Friday 31 March 2017

A Birthday Surprise and Cinnamon Roll Cake

I  am just back from spending a week in the US, celebrating my mum's 70th birthday. I was also able to see most of my kids and their families. My trip was a surprise to my mum and I am so glad we were able to make it happen. My uncle also surprised her by using his expiring air miles to come for the weekend. We had a great time together and a big thank you goes to all who had a hand in making it happen.

Me, my mum and my uncle.
One of my "must do" things, every time I go home, is to visit Tony's Pizza. A favourite hang out in my growing up years, it serves the best Italian Sausage sandwich around. They are also famous for their football (both in shape and size) pizza which feeds a crowd and one is recommended to serve 6-10 people! Having a meal there is never a disappointment. What is disappointing is realising that I am now the old people in the booth . . .

On another note, I have a great recipe for you today, it's not for the calorie conscious so beware! Make it when you are going somewhere so you don't eat it all yourself. If you have good self-control you can freeze it in portions and warm it up in the microwave before serving. I made this to take to work before I went off on holiday and unfortunately didn't take any pictures before it was demolished, sorry about that, maybe next time!

The measurements are US measurements so you will need to convert if you are making it elsewhere.

Cinnamon Roll Cake:

3 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 tablespoon butter, melted
8 ounces butter, softened
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Use an electric or stand mixer to thoroughly combine the first six ingredients. Slowly add the melted butter. Pour this batter into a greased 9x13" baking pan. In a large bowl mix the remaining ingredients until well combined. Drop by spoonfuls onto the top of the batter and then use a knife to swirl it into the cake batter. There is no right or wrong, the more you swirl the more evenly flavoured the cake will be, if you swirl less you will have "pockets" where the butter melts and leaves carmelised cinnamon sugar behind.  Bake at 350 (f) for 25 - 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted near the centre comes out nearly clean.

While the cake is baking make the frosting:

Cream Cheese Icing

2 ounces butter, softened
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cup powdered (icing) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt (or use salted butter)

Use an electric or stand mixer to combine all ingredients until smooth. Spread the frosting on the cake while it is still warm. I use half and freeze the other half for another time but feel free to use it all if you want, no frosting shaming here!

This cake is best served warm or room temperature, I just pop a piece into the microwave to warm it up before I eat it.

Wednesday 15 February 2017

Hello old friends, did you miss me?

WOW!!! It has been three years and three months since I last posted on here. Where does the time go? 

We have had lots of changes since I last was on here. I moved jobs, I am now a trainee Paralegal with a large Scottish law firm. I work in the Executries department and I love it. We have a great team and the work is busy and interesting. I am also taking a course which will eventually lead me to being a qualified Scottish Law Accountant. I am taking the first year of the course just now and will take the second year once it is offered. 

Larry and I got married in June of 2015. We had a registry wedding and a reception in the pub where we met and then had a second reception back in the US in October. Both events were perfect. It's a wonderful thing to be married to your best friend!

The Happy Day

We lost Larry's mum the end of August. She was 87 and a cracker of a woman.

This past December we bought and moved into a beautiful 155 year old stone built cottage in a small market town. Loads of little things to do but we have years to do it. The first project was to get the wood burning stove up to code which we did and we love it. Nothing quite like sitting in front of a blazing fire.

Next time I will tell stories and share pictures of our various holidays, we have been to Portugal (x3), Hawai'i, Amsterdam and Kansas City. Until then, smile, life is too short (or too long) to not enjoy it.

Monday 11 November 2013

Menu Monday

It’s Menu Planning Monday again even though we plan our menu from Sunday. We are trying to clean out the freezer and the cupboards in order to prepare for the move at the end of the month so not a lot of fresh cooking going on as I use up the frozen meals I have saved.

Sunday is movie night so we have nibbles or something easy we can eat while watching the movie. This week we watched the original Pirates of the Caribbean movie while eating Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches and Tortilla Chips with Salsa. To make the Buffalo Chicken I just baked some breaded chicken tenders (goujons) in the oven then put the sauce on them for the last 10 minutes or so of baking. I used Discovery brand Buffalo Wing Sauce but you can use what ever you like. I served them on hard rolls with Caesar dressing.

Monday is crock pot cooking night and this week I have made a beef and vegetable soup using up leftover bits of beef stock/au jus I had in the freezer. I added frozen mixed vegetables and some Scotch Broth soup mix (a dried mix of barley, marrowfat peas, and lentils). We are having it with French bread which I also had in the freezer.

Tuesday we are having Chilli Dogs using up leftover Chilli I have in the freezer. We top it with cheese and onions and will have chips (French Fries) on the side.

Wednesday I am making French Toast (Eggy Bread) with scrambled eggs and pineapple slices. A friend of mine and Larry’s, who recently went to visit his sister in Canada, brought us back some Maple Syrup and I have been dying to make something we can put it on.

Thursday will be Chicken and Peppers with Black Bean sauce which I made a few weeks ago and froze. I will add some more (fresh) peppers to give it crunch and serve it over rice.

Friday will be leftovers night and Saturday is date night so Larry and I will go out for dinner and the boys will eat at their Dad’s.

Saturday 9 November 2013

Holidays and Catch up

It has been ages since I have updated the blog, I have been crazy busy (aren’t we all?). This summer we went back to the States and did some touristy things. My Dad and his wife drove us from Oklahoma to Wisconsin by way of Saint Louis, Missouri, where we went to the Budweiser Brewery and to the Gateway Arch. We then made a stop at Springfield, Illinois where we saw Lincoln’s family home (before he went to Washington) and the Route 66 Museum. We spent some time in Wisconsin just chilling and visiting with family and then it was on to Chicago for the educational stuff, i.e.; the History Museum and the Planetarium. We ended the trip in NYC where we went to the Native American Museum, did the Water Taxi tour and spent as much time as we could on 42nd Street. Larry and I loved it so much that we plan to go back again and stay right down-town.

I've managed to get a great job which I love! I did a three week temporary contract which led to a full time position as a Legal Secretary. It is a great job that keeps me busy both physically and mentally. Everyone I work with is really nice and, since it is a small firm, it is like a big family. The only down side is we are not allowed to use Facebook or write/update any blogs using their computers and they don’t have WiFi so I can't do it on my phone. I have found my way around the blog thing by typing it up as a word document, on my lunch break, and then emailing it to myself to upload once I am home. Hopefully this way I can keep up on the blog and not go so long between posts.

The other big news is that Larry and I are in the process of buying a house. The mortgage has been approved so now it is just a matter of waiting for the loan papers to get to our Solicitor. We are planning to move in the last week of November and I will put up lots of pictures then.

So, this is just a short update to get you all back into the loop. I promise not to stay away so long again! I hope you are all well and happy. Keep warm!
Route 66!

Here are some pictures from our holiday for you to enjoy.

The Lincoln House in Springfield Illinois
A Budweiser Clydesdale Horse

The View from the Gateway Arch in Saint Louis Missouri

This is us at the bottom of one of the legs of the Arch.
The sign from little tavern in Dundee, Wisconsin
They sold UFO beer.
Just a shot of the sea of humanity, on 42nd Street, going nowhere.
Yes, we ate here!

Monday 1 July 2013

Holiday Fun

As you read this we are on our way to the great USA. We flew out of Edinburgh Airport (barring any delays of course) this afternoon. We will have a very short layover in Amsterdam and then it will be on to Minneapolis/Saint Paul where we have an overnight layover. We've booked a hotel with a pool so we plan to have dinner, take a walk and relax. Larry has never been to the States so everything we see and do will be new to him.  

Minneapolis/Saint Paul

Our morning flight to Oklahoma City leaves pretty early so we will be there by lunch time. My daughter, Leah, will be meeting us at the airport and I can't wait! While in Oklahoma we will be very busy but I hope we can get to the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. I am really happy to be in the US for the Fourth of July this year because for some reason it just isn't a big deal here in the UK. I can't understand why, you would think they would celebrate being rid of us! We have a family party on Friday, with a big barbecue afterwards at my brother and sister  in law's house. My brother is a fabulous cook so I know everything is going to be beyond delicious!  It will be the first time my brother, my sister and I will be in the same place, with our parents, in probably six years or so. It will also be the first time in at least three years that all of my children will be in the same place at the same time. 

We will be leaving OKC on Monday and driving back to Wisconsin with my Dad and his wife, Linda. Well, Larry and I are riding with them, Cameron and Connor will be driving back with my eldest son, Collin, and my sister, Kaye. We are going to be travelling by way of Saint Louis, Missouri, so Larry can see the Gateway Arch

When Larry and I planned this trip, I asked  him for a list of what he considered his must see places. He picked Chicago and NYC, of course, and locally to Wisconsin, Title Town Brewing, in Green Bay, and Eddie's Alehouse and Eatery, in Sun Prairie. Because we spent so much time in OKC, we only have a few days in Wisconsin so that we can do Chicago and NYC.  We will be spending two nights in Chicago, and then heading to NYC where we will also be spending two nights. From NYC we will head back home. We don't really have set itineraries for those two cities yet, we will work on that later. 

It's a whirlwind of a trip, considering everything we want to do. I don't know how much blogging I will get to do while I am on holiday but I will definitely do multiple posts about the trip when I get back. 

Monday 24 June 2013

Monday Meal Planning

This week is going to be crazy busy. We are leaving for our summer holiday (back to the US for three weeks) on next Monday. I have to pack, which means going through everybody's clothes to see what we have and what is (still) needed, and making sure no one wears anything they want to bring after Thursday because Friday is the last laundry day before we go. I have to clean the house from top to bottom, not only because we are giving Larry's mum keys to the flat so she can keep an eye on it while we are gone and I don't want her thinking she needs to do anything, but also because we have a terrible damp/mould problem in our bathroom and the contractor is supposed to come sort it out while we are gone. We arranged it for then so it won't matter if they have to tear the bathroom apart and it is unusable for any amount of time. 

It's meal planning Monday and the meals this week are planned to use up what I have on hand as well as keeping leftovers to a minimum. So, tonight we are having grilled lamb chops that I marinated in some of my home made salad dressing. As a side, I am going to make a baked mashed potato casserole to use up some potatoes and bacon I have in the fridge. Basically it's twice baked potatoes, but in a dish. Just make some mashed potatoes, using your favourite recipe, add some cooked, crumbled bacon, sour cream, and some grated sharp cheddar cheese, spread into a greased baking dish and then top with some more grated cheese, bake until hot all the way through. You can add chopped green onion or anything else you want. We will have a green salad with this to use up the rest of the dressing. 

Tuesday is fish day and I have some tuna steaks in the freezer.  I am going make a spicy grilled tuna and serve it with spinach and fried potatoes, made using some boiled potatoes I have left over from making the baked potato salad last week. I have some strawberries (400 grams) I got on sale so I am going to slice them up and add some balsamic vinegar (@ 1/4 cup or 60 ml) mixed with honey (@  1.5 tablespoons) and a grinding of fresh black pepper. You can serve this with good vanilla ice cream or plain Greek yoghurt, it is delicious. I know it sounds weird but be brave and try it.

Wednesday I am making home made bagel dogs. I am going to make a few changes by skipping the seeds on the outside and putting a slice of smoked Bavarian cheese on top of the hot dog before I wrap it up in the bagel dough. We will have these with oven fries and sautéed green beans. 

Bagel dogs, recipe and photo courtesy of
Circle B Kitchen
Thursday we are having egg and chorizo wraps.  To make them I fry up some sliced chorizo sausage and diced onions add beaten eggs, 2 per person, and cook until the eggs are cooked through. Serve on tortillas/wraps with grated cheddar cheese and salsa. I am going to serve carrot sticks with these.

Friday will be whatever is left in the fridge/freezer.  Larry's mum is coming by to pick up keys and spend time with us before we go so I will try to make something nice but it will just be using up bits of this and that, most certainly involving eggs. I'll keep you posted on what it turns out to be.  

The weekend is going to be meals out because we won't be home at all. It is the nineteenth annual Dundee Blues Bonanza. It's three days of fabulous music with musicians coming from all over the world and not to be missed (by us anyway). Larry and I went last year and we had a great time. We hope to see some of the same acts as last year and maybe find some new ones to add to our list of favourites. Part of the fun is in seeing various friends every where we go. Last time there were people we knew at each of the venues and I would expect it to be the same this time. Last year we had to cut our Sunday fun short because Larry had to work on the Monday. This year we can dance into the wee hours because, while we do have to be up early for our ride to the airport, we can sleep all day on the plane if we need/want to. My plan is to have everything packed and ready to go except for the last minute things, like toiletries and meds, by Friday night so the weekend is free for fun. Wish me luck! 

Wednesday 19 June 2013

Where's the baby?

Look at those eyes!

Sixteen years ago today I gave birth to my youngest child. I can't believe how fast the time has gone! Being the youngest of a large group of (mostly) doting siblings, Connor was very spoiled. Despite the dire warnings and predictions of many, he has grown out of this and become a caring, sensitive and thoughtful young man. I am so proud of him. He has the best sense of humour and really enjoys a dry wit.  He has made me laugh so much, the best part is when he is making a joke but trying not to laugh himself, he cracks us both up.  He gets such a goofy grin on his face when he does that.

The Cheeto King
Connor would do anything for a Cheeto or two.

The (American) Football picture was taken in 2010 and the final picture was taken last November.  Quite a change . . .

As mentioned in my last post, the birthday person gets to pick the menu for the day. Connor has chosen spicy chicken wings, baked potato salad and brownies. I am throwing in some salad (his choice) just to make the meal a bit healthier. As promised, here is the brownie recipe. These are thick and fudgey, not cakey, and are really yummy.

Fudge Brownies

Preheat oven to 350f or 175c
lightly butter an 8x8 or 9x9 tin

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup golden castor sugar (or regular white sugar is fine too)
1/4 cup (2 ounces) butter, melted, or oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose (plain) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a medium bowl, stir together, cocoa powder, sugar and butter/oil. Add in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Add vanilla. In a small bowl sift together the remaining ingredients. Add to the bowl of liquids, stirring just until mixed in, do not over mix! Spread in prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted near the centre comes out with just a bit of crumb and not wet. You can add chocolate chips or whatever you want to the batter, and/or top these with frosting or powdered sugar after baking, but Connor prefers them unadulterated, with a side of ice cream, and since it is his birthday, he wins. Also, this recipe is easily doubled and baked in a 9x13 baking dish, adding a few minutes to the baking time.