Thursday, December 18, 2014

Honey Peanut Butter & Chocolate Balls

Here's the peanut butter ball recipe I was looking for.

Honey peanut butter & chocolate balls
(Adapted from: http://www.whatscooking.fns.usda.gov/recipes/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap/honey-milk-balls)

Servings: about 16 (depends on size)

1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons dry milk, low-fat/non-fat
2 tablespoons chocolate mix (cocoa milk)*
1/2 cup cereal, crushed+
1 dab of olive oil



*My cocoa mix is a mixture of Chocolate Ensure and a powdered cocoa drink mix.
+I used bran flakes.






Mix honey and peanut butter.
Gradually add the dry milk and  cocoa mix.
Stir mixture. Mixture will be very stiff.
Chill to make "dough" easier to roll.


Add dab of olive oil to one palm, rub palms together, to make it easier to roll the "dough."
Take a small amount of mixture and roll between palms.
Roll ball in crushed cereal.
Sprinkle some cereal over ball.
Roll in palms again.


Place finished balls in small container.
Cover when done.
Chill until firm.




Notes:

These peanut butter balls are best when "frozen."

I am going to try the same recipe but coat the balls with different types of crushed cereal and make some with crushed cookies.


My 1st Three Course Meal and More...

Cooking is so frustrating for me.

I had been planning a casual get together for about six friends and I wanted to attempt my first 3-course meal.

I researched recipes for days, several days, many days.

I tried to develop a menu with appetizers, a main course, a side dish, a salad and dessert to be served buffet style.

I settled on stuffed cherry tomatoes, tuna & bean bruschetta, and cucumber topped with cheese and grated carrots for appetizers.

I thought I would make a slow cooker stew as the main dish but changed it to meatloaf at the last minute because I did not want to deal with soup bowls.

The side dish was going to be pasta, a fall back dish.


Oh, and there were no cherry tomatoes at the store and the cheese topped cucumber slices was abandoned due to lack time and energy. That left blue-cheese stuffed olives and tuna & bean dip as appetizers.

A salad of onion, tomato, and cucumber slices with cheese cubes was another fall back.

Dessert kept changing because on my first grocery shopping trip the store did not have whipped topping in a container (spray can only). I settled on peanut butter balls.

I had selected so many recipes and saved them on various devices in various ways (email, bookmark, photo, reading list) that finding the one I wanted became a problem, more frustration. Solution was to email the pertinent recipes to my mobile and flag them and then delete the ones that I would probably not use.

Well, I had to get a loaf pan for the meat loaf and I got a 7 x 5, not a 9 x 5, so I tried to reduce the recipe and failed. I cried so much cutting the onions, I couldn't see what I was doing with a very sharp knife.


Waiting to see if the first mini-meatloaf comes out before I go forward. I cooked it too long, while it was tasty, it was dry. Luckily, I had accidentally made too much loaf mix, I had enough for another batch.

And all I could think of was, I am not ever doing this again!


I reduced the cooking time from 15 to 10 minutes in the microwave. This time I also added the tomato sauce topping I forgot on the first one and this one came out great!




Then I tried a new recipe, Vegetarian Nut Loaf. I should have tried it first when I wasn't so tired. I forgot to cut the recipe in half, then half way through I tried to cut it half by dividing the half-done mixture into two bowls while attempting to finish one-half.


The thing was pink because I used colored bar nuts.

It just came out of the microwave. It is still pink. It is crumbly but tasty. I have enough mix for probably three more loafs. If I make another one, I will add another egg and maybe another cheese. (Note: only used one pkg of cream cheese and one egg).

While I bought a sharper knife thinking I would be able to "mince" onions and such better, all it did was make cutting onions more dangerous. I never got past dice.

Ok, it's late and I am tired. I thought making the hard-boiled eggs would be easy. Something went wrong, maybe I cooked them a minute or two too long, or maybe because I was using eight eggs contributed to this disaster. The eggs were overlooked and so hard to peel I lost two eggs because most of the egg came away with the shell. I salvaged six eggs but cut myself in the process and could not stop thinking of all the illnesses you could get from eggs.

I couldn't find my original peanut butter ball recipe and took a chance on trying to remember how it went. It was another failure, I tried to salvage by making a "peanut butter" pie topped with crushed cookies. As another attempt to make a dessert, I tried Stove Top Coffee Cake, but I could tell I was done because I forgot to grease the pan and I suspected it will turn out to be just one big pancake, I think I tried it before.


I still have to make the tuna and bean something and peel the cucumber etc.

Dread, dread, dread....

Ok it's 3:00 pm and I am exhausted/ The frig holds three ground beef mini meat loafs, 1 nut loaf, 1 plate of deviled eggs, 1 bowl of pasta, 1 bowl of salad and a stone top coffee cake.


It was funny. After it was all done and the table was set, I did not feel so bad.

I had three disasters, the Vegetarian Nut Loaf (a bit dry and still pink),  the peanut butter balls became a pie. The Stove Top Coffee Cake was ok (next time, I will use a different pan and more baking soda).

I managed to salvage the deviled eggs instead of 16 halves, I had 12 and they were tasty but next time I need to remember to cover them in the frig.








Please ignore the Mercado/Discount/Mom's items/Recycled mix & match table settings.

While everyone enjoyed the meal, there was plenty left over. I had made two extra mini-meat loafs, so I was eating meat loaf and pasta for a week.

While it was both a disaster and a success, I now have a good fall back main dish -- mini-meat loaf.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Scary Halloween Wedge Salad and Maryland Redmon Fruity French Toast

On a recent family visit, all my family are good cooks, so at meals, I struggled to contribute. Usually, I set the table.

On Halloween eve, I tried my "use what's available" approach. So, I scrounged the frig and cabinets and came up with "Scary Halloween Wedge Salad."

I used what was left of a head of lettuce and quartered it with a large knife. I placed each wedge into an individual bowl. Then, I added some sliced olives and cherry tomatoes. Found some avocado, added some slices of that, too. Then sprinkled on some goat cheese and grated carrots on top. Seasoned it with grated black peppercorns, a few sliced hot peppers and a little lime juice. 


Everybody liked it.

Then one morning, I tried the same approach. I made "Maryland Redmon Fruity French Toast."

French toast is probably one of the easiest meals to make. I used multi-grain bread slices. I broke three eggs into a bowl and added a dollop of milk, then with a fork stirred and whisked the mixture thoroughly.

Then, I dipped each slice into the batter and placed them in a skillet with melted butter. I cooked the slices until they were very brown on both sides. Then, I removed the slices and placed them on a individual serving plate. I put a dab of butter in between two slices. Then,  sliced strawberries and bananas were added on top. Then I sprinkled some fresh blueberries on top and on the plate. Serve with syrup.


Everybody liked it. Hurray!

Whew, in the Home Stretch for Publishing Gina's Dream/El Sueño de Gina as a Dual Book POD and eBook

Being a writer, you make alot of choices. It is especially hard if you don't have an expertise or skill in a particular field of writing.

While I have always loved writing, my writing was usually work-related. I have written newsletters, user manuals, news articles, press releases, letters-to-the-editor, essays, resumes, business cards, and stationery, and a movie review blog. I had a stash of fiction stories in various stages of development, but, I never planned on publishing my fiction. Then, in 2011, when I found myself with a whole lot of time on my hands, I decided to jump in and publish one of my fiction stories, Gina's Dream.

What a trip this has been. Two and a half years in writing, researching, editing and negotiating with an editor and a book cover artist. Plus, I had to learn the publishing software for Smashwords, Library of Congress's copyright software as well as setup a website and blog. I think there were at least four other software packages in the mix. Then I pushed the button on Smashwords and published Gina's Dream as an eBook October 2013.



Then, I went straight into marketing and promotion. While I struggle to "find my audience", I had some wonderful adventures during my research. I wrote an article about writing for Boomer Cafe and also an interview with an amazing author, Antoinette G. Lane, who wrote a biography of Guy Williams, an actor best known for starring as Zorro for Disney's TV show in the 1950s.

A suggestion many marketing columns and books suggested was 'offer something free.' So, I dragged out an old cookbook I started. That process is a whole other story but I published that on Amazon, another software package and TOS to learn, but, I did it. The eCookbook, Recipes from the Kitchen from a Frugal Non-Cook was very popular when it was free. When I put a price on it, $1.99, most of that interest faded.


I joined several forums, including Smashwords Writers Forum, and met more fascinating people, including an author of erotica. I setup a Twitter account and tried to learn how to approach that media. One major downfall was I fell into a Twitter hole for weeks. Already addicted to print, Twitter is a whole new addiction.

Because several people wanted Gina's Dream in print form, I made the decision to get Gina's Dream translated into Spanish and get a POD as a "dual book." I got lucky. I met a wonderful woman, Ilena, who translated Gina's Dream for a price within my budget.

Now, I had self-published an eBook and a eCookbook on two venues. This time I choose a small publisher, The Write Place, to get a "dual book" POD and eBook of Gina's Dream/El Sueño de Gina. I was lucky. Things went pretty smoothly, just a few minor changes. The process is in the final stages, hoping to offer a pre-release promotion soon.



I won't list all my expenses but it would probably take 100 years to recoup my costs at the current rate of sales.

The research continues. Marketing never ends.

This has been a major learning experience and one I will never regret.

My Other Hobby - Making Earrings

This is really about my friend, C. We started making jewelry about the same time. I love earrings, so I invested in supplies for making earrings. I used How-to webpages and magazines to help me.










C likes to make necklaces. C took jewelry classes. While we were beginners at first, C has really grown as an artist.



But, what amazed me was how she and her husband's interests combined in several projects. C's husband F, is a science writer and he recently got a 3D printer. I have read about 3D printers but still don't understand them.

During a recent get-together, C showed me a surprise her husband had given her, a 3D earring tree. He got the idea from a magazine and now C is going to design one of her own for him to make.



Both C and I enjoy making jewelry. C is becoming a professional. She designs necklaces for clients and sells at various craft fairs. Me, I have made about 70 pairs of earrings and that has slowed my spending on earrings considerably. But, I still buy earrings now and then.

Another friend of mine and I make earrings together. Combined we have made about 170 pieces of jewelry. So, with my original investment of 6000 pesos, the pieces now cost about 35.00 pesos each. Artists, here in Merida, sell earrings for about 20.00 to100.00 pesos.



Saturday, October 4, 2014

Punto Café - Just Opened September 29, 2014


Businesses come and go in Merida. As the economy improves, more businesses are opening.

Recently, on a Monday, enroute to a new physical therapy clinic, I stopped by the Punto Café near the clinic to get breakfast and a cup of coffee.



I was greeted by Beatrice, who offered me some sandwich samples. I choose an egg and tomato sandwich and Americano coffee with milk.

I always try to use my Spanish. As I struggled to make my sentences, Beatrice asked if I spoke Italian. Nope. Beatrice and her co-owner Luca were Italians. They had lived in Merida for several years.

Just as I was finishing my sandwich, Luca offered me a piece of apple pie. He said it was because today was the first day their café opened and I was their first customer.


I was surprised. “The first!” Rarely, do I get to be first at anything. So, this was exciting.

The café is long but large and colorfully decorated. I took some pictures of Beatrice and Luca, the apple pie, and more. It was an enjoyable breakfast.



You can find the Punto Café at:
Calle 59A x Calle 84A just off Avenue Itzáes (Centenario Park is nearby)
Merida, Yucatan, Mexico
Hours: 9am – 4pm, M-F
999-923-3942
 
Punto Café’s menu offers sandwiches, pizza, pasta, lasagna, various salads, coffee and refrescos.





Saturday, August 9, 2014

Creme of Coconut Spritzer


Thanks to a gift of a manual carbonated water maker from a lovely relative. I have enjoyed various juice spritzers.

Actually, I make a spritzer out of just about anything including tea. So, this time I tried a dollop of Creme of Coconut and made a great Coconut Spritzer.

I recommend an ice-old fruit or other flavored spritzer on these hot summer days.









P.S. I got lucky there's a restaurant supplier on Paseo de Montejo that sells the carbonation cartridges.