Posts Tagged ‘food’

Sweet Memories of Childhood

I don’t know anyone who says they had a great childhood, except my hubby. This, despite the fact his family moved around a lot as a child and there was lean times when his dad was unemployed. He still claims he had a great childhood. What a little optimist.

Childhood is what you spent the rest of your life trying to overcome. -Hope Floats

Yeah, that sums up my childhood.

Sure, there were happy times, like wondering the woods behind our house. I found solace exploring the forest floor, following the creek to see what lay around the bend, and catching a lizard or two.

We also had a cherry tree growing in our backyard. Living in the country, our property had several fruit trees. The apple trees were too sour to eat or to bake a pie. But, the cherries…that was a different story.

My ‘lil sister and I would climb the cherry tree, perch ourselves on a limb and pluck the sweet, red fruit from the stem, popping it into our mouths. The burst of sweet, sour, juiciness exploding in our mouths. I savored every bite!

From childhood, cherries have signaled the beginning of summer.

Cherries are a healthy summer treat but add a little sugar, butter and flour and you’ve got yourself something truly amazing.

I’d like to share with you two of my favorite cherry baked desserts.

First up is Grandma Mary’s Cherry Chocolate Cake

CherryCake

The best cherry chocolate cake ever!

This cake is from Grandma Mary’s recipe files. She takes 1 box of chocolate cake mix, 2 eggs and 1 can of cherry pie filling. That’s it. Mix those three ingredients together. I hand mixed the cake so the cherries remained intact. Mary uses a hand mixer and the cherries get broken up. Either way this cake is sooooo good! Bake per cake mix directions in a 9×12 pan, let cool, then top with your favorite chocolate icing (homemade or store-bought). Mary brought this cake to a family dinner and fooled everyone into thinking it made from scratch.

Cherry Chocolate Chip Blondies

cherry chocolate blondies

photo by Averie Cooks

I made these Blondies by Averie Cooks a few weeks ago to take to a dinner party with friends. There were no leftovers! These Blondies are chewy, gooey, goodness.

Quick Food Gift: Christmas Crunch Recipe

THE COUNTDOWN IS ON | I’ve wrote how I am not  in the mood for the holidays this year. I am not a Grinch, I am just not feeling it.

I know I am not alone. Right? Anybody?

I have given myself a hall pass this year. I don’t have to host a cookie decorating party. I don’t have to over-decorate my house and take pictures that are Pin-worthy.

I think Pin-worthy should be added to the dictionary.

The same goes for baking, Advent calendar gifts, books creatively and neatly wrapped under the tree (’cause they’ll get peed on), or custom designed Christmas cards which involve an ill-planned photo shoot, matching envelopes and a trip to the USPS for decorative stamps. Nope. I’ve done none of it.

I am cool with it. So, stop calling me a Grinch.

But, if I  feel up to it I will make another batch of this Christmas Crunch to hand out to neighbors this weekend. If I don’t, I won’t beat myself up about it.

Christmas Crunch recipe

Christmas Crunch

QUICKIE HOW TO | Pop a large bowl of plain popcorn. I use the popcorn that comes in a jar, pour some in a brown paper lunch bag, close bag and use the “popcorn” setting in the microwave until you don’t hear popping noise. Melt some Almond Bark. (I used vanilla flavor, but chocolate would be yummy too.) Pour Almond Bar over popped popcorn and stir. Work quickly to keep the Almond Bark from setting up. Sprinkle in some festive sprinkles and red/green M&Ms, stir. Spread out on wax paper to let it set up. Once set, gently break apart, then package in cute bags. Hand out to friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors. Sit back and enjoy the oohs and aahs.

Turning 34…again!

Yeah, it was my birthday last week. Birthdays are a good thing. The more you have the more you should celebrate.

I chose Greek for my birthday dinner. Axios Estiatorio in Denver’s neighborhood known as Berkeley. (If you are want to kill some time you can read the complete restaurant review I posted here.) Hint: I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

The basic run down is this: The Mezze (Starter) was Keftedes Meatballs (Lamb-Tomato Sauce, Kefalotiri Cheese, Pita $9).

greek meatballs

Keftedes Meatballs

Hubby’s one and only Greek food experience has been with a Gyros. I love Greek, but never get to eat it. It makes me very happy that hubby went on a little food adventure with me to Axios. This is going to become my favorite restaurant!

halibut

Halibut

It was a tough choice but hubby surprised me and ordered the Halibut. He never orders fish unless it’s fried.

kreopita

Kreopita

I had my mouth ready for Spanakopita (my favorite Greek dish), but was talked into Kreopita (Spanakopita’s Lamb cousin). Kreopita is my new favorite dish, although the Rabbit Stifado and the Lamb Giouvetsi will need to be tasted before I can give my final verdict.

chocolate cream pie

Chocolate cream pie

The Baklava was calling my name, but we opted for saving desert for birthday pie later in the evening with friends. See, the candles say I am 34. The candles don’t lie!

may  snow

May 1st snow

The next morning, May 1st, there was snow on the ground in Colorado. And, May 2nd it was melted away.

Crock Pot Red Beans and Rice

red beans recipe

Crock pot red beans and rice

Glenn talks fondly of his years spent growing up in Slidell, Louisiana. Mostly it’s about the crazy things he did as a kid, but also he misses the red beans and rice served in the South. Apparently, Colorado don’t know nothing about red beans and rice. This is the only recipe that passes his taste test:

Louisiana-style Red Beans and Rice

  • 1 lb. red kidney beans, dry (note: no need to pre-soak, just add them to the crockpot)
  • 8 cups boiling water
  • 1 large meaty ham bone
  • 1 lb. hot sausage (fried & drained)
  • 2 stalks chopped celery
  • 1 large chopped onion
  • 1 tbsp garlic salt
  • large pinch of dried thyme
  • 4 bay leaves (removed before serving)
  • salt, pepper & cayenne pepper to taste.

Layer in crock pot and cook at least 8-10 hours on high. The longer it cooks, the better it gets! About 45 minutes before serving, mash about 1/4 of the beans to help thicken. Serve over rice (optional). Could serve with crusty bread or cornbread…yum!

I said the rice is optional because I don’t eat the rice. I guess it’s just me. It’s so good you don’t need the rice!

The best things I ate this weekend:

atkins diet salad

Spinach, arugula, feta, Roma tomatoes, leftover prime rib and Greek vinaigrette salad

Ham greek salad-blog

Spinach, cucumber, tomato, avocado, green olives, ham, feta with Greek Vinaigrette

Both salads are Atkins Diet (Phase 1) friendly; the red beans, not so much. So, 3 months of serious cardio and calorie counting and I only lost 5 pounds. Very frustrating. After careful evaluating of my food log it was clear: too many carbs and not enough protein is my problem. Hopefully, Atkins will get the scale moving in the right direction…

Easter blessings.

Yeah, I know Easter was a week ago. So sue me.

easter blessings

Picnic.

bird's nest treats

My little baker.

bird's nest treats

Bird’s Nest Treats place setting (made with Cheerios).

portrait photography

Easter portrait in the backyard.

She wants to be called Alexandra instead of Alex now. But I am old and I forget.

portrait photography

Easter portrait.

She had an Easter picnic with her stuffed animals in the backyard. She served chocolate covered Peeps, Nerds, and bubble gum. Um, sounds delish!

ice skates

Goodbye to ice skating.

I listed Alex’s Alexandra’s very expensive competitive ice skates with the special blades for sale on Craigslist. I didn’t even get a bite. I took the skates to Play it Again Sports. They offered me $35. I think I feel sick…

December Daily | Ten, Traditions

When you think of your childhood during Christmas time, what comes to mind?

When we were growing up, our mom always filled a glass jar with this mixture: peanuts, M&M’s and raisins. This glass jar always sat on the coffee table for a quick grab treat. I don’t know why but this simple thing sticks in my mind, and speaks December to me. This year I decided to make the mixture and load in recycled frappuccino bottles for a quick gift for neighbors and friends.

december daily

december dailySo, how I did it: Drink and enjoy the Frappaccinos. Then, wash the frappaccino bottles and lids really, really well. You can use Starbucks® Frappaccino bottles but I found the sticker labels are hard to get off cleanly. So, I used Target Archer Farms® Frappaccino bottles. Their labels are more of a shrink-wrap kind. All you have to do is cut the label off the bottle. Easy-peasy.

Spray paint the lids red; don’t spray paint the inside of the lids. Once dry, add a round sticker label to the top of the lid (also bought at Target in the Christmas stationary isle). In a large bowl mix a bag of red and green M&M’s, cocktail peanuts (you could use dry roasted instead) and raisins. I didn’t measure it out, I just eyeballed it. Fill the jars, add ribbon and viola!

Happy snacking!

November Joy: Let the holiday baking begin!

It’s that time of the year. Time to pull out baking recipes that you haven’t whipped up since last November/December. Time to try something new. Hubby and I are making a trip over to my old office tomorrow to pay a visit and to show off the Charger. So, I thought I would make them some treats to get them through working Thanksgiving week.

truffles

First up, Chocolate Peanut Butter & Pretzel Truffles (from Eating Well, Diabetic appropriate, low carb)

  • 1/2 c crunchy natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 c finely chopped salted pretzels
  • 1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips, meted (the recipe calls for milk chocolate, but I prefer semi-sweet)

Use good chocolate like Ghiradelli. Combine peanut butter and chopped salted pretzels in a small bowl. Chill in freezer until firm, about 15 minutes. Roll the peanut butter mixture into 20 balls (about 1 tsp each). Place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper and freeze until firm, about 1 hour. Roll frozen balls in melted chocolate. Refrigerate until chocolate is set, about 30 minutes. Store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Yum! Note to self: I got a little carried away when rolling the balls and made them too large!

Chocolate Bailey® Truffles (this is an old recipe that I used to make every Christmas)

  • one, 12 ounce package of semi-sweet chocolate chips (Ghiradelli is best)
  • 1/3 c whipping cream
  • 1/2 tsp Baileys (or use extract of choice such as, vanilla, mint, almond)
  • melted white chocolate Quickcandy to drizzle
  • whole almonds, dipped in Quickcandy
  • optional: years ago I would roll the truffles in ground almonds or walnuts instead of doing the Quickcandy drizzle. This drizzle/almond this is a new idea I had to decorate the truffles.

In double boiler combine 12 ounce chocolate chips and whipping cream. Stir constantly, keep on low heat so that you do not burn the chocolate. When melted remove from heat and let cool slightly, then add Baileys or extract. Beat chocolate mixture until smooth. Put in refrigerator to chill completely, about 20 minutes. Drop by teaspoons onto prepared wax paper on baking sheet. Chill in freezer until firm enough to handle and roll into balls, about 10 minutes. Shape chocolate mixture into balls (if you chill too long, like I did, and can’t shape into balls, just let them sit out until easy to shape).

*Meanwhile, melt Quickcandy and dip half of the almonds, set aside on wax paper to set. (I had a little chocolate leftover from the above truffles so I double dipped the almonds.) Remove chocolate balls, drizzle with Quickcandy, add dipped almond to top of truffle. Let set. Store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Suggested to let truffle sit at room temp before serving, but honestly, who can wait that long? *Now, if you don’t want to do the drizzle thing roll the truffles in ground nuts and place in airtight container.

Christmas Amaryllis starting to peek through

Pumpkins and Apple Pie

This weekend Alex spend the night with friends, and then it was off to the circus the next day. It was a good distraction from everything that is going on here in Westminster, CO. Our hearts are heavy with thoughts of Jessica Ridgeway. (please see the next post for her pictures)

While big sis was away, I asked Parker what she wanted to do this weekend.

The answer: make an apple pie!

Where does she get this stuff?

apple pie

I really need to get a pastry brush instead of using our BBQ brush! We used Gala apples for the pie, and pre-made Pillsbury dough, ’cause it’s easier with an impatient 6-year-old.

Parker was very proud of herself. She did everything except peel and chop the apples. Basically she did the easy part.

pumpkins

Sunday was a stark contrast to the cold front on Friday. It was really fun and relaxing walking the pumpkin fields with Parker. My mood was dampened when I heard and saw the helicopters in the sky searching for clues to find Jessica. I am reminded how blessed we all are to have our children. And I pray for her mom.

Which one do I pick? Parker took her sweet time choosing the perfect pumpkins for our front porch.

pumpkin

A wonderful rainy day…

Yesterday it rained most of the day. In my heaven it will rain everyday.

So, after doing my morning cleaning there was nothing else to do but head outside with an umbrella and my camera.

rain on leaves

rain drops on roses

rain photos

Thor doesn’t care that it is raining; he still wants to play ball!

dog grooming

Rocco went to the salon. He is such a pretty boy. I wanted the usual poodle-looking groom, but I was out-voted by the family. They like him looking more like a teddy bear.

I had to shampoo the carpets in Parker’s room because he keeps peeing in there! I can have the back door open all day long and he’ll still sneak in the bedroom and pee. What is up with that? It’s a good thing he is cute.

soup for dinner

For dinner: Lasagna Soup. Surprisingly, the family voted this a “keeper”. Even my 10-year-old semi-vegetarian loved it. And, even though she whined when she found out we were trying something new for dinner. I think they could eat the same seven dinners every week! She even had a few tears in her eyes…such a drama queen. But I used my guilt trip skills and she relented into trying the soup. She did suggest I could make it better by using more meat. So now she’s a food critic?

URGENT REQUEST: If you haven’t done so already, please head over to Change.org and sign my dear friend’s petition to Stop Child Molesters.

Yesterday she called me, frantic. She just received an email that her ex-husband will be released from prison in January. He is a convicted child pornographer and he molested their young daughter. When released he will serve about six months in a halfway house that is one and a half hour drive from his now grown daughter. After that he will be on probation for three years.

What makes her so frantic is the thought that he will be allowed to live in the same town as his daughter/victim (who also has a young daughter with another on the way). He has family in that town who are willing to take him in after he is released. What guarantee is there that he will stay away from his daughter/victim? He has yet to take responsibility for his own actions. Fourteen years later and he is still in denial.

There is no doubt that the system is broken when it comes to child molesters and child pornographers. I don’t have the answer but I do know that any little thing you can do, you should do it. So, if not for my friend but for future children…please sign the petition. If one child is spared the pain from a molester, it is worth it!

You can also read her story at Protect Our Children.

1 2 3 4