients in the order listed on a plate and serve.  Yield 1 large salad serving or 2 small.

Yes, I am still cleaning and hauling off.   That is why I have been somewhat remiss in my postings.  Big bags of things that need to go are not very interesting !


Orange Blueberry Muffins/Mini Loaves

Since we have begun eating more fresh fruits and vegetables it sometimes requires me to think of new ways to use them up if the clock gets to ticking more quickly than we are consuming them.  Today I need to use up some blueberries and have been inspired to an orange adaptation of Ina Garten's Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffins. 

I yielded 16 muffins and 5 mini loaves with this recipe and used a wonderful ingredient I personally LOVE, Fiori Di Sicilia, a citrus and vanilla flavoring I order from The King Arthur Catalog.  It is optional but I used 1/8 teaspoon in these.  I also Love it in banana bread and oatmeal cookies.

Ingredients for Orange Blueberry Muffins/Mini Loaves:

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 C.) soft butter
1 1/2 C. sugar
3 extra large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1/8 t. Fiori Di Sicilia (optional)
3 T. fresh grated orange zest (about the zest of 1 large orange)
1 C. sour cream
1/4 C. buttermilk or sour milk (1/4 C. milk + 1/4 t. vinegar = 1/4 C. sour milk)
2 1/2 C. all purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. kosher salt
2 C. fresh blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.    Place paper liners in cupcake pans or paper liners in mini loaf pans and set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar in a large stand mixer bowel with paddle attachment at medium speed for 5 minutes until light and fluffy.  Turn the mixer down to low speed and add the eggs one at a time,  next add flavorings, zest, sour cream, and milk.  Stir together the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt in a separate bowl.  Turn the mixer to low speed and add the flour mixture and the blueberries and beat until just mixed.  Using a large spatula stir a couple of rounds to be sure it is combined.

Scoop the batter into the prepared pans and bale 25-30 minutes until lightly browned and cake tester tests clean.   Good warm or at room temperature.


Haricot Vert (French Green Beans), Smothered Steak, & Mashed Potatoes

During the winter months one of my indulgences is to go to Sam's Club where in their fresh produce department you can find at a much more reasonable price than I have found elsewhere Haricot Vert.  Tender French Green Beans in a two pound package fresh and delicious!

There are several ways we enjoy them, blanched and chilled on a vegetable and dip platter, blanched and stir fried with pork and mushrooms.    or today's fare buttered and sauteed as a quick, easy, and delicious side dish.

Ingredients for Haricot Vert (French Green Beans) Sauteed in Butter:

1 pound fresh trimmed, washed, and drained French Green Beans
1 onion diced
2-3 T. butter
kosher salt
black pepper

Using a broad flat pan or skillet melt the butter over medium high heat adding the onion and tossing to coat.  Add the green beans and saute until they appear glossy.  Add 1 1/2 C. water or stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cover tightly.  Simmer for 5-10 minutes until tender crisp.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Ingredients for Smothered Steak:

1 round steak run through the tenderizer by the butcher or pounded at home, cut into serving portions
Flour to dredge
kosher salt
black pepper
2 T. vegetable oil
2 T. butter

Season the meat and dredge with the flour.  Heat the butter and oil together in a heavy skillet.  Over medium high heat brown the steak.  After browning on both sides place on a covered dish and keep in a preheated low oven 200 degrees F while preparing the potatoes and gravy.

Ingredients for Mashed Potatoes:    (Here is my link for my mashed potato recipe.)

Ingredients for the Gravy to Smother the Steak and Potatoes:

Drippings and pan the steak was cooked in.
1/4 C. flour
2 C. milk

Scatter the flour atop the pan drippings in the skillet used to brown the steak over medium high heat.  Stir well to cook the flour.  Use a whisk or slotted spoon and add the milk stirring the entire time and cook until thickened.  Salt and pepper to taste.  To serve, smother the potatoes and steak with the gravy and serve!

Yield 4 servings of everything.  Enjoy.  You may also substitute cube steaks, minute steaks, pork cutlets, or chicken cutlets in this recipe for versatility.


Ease a Zipper that Sticks......or Ease Thread that Knots....More "Cheap Tips"

There is always a zipper that sticks or wants to kink at our house.  Somewhere along the line I learned this handy trick and have used it so many times.....on children's coats, little boy's pant zippers, long robe zippers, and many more.  Just rub a bar of soap down either side of the teeth of a zipper and work it a few times repeating until it works with ease.

To ease hand sewing with an old needle just poke it a few times in a bar of soap or if you are fortunate enough to have bees wax that works even better.  When hand sewing if you find your thread wants to knot just run the length of thread through bees wax then thread the needle and sew away.