Monday, December 23, 2013
I'll be away from the blog for a bit.
I always take the last few weeks of the year to really unwind and enjoy the holidays.
I'll be cooking and baking for the next few days and then I plan on doing a whole lotta nothing.
I want to thank you for visiting, for making my recipes and giving me feedback, (I love that!). Your enthusiasm for this little blog of mine keeps me going and your thoughtful emails over the past year have left me smiling.
The beauty of this season and the kindness that you have shown are not lost on me. I'm grateful for each and every one of you.
My wish for you is that you are surrounded with the people you love, sharing delicious food, and truly feeling the joy of this Christmas season.
Peace & love,
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
I've baked a lot of loaves a bread in my day. It's a bit of a task, especially when you work full time, but I still love to feed my family home baked bread...and now I can.
I have a little secret and if some of you already knew this and didn't tell me, then shame on you. Where you hiding this little gem from me all along? Rhodes Frozen Bread Dough.
Frozen bread, the in freezer, take and bake! It even comes in a 5 pack! Why didn't I know about this?
I stumbled across a very pretty blog called Everyday Occasions and I saw this beautiful loaf of cinnamon bread. I scrolled down the screen and saw that she made it with frozen bread dough. It was her little secret and now it's your and mine too!
This bread is good. I mean really good. All I had to do was let it defrost in the fridge overnight, take it out the next day and give it some time to rise. I did this in my oven. I turned the oven on to it's lowest setting, put a pan of warm water on the bottom rack, oiled a bowl and threw some oil on the bread, covered it with plastic wrap and a towel, shut the oven off, and let it rise for a few hours. It was so simple.
I followed Jenny instructions for the cinnamon bread. So easy. Now my mind is churning with all the other stuff I can make with this dough. She has recipes for monkey bread, and pizza bread and pecan rolls!
Who doesn't need some time saving recipes especially at this hectic time of year? Next time I think I'll add some raisins, or maybe some nuts, or jam....oh man, I see lots of delicious breads in my future!
Easy Brown Sugar Cinnamon Bread
recipe from Everyday Ordinary
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
1 loaf of frozen bread dough (Rhodes brand)
3 tablespoons of butter, softened
1/3 cup of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons of butter melted
1 cup of powdered sugar
milk, to thin, if necessary
Let the dough thaw overnight in the refrigerator. You can also use your defrost setting the in microwave if you're in a pinch. Instructions for defrosting are on the back of the package. Each log of dough will make one loaf.
Set your oven to it's lowest temp. put in a pan of warm water, oil the bowl and rub a little oil on the bread, cover with plastic wrap and a towel, shut the oven off, and let it rise for a few hours.
Roll the dough out onto a floured surface. Make sure you roll it out to fit the size of your pan. Butter it generously. Top with brown sugar and cinnamon. You could also add raisins and nuts or whatever else makes you happy. Roll it up from the short end and place it seam side down in your pan. (I used a bread pan (loaf pan). Crush the loaf with a little oil, then let it rise for another hour and a half. Before they go into the oven, brush with an egg wash.
They bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes - or until golden (mine took 30 minutes). Another way to check to see if it is done is to "thump" the bread. If it sounds hollow it is done!
Drizzle a simple mixture of melted butter, powdered sugar and milk to make a quick glaze. Let it harden before slicing.
Friday, December 13, 2013
The holiday season is in high gear and I'm happy to say...I am not.
I've made it a priority to simplify things in 2013 and not stressing about Christmas is one of the ways I'm doing that. I shopped early. No hassle, no fuss, no lines, no frenzy. I bought a lot online, I got some great deals and I didn't stress myself out.
The only thing I have left to do over the course of 10 days is to make some cookies & fudge, wrap the last of the presents, and ENJOY. Isn't that was this season is supposed to be about anyway?
For years I stressed myself out and made myself crazy and I always ended up getting sick from wearing myself out completely. I just refuse to do it anymore.
I'm asking for help now. I used to make the entire meal on my own. Now I ask my brothers to bring an appetizer and a dessert. I ask for help cleaning up. My mom and I were the only ones standing at the sink doing dishes or cleaning up. No more!
If you are a Miss "Do It All" like I was I highly recommend just letting a lot of it go and delegating. One person can't do it all, they just can't, and you shouldn't. Take time for yourself, "be" there in the moment, and really enjoy your holiday ok?
I'm off my soapbox now! Let's talk cookies!
I found this recipe in a Family Circle magazine and adapted it quite a bit to make to my own. I'm a maple freak. It's just one of my most favorite flavors. So I tweaked this recipe a bit and gave it a maple glaze.
We loved these cookies! They are on the small size, little mini bites of goodness!
Chocolate Chunk Maple Oatmeal Cookies with a Maple Glaze
Adapted from a recipe at Family Circle
makes about 36 cookies
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
½ cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup pure maple syrup (not pancake syrup)
1 ½ cups quick cook oats
½ cup chocolate chunks (or chips)
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons of maple syrup
Heat oven to 350. In a bowl or stand mixer beat the butter, sugar and maple syrup for 3 minutes. Beat in the egg until just combined. Stir in the oats chocolate chunks.
In another bowl whisk together the flour baking soda and salt. Pour in the flour and beat on low until just combined. Stir in oats and chocolate chunks.
Drop by scant teaspoons size rounds of batter onto a parchment lined baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, or until just golden. Remove to wire rack to cool completely.
Once the cookies are cool, you can make the glaze.
For the glaze:
Combine 1 cup confectioners’ sugar and 2 tablespoons of maple syrup. If you need to thin it out a bit more, just add in a little more maple syrup. Dunk the tops of each cookie in the glaze and let harden.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Recently I was contact by the nice folks at Echelon Foods in Canada. They wanted to send me a turducken to cook and review. Well let me tell you, when I mentioned it to my husband he just about leaped out of his chair. "tell them YES!" He's always wanted to try a turducken.
In case you don't know what a tuducken is: The turducken is a tasty beast. De-boned duck and chicken breasts are wrapped up with sausage stuffing and placed into a whole turkey, also deboned except for wings and drumsticks.
Look at the beautiful color. That was with no basting!
Thaw, pop it into your oven, bake without basting, and then serve it to your guests with no need to carve or throw away bones! It couldn't have been simpler.
I decided to have a little turducken party last Sunday. We invited a few friends and some family and we went to town putting a hurting on this baby. Everyone LOVED it and I love the fact that all I did was throw it in a roasting pan, cooked it low and slow and take it out and slice it up was great! There is practically no waste!
Instead of the usual ham or turkey, think about getting a turducken this holiday season. We highly recommend it! It was moist and juicy and that stuffing.....it was so good!
Echelon has turduckens with two different kinds of stuffing and they even have gourmet turducken burgers!
My friend John could hardly wait for me to take a picture!!
We all (and I mean all of my family and friends) recommend trying a turducken! Delicious!
Friday, December 6, 2013
Well all the containers came down from the attic, my house is decorated and the outside is decorated, so Christmas season has officially begun at our house! Hooray! We pick up our tree later today, so tonight will be all about the decorating!
The winter chill is starting to settle in here in Rhode Island. The wind is picking up and there is that gray/steel look to the sky.
I know a lot of people hate the winter but I love it. I try and embrace each season here in New England. We are blessed with getting to experience all four, not everyone can say that about where they live. Still I hear the endless complaints about driving in the snow, or having to shovel snow. It's Rhode Island. It snows here. That's not going to change. If you really hate it that much, then I suggest you move. I really want to say that, but I usually don't.
So I'm one of those nut cases who loves the chill in the air and gets excited when we bring down the big bucket of hats, scarfs and mittens from the attic. I love to bundle up. I love it when we boil water in the kettle almost every night for tea and hot chocolate. I love to put on my Smartwool socks. I'm a bit of a homebody. Maybe that's what makes me so acclimated to the winter?
I also love to fill the kitchen with delicious things to warm you from the inside out. What's better than a hearty casserole on a chilly night or a delicious hot breakfast to start your day?
If you search online for the phrase "bubble up breakfast bake" you will find quite a few recipes. I looked at dozens before deciding to just make up my own.
I served this Sunday for my friend Tati and she loved it! I gave her some to take home to her husband John and he loved it too. I've made quite a few breakfast recipes over the past year and I have to say this one was one of the best. I'm already planning on making it again and adding spinach.
Bubble Up Breakfast Bake
1 pound of breakfast sausage
1 tube of refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
1 medium onion, chopped
1 pound baby bella mushrooms, chopped
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cook the sausage in a skillet on medium high heat. Drain any grease, set aside. Place the chopped onion in the same pan. You may need to add a little oil to the onions. Let the onions cook for a few minutes then add in the chopped mushroom. Cook until tender. Set aside.
Cut each biscuit into 8 pieces and place in the bottom of a greased 9x13 baking dish. Add the sausage in a even layer. Top with the onion and mushroom mixture. Sprinkle with cheese.
In a medium sized bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, Italian seasoning and salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the rest of the ingredients.
Bake for 30 minutes or until a knife comes out clean in the middle of the dish.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
It's been one year today.
365 days since he's been gone.
During those first few months I thought I'd never feel happy again. I felt like my heart was breaking. The passing of this little dog turned my whole world upside down. I can't even bring myself to think about the last time we saw him. It's just too painful. Just typing this has left me struggling to see the screen through my tears.
I remember in the days after he was gone telling people that I couldn't celebrate Christmas this year. How could I be happy and joyful without him in my life? I was truly devastated.
I cried. Oh how I cried. Barely holding it together at work. Choking back tears at every movie or commercial with a dog in it. Almost jealous when I saw friends with their pets. Feeling horrible for all the times I scolded him for being underfoot, or trying to sneak food. All the little day to day things that changed our daily life creeping up on me, making me feel so down.
Then came the firsts. The birthdays without him. The first time he wasn't there to sing (howl) every time we started to sing Happy Birthday. The first time he wasn't with us in the yard, laying in the shade as we tended to the garden, jumping in the leaves, napping on the deck, walking with us in the woods. I can't tell you how many times John would find me just sitting in a flood of tears, overcome with memories and sadness.
I must have said "I miss him" a thousand times since last December and John always replies "I miss him too".
I still have his tattered bunny on my bureau. I still pick it up and breathe him in, knowing that the day will come when I can't smell him anymore. A lock of his hair in a box, his collar and sweaters still in a big basket on top of an armoire. I can't bare to part with them. I don't want to have every little piece of him vanish.
So. yes, it's been a year and I wish I could say that I don't miss him quite so much, or that my heart still doesn't sink a little when John opens the door and he's not running ahead of him to greet me, or that I don't wake up and for a millisecond put my foot down and expect to feel his furry back under my feet.
He was my constant companion, my foot warmer, my snuggler, my precious Moose.
Many people have asked us why we haven't gotten another dog. There are days when I long for another and all the things I miss about having a pup, but we just can't right now. The thought of going through this again is just unbearable. I can't say that we will never have another dog in our lives again, but right now the pain is still too raw.
I miss him. I miss him so much.
Monday, December 2, 2013
We had a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with family and friends and then we had a wonderful Black Friday. No we didn't venture out for the bargains. I've never been a Black Friday shopper. I shop early so all my presents have been purchased for months now. I get my bargains in the summer and fall. We did go to a local craft show. It's sort of a tradition with us. I think we've been going for almost 10 years now. We bring a canned good for the food pantry, pay a dollar, and get to see all the beautiful things that local crafters and artisans make. It's sort of like Small Business Saturday one day early. We picked up a few little gifts that I just couldn't pass up and then we headed back home and ate turkey sandwiches. Best part of the day.
Saturday we ventured out again to get some pine roping for decorating the front yard. Saturday night we plunked ourselves on the couch, cuddled up in blankets and watched stupid movies. A pretty great weekend so far if you ask me.
Sunday we cooked another small turkey because we only had enough leftovers for a few sandwiches. Can you imagine? So we popped the bird in the oven bright and early, then I made some turkey stock with the bones and threw together a big pot of turkey escarole soup.
While the soup was cooking I made a batch of these Sugar Cookie Bars for my husband's boss who celebrates Hanukkah (hence the blue frosting). My youngest loves sugar cookies. Loves them. Since this makes a whole jelly roll pan full there was plenty enough to give away and plenty for Evan.
If you love sugar cookies but don't feel like rolling them out and cutting them into shapes, then this is the recipe for you. It'll feed a whole bunch of people too, so it's perfect for a pot luck, Hanukkah or Christmas party. The frosting can be tinted any color you like!
Sugar Cookie Bars
recipe from The Repressed Pastry Chef
1 cup butter (2 sticks) room temp
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
5 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each egg. Add vanilla & mix well. In a separate bowl combine flour, salt & soda & stir with a whisk to combine. Add to wet mixture and mix just until combined. Spread on a greased baking sheet (use a 13 x 18 pan) I used a half sheet pan.. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes (this was 20 mins for me), until light golden brown or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely and frost.
1/2 cup butter; room temp
1/2 cup shortening
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
4 cups powdered sugar
5 Tbsp milk
food coloring (if desired)
For frosting combine butter and shortening until smooth and creamy. Add vanilla and salt. Add powdered sugar in 1-2 cup increments until combined, then add milk & mix until smooth and spreading consistency. Spread over cooled cookie, then cut into bars.