Thursday, February 25, 2016

Foggy and Warm Today.

What weird weather we are having.  It reached 55*F today.
Usually February is our worst month for snow blizzards.  Last year we had over 80 inches of snow thru the winter.  This year, practically nil.
And Feb was just a dusting here and there and from what I see of the weather charts, not much snow left for the rest of this month.
I'm not complaining folks, I'm just declaring myself mystified and happy.

Last nite I made some spaghetti and meatballs for me and the family.  I haven't made them for awhile so they were pleasant.

Nothing exciting happening in my life right now.  Hope all is well with all my friends out there.  Have a Happy Day!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Buckeys, A.K.A. Peanut Butter Balls

I've been making peanut butter balls for years.  Sometimes they are bigger and sometimes they are smaller.  Today I used my new Oneida Trigger Cookie Scoop.  Its the small one, only one inch.  It makes very uniform candies which I like immensely. 
The mixture is only 3 ingredients, so very easy.  I'll add the recipe at the end.
Here's a close-up of the scoop.  I didn't have to flour or grease the scoop to do this.  Just pull it thru the mixture and pick up a portion.
I lined a small cookie sheet with waxed paper.  Then rolled the balls between the palms of my hands.  If they started to get sticky, I just ran my hands under the faucet to wash off the residue and continued.
I put a bowl over hot water to melt the chocolate but before I add the chocolate, I put about a 1- to 2-inch square of Gulf Wax in the bowl to melt first.  This gives the candy a nice glossy finish.
I put 3 or 4 balls at a time in the bowl and use two forks to turn them in the chocolate, then lift them to put back on the waxed paper.
They have to go back into the refrigerator to harden.  You can keep them fresh in the fridge for a couple weeks and if you want to keep them longer, you can freeze them.
Today I got 65 one-inch buckeyes from the recipe, all uniform.
3/4 Cup, (1 1/2 sticks) Butter or margarine, softened
One 18-oz jar Creamy Peanut Butter
1 Lb Confectioner's (Powdered) Sugar
1 piece of Gulf Wax, if you want but its not necessary
12 oz bag of Semi-Sweet Chocolate Bits
Cook's Note: The original recipe calls for 12 oz. peanut butter, but I like my candy to taste richly, so I use the 18-oz jar. Its also easier than trying to get every last bit of p.b. out of the smaller jar to get the full 12 oz.
In a large bowl, I cream the softened butter and the peanut better together first, then I add the Confectioner's Sugar and mix it together well with a wooden spoon.
When all the mixture is incorporated I use a small scoop to form the balls.  You can use your hands (which I did for years and it works well), but for uniformity, I found the Oneida cookie scoop ideal. 
Form the mixture into firm balls between your palms.
Place on a cookie sheet covered with waxed paper.
Place them in the refrigerator to chill at least a half hour.
Use a double boiler or place a bowl over a pan of hot water, the pan not touching the water.  Heat the water on the stove.
First place the Gulf Wax  in the bowl if you are using it.  Let it melt.
Add the Chocolate Bits to the bowl and stir over low heat until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
Leave the pan and the bowl on the heat, but turn it down very low.  You just want to keep the chocolate from hardening up again.
Dip your balls in the chocolate, using 2 forks to control the balls.  If they aren't covered completely, it doesn't matter. That's where the term 'buckeyes' originated.  The uncovered bits of the ball look like the light bouncing off the eye of a wild buck.
Place balls back on the waxed paper, not touching,  and put the dipped candies back in the refrigerator to chill and harden.
You can eat them whenever they are firm enough to hold.  Place them ina plastic bags to keep in the fridge to keep fresh for weeks.  Or you can put them in freezer bags and freeze for much later.
These are a hit in my family, especially at Christmas Time.  But they are so tasty and enjoyable year round.  When I make them, I have to remember to give them out to family close by or they'd never forgive me.
Happy Cooking!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Downy Woodpecker visits.

Today was bright and sunny, but terribly cold.  It still didn't stop this adorable Downy Woodpecker from feeding from the suet cake even in the 7*F cold this afternoon.  We're into a deep freeze right now but hope to see warmer temps later this week.  Tonite is another cold one dropping to around 9 below once again.
Note to my viewers:  If you click on the picture, it will make it larger.
Here's one view of the lovely bird showing his red head.
Another view.
This is a side view.
And this one shows his markings best.  Its nice to see him visiting once again.  It made for a sweet Valentine's Day for me.
For the rest of my friends, this is for you....

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Covering My Bird Feeder.

I have a flat tray feeder which gets covered in snow and wet with rain as the weather changes.  I always have to clean out the old stuff and add new seeds because of this.
A few years back I covered my hummer feeders with inverted plastic plant pot trays to keep off the rain which diluted the sugar-water as it filled the little holes.  They worked fine so that light-bulb moment happened again.
I hurried out to buy a pot tray to try.
By putting a tiny hole in the top center, I slipped it over the hanging hook.  This is the largest one I could find at the store and I think it will work pretty well.
It keeps the snow and rain from covering this tray now.  The little red peanut butter jar cap in the feeder I fill with bird gravel and grit (from the pet store) so they have something to use to 'chew' their food.  When the ground is covered with snow, they can't find grit easily which they need for 'chewing' at meal times. 
And I got a surprise myself last night. 
One view of the vase of flowers I got from my kids for Valentine's Day.
Another view to see more of the pretty flowers included.  I have to admit they were a complete surprise.  I'm thrilled and the smile on my face goes from ear to ear.  Thank you kids.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

We're having a bit of snow today.  So far I measured 4 plus inches with more falling.  My little corgi is enjoying running around in the fluffy white stuff.
The trees look like they are frosted.
The flower bed is coated and the Monarda from fall are looking like blossoms of white snow on their tall stems.
The bird feeders are covered once again with snow.  I have been out there once brushing off the snow for the birds, but I see they are covered again.
My little darling, my corgi Penny, is loving every minute of it.  As long as she can dash thru the snow she loves it.  With her double coat she isn't bothered by the cold or the snow.  The snow just sits on top of her fur so she's safe in snow.  Her only problem is getting lost in it when it gets too deep because she has such short legs.  That's why her buddy, my son's Golden Retriever Daisy, is such a great pal.  She always breaks trail for my gal and the two blonds enjoy their ventures outdoors together.
Today is a nice day to stay inside so I made homemade pizza and sent some upstairs to share.  We all love homemade pizza.
Yesterday I went to my friend's house to show her how to use her Johnny Apple Peeler which she ordered.  She loves making her own applesauce and this kitchen gadget makes short work of the process.
I hope you are all safe and secure during this snow.