Monday, September 19, 2011

Dessert Cups

I had a big family gathering a few weeks ago.  My (youngest) brother brought his girlfriend to meet the family.  It was sort of a big deal, but I didn't want it to be TOO much of a big deal.  I knew she was nervous to meet us all ( I served dinner for 28).

 I thought a fun dinner to lighten the mood would be better than a sit-down formal meal.  I decided on a Make-Your-Own Taco night.  It worked out really well.  I had big bowls full of condiments and sides, I made fresh corn, and used tomatoes from my Mom's garden.  We had planned several games to keep everyone engaged and talking. 

For dessert, I thought we may as well expand on the Make-Your-Own theme, and have a sundae bar.  We had hot fudge, caramel, sprinkles, candy, whipped cream, cherries, and all sorts of toppings.  I made these fun dessert cups to scoop the ice cream into. 

I took regular flour tortillias and used a cookie cutter to make smaller circles.  I slightly buttered both sides of the circle and then sprinkled on sugar and cinnamon. 
Then I pushed the circles into a muffin pan and baked them at 350 for 8 minutes.  They were perfectly crispy and just the perfect compliment to all of the dessert toppings.  The kids thought they were amazing.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

An Observation at Mammoth Cave

Over the summer, we visited Mammoth Cave, in Kentucky.  
Mammoth Cave, as it's name suggests is giant.  It is with world's largest cave system by far, and they are still discovering other branches and making new maps to record recent discoveries. 

An interesting thing about the place is that it has been open for tours since the 1840's.  Hard to imagine.  Wealthy North Easterners  traveled  by stage coach for months to visit the place.  There was a small retreat type hotel, but the draw was the cave.  

The property above ground at the time was owned privately, and the property owners would have their slaves give tours.  Some of the slaves became known for their excellent tours and knowledge of the cave and it's many underground passageways.Some of these slaves earned enough money in tips to buy their freedom.
 Throughout the older part of the cave, there is "graffiti" left by these early explorers.  The slaves hoped to earn tips by allowing their guests to write on the walls and ceilings of the cave with candle smoke ( I think candles were made with fat at the time, so they were a bit smokier than ours today).

 What struck me most was the immaculate penmanship.  Beautifully formed letters in different fonts even!  The   skill of handwriting is truly lost.  I can tell you that my kids (all of them) can type better and faster than they can write.  This saddens me somehow.  It makes the writing from the 1800's look like art.
Here's the crew outside, peeling off their jackets.  It was 90 degrees that day, and it's always 60 something in the cave.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Best Fresh Salsa

I know your gardens are all busting with fresh tomatoes and herbs.  Here's something fresh to do with your garden surplus.

Here's what you'll need:
4 limes, 2 tomatoes, and onion, a pepper, a dash of salt, cilantro (not pictured) and the "special sauce" Lizano salsa.

While we were away this summer in Costa Rica, Renzo, a chef, showed us how to make this excellent salsa.

My kids loved Renzo.  That's a story for another day.

Here's what you'll need to do:
Chop all of the ingedients finely, add about 2 tablespoons of Lizano Sauce (found in the Mexican food section of the grocery) and stir. Serve with thick tortilla chips.  The result is an excellent salsa that you and your family will crave!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Well, They are Gone

My kids are off to school today.
I'm feeling a bit lost as I do every year.  More sad for myself than for them...they are off with their friends on new adventures.  I'm left with what I forgot to do, (pack snacks for my youngest two), what I wanted to do (have an unhurried morning) and lots of chores and organization that require more effort than I'm capable of right now.

It doesn't help that I think I'm coming down with a head cold.  I had a cup of coffee, so I can't go back to bed.  I feel like watching TLC all day, but that's not very productive, is it?

I've got lots of exciting projects and catching up to do here.  Can't wait to share all that has been going on.  I hope you'll understand why I took the summer off once I get into the move, the renovation of my 100 year old house, our amazing trip, and so much more!