There are those great combinations we all love.

Hot water and soap.

Salty and sweet.

Cool and crunchy.

Fried chicken and chocolate cake.

Wait.  What?  Oh yeah, that’s one of my favorites.  Fried chicken with a piece of yellow layer cake with chocolate frosting.

And then, the holy grail of peanut butter and chocolate.

I was sniffing around Pinterest one night when I came upon this recipe and knew I needed to make it.

Of course, I bought about three packages of Reese’s cups because we kept snacking on them and you need the FULL six pack of Reese’s cups to make this recipe.

It’s one of those recipes that when you look at it, you think, ohhhhhh, this is so sinful, I really shouldn’t make this.  But chances are, you’re going to anyway.  Fudgy brownie with Reese’s cups nestled into the batter and a rich, decadent chocolatey peanut buttery frosting to go on top.  Mmmmmhmmmmm.  Yes please and thank you!

This is the perfect kind of thing to take to a pool party or barbecue as something “extra”.  Especially if you needed to bring something and you wake up that morning and realize you kinda forgot.  All it takes is a quick trip to the grocery store and a few hours for cooling/chilling.  Just make sure you keep these in the cooler, they will melt!

A word to the wise, cut these into small squares, as they are incredibly rich.  Store them in the fridge, they are EXCELLENT cold.  I baked these for co-workers as part of “Bake For Good” with King Arthur Flour and my friend Spike the Baker baked a long with me (although I was a bit delayed).  To learn more about this program, visit King Arthur Flour’s Bake For Good.

Double Layered Peanut Butter Cup Brownies slightly adapted from Chelsea’s Messy Apron

  1 packaged brownie mix (or your favorite brownie recipe-make sure it is for a 13×9 pan, NOT an 8×8!)

   Ingredients called for on the brownie mix

  12 Reese’s peanut butter cups

   2 cups milk chocolate chips

   3/4 cup creamy peanut butter

   1 teaspoon vanilla extract

   2 and 1/2 tablespoons shortening or coconut oil, separated (I used shortening)

  1. Line a 9 x 13 pan with tin foil or parchment paper and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Prepare the brownies according to package directions. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 16-17 minutes and then remove.
  3. Press the unwrapped peanut butter cups evenly into the brownies.
  4. Return the brownies to the oven and bake for another 5-6 minutes or until a fork when inserted into the brownies comes out clean. (Mine needed an additional 7 minutes, they were nowhere near done enough, but I think my oven tends to run a little cooler…….)
  5. Remove and allow to cool.
  6. In a microwave safe bowl, combine the chocolate chips and 2 tablespoons of shortening or coconut oil. Microwave in bursts of 30 seconds stirring in between the bursts until the chocolate is completely melted.
  7. Smooth the chocolate over the brownies evenly.
  8. In another small microwave safe bowl, combine the peanut butter and remaining 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil or shortening. Microwave for 30 seconds.
  9. Remove and stir in the vanilla.
  10. Pour in long stripes over the chocolate. Using a butter knife marble the top by running the knife horizontally from left to right just through the top chocolate and peanut butter layers.
  11. Allow to completely harden before enjoying the bars.

Egg McMuffin Casserole


My husband LOVES Egg McMuffins from McDonald’s.  He also loves Sausage Egg McMuffins.  Even McGriddles.

Me?  Not so much.

After spending most of my Saturday and Sunday mornings my senior year in high school and the early part of college working at our local McDonald’s, I have ZERO interest in them.  I do love english muffins, but I love them freshly toasted, not straight out of a warmer where they’ve gotten a bit soggy.

I was perusing Pinterest a few weeks ago and saw the McMuffin Casserole, and thought, hmmm, this sounds like a good recipe for the weekend.  So, on Saturday evening, I whipped up the casserole and put it in the fridge.  I made two changes to the ingredients, I used more Canadian bacon and I added ground mustard.  I also adjusted the baking time as the casserole was just not getting done at the temperature and time in the recipe.

This was incredibly yummy and very easy to make.  So many breakfast casseroles require precooking sausage or onions or veggies of some sort, but this was just a matter of dicing and whisking.  Not difficult AT all.

Try this the next time you’re feeding a few people for breakfast.  The servings are substantial and great for summer, as you won’t be spending much time prepping.


Egg McMuffin Casserole adapted from Plain Chicken

4 English muffins, split

8 ounces Canadian bacon (I used Boars’ Head)

1 cup cheddar cheese (I used colby jack)

4 eggs

1 1/4 cup milk (I used 1%)

1 teaspoon ground mustard



Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease an 8-inch square baking dish. Cube English muffins and chop Canadian bacon. Add half of the cubed English muffins in a single layer. Top with half of the Canadian bacon and 1/2 cup of the cheese. Layer the remaining English muffins and Canadian bacon and 1/2 cup more cheese.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl until combined. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the casserole. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and  refrigerate overnight.

Bake covered in preheated oven for 45 minutes.  Uncover casserole and bake for 15 minutes more.  Let stand 10 minutes prior to serving.

Leaving Boston

Leaving Boston

Hi Everyone.

I’ve been gone for WAY too long from this space.

The last few months, my life has been in a state of transition.

Shortly after we came back from vacation in Maine in October,my husband and I began looking for a home to buy in Massachusetts.  We settled on building a home, never thinking we’d get a chance to do that.  We met with our real estate agent many times and had just picked out tiles and flooring and finishes in early December, the next week, the director of my husband’s department at work announced significant cuts that would be made in the department over the next three years.  We backed out of the sale of the home. (December)  We tried another home, didn’t work out. (January) And then a third, no dice there, either. (Late February)

Yale Campus

Yale Campus.  A very peaceful place to reflect before the long ride home.

By March, we knew that lay offs and changes were on their way and my husband made the painful decision to look elsewhere for work, not wanting to stick around should the ax fall.  He looked in Massachusetts, not finding a job that tempted him.  So, we had the same discussion we’d had 7.5 years earlier, look elsewhere, expand the search to other states.  So, he did.

So, even with heavy hearts, we saw this as the great adventure that it would be.  Both of us had been feeling a little lost with the home purchase not working out and truth be told, we needed a change.

Spring had sprung by the time that we arrived.

Spring had sprung by the time that we arrived.

So, my husband found a job posting for a university in North Carolina.  The same state we moved from all those years ago when life had dealt us a cruel blow only a year and a half into home ownership.

He interviewed with them and it went well.  He had a second interview which also went well.  He spoke with the man that interviewed him and he was deemed the frontrunner for the position, but an offer had not been made.  We both asked for some time off from work, knowing we might need to make a trip out of state.

In mid to late March, we made a secret trip to North Carolina to look for a place to live.  I didn’t even tell my family or friends, which was difficult for me.

A Carolina Blue Sky

A Carolina Blue Sky

With much excitement, we packed the car and made the long journey down I-95.  We found an apartment and put down a deposit.  We spent the next few days exploring Raleigh, a city that we’d left for the Charlotte area ten years ago.  A city that we’d both worked in and loved.  We’d often referred to Raleigh as the city we’d move back to if we got the chance.  Funny how timing is everything and that is exactly what happened.

Strawberry season was in full swing at the North Carolina State Farmer's Market in late May

It was somewhere around Delaware, going over the big memorial bridge, singing my lungs out to Ellie Goulding’s “Love Me Like You Do” that it dawned on me.  I’m going home.  I’m going home.  I’m.Going.HOME.  I didn’t need an official confirmation.  But my heart for once, was connected with my head and I just KNEW.

We stopped on the way back in New Haven, Connecticut and stayed overnight.  It was that crisp, clear, Sunday morning, taking our time with room service breakfast (which was a first for me), looking out over the old buildings on the Yale campus that the gravity of what we had been through moving to Boston and the uncertainty of the last few months and now were going to undo hit me, but I felt completely at peace with the decision.  Still, no offer had been made.  But, when you know, you know.

The view from our first outdoor space in 7.5 years.

The view from our first outdoor space in 7.5 years.

It wasn’t until the morning of April 2 that the offer was made.  We both gave our notices at work.  We told our families and our friends.  We arranged movers and changed addresses and forward mail.  We had goodbye dinners with close friends and shed tears and worried about being so far from a part of the country we’d come to love and call home.  We took one last trip to Maine.  We packed up our memories.  On April 16, we finished our careers at MIT.  On April 21, we left Massachusetts.  On April 22, we crossed in to North Carolina shortly after midnight.  On April 23, we moved into our new apartment.  On May 4, my husband began his new job.  On May 21, I began a temporary position at the same university.

My friends have been so kind in wanting to reconnect and have gone out of their way to meet with us and have dinners, etc.  I find myself overwhelmed with love and a sense of being home, but yet feeling that some of the experience is new.  They say you can never go “home” again, and maybe that’s true.  One thing I tried to do was not put so much pressure on this beautiful city.  Try not to remember it for what it was, but for what it would be to us now.

There are so many things about New England that I will miss.  And I’m grateful for so many things, but most of all, to slow down a little and appreciate every second of another chance to be home.

A small space to sit.  OUTSIDE!

A small space to sit. OUTSIDE!

Spicy Sausage Pasta

Hot out from Under the Broiler!

Hot out from Under the Broiler!

Maybe two years ago, I was tooling around on Pinterest and saw a recipe for what I was sure would be a big hit with my husband for his lunches.  I pinned the recipe and didn’t get to it right away.  I saved it for a weekend when I was really pressed for time.  This recipe is perfect for when you don’t have a ton of of time between “WHAT’S FOR SUPPER!?!?!” and actually getting that task accomplished..  A few ingredients and a broiler safe pot and you’re good to go!  If your pot or saucepan isn’t broiler safe, I’m sure you could scoop the mixture into a casserole dish, sprinkle with green onions and the cheese and have the same result.

Cheesy, oniony, creamy, tomatoey, sausagey, brothy goodness with a zesty hit of chiles mixed with the tomatoes.  Perfect, perfect, perfect for a snowy winter day.  Reheats perfectly afterward.   This is husband approved!


Spicy Sausage Pasta from Kevin and Amanda

1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb smoked sausage
1.5 cups diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 (10 oz) can Ro-Tel tomatoes and green chiles, Mild (I use a 14.5 ounce can Del Monte diced tomatoes with Zesty Green Chiles)
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 oz penne pasta
1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, each
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions

1. Add olive oil to an oven-safe skillet over medium high heat until just smoking. Add sausage and onions and cook until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

2. Add broth, tomatoes, cream, pasta, salt and pepper and stir. Bring to a boil, cover skillet, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until pasta is tender, about 15 minutes.

3. Remove skillet from heat and stir in 1/2 cup cheese. Top with remaining cheese and sprinkle with scallions. Broil until cheese is melted, spotty brown, and bubbly.  Serves 4.

Cheesy Biscuit Lasagna


I’m not a huge fan of regular lasagna.  I’m not sure why.  I’ll eat it, and enjoy it, but it’s not something I make for supper on a regular basis.  I prefer spaghetti to lasagna any day of the week.  When I saw this recipe, I thought, hmmmm, now that sounds GOOD.  And it absolutely was.  I loved that there was one layer of beefy saucy mixture on the bottom, and that all the cheesiness was wrapped up in a biscuit and put on top.  You could absolutely make this with homemade biscuits with no issue, but I did used canned as a convenience.

I absolutely loved the comforting flavor of it.  The biscuits were filled with gooey cheese, and if you think you don’t like cottage cheese, it really isn’t noticeable.  The meat mixture is delicious-very good and quite filling.  This casserole serves four, but if you find yourself with only two people in the household, like me, it reheats beautifully in the oven the next day (300 degrees).  It is wonderful for a cold day when you need an easy, comforting meal.  Serve with a steamed vegetable and you’ve got supper in a flash.

Cheesy Biscuit Lasagna from Pillsbury

1 pound 80/20 Ground Beef
1 jar (28 oz) tomato pasta sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (I used dried oregano)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 can (12 oz) Pillsbury Grands! Jr. Golden Homestyle Buttermilk Biscuits
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (4 oz)
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried minced onion
1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 400°F. In 10-inch skillet, cook ground beef over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until thoroughly cooked; drain. Stir in pasta sauce, garlic powder, Italian seasoning and pepper. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 10 minutes.

Separate dough into 10 biscuits. Press or roll each into 4-inch round. In small bowl, mix mozzarella cheese, cottage cheese, parsley flakes, onion and basil until well blended. Place about 2 tablespoons cheese mixture on each biscuit round. Fold dough in half over filling; press edges with fork to seal.

Into ungreased 13×9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish, pour hot beef mixture. Arrange filled biscuits on top. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown.


Flour Bakery is an institution here in the Boston area.  Joanne Chang, the owner, is a lovely, down to Earth person, whom I met at a book signing nearly two years ago, when her book “Flour, Too” was released.  My friend Aileen and I went to Tags Hardware for a cooking demo and talk on a sunny Saturday in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  She made Gougeres that day, which were delicious.  I remember being in awe of how at ease she was talking in front of a group and piping pate-a-choux dough onto a sheet tray while using a pastry bag-I would not have had the same calm behavior.  I have been no stranger to Chang’s treats from Flour, as that same friend, Aileen, brought a selection of pastries from the famed bakery to our book club meeting one summer afternoon.  In the selection was the amazing Boston Cream Pie, which is made almost like a Napoleon, but taller, and better than you could ever imagine.  In a word:  DIVINE!  Their cafes are a spectacular place to stop for the obvious treat or a hearty breakfast or lunch.

Recently, I went looking for something tasty to make the husband for lunch during the week.  We’re into the time of year where soup is almost wished for every week, here in the frozen tundra of New England.  I settled on this tasty soup from the book and the husband really loved it!  Spicy and delicious and garnished with lime, it can chase away even the slightest winter blues.

Chipotle Chicken and Black Bean Soup slightly adapted from “Flour, Too”

Two 15 ounce cans black beans

2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used canola oil)

1 medium onion, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

3 garlic cloves, smashed and minced

2 pounds skin on, bone in chicken breasts

1 canned chipotle chile, chopped

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

One 20 ounce can no salt added crushed tomatoes, with juice

2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup uncooked long grain white rice

2 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2 inch pieces

2 tablespoons fresh oregano (the oregano didn’t look good at the market, I used 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano)

1/2 cup fresh cilantro

1 lime

Drain canned beans, rinse in cold water, and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium high heat.  Add the onion, carrots, and garlic, reduce the heat to medium, and sweat the vegetables for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring often with a wooden spoon, or until they start to soften and the onion is translucent.  Add the chicken breasts, chipotle chile, and ground cumin and brown the chicken, turning occasionally for 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, 2 quarts of water, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for about 10 minutes.  (I let the chicken simmer a bit longer, maybe 8 minutes more.)  Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken and set aside to cool.  Continue simmering the soup, skimming off any impurities that rise to the top, for another 50 minutes.

Add the rice to the soup and simmer 15 minutes longer.

When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones and shred the meat into small pieces, discarding the skin.  Set aside.  Add the black beans, zucchini, and oregano and simmer for 10 minutes longer, or until the rice and zucchini are tender.

While the soup simmers, add up to one cup of water as needed if it gets too thick.  When the soup is ready, taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.  Before serving, stir in the cilantro and squeeze in the juice of the lime.  Garnish soup with slice of fresh lime, if desired.  The soup can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to one month.

Fastest Cinnamon Buns


Happy New Year, Friends!

I’ve been saving up blog posts for you!  I’ve been semi-busy in the kitchen in the nearly one year since my last post.  Storing up photos of delicious food I’ve made like squirrels preparing for winter.  The truth is, I’ve missed blogging.  It was a part of who I am for so long and I’ve nearly abandoned it, but I decided to hopefully get back into the swing of things and I thought that you would appreciate a blog post on a Friday, so that you can run right out and get the ingredients to have on hand this weekend.

I received the cookbook “The Quick Recipe” from America’s Test Kitchen many, many years ago for Christmas.  I’ve made a few recipes out of it but kept going back to the photo on the cover, which is the recipe for these cinnamon buns.  I’m not sure why I waited so long to make these, maybe because I’d never made cinnamon buns before and I was nervous.  They are absolutely delicious and were true to their description in that they were very quick!  I actually froze a few of them with the icing on and they froze well, but next time, I’d make them and freeze them unglazed.  These rolls are very tender due to the buttermilk, the glaze has a slight tang from both cream cheese and buttermilk, cutting some of the sweetness that some cinnamon rolls have.  The glaze is quite dreamy, and none of these cinnamon buns are disappointing, however, the middle one, as it is with ALL cinnamon buns, is the very best!

I hope you will give these a try, even if you’re not confident with making rolls or bread of any sort.  There’s no yeast involved, so, for people who do not have good luck with yeast, this might be a good recipe for you to start with.  Make a pan for your family and maybe make another to give to a friend.  I’m sure they will love you even more for it!


Fastest Cinnamon Buns from “The Quick Recipe”

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar (I used light brown sugar)

6 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon plus 1/2 teaspoon salt

2-1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface

1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1-1/4 cups buttermilk


2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons buttermilk

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

For the buns:  

Adjust the oven rack to the upper middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees (I left the rack in the middle of the oven, where I usually keep it).  Brush a round 9 inch non stick cake pan with 1 tablespoon butter.  Spray a wire cooling rack with non stick cooking spray.

Combine the brown sugar, 4 tablespoons granulated sugar, cinnamon, cloves (I omitted these), and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a small bowl.  Add 1 tablespoon melted butter and stir with fork or fingers until the mixture resembles wet sand;  set the filling mixture aside.

Whisk together the flour, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl.  Whisk together the buttermilk and 2 tablespoons butter in a measuring cup.  Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until the liquid is absorbed (the dough will look shaggy), about 30 seconds.  Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead until just smooth and no longer shaggy, about 30 seconds.

Pat the dough with your hands into a 12 by 9 inch rectangle.  Brush the dough with 2 tablespoons melted butter.  Sprinkle the dough evenly with the brown sugar filling, leaving a 1/2 inch border.  Press the filling firmly into the dough.  Using a bench scraper or metal spatula, loosen the dough from the work surface.  Starting at a long side, roll the dough pressing lightly, to form a tight log.  Pinch the seam to seal.  Roll the log seam side down and cut it evenly into 8 pieces.  With your hand, slightly flatten each piece of dough to seal the open edges and keep the filling in place.  Place 1 roll in the center of the prepared pan and then place the remaining 7 rolls around the perimeter of the pan.,  Brush the rolls with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.

Bake until the edges are golden brown, 23 to 25 minutes.  Use an offset metal spatula to loosen the buns from the pan.  Wearing oven mitts, place a large plate over the pan and invert the buns onto the plate.  Place the greased cooling rack over the plate and invert the the buns onto the rack.  Cool about 5 minutes before glazing.

For the glaze and to finish the buns:

While the buns are cooling, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper (for easy cleanup);  set the rack with the buns on the baking sheet.  Whisk the cream cheese and buttermilk in a large bowl until thick and smooth (the mixture will look like cottage cheese at first).  Sift the confectioner’s sugar over the mixture and whisk until a smooth glaze forms, about 30 seconds.  Spoon the glaze evenly over the buns, serve immediately.

2014: A Brand New Year


This year, as many people make resolutions and either keep them or break them and follow a long and detailed list, I decided to break up my list by months and focus on a singular goal or theme for each month of the year.  These items are important in my life and I hope to share with you my progress on a monthly basis.  Happy New Year!!!!

January:   Organization.  

February:  Recovery.  

March:  Self-Awareness.

April:  Family.

May:  Mastering A Skill.

June:  Preserving.

July:  Patriotism.

August:  Friendship & The Ties That Bind

September:  Love.

October:  Comfort.

November:  Giving Thanks.

December:  Generosity of Spirit.

Every week, I hope to check in and keep you posted on my goals for 2014.  It’s shaping up to be my best year yet!


Yesterday, as the city of Boston braced for a foot of snow plus, I was off from work (it was considered a special holiday) and had the itch to bake something.  I had my cream cheese and butter on the counter, getting soft for muffins that I planned to make by using a banana cream cheese bread recipe.  But, when I peeled my bananas, they were spotty and slightly brown on the outside, absolutely deplorable on the inside, so, I pitched them.  I panicked for a moment and then thought, BLUEBERRIES!  I remembered the wild Maine blueberries from this summer that I had stashed in the freezer.  Oh, happy day.  I added in two cups of those purple gems and stirred them gently into the very heavy, cake like batter.  I wasn’t sure of the outcome-but oh!  These are my favorite blueberry muffins by a mile.

And if you can’t get your hands on wild Maine blueberries-I understand your heartache.  I lived for years without them and now, would be devastated to not have them in my life.  All of this happened as I was reading “The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop and Cafe” by Mary Simses.  Coincidence?  Perhaps…..

Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins (adapted from Southern Living Ultimate Cookbook)

3/4 cup butter, softened

One 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened

2 cups sugar

2 large eggs

3 cups all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups blueberries, frozen or fresh

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 regular size muffin tins with 18 muffin cups.  Beat butter and cream cheese together until creamy.  Gradually add sugar beating until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until combined.  Combine flour, and next three ingredients, gradually adding to butter mixture on low speed until just combined.  Stir in vanilla and blueberries-batter will be very thick.  Using an ice cream scoop, place batter into muffin cups, being careful not to overfill as these muffins rise quite a bit.  I used one almost-full ice cream scoop per muffin.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, turn the pans and bake for 15-20 minutes more.  You want the muffin to spring back when lightly touched.  Take the muffins out of the oven and let them cool in the pans for about 5 minutes, then take them out of the tins and let them cool completely or until slightly warm.  Enjoy them plain or with butter.  Or, do as New Englanders do.  Slice the muffin, slather it in butter, and place buttered side down on a hot griddle or saute pan over medium heat and cook until golden brown.  Delicious!

These muffins freeze beautifully.  Just make sure to cool them thoroughly before freezing.  Defrosted for a bit in the microwave on a lower power gives them a fresh baked taste no matter when you decide to pull them out of the freezer.



Do you see that little girl?  She’s looking at her Daddy.  It’s Christmastime and I wonder what he’s saying to her.  I wonder if he knows how much she loves him.  I wonder if they are talking about Santa Claus, if she understands who Santa Claus is.  Just take a look at her face-she trusts him completely.  It has been said that this little girl cries if any other man enters the room-she fears them.  But not her Daddy-because he hung the moon.

There’s no way that they can see into the future.  There’s no way to know that when she’s twenty years old, he will pass away suddenly and leave her behind-changing her life forever.  There’s no way for either of them to know that on Christmas Eve of 1993, the world she knows will shatter, and Christmas will always be both a celebration and a painful reminder of what it once was and what it can never be again.

There’s no way to know that she will find happiness, despite this loss.  She’ll graduate from college, get married, and eventually move away.  She’ll tell her friends about him-with each new friend, she has to tell them the story and relive it all over again.  With a wound on her heart, she pushes onward, often wondering what he would look like now, what would her family be like if he would have lived, what memories were left to be made and ones that he could not be a part of.

But no matter how much time passes, she will remember his kindness, his laughter, his ability to tell a great joke, his amazing capacity to love, his wonderful sense of right and wrong, and his unwaivering passion for justice.  And she will remember how much he loved her Mother.  She will remember how strangers at his funeral told her how he would talk about her Mother and how that love would never die.  She will begin to forget little details-but never the big picture-how her Dad was a remarkable person, a man who believed in enduring love and in a God that would one day, call him Home.

Even though those that knew him live without him here on Earth, there’s no doubt where his soul resides.  And his spirit walks with his wife, his children, his grandchildren, and all those that knew him every single day.

On her wedding day, a song was played in memory of him-in thanks and celebration for all that he was and a reminder that he will never be forgotten.

He would have been eighty years old today.  And not a day passes that she doesn’t think of him and remember him with a smile.

Last Christmas, my husband gave me the most beautiful book.  It’s called “The Most Beautiful Villages of New England.  The villages are spread out, some here in Massachusetts, some in Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Connecticut.  My plan is to try to make it to all 27 villages listed in the book before the end of the year.  We know how my plans go…so, we’ll see how well I do!

Cohasset is on what’s called the “South Shore” of Boston, approximately 45 minutes to an hour from our home in Medford.  It was first seen in 1614 by Captain John Smith, and at that time, was part of the neighboring town of Hingham until 1770.  The movies “The Witches of Eastwick” and “Housesitter” were filmed there, Steve Carrell’s wife Nancy is from Cohasset, as well as actress Kate Bosworth.

Cohasset is a beautiful village, complete with a quaint downtown, and friendly faces.  We went on a beautiful, sunny day-and ran into people with ice cream cones in hand, walking their dogs, and their children were smiling and well behaved.  It’s the kind of place Norman Rockwell would have loved-as did I.

Below are some photos of Cohasset, with photos of neighboring Scituate thrown in.  :)










Sausage Cheese Muffins

ssgmuffinsOver the Christmas holiday, I sent out a plea to my folks from home to help me.  I needed some stuff from home that I couldn’t find in New England.  Basically, I needed some Campbell’s fiesta nacho cheese soup and Mahatma spicy saffron rice.  An old friend from school was the one to say, “I’ll help you.”  At some point, she had lived away from her hometown, too, and knew that when you can’t find something you love, it can be almost unbearable.  I sent Nicole probably the largest container that I could find chock full of homemade fudge.  Just the fact that she was willing to help me made my holiday season so much brighter.

A big thank you to Nicole!!!!!!

It especially came in handy this week, when I’ve had a cold and can’t really taste anything.  I made a batch of these deliciously spicy muffins last weekend, and ate them throughout the week-it was one of the few things I could taste.

Where I come from, we love all things PIG.  Bacon, sausage, chops, roast, people even eat pickled pigs feet.  Yeah, I don’t go that far.  A pig pickin’ is a big affair where I’m from.  The whole pig (halved or quartered for easier cooking) is put on a “hog cooker” and cooked slow overnight.  Some of you may have a similar tradition called a pig roast.  Doesn’t matter what you call it, it’s delicious.  Mmmmmm.  Pig.

Anyway, when I saw this recipe, I had been looking for something to do with my last can (before my holiday barter) of Fiesta Nacho Cheese Soup, and I found this recipe from the Plain Chicken website.

You brown a pound of sausage (I used Jimmy Dean hot sausage), while browning, sprinkle in some onion powder, I used Penzey’s toasted granulated onion (that is some good stuff), add in some Bisquick, shredded cheese, buttermilk, and the soup, and you’re all set.

Now, I get about 14 to 15 muffins out of this, and I wouldn’t recommend muffin liners.  For some reason, they don’t peel off easily.  Do yourself a favor, go to Target and get yourself a few of the Wilton non stick muffin pans.  They work like a champ.  Grease them with non stick cooking spray, and once you’ve made the batter, use an ice cream scoop to fill up the muffin tins.  I use a large scoop with a 1/4 cup capacity.

These muffins are spicy, delicious, and great for anytime of day.

Sausage Cheese Muffins slightly adapted from Plain Chicken

  • 1 lb. hot ground pork sausage
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 3 cups all-purpose baking mix
  • 1 (10.75 oz) can condensed fiesta nacho cheese soup
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Cook sausage and onion in a large skillet over medium to med-high heat, stirring until it crumbles and no longer pink. Drain and cool.

Preheat oven to 375. Combine sausage, baking mix, and shredded cheese in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the mixture. Stir together the soup and buttermilk; add to sausage mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Spoon until lightly greased muffin tins, filling to tops of cups. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until lightly browned.  These freeze beautifully for a few weeks, up to a month.  Delicious when warmed slightly, served with scrambled eggs, hash brown casserole, and ice cold orange juice!!!


Hello, friends!

I received two cookbooks for Christmas.  One of them was “The Picky Palate Cookbook” by Jenny Flake.  I had put it on my Amazon wish list and my husband got a chuckle out of that because I am SUCH a picky eater.  And so, he bought me the cookbook, which I LOVE.

I’m sure you’re thinking, pumpkin?  In January?  Yes and Yes.  Pumpkin is great anytime of year.  And when you combine pumpkin with spices and about a mile of streusel, (Yes, people, it is some SERIOUS streusel) you can’t possibly go wrong.

My loaf baked up in about one hour and 15 minutes, so, test your loaf at the 55 minute mark and adjust accordingly.

This, according to me, my husband, and two co workers, was the best pumpkin bread they’d ever tasted.  We all loved the streusel-it really MADE this bread something really and truly special. So, if you’re in a slump as to what to have for tea time, coffee break, breakfast, dessert, snack, potluck, New Year’s revolt against dieting resolutions, then this is perfect!

My pumpkin bread kept well for four days, tightly wrapped at room temperature.

NOTE:  I am a poster child for Press N Seal wrap…..

Streusel-Topped Pumpkin Bread from “The Picky Palate Cookbook” by Jenny Flake

3/4 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup pumpkin puree

1-1/2 cups all purpose flour, divided

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9×5 inch loaf pan with non stick cooking spray.

Add the oil, eggs, and vanilla to the bowl of a stand mixer (I just used a large bowl and a whisk and some elbow grease and I did just fine….)and beat until well combined.  Add the pumpkin and beat on low to combine.  Slowly add 1 cup of the flour, the sugar, baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of the cinnamon and beat on low until just combined.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Add the brown sugar, the remaining 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to a medium bowl and mix to combine.  With a fork or pastry cutter (I used a fork, but make sure the bowl isn’t too shallow or you’ll fling bits of streusel all over the kitchen….)cut the butter into the dry ingredients until well combined and crumbly;  this takes about 5 minutes.  Sprinkle over the bread (it will look like it’s too much streusel, but use EVERY LAST BIT OF IT).  Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, until cooked through (my loaf took 75 minutes).  Let cool completely before slicing (or completely ignore this and wait until it’s cooled enough so that you can slice it without burning yourself, go and hide in the nearest dark corner and stuff yourself silly-not that I would ever do anything like that….)

Happy New Year!!!!


Happy New Year, dear friends.

2012 saw many things.  A departure and laziness toward blogging, my departure from Tuesdays with Dorie-I simply could not keep up.  New responsibilities in life and at work.

I finally had a cookie exchange during the Christmas season, which was a great accomplishment for me.  I finished readying my apartment for company and made daily living more comfortable, with the addition of pictures, curtains, and new towels in the bathroom.  I completely changed the look of our bedroom-it had a very tired quilt on the bed that I loved, but was no longer interesting or inspiring.  I completely organized our closet, which had become a dumping ground for so many various things.  I bought a table and 4 chairs that truly fits our small dining area without feeling cramped.  All good things.

2013 will see a great many things.  My husband will graduate from college and I will turn 40.  We will have a vacation in May, and I think somewhere, during the span of the year, we’ll work in a trip or two or three or four to Maine.  I’m hoping for July 4, to see fireworks over the coast of Southern Maine.

May 2013 bring you all you’ve ever dreamed of.  May you find peace, love, happiness, health, prosperity, and good things in abundance.

Foodie Pen Pal October 2012


Hi Everyone!

How’s your fall been?

Mine has been busy.  Me and the hubby went for a weeklong vacation in Maine.  That is where he became sick with some sort of flu and had that very same flu for two and a half very long weeks.

I hope that those of you reading are safe-and that Sandy wasn’t too unbearable.  We live near Boston and were very, very lucky.  My heart and my prayers are with those so tragically affected by the storm.

My friend Aileen and I live near one another and met through book club.  She recently shared some of her Foodie Pen Pal treats and I was intrigued by the group.  So, I joined!

My wonderful package came from Kelly in Colorado.  She gave me some wonderful toffee that had crushed coffee beans in it and was drenched in milk chocolate, which I love.  She also sent me other treats from Colorado, like Celestial Seasonings Dragonfruit tea, Aussie Strawberry Licorice, and Rocky Mountain Popcorn Company Caramel Popcorn!

I took the treats to work and it was unanimous-everyone loved the treats!

A big thank you to Kelly from Colorado!!!!!

And if you’d like to join Foodie Pen Pals, click here.

Last week, one of my coworkers celebrated a birthday.  I normally bake the cake or cupcakes for the celebration.  When I asked my coworker what some of her favorite flavors were, she answered with “mango, strawberry, and coconut.”  I asked her if she liked chocolate dipped strawberries, and she answered “DO I!?!?!  Yes, I DO!”

So, I knew what I would make for her immediately.  I just needed to figure out how.

So, I bought a devil’s food cake mix.  Some organic strawberries (since they would be sitting on top of the cupcakes, and I buy all organic produce, anyway).  Some powdered sugar.  And a bag of milk chocolate chips.  I made the cake batter according to the directions on the package, portioned it out to make 18 cupcakes, baked them, let them cool.  I cut up about a cup of strawberries and whizzed them up in the food processor, dumped them into a mixing bowl.  I added a stick of salted butter to counteract the sweetness and turned the mixer on.  Folks, strawberries and softened butter look disgusting.  Then, I added a one pound box of powdered sugar and turned the mixer on low until everything came together.  The frosting was a pale pink, with bits of strawberries in it.  But how did it taste?  I got out a spoon, (of course I didn’t stick my finger in it!) and gave it a taste.  I couldn’t believe how good it was!  I frosted all of the cupcakes, since they had cooled.  Then, I rinsed all of the strawberries and thought I had dried them really well.  I melted the chocolate chips in the microwave and began dipping the strawberries.  I thought if I dipped the strawberries in the chocolate and put them on the cupcakes while the chocolate was still melty, they would have an easier time of adhering to the frosting on the cupcakes.  And they did.  But, if you don’t thoroughly dry your strawberries, the chocolate will slide right off.  So, I thought that sliding a toothpick into the stem end of the strawberry would give me more control while dipping.  It did.  Then I got the strawberry over to the cupcakes and thought..”hmmph.  Now how am I gonna get the toothpick out of the strawberry without making a complete mess?”  So, I took out a butter knife and tried to coax the strawberry off the toothpick.  It slid all over the frosting and looked like a chocolate covered strawberry cupcake massacre.  So, I washed my hands and started again.  I decided just to hold the strawberry firmly by the leaves and dip them into the chocolate.  It worked like a charm.  I put the finished cupcakes in a casserole dish, covered them with press and seal wrap (I have an addiction to that stuff), and stuck them in the refrigerator overnight.  Some of the strawberry flavor seeped into the cupcakes.  They were heavenly.  They are great cold, but are best when taken out of the fridge about an hour and a half before serving.

The birthday girl loved these and so did I!  This would be a great make ahead dessert to take to an end of summer barbecue or party!

I’m very proud to say that this is one of my creations, I didn’t use anyone else’s recipe.  :)

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cupcakes 

Makes 18 Cupcakes

1 box devil’s Food Cake Mix (batter made according to package directions)

1 cup sliced fresh strawberries (you may also use frozen, but thaw them first)

1 stick salted butter, softened

1 pound box powdered sugar

18 small organic strawberries

1 (11.5 ounce) Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two cupcake pans with enough liners to make 18 cupcakes.  Divide batter among cupcake liners.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Allow cupcakes to rest in pans for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Put sliced strawberries in food processor and pulse until finely chopped.  Put chopped strawberries in bowl of a mixer.  Add softened butter.  Mix on medium speed for about 3 minutes.  With the mixer off, add powdered sugar and turn mixer on low until combined.  Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the mixer and turn on medium for about 3 minutes, until frosting is fluffy.  Frost the cupcakes.

Rinse and thoroughly dry the whole strawberries.  Keep them on a paper towel lined surface until you are ready to use them.

Pour chocolate chips into a microwaveable bowl and microwave for 1 minute.  Stir.  Microwave for one more minute.  Stir.  Holding the strawberry by the leaves, dip the strawberry in the chocolate just below the stem end of the strawberry.  Place on the cupcake, and while still holding onto the leaves, slightly press the strawberry into the frosting.  Repeat until you have used all of the strawberries.

Place cupcakes in the refrigerator, covered, for 4 hours, but overnight (or 8 hours) is better.

Remove the cupcakes from the refrigerator an hour and a half before serving.

Greetings, friends!

Is it hotter than hot where you are?  It is unbearable here in New England.  You may want to wait until Fall to make this one.

My husband grew up about an hour and a half from Cincinnati, Ohio, and has a love for Skyline Chili.  Skyline Chili isn’t like anything I have ever eaten.  The ground beef is simmered, not browned, in a mixture of spices (which include cocoa powder and something that smells a lot like allspice or cloves….), water, and tomato paste or sauce for about an hour and a half, and instead of being eaten in a bowl, which you can totally do, it is typically served over spaghetti, with toppings of beans, onions, and a mountain of cheese.  The chili looks more like a meat sauce to me.  Which, without the cheese, my husband says is a complete waste of time.

I ran across this recipe in a book I checked out from the library, and thought I’d make this recipe for my husband.  The chili isn’t smooth and includes a lot of things that Cincinnati Chili usually doesn’t, so, Cincy chili purists may not love this, but my husband sure did.

This is a very quick cooking recipe-put the pasta on to boil, and your chili will be done at almost the same time as the noodles.  This is also a recipe you can feel really good about, as it comes in at just under 400 calories a serving, has 21 grams of protein and 15 grams of fiber.

Spicy Chili over Pasta adapted from The New American Plate

Makes 8 servings

1 tablespoon canola oil

1-1/2 cups chopped onion, divided

3 garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic press

1 small jalapeno chile, seeded and finely chopped

1/2 pound ground sirloin

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 can (15 ounces) pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes in juice

1 cup mild tomato salsa

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 

1 pound whole wheat fusilli pasta (or other whole wheat pasta you like, fusilli is just easier to reheat, especially for lunch at work)

1-1/2 cups reduced fat shredded sharp cheddar cheese

In a Dutch oven, heat the canola oil over medium high heat.  Add 1 cup of the onion, garlic, and jalapeno and saute for about 4 minutes, stirring often, until the onion is translucent.

Add the meat and cook for about 3 minutes, breaking the meat with a wooden spoon, until just browned. Stir in the chili powder, cocoa, cumin, and oregano.  When the seasonings are fragrant, in about 30 seconds, add the beans, tomatoes with juice, and salsa.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer the chili for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions.

Serve the chili over the pasta.  Top each serving with the remaining onion and a generous sprinkling of cheese.


Most of you who know me or know my blog, know that each week, I search recipes high and low to make something different for my husband for his lunches.  Today was no different.

While most of the country is steeped in an insane heatwave, I turned on my oven today.  We had a hot week, but the weekend has been breezy and wonderful.  For the last few weeks, we’ve been doing a lot of sandwiches and salads and I wanted to do something different.

Soooooo, I went to the library.  I found a book called “The New American Plate” by The American Institute for Cancer Research.  The recipes are mouthwatering and interesting.  Nutrition Information is provided.  This particular dish caught my eye.  It’s colorful and beautiful, and you chop and place things directly into the casserole dish.  No separate dishes for everything.  How wonderful!

This pilaf includes instant brown rice, onion, tomatoes, chicken broth, roasted red peppers, chicken, frozen peas, and a handful of spices.  It would be a great dinner for the whole family in under an hour.  Chopping and measuring takes less than 10 minutes, And the casserole takes only 50 minutes to bake.  I did, however, add an ingredient.  Reduced Fat Colby Jack Cheese.  Which at a half cup, adds 180 calories.  However, this casserole serves 6, so it only added 30 calories per serving-totaling 259 calories per serving.  Amazing!

Try this some night when you are short on time and want something really tasty for lunch or dinner.  And the best part, it’s healthy!  My husband really loved this one!!!!

Red Pepper, Tomato, and Chicken Pilaf slightly adapted from “The New American Plate”

1-2/3 cups quick cooking brown rice

1 small onion, chopped

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 can (14.5 ounce) can stewed tomatoes

1 can (14.5 ounce) can fat free, reduced sodium chicken or vegetable broth (I used chicken broth)

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 jar (7 ounces) roasted red peppers, drained and chopped

3/4 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 bay leaf

Salt (optional) (I used a generous pinch)

1/2 cup frozen green peas

1/2 cup reduced fat Colby Jack cheese (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a 2-quart casserole dish, combine the rice, onion, oil, tomatoes, broth, paprika, oregano, black pepper, roasted red peppers, chicken, bay leaf, and salt, if using.  Stir, then cover and bake the casserole for 40 minutes.

Stir in the peas and sprinkle on the cheese (if using) and continue to bake, uncovered for an additional 10 minutes, until all of the broth is absorbed.  Remove the bay leaf and serve.  

Serves 6, 229 calories per serving (259 calories if using cheese)


It’s HOT outside people.

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that.

When exactly is it supposed to cool down?  I’d like some predictions.

I’m not a person who likes a lot of heat and humidity.  BUT, when it is warm outside, corn is at it’s peak, and I truly adore summer corn.  It’s delicious.

But before I delve too deeply into my love of corn and how to prep it and all that jazz, let’s talk about kitchen tools, shall we?

Most folks have some sort of vegetable brush or scrubber for potatoes and other food items that need scrubbing in the kitchen.  But when working with potatoes and veggies and other items in the kitchen, I  find that most of those items are awkward for me to hold.  WHY, you ask?  Because I have long fingers.  So, I use a toothbrush.  Relatively inexpensive, easy to keep clean, takes up hardly any space whatsoever. And a soft bristled toothbrush works wonders for getting the pesky silk out of corn that’s caught between the kernels.  And the best part is, it doesn’t damage the corn.  I pick up a few extras a few times a year when I replace our personal toothbrushes.  And when I use my kitchen toothbrushes, I put them in the dishwasher, and they are all ready to use again.  :)

Now, on to the corn.

I LOVE the multi colored sugar corn that’s found early in the season.  It’s wonderfully crunchy and great boiled, roasted, grilled, or cut off the cob and sauteed.

A lot of people like the corn simply boiled, some like it with cheese, some like it smeared with mayonnaise.  I’m not knocking anyone’s corn eating preference, but I enjoy mine boiled, for 7 minutes, and simply dressed with butter, kosher salt, and black pepper.  And I always have to use my ivory corn picks and dishes that my husband and I received as a wedding present nearly 11 years ago.  They are one of my favorite things and I look forward to using them each summer.

I didn’t grow up knowing exactly how to prepare corn.  So, when I needed to find the perfect method for me, I turned to the folks at America’s Test Kitchen.  And they steered me in the right direction.

Here’s to summer, and here’s to delicious summer corn!!!!!

Boiled Corn from “The New Best Recipe”

4 teaspoons sugar (optional-I don’t ever put sugar in the water, the corn is sweet enough as it is)

8 ears fresh corn (or how ever many you are using, up to 8 ears)

Salt and ground black pepper


Bring four quarts of water and the sugar, if using, to a boil in a large pot.  Add the corn, return to a boil, and cook until tender, 5 to 7 minutes.  (I cook mine for 7 minutes, and it is still a little crunchy, but tender.)  Drain the corn and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately, with butter, if desired.

I’ve been basically absent from my blog for the last few months.  No particular reason, I just truly lost my mojo.  I don’t have the time I used to have to bake-and truly don’t have the energy, most days.  But, I’m not myself if I can’t make something in the kitchen.  So, I’ve made a new pledge to myself, and to you wonderful people, that I can at least post once a week, on Sundays.  No posting on Tuesdays, you ask?  Sorry, but no.  Sadly, I am no longer a member of Tuesdays with Dorie.  I just couldn’t keep up.

I’ve been reading.  But I think the 52 in 52 ship has sailed, as I am wayyyyyy behind.  I’ve read this one by Jane Green-a touching novel about a different kind of family:

And this one by Shelley Noble, about a fashion designer who loses it all, returns to her small hometown on the Connecticut coast because she has nowhere else to go:

And I have baked….a few things.

A few months ago, while starting out on Pinterest, I saw the recipe for these rolls.  I was a little skeptical, hom Homemade rolls in 30 minutes?  Hmmm.

But, it was a Sunday, and if it took longer than 30 minutes, I had the time to work with that.

I made these to go alongside a roast with potatoes and carrots. They were absolutely delicious.

I followed the recipe exactly according to the directions, and it only took about 10 minutes longer.  Which was just fine-who could argue with 10 extra minutes for a yeast roll?

They rose beautifully, they baked beautifully.  And they were absolutely delicious.  I think I’ve already said that.  Also, once cooled, put them in a Ziploc bag, put them in the freezer.  They freeze nicely, too.  Just take a few out while prepping a meal, wrap them in foil, and place them in a 350 degree oven for about 10-12 minutes.  They will taste freshly made!

For a printable version of the recipe, please go and visit Leigh Anne at Your Home Based Mom.

Hello, friends.

Please forgive my sad neglect of this blog.

A few weeks ago, I made this pie.

It was absolutely delicious-the perfect balance between salty and sweet.

It has those Reese’s minis in it.  You know the ones you don’t have to unwrap?  I think those things are DANGEROUS.  You don’t have to unwrap anything, they’ve cut out the middle man.  DANGEROUS DANGEROUS DANGEROUS.  Because if you get a craving for peanut butter cups, there is NOTHING TO SLOW YOU DOWN.  DANGEROUS DANGEROUS DANGEROUS.

But those things were REALLY good in this pie.

Once baked and still warm, it’s a bit gooey and seems underbaked-mine baked for 45 minutes, not the recommended time.  But the next day, this was absolutely PERFECT.

I only had one issue, the majority of the pretzel crust fell off the bottom of the pie.  It was almost like sand on the bottom of the pie plate.  Maybe more butter would have helped?  I can’t imagine more butter being a bad thing, unless you’re watching your cholesterol.  In which case, butter, ick!  Terrible, very very bad.

Lots of butter, chocolate chips, brown sugar, eggs, Reese’s minis, and crushed pretzels.  YUM.

I saw this recipe on Epicurious-for a printable copy of the recipe, please click here.

Hi Everyone!

I am back after a long absence.

I have just returned from a vacation to see family and friends.

I feel as if I have been reborn in a way.

I learned that I have fans of my blog.  Umhmm.  You know who are…..you’ve been found out.  :)

It will take me some time to get a few things ready, but I am coming back.

I’m not going to let my love for cooking and baking pass me by just because life has gotten busy.

So, give me a few days.  I’ll be back.

And to those of you who watch for posts and love my blog, I thank you and I love each one of you, most of whom, I’ve never met.



TWD/BWJ: Sticky Buns

Helloooooooo.  It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything.  I won’t lie.  I’ve been in a slump and haven’t really made anything new.  So, what better way to come back after a long absence than with a nice long recipe.

I spent a long, and much needed, 24 hours with this brioche dough.  I made the dough, let it rise, I deflated it, let it rise again.  Rolled it, smeared it with butter, folded it like a business letter, rolled it out, folded it like a business letter again and stuck it in the fridge on the shelf with some rather freaky lookin’ pickled radishes.

Then, I took the dough out of the fridge, rolled it out again, remembered a segment on Martha Stewart Living Radio with Cakelove’s Warren Brown.  He brought in some sticky buns with almonds and chocolate.. Sooooo, I made one batch with pecans and one batch with almonds and bittersweet chocolate.

I put the cut rolls into two pans, wrapped them tightly, and put the pans in the fridge overnight.  The next morning, I took the rolls out of the fridge, let them rise for an hour, and baked them for 35 minutes.  I turned the rolls out after they baked.  They were one of the most beautiful things I had ever made.  I sent most of them to my hubby’s work, then the rest to mine.  And then we had one left.

And there wasn’t enough glaze.

Folks, if you ever find yourself without enough brown sugar glaze, I have three words for you.

Dulce. De. Leche.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to Lynn and Nicole. This was an awesome project and brought me out of a baking slump.

Betcha forgot about my 52 in 52.

52 books in 52 weeks.

I haven’t forgotten about it.

But I forgot about posting.  A few weeks ago, while  in a local coffee shop with my friend and fellow baker, Spike, she asked me about the project. I totally forgot I hadn’t posted a single thing regarding the books I’ve been reading! Thanks, Elizabeth!!!! :)

So, without further ado, let’s get to it:

Things We Didn’t Say by Kristina Riggle

I struggled to finish this book.  It’s about a woman named Casey who lives with her fiancee and his three children who are beyond spoiled.  Casey is a recovering alcoholic with abandonment issues.  Didn’t care for this one.

Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan

I chose this title for my book club in January.  It’s a story about a home in Maine, the ties that bind a family, and memories between those walls.  I LOVED this book.  My copy now lives on a bookshelf in the home we often rent for vacations.  The home is in Maine, of course….

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

This book was also chosen for my book club group, by my friend, K.  This book delves deeply into the mind of a man who basically mail orders a bride.  He is really in sad, sad, shape.  If you remember Christopher Walken as Jacob in “Sarah, Plain, and Tall”, imagine Jacob, with a twisted mind and some really sick feelings about a lot of things.  This book was well written, but troubling.

The Choice by Nicholas Sparks

I have always enjoyed Nicholas Sparks books.  I can easily picture the places he writes about it, probably because I spent so many years in many of those places.  I don’t want to tell you too many details.  Just read this, it’s really, really good.

Home Front by Kristin Hannah

While at times difficult to read, this story about Jolene, a pilot with the National Guard, called to active duty in Operation Iraqi freedom, is one of the best works of fiction I have ever read.  Again, I don’t want to spoil it for you.  Please read this book.

And there you have it, my reading up until now.

I’m still way behind…..oh well.

I’ve been hearing about dutch babies for years.

Don’t know why it took me all this time to make one.

Spectacularly easy, whip the batter up by hand, food processor or blender.

Pour it into a buttered and heated cast iron skillet.

Bake it for a bit, and while it’s baking, make the coffee, fry the bacon, and pour the juice.  And heat up some maple syrup.

When this baby comes out of the oven, it will be puffed like a souffle, then it will fall.  It’s a thing of beauty.

I really enjoyed NOT tending to the pancakes this morning.  And I do love pancakes.

This baby is a little eggier than your usual pancake, but delicious in its own way.  I will definitely make this again.  Perhaps with vanilla bean and vanilla sugar????

Try this today-you’ve still got time.  Brunch time hasn’t rolled around yet.  And I’m guessing you probably have everything you need for it!

We enjoyed this sprinkled with powdered sugar and maple syrup.  And a side of bacon.

Vanilla Dutch Baby from The Food Network

3 tablespoons butter
3 eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk, heated 20 to 30 seconds in the microwave
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Pinch salt
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Put the butter in a large, ovenproof, nonstick saute pan and place in the oven.

Meanwhile, in a blender, combine the eggs, flour, warm milk, sugar, vanilla extract and pinch of salt, and blend on medium-high speed until uniform. (If mixing by hand, combine the eggs with the milk until the mixture is light yellow and no longer stringy, about 1 minute. Add the flour, sugar, vanilla, and pinch of salt, and whisk vigorously to remove the lumps, about 30 seconds.)

Carefully remove the hot pan from the oven. The butter should be melted. Swirl the butter around the pan to coat completely, and then pour the remaining butter into the batter and pulse to blend. Pour the batter into the hot pan and return the pan to the oven. Cook until the pancake is puffed in the center and golden brown along the edges, 20 to 25 minutes.

Using a spatula, remove the entire Dutch baby from the pan and place on a cooling rack for a few minutes to allow the steam to escape without condensing along the bottom and rendering the pancake soggy.( I didn’t have to do this-my pancake didn’t have time to get soggy) Dust with confectioners’ sugar when cooled slightly. Slice the pancake into 8 wedges on a serving platter or cutting board.

Back in 2008, when I first joined Tuesdays with Dorie, we made Rugelach, and I didn’t bake along that week.  That particular recipe was a cream cheese dough, rolled into crescent shapes.  I never knew what I missed out on, until now.

I made 1/3 of this recipe (the internet is wonderful for those of us who are mathematically challenged) and ended up with a dozen of these cinnamon and sugar studded cookies.  I made the dough last night, while dinner cooked away in the oven.  Just before bedtime last night, I rolled out the dough and made the filling.  This morning, just like every morning during the week, I woke up at 5am and baked off the cookies.

I didn’t use any preserves, I had hoped to use orange marmalade, but I am guessing I used the last of it at some point….so, I just made the rugelach with walnuts, semi sweet chocolate, sugar, and cinnamon.

My apartment smells heavenly.  And I’m waiting to try one until they’ve cooled.  I really don’t want to burn my mouth on caramelized sugar.  I’ve done that too many times to count.

I absolutely loved making this recipe.  And can’t wait to bring a few to work today. And the cookies have now cooled so that I could taste one. This is one of the best cookies I have ever made. I’m not sure I want to share them now!!!

Thanks so much to Jessica of My Baking Heart and Margaret of The Urban Hiker for a wonderful choice!!!! Please visit them to get the recipe.

I went tooling around Pinterest one night, it may have been right before the Super Bowl, or shortly thereafter, I don’t remember. But, I saw this dip,. and knew that I had to make it. PRONTO.

And so, I did. Full of everything that cheeseburger lovers love, but in dip form. Bacon, beef, cheese, mayo, ketchup, onion, you can even add lettuce and tomato at the end.  This is DELICIOUS!  I served this with toasted baguette slices.

Hands down one of the best dips I’ve ever tasted.

Make this soon!

Visit Closet Cooking for a printable version of the recipe!!!

I have a confession to make.

I am addicted to Coca Cola.

I have been for quite awhile.  Although I’ve cut way back on my consumption, I still can’t make it through the day without at least one.  Especially at around 3pm when I’m fading fast.

I’ve also been eating Coca Cola cake, courtesy of Cracker Barrel restaurants, for years.  This particular cake is a lot fudgier than the one I made, but not anymore delicious.  And as much as I love icing, I like that this homemade version has a thinner sheath of icing and a lighter cake.  Makes me feel better for some reason.

So, here’s to all you Coca Cola addicts everywhere.  You know who you are.

Incidently, I made this cake in two 8×8 pans and shared it with a co worker, who also happens to love Coca Cola.

Coca-Cola Cake from “At My Grandmother’s Knee”


2 cups all purpose flour

2 cups sugar

1-1/2 cups small marshmallows

1 stick unsalted butter

1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup Coca-Cola

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1 package (16 ounces) powdered sugar

1 stick unsalted butter

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

6 tablespoons Coca-Cola (there was a little more than 6 tablespoons left in the can, so, I used what was left)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup chopped pecans (I omitted these)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

To Make the cake:  Sift together the flour and sugar in a large bowl.  Add the marshmallows.

In a medium saucepan, mix the butter, cocoa, oil, and Coca-Cola.  Bring to a boil and pour over the flour mixture.  Mix well.

In a small bowl, dissolve the baking soda in the buttermilk.  Pour the buttermilk mixture into the batter.  Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well.  Pour the batter into a well greased 13×9 pan.  (Or you can use two 8×8 pans.)

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Frost immediately.

To make the icing:

Put the powdered sugar in a medium bowl and set aside.  (I sifted the powdered sugar, I recommend doing so for a lump-free icing.)  In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, cocoa, and Coca-Cola.  Bring to a boil and pour over the powdered sugar, blending well.  Add the vanilla and pecans and mix well.  Spread over the hot cake.  When the cake is cool (if you can wait that long before sticking a fork in it), cut into squares and serve.

A word of caution:  The slices closest to the edges of the pan are dangerous.  A lot of icing settles there……you may be tempted, to clean that corner out with your finger.  I never ever did that.




There’s something very wrong with me. And the picture above is just awful.

Perhaps I’m just tired.

Or perhaps my taste buds are dead.

A chocolate dessert was on the docket this time around.  Chocolate.  You know, my old pal.

I opted, instead of dough that usually shrinks in the tin and mocks me, to make a crust out of Nabisco Chocolate Wafers and melted butter.  I put that in a tart tin and baked it for 10 minutes.

I made the filling out of egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla.  Stirred in some butter and melted bittersweet chocolate.  Instead of the biscotti or amaretti cookies suggested by Dorie, I added about 6 smashed up Tate’s chocolate chip cookies.  And then I stirred in some milk chocolate chips and some peanut butter chips.

I baked the tart for 30 minutes, since it was a lot larger than the tartlets other folks made.

I sliced that tart while it was still warm.

I didn’t like it.

Please, call a DR.

There’s something very wrong with me.

I didn’t like a chocolate dessert?

How can that be?

I, clearly, need help.

Please, go and visit Steph, Spike, Jaime, and Jessica. There, I am sure you will find folks who made this tart the right way.

And, according to WordPress, this is my 500th post.  Thank you for reading, commenting, and keeping me inspired.  :)

After blogging all this time, I can’t take a decent picture of most things, but chicken wings are really a problem for me.

I couldn’t get a decent shot of these, so, I stopped trying, really.

We ate these last weekend during the Super Bowl, watching the Patriots get spanked by the Giants.  What a depressed city this was on Monday, and, truth be told, pretty much all week.  Even grown men were drowning their sorrows in Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.  Or, at least, I think they were.

These wings were spicy and sweet, a great combo.  Truly delicious, but not my favorite wings of all time.  Those wings are Barefoot Contessa’s recipe.  But, I made these like Ina’s and they turned out really well.  I would encourage you to try them, if you’re looking for an appetizer, or a quick dinner.  These take very little time.

Detroit Honey Hot Wings adapted from Allrecipes

2 pounds chicken wings, tips discarded
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (add more if you can stand it)
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 cup honey
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup hot sauce
Preheat your broiler on high.  Line the top part of a broiler pan with aluminum foil and spray with non stick cooking spray.  Set aside.
While the broiler preheats, wash the wings well and pat dry with paper towel. Season the meat with cayenne, salt, and pepper.
Place wings on broiler pan.  Brush with 1/4 cup honey.  Put under broiler for 10 minutes.  Turn wings, brush this side with 1/4 cup honey.  Broil for 10 minutes.
Melt the butter, pour into a large bowl and mix in the remaining 1/2 cup of honey and hot sauce. Remove the wings from the pan and immediately toss them in the hot honey butter sauce to coat. 
CAREFULLY, discard foil from previous use.  Line broiler pan with new foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
Place wings back on lined broiler pan.  Broil 5 minutes per side to set the sauce.  
Serve with ranch or bleu cheese dressing.

Last Friday night, I couldn’t sleep and found myself looking around Pinterest. And I found a few things that I wanted to make for the Super Bowl and these looked like a great nibble to have after dip and loads of hot wings.

With just a few ingredients, Rolos being the key player here, this is very easy to make.  The only hard part is spreading the dough out, it is very sticky, I had to spray non stick cooking spray on my spatula to finally achieve success (you may also have to grease your teaspoon when you are doing the dollops of dough at the end.)  I thought the dough would look more like cookie dough, but it didn’t.  In the end, I wasn’t disappointed in the least.

Folks, if you’re not opposed to cake mix and you like Rolos or the chocolate caramel combo-you’re in for a real treat.  See if you can wait until they cool off before eating!!!!

Rolo Cake Mix Bars from Taste of Home via Cookies and Cups

1 box (18.25 oz) yellow, vanilla or white cake mix ( I used Duncan Hines), dry
5 oz evaporated milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
40 Rolo Candies, unwrapped and cut in half

Preheat oven to 350°
Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray.
With your mixer, beat cake mix, evaporated milk and butter until combined. Mixture will be thick and sticky.
Divide batter in half and press 1 half into the bottom of the pan.
Bake until just set, approximately 8-9 minutes.
Remove base from oven and place Rolo candies, caramel-side down on top.
Drop remaining batter on top of Rolos in teaspoon sized amounts.
Bake for 20-24 minutes longer until top begins to golden.
Cool completely before cutting into squares.


Whitney Houston (August 9, 1963 – February 11, 2012)


“All at once

I finally took a moment and I’m realizing that

You’re not coming back

And it finally hit me all at once.”

Whitney, thank you for sharing your beautiful voice with the rest of the world.  There wasn’t a time when your music didn’t make me hopeful or comfort me.  May you rest in peace-you will be forever missed.


TWD/BWJ: White Loaves

Happy Tuesday! It’s been a long time, friends.

Tuesdays with Dorie is back-and now we’re Baking with Julia, the book written by Dorie Greenspan.  Baking with Julia was also a PBS series, featuring Julia Child and different bakers, such as Nancy Silverton, Nick Malgieri, Gale Gand, and Martha Stewart.  This is our first post as the newly formed group.  Hello old friends from TWD, and welcome to the newbies!

Living near Cambridge, Massachusetts, I often get the chance to pass by the house this series was filmed in.  It inspires me-even though Julia may no longer be with us.  I often wonder what she thinks about vegans living in her house.  Vegans can’t eat real butter.  Sacre bleu!

This week, we made white loaves.  I made one white loaf and one cinnamon and brown sugar swirl loaf.  And seeing as how I am late, I can’t wait for toast in the morning!

My loaves didn’t rise as much as I had hoped, but, I put these in 9×5 loaf pans, instead of 8×4.  OOPS.  Oh well, still pretty, perhaps not as high and mighty, but that’s okay.

For the recipe, go and visit our group’s founder, Laurie, and Jules.

Thanks for a wonderful pick!

Last week, the New England Patriots were involved in their first playoff game for a shot at this year’s Super Bowl.  I wanted to make something for us to snack on during the game.  I thought this would be oh-so-easy, since I have about 9 bazillion recipes bookmarked from the internet.  Some months ago, probably before last year’s Super Bowl, I bookmarked this one from Plain Chicken.

I just love her site.  She’s a lot like me, trying to teach herself to like new things, but also, staying true to who she is.  This was the first recipe of hers that I made and I loved it!  So did the hubby!

This dip uses items easily found in the grocery store-ground beef, taco seasoning (I used Old El Paso’s hot and spicy taco seasoning-gave it a real kick!), a can of refried beans, sour cream, and shredded cheese (I used a combo of cheddar and monterey jack).)  You brown the ground beef, add in the taco seasoning and the refried beans until the beans get all-melty, I’d say, then you dump all of that in a casserole dish (the recipe says to use a 13×9 inch pan, I used something slightly smaller and oval shaped), spread it out into an even layer, spread some sour cream over that, then top it with an even layer of shredded cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes and then serve with some tortilla chips.  My stars, THAT was good.

Now, there are only two of us in my house and we had taco dip leftover.  So, the next day, I smeared some of that taco dip on a soft flour tortilla, topped it with another tortilla, put it in my panini press, and about 5 minutes later, had one of the world’s BEST quesadillas.  My husband enjoyed salsa with his, I chose to eat mine as is.

This is a KEEPER.  You can find the recipe here.

A few weeks ago, I attempted to make the blueberry malted waffles from one of my new cookbooks.  Operative word there being ATTEMPTED.

Ten years ago, when my husband and I were first married, someone gave us a gift card to Target and so, we went in search of something we didn’t already have. The husband spied a waffle iron, and so, we bought one.  I’d never made a waffle in my life, other than the frozen kind, and he went on and on about how much he liked waffles.  Oh, boy.

I’ve made a lot of different waffles in the last ten years.  Buttermilk Waffles, Gingerbread Waffles, Pumpkin Waffles, and his favorite, Eggnog Waffles.

Well, when I ATTEMPTED to make those blueberry waffles, the waffle iron refused to cooperate.  It, apparently, wasn’t cooking properly and the non stick coating refused to release-even after I make sure to do the non obligatory spritz of non stick cooking spray, for insurance purposes.  I thought maybe I had added to much batter, and scraped everything out and tried again.  No dice.  For pity purposes, I’d just like to add that I tried to make this on a Monday evening after a long day at work.  And the fact that things weren’t going well, well, that only added insult to injury!

So, I threw out the waffle iron and ordered this one.  I normally wouldn’t spend so much on a waffle iron, but, over the course of the next ten years, it will get a lot of use, and I need a machine that’s up for the challenge.  This waffle iron works beautifully, even chimes when the waffle iron is ready for use and when the waffles are ready.

These malted waffles have a wonderful flavor and are easy to pull together.  They freeze well, defrost well, and hold up well when toasted.  I made these last week, froze them (I wrapped the cooled waffles individually and placed them in a Ziploc bag), defrosted them slightly in the freezer, then toasted them in our toaster.  Topping them with some maple pecan butter and maple syrup was just what I needed on this chilly morning!

Classic Malted Belgian Waffles from “The Art Of Breakfast”

2-1/4 cups all purpose flour

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil

1-1/2 cups 2% milk

1 egg

1/4 cup malted milk powder (Don’t use Ovaltine-I used Carnation)

2 tablespoons baking powder

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, oil, milk, egg, malted milk powder, and baking powder and mix with a whisk until well combined.  Heat a waffle iron and coat with cooking spray.  Ladle the batter into the iron and cook until golden brown, about 8 minutes.  (This time really depends on your waffle iron and how light or dark you like your waffles.)


Blurry shot-my apologies!

My husband gave me quite a few books this year for Christmas, all of which were on my “wish list”.  About six of those books were cookbooks.  One of them is a cookbook that I have had my eye on for awhile called “Dishing Up Vermont”.  The book is beautifully written and a wonderful addition to any cookbook library, whether you live near Vermont or not.  It celebrates the crops and products of Vermont.  Such as, maple, honey, cheeses, apples, goat’s milk, etc.

I spied the recipe for these Maple Nut Muffins very early on and knew I would need to make them soon.  They do call for a specialty ingredient, maple sugar, which is readily available in most grocery stores and specialty stores in my area, but I am in maple country, so, if you live, say, in California, you may want to try Stonewall Kitchen or King Arthur Flour.

I loved that these muffins were light yet deeply sweet and nutty.  I tried one not long after they came out of the oven-they were just the tiniest bit crunchy on the top.  A perfect treat for a coffee or tea break.  And delicious slathered with some of the maple pecan butter I posted about earlier!  This made 10 very generous muffins.

Maple Nut Muffins from “Dishing Up Vermont”

2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup maple sugar (I imagine you could use light brown sugar as a substitute, but do try to use the maple sugar!)

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1 cup whole milk

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

2/3 cup pure maple syrup

1 cup pecans, butternuts (I really have no idea what those are), or walnuts, chopped (I used pecans)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a muffin pan or line with paper muffin cups.

Mix flour, maple sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  Whisk the egg, milk, butter, and maple syrup in another medium bowl.  Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture, stirring until almost combined.  Gently fold in the nuts.  (Okay, I need to be honest.  I didn’t use two separate bowls.  I put the dry ingredients in one bowl and then added the wet ingredients to that.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pan.  Bake muffins in the oven until they are golden brown and firm to the touch, about 20 minutes.

Transfer to a cooling rack.  Serve warm with butter.  You could also make the maple pecan butter and use that, or maple cream.

Last weekend, I posted about an article I read in February’s issue of Country Living magazine.  It was all about embracing an opportunity at the right time.

So, last Saturday, I got out and about and took advantage of a sunny, chilly day in New England.  on Sunday, I took full advantage of my warm apartment and baked and made a few other treats.

I was feeling a bit guilty about not blogging last week and decided to make a few things and see how they turned out.  Because of that, I have my two blog posts for last week and two for this week.  One is a repost, but sometimes certain things deserve another mention.  Especially if they are really, really good.

Tucking myself into the kitchen, classical music playing in the background (concertos for flute and orchestra, particularly), the hum of the washer and dryer, it was a perfect day.

In the aforementioned Country Living magazine, there’s another article about The Coombs Family, a sixth generation organic producer of maple products.  The article was lovely, chock full of information about the family, maple products, and wonderful recipes.  I decided to make the Maple Pecan Butter to spread on toast or biscuits throughout the week.  The Coombs family puts the butter on top of pancakes-but I imagine it would be good on so many things!

We enjoyed it very much!

Maple Pecan Butter from Country Living Magazine

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

2 ounces pecans, finely chopped (1/3 cup)

In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer set on medium high, beat all ingredients until combined.  Divide mixture in half and spoon onto two 15 x 12 inch pieces of parchment paper.  Roll butter, in parchment, into 1-1/2 inch-thick logs;  twist ends of parchment to seal.  Refrigerate until ready to use or up to two weeks.

I have a wonderful job in a wonderful location.  Our office is just across the street from a supermarket, an authentic Irish bakery, down the street from an antiques store, and around the corner from a wonderful community library.  I’ve heard it said before that it’s all about location, location, location.  Funny thing about that.  Yesterday, I was in that very supermarket, across the street from our office, when I wandered down the aisle with the magazines.  I picked up quite a few (it had been awhile).  I always love to buy an issue of Country Living, so I did.  Lots of lovely articles, one written by Carrie Tuhy, the first editor I can recall at Real Simple magazine.  The article is about a cottage that ordinarily wouldn’t have suited Ms. Tuhy, but after taking a train ride to see the property, she was instantly hooked and made an offer on the train ride home.  It’s funny, I turned to this article first, which is on the last page of the magazine, and found it inspirational.  I want to so much to own a home again and this article really spoke to me.  Sometimes, it’s the unexpected things that touch us the most.

Today, it is a brisk Winter’s day in New England.  After a tough few weeks, finding out about the passing of someone who has had an impact on my life, plus feeling less than stellar, this is just the kind of day I need, and I plan to get out and enjoy the sunshine.  I allowed myself a week of takeout food this week.  It dawned on me this morning, as I was standing at my waffle iron waiting on the “waffle-ready chime”, that I sometimes miss opportunities.  Because I was feeling tired and blue, I didn’t allow myself the therapy of cooking a meal.  Because of feeling responsible for what might happen if I’m off task, I don’t often allow myself the opportunity to eat a decent lunch and end up eating something like the Cheez-It Party Mix that lives in my desk drawer.  So, today, I’m not going to let that happen.

I’m gonna get up, wrap up the leftover waffles and stick them in the freezer, grab a shower, throw on my warmest fleece, and get out there in the madness.  I’m gonna go to my favorite library.  I’m gonna go to my favorite market.  I’m gonna come home and cook.  Sounds like a day with lots of opportunities and I’m gonna embrace every one of them.

Happy Saturday!

I’ve finished my first book of 2012.

And is quite possibly one of the best books I’ve ever read.

It is “Left Neglected” by Lisa Genova.

Sarah, the main character is a high powered business woman, married, with three children, all named after Peanuts characters.

Sarah is the queen of multitasking.  Overworked and underpaid would be a vast understatement.

Sarah lives in a McMansion with all of the McMansion acoutrements.

Sarah juggles meetings, morning routines, snacks, nannies, business lunches, soccer games, the list goes on and on.  She hasn’t had a real vacation in years.

One morning, while on her way to work, Sarah looks for her cell phone while driving.  She hydroplanes, flips her SUV, and suffers a life altering traumatic brain injury to the right hemisphere of her brain.

She doesn’t realize that she can’t see the left side of things.  Left side of her body, left side of a room, left side of book page she’s trying to read to her children.

This story is full of courage, the positive and negative side of the human spirit and will to go on.

It is a must read!

One of my favorite Christmas gifts from the Hubby was “Tender” by Nigel Slater.

It is an impressive ode to the vegetable and many, many ways to prepare the veggies.

During New Year’s weekend, I had some extra time and made this stew for the hubby’s lunch.  It took about 6 hours from start to finish (I forgot to soak the beans, if you ever forget to do that, use the method found on The Paupered Chef.  But, I was home anyway, the Patriots had a game that day, I was busy with laundry…so, I could handle chopping and stirring.

This stew calls for cavolo nero, which is black cabbage, a form of kale.  I just used regular cabbage.  My husband said that out of all the soups he has ever had, this is his favorite.

Also, if you have a leftover ham bone from Thanksgiving or Christmas, this is a wonderful way to use it.  If you don’t have a ham bone, call up your local butcher or Honeybaked Ham store.  Chances are, they’ll have one they can sell you on the cheap.  By the time I finished simmering my stew, a lot of the ham had fallen away from the bone (it was a really meaty one) and had flavored the stew with no need for additional salt.

It’s important to note that I used diced unsalted tomatoes and unsalted vegetable broth in place of the water.

I also bought a sixteen ounce bag of beans-I went ahead and cooked them and stuck half in the freezer for another use and used half for this recipe.

Also, I’d like to mention this:  If you love British writing and their unique style that I find so intoxicating, you will love this book.  It looks like a book from the old school days.  Cloth binding, ribbon marker, and captivating writing style.  I simply adore it.

A Soup-Stew of Beans and Cabbage from “Tender” by Nigel Slater

dried beans, such as cannellini(I used cannellini) or borlotti-8 ounces

bay leaves-2

olive oil

pancetta in the piece (5 ounces) (I used bacon here)

large onions (2)

carrots (2)

garlic (2 large cloves, chopped) (I put mine through a press)

tomatoes-14 ounces, chopped (I used diced, canned, tomatoes)

water or vegetable stock (I used vegetable stock)

a small butternut squash or pumpkin (I used butternut squash)

a meaty ham bone or knuckle of prosciutto (I used a ham bone-I think mine may have been REALLY meaty!)

a short length of rind from a lump of Parmesan

flat leaf parsley-a handful, coarsely chopped (I somehow overlooked this one….)

cavolo nero-2 large handfuls, or half a small cabbage, cut into wedges (I shredded mine, like you would for coleslaw)

Soak the beans overnight in deep, cold water (or use the method I mentioned from The Paupered Chef).  Drain, put them in a large, deep saucepan, and cover them with fresh water.  Bring to a boil, then remove the froth from the surface with a slotted spoon.  Drop in the bay leaves and a tablespoon or so of olive oil and let boil merrily for forty five minutes to an hour, until tender (older beans take a little longer).  Add salt to the water about twenty minutes before the end of cooking.  Drain and set aside.  (Nigel says that he sometimes puts a shot of olive oil over the beans at this point to prevent them from sticking together.) (Also, be sure to remove the bay leaves from the beans.)

Cut the pancetta into short lengths or fat cubes, put them in a deep pan with a couple spoonfuls of oil, and set over medium heat, Peel the onions, halve them, and slice them thinly.  Once the pancetta has begun to sizzle, add the onions and stir them from time to time until they soften.

Scrub the carrots, cut them into a large dice, and add to the onions with the garlic, let everything soften without coloring, lowering the heat as and when you need to.  Add the tomatoes and let them soften and melt a little into the other vegetables before pouring in water or stock.  Peel and coarsely chop the squash or pumpkin and stir it in.

Now is the time to add the ham bone and Parmesan rind.  Either one will make a huge difference to the finished flavor.  Bring the soup almost to a boil.  Then decrease the heat so that it simmers gently.  Cover with a lid but set it askew, so that some of the steam escapes.  Let simmer, with only the occasional stir, for an hour and a half, by which time the soup should be thick, rich, and heavy.  (Even though the directions did not state to do this, I removed the ham bone and the Parmesan rind at this point.)

Add the beans to the pot along with the parsley and cabbage leaves.  Continue cooking for ten to fifteen minutes.  (I had to turn up the heat a little to return the pot to a slow boil.)  Serve with grated Parmesan.  This soup/stew is stated to serve 4-6.  I was able to get 8 servings!

So, I have a confession.

I occasionally make Hamburger Helper.  I don’t like most varieties because they seem really, REALLY salty to me.

I was in our local Target the other day (one of those few trips I mentioned yesterday), and spotted a cheesy chicken enchilada HH and thought, hmmph, I think I’ll try that.

And so on Saturday evening, I came home from the grocery store, had some thawed chicken in the fridge, thought about making the HH, and set out to make these tortillas.  I have guilt about making things that come out of a box, so, I thought this would be a good way to redeem myself.

So, incredibly easy, these tortillas take an hour and a half prep time, and about 10 minutes to cook, start to finish.  I LOVED these.  They reheat well the next day, and I think they taste quite good.  We loaded up our HH into our tortillas and ate like kings.

And then we ate the leftovers last night.

They were guud.

My friend Leigh asked if these could be frozen-I’m thinking they could be.  I can’t see using these tortillas for hefty wrap sandwiches-but I think aside from huge tortillas for wraps, I’ll never buy another grocery store tortilla for a soft taco/quesadilla/enchilada, etc…

San Antonio-Style Flour Tortillas from The Homesick Texan Cookbook


2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Two cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
3/4 cups of warm milk


Place the butter and milk into a pot and on medium low heat, cook until the butter has melted.  Turn off the heat and stir in the vegetable oil.

Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt.

Pour in the melted butter, milk, and oil and stir until a loose, sticky ball is formed.

Knead for two minutes on a floured surface. Dough should be firm and soft.

Cover the dough and let it rest for an hour.

After the dough has rested, break off eight sections, roll them into balls in your hands, place on a plate (make sure they aren’t touching) and then cover balls with damp cloth or plastic wrap for 10 minutes. (It’s very important to let the dough rest, otherwise it will be like elastic and won’t roll out to a proper thickness and shape.)

After dough has rested, one at a time place a dough ball on a floured surface, pat it out into a four-inch circle, and then roll with a rolling pin from the center until it’s thin and about eight inches in diameter. (If you roll out pie crusts you’ll have no problem with this.) Don’t over work the dough, or it’ll be stiff. Keep rolled-out tortillas covered until ready to cook.

In a dry iron skillet  heated on high, cook the tortilla about thirty seconds on each side. It should start to puff a bit when it’s done.

Keep cooked tortillas covered wrapped in a napkin until ready to eat.

Makes eight tortillas.

Happy New Year!!!!!!

Helloooooooo everyone.  The sun has set on another year gone by.  Happy New Year to you all!

I failed miserably at blogging last year, so, it’s time to get back on the horse.

I have a few plans for 2012, hopefully, all of which I will be able to complete.

This year, I got used to a new job and new responsibilities.  I love my job, but some days, especially at the end of a LONGGGGG day, I have NO interest in cooking.  I’m trying harder to make that less apparent, as well as trying harder to DO something about it.  I’m hopeful, and really gonna try, to blog new recipes at least twice a week this year. P.S.-If you’ve got a ham bone leftover from Christmas or Thanksgiving, lingering in the freezer, thaw that baby out!  A recipe is coming at the end of this week and will enable you to put that ham bone to good use!

Tuesdays with Dorie, sadly, has finished its run.  Our group will be starting its second book, “Baking with Julia” in February.  Look for those posts on Tuesdays, starting next month.

I still would LOVE to try the 52 in 52 again-for those of you who aren’t familiar with this challenge, it’s a promise to read 52 books in 52 weeks.  Sometimes, especially at the end of the day, I lack the focus to read.  Gonna continue to try, though!

Those are my commitments for blogging in 2012.  Nothing earth shattering, but doable, I think.

For us, 2011 was a year of recovery.  After moving to New England from North Carolina four years ago, we have now completely rebounded and are in the black again.  When we moved, it was at the very beginning of the economic downturn and ended up having to pay a LOT of money to close on the house we sold.  It was a nightmare.  It is not uncommon for folks to have debt, but because of a choice we were forced to make, we suffered greatly.

Now, anyone who knows me can tell you that I HATE spreadsheets.  But, I have to use them almost daily, so, I’ve had to get comfy with them.  That being said, I keep a personal budget spreadsheet.  I purposely saved our spreadsheet from last year at this time and compared it with our spreadsheet now.  WOW!  What a difference.  It makes me happy to see all of the strides we’ve made to come out of this smelling like a rose.  This experience had made me so much better at reigning in spending.  For example, I used to be a go-to-Target-every-week-or-maybe-a-few-times-a-week-kinda-girl.  Now, I can count on two hands the times I’ve been to Target in the last four years.  I used to frequent places like Crate and Barrel, Sur La Table, Pier 1 Imports, Williams-Sonoma, and different bookstores ALL of the time.  I’ve truly cut back, especially on my book purchases and kitchen gadget-y purchases.  I had to-now that we downsized and live in an apartment and not a house, I’ve run out of places to put those sorts of things.

2012 will be the year that we make the strides to be ready to own a home again.  I think that we won’t actually buy until 2013.  I’ve been reading a ton of home related books.  Can’t be a bad thing, right?  We also plan to visit Maine a LOT more this year (we were only able to go three times this year, and that was NOT enough!)

2012 will also be the year that gives us a chance to return to the South for a vacation.  My first trip home that won’t be filled with sadness.  You may recall that my brother in law was terminal with cancer a few years ago.  Our first trip home after moving here was to see him before he passed-then another trip after.  I am so grateful that this trip will be a happy one.  My side of the family will be joining us for the first part of a vacation to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for the Memorial Day holiday.  It will be my first time home in two years.  Still not sure where our other vacation will be spent.

Also, I GOTTA go sailing again in 2012.  I went for the first time last year and I LOVED it!!!!!!

I’m going to make a better effort to keep in touch with friends.  I am a huge fan of the written note or letter-and plan to do more corresponding in 2012.  I also need to recognize that, and while this is very difficult for me, that there are those who don’t wish to keep in touch with me.  I need to concentrate on people who do want that connection, instead of worrying about people who don’t.  Communication is a two way street.

2012 promises to be a fabulous year-I hope it is for you and yours.  Thank you for your friendship, your visits, and your encouragement.  Much love and blessings to you all.  Anything is possible.

TWD: Kid’s Thumbprints

Kids' Thumbprints

Do you remember that line from the movie “Father of the Bride”? Kimberly Williams (Paisley) is recalling her childhood memories on the night before her wedding and she comments that she “feels like she’s supposed to turn in her key tomorrow.” I feel that same sort of sadness.

Today, we’ve made it to the end of “Baking From My Home To Yours” by Dorie Greenspan. I found the blog, Tuesdays with Dorie, a little over three years ago, nearly a year after the group began. I had lived in New England for nearly a year and was getting nowhere on the friends front. So, I joined the group, created a blog, and got to baking. The first recipe I made from the book was the Chocolate Chocolate cupcakes on Page 215. Within a few posts, I found out I lived just down the street from fellow TWD’r Spike the Baker. It’s always nice to know someone just down the street, I think. And with that, I made a friend.

Countless recipes later, miles upon miles of beating and whipping acquired by my trusty Kitchenaid, failures and successes found in the recipes we tasted each week, I met people like Tanya, Pam, Teanna, Gaye, Natalia, Elizabeth, and Jill. People who I feel I’ve known forever, and only one of whom, I’ve met. A support group I didn’t know I needed, but found because of Laurie, the founder of Tuesdays with Dorie. On days I didn’t feel like myself or on days when I felt like the best version of myself, we cheered each other on and offered friendly support in our baking journey through this book.

“Baking” has taught me so much-I’ve learned so much from Dorie’s notes and her ease of the craft of Baking. I feel as if we’ve had countless conversations and she guides me each step of the way. How many times have I read the passage “Mix until the flour JUST disappears into the batter” or “the mixture will look curdled, but don’t worry.”? Those words of wisdom have always put me at ease. Countless notes of kitchen wisdom and years of experience from Dorie have made me a better baker. Sure, I still fail, but not as much as before. Sure, I still curse not being able to make a cookie look like the one in the book, but I try anyway. On pages of recipes I’ve made from “Baking”, there are dates the recipes were made, splotches of vanilla, smears of batter, and notes in the margins. There are strips of post it notes to mark the pages I love best.

Thank you, Dorie, for sharing your love of baking with us. I would give you a hug now, if I could, but it wouldn’t be enough to thank you for all that you’ve done for me. Your book helped me through a time when I was the proverbial new kid on the playground-I owe you a tremendous debt of gratitude that I wish I could repay.

And to all you fellow TWD’rs, I’ve enjoyed the journey through this book by Dorie and look forward to Baking with Julia. Thank you for every ounce of encouragement, every teaspoon of goodness, every cup of kindness. You are, as Tina Turner so eloquently put it, “Simply The Best.”

Please be sure to visit Dorie’s blog for the recipe for Kid’s Thumbprints. A wonderfully peanut buttery cookie which I decided to embellish with a chocolate star. Delicious, oh yes ma’am!

And now, a little retrospective!

Basic Biscuits

Dressy Chocolate Loaf Cake

Classic Brownies

Cornmeal and Fruit Loaf


Carrot Spice Muffins

Mapley Carrot Cookies

Savory Corn Loaves

Coffee Break Muffins

Sweet Cream Biscuits

Sweet Potato Biscuits

Oatmeal Breakfast Bread

Dorie's Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Oatmeal Drops

Sugar-Topped Molasses Spice Cookies

Buttery Jam Cookies

Chockablock Cookies

Espresso Cheesecake Brownie Cupcakes

Chewy Chunky Blondies

Chocolate Caramel Ice Cream Tart

Pecan Powder Puffs

Nutty Swirley Chocolatey Sour Cream Bundt Cake

Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes

Thanksgiving Twofer Pie

Grandma's All Occasion Sugar Cookies

Gingered Chocolate Baby Bundt Cakes

Caramel Pumpkin Pie

Chocolate Ganache Ice Cream

World Peace Cookies

Devilish Shortcakes

Snickery Squares

Double Apple Bundt Cake

Tarte Fine

Peanut Butter Crisscrosses

Banana Cake

Burnt Sugar Ice Cream

Mocha Marble Cupcakes

Dulce De Leche Duos

Rick Katz's Brownies

Chocolate Oatmeal Almost Candy Bars

Mrs. Vogel's Scherben

Tarte Tatin

All In One Holiday Loaf

Cinnamon Sables

Split Level Pudding

Chocolate Caramel Tart

Cottage Cheese Pufflets

Flaky Apple Turnovers

Katherine Hepburn's Brownies

Cocoa Buttermilk Birthday Cake

Cinnamon Squares

Tarte Noir

Blueberry Crumb Cake

French Yogurt Cake

Caramel Crunch Bars

Chocolatey No Armagnac Cake

Applesauce Spice Bars

Home Is Where The Heart Is

I’m sure the throngs of screaming fans have wondered…why doesn’t she post recipes anymore? Has she fallen down a foxhole? There’s a reasonable explanation for all of this.

I grow tired of people saying “I don’t have the time for” (fill in the blank.) Life is busy, blah, blah , blah.

I’ve just had a shift in priorities. And cooking/baking has been on the back burner for a little while.

I leave my home at 7am on weekdays. Sometimes I don’t return until 6pm, sometimes after.  I love my job, I love that I am able to help provide seniors with care in order for them to stay in their homes as long as they are able.  It’s hard work, very rewarding, challenging, wonderful…

I’m a very lucky woman, have been married just a little over ten years now.  My husband is truly my best friend, my confidante, my everything.  Together, we’ve had love, laughter, sadness, tears, trials, successes, and failures.  And even through it all, there’s no one on this earth I’d rather travel through life with.

You would think that with success in my career and success in my personal life, that I wouldn’t feel that tug of, I want more.  I need more.

My need for more doesn’t have anything to do with my job or my life at home-it has everything to do with roots, where we plan to settle, what our dreams are for the future.

When my husband and I moved to a suburb just north of Boston nearly four years ago, we envisioned a city that was much more quiet, not quite so busy.  We were not prepared for what awaited us.  The day to day grind of getting to and from and accomplishing simple tasks and errands feels more like an obstacle course than daily life.  I’ve changed routes to and from work in favor of the less busy roads and more residential areas.  You wouldn’t think that would cause yet another issue, but it has.

Riding through neighborhoods, especially those with homes that exhibit classic New England style, I find myself longing to own a home again.  When my husband and I left North Carolina, we had to sell the only home we had ever owned.  It was an emotional loss to me-within those walls I had entertained friends and family.  Our furniture was purchased specifically to fit the space.  We had plans to renovate with small changes being made here and there.  We looked forward to Holiday parties, gatherings, weekend breakfasts, planting tulips around the patio, becoming better friends with our next door neighbors, who were very kind.  It wasn’t meant to be.  The loss of that home was akin to a death to me.  It has taken me so long to get to the point where I even wanted to think about owning another home.  I actually never thought I would get there, the loss of our last home devastated me so much.

Before I move on, I want to say how important moving to a large city was for us.  It has taught me so much about myself-so much about other people-so much about the strength of my relationships and the ability to move ahead despite what seems like a dagger through the heart each and every day.  Our lives are here now, our jobs and our livelihood are here now.

Even so, I find myself longing for our own home.  Longing for a track of land somewhere in which to build a home.  I find myself aching for something that looks more like a barn than a home with a standard appearance.  Instead of wanting a cape style home, I find myself perusing homes in the gambrel style.  Homes that welcome an American flag being hung by the front door and a pumpkin being placed on its front steps, a snowman in the yard in the depths of winter.  Screened back porch in which to listen to the rain or the rustling of leaves in the trees.  A crackling fireplace.  A large kitchen in which I can spread out and have an all out baking marathon any time I feel like it.  A dark wooded office for my husband with a leather chair and a large desk.  Hydrangeas, tulips, daffodils, and forsythia planted for spring blooms.  A space in the back for a garden.  Windows with shades and sheer curtains.  Food served in handmade pottery instead of mass-produced crockery.  A place where there are parades, a Main St., town meetings, church suppers.  A strong sense of community.  Home.

I find myself longing for quiet, a place where I can hear the birds sing, see the stars in the sky.

I need a place in which to feed my soul.

I’m not normally a huge fan of bundt cakes.  Layer cakes or sheet cakes with frosting, oh yeah, that’s my thing.  Last year, about this time, I was preparing for the year ahead with blogging projects, and I came across this recipe for a cake that combined an ingredient that practically runs in every Southerner’s bloodstream:  BUTTERMILK.  We use it in so many things, cakes, frostings, marinades for pork chops or fried chicken.  And our biscuits…don’t forget the biscuits.
Buttermilk yields a very tender baked good-and this cake is no exception.  The icing turned out much whiter than it appears in the picture, but, by the next morning, it had all sunk into the cake.  Which was fine, it just wasn’t as pretty.  This cake is tender, moist, and delicious.  It would be a wonderful alternative to the pumpkin pie we always make at Thanksgiving.
And if you’ve never tried buttermilk in a recipe-do some searching and find a recipe that looks interesting to you-it will become a favorite ingredient in no time.:)
Pumpkin Spice Cake with Buttermilk Icing from “Epicurious”
1-1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened, plus additional for greasing bundt pan
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting pan
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin (from a 15-ounce can; not pie filling)
3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs 

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons well-shaken buttermilk
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

Special equipment: a 10-inch nonstick bundt pan (3 quart)

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter bundt pan generously, then dust with flour, knocking out excess.

Whisk together flour (2 1/4 cups), baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together pumpkin, 3/4 cup buttermilk, and vanilla in another bowl.

Beat butter (1 1/2 sticks) and granulated sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes, then add eggs and beat 1 minute. Reduce speed to low and add flour and pumpkin mixtures alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing until batter is just smooth.

Spoon batter into pan, smoothing top, then bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 15 minutes, then invert rack over cake and reinvert cake onto rack. Cool 10 minutes more.

While cake is cooling, whisk together buttermilk and confectioners sugar until smooth. Drizzle icing over warm cake, then cool cake completely. Icing will harden slightly.

I’m still not sure if I should share these or not…they weren’t my favorite.

I full expected them to be cracker-like-and my pallette was confused because it tasted, oddly, like a thin cheese…cookie.

The flavor was good, I just wanted it to have a crunchier texture.  But maybe, since you all know what the texture will be like, you can make an informed decision-bake or not-to-bake.

Savory Cheese Coins from Old Fashioned Christmas Favorites

8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons dried minced onion

pinch of cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well by hand or with a mixer (I used the mixer) until dough is formed.  Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a log about one inch in diameter and 12 inches long.  Wrap the logs in plastic and chill for 4hours or overnight.  When logs are completely chilled, cut each log into about 48 slices (I only got 40 out of the whole batch) of 1/4 inch thickness.  Place on a greased or coated baking sheet and brown in a 375 degree oven for 10 minutes.  Remove coins from baking sheets to cool on a wire rack.  Store in an airtight container.


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