Thursday, December 27, 2012

Favorites of 2012

I always love watching the top songs of the year or the year in review. It is just a recap of the favorites. This year I have made a lot of favorites but I could narrow it down to list a few. Let me know what your favorite recipe you made this year.
Favorite Breakfast:
Breakfast Bruschetta
Favorite Meat:
Teriyaki Beef
Favorite Bread:
Seven Cheese Bread

Favorite Dessert:
Did you already know the #1 song of 2012 varied depending on site..
-MTV named "Call Me Maybe," by Carly Rae Jepsen.
-Billboard named "Climax" by Usher.
-VH1 named "Somebody I used to know" by Gotye.
What was your favorite song of 2012?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

Are you ready for Santa tonight? Did you already bake some cookies for him? These cookies may tempt him to leave extra gifts tonight. You never know but they may. I think they tempted my husband to buy me some extra gifts or it could have he has felt bad that I was hit hard with the flu. These cookies are the perfect mix of a peanut chocolate chip cookie.
Are these enough cookies for Santa?
Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies
 1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 (11 1/2 oz) bag chocolate chips

Directions:
  1. In a large bowl, beat the butter, shortening, and peanut butter until creamy.
  2. Add the sugar and beat well.
  3. Add the eggs and beat for 1 minute.
  4. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  5. Slowly, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Beat well.
  6. Fold in the chocolate chips until combined.
  7. Scoop about 2 Tbsp of batter and shape into balls.
  8. Place the dough onto a parchment lined cookie sheets and flatten slightly.
  9. Bake the cookies for about 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned.
  10. Allow to cool for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Recipe adapted from My Recipes.com
One year ago...........................I made Snowman Sugar Cookies
 Did you already know.............
-In 1955, children could call to find out where Santa was in the world.
-NORAD continues the tradition and children can track Santa online.

Merry Christmas to All!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sables

My son loves the story of the "Tortoise and the Hare." Every time I try to read a story in the Book of Virtues, he always request that story. I think it is a great story about perseverance but I also want to stress other virtues like compassion, hard work, and especially self-discipline. So, I was asking my two youngest children about how they should behave like the golden rule. My son suggested we should not use too many verbs. Yes, verbs. My daughter wanted clarification and asked, "Action words? We shouldn't be using action words?" (I think she had forgotten about the golden rule when speaking to her brother.) My son just replied, "Yes, verbs." So, try not to use too many verbs today! 
Sables
2 (8 oz) sticks of unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
3/4 tsp salt
2 large egg yolks
2 cups all purpose flour
1 egg
Colored sugar

Directions:
  1. In a mixer, cream the butter on medium speed for about 1 minute.
  2. Add the sugar, powdered sugar, and salt to the butter until blended, about 1 minute.
  3. Reduce the speed and add the egg yolks. Beat the mixture until combined.
  4. Slowly, add the flour a little at the time. Mix the dough until the dough appears uniformly moist and no flour can be seen. The dough should be soft and clumpy not smooth.
  5. Gather the dough into a ball and divide into half.
  6. Shape the dough into 9 inch long logs and wrap in plastic wrap.
  7. Refrigerate the dough for at least 3 hours or overnight.
  8. After the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  9. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  10. In a small bowl, whisk the egg.
  11. With a pastry brush, lightly brush the beaten egg over the sides of the dough.
  12. Roll the dough in the desired colored sugar to coat the eggs.
  13. Slice the dough horizontally into 1/3 inch circles.
  14. Bake the cookies for about 7 minutes and then rotate the cookies in the oven.
  15. Bake the cookies for another 7 minutes or until the cookies are lightly golden on the sides. 
  16. Allow the cookies to cool for a minute before transferring to a cookie rack.
Recipe adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours Cookbook by Dorie Greenspan.
Did you already know...........
-Sable cookies are popular in France.
-Sables are moist and crumbly cookies.
-Other names for sables are shortbread, sand tarts, or butter cookies.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

PB Candy Bar Brownies

I saw recently a sign that said.........Naughty or Nice Naughty or Nice Decisions, Decisions. Well, I felt very naughty making these cookies but very nice since my husband requested them. Why naughty? Because normally I am happy with sampling my baking and then sharing but I didn't want to share these brownies. They are so good. The brownies crust is made from cookies and it contains candy bars. Now, you know why I didn't want to be nice and share.
Peanut Butter Candy Bar Brownies
1 (16 oz) package of Nutter Butter Cookies, crushed
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
10 Peanut Butter Cups, coarsely chopped
2 Butterfingers, coarsely chopped
1 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips

Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. In a medium bowl, combine the crushed cookies and butter.
  3. Press the cookie mixture into a bottom of a greased parchment lined 13x9 pan.
  4. Bake the cookie mixture for about 6 minutes.
  5. In a medium bowl, combine the condensed milk, peanut butter, and vanilla until smooth. Set aside.
  6. Remove the cookie mixture from the oven. Sprinkle the peanut butter cups, the Butterfingers, and chocolate chips over the warm crust. 
  7. Pore the condensed milk mixture over the cookie and chocolate mixture. 
  8. Bake the brownies for about 27 minutes or until lightly browned.
  9. Remove the brownies from the oven and allow to cool completely before slicing.
Recipe adapted from My recipes website.

One year ago................................I made Flour Tortillas.
Did you already know..................
-The Be A Good Cookie Spatula is made from the OXO company. 
-The OXO company donates half of all proceeds from the sale of the spatula to pediatric cancer research.
-The spatula is the most popular item on the OXO website.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cookie Swap

This year I participated in The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. I recently received three dozen cookies from three different bloggers. The cookies were delicious and my children thought it was great for two reasons. One reason is it is always fun to receive mail and the second reason is the mail contained cookies.
I also made cookies for three other bloggers and mailed it to them all over the country. I decided to make one type of cookie dough but change the extract to make three other varieties. My children tried to convince me that we should keep the cookies for ourselves and not share. They also tried to convince me that some things shouldn't be shared like cookies but I could share brussel sprouts. They would have no problem sharing brussel sprouts. Don't worry I was able to send the cookies with no brussel sprouts included in anyone's package. I made sure I sealed each package myself.
Vanilla Cookie Dough
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup sugar 
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1/2 cup chopped almonds, toasted
1/2 cup colored sugar
2 crushed candy canes
1/4 cup raspberry jam

Directions:
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Beat in the butter and sugar until fluffy.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla extract. 
  4. Slowly add the flour mixture and beat until combined.
  5. Divide the dough into half.
  6. To one half of the dough, add the almond extract and mix well. Half the dough and form two logs. Set aside.
  7. To the other half of the dough with no almond extract divide in half.
  8. To half of the divided dough, add the peppermint extract. Form into a log. Set aside. 
  9. Wrap each log in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the 4 pieces of dough for at least 1 hour.
Sugar Variety:
  1. From the 1/4 section of dough that only contains the vanilla extract, form 12 balls and dip the top of each ball in the sugar. 
  2. Place the cookies sugar side up on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
Peppermint Variety:
  1. From the dough containing the peppermint extract, cut the log into 12 pieces of dough. 
  2. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and sprinkle each cookie with pieces of crushed candy canes before baking.
Almond Variety:
  1. The dough with the almond extract divide in half. Set half aside.
  2. With half the almond dough,  cut the log into 12 pieces of dough.
  3. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and sprinkle each cookie with a little of the toasted almonds.  
Almond and Jam Variety:
  1. With the remaining almond dough, roll the dough out and cut into about three inch squares.
  2. On one square, spread a little jam on top and sprinkle with some of the chopped almonds.
  3. Top the jam side of each cookie with another square piece. 
  4. Spread additional jam on top of the second square piece and sprinkle with some almonds.
  5. Top the jam side of the two cookies with a third square piece.
  6. Sprinkle the top of the cookie with additional almonds if desired.
  7. Place the 3 layered cookie on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
  • Bake all the cookies for about 12 minutes or until firm.    
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart's website

One year ago, I made...............Spiced Cranberry Punch.
Did you already know..............
-This is the 2nd year of The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.
-It is open to all bloggers around the world.
-The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap partnered with Cookies for Kids Cancer

Monday, December 10, 2012

Penne Aglio-olio

My oldest daughter called to tell me that she was leaving work. When I hung up the phone, my youngest daughter asked, "Who was that?" So, I said, "Some girl that says she is my oldest daughter." My youngest daughter shook her head and said very seriously, "No, no that can't be true since I'm your only daughter." I said, "Oh, I didn't know that but I'll tell your older sister when she gets home." After arriving home, my oldest daughter was surprised to find out that I don't have an older daughter per her sibling. Now, I think I was more surprised my youngest daughter disowned her older sister and not her younger brother but she probably does that at school. Can you imagine her friends shock when they tell my daughter that they saw her younger brother and she tells them she doesn't have a younger brother? It is never serious at my house. 
With the holidays approaching, I have been spending more time baking. I have recently my children if I had to cook and they said yes so I went with something quick. I tried cereal for the second day in a row but no they wanted food. I am just kidding. I really liked this meal but I liked the sausage the best. My oldest daughter has been bringing the leftovers to work for lunch.

Penne Aglio-olio
1 lb. penne pasta
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 chicken sausage, (I used spinach and feta all natural chicken sausage.)
1 tsp chili flakes
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups baby spinach leaves, washed
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:
  1. Boil the pasta according to the directions on the box in salted water. Drain when cooked to al dente.
  2. Cut the chicken sausage into bite size pieces. 
  3. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. 
  4. Add the sausage to the skillet and cook the sausage for about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the chili flakes and the garlic to the skillet Cook for 1 minute.
  6. Add the spinach leaves and cook for another minute until the leaves have wilted.
  7. Add the pasta to the skillet and mix until combined with the chicken mixture about 1 minute.
  8. Serve the pasta in bowls and top with the grated cheese.
Recipe adapted from Nadia G.

One year ago...............................I made Honey Butter Pork.
Did you already know.................
-The difference between Parmesan and Parmigiano is the region the cheese derives.
-Parmesan cheese did not derive form Italy like Parmigiano.
-Parmigiano will have a seal for authenticity since the cheese is regulated.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Tomato Soup

The recent request from my son was tomato soup. He loves it. My youngest daughter prefers chicken noodle soup. So, I decided to try this soup since it contained tomatoes with additional vegetables. Since I was in a hurry that night to attend my daughter's concert, I skipped a couple of steps like puree it in the blender to get a smooth texture. I also forgot to add the heavy cream to make it creamy. I liked it just the way it came out. My son was happy. My anti-vegetable husband liked it. My youngest daughter still prefers her chicken noodle soup. Don't feel too bad for her since she has been eating clementines none stop it seems. All my children can't get enough of them. When they hug me, all I smell is clementines. I guess it is better than to smell like tomato soup or worst things. Since we have been eating a lot of cookies lately, I am trying to up the vegetables consumption and this soup is a great start.
Tomato Soup
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 slices of bacon, finely chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
5 Tbsp all purpose flour
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 (28 oz.) can roasted tomatoes, crushed
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1 Tbsp thyme
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
  1. In a large pot, heat the butter over medium high heat.
  2. Add the bacon and cook for 1 minute or until crispy.
  3. Remove bacon and transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Set aside.
  4. Lower the heat to medium. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic.
  5. Cook the vegetables covered for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir for 3 minutes.
  7. Add the broth and the tomatoes to the pan.
  8. Bring to a boil while whisking for a minute or two.
  9. Add the parsley, thyme, and bay leaf. 
  10. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  11. Remove from heat and allow to cool for several minutes before serving.
  12. Make sure to remove the bay leaf before ladling into bowls and top with the bacon pieces. 
Recipe adapted from Food Network.
*To save time during the week, chop all the vegetables the night before and store in a storage bag until needed the next day.*

One year ago............................I made Russian Tea Cakes.
Did you already know...............
-Tomatoes originated from South America.
-Early settlers and explorers believed tomatoes were poisonous.
-Tomatoes are in the Nightshade family and some Nightshade species are poisonous. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Bacon Fontina Panini Sandwich

What is your favorite go to meal when you have to make supper in a hurry? My first choice is pizza but for some reason the rest of my family think we shouldn't eat pizza every night. Well, I agree since I think we should have it for breakfast and lunch too with the occasional bowl of cereal. However, they would have no problems if we had sandwiches every day. When I make sandwiches, I like to change it up. Some days it is just a cold sandwich. Other days I use the broiler to toast the sandwich. Then there is always the grilled cheese. Why make a grilled cheese when it is even faster to use a panini press, right? Except if you decide to add caramelized onions to your sandwich, then it will take a little extra time. It was worth it.
Bacon Fontina Panini Sandwich
5 pieces of bacon
3 tsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, sliced thin
10 slices of smoked deli ham
5 slices of Fontina cheese
10 slices of crusty bread like french bread
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened

Directions:
  1. In a skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat. Set aside.
  2. Wipe out the pan and add 2 tsp of oil to the skillet.
  3. After a minute, add the onion and saute every few minutes for 20 minutes. Set aside.
  4. Brush the panini press with the remaining oil (or add to your skillet the oil).
  5. Butter two sides of the bread with the butter.
  6. On the unbuttered side of one slice of bread, add one slice of cheese, bacon, two slices of ham. 
  7. Top the ham with the caramelized onion. 
  8. Place the unbuttered side of the bread on top of the onions.
  9. Set the assembled sandwich on the panini press and close (or in the skillet), and cook for a few minutes on each side or until golden brown.
Recipe by Jen of Sweet Morris.
One year ago.............................I made Nutella Hot Chocolate.
Sometimes onions are messy to eat!
Did you already know...............
-Fontina is a creamy, semi soft cheese.
-There are different types of fontina cheese like Italian, Swedish, or Danish.
-Fontina is a versatile cheese and can be eaten with fruit or cooked in a dish.

Monday, December 3, 2012

My youngest sister loves chocolate. Since my sister was coming over to take the kids to visit Santa, I decided to make some cookies with chocolate of course. My sister said she liked them a lot but I think her youngest daughter takes after her. I saw her take a couple cookies plus one for the road. I didn't think it was possible but I think my niece enjoyed the cookies more than my sister.
These cookies are rich and delicious. The original recipe calls for coconut but my sister doesn't like coconut so I've omitted it. I still thought they were great. They are gooey with a crunch from the nuts. When you just need chocolate, make these cookies.
Chocolate-Macadamia Nut Clusters
8 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 Tbsp all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups salted macadamia nuts, roasted
1 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips

Directions: 
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a double boiler*, melt 8 oz. semisweet chocolate with the butter. 
  3. Stir the chocolate and butter until smooth and then remove from the heat. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. 
  4. In a large bowl, cream the sugar, eggs, and vanilla until smooth.
  5. Add the melted chocolate mixture to the sugar mixture. Beat until well blended.
  6. Stir in the flour and baking powder, mix until just moistened.
  7. Fold in the macadamia nuts and the mini chocolate chips. 
  8. On a parchment lined cookie sheet, drop about 1 Tbsp portions of dough onto a parchment lined cookie sheet spaced about 2 inches apart.
  9. Bake the cookies for about 8-10 minutes or until the edges are firm but still soft when pressed in the middle.
  10. Allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes before transferring the cookies on a wire rack to cool completely.
Recipe adapted from My recipes.com.
*I use a thick, heat proof glass bowl over a small pan filled with 1/2 cup of water. 

One year ago...............................I made Chocolate Fudge.
My niece waiting for her cookie.
Check out my brother in law enjoying the cookie too!
Did you already know............
-Around 280 A.D., Saint Nicholas is thought to have been born.
-Saint Nicholas was born in the region of Turkey.
-Saint Nicholas is suppose to have traveled around the country side helping the sick and poor.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Honey Crostini

Recently, I attended an auction with some friends to benefit the Veterans. At the auction, my husband won some honey. Now, I love honey so it will be put to good use. Even if the kids have a cough, I give them honey and not medicine. My husband brought my son in for a checkup and he had a cough. Our doctor told Chris to give our kids honey and he said that is what Jen already does. Sometimes I impress my husband. 

Honey Crostini
1 loaf of french bread, sliced (my deli sliced mine)
1 apple, sliced very thin
12 slices of mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup walnuts

Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Toast the walnuts for about 7 to 9 minutes. Allow to cool.
  3. Place the french bread on a cookie sheet.
  4. Place the french bread in the oven and allow to cook for about 5 minutes or until lightly toasted.
  5. Place a thin slice of apple on top of the toast.
  6. Top the apple slice with a piece of mozzarella cheese.
  7. Place toast in the oven until the cheese has melted slightly.
  8. Drizzle a little honey on top of the cheese.
  9. Sprinkle with the toasted walnuts and serve.
Recipe by Jen of Sweet Morris.

One year ago............................I made Breakfast Potatoes
Did you already know..............
-Today, I married my husband 10 years ago.
-We have a total of four children together, 2 boys and 2 girls.
-I still love him.

Happy Anniversary of 10 years!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Smothered Pork Chops

Recently, I attended my son's school conference. It went well and his teacher told me how she liked how happy my son was and that he never complained. So, I told him what his teacher said then I asked him why he was so happy. He looked at me and said, "What is there not to be happy about? I have a good life." Isn't he great? Sometimes I feel like I must be doing a good job on some days. I'm just glad I don't receive a report card since it may say A for effort but C for child arrived at school one day with socks that did not match which would always be my oldest daughter's case since she is adamant about her socks being different. It's a fashion statement.
Since we have been eating a lot of poultry lately, I decided I needed a change and went with some pork chops. These pork chops came out really tasty. It was even husband approved. 

Smothered Pork Chops
1 cup all purpose flour
1 Tbsp onion powder
2 Tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp cayenne 
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
4 pork chops, bone in about 3/4 inch thick
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup buttermilk
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Directions:
  1. On a plate, mix the 1 cup flour, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, salt, and pepper.
  2. With a paper towel, pat the pork chops dry to remove any moisture.
  3. Dredge the pork chops through the flour and shake off the excess flour.
  4. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil.
  5. When the oil is hot, carefully add the pork chops to the pan and fry for 3 minutes per a side until golden brown.
  6. Remove the pork chops from the pan and set aside on a clean plate.
  7. To the skillet,sprinkle a little of the seasoned flour.
  8. Whisk the flour into the drippings until dissolved.
  9. Add the chicken broth to the pan and whisk.
  10. Cook the broth for about 5 minutes until it thickens slightly.
  11. Stir in the buttermilk and return the pork chops to the pan.
  12. Allow the pork chops to cook covered in the sauce for about 5 minutes and the pork is cooked through.
  13. Season with salt and pepper.
  14. Garnish with the parsley. 
Recipe adapted from Taylor Florence.
One year ago.........................I made Cheesy Potato Gratin.
Did you already know...........
-Almost 50 million children attended public elementary and secondary school this fall.
-Over 5 million children attend private elementary and secondary school.
-The public schools employs about 3 million full time teachers.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Pot Pie

My oldest daughter decided to straighten her hair. So, I am going to take a poll to see what you think. I prefer the curls. She was born with dark straight hair then after a couple of months her blond curls came in and we have never known anything else. What do you think?
Straight? Curly as before? You are welcome to vote here. The next day she washed her hair and the curls were instantly back. I remember how my Grandmother always would curl her hair and Allie has instant curls.
I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving or a great day yesterday. Did you eat a lot of turkey? Do you have a lot left? My husband loves leftover turkey. How do you eat your leftover turkey? My husband's favorite way is to make a sandwich. My son doesn't care since he just loves turkey. Growing up, my Mom always made a turkey pot pie the next day. My husband is afraid of pot pies because he thinks there are peas hiding out in there. I made his pea free.

Turkey/Chicken Pot Pie
Filling:
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 large russet potato, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
8 oz. button mushrooms, sliced
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
salt and ground pepper
3 cups cooked turkey/chicken, cut into bite size pieces

Cream Sauce:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp hot pepper sauce
Salt and ground pepper

Crust:
1 cup unsalted butter
3 cups all purpose flour
8 oz. chilled cream cheese
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground white pepper
1 large egg, beatened

Directions:
To make filling:
  1. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and potato. Saute for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, bell pepper, and mushrooms. Saute for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  4. Stir in the crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper to taste.
  5. Stir in the turkey/chicken meat until incorporated.
  6. Set aside the filling.
To make the cream sauce:
  1. In a large saucepan, melt the 1/2 cup unsalted butter over medium heat.
  2. Add the flour and whisk until smooth.
  3. Whisk in the stock and cook over medium heat until sauce thickens.
  4. Add the cream. Also, add the hot sauce, salt, and white pepper to taste.
  5. Pour the cream sauce over the chicken mixture and mix well.
To make the crust:
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Cut the 1 cup of butter into 16 pieces.
  3. In a food processor, pulse the butter with the flour until crumbly.
  4. Add the cream cheese, salt, and white pepper.
  5. Pulse just until the dough forms a ball.
  6. Set the dough onto a clean surface dusted with flour.
  7. Roll the dough to 1/4 inch thickness.
  8. Cut the dough about 1 1/2 larger than the container using for the filling.
To assemble Pot Pies:
  1. In 1 1/4 cup individual oven safe bowls with the chicken filling.
  2. Lay the dough over the dish, making the dough hang evenly over the dish.
  3. Brush the dough with the beaten egg.
  4. Place the dish or bowls onto a cookie sheet lined with tin foil/parchment paper.
  5. Bake the Pot Pies for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.
  6. Serve immediately. 
Recipe adapted from The Pastry Queen Cookbook by Rebecca Rather.

One year ago.....................I made Buffalo Chicken Dip.
Did you already know............
-The average Thanksgiving turkey weighs 15 pounds.
-An average Thanksgiving turkey is 70% white meat.
-A group of wild turkeys are called a rafter.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Scones

Pumpkin is one of those recipes in which you are a fan or not. I am a huge fan of pumpkin. I'm not picky either I like pumpkin bread or pumpkin pasta. My husband doesn't encourage me to make pumpkin recipes. Maybe he thinks I would go overboard? Unbeknown to him, I have a recipe that recently asked me to make a pumpkin recipe. To please my sister and my love for pumpkin, I decided I would make something for breakfast. Just because it is almost Thanksgiving, the kids expect me to feed them a couple meals before the big feast. Muffins were my first choice but I realized I hadn't made scones lately.
I decided to take one of my favorite pumpkin muffin recipes and adapt it. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. The dough was sticky but when it came out it tasted really good. So, I tried again the next day and added more flour but I still thought the dough seemed too sticky. However, it still tasted really good. My daughter brought some to school and shared with her classmates. They told my daughter they loved it. I even had a friend sample it and he really liked it. My husband brought three pieces to work for his lunch.
The cream cheese filling spread over the dough
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Scones
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
6 Tbsp butter, cut into small cubes
1 egg
1 cup pumpkin
1/4 cup heavy cream

Direction:
  1. In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese and powdered sugar. 
  2. Place in the refrigerator to chill for several hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking liner. 
  5. In a food processor, add the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and baking soda. Pulse 10 times.
  6. Add the butter and pulse about 10 to 15 times.
  7. Add the egg, pumpkin, and heavy cream. Pulse about 10 times or just combined.
  8. Scoop half the batter and add to the middle of the baking sheet.
  9. Spread the cream cheese mixture over the dough. (See photo above.)
  10. Cover the cream cheese mixture with the remaining dough.
  11. Bake the dough for about 20 minutes.
  12. Remove from oven and cut into wedges and return to the oven. Bake for another 5 minutes or until the center of the wedge is cooked. (If a toothpick is inserted, the center will be gooey due to the cream cheese mixture.)
Recipe inspired by Annie's Eats.

A year ago................................I made Pancakes
Did you already know................
-Pumpkins are native to Central America.
-The colonist cooked pumpkins over hot coals with the inside filled with honey, milk, and spices.
-Pumpkins are grown all over the world beside Antarctica.


Happy Thanksgiving from Sweet Morris! 
I am thankful you took the time to stop by.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Week of Thanksgiving

Are you cooking Thanksgiving this year? Have you already started your shopping or prepping? I have already started my shopping but no real prepping yet. I try to get most of the prep work done by Tuesday night like peeling and chopping vegetables. On Wednesday, I will assemble my casseroles so they are ready for the oven the next day. I will check on the star of the meal to see if it is thawed. If not, I will be waking up early to thaw it in the sink. If it is thawed, then I will sleep a little longer since we tend to eat around 3 pm. See I need my sleep since I will be out early Friday morning with my sister. 
In preparation for Thanksgiving, I made up some chicken broth. It really is easy just time consuming. I ended up with 18 cups worth of chicken stock. If I buy chicken stock, it comes in a 4 cup container, so I decided to store the chicken stock the same way but in double lined plastic freezer bags. This way I can lay the bags down in the freezer to save space.
 Chicken Stock
1 whole stewing chicken
2 carrots, unpeeled
2 stalks celery
10 whole peppercorns
2 bay leaves
5 quarts water

Directions:
  1. Chop the carrots and celery into 3 inch pieces.
  2. Place the chicken, carrots, celery, and peppercorns in a large pot.
  3. Add the water to the pot and bring to a boil over high heat.
  4. Once it boils, lower the heat to medium low and simmer for 1 hour uncovered. 
  5. Turn the heat as low as possible and simmer uncovered for at least 2 hours.
  6. Remove the chicken and refrigerate it.
  7. Using a large strainer, strain the chicken broth into a large container.
  8. Discard the vegetables and refrigerate the stock.
  9. Once the chicken has cooled, pull off the meat and store in the refrigerator for a couple of days or freeze.
  10. Once the chicken broth has cooled, store in containers or double layered freezer bags in the refrigerator for a couple of days or the freezer until needed.
Recipe adapted from The Pastry Queen Cookbook by Rebecca Rather.

One year ago................... I made Chocolate-Peanut Butter Whoppie Pies.
Did you already know.....
-In 1621, the Plymouth Pilgrims invited the Wampanoag Indians to the first Thanksgiving feast.
-The feast lasted three days.
-The pilgrims used spoons, knives, and their hands to eat the feast since they did not have forks. 

My daughter showing how I double line my freezer bags with the broth:
Really Mom, really?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Green Beans and Bacon with Browned Butter

My youngest daughter has an Easy Bake Oven. She loves it and decided to bake something for us. It doesn't matter what the packet says she tries to place it in the oven like frosting. I'm just glad she asks me right before cooking it. I'm not sure how good baked frosting taste. She did finally find a cake packet to bake. When it came out, she offered all of us a piece. I kindly thanked her but I was full. My husband and son said sure. They both took a bite and left the room. They came and right after they whispered to me that it tasted awful. She hollers, "So, what do you think?" My two guys in unison holler back, "You did awesome!" (while making a face I may add.) I did think it was very sweet of them that they didn't want to hurt her feelings. I did notice they didn't finish their piece.  After they left, my daughter did come in and told me quietly that she didn't like it but she'll try another one later. I told her that she should. When I think back to when I was a kid and had an Easy Bake Oven, I don't really remember eating a lot of them but I just like to bake in it. 
I usually like my green beans plain. For Thanksgiving, we always have green bean casserole but I like to try out new recipes before I decide to make it on Thanksgiving. The kids really liked this recipe with bacon and brown butter. How could they not? I think they would elect to eat their green beans this way everyday.
Green Beans and Bacon with Browned Butter
2 lb. green beans, trimmed
4 oz. bacon
2 shallots, thinly sliced
4 Tbsp butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: 
  1. In a large saucepan, add the green beans to boiling, salted water.
  2. Cover and cook the green beans for 4 to 7 minutes. The green beans should be crisp tender.
  3. Drain and set aside the green beans.
  4. In a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp.
  5. Remove the bacon and place on a paper towel lined plate. Set aside.
  6. In the skillet, reduce the heat to medium low.
  7. Add the shallots and cook for 4 minutes or until just beginning to crisp. Stir frequently. Remove the shallots onto the same plate with the bacon.
  8. Season to taste with salt.
  9. To the skillet, add the butter and melt over medium heat.
  10. Reduce the heat to medium low.
  11. Continue to cook for 4 minutes. Do not stir. The butter needs to become light brown. Reduce heat to low.
  12. Add the green beans and shallots back to the skillet.
  13. Cook 2 to 4 minutes until heated through, stirring occasionally.
  14. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  15. Serve immediately.
Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Garden November 2012 magazine.

Did you know....................a year ago I made Honey Yeast Rolls
Did you already know........
-In 1963, the first Easy Bake Oven was sold.
-The first Easy Bake Ovens sold for around $16.
-Since the first Easy Bake Oven, there has been 11 models.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Growing Up!

Recently, my Mom gave me a back rest pillow. The kids thought it was the neatest thing. They were more fascinated with the pillow than some of their toys. They placed it on my bed and had to take turns trying it out. Then finally they let me try out my gift which is always nice. They told me to lean back into it and how comfy it felt. Then my son told me to go to sleep. Why he thought I would want to sleep sitting up was beyond me but I pretended to sleep. Anytime I pretend to sleep I make some snoring noises, don't you? My seven year old son started to laugh and he said, "A woman snoring, that is funny!" He knows I don't snore in my sleep and neither does his sisters so he assumes females don't snore. (Good thing he hasn't been around my sister much when she sleeps because I know she snores!) So, it got me thinking about my childhood assumptions.
Childhood Assumptions:
1. Men are serious and don't smile a lot. (My Dad and my maternal relatives did not smile a lot. They are men.)
2. Men do not eat sweets. (My Dad use to eat a lot of candy as a child and outgrew candy plus my maternal Grandfather was diabetic.)
3. Men like beer and women don't. (My Mom very rarely drinks.)

Do you have any childhood assumptions that have changed since becoming an adult? My husband does smile and loves sweets. I will drink a beer once in awhile especially when I am cooking chili since I don't want it to go to waste. 
My oldest daughter asked me to make some steak fajitas. My sister orders this meal a lot so I knew what was in it but had never looked up the recipe since it seemed like a quick meal. I was surprised by all the recipes I looked at wanted me to marinade the meat for hours. Since I had lack of planning, I just used a better cut of meat so it would be tender. We liked it and my daughter was happy. These are the type of meals we serve when my husband is away since he doesn't eat steak and peppers. I think he is missing out.
Steak Fajitas
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
8 oz Sirloin Steak, cut in strips
1 Tbsp Montreal Steak seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 red pepper, sliced in strips
1/2 green pepper, sliced in strips
1/2 yellow onion, sliced in strips
1/2 fresh lime juice, optional
8 flour tortillas

Directions:
  1. In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat.
  2. Season the steak with the Montreal Steak Seasoning, a little salt, and pepper. 
  3. Add the steak and brown for about 3 minutes per a side or cook until the desired doneness.
  4. Remove the steak and place on a plate.
  5. Add the red pepper, green pepper, and yellow onion to the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes.
  6. Squeeze the lime juice over the vegetables and cook for about another minute or two. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. Remove the vegetables and mix with the steak before serving on tortillas.
One year ago........................I made Cranberry Cream Cheese Bundt Cake. It was so good that I know what I'll be making this week.
Did you already know....
-Some causes of snoring are excess weight, alcohol consumption, congestion, and exhaustion.
-4 out of 10 men snore and 3 out of 10 women snore per Health 24.
-Snoring can be a sign of sleep apena.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Minestrone

Happy Veteran's Day!

Both my parents were in the military. I remember growing up and my father wearing his uniform. My father had made it a career so we lived all over from Guam and Hawaii to Virginia. Since they served in the Navy, my father told me to join the Air Force. I'm glad I did for many reasons. To this day, I still keep in touch with several service members. I wanted to take a moment to Thank all my fellow Veterans out there and our military members who are still currently serving. It is a tough life. 
Thank you!
I normally do not post two soup recipes in a row but I am cold lately. My oldest daughter is even wearing a coat lately. When there is snow on the ground and it is February, I will have to remind her about her coat but not now. I guess she has to become immune to it once again. The best thing about soups are they normally can be a healthy alternative. I really like soups with lots of vegetables so this is a great pick. This is a great recipe to keep our Veteran's healthy!
Minestrone Soup
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1/2 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
salt and pepper to taste
2 (28 oz.) can fire roasted tomatoes
6 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 (15 oz) can low sodium kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup elbow pasta
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated
2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped

Directions:
  1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat.
  2. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add the celery and carrots. Cook for about 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in the green beans, dried oregano and dried basil. Salt and Pepper to taste. Cook for 3 minutes.
  6. Add the fire roasted tomatoes and chicken broth. Bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes.
  8. Stir in the kidney beans and pasta. Cook for 10 minutes or until the pasta is cooked to the al dente or desired texture.
  9. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with fresh basil if desired.
 Recipe adapted from Ellie Krieger from Food Network.
(If I had planned it right, I should have served a recipe by Sunny Anderson since she is also an Air Force Veteran.)
Did you already know...
-The Veteran's Day National Ceremony is held every year on November 11th at Arlington National Ceremony and it commences with laying a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknowns at precisely at 11:00 am.
-There are over 23 million Veterans in the United States.
-"1.8 million veterans are women." according to History Channel.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Lasagna Soup

I love reading blogs. I bookmark many recipes but it usually takes me awhile to make the recipe especially if it isn't a quick recipe. Plus, I try to take a consensus for the recipe. For an example, I have been trying to make pork chops for a week now. My husband keeps suggesting something else or he will cook. So, I purchased the pork chops so guess what we will be having tomorrow. My husband is normally fine with soup unless it is vegetable then he would rather have chips and dip. So when I saw this recipe, I knew I would be making it real soon. I just said we were having soup.
I will tell you that I blog recipes my family likes. There was no liking this recipe. We loved it. My husband is not a big fan of pasta but he told me that I could cook this meal four times a week-yes four times. My children loved it. My oldest daughter just kept saying.......mmmmmmmm. It is easy. It is cheesy. It is delicious. You really need to try this recipe. It is so much easier than lasagna. You need to try this soup. I guess I sound like Sam I am in Green Eggs and Ham. "Try them! Try them! And you may. Try them and you may, I say." (pg 53) You may want to try it four times a week.
Lasagna Soup
1 lb. ground sweet Italian sausage
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp thyme
1 Tbsp brown sugar
4 cups chicken broth
1 (14.5 oz) can diced stewed tomatoes
1 (14.5 oz) can diced Italian stewed tomatoes
2 (8 oz.) cans tomato sauce
7 lasagna noodles, broken into large pieces (about 3" pieces or smaller)
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, grated

Directions:
  1. In a large pot, heat the ground sausage over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion, pepper, garlic, and salt. Cook until the sausage is browned.
  3. To the pot, add the thyme, brown sugar, the cans of stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and chicken broth. Bring the soup to a boil.
  4. Once the soup begins to boil, reduce the heat and allow the soup to simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Add the noodles to the soup and stir. Allow the soup to simmer for 10 minutes or until the noodles are a dente or the desired consistency.
  6. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and stir. Allow the cheese melt for a minute before lading into bowls.
  7. Top the soup with mozzarella cheese and serve.
Recipe adapted from Jamie Cooks It Up!.

One year ago...................I made Roasted Chicken.
Did you already know.....
-Dr. Seuss was a pseudonym for Theodor Seuss Geisel. 
-Seuss was his mother's maiden name. 
-Dr. Seuss received his bachelor's degree in literature from Dartmouth College. 
-Dr. Seuss continued his studies at Lincoln College, Oxford but never completed his doctorate studies.