Monday, November 24, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving from my blog to yours!

I'm saying an early Happy Thanksgiving to all of my blogging friends! I'll be back posting again on Friday!

Have a happy and safe holiday wherever you are spending it.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Food for Thought Book Club ~ Vote for the December/January Book!

Hi to all of my fellow book worms!

With everything going on during December, it was decided that we will read this book over the next 2 months (Dec & Jan).

I am honored to have been chosen to pick the books that we will be voting on for the next Food for Thought Book Club book.

It was hard to narrow my choices down to 3 picks - I actually had 5 picked out. :)

Here are the 3 that I've chosen:

Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl

Talking with My Mouth Full: Crab Cakes, Bundt Cakes, and Other Kitchen Stories by Bonnie Wolf

Candyfreak : A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America by Steve Almond

Please cast your vote here by November 29 by simply posting your name/blog and your pick. I will announce the winning book on November 30!

If you would like to join us in the Food for Thought Book Club, you can check it out here.

I hope that everyone has been enjoying November's book!

Monday, November 17, 2008

TWD ~ Chocolate Arborio Rice Pudding

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe is Vanilla and/or Chocolate Arborio Rice Pudding, chosen by Isabelle from Les gourmandises d’Isa . You will find this recipe posted on her blog so be sure to check it out!

After reading over the recipe, I set out to cook it. I started out deciding to make the batch 1/2 vanilla and 1/2 chocolate. Once I mixed up the vanilla, I didn't like the way it looked so I stirred it into the chocolate, added another ounce of chocolate to the whole mix and stirred it altogether. I used semi-sweet chocolate because that's what I had on hand.

When the pudding didn't get thick like I thought it should've, I searched out the link for it on TWD to read the comments by those who had previously made it. (Quick thanks to everyone who posts what works for them and what doesn't on those links!!) I realized that I hadn't cooked it long enough ~ there's an error posted for the cooking time - it should be 55 minutes instead of the posted 35 minutes. So I took my liquid pudding out of the refrigerator and returned it to the pot to continue cooking it. I cooked mine for another 30 minutes and by then, it had turned into a creamy pudding that smelled like hot chocolate! I cooled it for about 1o minutes before dishing it out and setting it in the refrigerator to chill.

Wanna bite?

I am so happy that this turned out to be yummy!

Here you can read about all of the comments on this week's recipe and see the TWD blogroll, too.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

November Cookie Carnival ~ The Ultimate Chewy & Soft Chocolate Chunk Cookies

November's Cookie Carnival recipe, The Ultimate Chewy and Soft Chocolate Chunk Cookies, comes from Regan Daley's book "In The Sweet Kitchen".

These cookies turned out to be very well liked by my family - so much so, that I'm working on a second batch for tonight. I used Ghirardelli chocolate chips in my cookies because the store I was in didn't carry chocolate chunks and I didn't feel like chopping up chocolate at the time. These chips worked just fine but I do think that the chunks would give the cookies a prettier appearance. For my next batch, I'm going to use the chunked chocolate and then I will post pictures of them for a comparison.

To me, there's nothing better than a soft, chewy chocolate chip cookie that is full of chips that are soft when you bite into it. These cookies met my requirements - they were chewy, ooey and gooey! YUM!

The Ultimate Chewy and Soft Chocolate Chunk Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter at room temp
1 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsps. pure vanilla extract
3 cups plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
16 oz. flavorful bitter or semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, or lightly butter them, and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, or stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, or a large bowl if mixing by hand, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.

2. Sift the flour, baking soda and salt together in a small bowl. Add
the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture, and mix until just
combined. Fold in the chocolate chunks.

3. Using your hands, shape knobs of dough about the size of a large walnut and place them 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. (I use a small cookie scoop). Stagger the rows of cookies to ensure even baking. Bake 12-15 for smaller cookies, 14-17 for larger ones or until the tops are a light golden brown. If the cookies are neither firm nor dark when they are removed from the oven, they will cool chewy and soft. Cool the cookies on the sheets
for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool

If somehow they don't get inhaled immediately, they may be stored airtight at room temperature for up to one week.

No way are these going to last for a week unless you hide them from everyone! lol!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

New Blog Award & I've been tagged for a Commenters Meme!

WooHoo! Check out my new award! My good friend Amanda from Amanda's Cookin' gave it to me. She actually gave it to me a couple of weeks ago but then I got sick and was out for a while so I'm posting it now! She is such a sweetie! If you haven't checked out her cooking blog yet, do so now because she whips up some great stuff! She's also one of the most crafty people that I know. Check out her craft blog at Amanda's Crafty Creations. Thanks bunches, Amanda!

It wouldn't be too nice of me to hold onto this award and not share it with anyone, right? Since I am totally into "sharing the love", I'm sharing this awards with these fellow bloggers:

Maier Memories because her blog makes me smile. I can totally relate to some of the things that's going on in her life! :)

Barbara Bakes because she has a great blog with lots of great pictures to go with her recipes. It's hard to resist trying to reach through the screen to grab something that's laying on a plate!

Mom's Fridge because she has the best laid out menus that I have ever seen. When I get stuck in a rut for dinner ideas, I always pop over to take a look at Barb's blog. She gets rave reviews from everyone who tries her recipes!

Amanda's Crafty Creations because this blog is full of beautiful crafts that show off Amanda's talents, plus she add easy crafts that Parents and Grandparents can do with their kids!

The Omnomicon because her blog is waaay out there and she tells it like it is! Definitely not for the timid! Her writings crack me up but her pictures are what drew me in to begin with.

I hope that all of you enjoy your new award! Now it's your turn to share the love!


Tonight I was tagged by Barbara from Barbara Bakes to do a Meme! :)

Being fairly new at this blogging stuff, I will admit that I had no idea what a Meme was - but knowing Barbara's blog and the way she comments on my blog, I knew that it had to be something fun.

I Googled it and found out that a meme is: An idea that, like a gene, can replicate and evolve. For more interesting info. on this, check out The Daily Meme. Ok...interesting! On to Barbara's blog to see what I have to do.

The Commenters Meme
This is a great idea for a Meme because it shows commenters that you care about the people who visit your blog and take the time to leave comments!!

The rules:
1. List the last ten people who have commented on your blog
2. If you’re on my list then you should do the meme on your blog, too

10 Blogs, 15 Questions.

The last 10 people to leave comments on my blog:
1. Stephanie from Ice Cream Before Dinner

2. Queen B from Cozy Kitchen by the Sea

3. The Maier kids' Mom (**blushing** I just realized I don't know your first name) from Maier Memories

4. Amber from This Crazy Life

5. Barbara from Barbara Bakes!

6. Maria from Two Peas and Their Pod

7. Maryann from Finding La Dolce Vita

8. Aggie from Aggie's Kitchen

9. Michelle from Something New is Cooking

10. Aleta Meadowlark from The Omnomicon

1: What is your favorite post from number 3’s blog? I swear that if you change the ages of the kids in My Girl's... Don't Be Fooled and make the older one a boy, she was writing about my kids!

2. Has number 10 taken any pictures that have moved you? The food pictures throughout her blog move me ...right into the kitchen to look for something to eat! No kidding! The food pics are great!

3. Does number 6 reply to comments on their blog? I'm not really sure. I've just recently found her blog and haven't had a good chance to check it out. My quick look over though, I've been missing a lot!

4. Which part of blogland is number 2 from? Queen B. is lives in the U.S. by the sea! lol!

5. If you could give one piece of advice to number 7 what would it be? My advice to Maryann would be to never stop blogging about real Italian food! I'm from up north but I live in the south now. I MISS real Italian food!

6. Have you ever tried something from number 9’s blog? Not yet but I plan on trying her recipe for Creamy Chicken Pockets real soon. I'm pretty sure that I will find a lot of recipes on her blog that my family will enjoy!

7. Has number 1 blogged something that inspired you? Stephanie has a quote in her profile that holds so very true to me... "Sometimes the things that you liked the best and that have meant the most to you are the things that meant nothing at all to you when you first heard or saw them." - Red Grooms

8. How often do you comment on number 4’s blog? Not nearly enough but I do get to talk to Amber through a local Moms group website that we both belong to! In fact, that's where I met her!

9. Do you wait for number 8 to post excitedly? I've just recently found Aggie's blog but I am really looking forward to checking it all out. Her recent recipes look great!

10. How did number 5’s blog change your life? It's funny that Barbara should work out to be #5! She is the first person to send me a Meme and that pushed me into learning something new today. :) Her blog is great and I look forward to reading it when she posts new recipes.

11. Do you know any of the 10 bloggers in person? I know Amber from a local Moms group website but we haven't met in person yet. :) I hope to meet her one day soon, though!!

12. Do any of your 10 bloggers know each other in person? I don't think so but I'm not 100% sure about that.

13. Out of the 10, which updates more frequently? The Maier kids' Mom and Amber have been posting nearly every day with one or more updates!

14. Which of the 10 keep you laughing? Maier Memories and The Omnomicon. It's great because they both make me laugh for very different reasons! How lucky am I to have many reasons to laugh and smile!

15. Which of the 10 has made you cry (good or bad tears)? I've shared some prayers and some tears with some of Maier Memories family stories.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Game Time Food - Pepperoni Rolls

MMM! Nothing beats warm pepperoni rolls right out of the oven to munch on during a football game. We used to be able to find these in any bakery on Sunday afternoons in Pa. but not here. Thankfully they are easy to make at home using only 3 ingredients.

You need:

2 tubes of refrigerated French Bread
1 package of sliced pepperoni or turkey pepperoni
6 mozzarella cheese sticks, each cut in 1/2, making 12 sticks

Preheat oven according to package directions for the bread. Lightly grease a large baking sheeet and set aside.

Remove bread from tubes but do not unroll. Cut each loaf into six equal pieces. Roll or flatten each piece of dough into a small rectangle. Working from one of the long ends of each rectangle, lay 6 pieces of pepperoni on top of the dough. Slice one cheese stick in 1/2, then lay end to end on top of the pepperoni. Fold dough up and over the cheese and pepperoni, pressing the ends together tightly to seal.

Lay the pepperoni rolls, seam side down, onto the baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

If there's any left over, wrap them well in plastic wrap, and then pop them into the freezer. Reheat in the microwave.

MMM! Look at the warm, gooey cheese! These don't last long around here!

Bookmarked Recipes ~ Upside-Down Strawberry Shortcake

My Bookmarked Recipe for this week is Upside-Down Strawberry Shortcake from Taste of Home.

Although I found it in one of their magazines, it can be found online here.

This cake was super simple to make and really, really good. I whipped this up this morning while waiting on the maintenance guys who were coming to check out our furnace. The cake would be equally delicious, I'm sure, made with blackberries, raspberries, peaches...ect. I'm going to try it with blackberries the next time. Yum!

1 cup miniature marshmallows
1 package (16 ounces) frozen sweetened sliced strawberries, thawed
1 package (3 ounces) strawberry gelatin
1/2 cup shortening
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
Fresh strawberries and whipped cream

Sprinkle marshmallows evenly into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish; set aside. In a small bowl, combine strawberries and gelatin powder; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition. Pour batter over the marshmallows. Spoon strawberry mixture evenly over batter. Bake at 350° for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into squares. Garnish with strawberries and whipped cream. Yield: 12-16 servings.

The changes that I made to the recipe:

I halved the recipe and baked the cake in a 9x9 pan.

I used unsweetened frozen strawberries + sugar-free Jello. This was plenty sweet enough this way.

I topped it with Cool Whip instead of fresh whipped cream.

The cake baked for 47 minutes.


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Cooking with Alicia & Annie ~ Johnny Cake Cornbread

In an attempt to find the perfect cornbread to go along with soups and chilis, I decided to give this Johnny Cake Cornbread from Alicia's recipes, a try.

This will also add another entry into the Cooking with Alicia & Annie November Blog Event!

I followed the directions exactly as they are written. The cornbread is quick to mix up and bakes up beautifully.

If you like dense cornbread, you'd probably like this one.

Although this one didn't turn out to be a family favorite, I would say that overall, it's good.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Cooking with Alicia & Annie ~ Christmas Apple Cake

We started our Christmas celebrating early this year. lol! It started with tonight's dessert - Christmas Apple Cake from Alicia's Recipes. This is another entry into the Cooking with Alicia and Annie Blogging Event.

I'm not sure where they came up with the name of this cake - maybe a family tradition of making to give as gifts for the holidays? Whatever the case may be, the cake sure is good!

I made one 9 x 9 cake and 12 lg. muffins from this mix. Both were very moist and delicious.

I made some changes to the original recipe:

I used 1/2 C. apple cider in place of the rum. I also soaked the raisins in 3/4 C. of very hot apple cider since the juice and raisins both go into the mix.

I used 2 C. of raisins in place of the 1 C. raisins + 2 C. of nuts. I did not increase the liquid above on the raisins when it came time to soak them.

I used 3 tsp. of apple pie spice instead of pumpkin pie spice.

I filled 12 lg. cupcake liners full of batter. With the remaining batter, I filled a 9 x 9 glass dish. The muffins baked for 18 minutes @ 350*. The cake baked for 48 minutes @ 350*.

These muffins would be great for breakfast. The cake would hold up great packed in lunches.

For a pretty dessert, drizzle with caramel apple topping that has been heated in the microwave.

Cooking with Alicia & Annie ~ Baked Macaroni & Cheese Casserole

I'm finally able to sit at my keyboard and type once again. It's been a rough week for us at my house with everyone fighting Bronchitis. Finally I'm hoping that we are nearing the end of being sick! YAY!

I baked 2 whole chickens today so that I would have chicken for tonight's dinner and then enough to make a couple of other dinners over the next few days.

I found a really easy side dish called Baked Macaroni & Cheese Casserole from Annie's website that I'm going to post as an entry into this month's Cooking with Alicia & Annie Blog Event.

Annie's Original Recipe with my changes and notes below it:

1 lb. elbow macaroni, cooked according to pkg. directions
1 pkg. Kraft sharp cheese, grated
1 can cream of chicken OR cream of mushroom soup (Campbell's)
Bread crumbs


Mix soup with 1 can of milk in a bowl.

Butter or spray a large casserole dish.

Put alternating layers of the macaroni, cheese, and the soup into dish. Top with bread crumbs.

Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Serves 6.


My changes and notes: I doubled the ingredients and followed the recipe "as is" using cream of mushroom soup. I didn't use the breadcrumbs on top because my family doesn't like casseroles topped that way. I only baked this dish for 45 minutes, and then I stuck it under the broiler for 3 minutes to brown it. I assumed that "one package" of cheddar cheese was one 8 oz block. When I make this again, I will add one more cup of chunked cheese to it. I will try it the next time with the cream of chicken soup.

Both of my kids loved this dish. They gave it rave reviews! My husband said that he liked it, too. I thought that the cream of mushroom soup was sort of overpowering in it and that it could've used more cheese. I'll be keeping this one on hand to make on those nights were you need a quick meal but don't have much on hand to throw something together. This dish contains the basic ingredients most of us have in our kitchens. You could even add some chopped chicken or tuna right to the dish and stir in a would have a one dish meal. :)

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