Monday, June 29, 2015

Chive Blossom Vinegar

Two of my favorite bloggers, Happier Than A Pig in Mud and Savoring Time in the Kitchen have posted the recipe on their blog for Chive Blossom Vinegar.  This year the timing was right for me to make this beautiful vinegar.

If you have chives, give this a try.  It's so easy and produces a beautiful delicious vinegar to use in salad dressings and marinades. I think I may try this to pickle some green beans this summer.

Chive Blossom Vinegar
  • Pick your blossoms, snipping enough to fill your jar about 2/3 full
  • Give the blossoms a good soak to remove any dessert or critters that might have hopped on to the beautiful flowers.
  • Spin them in your salad spinner or dry on paper towels
  •  Pack them in a jar and fill your jar with distilled vinegar.
  • Leave them in a cool, dark place for 1 - 2 weeks.  Lynn at Happier Than A Pig in Mud recommends 8 days.
  •  Strain and store in the fridge!  
  • Isn't the color just beautiful?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

One Man's Trash......

Twice a year, thousands of people flock to an event in Omaha called Junkstock.  There's a weekend long junking event in Central Nebrakska called Junk Jaunt.  500 junk vendors!!  Before throwing anything away, I'm left to wonder can this be re-purposed? 

I'm sharing three things that can be found at either of these events.  Two of the three I did purchase at Junk Stock and / or Junk Jaunt.  With the assistance of my wonderful husband, we re-purposed these into decorative or usable items.  I should have taken "before" pictures of these items but you'll get the picture. 

The first is a shutter.  After a light sand, I painted it.  I was looking for a phrase or word decal to put on the front or bottom.  I couldn't find one I like and as it turns out, you wouldn't see it anyway.  I used tiny clothespins to secure the photos.  You could use this for photos, kids artwork, lists or a combination.  I paid $5.00 for the shutter.

The second item is a rotary hoe wheel.  This is the item I did not buy.  I was at Junkstock, texted my husband, who used to be in the farm implement business,  to ask what it was.  He told me it was a rotary hoe wheel from a tractor.  He inquired on the price.  When I told him $25.00, he said DON'T buy that I'm sure we can find one at my buddies farm for free.  Indeed, we did find two of them.

After using a wire brush to remove as much of the rust as possible, we (that would be Tim) gave them a coat of rust restorer.   I  (yes really me) spray painted them yellow.  They're a fun addition to the garden.

The final item is a trash wheel tooth from a plow.  I had no idea what this was either.  When I spotted it, I thought it would make a great plant hanger.  We repurposed three of these.   I paid $5.00 for one at Junk Stock in Omaha and $2.00 each for two more at Junk Jaunt last Fall.

I (we) have two "junk" projects left to complete.  One I want to make Christmas trees or snowmen out of bedsprings.  I purchased a couple of these and then the same buddy of Tim's had those too. He should go into the junk business.    The other is re-purposing an old window frame.  I haven't quite decided what I want to do with this one yet. Anyone have a good idea?

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Dark Chocolate Chunk Muffins - Secret Recipe Club

The third Monday of the month brings us the June edition of Secret Recipe Club.  If you're not familiar with how SRC works, you can find the details here!  For the month of June, I had the pleasure of being getting to know, Jess  of Pumpkins and Peonies.   When I first started browsing her blog,  I recognized some familiar sites and realized Jess had lived in Omaha.  It's so much fun when you run across a blogger who lives (or has lived) in your town.    Jess says:

I’m all about…
My hubby,
My family,
His family,
Our godson,
My best friends,
Our puppies,
Making people happy,
Any and all sports,
[Attempts at] cooking,
Self Improvement,
All things pretty and scrumptious.

She has a beautiful blog, with delicious recipes and other fun posts.  Stop by and check out Pumpkins and Peonies!  As always, it was hard to decide which recipe to choose.  For SRC posts, seems I move towards the sweets and this month was no exception.  I chose Jess' Deep Dark Chocolate Chunk Muffins. 

The flavor of these muffins is delicious, cocoa and chocolate chips create a wonderful chocolate treat.  I found this batter to be VERY thick, I read the recipe twice to see if perhaps I added too much flour?  When I make these again, I will cut back the flour by at least 1/2 cup and reduce the baking time by five or so minutes.  As written, the muffins were a little dry for my liking but I warmed them in the microwave for about 30 seconds, creating a warm gooey muffin.

Dark Chocolate Muffins:
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. sour cream
1/2 c. milk
2-1/2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. cocoa powder
2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 scant c. semisweet chocolate chunks or chips
Powdered sugar (optional)

  1. Heat oven to 350°F.  Place oven rack in center of oven.  Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter until smooth.  Add cream cheese and beat together with butter until smooth.  Blend in sugar and light brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla extract and blend well.  Fold in sour cream and milk.
  3. In a medium bowl, blend together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, making sure no ingredients remain unblended.  Fold in chocolate chunks.
  4. Using a large scoop, scoop generous amounts of batter into each muffin cup.  Place a couple of chocolate chunks in the tops of each muffin.  
  5. Bake 28 to 32 minutes or until muffins spring back when gently pressed.  Let cool 5 minutes before removing from pan.  When cooled, dust with powdered sugar, if desired.
Yield: 18 muffins

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Sweet and Salty - Mint Stout Cupcakes

Do you like the combination of sweet and salty?   The addition of a little salt to a sweet dessert creates the perfect combination of flavors.  Tim got me this dessert and baking salts sampler for my birthday this year.

My favorite cupcake at the local cupcake bakery is a Sweet and Salty.  Having also read recently about using a stout beer in cupcakes, I decided to add a mint stout to a devils food cake mix.  The combination was delicious, adding just a hint of mint to the dark chocolate cake.  After topping with a basic chocolate buttercream frosting, I sprinkled the top with the espresso salt.  The addition of just a little salt, tempers the sweetness of the frosting.

I sent these to work with Tim and was quick to remind him to tell his coworker the "dusting" on the top was salt.

Mint Stout Cupcakes 

1 box devils food cake mix
1 1/4 cups Mint Stout Beer
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
Finishing Salt - I used Espresso Salt


  • 1 Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pans). Grease bottoms only of three 9- or 8-inch round cake pans. Make cake batter as directed on box, using cake mix, beer, the oil and eggs. Pour about 1 1/2 cups batter into each pan.
  • 2 Bake 18 to 22 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans. Cool completely. 
  • Frost with your favorite chocolate frosting. 
  • Garnish with sea salt, if desired.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Watermelon Radishes in Sherry Vinegar

 What's your favorite season?  For me, it's a toss up between Spring and Fall.  Spring has just a slight edge because Spring brings us the Farmer's Market.  When you live in the cold Midwest like we do, fresh vegetables are pretty sad in the Winter time.  Our Farmer's Market began the first weekend in May.  It was obvious Omaha residents were ready for the fresh veggies of Spring, you could hardly walk around at the market because it was so crowded.  The first week, we picked up beautiful asparagus, nothing out of the ordinary but oh so delicious.  The second weekend, we found a new type of radish, the watermelon radish.  I wish I had taken a picture of the radish itself, it was a beautiful green on the outside and pink on the inside.  The flavor of a watermelon radish is mild but still has the wonderful hot bite flavor normally found in radishes.

 Watermelon Radishes in Sherry Vinegar

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Kosher salt, to taste
½ pound watermelon radishes (about 3 large radishes)
A few cilantro sprigs, for garnish
In a large bowl, combine the sherry vinegar, sugar, oil, and salt. Add the radishes, and toss well to coat. Let sit for 2 to 3 minutes, then serve garnished with cilantro.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Old Fashioned Rhubarb Pudding Cake

Rhubarb is a sign of Spring at our house.  There's those traditional rhubarb desserts, like the Rhubarb Pie I always make for our friend the landscaper and this rhubarb dessert, recipe courtesy of Tim's mom. Looking for something new for this year,   I was intrigued by the look of this Old Fashioned Rhubarb Pudding Cake.  The topping looked crunchy and delicious.This could be my new favorite rhubarb dessert. easy to make but nice enough for when you have guests. 

Served alongside ice cream or whipped cream, this dessert is a keeper!  One thing to note, it doesn't keep well.  Although, still delicious, it was dry within a day or two of baking. 



Old Fashioned Rhubarb Pudding Cake Recipe

  • 2 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup sifted flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2/3 cup boiling water
Cover the bottom of an 8 or 9 inch square pan with fruit. (I prefer an 8 inch or 9 inch square glass baking dish.  You could also use a deep dish glass pie plate.)

Mix 3/4 cup sugar, butter, baking powder, salt, extracts, milk and flour together (add a little more milk if it is too thick to pour); pour over fruit.  Mix remaining sugar and cornstarch; sprinkle over mixture in pan.  Pour boiling water over the top.  ( I know this sounds strange, but trust me, it works to create a pudding around the rhubarb in the bottom of the pan.)
Ready to go into the oven
Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.  Yield:  9 servings.
You can see that the sugar topping creates a glaze on the top of the cake, something like a creme brulee, as well as creating the pudding at the bottom.  You can serve warm in a bowl with ice cream, or let it cool a bit, slice and invert on your plate to show off the pudding. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Banana, Chocolate Chip, Granola Muffins

Does anyone know what time it is?  You guessed it!  It's time for Secret Recipe Club.   Want to know more about SRC and join in the fun?  Check it out here! 

This month I was assigned the Kitchen Witch.  Rhonda a.k.a. Giggles, a middle-aged blogger, culinarian, photographer and avid motorcycle rider.  Drop by and give her blog a look, you'll find beautiful photographs and delicious recipes!

After making my way through Rhonda's recipes, I settled on Banana, Chocolate Chip, Granola Muffins.   No granola in the pantry?  No problem, I used coconut and quick oats.  I found these to be done after 15 minutes.  I always set the timer on muffins for less time than the recipe calls for because muffins tend to be dry when overcooked! 

Banana, Chocolate Chip, Granola Muffins

  • 1 1/2  cups plus 2 tbs. all purpose flour, divided
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2 or 3 bananas)
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 plus 2 tbs. butter, melted and divided
  • 1 1/2 cups granola, divided
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375F.  Lightly grease 12 muffin cups or line with muffin paper liners.  In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter.  Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture until moistened.  Then stir in the  granola, and chocolate chips.  Do not over mix.  Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tbsp. flour, cinnamon and melted butter.  Then stir in 1/2 cup granola.  Sprinkle topping over muffins and gently press into batter.
Bake in the oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of muffin comes out clean.