Saturday, June 18, 2011

An Engagement and A Recipe

I speak often about my dear niece, Toni
and what a sweetheart she is.
She met her Prince and they are planing a wedding.
From the moment I met Joe I knew they were a perfect match for one another. He is an awesome guy and I am excited to see what the future holds for them.
Toni and Joe came over Sunday afternoon and I took some engagement photos.
We really enjoyed talking with them and catching up with this dear couple over an easy dinner.
For dessert I made a treat that I knew would remind Toni of her time in Missouri where she attended the University of Missouri while studying for her Masters degree.
I researched recipes and information about this regional favorite called
St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake.
from Wikipedia:
Gooey butter cake is a type of cake traditionally made in the U.S. city of St. Louis, Missouri. It is generally served as a type of coffee cake and not as a dessert cake. There are two distinct variants of the gooey butter. There is a bakers gooey butter and a cream cheese and yellow cake mix variant. It is believed to have originated in the 1930s.

The St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission includes a recipe for the cake on its website, calling it "one of St. Louis' popular, quirky foods"; the recipe calls for a bottom layer of butter and yellow cake, and a top layer made from eggs, cream cheese, and in this case almond extract. The cake is dusted with confectioner's sugar before being served.
The following recipe is one very similar to the cake Toni enjoyed in Missouri.
It is very sweet and very good!
Gooey Butter Cake Recipe

1 (18-ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 large egg
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 cups powdered (confectioners') sugar
Powdered (confectioners') sugar for dusting top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 13- x 9-inch baking dish.

In a large mixing bowl, combine yellow cake mix, egg, and butter. Press mixture onto bottom of prepared baking dish; set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese until creamy; add the 2 eggs and vanilla extract. Blend in powdered sugar until well mixed. Pour batter into the crust-lined baking pan.

Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until cake is nearly firm when you shake if (you want the center to be a little gooey, so do not over cook the cake). Remove from oven and let cake cool in the cake pan on a wire rack.

When cool, remove to a serving plate and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

If making ahead of time, refrigerate in an airtight container up to one day.

Makes 9 servings.

 Sit Relax and Read

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Easy Parmesan Risotto

I love this Ina recipe ~ easy and tasty.
One of the reasons I love her.
Barefoot Contessa
how easy is that?
excerpt from Ina's book:
While not technically a classic Italian risotto, this sure is easy. I found the process for this recipe in a book by Donna Hay, the wonderful cookbook writer from Australia. I make it with my homemade chicken stock, lots of freshly grated Parmesan, and frozen peas. Risotto in the oven? You have to make this to believe it!
Easy Parmesan "Risotto"
Ingredients
·         1.5 cups Arborio rice
·         5 cups simmering chicken stock, preferably homemade, divided
·         1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
·         1/2 cup dry white wine
·         3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
·         2 teaspoons kosher salt
·         1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
·         1 cup frozen peas
Preparation
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place the rice and 4 cups of the chicken stock in a Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset.
Cover and bake for 45 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente.
Remove from the oven, add the remaining cup of chicken stock, the Parmesan, wine, butter, salt and pepper, and stir vigorously for two to three minutes, until the rice is thick and creamy.
Add the peas and stir until heated through. Serve hot.
Serving Size Serves four to six 
 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Barn Swallows

My photos are totally blurred and out of focus but still a thrill to see this pair of barn swallows swoop and swirl on the front porch early one morning.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Nesting Wrens and Daddy's Favorite Nursery Rhyme

New occupants amongst the Petunias and Impatients
in the basket hanging on the front porch
House wrens busy building a nest.
(notice the bird on the top left flying in with a bit of nesting material)
Mama wren peeking out.
hmmm... now how do I go about watering this basket?
an interesting domed nest
~*~
I have fond memories of my dad playing a sweet little nursery rhyme finger-play game with me as a child and how it fascinated me to see the little birdies vanish and then reappear.
My children remember well, when Pop-Pop played it with them too.
~*~
Two Little Dickie Birds
(my dad used the names Jack and Jill)
From Wikipeda: The rhyme was first recorded when published in Mother Goose's Melody in London around 1765. In this version the names of the birds were Jack and Gill:
There were two blackbirds
Sat upon a hill,
The one was nam'd Jack,
The other nam'd Gill;
Fly away Jack,
Fly away Gill,
Come again Jack,
Come again Gill
~*~
Here are Daddy's finger actions for the rhyme:
Out of sight, he would place a small piece of colored tape onto the fingernail of his index finger on both hands.
As he began reciting the rhyme he would show us both of his hands closed into a fist.
 the hand actions are: (I adapted this Wiki Chart to Daddy's version)
LineAction
Two little dickie birds sitting on a hillBoth fists are closed
One named JackWith a quick motion, Daddy would flip one of his fists over his shoulder and return it with the index finger extended to show, Jack.
One named JillHe would repeat with the other hand.
Fly away JackThe Jack hand is quickly drawn back alongside the adult’s head. As part of the movement the adult folds the marked finger and sticks out the second finger of the same hand and drops the hand back down to the original position. The child sees that the marking, Jack, is no longer there – it has flown away
Fly away JillThe action is repeated with the other hand
Come Back JackThe action is reversed to make Jack reappear
Come Back JillThe action is reversed to make Jill reappear
I am not sure if my dad learned this rhyme from the Mother Goose Nursery Rhyme book I received when I was five years old or if he knew it from his childhood.
My guess is that he knew if from his childhood.

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