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Monday, March 28, 2011

On A Quest For a Cheap Bottle of Vodka...and Some Incredibly Expensive Vanilla Beans

As a baker, I usually use only the good stuff...like real butter, whole milk, and really potent homemade vanilla extract. None of those cheap imitation flavorings for my baked goodies and I don't use wire hangers either, nor did I ever fall for that breast enlargement gimmick. However, I do need a cheap bottle of vodka at the moment. Seems I only have Skyy and Grey Goose in my pantry when Smirnoff will do. I will then gather my cheap vodka and really expensive vanilla beans to make my traditional big bottle of really potent homemade vanilla extract...it's gonna be a fun day in the kitchen! Join me...

Here's the recipe for my Really Potent Homemade Vanilla Extract:

750 ml bottle of vodka
12 whole vanilla beans (I can sometimes find vanilla beans, two per bottle for $8 at Walmart or shop online for a better buy)
dark rum (optional)

1. With kitchen scissors, split the vanilla beans down the line but not completely in half.
2. Take a swig or two of the vodka (or pour some out) in order to make room for stuffing the split vanilla beans into the bottle.
3. Recap tightly and store in a cool, dark place. Periodically shake the bottle. Ready in a couple of months. 
4. When ready, decanter into smaller bottles using a funnel. If you want a bigger kick and stretch for your vanilla beans, after the first decanting, pour a little dark rum into the big bottle. Shake and store till the next decanting. 

Will last a long time if stored properly in a cool, dark place. Now get out there and drink more vodka...oops...bake more goodies!!

   

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

On A Quest For My Favorite ET Film


I have many fond memories of Elizabeth Taylor and all her fame, as well as, humanitarian efforts. I especially admire her PASSION with the HIV/Aids cause and her perseverance for never giving up on getting that marriage thing right! As she died today at 79, I thought back a few years to remember my favorite ET film...Cleopatra.

I have this amazing saga recorded on my DVR and have been watching it in leisurely segments for a while now.  However, I remember the first time I saw this infamous (can't believe it ever got finished) film back in the mid 60s on my first boy/girl date. How awkward sitting in the theater watching an epic movie with a guy's arm around your shoulder with both of us daring not to move for hours! Loved the film though and definitely loved the Lady...who didn't love Elizabeth...maybe Debbie Reynolds...but, I'm sure she too eventually succumbed to the charms of this magnificent woman, as we all have in time. What's your favorite ET film??

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

On A Quest For The Mystery of the Pink Tulips in the Argenta Arts District

Humm...so many beautiful pink tulips appearing in the downtown Argenta area this last couple of weeks..
I did read in this months issue of Ay Magazine about P. Allen Smith having something to do with this amazing array of tulips...the Plant It Pink Tulip Festival...
The festival begins March 25 and proceeds benefit the Arkansas Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure starting with a reception at the CityGrove Townhomes Art Park at 5th and Main, a free spring garden discussion with P. Allen Smith at 9 a.m. the following morning with a walk down Main Street afterwards, and a "Tales from the South" feature at the Argenta Community Theater on March 29...
What a magnificent impact the Argenta Downtown Council, the Argenta Arts Foundation, the Plant It Pink Tulip Festival, and the survivors and fighters of breast cancer in Arkansas will have as they come together in this amazing historic district of North Little Rock...
And, as strong Southern ladies are often referred to as Steel Magnolias, they are now reflected in the "grace, beauty, elegance, and strength" of the beautiful pink varieties of the pink tulip in the Argenta Arts area...mystery solved...the significant question now...will you be there to support the cause...

Thursday, March 3, 2011

On A Quest For An Easy and Scrumptious Cooking For Two Recipe

Find yourself cooking for one or two these days? Recipes too big for your appetite, no more space in your freezer, and sick of reheating stuff you cooked a month or two ago... then try this exciting Easy Cheesy Potato Soup recipe with toasty Cornbread Croutons. It may become your next favorite meal. Forget the passé (first reader to LIKE this post with the Facebook button below and email me at diannehocut@live.com to tell me how I put an accent over the 'e' in the word passé using the alt key wins) baked potato soup with plain croutons humdrum...let's go deeper and cheesier to enhance our burnt-out taste buds with something simple, yet flavorful! I really like this delicious soup because it is super EASY and takes less that 30 minutes to prepare! Keep Cornbread Croutons in fridge at all times for easy garnishing...

How to Make Easy Cheesy Potato Soup For Two
1 large Russet baking potato, peeled or not, cubed
Water
1 ts salt
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 T olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
3 scallions, sliced
4 ounces Velveeta crumbles
2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup milk (more or less depending on your desired consistency)

1. Place potatoes in medium sauce pan and cover with water. Add salt and boil till tender. Drain, set aside.
2. Cook bacon, crumble and set aside.
3. Heat oil in frying pan, add garlic and scallions. Cook a couple of minutes till tender.
4. Add scallion mixture to hot, drained potatoes. Add milk and cheeses, stir over low heat till melted.
5. Serve in two bowls, top with Cornbread Croutons and bacon.

                                                                 
How to Make Cornbread Croutons
1. Start with your favorite iron skillet cornbread recipe. Cut into cubes.
2. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in sauté (oops, I did it again...first reader to LIKE this post with the Facebook button below and email me at diannehocut@live.com to tell me how I put an accent over the 'e' in the word sauté using the alt key wins)pan and cook for about 10 minutes. Salt lightly.
3. Put the croutons in a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes for more crispness.
4. When cool, place in zip lock bag and keep in fridge for a fast, easy, and different kind of crouton.