" " " " Singing With Birds: March 2011

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Jelly Donut Muffins


Life is filled with yummy adventures and we just returned from a glorious one. We feasted on memorable muffins with our grandkids and enjoyed amazing Washington State.  

Jelly Donut Muffins | singingwithbirds.com

We flew to Spokane and then drove three hours north, quite near the Canadian border.  On our way we crossed the expansive Columbia River. It was a stormy spring day and a perfect day to travel.  

Columbia River Washington State | singingwithbirds.com



Our son and daughter (in-law) traveled to Ecuador for a week.  We enjoyed a few days on each end of our trip with them, but most of our time was spent caring for three little grands who live in the middle of no-where, ages 5, 4 and 1.  They are each busy, creative and such fun just to watch....


 along with our handsome grand Springer Spaniel, Blintzen, who is almost one year old.

My view from the kitchen window at the glorious lake below their home.

Our phones and computers didn't work and we filled our days reading stories, playing games, watching classic DVD movies, enjoying long walks and keeping up with diapers, laundry and bath time.  Yes, we were "back in the trenches," getting the kids on the 7:15 school bus, making trips to their small town library, doctor's office and country grocery store.  My hat's off to all of you young moms who do this all day long.  I was long gone by 9:00 PM each night!  I'd almost forgotten all that it takes.

Amazing Deer Washington State |singingwithbirds.com

Everywhere we turned we saw amazing deer, large herds that live around their home, that are almost tame.  We watched them grazing as we waited for the school bus and strolled their neighborhood.


Cloudy skies filled with songbirds brightened our days.


One of the best things about caring for grandchildren is spoiling them.  I get to do all the things I wished I'd done more of with my own children.  It's so nice to have a second chance to get it all right, not that I really do! 

Jelly Donut Muffins | singingwithbirds.com

Making early morning  Jelly Donut Muffins  warm from the oven was a surprisingly fun start one day.  They go together easily and make the house smell so good.  Here's all you need to do:

Jelly Donut Muffins

Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Add the wet ingredients.

Jelly Donut Muffins | singingwithbirds.com

Combine just until dry ingredients are moistened.  Ignore the lumps and don't over mix.  That's the secret to a light muffin.

Jelly Donut Muffins | singingwithbirds.com

Fill greased muffin cups 1/2 full with batter.  Add jam of your choice and then cover with more batter to 3/4 full. You can use papers too if you'd like. 

Jelly Donut Muffins | singingwithbirds.com

Pop your dozen beauties into a preheated 350 degree oven.

Jelly Donut Muffins | singingwithbirds.com

Bake until edges are just turning golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.
  
Jelly Donut Muffins | singingwithbirds.com

Let the baked muffins cool a few minutes before removing from the pan.  Brush the tops with melted butter and sprinkle cinnamon-sugar on top.

Jelly Donut Muffins | singingwithbirds.com
 Serve warm in a pretty basket with some fresh fruit.

Jelly Donut Muffins | singingwithbirds.com

Be prepared for cries of delight when your little munchers find the surprise inside.  Oh and if you have extra cinnamon and sugar, crunchy cinnamon toast was a big hit too!

Jelly Donut Muffins
  • 1-3/4 cups flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 12 teaspoons jam or jelly (I used red-raspberry)
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon.  Combine sugar, oil, egg and milk; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.  Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups half full.  Place 1 teaspoon jam or jelly on top.  Cover jam with enough batter to fill muffin cups 3/4 full.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or till done.  Brush tops of muffins with melted butter and sprinkle generously with cinnamon-sugar.   Serve warm with lots of love.  Makes 1 dozen.

xoxo

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Welcome S*P*R*I*N*G


"First a howling blizzard woke us,
Then the rain came down to soak us,
And now before the eye can focus -
Crocus."  ~Lilja Rogers


Spring has sprung, and it feels like time for a little party here!  I can't help noticing how things are beginning to green up as rain beats upon our roof and windows, cleaning the earth.  Pretty soon little purple violets will be stretching towards the sky, fairly begging us to decorate a cake.  Enjoy this delicious pound cake, lovely anytime of the year, but especially in the springtime with a steaming cup of herbal tea...enjoy!

Brown Sugar Pound Cake with Caramel Glaze
from the LA Times
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened, plus additional for greasing the pan
  • 1 (1-pound) box dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 5 eggs
1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt and stir with a fork; set aside. Into a small bowl, pour the milk and add the vanilla; set aside.
3. With a mixer, beat the butter at high speed until light and fluffy. Add the brown sugar in three batches, then add all of the white sugar, beating after each addition. Add the eggs one by one, beating well after each addition.
4. Reduce the speed to low and add half of the flour mixture and then half the milk, beating until the flour or milk has disappeared into the batter. Add the rest of the flour and the rest of the milk in the same way. Quickly scrape the batter into the tube pan and bake until the cake is nicely browned at the edges, springs back when lightly touched at the center and a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 10 minutes.
5. Remove the pan from the oven and leave it on a wire rack for 20 to 30 minutes. Loosen the cake from the pan with a table knife and turn it out onto a wire rack or plate, then leave it to cool completely. When cool, glaze with caramel glaze.
Caramel Glaze
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 4 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
1. In a large saucepan, place the butter and brown sugar over medium heat. Stir until the butter melts and blends with the brown sugar to a smooth sauce, 2 to 3 minutes.
2. Add the milk and let the icing come to a gentle boil. Stir well, remove from the heat and add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat well with a mixer, whisk or spoon until the glaze thickens and loses a little of its shine, 1 or 2 minutes.
3. Use at once. If the glaze hardens, stir in 1 or 2 spoonfuls of evaporated milk to soften.



                                                                                                                              
I’m sharing this post at these fabulous blogs:

{M} Between Naps on the Porch * The Girl Creative * Sumo’s Sweet Stuff * The DIY Showoff * Skip To My Lou * Keeping it Simple * Craftomatic Mondays {T} Today’s Creative Blog * Tip Junkie * Blessed With Grace * Sugar Bee * I’m Topsy Turvy * It's a Blog Party * Balancing Beauty and Bedlam * All the Small Stuff {W} Blue Cricket Design * Someday Crafts * My Backyard Eden * Trendy Treehouse * Sew Much Ado * Savvy Southern StyleGooseberry Patch Th} Somewhat Simple * Fireflies and Jellybeans * Paisley Passions * Yesterday On Tuesdays * The Shabby Chic Cottage * Beyond The Picket Fence {F} Tidy Mom * Designs By Gollum * A Little Knick Knack * Decor Mamma * Fingerprints on the Fridge * Fun to Craft * The Shabby Nest * A Few of My Favorite Things * My Romantic Home {S} La Bella Vita * Funky Junk Interiors * Tatertots and Jello * Be Different Act Normal {S} I Heart Nap Time * Under the Table and Dreaming
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Friday, March 18, 2011

Soup de Jour


After a bought with a bug, four busy little grand boys, and a windy, rainy, storm, a steaming bowl of clam chowder sure did hit the spot tonight!  Ooooh, it felt just like wrapping up in a snuggly blanket.  I also had a good visit with one of my dearest friends.  It was absolutely soothing to the soul, love you sweet Deby... Spring is on it's way! 

Chowder goes together without expending too much energy and is a comfort. For low-carbers, like me, just eat around the potatoes and pass the bread basket along. 

Manhattan Clam Chowder

  • 2 cans 6 1/2 ounces each minced clams
  • 1 cup finely chopped onions
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 cups finely diced potatoes
  • Water (as needed)
  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 4 cups half and half
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 dash ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
Drain the juice from the clams and combine the juice with the onions, celery and potatoes in a medium saucepan. Add enough water to barely cover and simmer, covered, over medium heat until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

In the meantime, melt the butter, blend in the flour and cook, stirring for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the half-and-half, cook and whisk until smooth and thick.

Add the vegetables and drained clams to the flour mixture and heat through. Season to taste with the salt, pepper and sugar.  Top with a pat of butter and sprinkle with fresh parsley.   Ladle into bowls and serve with love.  Serves 8.

 xoxo
I’m sharing this post at these fabulous blogs:

{M} Between Naps on the Porch * The Girl Creative * Sumo’s Sweet Stuff * The DIY Showoff * Skip To My Lou * Keeping it Simple * Craftomatic Mondays {T} Today’s Creative Blog * Tip Junkie * Blessed With Grace * Sugar Bee * I’m Topsy Turvy * It's a Blog Party * Balancing Beauty and Bedlam * All the Small Stuff {W} Blue Cricket Design * Someday Crafts * My Backyard Eden * Trendy Treehouse * Sew Much Ado * Savvy Southern Style {Th} Somewhat Simple * Fireflies and Jellybeans * Paisley Passions * Yesterday On Tuesdays * The Shabby Chic Cottage * Beyond The Picket Fence {F} Tidy Mom * Designs By Gollum * A Little Knick Knack * Decor Mamma * Fingerprints on the Fridge * Fun to Craft * The Shabby Nest * A Few of My Favorite Things * My Romantic Home {S} La Bella Vita * Funky Junk Interiors * Tatertots and Jello * Be Different Act Normal {S} I Heart Nap Time * Under the Table and Dreaming
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Monday, March 14, 2011

Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

Friday night we attended a special dinner for members of the Eliza R. Snow Society for the Performing and Visual Arts at BYU-Idaho.  It is an amazing organization that supports the arts at our favorite university.  We have experienced first hand all of the good they do, providing countless student scholarships, special equipment and needs like costuming, and a new Hamburg Steinway grand piano, just to name a few.  It was delightful to see so many of our friends and associates there.  Several of our children and grandchildren were able to join us and we all enjoyed fabulous entertainment along with a  delicious dinner.

Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing 

is maybe my favorite, for sure in our top 5 salads.  I took it to a potluck luncheon last week and it was enjoyed by all.  Friday night this salad was served with chopped apples instead of oranges along with raisins.  My girls really loved it and were anxious to get the recipe.  I laughed and said, "I barely made it and am ready to post it on my blog!"  So here it is for Kirstin and Kim, and all of you that may have never had it.  It's a winner we enjoy all year.  Often we grill steak, chicken or shrimp and top it off.

Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

Combine romaine, spinach, Swiss cheese, sliced onion, mushrooms, and bacon.  Toss well.
Prepare and cool sugared almonds...

Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

and whirl dressing ingredients till creamy.

Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

Top salad with oranges, (or try your favorites), almonds and drizzle with dressing.  Serve with love, a refreshing salad you can enjoy everyday or at your most special occasions.

Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing
  • 1 head of iceberg lettuce, (I use romaine)
  • 1 bunch of spinach
  • 3/4 pound Swiss cheese, grated
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 3/4 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 can mandarin oranges, drained
Mix lettuce, spinach, mushrooms, cheese and onion together.  Spread bacon and oranges on top of lettuce mixture.  Add dressing and top with sugared almonds just before serving.


Sugared Almonds:
  • 1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds
  • 3 tablespoons sugar or stevia
  • 1/4 cup butter
Melt together butter and sugar, then add nuts.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly till nuts are golden brown.


Poppy Seed Dressing:
  • 3/4 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 3/4 cup oil
  • 1/3 cup sugar or stevia
  • 1/4 cup grated onion
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons prepared mustard
Mix together in a blender, mixer or food processor until creamy.

Please join me in supporting the Snow Society!

xoxo



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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Spring Fever Cures

"It's spring fever.  You don't quite know what it is you want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so bad."
                                                                                                Mark Twain


Crisp white tulips in the great room are so fresh, offering the hope of Spring.  Outside bulbs are popping up making me feel excited and anxious for their arrival.


I love to share lots of sweet treats here.  This is my very favorite right now.  Trying to get in 5 fruits and veggies a day is a challenge when controlling blood sugar.  If you eat low-carb, try this for dessert.  Red sweet peppers are so delicious.  I can eat a whole one each day and they are a great source of lots of vitamins,  especially A, C and B6.


Simple quarter and seed...


Slice up...


and dip in Ranch Dressing for a light, lovely, perfect treat!  Simply sweet for sure...
























along with tulips making March a marvelous month.


I'm looking forward to Spring along with these guys who love to play on "the bridge!"  We are all longing to play outside and garden more.  How 'bout you?

I’m sharing this post at these fabulous blogs:

{M} Between Naps on the Porch * The Girl Creative * Sumo’s Sweet Stuff * The DIY Showoff * Skip To My Lou * Keeping it Simple * Craftomatic Mondays {T} Today’s Creative Blog * Tip Junkie * Blessed With Grace * Sugar Bee * I’m Topsy Turvy * It's a Blog Party * Balancing Beauty and Bedlam * All the Small Stuff {W} Blue Cricket Design * Someday Crafts * My Backyard Eden * Trendy Treehouse * Sew Much Ado * Savvy Southern Style {Th} Somewhat Simple * Fireflies and Jellybeans * Paisley Passions * Yesterday On Tuesdays * The Shabby Chic Cottage * Beyond The Picket Fence {F} Tidy Mom * Designs By Gollum * A Little Knick Knack * Decor Mamma * Fingerprints on the Fridge * Fun to Craft * The Shabby Nest * A Few of My Favorite Things * My Romantic Home {S} La Bella Vita * Funky Junk Interiors * Tatertots and Jello * Be Different Act Normal {S} I Heart Nap Time * Under the Table and Dreaming
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Monday, March 7, 2011

Swiss Steak

If you follow along here you know how much we like to grill.  Year round most weekends I like to marinate chicken, pork, beef, and fish.  Sometimes though, it's just the right time for some "comfort food," you know, good old meat and potatoes!  

Swiss Steak

Swiss Steak
with steamed new potatoes and green beans is always a crowd-pleaser around our place.  I like to serve it on cold winter days.  It's been rainy here and this seemed just right for our Sunday dinner.  Here's the skinny on how to pull this one off...

Swiss Steak

Season boneless top sirloin or round steak with kosher salt, paprika and fresh ground pepper.  Dust lightly with flour.
Swiss Steak

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat and brown meat.
Swiss Steak

Slice up a couple of sweet onions, make up some beef gravy and pour it over the steak.  I also added some sliced mushrooms.  I like to slice up green bell pepper too, but was out of them!


Fast and fabulous, my 6 quart digital pressure cooker is one of my 5 top kitchen must haves.  Set it for 60 minutes and walk away...no worries about kitchen accidents.

Steam new potatoes and green beans with a little minced garlic and tomatoes.
Swiss Steak

Usually I pile on Will's Ultimate Mashed Potatoes, but these baby reds worked out just fine!  Plate and serve with a fresh fruit salad and lots of love.

Swiss Steak
  • 3-1/2 pounds boneless top sirloin or round steak
  • desired seasoning, kosher salt, paprika and ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil or canola oil
Trim all visible fat from steak and cut into 6 to 8 pieces.  Season with your favorite seasonings, I sprinkle on kosher salt, paprika and fresh ground pepper.  Dust with flour, shaking off any excess.  Over medium-high heat, brown steak in a skillet in olive or canola oil.

For Gravy:
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons Better Than Bouillon Beef Base
  • 1 teaspoon ground marjoram
In a skillet over medium-high heat, combine olive oil and butter.  Whisk in flour stirring constantly.  When the butter/flour mixture is smooth and bubbly, add water, beef base, and marjoram.  Continue stirring till it is thick and bubbling.

Place the meat in the bottom of a 6 quart pressure cooker or dutch oven.  Top with sliced onions and gravy.  You can also add other vegetables.  I added sliced mushrooms.  Cover and set pressure cooker for 1 hour, or bake at 300 degrees for 4 hours.  This is also perfect in a slow-cooker, set on low for 8 hours if you like.

Stay warm and comfort-able!
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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookies

Did you ever get a chain-letter in the mail about a woman who bought the Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe for an outrageous sum?  I'm sure I got two or three!  In the 90's with the internet it went around the world again.  Here's a post from 1993:



 FWD: Free Neiman-Marcus Cookie Recipe
This is a true story... Please forward it to everyone that you can.... You will have to read it to believe it....
My daughter and I had just finished a salad at Neiman-Marcus Cafe in Dallas & decided to have a small dessert. Because both of us are such cookie lovers, we decided to try the "Neiman-Marcus Cookie". It was so excellent that I asked if they would give me the recipe and the waitress said with a small frown "I'm afraid not." Well" I said, "would you let me buy the recipe?"
With a cute smile, she said YES". I asked how much and she responded, "Only two fifty, it's a great deal!" I said with approval, "just add it to my tab".. Thirty days later, I received my VISA statement from Neiman-Marcus and it was $285.00. I looked again and remembered I had only spent $9.95 for two salads and about $20.00 for a scarf. As I glanced at the bottom of the statement, it said, "Cookie Recipe - $250.00". That's outrageous!!!
I called Neiman's Accounting Dept. and told them that the waitress said it was "two-fifty," which clearly does not mean "two hundred and fifty dollars" by any POSSIBLE interpretation of the phrase. Neiman-Marcus refused to budge.. They would not refund my money, because according to them, "What the waitress told you is not our problem. You have already seen the recipe - we absolutely will not refund your money at this point." I explained to her the criminal statutes which govern fraud in Texas. I threatened to refer them to the Better Business Bureau and the State's Attorney General for engaging in fraud. I was basically told, "Do what you want, we dont give a damn, and we're not refunding your money." I waited a moment, thinking of how I could get even,or even try to get any of my money back. I just said, "Okay, you folks got my $250.00, and now I'm going to have $250.00 worth of fun."
I told her that I was going to see to it that every cookie lover in the United States with an e-mail account has a $250.00 cookie recipe from Neiman-Marcus... for free..She replied, "I wish you wouldn't do this" I said, "Well you should have thought of that before you ripped me off", and slammed down the phone on her.. So, here it is!!! Please, please, please pass it on to everyone you can possibly think of. I paid $250.00 dollars for this... I don't want Neiman-Marcus to ever get another penny off of this recipe....
(Recipe may be halved):
2 cups butter
4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups brown sugar
5 cups blended oatmeal (measure oatmeal and blend in blender to a fine powder)
24 oz. chocolate chips
1 tsp. salt
1 8 oz. Hershey bar (grated)
4 eggs
2 tsp. baking powder
3 cups chopped nuts (your choice)
2 tsp. vanilla

Cream the butter and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla; mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, and soda. Add chocolate chips, Hershey bar and nuts. Roll into balls and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet..Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. Makes 112 cookies.. Have Fun!!!

This is not a joke - this is a true story... Ride free citizens!!!! This isn't some stupid chain letter either.. pass it on.. if you don't, you won't die or get dumped.. you'll just do the world an injustice...
Thanx...

I laughed when my daughter sent this post to me last summer.  I think a similar "Mrs. Field's Cookie" copycat post made the rounds as well.  The truth is, Neiman Marcus created a real recipe to squelch the "urban myth" and published it, giving us, "the inside-scoop, a chocolate chip cookie without rival."

Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookies

For the cookie bar version, bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes, till edges are crisp and pull just slightly away from the sides of the pan.  Cut into 24 bars.

Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookies

No question, these are not the best cookie bars and I prefer the "urban myth" cookie recipe above!  My guy who likes plainer fair than myself liked them, but I sure miss some crunchy nuts.  Believe me when I shout, "My NM bake-off was a success! 

Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookies

So now it's your turn!  How do these cookies stack up for you?

 Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes about 2 dozen cookies
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1-3/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cups semi-sweet chips
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon expresso powder
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Place the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in a mixing bowl.  Beat on medium speed until the mixture is fluffy.  Beat in the egg and vanilla for 30 seconds until well combined.  Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Mix till combined.  Stir in chocolate chips and expresso powder.  Using a 1-ounce scoop place cookies on a greased or parchment lined cookie sheet.  Bake at 300 degrees for 20 minutes or 25 minutes for a crispier cookie.

 Happy Baking All!

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