Saturday, March 29, 2014

Save the Acorns Foundation

A few years ago my husband went on a hunting trip with his buddies and they all had on custom made shirts that said 'Save the Acorns Foundation.'  Now, you are probably wondering what the Save the Acorns Foundation is (I wondered too), well, they hunt deer, squirrels, and other wild game that eat acorns.  Cute, right?
A month or so ago they decided to start a blog, and much to my surprise my usually shy husband, has taken to this whole blog thing- sometimes posting multiple stories in one day.  I love that they have started doing this.  It's a place for them to share their stories, recipes, and tips.  So, as a shameless plug, here the link to their blog.

I will warn you they do post pictures from their hunts, as in dead animals.  But they also share some funny stories, pictures from days on the lake fishing, and even bow shooting.  It is definitely worth looking at, and I'm not just saying that because it's my husband.  Well, maybe just a little.  :)

Ree's Recipes- Part 2

In my last post I shared some of Ree Drummond's (AKA The Pioneer Woman) recipes for sweets.  I've also tried several of her other recipes for side dishes.  I haven't tried anything that hasn't been good. I'm convinced all of her recipes are awesome.  She is definitely worth checking out.

For Christmas I made Soul Sweet Taters.  You will never want to touch another can of sweet potatoes/yams after eating these!  The pecans are optional, I left them off, but I think my husband would have preferred them.  Of course, lots of butter is included, which makes them even better!

Another awesome potato recipe are Ree's Smashed Potatoes.  My husband loves to make these.  We like to make mashed potatoes but they never were just quite right.  Something was always off, no matter how much butter, milk, or salt we put in.  Ree’s recipe calls for bacon and sour cream- of course they are going to taste better!  We’ve made this recipe several times and always add in something different.  She uses green onions (not a fan), so we add in what we have.  Cheese, bell peppers, whatever goes and it is always fantastic!

Speaking of my husband, I think his favorite recipe we have tried is the Skillet Cornbread.  I grew up on Jiffy cornbread mix and have always used it to make cornbread muffins.  We had some beans simmering in a Crock pot a couple weeks ago and no Jiffy mix!  Have no fear- I have a recipe for it!  This recipe was a total change for me because you make it in a cast iron skillet.  My husband loved it!  It was amazing, but I like sweet cornbread so next time I think I’ll add some sugar.  (Horrible I know- not at all healthy).   I will warn though, it does not taste the same the next day re-heated.  Keep that in mind. 

A recipe we tried that my husband liked, but I wasn't a fan of were granola bars.  I've never attempted anything like this before and probably won't again.  It is a long process, most of Ree's recipes are easy and quick, this one has numerous steps, and I just wasn't a fan.  I think it's partly because I'm not a huge fan of granola bars in the first place.  But I will say, this is excellent if you are allergic to a certain type of nuts or if you can't find the specific kind of granola bars you like because you can customize them any way you want with different grains, nuts, or berries.  Also, make sure you coat the bottom of your baking sheet VERY well- over half of mine stuck to the pan.  I tried to save as much as I could and my husband ended up eating the remains as cereal. 

I think the recipe of Ree's I have made the most and will forever make is her Perfect French Fries. I remember my mom making homemade fries when I was younger and they were great, but nothing like these, close though (sorry, mom!).  You can pretty much use any type of potatoes (we've tried several kinds and they always turn out great), but you do need to plan ahead.  After peeling and cutting the potatoes (I've just been using a knife but we are about to invest in a potato cutter since I've been making fries so much lately), you let the fries soak in water for at least an hour, but you can even do it overnight.  It helps remove starch so when you go to drain the water it will be really cloudy.  Then you fry them in oil once at a low temperature, then up the temperature and fry them again.  They are AMAZING.  Truly.  And what takes them over the top for my husband is fry sauce- mayonnaise and ketchup mixed together.  Oh goodness- amazing!  Can't say enough about them.  Delicious! 

Like I said before, I have a whole list of her recipes to try.  I think my next big goal is going to be making Easter lunch using recipes from her holiday cookbook.  

I know these last few posts are different than my 'regular' posts but hey, when you find something worth sharing, you should share.  This is after all, Miranda's Great Finds, I never said the great find couldn't be food related. :)


Friday, March 7, 2014

Ree's Recipes- Sweets!

In my last post I discussed my love for all things Ree Drummond AKA The Pioneer Woman.  One of the reasons why I love her is her recipes.  She takes pictures of each step in the recipe.  I’ve always wondered why cookbooks don’t have this.  Often there is never a picture and if there is, it’s of a perfect, unrealistic finished product.  I wasn’t much of a cook before Ree but now, I’m becoming one and even enjoying cooking.

I never cooked much growing up and even into my twenties I didn’t.  My grandmother’s idea of teaching me to cook was always cakes- from a box.  My mom’s idea was hardly there either.  Once my cousin hosted a Pampered Chef party at our house and asked me to hand her a whisk and I had no idea what she wanted.  So, yea, I was a little limited on my cooking knowledge and even more limited on my cooking skills.  One thing I could always make were brownies.  Weird, right?

My husband, bless his heart, has helped me in the 3 ½ years we have been married to expand the number of things I can cook.  Thankfully, he can cook (self-taught) and was patient with me as I tried.  I usually ended up frustrated, and left the kitchen to let him finish.  Or if I did attempt the entire recipe, I would worry with each bite that my husband took if he really liked it or if he was just being nice.  With Ree’s step-by-step pictured instructions I have learned cooking can be easy (gasp!) and fun!  I’m still learning, and it’s been a process, but I’m getting better with each recipe I try.  FYI: I screwed up a box of mac ‘n cheese the other day- obviously, I’m still a work in progress. 

The first recipe I made from Ree’s cookbooks was her Dr.Pepper Cupcakes.
I love Dr. Pepper and cupcakes so I thought, “perfect!” The cupcakes turned out pretty good, I don’t think my syrup ever got to the consistency it was supposed to, but overall they turned out.  They’re like a spice cake, which Ree said they were, but I apparently have never eaten spice cake.  I didn’t care for them, I probably won’t make them again unless someone asks me to, but it was just because I don’t like spice cake.  

Staying with the dessert theme, I tried her chocolate chip cookie recipe, found on her website, here.
Talk about AMAZING!  These are the best cookies I have ever eaten, and I’m not just tooting my own horn.  They are made with plenty of butter and can be make with a variety of chips.  The first time I made them I used chocolate chip and butterscotch.  The next time I just used chocolate chips.  Can’t wait to make them again!

Another recipe I’ve already made a couple times is Ree’s Orange Vanilla Fruit Salad.  I recently made it for my Bunco ladies and they loved it!  The syrup can be made ahead of time and it is super easy.  Just water, sugar, orange, and vanilla extract.  Then add in whatever fruit you want or have.  The first time we made it we used fresh fruit we had (strawberries, pineapple, and grapes), but this last time I used a couple bags of frozen fruit (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries) and it still turned out perfect!  You will want to drink the syrup up with a straw!

For something special for our Super Bowl party, I made a Chocolate Strawberry Cake.  It wasn’t the prettiest cake because I didn’t let one of the layers of cake cool enough before I tried to take it out of the pan and everything just kind of got ‘glopped’ together but oh man, was it delicious!  The layers have a thin spread of Nutella!  The strawberries soak in a bath of sugar and vanilla -how I will be making my cut up strawberries from now until forever!  It is just heavenly! 

My husband made me Orange Marmalade Rolls- an alternative version of Cinnamon Rolls.  Now, I will admit, we cheated here and didn’t use Ree’s recipe for the dough but mostly stuck to her directions for the rest.  The recipe in her cookbook will make 40-50 cinnamon rolls and that was just a tiny bit too much for us on a weekend.  These are delicious too, of course, and the icing just is…ahhh…wonderful. 
 My husband adding the orange mixture!
 On the left- just out of the oven with no icing. 
On the right- with the icing! YUM!

I have a whole list of recipes I want to try, and I’ll try to be better about taking pictures so I can share my successes and failures (hopefully not!)  I have some more recipes we have tried, and I'll post about them later. :)