Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Crafty Evening

So, I made some wreaths tonight. I wanted to get them done in order to deliver them over the weekend to my Mom, my sister, and my aunt. I made two gumdrop wreaths and one grapevine wreath.

Making the gumdrop wreath.

You will need toothpicks, clippers, scissors gumdrops, a styrofoam form.

Cut the toothpicks in half,

Insert the cut end into the gumdrop.

Place into the form.

Repeat. Try to keep as neat as possible.

Four tubs of red and green gumdrops made two 10" wreaths.

Create a decorative hanger/bow with satin ribbon.

Christmas is coming...are your crafts done?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Baked Potato Bar

Tomorrow we are having a baked potato bar at the office. Everyone loved the Taco Salad day and we thought this would be a great thing to try. We created a sign-up sheet and everyone seemed excited. All day today I've been fielding questions.

"How many potatoes should I bring?"

"Is two pounds of butter enough?"

"What kind of cheese should I buy?"

The sign up sheet included:

Potatoes (we asked three people to bring enough potatoes for 22)
Cheese (we asked that two people bring cheese)
Sour cream
bacon bits

We also requested 4 people bring desserts, two bring drinks, and someone to bring flatware, cups, and napkins.

So tonight I made a pot of beanless chili and I made it hotter than if I were cooking for myself. Since sweet potatoes were on sale, I picked up 8 and baked them tonight also, thinking I'll take them as something different.

I can't help but wonder, upon reviewing the list, why the people who don't cook always sign up for dessert? Why not a bag of shredded cheese? A tub of sour cream? Sodas? A can of chili? Why dessert?

So, if you were loading a baked potato, what would you put on it?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Christmas Cookie Bake-a-long...White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread

It was my turn to pick the recipe this week, so I picked one from the Better Homes & Gardens Ultimate Cookie Cookbook. My reasoning for this was simple. Maraschino cherries? Almond extract? Score!

White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread

1/2 c maraschino cherries, drained and finely chopped
2 1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 c sugar
1 c cold butter
12 oz white chocolate baking squares with cocoa butter
1/2tsp almond extract
2 drops red food coloring
2 tsp shortening
red & white nonpareils

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spread cherries on paper towels to drain.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour and sugar. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in drained cherries and 4 oz (2/3 c) of the chopped white chocolate. Stir in the almond extract and, if desired, the red food coloring. Form into a ball and knead gently until smooth.


Shape dough into 3/4" balls. Place on an ungreased baking sheet approximately 2 inches apart.


Dip the bottom of a drinking glass into sugar and gently press down each ball into 1 1/2" rounds.


Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until centers are set. Let stand for 1 minute on cookie sheet. Transfer cookies to wire rack and let cool.

In a small saucepan, heat and stir the remaining 8 ounces of white chocolate and the shortening over low heat until smooth. Dip half of each cookie into the chocolate mixture, allowing excess to drip off, and roll dipped edge in nonpareils. Place on waxed paper until set.


I left out the red food coloring, I didn't use the nonpareils, and I experimented dipping some of the cookies in semi-sweet chocolate. Sue me!


Makes 5 dozen.

I can tell you these are quite tasty and I could have been pefectly happy with the raw dough.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Thanksgiving Menu

Roast Turkey Pictures, Images and Photos

I just got off of the phone with my sister...we were divvying up the Thanksgiving menu. We will be celebrating on Friday so that she can celebrate with her hubby's family on Thursday.

So, here is where it stands now. And everything is subject to change.

Pesto palmiers (me)
crudite (Sis)

Main Course
turkey breast (me)
cornbread dressing (me)
ham (Aunt R)
green beans (cousin R)
broccoli salad (Sis)
mixed veg casserole (Sis)
potato salad (Sis)
squash casserole (me)
praline sweet potatoes (me)
rolls (Aunt R)
cranberries (me)
pickles (me)

apple dumplings (me)
chocolate something (Sis)
sugar-free pie (Aunt R)

tea (Sis)
coffee (me)

So, what are you having for Thanksgiving?

Operation Baking Gals


Well, I was not a very successful team leader. I know of some people who mailed goodies, but have not heard from others. And no one emailed me photos. So, I'll post my own.

I sent "Uncle Willy" a batch of Apricot Nut Bars with Chocolate Chips that I made at for our Christmas Cookie Bake Along.


Yields eighteen 3x2-inch bars.

9 oz. (2 cups) all purpose flour
1-1/4 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. table salt
1/2 lb. (1 cup) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 lb. (about 1 cup) chopped, shelled natural pistachios
1/2 cup diced dried apricots
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate or white chocolate morsels
One 15 1/4-oz. jar apricot preserves
how to make

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon, and salt on low speed until well combined. Add the butter and mix on medium until the butter is mostly blended and the mixture appears moist and begins to pull together, about 3 minutes. Stir in the pistachios. Reserve 1-1/2 cups of this crumb mixture, stir the dried apricots and chocolate morsels into it, and refrigerate.

Firmly press the remaining mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 13x9-inch baking pan. Bake in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes. Let cool for about 20 minutes (leave the oven on). Spread the apricot preserves evenly on top, leaving a 1/8-inch border around the edge of the crust.

Crumble the reserved crumb mixture over the apricot preserves. Return to the oven and bake until lightly browned and the fruit filling is bubbling all over, including the center of the pan, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool completely before slicing into 18 bars (or into smaller pieces, if you like).

And I made Dorie Greenspan's World Peace cookies...a lovely chocolate sable cookie, salty and sweet and very chocolaty. I think I must make these for my BIL and nieces.


I also included some local favorites, Goo Goo Clusters, some nuts, and some Gatorade mix.

I know that Dr.Ruth sent a box of assorted granola bars and power bars. That MileHighBaker sent a box of assorted goodies. And that my old friends at J&M loaded up a box with cookies, candies, home-made breads and assorted snacks. A group of people that know Uncle Willy also sent out boxes of goodies. And Ejava sent two kinds of homemade cookies with assorted snacks, also.

I know that these will be appreciated by not only Uncle Willy but those with whom he serves.

Now, on to Round 5!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Home Remedies

I posted last nite about the creepy crud I have been fighting for over a week now. I complained to a co-worker about the fact that I can't sleep because of chest congestion (which let me to a 3:30 a.m visit to Walmart--why sleep when you can shop?). She told me that her husband will take a couple of slugs of blackberry brandy for a bad cough and swears it always helps.

I don't have any blackberry brandy and I don't plan on buying some any time soon. However, as many of my friends will tell you, I've got a lot of liquor for someone who doesn't drink. I felt heavy and congested before bed last night, so I pulled out a bottle of peach brandy and took a long hard pull. It burned all of the way down and was still burning fifteen minutes later.

I think it burned the little cilia to the point that they could not stimulate the coughing mechanism. Anyway, I slept like a baby. If you have a nagging cough, I highly recommend it.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers...Herb-Roasted Onions

It's the second Thursday of November and that means it's time to Barefoot Blog and this month's recipe was chosen by Kelly at Baking With The Boys.

If you were to ask me what is my favorite vegetable I would probably say green beans, but that would be a lie. It's onions. I love onions. Red onions, yellow onions, green onions, Spanish onions, Vidalia onions, pearl onions, Portuguese sweet onions. I love them all. Dip them in batter and fry them, serve them raw on a sandwich. Saute them in butter, grill 'em, caramelize them. Grate them into meatloaf or make them into a sauce. I just don't cook without onions.

So I was thrilled to try this recipe.

And then I was beset by the "itis's". My tonsils were inflamed, my sinus infected, and I still have a bad cough. My energy level was nil and I convinced myself to maybe skip this recipe. Tonight, however, I decided to go ahead and give it a whirl.


2 red onions
1 yellow onion
2 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp garlic, minced
½ tbsp fresh thyme leaves, minced
3/4 tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup olive oil
½ tbsp fresh parsley leaves, minced

1. Preheat the oven to 400.

2. Remove the stem end of each onion and carefully slice off the brown part of the root end, leaving the root intact.

3. Peel the onion.

4. Stand each onion root end up on a cutting board and cut the onion in wedges through the root.

5. Place the wedges in a bowl.

6. For the dressing, combine the lemon juice, mustard, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.

7. Slowly whisk in the olive oil.

8. Pour the dressing over the onions and toss well.

9. With a slotted spoon, transfer the onions to a sheet pan, reserving the vinaigrette that remains in the bowl.

10. Bake the onions for 30 to 45 minutes, until tender and browned, tossing the onions once during cooking.


11. Remove from the oven, and drizzle with the reserved dressing. (Hanging head here. I didn't do this step. But I don't think I suffered for it.)

12. Sprinkle with parsley; season to taste and serve warm or at room temperature.

When I pulled the onions out to stir them, I threw some big pieces of turkey smoked sausage onto the pan to finish cooking with them and I think it was a very wise decision. The onions were delish and the sausage was a perfect complement.

These onions might not find their way onto my Thanksgiving table, but will show up again with steak or sausage soon.

To see what the other Barefoot Bloggers thought about this recipe, check here.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Foodie Nirvana

I've been there. I've been to Whole Foods big three storied monstrosity and to Trader Joes. It was so beautiful. I can't really talk about it. Just know that I bought so much I'll have to try to cook and consume quickly.

Tonight I'm having a cheese platter with a little Cottswold, a little honey goat cheese, grapes, pears, and pomegranite for supper.

Life is good!

Friday, November 7, 2008

An Award! A Meme!

I'm back among the living! Yea! I have been sick in reverse. Sunday I started feeling congestion in my chest. Monday and Tuesday I had a sore throat. Wednesday I had laryngitis and started coughing. Thursday I added head congestion. Today, I am at full funky. But I feel better and I'm not contagious. I got from my father's side of the family a flat behind and horrible sinus'

Sorry to whine. I really am fine.

And I received an award from Deb at Kahakai Kitchen that comes with the 7s meme. Check out Deb's blog, it's so wonderful to see what amazing and creative things she cooks!


Now for the meme:

7 Things I Did Before
1. Checker at Big B Drugs
2. Retail sales
3. Wholesale flooring rep
4. Managed satellite office of flooring wholesaler
5. Kitchen design
6. Worked in a friends bookstore as barter for books
7. Men's shoe company internet sales/design

7 Things I Do Now
1. Belong to three book groups
2. Read...see above
3. Work for one of the big 3 auto manufacturers
4. Cook
5. Cook for my parents
6. Serve as cat furniture
7. Internet junkie

7 Things I Want To D
1. Sky Dive
2. Spend enough time in NYC to saturate myself
3. Learn to bake cakes and bread
4. Spend more time with my family
5. Day spa with my BGFs
6. Spend a month at the beach with my "to be read" pile of books
7. Drive from state to state, visiting the out of the way places in each

7 Things That Attract Me About the Opposite Sex
1. Eyes
2. Thighs
3. Smile
4. Sense of humor
5. Heart
6. Voice
7. Religious commitment

7 Favorite Foods
1. Chicken
2. Cheese
3. Chocolate
4. Peanut butter
5. Spaghetti
6. Salad
7. Bread

7 Things I Say Most Often
1. I/Me
2. Doofus
3. Crap on a stick
4. Darn
5. S*#t
6. You know
7. Well, uh...

Now, it's up to me to pass the torch to other bloggers I enjoy.

1. Melissa of It's Melissa's Kitchen...I have to be very careful when reading her blog...she makes me very hungry.

2. Mary Ann of Meet Me in the Kitchen I love to see what she has cooked up!

3. Vinnie of Bitter Cup of Joe, he is so adventurous and I love to see the vegetarian fare he creates.

4. Ginny of Of Mice and Min, my old, dear friend.

5. My new cyber buddy Cora at Cora Cooks, her sight makes my mouth water.

6. Jolt'n Joe at A Man's Gotta Eat...he man foodie in the music city.

7. And Tanya at Chocolatechic because I love her fun posts and the encouragement she offers.

So folks, meme if you want, but please enjoy the award and know that I check on you regularly.