Thursday, July 30, 2009

Thursday Thirteen- Kennywood

Yesterday, we went to a local amusement park called Kennywood. It was a rainy day but we took a chance and went anyway. We were rewarded with an almost empty park, all to ourselves! Although Kennywood ended up closing early due to low attendence, we enjoyed the heck out of ourselves. Here are 13 highlights of the day:

This ride, called the Swing Shot, scares the crap out of me! There are two arms that swing people back and forth, pretty high in the air. As it swings, it makes a very loud grinding sound that sounds like one of those movie monsters roaring. Ugh, no thanks!

This is one of the newer coasters Kennywood put in. My oldest loves this ride.

Here is a look down the track of the Phantom's Revenge.

The Wave Swinger. A nice, traditional ride.

I have never understood the need to put oneself very high in the air and free fall drop out of the sky. That is what parachute jumping is for, not an amusement park ride called the Pit Fall! Not for the faint of heart for sure.

The Pittsburgh Plunge. I have to admit, this is a fun ride. Water rides are always my favorite. This one just has one very steep hill that lets off a big splash. The bonus is that you can soak most of the non-riders too if they stand in the right spot :)

Ahh, the train. As I get older, this ride becomes more appealing. Did I really just say that? Anyway, when your feet are killing you from walking, it's a nice break. As you go around looking at the sites, a narrator talks about the history of Pittsburgh and Kennywood.

It's hard to believe that mills like this one used to be all over Pittsburgh, causing the city to be thought of as the "Smoky City". I didn't live here during those times, and I'm sure glad of it. This was taken while on the train ride.

This is Kiddie Land. I took it just to show how empty the place really was.

Matter or fact, it was so slow this employee decided to take advantage and take a nap!

Even the ducks decided it was safe enough to come out for a walk!

One of three wooden coasters still in action at Kennywood. This one is the Racer. One red and one blue coaster have been racing each other for years now. I'm not sure anyone knows which one wins the most.

The Log Jammer. This ride was always a favorite of mine, and now it's my kids' favorite. This is my oldest and youngest getting in just one more ride before the park closed for the day.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Fresh Raspberry Cobbler

Ever since I was young, I wished I could own a house with fruit trees and bushes all around my yard. The idea of picking my own fruit and making delicious desserts made me feel giddy with anticipation. So when we bought our current home, I immediately began looking for fruit trees and bushes that would grow in PA. I took a risk and bought wild raspberry bushes from a guy in NC. The first few years they didn't do much and most of the fruit was sour. But this year, the fruit was plentiful and sweet. Suddenly, I needed a good recipe to use for all the raspberries we have been picking in the last few weeks. Although raspberry cobbler is not a common thing, I decided to try it anyway. It worked! Even if you use store bought raspberries, this recipe is worth a try.

Fresh Raspberry Cobbler

1 stick of butter
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
3/4 cup self rising flour
3/4 cup milk
2 to 3 cups fresh raspberries, cleaned throughly

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the stick of butter into a square baking dish. Put into the oven and let melt, being careful not to burn.

In a small pot, place raspberries and 1/2 cup of sugar. Add a few tablespoons of water and stir. Let come to a low boil, stirring as needed for one minute. Remove from heat. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, mix 1 cup sugar, the flour and the milk. Mix well until there are no lumps.

Remove the baking dish from the oven and add the batter. Do not stir! Strain the raspberries and add them over the batter mix. Do not stir! Drizzle about 1/2 cup of the raspberry syrup, again do not stir. Place in oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until top is golden brown. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Tip: use the remaining raspberry syrup in iced tea. Very good!

“Southern cooking, a lot of pies, cakes, cobbler, stuff like that - kind of what I'm used to, being from Texas."
-Adrian Moss

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Happy 10th To My Girl!

Happy birthday, sweetheart! You make me so proud. I hope you have a wonderful time turning 10!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What Kind Of Fast Food Are You?

I was a donut. I sure hope it was a Krispy Kreme donut! What fast food are you?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Watermelon Punch

It's hard to believe the middle of summer is already here. Though I can't complain that we've had very hot weather, we have still had a few scorchers here and there. For those kinds of days, you can't beat Watermelon punch. It's cool, refreshing and delicious. I made a batch for dinner one day and had nothing left by dinner's end!

Watermelon Punch

6 cups cubed, seeded watermelon
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 can frozen canned lemonade, thawed
2 cups unsweetened pineapple juice

Combine the water and the sugar over a medium heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a food processor, blend together the watermelon and the syrup until smooth. Push the mixture through a sieve or other fine mesh and discard the solids. Return the watermelon mixture to the blender and add the pineapple juice. Blend well. Serve punch over crushed ice.

"When one has tasted watermelon, he knows what the angels eat."
-Mark Twain

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Thursday Thirteen- Favorite Things to Grow

Now that summer is in full swing, I thought I might list 13 favorites that I love to grow in my garden and in my yard:

1. Tomatoes- all different kinds, from yellow pear to big boys. Can't wait for that first tomato sandwich.

2. Collards- they can be planted early in spring, when that first itch to garden starts, and they are so good made fresh. And easy to grow, too!

3. Kentucky Blue beans- super easy to grow and use!

4. Butter crunch lettuce- another very easy to grow veggie for wonderfully sweet salads.

5. Pumpkins- I really like the Jack Be Littles. Cute buggers!

6. Peppers- I had the most wonderful red pepper over winter and I saved the seeds. Wouldn't you know, they grew.

7. Curly lettuce- This is not their formal veggie name, just what I call them. So light and delicate. Goes well with the butter crunch.

8. Spinach- I have tried growing spinach every year and it seems to go to seed quickly, so I pull it. This year, I let it grow some just to see what happens. Duh, it just needed more time to develop. Well, there is next year....

9. Basil- Just smelling the stuff is great! If I do get enough, I try to make pesto. If not, it's great on a tomato, mozzarella, and basil sandwich.

10. Parsley- Goes in just about anything and it's too much fun going to my deck and cutting off some for dinner. I feel so gourmet!

11. Zucchini- the stuff in the stores is all banged up and too expensive, so I love to grow my own.

12. Corn- mine never turns out to be like the sweet cobs from the store or farmer's market, but I use what I can and save the stalks to tie around the mail box in fall.

13. Red Raspberries- I bought a plant off a guy in North Carolina several years ago and they have gone wild! The kids are having a blast picking them and eating them everyday.

Monday, July 13, 2009

KFC Cole Slaw Copy Cat

I don't know about you, but sometimes I actually crave KFC'c coleslaw it's so good. There is something about it that tastes sweet and savory, creamy and crunchy all at the same time. This recipe is a perfect copy and very easy to make. The hardest thing is keeping yourself to one serving like you get at KFC!

KFC Cole Slaw

8 cups of finely chopped cabbage (about 1 head) or two bags of store bought cole slaw, pulsed two or three times in a food processor.

1/4 cup shredded carrot (1 medium)
2 tablespoons minced onion
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

Be sure cabbage and carrots are chopped up into very fine pieces (about the size of rice).

Combine the sugar, salt, pepper, milk, mayonnaise, buttermilk, vinegar, and lemon juice in a large bowl and beat until smooth. Add the cabbage, carrots and onion and mix well.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

From Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur

"I made a resolve then that I was going to amount to something if I could. And no hours, nor amount of labor, nor amount of money would deter me from giving the best that there was in me. And I have done that ever since, and I win by it. I know."

-Harland (Colonel) Sanders

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thursday Thirteen- If I Won The Lottery

Who doesn't dream of winning it big? Here are some of the things I'd love to do if I won:

1. Pay off all my debts- house, cars, etc. Get rid of it all!

2. Random acts of kindness- someone who has lost their job, a single mother who is struggling, anyone in need who is trying to make it. I would want to do this anonymously.

3. Pay for a large shipment of personal items and gifts to the soldiers overseas.

4. Buy my brother a house when he is discharged from the Navy.

5. Pay for someone's education, maybe set up a scholarship to help lots of kids.

6. Lobby for reforms in the adoption field. It's too bogged down in paperwork and rules.

7. Donate to my church

8. Set up a center to help abused children

9. Buy a house in Virginia

10. Have my husband retire

11. Open a candy or ice cream store

12. Cover the hospital costs of children in need

13. Get a maid! I hate cleaning....

Monday, July 6, 2009

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Oh yeah. When one dose of chocolate in your ice cream won't do, go for double! This ice cream is so rich it'll knock your socks off. And after trying two different versions of chocolate peanut butter recipes this weekend, this version won hands down. Don't be deterred by the number of steps in the recipe. It's easier than it looks!

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup half and half
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (I used Jif)
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
pinch of salt

In a small saucepan, mix together the 1 cup of the whole milk, half and half, sugar, cocoa, and salt. Heat until hot and steamy but not boiling.

In a small bowl, mix together the remaining 1/2 cup whole milk and the cornstarch. Stir until no lumps remain.

Add the cornstarch mixture to the chocolate mixture in the saucepan. Heat and stir until it comes to a low boil, not a rolling boil. Stir until mixture thickens. Mixture should look like hot pudding. Remove from heat and set aside.

In another small saucepan, heat the 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Place chocolate chips into a bowl then pour the hot cream over chocolate chips. Let sit until melted then stir to blend.

Mix the chocolate chip mixture into the base chocolate mixture in the saucepan. Stir until blended. Cool in the refrigerator.

Once the ice cream mixture is ready, pour it into an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer's instructions. As the ice cream mixture is forming, mix the confectioner's sugar and the peanut butter. Soften the peanut butter mixture in the microwave, but do not melt it. While the ice cream is still in the maker, add the peanut butter mixture very slowly. This will form a ribbon of peanut butter throughout the ice cream. Keep in the freezer when done.

"Ice cream is happiness condensed."
-Jessi Lane Adams

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July!

"This, then, is the state of the union: free and restless, growing and full of hope. So it was in the beginning. So it shall always be, while God is willing, and we are strong enough to keep the faith."
-Lyndon B. Johnson

"If you are ashamed to stand by your colors, you had better seek another flag."
-Author Unknown

"And I'm proud to be an American,
where at least I know I'm free.
And I won't forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me."
-Lee Greenwood

Thank you, active military and veterans, for keeping us free.
Happy Independence Day!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Thursday Thirteen- Relax

Wow, I can't believe it's Thursday already and time for Thursday Thirteen. Wasn't it just Monday yesterday?

Since it was such a busy week I thought I might list some things that help me relax. I hope this list gives everyone some ideas!

1. Read- my favorite thing to do is to get lost in a good mystery or historical romance.

2. Bake- creating delicious eats that make people smile (and me too!) is wonderfully therapeutic for me.

3. Being alone- having a little time to myself to unwind and be me does wonders.

4. Watching a favorite show or new movie- need that zone out time at the end of the day!

5. Taking a shower- it literally feels like I'm washing off the day and all it's stresses.

6. Eating chocolate- self explanatory

7. Being near water of any kind- preferably the ocean, but I also love creeks. Just the sound has me smiling.

8. Swinging on a swing- I spend hours swinging as a kid but didn't rediscover how wonderful it feels until my kids learned to swing and I joined them. It's a fantastically free feeling!

9. Candy stores and bake shops- I could spend hours just looking at all the goodies. Then I buy a special item or two and go home and savor it.

10. Rain and wind- I love listening to the rain. It makes me feel sleepy and well, relaxed! Hearing the wind rustle the leaves and whistle around the house while I'm safe and cozy inside is a very nice feeling.

11. Gardening- focusing on the plants and caring for them makes the rest of the world disappear for a while.

12. Scents- baking, candles, vanilla, bread in the oven, wood burning, just to name a few

13. Laughing- seems like such a no brainer really. But when I can truly feel my
laughter and enjoy the moment is when I relax the most.

What helps you relax?