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.