Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Do More of What Makes You Happy!!! :)

I'M BACK!!!  After alot of soul searching and working through some things....it feels good to be back on track!!!  I need to concentrate on what's REALLY important and put all the other "stuff" in the trash!!!

As soon as I saw this quote today, I knew it was something I needed to remember so I wrote on the blackboard in the kitchen:

I'm looking forward to alot of great things coming up in the next few months.....spelling bees, concerts, 2 graduations, the list goes on and on....and these are the things that make me HAPPY...so from here on out that's what I'm focusing on....well, that and FOOD.....after all we all need to eat!!!  :)

And speaking of food...I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do for dinner tonight (I HATE when that happens) until I was walking through the grocery store after work and finally came up with a plan (nothing like waiting til the last minute)... and in the end the plan came together (I LOVE when that happens)!!!  The decision was made:  Top round roast braised in red wine, creamy polenta with red wine mushroom gravy and roasted brussel sprouts, carrots and asparagus!!!  So yummy and so easy!!!

I started by searing a 4 lb. top round roast in a skillet.  When seared on all sides I transferred it to a deeper oven-safe pan and added about 1/2 a bottle of red wine. The roast should be submerged about half way in the wine. Cover and put in the oven at 350 degrees and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours depending on the size of the roast and the doneness you're looking for.  Let the roast rest for about 20 minutes after you take it out of the oven.

While the roast is cooking, you can get your veggies prepped and ready to go in the oven:
I toss my veggies in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper and roast in the oven at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes or until tender.  

While my veggies are cooking I made my red wine mushroom gravy (I added some beef stock & sliced mushrooms to the wine)
I brought the liquid to a boil and thickened it with a slurry of cornstarch and water

...And the final result.....I served ours with polenta, but mashed potatoes would be delicious too!!!
So Yummy!!!

'Til Next Time...


linking to:


Good Morning Friends...I seem to have lost my focus the last couple of days!!!  I'm not really sure what happened or how it happened (well, I'd rather not talk about it)!!!  So, I'll be spending the day thinking positive thoughts,  focusing on what is really important to me (my family, my friends, my faith) and trying to put the negativity behind me (some people just bring it out in me)!!

Right now I'm going to drink my coffee, listen to the birds singing outside my window and watch the sun come up on what promises to be a wonderful day....I'll be back later with my regular food post, but for now I'd like to share some pics of my flower gardens from last spring and summer, just because we could all use a little prettiness in our lives...I'm looking forward to planning my garden for this season!!!!


Lillies....My Favorite!!!

And...Our Pond..So peaceful to sit and listen to the water!!!

Have A Glorious Day!!!

'Til Next Time...


Monday, February 27, 2012

Happy Monday...Really?!?!?!

Happy Monday Everyone....yes, I really said "Happy Monday"!!!  Those are two words that are not usually used in the same sentence, but I'm trying to keep that positive attitude thing going here!!!  LOL

There's nothing like a little comfort food to soothe you after a long and busy day...so tonight it's just a simple bowl of chili and some corn muffins...I won't bother with the recipe tonight,'cause let's face it, everybody has their own favorite chili recipe and mine is my families favorite, at least that's what they tell me!! (they all voted for me in the chili cook-off)!!  :)

So I'm going to go enjoy my dinner and I hope you do the same!!!

Here's a little peak at the granola I made!!!

"Til Next Time...


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Vacation is Over Already???

It's back to work tomorrow morning after nine days off and as much as I've enjoyed being home, I'm looking forward to getting back to my normal routine!!!  I got alot accomplished in the last 9 days....but my favorite thing, by far, was being able to spend time with my family ....it doesn't get any better than that!!!

Now it's time to relax and maybe watch a movie!!!

Before I leave here's a little peak at what we had for Sunday Supper...Pan Seared Scallops and Lemon Orzo pasta with asparagus and tomatoes!!!

Pan Seared Scallops

1 lb. (12-14) sea scallops
salt and pepper
2 Tblsp. butter

Lay scallops between two paper towles and pat dry, season with salt and pepper on both sides.

In a shallow skillet, melt butter and place scallops in a single layer, do not over crowd pan.  Sear scallops on each side for 2 minutes. Remove from pan to a plate and cover with foil.  Repeat for the rest of the scallops.

Lemon Orzo pasta with asparagus and tomatoes

12 oz. Orzo 
1 large bunch of fresh asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved

In one pot, bring salted water to a boil and blanch the asparagus, about 2 to 3 minutes.  When the asparagus is tender, remove from the boiling water and place in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.

In another pot, boil water and add orzo, cook per package instructions. When tender, drain and place in a large bowl.  Add tomatoes and blanched asparagus.

For the dressing:

1 lemon, zested and juiced
4 Tblsp Olive Oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tblsp parsley
salt & pepper

In a small bowl, mix Lemon zest, juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and parsley
Stir together and add to orzo, asparagus and tomatoes.  Stir well.

This dish can be served warm or cold!!!

And there you have it...I hope you enjoyed your weekend as much as I enjoyed mine!!!

"Til Next Time...


Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Quick Trip....and 2 Sweet Recipes!!!

Good Morning All!!!  Well, we're back from our little trip and I must say, it's was a pretty amazing couple of days!!!  It always makes me happy to see my girls doing so well....makes the distance a little more bearable!!!  Anywho...before I left I promised some friends I would post the recipes for the desserts I brought to Daughter #2 and I might add they were a hit!!!  So here goes...the first one is Mini Cannoli Cups...super simple, kind of a semi-homemade recipe:

Mini Cannoli Cream Cups

for the Filling (make this first, that way it has time to set up a little in the fridge):

1 (15 oz.) Ricotta cheese, whole milk
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 Tblsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and, with an electric mixer, mix until creamy. Cover, and place the bowl in the refrigerator.  Filling will seem thin but will firm up slightly when refrigerated.

For the Cups:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Flour for dusting
1 pkg. refrigerated pie crust (see I told you it was easy)
3 Tblsp. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Unroll the pie crusts onto a lightly floured surface and sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon on the top of each crust.  Lightly roll over the crust to press the sugar mixture into the crust.  Using a 2 1/2 to 3 inch round cookie or biscuit cutter, cut out the crusts and put into mini muffin pans.  Bake for 10 minutes or until the crusts are crisp.  Remove crusts from tin to cooling rack and let cool completely before filling.

When crusts are cooled fill with the prepared filling (by spoonful or pastry bag) and refrigerate until cream has completely firmed up (about 2 hours)

Top with raspberries, mini chocolate chips or topping of your choice!!!

Recipe #2....Spicy Chocolate Brownies with Chocolate buttercream frosting...I am in love with this frosting...It's one of the easiest and tastiest frostings I have ever made!!!

linking these little beauties to:  http://kristenscreationsonline.blogspot.com, http://asimplyklassichome.blogspot.com, http://bringingbeauty.blogspot.com, http://ourdelightfulhome.blogspot.com, http://www.eatprayreadlove.com     

Spicy Chocolate Brownies

3/4 cup butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 unsweetened cocoa powder
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 to 2 tsp. cinnamon (you could always add more if you want)
A small dash of cayenne pepper or ground black pepper (optional)
1 cup milk
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 15x10x1 baking pan; set aside.

In a large microwave safe bowl melt butter. Stir in sugar and cocoa powder until combined. Add eggs and vanilla. Unsing a wooden spoon, beat mixture lightly just until combined.

In a small bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and pepper (if using). Alternately add flour mixture and milk to the chocolate mixture, beating after each mixture. Stir in walnuts (if using)

Pour batter into pan. Bake 16 to 18 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for at least 2 hours. Frost.

Chocolate Buttercream frosting:

1/2 cup heavy cream, at room temp.
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 stick butter, at room temp, cut into 1/2 pieces
2 Tblsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup confectionfers sugar

Place cream and chocolate chips in a meduim bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and refrigerate until thick, 20 minutes. Add the butter and cocoa powder and beat the mixture on high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 min. Spread the butter cream over the cooled brownies. Dust with cinnamon (optional) and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.


"Til Next Time...


Thursday, February 23, 2012

I'm Outta' Here.....for a couple of days!!

I'm hitting the road for a couple of days...off to see Daughter #2 and bing her some yummy goodies!!!  But, before I go, just wanted to leave you with a recipe that tastes as good as it looks.....Skillet Lemon Rosemary Chicken with pan roasted baby red potatoes and baby bella mushrooms...Mmmmm!!!

Skillet Lemon Rosemary Chicken

3/4 to 1 lb. baby red potatoes, halved or quartered, depending on the size
Kosher Salt
2 large springs of Rosemary, plus 2 Tblsp of the leaves
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Juice of 2 lemons (squeezed and halves reserved)
2 Tblsp. olive oil, plus some to drizzle in the pan
4 Chicken breasts (bone-in, skin-on)
10 oz. baby bella or crimini mushrooms, cut in half

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Clean and cut potatoes, put in sauce pan, cover with water and bring to a boil over med-high heat and cook until tender, about 8 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

Season both sides of the chicken and
in a large cast iron skillet, or other large skillet, drizzled with olive oil, brown both sides of the chicken until the skin is very crispy.  Remove from skillet to a plate and set aside.

Pile rosemary leaves, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes on a cutting board and mince together until very fine.  Transfer this mixture to a  bowl and stir in the juice of 1 lemon and the olive oil.

Add potatoes and mushrooms to the skillet and place the chicken on top of the potatoes and mushrooms and drizzle with the rosemary, garlic and crushed red pepper mixture, making sure to evenly coat each piece of chicken and squeeze the remaining half of the lemon over the chicken.

Add the 2 large rosemary sprigs and squeezed lemon halves to the skillet and place the skillet in the oven and roast, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through.  About 20-30 minutes.

Serve right from the skillet and don't forget to get some of the pan juices when serving the potatoes and mushrooms!!!


'Til Next Time...

I'm linking to WOW us Wednesday at http://savvysouthernstyle.blogspot.com

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Read any good books lately???

I have!!!  Right now I'm reading "Lunch in Paris" by Elizabeth Bard and the describing words on the cover say it all "A Love Story with Recipes"!!!   I was hooked on this book from page one...the story is truly a romance in every sense of the word and the recipes are an added bonus!!!....Oh, did I mention that this is the 2nd time I'm reading this book...yes, it's that good!!!...and this time around I will definitely be trying some of the recipes!!!

You might notice if you continue reading this post that alot of my reading material, in some way or other, has food involved!!!  I know, BIG surprise!!!  But let me tell you the stories in these books are truly worth reading!!!!

Marlena De Blasi is another author that I was unfamiliar with until I came across her books on Amazon.com and once I read the descriptions I knew they were something I needed to read and I was not disappointed!!  If you get a chance go to Amazon.com and check them out.  Oh, did I mention that in addition to being a wonderful author she is also a Chef!!!

I first became interested in "Eat, Pray, Love" when the movie came out and saw that Julie Roberts was playing the main character....and it didn't hurt that it had the word "Eat" in the title!!!  LOL  Now I will admit that I started reading this book twice before it actually caught my attention enough to keep me reading, but once I got into it, it was an amazing story of Elizabeth Gilbert's life journey!!!  Definitely glad I gave it a 2nd chance!!!

Now, I know that these types of books aren't for everyone...but then again, I don't really care for mysteries or thrillers....give me a GOOD story, especially one with food involved, and I'm gonna give it a shot!!!

I've already got my next 2 books lined up and I'm hoping to find them on my next trip to the book store, because I don't want to wait to have them shipped.  I found these books on Pinterest (I LOVE Pinterest) and checked them out on Amazon and they definitely look like my kind of read..."The School of Essential Ingredients" by Erica Bauermeister and "The Art of Simple Food" by Alice Waters....if you're still interested I'll let you know how these ones are or you could check them out for yourself!!!

'Til next time...


Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Happy "Fat Tuesday" Everyone!!!...the official kick off to Mardi Gras and Lent.  Not quite sure what I may be giving up for Lent this year...any suggestions???

Today was day 4 (already) of my 9 day vacation and the first day I've ventured out of the house!!!   Did a little shopping, saw some friends...all in all a good day...hope the next 5 days goes by slowly!!! Of course, I also spent some serious time in the kitchen.....I thought I'd honor "Fat Tuesday" with a hearty, slightly spicy Shrimp & Sausage Jambalaya (the complete recipe can be found at the end of the post):

Start by browning the sausage, I used turkey kielbasa, in a little olive oil in a dutch oven or heavy pot.
After it's browned remove it from the pan to a plate 

Add about 2 Tblsp. butter to the pan and add diced peppers, onion and celery. 
Cook until just tender and the onions are translucent (about 8 minutes)

Add chopped tomato, garlic, and jalepeno (I used crused red pepper flakes), oregano and thyme and tomato paste.  Cook until all vegetables and herbs are well blended

Add chicken stock and bring to a rolling boil.  Stir in the rice and add the sausage back into the pot along with salt, pepper and hot sauce.  Return to a boil, reduce heat and add shrimp (I buy fully cooked, peeled and deveined shrimp, I don't like to clean them) and squeeze the juice from half a lemon on top and stir into the jambalaya just before serving.

Remember, how spicy you make it is up to you....I used 2 large pinches of crushed red pepper flakes but did not add any hot sauce.

Dinner is served with toasted bread drizzled with garlic oil!!!

Shrimp & Sausage Jambalaya
(Lots of ingredients but super easy recipe)

1 Tblsp. Olive oil
1 pound sausage, I use kielbasa
1 Tblsp. Butter
!meduim onion, diced
1 cup diced celery
2 peppers cored & diced (you can use whatever color you want, I used red & yellow)
1 cup fresh tomato, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalepeno pepper, seeded and minced (I used 2 large pinches of crushed red pepper in place of this)
2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. thyme
2 Tblsp. tomato paste
6 cups of chicken stock
3 cups long grain rice
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper
6 to 8 dashes hot sauce (optional)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (1/2 lemon)

Heat the oil in a large dutch oven (or other heavy pot) over medium heat, add the kielbasa and saute for 8 to 10 minutes, until browned, Remove the kielbasa to a plate and set aside.  Add the butter, onion , celery and diced peppers to the same pot and saute for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onion is translucent.  Add the diced tomatoe, garlic, jalepeno, oregano, thyme and tomato paste and cook until all the vegetable and herbs are well blended.  Add the chicken stock and bring to a rolling boil.  Stir in the rice and add the sausage back into the pot, season with salt and pepper and hot sauce.  Return to full boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook until rice is cooked through.  Add shrimp to pot and cook thoroughly (or if using precooked shrimp, just until heated through).  Squeeze juice from half a lemon into pot and stir. You are now ready to serve!!!


Monday, February 20, 2012

Cooking for my Family = Soothing my Soul!!!

Spending time with my family is, by far, my favorite thing to do.  Unfortunately, as my girls get older, those times become fewer and farther in between.  I can't even begin to tell you how very proud I am of all my daughters and their accomplishments, but sometimes this leaves me feeling, shall we say, a little sorry for myself!!!

That's why when one of my girls asks me to cook something for them or requests something special for dinner, I'm telling you, I'm all over it!!!  Feeding my family has a very soothing effect on my soul. 

Later this week we'll be going to visit Daughter #2 at school, and even though she's lived on her own for 2 years now and is quite a capable cook in her own right, I always ask her what she wants me to bring down to her and I can almost always guarantee that potatoes will be involved!!!  LOL

So, that's how I'll be spending the next couple of days and boy, am I looking forward to it!!!

But before I leave I still have 4 people at home to feed....and here's a look at "what's for dinner tonight?"...that's usually the first question I hear when I pick them up from school!!!  :)

                                          Crispy Chicken cutlet w/ roasted grape & red wine sauce,
                                          baby spinach salad and cauliflower (roasted) w/toasted

                                       ....and Madison requested Homemade Mac & Cheese!!!  :)


Sunday, February 19, 2012

This is a test...this is only a test!!!

Since I'm still learning the ropes on this blogging thing....I wanted to do a test run on posting photos.  Now most of my FB friends have already seen ALL of my food pics...so forgive me for re-posting.  Ok...so here goes nothing!!!   

Well....that seemed to work....Hope you all don't mind looking at my Garlic Basil Shrimp one more time!!! 

Garlic Basil Shrimp

Olive Oil (enough to saute shrimp)
1 1/2 to 2 lbs. large shrimp peeled and deveined
3 clove of garlic, minced
1/8 tsp. dry red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cup dry white wine (you could use stock in place of wine)**
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, cut in half
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Heat oil in large skillet and saute shrimp. just until pink. Remove shrimp from skillet and set aside on a plate.

Add garlic, red pepper flakes and tomatoes to skillet and saute until tomatoes are tender (feel free to add more olive oil, if needed).  Add wine (stock) and cook over high heat stirring occasionally.  Stir in basil and season with salt & pepper.

Return shrimp to pan and cook just until heated through.

Serve over orzo, angel hair pasta or rice.

**Note:  I added 1 cup of wine and 1 cup of stock because I wanted alot of sauce because the pasta absorbs alot of it!!


linking to:  http://refreshrestyle.comhttp://stonegable.blogspot.com, http://janesadventuresindinner.com/2012/03one-adventurer-to-another-c.html, http://www.eatprayreadlove.com

Oh My, What have i done!!!

I guess the title of this post says it all!!! LOL  I have been reading (and drooling) over various blogs for about a year now and with the encouragement of my family (especially my youngest daughter) I finally gave in and started my own.  Through my blog I'm hoping to convey my love of family, food and anything HOME!!!  Please bear with me as I start this journey.....I may not post every day...but hope to post on a timely basis!!!  Wish me luck....HERE WE GO!!!