Monday, November 30, 2009

Holiday Cannoli

The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.

This month's choice of dessert makes it pretty hard to compete with the local bakeries. We have the North End here in Boston where they say the best cannoli are made. I do believe that after making these, I may just have a chance! Oh yes, they are time consuming, but well worth it. I prefer to have these as dessert around the holidays. Eating these more often than that will probably pack on some pounds.............

You can find the recipe with some wonderful step by step pictures HERE.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Sleep...Who needs it!

Well, are you all full from yesterday's dinner and tired from the enzymes in the turkey? Or are you exhausted from a Black Friday shopping spree where you get up hours before the sun, in those lines going around the building and down the street??
There were definite sales to be had for sure. Walmart seemed to be running the best sales, if you were able to get in line before 5 am. Everyone is always giving them a bad rap for importing from 3rd world countries. But, it is that reason they are able to keep low cost items in stock. They are helping the economy in this terrible economic climate.

This year they decided to run some before holiday specials, like the $229 laptop..... They will continue every Saturday until Christmas.

I was one of those out there in the herds, just to get a look at the deals.

It was definitely not a "Shop til' you drop", day for me. I was back home by 7:30 am. after Target, Staples, and Toys r Us. Not much out there, that was too special, had to have it. But, the prices were low for sure!

Now, to finish wrapping, and hide away.....Oh, and MICHAEL's is running 20% of the entire store tomorrow in the morning, on sale prices too, up to 70% off! So it will be another morning of waiting in line, not too early though, 8 am. LOL :) Stay tuned for Cyber Monday if you missed any of the sales today, there will be more in 3 days!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Wishing all of you in Blogland,

a Wonderful Day!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Glorious Pumpkin Bread Pudding....YUM!

Thinking of something different to make for Thanksgiving, why not try a delicious form of New England Bread Pudding. And if you think it would be too much for the day, make it over this weekend. I love bread pudding any time of the year. I enjoy this as much as my Chocolate-Caramel version, during the Christmas holidays.
I use pecans or almonds as a topper when baking for an added crunch. I also bake mine in a water bath, for that steamed pudding like effect, but you really don't have to if you have a convection oven which distributes the heat. A water bath will evenly cook the pudding. To water bath, place pan in a larger pan and fill with a 1 1/2 inches of water, after you have placed it on the oven shelf. When getting it out after baking, be very careful not to get burnt. Take inner pan out and leave the larger in to cool.

- For the Bread Pudding -
1 Loaf stale bread - (I prefer cinnamon or challah) cut into cubes
1 Can Pumpkin Puree (15 ounces)
3 Large Eggs,
2 Cups Whole Milk
1 Cup Brown Sugar, packed
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon Nutmeg
1Teaspoon Ground Ginger
2 Tablespoons of Dark Rum (optional)
Pinch of Salt
Pecans or almonds

- For the Hot Buttered Rum Sauce -
1 Stick (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
1 Cup Heavy Cream
1 Cup Brown Sugar, packed
3 Tablespoons Dark Rum


**Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
For the Bread Pudding:

**Grease a 9 x 13 pan with melted butter, place bread cubes in evenly.
**In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, brown sugar, eggs, milk, rum, salt and spices.
**Pour ingredients into prepared baking dish. Let stand for 30 minutes to let the bread soak. Sprinkle on pecans or almonds if you prefer.
**Place pan on a cookie sheet and place in oven. Bake until a toothpick or knife inserted into the center comes out clean, approximately 50 minutes. **Good bread pudding is moist, so don't overcook. Some will bake in a water bath, which is fine too!

For the Hot Buttered Rum Sauce:
**Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the brown sugar and heavy cream.
**Let the mixture just come to a boil. Let cool a minute, then add the rum.
**The rum sauce can be made up to two days ahead of time. Reheat until just warm.

To Serve:
Cut the bread pudding into squares or scoop and place onto dessert plates. Drizzle the hot buttered rum sauce over the top. If you like, you can add whipped cream and candied ginger.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

All in One Holiday Bundt Cake

If you like pumpkin, cranberries, apples and pecans, this cake is for you. The pumpkin lends moistness, the cranberries tartness, the apples sweetness and the pecans crunchiness. Throw in some eggs, spice and flour to wrap it all together. Tie it up with a coat of icing and add nuts as the bow on top. It’s a holiday present for your taste buds.

This week's choice of All in One Holiday Bundt Cake comes from Britin of Nitty Britty. She chose a super simple all in one bowl cake. So moist and delicious....perfect for a Holiday Brunch. If you have time this week to fit it into your schedule, make this cake! You can find the recipe HERE, or in Dorie's "Baking from My Home to Yours". Add this book to your wish list!

We give this 5 Turkeys,
for Yummy, Gobbley Goodness!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Four Things That Matter Most.......

A few things about me you may not know already......A busy Mom who raises her family and volunteers at the elementary school, A Mom who also watches a couple of other Kiddos after school, A catering manager when the need arises, And most of all a Hospice Volunteer.

Yes, I volunteer for Hospice. I make weekly visits to my older friends, and for some who may not have any family members left. I also scrapbook their lives in a "Chart of Life". Of course I know that they are at the end of their life, but still, it can make it hard to lose a friend. It must be very hard for a loved one to lose someone after they have struggled with going through what it takes to get them through their illness. Over the summer I read this wonderful book that will help those loved ones. In fact, it is great for anyone. It is a easy read....I read it in a day!

Here is my review:

Four simple phrases — "Please forgive me," "I forgive you," "Thank you," and "I love you" — carry enormous power. In many ways, they contain the most powerful words in our language. These four phrases provide us with a clear path to emotional wellness; they guide us through the thickets of interpersonal difficulties to a conscious way of living that is full of integrity and grace.

In The Four Things That Matter Most, Dr. Ira Byock, an international leader in palliative care, teaches us how to practice these life-affirming words in our day-to-day lives. Too often we assume that the people we love really know we love them. Dr. Byock reveals the value of stating the obvious and provides insights into how we burden ourselves by hanging on to old grudges unconsciously and unnecessarily. He shows us how to avoid living with those awkward silences and uncomfortable issues that distance us from the people we love and erode our sense of well-being and joy. His insights and stories help us to forgive, appreciate, love, and celebrate one another more fully.

The inspiring stories in The Four Things That Matter Most demonstrate the usefulness of the Four Things in a wide range of life situations. They also show that a degree of emotional healing is always possible and that we can experience a sense of wholeness even in the wake of family strife, personal tragedy, divorce, or in the face of death. With practical wisdom and spiritual punch, The Four Things That Matter Most gives us the language and guidance to honor and experience what really matters most in our lives every day.

Please forgive me.

I forgive you.

Thank you.

I love you

Thursday, November 19, 2009

BeDazzle your Cupcakes with Jewels.....

My Cupcakes have been bedazzled!!

On a recent trip to my favorite store,
HOME GOODS........
I found these beautiful jewel toned sprinkles
in the gourmet section.

Are they not wonderful????
And for just a mere $1.99.... can't beat that!

Problem is, they're so special,
it will take a special event for me to use them.

LESSON for the DAY:

Never overlook the gourmet section,
you may find some good deals!

Especially at HOME GOODS!!!

You can find them here online.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

CranApple Crisp

This week's TWD is hosted by Em from
She chose Cran-Apple Crisp,
which was a great choice for the season.
Apples combined with cranberries........
You can't get anything better in the Fall.
I added a little pecan to the topping to give it even more flavor.

And I would definitely make it again.
And so should you!
You can find the recipe HERE.

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

Monday, November 16, 2009

Pumpkin Pancakes......Yummy!

Normally, I am not a box pancake person,
but I just had to try TRADER JOE'S Pumpkin Mix this season.
It was getting rave reviews from everyone,
and of course I'm always up for a trip to Joe's.
They have some unique items that you probably
won't find at the local supermarket.
And have you seen the flyers that they send out for their sales.
It's like reading a Culinary newspaper, so cute!!
Descriptions of products like they were JPeterson from Seinfeld.

This season they're offering many pumpkin items.

These were so delish, we couldn't stop eating them!
This is for sure a favorite with us!
If you're near a Trader Joe's stop by and pick a box up.
$2.99 makes about 28 - 6 inch pancakes.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Chocolate Cream Pie - Fast and Easy!

This pie is rich and creamy, and so easy to make, if you have a mixer or hand beater. You can make up plenty of these before hand, and freeze them for events coming up in the holiday season. It is always nice to have them on hand if company pops in. I'll even give you the lower fat version, so you won't feel guilty.....

1 Oreo Pie Crust or Graham Cracker Crust
1 8oz. pkg. of low fat cream cheese - softened, (almost room temperature)
1 small can of sweetened condensed milk (They do have a low fat version of this too)
2 pkg. (3.9 oz) Instant Dark Chocolate Pudding (Sugar Free is available)
1 1/2 c. 2% milk
Low Fat Whip topping for the top when serving or whip up some heavy cream,light on the sugar
Crushed Oreos or Chocolate Shavings for decoration

**Notes: I melt a couple of chocolate bars and paint the bottom of the crust with it, to prevent sogginess from setting in. You can also easily add another pkg. of Cream Cheese if you like it like a cheesecake-like or add in a few drop of mint extract for Chocolate-Mint Pie!

**Cream the cream cheese, adding in the condensed milk to combine.

**Sprinkle in the instant pudding alternating with the milk, keep mixing until smooth and creamy. Pour into prepared crust. Place in refrigerator overnight or freeze up to 4 months.

**Garnish with whip topping and decorations before serving.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

White Kitchens.....

I came across some beautiful kitchens I just have to share with you today.
Even though I love white kitchen cabinets,
for our family they're just not practical.
Dirty little fingerprints would be everywhere.
And those wingback chairs would have no chance
in keeping clean.......
I looked at both of these kitchens and thought,
a girl can dream can't she???

This one was definitely the favorite because of the huge window above the sink.
It allows so much light to stream in, it's awesome.
And look in the back right corner you could just imagine
walking into your huge pantry that leads out to your herb garden.
And I just love, love , love the high ceiling.
So dear reader, do you have a kitchen that you just dream about,
And pull out idea pages and put them in a folder for future use?
And what do you think about the white kitchen..
for or against?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Honor Our Veterans Today...

Take time to honor a veteran you may know.
They have made our freedom possible for us.
A few simple things you can do!

Watch a local parade lead to the honor guard ceremony at a monument.

Lay a wreath or flowers on the grave of a fallen soldier.
Take a moment of silence.

What ever you do, just let them know that you are thankful....

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sugar Topped Molasses Cookies TWD

This week I made the Sugar-Topped Molasses Spice Cookies which was chosen by Pamela of Cookies with Boys. You can find the recipe on her blog or on pages 76 and 77 of Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours.

Because of the upcoming holiday everyone is switching it up a bit. We can make any of the four chosen this month in the sequence that we prefer. I couldn't wait to try Dorie's Molasses Cookies. Because Molasses are my all time favorite! I have to say that these are almost like mine. They have the added Ginger, which makes them awesome and great for your stomach, should you eat them after a spice dinner. Ginger is known to settle your stomach.

They were so easy to put together, just mix up the dough and place in freezer for about an hour then start to roll the dough into little balls. I then rolled mine in sugar and placed on the sheet pan. I took a flat bottom glass, which had been dipped in sugar before hand, and flatten it out some more. I only baked 9 to a pan, off setting them as I placed them in rows.

These were great cookies, definitely a keeper recipe!

We give it 5 glasses of milk,

for utter goodness!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Birthday Dinner ----Chicken Marsala!

My all time favorite birthday meal, is something so quick and easy to make. Especially when you have to make it for yourself, LOL.... You can serve it over pasta, rice, gnoochi, or just by itself. Anyway you serve it, you will love it! I actually made this last night, because my family had taken me out for my birthday. The week has flown by so quickly it has been hard to catch up......even with that extra hour of sleep we got in the beginning!

Make sure to use Marsala wine or Marsala Cooking wine. The cooking wine will have more sodium in it, so you may want to take out the salt in the recipe.

- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour for coating
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 6 skinless, boneless chicken breast cut into pieces or left whole and pounded
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups sliced, white mushrooms or more if you really like them!
- 2 heads of garlic, pressed and chopped
- 3/4 cup Marsala wine
- 1/2 cup Chicken broth

**In a shallow dish or bowl, mix together the flour, salt, pepper and oregano. Coat chicken pieces in flour mixture. (NOTE: You can also add the flour mixture to a ziploc bag, add chicken and shake!)

**In a large skillet, melt butter in oil over medium heat. Place chicken in the pan, and lightly brown. Turn over chicken pieces, and add mushrooms and garlic.

**Pour in wine and chicken broth . Cover skillet; simmer chicken 10 minutes, turning once, until no longer pink and juices run clear.

Sit back, pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Cooking Labels Decor

I have collected labels and old retail items for years.
Framing the labels can be a good way to display them.
You can frame magazine ads, bags, or even seed packets.
These posted below hang in my dining room.

I enjoy these cool shaped food labels that I picked up on Etsy.
I just arranged them on black paper and put them in a frame
I picked up at the swap shop....

The Baker's Cocoa is an advertisement from the
New Yorker Magazine circa 1920.

This label came from a flour sack.
The flour was milled in Clinton,
a town next to us in Michigan.

To find items like these you can check out

Ebay or Etsy, (like here)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

It's Beautiful in My Backyard.....

We live just outside of Boston, in suburbia.
And just behind us in that suburbia, is the State Park.
We recently took a hike up to the old
Boy Scout Lookout Tower.....

We passed by the ducks......

And this was our view!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Coconut Butter Thins

This Tuesday with Dorie I have decided to not join in.
The Halloween Holiday had me baking like a Mad Woman.
And now there is baked goods everywhere in our kitchen.
This is a repost of some great cookies,
try them you'll love em'

It's Tuesdays with Dorie and this week's item is Coconut Butter Thins found on page 145 of Dorie's book. This recipe was chosen by Jayne of The Barefoot Kitchen Witch.

Instead of macadamia nuts, I used the crushed pecans that I had on hand. This made these buttery shortbread cookies taste like "Pecan Sandies" with a hint of coconut. These were super easy to make.
Per the instructions in the book.....after mixing the dough, I placed it in a plastic one gallon container. I then rolled the dough so that it perfectly fit in the bag flat. Then I put it in the freezer for a half an hour, before cutting off one side and slicing into squares.
They bake at a low temperature for about 17 minutes.
Boy, did they turn out Delicious, check the recipe here,
I'll make these again for sure!

We this 5 glasses of milk,
for udder goodness!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Happy Birthday Marie!

It's a Birthday Party Celebrating Marie Antoinette's Birthday.
And here is 5 things I have in common with Marie

  1. * - Our birthdays are in the same week. (Mine the Nov.1st , hers the Nov. 2nd)

  2. * - My middle name is Marie.

  3. * - We are both part French in genealogy.

  4. * - We both love a go-o-od dessert!

  5. * - We both love fashion and the design of a good dress. And speaking of dress design....I made my daughter a "Marie" dress for a Masquerade Party she was going to. I had an extra set of drapes in the house, and decided to make them into a dress. Check out the pictures below .

The drapes were something I had picked up at the Christmas Tree Shop for $5, notice the great fringe towards the bottom, from the top part of the drape. Then I picked up the sheer window fabric at JoAnns for $3, the fan was $1 at Dollar Tree. The ribbon, thread, and zipper I had on hand. Not a bad costume for $10!! A young Kristen Dunst in the making......LOL.

Happy Birthday Marie,

you will always be remembered!