Friday, August 28, 2009

Haselback Baked Potato

99. While trying to mix it up for dinner the other evening, I did something new with baked potatoes. Usually I will throw them in the microwave for about 10 minutes and a baked potato is a quick addition to our meal. But I had a little extra time so my potatoes went through a metamorphosis of sorts. I sliced them without cutting through the whole potato so they would stay in tact. Sprayed my baking dish with oil, then placed the potatoes in the dish.
Then I sprinkled them with this fantasticseasoning that was
filled with all sorts of interesting spices: Fennel Seed, oregano, lemon, salt, paprika, pepper, basil, parsley...I covered each potato with the spices, then gently placed a pat of butter on top of each. Then placed them in the microwave for about 10 minutes till all the potatoes were soft.
When they were done, they gently fell apart like this.
Before bringing them to the table, I dolloped sour cream on top and then sprinkled fresh chopped chives to garnish. My hint with cutting chives is to grab them all in a bunch in your hand and use kitchen sheers to cut them. It is quicker and you don't have to clean your cutting board.
They turned out delicious!
But my youngest daughter said, "What did you do to the potatoes? I like them the old fashioned way best!"
I say, " Mix it up a bit and try something new with an old favorite!"

"Potatoes served at breakfast, At dinner served again;
Potatoes served at supper, Forever and Amen!
~ Pennsylvanian Prayer

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My Deal of the Century!

98. While on vacation, I always like to stop in the outlet malls to shop in my favorite stores. Since we are not very close to any outlets, I took advantage of the opportunity. I was searching for a special gift for a dear friend, and just couldn't seem to find that perfect something, till I walked into a store called "Reed and Barton". Have you ever been in Reed and is a gift emporium! Wall to wall silver, china, porcelain, crystal and mirrors. I was overwhelmed with the amount of beautiful items...for any and all occasions. The saleslady was wonderful and helped me find just the perfect gift I was looking for. As I walked to the cash register, standing in line, I glanced down to the left side of the counter. There was a great pair of stainless tongs for serving. They looked dressy...not like my everyday tongs. I picked them up and really liked how well they were made and that they had a weight to them. They were laying on top of a box.
The price tag on the box said $19.95. Hmmm, they are very nice, but I don't want to pay that for just a pair of tongs. So I placed them back on the box. With that, the saleslady asked if I was ready. I placed my gift on the counter and then she said, "I noticed you were looking at the stainless tongs. Aren't they wonderful?!! I bought one for each of my family for Christmas gifts." Ummm, Ok, that's so nice...(question to self...*smirk* "Why would you give your whole family a pair of tongs for Christmas?") Then she mentioned, "Did you notice, they are only $19.95! What a bargain...we haven't had a bargain in R & B like this in a long time!"

I'm sorry...*pause*... I just didn't get it! What is so fantastic about a $19.95 pair of stainless tongs. Ok, it is Reed and Barton, and they are very nice...but????? So I said, "Oh, yes, I did see them and they are nice, but I don't need tongs that bad." She stopped everything she was doing and looked me in the eye and said, "Not just the tongs, the whole box!" I didn't understand what she meant, and she realized that...she said again, "The whole box, all 13 pieces!"

"What?" I needed someone to bang me on the head with a frying pan...13 pieces, what 13 pieces? What a very patient woman she was...she picked up the box and removed the tongs, then pulled aside the packaging bubble wrap and voilá, there was more than just tongs...!
There were 2 serving spoons slotted and whole, one sauce spoon, gravy ladle, meat fork, spaghetti server, pie server, square cake server, salad fork and spoon, an awesome meat carver and meat carving fork...and serving tongs!!!! All for only $19.95!!!! I think my eyes grew to the size of dessert plates! The saleslady started to laugh and said..."yep, I bought one box for each of my family for shopping is done for the year!

Now this was worth more than $19.95! They are beautiful and very dressy for the dinner table. I had been searching for a salad fork and spoon set for some time and just hadn't found the right ones. These were perfect! The quality is fantastic, the weight of the stainless is just right and they add a new aesthetic to every meal!
So, there you have deal of the century! Are you smiling along with me? =-)

Shopping is a woman thing.
It's a contact sport like football.
Women enjoy the scrimmage, the noisy crowds,
the danger of being trampled to death, and the ecstasy of the purchase.
~Erma Bombeck

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Balsamic Glazed Pork Chops

97. Dinner was Divine tonight! With only 30 minutes to prepare, I knew I had center cut pork chops to work with. I found this awesome recipe for Balsamic Glazed Pork Chops on Epicurious.

It was so quick, but so very "delish". I am sure you could use chicken will love it!

Balsamic-Glazed Pork Chops
  • 4 (3/4-inch-thick) center-cut pork chops (about 2 lb total)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 oz small shallots (about 8), quartered and peeled, leaving root ends intact
  • 2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar


Pat pork dry and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook pork (in 2 batches if necessary) along with shallots, turning pork over once and stirring shallots occasionally, until pork is browned and shallots are golden brown and tender, about 5 minutes total.

Transfer pork with tongs to a plate and add vinegar, sugar, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to shallots in skillet. Cook, stirring until sugar is dissolved and liquid is thickened slightly, about 1 minute.

Reduce heat to moderate, then return pork along with any juices accumulated on plate to skillet and turn 2 or 3 times to coat with sauce. Cook, turning over once, until pork is just cooked through, about 3 minutes total.

Transfer pork to a platter and boil sauce until thickened and syrupy, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour sauce over pork.

“Dining with one’s friends and beloved family is certainly one of life’s primal and most innocent delights, one that is both soul-satisfying and eternal,” ~ Julia Child

Monday, August 24, 2009

Blogging Friends

96. I've recently met several bloggers with fantastic blogs! It is amazing how many beautiful women there are out there! These new friends are happy with life, love their families, enjoy a good adventure and share common interests. But mostly, they are great "encouragers". Though you may never meet them in person, once you read through their daily writings and view their beautiful pictures, you feel like you've known them forever. And what a great sense of "family" to know they have stopped by to visit. They share their joys and their pains...and invite you to come along side to laugh, experiment with cooking *smile* or to pray. Thank you ladies for opening your hearts and homes!
Just check out Cuisine Kathleen, Holiday In The Sun, Cafe Lynnlu, or Sweetnothingsbj, and you will enjoy the beauty and talent these ladies have!
When I read this survey on Tuesdays with Dorie's blog, I had to try it myself. Rarely do I complete surveys until I came across this survey and loved it. So here goes:

1. When did you start baking?
I started baking in 7th grade...although I was always under my sweet mothers
feet as she baked. Can I bake too? Can I roll the dough? Can I decorate the cookies...

2. What is your favorite kitchen tool?
Do you have to have just one? My Pampered Chef cookie scoop, nutmeg grater,
lemon-orange-lime squeezer gadgets, Pampered Chef measuring cup, etc.....
3. What is your favorite blog to read?
" I could no sooner choose a favorite star in the heavens"

4. What has been your favorite recipe from another blog, so far?
Has to be "The Pioneer Woman's Chocolate Sheet Cake" but there are so many more!

5. What recipe has been a dud for you?
The Queen Martha "Almond Pear Tart"...auuugghhh. It had a soupy
consistency with a grainy feeling from the ground almonds and the rum flavor just didn't jive with the almonds. Yuk!
6. What recipe are you dying to make?
"Paella" When I saw the Paella Throwdown with Bobby Flay...I just have to try it!

7. If you could live anywhere else in the world, for a year, where would it be?
Somewhere in Europe...Italy, Germany, Poland...

8. If you knew you could try anything and not fail (and money was no object),
what would it be?
To open my own Bed and Breakfast, in a large Victorian home by the ocean, with a small Bakery Shoppe =-)
9. If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?
To be "Speedy-Fast"...there is so much to do and so little time.

10. If you had a day all to yourself, what would you do?
Sleep in, read all day, call a friend, bake, shop in an old used books store, watch a movie with my honey, visit family, blog all day, sit on the beach!

11. What is the strangest food you have ever eaten?
Pigs feet...I don't want to talk about it!

12. What kitchen tool would you purchase if money were no object?
Does a Viking Professional Custom 48" Pro-Style Gas Range with 4 Burners, Convection Oven, Bake Oven, Griddle/Simmer Plate and Char-Grill Infrared Broiler count as a kitchen

13. Give three adjectives to describe yourself:

14. What spice do you use over and over?

15. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A pastor's wife, Veterinarian, Designer, Artist, Baker, Beautician...

" A friend is one to whom one may pour out
all the contents of one's heart, chaff and grain together,
knowing that the gentlest of hands will take and sift it,
keep what is worth keeping and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away."
- Arabian Proverb

Saturday, August 22, 2009


95. A chocolaty, sweet, soft, warm brownie...That can make me happy! When I need a "sweets-fix" or a "chocolate-fix", brownies are always the quickest and easiest option.

I got my recipe years ago and it remains to be THE BEST brownie recipe to this day. My secret is to slightly under-bake and to salt the brownies, either in the batter or sprinkle lightly on top with sea salt or kosher makes a huge difference.

Brownies - The World's Best

Preheat oven to 350º Prepare an 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish by spraying with cooking oil on bottom and sides.

1 or 2 eggs, (adding 2 makes the brownie softer)
½ cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla
2 squares melted chocolate OR 6 Tblsp of cocoa plus 2 Tblsp of oil (I use cocoa & oil)
Place all in a mixing bowl and blend together till velvety smooth.

¾ cup oat flour, or regular flour
½ cup chopped nuts, walnuts, almonds or peanuts
2 cups chocolate chips, semi sweet preferably

Add flour and nuts stirring till incorporated. Add chocolate chips and stir till chips are mixed in well. Batter will be sticky and thick. Pour batter into a prepared baking dish. (I used a 8x11" dish)
Bake for 30 minutes or till surface has developed a shiny crust. Do not overbake!!! When you start to smell the brownies...they are usually done. You can also make your brownie in a round pie dish and cut in pie slices topping each slice off with a scoop of ice cream on the side, and a drizzle of chocolate fudge sauce over.
Make Blonde Brownies by using melted white chocolate and white chocolate chips with macadamia nuts.
Peanut Butter Brownies, add 2 Tblsp of peanut butter with the butter, you can also add peanut butter chips and chopped peanuts.

Enjoy this will receive rave reviews!

"There are four basic food groups:
milk chocolate,
dark chocolate,
white chocolate,
and chocolate truffles."

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Bake Sale

94. This past weekend my daughter and I embarked on quite an adventure. What type of adventure you ask? A baking adventure; shopping, mixing, measuring, rolling, tasting dough, tasting more dough, drinking pepsi & coffee to stay focused, melting chocolate, laughing, trying to remember if we just put in 5 Tablespoons of
cocoa or 4, and then collapsing into a chair after 10 hours on our feet. That kind of an adventure. We did all this for a Bake Sale the following day.
First we sat down and asked each other, "What type of sweets and desserts do people like?" and we made a list. At the top of that list was "chocolate" and "pie". So our adventure began with making pies, 9 pies! 6 apple or apple raisin and 3 fresh blueberry. Emily has the best pie crust recipe and as she made the crusts, I peeled the apples and mixed the blueberry filling.
Biscotti's were on the list and are always a yummy choice.
So we made White Chocolate Macadamia,
Chocolate Almond
Two large batches of Caramel Corn
and Chocolate Covered Pretzels made the list, some with toasted almonds, sprinkles or with drizzled white chocolate.
Three batches of Butter Spritz Cookies which we flavored with vanilla, orange and almond flavoring
Also, a wonderful recipe for Chocolate Banana Bread
And around 9pm I decided a "quattro" batch of Brownies was needed. We didn't have enough chocolate. So we made Double Chocolate and Peanut Butter Salted Brownies
My daughter is a Packaging Design Major so she went to work designing the tags and labels. We packaged everything up and then attached the labels. We were finally done!

Our Bake Sale was a fund raiser for a trip we will be taking soon for humanitarian efforts; food distribution, free eye exams, free haircuts, free food, painting, and help with locals in the country of Poland. What a great feeling of accomplishment.
If you would like any of these recipes...just leave a comment!

Fundraising is the gentle art of teaching the joy of giving.
- Hank Rosso

You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.
- Winston Churchill

He who allows his day to pass by
without practicing generosity and enjoying life’s pleasures
is like a blacksmith’s bellows — he breathes but does not live.
- Sanskrit Proverb

If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day, go fishing.
If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.
- Chinese proverb

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Grilled Vegetables

93. My grill has been busy this summer! I have been experimenting with a variety of foods.
This is an easy side dish to try, it is Grilled Vegetables. It really doesn't matter what veggies you use and in what order you place them on the skewer. It is up to you if you want to brush them with butter, oil, flavored oil or use a bottled dressing or marinade. This can be a very healthy side if you use a fat free dressing or canola oil with simply salt and pepper. There is a great website "Grilled Vegetables" Your complete guide to vegetables on the barbeque. There is a huge variety of methods of grilling, toppings, and suggestions.
I chose the vegetables to grill. Then placed wooden skewers in a cup filled with water. This helps the wood not to burn or catch fire when placed on a hot grill. Don't forget to rotate them so each side is saturated.
Next, I cut my veggies in large pieces. At this point, you could place them in a bowl, add your desired marinade and allow them to sit for several hours before grilling. I chose to brush on a bottled caesar salad dressing. Then place them on a grill that has been cleaned and brushed with oil. Don't walk away from the grill but rotate the kabobs every other minute or so. This helps to keep them from burning and helps them not to be overdone on any one side. Every grill is different so you be the judge as to how done you would like them to be. Some people like their vegetables to have a crunch to them yet others like theirs soft. When they are done, remove them to a serving dish.

You could use them in a salad, on a grilled pizza or as a side dish. You can serve the kabobs with a butter sauce, soy sauce or any other topping. Here is a Dijon Shallot Marinade that is delicious.

“Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds
if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.”
Doug Larson


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