Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Shepherd's Pie

A delicious use for leftover beef and mashed potatoes!


  • 1 large onion, quartered and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 2 cups diced leftover roast beef
  • 2 cups brown or beef gravy, leftover or prepared from mix
  • 1/2 cup sliced or diced cooked carrots
  • 1 cup frozen peas, cooked
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 cups leftover mashed potatoes


Melt butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat; add onions. Sauté onions until tender; add diced beef, gravy, carrots, and peas. Heat through; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer to baking dish. Beat the egg yolk into potatoes and spoon potatoes over the shepherd's pie meat and vegetables (press potatoes through a pastry tube, if desired). Bake shepherd's pie at 400° for about 30 minutes, or until mashed potatoes are browned and gravy is bubbling. Shepherd's pie serves 4.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Easy Crochet Dishcloth Pattern

I been trying to fit in downtime to complete at least 1 Christmas gift every other week.

Thought I'd share this pattern find. You can create useful practical items, that can be used long after the holidays are over.

I used Peaches & Cream 100% Cotton Yarn, cloths came out nice and soft, but will be very durable!

My Cloths Measure:  6" x 6- 1/2" Wide

What holiday projects are you working on?

Pattern At  Mellie Blossom


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Meatloaf Tips and Cooking Hints

Today is meatloaf for dinner, yum! I often use these helpful tips.

Meatloaf Tips and Hints

• For a firmer texture to your meatloaf, use ground meat that has been run through the grinder at least 2 or 3 times.

• The higher the grade of ground meat, the less fat and shrinkage will result. However, keep in mind that less fat means less flavor and moistness.

Ground chuck is the grade of choice for the most flavor.

• Do not overdo the bread crumbs. An excess can make the loaf spongy.

• Topping the loaf with bacon strips or salt pork adds moisture, flavor and tenderness. Those watching fat content might want to use turkey bacon or other low-fat alternatives.

• Let meatloaf stand about 20 minutes or longer after removal from the oven before serving. This helps it set and makes it easier to slice.

• Add tomato sauce to the meat mixture for added moisture.

• Do not over-knead the mixture or texture will be lost. Mix just enough to combine the ingredients.

• In place of bread crumbs, add a mashed wet slice of white bread and a tablespoon of salad oil.

• If you like using the beef/pork/veal method, feel free to experiment with different ratios as long as the total weight of the meat remains the same in volume.

• For individual servings that bake quickly, mound meat mixture into greased muffin tins, which should be done in about 20 minutes.

• Meatloaf baked in a standard 4-inch by 4-inch by 8-inch loaf pan is baked at 350 degrees F. for 1 to 1-1/2 hours.

• Use about 1/2 cup filler per 1 pound of meat. This filler can be bread crumbs, mashed moist bread, oat bran, grated potato, grated carrot, mashed potatoes or wherever your experiments take you.

• Add a cup of grated cheese to the meatloaf mixture before baking, and another 1/2 cup over the top of the loaf during the last 15 minutes of baking.

• Add 1/3 cup of vegetable juice, wine, beef broth, or beer to the mixture for added flavor.

• Soft bread crumbs make a more tender, juicier loaf than dry crumbs. You can briefly soak dry crumbs in a bit of milk before adding.

• One cup of finely grated potato or carrot (or a mixture of both) can be added to the loaf in place of 1/4 pound of the meat to reduce the meat content.

• To minimize cracking, smooth the top of the loaf by rubbing in a little cold water.

• Internal temperature of the meatloaf should register 170 degrees F. for beef or 185 degrees F. for pork.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Coffee Drinkers~ Homemade Coffee Creamer

Homemade Coffee Creamer – Over 2 Dozen Flavor Varieties!

Whatever flavor of creamer you want, you start off with the same basic ‘base’ recipe.

14oz sweetened condensed milk
1 3/4 cup milk or cream (whole, lowfat, skim, almond, soy, heavy cream, half & half etc – whatever your preference, however the more fat, the more creaminess)

Mix the ingredients together well. Add them to a mason jar and shake it like crazy or you could also opt to use an old (washed) creamer container.
 French Vanilla Creamer
 2 teaspoons vanilla extract OR vanilla coffee syrup
 Vanilla Bean Coffee Creamer
 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste

 2-3 tablespoons chocolate syrup
 (1 tsp vanilla extract, optional)

 Chocolate Almond
 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
 1 teaspoon almond extract

 1 tablespoon cinnamon
 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 1 teaspoon almond extract
 Vanilla Caramel
 2 tablespoons caramel ice cream topping
 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Chocolate Raspberry
 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
 2 tablespoons raspberry syrup

Irish Cream
 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
 1 teaspoon instant coffee
 1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
 1 teaspoon almond extract

 2 teaspoons coconut extract
 Samoa (like the Girl Scout Cookies)
 2 teaspoons coconut extract (or sub coconut milk or cream of coconut, heated & strained, for the milk/cream)
 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
 2 tablespoons caramel ice cream topping

Peppermint Patty
 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
 Cinnamon Vanilla
 2 teaspoons cinnamon
 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

 Pumpkin Spice
 3 tablespoons pureed pumpkin
 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
 4 tablespoons maple syrup
 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 Honey Vanilla
 1/4 cup honey
 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Almond Joy
 1-2 teaspoons coconut extract (or sub coconut milk or cream of coconut if you heat it first, strained, in place of the milk & extract)
 1 teaspoon almond extract
 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup

Sweet Cream
 Use 1 3/4 cups of heavy cream instead of the milk in the base recipe
 2 teaspoons vanilla extract OR the inside of a vanilla bean, scraped
 1 teaspoon almond extract
 Chocolate Orange
 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
 1-2 teaspoons orange extract

 2 teaspoons hazelnut extract
 Chocolate Hazelnut
 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
 2 teaspoons hazelnut extract

Cinnamon Cake
 2 teaspoons cinnamon
 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
 Salted Caramel
 2-3 tablespoons caramel ice cream topping
 1/2 teaspoon salt

 replace milk in base recipe with equal amount of heavy cream
 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
 2 teaspoons rum extract
 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
 Toasted Almond
 2 teaspoons almond extract

Directions & Tips:
 In all these recipes, anything that has a dry or thick ingredient (like cinnamon, honey, etc..) should be heated up with a small amount of your milk/cream from the base recipe so it can dissolve properly. You don’t want grainy creamer! Then, add the rest of the milk/cream along with the sweetened condensed milk.

If you want really creamy creamer, use heavy cream instead of milk in your base recipe.

Label  jar with the expiration date from the milk used. This serves as a guideline as to when the creamer should be used by.

You can play around with the amounts of extracts and other ingredients used if you like stronger or less intense flavors!!