4 Tips for Pineapple Selection

Have you ever been faced with the daunting task of finding the best pineapple in the store? Never fear! About 6 years ago Mark and I went to Hawaii on our 1 year marriage anniversary. One of our trips was to the Dole Pineapple Plantation. We got to see where they grew pineapples, we watched them cut up a pineapple, plus the lady even gave us tips that I’d like to share with you today. Don’t worry, I know it was 6 years ago, but I take notes. Must be that studious part of me… Feel sorry for me or jump for joy that I can still share information with you… your choice!

4 Tips for Pineapple Selection

  1. Smell – you don’t want a pineapple to have a real strong “pineapple” smell.  The more smell you get, the more the fruit is actually fermenting, and getting closer to being bad.
  2. The “circles” on the outside of the Pineapple are called eyes. You want your eyes to be relatively the same in size and shape. This means that the Pineapple is ripe.
  3. Don’t pay attention to color. Color is not a factor in how ripe a Pineapple is. All the color does is show how much sunlight the pineapple received during the growing process.
  4. You don’t need to cut the top off a pineapple. If a Pineapple is ripe, just twist and pull up and the top will come out of a pineapple. Now the really cool thing is you can allow it to dry for a couple days and then place in water. Then you’ll create your pineapple plant. Just keep the temperature range between 70 and 90 degrees year round and you should be able to produce about 3 pineapple’s per pineapple plant.
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Reuben Nachos

I have to credit my love for cooking to my grandma’s yes, but later in life to Rachael Ray. Now I know a lot of people don’t like her and I have my moments where I just want her to come to reality because she always says, Your local store has blank blank blank. Well I live in Middle American and Rural America at that and our local store doesn’t always have things she refers to, example shallots. 

But the thing about her is she came up with the idea of 30 minute meals. I was home from college one Christmas and got in to watching her show. I guess there was nothing else on so I got hooked on Food Network but I believe one of the first recipes she ever made was Mexican Lasagna. Truth be told I love Mexican food and I love Lasagna so you combine the two in 30 minutes or less and I’m sold. I remember calling my mom at work and asking her to pick up ingredients (texting wasn’t really an option at the time). When mom got home I made it and fell in love.

From then on I was hooked on watching her show. I then branched out to others but like I said, I want to credit her. I think it was that 30 minute meals thing and the fact that even if we couldn’t find what she was talking about in Rural Middle America I learned how to substitute. As you can see from the above picture I also learned what a Rue is. It’s a combination of butter and flour cooked down and then added to liquid as a thickening agent. Oooo look at me go. Are you impressed?

Eventually Rachael Ray came into daytime TV. When Mark and I started dating I told him I really liked her and her show. I meant the one on Food Network but he thought it was the one on daytime tv. Because of that miscommunication I started watching her daytime TV show. 

Since 2010 I have quit watching her as much. In fact in the last year I can’t remember a time I’ve taken a minute to watch her daytime tv show or really any show of hers on Food Network. Is she even on Food Network anymore? I don’t know. One of the shows I did watch though, she made New York Deli Nachos.

I tried them once before, in fact it was early on in Mark and my marriage. It’s a combination of kettle chips and all the things that go into a Reuben Sandwich. Holy YUM! Mark loves Reuben Sandwiches so I knew this would be an easy sell for him. But here recently I was sitting here thinking, what are we going to have for dinner. Like I said the initial time we had these was early on in our marriage (we’ll have been married 7 years this year) and it hit me like a freight train I wanted these reuben nachos.

When he got home from work, I left our little girl with him and ran to the store after the ingredients. The only thing I couldn’t find was the shredded lettuce, but we luckily had a brand new package in the refrigerator. It’s a layer of kettle chips and meat and cheese sauce and sauerkraut and lettuce and just yummy stuff.

Let’s just say this hit the spot. Between the 4 of us who were eating on this for dinner, there wasn’t a bite leftover. Yes, they were that good. I’m just saying, go to the store, get the ingredients, and try them now. You won’t be disappointed!

New York Deli Nachos

Ingredients
  • Ridged, thick-cut or kettle potato chips or frozen waffle fries
  • 2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
  • 3/4 pound thick-cut deli pastrami, about 3 slices, diced
  • 3/4 pound sliced 1/4-inch thick corned beef, diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 pound sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 rounded tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup grated Swiss cheese
  • 1 cup chopped or grated Muenster cheese
  • 2 rounded tablespoons spicy deli mustard
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup relish
  • Salt and pepper
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Sliced or chopped deli pickles

Preheat oven to 250F.

Place potato chips on a large rimmed baking sheet and warm in oven or bake waffle fries to package directions.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat with the oil. Add beef and onions, and cook until crispy at edges and hot through. Add sauerkraut and saut until warmed through, about 1-2 minutes.

Heat a saucepot over medium to medium-high heat. Melt butter and whisk in flour. Whisk in milk, season with salt and pepper, and thicken. Melt in cheeses and stir in mustard.

In a bowl, stir together sour cream, ketchup and relish; season with salt and pepper.

Arrange warm chips or waffle fries on a platter. Top with meat and cheese sauce. Drizzle with Russian dressing and top with lettuce, onions and chopped deli pickles.

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Solstice Quilt Block 17 & 18

Grandma’s sewing machine took a poop. She has an old, back up sewing machine, I’m talking kind of old fashioned. When I showed up yesterday she was like, oh you’ll love this little machine, sure sure do. I did “love” it… NOT! Oh my goodness, I spent more time fixing mistakes and trying to get it to work (i.e. putting the thread back in it) than I did actually sewing. The first quilt block I did took me over 2 hours and it should have been quick. I’m not sure if I was having a Monday or what… but gosh, I’m not a fan of that sewing machine.

I grumbled and complained way more than I should have. I then also lost quilt block pieces and sewed them incorrectly and everything else. Let’s just say I was having a Monday and it sucked! I love Monday’s because it means I get to spend time with my grandma and my little girl and we get to sew on this quilt top, but yesterday I was regretting that it was Monday. 

The goal was to try and incorporate some of the orange polka dot material into other quilt blocks. I would say we accomplished that with both quilt blocks yesterday. So I present you with Quilt Block 17. Oh and if you’ll notice I remembered to do these in order. I tried to print Quilt Block 19 and my silly printer ran out of ink. Good thing because after all the problems I had, I only had time to work on 2 quilt blocks.

Grandma actually picked out the material choices for these quilt blocks yesterday. Like I said, our goal was to incorporate the orange polka dot material. Here is Quilt Block 18. I’m not 100% sure how I feel about this particular block, but once placed with the others I thought it looked a little better.

Here the the blocks in all their glory of falling off grandma’s bed. I think we need a big floor to piece it all together. As you can see, quilt block 9 is the reason to incorporate the orange polka dot, but I think in the end we’re going to modify quilt block 9. I’ll keep you updated!

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Corn Cakes

Corn is one thing my family can agree on liking. I know I know it doesn’t provide much nutritional value, yada yada, but it’s A-maize-ing. haha. You know, corn is Maize. Please tell me I’m semi funny? *crickets* Ok fine….

I stumbled across this recipe so many years ago that I’m not even sure when, where, or how. Like I mentioned above, my husband really likes corn and one night I came across this recipe and we decided to give it a whirl. OMG, I think we wound up having it 4 or 5 times in the next 2 weeks or something like that. Yeah, it’s crazy they were that good. Then we didn’t have any for I don’t know… years.

One night a couple weeks ago, however that changed. We were trying to come up with a side dish for dinner that was different that what we’ve been eating a lot of lately and that’s when I remembered about these Corn Cakes.

That night we invited our friend Jared over and asked if he’d ever had corn cakes. He kind of thought I was crazy I think until he actually tried them. Then he seemed to be sold. Now one thing I learned that night is these are a lot better when they are warm and fresh than when they cool off and sit there. So keep that in mind and maybe come up with a way to help keep them warn; then share your advice with me! Enjoy!

Corn Cakes

(adapted from Mennonite Girls Can Cook)

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 tsp dried mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 1/2 cups corn, cooked and drained
    • What we like to do is place the corn in a skillet with a few tbsp of butter and some season salt. Just as the butter melts and gets a “sizzle” sound to it add the corn and sauté it up a bit. Adds another level of flavor!!
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
    • Don’t have? Don’t worry! Just add a splash of vinegar to milk (preferably low fat or skim but doesn’t have to be…)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted

Method:

  1. In a medium size bowl combine dry ingredients with grated cheese and set aside.
  2. In another bowl whisk together corn, buttermilk, egg, and melted butter.
  3. Pour corn mixture over dry ingredients and stir just until moistened, like you would for a muffin batter.
  4. Scoop batter for each cake on a hot grill (350º) which has been lightly greased.
  5. They will spread a bit so no need to flatten them.
  6. Cook for 4 or 5 minutes on one side, until brown at the edges, flip and cook another 4 minutes.
  7. Yield: 7 cakes
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Deep Dark Chocolate Cake

Do you ever just get it in your head you want to do something? Please tell me I’m not alone on that! Friday I spent the day decorating some cookies for a birthday party. I asked my friend Jody if she had a cake for her son’s birthday and she said that her kids don’t really like cake. Not like cake? What a sin. haha! Nah, not really.

I can’t always say I’m a huge fan of cake, but sometimes I just want cake. That day I just so happened to get it in my head I wanted cake. Earlier int he week I found a recipe for a cake I thought I might want to try but the “icing” has white wine in it and it isn’t cooked down. When you cook with alcohol, if you actually cook it, you’ll get rid of the alcohol. If you cook a cake such as a rum cake, the icing on it doesn’t get cooked either.

The other cake that really stood out to me was one of my grandma’s recipes for a Deep dark chocolate cake. This cake is friggin awesome! Now truth be told I’m not a huge chocolate anything fan. This cake though makes me want to eat every last bite. I found the recipe a few years ago in some of my grandma’s recipes. After she passed away I got all of her recipes/recipe books. I just stumbled across this and have loved it ever since. In fact, this is the best chocolate cake I’ve had I think!

The real kicker about the recipe is it said milk but there wasn’t a given amount. Later in the instructions it said it was supposed to be a thin batter. Mark and I set out to figure out how much milk was needed. We played around with it and decided the amount of milk is 3/4 of a cup. It works and we get a thin batter. When you bake it… Oh. My. Gosh!

Prepare your pan. I always use Bakers Joy. Like I’ve stated before, Food Network did a study to find the best and I swear it’s only like around $3 for the can. It’s not the most expensive. That makes it even better, right? Yeah, I thought so too!

The icing in grandma’s recipe calls for 1 tablespoon milk. When I was making my icing the other day the humidity was really wonky. If you didn’t know, we’re kind of floating away here in the midwest. Hey, come dead of summer we’ll be asking for rain. Unfortunately a bunch of people have a lot of flood damage so I’m not writing it off or anything, just simply saying. One last thought, I saw on Wednesday we’re supposed to get more rain.

Anyway, back to the icing. Play with the icing. Sometimes you need a few more tablespoons of milk to make it thin out and other times you don’t. Weather has a HUGE factor on baking sometimes. Just make iced sugar cookies! You’ll quickly learn!

I have to say I couldn’t wait to dive in to this cake. Holy yum! It has a nice soft silky taste to it while the icing sets up and almost has a fudgy type consistency to it. And the chocolate isn’t overbearing. One factor when you are someone like me who isn’t a HUGE chocolate fan. I’m okay not having chocolate for months at a time, but every once in a while you just need chocolate and on top of that cake. So why not combine the two and have this Deep Dark Chocolate Cake. It’s dreamy! LOL

Deep Dark Chocolate Cake

  • 1 3/4 Cup Flour
  • 2 Cups Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup Cocoa
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Tsp Vanilla
  • 3/4 Cup Milk
  • 1 Cup Boiling Water

Combine dry ingredients.
Add: eggs, milk, oil, vanilla, water
Pour into a 9×13 greased & floured cake pan. Batter will be thin.
Bake at 350 degrees. 35 to 40 minutes.

Fudge Icing

  • 1 Stick Butter
  • 3 Tbsp Cocoa powder
  • 1-3 tbsp milk
  • 1 lb powdered sugar

Melt butter. Add cocoa. Mix in milk and powdered sugar.

Frost Cake

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