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Archive for February, 2011|Monthly archive page

Snaps: February Edition

In Personal, Photography, Uncategorized on February 28, 2011 at 6:42 pm

Apparently I didn’t want pictures of people this month… which is weird since it’s the month of “l♥ve” and all.  Not that I didn’t try really… just didn’t happen that way.  There are of course pictures of the dog, but I will spare you from the majority of those, which I am sure are only heart-melting to me!  Alas here are some shots I  took this month that are non-food related (yes it is a miracle!).  Maybe they will help some people get to know me a wee bit better!

This is Shoreline Green – I’m obsessed…

No Really… Teal, Turquoise, Electric Blue… P.S. this is my dog’s favorite bling.

This was my fun nail job, please excuse the ugly hands… focus on the flowers 😉


My husband took this picture. It is the first off a series of flea market finds… $3

I think it would look better in shoreline green! or white… on something painted shoreline green 🙂


$1.50 – the one on the left is from England… the other who knows?

Hippie Plate Setting (Dinner & Salad Plate) $1 – cute for serving cookies!!

Two Tea Cups and Saucers $1 – Also a groovy pattern.

Vintage Teal Syrup Dispenser – $1

Flawless Milk Glass Plate – $5

Vintage Pyrex Mixing Bowls (LOVE THESE COLORS!!) – $10 (for set!)

Steal of the day for me!! 😀

Madison – what?? I said just a few…

Some of the yarn I am currently working with… my very first afghan.  Fingers crossed!

Playing with Zoom… I like the crazy rushing effect!

Hope you enjoy… hope you are inspired to take pictures of your pet, garage sale, scour flea markets and thrift shops – I certainly love it!!  P.S. I promise to take pictures of people next month. Cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle… well you remember. ♥ Happy shooting!

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Weekly Boozer: Magic Hat-Vinyl

In Uncategorized, Weekly Boozer on February 26, 2011 at 8:31 pm

Seasonal beers seem to be growing in both popularity and production.  We picked one up this weekend produced by Magic Hat Brewing Company: (Spring Seasonal) Vinyl Amber Lager.

Amber right off the bat covers the color of this yeasty, slightly bitter beer.  At first smell – yeast, and then hints of smoke, caramel, a nice spring grassiness.  While the beer has a lot of aroma it was not an overly complex beer, mildly hoppy, not overly bitter and slightly sweet with a hint of apple flavor.  The beer, when poured, has about a two finger off-white head which falls quickly.  All around I found it to be a pretty tasty treat.

How I arrived at my decision to drink this beer? Marketing of course! I am a sucker for the labels and this one does not fall short!! I mean these colors are fantastic! It also has a great vintage side-show appeal and I am glad it lured me in 🙂 So overall review very drinkable, would not drink everyday (due to the sweetness factor) – worth the $$.

Hope you have a hoppy weekend! 😀

Loot: Spicy Apricot Loaf

In Baking, Loot, Uncategorized on February 23, 2011 at 9:41 pm

I am sure the readers of this blog will tire of my exploits with my friend Alisa’s jams, preserves and foodie type gifts.  Alas, that is what my loot posts are about! Wonderful gifts that inspire me in the kitchen and her Angry Apricot Preserves were the muse for this bread. (Thanks AJ – as always you rock my socks off ).  These preserves are delicious and if you want to substitute for regular preserves that would be fine, if you want them to be angry… crank up the heat with some crushed red pepper!! Other options for this bread would be any jam or marmalade which you love – orange marmalade would be lovely!  (Same goes for dried cranberries… feel free to use raisins, sultanas, currants or even dates!… or add nuts with the dry ingredients…)

Spicy Apricot Loaf

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 cup craisins (dried cranberries)
1/2 cup Preserves, chopped (or jam, marmalade… etc)
1 stick of butter
2 cups self-rising flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp Jamaican allspice (or pumpkin pie spice)
pinch of coarse salt
1 large egg, beaten

Directions: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the sugar, milk, raisins, preserves (chopped down smaller or roughly processed in food chopper), and butter; stir well and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and let cool completely.  (so weird, but the concoction smelt amazing and looked like creepy porridge!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9 inch loaf pan with wax paper or grease and lightly flour.

Stir the flour, baking soda, allspice, salt, and egg into the wet ingredients with a wooden spoon.  Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for approximately 50 – 60 minutes, or until top is golden.  (Can test the middle of loaf with a toothpick to ensure doneness… if it does not come out clean continue to cook the loaf.)

Remove from the oven; let cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack; once it has cooled cut slices and serve; or wrap up to give… eat – that is what I do… eat and it’s the best part!

Apparently I have had a tea time thing going as of late (and for the Palmer Family this week!).  This bread does not fall short of that category and would make a lovely gift.  This is the first time I have used this method where you cook the wet ingredients and then cool before assembling – very interesting and I am sure it will inspire further exploration of ingredients, combinations and other random ideas. As for the taste: I adore the spiciness from both the allspice and the Angry Apricot Preserves, the bread is dense and has sweet surprises with the bits of cranberry and apricot, it was great with hot tea!! As always AJ, love ya and your mad jammin’ skills 😀

Bacon, Basil & Gruyere Quesadilla

In Cooking, Uncategorized on February 21, 2011 at 8:31 pm

Is there anything better than bacon? (Ok… ok maybe butter – MAYBE!)  I had homemade bacon for the first time last night (follow the link… literally I ate that bacon!! 😀 ).   It was amazing… life changing… addictive.  So today I was left wanting, and though these were not made with “that bacon” they were still yummy!

I think more people should cook for lunch.  In fact, this is a quick recipe which would be great for lunch, an appetizer, or a great late night snack. Best part? It only took me about 7-8 minutes, with the prep, start to finish.

Bacon Basil & Gruyere Quesadilla

2 slices of bacon, diced
2 tortillas
finely shredded gruyere
4-5 fresh basil leaves

Directions: Heat skillet to medium-high and cook diced bacon.  While bacon is cooking shred gruyere and either tear or chop up basil (I prefer a chiffonade).  Once bacon is cooked to your standards transfer to paper towel., leaving rendered fat in skillet. Assemble your quesadilla on a tortilla with a layer of cheese (as much or little as you desire) and then top with bacon and basil and the other tortilla.  Fry the quesadilla in the bacon fat rendered in the skillet.  (If you choose to make this without bacon, use olive oil and brush onto both sides of tortilla.)  Cook until each side is golden and the contents melted; serve!

Yum.  The cheese is mild, nutty and slightly sweet; the bacon of course is salty and using the grease to fry the tortilla – oh my; and then the fresh basil brings this pop which not only brings great flavor, but a fantastic aroma.  So good!  This would be yummy without the bacon, but come on you know you want bacon!! 😀 Other meats and/or types of bacon, like pancetta, would also be delicious.

Hope you cook lunch for yourself soon. ♥

Weekly Boozer: Kahlúa Ginger Ale

In Uncategorized, Weekly Boozer on February 19, 2011 at 9:23 pm

Ginger Ale adds a sweet and refreshing twist to this popular coffee flavored liqueur.  Imagine if you will coffee flavored soda with an adult kick! Very tasty!  I always think cream, coffee, etc. when using Kahlúa, so this was an attempt to branch out and I am glad I did!!

Kahlúa Ginger Ale

recipe from Kahlúa website

Ingredients

2 parts KAHLÚA
4 parts Ginger ale

Directions: Fill a highball glass with ice, add Kahlúa and ginger ale, then stir. Enjoy!

So simple… how could it be wrong? 🙂

Rum Roasted Banana Bread

In Baking, Uncategorized on February 15, 2011 at 10:16 pm

Personally I have been calling this Drunk Monkey Bread.  I doubt my parent’s would be impressed with the name, but my brother referred to roasting bananas in rum as drunk monkey food and a new name was born!  Rum roasted banana’s bring the flavor of this bread up to the next level!  This is not a really sweet banana bread – so if that is your thing and you intend to eat this without the sauce (which is sweet) then you may want to increase the sugar.  You should try the sauce though, which uses the excess butter rum  sauce to create a foster style cream to put on top… well it is heavenly if you must know and here is how:

Rum Roasted Banana Bread Glazed with Foster Cream
Recipe adapted from Mix It Up! By Jamee Ruth
 
  • 10 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp dark rum (I used a jigger)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup of chopped walnuts (I substituted 1/2 cup hazelnuts)
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt (I substituted greek yogurt w/ honey)
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 9-inch loaf pan.

Peel and slice the bananas; melt butter (in pan, microwave… or any method you desire); add 1/4 cup butter to a heavy bottomed skillet and bananas – saute for 1 minute.  Sprinkle brown sugar over bananas, add rum, and saute for an additional 2 minutes.  **SMELLS INSANELY GOOD  With a slotted spoon transfer bananas to a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Add the cream to remaining liquid in the skillet, stir, and turn off the heat.  (Note: this is the foster cream sauce – taste the mixture before adding the cream… it is delicious on its own and you may stop and use as is or add the cream!!)

Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and nuts in a bowl.  In the mixer bowl with  the bananas, add yogurt, eggs, reserved melted butter, and vanilla.  Using a mixer blend the mixture on a low-speed for 1 minute; leaving a lumpy consistency.  Add the flour (all at once) and stir together until flour is moistened; mixture will be dry in places, but don’t over mix so bread will remain tender.  Transfer dough to your prepared pan.  Shake the pan/batter to make sure it evenly distributes. 

Bake  for about 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean; cool in a wire rack for 5 minutes before slicing. 

While the loaf is cooling, finish the sauce: warm the skillet with the cream mixture (or w/o cream) over medium heat.  Cook the mixture for 2 to 3 minutes, until it is thick and creamy.  Slice the bread and drizzle with sauce; serve immediately and as always enjoy!

Very Cherry Marshmallows ♥

In Baking, Uncategorized on February 13, 2011 at 11:52 pm

Love is in the air of these fluffy sweet pink marshmallows.  It makes them perfect for the daughter,  friend, co-worker, woman or even man in your life.  Real men eat pink marshmallows – at least I hear that in some places they do… especially when you make them taste like maraschino cherries! 🙂

Maraschino Cherry Marshmallows Adapted from an Alton Brown Recipe

  • 3 packages unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup ice-cold water, divided
  • 12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup maraschino cherries, chopped
  • 1/8 cup maraschino cherry juice, or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • Nonstick spray

Directions: Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.

In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.

Turn the mixer on low-speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla and cherry juice during the last two minutes of whipping, a Tbsp at a time.  Quickly fold in chopped cherries before pouring into pan (if you dump them in the stand mixer they will all push to the bottom of the bowl.) While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.

Combine the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.

When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a sharp knife dusted with the confectioners’ sugar mixture or lightly greased with oil.  Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.  (You could also cut these with a heart-shaped cookie cutter… or something themed for a girl’s party or baby shower – these were made for men, and the men in my life don’t do pink things that are shaped like hearts… the pinkness was pushing it, but the flavor makes up for it!)

REVIEW: These taste just like maraschino cherries, who would have thought?! lol  They are also amazingly similar to chocolate covered cherries when you dip them in dark chocolate – which I highly encourage you to do so!!  The chocolate really tempers down the very cherry sweetness of this candy and makes for an extra special treat!

♥LOVE. ♥JOY. ♥HAPPY COOKING TO YOU AND YOURS.

Weekly Boozer: Blood Orange Margarita

In Uncategorized, Weekly Boozer on February 11, 2011 at 8:25 pm

With ♥ Valentine’s Day ♥ fast approaching I decided to go seasonal with the Weekly Boozer, while staying true to Texas!!  This beautiful ruby pink margarita is the perfect cocktail for your Valentine, whether it be your hubby or best-mate.  Or like me, I am enjoying it myself… not sharing – what? it is not V-day yet! 😀

♥ Blood Orange Margarita ♥

♥ salt and lime slice, garnish
♥ Ice
♥ 1/3 cup blood orange juice, about 1 orange
♥ 1 ounce white tequila
♥ 1/2 ounce agave nectar, light
♥ 1 tbsp fresh lime juice

 

Directions and Tools: Cocktail shaker, glass, small plate.  Spread a small mound of salt on a small plate. Wet the outer rim of your glass with a slice of lime, then dip the rim into the salt to lightly coat.  Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, add all of the remaining ingredients and shake well. Pour contents into the prepared glass and garnish with the lime slice (or orange…); Serve.

Margaritas made with fresh juice are truly the best!  Since I used mainly blood orange juice, I substituted out Cointreau, a common ingredient, for Agave Nectar which helps sweeten this tangy fruit without taking over the flavor! I hope you enjoy and have a lovely ♥ Valentines ♥!

Chicken Sandwiches with Lemon-Tarragon Mayonnaise

In Cooking, Uncategorized on February 9, 2011 at 8:10 pm

This was lunch today… it was light and delicious.  I think tea sandwiches are perfect for lunch, especially on a work day!   Also this was a great way to use up some roasted chicken I had left over from Monday night dinner.  If you LOVE tarragon, like my husband, then you can use fresh.  The flavor will be much more intense.  If you only like tarragon, or don’t know, then stick to the regular recipe.  It is not overbearing and a pleasing way to be introduced to this herb.

Lemon-Tarragon Mayonnaise:

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp grated lemon zest
juice of half a small lemon
1 tsp dried tarragon

Chicken Sandwich:

about 3/4 cup of cooked chicken
handful of spring or baby greens
4 slices of white bread, crusts removed
salt and pepper, if desired

Directions: In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise ingredients.  Spread the mixture on one side of each slice of bread.  Arrange greens of your choice on two of these slices; then add chicken; salt and pepper if desired (I do not); cover with the remaining dressed bread.  Press firmly and cut each sandwich into quarters (making 4 small finger sandwiches) or however you prefer… it’s your sammy! Cover with a damp tea towel or paper towel until ready to serve.  Yield: 8 tea sandwiches (or 2 full sandwiches… or lunch for one man, lol).

Happy Cooking … or in this case… happy prepping, easy clean up and merry eating!  😀

Blood Orange Scones with Cream

In Baking, Uncategorized on February 7, 2011 at 8:04 pm

Blood Oranges make the most beautiful juice – I wish it came through more in the scones and the cream, but they are just as good either way.  If you want to use regular oranges instead the recipe would be just as good (though I might cut the sugar back…).  Cake flour and heavy whipping cream give these scones a wonderful tender texture and cream takes it over the top! 

Blood Orange Scones

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup sugar
4 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, plus 2 Tbsps if dough is too dry
2 Tbsp blood orange juice
zest of a whole blood orange
1/4 cup of dried cranberries, heaping (optional)
butter, optional
raw sugar, optional

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Line baking sheet with parchment, silpat or grease and set aside.  In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients; combine with pastry blender or fork.  Add the eggs, cream, juice, zest (and you can add the cranberries at this time or fold in during kneading), stir until a soft dough forms. 

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 7 – 9 times.  Pat dough into a circle, about 3/4 inch thick and cut into 6 wedges.  Arrange wedges on prepared baking sheet, leaving at least 1/2 inch in between and bake until golden, about 11 minutes.  Upon removal butter the tops of the scones lightly and sprinkle with raw sugar (optional).

Serve warm.  These are delicious scones, but they didn’t really scream blood orange… or well orange for that matter so I made a mock clotted cream with blood orange juice and zest to pump up the flavor!

Mock Clotted Cream

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
2 Tbsp sugar

In a chilled bowl, combine the cream, mascarpone, and sugar.  Whisk for several minutes, or until the mixture becomes thick and forms a smooth cream.  Try not to just eat it out of the bowl – yes it’s that yummy.  Divide mixture in half (if you are making blood orange version as well) and refrigerate plain cream until ready to use.

Blood Orange Cream

1 to 2 Tbsps blood orange juice
1 tsp blood orange zest
1 Tbsp sugar, (blood oranges can be very tart – may not need)

Take half of mock clotted cream and add additional sugar, juice and zest; whip until thick buttery cream forms.   Refrigerate until ready for use.  Spread on scones… die and go to heaven.  Scones and cream are so delicious… hope you enjoy too!