Monthly Archives: April 2009

So How Do We Iron Chef?

One of our favorite family traditions is our Annual Iron Chef Competition at the Remix.

Since we are a family of foodies (people who love to read about, talk about, think about, make, and eat food) our very own Iron Chef Competition just makes sense.

Our rules are simple. The official judges (Nana and the grandkids) chose a secret ingredient and announce it a few weeks in advance. Any one – of any age – can enter as many entries as they wish.

The day of the event all of the entries are placed on a table, labeled and given a small plastic cup to hold the votes. Whenever we are all assembled and quiet (now that’s a major undertaking!), each chef shows their dish and describes the ingredients.

Our Iron Chef Dishes

Then we all go around the table taking samples of everything. We each have a small cup of M & M’s that we use for voting by putting them in the cups of our favorite dishes.

This year’s secret ingredient was apples.

We had everything from apple muffins to apple salads. We had apple brownies, apple snacks, and apple desserts. We even had apple butter pancakes!

Some of the amazing entries were:

Thick Skinned Apple

The simple: “Thick Skinned Apple” – an apple that was peeled, then peanut butter was used to re-apply the peel.

Chocolate Bars

The Chocolate: Caramel Apple Bars

Apple Salsa

The Unique: Apple Salsa

William Tell's Son Cake

The Artistic: A Rice Krispie sculpture of William Tell’s Son complete with apple and arrow!

It was a fun and delicious family activity!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fondue

Every year at our family get-together in the spring we hold a family Iron Chef competition. The secret ingredient is published a few weeks before the event and we all bring our finished dishes and act as judges.

chocolate peanut butter fondueThis year’s secret ingredient was apples.

At first I was bummed – no chocolate.

But them my creativity kicked in and we came up with two great chocolate and apple dishes.

One was a basic brownie recipe that I substituted applesauce for half of the oil.  (Thanks for the hint, Connie!)  It turned out great and nobody believed it had apples in it!  (Subterfuge is an art in cooking!)

The second dish was Chocolate Peanut Butter Fondue – with apples to dip in of course!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fondue

Melt together:

1 package peanut butter chips
1 package chocolate chips (semi-sweet or milk chocolate)
1/4 cup evaporated milk or half and half
1 tablespoon butter

Place in a fondue pot (or use a 1 quart crock pot) and serve with an assortment of dippers – such as sliced fruit (apples are very good!), marshmallows, pretzels, or pound cake.

This was a very popular entry – I saw people pouring the fondue over other entries and even eating it by the spoonfuls!

Chocolate and apples go so well together – happy sigh – but then chocolate looks good on everything!

The Remix: A Family Tradition

I love my family.

I love getting together with my family.

With 2 amazing parents, three sisters, one brother, 4 in-laws and a large collection of assorted nieces and nephews, aged 3 to 24 , any gathering is an undertaking best described as “organized chaos.”

Our official spring gathering is called the Remix and is entirely grandchildren driven. Since we celebrate Christmas together over Labor Day they thought we should remix Christmas in the spring.

Now every year the grandkids (with Grandma’s guidance) plan a fun- filled week-end at Mom and Dad’s on the prairie.

Some of the traditions include:

White Elephant Bingo: Everyone brings a wrapped white elephant gift and one evening we play bingo. Every time you get a Bingo you get to chose a present – either from the table full of presents, or you can take a gift away from someone who has already chosen one.  Things can get pretty wild as presents start flying from one person to another!

When someone gets a black-out, the game is over and everybody opens their gifts. (Anybody need a talking Bob the Builder and Wendy who can no longer talk?!)

Dress-Up Night : No, we don’t do a white tie meal with tuxes and formal attire, instead, we dress-up as any assortment of strange characters. We had pirates, ninja’s, and some Lord of the Ring characters (swords were definitely a favorite accessory this year!)

But we also had a sweet old granny, door-to-door salesmen, a camel herder, and even Shaun Cassidy (complete with entourage).  The creativity among those young’uns was amazing!

Family Worship Service: On Sunday morning we gather together to sing, pray and share. This year was especially sweet as both of my parents shared their testimonies.

For my siblings and I,  it was a precious review of events we experienced together as our entire family of seven came to know the Lord in just a few years. But for our spouses and children,  it was a look at events that changed the course of our family for generations.

Tears were flowing freely by the time we sang our traditional closing hymn – “Blest be the Tie That Binds.”

There were huge meals, too  many desserts,  games galore,  a family sock hop, and lots of laughter.

What precious memories we made this week-end.

Yep…I really love my family.

Chocolate Angel Food Cake

Chocolate Angel Food CakeSpring time here in the country means eggs – lots of eggs. Our free-range chickens really put their production into high gear as soon as the days start to lengthen.

Extra eggs, of course, means lots of extra baking! I have amassed quite a collection of recipes that use many eggs – the more eggs the better!

This recipe is one of our all-time favorites. Once you have tasted homemade angel food cake, you will never want to go back to the boxed version!

Adding chocolate only makes it better!

Chocolate Angel Food Cake

1 cup cake flour
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup baking cocoa

1 1/2 cup egg whites (about 12)
1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup granulated sugar

Sift flour, powdered sugar, and baking cocoa 3 times. (I put two sheets of waxed paper on the counter and sift from sheet to the other.)

Beat the egg whites with cream of tartar, salt, vanilla, and almond extract until soft peaks form. Slowly add the granulated sug, 2 tablespoons at a time. Keep beating until stiff peaks form.

Sift about 1/4 of the chocolate/flour mixture over the whites and fold in lightly using a down – up – over motion.

Fold in the remaining flour by fourths.

Bake in an ungreased 10 inch tube pan in 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes.

Immediately invert the cake pan and cool completely.

Remove from the pan and serve with ice cream and fruit, or whipped cream. You can even eat it just by itself! It’s light and fluffy, yet so rich .

Enjoy!

Never Fail Rhubarb Jam

Never Fail Rhubarb Jam

There’s nothing better on a piece of homemade bread than a big spoonful of homemade jam! One of our favorite ones is this never fail rhubarb jam.

The recipe from came from my mother-in-law who clipped it from a newspaper years ago.

It’s so easy to make that it has become one of the first 4H cooking projects my kids take to the fair. It’s received a blue ribbon every time!

Rhubarb Jam

Pick, wash, and cut 5 cups of rhubarb into small pieces.

Add 3 cups of sugar and let sit overnight.

In the morning boil the rhubarb and sugar until tender and the rhubarb falls apart.

Add 1 – 3 ounce package of jello (strawberry, orange, raspberry and cherry all work well).

Stir until dissolved and well-blended.

Pour into sterilized jars and seal with flats and rings. Place in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes. Remove and cool. Or you can place the jam into freezer containers and freeze.

This recipe makes 5 half-pints. I have doubled it with no problem.

Enjoy!