Sunday, January 30, 2011

a new twist on an Ott favorite

If you'll recall this past summer I shared with you a recipe for Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake.  It is a favorite around our house.  So much in fact that I froze shredded zucchini from our garden this summer so I could make it year round.

Well I won a copy of Gooseberry Patch's new Cookbook "101 Cupcake, Cookie & Brownie Recipes" and as I was flipping through the pages I found a recipe for Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cupcakes with Peanut Butter frosting.
Why hadn't I ever thought of that before?!?!?!?  Although their recipe for the chocolate chip zucchini cake was different than mine, I was dumbfounded that the thought never occurred to me to make my cake into cupcakes, let alone add a Peanut Butter frosting!!!!!

I went out to the freezer pull out a bag of my shredded zucchini and started making the cupcakes.  I still used my recipe for the cupcakes as it had a few extra spices that the Gooseberry recipe lacked.  But, I did use Gooseberry's recipe for the Peanut Butter Frosting.

 Peanut Butter Frosting Recipe:
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup butter softened
1 T. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Beat peanut butter, butter, milk and vanilla until smooth.  Gradually beat in powdered sugar.

I sprinkled some more chocolate chips on top after I iced them.  When Ott, E tried these, his exact words were, "These taste amazing and far better than I ever imagined!" 

This post was linked to:  Recipe Swap Sunday at Remodelaholics, Made by you Monday on Skip to my Lou, Cupcake Tuesday on Hoosier Homemade, Tasty Tuesday Beauty and Bedlam, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace, Tuesday at the Table with All the Small Stuff, Hearth N' Soul with the Girl Chef, Delicious Dish at It's a Blog Party, Delectable Tuesday on Home Sweet Farm, Tasty Tuesday on 33 Shades of Green, Made from Scratch Tuesday on From Mess Hall to Bistro.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

remOTTeling: the guest bedroom

All three bedrooms in our house had a beige walls and a floral border at the top when we purchased the house in the fall of 2008.  Each evening after work we could peel and scrape and tear and peel and scrape and tear the floral borders off of the walls. 
Here is a before picture of our guest bedroom before.
And then here it is after.  I wanted the guest bedroom to be purple and fun.  (Maybe even a little girly.)  I painted the walls a faint lilac color and have curtains that match.  I have a dark purple bedspread with some texture and shine to it to give the room some depth.  I left the chandelier in the room and find that the light yellow color is a great compliment to the purple.

Then on one wall I painted it a little darker shade of purple to use as an access wall.  The darker purple wall coordinates with the bedspread and makes the room really pop.  I have one of Ott, E photographs hanging on the wall and then to tie the room together I have butterfly wall art.

 The butterfly wall art is white and then I painted a couple the darker purple color (same as the accent wall) to hang on the lighter purple side walls. I think it really ties the room together nicely. 
 And what would a room be without some wrought iron accent pieces.  I like the the wrought iron plays off of the dark color of the bedspread.
 And a purple lampshade that matches perfectly!

This post was linked to: Friday RemodelaholicsMetamorphosis Monday @ Between Naps on the Porch, Power of Paint @ Domestically Speaking,

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

ewe should check out Ott, A's February "Iron Chef Challenge" Lamb Chops

Did you know February is National Lamb Lovers Month?!?!  What better themed ingredient to have for February's Iron Chef Challenge than.......    Lamb Chops!!!!  American lamb is a fresh and flavorful way to spend an evening with your Valentine. Throughout February, Lamb Lovers Month, loin chops are a perfect way to show your love for someone with their heart shaped cut.

Starting February 18th and running through the 25th you can link up your recipes using Lamb Chops and join in the fun of this months contest.  Perhaps you've never had lamb before or never tried to fix it in your own home?  Well now's your chance!  Are you up for the challenge?
February's Sponsor will be the American Lamb Board.  An American Lamb Board panelist will decide who the winner is by choosing the Lamb Lover with the most delicious recipe, mouth watering photos, and entertaining write-up.
Prize:  All contestants who link up with a recipe for lamb chops will receive a Lamb Lovers Apron.  The blogger (aka Chef) that best captures the love with American Lamb will win loin chops to serve a family of six!!!

Rules:  Please post the February "Iron Chef Challenge" American Lamb Badge in the blog post that you link up.  (Code found in the sidebar of this blog.)  All posts must include recipes and must include Lamb Chops.

Be sure to check out the American Lamb Board on Facebook and on Twitter @FanofLamb for lots of recipes and tips on cooking lamb.  Then come back here and link up and show off your lovely recipe for American Lamb!!!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

hOTT off the grill: Honey Cumin Lamb Steaks

So I have a little secret to share with you.  When it's really cold outside (like I'm talking 10 degrees or less) I tend to wimp out and not want to stand outside in the cold to grill.  On days like these I have been known to pull out my George Forman Grill and fix my steaks inside.  Whew... now that my confession is out of way let me tell you about these Honey Cumin Lamb Steaks.

To start with here is my recipe card for you to click on and print off.

First mix up your dry run and marinade and then place your steaks in a bag for 2-4 hours.

Grill and Serve.  (The honey will makes a hard glaze for your steaks.)

Don't forget that February "Iron Chef Challenge" is right around the corner and the themed ingredient will be lamb chops.  Be sure to check in February 18th - 25th for some great recipes.  Or better yet, link up one of your own!!!

This post was linked to: Hunk of Meat Monday on Beyer Beware, Tasty Tuesday Beauty and Bedlam, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace, Tuesday at the Table with All the Small Stuff, Hearth N' Soul with the Girl Chef, Delicious Dish at It's a Blog Party, Delectable Tuesday on Home Sweet Farm, Tasty Tuesday on 33 Shades of Green, Seasonal Sunday on Real Sustenance, Made from Scratch Tuesday on From Mess Hall to Bistro.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Ott's are back on the Breaded Tenderloin Trail

The new year is here and our New Year's Resolution is still going strong (even if we started it a month early) as we made our way down to Shelbyville, Indiana this past weekend to try their breaded tenderloin sandwich.  Jent over at From My Front Porch is one of my blogging buddies from the Real Farmwives of America and when she suggested I stop by the Cow Palace in Shelbyville, I quickly made plans to get down there and try it.

A quaint mom and pop style diner; this restaurant features not one size but TWO sizes of breaded tenderloin sandwiches.  Regular and Large.  Knowing just how large an Indiana Breaded tenderloin can be, both Ott, E and I opted for the regular sized tenderloin.  (I'm mean it was lunch time and we also had plans for dinner so we could gorge ourselves today.)

We were not disappointed by the size or quality of the Regular sized breaded tenderloin.  Pounded flat and breaded with a plainer tasting breading which allowed you to enjoy the taste of the pork more.  Served with lettuce and tomato and a side of chips for just $4.95 it was also a great deal.
Who knows where the breaded tenderloin trail will take us next, but if you have a suggestion leave me a comment and let us know where you eat Breaded Pork Tenderloins.

This post was linked to: Making Friends Monday on Living on Love and Cents, Mingle Monday on KdBuggie Boutique

Friday, January 21, 2011

remOTTeling the guest bath

PhotobucketI love before and after shots.  Like on those home make over shows where they show you what the room looked like before and then after all the painting and work is done.  Maybe it's because I know how much work it takes to make the transformation a success, but I find looking at how the room started and then the finished product brings a lot satisfaction.

As I've mentioned before when we bought out house it was very; stuck in the 80's.  The guest bathroom had a floral wallpaper on one wall while the other walls were painted beige.  There were also these retro lights that hung on chains from the ceiling.  So, after peeling wallpaper, changing the light fixture, changing out the towel rods and playing around with some paint, the guest bathroom is probably my 2nd favorite room in the house.  It's so bright and cheery.  (almost a little girly, but without going over the top.)

So keeping the the theme of before and after shots; here are mine.  This is the way the bathroom looked when we bought it.  (See what I mean about the retro 80 look?!?!)

And now for the "After" shot.  As you can see I selected a light blue color.  This color actually compliments the liners in my Longaberger baskets that I used to decorate the bathroom with.  I also selected black wrought iron towel hangers to coordinate with the Longaberger wrought iron.  And then if you look closely you'll see a sunflower hook.  (Of course I had to incorporate some sunflowers in the room, after all this is my house we're talking about.)
This was the first light fixture Ott, E and I ever changed.  We had no idea what we were in for and it ended up taking all afternoon to do (a lot more time than we anticipated) but I think it makes a great addition to the room, and I like how the black color coordinates with all the wrought iron.
The part I am the most proud of are the stripes I painted around the shower.  I painted the wall blue, taped my stripes, then painted a cream color over that. I then pulled the tape off and what was left behind was amaizing.  I love how it turned out and think it looks so cute.  It's the perfect finish to an already cute guest bathroom.  (And the stripes match those liners the in the Longaberger baskets I mentioned along with the guest towels.  Bonus!!!)
This post was linked to Friday Remodelaholics, Saturday Night Special @ Funky Junk Interiors, Sunday Showcase @ Under the Table and Dreaming, Make it 4 Monday @ Cottage Instincts, Metamorphosis Monday @ Between Naps on the Porch, Power of Paint @ Domestically Speaking, Crafts, Show and Tell @ My Romantic Home

Thursday, January 20, 2011

a quick way to decoraOTTe a cupcake

I know the title is a stretch but in keeping with the theme I am sharing my attempts at icing a cupcake.  Here's the story; a co-worker of mine is having a baby and the office wanted to have a shower for her.  Someone found out her favorite cake is red velvet, but she is having a boy.  So now you see my dilemma.  #1
How do I make a baby boy shower cupcake with red velvet? And #2 How do I decorate it?  As I've mentioned numerous times I want to pipe and decorate but I don't have any training, patience or hand/eye coordination.  But I think it looks so cute.  But everytime I attempt it, it ends up looking like an elementary craft project.

I know I need to work at it more and not wait until random baby showers come up but alas here I am trying to decide what to do. Yet, here I am standing in the cake isle at Hobby Lobby looking at stuff I have no idea how to use.

Then I found this.......

Spray food coloring.  This was a Wilton brand product but it was blue and I thought it would be fun to try.  I also bought blue liners.  So I baked my red velvet cupcakes and iced them with a cream cheese frosting.  And using a #7 tip I did a spiral pattern on the cupcakes.  (Don't laugh, I know its simple but you are talking to me and my limited abilities.)
Then I took and sprayed my cupcakes with the blue food coloring.  It was pretty easy just point and spray and from time to time give the can a shake.
And as you can see they turned out pretty cute for red velvet cupcakes for an office baby shower.  It was pretty quick and easy and the mom to be thought they tasted great.  So that's the important thing.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

pavarOTTi would ask for seconds of this duck waffle appetizer

Keeping with my Duck "Iron Chef Challenge" I bring you a fabulous appetizer for your next dinner party.  Now this isn't a recipe I would fix when your husbands friends are coming over to watch the big game, but I would fix it the next time you are throwing a dinner party and want an appetizer that will impress your guest. 

Check out this recipe for Glazed Cranberry Duck Waffles

Make waffles with any traditional recipe and then cut them into 2 inch rectangles.
 Slice Duck Breast into thin strips, brown and place on top of waffles.
In a sauce pot on the stove combine 1/4 cup red wine, 1/4 cup plum wine, 1/4 cup port, 2 T. sherry vinegar, 2 T. sugar, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 star anise, and 1/4 cup dried cranberries; bring to a simmer and reduce liquid by 2/3.  Strain cranberries and reserve wine reduction.

Place cranberries on top of the duck.  Drizzle wine reduction on top of the duck and cranberries.  And then sprinkle with 2 T. chopped pistachios.
Now doesn't that look fancy and tasty.  So simple to make and will impress you guests.

Be sure to check out all the other great Duck recipes on this months "Iron Chef Challenge" Linky Party or better yet link up a recipe of your own.
This post was linked to: Tasty Tuesday Beauty and Bedlam, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace, Tuesday at the Table with All the Small Stuff, Hearth N' Soul with the Girl Chef, Delicious Dish at It's a Blog Party, Delectable Tuesday on Home Sweet Farm, Tasty Tuesday on 33 Shades of Green, Seasonal Sunday on Real Sustenance

Monday, January 17, 2011

Ott, A's Duck Dumplin' Soup

Winter is here and the kitchen is a cookin' up a storm of it's own with my Duck Iron Chef Challenge.  After a quick trip to the store to pick up some Maple Leaf Duck.  I fired up the crock pot and made a Duck Dumplin' Soup.  What better to come home to on a cold winter day!?!

To start with I cut up my duck into bite sized chunks and cooked in a skillet on the stove.

Then I followed the recipe accordingly.
Duck Dumplin' Soup
1 lb. Duck breasts
1 pkg. Dry Onion Soup Mix
6 cups hot water
2 carrots peeled and diced
1 stalk celery finely chopped
1 can diced tomatoes (drained)

Dumplin' Recipe
2 cups flour
1 tsp. Salt
4 tsp. Baking Powder
1 egg
3 T. Vegetable oil
2/3 cup milk

In crock pot pour in water and onion soup mix.  Stir.  Then add cooked duck chunks, carrots, celery and tomatoes.  Stir again and cover, cook on Low for 4-6 hours.

30 minutes prior to serving; mix up dumplin' recipe.  Turn crock pot to high and drop spoon fulls of the mixture on top of the soup.  Cover and let sit for 30 minutes.  Serve and enjoy!!
The duck gives this soup a rich flavor and the dumplins' with give you that nice comfort food feeling that you'll want to go back for seconds for.

Be sure to check out all the other tasty duck recipes in this months Iron Chef Challenge Linky Party!!!!

This post was linked to: Hunk of Meat Monday on Beyer Beware, Mouthwatering Monday on Southern Fairytale, Monday Mania on the Healthy Home Economist, Made by you Monday on Skip to my Lou, Metamorphsis Monday on Between Naps on the Porch.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Ott, A's Iron Chef Challenge: Duck Linky Party

The themed ingredient for January's Iron Chef Challenge is.............

Our guest Judge will be Chef Scott Swaidner, from Maple Leaf Farms.

Rules: Chefs (aka bloggers) will prepare something using Duck meat, post a recipe along with pictures and any tips on cooking the duck.  Posts must include Ott, A's Iron Chef Challenge Badge (code found in sidebar.) 

The winning post will be announced on this blog on February 1st and the winner will receive a Maple Leaf Farms Duck Products Prize Pack consisting of: 8 Duck Breasts, 4 Roast Half Ducks, 2 Pkgs. Duck Leg Confit plus a Meals to Remember Cookbook (valued at $150).
Big thanks to Maple Leaf Farms for sponsoring this event.  Be sure to check out them out on facebook and twitter.

 The Linky will be open from January 14th - 22nd. 
Good luck and may the best chef win!!!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ott, A's facts about ducks

To get everyone ready for my "Iron Chef Challenge" which starts this Friday and features Duck as the themed ingredient.  I realize duck may not be a common entree at your house but perhaps if you knew a little more about ducks in general it would peak your interest.

The most common breed of Duck is the White Pekin.

Ducks keep clean by preening themselves with their beaks, which they do often. They also line their nests with feathers plucked from their chest.  Ever hear the saying, "like water off a duck's back"?  Ducks' feathers are waterproof. There is a special gland that produces oil on their back near the tail that spreads and covers the outer coat of feathers. Beneath this waterproof layer are fluffy and soft feathers to keep the duck warm.

Ducks' feet have no nerves or blood vessels. This means ducks never feel the cold, even if they swim in icy cold water.  Ducks have webbed feet, which act like paddles.  Another item to note is that a duck has three eyelids, this helps them to see underwater.  A male duck is called a drake, a female is called a hen, and babies are called ducklings.

All of the Peking ducks in the United States are descendants from ducks from China and imported to Long Island, New York in 1873.  Today the state of Indiana ranks 1st in Duck Production.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ott, A's Cranberry Walnut Cheeseball Recipe

I made this delicious cheeseball as an appetizer for a dinner party last weekend and it tasted so good that I just had to share the recipe.  This Cranberry Walnut Cheeseball has a great flavor and is easy to make.
Mix all the ingredients (except for the walnuts)
 Pour out onto plastic wrap and roll into ball.  Place in the refridgerator for 30 minutes to 1 hour.   Then take out of refridgerator and unwrap.  Roll in chopped walnuts and serve.

 This works best if it sits out at room temperature for 15-20 minutes before serving.  Serve with crackers and your guest will be in for a real treat.
Don't forget to stop by next week and check out my Iron Chef Challenge.  This months themed ingredient is Duck.  Link up a recipe of your own or check out what others are cooking!!!

This post was linked to: Tasty Tuesday Beauty and Bedlam, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace, Tuesday at the Table with All the Small Stuff, Hearth N' Soul with the Girl Chef, Delicious Dish at It's a Blog Party, Delectable Tuesday on Home Sweet Farm, Tasty Tuesday on 33 Shades of Green,

Monday, January 10, 2011

Is Ott, A's Iron Chef Challenge "peking" your interest?

The Iron Chef Challenge will kick off this Friday, January 14th, with the themed ingredient being Duck.

Duck is comparable in fat and calories to a skinless chicken or turkey breast, yet it has a rich, bold flavor.

Maple Leaf Farms is the sponsor for this months contest and they raise White Pekin duck.  This family owned farm, located in Northern Indiana, dominates the North American Duck Market. 

The guest Judge for the contest will be Chef Scott Swaidner.
Scott Swaidner is a Corporate Chef at Maple Leaf Farms, Inc. He is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, and worked in restaurants before joining Maple Leaf Farms. As a part of their Research & Development Department, Scott has created many duck recipes and developed new duck products.
The linky will be open Friday, January 14th and run through January 22nd.  Chef Swaidner will review all the recipes and posts and judge those based on quality of recipe, write-up and pictures.  The winner will be announced on this blog on February 1st.

The winning post will receive a prize of: Maple Leaf Farms Duck Products: 8 Duck Breasts, 4 Roast Half Ducks, 2 Pkgs. Duck Leg Confit plus a Meals to Remember Cookbook (valued at $150).

This contest is a great way to try Duck for the first time or get new ideas on how to prepare it.  Or, if you've never tried duck then perhaps all these pictures and recipes will inspire you to do so.

Maple Leaf Farms has a great website with lots of consumer information related to Duck.  They are also on Facebook and Twitter; @MapleLeafFarms.  Be sure to stop by and check them out!!!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Ott, A's top 10 tips to hosting a great dinner party

During the winter I love to host dinner parties.  When it's cold outside, theres nothing better than inviting some friends over and having some fun inside.  I enjoy cooking up some fabulous food, complete with appetizers, desserts and drinks.  At the same time when guest are over I want to have plenty of time to interact with them and not be stuck in the kitchen away from them.  While busy work schedules can tend to limit the amount of extra time we have to get things around, I've been able to come up with some creative ways to still pull off a great get-together.  I am happy to share my tips at being a fabulous hostess with you.

Tip #1:  Start cleaning your house a couple days prior to your party.  Doing a little bit each day makes the task seem smaller and leads to less stress.

Tip #2:  Have a theme or reason for your dinner party.  Either coordinate the food or plan the meal around a fun activity.  We like Fiesta parties with Taco Bars or PS2 Rock Band Parties with Rock Star Appetizers.

Tip #3:  Make your desserts the night before.  This way it's one less thing you have to worry about the day of your dinner party.

Tip #4:  Get a drink in your guests hands as soon as they arrive.  Firstly, it gives you a chance be a great hostess by getting them something and secondly it gets them in the party mood right away.  I always try to have a variety of drinks to meet everybodys needs everything from water to various sodas, wine and the basic hard liquors for mixed drinks.  I also like to offer a specialty drink to match the party.  This may be as simple as pairing a great bottle of wine with your meal or mixing up a cocktail to go with the party's theme.  (Think mojitos with burritos, or Pink cosmos for a girls night.)   
Tip #5:  Have a table or area for appetizers.  Just like the desserts these can sometimes be made the day before, and having them set out prior to the guest arriving gives you more time to converse with your guest when they arrive and gives you guest something to nibble on until you are ready to eat.

Tip #6:  The dinner Menu- Fix something you like, but also something you think other people will like too.  Nothing too fancy that would have you slaving all day on, but at the same time no one wants to be invited over and then fed a TV dinner.  Use good judgement when trying new recipes vs. time old tested recipes.

Tip #7:  (Here's a secret of mine.)  Utilize your crock pot.  I know it may not sound fancy or Martha Stewart-esk, but Crock Pots are great to use if your oven is full with something else.  Or, got those friends who are notoriously late to everything??  No hostess wants to be trying to keep their main entree' warm and risk drying it out while waiting on the latecomers to show up.  Crock Pots can maintain the heat of your dishes without burning.  All the while leaving you to play the roll of the perfect hostess, simply plate up and serve when you are ready.

Tip #8:  Take the time to set your table and coordinate colors and dishes.  Centerpieces are also a fun way to spruce up your table and can sometimes be a conversation piece.  These extra details show your guest you've gone out of your way to make this night special.

Tip #9: Have some sort of entertainment planned for after the dinner is over.  This can be watching a sporting event or playing a game. 

Tip #10: Have your dishwasher/sink empty prior to the party starting so as soon as dinner is over you can quickly load it and get back to your company.  Once the party is over you can get back to doing the dishes and don't have to worry about clanging plates or trying to hurry.
This post was linked to Baby Steps to A Rockin' Life!