Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year to everyone! I hope you all have a safe, wonderful evening with lots of great food and fun. See you next year! (I love saying that)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas from our house to yours!!!



Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cinnamon Palmiers

My feet are killing me! I've been baking up a storm the last three days and I'm quickly running out of room to store my cookies. But of all the cookies I made in the last three days, I think Cinnamon Palmiers are the easiest and the most impressive. I love how they turned out, so pretty and elegant. I made the first batch to give to my daughter for her French class party at school and the second batch is for us. They taste light and sweet. Besides Christmas, I imagine these cookies would be great for company, a party or just a special snack with tea. Palmiers is French for palm leaves, just in case you love French like I do!

Cinnamon Palmiers

2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
1 cup sugar
3 1/2 tsps. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

In a small bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.

Roll out one pastry sheet on a floured surface, until roughly 12 by 16 inches in size. Spread half the sugar mixture over the surface, covering as much as possible. Fold the pastry's two long sides so they go halfway to the middle. Fold the sides again, so they meet exactly in the middle, then fold again, as if you are closing a book. Cover a cookie sheet with wax paper and place the pastry on top. Then cover the pastry itself with wax paper and refrigerate for 45 minutes. Repeat steps with second pastry.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using a serrated knife, cut pastry rolls into 1/4 inch thick slices and lay each slice, cut side down and 2 inches apart, onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for about 10 minutes. Turn cookies over and let bake another 5 minutes (I skipped this step and mine turned out fine). Let cool.


"Bouillabaisse is only good because cooked by the French, who, if they cared to try, could produce an excellent and nutritious substitute out of cigar stumps and empty matchboxes.
"
-Norman Douglas, British novelist (1868-1952)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Easy Chocolate Truffles


I find it kind of funny that though I've made very fancy truffles with rich cream, special dark chocolate and expensive coatings, these truffles, with cream cheese and regular chocolate, are some of my family's favorites. I love making them because not only are they so good, they are so easy. So much so that I keep wondering how I'm getting away with this!

Easy Chocolate Truffles

1 (8 oz) package of cream cheese, softened
3 cups of powdered sugar
12 ounces of semi sweet chocolate, melted
1 1/2 tsps. of vanilla
Ground walnuts, unsweetened cocoa, and flaked coconut

Beat cream cheese until smooth then gradually add sugar, beating until well blended. Add the melted chocolate and vanilla and mix well. Refrigerate about 1 hour. Shape into 1 inch balls. Roll into walnuts, cocoa or coconut. Store in refrigerator.
Adapted from Baker's Holiday Desserts

"Whosoever says truffle, utters a grand word, which awakens erotic and gastronomic ideas...."
-Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826)
preface to The Physiology of Taste (1825)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Muddled Brain

I usually do a Thursday Thirteen today, but I haven't had any time to even think of an idea, let alone write it out. With Christmas coming, I'm trying to bake everyday, just a little, to get ahead. We are also considering a move to another community because of problems with our kids' schools (that is a story for a future post!) and problems with our adoption agency (also a story for another post).

So needless to say, I'm very glad I got to my list of cookies and treats for last TT because I couldn't have done it this week. I hope I will have more recipes to post before the holidays when things settle down a bit in the next few days. Goodness knows, I am baking enough to at least have some to share!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Hot Chocolate Mix


Ok, that is a bad picture! But it's not mine, so I'm making do. I wanted everyone to get the idea of what I was talking about when I post this recipe for hot chocolate mix. I made these gifts over the weekend for my kid's teachers and bus drivers. I can't afford the gift cards most people buy, so I usually make something. Last year it was cookies, this year hot chocolate mix. I'll include a small bag of marshmallows and a candy cane. Tie with a pretty Christmas ribbon and put into Christmas paper bags and all are done and ready to give away!

Hot Chocolate Mix

2 (9.6 ounce) boxes of instant nonfat dry milk powder
1 (16 ounce) container of Nesquik powder
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup powdered non dairy coffee creamer
2 tsps. instant coffee granules
Mini marshmallows

In a large bowl, combine dry milk powder, Nesquik powder, confectioners' sugar, nondairy creamer, and coffee granules. Spoon 1 cup of mix into each of 11 (1 pint) clear plastic bags. Top with marshmallows or include separately in a small baggie. Add a candy cane and ribbon.

To serve, spoon 1/4 cup mix into 1 cup hot milk or water and stir well.

Adapted from Cooking with Paula Deen

"And above all... Think Chocolate!"
-Betty Crocker

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thursday Thirteen- Happy 13th Birthday To My Baby Girl!

Being that it is Thursday Thirteen and my oldest daughter's birthday, I thought I'd combine the two and come up with thirteen things my daughter is going to do to celebrate:

1. Called off school- Yep, I let her miss school. She is only 13 once, plus she can't celebrate tonight because my middle daughter has her first band concert and we can't miss that.

2. Let her sleep late- while I was at the gym today, she slept as long as she liked. It's funny because as a baby, she did not sleep through the night for a year and a half. Now I can't get her out of bed!

3. We went shopping!- She wanted to go out and have fun looking around. That usually means hitting Mom up for some special items (Oh, Mom, please??!!) but that is ok. We went to Target, Joann's, Bed Bath & Beyond, and a few other places.

4. Bought her gifts- When there is a secret code to buying a teenager a gift, it's better left to them picking it themselves! If I don't want to get a gift certificate, that is the best bet. I bought her an Avitar shirt, some personal items, and a Soda Pop Science kit.

5. Went out to lunch- She wanted to go to Cracker Barrel, which works for me since it's one of my favorite restaurants! Her favorite meal is the Chicken and Dumplins with three sides. Her eyes were bigger than her tummy though and we took home a doggie bag.

6. Bought a cake- She couldn't decide between a cheesecake or a regular cake. Since she wasn't sure she likes cheesecake and it costs $18, we went with the regular cake. We bought it at Sam's Club where everything is supersized, including the cakes! Chocolate Fudge, yum!

7. Make a special dinner- Since we are going out tomorrow night, I asked her what she wanted me to make tonight at home. She chose steak, mashed potatoes and green beans. The girl sounds just like her dad!

8. Going out to eat, again- Tomorrow night, my husband and I are treating her to a special night out at the Hyeholde. If you remember me talking about this restaurant before, it's very upscale and expensive, like the food is so fancy you don't feel right eating it. It's her chance to be introduced to something grown up.

9. Letting her dress up in Mom's clothes- My daughter, believe it or not, is almost my height and weight. Very scary. Since I have a few dresses I keep for my Hyeholde visits each year, she begged me to let her wear one. So we'll get her all dolled up like a grown up.

10. Having a party on Saturday- Along with today's celebration and tomorrow's dinner, the girl is getting a party on Saturday. She is having a few friends and we are all going ice skating.

11. More cake- I bought cupcakes for Saturday. I realize I should make them, especially since I love to bake, but I'm too darn tired!

12. Pizza and ice cream- Saturday's menu!

13. Recovery- This may not be a planned part of her birthday, but I'm determined to fit in some time to chill!

So Happy Birthday to the sweetest, smartest and most beautiful 13 year old in the world. May all your dreams come true except one, so you always have something to strive for. I love you, baby girl.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake

Although I'm not a fan of Martha Stewart (everything she does looks so darn complicated!), I needed a quick recipe for some pumpkin I had to use up and she had a scrumpious sounding one. Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake sounded so good to me and perfect for the holidays. I ended up being able to make a regular bundt sized cake out of this, for my hubby to share at work, and I had enough batter left over to make a small cake for us. It was absolutely delicious!

Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake

4 cups cake flour (not self-rising), plus more for dusting
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
2 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk (I used a cup of milk, minus 2 tblsp, then added 2 tblsp of vinegar. Let sit a few minutes until thickened)
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin puree
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 14-cup Bundt pan with cooking spray. Dust with flour, and tap out excess.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Set aside.

Beat butter and brown sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer, on medium speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl. Reduce speed to low. Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk. Beat until just combined. Add pumpkin puree, and beat until combined. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake cake until golden and a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Carefully turn cake onto rack too cool completely. Before serving, dust with confectioners' sugar.

From The Martha Stewart Show, November 2007
"As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists"
-Joan Gussow

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thursday Thirteen- What I'd Like To Make For Chirstmas

Some of the sweets on my list for Christmas this year:

1. Peppermint Meltaways- this is a new recipe I found and I've been waiting for Christmas to try them out. If they turn out, I'll post the recipe.

2. Candy Cane Swirl Cheesecake- Also new, it looks too good to not try! But I have to find Hershey's Kisses Candy Cane Mint candies, so this may not be a go. Hopefully, Walmart has them :)

3. Chocolate Peppermints- I made these last year, and they were very popular. So easy to make, it's a good thing to add to my cookie trays for gifts cause they taste like peppermint patties and almost everyone loves those.

4. Easter Eggs or Buckeyes- this is a classic recipe that I make every year. But it looks so good on a tray and my eldest daughter loves them.

5. M&M Shortbread Cookies- I tried this for the first time last year, and my goodness they went quick! I think it was the shortbread that did it. Plus they are just so darn colorful they stand out.

6. Kueffels- I have no idea how to spell this because everyone has a different spelling for them. They are one of the few filled, rolled cookies I make but for all the trouble they are, they taste wonderful!

7. Snickerdoodles- These cookies taste like eggnog to me and I can't stop eating them!

8. Rum Truffles- for the fancy pants part of me! Gotta have something chocolate, creamy and delectable.

9. Gingerbread Cookies- After years of looking, I finally found a good recipe for these cookies. My kids love decorating (and eating!) them every year. It's their contribution to all the crazy baking that goes on in this house for Christmas.

10. Chocolate Bark- Because it's so addicting I usually make it then quickly give it away as gifts before I eat it all!

11. Magic Meltaways- The peanut butter in the middle really makes this cookie irresistable.

12. Heath Bars- Saltine crackers, toffee, and chocoalte. What's not to like?

13. Secret Kiss Cookies- my one recipe that will remain a family secret. There are probably dozens of recipes for them, but this one was from Virginia and I'll make it every year till I can't no more!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Show Yourself Already!



Not the greatest of pictures, but it's the only recent one I could find!

I've always felt bad about not sharing more about me on my blog. I've wanted to, but I felt to scared to do it because I have had a stalker for over 20 years. My husband's ex-girlfriend. Without getting into all the juvenille carrying on that went on back then till now, I'll just say that she latched on to me after the breakup and never let go. It got weird, scary and quite unnerving at times. I felt the need to cover up my tracks and remain as anonymous as possible on the internet so I kept my personal information and photo off any sites, including my blog.

Because I've kept a low profile and hid as much as possible, I find myself stalker free for the past few months (at least to my knowledge!). It has made me re-think things and feel a bit more safer. And since I know quite a bit more about all my blog friends than you all know about me, it's only fair that I share a bit more. Though I'm not comfortable enough yet to give details, I will say my first name is Mary Ann. At least you all won't have to address me as "Sweet" all the time, though I do like that a lot!

So, I hope this helps you all get a better picture of who you are talking to when you stop by to say hello!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Adios Cancer!


Well, my basal cell skin cancer surgery is over. Finally. I went this afternoon and got it done. The doc cauterized and scraped out the cancer. I thought she would have cut it out and stitched it, but I guess that is not how they do this kind of surgery. The doc says it will heal up to a pink scar then eventually turn white. Good riddance!
I want to thank everybody for their prayers. It meant the world to me that everyone cared, prayed and thought of me. I found out that skin cancer of this type is not that big of a deal, but the fact that people were willing to get behind me and support me anyway was a terrific feeling!
Now I hope to get back to some baking!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!


I hope everyone has a wonderful day full of food, family and fun!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Another thing going onto our Thanksgiving table this year is a chocolate pecan pie. I made this for the first time last year and could not believe how easy and how good it is. It comes from the Food Network and was on a Kentucky Derby episode of Cooking Live. I've never heard of this show, but they sure did make some good pie! The photo above is not mine, but I dislike making something I've never seen before so I posted a picture I found that looks close to mine. Enjoy!

Chocolate Pecan Pie

4 oz. of semi sweet chocolate (can use chips)
2 tablespoons butter
3 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup light or dark corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups pecan halves (you can use walnuts)
1 pie crust, 9 inch, homemade or frozen (thawed)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a double boiler (or a bowl over a small amount of boiling water), melt the chocolate and butter. Let cool slightly.
In a separate bowl, beat eggs. Add sugar, corn syrup, and vanilla. Slowly add the chocolate mixture, mixing as you go. Mix in pecans.

Set pie shell on a heavy duty baking sheet and pour in filling. Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Cool on wire rack. Top with whipped cream.


"What we're really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets. I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving"
-Erma Bombeck

Monday, November 23, 2009

Colonial Williamsburg Spoonbread

In this Thanksgiving week, I wanted to post a recipe I would be making for the meal on Thursday. Although this is not my photo above, the picture is pretty close to how my spoonbread turns out. I love topping mine with a bit of honey.
The recipe I use is from Christiana Campbell's Tavern in Colonial Williamsburg. If you ever get a chance to eat there or in any of the taverns in the Colonial area, it's wonderful!

Colonial Williamsburg Spoonbread

1 1/2 cups cornmeal
3 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
4 eggs, beaten well
1 tablespoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.


In the bowl, combine the cornmeal, salt, and sugar. With an electric mixer on medium to low speed, add the boiling water and butter and mix for about 5 minutes.
Add the milk and beaten eggs and mix for another 5 minutes. Allow mixture to cool for about 5 minutes.
Turn the mixer on low and add the baking powder and mix until well incorporated.
Pour mixture into a buttered skillet or 2-quart casserole and bake for 30 to 45 minute an the center has set.


Serves about 6 to 8.

"Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude."
-E.P. Powell

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thursday Thirteen- Things I Want To Make For Thanksgiving

It's almost here! I can't believe Thanksgiving is this time next week. I swear I could get whiplash for as fast as time goes anymore. Since we are hosting dinner this year, I've been thinking of what to have for our meal. Not only do I love making this list, I feel so blessed to be able to make it.

1. A really big Turkey- we were able to score a 20 pound Honeysuckle turkey this year at Walmart for 60 cents a pound. Lots left over for turkey sandwiches and soup!

2. Cranberry sauce- the canned kind. I don't like whole cranberries in my cranberry sauce so I just buy it instead of making it. Good to layer on those turkey sandwiches.

3. Grandma's Stuffing - my husband's grandmother used to make this wonderful stuffing with lots of butter, cubed French bread, celery, and ground pork. Since she didn't leave a recipe when she passed on, he tries every year to get it just right. Each year, the stuffing is a bit more delicious.

4. Mashed potatoes- I usually leave this up to my husband to make. He creates the most creamy, tasty mashed potatoes.

5. Sweet potato casserole- this is more my department. I bake, mash and top this dish with everything rich and sweet! Lots of cream and lots of sugar. Yum!

6. Green Beans- this is usually my mother in law's contribution. She likes making them with fresh beans and seasoned with bacon.

7. Drinks- doesn't sound exciting but I like getting sparkling grape juice for the kids (they feel so grown up!), and making punch along with our usual sweet tea and soda selections.

8. Biscuits- homemade buttermilk biscuits go so well with everything on the table!

9. Spoon bread- I think it adds a colonial feeling to Thanksgiving.

10. Relish tray- pretty obvious, but I miss it if it's not there on the table.

11. Sweet potato pie- I have an old recipe I use that is framed on the wall of my kitchen. That way, I never lose it!

12. Pecan Pie- Of course! Some years it's just regular pecan pie and some years I change it. Last year it was chocolate!

13. Pumpkin pie- It wouldn't be Thanksgiving without it!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Snowbird Trail Bars


This past Saturday, I could not get rid of my craving for something chocolate. I looked through almost every recipe I have and nothing seemed to pop out. But when I looked through my Best of the Best from North Carolina cookbook, these bars looked like they would hit the spot. The recipe says they are popular with hikers in the North Carolina mountains. The bars are dense and packed with ingredients to give you energy. I altered the ingredients some to make them to my liking, but anyway you chose to make them, they are good!

Snowbird Trail Bars

1 cup butter (I used Smart Balance butter sticks)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cups quick cooking rolled oats
1 bag chocolate chunks or semi sweet morsels
1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped
1/2 cup coconut (optional)

Cream the butter and sugars together. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Sift the flour and baking soda together and add to the butter mixture. Mix well. Stir in the oats, chocolate chips, nuts and coconut. Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan and press the cookie mixture down into the pan, spreading until even.

Bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool and cut into bars.


"Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, November 9, 2009

Soft Pumpkin Cookies

Have you ever cut a recipe out and swore you were going to make it that week, only to forget? For a couple of years? I did that with this recipe. I originally found it on a Libby's pumpkin can about 2 years ago. Going through my clipped recipes last week, I found it. Perfect timing! Soft, sweet and slightly spicy these cookies remind me of a pumpkin pie, only in cookie form. My daughter and I made these on Saturday and they are already gone!

Soft Pumpkin Cookies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup solid pack pumpkin
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
Powdered Sugar Glaze

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add pumpkin, egg, and vanilla. Beat until light and creamy. Add dry ingredients and mix until moist. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto a pan sprayed with cooking spray. Smooth the tops of the cookies.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on wire racks. Top with glaze.

Glaze:

2 cups sifted powered sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tablespoon butter, melted

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix well. Add food coloring as desired or leave as is. Ice cookies.

"Men are like pumpkins. It seems like all the good ones are either taken or they've had everything scraped out of their heads with a spoon."
-unknown

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thursday Thirteen- The Good And Bad Of Being A Therapist

Being a therapist is an interesting profession. I've had good experiences, bad experiences and some truly amazing things happen to me as a result of what I do for a living. Here are some things that are common for a therapist to deal with:

1. Helping people- ok, this is a very general statement. But it is rewarding to go to work knowing that someone, somewhere could benefit and change based on something you say to them. You feel like you can make a difference in the world, even if it's small. And the people that come to you and say you've really helped them, there is just no feeling like that in the world.

2. Co-workers- I've worked with some pretty terrific people who I could talk to about anything and were just fun to be with and I've also worked with people that I was sure should be in a institution somewhere. People become therapists for very different reasons, and not all of them good.

3. Having a private practice is hard- while I was in school, I dreamed of having my own thriving practice. When I finally did have my own practice, I found out it's more about filling out paperwork and advertising for clients than it is helping anyone.

4. The pay sucks- I was quite unprepared for how bad the salaries in my field really are. Put it this way, most professions have starting salaries twice what I was making with two degrees and 15 years experience. You really do become a therapist out of the goodness of your heart.

5. The benefits are very good- vacation time, sick time and medical benefits were always better than in the business world. It made up for the bad pay, somewhat anyway.

6. You have to keep up with your education- I am no longer in the field but I still have to have 100 credits to keep my license. And the cost comes out of my own pocket.

7. Social Workers get all the credit- in most states, social workers and nurses get most of the jobs out there, particularly in hospitals. Those are the better paying jobs too. Though social workers study mostly social systems and not counseling, they still score the majority of counseling jobs. And I can't tell you how many jobs I've tried to apply for that require a nursing degree. Yet, nurses often have fewer than three classes in psychology. The same goes for regular doctors. It's a very weird system.

8. Lots and lots of education- in order to get at least a decent job, I had to get a Master's degree in my field. Plus I have a national certification and a state license. Does that mean more pay? Are you kidding?! What it does mean is that I can get a better job in my field and I know what the heck I'm doing when I help a client, which is the most important thing.

9. It's often very lonely- I think most counselors and therapists struggle with self doubt and loneliness about their profession. It is hard to go into a room, sit with someone who is suicidal, depressed and/or has been abused and not feel overwhelmed at times by all that pain. Other therapists can help you, but since you have to keep everything confidential, you can only share so much. And it's a major no-no to go home and talk with family or friends about what you hear.

10. Stress- Most people out there walk around with so much held inside that when it comes out in a therapy session, it can be very intense. Hearing all the pain and suffering of clients all day can make you start to feel that the whole world is doomed and nothing good ever happens. That is when you know you need an outlet. And as a group, we are not good at being selfish and taking time to repair ourselves. It's a constant struggle to remember to take care of your own needs too.

11. Can you read my mind?- that is one of the funniest responses I get when some people learn that I'm a therapist. I can't help but laugh. No, I can't read minds. I slept through that course in school.

12. But I can read body language- maybe this is what people mean when they ask about reading minds. Some therapists are good at this and some aren't. I do it because it comes natural to me. In public, I usually register the information in my brain then don't give it much attention. Otherwise, I'd be responding to everything everyone does around me and that would get old very quick.

13. Being a therapist is a 24 hour a day job- I feel like I have a scanner in my brain sometimes, but it's hard for me to not tune into people's feelings. I don't analyze everything going on around me, but I do pay attention more than most people. I guess it's like a cop would feel, always being aware of people breaking laws. But it does become tough when I can see certain behaviors that other people don't catch. I try not to read into what I see, but it's like turning off hunger or the need to sleep, I just can't ignore it. It is a blessing and a curse at the same time.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

Recently, my daughter asked me to make muffins. I'm not a big muffin fan, but I had some blueberries to use up so I went searching for a good recipe. I came across a recipe at one of my favorite blogs, Smells Like Home. I altered it a bit to fit what I had in the pantry and came up with some very good, very healthy muffins. My husband ended up eating about 5 of them!

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour (can use whole wheat)
1 1/4 cups quick cooking oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup applesauce
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper cases or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl combine flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

In another bowl combine applesauce, buttermilk, sugar, oil and egg. Make a well in dry ingredients and add applesauce mixture. Stir until just moist. Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
Makes about 2 dozen muffins

“Well, I can't eat muffins in an agitated manner. The butter would parobably get on my cuffs. One should always eat muffins quite calmly. It is the only way to eat them.”
-Oscar Wilde 'The Importance of Being Earnest'

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thursday Thirteen- Sites I Like

Though I wish I had more time to putz around the internet, there are a few sites that I check often, if not daily.

1. My Blog- of course!

2. Other peoples blogs- I try to visit my as often as I can. I love seeing what everyone is up to and finding out interesting things about my blog buddies!

3. Google- who doesn't Google?

4. Wal-Mart- a great place to check prices and to buy on line. I've bought everything from pajamas to a mattress at Walmart and never had a problem. Plus shipping is so cheap and you can't beat the site to store feature.

5. Amazon- another great place to check for prices. I love the free shipping offer and I order a lot around Christmas.

6. City-Data Forum- I found this gem a few years ago after searching for info on Virginia cities. It's not only about cities, but many other topics too, from advice to politics. The moderators are the best. They keep everyone civil, even on the most hotheaded topics.

7. Sparkpeople- An instructer at my gym told me about this weight loss site. She is a member and likes the ability to track her food intake and exercise. Plus it's free! I just joined so I'm still navigating my way through, but so far, so good. Any help I can get is good.

8. Southernfood.about- Speaking of weight issues and why I need to lose a few, this recipe site is wonderful. Great down home recipes with ratings to tell if the recipe is good or not so I don't waste my time making something yucky.

9. Accuweather- You can never check the weather often enough. It seems to change hourly anyway.

10. My local library- I spend a lot of time on line requesting books. Sometimes I think the librarians must get sick of seeing me, but I just love libraries.

11. Local News- Even though I get the newspaper, I like to check the updates.

12. Trip Advisor- this is a great site to check reviews of hotels and other places. Very good advice to save you from having a bad vacation!

13. Yahoo- Free email accounts, good news headlines and a great alternative to MSN. I like to use my email there when I sign up for things online rather than using my main email.

What are your favorite sites?

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Flu


I was really hoping that the flu was going to pass us by this year, but no such luck. My middle daughter came down with it this weekend and now my oldest has it. Different symptoms for each but I think both have the flu. I'm a little scared my youngest will get it. He is only 6 and according to the news, he is in the most dangerous age range for fighting this. Scary stuff.

Most of my kids' classmates are out with it as well. It seems to have come early and hard this year. Our pediatrician says there is no way to tell if someone has the H1N1 flu unless the doc sends blood to a lab to be tested. She suggested we just assume that is what the kids have and wait it out unless the kids have trouble breathing.

I'm doing a lot of praying this week!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream


After getting the confirmation this week that I definitely have skin cancer (the very curable kind, thank God!), I needed a bit of a pick me up. Something rich, chocolatey and very satisfying. And it was going to have to be good enough to get my mind off the upcoming surgery. Well, this ice cream certainly did get my full attention! The basic recipe is easy to adapt to whatever candy or other additions you prefer. You can add small marshmallows, nuts or other chopped candy if you don't like Reeses, but who doesn't like Reeses? :)

Adapted from southernfood.about.com

Reeses's Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream

2 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup milk (I used half and half to make it richer)
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
About 5 Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, chopped

In a 2-quart saucepan, heat chocolate, sugar, milk, cream until chocolate is melted. Add vanilla and cool. Pour the mixture into a blender and process until smooth. Pour into prepared ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's directions. Just before done, add chopped Reeses (or other ingredients as desired).
Makes about 4 cups


"Without ice cream, there would be darkness and chaos."
-Don Kardong

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thursday Thirteen- Things I Do To Take Care Of Myself

Ok, I know Moms are not supposed to be types who think of themselves a lot. Heck, I think women in general are made to think of others first. But, yesterday at the dermatologists, I was told I might have Basal Cell Carcinoma. To say I'm scared is an understatement. But I am a little calmer today than I was yesterday. Enough so that I started thinking of ways to help myself feel a little better until the biopsy results come in next week. So here are some things I'm doing:

1. Exercise- since I workout most days of the week, it's gotten to the point where I look forward to it as a stress reliever. I worked out this morning and it gave me time to think, plus I feel a little more in control of my body.

2. Eat something sweet- so it flies in the face of number one, but everything in moderation, right? :) I was thinking of making cookies or a pumpkin cake. Just something comforting.

3. Soup- it's rainy and it's cold here today with highs only in the 40's (what happened to Fall?!). A nice warm bowl of soup or chowder sounds very good to me today.

4. Quilting- I love spending time quilting while I watch a favorite movie. It is another activity that keeps me sane and distracted.

5. Talk to my sister- as a nurse, my poor sister really gets it. Our family is always asking her medical questions! But besides my husband, she is the one person who makes me feel like I'm not alone.

6. Talk to my friends- what a relief to have a group of women who understand me, give me wonderful warm hugs and say just the right things. It lifts my spirits to know they are there for me.

7. Chocolate- besides those chemicals in your brain that chocolate is supposed to boost, it just tastes so darn good it's hard to believe anything is wrong with my world, at least for a moment.

8. Build a fire- the smell and sound of a fire in the fireplace makes me calm.

9. Hang out with my kids- they distract me like nothing else. From homework issues, arguing with each other, and their laughter and playing, I keep moving even when I feel down.

10. Get enough sleep- yesterday, I read on MSN that there are five foods that help you sleep. Cherries, bananas, toast, oatmeal and milk. I made sure I had oatmeal with milk last night to help me sleep. If it was that or something I wasn't aware of, I slept very well last night!

11. Do my hair and makeup- the temptation to cut this out of my day is not even there. Making sure I look decent for the day helps me feel more normal and ready to deal with most anything. And believe me, I need my makeup!

12. Cleaning the house- I hate to clean. I mean really hate it. But when the house is all in order from wiping the crumbs off the counter to mopping the floor, I feel a lot calmer. It might never be as clean as I'd like it with three kids and a husband home, but it's close enough.

13. Having a good cry- If I didn't cry yesterday and a little today, I was going to burst. Whatever it does for your body, it's a balm to the soul.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Easy Chocolate Croissants

If there is a treat out there any easier to make than these, I'll eat my shorts (ok, maybe not, but still....). I made one batch and gave the entire plate to my kids. When I walked back into the room a few minutes later, that plate was empty and the kids were begging for more.

Chocolate Croissants

1 tube of refridgerated croissants 8 count
3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
3 Tblsp. butter melted

Unroll the croissants and place on a baking sheet. Place chocolate chips over the croissants, as many as you'd like (I covered the whole croissant, of course!). Carefully roll the croissants tucking in any corner to hold in the chips.
Bake in a 375 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown on top. Brush with butter and serve with milk.


"Researchers have discovered that chocolate produced some of the same reactions in the brain as marijuana. The researchers also discovered other similarities between the two, but can't remember what they are."
-Author Unknown

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thursday Thirteen- What I Love About Fall

What is not to like about Fall? It's my favorite time of year. Here are a few reasons why:

1. It's cooler!- much easier to sleep and I love wearing sweaters. Not only are they cozy and warm, they cover more of me!

2. Flowers and decorations- Mums are so pretty and decorating is so much more colorful and fun than in summer. And as much as I like gardening, turning over the garden and planting garlic for next year is a lot of fun too.

3. Soup and Chili- We start eating a lot more soups and chili and grilled cheese. I use the crock pot a lot more too. It makes dinner super easy. I do love summer salads but fall brings a nice change of pace in the kitchen.

4. The holidays- are right around the corner. Christmas is my favorite holiday. I just love giving gifts, spending time with my family and baking my head off.

5. Fireplaces- We have a wood burner and we use it all the time during late fall and winter. It makes the house smell wonderful and it's so much fun toasting marshmallows on a cold night.

6. Hot tea- If you've read my blog, you know that sweet tea rules in my house. But in the fall, it's so cozy to make a cup of hot tea at night and sit down and put my feet up. Very relaxing.

7. Pumpkins- I just went out this morning and bought three pumpkins for my kids to carve this weekend. I love seeing the faces the kids come up with on the pumpkins!

8. The colors of the leaves- every year they change and every year I'm amazed at the beautiful colors. It's one of those things you look at and realize the beauty God created on earth.

9. Festivals- it seems everywhere I look, someone is holding a festival. Apples, food in general or crafts, no matter what kind people just love them.

10. Shorter days- helps me get the kids into bed a little earlier at night! Plus it's just nice to settle in at home and not run around all night.

11. Football- Pro teams and college are back and it's exciting to see they hype and craziness that surrounds each game. Especially here in Pittsburgh. These people take their sports seriously!

12. Long walks in the woods- we usually have to go on vacation to West Virginia to do this but it's such a great feeling when we do go. I have a large framed picture in my house of a walking path through the woods in fall. It's my favorite picture.

13. The smells- woods, pumpkin pie, spices, fireplaces, apple cider, bonfires and cocoa are just some of the wonderful things that come with fall.

What is your favorite season?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Cinnamon Sugar Apple Pie

Yesterday, as a fun treat for the kids, we went to a local apple festival. Along with the apple butter, apple crisp, and apple pancakes they had, there were fresh local apples. I bought a bag of jonagold apples, not expecting too much. Now, my favorite place to buy apples is Virginia Farm Market in Winchester because of the wonderful fresh taste. I've never been able to find apples to match those around here. But, to my surprise, these apples did. After we got home, I whipped up an apple pie from two new recipes I found. I used the cinnamon topping from one with the pie recipe from another. We ate the pie warm out of the oven with homemade whipped cream. Oh, boy was it good! And those apples were perfect with the cinnamon sugar topping.

Cinnamon Sugar Apple Pie

2 pie crusts, thawed (or homemade)
6 medium apples, peeled and sliced
1 tbsp. lemon juice
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup AP flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Topping:
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
4 tbsp. butter, cut into pieces

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Unroll one pie crust and fit into pie plate. In a large bowl, toss apples with the lemon juice until coated. Combine sugars, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg and mix with apple mixture. Spoon into prepared pie crust. Place remaining pie crust over apples and seal edges.

Mix 1/2 cup sugar with 1 tsp. cinnamon and sprinkle over the top of the pie crust. Dot the top of the pie with butter. Cut slits into the top of the pie to let out steam while baking.

Bake for 50 minutes or until pie is browned on top and pie is bubbly.



“Good apple pies are a considerable part of our domestic happiness.”
-Jane Austen

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Thursday Thirteen- Favorite Sweets

Of all the baking I have done, I have several favorite things I love to make. These sweets come up time and time again no matter how many new things I try. Some of the recipes are covered in old stains of vanilla, flour and butter I've used them so much. But that is the fun of it, right? Almost all of these recipes are on my blog if you want to make them.

1. Secret Kiss Cookies- I've never posted this recipe because it's a secret family recipe but boy these are good. Chocolate kisses wrapped in cookie dough and dipped in confectioner's sugar. I could eat dozens!

2. Chocolate Chip Cookies- I love making these. I vary the ingredients some by adding different chips or adding nuts, but however I make them, they are always gone fast.

3. Banana Bread- I just made some yesterday. It's so good with preserves or butter and a cup of hot tea.

4. Chocolate Cream Pie- So simple and so good!

5. Buckeyes- Another simple, yet so good recipe. I often get requests for this one from my oldest. She loves eating them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

6. Peppermint Patties- I posted the recipe last Christmas. It's become a new favorite in our house.

7. Fudgy Brownies- I've been making these for 15 years now. They always come out perfect and are so hard to resist, especially right out of the oven.

8. Cookie Cake- The kids love this one for birthday celebrations at school. It takes literally minutes to throw together and the kids love decorating it themselves.

9. Avalanche Bark- this is a copy cat recipe I got off the Internet. The original bark is sold at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. The mixture of white chocolate, peanut butter and krispies is wonderful. I don't make it too often cause I would never fit in my jeans!



10. Ice cream- if you read my blog at all, you will know I love making homemade ice cream. My favorite is the chocolate peanut butter I made this summer.

11. Cheesecake- there is a recipe I make about once a year called Reeses Peanut Butter cup cheesecake. And I usually give the cheesecake away. I do know my limitations.

12. Cinnamon Chocolate Chip cake- I first made this cake for my 16th birthday. The combination of sweet, delicate cake and crunchy cinnamon sugar topping is too much to resist!

13. Fluff- ok, not the most classy of desserts but so good I could eat the whole bowl myself. Not that my kids would let me, but we've all got to have our fantasies!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Chocolate Ding Dong Cake

Just the thought of something called a Ding Dong cake gets my attention. When I found out what was in it and how easy it was, making this cake was a no brainer. I did change a few things, though. I didn't have my chocolate cake mix on hand since my daughter used it to make our anniversary cake (see post on 9/23) so I substituted 1 box of yellow cake batter and added 1/3 cup of cocoa. I also only used 1 box of mix instead of 2. I just didn't want a big cake. I also used buttermilk instead of oil in the cake mix. Other than that, I followed the recipe. It had more filling but that just made it more yummy! I hope you try it!

Chocolate Ding Dong Cake

2 boxes chocolate cake mix
1 c. powdered sugar
1 (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 (8 oz.) Cool Whip
2 container's of chocolate icing or any homemade chocolate icing, softened

Follow instructions on cake mix boxes and bake cakes. It will make 3 layers. Cool completely. Beat together powdered sugar, softened cream cheese and tub of Cool Whip together in a bowl. Spread between cake layers. Pour chocolate icing on top and sides of cake.
Keep cake refrigerated.

"Don't wreck a sublime chocolate experience by feeling guilty."
-Lora Brody

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thursday Thirteen- Kitchen Gadgets

It's amazing the things you can accumulate in your house. I've moved a few times in my life, and I could not believe the stuff we had! I'm always trying to clear the house out and give things to Goodwill, but then we buy new stuff and the cycle starts again. The one place I won't compromise on, though, is the kitchen. In there, it's the more stuff the better. Here are a few things I can't live without!

1. Pyrex mixing bowls- I've got them in all sizes but only one in medium. Need more medium size bowls!

2. Microplaner- Gosh, I love that thing. I bought it in Williamsburg and purchased fresh nutmeg with it. I don't use it much, but I wouldn't give it up without a fight.

3. KitchenAid mixer- I have a very old version given to me by my mother in law who got it at an old lady friend's estate. It's ancient. But I use it for all my baking and bread. It's sturdy and reliable.

4. Gallon sized pitchers- I have three I rotate. I used them for the never ending supply of sweet tea I make. As big as the pitchers are, they are empty by the end of the day. Who is drinking all that tea?!

5. Colanders- Don't ask me why, but I have several different kinds. Tupperware, metal, sifter types....you name it. But I do use them all. I guess I make a lot of food that needs drained.

6. Large pot- I have a very large metal soup pot I use a lot, surprisingly. It's too large actually, but I can't find one smaller I like or can afford right now. The only thing that it's perfect for is making greens. I can stuff as much greens in there I like and they fit.

7. Corning Ware glass saucepans- the amber colored ones that they no longer make :( I order them off Ebay when one breaks and I need a new one. Perfect for making tea and for all the side veggies I make with dinner. I use them everyday, even the slightly chipped ones.

8. Wooden spoons- love those things. You can leave them in food that is hot and they stay cool. I use mine for everything. Can't have enough of them either.

9. Serrated knives- so much sharper than regular knives. Nasty when you get cut though!

10. Flat Spatulas- this in another one of those things I have a thousand versions of. My favorite are the plain white ones but I do have a few funky ones from Ikea that are growing on me. I can't bake without using them.

11. Super size frying pan- It's huge! But I need one for things like frying hamburgers and stir fry. With 5 people in the family, it's nice getting all the food cooked at one time and not having to use two pans or keep food warm while more is cooking.

12. Crock Pot- I used to have the small one but recently we got a large oval shaped one that has locking handles. I can't use it enough, especially in the winter. My favorite use is for Chili on a cold winter day.

13. Whisk- Sure, everyone has a whisk. But I happened to find a very heavy duty professional whisk one time in Williamsburg and bought it. I love that thing! It's heavy, sturdy and is fun to use. Plus, it makes whipping cream or batters super easy. And it just looks so nice compared to my other cheapy utensils!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Happy Anniversary Baby....

gotcha on my mind. I love teasing my husband by singing that every year on our anniversary, esp. since I can't carry a tune to save my life. Well, if you haven't guessed, it's our anniversary today. I wouldn't usually post about something that obviously is only interesting to a select few, but it has been 20 years since we got married and I feel the need to share!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2Dna8dffc4&feature=PlayList&p=99B7E8E9FC74D3C0&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=125

Unfortunately, we can't celebrate today because my husband had to work and we have my oldest daughter's open house at school tonight, but we are going out on Friday to our favorite restaurant, The Hydeholde. It's the only time I get to dress up and act like an adult :)

http://www.hyeholde.com/

Last night, when we were at my middle daughter's open house, my oldest surprised us by baking a cake for our anniversary. How sweet! (see why I call them sweetflutterbys?!) She used a box cake mix and added lots of color with purple and blue tint. Then she covered the cake with a glaze and decorated with chocolate chips. Buying a cake from the best bakery in the world would not have made me as happy as I was last night.

Happy Anniversary to my husband! We made it, didn't we?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Perfect Chocolate Frosting


When my husband accidentally scheduled a business trip on my son's birthday last week, he asked if we could wait until Saturday to celebrate our son's birthday so he could be there. That was fine, except I didn't want to have no cake for my son on his actual birthday, so I decided to make one for Friday and buy a WalMart cake for Saturday. Looking for a good icing to use for my homemade cake, I found this one in my new Southern Living Incredible Chocolate baking book. It was divine! I couldn't stop eating it. But best of all, my son loved it. Perfect chocolate frosting, indeed!

Perfect Chocolate Frosting

1 cup semi sweet chocolate morsels
1/2 cup half and half
3/4 cup butter
2 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar

Combine the first 3 ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring as chocolate melts. Remove from heat and whisk in the powdered sugar. Place saucepan in a large bowl of ice. Beat at low speed with an electric mixer until frosting holds it's shape and loses it's gloss. Add a few more drops of half and half, if needed until spreading consistancy.
Makes enough for one cake.


"The 12-step chocoholics program: Never be more than 12 steps away from chocolate."
-Terry Moore

Friday, September 18, 2009

Happy 6th Birthday, Little Guy!

Happy Birthday to my special guy who loves hamburgers, cars, SpongeBob and asking lots of questions! I love you and hope you have the best day ever!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pasta with Farm Market Tomatoes and Ground Turkey


I thought when the kids went back to school, things were supposed to settle down a bit. I was expecting to have more time, especially now that my youngest is in school full time. By some weird twist, I seem to have less time than I used to! Someone please explain how that is possible.

Anyway, as I was rushing through my day recently, I saw this recipe being demonstated on a local talk show. I had tomatoes from the garden and some fresh basil, but not enough to make pesto, so I could use that. I also only had elbow macaroni on hand and some fresh salad spinach I needed to use up. Even with all the subsitutes, the dish was wonderful! My kids even asked me to make this again so it must be good!

Pasta with Farm Market Tomatoes and Ground Turkey

Extra virgin olive oil
1 pound ground turkey or chicken
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup dry white wine
4 to 5 medium homegrown tomatoes, cored and diced
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
12 ounces dried rigatoni, cooked al dente (I used elbow macaroni)
1 bunch arugula, tough stems removed and coarsely chopped, about 1 ½ - 2 cups (I used fresh spinach)
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
¾ cup freshly grated Parmesean cheese

Directions:

In a large skillet heat the oil and add in the turkey, breaking up the large pieces, and cook until lightly browned. With a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a bowl. Add the onion and the garlic to pan and sauté until the onion is tender. Add in the wine and simmer for about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer the sauce for 20 minutes or until thickened. Stir in the meat and cook until heated through, about 1 minute longer. Once the pasta, drain and immediately add the hot pasta to the sauce and toss well.

To serve the pasta: Add the arugula (spinach) and basil to the pot and toss well. Drizzle with a little fruity olive oil. Sprinkle with cheese and serve immediately.



“To remember a successful salad is generally to remember a successful dinner; at all events, the perfect dinner necessarily includes the perfect salad.”
-George Ellwanger (1848-1906)
Pleasures of the Table (1902)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Jello Delight


Well, things are finally settling down and I'm glad to be back! During the craziness of the past month, we managed to fit in a vacation with my brother (home on leave from Cuba) and his kids. Just a few days in beautiful West Virginia in the mountains to restore our souls a bit. My brother, who loves to cook, had a recipe for Jello Delight that he thought he wouldn't have time to make. Of course, I volunteered to add it to the desserts I had already planned to make on the trip. I have tasted this dessert before at picnics and other gatherings, but never had any idea what it was called. Now I know, and I can't wait to make it again. It was a big hit with everyone!

Jello Delight

1 8oz package of cream cheese (light version works well too)
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 cup miniature marshmallows (I used "Funmallows" which are mini fruit flavored marshmallows)
1 can crushed pineapple, undrained
1 pkg. (4 svgs) lime gelatin
1 pkg. (4 svgs) lemon gelatin
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream

Combine gelatins with 2 cups boiling water and stir. Add undrained pineapple and let cool.
Whip cream cheese and heavy cream. Combine with sugar then blend with gelatin mixture. Pour into a large pan (9 x 11), add marshmallows and pecans, and let set. Chill thoroughly. Cut into squares then serve.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Happy Labor Day!

Yay, the beginning of Fall! Hopefully this week, I will be getting my butt back in the saddle and posting more on my blog. It's been a crazy month and I'm ready to settle down and do some more baking!

I hope everyone has a nice relaxing day off!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Out To Lunch

Well, if I'm not already crazy enough, the next week or so is gonna surely put me in the nut house. I've got relatives coming in, other ones to visit, appointments out the wazoo, and kids to get ready for school, which starts way too early IMHO. As a result, I'm going to take a short blog break. I'm hoping that once everything settles, I will have lots a great recipes to share because if nothing else, I plan on eating as much as possible to deal with the stress!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Getting To Know You

Country Dew (Blue Country Magic) had this on her blog the other day and if you read my blog with any regularity, you know I can't resist a meme!
Please feel free to copy this to your blog and let me get to know you too!

1. What time did you get up this morning: 6 am

2. How do you like your steak? Well done

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Up- it was surprisingly good

4. What is your favorite TV show? Of all time- Star Trek. Right now- NCIS

5. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? Virginia

6. What did you have for breakfast? Chocolate Little Bites

7. What is your favorite cuisine? Pizza (I'm so gourmet!)

8. What foods do you dislike? Fish

9. Favorite Place to Eat? Hyeholde, here in Pittsburgh

10. Favorite dressing? Blue cheese

11.What kind of vehicle do you drive? Honda Odyssey

12. What are your favorite clothes? Blue jeans

13. Where would you visit if you had the chance? England

14. Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full? 1/2 empty but on some days 1/2 full, esp. when I'm insightful enough to appreciate my blessings

15. Where would you want to retire? Virginia

16. Favorite time of day? evening

17. Where were you born? Oklahoma

18. What is your favorite sport to watch? Football

19. Who do you think will not tag you back? Not sure

20. Bird watcher? Not really

21. Are you a morning person or a night person? morning

22. Do you have any pets? dogs, cat, hamsters, gerbils, and fish

23. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share? My brother is coming home from Cuba (where he is stationed) for a visit next week. And he's bringing my neice and nephew. Can't wait to see them!

24. What did you want to be when you were little? Brain surgeon but I ended up being a therapist, a different kind of brain surgeon :)

25. What is your best childhood memory? going to VA beach on vacation

26. Are you a cat or dog person? Dog

27. Are you married? Yes

28. Do you always wear your seat belt? Yes

29. Been in a car accident? Many. I was once hit by a postal truck. Try getting money you are owed from the postal service. I find it amazing they even give us our mail they are so tightfisted!

30. Any pet peeves? People who love themselves more than others. Rude people

31. Favorite pizza topping? Pineapple

32. Favorite Flower? carnation

33. Favorite ice cream? Chocolate Raspberry Truffle from Bruster's. They closed the only store we had here and there are no others close by :(

34. Favorite fast food restaurant? Subway

35. How many times did you fail your driver's test? Never

36. From whom did you get your last email? My father

37. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? Wal-Mart

38. Do anything spontaneous lately? Got my ears pierced again. Now I have two holes in each ear and not enough earrings!

39. Like your job? Yes

40. Broccoli? raw and steamed. Yum

41. Kids? Three, trying to adopt another

42. Last person you went out to dinner with? family

43. What are you listening to right now? darn flies buzzing around my house

44. What is your favorite color? blue

45. How many tattoos do you have? None. Thought about it but too worried I'd end up not liking it

46. What time did you finish this quiz? 2:53 p.m.

47. Coffee Drinker? sometimes

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Tomato Sandwich


Although our tomatoes are not ready yet, I have been yearning for tomato sandwiches. The tomatoes in the stores have that wonderful summer taste and ripen up so juicy and delicious. There are so many ways you can dress up this sandwich, but I think I will keep to the basic tasty recipe. It's just too good!

Tomato Sandwich

2 slices of regular or good quality white bread
1/2 cup mayo or salad dressing
salt and pepper to taste
1 ripe tomato

Spread the mayo on each slice of bread. Cut the tomato to fit bread or if you have a smaller tomato, cut 2 to 3 slices and fit onto bread. Salt and pepper to taste. Cover with other slice of bread and cut sandwich in half, if desired. Serve.
You can also toast the bread, which is also delicious.



"A world without tomatoes is like a string quartet without violins."
-Laurie Colwin, Home Cooking

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Thursday Thirteen- Kennywood

Yesterday, we went to a local amusement park called Kennywood. It was a rainy day but we took a chance and went anyway. We were rewarded with an almost empty park, all to ourselves! Although Kennywood ended up closing early due to low attendence, we enjoyed the heck out of ourselves. Here are 13 highlights of the day:


This ride, called the Swing Shot, scares the crap out of me! There are two arms that swing people back and forth, pretty high in the air. As it swings, it makes a very loud grinding sound that sounds like one of those movie monsters roaring. Ugh, no thanks!

This is one of the newer coasters Kennywood put in. My oldest loves this ride.

Here is a look down the track of the Phantom's Revenge.


The Wave Swinger. A nice, traditional ride.

I have never understood the need to put oneself very high in the air and free fall drop out of the sky. That is what parachute jumping is for, not an amusement park ride called the Pit Fall! Not for the faint of heart for sure.

The Pittsburgh Plunge. I have to admit, this is a fun ride. Water rides are always my favorite. This one just has one very steep hill that lets off a big splash. The bonus is that you can soak most of the non-riders too if they stand in the right spot :)


Ahh, the train. As I get older, this ride becomes more appealing. Did I really just say that? Anyway, when your feet are killing you from walking, it's a nice break. As you go around looking at the sites, a narrator talks about the history of Pittsburgh and Kennywood.

It's hard to believe that mills like this one used to be all over Pittsburgh, causing the city to be thought of as the "Smoky City". I didn't live here during those times, and I'm sure glad of it. This was taken while on the train ride.


This is Kiddie Land. I took it just to show how empty the place really was.



Matter or fact, it was so slow this employee decided to take advantage and take a nap!


Even the ducks decided it was safe enough to come out for a walk!

One of three wooden coasters still in action at Kennywood. This one is the Racer. One red and one blue coaster have been racing each other for years now. I'm not sure anyone knows which one wins the most.

The Log Jammer. This ride was always a favorite of mine, and now it's my kids' favorite. This is my oldest and youngest getting in just one more ride before the park closed for the day.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Fresh Raspberry Cobbler


Ever since I was young, I wished I could own a house with fruit trees and bushes all around my yard. The idea of picking my own fruit and making delicious desserts made me feel giddy with anticipation. So when we bought our current home, I immediately began looking for fruit trees and bushes that would grow in PA. I took a risk and bought wild raspberry bushes from a guy in NC. The first few years they didn't do much and most of the fruit was sour. But this year, the fruit was plentiful and sweet. Suddenly, I needed a good recipe to use for all the raspberries we have been picking in the last few weeks. Although raspberry cobbler is not a common thing, I decided to try it anyway. It worked! Even if you use store bought raspberries, this recipe is worth a try.

Fresh Raspberry Cobbler

1 stick of butter
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
3/4 cup self rising flour
3/4 cup milk
2 to 3 cups fresh raspberries, cleaned throughly

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the stick of butter into a square baking dish. Put into the oven and let melt, being careful not to burn.

In a small pot, place raspberries and 1/2 cup of sugar. Add a few tablespoons of water and stir. Let come to a low boil, stirring as needed for one minute. Remove from heat. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, mix 1 cup sugar, the flour and the milk. Mix well until there are no lumps.

Remove the baking dish from the oven and add the batter. Do not stir! Strain the raspberries and add them over the batter mix. Do not stir! Drizzle about 1/2 cup of the raspberry syrup, again do not stir. Place in oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until top is golden brown. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Tip: use the remaining raspberry syrup in iced tea. Very good!




“Southern cooking, a lot of pies, cakes, cobbler, stuff like that - kind of what I'm used to, being from Texas."
-Adrian Moss

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Happy 10th To My Girl!

Happy birthday, sweetheart! You make me so proud. I hope you have a wonderful time turning 10!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What Kind Of Fast Food Are You?


I was a donut. I sure hope it was a Krispy Kreme donut! What fast food are you?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Watermelon Punch


It's hard to believe the middle of summer is already here. Though I can't complain that we've had very hot weather, we have still had a few scorchers here and there. For those kinds of days, you can't beat Watermelon punch. It's cool, refreshing and delicious. I made a batch for dinner one day and had nothing left by dinner's end!

Watermelon Punch

6 cups cubed, seeded watermelon
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 can frozen canned lemonade, thawed
2 cups unsweetened pineapple juice

Combine the water and the sugar over a medium heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a food processor, blend together the watermelon and the syrup until smooth. Push the mixture through a sieve or other fine mesh and discard the solids. Return the watermelon mixture to the blender and add the pineapple juice. Blend well. Serve punch over crushed ice.


"When one has tasted watermelon, he knows what the angels eat."
-Mark Twain