Friday, October 29, 2010

Bistro Focaccia & Monster Pretzel Cookies {October's Show-N-Tell}


Today was Show-N-Tell for the month of October. Wow time flies! I hosted our Show-N-Tell today...because it was my month to choose the date, coordinate and decide on the agenda. So, I decided to host it at my home. I served Gingered Juice, Bistro Focaccia and fresh veggies. Once again, the conversations were all over the place. Everything from our hubbie's jobs, college life, HOMECOMING, childhoods, Christmas packaging, Borders Rewards, Stress, time management, family dinners and SOMEHOW...we even talked about laundry...thanks, LINDA!

This lunch was perfect. The chopping was done last night, the Ginger Juice Concentrate was also made up in advance so that the ginger was able to TOTALLY infuse our drinks.

Here is the recipe I tweaked with my twinsie's suggestions.


Bistro Focaccia

Adapted a bit from Pampered Chef {PC used canned bread}

Focaccia Bread Base

Ingredients:

2 cups very warm water

1 Tbsp. active dry yeast

3 cups bread flour

1 cup all purpose flour {I use half white/wheat}

1 Tbsp. sea salt

olive oil


Directions:

In a measuring cup, add yeast to very warm water.

In a large mixing bowl, mix flour and salt. Add yeast water. Stir with a spoon
until dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl and is smooth.


Cover dough and let rise for 1 to 1 ½ hours.

With olive-oiled hands, spread dough on SILPAT. Using your knuckles...spread dough out forming holes in the dough.

Using a silicone pastry brush, spread olive oil out on bread.

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

Take out of oven and spread a little more olive oil on dry parts of bread.

Sprinkle peppered jack cheese on first, then the rest of the toppings and end with the Parmesan.

Bake for an additional 15 minutes or until golden brown.




Bistro Topping:

*2 cups pepper jack cheese, shredded


1 red pepper, chopped

1 {8oz.} jar marinated artichokes, drained and chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

½ cup Kalamata olives, chopped


½ cup green olives with pimiento, chopped



*¼ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded


Need to make it up ahead of time? Mix ALL ingredients together and store in fridge. Get out of fridge and let sit out for 30 minutes then bake!

Enjoy!!





Shared with: comfy in the kitchen


Linda brought an activity for us to do for her Show-N-Tell:



Aren't they cute little monsters? I'm sure your little ones would love these. If anybody were to have a Sesame Street party...these would certainly be fun to make.

She got the idea from Martha Stewart {of course!}

She took about one cup of white chocolate candy melts and melted it over low heat. Once it was melted, she added a tad bit of green food coloring and a half bag of pretzel sticks that she had broken up a bit.

Stir it all got stirred together.

Then let it sit for a few minutes.

Form mounds of pretzel mix on to Roulpat or waxed paper.

Cut mini marshmallows in half with scissors and pull a bit. Stick peanut M&M on top of marshmallow and then on mound for monster eyes.

Shared with: stone gable

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Jami's Ginger Juice Concentrate


Last week I was invited to my friend, Jami's Pampered Chef Party. Any excuse to get together, really. She served this punch that was so good! She substituted cranberry juice for whatever other juice was called for {BRILLIANT!} and she skipped the wine and added 7UP to the punch so that there was an option for those who do not consume alcohol. {AGAIN, BRILLIANT!}

If you have been reading this blog long enough, you know how much I love ginger and cranberries. Not just because they are so delicious, but because of all the medicinal benefits as well. YES! They are THAT good for you!

As I was preparing my gourmet dinner for my twinsie last Friday, I began experimenting with the recipe, knowing full well Laur would give me her honest opinion without me even having to ask. That is also another reason everybody needs a twinsie!

After making a couple of different batches, I decided to just make a Ginger Juice Concentrate and offer different combos. SO, here is the basic recipe and the combos are endless!

Jami's Ginger Juice Concentrate:
Tweaked a bit from Jami

1 {11.5 Fluid OZ.} Langers Frozen Cranberry Juice Concentrate
1 piece of fresh ginger about 4 inches long
2 cans San Pellegrino Limonata...I put a bit less so it would fit in my glass bottle. OR 2 cans of 7UP...{I TRY TO AVOID HFCS, SO I PREFER THE LIMONATA}
4 limes, juiced

Directions:
*Thaw juice;

*Peel outside of ginger and chop into small pieces; {If you have a food chopper...dig it out and use it!}

*Combine juice and ginger in a small saucepan;

*Bring to a boil. Let cool a bit;

*Let sit in fridge overnight...if you have time. If you are not a ginger fan...DO NOT LET IT SIT OVERNIGHT. You wont be happy. You will not like me. You will most likely e-mail me and let me know how horrible it is. :) OR worse... you will not love JAMI...who is the sweetest! :)

*Strain ginger and place juice concentrate in a glass bottle.

*Squeeze juice of 4 limes and add to strained juice.

ADD LIMONATA OR 7UP




THAT IS IT! EASY AS PIE!


VARIATIONS:

Fill cup with ice.

Pour 1/2 glass with plain seltzer water. Top off with Ginger Juice Concentrate.

Pour 1/2 glass with orange juice. Top off with Ginger Juice Concentrate.

Pour 1/2 glass with San Pellegrino Limonata {available at Costco}. Top off with Ginger juice Concentrate.

Pour 1/2 glass with Hansen's Natural Soda Mandarin Lime. Top off with Ginger Juice Concentrate.

Pour 1/2 glass with Schloss Biebrich Sekt {sparkling wine}. Top off with Ginger Juice Concentrate.

Enjoy! Thank you, Jami for the fun night and for the most delicious food!

and thank you, Laur for being my {self-appointed} official taste tester!

Shared with: stonegable

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Monster Cookies


{They are so BIG that they need an extra big cookie bag!}



These cookies are about as close as we get to monsters in our home.

I am not sure if our children liked them because of their size or because of the name!

They are still a favorite!!







I like to keep all my scoops in one place...


Thank you Laur for the brand new SILPAT. I LOVE it!


Kabnet Wax between these cookies...since they can tend to stick together works really well. Simply put these cookies in a ZIPLOC bag and freeze until you need {WANT!} them.

Monster Cookies


6 eggs

2 cups brown sugar

1 ½ tsp. vanilla {I like 2 tsp. vanilla paste}

2 cups sugar

4 tsp. baking soda

2 sticks unsalted butter {room temp}

2 cups crunchy, salted peanut butter {16 oz. from Trader Joe’s}

10 cups oatmeal

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup M&Ms

*Combine eggs, sugars, vanilla, baking soda, butter and peanut butter in stand mixer. using the paddle attachment, STIR until all ingredients are mixed. Then put all ingredients into a MONSTER BOWL. I mean the BIGGEST, HUGEST one you have.

*Add oatmeal, chocolate chips and M&Ms.

*Use an ice cream scoop to form balls of dough. Flatten. Bake on SILPAT or baking sheet at 350 for about 12 minutes.

*Let cool on Silpat for a few minutes. Remove and let finish cooling on wire cooling rack.

*My little monsters like it when I put in more M&M's like a whole EXTRA cup!

Enjoy and be sure to share...this recipe makes about a ton!

Simply...packaging: Unbleached natural waxed paper bags available at NEW SEASONS and WHOLE FOODS

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Organizing Receipts {the simple way}




With the holidays right around the corner, I thought I would share a very simple way of organizing your receipts.

It can be so frustrating hunting for the one receipt you need. How many of us have spent hours looking everywhere but in the fridge trying to recoop the one receipt you need?

Well...not anymore! Of course you will need to take a moment and file it, but it will be worth the few minutes you take when you know exactly where to find it.

I used to file receipts according to who the item belonged to. Let me tell ya, that does NOT work when you bought two different things for two different people at the same store. I know. I am very slow, but it took me forever and a day to figure it out.

SOOOOOOO...I bought white CATALOG ENVELOPES, not too big and not too small. Each store that we buy from on a regular basis has its own FILING TAB marked with the store name.





For example: TARGET has its own envelope. Everything we buy from Target goes into that envelope.





All CATALOG ENVELOPES are placed into the MAIN file labeled RECEIPTS. I have a "to file" section on my desk and that is where the receipts are put until they drive me crazy and I take the time to file them. It only takes a few minutes and it is so nice to know where to find what you need. It is especially great for GIFTS. Not just at Christmas-time, but year-round.

I always ask for the gift receipt and include it with the gift, but you have no idea how many times it gets lost and YOU have the back-up! YAY!!!

I bought FILING TABS that are really tough and they can easily be repositioned.{POST IT...from Staples in the filing section}







Since I can hardly read my own writing, and I love a clean and simple look, I used my very very very very favorite label maker with a small font to label each tab.





That is it! And by the way, if you are using smaller envelopes there is NO WAY one can stash receipts that expired in 2005!


***WHAT ABOUT STORES YOU RARELY PURCHASE FROM? Each family member has their own envelope for this. For example: Rarely do I shop at Nordstrom...but once in awhile I do, so, I would file that under "LISA".

Hope this makes more sense to you than it does to me. TUTORIALS are not my thing.

Happy Organizing! You will feel oh.so.domesticated once your receipts are organized. Just think of all the extra time you will have to do other things...like LAUNDRY and carpool!

Idea shared with: Organize with Sandy

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake



Here is one of my all-time favorites. Cheesecake all by its little self is amazing...add in pumpkin and it is heavenly. I am pretty sure it can't get much better in the dessert department unless you add rum sauce, and pumpkin spice whipped cream...

The night before I had our daughter, I was able to make mini cheesecakes and enjoy it, too. Though I had been sick most of the pregnancy...cheesecake was a must! Of course it was my brother's birthday party at our home!!!

Our whole family loves cheesecake...especially Laurissa...but she likes plain. Don't bother making banana, chocolate or pumpkin. Just plain old will do just fine for our picky little eater...or easy to please? What do you think???

As for Caleb, he is a boy after his Momma's heart. He LOVES anything pumpkin...even pumpkin cheesecake. :)I'll share his very favorite with you soon.

And then there is my hubby. His idea of cheesecake was Jello brand. I didn't even know you could make instant cheesecake. I had never heard of such a thing.
One night, he "treated" me by making it "from scratch". That went over well!

Next time he was wanting cheesecake, I made one and baked it. NO CAN DO. He was very sweet and polite, but he was less than thrilled with it...so, it took awhile to figure it out. It had to have the right texture and consistency. Good news is we have ONE we all love and we do not divert...except for this one.

ENJOY

Opps...the little dappled dachsund has no complaints. She will eat whatever she is given. Except for popcorn. She has to have it buttered! NO KIDDING! That's my "girl"! :)

*Do you love cheesecake or Dislike it?

*Plain or fancy schmanzy?




Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake
Lisa Pearson

Crust:

1-1/2 cups Old German Spice Cookie crumbs or Molasses Cookie crumbs

1/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup melted butter

Filling:

3 (8oz) packages cream cheese {room temp}

1cup packed brown sugar

1 (150z) can solid-packed pumpkin

2 tbsp. ClearJel or cornstarch

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

¼ tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1 (5oz) can evaporated milk

2 Tbsp. soy flour



Topping:

2 cups sour cream

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

In a bowl combine crumbs and sugar ; stir in butter. Stir.
Press into the bottom of cheesecake pan and bake @ 350 for 5 to 7 minutes or until set . Cool for 10 minutes.

In a stand mixer,using the bowl, beat cream cheese and brown sugar with whisk attachment or be sure to use a hand mixer if you have one.
Stir until smooth.
Add pumpkin, clearjel and spices. Mix well.
Gradually beat in milk and soy flour just until blended. Pour into crust. Place in oven and bake @ 350 for at least 60 minutes or until center is almost set.

Combine sour cream {room temp}, sugar and vanilla. Pour on top of cheesecake after it is finished cooking.

Place back in oven for 7 minutes.

Remove from oven. Let cool. Chill for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Serve chilled with Whipped Cream...lots and lots and lots...maybe even Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream...whip up 1 pint heavy whipping cream with 4 Tbsp. Torani Pumpkin Spice Syrup.

*it is time to BAKE and make your home cozy and sweet!





This post is shared with: comfy in the kitchen, stone gable

Friday, October 22, 2010

{mini} Gumdrop Holiday on Twine



Don't you just love Christmas lights? I do. Although, I must say that seeing them up already is NOT okay. What do you think? I was driving home late Tuesday night...that would be OCTOBER 20Th...and a business on a corner had their Christmas lights UP and ON. They have some lights up Year-round, but their extra lights were ON!!!

We are not putting our lights up until later, but I know I have no right to judge since I am already blah, blah, blahing about Christmas gifts, recipes etc.

...SOOOOO, since we are talking about lights, I fell asleep the other night thinking about them. When I woke up in the morning, I remembered thinking about gumdrops and candy DOTS and how they look like little Christmas lights. Don't you think?

I pulled out my ribbons and twine and threaded them onto the twine. This would be a cute craft for a mantel, draped over a dining room/kitchen chandelier...a headboard, Christmas tree etc.

Well, I hope you all have a nice weekend.

Happy Happy Friday!


***I am making a new topping for focaccia bread tonight. I am so excited!! It has olives, garlic, artichokes, Parmesan and Mozzarella, parsley and red pepper {THANK YOU JAMI!} and a special fizzy drink made with cranberry juice, limes, fresh ginger and lemon/lime soda pop! I will post the recipes if it is a hit with my TWINSIE! She will let me know if it needs to be modified. Trust me! :)


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Potato Leek Soup with Dumplings




Are most of you sooo happy that I have not posted YET another Christmassy something today? I am back to reality. It is sunny and beautiful not even feeling like Autumn this afternoon! I think it might rain tomorrow and I could not be happier.

My twinsie is coming to dinner tomorrow evening and spending the night...which is always a treat!!!

We plan dates like this for when our hubby's are both at work. That way, we get to sleep in the same big old bed and our conversations last late into the night! Tomorrow will be a bit different because it is a "work party"! The first of more to come.

Soo, in honor of my twinsie {I think everybody needs one!!! She is sweet enough, I will share,,,} I thought I would post one of my favorite soup recipes of hers with YOU! I love most of them...especially when they are delivered ready-to-serve!

I'm telling you, she is THE.BEST!


Auntie Laura’s Potato Leek Soup with Dumplings

Laura Stroh


3 leeks, sliced

1 small, yellow onion, sliced

3 stalks celery, diced

1 cube butter, melted

4 cups chicken broth {I like using Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base from Trader Joe's}

6 medium potatoes, diced

½ cup half and half

Salt and pepper to taste

3 carrots, shredded

2 cups cooked chicken


Directions:

*Sautee leeks, onion and celery in butter until soft.

*Add chicken broth and potatoes.

*Simmer for 1 ½ hours in stockpot.

*Bring to a boil and add half and half, salt and pepper, carrots and

chicken. Let it go back to a simmer.



Ingredients for Dumplings:

1 ½ cups flour

2 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

3 Tbsp. shortening

¾ cup milk


Directions for Dumplings:

*Combine flour, baking powder and salt.

*Cut in shortening.

*Stir in milk until smooth.

*Drop by teaspoonfuls into soup.

*Cook uncovered for 10 minutes.

*Cook covered for 10 minutes.

Serve and ENJOY!



Menu Idea:

Pear Sparkling Cider

Spinach Salad

Auntie Laura's Potato Leek Soup with Dumplings

Toasted French Bread

Ice Cream



DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE AUTUMN SOUP?


WHAT IS YOUR GO-TO-SOUP for busy days? DO YOU MAKE SOUP IN YOUR CROCKPOT?

I think I need to gut it up and have a linky party for crockpot dinners!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

{mini} Swiss Sweet Bread Swiss Toast





The holiday bug has bit! I can't help it! So sorry for you-die-hard friends who are so patient in waiting until the end of October.

What is YOUR secret???!!!

I think I am extra excited this year, because our whole family will be together...Riss will be home from college, David will be home from the Army, friends will be in town etc.

The song "HOME FOR CHRISTMAS" will be more special than ever!

This is my twinsies recipe for Swiss Sweet Bread. It is enjoyed year-round, but especially during the holidays.

It brings back fun memories of our yearly trips Beatenberg in the Swiss Alps!

This bread is great as "leftovers". Just toast it and put lots of butter on top.


Swiss Sweet Bread
Laura Stroh



INGREDIENTS:

1 tablespoon yeast

1  2/3 cups warm water

(Let sit for five minutes)

Add:

1 cup dry potato flakes

1 cup sugar

6 tablespoons melted unsalted butter (let slightly cool before adding)

2 teaspoons salt

4 eggs

1 tablespoon orange extract or freshly zested zest from 1 medium sized orange

1-1/2 cups dried cranberries

7 cups flour

DIRECTIONS:

• Knead until flour is incorporated and dough is smooth.

• Put in greased bowl for 1-1/2 hours until it doubles.

• Punch down.

• Let it rise for 10 minutes. Divide dough into 3 loaves...I made two and two mini loaves in mini bread pans {this yielded 12 mini Swiss toast slices}

• Place on greased baking sheet, cover and let it sit for 45 minutes.

• Bake at 350 for 35 minutes or until golden.

If you are making mini loaves for Swiss Toast, be sure to grease pan and only bake until golden...about 20 minutes.

Swiss Toast Egg Dip:

1/2 cup half and half

2 eggs

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Mix ingredients together in a deep bowl and let two slices of bread soak at a time until it is absorbed into the bread a bit. Wet NOT SOGGY! :) YUCK!

Heat oil in frying pan and let toast brown on each side. Repeat. Keep toasty :) in warm oven. I like to keep mine on a plate and covered with tin foil. Or you can use two pie plates to save on foil. One for the bottom and the other one inverted on top for the lid. Just don't burn yourself.

YOU GOTTA TRY THIS DURING THE HOLIDAYS: DIP FRENCH TOAST IN EGGNOG!! DELICIOUS...

Enjoy!

GIFT IDEA: It would be fun to make a loaf to give as a gift. Wrap it up in cellophane, make up a batch of Swiss Toast Egg Dip {or EGGNOG!} and pour it into a recycled glass container, place it in a bag and I am sure the recipients would love a nice, hot breakfast that is almost made for them. Be sure to keep the DIP cold and let them know it should be enjoyed within two days! It may even be made for dinner. YUUUUUMMMM...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Homemade Peppermint Ice Cream {Christmas Gifts to Give}









I know it isn't even Halloween yet, but some of you want to start thinking about Christmas gifts. If you aren't one of them...you are welcome to visit this post at the beginning of November. How is that?

I am the luckiest ducky in the world because my hubby is one fantastic cook and he teaches me things all of the time. I am his "official taste tester" and he is mine! {Amongst other friends and neighbors}.

Last night, he finally perfected his Homemade Peppermint Ice Cream. TO.DIE.FOR. and the best part about it is that he is sharing it with all of you. Now, we are all lucky little duckies {even though I don't believe in LUCK!}

Thank you, Honey, for workin' on it until you got it "right"! Such the sweetie you are!!!

Here is a fun idea for Christmas gifts or for entertaining during the Holidays. This is great because it can all be made up ahead of time. When dessert time rolls around, all you need to do is to pull out your tray of Homemade Peppermint Ice Cream containers. You may want to make two different sizes. The good news is there is no mess {YAY!} and no clean-up...EVEN BETTER!

Your guests will feel completely pampered and pleasantly full!




Scott's Famous Peppermint Ice Cream

Scott Pearson



INGREDIENTS:

2-1/2 cups milk

2-1/2 cups sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

2-1/2 cups half & half

1-1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract

1 tsp. TORANI PEPPERMINT SYRUP

5 cups whipping cream

2 cups crushed peppermint candies


DIRECTIONS:

• Heat milk until bubbles form around pan.

• Remove milk from heat

• Add sugar and salt, stir until dissolved.

• Stir in remaining ingredients.

• Place into ice cream maker and follow manufacturer’s directions.


This is such a versatile recipe! Eventually you will come up with your own variations.


Packaging Ideas:

As soon as the ice cream is made. Pour into whatever containers you plan on gifting and place in freezer until needed.

I used Garnish products {soup containers and baker's twine}

I placed four embelished containers in a Take-Out drink container {My friends and family collect these for me year-round! THANK YOU!}

I placed ceadar clippings around the containers and attached a sweet little label with the family's initial to a branch. That is it!


What are some ideas you have for Christmas this year?



Shared with: stone gable, comfy in the kitchen

Monday, October 18, 2010

Herbes de Provence Focaccia Sandwich {with Roasted Veggies}



Not to worry, there is no goose fat in this recipe! Although the French do use it quite frequently, I opted for good old fashioned olive oil and unsalted butter.

A few years back I was assigned to make this sandwich for my friend's 40th birthday celebration! Boy, was it FUN! It was a French themed party. Lots of white, black and pink baloons, candles everywhere, fun fizzy drinks, placecards and fancy glasses on the beautifully set table, this sandwich, homemade pumpkin soup, a yummy salad and lemon poppyseed cake with raspberry buttercream frosting and HOT tea.

We listened to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and talked until it was time to pick up our children from school. What a fun way to spend the day!



Herbs De Provence Focaccia Sandwich {with Roasted Veggies}

¼ of an eggplant

Sea salt

Olive oil

Unsalted butter

1 9 inch round loaf of focaccia {store bought or homemade}

*If you are using storebought, after sandwich is assembled, brush the top with olive oil and sprinkle with Herbes de Provence

¼ cup Best Food Mayonnaise

1 clove of garlic

¼ cup basil pesto {Trader Joe's}

4 slices of Provolone cheese

¼ cup of roasted red peppers {Trader Joe's}

¼ lb. deli garlic turkey


*If making your own focaccia bread, bake two batches and use one half for the top of your sandwich and the other half for the bottom.

*Store bought focaccia may be sliced in half horizontally.

*Slice eggplant into half horizontally. Cut into half. Make ½ inch half moon slices and salt them. Let salt absorb into the eggplant for about 30 minutes. This will give added flavor and draw extra water out.

*Cook in a bit of unsalted butter and olive oil. Make sure to use a good pan so they don’t stick. They will brown. Set aside.

*Make your garlic mayonnaise by adding 1 minced clove of garlic to the mayonnaise. Set aside in your fridge until you are ready to assemble your sandwich.

*Spread bottom half with garlic mayonnaise.

*Spread top half with pesto{I use Trader Joe's Genova pesto}

*Add deli turkey on top of mayonnaise and place slices of Provolone cheese to top.

*Add cut up slices of roasted red pepper to top of pesto and place roasted eggplant on top of that.{I use Trader Joe's Fire Roasted Yellow and Red Peppers}

*Place top and bottom together and wrap sandwich with tin foil. Bake at 350* for about 10 minutes until warmed through and cheese starts to melt.

*Slice into wedges! Serve and enjoy!

Shared with:

Blessed with grace

foodie friday

Tuesday Night Supper Club, this chick cooks, at the picket fence, stone gable

Friday, October 15, 2010

Gifting Leftovers

c


This last week, we were invited to a dinner party with some guys my hubby works with! It was so much fun! If you know me, you know how much I loooove late night dinners! I took a cake, cupcakes and ice cream...way too much dessert, but I would be mortified if we ran out...and we all know that firefighters can eat A LOT!

I left some with the host and sent some home with other guests and STILL had some left, sooo, when I got home I wrapped it really good and put it in the freezer to give away the next day.

SOOO, {I know I use that word a ton, sorry!} I want to hear from you...


*Do you think it is tacky giving away leftovers?

*Would or do you give away your "extras"?

*Would you throw your leftovers away before you would consider giving them away?

*Do you have an over abundance in your garden that you are willing to share?



Aren't these greens beautiful? They were given to me by the wife of my accupuncturist! They grow a garden and share their organic bounty with their patients! Isn't that the sweetest thing ever?

Scientifically speaking, it has been proven that the act of giving actually increases/releases the happy hormones.


Here is a challenge for you:

Try to take something that you have extras of and share it with somebody.

This could be anything to anybody. {I am working on this right along with YOU.}

A few suggestions:

*your leftovers might be just the right amount to take to an elderly person. Have your children help get it ready and go with you to deliver it to them.

*Maybe a family has a deployed spouse serving our country...I am sure they would appreciate a little something.

*What about a homeless person. Be intentional about preparing it in advance and give it to them as they are waitng for money at the traffic lights. Just roll down your window and BLESS them.

I would love to hear back from you on how this goes.

{Be sure your leftovers are fresh and not scrap material. You know what I am talking about. :) As Americans, I feel that our extras are like gold compared to that of other ccountries.}




"Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not RELUCTANTLY or under compulsion, for GOD loves a CHEERFUL giver." II Corinthians 9:7

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Grandpa Tom's Shrimp and Corn Chowder {Our Sipping Soup}




O.K. If there were to be one thing on my blog I would beg for you to try, it would be THIS.SOUP. No kidding!

Grandpa Tom and Grandma Judi {my mother-in-law's BFF for about 58 years!!!} have been part of our family since my hubby and I have been married {over 20 years!} They treat our children like their own, never forgetting a birthday, special milestones, and sport's games when they are in town!

They are amazing friends and amazing cooks. This soup has become TRADITION! It is so easy to make, but it is fancy enough in the taste department that it could be served to the Heads of State!

We like serving it in glass punch cups as an appetizer for our Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner! It has affectionately been dubbed "our sipping soup".

It is soooo good even our friends have adopted it as a family TRADITION in their homes.

ENJOY!!!!


Grandpa Tom’s Shrimp and Corn Chowder
{Our Sipping Soup}

1 cup unsalted butter

1 onion, chopped

2lbs. cocktail shrimp, rinsed and drained

2 {14.75} oz. cans cream style corn

1 can Rotel Tomatoes

Freshly ground pepper to taste

1 pint half and half

1 half pint heavy whipping cream

1 lb. Velveeta Cheese {I KNOW! BAD.BAD.BAD...but the fami does not like the healthy version...and for the sake of TRADITION...it is okay!!! We will just be juicing for the next 10 days. That's all. DONE!}


Directions:

*Saute onion in butter until onion is soft

*Add shrimp, corn, Rotel and pepper to taste.

*Add remaining ingredients.

*Heat until cheese melts. It is ready to serve!!! YIPPEE!!

We have made this soup in the crockpot and it works great. Just add the shrimp about 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with crusty Artisan bread and a nice dinner salad for a main coarse...just be sure to serve LINDA'S Chocolate Decadence for dessert!

Shared with: stone gable

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Photo/Clutter Garden Trellis {DIY}




Is there anybody that doesn't LOVE looking at people's fridge photos and other interesting little pieces of paper that are taped to, stuck to, and attached with cute magnets to the fridge? I know I do. I refuse to take pictures of loved ones off my fridge for the sake of having a clutter-free zone! It is part of who we are and our friends have become a part of our family.

I love it, too, when friends visit and they know the same people we know! It always tends to spark fun conversation. ORRR,...you might have an adorable Christmas picture where friends might comment: "cute kids!", "I LOVE her hair!", "There is no way shehas 5 kids!" etc. It gives you a chance to tell other people about YOUR friends! ANYWAY, blah.blah.blah!

However, I can not stand clutter ALL OVER every other part of the fridge. Notes from my children {I have to keep them at eye-level to remind myself how blessed I am with them on days where parenting does not come quite as easy}, little reminders to myself, concert tickets, quotes I love, things that do not need to be out for everybody else to see etc.

SOOOO, I picked up two garden trellis picks, took some wire and tied them together to hang INSIDE my cupboard...opposite to the FAMILY calendar. I had some mini clothespins and it works GREAT! Not bad for $4.00!

*Do you keep pictures and everything else on your fridge?

*Do you like it nice and tidy?

*How do you organize your tidbits of info?


linked to http://shabbynest.blogspot.com/search/label/linky%20party

Monday, October 11, 2010

SHOW-N-TELL Club




This morning as I was reading Philippians 4:4, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say REJOICE!" I was reminded that life should be filled with JOY.

It should be about refusing to let life's circumstances dictate our attitudes.


Believe me, I am the first one to get impatient with an overly energetic child bouncing off the deck and on the furniture as he is getting the dogs completly wound up AT dinner time, and we have had our share of life-altering situations that will be part of who we are for the rest of our lives.

Life should be about looking at things from a different perspective. Not our perspective, but through God's perspective.

When was the last time you remember being joyful? Not happy. JOYFUL?

We are fully aware that life is tough. Not a day goes by that we are not ALL reminded of that. Marriages are on the rocks, innocent children and soldiers are dying, babies in orphanages are not being held and cuddled, hearts are broken, jobs are far and few between, and those who have never dealt with addictions are turning to them to "cope and deal" with life.

Here is a quote I LOVE: Joyful people stay riveted to the present-the here and now, not the then and never...Swindoll

"I was regretting the past
And fearing the future...
Suddenly my Lord was speaking:
"MY NAME IS I AM." He paused.
I waited. He continued,

"WHEN YOU LIVE IN THE PAST,
WITH ITS MISTAKES AND REGRETS,
IT IS HARD. I AM NOT THERE.
MY NAME IS NOT I WAS.

"WHEN YOU LIVE IN THE FUTURE,
WITH ITS PROBLEMS AND FEARS,
IT IS HARD. I AM NOT THERE.
MY NAME IS NOT I WILL BE.

"WHEN YOU LIVE IN THIS MOMENT,
IT IS NOT HARD.
I AM HERE. MY NAME IS "I AM"

HELEN MALLICOAT

...AND THAT is how we can have joy. Knowing that our life is in God's very capable, loving hands. Despite our fears, worries and everyday stresses only HE can give us joy. Maybe we have had joy in the past. Maybe not. Maybe we are thinking that in the future we will have joy when the children are older, when the baby is sleeping through the night, when morning sickness is gone, after the house sells...etc. WHAT about today? God is there for YOU TODAY. This very second.

*************************************************************************************

I have talked about my friends Linda and Julie before. We are the three that get together for Show-n-Tell once a month.

When we first started getting together we would talk about food and direct sales. As our friendship has grown we now talk about food, food carts, aging, fun walks to take, culture, children, barns, shoes, buying in bulk etc.

Julie is Vegan, I am "pretty much a vegetarian" {chicken once in awhile and love seafood}. Linda eats and likes just about everything...so it is alot of fun chatting about our different recipes and tweaking them to suit our eating habits.

This last month, Linda took the bull by the horns and gave us a date, time and place. No questions asked. That is the way it works! We met at PF CHANGS.

*Julie's Show-n-Tell: Her new hairdo, new lipstick...{she got off the hook a bit since she is working on finishing up a new cookbook!}

*Linda's Show-n-Tell: Dove Chocolate Discoveries catalogs. Since we all met through Direct Sales, we were all OKAY with it. She is hosting a party, and we are all attending. No way around it. She is so excited! We all trust Linda. If she thinks it is good. It is going to be! The catalogs are TO.DIE.FOR. Think White Chocolate Cream-filled Cupcakes,Triple Cream Fudge Cake and Frosted Espresso-glazed Brownies! I KNOOOOW!!!

*my Show-n-Tell: A bit of the loot I received from Garnish. We thought of a million and one ways to package and display different foods!

We ate our lunch and then unanimously decided to finish our date at CASH-N-CARRY!

We packed in several more important topics which included ice cream scoops...the good ones that will last forever and the ones that don't last one run through the dishwasher...and yet another reason to carry feminine products in your purse.*** {Mom, if you are reading this, STOP.RIGHT.NOW!}...

***{My hubby had taken me out to a fancy schmancy dinner auction and I was chewing gum. I had cleaned out my purse. No receipts, no appointment cards, nothing except my wallet, lipstick and feminine paper products in the zippered part. {Because that is the decent place to carry them!} Well, there were cloth napkins and no sugar packets {usually my back up} sooo, my hubby asked what I was doing {the table was filled with other people} I told him I needed to spit my gum out! I had my purse on my lap and tore the paper off THE PRODUCT and wadded my gum up in it. Well, my hubby needed to spit his gum out, too. So, he asked for a piece of paper. I obliged. The submissive wife that I am... :) OH.MY. HE WAS COMPLETELY mortified. We laughed so hard!}

So, all I am saying is this: LAUGH! Ask God to give you joy...in the midst of the storm or laughter while it is smooth sailing!

*Do you have friends you can laugh with?

*Are you able to find the humor in the everyday?

Today, I am grateful for friends. {No particular order} The friends who live far away, my closest friends that hold my heart, friends that encourage the deepest part of who I am, My daughter..., adopted "moms", the best mother-in-law EVER, my kindred-spirits, friends I only see once-in-a-blue moon, my twinsie who knows all my secrets, and the friends I have never met and the ones I have yet to meet and my Momma who loves me the way I am and who will still be pulling my skirt down, suggesting I wear a cami and reminding me to turn down the water until I'm 101! I LOVE YOU ALL...and you bring me OUTRAGIOUS JOY!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

TRADER JOE'S CAKE MIXES




Aren't these the most adorable cake mix boxes ever? AND the cakes are delicious! DARE I SAY ALMOST AS GOOD AS HOMEMADE? I am NOT kidding. Friends actually think I made them from scratch!! I will definitely be making chocolate biscotti! SO...this is my new go-to! I am NOT even going to be hiding the boxes! I am considering displaying them in my hutch for all to see!


*Would YOU buy a cake mix from Trader Joe's even if you consider yourself a "FROM-SCRATCH-BAKER" only?

*Are you going to run out and stock up on them?

*If you don't have a Trader Joes would you call up their headquarters and cry, beg, plead for them to send you a cake mix? I would!!!

Pumpkin Waffles {with the WORKS}




Pumpkin Waffles

Lisa Pearson



2 eggs

2 cups buttermilk

1/3 cup plain pumpkin {no spices added}

½ tsp. nutmeg

½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice

2 cups flour

1 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. sea salt


Beat eggs, buttermilk and pumpkin together. Add the rest of the ingredients. Whisk until batter is smooth. Place 2/3 of a cup on waffle iron and let cook until golden brown.



Cinnamon Sugar

½ cup organic sugar

1 Tbsp. cinnamon



Homemade Syrup

Lisa Pearson


1 cup organic sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 tsp. clearjel {available at King Arthur or the Decorette Shop}

½ cup corn syrup

1 cup water

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract



Whisk all dry ingredients together in a little saucepan. Add wet ingredients. Stir until it boils. Boil for three minutes. Strain. Pour into an old-fashioned glass syrup dispenser and frolick the day away!

Be sure to keep leftover syrup in the fridge. Now, go frolick!



Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream

Lisa Pearson


Whip up 1 pint of whipping cream with 4 Tbsp. Torani Pumpkin Spice Syrup.


Here is what you do:

*Place waffle{s} on plate

*Sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar

*Pour on warm syrup {in your cute little glass dispenser} :)

*Top with whipped cream and garnish with freshly ground nutmeg

Post Note: It is the little things in life that add zest to life. With all the money you will be saving by making your own syrup, you can purchase a dispenser. They can be found at thrift stores...make sure it has a tight seal..., Cash and Carry, K-Mart, Target, EBAY etc. and if you don't have the time, CHRISTMAS IS COMING AND THE GOOSE IS GETTING FAT! {my hubby's favorite saying from October on!}





An Autumn Brunch Menu:

Orange Juice and Milk

Pumpkin Waffles

Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream

Cinnamon Sugar

Homemade Syrup

Oma's applesauce

shoulda made bacon on the bbq, but opted for the sugar high!

tired girls home from college, 1 teenage boy, an energetic hubby, and grandparents who dropped by...a little dappled doggie who feels she is entitled to pumpkin waffles, too...and there you have our crazy, late, late brunch!

Happy Happy Happy Saturday!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Cajun Black Bean Burritos









Cajun Black Bean Burritos
Lisa Pearson

Ingredients:

¼ cup olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbsp. Better Than Bouillon Chicken Soup Base {Trader Joes} or regular bouillion

¼ cup cup water

2 boneless/skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces

1 bunch cilantro, chopped {be sure to soak, drain, rinse, drain!}

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

2 Tbsp. chili powder

2 cups cooked rice {I use leftover Jasmine rice}

1 can Trader Joe’s Cajun Style Black Beans…do not drain

1 package flour tortillas {I prefer Trader Joe’s Organic Wheat & Corn Tortillas}

Directions:


Over medium heat, sauté onion and garlic in oil until fragrant. Add bouillon, water and spices and continue cooking until chicken is cooked through
Add rice and beans. Stir.

Using an ice cream scoop, put two scoops of filling onto each tortilla shell. May add cheese, too. Roll each tortilla up, burrito style and place on SILPAT.
Bake at 350 for about 68 minutes or until golden.

Serve with MORE cheese, salsa, sour cream and whatever else you love.
Serves about 6 unless you are feeding teenage boys or hungry firefighters!!!

This is an easy recipe you can double and freeze. I like to wrap them individually in Kabinet Wax papers and then stick them in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag. Remove from freezer and zap them for 3 minutes!

Variations:

*You can use one can of chicken instead of fresh if you are short on time.

*You may add more chicken and less rice if you LOVE meat.

*Have fun with this basic recipe and let me know if you come up with other fun combos!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pat-A-Cake {Quick D.I.Y. Cake}




No need for spendy cakes. I can't think of much else I would rather do than to widdle the morning away making a birthday cake with a little helper...{BTW, Trader Joes has THE.MOST.ADORABLE packaged cake mix boxes that TASTE amazing and the graphics are to.die.for! I think they could sell it to me with pickled pigs feet and I'd still buy it for the box!!}

Here is what you need:

A sweet.fun.energetic.little helper

A cake mix and a few ingredients

Your favorite frosting

Bake Your Cake.

Let it cool.

Wrap it and freeze it. This makes it sooooo easy to frost!

Unwrap the frozen cake and set 1st layer on a serving plate, waxed paper boars, cake plate...

Frost a bit.

Set 2nd layer on top of frosting.

Get a knife or spoon and pat the frosting on the cake in an upward motion, creating little peakes or waves. This takes no skill whatsoever.

Take two lollipop sticks and stick 'em into the cake. Tie twine, ribbon, string or whatever you have {twisties, dental floss :) on one end. Add paper punches of leaves, different shapes, candy corn, Froot Loops etc. Tie to other pole. That is it. Just think. No lines, no ordering, a fun baking day, memory making, and the satisfaction of having saved a bit of money.

Now, I really want to hear from you? Do you bake from scratch or are you okay with buying a box mix? Be honest!!! :) It took me awhile to not hide the box mix under the organic sugar, butter, milk and oats. BUT it saves so much time!

Happy Thursday!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Favorite Autumn Salad





Okey dokey ladies! Here is the last part to our menu!...It is my favorite salad to make when Autumn makes her debut! {Well, one of my favorites!}

Favorite Autumn Salad

Large bowl of mixed baby greens

2 pears, diced

1/2 cup dried cranberries...I like to soak them in HOT water for a minute and drain...they are so juicy and plump and not quite so sweet!

A bit of blue cheese or Feta

1 tomato, sliced

1 avocado...I know, it isn't exactly Autumny, but it is so good for you.


Dressing:

1/2 good olive oil

1/3 cup Balsamic vinegar {Trader Joes}

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 tsp. curry powder

1 garlic clove, minced

Mix dressing together and let it sit for about 30 minutes before mixing into salad. Enjoy!

Here is our menu:

Apple Cider

Autumn Salad

Seafood Mac-n-Cheese

Frozen Croissants from Trader Joes frozen section {set out early on in the day to raise}

White Chocolate Ganache Pudding

There you go! Now, think about who you would like to invite for dinner! If you have children, ask them for suggestions and make it a joint family effort. Get a date on the calendar and stick to it. You will be so happy you made the effort. And the recipients of your invitation will be blessed beyond words, I promise!

What is your favorite thing to fix for company? Do you delegate? Do you order take out? Do you meet your friends at a restaurant? What works best for your family?

Happy October and Happy Happy Friday!