Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Goodbye Christmas, Hello New Year!

My Post Holiday Depression is passing & I am getting more & more excited about the future. What always does the trick for me is planning my next big thing which will come in the form of a Valentine's Brunch in February. I'm already scheming!!!

The other trick is just getting it all out & moving on. So I share with you now my last bits of Christmas & the things I really enjoyed, big & small. My biggest photo regret is not getting a picture taken of the table for 11 I set up on my lanai for Christmas dinner. It was quite nice with a white linen tablecloth, beautiful place mats & matching napkins & glasses. It was dark by dinner time so we lit the Christmas candles & ate our hearts out in the 75 degree weather.

A few of my favorite touches this holiday:

These mats above went perfectly with the few pieces I had picked out below.

I had my eye on & finally bought these cute little stacked dishes. I highly recommend them for any entertainer as they come in handy for appetizers as well as dessert!

A few of Tristan's favorite gifts:

D-Rex: a robot dino that burps, toot toots & purrs when you pet him.

A batman get-up from Grandma & Grandpa P (at their house).

And a Nintendo DS he has been eyeing since his cousins were in town.

Goodbye Christmas. I am ready to move on.

Happy New Year to you & yours!!!!!

Visit Angie at Seven Clown Circus for more Wordful Wednesdays

Monday, December 29, 2008

Amaretto Truffle Bars

Christmas this year was really my most favorite to date for so many reasons. One reason is something Terry reminded me of & that is Tristan is 5 & in his prime of enjoying Santa & we may have only a few years until he stops believing.

Another reason is my passion for entertaining, specifically with APPETIZERS. Sometimes I make them the focal point while simplifying the dinner portion. My favorite appies right now & the ones I served are Fried Zucchini, Cream Cheese Stuffed Jalapenos, Tuscan Stuffed Mushrooms & Caramelized Chili Shrimp. There wasn't a crumb left & most were prepared ahead of time which made life so easy. I have posted all these previously. So....

Today I wanted to post a dessert I served on Christmas. These Amaretto Truffle Bars are definitely for the chocolate lover. They are rich & decadent, that's why they should be served in bite size pieces. I will definitely be making these again as they were super easy but super impressive!

Chocolate Layer Ingredients:
4 (1-oz)squares bittersweet chocolate baking bars
6 (1-oz)squares semi-sweet chocolate baking bars
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Filling Ingredients:
3 tblsp instant vanilla pudding & pie filling mix
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 tblsp amaretto liqueur* (little airplane bottle is enough)
1 tblsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar

Topping Ingredients:
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa

Line 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, extending foil over edges. Combine baking bars, 1/3 cup butter & whipping cream in 2-quart saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring often, until smooth. Reserve 1 cup mixture; set aside. Spread remaining chocolate mixture onto bottom of prepared pan. Freeze until set (about 30 minutes).

Meanwhile, combine pudding mix, 1/4 cup melted butter, amaretto, milk & vanilla in large bowl; stir until well mixed. Add powdered sugar; beat at medium speed until smooth. Spread filling mixture over chocolate mixture in pan. Carefully pour reserved chocolate mixture over filling. Freeze until set (about 30 minutes).

Lift bars out of pan using foil; cut into tiny 1/2" x 1" bars. Lightly sprinkle top of bars with cocoa. To serve, place bars in mini paper liners. Store in refrigerator. Makes at least 50 if you cut them small.

*Substitute 3 tablespoons milk plus 1 teaspoon almond extract.

My Thoughts:

I was a bit worried when I poured the 1st layer of chocolate & saw how thin it was. But fear not, after I tasted this rich indulgence I was thankful. And while I did have the cocoa in house I didn't use it. Oh, and I may have added about 1 tsp more of Amaretto liquer. I bought the tiny little bottles like you would get on an airplane & there was just a little left. I had already put enough in my coffee so I added it to the dessert. I will do the same next time!

Click Here to Print Recipe

For More Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays Please Visit Lisa at Blessed with Grace!

A Magical Christmas, Then PHD

Post Holiday Depression. I get it. A mild case but it's still there. After 5 days of being home, I teared up this morning saying goodbye to Tristan. And he cried when I dropped him off at school. Neither of us wanted to let go. My caffeinated Christmas Blend intravenous has been depleted & it's time to get back to reality. Well, a different kind of reality.

My Dad says to revel in the celebration I shared with my family & what a truly wonderful Christmas we had. So today I post what may be a silly pic but this captures an hour I spent on Christmas morning, preparing for dinner for 11, specifically breading zucchini, when I was extremely happy & feeling blessed by everything around me. I need this right now as I am sitting here at my desk back.at.work.

I don't want to forget how I felt when I took this pic. Instead of my usual - rushing through the process while standing on already tired legs - I sat myself in a chair & SLOWED DOWN. I reveled in the reason I was doing it in the first place & I thought about all my blessings, big & small. I turned on the Christmas music, shouted out to Tristan how much I loved him & enjoyed a mimosa. I also thanked myself for the things I did differently this year in my planning which helped alleviate a lot of stress. See tips below.

*** *** *** *** ***

  • Clear off anything on your kitchen counters you will not need i.e. toaster, bread basket, cannisters. Even the coffee pot since you can bring it back later for dessert time. Use one cleared space for the bar area. Another cleared space will be your general prepping & cleanup area.
  • Make a promise with your spouse to only be helpful with one another, especially during the high peak prepping moments. If either asks the other for help, there should be only 1 of 2 answers i.e. "Give me 5 minutes honey & I am all yours" or "Sure thing." The thing not to say is "Okaaaaaayyyyy, after I finish ALL the other things you asked me to do."
  • For any prep work that takes more than 15 minutes, line up everything you need on the counter & then SIT down to do it. Your legs & feet will be happier for it & so will you!
  • Take 20 minutes for yourself to re-group & create a timeline for all of your prepping i.e. pre-heat oven times as well as durations. This way, you don't have recipe books or papers lying around.
  • Budget an hour into your timeline for yourself, to shower & dress without rushing.
Tips on How to Beat Post Holiday Depression, Visit here.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas

The prep work has begun & there are no more trips to the grocery store in the immediate future.  And this evening holds the scent of Honey Ricotta Cheesecake & Pumpkin Crisp wafting through the air. So, I just want to keep it simple & say Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

A little funny to go with your cocktail!

And a lotta cute to go with Christmas!

Simple centerpieces.

A last minute effort to find space for cards ends up working out just fine.

No school for the little guy makes for a playful day!

Brought to you by Angie & Wordful Wednesdays from:

JOY & Hot Apple Cider with Rum

It's official. I am feeling a charge of positive energy during my favorite time of year. The adrenalive IV with a nice caffeinated Christmas Blend is dripping away & I am looking forward to celebrating HIS birthday with the people I love most. It's a celebration & I have not forgotten the true meaning of why we do all of this.

And just as in the other times of year when I am preparing to eat & drink merrily with those around me, I get excited about the little things that make celebrating all the more JOYful!

In the midst of mopping, deep cleaning, grocery list modifying & creating a timeline for my dinner preparation, I stopped for a few minutes last night to do just that, STOP, & then let the creative juices flow.

I originally bought these jars for chocolate sauce but I ruined the lids, which contained a plastic ring, when I put them in boiling water to sterilize. Oops. So, I just glued on a sticker of Joy, tied on a little ribbon, added water & a tea light. These will be perfect for a fun dessert table Christmas evening.

Because I feel like I have been slacking in the actual food department here, I wanted to make up for it. And since sharing a recipe for pork in a crockpot hardly feels festive, here is a recipe for Hot Apple Cider with Rum that I have made in Christmas past. It's delicious and the rum is optional! For me, not so much....


1 apple
2 teaspoons whole cloves
1 orange, thinly sliced
2 quarts apple cider
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon allspice
Pinch grated nutmeg
1 cup dark rum
Cinnamon sticks, garnish

Stud the apple with the cloves. In a medium pot, combine the studded apple and remaining ingredients except the rum. Slowly bring to a simmer over low heat. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the rum. Discard the apple. Ladle into mugs and garnish each with a cinnamon stick. Serve immediately.

For More Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays please visit Lisa at Blessed with Grace

Monday, December 22, 2008

Chocolate Hazelnut Sauce

This weekend was the reprieve I needed before the craziness begins these next few days. I took a quick trip to Ft. Lauderdale to surprise my sister for a 40th birthday dinner arranged by her beau, at the very popular LaBamba. I highly recommend this place if you have one near you. The skirt steak was to die for!!!

My BFF Tammy & I spent a couple of hours yesterday evening at one of my favorite spots in our downtown area. A coffee & wine bar with the most charming of atmospheres. We shared a bottle of wine as we exchanged our gifts. Most of it was food-related of course & part of her gift box included this jar of chocolate hazelnut sauce I made. So quick & easy to make, it lasts up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator. So if you're looking for a last minute gift idea, this is a good one!

2/3 cup fat free chocolate syrup
1/4 cup chocolate hazelnut spread, such as Nutella

Stir chocolate syrup & Nutella together in a small saucepan over low heat until smooth & warm. Serve at room temperature. If giving as a gift, cover & refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

My Thoughts:

I tripled this in order to fill a pint sized mason jar. I also learned that when decorating these jars with fabric it really is easier & nicer to use a square shaped piece rather than a circle. Since this sauce lasts for a certain amount of time I wrote the date it will be good until.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Cakes Baked in Jars & Chocolate Dipped Pretzels

When I saw this idea over at Mommy's Kitchen to bake cakes in jars I knew I had to try it. It's the one thing I really wanted to do for gift giving but kept putting off for some reason. In hopes of spreading around the idea even further, in time for Christmas next week, I pushed myself to make these last night along with some chocolate covered pretzels for my son's PJ Christmas party at school & gifts for the teachers.

The night was perfect. Christmas music playing, lights dimly lit, a vodka & tonic in hand & just me & my mason jars. Although I am only on 4 1/2 hours of sleep, it was worth it. A feeling of accomplishment waved in after a week of being overwhelmed. Now I just have to clean the chocolate off my walls. You can see more cake in jar recipes here, including Pumpkin Bread & Banana Nut. Awesome idea, huh?!?! See here for more storage & sealing tips . Cakes last for a while unrefrigerated.


8 pint size mason jars with no neck
2/3 cup shortening
4 eggs
2/3 cup water
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cloves
2 2/3 cups sugar
2 cups applesauce
3 1/3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
2/3 cup nuts or raisins

Sterilize jars in boiling water. Dry & grease the insides very well with shortening. Do not use cooking spray. You can sterilize the rings & lids while cakes are cooking.

Cream together shortening & sugar, beat in eggs one at a time. Add applesauce & water. Sift flour, baking powder, soda, salt & spices. Add to mixture & stir in nuts. Fill jars half full with batter. Place jars on a baking sheet & bake for 325 for 40-45 minutes. Don't be alarmed if the cake rises above the rim of the jar it will go down when removed from the oven.

When the cakes are done remove from the oven wipe rims clean. While still hot add a lid & then screw on the jar ring. The jar will seal as it cools down. Store in cupboard. Recipe yields 8 pint size jars. Wrap a pretty fabric & ribbon around the jars with a tag & they are ready to give as gifts.

My Thoughts:

I used craisins & walnuts in my cakes but you can use what you like. This recipe yielded 8 jars for me & they did not rise above the rim of the jar. One thing I will do better next time is pour the batter into the jars more neatly. It was hard to get off the rim once it hardens. But I did test one & it was delicious & moist. Slid right out of the jar!!!!!

{Click Here to Print Recipe}


8 oz milk chocolate, broken into pieces
Toppings: flaked coconut, green, red & white sprinkles
12 oz bag pretzel rods (8 in long)

Place chocolate in microwave safe 1-cup measuring cup. Heat, covered with wax paper, in microwave for 45 seconds. Stir & heat 20 more seconds until it is fully melted. Dip & twirl pretzels in chocolate one at a time, tipping cup to cover about half of the pretzel rod. Allow excess to drip back into cup. Sprinkle on your topping & place rod in a pie plate or baking sheet, leaning uncoated portion on egde.

Refrigerate about 20 minutes to set coating. Store in tightly sealed container with waxed paper between layers, at room temp up to 1 week.

My Thoughts:

Using the 1 cup measuring cup was totally key for me. The little spout was extremely helpful in allowing a little more chocolate on the pretzel. If the chocolate hardens a bit just place in microwave for 10 seconds. I used the milk chocolate chips. This makes about 30 pretzels.

{Click Here to Print Recipe}

*** *** ***

Have a great weekend everyone. I don't know about you but I am aiming for some quiet time & a short reprieve before the lovely craziness sets in again next week as I prepare a Christmas dinner for 10.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Peach Trifle

This here is one of my most favorite desserts. It's from the Southern Cross Ranch cookbook, a place we stayed at last year in Madison, Georgia for our anniversary. I've made it a few times & it's just delicious!!!! I made it again last night for my place of work's potluck today. It's perfect for Christmas & the holidays to offset all the chocolate that goes 'round.

1 yellow cake, baked in a 9x13 dish
1/2 cup raspberry jam
1/4 cup brandy
2 cups whipping cream, whipped with sugar & vanilla extract added
1 large pkg Instant Vanilla pudding, prepared
1 28oz can sliced peaches, drained

In a large trifle bowl or oval dish, start with a layer of cake. Using a brush, dab some brandy over the cake. Then spread a layer of jam followed by a layer of peaches & then pudding. Repeat & then top with whipped cream. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

My Thoughts:

I like my cake layers a little thinner then how it comes out baked so I slice a little off & use the scraps to fill in some gaps if needed. I don't measure the jam but it comes out to half of a 16oz jar. You don't have to be perfect with the jam since it doesn't spread so easily.

For the whipping cream, I use an electric mixer to beat the cream until peaks form, about 2-3 minutes. FOLD in 1 tsp of vanilla & a bit of sugar for your preferred sweetness. Or you can buy store bought. As for the peaches, I slice them once more since they're still too thick for my liking. But that's personal preference.

Depending on the dish you use for this you may have leftover cake, pudding & cream. Although this is called a trifle dessert I almost prefer making it in a regular dish, more shallow & much wider than a trifle dish. As you can see from the pic, the view isn't all that perfect since I didn't get the jam all the way to the ends. No matter what you do or how you do it, the combined flavors make for a scrumptious dessert!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

SWEET Little Touches - A Wordful Wednesday

Wrapping existing wall pictures to decorate the spare bathroom.

Making something sweet even sweeter with little decorative touches. Just wrap a candy bar in wrapping paper of your choice, then decorate with Christmas stickers & ribbon/raffeta.

A couple more homemade spice bottles & warm reminders of what's what for guests & their coffee on Christmas Day.

And a successful 1st try at homemade fudge.

While I am not big into chocolate I thought I would make some of this to test run it for Christmas! What was surprising is the mild cherry flavor. Maybe it comes from the almond extract combined with other flavors. My only suggestion would be to add a smidgen more toffee & pecans, increasing to no more than 1/2 cup for each.


1 tsp butter
1 pkg 8 oz cream cheese, softened
3 3/4 cups confectioners sugar
6 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted & cooled
1/4 tsp almond extract
Dash salt
1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/4 cup English toffee bits

Line a 9 in square pan with foil & grease the foil well with butter; set aside. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually beat in confectioners sugar about a 1/2 cup at a time. Add the melted chocolate, extract & salt. Mixture will be very thick. I was almost worried at this point. Mix well. 

Stir in the pecans & toffee bits. Spread into prepared pan. You may need to even use your fingers to pat it out, it's so thick. Scatter a bit more pecan chips and toffee bits, if desired. 

Cover and refrigerate overnight or until firm. Using foil, lift fudge out of pan and gently peel off foil. Cut fudge into 1 in squares. Store in airtight container in the fridge.

Brought to you by Angie & Wordful Wednesdays from:

Cream Cheese Stuffed Jalapenos & Secret Santas

I have seen these around for awhile & thought it was time to try them this past weekend. With only 3 ingredients, they were easy & excellent! I'm even debating whether these will be an appetizer for Christmas. The bacon really pulls it all together but beware, if you don't like the heat, step away from the peppers. In my thoughts below I have linked to a very short story about an extremely painful experience I had when I first worked with these little peppers. I laugh about it now. Now.

Please visit Lisa at Blessed with Grace for more Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays!

10 jalapeno peppers, halved & seeded
1 8oz pkg cream cheese, softened (may only use 1/2)
1 package regular bacon, cut into halves

Halve jalapenos & take out all seeds. The more you leave behind the hotter these will be. I do this with a 1/4 tsp measurer which fits perfectly. Be careful not to come iAdd Imagen direct contact with the seeds & oils on the inside of the pepper. Stuff each half with about a teaspoon of cream cheese. You don't need too much. Wrap with a half piece of bacon & secure with toothpick.

Cook in pre-heated oven at 350 degrees until bacon in done, about 20 minutes. If bacon needs to crisp up a bit more then put under the broiler for 1-2 minutes as you don't want to overcook the peppers. Mine were done in 20 minutes in the oven & 2 minutes under the broiler.

My Thoughts

Be careful! I had a personal experience with very bad burns from jalapenos when I first worked with them 6 years ago. Read the short story here. Also, when wrapping the pepper with bacon, try not to overlap the layers. This way, the bacon cooks evenly & there is more than just one strip on top of the pepper.

Click Here to Print Recipe

*** *** *** ***


For more Secret Santa stories, please visit Kori who coordinated this entire shindig. Thanks Kori!

I also wanted to share what my Secret Santa sent me for Christmas. When I opened the box this weekend, each present was individually wrapped & they seemed to keep coming & coming. Thank you so much Alicia, over at Yaya Stuff. I was in kitchen heaven.

A Rachel Ray recipe book I have already marked up, mini snowman & Christmas tree silicone baking pans I have already used for banana bread, cookie cutters, recipe cards, baking sprinkles, Christmas themed mitt, potholder, dishtowel, spatula & whisk, initialed pad, magnetic grocery list.

I loved it all so much that I started putting a lot to use & just realized what's missing here is the LAUGH sign I already put up in my spare bedroom. Alicia aka Yaya put a little note on it saying that's all that seemed to be missing within my LIVE.LOVE.EAT. So true.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Lo Mein with Stir Fry Vegetables

Hi all. The upside to being sick is getting better, and with a vengeance! I think my bedroom is the cleanest room in America. The carpet was steam cleaned & dust was eliminated from every single surface including fan, walls, curtain rods & above the door trims. It even smells & feels healthier.

And speaking of healthy, I found this recipe in a magazine & knew I wanted to make it right away. But instead of using napa cabbage, carrots & Teriyaki I changed it up to suit our tastes better. It was really good & even better over the next day or two!

8 oz thin spaghetti
3 tblsp vegetable oil
1 lb ground chicken
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 green onions (scallions), thinly sliced including white parts
1 pkg sliced white mushrooms
1 pkg broccoli slaw
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 cup water
1 jar Thai Chili Sauce

Cook spaghetti as directed. Set aside. In 12 inch skillet heat 1 tblsp oil on medium high until hot. Add chicken & 1/8 tsp of salt. Cook until no longer pink, stirring occasionally. Transfer to bowl with slotted spoon. To the drippings in skillet, add garlic, scallions & 1 tblsp of oil. Cook 1 minute. Stir in mushrooms, cook 5 minutes. Add broccoli slaw & ground ginger. Cook for 5 minutes until veggies are tender, stirring often. Add the remaining tblsp of oil if needed.

Add Thai chili sauce, spaghetti & chicken to the veggie mixture. Cook 2 minutes to blend flavors & heat through.

My Thoughts:

I changed the original recipe so much to get to what is above so I really have no additional thoughts. If you're not a mushroom lover, these can be substituted with red & green peppers. Teriyaki sauce can also be used in place of the Thai chili sauce. This dish was awesome as lunch for the next 2 days.

Click Here to Print Recipe

And for a little sweetness to round out the meal...

Photo of Tristan by the fireplace, used for this year's Christmas card.
Tristan (right) & friend Angel on last week's playdate.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Spice Up Someone's Holiday

Thank you to those who checked in with me yesterday. I stayed home sick from work with a variety of issues so I did nothing but rest, watch my shows, nap & finally watch Sex & the City. Awesome movie although I have never & will never understand the fashion trends they started. Anyway, I can't even label what's wrong with me at the moment. Neck pain, sore throat, headache. Just fun stuff.

Anyway, here is one of my first homemade goodies I wanted to share with you. While I've given the recipe for this Tuscan Spice Rub to a few who have requested it, I also wanted to share how I am presenting it. It's so simple & hardly takes a crafty person to pull it together yet I am so happy with how it came out. In under 25 minutes this became a gift that will put a smile on someone's face!

I sterilized a small empty wine bottle, filled it with a variety of spices & herbs. The reindeer came from an old Christmas card I had & just pulled off, so it already had a square sticker that gives it a little dimension. The square frame & tag came from a package of self-adhesive glitter clears from Target. Brand name is Falala. Some have holes for tagging & others just stick on for decorations. They were perfect for this.


1 tablespoon fennel seeds
6 tablespoons dried basil
3 tablespoons garlic powder
3 tablespoons coarse salt
2 tablespoons dried rosemary
2 tablespoons dried oregano

Grind fennel seeds in a spice grinder (such as a clean coffee grinder) or a mortar and pestle until coarsely ground. Combine with basil, garlic powder, salt, rosemary and oregano in a small bowl. Place in a nice jar. Makes approximately 1 cup. Use on chicken, salmon or lamb. Keep for up to 6 months.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone. I will see you around today but I also plan to stay home & rest more!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Beautiful Buffet

Today's Wordful Wednesday is a hodge podge of things I want to share. Life's Buffet, the things I'm diggin'. I try to keep things simple on recipe days to avoid much too lengthy posts, so Wednesdays are a good day for me to deviate, to give you more of me & what's behind the apron. Not that you asked or anything.....hah.

Getting an unexpected little treat in the mail from not just a bloggy friend but also simply a ...

Thank you Kacey!

And remember the island I was waiting for? It came a while back & I'm loving it!

Scary Mommy sent me that cute little dishtowel after I entered a contest I didn't even win. Thanks again Scary Mommy!!! The Island wanted to dress up for the holidays...

Tristan's 1st tree. What fun not to have any rules. Anything goes on this one unlike the formal one in the living room. Both favorites but for different reasons!

Lovely handmade organic soap made by the amazingly talented Nazarina over at Giddy Gastranome. These will make perfect additions to homemade goodies in a gift basket! Thank you Nazarina. Go visit her here ! Everything she makes is beautiful & with lots of care & love.

The perfect Poinsetta to dress up the dining room!

And lastly, perfecting my newly acquired napkin folding skills for my Christmas table setting. Decisions, decisions. The one on the left or the one on the right? Visit here to see how you can fold napkins for your next gathering.

Brought to you by Angie & Wordful Wednesdays from:

Thai One On

We love Thai food. Just went out for it last night actually in our quaint little downtown area. But a couple of weekends ago, these 2 recipes from 2 ladies made for a very nice dinner at home. Thai Turkey Tacos from Newlyweds & Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts from Pam at For the Love of Cooking. These were simple & quick enough even for a weeknight meal & the tastes can be adjusted easily whether or not you're looking for a little more heat.


2 cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise & seeds removed
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1/2 cup of water
3 tblsp sugar
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
2 tblsp minced sweet yellow onion or red onion
1 tblsp chopped dry roasted peanuts

Peel the cucumber then cut in half lengthwise. Take a small spoon & scoop out the seeds from the cucumber. Cut into bite size pieces & place in a colander, sprinkle with salt & toss well. Drain 1 hour. Rinse & pat dry on paper towels.

Combine vinegar, water, sugar & pepper in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cook until reduced to 1/3 cut (about 10 minutes). Remove vinegar reduction from heat; cool. Stir in onion. Combine cucumbers & vinegar deduction in a medium bowl; toss well. Sprinkle with peanuts.

My Thoughts:

I didn't have much time so I didn't drain the cucumbers for that long & I also didn't rinse them. I did just pat them a bit to get off any excess salt. But the idea is that the salt draws out the excess water in the cukes & then you want to rinse them & pat them dry. I do this with zucchini when I am making stuffed zucchini boats. I also added a tad more crushed red pepper & peanuts because Terry likes it with a little heat.

Click Here to Print Recipe


1 lb. ground turkey
2 T grated ginger or ¼ tsp dry ginger
2 garlic cloves, peeled & crushed
1 small onion, thinly sliced
16oz pkg coleslaw mix with carrots
Cilantro for garnish
Thai Cooking Sauce below
Combine: 2 tsp sesame oil, 6 tblsp of soy sauce, 4 tblsp of lime juice, 2 tblsp of honey, 1 tsp of crushed red pepper, 1 tblsp of ground coriander or cumin

Heat a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add turkey; cook, crumble & stir until meat is no longer pink, about 3-4 minutes. Add ginger, garlic, onion & slaw mix; stir-fry with meat for 2 minutes until vegetables are wilted. Add Thai cooking sauce, stirring constantly to blend all ingredients, about one minute. Serve on warm tortillas & garnish with cilantro.

My Thoughts:

We really enjoyed this for a healthy meal but there needs to be more texture to the filling, more of a crunch. So, next time I plan to add some more slaw mix once everything has been combined so it doesn't become wilted. And definitely a dollop of sour cream & perhaps some diced tomatoes.

Click Here to Print Recipe

For more Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays visit

Lisa at Blessed with Grace

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Little Sweetness

Go give her some birthday wishes!
That's what this weekend was, sweet! It was balanced & it was lovely, not to mention the weather is just so invigorating here in FL right now. The Christmas show at the church was nothing short of spectacular. A real heartfelt reminder of the reason for this season. And while Tristan played with an old friend on his playdate, I made a new one! We have known Angel & his mom Tanya for awhile but this was the first time we got together, just the 4 of us, & it was a wonderful thing!!

So, to celebrate all the sweetness here is some banana bread I made Saturday morning. I found this recipe from Emeril where he had 188 reviews & a 5 star rating so I was intrigued. It had a great banana taste without it being too sweet! Perfect for breakfast or snack. Everyone loved it.


10 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon butter
2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 4 bananas)
1/2 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup toasted, chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9 1/4 by 5 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan with 1 teaspoon of the butter. Puree the bananas, sour cream, eggs & vanilla in a bowl using a mixer. Sift the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder & salt into another bowl. Add the remaining 10 tablespoons butter & mix on medium-low speed until blended, about 30 seconds. Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture in 3 batches, scraping the sides of the bowl & mixing on medium speed between each addition. Fold in the nuts.

Pour into the loaf pan. Bake until lightly browned & bread bounces back to the touch, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Remove from the oven & cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto wire rack to cool completely.

My Thoughts:

I made this in a bundt pan for looks & it only took 35-38 minutes. I question the time above, even for a loaf pan, so keep checking after 40 minutes if you're using one. I also sprinkled mine with a little confectioners sugar for presentation.

Click Here to Print Recipe

I also made this sangria for our playdate because I know Tanya loves red wine. We noshed on a couple of appetizers, watched the boys play in the bounce house, & sipped our sangria as we constantly digressed from one thing to another. A sign of a great conversation. Like the banana bread, this had the perfect amount of sweetness without going overboard!

1 orange, sliced
1 orange, juiced
1 lemon, sliced
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup Cointreau or Triple Sec
750 ml Red Wine

In a pitcher, combine the sliced orange, sliced lemon & sugar. Mash gently until sugar is slightly dissolved. Add orange juice, Cointreau & red wine. Mix well & let sit in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.

When ready to serve, pour over ice & garnish with a lemon or orange slice. Or top off with some club soda for a little spritzer.

My Thoughts:

I used Carlo Rossi Burgundy for this recipe. For a cheap wine, we enjoy it very much so it goes to show that expensive wine isn't always better. You can add any fruit you like to this sangria. All you need is a friend to sip it with & enjoy!

Click Here to Print Recipe

Friday, December 5, 2008

Meet Me In Charleston

Scallops Charleston that is. This recipe by Paula Deen has been on my list to try for quite some time. Last week when family was over, I made it as an appetizer rather than the main dish it was intended to be in the recipe & it went over well. I love scallops so this was a nice treat & would also be perfect as an appetizer for Christmas.

1 1/4 lbs fresh sea scallops
Salt & pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Flour, for dusting
3/4 cup sherry or dry white wine
1 shallot, finely chopped
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup grated Gruyere

Season scallops with salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika & basil. I didn't measure these but just made sure each scallop had seasoning. Dust scallops with flour. Saute in a pan that has been lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray & a small amount of olive oil. Cook scallops on both sides until browned. Remove scallops from pan. To the drippings in the pan, add sherry, shallots & mushrooms; cook for approximately 3 to 4 minutes.

In a separate saucepan, melt butter over medium heat & add 3 tablespoons flour. Mix well & cook for 2 minutes over low heat, stirring constantly (may be too thick to even "stir" but just go with it), Pour shallots, mushrooms & liquid from scallops into flour mixture. Mix well. Stir scallops into sauce. (If too thick**, you can thin with clam juice or fish or chicken stock.)

Transfer to 4 individual baking dishes, top with cheese & broil for 1 minute, until browned. Serve with wild rice. Or as an appetizer, serve with slices of a fresh baguette.

My Thoughts:

The flour & butter mixture was definitely thick. I actually felt that it was too much flour for the butter so I increased the butter from 2 to 3 tblsp. And after stirring everything together I added some chicken stock & mixed it very well. Just roll with it & if once everything is combined it is too thick add some liquid. The process was a bit weird for a minute there but the result was worth it.

I also made this as one appetizer in a round casserole dish rather than individual dishes but either way would work. I use Gruyere, which is insanely expensive, but use Swiss if you'd like. And if you hate mushrooms you can easily omit them without taking away from the dish.

Click Here to Print Recipe

Hope everyone has a nice weekend. Ours will be a busy & festive one, already kicked off by Tristan's Christmas show last night. He was awesome as a Wiseman in what marked his 5th & final program at his school. Tonight we will watch our beautiful little town light up for the holidays & tomorrow is our church's annual Singing Christmas Trees Show (above) which has been going on for over 30 years. It is quite the event with two 40ft Christmas trees!

And to cap off the exciting weekend, we have our 6th year wedding anniversary on the 7th but in the morning Tristan will have his 1st ever official playdate with another boy at our house. We've had playdates with his girlfriends over the years but I never found a chemistry with both another boy & his mom until now. We plan to put up the bounce house, perfect for 2 boys, & share in some sangria once it hits noon. Or 11:50. Have a great weekend all!!!!!