Thursday, April 30, 2009

Time for some Relaxation.....

After seeing what Julia posted on her new Beach House Blog, it reminded me that
I am really hooked on these!
I love Adirondack chairs!

I think I have about seven around my house,
inside and out..

They remind me of what relaxation really is.....
Sitting on my patio, enjoying a cold glass of Ice Tea.

And I tend to see them alot more in the New England area
then any where else.


Or how about these bright colored chairs,
remind you of Jimmy Buffet maybe...



Or perhaps this circle of chairs,
at a writers retreat in Vermont....



Or hanging out at my friend's cottage
in the Cape...



And if your a Ski Buff..
these are real popular at the ski chalets here



And for the Hockey Fans you know....
So what are you hooked on this week???
Fifi's Fashionable Fridays because these are so fashionable.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Contest Alert!!! Contest Alert!!!


For those of you who are ga-ga about these cutie pies, now is your chance to win a trip to see them live in concert. The prize is for two people, one Mom, and one Kid. The Concert will take place in Edmonton,Alberta, Canada on July 2nd, 2009. This contest prize will also include the plane fare to get you there, where you will get to hang out with my blogland friends Loopy and Saucy. Loopy is a Super Fan, and has plans of marrying herself off to one of those cuties.


I know that if I was 13 again, they would be the loves of my life too! I had the chance to see them a couple of times already before the crazy frenzy that they have become. They used to travel around the New England area to do smaller concerts for Disney. That means no body guards, and coming out to chat and sign autographs with the fans with no line. We even have the first album they ever put out. Which I hear goes for a pretty good price on Ebay.


So, if your a Super Fan or know of one, send them over to Saucy's Sprinkles, she will be running the contest until the end of May and will be giving out plenty of chances to win!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Chocolate Cream Tarts

Simply Delicious!

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie was chosen by Kim of Scrumptious Photography. And let me tell you that her photos are to die for, she is definitely gifted....She chose the Chocolate Cream Tart on page 352. The original recipe calls for a chocolate shortbread crust. Which when looking on the comments, I found that others were saying that the crust was a little sweet.

I decided to make another one of Dorie's shortbread crust, just a regular butter one with crushed pecans added. It is super simple to do in the food processor. I then pressed it into these little tart shell pans the I use for small pastry. Plus they make it the perfect size for a kid dessert. The chocolate custard was easy and delicious. It is a must make! To find out the recipe buy the book or check out Kim's blog here.




We give this 5 glasses of milk, for udder goodness!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Cheesecake Challenge....

The Daring Bakers are at it again, and cheesecake is the dessert of choice. Now who doesn't love cheesecake. It was left up to each baker to take a basic recipe and twist it into your own creation. I chose to do something I had never done....a chocolate Oreo crust with a half chocolate, half vanilla inside, with a ganache top...(only to cover up the crack on top)

It is important to bake this in a water bath so that it will evenly distribute the heat. Just be careful when taking out the cake not to get burnt. I doubled the recipe, then took half and added melted dark chocolate (1/2 cup). I thought the cake might be a little dry, but it actually came out real creamy. I'm always in fear that water will leak into the bottom, but my pan held up. I was really glad that something simple and delicious was chosen this month. I hadn't made cheesecake in so long.


The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.


Cheesecake:
6 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each, room temperature
2 cup sugar
5 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees . Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.

2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too - baker's choice. Set crust aside.

3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add sour cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.

4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.

5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done - this can be hard to judge, but you're looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don't want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won't crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.

**Prep notes: While the actual making of this cheesecake is a minimal time commitment, it does need to bake for almost an hour, cool in the oven for an hour, and chill overnight before it is served. Please plan accordingly!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Let me Share a Little Whoopie.......


Let me share a little WHOOPIE....
Pie that is!


Whoopie pies are considered a New England phenomenon and a Pennsylvania Amish tradition. They're one of Maine's best known and most loved comfort foods. Mainers will even claim that they were weaned on whoopie pies. In Maine, these treats are more like a cake than a pie or a cookie, as they are very generously sized (about hamburger size). They're so big that you'll want to share one with a friend. And a big glass of milk is almost mandatory when eating a whoopie pie.

A whoopie pie is like a sandwich, but made with two soft cookies with a fluffy white filling. Traditional whoopies pies are made with vegetable shortening, not butter. The original and most commonly made whoopie pie is chocolate. But many like to experiment, and today they come in many flavors. Step over the border of Maine, and you will find Whoopie Pies everywhere. Most will have the filling of Marshmallow Fluff, which is also a staple here. Actually invented in Sommerville, MA near WWI.

CHOCOLATE WHOOPIE PIE
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup cocoa
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk
Whoopie Pie Filling (see recipe below)

DIRECTIONS


**Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease baking sheets.
**In a large bowl, cream together shortening, sugar, and egg. In another bowl, combine cocoa, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
**In a small bowl, stir the vanilla extract into the milk. Add the dry ingredients to the shortening mixture, alternating with the milk mixture; beating until smooth.
**Drop batter by the 1/4 cup (to make 18 cakes) onto prepared baking sheets. With the back of a spoon spread batter into 4-inch circles, leaving approximately 2 inches between each cake.
**Bake 15 minutes or until they are firm to the touch. Remove from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Whoopie Pie Assembly
When the cakes are completely cool, spread the flat side (bottom) of one chocolate cake with a generous amount of filling. Top with another cake, pressing down gently to distribute the filling evenly. Repeat with all cookies to make 9 pies. Wrap whoopie pies individually in plastic wrap, or place them in a single layer on a platter (do not stack them, as they tend to stick).
To freeze, wrap each whoopie pie in plastic wrap. Loosely pack them in a plastic freezer container and cover. To serve, defrost the wrapped whoopie pies in the refrigerator.
Makes 9 large whoopie pies.

Whoopie Pie Filling:
1 cup solid vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* Butter may be substituted for all or part of the vegetable shortening, although traditional Whoopie Pies are made with vegetable shortening only
** Marshmallow Creme may be substituted, instead of this recipe.
**In a medium bow, beat together shortening, sugar, and Marshmallow fluff; stir in vanilla extract until well blended.


They make a great lunchbox treat!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Hooked on the Phenomenon of Twilight


OK, so I have now succumbed to the phenomenon of what all the teenage girls are talking about....TWILIGHT! After renting the Twilight movie last week , I felt compelled to indulge in my daughters books of choice. Not being a fiction reader for along time, (I'm a true story girl for sure)....I thought I would have no interest in the series of books that she had received last fall for her birthday. Her friends were all going crazy over it...the books and the apparel.
I must say that even though the movie ,which was slow at times, had lured me in....And I wanted to know more. I'm glad I watched the movie first. I like to vision the characters and hear their voices in my head as I am reading.
And I have to say these are all good books. A younger romance novel for the 13 to 19 year old group. And of course, they have all the mothers of these young girls hooked too. There is even a Twilight Mom website that keeps you up to date on the films and their actors.
Now you know what I have been up to this Spring Break...Book 1....2....3....4.....So if you should come across these books at your local library, give them a look.... They'll have you hooked.
To see what others are hooked on check out
Julia's Hooked on Fridays where she is hooked on "Grey Gardens",
or Fifi's Fashionable Fridays, because of course it's fashionable to be reading Twilight, who isn't......or Melissa's Beautiful Life, because Edward is definitely beautiful.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bringing a 4 Star Dessert up to 5!


Tuesdays with Dorie is here, and this week's choice was made by Lauren of

Upper East Side Cronicle.

She chose on of my favorites..... Bread Pudding. But, not only is it just Bread Pudding, it is Chocolate Bread Pudding taken up a notch. I have made Bread Pudding a lot, it is a very New England dessert. So when this Four Star Dessert was chosen, I thought why not show how to bring it up to restaurant 5 Star quality.

I added in Almond extract, toasted coconut, and finished with a drizzle of caramel sauce. Then garnished with a vanilla flavored whip topping, toasted coconut, and shaved chocolate.

Creamy and a little crunchy, and of course a little added to the hips. But, to combat that I only use 2 percent milk, no cream, and bring the eggs to 5 whole only. So don't be afraid to try this one. You can even put it in the fridge overnight, and baked when ready the next day. You can check out Dorie's recipe Here!

It is delicious warm!


We give this 5 glasses of milk,
for udder Goodness!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Perfect Kid Lunch...

Today is the first weekday of our Spring Break. I thought I would give the kids a chance to make their own soup and sandwiches. When I was mentoring Cooking 101, I had the girls make these wonderfully easy sandwiches. Each said they had never made their own at home before. And they didn't think their parents made them that way....
I put a lite coat of butter on the bread before grilling, that is what gives them their perfectly browned outside. I usually prefer to use Texas Toast Bread, but had none on hand that day. I offered different cheeses, but all went for the traditional American.
I'm glad I was able to show them a simple sandwich, that they could do at home. And more importantly, that they loved.......

I also suggested this recipe for an easy Tomato Soup that is super simple if you have a blender or food processor. I serve this when ever I have lots of kids over for lunch.
It is creamy and delicious!

CREAMY TOMATO BASIL SOUP
INGREDIENTS
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cups chopped onions
3 pounds tomatoes (Chopped) or 3 large cans of diced tomatoes
12 chopped fresh basil leaves
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
1 quart chicken broth
8 oz. cream cheese

DIRECTIONS
**Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in onions and cook until tender.

**In a food processor add in tomatoes ,basil, cream cheese, cooked onions,salt and pepper. Pulse to cream mixture.

**Pour in the chicken broth, and pulse to mix.

**Transfer soup to a large saucepan to heat and serve.

**Garnish with croutons and basil.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Greek Architecture

After helping my daughter this week put together a Greek Architecture project, it made me appreciate the columns that were at some of the beautiful homes in our town.

They definitely had me hooked!

It was amazing to read about the craftsmanship that took years and sweat to put together these wonderful buildings at that time period. And the columns were like the icing on the cake....In fact you will find these same shape of columns when a wedding cake is assembled.

Most of the columns in Greece at that time, 450 B.C., were made of limestone, sometimes perhaps marble if you could afford it. They were all man made and carved...no machines here.


I am so glad I helped my daughter with her project. It really opened my eyes to all of the Greek Architecture that has migrated to my town and has taught me the 3 main styles that they used.

Check out a few of our samples below:


This is the Sanborn House,located in our town, which was a private residence at one time and was given to the town to be restored by the Historical Society.




The front columns are gorgeous Corinthian style.



On the side of this building, is a patio with Ionic style columns.
Almost looks like an outdoor dancing area...


Close up of the patio columns.


Close up of the front Corinthian columns...



Our Middle School, also has some beautiful Corinthian columns...


How about this Greek Revival home, New Orleans style with the balcony.



Or how about my neighbor's Doric style drive thru on the side of his home..
Very Classical.

Perhaps you are hooked on these too?

To see what others are Hooked On check out

Or what's fashionable this Friday
with Fifi

Or what's beautiful like these columns

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Happy Passover


Even though I may not be Jewish, I will be participating in the Passover rituals the next two nights, as a bystander. There will be lots of beef brisket and chicken. And yes, bowls and bowls of this wonderful soup. And lots of desserts, too!
It is always interesting to witness this ceremony. You may see younger gentlemen getting their rite to passage by performing as the head of the table. And you will see family traditions passed down. It is a very loving time to witness something of this nature, and to see the care and thoughtfulness that has gone into the preparation. I actually look forward to it.
Happy Passover!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Creamy Banana Cream Pie....

Tuesday with Dorie once again, buy, it comes up fast, with all the holidays this week and everything. Today's choice comes from Amy of "Sing for your Supper".


This pie had the added addition of cinnamon and nutmeg in the pastry cream, which was a nice surprise to the guest that were eating it. Also, the addition of sour cream to the whip topping made it seem more creamier for some reason.



I probably should have cut my banana slices bigger for the pie wedge to hold up better. And I ended up putting about 6 bananas in this pie.
It was a hit at our house. Check out the recipe here, and give it a try!



We give this 5 glasses of milk ,
for udder goodness!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Rugelach Anyone?.....




The thought of the Jewish holiday reminded me of Rugelach, ven though it will not be served this time around. It is more work, but worth it! It is one of several shaped cookies made throughout central Europe, particularly in Russia and Austria. It can be made with Raspberry or Apricot Jam or Currants. And walnuts can replace the pecans. Some people even add little slivers of chocolate, which I didn't , and they are just fine.


I made them smaller this time, and my family calls them "Scooby Snacks". I have been baking up a storm lately, because it has been so cold and rainy here in New England. I think I baked about 20 dozen cookies and 3 dozen muffins. They'll be gone by the end of the week....

Rugelach are so delicious and a favorite of mine. This week when I'm out serving Passover. I won't come across any of these, because of the use of flour is prohibited. Although, any other time of the year you will most likely find them ina Jewish household.

You'll have to give them a try

RUGELACH

INGREDIENTS
1 cup butter, softened
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup seedless raspberry or apricot preserves
1 tablespoon milk

DIRECTIONS
1.)In large bowl, with mixer at low speed, beat margarine or butter with cream cheese until blended and smooth. Beat in vanilla extract, salt, 1 cup flour, and 1/4 cup sugar until blended.

2.)With spoon, stir in remaining flour. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces. Wrap each with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours or overnight. Or put in the freezer for an hour to firm up.

3.)To Prepare Filling: In medium bowl, with spoon, stir pecans, brown sugar, 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons white sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon until well mixed.

4.)Line 2 large baking sheets with foil and grease foil.

5.)On lightly floured surface, with floured rolling pin, roll 1 piece of chilled dough into a 9-inch round, keeping remaining dough refrigerated. Spread dough with 2 tablespoons raspberry or apricot preserves. Sprinkle with about 1/2 cup nut filling; gently press filling onto dough. With pastry wheel or sharp knife, cut dough into 12 equal wedges. Starting at curved edge, roll up each wedge, jelly-roll fashion. Place cookies on foil-lined cookie sheet, point-side down, about 1/2 inch apart. Repeat with remaining dough, one-fourth at a time.

6.)Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).

7.)In cup, mix remaining 2 tablespoons sugar with 1 teaspoon cinnamon. With pastry brush, brush rugelach with milk. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar.

8.)Bake rugelach at 325 degrees F on 2 oven racks about 30 to 35 minutes until golden, rotating cookie sheets between upper and lower racks halfway through baking time. Immediately remove rugelach to wire racks to cool. Sprinkle or roll in powdered sugar. Store in tightly covered container.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

SPRING CLEANING......ugh!

What did you do this weekend?
I'm taking the time to do some Spring Cleaning.....

Having everyone go through their clothes, seeing what fits and what doesn't, what were giving away, and what not! Then I find out that the teen and tween need spring/summer clothes desperately. So I guess I'll be spending the next few Wednesdays at the S&A boutique, looking for some great deals.
They grow so fast...
I am fortunate to have a friend who has 4 girls just younger than mine,
so my clothes get their use. Girls aren't as hard on their clothes as boys....
It's always nice after spring cleaning, everything always seems fresh and clean. Not that it isn't normally. But, this time better! I open the windows to air out the house, even though, here in New England it is chilly...Then I pull everything away from the wall, washing the walls and vacuming baseboard heaters. Then I pull off all the cushion covers to every piece of furniture I can, and wash them. And of course on, and on, the list goes....
* closet organizing
*drawer organizing
* cabinet cleaning and organizing
*Flipping the mattresses
* Getting out the summer patio furniture
* sewing some new cushions for that patio furniture
* ect.,ect., ect.
I think this list could go on forever if I let it!



Have fun with your Spring Cleaning!

Friday, April 3, 2009

These Chips are Fat Free......

I'm hooked on these, are you too?


If you have been sent here by Julia at Hooked on Houses or FiFi with Fashionable Fridays, then you probably are!

Both sites are always commenting on design and color....


I must admit, I'm a color chip addict, Totally Hooked....


Is there a 12 step program for that?


I would love to work in one of these paint departments, helping people come up with the right choice. And mixing all those amazing colors! And reading all those crazy names for colors that they come up with.


But, the fact is, I may have a hard time lugging around a few of these 5 gallon buckets.



For those of you trying to decide on a color and need something bigger than a chip, Home Depot now does small samples of the colors you choose for about $4.
I could probably get easily addicted to this too!





For now, I'll just have to take all my chips and keep recycling them into some wonderful creation. Like these bookmarks or some other scrapbook project I have going.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Thrifty Thursday...The Best Side Dish for a Kid!


What kid doesn't love Mashed Potatoes, (I know there are probably a few).
Mine absolutely love this great side dish. This unbelievable product allows them to make it themselves, without theCheck Spelling hassle of peeling, boiling, whipping and such.
Making it the best alternative!



I found these at COSTCO, but you can also buy them through their website or Amazon.com. I happened to pick up this big box of individually wrapped servings for 4 to 6 for a cost of $3.50. Wow, there is 14 bags in this box, making them 25 cents each.....
All you do is follow the easy directions on the back to include milk or water, with a small amount of butter.



Now, I have never been a big fan of instant potatoes, because you always could tell they were instant. But these are so creamy and delicious you won't believe it!

Now head on over to Amanda's Cooking to see what other Thrifty Ideas there are. She has a great tutorial on a light box, you won't want to miss!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Oatmeal Scotcheroos


As, I told you on Monday, I was stocking up on cookies for the week. I tend to bake in the dozens when I bake cookies. Unfortunately, they don't last very long if they are tasty.
And they usually are of course!,
especially this ONE.....
Chewy Oatmeal Scotcheroos made with Butterscotch Chips.


Oatmeal Scotcheroos
INGREDIENTS
1 1/4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups quick oats
1 11oz. package butterscotch flavored morsels

INSTRUCTIONS
**preheat oven to 350 degrees.
**combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
**beat butter, sugars, eggs and extract in a large mixing bowl until soft and fluffy.
**gradually add flour mixture.
**stir in oats and morsels just until mixed. do not overmix.
** drop by rounded tablespoons onto parchment-lined cookie sheets.
**bake for 7-8 minutes - cookie will be chewy. (if you want crispy cookies, bake 9-10 minutes)
**cool on baking sheet for 1-2 minutes then remove to wire racks to cool completely.enjoy!