Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving 2017!

Hello friends!

It has been quite awhile since I have posted here. I am hoping to do a redesign on my blog in the near future and get back to it! I have missed writing and I looking forward to entertaining you with my cooking foibles, photography, book reviews, and other such craziness.

In the meantime, things have been a bit crazy and since it is the holidays things always tend to get crazier. I just baked a whole bunch of Swedish Visiting Cakes and sold them in my neighborhood today. I love this recipe and my hubs was thrilled that he gets to have one as well!
I hope your holidays are wonderful!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

(FFWD} Wrapping up

As you know from previous posts, my French cooking chapter with French Fridays with Dorie has come closed. The 3rd celebration week was the Play it Again Dorie recipe and the 4th week was a wrap up. Well, my play it again recipe was the sugar crusted french toast. That is a well loved recipe around our house and I make it on special occasions since it is SUGAR crusted french toast. ;) I can say with certainty there are never any leftovers when this is on the menu.

As far as a wrap up goes this has been a fantastic group of people to get to know and to cook along with over the last 4 and a half ish years. I know I didn't get to all of the recipes but will keep trying along the way. Because of this experience I know I can tackle any recipe and have an end product that is edible and that my family will at least try. Thanks to our fearless leaders we were always in good hands when it came to the schedule and for what recipes had already been completed and what was left. I have a love and appreciation for Dorie, her cookbooks, and her writing style. She writes to you and helps you feel confident with the stories for each recipe. If you ever get a chance to be a part of something like this jump at it! Learn some new skills and make friends with lots of new people. And if you get to meet them in person enjoy those moments!

Make sure to check out the LYL to see how others wrapped up they time cooking along. :)

Monday, June 08, 2015

{FFWD} Never Doubt Dorie!

 As I mentioned last week we are at the end of our Around My French Table journey and we are finishing up with a few celebratory posts. Last week was AHA moments. This week is "Never Doubt Dorie" moments.

Choose the recipe that might not have been your favorite or even something you enjoyed making or even something you were skeptical about but which taught you a technique or gave you an idea or provided a lesson of some kind.

First and foremost....some ingredients are scary folks! A few recipes that I was really skeptical about included things I would not normally eat. However, I was able to get my family to eat or at least try each recipe and was able to share some of these with adventurous neighbors.

Some Never Doubt Dorie moments:
1. I learned how to prepare a delicacy that would be far more expensive in a restaurant.
2. Olives are not the devil when baked in something sweet.
3. Shellfish can be tasty.
4. The "bonne idee" sections are fantastic. Also, I love the times in the book where Dorie says trust me, it may not look like it is going to work but keep stirring, or keep going, it will come together.
5. I learned many new techniques that I never would have taken a chance on before starting this book. :)

Now, a few of the recipes that I was a little scared of that turned out pretty good:

Don't forget to check out the other Doristas Never Doubt Dorie Moments!

Next week: The Play it Again Dorie Recipe.

Friday, May 29, 2015

{FFWD} Favorite Recipes and AHA moments from Around My French Table

Well folks, another Dorie cookbook has come and gone. Several members of our illustrious baking group have completed all of the recipes in Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table: More than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours. It is crazy to think I started my baking journey way back in August of 2008. While I have loved cooking and baking through this book it would be an understatement to say I was inconsistent in my cooking and posting. I have some recipes cooked or baked and photographed but not posted. Ah well, maybe I will catch up at some point. Over the next four weeks we have the opportunity to share:
May 29: Celebration Week #1: The AHA Moment
June 5: Celebration Week #2: The Never-Doubt-Dorie Moment.
June 12: Celebration Week #3: The Play-It-Again-Dorie Recipe
June 19 (Le Fin): Celebration Week #4: Grand Finale

In the spirit of AHA! I share my top AHA moments:
1. You cannot use a corn cob knob to open wine
2. If my kids help prepare it they will most likely try it
3. I must look at the recipe at least 2 days ahead of time so I can have all of the ingredients on hand when it comes time to cook or bake
4. Baked items that turn out ugly still taste good
5. Sometimes you have to use a recipe as inspiration for your own creativity.
6. There are recipes you will commit to memory
7. Sometimes a recipe is exact and other times you can play around with the flavors and amounts of spices to get the recipe just right.

Now for my top 5 recipes:
I actually just made this again for dinner. :)

This has been a wonderful group to be a part of. Outside of expanding my culinary horizons the biggest and best highlight was of course meeting Dorie and several of the Doristas at the IFBC conference. Hopefully we will continue to keep in touch throughout the years. :) Now, go over the French Fridays with Dorie site and check out the top 5 recipes from fantastic cooks from around the world!

Monday, March 09, 2015

{TWD:BCM} Lemon Madeleines

The last few weeks here in the south have been a frozen tundra...OK, I suppose it hasn't been as bad as up north and on the east coast. But, it has been cold! These Lemon Madeleines were summer on a winters day. The hardest part about them was beating the eggs with a whisk, and only because we had gone sledding the day before and I attempted to snow board....I am sure you can guess how that ended if it hurt to whisk. ;)

These, of course, were a hit in my house. I had to hide some so I would have some cookies left over for photos. The recipe only makes 12 so they did not last long. If you are longing for summer in the midst of winter pick up a copy of Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan and make these light, delicious cookies!

Make sure to also check out the LYL over at Tuesday with Dorie to see how other cookies around the world liked these!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

{Blogging for Books}The Paleo Chef

Have you ever wanted to try the paleo lifestyle? Bobby and I did Whole 30 in August of 2013 and had a good experience with the program. It was pretty extreme as it is a temporary elimination diet. I am sure you have met people that are all paleo all the time and do a great job of sticking to it. One of the things I struggled with during Whole 30 was being creative in my cooking. If you take a look at Pete Evans website the opening page says "Pete is the only person who cares and talks this much about food." I don't know that he is the only person but he definitely has some great recipes and ideas for paleo cooking.

Pete starts his book off with 10 things you need to know about the paleo lifestyle. He covers everything from this being a way of life  and what to eat and drink to exercising and thinking positively. He, of course, gets everything he can directly from the source and makes sure to practice nose to tail eating. When talking about ingredients he says, "No matter what ingredients you choose, always select the highest quality, organic, and sustainable products you can find and afford." Cooking paleo is expensive.When we did our Whole 30 I spent far more on groceries than I normally do. Granted we used everything up but you have to be prepared to spend more, especially if you are going all in for the locally sourced, organic, humanely treated, non-gmo, nitrate free, cage free, free range meat, eggs, etc. All I am saying is be prepared to spend more on your monthly grocery bill.

Now, on to the recipes! Since I already know that I am a meat eater, and that I tolerate paleo meals quite well I have picked out a recipe from Pete's book that I want to try from each section.

Muesli & Berry Parfait with Coconut Cream (pg.26)

Snacks and Sides
Kale Hummus (pg. 46)
Roasted Winter Vegetables (pg. 73)

Grilled Wild Salmon with Artichoke Salsa (pg. 90)

Actually the entire poultry section looks great to me!

Pork Cutlets with Cabbage Salad and Romesco Sauce (pg. 144)

Well, you know we like dessert in our house but the one that stands out is:
Mixed Berry Cheesecake (pg. 168)

Based in the photo alone I would choose the Iced Chocolate (pg. 200)

I am excited to get started cooking from Pete's book! I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Pete also has a Pizza cookbook, a Casual Home Cooking cookbook and a Vegetarian Kindle book available. You can click below to see those. If purchases are made I get a tiny percentage of the sale as an Amazon Associate.

Monday, February 02, 2015

{Blogging for Books} Q & A a Day

They always say
time changes things,
but you actually
have to change them
-Andy Warhol

The quote above is on the first page of Q&A a Day. Are you the kind of person who journals every day no matter what? Or are you more like me who had grand intentions of journaling every day and after a couple of months that fizzles out? This book is for you! When I ripped the shipping container open to get to this tome I was so excited. This is the perfect size to carry with you or place by your bed. It is a 5 year journal with questions every day. Since I got mine today the question for February 2nd was "Who do you live with?" Today the answer to that is my husband, 2 kids, a dog, and two cats. 3 months ago that would have included a hermit crab and a hamster. You go through and answer the same question on the same day for five years.

I think this is brilliant but I am the kind of person who loves being able to go back and see what we have done on the same day each year. For instance I like being able to track what we dressed up as for Halloween each year.

The pages are all edges gilt. The book feels comfortable in your hand and makes you want to write in it right away! The entries are short and while you can think awhile you do not have to write a ton each day. You can check out Clarkson Potter to see more titles. Not only is there Q&A a Day, there is also "Our Q&A a Day" and "Q&A a day for College". 
Check it out!

I received a review copy of this journal from Blogging for Books.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

{FFWD} Croquants

The last few French Fridays recipes have been fishy and we have been running around like crazy with basketball so we not been home for a lot of cooking. This week's recipe took one bowl, I got to use my digital scale, and these cookies baked for 8 minutes.

My little taste testers all said they loved these! These croquants are crispy, crunchy cookies. They are supposed to be much prettier than this as mine spread. I am guessing since I used half nuts and half chocolate there wasn't enough filler to bind the cookies. No matter, they were delicious! :) My family doesn't mind when my cookies turn out wacky as long as they taste good. 

Check out the LYL on French Fridays with Dorie to see what these were actually supposed to look like. :) There are only a few recipes left until the end of this cookbook! Make sure to get your copy and follow along!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

{TWD: BCM} Brown Butter and Vanilla Bean Weekend Cake

Have you ever made anything with brown butter? I accidentally made brown butter once or twice when I over cooked the melted butter for mac and cheese. The first time I remember having brown butter on purpose was at My Spam and Anchovies Comfort Food night. Sara brought Brown Butter Cookie Dough Pretzel Squares. They did not last long! The next time I remember having brown butter was at my cooking club's Greekfest at Beth's house. Hmmm.. something about cooking with friends brings out the brown butter. :) Once again a dish everyone loved! When I saw brown butter in the title of this weekend cake I knew it would be delicious! The slightly nutty flavor went perfectly with the vanilla.

Speaking of vanilla...I did not have any vanilla beans on hand but had a Sahale vanilla powder sample from the IFBC conference. It was exactly what I needed for this cake.

The best part of this cake? It was easy! There is something to be said for the recipes that take time and have lots of steps but when you are hours away from heading to a New Years Eve party easy is just the ticket. I could have let this rest before baking to enhance the flavor even more but I didn't and it was wonderful. My hubster and kiddos grabbed all of the edge pieces that were left behind after I cut the cake.
My hilarious, incredibly smarty pants friend Sara and her equally hilarious, mohawked husband Travis invited us over for New Years Eve. If you ever want to talk literature Sara is your girl! She is working on her doctorate right now and is even more in love with reading than me. She even bought my sister's first novel that came out this week! My daughter is planning on reading the Cinder series so Sara encouraged her to read the original fairy tale first, which she had at home so Munchkin was able to read it that evening. Travis runs Stedicam for all kinds of awesome places! The two of them have the smartest, cutest, sassiest,  superhero loving girl you have ever seen. So you know we were in for a fun night and then the Twilight plates made an appearance and the night was complete! I mean who doesn't want to cover up Bella and Edwards faces with brown butter vanilla weekend cake with salted caramel from Seattle? ;) But wait! Our night was not complete! We had to set off fireworks! We all had so much fun setting them off! I took a few photos and we let Travis do the lighting. One shot off in an unexpected direction which made us all laugh hysterically. The kids lit sparklers and did monster pops, the people across the street watched while throwing fireworks into their fire. It was a perfectly lovely night I think the brown butter vanilla weekend cake tied it all together! Of course it could have been the company with the addition of the lovely cake. :) 

This is my first week back to Tuesdays with Dorie in a little while. I have every intention of making each of the recipes I have missed but this was a great one to jump back in on. Check out the recipe in Baking Chez Moi and check out the LYL to see how other bakers liked this cake this week!

PS. If you click the links below and order I get a small percentage of the purchase.

Monday, January 26, 2015

{Blogging for Books} It Was Me All Along

The very first thing I have to say about the author of this book is how very personable she is. While on instagram I saw Jessica of  My Baking Heart had posted a photo of this book. I commented that I was about to read this book also. Andie commented back to both of us! :) Of course she is an active food blogger and recipe creator. You can read more about her at her website here.
Photo courtesy of Jessica of My Baking Heart
I was immediately hooked when I sat down to read "It Was Me All Along". The vivid descriptions of her earliest memories with food were gripping and made me want to read more. I wanted to see how she got to the point where she is now. There was heartbreak, depression, friendship, love, loss, and an amazing journey. There were moments when I could see myself in what she was writing. I was amazed at her candor and transparency at the struggle. Andie Mitchell wrote an incredible memoir that anyone struggling with weight should read. Those not struggling with weight should read it to get a look at what someone struggling with weight loss and maintaining a weight loss might go through. She notes that everyone is different, everyone's struggles are different but she tells her story in a beautifully relatable way. Go get this book now!

I received a review copy of this book from Blogging for Books.

Friday, December 26, 2014

{Blogging for Books} The Pizza Bible

I like pizza. My husband loves pizza so when I saw this cookbook listed on Blogging for Books I had to have it! One of the first instructions is to read through all of the instructions before trying any of the recipes. So, I sat down and read through the introduction titled "Respect the Craft" and then I read through the Master Class section which includes "Gearing Up" "Equipment Checklist" "Tools of the Trade" a shopping list, theory, pro tips, ingredients, a "Go-To flour list" etc. 

Tony Gemignanai is an 11-Time World Pizza Champ and had "Respect the Craft" tattooed on his hands. He might be serious about his pizza. 

I have to admit after reading through everything I was a little intimidated by jumping into any of these recipes but as I gather supplies I am getting more excited. No matter what kind of pizza you like you can probably find a recipe for it in this book. Just don't be intimidated and you will have delicious pizza!

If you love to read you can get books too! I received this book from Blogging for Books for review.

{FFWD} Christmas Cards, Recipes, and Hamsters

For the second year in a row French Fridays with Dorie has had a Christmas card exchange. It is so fun getting cards from all over the world! This year if you wanted to you could include a recipe. I included Cracker Candy and Betsy of A Plateful of Happiness made it this week. My mom gave me the recipe 17 years ago. :) I decided to complete the recipe sent to me by Maria of Box of Stolen Socks from Athens Greece. She sent the recipe for Melomakarona - or Cinnamon and Orange Cookies Dipped in Honey Syrup.  Maria has beautiful photography on her site so you should definitely head over there and check out her posts.

I thought this would be a complicated recipe but it was not as difficult as I thought. I figured out that 1 kg of flour is 8 cups so I halved the recipe. I also got to use one of my favorite Christmas gifts (a digital kitchen scale) to measure out 100 grams of sugar! Of course my tween helped me make these so it was all very exciting!

Christmas was really fun this year. Bobby played guitar at a beautiful candlelight Christmas Eve service and then we looked at Christmas lights. Christmas day was a laid back day filled with family, fun, and reflection on what Christmas means to us. The kids got things they needed and wanted and were very happy with everything. They even got a bow and arrows and a Red Rider BB gun. Those will get plenty of use!

You might notice in the photo below that we have no ornaments on our tree. Since we have a kitten in the house we decided not to put anything breakable out. She likes to climb a lot and we were a little worried she would knock the tree over. We did end the night on a somber note though. Munchkin found our hamster, Peppa Sunshine, had decided it was time to go to hamster heaven. We don't really know what happened. The night before she was climbing all over her cage and doing her regular thing and last night she looked like she may have been burrowing and just died mid burrow. :( We had a little funeral for her in the front yard today. Hopefully that will give our kiddos a little closure on the era of the hamster. I hope your Christmas was lovely. If you celebrate another holiday I hope that one has been lovely as well! :) You must make Maria's Melomakarona right now! These will not last long at our house for sure.

Melomakarona - or Cinnamon and Orange Cookies Dipped in Honey Syrup
By Maria from Box of Stolen Socks

Ingredients for 50-60 Cookies
1 kg flour
2 cups extra virgin olive oil
200 gr sugar
1 cup cognac (or any other type brandy)
2 Tbls baking powder
1 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 Tbls baking soda
zest of 2-3 oranges

For the Syrup
2 cups honey (preferably flower honey)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups water
2 cinnamon sticks
10 cloves
1 big piece of orange peel
1 big piece of lemon peel

For decorating
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1 tsp cinnamon
1 TBls sugar

Preheat oven to 160C/320F

In a large bowl mix the sugar with olive oil, cognac, orange juice, and orange zest. Mix well using a whisk until sugar is completely dissolved.

In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground cinnamon, and ground cloves. Mix well. Gradually add the flour mix to the olive oil mix. Knead softly. The dough has to be soft and oily. If it feels too hard add a little more orange juice or cognac.

Shape the cookies using your hands. The dough should not stick to your hands because of the oil. If it sticks you need to add a little more flour and olive oil. You can make the cookies round, about 5 cm/2 inches in diameter, or give them an oval shape and you can give them a design by pushing the back of a cheese grater onto them.

Lay the cookies on an oiled baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes, depending on your oven. They should be golden but not brown. Leave them to cool on the sheet and start preparing the syrup.

Put a pot on medium heat and add the honey, sugar, and water and let it come to a boil. Add the orange and lemon peel, lower the heat and let it boil for 5-10 minutes. During the boiling foam is going to form on the surface of the syrup. Remove it with a spoon and then add the cinnamon sticks and the cloves.

When the cookie have cooled completely, submerge a handful at a time, into the hot syrup. Leave them in ONLY for a few seconds and remove them. Let the excess syrup drain on a rack and then move them to a plate. Sprinkle with Chopped walnut, sugar and cinnamon mix.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Tis the Season...of sickness

We are free!! School is out for Christmas break which means we are able to turn off the alarm and enjoy each others company! You know...once we are all healthy again. Oh, one of those posts you say. Yep, one of those.

I started a cough right before Thanksgiving. I drank peppermint tea and sucked cough drops. It turned productive and then was almost gone. Then, wouldn't you know it! That darn cough came back with a vengeance and brought along its friends fever and chills. I talked to my mom who said "go to the doctor, you probably have bronchitis and while you are at it make sure to schedule that appointment you are supposed to get when you turn 40"! So I made an appointment and in the meantime asked facebook to diagnose me. I had several guesses for flu, bronchitis and pneumonia. Wouldn't you know it my doctor said I probably had the flu that turned into bronchitis. Moms are always right!

When I exited my appointment I decided to head to the big box store to pick up some essentials. However, as I was pulling into the parking lot I got a call from Little Mans school. He had a tummy ache. I have never been called to pick him up from school for being sick so I knew I needed to go get him. My poor little guy was white as a sheet and almost in tears. I took him with me to pick up my prescription for bronchitis and then brought him home. Poor guy threw up as soon as we walked in the door and slept on and off for the rest of the day. By 8 pm he was feeling great but still running a fever.

I had one of those precious moments with him though when he said "Mommy, will you sing to me while I go to sleep?" So sweet!

We are praying that being out of school for the next couple of weeks gives us all the chance to get healthy and stay healthy! Hopefully the school will be completely sanitized and ready for healthy kids in January,

Here is to a healthy Christmas and New year to you!