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!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

{TWD} Palets de Dames: Lille Style

Woo hoo! Dorie Greenspan's new cookbook "Baking Chez Moi: Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere" is out and this is the first Tuesdays with Dorie recipe from the book! I am hoping I can stick with this and complete the recipes in the book. If you have liked my posts in the past and thought "hey, I would like to do some baking!" Now would be a good time to jump on the bandwagon. You can click that link right up there are go to my amazon affiliate link to purchase it!

The first recipe selected from Baking Chez Moi was Palets de Dames: Lille Style. These little cookies were the perfect little snack. My kiddos snagged a couple of naked cookies while I was frosting the rest and gave a big thumbs up. There was some chill time for these but they were a snap to put together. The frosting had 3 ingredients and was quick to whip up. The cookies baked and cooled quickly. Apparently I have a problem with sprinkles though. I took a dozen of these to a sweet friend who has been letting my son stay with her after school until I can get him. Her daughter said she ate one before school and that they were delicious! I am hoping to share more of the treats I bake from this book. Don't worry, my family will not be like the cobblers children that have no shoes. They will still get plenty of treats but we do want to share.

Make sure to check out Tuesdays with Dorie and the LYL to see how other bakers around the world liked this recipe!

Sunday, November 09, 2014

{Blogging for Books} Eat by Nigel Slater

We have been kind of crazy lately with school, sports, church, substitute teaching, and just living life. That means I have fallen off the cooking and baking wagon completely! In full disclosure....we ate out every night last week except for the night I made something very, very easy. Dorie Greenspan's new book "Baking Chez Moi" just came out so I am about to jump back into Tuesdays with Dorie. In the meantime though I have been looking for easy recipes that I can cook fast for my family.

Enter eat by Nigel Slater:

When I pulled this out of the package the first thing I noticed was the cover of the book. It is paperback but it feels like fabric, is flexible, but it is more solid than paperback. All that to say it felt right in my hands. As I flipped through the pages I noticed the nice photos and the simple recipes. 

Typically I like to have a very organized recipe that includes a list of ingredients but these recipes seem to lend themselves to a little flexibility. 

Today I tried James's Potato Tortilla. The ingredients list included a potato, shallot, egg, and butter. It didn't say what kind of potato so I used red. I didn't have a shallot so I used a small onion. Munchkin was helping me so she seasoned the egg with salt, pepper, rosemary, and garlic powder. The photo of the recipe in the book shows a golden hashbrown type item. Mine turned out gray with egg on the top. It tasted great but was not pretty. :) It was fast though and was  enough to share as a side for all of us. 

In the section of the introduction titled "Recipes" Slater talks about how the recipes are written more as "extended tweets." "The ingredients are listed next to a picture of the finished you can see, at a glance, what you will need."  You do need to read the rest of the recipe for the method. 

I am trying to be more flexible in my cooking and I think this book is exactly what I need for that. Plus, my kiddos can jump in and help out with quick recipes like these.

If you would like to find out more about Nigel Slater you can click here.

Make sure to check out Blogging for Books if you would like to get books and blog about them too! "I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

Sunday, October 26, 2014

{Blogging for Books} How to Survive Sharknado and Other Unnatural Disasters

By now you have probably see the riveting (and by riveting I mean you cannot tear your eyes away for the ridiculousness of the acting, graphics, dialogue, etc... that is happening on the screen) movie Sharknado. If you are a Sharknado aficionado you have probably seen the equally thrilling Sharknado 2: The Second One.

Well, if you have not gotten your fill of Sharks being slaughtered by chainsaws you should check out How to Survive a Sharknado and Other Unnatural Disasters by Andrew Shaffer.
This was a pretty quick read and made me actually laugh out loud in several spots. If you are worried about Sharks flying through the air you will know what to do. If you are worried about Arachnoquakes, Icenadoes, or Elecktrokragens you are in luck. You will find out how to deal with each and every one of these unnatural disasters.

There is a very handy "threat to humanity scale", a "risk of encounter scale", and "Fin Shepard's WTF (Wow, that's freaky) scale".

After some of the thick books I have read this year this was a fun palette cleanser for the next deep read I take on.

One of the best things about Blogging for Books is that I can request a book and as long as I write a review I get the book provided by the company. All opinions are my own. :)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

County Fair

Yesterday we decided to take the kids to the county fair. We were planning on going early but it poured at our house and our kiddos were supposed to be cleaning their rooms so we waited until 2:30 when the rain had passed before we headed out.

We purchased ride tickets, checked out all of the fun displays, picked up some free lemonade provided by a church, and got in line for the bumper cars. I am guessing the ride should have closed right before we go on it because as we stood in line the sky began to darken, the wind picked up, and lightning began to flash. Getting on a metal ride with metal poles sticking up was probably not the brightest idea but I am glad we got on when we did. The picture below I snapped just before we got on the ride. 

 The storm that blew through actually missed the fair completely but lightning in the area caused closure of all of the rides for awhile. A few notes on the fair:

  1. It is as rednecky as you might think in the best way possible (think pig races and lawnmower demolition derby).
  2. My kids will stand and watch an egg hatch for quite awhile.
  3. Spell check may not have been used when making the banner for the place we got our drinks.
  4. Running power cords through giant puddles is totally acceptable (or not removing them from water after rain).
  5. People will debate what kind of lawnmower is being driven in the lawnmower demolition derby.
  6. Everyone goes to the fair!
  7. Ride tickets are expensive.
  8. Food is terribly expensive.
  9. Deep Fried Snickers are delicious and 1 is plenty to share with 3 people.
  10. Abe Lincoln had a long drive home in the rain. 

Bobby and Little Man went on the Ferris Wheel and could see the stands filling up for the demolition derby from the top. Munchkin and I went on Rock and Roll while they were high up in the sky. As a side note, I used to love roller coasters. Even after a bad experience at a fair in California (My friend Nicole and I ended up on The Hammer for 20 minutes just swinging back and forth almost high enough to flip but not quite. That ended in vomit.) I loved roller coasters at amusement parks. Then I had kids and started having motion sickness. So, I went on this ride with Munchkin and once it was over I needed a moment to compose myself so I did not vomit at this fair. Once I was ready we headed off to the demolition derby. My son adored the derby! He thought it was hilarious that the cars were smashing each other! A couple of notes on the derby:
  1. It appears the object was to smash the competitors cars and be the last one still moving.
  2. Some competitors will help out a stalled car by pushing from behind, as futile as it may be.
  3. Some competitors will smash the side of your car to try and get you unhooked from another car.
  4. Demolition Derby is kind of exciting!

Once we were done at the derby we went to spend the rest of our tickets. We had 14 left and the kids wanted to ride Rock and Roll so we headed back to the other side of the fair. Bobby stayed in line with the kids until they got to the steps and I am glad he did. The line was crazy and bunch of people got in line in front of them while they were out of my line of vision. Both kids were so very excited for this ride. Little Man especially as he had not ridden it yet. Munchkin as well since she got to introduce him to it! They got off all smiles. Since we only had 4 tickets left and didn't see any rides that both kids could ride we headed for the gate. We picked a little girl at the ticket booth and gave her our last tickets hoping she could use them. It was late, we were tired, and ready to get home when all of a sudden we say Abe Lincoln in the school house! The kids wanted to see him so we ran in for a moment. Abe lost his allure a bit when he ignored us. I asked for a picture though and he complied. It was the last day of the fair and I am sure he was tired and hot after being in character all day. As we started toward the gate it started to rain, by the time we were in the car it started to pour! I am so glad we got to spend the day hanging out together as a family and were able to get home safely after a long hot day. :)

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

{Nashville Food Bloggers} The Southern

It has been a couple of months since The Southern opened its doors to the Nashville Food Bloggers for a delicious breakfast and obviously I am way behind on blogging. Our family is always looking for a good place to have breakfast and it seems that this restaurant, conveniently located near the Music City Convention Center, would fit the bill.
Not only did they provide us with beautiful fresh fruit, fried chicken, waffles, bacon, and grits they also told us all about how they use sustainable methods in their restaurant.

Some of my favorite Nashville Food Bloggers were also there: Southern Fatty, Nita the Bruncher, and Dinner with Nerds. I got a great breakfast and even better conversation.
Check it out next time you are in town! :)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Photo Challenge Day!

It is the 4th week of summer vacation. The first week we relaxed and wound down from school. We went swimming and to the library. The second and third week Munchkin was at band camp so Little Man and I hung out and played cars, went to the library, read, went to the wave pool with band camp, baked cookies, went to the beach and a spray park, and just enjoyed getting to spend time together. 

This week I have been reading the new Diana Gabaldon book "Written in My Heart's Own Blood" so the kids have been doing a great job of entertaining themselves. Sure, they have had time to watch a little TV and play a few video games but that is pretty limited. They have read, done chalk art on the side walk, done crafts, and have eaten all of the snacks in the house. So today when they asked what they should do I sent them on a photo challenge. They started out in the backyard but then went all around our block to see what kinds of images they could capture. Their challenge consisted of flowers, yard art, and leading lines. These are the top 4 for each kiddo. I think they rose to the challenge! :)

Munchkin's top 4

Little Man's top 4

Now while I post this they are watching Frozen only this time in Spanish.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


This is Critter. He was a stray that adopted our neighbor and has been loved on by everyone in the neighborhood. Critter used to be very skittish around people but because of the love shown by our neighbors he grew to like people. At Christmas he got hit by a car. A trip with the neighbors to the vet showed he was bruised but no worse for wear. Over the last two years he has shown signs of his age in his vision, hearing, and bladder function. A family walked by one day and asked if he was OK because of the way he was walking. Everyone on the block knows Critter, loves him, and knows to just pick him up and move him to the yard if he is out in the street. Today, Critter is going to the vet and will not be coming home.

We talked to the kids yesterday about Critter. Munchkin (my tenderhearted girl) immediately started to tear up. She went out to go see him and to take some pictures of him. The big picture up there is hers (the small one is from two years ago). Little Man (also tenderhearted) took a little while longer to process but then sobbed at bedtime. Both kids have loved Critter and having him on our street. He will be missed. :(

Friday, June 06, 2014

Summer Reading: My Top 5

Are you a reader? Are you always looking for the next great book to read? Well, I have some suggestions for you!

1. First and foremost, Diana Gabaldon's "Written in My Heart's Own Blood" comes out in just 4 days! My mother started reading this series 20 years ago. I started reading them 2 years ago.  This is book 8 in the series and promises to be as epic as the first 7 books! Start with Outlander and you will be hooked, you will want to travel to Scotland, and you will want to order Starz so you can see the TV show that is 20 years in the making!!

2. Game of Thrones
Right now I am at the beginning of book 4 in this series. If you have seen the show but haven't read the books I highly suggest reading! Everyone was shocked by the Red Wedding episode (which I haven't seen yet) but now I know all about it from book 3. This one might take a bit to get into because there are so many intricate details and characters but it is definitely worth the read!

3. The Book of Secrets by Elizabeth Joy Arnold
When I read this book back in March I posted this on Facebook:
I just finished reading a complicated yet engaging book called The Book of Secrets by Elizabeth Joy Arnold. A few sentences that resonated with me "We think we know our friends, our lovers, but really all we know is pieces of them. Fragments we learn by watching, sharing time and place, listening to their stories; over the years there are more and more of those fragments and we can draw lines between them, fill them with what we imagine is truth. But of course we can only know what they show us; lines we think jig here may actually curl somewhere else altogether. The lines we draw aren't always real, and often have more to do with our own selves".

It lead to an in depth discussion on human interaction. I love it when I book resonates with life!

4. Let them Be Eaten by Bears by Peter Brown Hoffmeister
I actually read this book last year and wrote an entire post about it in September.  This book was named one of Parents Magazine top 5 books of 2013. If you are feeling stuck inside get this and read it and get you and your kids outside!

5. The Fault in Our Stars
You will cry...that is all.

What is on your reading list this summer? I am planning on finishing up the Game of Thrones series and spending time in the world of Outlander. Both Diana Gabaldon and George R.R. Martin are gifted at detail. Since I am posting more recipes and restaurant "stuff" these days you may want to check out My Outlander Kitchen and Inn at the Crossroads. These blogs are inspired by the dishes described in each of these epic series.  I hope you will get a chance to read and maybe cook a little too!

*links are affiliate links. If clicked on and ordered from I receive a small portion of the profit.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Medieval Feast

My kiddos wrapped up their standardized testing and I wondered what they were going to do for the rest of the school year. They were working on IXL math and completing Reading Plus but I wondered what they would actually get credit on. At Munchkin's school they had a Medieval Feast after a couple of weeks of researching medieval times. Each of the kids was assigned a role. There was a king and queen for each class along with lords and ladies, peasants and serfs. Munchkin was assigned the role of serf so she did several journal entries from the perspective of her character, put together a cookbook of medieval recipes, drew a stained glass window, and created a shield. The kids were all supposed to dress up as their character and bring a period dish to share. There was quite a spread even though many students did not tell their parents until the last minute. The teachers did send home a list of items that could easily be picked up at the grocery store.

Munchkin really wanted me to make pynade but I didn't have the ingredients on hand so I made "rustic" apple tarts instead. My tarts are in the top left corner. I had fillo dough in the freezer, diced some apples and tossed them in a brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, and cardamom mixture, and filled the tarts. Some did not make it to school because they stuck in the pan. That was OK though because they were tasty! Other parents sent the strawberries, apple fritters, and apple empenadas. There was so much food all of the 6th graders, teachers, and helpers were able to go through the line twice! There was chicken and ham, cornbread, other loaves of bread, a couple of soups, rice, and plenty of desserts. It was fun and the kids learned a lot about what it was like to live in medieval times.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Strawberry S'mores

 It is summer break and that means cookouts and downtime for us! Both kids had a good school year and wrapped up with plenty of busy-ness. Summer for us also means tasty snacks. What better snack than S'mores? How about S'mores with strawberries? Try it! You'll like it! :)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Did You Miss Me?

So...I just checked when I last wrote was and discovered it was 2 months ago! What a slacker! However, I looked back through my instagram feed and discovered that there is a reason I have been a blog slacker! Since the end of March we have been to The Green Dragon in Murfreesboro, The Ugly Pie in Gallatin, The Blushing Berry in Nolensville, JT Hannah's Kitchen, Johnny Carino's, and Big Daddy's Pizzeria in Pigeon Forge, and Toot's in Murfreesboro. We have been eat, sleep, and breathing softball and flag football. I taught several classes, Munchkin earned a Superior at Solo and Ensemble Fest. We went on a field trip to Beech Bend in Bowling Green where one of our charter buses lost a tire. My sweet friend Sara took me with her to see Wicked at TPAC. We did the Broadway Bounce downtown (you know me, if it is free we are there!). Bobby and I went and had a shooting lesson at the Nashville Armory. I did a 4 week Bible Study with my friends Laura and Melanie. Our little family spent Easter in Gatlinburg. We stayed at the Sidney James Mountain Lodge. It was dated but has a great pool and was fairly cheap. We hiked to Abram Falls in Cades Cove, we hunted Easter eggs at Patriot Park, we ate, we slept, and we went to the sunrise Easter service at Ober Gatlinburg.

It has been a crazy busy couple of months. I am looking forward to summer break though and the lack of busyness. No alarms, freedom to cook without stressing about our schedule, and time with my kiddos, hubby, and friends, here we come!!

Friday, March 28, 2014

{FFWD} Vegetable Barley Soup with a Taste of India

 Wow, wow, wow!! When your hubs walks in the door and says that dinner smells great and brings in a loaf of crusty french bread you know dinner is going to be liked! I added chicken to my soup and used a bit less broth than was called for because we like our soups a little more like stew.

This is the first time I have used turmeric and garam masala for cooking and they will definitely make a repeat performance in my kitchen. I have also never cooked barley before and that was a nice surprise in this dish as well! Every one liked this and we have leftovers for lunch today!

Check out French Fridays with Dorie to see how other cooks around the world liked this soup.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

{Spam and Anchovies} Irish Night and Pi Day

Photo Credit Vanessa Adams and her amazing self timer! :)

I love getting together with these ladies! We have such interesting and hilarious discussions every month because we are so varied on our ideas about many things. I somehow managed to not take my camera out of my purse and took some lovely photos of our Irish dishes with my phone. Vanessa posted much better than I about that night so check her post out here. She didn't include her food pics but you get mine instead....yeah..there you go. :)

My simple Apple Tart turned out...rustic. And of course had to have green sprinkles for Irish night. It was tasty if not pretty.
Green mason jars, cheesecake bars, salad, Irish Soda Bread, Sausage pastries, and Dublin Coddle. Yum! That is all.

On another note it was also Pi day so I made this pie to leave at home for my family to eat while I was out with the girls. :)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

{FFWD} Apple and Candied Bacon Tartine

I know, it is Sunday and I am running late on posting but my recipe today is really "inspired" by Friday's French Fridays with Dorie Recipe. The recipe that my fellow Doristas made was Scallop and Onion Tartines. Since none of eat scallops in my house and I was making them on a day when I had a kiddo with severe fish and shellfish allergies over I changed everything. I cut the puff pastry into squares instead of circles and baked them according to the recipe (with a second baking sheet on top so they didn't puff). I made some candied bacon and chopped it up, sliced an apple, and sprinkled on some mini chocolate chips. This was a pretty tasty little breakfast for my kiddos and their friends that spent the night. I think next time I would toss the apples in cinnamon sugar and bake them just a bit longer but it was pretty good for a first attempt. :)

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Goodbye to Our Picture Tree

 When you enter a grove peopled with ancient trees, higher than
                                        the ordinary, and shutting out the sky with their thickly inter-twined
                                        branches, do not the stately shadows of the wood, the stillness of
                                        the place, and the awful gloom of this doomed cavern then strike
                                                             you with the presence of a deity?
                                                                                  ~ Seneca ~

When we moved into our house 12 years ago we had two silver maple trees. About 6 years into our adventure one of the trees started to have some problems and our neighbor removed the tree for us. about 5 years later we lost a huge limb from our second tree that landed on my car. A couple of years ago we lost another limb so large that Bobby couldn't lift it. The last round of storms that came through gave us enough damage that we got a new roof and I have a broken tail light and several new dents in my car due to the limbs and sticks falling from the tree. This silver maple is humongous! For the last few years I have been worried about this tree. It only goes about 10 feet before the first split so every time we had a storm we would move kids to the back of the house away from the possibility of being crushed by limbs.One of the limbs hung over the house so if the tree split it would destroy our house. Our neighbor is an arborist and really would rather maintain trees than take them out. I am with him all the way but it was time for the tree to come down.

I think I may have an unhealthy attachment to the tree that I passed on to my darling daughter. We both cried when the tree guys came to take the tree out. Once it started to come down though she and I both started to feel better about it but I (a week later) am still sad about it. But, I am also relieved. I don't have to worry about it splitting and falling in my house or limbs falling on my neighbors house or car. I don't have to be worried during storms. And, my neighbors no longer need to clean bird poo off their car every day. My other neighbors don't have to worry about moving their cars far away during storms either. Now we get to think about what to plant there in the near future!

4000 pound trunk on a flatbed truck.

The tree guys (Arbor Arts) came after another job so they ended up staying until after dark. They came the next day to clean up and grind out the stump. Before they came though we read The Giving Tree and took some jumping off the stump pics. We have had several comments from neighbors about how nice it looks and how open everything is without the tree. I know we will miss the shade in the summer but not the worry. This is the tree we have taken pictures in front of every year since Kindergarten so that is another reason we are sad to see it go. Goodbye old tree, we will miss you!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

{Nashville Food Bloggers} Tennessee Flavors

Braised Short Ribs from Music City Center, Strawberries with Goat Cheese and Candied Walnut from Second Harvest Food Bank, and Display by the Culinary School.
 Last Thursday was the 3rd annual Tennessee Flavors event at Nashville State Community College. The proceeds went to benefit the School of Culinary Arts at NSCC and the Nashville State Foundation. Over 70 vendors from Tennessee provided samples for everyone to try. My friend Melissa came with me and we made our leisurely (if cramped) way around the two rooms that were filled with vendors. I actually won tickets through the Nashville Food Bloggers to attend the event. Corbin in the Dell and Beth Sachan helped create a community presence for this event this year and were able to give away some tickets to Nashville Food Bloggers. To enter I needed to leave a link to one of the companies or products I had blogged about in the past. This post from Arrington was the one I posted. I was one of the lucky ones that was selected for tickets!
Nola Granola, Grilled Crostini, Culinary Students with Popcorn Sutton, Mista Dale with his Mustard Slaw
Melissa and I started out with popcorn and moved on to Panna Cotta with Blood Orange cream from Etch. We had hot dogs with Mustard Slaw from Mista Dale's (and got to meet the man himself), and ginger cookies from Provence. Ruth's Chris has a sweet potato dessert and there were braised short ribs from the Music City Center.
There was seafood, and meats, fritters, and desserts. And apparently, Tennessee is home to a lot of wine, whiskey, and moonshine! We ended with a quick trip back to the Culinary School table and ended with a George Dickel Tiramisu.
Bravo Gelato, Bacon and Cheddar Grit Fritters, Meats from Gray's on Main
This was a fun event and I am so glad I got to experience new Tennessee restaurants and organizations that I didn't know about before. I am also glad this event raised money for the school! I challenge you to check this out when it comes around next year! :)

Monday, March 17, 2014

{FFWD} Sausage Stuffed Cornish Hens

Yes, yes I know it is Monday, not Friday but I didn't manage to get these tiny birds stuffed and baked until last night. I browned the sausage with some onions and garlic and saved three quarters of it for my St Patty's Day Shepherds Pie that I am making tonight. The skin on the birds was rubbed with butter and olive oil and sprinkled with salt, pepper, and rosemary. I also slit the skin and stuffed in more butter...because who doesn't love butter? I also chopped up a butternut squash to roast along with the hens. When I turned the hens I stirred the squash. Once the tiny birds were roasted I but them on a plate with their legs in the air to rest for a few minutes and then attempted to get the stuffing out of the birds...It didn't work out as well as one would hope. That didn't matter though. :) This recipe was a win for my whole fam! Everyone liked it and said "tastes like chicken"!

This was an interesting recipe to try with my family because I have only recently cooked chicken with bones. My son picked this right up and ate it with his hands and picked the bones clean. For a kid that in the past would not touch a drumstick that was pretty fun to watch. This was quick to put together and a delicious addition to the recipe stash.

May sure to check out Around My French Table for the recipe and the LYL on the French Fridays with Dorie page to see how others liked this recipe. Next Friday: Scallop and Onion Tartines.

Friday, March 07, 2014

{FFWD} Faux Tartines from La Croix Rouge

....and Garbure from the Supermarket.

Do you ever have one of those days when you look at a recipe and think "that could be good!" and then you show it to family members and they all get "that" look on their face? Two Tartines from La Croix Rouge was one of those recipes. An extremely simple recipe that called for crusty bread, thinly sliced salmon, rare roast beef, capers, mayo, gherkins, and lemon slices turned into one where I asked myself "how can I get my family to eat this"? The answer was simple! Make it out of angel food cake and candy! The roast beef is a watermelon belt dipped in Hershey's syrup. The mayo is marshmallow fluff. Salmon is chewy grapefruit slices that, had I had time, could have been softened and stretched to look a bit more like sliced salmon. And the capers are watermelon Jelly Belly's. You can bet I had no resistance when this was offered to my family! Bonus: we have angel food cake left over for dessert tonight! ;)
The Garbure from the Supermarket was last week's recipe and called for beans that has been soaked, boiled, and left to sit for an hour. Plenty of veggies were added to the mix along with ham bone. If you wanted to add a duck leg and garlic sausage later you could do that in the last hour of cooking. My girl loved this and went back for seconds...any maybe thirds. My husband thought it had good flavor as did I. My son was not a fan. I have said before that he has some sensory issues. The texture was a little mushy after all of the cooking so it was difficult for him to eat. He also has an appliance on the top of his mouth which catches food like this as well. He was a trooper though and ate as much as he could. 

You  might notice there is only one half of the bread stick left in the photo below. My "helper" was not terribly sneaky and stole it right off the plate while I was taking the pictures!
Overall, these were two successful recipes over the last couple of weeks. Obviously the dog thought so too. Make sure to check out Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan for the recipe. You can also check out the LYL to see how other cooks around the world liked this this week! Enjoy! :)

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Basketball Oreo Truffles

If you have not made Oreo truffle before go right now and pick up a package of oreos (pick your favorite flavor) and an eight ounce block of cream cheese...go ahead..I'll wait. :) Got them? Good! Now pull out your food processor and crush the entire bag of cookies...well all except one, you need one to eat out of the package of course! Now, cut the block of cream cheese into chunks and drop them into the machine. If your food processor is anything like mine I have to MacGyver it with a tiny knife to get it to spin. Process or pulse the machine until the dough comes together. To make the dough easy to roll refrigerate for about 30 minutes and then roll the dough into one inch balls. My batch made about 24 but I made them kind of big. Once your truffles are rolled stick them back in the fridge while you melt the chocolate  or almond bark. DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT add food coloring to white chocolate chips while you are trying to melt them. It will destroy the white chocolate chips and make it impossible to dip the truffles. Believe me, I went through two bags of chips, finally gave up and ran to the store for almond bark. I am not a fan of almond bark unless it is on popcorn at Thanksgiving or Christmas but I needed something that would work for this. I melted the bark  and THEN added the food coloring but didn't quite get the basketball orange I was looking for. I had Munchkin melt some chocolate chips and help me decorate the basketballs.

Now, you might be asking "Why basketballs?" Well, it was the end of the basketball season celebration and my hubs "Coach Bobby" volunteered us to take dessert. This is something that is easy and fairly quick to make, and it is always a crowd pleaser. My son's basketball team was not terribly interested in these...many of them chose the store bought cookies instead..Eh, 9 year olds... My daughter's team, on the other hand, devoured the entire batch. Her coach and several other parents asked for the recipe.

1 package Oreos (your choice of flavors, we just picked up lemon..mmm a dark chocolate coating would be delicious with these!)
1 8 oz package cream cheese
1 package almond bark or other chocolate chips for dipping.

This basketball season was a lot of fun for our kiddos. My hubster coached and liked it but it was a little stressful. Introvert + eight 2nd-4th graders = stress. He handled it really well though and the kids learned a lot about basketball from him. I know our kiddo was thrilled to have him as his coach. Little Man even made 2 goals in the last game of the season. Munchkin enjoyed the team aspect this year and is ready to jump into softball next.

Make these Oreo Truffles right now! You will not be sorry. :)

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

{Nashville Food Bloggers} The Row

The other day I was lucky enough to get to go to my second ever Nashville Food Blogger Event at The Row. They invited us to check out their new breakfast menu and taste all kinds of delicious treats. Someone commented on a photo I posted on Instagram that it looked more like dessert than breakfast. That was before the yogurt with fruit and Le Country Boy Bennie were brought out. Overheard "they are food bloggers". That statement was made after the pancakes, beignets, and waffles were brought out and no one touched the food except to get better light for their photos. Once we were done shooting and posting our photos we were all ready to dig in. We divided the dishes and took them back to our tables to sample.
One of my favorite dishes from the morning was the Eggs Benedict. I went on a cruise a few years ago and discovered that I liked hollandaise and slightly runny yolks in that particular dish at that time. The eggs in this dish are cooked using the Sous Vide technique. I heard about this at the IFBC conference back in September but hadn't had a chance to sample anything using that technique before. The eggs were cooked just the way I like them.

If you like beignets you must try their biscuit beignets. If you like nothing else you will love these! I don't know why you wouldn't love everything else though as it was all delicious. Another carb loaded option is the buttery biscuits with housemade tomato, strawberry, or blackberry jam. There was plenty of sweet on the menu but you could also go with the vegetarian omelet if you wanted something a little healthier. If you are a coffee drinker, they will even bring a press to your table with one of four coffee options.
One of my favorite parts of this event (aside from the food of course) was meeting some of the other Nashville Food Bloggers. The bloggers at my table were Maddie of Maddielite, Phillip from Southern Fatty, and Thallen of Thallen B. Living. All of them were friendly and engaging and I hope to see each them at future events!

If you are looking for someplace to eat breakfast in Nashville ( I know we always are) I highly suggest you check out The Row. It is on Lyle Ave within walking distance of Vanderbilt.
The Row Kitchen & Pub on Urbanspoon