Sunday, February 16, 2014

Mexican Rice Dish

It has been years since I made this recipe.  It yields a lot of food and usually goes over well.  It's pretty easy to put together, though I dirtied three pans and two casserole dishes.  Also, I am realizing the ratios may not be perfect.

Rice and Corn Mixture:
2 cups of brown rice cooked in vegetable broth - I made up 4 servings which yielded a bit more than 2 cups, used it all
1 3/4 cup corn made into creamed corn 
2 TB butter, 2 TB flour 1.5 cups of milk, 2 TB sugar, pepper
Additional 2 cups of frozen corn

Black Bean Mixture:
About a cup of peppers and onion mixture frozen, then diced, Sauteed in olive oil
Add big can of black beans 25oz, 2 cans of diced tomatoes
Small can of jalapeños 
1 TB cumin
1 cup fresh salsa
2 8oz packages of Neufchâtel cream cheese
Mix all together until cheese is melted

Layer bean mixture, rice/corn mixture, shredded cheddar, bean mixture, rice/corn mixture, shredded cheddar.

Filled one 3 quart oval dish and had lots of extra bean mixture, only 3/4 cup rice/corn mixture left. Ended up having one small dish of bean/salsa/cheese mixture for dipping and the larger casserole with rice and corn.

This is great with corn chips or just eaten with a spoon.  The leftovers we had in tacos with ground turkey.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 mins

Gluten Free Cake Balls

For Valentine's week, I had thought I might make some cake balls for the teachers at my daughter's school.  Instead I had a sick kid and others signed up first.

On the weekend was a pot luck sledding party.  Cake balls it was!  I learned that a gluten free option might be welcome.  After perusing the cake mixes at Wegmans, I went with Glutino's Decadent Chocolate Cake.  The recipe itself called for yogurt as one of the add ins, my kind of recipe.  It also called for butter, eggs and vanilla.  I decided to use coconut oil instead of butter.

The cake came out nicely, but seemed a bit drier than what I usually do.

After the cake cooled, I crumbled it up into a bowl and added softened Neufchatel style low fat cream cheese.  I added a bit at a time and ended up with probably 6oz of the 8oz bar.

While rolling the cake balls, I noted they didn't seem as smooth as usual either.  After putting them in the freezer while the chocolate wafers melted, I dipped each in the chocolate.  They appeared a bit smoother.  Drizzling another color on top always gives such a nice presentation and hides many imperfections.  The pink seemed a little thick, so I added some of the leftover white wafers which helped.

Even though this mix yielded a square 8"x8" cake, it still make tons of cake balls!  I didn't count, but it was more than I expected from a smaller pan, I may have rolled slightly smaller balls too.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Chocolate Cut Outs & Valentines

The little one and I have recently joined a playgroup. Being almost four apparently means wanting to play with other children and socialize more.

With Valentine's Day approaching, I suggested having a little party complete with a Valentine exchange and decorating cookies. Another mom offered to make cookies also.  I had sought out a chocolate cut out recipe to try.  I'm not a big fan of sugar cookies, but hoped a chocolate version would be better. 

The recipe sounded easy enough and came out well. My family seems to like them. I think adding frosting will improve the taste further. My husband suggested they taste like the outside of a chocolate poptart. 

We found some really cute Valentine sprinkles at Wegmans.  We will do buttercream frosting and sprinkles for the kids. I may frost some with royal icing if there are cookies leftover.

For the Valentine's, I found an example on Google images of using a thumb print monkey with the words, "I like hanging out with you!"  Perfect for playgroup friends!  Kessa decorated the back with stickers and used her new "Kessa" custom rubber stamp.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Sawtoothed Star and Colonial Days

The fourth graders have a Colonial Day at school and parents volunteer to help kids experience what life might have been like.  There were many different sessions for kids to chose from. They could make butter, create and play colonial games, do stenciling, tin punching, doll making, and my session on quilting.

A star block was not something I had made before. I had a mini quilt with wonky star blocks to show, but I also wanted to show a traditional saw toothed star block. I found a tutorial with a trick to make four flying geese at once.  

I had offered a quilting session when my first child had been a fourth grader and learned some interesting things along the way. First of all, quilting was not really done very much initially. Life was too hard to have time to quilt. When quilting was being done, it was more of whole cloth quilts, applique quilting, and then Medallion quilts. I shared information about each of these styles and provided 6" square quilt sandwiches for each student. 

In doing my research I also learned about some typical sewing projects from that time.  Most girls did an alphabet sampler.  Another interesting thing I came across was the pocket.  Pockets were not sewn into women's garments.  A pocket was made and tied around the waist.  It was accessible through an opening in the woman's skirts side seams.

Both times I did this, I provided examples and the kids seemed to enjoy coming up with something to applique to their quilt sandwich.

 It was interesting that many kids this year appliqued their initials.  Maybe they were thinking about the alphabet samplers.