Monday, March 28, 2016

Gratuitous Kitteh Monday

I'm thinking of making this my new phone screensaver....what do you think?


LOL! Don't be concerned; it's just Leo giving a yawn on my office floor.


Friday, March 18, 2016

Bugzooka!

Say hello to my leetle friend, the Bugzooka:


When we first moved up to Virginia from Florida, we were used to bugs. I mean, we encountered just about everything with four legs or more down there, so we were like, "Bring it, Virginia!"

But I wasn't prepared for how annoyed and disgusted I was going to get over ladybugs. Not just your average, cute, garden ladybugs, but Asian Ladybugs that invade your home every winter, no matter what you do.

At first, I found them to be sort of charming. especially when we were renting and only a few of them came into the house. I thought, "They don't bother anyone and they don't bite or cause damage, so come on in, cute little ladybugs!" But for some reason, the house we live in now is like a magnet and on warmer winter/spring days, I can count 20 of them in certain parts of the house.

They seem to especially like the window area in the laundry room:


Enter the Bugzooka, which is a plunger-type, suction bug catcher that takes care of these critters in a second. No more dragging out the vacuum; no more using a million wads of tissues to catch these things, which by the way, will crawl right out of the wad the minute you throw them away. You just lock and load, press the button and....WHUMP...the Bugzooka sucks up the bugs and stores them in a see-through compartment at the tip. When you are ready, the compartment comes completely off and you can take it outside get rid of the critters or do what I do and flush them down the toilet.

Now it's fun to catch bugs! This will even take care of the scary wasps and hornets that somehow get trapped in our screened in porch; however, the suction reservoir has a size limit on the bug you catch, so no Florida cockroaches. Besides, a Florida cockroach would probably take the thing out of your hands and hit you over the head with it!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

How to Use a Pressure Cooker: Corned Beef and Cabbage

Hey everyone, this Thursday is St. Patrick's Day and although my hubby and I are too boring to go out and drink green beer, we sure do love to cook up a corned beef brisket with some cabbage and potatoes!


Now, this post is a little misleading. I normally prefer to cook my corned beef brisket in a crockpot and THEN cook the cabbage and potatoes in my pressure cooker. I've found that by doing it separately, the cabbage and potatoes don't become mushy and lose their distinct flavor. That's one thing I dislike about using my crockpot; food has a tendency to all come out tasting the same if it's cooked together over a long period of time.

I've tried cooking the corned beef brisket in my pressure cooker, but for some reason, it didn't turn out the same. It lost that "low-and-slow" flavor intensity that you can only get from slow cooking and it wasn't as tender.

So, I start my corned beef in the morning before I go to work and by the time I get home, it's nice and tender and it takes me 10 minutes to cook the cabbage and potatoes in my pressure cooker.

Kathy's Corned Beef and Cabbage

1 corned beef brisket (3 - 4 lbs.)
1 bay leaf
8-10 peppercorns
2-3 whole cloves
2-3 whole allspice berries
1 bottle of dark beer (Guinness is perfect - I had some leftover from a growler)
Beef broth
Small head of cabbage
1/2 - 1 lb. of small, red potatoes

Take out the beef brisket from the packet, rinse it off, and put it in the crockpot. If the beef brisket has its own "spice packet" go ahead and add that to the crockpot. Add the remaining spices, bottle of beer, and add enough beef broth to almost cover brisket completely. Turn crockpot on low and cook 6-8 hours.



After cooking, turn off crockpot and remove corned beef to a plate or platter. Keep warm. Reserve at least 2 cups of the cooking liquid from crockpot.

Cut up cabbage into large chunks and add to the pressure cooker. Leaving the cabbage in large chunks makes it easier to serve and keeps it from being over cooked. Take potatoes and scrub them, but leave the skins on. If they are small, leave them whole, but bigger ones can be sliced in half and added along with the cabbage. Do not fill your pressure cooker more than 3/4 full.



Add about 1 - 1 1/2 cups of the cooking liquid from the crockpot to the cabbage/potatoes in the pressure cooker. Seal pressure cooker and bring up to pressure over med/high heat. When at pressure, lower heat to low and pressure cook for 10 - 12 minutes. After timing, remove pressure cooker from heat and perform a quick release. Carefully open pressure cooker lid AWAY from you, test potatoes for consistency with a knife or fork. If not done, bring back up to pressure and cook another 2 -3 minutes. If done, drain the liquid from the pressure cooker and serve the cabbage and potatoes with the corned beef, spicy mustard, and a yummy beer!


Monday, March 14, 2016

Gratuitous Kitteh Monday

Ugh, daylight savings time.

This about sums up how I feel about it...


Chaz says, "I think I'll need an extra nap today to make up for losing an hour of sleep this morning."




Thursday, March 10, 2016

Pies for Pi Day - 3/14/16

Hey everyone, Pi Day is coming up next Monday on 3/14/16, so be sure to pull out your favorite pie recipes in celebration!

Actually, any occasion is a good occasion for pie, don't you agree? Of all the desserts that I like to make, pie is my favorite. For some reason, it's one of those things that people really associate with home cooking, family and childhood, and it's one that most people indulge. Cake, not so much, but a homemade pie will get people's attention.

Pie is also one of those things that people think is really hard to make, and it can be if you have to do everything all at once, but the truth is that it's one of the easiest desserts to make. In fact, the very first thing I learned how to bake was a pie.

Yesterday, I whipped up a mess of pies in a baking frenzy. I had a freezer full of last year's fruit that I wanted to use and pie is a perfect vessel. I made 5 pies and a dumpcake and brought them into my old workplace as a surprise. Most were new recipes, and two of them were unimpressive.

That's the great thing about loving to bake and having people to share it with...you get to try out new recipes!

I'm including links to the recipes I used. Here's the spread:


First from the bottom left was the Banoffee Pie, which had promise, but it turned into a soupy mess. It's basically a graham cracker crust pie with a layer of dulche de leche, sliced bananas, and whipped cream.

My take away from this is that it needs to be assembled JUST before serving and not allowed to sit overnight. 


Next up was my pride and joy, Strawberry Rhubarb. I had researched about what would be the best thickener for this "juicy" pie and quick cooking tapioca was the winner. Yum!


Next up was another new recipe, Chocolate Truffle Pie with Amaretto Cream. Let me tell you this pie was THE BOMB! I have to admit that I didn't expect it to be such a big hit, but in this pic the pie almost gone! 

Definitely a keeper.


Next up was another disappointment, Vanilla Bean Peach Pie with Almond Oatmeal Streusel. I used cornstarch for this pie and the filling was a little gluey and flat tasting. The peaches were previously fresh/frozen, so they didn't hold up very well after defrosting, plus the streusel topping was kinda boring. 

It was a pretty pie, though...I'm not including the recipe, it's not worth it. 


Lastly, not a pie, but another very pleasant surprise was a Strawberry Rhubarb Dump Cake. The most interesting thing about this is that it actually does not have any "real" strawberries in it at all, but instead strawberry jello! It was the easiest thing to throw together.

I swear it tastes like the real thing and it went over wonderfully!


Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Gratuitous Kitteh Monday

Look at these two snuggle bunnies.

Chaz and Miss Thang really love each other and always have, although Chaz is the laid-back-lover of all kittehs in this house. Miss Thang wouldn't be caught dead doing this with Leo, but I'm hoping someday she will.


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