Friday, December 31, 2010

Countdown to 2011 - Dessert

Thanks to SnoWhite of Finding Joy in My Kitchen for hosting Countdown to 2011 this week. I have really enjoyed looking back through my recipes and finding my favorites.

It's no secret, I love dessert. Finding my favorite in this category wasn't easy. I could have chosen Dorothy Mackey's Apple Dapple Cake, Plum Clafoutis, Chocolate Banana Trifle or Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Torte. My favorite dessert, Creme Brulee Cheescake Bars, was first posted by my blogging pal Gnee of Singing with Birds. Gnee's desserts are the best!!

Happy New Year to everyone and here's to 2011's recipes!!!

I am linking this to Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum! Also, there's still time to enter my giveaway here!! The winner will be announced tomorrow!

Chocolate Pecan Tart - Chocolate With Francois

Am I the only one who's on sweet overload? All of these holiday treats, it's no wonder everyone's New Year's resoltution is to lose weight! This month's CWF recipe, Chocolate Pecan Tart was chosen by the talented baker and blogger, Susan of Baking with Susan! You can find the recipe on her site.

Pecan is Tim's favorite pie. Knowing we didn't need an entire tart, I decided to make 1/4 of the recipe and ended up with one mini tart. Many of the recipes we've made from Payard's book have been really difficult. This is one of the first recipes we've made that I would consider a "normal" recipe. A novice baker could make this recipe. By the standards set in Payard's book, this recipe was almost "easy". Even though I made the tart for Tim, I had to at least try it so I could write about it. This tart is so DELICIOUS, a perfect balance of chocolate and pecans. I will be making this recipe again.

You can find the links to the other CWF bakers tarts here.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Countdown to 2011 - Main Dishes

Two more days remaining in SnoWhite's Countdown to 2011. Today's feature is Main Dishes!
One of the things I enjoy the most about blogging is trying new recipes. Besides all of the cookbooks in my library, there's all of my fellow bloggers fabulous recipes. My favorite 2010 Main Dish recipe, Penne With Sausage and Leek Sauce, is one of those recipes. This recipe came from Mary at One Perfect Bite. Mary provides us with wonderful stories and amazing recipes. I was intrigued by this recipe. After making it, I love the flavor combination of the leeks and sausage.

There's still time to enter my giveaway here!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Holiday Cookie Exchange - My Blog Spark

The wonderful folks at My Blog Spark contacted me and asked if I would be interested in particpating in their Holiday Cookie Exchange. I was thrilled and of course said yes. The box I received in the mail contained Betty Crocker's Sugar Cookie Mix, Glad Storage Containers and a $25.00 Safeway card. Seriously how awesome is that!!!

I know you can all relate, there's never enough time at the holidays. I'd planned to make cutout cookies with the cookie mix but just never found the time. This week has been just a little quieter. Finally I found the time to bake!! I've been on a peppermint kick this season. You have no idea how many peppermint recipes I have bookmarked. How about peppermint sugar cookies? I made the Betty Crocker Sugar Cookies and stirred in about 1/2 cup of crushed peppermint candies. These cookies were so quick and easy to make. They taste like homemade, chewy in the center and just a little crispy around the edges. YUM! A beautiful homemade cookie in minutes! Thank You to My Blog Spark!!

I will be sharing these with my co-workers tomorrow. My own version of a Cookie Exchange and the holiday...New Year's!!!

Disclosure: I received a set of Gladware, a Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix, and a Safeway gift card as a member of My Blog Spark for the purposes of this review. All opinions are my own.

Countdown to 2011 - Meatless

I am having so much fun participating in SnoWhite's Countdown to 2011. So far this week we've posted our favorite Breakfast, Bread and Soup/Stew recipes. Today we're featuring our favorite meatless recipe of 2011. As I was looking through my recipes, I found more meatless recipes than I remembered. If you're a regular reader of my blog you know my husband Tim doesn't think a meal is meal without MEAT. Although, he's become a lot more receptive to meals without meat. There's even been some he said he liked and would eat again. The key is whether or not he says he would eat it again.

This past summer the basil was basil plentiful in the garden. My favorite meatless recipe, Pasta with Corn and Basil Pesto, incorporates a different ingredient into the pesto, corn. I can't wait until summer to make this recipe again!
There's still time to participate in Countdown to 2011, Main Dishes and Desserts are the posts for Thursday and Friday. Find your favorites and join in!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Countdown to 2011 - Stew

The third installment in SnoWhite's Countdown to 2011 is Soups and Stews. This one was hard for me to choose. We eat a lot of soups and stews, especially in the winter. The recipe I ended up choosing was Beef Burgundy. Although this recipe is a slow cooker recipe, it's one I would serve to guests. Do you have a favorite stew recipe?

If you haven't entered my giveaway, there's still time to enter here!!!

I am linking this to Tuesday's at the Table, Tasty Tuesday's and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Countdown to 2011 - Bread

Today is day two in SnoWhite's blogging event, Countdown to 2011. Check it out, there's still time to participate.

Bread is today's category. My choice for favorite bread recipe is Pumpkin Sage Quick Bread. I've been eating pumpkin bread since I was a child. I think one of the reasons I love this bread is the amazing flavor the sage and brown butter adds to the pumpkin. What's your favorite bread?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Countdown to 2011 - Breakfast

SnoWhite over at Finding Joy in My Kitchen is hosting a wonderful blogging event, Countdown to 2011. It's perfect for this time of year, you post your favorite 2010 recipe for that day's particular category. Day 1 is today and the recipes being featured are Breakfast. Stop by her blog for the details and join in. I can't wait to see everyone's recipes!!!

I don't post many breakfast recipes. Breakfast during the week is something quick as we're running out the door. The weekend's tend to be the usual eggs and something or pancakes/french toast. Hands down my favorite recipe is SnoWhite's Overnight Baked Oatmeal.

What's your favorite 2010 breakfast recipe!!

There's still time to enter my giveaway here!!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy Pink Saturday!!

This week for Pink Saturday, Beverly suggested we share what we are doing today. We're traveling a total of 1200 miles this holiday season. We traveled from Omaha to Kansas City (my home) on Thursday. Last night we drove back home to Omaha long enough to rest our head on the pillow for a few hours. Today we're traveling to Darfur, Minnesota (Tim's home). I made sure to pack a few snacks and water. Nothing is open on Christmas day, unless you want Chinese food.

Despite the number of miles, it's been a wonderful holiday season for us. Justin and Lily with were with us for a few days. For the first time in five years, we saw my family and friends in KC for Christmas Eve. Today we're celebrating Christmas with Tim's mom and sisters.

Wherever you are or whatever you are doing today, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas Day! Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

From The Good Life

There's still time to enter my $55.00 CSN Stores giveaway here!!

This past summer my Thursday posts were entitled "In My Garden". When the weather started to turn cold and the flowers were gone, my Thursday posts became "From the Good Life". This week, I'm so exicited to share an indoor gardening post.

This summer I bought a Meyer Lemon "Tree". I kept it outside on the deck until the nights became too cool. Since I brought it inside and put it in our west facing living room window, it seems to be doing well. The tree has had several blossoms. After the blossoms fell, I noticed what appeared to be the start of a lemon. The first one appears to be continuing to grow, there's a second and third one just starting out as well. If you look closely at the picture, you can see the largest one in the lower left corner.

The sunlight in this window must be perfect for tropical plants. This is the window our bouganvillea has been thriving in for three years! I wonder how long it takes a lemon to fully mature?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Peanut Butter Balls

Don't forget to enter my CSN Stores Giveaway here!!!

Even though I start my Christmas shopping early in the year. I never seem to have enough time for making holiday treats. There's so many recipes I'd love to make, those in my own recipe box, not to mention all of the delicious recipes my fellow bloggers have posted. Unfortunately, this year I think my only treat is going to be these Peanut Butter Balls. I am reposting last year's post for these delicious treats!!

What Christmas treat are you known for? You know that recipe you make every year and everyone asks you for this recipe. For me, it's these decadent Peanut Butter Balls. It doesn't get any better than peanut butter and chocolate.

I've been making these at Christmas since Justin was small. My recipe is scratched onto a piece of notebook paper, it has my son's scribbles and a phone message he took for me on the back. Too sentimental to rewrite onto a recipe card!

Peanut Butter Balls
1/2 cup butter
3 cups Rice Krispies
2 cups smooth peanut butter
1 pound powdered sugar
8 ounces Hershey's chocolate bar
6 ounces semi sweet chocolate bits
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cake paraffin

Melt butter, stir in peanut butter until smooth. In a large bowl, combine rice krispies and powdered sugar. Pour peanut butter mixture over rice krispie mixture. Stir until combined well. Chill for at least one hour. Roll rice krispie mixture into balls approximately the size of walnuts.

In a double boiler or a bowl over a pan of boiling water, combine chocolate bar, chocolate chips, paraffin and vanilla. Stir until melted and combined.

Dip balls into chocolate mixture, making sure to cover all sides. Place on waxed paper to dry.

I am linking this to Tasty Tuesday's, Tuesday's at the Table and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

CSN Stores Giveaway!!

The great folks at CSN Stores have given me a $55.00 gift certificate for one of my readers (USA or Canada). CSN Stores has everything from a great tv stand to cookware. How to enter is simple!! Just sign up to be a follower of my blog and leave me a comment! If you're already a follower, thanks for following me. Leave me a comment and let me know and you're entered, too. I don't know about you but entering some giveaways is way too much work for me, so am keeping it simple.

I will pick a winner on December 31st! Good luck and thanks for entering!!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Favorite Holiday Song - Pink Saturday

Today on Pink Saturday, we're featuring our favorite holiday song. It's impossible for me to pick a favorite Christmas song. I love them all, from the fun ones like Rudolph or Frosty, to the traditional ones like Joy to the World or Hark the Herald Angels Sing. Instead I am sharing a song from my childhood. If you came to our house around Christmas time, chances are you'd hear this playing on the record player. My Dad's always been a bit of a jokester, this song, I Just Go Nuts At Christmas, was Dad's favorite.

What's your favorite Christmas song?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Pasta With Pesto, Potatoes and Green Beans

Are you ready for Christmas? My shopping is done but none of the wrapping. My goal this weekend is to finish everything by Sunday night, so I can enjoy the rest of next week.

Today's recipe is from sometime over the summer. Not sure why I haven't posted this one before because I loved this dish. Do you need a quick, easy dinner? If you're like me and you have pesto in your freezer, give this one a try.

Pasta With Pesto, Potatoes and Green Beans

Recipe Courtesy of Martha Stewart Living

2 waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tablespoon salt
8 ounces cavatappi
8 ounces green beans, trimmed and halved
1/2 cup Pesto
1.Peel and cut 2 waxy potatoes into 1-inch cubes; place in a large pot of water; bring to a boil.
2.Add 1 tablespoon salt and 8 ounces cavatappi or other short tubular pasta; return to a boil; cook 2 minutes.
3.Add 8 ounces trimmed and halved green beans. Return to a boil; cook until vegetables are tender and pasta is al dente, about 6 minutes.
4.Drain; toss with 1/2 cup pesto; season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I am linking this to Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

From The Good Life

After a two week hiatius, From The Good Life is back! I'd intended to post this sooner but just didn't get it done!

Thanksgiving Day, as most of you were basting the bird and baking pies, we were heading west. We met my son Justin and his girlfriend Lily in Las Vegas for Thanksgiving. It was a wonderful, albeit chilly day. Southwest gave us a free cocktail because it was turkey day. The airport wasn't crowded and getting our luggage and rental car was a breeze!! Justin took us to a delicious Thanksgiving dinner at First Food and Bar in the Palazzo.

We stayed at The Signature Suites at the MGM. I would highly recommend staying there. It's a quiet, non casino hotel. We stayed in a junior suite. They're roomy, with a microwave, fridge and even a small stove. Does anyone cook while they're in Vegas? There's a small balcony with a view of the strip. It's not the kind of balcony you can sit on but great for checking out the lights of Las Vegas.

Lily and I had pedicures on Friday. We chose the Hot Stone Pedicure at Vdara. (You know the hotel with the death ray?) The chairs were amazing. You could recline them and adjust the whirlpool in the tub with the remote. Seriously, the best pedicure I've ever had. Thank You, Lily!!!

Friday night we went to see Penn and Teller at the Rio. Lily treated us to the show. (Thanks Lily!) Our tickets were in the fourth or fifth row. You know how the performers come out into the audience and pick people to go up on stage? Yes, you guessed it. Teller chose me to go up on stage. I was horified but what do you do? It was a magic act where he was pulling money out of a large tank of water and dumping it into a fish bowl in my lap. The coins came from everywhere, my ears, my glasses and my arm. When it finally ended, Teller handed me the fishbowl and a few pennies. After the show, I had Teller autograph the bowl. It's a great conversation piece on the bar in the basement. (Photo courtesy of Tim's iPhone.)

Saturday we watched the Missouri/Kansas game at Lagasee's Stadium in the Palazzo. Tim and I went and checked out the Pawn Stars shop, Gold and Silver Pawn. We were hoping to see Chumley or The Old Man but neither were there! We celebrated Justin and Lily's birthday with dinner at The Firefly. I chose the location in the Plaza hotel because they took reservations. Little did I know the Plaza hotel was closed for renovation. As we took the elevator to the second floor, I think we were all a little skeptical about my choice. Once we were seated and ordered white sangria, I felt much better about my decision. The Firefly overlooks the Freemont Street Experience light show. If you're in Vegas and have the chance to go there, it's worth it just for the Bacon Wrapped Dates. They were fabulous!

Monday, Justin and Lily flew back to Los Angeles. Tim and I drove up to Zion National Park. Although we only saw Zion, from the roads, it's beautiful. The night before Zion received a few inches of snow. I was a little leary of the roads in our non four wheel drive Mercury. I should have known there was no need to be nervous, afterall Tim grew up in Minnesota and knows how to drive in snow!

Vegas is always fun but sharing it with Justin and Lily created great memories!!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pumpkin Oatmeal

After a long, beautiful fall and temperate early winter, cold temperatures have made their way to the midwest. I remember as a kid, my mom always pushed a warm breakfast on cold mornings. This recipe comes from my friend, Mags at The Other Side of 50. She tells the best stories and shares fabulous recipes.

A few Sunday's ago, I opened the egg carton to find I had only one egg. Okay what to make for breakfast? I remembered Mags recipe and had a cup of leftover pumpkin. I substituted honey for the maple syrup and used cinnamon, nutmeg and a dash of cloves in place of the pumpkin pie spice. If you're like me and don't love plain oatmeal, give this recipe a try. It makes a delicious, warm your tummy breakfast that would make my mom proud.

Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal
Courtesy of The Other Side of 50

1 3/4 cups old-fashioned oats
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup raisins (optional)
1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 TBSP butter, melted
1 1/2 cups milk (I used skim)
2 large eggs
1/4 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place 8 (1/2 cup) ramekins on a baking sheet. Spray lightly with cooking spray,

In a large bowl, combine the oats, pumpkin pie spice, salt, baking powder and raisins (if using.)

In another bowl whisk together the pumpkin, maple syrup, butter, milk and eggs.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and combine well. Pour into prepared ramekins and top each with 1/2 TBSP of chopped pecans.

Bake for 25-28 minutes. Alternately, you could bake this in a one quart baking dish and adjust baking time accordingly.

I am linking this to Tasty Tuesday's and Tuesday's at the Table.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Favorite Holiday Movie - Pink Saturday

What's your favorite holiday movie? Mine is White Christmas. I love the music and of course the story!
I am linking this to Pink Saturday at How Sweet the Sound.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Haricots Verts with Browned Garlic

Haricots verts, French for "green beans," refer to a longer, thinner type of green bean than the typical, American green bean. I've eaten them in a restaurant but never prepared them at home. When I saw them at Costco, I decided to give them a try.

This recipe combines them with a good amount of browned garlic. Once it's cooked, garlic's flavor mellows considerably. I love the beautiful bright green color of these tender green beans.

Haricots Verts with Browned Garlic
Recipe courtesy of Cooking Light

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: about 1 cup)
2 quarts water
2 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 1/2 pounds haricots verts
4 teaspoons butter
1/3 cup thinly sliced garlic (about 1 head)
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Bring 2 quarts water and 2 teaspoons salt to a boil in a large saucepan. Add beans; cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain.

Melt butter in pan over medium heat. Add garlic and shallots; cook 4 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, beans, rosemary, and pepper; cook 4 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring occasionally.

I am linking this to Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Dorothy Mackey's Apple Dapple Cake

This fall we had buckets of apples from the tree in the backyard. I wanted to make something instead of a crisp or cobbler.This recipe came from my mom's recipe file. I am so glad I have her recipes.

Dorothy Mackey was one of my mom's co-workers. I remember my mom making this cake but couldn't remember if it was any good or not. Thanks Dorothy! This is the best apple cake I've ever eaten. It's very moist. The carmel glaze makes the cake even more moist and delicious!! If you're looking for a beautiful dessert for a dinner party, give this one a try. Just add a dollop of whipped cream and you're good to go!

Dorothy Mackey's Apple Dapple Cake

Cream together: 3 eggs, 2 cups sugar and 1 1/2 cups oil
Sift together: 3 cups flour, 1 teaspoon soda, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 scant teaspoon salt
Stir into the egg, oil and sugar mixture.
1 cup coconut, 1 cup nuts, 3 cups diced apples, 2 teaspoons vanilla.

Bake in a loaf or tube pan at 350 degrees for 45 - 60 minutes. (I baked mine in a springform for 60 - 75 minutes)

Glaze: 1 cup brown sugar, 4 tbsp butter, 1/4 cup milk. Combine and cook 4 minutes. Brush onto cake while glaze and cake are still warm.

I am linking this to Tasty Tuesday's, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday and Tuesday's at the Table.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Pink Saturday

On our recent trip to Las Vegas we saw this tree in the lobby of the Renaissance Hotel. It's part of a collection of trees for a charity raffle. I really want a pink tree!! I already decorate three trees, not sure where this one would go. How many trees do you have?
One of my favorite holiday recipes is Peanut Butter Balls. They're a holiday tradition at my house. You can find the recipe here.

I am linking this to Pink Saturday at How Sweet the Sound.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Acorn Squash with Brown Sugar and Rosemary

We love acorn squash. My go to recipe is roasted . The squash is so sweet and delicious cooked this way. I guess I've never thought of cooking it sliced. When I saw this recipe over at Tomatoes on the Vine, I thought the flavors sounded amazing and couldn't wait to give it a try. I am so glad I did. The brown sugar gives the squash a wonderful carmelized glaze, it's so beautiful!!

Acorn Squash with Rosemary and Brown Sugar
Serves 4
Recipe from Fine Cooking (Courtesy of Tomatoes on the Vine)
1-2 pound acorn squash (unpeeled), halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 8 wedges
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Using a paring knife, score each wedge of squash lengthwise down the middle of the flesh. heat the butter and oil in an 11 to 12-inch straight-sided saute pan over medium-high heat. Arrange the squash in the pan in a single layer and cook, flipping occasionally, until deep golden-brown on all cut sides, about 10 minutes (note: if your pan is not large enough to brown all the squash at once, brown it in batches, and then return to the pan to simmer.
Carefully pour the wine into the pan, then quickly scatter the brown sugar, rosemary, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper over the squash. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the squash is almost tender, about 10 minutes more.
Uncover the pan and increase the heat to medium. Flip the squash and cook until the liquid is thick and the squash is tender, about 5 minutes more. Transfer the squash to platter, season with salt and pepper to taste, drizzle any remaining liquid over the top, and serve.

I am linking this to Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Coconut Rochers - Chocolate With Francois

Many of the recipes in Francois Payard's recipes aren't for the faint of heart. The require multiple bowls, baking over multiple days and complicated processes. Fortunately, this month's recipe wasn't one of the complicated ones!

This month's recipe, Chocolate Coconut Rochers was chosen by Joanne at Apple Crumbles. These would make an interesting holiday cookie. Check out the recipe over at Joanne's site. I was curious. What's a rocher? Rocher means boulder in French. You can find the other CWF bakers rochers here.

As the egg whites were whipping, I went to the pantry to grab the mini chips. Guess what? Yes, you guessed it, no mini chips. I ended up using dark chocolate regular size chips. Payard suggests using a small ice cream scoop to shape the cookies. I used a regular size cookie scoop. The recipe says to take them out when the outsides are crisp. Mine never did get what I would call crisp. If you like coconut and chocolate and want an easy yet delicious cookie, give these a try.

I am linking this to Tasty Tuesday's, Tuesdays at the Table and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Happy Pink Saturday!!

Are you decorating for the holidays this weekend? Tim put the outside decorations up last weekend. We're traveling so the indoor decorations will have to wait until next weekend. If I had room for another tree, this is the one I would buy!
I am linking this to Pink Saturday at How Sweet the Sound!!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Grilled Flank Steak with Coffee Sauce

As long as our grill isn't burried in snow, we grill in the winter. Flank steak is one of our favorite cuts of beef to grill. There's a couple of keys to tender, delicious flank steak. Don't overcook it and marinate it prior to grilling. I'm always in search of marinade recipes. Mary of One Perfect Bite has the most amazing recipes. This is just one of the many I've bookmarked to try.

The tangy dijon mustard and strong coffee give this steak a unique and tasty flavor. If grilling is on your menu sometime soon give this one a try, you won't be sorry!!!

Grilled Flank Steak with Coffee Sauce
Recipe Courtesy of One Perfect Bite

3 tablespoons grainy Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon chopped shallots
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided use
2 cups espresso or strong brewed coffee
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon Black pepper
1 (20-oz.) flank steak
Salt to taste
1 cup beef broth
2 tablespoons butter

1) Combine mustard, garlic, shallots, balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons oil, espresso, brown sugar and black pepper in a large pan. Reserve 1 cup of marinade to make sauce. Add flank steak and marinate for 2 hours, turning meat every 30 minutes.
2) Pat steak dry and season each side with salt and pepper. Heat a large cast iron skillet over high heat. Add vegetable oil and heat until smoking hot. Add flank steak and cook for 3 minutes per side, brushing each side with marinade. Remove pan from heat, but tent with foil and let rest for 10 minutes.
3) While beef is resting, combine reserved marinade and the beef broth. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to medium. Reduce sauce by 1/2. Add 2 tablespoons of butter. Whisk to incorporate. Correct the seasoning. Transfer steak to a cutting board and slice crosswise on the diagonal into 2-inch slices. Spoon sauce over meat and serve immediately. Yield: 3 to 4 servings.

I am linking this to Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

From The Good Life - Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all. ~William Faulkner

Monday, November 22, 2010

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

Stuffed vegetables are hearty, delicious and filling. I've stuffed peppers before but never squash.

I can't find where I saved this recipe originally, if this is your recipe, thank you for such a delicious dish.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Stuffed Acorn Squash
1 acorn squash
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 cup mushrooms, diced
1 cup cooked grains (rice, quinoa, millet, or even just breadcrumbs)
1 cup vegetable broth
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning or a combination of sage, marjoram, oregano, thyme and rosemary
salt and pepper

While the squash is roasting in the oven, sauté the onion, garlic, celery and mushrooms until soft. Add grains, broth and herbs and mix well. Spoon into the squash and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Serves 4-6.

I am linking this to Tasty Tuesday, Tuesdays at the Table and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pink Saturday!

Happy Pink Saturday!

A few weeks ago on our way to Tim's mom's in Minnesota, we saw this pink wheel loader. The load for the cure!
I am linking this to Pink Saturday at How Sweet the Sound!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Rosemary Corn Muffins

Spoiler alert - if you haven't watched the Top Chef Just Desserts finale, don't read this! Before we talk Rosemary Corn Muffins, did you watch Top Chef Just Desserts? Were you happy with the winner? I wanted Yigit to win but I was thrilled that Morgan didn't win.

Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs. I love it's wonderful scent and flavor. I brought my rosemary plant inside and hope to continue growing it inside this winter. In the meantime, just in case it doesn't like the indoors, I am trying to use as much as I can.

I love corn bread or corn muffins. This recipe takes corn muffins to a whole new level. The addition of the corn kernels adds depth and the rosemary gives them an earthy fragrance and flavor.

Rosemary Corn Muffins
Recipe Courtesy of Martha Stewart Whole Living
Vegetable-oil cooking spray
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup coarse yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary, plus leaves for topping
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh corn kernels (from 2 to 3 ears of corn)
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup canola oil
1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat a standard 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray. Whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, rosemary, and 1 cup corn.
2.Combine buttermilk, egg, and oil in a small bowl. Add to flour mixture, and stir until just combined.
3.Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling three-quarters full. Top with remaining 2 tablespoons corn and the rosemary. Bake until tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, 15 to 17 minutes. Let cool in tin on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Turn out muffins onto rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. Muffins can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

I am linking this to Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

From The Good Life - Trader Joe's

Do you have a Trader Joe's in your city? Trader Joe's opened in Omaha last week. Tim and I stopped by on Saturday night about 7:30. The aisles were packed with shoppers and the shelves were somewhat empty. With the crowds, it was hard to see everything and shop. We decided, we'll come back when the newness wears off.

I've read lots of posts about your favorite Trader Joe's items. I wish I had written them down or saved them. We didn't have a Trader Joe's in Omaha and I didn't think we'd get one any time soon. Do you have a favorite Trader Joe product I should try?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Philly Spaghetti

Have you ever made any of the recipes on the inside of the Philadelphia Cream Cheese package? I think 99% of the recipes I've seen on there are for desserts or some sort of dip. When I saw this recipe for Philly Spaghetti, I was intriqued. I couldn't decide if it sounded good or awful. I was a little reluctant but decided to give it a try.

I am so glad I did. This spaghetti is delicious. The cream cheese adds another dimension to the flavor.

Philly Spaghetti
Recipe Courtesy of Kraft
3/4 lb. spaghetti, uncooked
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 jar (24 oz.) spaghetti sauce
4 oz. (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, cubed
2 Tbsp. KRAFT Grated Parmesan Cheese
How to make it
Cook spaghetti as directed on package.
Meanwhile, brown meat in large skillet; drain. Return meat to skillet. Stir in sauce and cream cheese; cook on low heat 3 to 5 min. or until sauce is well blended and heated through, stirring frequently.
Drain spaghetti. Add to sauce; mix lightly. Place on platter; top with Parmesan.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Holiday Traditions

Can you believe it's less than two weeks until Thanksgiving? The older I get the quicker the fly by. I think it's payback for all those years of wishing the years would go faster when I was younger.

It seems with today's fast paced, electronic world the tradition of sending cards or writing letters is starting to fade. Do you remember writing letters as a kid? Did you have a pen pal? I loved to write letters and had a pen pal in Japan. Do you still send cards? Or do you send e-cards? I love to send cards and when I receive one, it always brings a smile to my face!

Do you send holiday cards? I love to search for the perfect holiday card. One with just the right picture and message. When Tim and I got married, we started sending photo holiday cards. It's so fun to search for the perfect card.

Shutterfly has so many choices for holiday cards. Once you choose your photos and the card design, putting it all together is quick and easy!!

You can send traditional style photo cards like this fun snowflake design.

Or this cute Christmas tree photo card.

Of if you're having a holiday cocktail party, this would be a great invitation!

Shutterfly is offering bloggers 50 free cards in exchange for writing a post about holiday cards. Interested? You can find the information here!

Disclosure: In exchange for writing this post, I will receive a promotional code for a package of 50 free holiday cards from Shutterfly. Opinions about Shutterfly are my own.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

SMS - Strawberry Lemon Rosemary Muffins & A Winner

We have a winner!!! My blogging pal, Gnee of Singing With Birds is the winner of the $45.00 CSN Stores certificate! Congratulations, Gnee!!

Sweet Melissa's cookbook contains numerous sweet and savory versions for these muffins. The Peach version of these muffins was the first recipe I ever baked with SMS. Carmelized Onion, Sage and Cheddar were my first savory muffins.

The first time I made these I learned the batter was very thick and the muffins tend to be on the dry side. With each subsequent baking, I've been adding a little more milk or cream and depending on the moisture in the fruit or vegetables, about 1/4 - 1/2 cup of sour cream.

Lemon and rosemary are two of my favorite flavors. I couldn't wait to taste these muffins. Unfortunately, I was a little disappointed. There was only a hint of the rosemary flavor and I could hardly taste the lemon. Rosemary can be such a strong flavor, I am always hesitant to add more but this is one recipe where more is necessary. With the price of strawberries right now, I decided to use frozen. I was a little concerned they might be too wet but I should have known better. Even with the addition of sour cream, these were still a little dry.

I am determined to figure out the perfect combination of milk, sour cream and vegetables or fruit for this recipe. I think it has the potential to make a fabulous muffin.

Thanks to the talented Shandy of Pastry Heaven for choosing this weeks recipe. You can find the recipe on her blog. If you'd like to see the combinations chosen by the other SMS bakers, go here!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Happy Pink Saturday!

A beautiful rose from our recent visit to Lauritzen Gardens.
I am linking this to Pink Saturday at How Sweeet the Sound.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Red Wine Poached Pears

There's still time to enter my giveaway.
Poaching is a cooking technique I rarely use. Poach - to cook food gently in liquid just past the boiling point. Do you have a favorite recipe using this technique?

Pears poached in red wine are so beautiful! With all of the pumpkin and apple recipes flooding the blogsphere, it's a nice change. This is an easy, yet elegant dessert. It can be served along with whipped cream, creme fraiche, mascarpone or even vanilla ice cream.

Red Wine Poached Pears

6 medium sized firm pears (Bosc pears work well for this recipe)
2 cups red wine
1/4 cup lemon juice
2/3 cup sugar
4 - 5 peppercorns
cinnamon stick
pinch of nutmeg

Select a sauce pan which just holds all of the pears lying on their sides.
Mix the red wine, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon stick, peppercorns and nutmeg in the sauce pan. Place on medium heat and bring to a very low boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar.
Meanwhile peel the pears. For a pretty presentation, leave the stem on and cut a thin slice off the bottom of the fruit so it will stand upright when served.
Place the pears in the simmering wine sauce and cook for about 25 minutes, or until the pears are tender but not mushy. Turn them over 1/2 way through cooking time.
Carefully remove the pears when they are done. Reduce remaining sauce by boiling it for about 7 minutes or until until it is thick and syrupy. Place the pears as you are intending to serve them and spoon sauce on top.
Poached pears are perhaps best served at room temperature, but you can keep them in the refrigerator and serve cold.
Serves 6

I am linking this to Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

From The Good Life - Veterans Day

Take time today to remember those who have lost their lives and those serving our country! A special tribute to my Father, who served in Pearl Harbor. At 91, I imagine he's one of the few remaining survivors. Thank You, Dad!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Coca Cola Cake

Don't forget to enter my giveaway here!!

Have you ever had Cracker Barrel's Coca Cola Cake? We don't eat at Cracker Barrel a lot but when we do, it's for breakfast. Usually I don't eat cake for breakfast, notice I said usually. There's quite a few copy cat recipes for this cake. When I found this recipe, using diet coke and a low fat cream cheese frosting, I couldn't pass it up.

I was skeptical, just cake mix, coke and two egg whites? Would it rise or cook properly? Don't be skeptical. This cake is so good. It is so moist and the frosting is delicious. I am looking forward to trying some of the other versions of this cake.

Diet Coke Cake
Recipe adapted from Erin of grin and bake It

1 box of chocolate cake mix
1 can Diet Coke
2 egg whites

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Bake according to the directions on the cake box. Makes 24.

Flavor Variations

Chocolate cake mix and Diet Coke
Spice cake and diet root beer
Vanilla cake mix and diet root beer
Pineapple cake mix and 7 Up
Vanilla cake mix and 7Up
Vanilla cake mix and diet orange

Low Fat Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz. light cream cheese, softened
1 c. marshmallow cream
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. powdered sugar

In a medium bowl, stir together the cream cheese, marshmallow creme, lemon juice and vanilla until well combined. Then gradually beat in the powdered sugar.

Makes 1 3/4 cups

NOTES: The use of marshmallow creme instead of butter in this easy frosting recipe keeps the fat, calorie and cholesterol counts low. To simplify clean-up, spray the measuring cup with non-stick spray before attempting to measure out the marshmallow cream!

I am linking this to Tuesday's at the Table and Tasty Tuesday's.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Ginger Custard Pumpkin Crustless Pie

Don't forget to enter my giveaway here!!
I was going to skip this week's SMS until I read everyone's reviews about how delicious this is and realized I had some leftover pumpkin in the fridge. Since pie crust and I aren't friends, I decided to go crustless and make these in ramekins.

The recipe calls for scalding the cream. I am sure I've made recipes before where scalding is required? I was curious, though, what is scalding? "To heat a liquid, generally referring to milk or cream, to just below the boiling point. It should be heated just until tiny bubbles begin to form at the very edges. "

I whisked the eggs for this recipe by hand. Are you watching Top Chef, Just Desserts? In the relay race two weeks ago, the contestants were challenged to whip 6 six egg whites to hold upside down for 10 seconds. That's amazing!!

I baked these in a water bath for about 25 minutes. I think they could have baked a few minutes longer. While I thought these were delicious, I was hoping the cinnamon and ginger flavors would be stronger. I could barely taste them. Maybe steeping longer would have helped? This recipe is a nice change from my standard pumpkin pie recipe.

Thanks to Debbie of Everday Blessings of Five Dees for hosting this week. You can find the recipe on her blog. If you'd like to see what the other SMS bakers created this week, go here!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Pink Saturday & A Giveaway!!!

Happy Pink Saturday!!

For the details on my giveaway, go here!!! The winner will be announced on November 12th . Thanks for entering!!!

I am linking this to Pink Saturday at How Sweet the Sound!!!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Crock Pot Black Bean Enchiladas & A Giveaway!!!

Have you started your holiday shopping? Or do you wait until the last minute? Just in time for gift giving, CSN stores has offered me a $45.00 gift certificate to giveaway to one of my readers (USA or Canada). Have you checked out CSN Stores? CSN Stores has EVERYTHING, from drop leaf tables to cookware.

How to enter is simple!! Sign up to be a follower of my blog and leave me a comment! If you're already a follower, just leave me a comment and you're entered. I will be picking a winner on November 12th. Good luck and thanks for reading my blog!!!

I try to serve as many meatless meals as I can each week. I've mentioned this before but for those of you who are new readers, my husband doesn't think it's a meal without some meat. In fairness, he's gotten a lot better about it the past couple of years. In fact, there's some meals he says he likes and (almost) doesn't miss the meat! This was one of those meals. Black beans are an excellent substitution for meat.

The cooking time for this recipe is 2-4 hours on high. I cooked for 5 hours on low. It was perfect!!

Slow Cooker Enchiladas
Recipe Courtesy of The Kitchn
Serves 4-6

1/2 yellow onion
2 bell pepper, diced small(any color)
1 16-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspooncumin1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups cheese, shredded and divided - we like monterey jack
2 16-ounce jars of your favorite salsa
12 6”-8” tortillas, flour or corn
Optional: 1 cup leftover meat - chicken, pork, hamburger, or shredded beef

In a medium bowl, mix together the onion, pepper, black beans, corn, spices, meat (if using), and just 1/2 cup of the cheese. Pour about a cup of salsa (half a jar) into the bottom of the slow cooker and spread it around evenly.
Scoop about 1/3 cup into one of the tortillas, roll it up, and nestle it into the bottom of the crock pot. Repeat with the half of the remaining filling, rolling tortillas until the entire bottom of of the crock pot is filled. Spread another cup of salsa over this layer and sprinkle it with another 1/2 cup of cheese.
Continue with the remaining filling and tortillas to create a second layer. Top with another cup of salsa, but reserve the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese for later. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on HIGH for 2-4 hours. In the last 15 minutes of cooking, sprinkle the leftover cheese over the top and let it melt.
Serve the enchiladas with the remaining salsa. Leftovers will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.
• To cook these enchiladas in the oven, layer the rolled tortillas in a 9x13 baking pan and cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with cheese, and bake uncovered for an additional 5-10 minutes.

I am linking this to Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

From The Good Life

Last Friday night, The Landscaper named Lynn, had his annual weenie roast.
As a foodie, I was happy to learn we were dining on Rick's Meats homemade Smoked Bratwurst.
(You'll have to excuse the photos, they were taken in the dark on the iPhone.)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Brownies are like chocolate chip cookies, there are a zillion recipes out there. Do you have a favorite recipe you always make? Or are you like me and you keep trying new recipes? I first saw this recipe on my friend Susan's blog. I bookmarked it and bought the mints immediately. Then what do I do? I forget about them. I was looking for toffee chips and burried in the basket were the mints. These are my favorite kind of brownie, gooey, chocolately with the addition of the flavor of mint.

The gooeyness of these made it hard to cut them into nice squares. I wonder if chilling them would have helped? Regardless they were delicious. This recipe goes in the make again soon file!!

Brrr-ownies (found on page 103 of Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan).
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter cut into 5 pieces
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 cup (6 ozs) York Peppermint Pattie Bites (or equal weight of patties) chopped into bits
Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8 inch square baking pan with foil. Butter the foil and place the pan on a baking sheet.
Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Put the butter in the bowl, top with chopped chocolates and stir occasionally until the ingredients are just melted - you don't want then to get so hot that the butter separates. Remove the bowl from the pan of water.
With a whisk, stir in the sugar. Don't be concerned when your smooth mixture turns grainy. Whisk in the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla and whisk vigorously to bring the batter together and give it a shine before gently stirring in the salt and flour; stir only until incorporated. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the peppermint pieces. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top with the rubber spatula.
Bake the brownies for 30 to 33 minutes, or until the top is dull and a thin knife inserted into the center comes out almost clean. (The tip of the knife may be a touch streaky) Transfer the pan to a rack and cool to room temperature.
When they are completely cool, turn out onto a rack, peel away the foil and invert onto a cutting board. Cut into 16 2 inch squares.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pear, Blue Cheese and Walnut Muffins - SMS

I am creating a bit of a muffin mix up with my SMS post today. Today's SMS recipe is Goat Cheese, Olive and Thyme Muffins. You can find the recipe over at Hanna's Kitchen. Tim doesn't care for olives and a co-worker of mine gave me quite a few pears. I decided to bake the Pear, Blue Cheese and Walnut Muffins the SMS group baked a few weeks ago. I baked Carmelized Onion, Sage and Cheddar Muffins that week. Confused? It's a three for one muffin recipe post!

The muffin recipe in Sweet Melissa's cookbook is the same for savory or sweet muffins. Most of the SMS bakers would agree, this recipe tends to make a dry muffin. To create a more moist muffin, I've started adding a little more milk or cream and 1/2 cup of sour cream. Also, it's very important to watch the baking time.

These weren't as flavorful as the Onion, Sage and Cheddar muffins. They needed something, maybe a little more cayenne? As well, they didn't brown like I would have liked. I ended up turning the broiler on for just a bit to try and get the nice brown color. If you've never made savory muffins before, give them a try. They're perfect with soups or stews.

You can find the links to the creative savory muffins by the other SMS bakers here.

Happy Halloween!