Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tasty Tuesday - Scottish Oat Scones

Scottish Oat Scones served with jam and tea.

I got this recipe from my Mom, who said she got it originally from The Quaker Oats Wholegrain Cookbook.  It's become a long standing favorite.  These scones are delicious served with scrambled eggs, frittatas or omelettes in the morning, with tea in the afternoon, and are super simple and quick to make.

Scottish Oat Scones

Grease a cookie sheet and preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2/3 cup                    butter or margarine, melted
1/3 cup                    milk
1                             egg
1 3/4 cups               oats (uncooked of course)
1 1/2 cups               all purpose flour
1/4 cup                    sugar
1 tblspn                   baking powder
1/2 tsp                    salt
1/2 cup                   raisins (optional)

Add melted butter, milk and egg to combined oats, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Mix well.  If you are adding the raisins, stir them in.

Pat the mixture out on a lightly floured surface to form a 12x9 inch rectangle.  Cut dough in quarters, then each quarter in half.  Cut each rectangle in half to form two triangles.  (Sheesh! This sounds like math class!  Trust me it's not that hard.)

Transfer triangles with spatula to your greased baking sheet.

Bake for 12 minutes.  Serve. 

Scottish Oat Scone dough cut into triangles.

  • If using margarine, make sure your margarine does not have water in it.  Your results will NOT be the same if you use margarine or spreads with water in them.
  • If you're in a hurry and don't want to cut the dough, simply pat the dough into a greased 12x9 inch cake pan and bake.  You will most likely have to increase the baking time to 15 to 25 minutes, depending on your oven and pan.  Watch them.  Then cut as if you were making bars, to whatever size you wish.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ahh... Country Barbecues - A Repost

I originally posted this on my art blog, Cruzines, on September 21, 2010

Today, hearing the target practice of one of our neighbours, I was reminded of it and decided to repost here.

When you think of life in the country, you think of peace and quiet and relaxation.  After all you're far from the hustle and bustle and noise of the city and all the dangers that come along with it.

My husband and I are originally from the city, to be more specific, Chicago.  My husband is an ex police officer.  He's been shot and shot at while working.  My car's passenger side window was shot out while I was driving one night with him in the car.  The bullet missed him by a few inches.  I've seen the bullet holes in door frames, bullets that missed him by a few inches.

What does this have to do with country barbecues? Weeell...

Sunday night, I asked my husband to go and put the yummy steaks I had seasoned onto the barbeque.  I followed him outside with a fork and clean plate.  He lifted the lid on the barbeque and we heard a loud SNAP and then the sound of something hitting the deck.  We both thought that something had snapped off the barbeque, but what?  There really wasn't anything that would break by him lifting the lid.

He put the steaks on the grill and looked down at the shelf on the right near the burner.  There was a big hole.  He then looked down on the deck and picked something up.


You may have guessed by now.. it was a bullet from a .22 rifle.

We hadn't heard the report when the rifle was fired and he worked out a trajectory based on how the bullet hit (police officers lol ) and figured out where it had come from.  We most likely hadn't heard the shot fired because the bullets can travel up to 2 miles and honestly, we hear alot of shots everyday, as people are always shooting squirrels and other "pests" out here.

Once again, the bullet had missed him by inches.  He was standing off center of the grill, almost in front of where the bullet had hit.

So next time you think of life in the country as idyllic, it can be, but it's filled with more dangers than you'll ever know.  Remind your friends not to shoot up into the air at nothing, for no reason.  What goes up, must come down.  Make sure you have a target, so you don't end up hitting someone's grill 2 miles away.  Sometimes I think these things could only happen to us, because you may as well call us Oliver and Lisa Douglas from the old Green Acres tv show.  I have stories!  I actually am thinking of naming our place Green Acres. 

Anyway, in typical police officer and police officer's wife form, we shrugged off the bullet.  After all, it really hadn't scared us, as we thought it was something breaking and it turned more into a puzzle than anything else.  Of course I now have a hole in my barbeque, which I'm not thrilled about, but we have a story to tell and I guess that makes for a great conversation starter. 

Oh.. the steaks were delicious.  We ate inside.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tasty Tuesday - Tori's 'nanas

Have you heard of Yonanas?

It's a handy dandy gadget that transforms over ripe bananas into a tasty frozen treat similar to soft serve ice cream.  Mmm, that sounds yummy.

I've seen the machine in action on tv.  You put three frozen bananas into the chute on top of the machine and push down hard... from a tube at the bottom of the machine, comes creamy frozen goodness.  You can add other frozen fruits to the machine with the bananas to make various delicious flavor combinations.  The three bananas make 2 servings.

I really like the idea.  I always have over ripe black speckled bananas and I don't always want to make banana bread, my normal go to recipe for over ripe bananas.


I don't have enough counter space for another kitchen machine (it's about the size of a coffee maker).
There doesn't look to be a good way to get all of the banana mixture out of the machine.
It doesn't look that easy to clean.
The cost.  From my research they go for about $49.00 and I can't justify spending that much money on a gadget when I believe my blender can do the same job, or close to the same job.

I decided to make my own Yonanas without a Yonanas machine.

frozen bananas and blueberries
It's super simple, super healthy, and the results are declicious.

Tori's 'nanas

1 frozen banana ( I cut up my ripe, speckled bananas and put one banana per baggie into the freezer)
1/2 cup to 1 cup frozen fruit such as blueberries, strawberries, melon, etc. (I usually use a good 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup (or less) water, milk or juice  Add gradually.

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend. It will take a few minutes of stopping and starting the blender and stirring around the ingredients.  Keep at it until the mixture is creamy.

Spoon into serving dishes, garnish with fruit if desired and serve.
Makes 1 large serving or 2 small servings.  Double recipe for more.

In the back, Banana-Blueberry garnished with blackberries. In the front, Banana-Pineapple-Coconut (use pineapple  juice or coconut milk in place of water) Both were made with the above recipe, so you can see the size of the servings you will get.

You can use any flavor combinations from strawberry- banana to peanut butter-chocolate chip-banana.  I'd love it if you'd share your favorite flavor combinations.

You may love 'nanas so much you may decide to buy the Yonanas machine.  If you do, or you already have it, I'd really love to hear what you think of it.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tasty Tuesday - Lemon Bread

Springtime and lemons.

There's something about spring that makes me crave lemony treats.  I'm not sure if it's the memories of the Lemon Meringue Pie at Easter, but I'm sure they play a part.

When I'm craving something lemony I reach for this family favorite. The recipe has been passed down through my family.  I make it regularly, all year round.  It's moist with just the right amount of tartness.  I know you're going to love it.


Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
Generously grease a loaf pan.

In a bowl stir together:

1-1/2 cups      flour
1 tsp.              baking powder
1/2 tsp.           salt
                       Grated rind of one lemon

Grate your lemon rind.  Only the yellow, the white can be bitter.

Add the lemon rind to the other dry ingredients.  Stir it up.

In a large bowl, cream together and mix well:

1/2 cup           shortening
1 cup              white sugar
2                     eggs

Cream the sugar and shortening together.

Add the eggs.  I like to beat my eggs first.

The creamed mixture should look like this.

Add your dry ingredients (the flour mixture) to the creamed sugar mixture alternately with:

 1/2 cup milk

Always start and end with the dry ingredients.  

Add some of the dry ingredients (flour mixture) to the creamed sugar mixture. Mix it.

Add some of the milk to the creamed mixture. Mix it.  Keep repeating these two steps until everything is combined.

Pour your batter into your well greased loaf pan.

Bake for one hour.

While you're waiting for the bread to bake, stir together:

1/4 cup       white sugar
                  juice of one lemon

Let it sit while the bread bakes to make a lemony syrup.

When your bread is finished baking, take it from the oven.

Immediately take a skewer and make some holes in the top of the bread.

You can also use toothpicks or a double campfire cooking skewer like I did.  

Stir your lemon syrup and pour it all over the top of the bread.

Mmmmm The lemon syrup soaks down into the holes you just made.

Let the bread cool completely before removing it from the pan.

Time for tea!  I'm having a slice of Lemon Bread with mine.


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Dealers and Road Trips and Cars. Oh My!

We have a new car!  Well a new, old car, but it's new to us.

When our 1998 van wouldn't start on Monday morning, we knew it was time to get a second car.  We've been talking about buying one ever since Mr. B. came home from Iraq in November.  His job with the military has kept him busy since he's been back.  Very busy.  It's kept him away from home, along with the car, not just through the regular work week, but also he's had to spend two weekends every month working since he's been back.  It's a busy schedule.  A schedule which leaves me at home, in the country, in the middle of nowhere, with no vehicle.  No way to go grocery shopping, take the dogs to the vet, or myself to doctor's appointments or to the library or, or, or....  We have managed, but it has certainly, not, been an ideal situation.

Monday morning was a sign.  A sign that we had to get another car.  Fast!

Figuring that the problem was electrical, Mr B. hooked the van up to the battery charger, came inside, called his office to let them know the situation and that he wouldn't be in. He went to the computer and started a serious used car search.  Four hours later, we had found a what sounded like a good car at a lot in Peoria.  We called the U.S.A.A. and arranged for financing and let the insurance company know that we would be calling them to add another car to the policy.  Good progress!  To top it off, the van started!

Off we went to buy our new car.  The dealer was waiting for us and took us right over to the car, so that we could have a look and  a test drive.  Everything seemed fine and we went inside to sign the papers.  We told the dealer we had our own financing through U.S.A.A., and handed him the paperwork that we had printed out detailing everything, including the fact that the U.S.A.A. would draft them a cheque and send it to them immediately, through the computer.  He took the paperwork to their finance guy.  When he came back he said it all looked good, but they would have to hold the car for 10 days, until the bank draft cleared!!!!!


What the?

Mr. B. got on the phone with U.S.A.A. and told them the situation.  The girl on the other end, said, "Say what?!  Let me talk to the finance guy."  The salesman took Mr. B.'s phone into the finance guy.  We joked about the situation, while he was gone, comparing it to us crying to our moms, who then were chewing the mean man out.  lol   Well, the phone came back and Mr. B. spoke to the U.S.A.A. girl again.  The dealership wasn't going to change their minds about the bank draft, even though it was a "bank" draft, from a financial institution.  She said to Mr. B., "You do of course, have options.  You can wait the 10 days, but I don't advise it.  You can leave and go to our website and look on our list of affiliated car dealerships for a car.  Our affiliates will accept our bank drafts and will have you driving off the lot in your new car the same day."

Needless to say, her second option sounded awesome.  We left.

We drove home, got on the computer again and searched the U.S.A.A. website.  We hadn't even known that they had car dealership affiliates.  They have amazing deals.  Every car we looked at online was rated as a really, really, really amazingly good buy by Edmunds.  The only issue was that the affiliates are in major cities.  The closest was Chicago, which is three and a half hours from us.

Wednesday, Mr. B. took leave and we hit the road for Chicago.  The van was being surprisingly co-operative.  It was as if it was all meant to be.  We stopped and picked up donuts and coffee, because what is a road trip, if even a short one, without junk food.  Four hours later we drove up to the dealership in Chicago.  Everything went smoothly.  The finance girl printed out the bank draft from U.S.A.A., filled in the amount and that was that.  We called our insurance company to have them add the car instantly to our policy.  We were handed the keys to the car.  Smooth as silk.

We now own a 2010 Toyota Corolla LE, for just a little more than what we would have spent at the first dealership for a 2005 Toyota.  Amazing.  I love U.S.A.A..

I got to drive the car home.  We became very well acquainted over the four hour trip and are good friends now.

We are officially a two vehicle family, well once the van gets out of the shop, that is.  I couldn't be happier.


Happy Easter!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tasty Tuesday - Freezer Guacamole

Welcome to Tasty Tuesday, my day to share some of my favorite recipes with you.

This week, I happened to get some nice very ripe avocados cheaply, more than we could eat before they spoiled.  The solution?  Freezer Guacamole.  I always keep a good supply of this in my freezer.  It's convenient for those nights when you're craving nachos and guacamole, or for when people drop over unexpectedly.


There are two versions to this recipe.  The regular version and the lazy woman's version.  (I bet you can guess which one I used.)  The instructions involving the avacados remain the same for both versions.

I am giving directions for 2 avocados as that is the number of avocados needed for the regular guacamole recipe.  If you are filling more than 2 avocados, double or triple the recipe accordingly.  For the Lazy Woman's version, you can fill avocados until your salsa jar is empty.

Lazy Woman's Freezer Guacamole


Jar of Salsa of your choice
2 RIPE Avocados

Wash your avocados.  Remove the pits and set them aside to use for growing avocado plants, if desired.
Scoop the avocado flesh out of it's skin.

Open your jar of salsa.
Put a large spoonful of salsa into each avocado half.
You do NOT have to fill the hole the pit was in.  That may be too much salsa.  Adjust the amount for your own personal tastes.

Pop the filled avocados into freezer bags.  Remove as much air as possible from the bag and seal.  Label and date.

Throw in the freezer.  Use within 4 months.

There you have it!  Thaw and enjoy.

  To quick thaw, simply put the unopened bag in a bowl in your sink and run cool (not cold or warm) water over your bag until the bowl is full.  Turn off the tap and leave the guacamole to sit.  Every five minutes come back to check on it and squeeze the bag gently to mash the avocado and break up the frozen parts.  This takes about 15 to 20 minutes.

When thawed completely, squish and squeeze the bag until the ingredients are well mixed.  (kids like to do this part)  Empty into a bowl and serve.


Regular Freezer Guacamole


2 RIPE avocados
1 small onion finely chopped
1 clove of garlic minced
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
(to seed, slice tomato in quarters and scoop out seeds with your fingers)
Juice of 1 lime
1 tspn of minced cilantro
salt and pepper

Prepare avocados as shown above.
Combine the remaining ingredients and divide evenly among the avocado halves.
Freeze and thaw as shown above.