Sunday, December 8, 2013


December is here, which means its Christmas season in my book. Christmas is by far, my very favorite holiday and I look forward to it all year long!  There is something so magical about all the lights, decorations, yummy food and holiday spirit. Holiday baking is one of the things I absolutely LOVE about this season. I spent the day baking some of my favorite treats, including the molasses chews from a previous post. I added some banana bread, english toffee, and buckeyes to round things out a bit and have enough to share! I packaged some of these goodies up and brought them across the street to our neighbors who are always helping us out. They love to get any sweet treats I might be making and I try to always bring them something special. I am hoping my co-workers will also enjoy some yummy baked goods and candies this holiday season. My husband Steve is usually not a big fan of sweets, so there are usually plenty of extras!

-adapted from allrecipes

1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1/2 cup softened, salted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 TBS crisco
6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

Cover a baking sheet with wax paper and set aside.
Mix together butter, peanut butter, vanilla and salt until smooth. Add in powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, mixing well with hands. Once all powdered sugar is incorporated, roll mixture into 1 inch balls and place on baking sheet. Refrigerate for 1 hour. 
Melt crisco and chocolate chips in a double boiler until melted and combined. Insert a toothpick into each ball and dip in chocolate. Do not cover the entire ball. Set back on waxed paper and remove toothpick. Once all the balls are dipped, you can smooth over the toothpick holes with your finger, or leave them!

English Toffee
-adapted from Shugary Sweets

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1- 12 oz package of semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
1 cup natural almonds- coarsely chopped (I pulsed in food processor a few times)
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans 

Line an 11 x 7 baking dish with aluminum foil and then sprinkle almonds over bottom, set aside.
Heat butter, sugar, vanilla and salt in medium saucepan over med-high heat stirring constantly until mixture comes to a boil. Continue stirring for about 6 minutes, until mixture is around 300 degrees and a nice golden color. Pour mixture into the prepared dish and set aside until completely cooled and set, about 2 hours.
Once toffee is set, pour the melted chocolate over and smooth the top. Sprinkle with chopped pecans.
Once chocolate is set, use the foil to pull the toffee out of the pan and onto a wooden, cutting board.
Cut/chop into desired size pieces and enjoy!

Note: Make sure toffee is at room temperature before cutting, if it is too cold, chocolate will separate from the toffee.

Bourbon Banana Bread
-adapted from Smitten Kitchen

4 very ripe bananas
1/2 cup salted butter, melted
1 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbs bourbon (I used this Blue State bourbon because it was on sale :))
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 1/4 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 3 mini loaf pans or 1 regular and 1 mini loaf pan, set aside.
Mash bananas in a large bowl, pour in melted butter, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, and bourbon, mix well. Sprinkle with baking soda and salt, and then mix well again. Finally, add in spices and flour and stir until combined. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 40-50 minutes, until toothpick inserted into middle, comes out clean. 

Note: I like to leave some chunks in my bananas when mashing. The flavor those banana bits add is amazing! You may need to cover with foil if top is brown, but middle is still undone.  This recipe is an odd size for some but perfect for me...I like to have some banana bread to keep and some to give away!

Friday, December 6, 2013


I wrote this post about a month ago, but forgot to publish...whoops! Hope y'all enjoy!

When I decieded to start a blog, I was excited and nervous to start something so new and unfamilier. This nervousness transformed into reluctance when I started thinking about telling friends and family about this new experience. Unfortunatly for me, my friends know me too well for something like a new blog to go unnoticed for any real length of time. I had hoped to improve my writing skills, photgraphy skills, and blogging skills in general before "going public". However, my friend Carmen decided that was NOT an option! I have to say that while my initial reaction was pure terror, I have now come to accept that my blog is out there for the world to see and judge. The most recent post on Carmen's blog, , she talks about my love for Ina Garten, and her recipe for the yummy stuffed mushrooms I brought to an engagement party last weekend. These mushrooms were SO good! We kept them hidden away on the stove because we were reluctant to share with the rest of the group! Terrible, I know, but completely understandable once you taste them!

  Stuffed Mushrooms
     -Adapted from Ina Garten

24 Large, stuffer mushrooms
4 Tbs good red wine
6 Tbs good olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 lb sweet italian sausage
1/2 small onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
3 Tbs fresh chopped parsley
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan
8 oz mascarpone cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

First, separate mushroom caps from stems and place caps in a gallon size ziplock. Add in the red wine, 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, a little salt, pepper and the garlic powder. Shake around until all the mushrooms are coated evenly, set aside. Chop up mushroom stems until fine, and set aside.
Next, heat remaining olive oil over med-high heat and brown sausage, crumbling it up with the back of a wooden spoon. Add in onion and saute until soft, about 3 minutes. Next add chopped mushroom stems and minced garlic, cook for about 6 minutes until mushrooms are reduced. Toss in bread crumbs and stir until bread crumbs absorb all the liquid. Add in the parsley and parmesan and stir until combined. Finally add in the mascarpone and stir until melted and mixture is creamy and comes together. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Place mushroom caps in a baking dish and fill generously with stuffing. Cook at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes until mushrooms are soft and stuffing is browned.

Note: You will have filling left over! Use this to stuff chicken breasts or peppers as a yummy dinner option!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Molasses Chews

Fall has arrived! The leaves are gorgeous and air is cool! Running is more enjoyable and days off can be filled with outdoor activities. One of my favorite things about fall, is our annual Halloween bonfire party. I am so excited to see everyone in their costumes, enjoying the fire, tasty food and good company! As I am preparing for our party this evening, I've been staying busy making tasty treats to share with all. One of my favorite fall and winter recipes is for Molasses Chews. Steve said they might be is very favorite cookie. I am inclined to agree and decided they would be a great addition to our meal tonight.
Beware however, these cookies are highly addictive and you will eat a dozen before you know it!

Molasses Chews

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
3/4 cups (1.5 sticks) salted butter, softened
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/3 cup for rolling cookies
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsulphered molasses ( I used Brer Rabbit)

Preheat oven to 375 F. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and pumpkin pie spice in a large bowl and set aside
Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy at medium speed. Add egg, vanilla and molasses and continue mixing until combined. Add dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined.
Place remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a bowl. Roll cookie dough into 1 1/2 in balls and then roll in the sugar. Place rolled balls on an ungreased cookie sheet spacing about 1 1/2 in apart.
Bake for about 10 minutes or until cookies are cracked, centers are soft and puffy, and edges are just set. Cool cookies on sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

Note: Be very careful not to overcook, as the cookies will turn out hard and dry.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Kale, Chicken Sausage, and White Bean Soup

Ahh...the smell of fresh baked bread and a warm, cozy soup on the stove. I love those smells and the yummy food that goes along with them. I had some kale in the fridge and some chicken sausage in the freezer that I decided to make into a soup for dinner last night. Of course, soup can not be eaten alone. It must have a crusty roll or bread to serve along side. I decided to try out my friend Carmen's recipe, from her blog Carmen's Kitch for a crusty french baguette. She did not steer me wrong! The soup, paired with that crusty, delicious baguette and a glass of chardonnay was amazing! The husband was in agreeance that I should write down the recipe and make it again soon!


Kale, Chicken Sausage and White Bean Soup

1 package of chicken sausage (I used Al Fresco: Sweet Apple), cut lengthwise in half and then into  1/3'' chunks
1 Tbs olive oil
3 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 a red onion, chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
1 bunch of kale, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 can white beans, drained
6 cups chicken stock
4 oz uncooked elbow macaroni
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (adjust for spice)

Heat oil over med-high, in large pot, add chicken sausage, celery and onion. Cook until onions are just softened. Add garlic and kale. Cover and cook until kale is reduced but still crunchy. Add remaining 6 ingredients and bring to a boil. Cook about 8 minutes, or until macaroni is al dente. Reduce heat to low and simmer until ready to eat. (I could only wait 10 minutes)

Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a crusty baguette.

Friday, October 4, 2013

New things

I realized just recently that there are so many things that I love. Those who know me, know that I love to talk about those things. While there is a definite overuse of the word love, I am the just the kind of person who either loves something or doesn't.
One thing that I love to do is cook! I love trying new recipes, spicing things up, and trying new things in the kitchen. My husband Steve, loves my love for cooking. I also love to eat...comfort food, old standards, new treats, etc. I would like to share my favorite recipes, talk about the yummy food I get to eat, and pass on the delicious recipes that I get from friends.
I love to plan vacations! I may even enjoy planning them more that taking them. I enjoy researching where to go based on what kind of vacation someone is looking for, and finding the best possible spot! I love to find out all there is to know about a place, where to eat, what to do, etc. I want to find the best deals and the best secrets. I am planning our next vacation and look forward to blogging about the things I find and how it all turns out.
I love weddings! I love the planning, the creating, the excitement and seeing it come together in the most perfect way. I have had the opportunity to help plan and execute several weddings in the last year and I am excited to share all the things I've learned.
I hope that you will enjoy hearing about all these "loves" and more!
Stay tuned...