Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

Treats and Weekends

February 3rd, 2017

TGIF!!  I am so excited it’s weekend and I’m kicking it off by being ‘home alone’ tonight.   My favorite guy is working, but that means I can curl up on the sofa with my favorite TV shows from earlier in the week that I’ve missed.   Grey’s, Nashville, How to Get Away with Murder & Scandal.   I love the time alone, plus we have a busy weekend on the horizon with friends.   Tomorrow night we’ll spend the evening at friends, and Sunday we’ll go out to dinner with some other friends.    Great times in the making!

Yesterday was our ‘lucky 13’ anniversary and I was greeted not only with coffee in bed, but also some gorgeous roses, plus a beautiful card.  I’ll admit that I didn’t think he would remember, but he did, which made this girl smile big.   Since we both had work to get done yesterday and he was working last night- we decided to skip going out for dinner, and instead grabbed a few things of our own personal interest and had that.    Mine, was my occasional ‘once a month’ sushi treat.      I had a friend ask why I didn’t make it myself, but I make pretty much everything and from scratch, so I think I’ll continue to enjoy this freshly made once in a while treat.    Funny enough- I don’t care for rice.  I don’t buy it-  and while I’ll eat it if I’m somewhere and someone has rice as part of the meal-   I never cook it, but I do love this sushi, including the rice.      It isn’t my Gulf Coast favorites, but it will do.

How are you spending your weekend?   I know it’s Super Bowl weekend, but I’m not a football fan, so no parties here.   I do like a good get together though, so maybe it’s something to consider for next year.

In the meantime-  I’m ready to kick back, relax- and get a dose of some of my favorite actors and actresses.

 

Whatever you find yourself doing this weekend, ENJOY!

Christmas- Southern Living Style

December 15th, 2016

It has been a hustle and bustle kind of week.    I’d love to say that I’ve got everything together- have the tree up and it’s looking festive in here, but I’d be lying.    We have the tree, but it’s yet to be brought in and decorated.    We DO have the lights and decorations out-    so that’s a step in the right direction, but I’ve been swamped with work this week.   I’m grateful- oh so grateful, but I’ve been baking my  heart out-  with more in the works.

img_2300Thankfully, I’m a little ahead of schedule after running behind schedule earlier in the week, so that is a huge plus!  Tonight I took some time and finally cracked open my Christmas with Southern Living book that I’d ordered but not taken the time to look at yet.

I’ve also been itching for the Bake from Scratch holiday issue, so was able to browse it a little as well.  Both are favorites, but I’m one of those people who will leave a cookbook sitting for months if I can’t stop and fully savor each and every page.

I know it may sound silly, but it’s true.  There’s something almost ritualistic about it.   Pure enjoyment and focused on the season at hand.

I’ve seen several recipes that I want to make for our own holiday table, including my grandmas praline recipe that I improved a couple of years ago, plus divinity.    My dearest great aunt sent me a gallon of pecans that she’s picked up from her orchard and shelled.     It was an amazing gift, and something that makes me want to create something special with the fresh pecans that I know were sent with much love.

I want whatever I make with some of them to be made with love and deliberation, but also something that the flavor of the pecans will shine through.

What would you suggest?   I’ll be sure to share what I decide to make, but as for now- I’ve got some relaxing to do as tomorrow a villiage of gingerbread men await my services.

Meal Planning- Thanksgiving

November 15th, 2016

It’s hard for me to believe that since I last posted here, a majority of the leaves have given us a beautiful show of color and fallen to the ground, leaving barren (yet beautiful in their own right), trees.

As I type this-  the greyness and drizzle of rain has settled into the day.   The view from where I sit, I can see several naked trees swaying to-and-fro to the rhythm of the wind.

Some years I’m unable to spend the holidays with my parents, but on those years we usually do something with friends.    This year-we’re having a small celebration with friends the weekend after Thanksgiving, so I’ve been browsing recipes of something ‘new’ to make.

While browsing, I came across this recipe from Southern Living for Easy Butter Rolls & I’ve decided to make them as one of my contributions.

It makes me smile to think that it was a few short years ago that the idea of making bread in any sort of fashion would be highly intimidating for me, but in that time, I’ve learned a great deal from several inspiring people.

Our gathering will only be five adults and two children, but the idea of spending time together with people who bring joy to my heart, makes me smile.  I’ve offered to bake the turkey, a small ham, now these rolls, plus I’ll whip up a dessert of some sort, and make an Autumn salad of some sort.    A good healthy balance of ‘real’ foods,  shared with friends.

I’m grateful to be able to do that.

What about you?  How will you spend your Thanksgiving?

Sunday Salads & Sunshine

October 16th, 2016

It is no secret that I love all seasons, but if I was asked to choose an all time favorite, I believe it would be fall. Granted, if you ask me in the Spring, my response may be Spring, or if you asked me in Summer, and so on. I am a lover of all seasons for the uniqueness and their individuality, but there is something about Fall or Autumn, depending on what you prefer.

Often in Neverland, the weather this time of the year isn’t pleasant. Truth is, it bothers many people, but not me. It is like everything else- it has it’s plus and min points, but we have to take things as they come. Fortunately, the weather has been amazing. Sure, we’ve had a few grey days, but on the whole, thus far it’s amazing. This morning- despite the crispness to the air that only Fall brings, summer also decided to show up and give us yet another kiss. It is although she wasn’t quite finished with us yet for this year, so it’s a beautiful 64 degrees, blue skies with not a cloud to be seen.

img_0404I put on my running shoes, grabbed JJ and went out for a long walk. Truth is, I could still be walking if Marcel hadn’t had other ideas, or if JJ wouldn’t have given out, or my stomach hadn’t started grumbling, reminding me that I wasn’t hungry when I woke up this morning and hadn’t eaten.

Despite having a few projects I needed to do inside, I knew that I couldn’t spend anymore time inside than necessary as those days will come soon enough. Right now, we’ve been given one of those rare Autumn days where it’s pure weather perfection and I plan to enjoy it to the fullest. My rumbling stomach took me to the kitchen where I whipped up a Fall salad, filled with delicious seasonal gems, such as pomegranates, beets, pear, avocado, almonds, plus I sliced some fresh chevre I picked up at a market and crusted it with almond flour- then slowly let it toast in the pan, creating a delicious nutty crust and a delciously warm cheesy center. I topped the salad with a mixture of champagne and cranberry balsamic, plus a little Vanini Osvoldo EVOO that I picked up last fall in Lenno, Italy. Not only was the salad flavorful, being able to eat it Al Fresco this time of the year was a huge bonus.

Even now as I type this- I’m sitting outside. I can’t bring myself to stay inside. I did dinner preps, grabbed the laptop, a cappuccino and a glass of water and here I sit- feeling the kiss of the wind in my hair, the sunshine on my shoulders,, and a wink from summer letting me know she is never far away.

When Summer Gives Way to Fall

September 21st, 2016

Life continues forward at quite a busy pace (as I know it is for all of us).   We finished Whole 30 and that evening I went out and got some amazing sushi take out.    I rarely eat rice, in fact- sushi is my exception, or unless I’m at someone else’s home and they make rice.   I don’t even keep rice in the house- Quinoa yes, rice, nope.

We had some REALLY warm temperatures for our area last week to the point of I was watching the weather like a hawk, counting down until the daytime highs were around 70.    I was over the moon when that day finally arrived and I’ve been enjoying them ever since.img_9348   I guess it’s ‘safe’ to say that we are kissing summer goodbye for 2016 and on the threshold of leaping into Fall.

Since some of the summer fruits are still amazing-  I made myself a bowl of Greek yogurt this morning with fresh fruit.  As you can see, I’m still playing with my food, but I believe starting the day with happy colors sets the tone for the entire day.    I couldn’t eat this without smiling, so it definitely did it’s job, in addition to nourishing my body.   Add a fresh cup of coffee and it was pure bliss.

It was also very simple to make-    Greek yogurt- strawberry puree that I made from fresh strawberries an did a reduction on the stoves, blueberries, mango and a little Kashi granola.    It was done and ready to eat in less than five minutes and that includes the peeling of the mango.

As the last of the summer fruit makes its way out to give way to Fall, I find myself thinking more and more about steel cut oats and other delicious Fall eats-    What about you?  What is your favorite Fall breakfast?

 

Summers Bounty- Roasted Tomatoes

August 19th, 2016

There is something about a good farmer’s market that brings me joy. Local fruits and vegetables, providing great produce to cook along with each season. Right now, tomatoes are in abundance & if you have never tried a fresh from the vine tomato, you’re missing out on something special. (Unless of course you hate tomatoes, then that’s a horse of an entirely different color.)

tomatoes, roasted tomatoes, healthy, seasonal cooking The only thing even better than a farm fresh summer tomato is roasted farm fresh tomatoes. They are SO easy to make and the depth of flavor that they add to pretty much everything is beyond comparison. They are great pureed in soups, eaten on salads, added to quiches or other dishes, or tossed on hot pasta. I keep mine in a glass jar in the fridge and we’ve been eating them on everything.

Plus the bonus is that tomatoes are extremely healthy, so you get a flavor win and a health win.   That’s something to celebrate!

Want to know how easy they are to make?    Want no more— Here I used various cherry & grape tomatoes, but you can use ANY tomato you wish.

 

Oven Roasted Tomatoes

  • 1 pound (or more) fresh tomatoes of any sort, or a mixed variety- washed
  • sea salt- to taste
  • pepper- to taste
  • garlic powder- to taste
  • italian herbs (optional) – to taste
  • regular olive oil or grapeseed oil  (I switch between the two- usually whichever I grab)  I often will add a little more of the ‘good stuff’ EVOO when they are done before I store them in the glass jar.     As far as amounts-  I  drizzle what looks good to me-  a few tablespoons to a 1/4 cup depending on how many tomatoes it is.

Preheat oven to 375-

  • Rinse tomatoes and add to baking dish
  • sprinkle with garlic powder, sea salt, fresh ground cracked black pepper (or whatever you prefer), italian herbs.
  • Stir with wooden spoon to incorporate everything evenly.
  • Put in middle of oven and bake until desired doneness.

As you can see I bake mine until they start to pop and then also begin to brown on top-   Depending on your oven that could be between 25-40 minutes.    I start checking mine at 20 and then again every 10 minutes after that.   I pull them from the oven when they are my personal desired doneness and then leave them on the counter to cool if I’m not using them for a specific dish at that moment.    Once cooled, I transfer them, juice and all to a glass container with an airtight lid.  They also freeze well for a quick pasta or soup dish.

 

If you make these tomatoes, I’d love to know how you used them.  I’m always looking for some new cooking inspiration.

 

Happy weekend!

Celebrations

June 29th, 2016

This past week was somewhat of a blur.   I spent it doing all the pre-measuring of the dry ingredients for the what ended up being around 200 IMG_5848cupcakes & a small cake for two separate events.

Both were celebrations-  one a wedding.   A couple starting their lives together, a new chapter in their life journey.  The other, celebrating 25 years of life, love and friendship together.     I was deeply honored to be able to play a small part in their special day.

The joy and smiles on their faces is why I do what I do.

This week, I decided to take a week to ‘rest’, but as it is, I haven’t done much of that.  There was so much that needed to be done that hadn’t been attended to since we returned from vacation, that I’ve spent most of my days and some evenings doing that.

Two days of gardening and planting flowers and herbs, but we’ve created yet another beautiful space to relax and enjoy!     This weekend will bring a visit from a friend, plus more baking & hopefully some great weather to enjoy along the way.

This afternoon, I’m working on some household organizing.   I’m parting with things that no longer bring me joy, or serve no real purpose & working on a better organization style with my business supplies.  I can’t wait to see it all done.  It’s going to be great!

What does your week look like so far?  Whatever it is- I hope you are filled with joy.

Nordic Ware- How I Love Thee

March 29th, 2016

If you know me- then you know that baking is like second nature to me.    Flavor combinations, getting creative in the kitchen is something that I’ve always loved – from the time that mom let me do my thing in the kitchen.       I like to create and the kitchen is one of those spaces where I can do just that-   if it sounds good- I will try it, even if others may look at me as though I’ve lost my marbles- (which happens probably more than people realize, or if you know me in my everyday life- then you can probably ‘get it’).    I like to do things my style even if it means that it doesn’t follow the norm, but I digress- well, sort of.

Nordic Ware is one of my favorite brands for pans.  (No they didn’t pay me to say that- it’s the facts.)   Aside from the fact that they are made in the good ole  U S of A, their quality is second to none.    Le Creuset is another one of my favorites, but right now we’re talking Nordic Ware.

Most of you know, and some of you may not, that my business is also making life a little sweeter for others.   I have a small baking company, which feeds my passion to learn, to be challenged, to create, and to bring joy to others.    All things that are important to me.  Despite my love of pans and gorgeous cookware, I try to not be an impulse shopper when it comes to products, including baking tools, pans and the like.   What I do- is I make a list of things that I really want and I let it sit and percolate if you will.      Over time, I’ll realize that some things really were impulses and I scratch them off the list, while others linger.

The Nordic Ware Heritage pans were amongst the items that lingered, in this case for more than a year.     Last week, I decided to take the plunge and order the Heritage bunt pan, leaving the Heritage bundtlet pan behind.    Two days later, I caved and ordered those too.    I couldn’t help myself.    It’s been on the list for more than a year.   Some things you know you are meant to have.

The Heritage bundt pan arrived today and I will admit I felt joyous opening the box.   After I ooohed and ahhed over the pan, I immediately started thinking about cakes I wanted to bake and who I wanted to bake them for.    Plus how gorgeous and impressive they would be for my customers.

A new pan is a great muse for inspiration, especially when it’s Nordic Ware.     As far as that first cake— I’m still deciding, but a lemon-ginger-cardamon flavor combination is swimming in my head.      The big decision now is –   do I experiment now, or do I wait until my Whole 30 is complete, so I can enjoy the fruits of my labor?   Decisions, decisions!    Thank you Nordic Ware for making an amazing product.

Oh- and just as the Heritage fell of my ‘list’, now the new crown pan has made it to the list.   It is even more impressive than the Heritage-   What’s a girl to do?

Whole 30- Day 9

March 23rd, 2016

Today was what I would categorize as what example NOT to follow while on Whole 30. 

First,  we had a friend visit last night.  I adore him, plus we hadn’t seen him in a while, so it was great to catch up and visit.     He left around midnight, which was A OK.   The only thing with me is, before I can sleep, I need some unwind time.  I’m not one of those who can come home, crawl into bed and go to sleep, nor can I go straight to bed when company leaves.  My mind is too active, so it takes it time to slow down.

That meant it was VERY late before I went to sleep.   It happens, but thankfully not that often, as this girl needs hear beauty sleep in a big way. :)

I needed to work today, which meant a day of baking.  Items that need to be shipped tomorrow morning.   I was dragging, and rather than push myself into the cupcake kitchen, I took my time, and got a later start.

My breakfast was the same as yesterday-  the sweet potato dish and it was good.

I buzzed through lunch time- and admittedly didn’t take much time for a break.  I ate half an apple with a little almond butter.   Not horrible, but not ideal either.

Dinner, I had made yesterday.  A huge pot of chicken soup- with lots of fresh vegetables. I made enough for us to eat it two days, but after the small lunch, it wasn’t enough.   I ate a banana and a mandarin afterwards, but two hours later and I feel like I haven’t eaten, so I’ll have some nuts, or some almond butter.

I did just realize- upon thinking I would open a jar of peanut butter, that it is NOT allowed during Whole 30, and for some reason I thought it was, so I had some on an apple in the first days.   I think twice.    I am glad I checked before I indulged this time, so I will definitely NOT be having any of that.   Looks like nuts it is for tonight!

My conclusion for today, is that even though I feel very energized-  I also have realized the importance of being prepared.  I haven’t eaten enough protein today- and I can tell.    I didn’t eat enough vegetables today, and I can tell.    Tomorrow is a new day, but today brings the lesson that being prepared is important for success.

 

Knife Shopping

February 25th, 2016

Earlier this week I found myself bitten by the flu bug.    I had prided myself on not getting sick all winter long, and BOOM-   I started feeling a little blah Sunday evening and by Monday it had hit full on.   The result is a forced ‘slow-down’ and four days spent mostly in bed, with the exception of making myself a huge pot of chicken soup that we could eat for several days.

Since I’m not one to sleep during the day, that has meant much time to browse websites, scour Pinterest and Facebook, plan trips, do some online ordering, plus do some research on chef knives.

I have knives– I married into these particular knives, and I like them Ok.   They are Henckels, and haven’t failed me, but as I’ve continued to learn and grow in my foodie life- I’ve wanted to expand my knife horizons.   I’ve browsed quite a few top cooking stores in our area, held a few-  some which felt great in my hand, and others not-so-much.    I realized just how much of a personal journey finding a knife is, but I’m also curious what others like and why.

Being sick allowed me to do some browsing for that particular subject-  something that had I not been under the weather- would have probably kept flying under the radar in the recesses of my mind on the ‘when I think about it’  list.

I’ve become very interested in the Wusthof 7-inch, and while it isn’t the ‘best’ out there, I do think it’s a good starting knife for me.   Has anyone used the Wusthof brand?  If so- what are your thoughts on it?  Inquiring minds want to know.

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