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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Delight!

If my New Year's celebration dinner is anything like 2015 coming up, it wil be awesome. Cabin Chili and Flaky Cheddar&Blue Cheese biscuits are tonight's simple, rich and comfort - filled dinner menu. Recipes for both the chili and biscuits on the blog soon, for now #ohthisisgonnabegood
    Here's to you and an awesome ( per my husband's prediction) 2015!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Mid-Week Moment #51

      So when we were little,my Grandmother Sue would come visit us a few times a year. It was always such a special time when she came to visit. She was a a well-seasoned traveler and racked up the frequent flyer miles with a vengeance. I knew she loved to travel but I knew in my heart that this was 100% love for her family. She made every effort to show each one of her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren just how much we were loved.

    I will miss her this Christmas. She passed away this past spring and my heart has slowly started to heal.Christmas was her holiday. She made sure she sent boxes full of stocking stuffers to each of her children for ALL of the grandchildren and great grandchildren.Every single year,without fail we knew those stockings were filled LOVE.

   The movie Love Actually with Hugh Grant,Kiera Knightly and whole host of other well-known actors,is just wonderful. I watch it every Christmas season. The intro is my most favorite part. Take it in for a moment and then take five minutes to really show someone how much you care,it will do you as much good as it does them.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

I Needed These Cookies In My Life

So dang you Pinterest,dang you. All of your nifty craft ideas,home organizing tips and delicious-looking recipes! And this recipe was a tiny bit tricky,but very very very delicious in the end. Allow me to explain:

     I needed these cookies in my life the moment I saw them. I LOVE Reese's peanut butter A LOT. Reese's pieces are on my go-to list much just because I've been mesmerized by the dang peanut butter cups for forever,but I've needed an excuse to make chocolate chip cookies.

   The recipe is a pretty basic cookie recipe,so it wasn't hard to maneuever at throughout the prep part of the recipe. Although the scooping/baking part threw me a little bit. The recipe has the right amount of wet-to-dry ingredients to produce a soft,crunchy-on-the-edges cookie but the scooping part...

The dough didn't scoop and hold very well out of the bowl. It crumbled on me so much I had to go to Plan B. I just had to make these cookies and darnit I had gotten this far! I forged ahead,scooped out the dough then gently pushed the dough into my hand.I made little balls of cookie-goodness dough and hoped for the best.

   Averie made a point to tell her readers not to bake the cookies over 9 minutes,I went a little over to 10 minutes and it helped I think. The cookies were still soft on top,but my judge of doneness was the way the cookies moved on the baking sheet. I pushed the cookies, well nudged the cookies just a little to see how they moved across the parchement paper. I knew they were done when the cookie let go of the parchement paper. HOORAY FOR COOKIES! 

   They were everything I imagined and more! They were so good I gave have of them away to a friend. I couldn't keep all that goodness to myself!  So here goes the recipe and remember forge through the crumbles to some really delicious cookies! Enjoy!

Reese's Pieces Soft Peanut Butter Cookies
Adapted from
1 large egg
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter (do not use homemade or natural peanut butter; use Jif, Skippy, or similar)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 TBL vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice -funny ingredient but it went so well with the cookies
pinch salt, optional and to taste
1 cup Reese's Pieces
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or large bowl and electric hand mixer), cream together the first 5 ingredients (through vanilla) on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
1.     Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the flour, baking soda, optional salt, and mix on low speed until just incorporated, about 1 minute; don't overmix.
2.     Add the Reese's Pieces, chocolate chips, and blend until just incorporated. At this point I let the dough rest for a few hours,it makes or a more solid cookie after it's baked. 
3.     Using a medium 2-inch cookie scoop form heaping two-tablespoon mounds and then gently place the mound in your hand gently press in to a ball.
4.     Preheat oven to 350F, line a baking sheet with a parchment paper or spray with cooking spray. Place mounds on baking sheet, spaced at least 1 inch apart  Bake for 8 to 9 minutes, or until edges have set and tops are just beginning to set, even if slightly undercooked, pale and glossy in the center. Do not bake longer than 10 minutes because cookies will firm up as they cool .They have slightly chewy edges with soft centers. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing and transferring to a rack to finish cooling.
5.     Cookies will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 4 months. Alternatively, unbaked cookie dough can be stored airtight in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, so consider baking only as many cookies as desired and save the remaining dough to be baked in the future when desired.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Mark Bittman's Granola

            So I like Mark Bittman well enough. He's right up there with the cool guy with the clever bow tie,Chris Kimball. His cookbook How To Cook Everything is on of my most used and most worn cookbooks and for good reason,it's good. He also was one of the past featured chefs in my favoritist cooking group,I Heart Cooking Clubs,so score for two fro me!

    This week's recipe challenge with IHCC was the Mystery Box Madness Challenge. ( insert that Law & Order theme music,dunh dunh DUNH) I was thrilled to know this and I accepted the challenge whole-heartedly mainly because I just got both of my Diana Henry cookbooks in the mail. Her cookbooks are lovely,but an extra week to go through them was the luck of the draw.

  Ok so here goes it with the Mystery Box Madness Challenge: you choose a recipe either by the current featured chef or a past featured chef that contains three of the ingredients from the specific list.
 The Ingredients:                                          
rolled oats
coconut milk
hot peppers/chiles

The Chefs:
Diana Henry-featured chef
Nigella Lawson
Mark Bittman
Giada de Laurentiis
Jamie Oliver
Tessa Kiros
Rick Bayless
Madjur Jaffrey
Yotam Ottolenghi
Donna Hay
Nigel Slater

                      It being the holday season and all ,I was hoping to make some sort of recipe I could double as a food gift. My man Mark came to the rescue: granola. I picked chocoalte,cherries,cinnamon and rolled oats as my ingredients. Yes yes, I know that's four ingredients but granola ain't too tasty without chocolate. 

              My most favorite gift is a homemade gift. Truly a homemade gift is the essence of giving,sharing a piece of you with someone you love. I also looooove an excuse to use a mason jar,so heck really this challenge was made for me! Christmas gifts 1-4 checked off the list,whew! As I type the granola filled with rolled oats,almonds,walnuts,sesame seeds,coconut,cinnamon,ginger,a pinch of salt,honey and maple syrup is cooling. I gently stirred in the dried cherries and cranberries and the chocolate chips will be added in a little while.

     I have to say I am thrilled that my first challenge back with IHCC worked out this way. I enjoy cooking,blogging about it and sharing what I've learned on my journey. So ta-da: granola.
Thanks Mark.

adapted from Mark Bittman

Yield: About 8 cupsTime: 30 minutes
6 cups rolled oats (not quick-cooking or instant)
2 cups mixed nuts and seeds: a combination of sunflower seeds, chopped walnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews, sesame seeds. I used chopped walnuts,sesame seeds and sliced almonds.
1 cup shredded coconut,unsweetened
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
a pinch of ground ginger
Dash salt
1 /2 to 1 cup honey or maple syrup, or to taste
1 cup raisins or chopped dried fruit
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F. In a bowl, combine the oats, nuts and seeds, the coconut if you’re using it, cinnamon, salt, and sweetener. Spread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or a little longer, stirring occasionally. The mixture should brown evenly; the browner it gets without burning, the crunchier the granola will be.
  2. Remove the pan from the oven and add the raisins. Cool on a rack, stirring once in a while until the granola reaches room temperature. Transfer to a sealed container and store in the refrigerator; it will keep indefinitely. ( Ok so see that word indefinitely.It means that you can make it mid-December,give it as a lovely homemade gift a few weeks later AND it still be just as fresh as the day you made it. In fact,there ain't nothing wrong with a little aged granola,just means the flavors hae had time to marinate.Perfect.)

Monday, December 8, 2014

My Favorite Brownies

  I have never ever had a million friends. I have had a few very-best-I-would-give-you-a-kidney-if-you-needed-it friends and that is plenty for me. Now don't get me wrong there are a million folks in my life that make my heart smile,I just can't begin to count those people. And I'm smart enough not to name names but if I were to make you a baked goodie,a brownie if you will,this is the recipe I would make for you.

Chocolate,rich wonderful chocolate and Deb over at knows how to make some brownies. If you love someone,uly care then you will make these brownies pronto.

My Favorite Brownies
adapted from Deb Perlman

Makes 1 8×8 pan of brownies which you can cut into 16 2-inch squares (shown above), 25 smaller squares, or 32 2×1-inch bites, which is what I usually do.

3 ounces (85 grams) unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
1 stick (4 ounces or 115 grams) unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
1 1/3 cups (265 grams) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt or 1/4 teaspoon table salt (about 2 grams)
2/3 cup (85 grams) all-purpose flour

Heat oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment, extending it up two sides, or foil. Butter the parchment or foil or spray it with a nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium heatproof bowl over gently simmering water, melt chocolate and butter together until only a couple unmelted bits remain. Off the heat, stir until smooth and fully melted. You can also do this in the microwave in 30-second bursts, stirring between each.( I like this method the best,but if you are the patient type you can use the double boiler method too.) Whisk in sugar, then eggs, one at a time, then vanilla and salt. Stir in flour with a spoon or flexible spatula and scrape batter into prepared pan, spread until even. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out batter-free.

Let cool and cut into desired size. If you’re like me, you will prefer to patiently  to let these brownies, squares of love ,cool just enough to cut into them. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Oh We Are So Cool.

   Ladies and genltemen meet Diana Henry. She is a food columnist for Britain's Sunday Telegraph and sister has been busy. She has written five cookbooks besides cooking all this beautiful food and hosting a popular television show in London,all with beautiful photo spreads of food YOU CAN MAKE AT HOME .I heard about her through a group of folks that like to cook with and write with,IHCC.

I Heart Cooking Clubs is a fine group that I have to enjoy blogging with and even more I am thrilled to be back cooking and blogging along with them.We feature a certain chef every six months and cook our way through their recipes. Recipes are chosen by ingredient or just for the heck of it which sometimes is the most fun. Each week we have a theme that highlights certain flavors,taste or just the possibility to all cook up a meal to bring to the table. I have cooked through a few chefs with IHCC such as Giada de Laurentiis ( be prepared for some good pound cake and vintage love.) , Jamie Oliver ( just so you know this is my go-to tomato sauce. I make up gallons of it to freeze and the flavors never let me down.) and Tessa Kiros ( fine,fine creamy butternut squash recipe,perfect for this time of year.).I have really,really enjoyed cooking with all of these good people and also truth be told being pushed out of my comfort zone,really learning to enjoy food.

It is a thrill to be back cooking and blogging about it. I have two of Diana Henry's cookbooks and I'm soooooo looking forward to diving into them this weekend. The recipes will be delicious,simple and rich. Here's to another season with IHCC and some good food to talk about.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Ain't Nothin' Much Better Looking.

So you know the bright,shiny aluminum casserole/bread/muffin containers? The bright shiny stars of any cookout or local church potluck...oh I know you know what I'm taking about!

  You can't miss the glimmer on the corner of the pan and for me, I start to imagine what casseroles I can make a few extra helpings of to save for later.The aluminum pan,that bright,shiny exterior is not much to look at on it's own but fill a lasagna-pan size pan full of chicken spaghetti and now we're talking.

Dang fine.

   I have had many a plate/version/take on chicken spaghetti.I have found that some recipes call for cream of mushroom soup or some a can of Rotel tomatoes and peppers.Either way you make it you can't stray to far from a basic recipe,a framework that will feed the masses and warm your belly on a cool fall evening. Oh heck even in the dead of summer,I have scarfed down a plate of this cheesy chicken classic while my newborn baby rocked peacefully in her swing and I shoved garlic bread in my face.

  Aaaaaannnnddd Ree Drummond has a fine recipe for you to make up to enjoy that evening or just freeze for a month or two from now. Break out that bright,shiny pan,fill it up with chicken,cheese and noodles to enjoy.

Chicken Spaghetti

adapted from  Ree Drummond
2 cups Cooked Chicken
3 cups Dry Spaghetti, Broken Into Two Inch Pieces
2 cans Cream Of Mushroom Soup
2 cups Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1/4 cup Finely Diced Green Pepper
1/4 cup Finely Diced Onion
1 jar (4 Ounce) Diced Pimentos, Drained
2 cups Reserved Chicken Broth From Pot
1 teaspoon Lawry's Seasoned Salt
1/8 teaspoon (to 1/4 Teaspoon) Cayenne Pepper
 Salt And Pepper, to taste
1 cup Additional Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Cook 1 cut up fryer and pick out the meat to make two cups. Cook spaghetti in same chicken broth until al dente. Do not overcook. When spaghetti is cooked, combine with remaining ingredients except additional 1 cup sharp cheddar.
Place mixture in casserole pan and top with remaining sharp cheddar. Cover and freeze up to six months, cover and refrigerate up to two days, or bake immediately: 350 degrees for 45 minutes until bubbly. (If the cheese on top starts to get too cooked, cover with foil).

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Mid-Week Moment #49

"The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude."               
 -Julia Child

Monday, December 1, 2014

Change Ain't Half Bad.

  Funny how life changes after having a baby,beginning to raise that baby into a well-rounded little girl and keeping up with life in general. I knew that one day, I would get back to my blog,my writing and cooking up delicious meals for family and friends.

   Aaaaaand I did and with a sidekick to boot! Olivia Kate is not only my daughter but constant companion in the kitchen,sous chef extraordinaire!. I had to calm down my inner control freak and let loose a little when it came to many things. The days have become a little more routine,so that has allowed me to work in a little more thinking time and a teeny,tiny bit less rushing around,


So here on a few changes have been made and more changes to come regarding content and setup. The improvements to the blog will reflect the everyday goings-on in our little family and the world around us. I am fortunate enough to stay at home with my sweet girl and either I attempt to tell her what I've learned or tell you the readers! I think you might be a more captive audience so I hope you enjoy what I have to share,look forward to new posts starting in a few days!