Monday, August 31, 2009

Queen of Chicken Marbella......

A Cooking Icon dies at the age of 66.....

Sheila Lukins, the author of the iconic 1980s cookbook "Silver Palate Cookbook" has died after a short battle with brain cancer.Lukins wrote the cookbook in the early 1980s after running a shop called the Silver Palate on New York's Upper West Side with colleague Julee Rosso. Its recipes -- including olive-infused chicken Marbella-- became mainstays of the '80s kitchen.

Lukins had been diagnosed with brain cancer only three months ago. Her illness progressed very quickly. For the past 23 years she had been a food/recipe contributor for Parade Magazine. Taking the place of the famous Julia Childs.

In addition to “The Silver Palate,” which is among the top 10 bestselling cookbooks of all time, Lukins also co-wrote “The New Basics” and “The Sheila Lukins USA Cookbook.” Her books have sold more than 6 million copies worldwide. Lukins was also a sought-after guest on many food panels and TV shows, including on “The Today Show,” “Good Morning America” and “CBS This Morning.”

A native of Philadelphia, Lukins first dreamed of a career in art. She attended the Tyler School of Fine Arts, the School of Visual Arts, and graduated with honors from New York University with a bachelor’s degree in Art Education. After graduation, she decided to pursue a culinary career and attended the Cordon Bleu School in London, while working as a freelance graphic designer for theater productions. She continued her education in Paris, and later worked alongside renowned chefs in Bordeaux.

In 1977, Lukins returned to New York and co-founded The Silver Palate, a gourmet food shop that quickly launched her career as a culinary master. In 1995, she was named an “ American Food Legend” by the James Beard Foundation.

During a career that spanned four decades, Lukins changed the way Americans eat. She became a household name not only for her unforgettable meals, but also for inspiring people to become better cooks!

I am repeating a post I did in January.....This dish a a main stay in my kitchen, along with her various cookbooks.......So sad.......
She will truly be missed!

"The ingredients in Chicken Marbella might have seemed wildly exotic to our palates in 1979. Who would think that we would eat prunes, green olives, and copious amounts of oregano and garlic? Our adventuresome palates were awakening." — Sheila Lukins

More than any other recipe in Sheila Lukins's wildly successful The Silver Palate Cookbook, which she coauthored with Julee Rosso in 1982, Chicken Marbella became a standard at dinner parties — bold, sweet, and savory flavor made with lots of garlic, vinegar, brown sugar, oregano, dried plums, and olives. When I make it, I use boneless chicken breasts and double the amount of olives and prunes — oops, I mean dried plums.

The overnight marination is essential to the moistness of the finished product: the chicken keeps and even improves over several days of refrigeration; it travels well and makes excellent picnic fare. It is also great dish for entertaining. You can make a big batch with wings and drumsticks as an appetizer. I made it for dinner last night and served it with brown rice. Here is my version adapted from their book, with my little changes....


1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup pitted dried plums
1/2 cup pitted Spanish green olives and black olive mix, Sliced and whole
1/8 cup capers, with some juice
3 bay leaves
1 head of garlic, peeled and pureed
2 Tbl. oregano
Salt and pepper, to taste
6 chicken breast, boneless, skinless (or boneless thighs are cheaper)
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup dry white wine
1/8 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

** In a Ziploc bag, combine the oil, vinegar, plums, olives, capers and their juice, bay leaves, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper. Add the chicken zipper the bag and massage, then refrigerate overnight.

**Set the oven at 350 degrees.

** In a large roasting pan, deposit the chicken mixture from the bag, in a single layer. Sprinkle with brown sugar and pour the wine around the edges, and cover.

** Bake the chicken, basting towards the end of baking with the juices in the pan, for 35 to 45 minutes.

**With tongs, transfer the chicken, prunes, olives, and capers to a large platter for serving. Moisten with a few spoonfuls of the cooking juices. Sprinkle with parsley or cilantro.
NOTE: This dish is excellent cold or even on a salad, if you have leftovers.

This makes for a great warm dinner,
on a cold winter night....

Friday, August 28, 2009

Decadent Dobos Torte

The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular DobosTorte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: ExquisiteDesserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

The Dobos Torta is a five-layer sponge cake, filled with a rich chocolate buttercream and topped with thin wedges of caramel. (You may come across recipes which have anywhere between six and 12 layers of cake; there are numerous family variations!)

It was invented in 1885 by József C. Dobos, a Hungarian baker, and it rapidly became famous throughout Europe for both its extraordinary taste and its keeping properties. The recipe was a secret until Dobos retired in 1906 and gave the recipe to the Budapest Confectioners' and Gingerbread Makers' Chamber of Industry, providing that every member of the chamber can use it freely.

This can be a time consuming cake, so be sure to allow enough time. Pretty much a whole day for those not super fast in the baking department. Just think there are bakers in Hungary, making about 100 of thesea day. A job I would not love, for sure!

I myself have made this before back in the 80's, I wasn't so thrilled with it, or I would have made it again sooner. But, I'm always up for a challenge. And if you are up for the challenge, check out Angela's site for the recipe HERE.

Best of Luck.....It really is delish if you have the time!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Peaches are Here!

Peach Season is here in New England......
What better way to spend the last days of summer,
than with your tasty fuzzy fruit.
And this easy, easy dessert, will have you wanting more.
Especially when paired with a great vanilla bean ice cream!

** Coat the peaches in melted butter, and sprinkle on a generous coating of brown sugar, with a pinch of salt

**Grill over medium for about 3-4 minutes per side, and serve warm, with dollop of whip topping or a good quality vanilla ice cream.

**Enjoy peaches while they're in season. Nothing beats a tree ripened local peach

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wordless Wednesday......

Today America mourns the loss of a great Senator.....
Maybe not liked by everyone,
but I am sure he has influenced their lives in one way or another.
Because, when I think of Ted Kennedy, I think of his strong stand on:
Affordable Health Care
Head Start Program
Title 9 Gender Equity
Civil and Voting Rights
Passing of the NO Child Left Behind
Citizens with Disabilities
These are just to name a few of the 2500 laws and bills
that he had worked on in his lifetime.
Hopefully in his passing,
the wonderful things that he had believed in, will go on!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Creamiest Lime Cream Pie Ever.....

This week's selection for "Tuesday's with Dorie", comes by way of
She chose Creamiest Lime Cream Meringue Pie,
(say that 5 times fast....)
I thought this was a delicious choice. Super easy and very creamy.
It really has a zing to it. I preferred it in a graham cracker crust,
with a whip cream topping. (It was just too hot to do Meringue)
And to make it more tropical, I added Toasted Coconut on top.
I would definitely make this again. It would make great tart shell fillers.
So give it a try, it was one of the easiest cream filling I have done!
Check out Linda's beautiful photos and the recipe HERE!
And as always go out and get Dorie's Book...
'Baking From My Home to Yours!'
We give this 5 limes
for utter LIME goodness,
Pucker UP!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Ode to Stuart Little

I took a look at Julia's blog this morning,
and thought it was very cute that she decided to take a look at Stuart's house.
We love Stuart Little in our house.
I remember reading it as a child, and dreaming of Stuart's adventures.
And the cute little things that he would make and use for his tiny self.
My daughter, will choose Stuart Little any time, as her favorite childhood book of all time. In fact, in her whole elementary years,
she did some type of project featuring Stuart each year.
When it came to 5th grade English, it was all about her favorite author E.B. White and her love of Stuart Little. The teacher asked for the students to go outside of the box and make something that represented their favorite book in some way.

I had been working with printing canvas in scrapbooking and sewing, and thought that this might be a way to keep a long lasting memory of this project. Something that could be displayed everyday. And Since she was just learning to sew......
a pillow would be an easy first project using this medium.
I have only been able to find this printing canvas, off the shelf at my local Office Max.
It can be a little pricey. So you want to run a few test first before putting want you want on canvas. She chose a beautiful sketch of Stuart from the first chapter.
I scanned the page and turned it into a jpg., then enlarged it.
We did a couple test to get it right, and then sent the canvas through.
It turned out great!
She then just used 4 strips of fabric to encompass the square.
Then stitched it together with a back panel and stuffed it.
She then added some scrapbooking embellishments.
Such as the letters for STUART and the DREAM bar,
along with some leaves which represented the outdoors.

How's that for a A+ project???

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hooked on Beach Days....

Today we went to this "family friendly" beach, which we love in Rockport, MA.
The Beach is known as Long Beach.
It is so nice it will have you hooked!
I like the fact that it has that little inlet strip when the tide comes in.
My little one loves to play in it, because the water is warm and nice.
The parking price isn't too bad, and today there was hardly any people.
Not wall to wall like on the weekend....
It is so much better during the week.
The down fall for some of you may be there is no snack bar,
but we have no problem filling a cooler at home
full of sandwiches, munchies, and drinks.
Plus side is....the bathroom and changing rooms are the
cleanest I have ever been in, fresh new paint every summer!

When laying on the beach you look out onto these twin lighthouses.
There are large rocks along the sides of the beach and the lighthouse island,
which make it fun for the kids to climb and look for star fish.
Last week another Julia reader wrote in about Rockport, MA.
I was glad to see someone else hooked on this quaint town.
for a lovely tour of one of my favorite towns!

And to see what others are hooked on go to
Are you dreaming about your Beach Day now???

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Applesauce Spice Bars....

This week's choice of Applesauce Spice Bars was chosen by
Just the right dessert to get you in the mood for fall.
Each Tuesday with Dorie, I actually bake on that day. I look at the recipe the night before,
and if I do not have all the ingredients on hand I rush off to the store Tuesday morning to get them. This will sometimes make for a late posting. Because the item may have to cool before frosting and cutting.
This week's choice was super easy and fast. I mixed it all in the saucepan on top of the there was no KA mixer involved. The hard part was turning the oven on, boy did I ever cringe!
It is 97 degrees here today, and I really hated turning that oven on.
At least it was only for 25 minutes!

I chose to leave my skins on my Golden Delicious Apples. Because, when they are cut small you can not tell the difference. I also decided that I would put them on last, just pressing them in.
This way they would show up on top when baked and look great!

I hope all of you that tried the Applesauce Spice Bars were as pleased as my family. Big shout out to Laurie for creating the Tuesdays with Dorie group and being such a wonderful leader for all of us TWD people.

And, of course, thanks to Dorie Greenspan for writing the masterpiece that is Baking: From my home to yours. And check at Karen's site here for the easy recipe!

We give this 5 glasses of milk,
for utter caramel goodness!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sunday Morning Cinnabuns...

1 cup warm skim milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup "I can't believe It's Not Butter"
4 1/2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon (Be Generous)
1/3 cup "Can't Believe It's Not Butter"

1 (3 ounce) package "1/3 less fat Neufchatel cheese"
1/4 cup "Can't Believe It's Not Butter"
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

** In the kitchen aid mixer....Dissolve the yeast in the warmed milk, along with 1 tsp sugar from the 1/2 cup white sugar. Let stand, covered, about 10 minutes, until foamy.

**Add remaining dough ingredients and continue to mix using a dough hook for about 7 minutes, this is helping you knead the dough.

** Remove the dough from bowl and place in a warm area, allowing the dough to double in size, approximately 1 1/2 hours.

**In small bowl combine brown sugar and cinnamon for filling.

** Roll dough into a 16x21 inch rectangle (approximately the same size as my Silpat baking mat). Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture.

**Roll up dough (lengthwise so you end up with a 21" roll) and cut with a bread knife into 12 rolls (approximately 1-3/4" each, or three finger widths). Place rolls in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking pan. (or 2 -8 inch cake pans will do)

**Cover and let rise again for 30 minutes, while preheating the oven to 400 degrees.
**Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes. While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, confectioners' sugar (I recommend sifting it), vanilla extract and salt. Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving.

Simply Yummy when Served Warm!
Go ahead Indulge it's Sunday....

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hooked on a Life Size Dollhouse....

Remember these metal dollhouses from your childhood. I sure do!

I started out with one of these in my earlier days, then graduated to a wooden one which my uncle had made. I still have all the beautiful furniture I collected along the way.

What I used to enjoy about the metal one, was the cool pastel colors and graphics that adorned the inside. The metal houses came with plastic furniture in the pastel colors of blue, pink, green and yellow. I could just sit and play for hours. Such an imagination!

Maybe that is why I like decorating so much......

Isn't this the coolest kitchen??

It looks right out of a 50's style dollhouse.

Except, this one......

Is Life Size!!!

That's right. It is a art exhibition in Canada.

And when I found it I was HOOKED!

Don't you just love it???

From Highway 2, near the Saskatchewan border, it doesn't look like much; only a painted sign of a family holding hands suggests anything unusual about this particular abandoned farmhouse, one of many.

Around back, the north-facing wall of the house has been replaced with Plexiglas, showcasing its interior, fully restored with candy-coloured walls and furniture from the 1960s, when the home was abandoned. From a distance looking at this picture it would look like the typical dollhouse.

But, what makes this different is.....the dolls are human!

"Artist in Resident"....Heather Benning worked nearly 18 months on the project,
entitled Dollhouse.

"I wanted to show the passage of time … I was able to show what it looked like before it was left, but then what it looks like now, you know, 35 years later," said Benning.

Heather states, that when growing up on a farm, there was a old house on their property. And she just loved decorating it and playing designer.

Here you see a couple of tourist checking it out.

It will give you an idea of the size in relation....

If you didn't know better, this shot would make you think you are looking at a actual dollhouse that has been iluminated.

Heather finished this in the middle of 2007,
and has left it there for viewing audiences.

So what do you think, could you be hooked on this too?

To see what others are hooked on check out


(Cause I think she will agree it's a fashionable dollhouse)

If you ever in that part of Canada,
go check it out!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Colored Pencil Sketching Anyone???

I've found this great Sketch Program available for free for ten days.
You can take your photos and change them into colored pencil pictures.
I thought I would play around with it a bit,
then print it out on watercolor paper.
I am happy with the way they came out.
Now I need to get alot more done in the next 9 days!

Great one of the house.
These would make great note cards!

Here's what they look like framed on the wall.
(Pardon the glare)

Here is the link to Sketch, so you can play around too!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Festive Brownie Buttons

This week's choice was chosen by Jayma of Two Scientist Experiment in the Kitchen. She chose Brownie Buttons, which are my favorite go to desserts on my small pastry tray assortments. I choose to frost them with a Semi-Sweet Chocolate Glaze instead of the white, that Dorie suggests. They just look so chocolaty good that way!

These are super easy to make. And if you have a small scoop like me, and mini muffin pans that come in the 2 dozen could triple this recipe and have lots to serve at you parties!

So, give them a try. You will find Dorie's recipe on pages 106-107 in her book "Baking from My Home to Yours". This is a must have book. And when you get it you can join in on Tuesday's fun with the rest of us!

Brownie Buttons
from “Baking, from my Home to Yours” By Dorie Greenspan

Grated Zest of 1/2 Orange
1 teaspoon Sugar
1/4 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons Flour
Pinch of Salt
1/2 Stick (4 Tablespoons) Unsalted Butter, Cut into 4 Pieces
2 1/2 Ounces Bittersweet Chocolate, Coarsely Chopped
1/3 Cup (Packed) Brown Sugar1/2 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
1 Large Egg

For the optional Glaze:2 Ounces Semi Sweet Chocolate, Finely Chopped

**Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter two miniature muffin pans, each with a dozen cups, and place them on a baking sheet.

**If you’re using the orange zest, combine the zest and sugar in a small bowl, rubbing them between your fingertips to blend: set aside.
**Whisk together the flour and salt.

**Melt the butter, chocolate, and brown sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over very low heat, stirring frequently with a heatproof spatula and keeping an eye on the pan so that nothing overheats or burns. When the mixture is smooth, remove from the heat and cool for a minute or two.

** Stir the vanilla, egg and the zest into the chocolate mixture. When the mixture is well blended, add the flour and stir only until it is incorporated. You should have a smooth, glossy batter.

**Spoon the batter into 16 of the muffin cups, using about a teaspoon of batter to fill each cup 3/4 full. Put 1 teaspoon of water in each empty cup.

**Bake for 14-16 minutes, or until the tops of the buttons spring back when touched. Transfer the pans to racks to cool for 3 minutes before carefully releasing the buttons. Cool to room temperature on the racks.

Monday, August 10, 2009

When Gardening gets Away from You!

We've been away for 3 weeks, and the garden grew like it was on Steroids.
This is how it looked in the beginning on April 13th, 2009.
Manageable and easy.....
Then it was really beginning to bloom,
on May 26th, 2009.
Still manageable and easy.....

Then I came home to this overgrown, need to be weeded mess.
This is what it looks like half weeded,
still have more to do!

Then in the middle was this huge sunflower....
The seed that got away from the pack.
Actually I planted 5 packs all along the fence, just to see.
I had never planted Sunflowers in this garden before.
I guess only the biggest survived....
The biggest seeds from Burpee, are the ones that took off.
Now I have to replant this Bad-Boy, somewhere else!

Check out my little JACK and the BEANSTALK!
Have you ever seen a Sunflower this big, and still growing????
The stalk is like 3 inches in diameter...crazy!
Can't wait to see the head on this one!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Hooked on Designer Golf Carts.....

After staying on a 27 hole golf course for the past few weeks,
I have come across some very cute golf carts.
They have me hooked!
Not the typical plain club cart for those who live on the outer edge.
They have flashy carts favoring their favorite teams or favorite colors.
I knew the Innkeeper had to have one to standout from the rest!
So why not turn her bland ride into something like......

I think this one will do it!
I thought why not transfer that idea to the cart.
It took about 8 hours for me to paint,
and reupholster the cushions.
But Wow, I think I am hooked on this cute little cart I painted,
and so is the Innkeeper, which is a good thing!

The colors are bright and happy.
And represent her love of gardening.

And what better way to go between her houses with,
than this great advertisement.

So what are you hooked on this week?
To see what others are up to,
check out Julia's Hooked on Fridays

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Garden Wedding

Her comes the Bride!

Well, the last two weeks of work with the Innkeeper, have paid off.

I was able to see my labor of love, so to speak.

There was a small quaint wedding in the garden Gazebo this weekend,
about sixty guests. Reception followed at a different venue.

The wedding party arrived for the rehearsal the night before,
with the gazebo looking ordinary.

I said ...."Don't worry the wedding fairy will be here overnight"

And when they arrived the next day, I had finished adding all the fresh flowers.
Searching the grounds and other gardens for anything I could get together.

It turned out to be a great day!

And the bride was very surprised when she walked down the aisle.

It was my cousin's daughter who was getting married.

Which was a bonus for me, to have a family reunion included....

You may kiss the bride!

Always a sweet moment....

Great photo of the happy couple.

May they always be this happy, even 50 years from now...

This of course, this was one of the best shots.

The ringbearer was in deep thought.....


"Was this tie and suit I had to wear,

worth all the sugary cake and fun I'll get to have at the reception??"

I believe it was....

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Classic Banana Cake...Super Moist!

Tuesdays with Dorie again, and just trying to catch up. We're still out here in Michigan with the Innkeeper. So what better way to serve my family with some summer loving, but with a potassium powered, ooey, gooey, delicious cake.

This week's choice comes from Mary The Food Librarian

And what a great choice, I love easy-peasy bundt cakes. I think I have about 6 bundt pans. And make them to give for gifts alot. This cake is super moist and delish. A keeper to be sure! I truly encourage you to buy Dorie's book "Baking from My Home to Yours", you will find many a great recipe in there. And to see what others are up to check out TWD site.

And of course to finish it off, pour over some caramel and crushed pecans or walnuts!

Classic Banana Cake
Adapted from a recipe by Ellen Einstein in "Baking From My Home to Yours"
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 stick (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cup sugar (I used half brown sugar)
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large egg, at room temperature
4 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt

**Preheat oven to 350 degrees

**Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together. Set aside.

**Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter until creamy.

**Add the sugar and beat at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla, then the egg, beating for about 1 minute. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the bananas.

** Finally, mix in half the dry ingredients (don't be disturbed if the batter curdles), all the sour cream and then the rest of the flour mixture.

** Using a spatula scrap into a generously buttered 9- to 10-inch (12-cup) Bundt pan, and bake the cake for 65 to 75 minutes, checking it at the 30-minute mark and covering it loosely with a foil tent if it's browning too quickly. Let the cake cool on a rack for 10 minutes before unmolding.

**NOTE: For the top, I used a basic carmel sauce recipe, and drizzled it on and added crushed pecans on top.

We give this 5 Bananas
for utter Banana Goodness!