Sunday, March 31, 2013

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Almond Italian Easter Cookies

This recipe was handed down from a close family friend.  
They taste like Easter!

Almond Italian Easter Cookies

6 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 sticks butter melted and cooled
1 oz. almond extract (or any flavor you like)
4 1/2 cups flour (sifted)
6 tsp. baking powder

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Lightly grease a large cookie sheet.

In a large bowl mix eggs, sugar, melted butter and extract.
In a separate bowl mix flower and baking powder.
Gradually mix dry ingredients to the egg mixture. (If it feels too sticky, add a little more flour.)

Take a spoonful at a time, roll in a ball and place on greased cookie sheet.
Bake for 12-15 minutes. 

To make the confectionary frosting:
Add a little bit of milk to confectionary sugar (you want it rather thick.)  Add a few drops of almond extract and food coloring of your choice.  Dip into frosting upside down and put on rack to dry!

Warning: These cookies are addicting.
...can't say we didn't warn ya!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

There's no seder, like our seder!

One of our favorite memories when we were on tour with Fiddler on the Roof was when one of the sweetest ladies in the cast held an unconventional Passover seder in the hotel lobby.
The celebration included traditional story telling, drinking wine, eating matzo and partaking of symbolic foods...all framed by musical parodies with live music and dancing chorus boys!

We got this Braised Brisket recipe from our Mama Nancy.  
This juicy brisket has a hint of Southwestern flavors and a little kick!

Braised Brisket

1/4 cup oil
1 6-pound beef brisket, boneless and trimmed of most fat
*1/4 cup Southwestern seasoning blend
3 medium onions, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 bay leaves
6 cups chicken stock or enough to cover 

*to make Southwestern season blend, combine to taste, ginger, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, coarsely ground pepper, kosher salt, dried basil, dried oregano, chili powder and cumin.

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven.  Coat one side of the beef with half of the seasoning blend, patting well.  Place beef in the hot oil and cook until brown and crisp on the first side. While cooking, coat the other side with the remaining spice blend and then flip. 

Remove the meat from the pan.  Add onions, carrots, and celery to the Dutch oven and cook, stirring until the onions are golden brown.  Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add bay leaves, brisket and enough chicken stock to cover the brisket.  When the stock comes to a boil, cover and reduce to a low simmer. 
Cook until very tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Remove the beef from the Dutch oven and set aside.  Skim the excess far from the stock and strain the liquid.  Cook sauce until it reduces to half it's volume.  Add brisket and reheat.  Serves 10-12.

"Next year in Jerusalem!  Next year in the Holy Land!"

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Easter Jam Jars.

Jam tomorrow, jam yesterday, but never ever jam today!

We love to craft with jars.  
Here's what we came up with for the Spring and Easter!

-Brown paper bags (for the rabbits) 
-Tacky glue 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

St. Patrick's Day Beef and Guinness Stew.

Don't like corned beef and cabbage?  Try this!

Beef and Guinness Stew

2 pounds stewing beef
3 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tablespoons tomato puree, dissolved in 4 tablespoons water
1 1/4 cups Guinness
2 cups largely diced carrots
Sprig of fresh thyme
Chopped parsley, for garnish

Trim the meat of any fat or gristle, and cut into 2-inch cubes. Toss beef with 1 tablespoon of the oil. 
In a small bowl, season the flour with salt, pepper, and cayenne. 
Toss meat with seasoned flour.

In a large skillet or dutch oven, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil over high heat and b
rown the meat on all sides. 
Reduce the heat, add the onions, crushed garlic and tomato puree to the dutch oven, cover, and cook gently for 5 minutes. 

Put aside the contents of the dutch oven and pour half of the Guinness into the dutch oven. Bring Guinness to a boil and place the meat, along with the remaining Guinness back into the dutch oven. Add the carrots and thyme. Stir, cover and simmer over low heat, or put in the oven at 300 degrees until the meat is tender for about 2 to 3 hours. 
Garnish the beef with parsley and serve with mashed potatoes.

Don't forget to add a colorful touch to your St. Patrick's Day celebration by making green beer!  Add a few drops of green food coloring to any beer in a clear glass (although lighter color beers will look the best!)

Enjoy and drink responsibly!

Friday, March 15, 2013

The bread of the Irish.

This is one of our favorite late night snacks during this time of year!  We love it warm with a little bit of butter.  Yum!

Irish Soda Bread

4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tbs white sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup butter milk
2 cups raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly grease a large baking sheet.

In a large bowl, mix together sugar, baking soda, baking powder, raisins, salt and margarine.
Stir in 1 cup buttermilk and egg.
Knead slightly on a lightly floured surface.  
Form dough into a round ball and place on greased baking sheet.

In a small bowl, combine melted butter with 1/4 cup of buttermilk and brush loaf with this mixture.
With a sharp knife cut an 'X' on the top of the loaf (to make it look all fancy).

Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.  Continue to brush the loaf with the butter mixture while it bakes (that will make it crusty and crispy)!

Nom Nom Nom!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

It's beginning to look a lot like Easter.

What's up, Doc?

These crepe paper carrots were inspired by Martha Stewart and made from material that we had lying around the house!

Bunny Butts!

 We also made this cute bunny butt garland!  

We like big butts and we cannot lie.

Happy Hopping!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Spring Forward.

It's slowly starting to get warmer in Astoria!
We wanted to get a head start on our Spring Cleaning.
Your environment has a big impact on your emotions and stress level, so get to it!  
Here are some tips that helped us out. 

  1. Plan ahead!  Come up with a strategy and you'll save hours of wasted time.  Take some time to gather all your cleaning supplies and make a list of supplies you need to purchase.
  2. De-clutter before your begin!  40% of cleaning time is spent putting stuff away. Tidy up a few days before...throw away unwanted items, donate your old clothes or try to sell some stuff on Craigslist!
  3. Make a Spring Cleaning playlist.
  4. Clean when you're already dirty!  No need to shower before hand, just jump right into it.
  5. Focus on one room at a time, hardest-to-easiest.  If you get the hard stuff done first, it will make the rest of the cleaning seem easy!  We started with the kitchen.
  6. Work top-to-bottom.  Dust and dirt will loosen as you work and gravity will take effect, this approach prevents wasted effort.
  7. Spring cleaning is ambitious enough, don't make it harder for yourself. If you have to, break it down into a few days and don't stress!  

-Don't forget to sanitize the "germy' spots: the faucets, light switches refrigerator-door handles, all doorknobs, salt and pepper shakers, remote controls, phones and cases.

-Change your batteries in your smoke and CO2 alarms.

-Dust and clean the refrigerator coils.  This will help your fridge to run more efficiently and help save some money on your electricity bill! Woohooo! 

Listen, we know it's a pain...but it is important work.  
Noticeable or not, less dust means better breathing, fresher smell, lower bacteria count and the personal satisfaction of knowing you did a thorough job!

All-Natural Homemade All-Purpose Cleaner
For an easy cost effective all-purpose cleaner mix equal parts water and vinegar (for a fresh smell, soak lemon peels in vinegar and strain before combining.) 

All-Natural Homemade Floor Cleaner
For an easy cost effective floor cleaner mix equal parts water, vinegar, alcohol with a few drops of dish soap.

Let's start the Spring off right!
Happy Cleaning!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Lucky Clover Patch.

Happy March!
We're excited to jump right into the Spring Holidays!

These paper clovers look great and are super easy to make!

To make our lucky clover patch we used a glue gun, different shades of green paper, floral wire and a craft heart punch that we bought originally for Valentine's Day.

A Leprechaun left behind some gold coins!

This is sure to bring the luck of the Irish into your home!