Friday, December 28, 2012

Food Fun Friday--Caramel Apples

Oh, I love caramel apples. Considering the number of pieces of caramel, or even those pre-made caramel wraps that you can buy, are only around 150 calories, I think it's well-worth the extra half hour of walking you have to do to burn off those calories (or the 12 oz Dr Pepper you sacrifice) for the yummy treat.

During NaNoWriMo, I made a batch to keep my writing strength up and boy, was it worth it, even if I messed up and used wax paper when I should have used parchment paper. So, I figured, what better way to close out 2012 than with a sweet treat. LOL

Here's the quick recipe:
caramels and apples, the perfect combination

1 bag, approximately 50 pieces of caramel candy, unwrapped
5-6 small apples, washed, dried, and stems removed
2 tbs water
5-6 popsicle sticks
a piece of parchment paper approximately 24" x 12" (enough to accommodate all the apples) (the packaging says wax paper, but I'd go with parchment paper)
1-2 tbs butter, softened

Insert the popsicle sticks into the tops of the apples, leaving 2/3 to 3/4 of the stick for easy holding

Brush the softened butter onto sections of the parchment paper wide enough for the bottoms of the apples and a bit of caramel. You may want to place the parchment paper on a cookie sheet so it's easier to transfer the batch of apples to the refrigerator so they can cool

Place the unwrapped candies and water in a small to medium sauce pan over medium-low heat.

Stir constantly until the candy is melted. Remove from heat.

Being careful not to burn yourself, swirl the apples in the melted caramel, making sure to coat all of the apple.

Then carefully place the apple onto a buttered section of the parchment paper. 

Repeat these last two steps until all the apples are coated. 

If there is any left over caramel sauce in the pan, feel free to drizzle it over some yummy vanilla ice cream, or simply add a little more to the tops of the apples.

Place the apples in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight until the caramel cools.

Then enjoy!

I do love me some caramel apples. Here's hoping your Christmas (if you celebrate it) was Merry and your New Year is very, very Happy!


Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Dinner

Food Fun Friday is coming early...
I have to admit, I love Thanksgiving and Christmas time, because no one looks at you funny if you're buying a turkey breast, cranberry sauce (jellied, of course), and canned pumpkin.

I've decided to share with you my regular holiday meal: Baked Turkey Breast (because I don't like the wings or legs), Mashed Potatoes, Cranberry Sauce (Jellied), and Pumpkin Pie

I'll take it in's going to be a long day so I usually start early and work from the end to the beginning of the meal.

To start it out, let's begin with the pumpkin pie.

1 9-inch deep dish pie shell (thawed)
15 oz can of pureed pumpkin
12 oz can of evaporated milk
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon (I use 2 tspns)
1/4 tsp ground cloves (I use 1 tsp)
1/2 tsp ground ginger (I use 1 tsp)
(I like spicy pumpkin pie, so I also include 1 tsp of pumpkin pie spice)

Preheat the oven to 425 F degrees.

In a small bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (sugar, cinnamon, ground cloves, ground ginger, and pumpkin pie spice). Set the bowl aside.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs then add the pumpkin, blending the mixture well.

Next, add the dry ingredients, before you add the evaporated milk and blend everything well.

Carefully fill the pie shell with the mixture, then cover the edges of the crust with tin foil (this will keep the crust from burning)...

I used two pie shells because I'm spastic and tend to spill the filling when I put it in the oven. Place it in the oven.

Cook at 425 F for 15 minutes. Turn the temperature down to 350 F and continue to cook for 45-55 minutes or until a knife stuck in the center of the pie comes out clean.

Remove the pie(s) from the oven and allow them to cool on a rack. Once cooled, you can refrigerate the pies until you're ready to serve them after dinner with a dollop of Cool Whip or whipped cream on top.

Next, the turkey breast. I bake my turkey in a pot that can be used in the oven. I don't do this because I'm crazy, but because I make soup with the turkey carcass. Means I don't make as much of a mess, and I only have one big pot to clean at the end of the night.

turkey breast (thawed and rinsed)
1-2 c water
splash or two of canola or vegetable oil
3-6 pats (approximately 3-6 tbsns) unsalted butter, softened
seasoning to taste

Leave one rack in the oven on the lowest level and preheat it to 425 F degrees.

Rinse the thawed turkey breast, trimming away any excess skin or fat that you don't want. Make sure you remove the gravy packet that usually comes with the turkey as well as the giblets and neck if you're baking a whole turkey. Just be sure to check that your pot can hold the entire turkey without having to cram it in.

After you've rinsed the turkey, rub the oil over the skin of the turkey.

Sprinkle the spices onto the turkey, before you put the water into the pot. Put just enough to cover the bottom so the turkey doesn't burn.
Place the turkey into the pot with the thicker part of the breast toward the bottom of the pot, this will allow the meat to remain juicy after it's finished baking.

Press the pats of butter onto the turkey, one near the top, and one or two on each breast side, and even one or two in the center of the back, before you slide the pot into the oven.

Bake the turkey for half to three quarters of the time listed on the packaging, making sure to baste the turkey thoroughly every 15 to 30 minutes.

About three quarters of the way through the cooking process, pull the pot from the oven and carefully turn the turkey over so the thicker part is at the top, so it can brown.

After the turkey has reached the required internal temperature listed on the packaging, pull it out of the oven and remove it from the pot and let it rest on the plate/platter so the meat can finish cooking.

The mashed potatoes come next. I usually start the potatoes while the turkey is browning in the oven at the end of its cooking time.

6-8 cups water
6-8 medium to large sized yellow potatoes, peeled and cubed
3/4 - 1 1/2 cups heavy cream or milk
1/4 - 1/2 cup and 2 tbs unsalted butter 
salt and seasoning to taste

In a medium pot, bring the water to a boil with salt and seasoning. Peel, rinse, and cube potatoes then add them to the water.

Boil the potatoes until soft; drain and return to the pot on the burner.

Add the cream or milk and the butter to the potatoes,

then use a potato masher to smash the potatoes until they're smooth.

The cranberry sauce is easy. After chilling the can in the refrigerator over night, open the can, shake the jellied sauce onto a plate and slice with a butter knife.

By the time the potatoes are done the turkey should be ready to be cut. Feel free to take a healthy serving of each. 


Friday, December 21, 2012

A Reading...If We're Still Around

So, according to the Mayans, we're supposed to be gone by the time this blog posts. If we're still around at 6 AM EST today, then you'll be able to read this post and the message I received from my tarot cards.

If you've been reading my blog on Tuesdays, you'll know that I've been discussing the meanings of tarot cards. Since next Tuesday is Christmas and today is the winter solstice (not to mention THE day), I figured I'd do a general reading for myself today.

I used the standard Celtic Cross spread and allowed the deck to choose the signifier for me. In the Celtic Cross, each of the ten cards' positions have a specific meaning. The card in each position gives you insight into the message being transmitted. By adding a signifier, a card that represents me at that moment in time, I draw eleven cards for the reading.

The design of the spread is easily found on the web, but I've included a description here:

The Signifier (S) is laid down first
Over it is laid Card 1 of the spread and it identifies what covers (environment)
Card 2 identifies what crosses (challenges)
Card 3 identifies the basis of the situation (basis/problem)
Card 4 identifies what is behind or in the process of leaving (past)
Card 5 identifies what crowns or could come into being (present)
Card 6 identifies what will happen (future)
Card 7 identifies the subjects negative feelings about the situation (fears)
Card 8 identifies how others or the subject sees herself (self)
Card 9 identifies the subjects positive feelings about the situation (wishes)
Card 10 identifies the answer to the question being asked (outcome)

This is what the spread looked like:
The 11-card Celtic Cross spread

The cards give information individually as well as collectively. So, here we go.

Signifier: Queen of Cups
Card   1: 4 of Wands
Card   2: Nine of Cups (Reversed)--for those of you who may be thinking I'm reading this card wrong, I lay my challenge card with the upside facing to the right rather than the traditional way of facing to the left
Card   3: Strength VIII (Reversed)
Card   4: King of Swords (Reversed)
Card   5: 7 of Swords
Card   6: Ace of Wands (Reversed)
Card   7: 6 of Swords (Reversed)
Card   8: 4 of Swords
Card   9: King of Coins (Reversed)
Card 10: The Hermit IX

And this means?

The reading in a nutshell:
Since this is a general reading with no specific question being asked, the information passed on is giving me an idea of what I should direct my attention toward.

What the cards are telling me is: I have a lot of conflict going on around me. The bad part is, there's a lot of problems I'm going to have to wade through and have been wading through, but the good part is, I've recognized these problems and I'm taking steps to correct them. I have to focus on learning how to take control and use the strength within me to find the answers to my questions and problems. I need to sit down and face things realistically. The Nine of Cups (R) means my challenge right now is that my wish won't come true right now at least not in the way I've thought it should. That doesn't mean it will never come true. What's interesting to me is how many of the cards represent needing to plan carefully. To look at a situation and make sure you really understand it.

So, it looks like the cycle ahead of me is going to be an interesting one. I'll have to approach it with new eyes and a different perspective if I'm going to overcome the negative things that have been happening and may happen if I don't learn this lesson.

Here's hoping you all have a wonderful Winter Solstice and a very Merry Christmas.

I'll be back with a new card on the 31st!


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tarot Tuesday: Nine of Coins (R)

Today's Card:
Nine of Coins (R)
Nines often represent a new path
Coins (Pentacles) usually represent money

Meaning (Upright):
feeling incomplete; still seeking goals even when others think you have it all; materially secure, but emotional solitude; seeking purpose and inner satisfaction; knowledgeable, handle your own issues; unexpected check or money or added income; unexpected costs -- money or emotions; wisdom/experience with money; financial independence from wise investments; economic well-being from use of creativity or talents; healthy life; free from worries; right choices with money

Meaning (Reversed):
lacking wisdom regarding money; poor investments or loss through friends; depressed as a result of dependency; insecure; health problems; learn to use money wisely; spendthrift; guard against unwise personal loans/investments; time to analyze goals and dreams; may receive the answer through meditation; possibly caught up in difficult situation; loss of friendship, partner, money, home; don't make rash decisions; stay away from intrigue

Dragon Tarot Deck created and illustrated by Peter Pracownik
Published by US Games, Inc.

The Lovers Tarot Deck Designed by Jane Lyle
Published by Thomas Dunne Books

Steampunk Tarot Deck Designed by Barbara Moore,
illustrated by Aly Fell, Published by Llewellyn Worldwide 2012

In a Reading: The nine of coins reversed in a reading is an indication that you are having or will have money problems or experience difficulties with a relationship that may be directly connected to money. Be careful with your investments. The possibility that you'll need to pay close attention to your budget during this time is clear. Take this card as a signal that you need to step back and analyze your goals and the plans you've made. Don't be surprised if you lose a friend or something more, if you don't address the problems realistically.

Here's the disclaimer: I have to stress, I am not an expert in the Tarot and I use them for myself and friends (and my characters) to help answer questions about situations and the future.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Food Fun Friday: Turkey Soup

So after Thanksgiving there're always leftovers to deal with. For me, I actually take care of the leftovers on Thanksgiving Day and the day after by making Turkey Soup. It's great comfort food and just the right thing on a chilly night. Or even when you're feeling less than perfect.

For Thanksgiving, I baked my turkey breast in an oven-safe pot. After the turkey is finished and dinner is over, it's time to make the soup.


turkey breast remains
juices from the baking
6-12 c water
4-6 yellow potatoes, peeled and cubed
12-16 baby carrots, peeled and sliced
6-10 celery stalks, rinsed and sliced
1-3 c chicken stock

I make sure I get the majority of the meat off, but leave some on the bones. After returning it to the pot, I add enough water to just cover the bones and turn the temperature up to medium. I let the turkey boil at a medium temperature covered for at least three hours, stirring occasionally to keep it from boiling over. If it's late enough in the evening, I'll turn the temperature down to low and leave the lid on the pot.

While the turkey is boiling, I peel the potatoes and cube them, chop the celery (I put water in the bowl with the celery to keep the slices fresh), and slice the carrots. Then I set the vegetables aside.

After the carcass is done boiling, I strain it through a colander and into a bowl so that I separate the meat and bones from the stock. I set the colander aside to cool a bit so I can easily separate the meat, bones, and skin without burning my fingers. LOL

While the turkey remains cool, I pour the stock back into the pot, add 1-2 cups of chicken stock, salt, pepper, and the prepared vegetables--celery, carrots, and potatoes, and let it cook.

I carefully separate the bones, skin, fat, and meat, then tear the chunks into small bite-sized pieces before I add the meat to the soup.

I let the soup cook for several hours until the potatoes, carrots, and celery are soft.

After I enjoy a bowl or two, I carefully fill several containers. I put one or two of the containers into the freezer and leave a couple in the refrigerator for lunches over the next week or so.

I have to admit, I love to make soup during the holidays, because it's great to heat up a bowl and snuggle into the couch and watch a great movie.

Hope you enjoy it too!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tarot Tuesday: King of Wands

Today's Card:
King of Wands
Kings usually represent men over the age of 35
In the case of the King of Wands, the physical description may be, fair to red hair, blue to hazel eyes, sloping forehead, long or blunt nose, and his body may lean forward
Wands often signify enterprise or career

Meaning (Upright):
Fair, honest, just counselor; a person you can confide in; independent, influential, business authority; leadership qualities and talents or abilities; good, loyal friend; often starts new enterprises but doesn't stay to finish, potential for inheritance, likes to entertain and be social

Meaning (Reversed):
can represent a man who can be puritanical, by the book; something upside down in his life; childish, dependent, anti-social; selfish, domineering, petty tyrant; relationship issues, overbearing, unyielding, intolerant attitude; often has head injuries; may be an Aries female when reversed; inclined to be intolerant and strict in manner; opposing; disagreement or dispute, be the first to withdraw; uneasy due to lack of tolerance in business; make sure of all the facts; don't let people be overly aggressive with you.

Dragon Tarot Deck created and illustrated by Peter Pracownik
Published by US Games, Inc.

The Lovers Tarot Deck Designed by Jane Lyle
Published by Thomas Dunne Books

Steampunk Tarot Deck Designed by Barbara Moore,
illustrated by Aly Fell, Published by Llewellyn Worldwide 2012

In a Reading: If the King of Wands shows up in a reading it can represent the presence of an older man (over 35), a leader in business, who can provide advice or counseling to you, possibly in a business matter. This particular person enjoys social settings. Keep in mind, this card doesn't always mean a person, it can indicate a possible inheritance on the way; or the opportunity for growth in your business or in your job.

Here's the disclaimer: I have to stress, I am not an expert in the Tarot and I use them for myself and friends (and my characters) to help answer questions about situations and the future.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Food Fun Friday: Chili Omelet

Food Fun Friday is coming in a day late, but with a spicy start to the weekend!

So, I'll never be normal...I love to eat breakfast for dinner and dinner for breakfast. My favorite quick meal? A steamy, spicy chili omelet with toast and milk.

2 large eggs
1/2-1 c chili with beans
2 slices of bread, toasted
3 tbs unsalted butter
2 c and a splash of milk

In a small bowl, scramble eggs with a splash of milk. Melt 1 tbs butter in omelet pan or small frying pan over medium heat.

Pour eggs into the pan, swirling the eggs so the bottom is completely covered and let them cook. I like my eggs well-done, no soft or slimy consistency for me! So I let the eggs cook until the top is no longer shiny.

cook until eggs aren't shiny on top
While the eggs are cooking, heat the chili on the stove or in the microwave.

Once the chili is warmed, spoon half of it over the center of the eggs. Reduce the heat. 
spoon chili over the center of the eggs
fold egg over chili
flip the omelet over
Depending on how you like your omelet, fold the egg in half or thirds, keeping the chili inside then flip it over and allow it to cook for 1-2 minutes.

Toast the bread and use the remaining butter on the slices.

Slide the omelet onto a plate. Spoon the remaining chili over the top. If you include cheese, sprinkle that over the chili. Pour the 2 c of milk into a glass, set the toast beside the omelet and enjoy!

toast, omelet and an oh so yummy meal