Tuesday, January 22, 2008


It means "breakfast for dinner". What did you think it meant?

Breakfast went so well Saturday that we decided to repeat it for dinner tonight. This is one meal that I can be assured that my picky eaters will devour. We had bacon and sausage, eggs, biscuits and pancakes tonight. It was good and the only left overs were a biscuit and one piece of sausage-instant sausage biscuit sandwich! and pancakes. I freeze leftover pancakes and just pop them in the toaster for quick school morning breakfasts. The boys love them, so they never go to waste!

I didn't make the carrot cake Saturday, so I"m thinking about making one this weekend. I have a busy weekend coming up, but I think I can get it done.
Here's Ina's recipe. It looks soooo good!

Pineapple and Carrot Cake

For the cake:
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 pound carrots, grated
1/2 cup diced fresh pineapple

For the frosting:
3/4 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted

For the decoration:
1/2 cup diced fresh pineapple

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

For the cake:
Beat the sugar, oil, and eggs together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light yellow. Add the vanilla. In another bowl, sift together 2 1/2 cups flour, the cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Toss the raisins and walnuts with 1 tablespoon flour. Fold in the carrots and pineapple. Add to the batter and mix well.

Divide the batter equally between the 2 pans. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool completely in the pans set over a wire rack.

For the frosting:
Mix the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until just combined. Add the sugar and mix until smooth.

Place 1 layer, flat-side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake. Decorate with diced pineapple.

I also didn't use the white tablecloth on the table. I was going to, but when I got it out, it was badly in need of ironing...so black seemed like a good substitute. I found some silver glittered bottle brush trees at the dollar store on the Christmas clearance rack...so I picked them up, along with some 33 cent each white pillar candles. That's what I made my centerpiece out of. I never got a picture of the set table, because it's always buffet and the table doesn't actually get set! But here's a picture of the centerpiece.

I am so honored! Ginger over at Magical Holiday Home (www.magicalholidayhome.com) has featured Dinner at the Hamlet on the front page of her site! Thanks, Ginger! What an honor! I'm thrilled with the mention, less than thrilled with the picture...I don't let anyone take my picture very often, so it's not surprising that I don't have a good one. Jonah actually took this one!!

Hope over and visit the magic at Ginger's site...it's where Everyday's A Holiday!!

Til tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Monthly Family Breakfast, January version!

This Saturday is our monthly family breakfast. I like to have a theme for each month. This month, it's "Snow's a Glistenin" in an attempt to be humorous and not too cutesy...I'll use my white dishes and a white tablecloth, with "snow" and "ice" on the table...I'll post a picture when I get it all done!

My original plan was to have different menu each month, but my family has made it clear that they expect this every month:

bacon and eggs
sausage and pancakes
biscuits and gravy

They don't care what else you have, but you need to have these! It's supposed to be freezing cold, so we're also having:

Overnight Oatmeal
White Hot Chocolate
Regular Hot Chocolate
Lots of hot coffee!

Here's the recipes:

Overnight Oatmeal (from Gooseberry Patch's Autumn in the Country)
2 c. milk
1 c. old-fashioned oats, uncooked
1 c. apple, cored, peeled and diced
1/2 c. raisins
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
1/4 c. brown sugar, packed
1 T. butter, melted
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon

Mix all ingredients in a slow cooker sprayed with non-stick vegetable spray. Cover and cook on low setting for 8-9 hours. Serves 4-6.

White Hot Chocolate
4 1 oz. squares white melting chocolate, chopped
1 3/4 c. whole milk
1/2 c. whipping cream
1/2 t. vanilla extract
Garnish: marshmallows

Combine chocolate, milk and cream in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat until chocolate is completely melted, stirring frequently. Increase heat to medium. Whisk vigorously until mixture is smooth with small bubbles around edges; do not boil. Remove from heat, whisk in vanilla. Pour into mugs and top with marshmallows. Serves 2.

Clearly, I'll have to multiply this several times for our rowdy bunch, but it's worth it!

I'm thinking about making a carrot cake to go along with it...but I may make muffins, instead. Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa-Food Network) had a wonderful looking carrot cake recipe that I'm tempted to try...depends on my energy level Friday night!

Til tomorrow-

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Bbrrr... Baby, it's cold outside!

Ok, not very original I know, but it IS cold here today. It is supposed to get colder tomorrow, with rain/snow coming. Of course, we never seem to get a good snow anymore, so I'm guessing it'll just be a cold, miserable rain. And, of course, it would be tomorrow night when we have to be out and about, getting to church and home again. Sigh. So, here's a great little warmer upper to make and keep on hand. It's from Gooseberry Patch's booklet "Christmas in July". Make it and keep it in a jar on your counter, like I do. Here's the recipe:

Jingle Bell Cocoa Mix

3 1/2 c. powdered milk
2 c. powdered sugar
1 c. unsweetened baking cocoa
1 c. non-dairy creamer
1 c. mini marshmallows
1/2 c. mini chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients together. Place in jars. Makes 9 cups of cocoa mix.

Here's the instructions:
Simply mix up to 1/3 cup of cocoa blend with 3/4 cup of boiling water and stir well for a yummy mug-full on a snowy day!

Or, a rainy night!

Here's a picture of my "hot drink station". I put out this set-up for Christmas Eve, decided I liked the way it looks and makes it easy for the kids to help themselves. The tea kettle is usually on, with hot water. If not, they can zap it in the microwave and have yummy hot cocoa in no time!

Here's another good one, a bit less sweet than the cocoa. It's not really my recipe, but I've called it this for so long and made it for gifts and special occasions for so long that I don't really know what the original name is. It's good in the afternoon when you want just a little something, but cocoa is a bit too heavy. And, you don't have to drink it at Christmas only!

Cathy's Christmas Tea

3 cups sugar
2 packets orange Kool-Aid mix
2 packets lemon Kool-Aid mix
1/2 cup instant tea
1 small box apricot jello (can use sugar free, if you'd like)
1 or 2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Get out a large dry bowl. Measure the sugar into the bowl. Open up the kool-aid packets and add them to the sugar, stirring well with a wire whisk. Then mix in the tea, jello, cinnamon and cloves. Stir again to mix well. This makes about 5 cups of mix. Store in a well sealed container.

To prepare:
Combine one tablespoon mix with hot water in a cup or mug. Stir to dissolve, adjust taste as necessary. Serve hot.

Note: the last time I made this, I used peach flavored iced tea mix which was already sweetened, so I cut back to 2 cups sugar. The peach and apricot flavors really blended well with the spices and the lemon and orange. Put it in pint canning jars, attach a hand-made label and instruction tag and you have a nifty little gifty all winter long!

Til tomorrow!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Sausage and Cheese Breakfast Cups

This is a good breakfast recipe. It comes from the South Beach Diet Cookbook, by Dr. Arthur Agatston. I've made this several times, and it's really good. It makes a good on-the-go breakfast, and is healthy, too! It's a Phase 1 recipe, which means it's low in carbs. You can make them ahead and just warm them in the microwave when you're ready to eat! Hope you like it.

Sausage and Cheese Breakfast Cups

4 ounces turkey sausage or crumbled turkey bacon
1/4 green bell pepper, chopped
1/4 onion, chopped
5 large eggs
1 can (12 ounces) sliced mushrooms, drained
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded, reduced fat cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 6 cup muffin pan with cooking spray or line with paper baking cups.

In a medium non-stick skillet over medium high heat, cook the sausage, pepper and onion for 5 minutes or until the sausage is no longer pink. Spoon the mixture into a bowl and cool slightly. Stir in the eggs and mushrooms. Evenly divide the mixture among the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle with the cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until the egg is set.

Makes 6 cups
140 calories, 9 g. fat, 12 g. protein, 4 g. carbohydrate, 1 g. dietary fiber, 195 mg cholesterol, 400 mg sodium

Friday, January 11, 2008

Swiss Chicken

I'm sure there's a fancier name for this, or it's really something else that I'm just calling Swiss Chicken, but anyway, here it is! I call it Swiss Chicken because I make it like I make Swiss Steak, except with chicken.

First, I put some chicken breasts in a baking pan. Then I cover it with diced or crushed tomatoes, bell pepper strips (if I have one) and onion slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, a teaspoon of Italian Seasoning (basil and oregano, it you're out of Italian Seasoning) and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour.

I like to serve it with a baked potato, green beans and a salad. I made this last week and the boys liked it. I just told them that it was spaghetti sauce chicken and they ate it up!!

I also made triple chocolate brownies for dessert, which is just a regular brownie mix, prepared according to package directions, with chocolate chips stirred in. This time I put white chocolate chips on top, sometimes I use regular chocolate chips, and other times I frost the brownies with chocolate frosting. It's good either way! Here's a picture of the brownies:

I made a new recipe for Bunco last night. It was so easy and so very yummy! It's:

Chocolate Cheese Cake

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/3 c. sugar
1 tub chocolate cool whip
Oreo pie shell
chocolate bar for shaving or mini chocolate chips

Mix the softened cream cheese and sugar together with a mixer until well blended:

Stir in the cool whip, pour it into the Oreo crust and sprinkle with chocolate shavings or mini chips. Put it in the fridge to chill until serving time.
Here's the final product:


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Bunco Night dinner!

Tonight is Bunco night and it's at my house! For a description of how you play, see my other blog! Here's what we're eating tonight!

Mexican Chicken Stew

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup salsa-I use mild, but you can use any flavor you like
1 can chopped green chilies
1 can whole kernal corn (or a cup of frozen corn kernels)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 T. cumin
1 T. chili powder
salt and pepper to taste

I start this soup the same way I start the chicken noodle. I boil my chicken in chicken broth, take it out and cool it slightly, then shred it. Put it back into the pot with the broth and add the remaining ingredients. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes, and serve it with baked tortilla chips.

This is soooo good, and the bunco girls usually request it when I host the game in the winter. I usually put out some tortilla chips and salsa as an appetizer, and I like to make a fruit punch to go with it. Here's a good punch recipe:

1 can frozen fruit punch
brewed tea
1 cup sugar
1 can frozen lemonade
1 can apricot nectar (in the juice section)

Put the undiluted fruit punch, lemonade and apricot nectar in a gallon container. Add 3 punch cans of water, the sugar and enough tea to make a gallon. Stir and add more sugar, if necessary. Slice up some oranges, lemons and limes to garnish. Serve over ice in a hurricane glass or other stemmed glass. Good stuff!!

I hope to post some pictures tomorrow along with a recipe for Swiss Chicken. It's good stuff, too!!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Heart healthy recipes

Check back for some heart healthy, diet friendly recipes in the days to come! I'll be posting a few every few days.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Country Supper

Tonight we have pictures of our meal! The boys-all 4 of them-looked at me like I was a kook for taking pictures of my meal...little did they know, I'd been taking pictures of the ingredients and the cooking process, as well!

We had what we call Silver Dollar City Mix. At SDC, they make a similar dish in a huge -I'm talking probably 4' across-iron skillet-I just use my regular sized one. They also put lots of stuff in theirs that I may or may not have on hand. The beauty of this meal is that you can put in or leave out anything you like or have on hand-or don't like/have on hand! It all starts like this:

This is smoked turkey sausages, a bell pepper-I had green tonight, but red and yellow are especially good in this, a yellow onion, and some red potatoes. I use turkey sausages because they don't have a casing and are healthier, but you could use kielbasa, Italian sausages, whatever you like.

Put your iron skillet (or any other good sized skillet you like to use) on medium heat and drizzle olive oil in it. Let it heat while you peel and chop, but keep a close eye on it. Peel the onion and slice it and the pepper, and put it in the pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper and let it do it's thing while you prep the potatoes. It looks kind of like this at this point:

While the peppers and onion sweat, peel and chop the potatoes. I like a course chop, with big pieces of potatoes, but you can slice them thinly, if you prefer. Put the potatoes in the pan with the pepper and onion, which should be nicely caramelized by now. Put a lid on the skillet and let it cook while you mix up the cornbread.

For the cornbread:
2 cups cornmeal MIX
2 eggs
a splash of milk-about 1/4 cup or so
2 T. oil, divided

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Put 1 T. oil in a skillet or other baking pan, making sure to cover the entire surface. Put the pan in the oven and let it get hot while you mix together the remaining ingredients. When the pan is hot, pour the cornbread mixture into the pan and put it into the oven.

I like to use my cast iron biscuit pan:

When you put the cornbread in the oven, cut up the sausages in 1/2 inch or so slices and add to the potatoes, pepper and onion. Let the sausage warm while the cornbread bakes. I like to open a can of navy beans or pintos, drain and rinse them, and then warm them in a pan or in the microwave, seasoned with a little salt and pepper and some beef broth.

I keep salad made up in the fridge most of the time, so it's easy to put it all on the table together, along with tall glasses of sweet tea! Here's my dinner tonight:

Right after I snapped this, I put ketchup on my potatoes, ranch dressing on my salad and butter and honey on my cornbread! Now that's a good country supper! Enjoy!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Cheat night!

I'm cheating tonight! We're having a "Take and Bake" night! I picked up a couple of pizzas at the deli at Wal-Mart, which they call Take and Bakes. They are very good! I cook them in a hot (425 degree) oven, right on the rack of the oven. The crust crisps up nicely, and it's not a bad Friday night supper. I also got some cinnamon breadsticks with cream cheese icing. That's Benjie's favorite! I got the boys pepperoni, while Lynn and I will share a meat lovers. You should try them! Add a tossed salad...as Rachel would say, "Yum-O"!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Soup Night

Tonight is soup night at the Hamlet. If I had to choose one category of food to have exclusively for the rest of my life, it would have to be soup. I wear my family out in the fall and winter with soup. I could eat it every day. I even like the canned stuff, right out of the can!! I like to make it early in the day, so that the flavors can marry, but let's face it...that doesn't always happen! So, sometimes I make it and let it cook in the crockpot, and sometimes I make it just before we eat.

My favorite is my chicken soup with chicken pieces, carrots, green beans and mushrooms. Tonight, however, it's homemade chicken noodle. Even the pickiest kid in the world, Benjie, will eat it. It's even better than the school's chicken noodle, according the the boys. High praise, indeed!

So, here's the easy peasy recipe! You should adjust amounts and seasonings to suit your needs. This is how I make it for us.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

2 pounds chicken tenderloins or chicken breasts
1 quart chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 pound box noodles-egg noodles or spaghetti or any other kind of noodle you have

Put the chicken and the broth in the crockpot and let it simmer all day. Add water if necessary to make a full pot. When the chicken is thoroughly cooked, take it out and let it cool until you can handle it. Use two forks or your fingers and shred the chicken. Pour the liquid into a pot on the stove and add water if necessary to make the amount of soup you need. Bring the water to a boil, then add the butter and stir. Put the noodles in the boiling water. Stir in the shredded chicken and let it simmer. Salt and pepper to taste. Let it simmer until the table is set and the tea is poured into glasses, then call everyone to eat. Have some crackers or homemade bread to serve with it.

You can add celery and carrots at the beginning, while the chicken is cooking, if you want. Benjie won't eat it if it has anything weird in it, and apparently celery and carrots are weird.

Hope you enjoy your soup. I know I will!!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Cotton Bowl snacks

Since our game is at 10:30 am, I decided to have breakfast snacks for game time today. I'm making breakfast sandwiches of biscuits with ham, bacon or sausage, cheese and eggs. I also have hashbrown patties (like McDonalds serves) and of course, lots of hot coffee, hot chocolate, milk and tea for those who want it.

It's a cold, clear, crisp day. I love New Year's Day. It's a day of new beginnings.

For dinner, we'll have:
Cider based ham
Fried potatoes
Black eyed peas
Iced tea
Sugar cookies and ice cream

That should be sufficient to bring us luck and wealth in 08! Here's hoping!!