January 25, 2015

Cherry Oroblanco Martini

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Cherries, chocolate, romance, those are things I think of when I think of Valentine Day. This year I decided to create a drink for this special day.  Something with a little tart and little sweet. While I didn't add chocolate to the drink, you certainly could give it a drizzle inside the glass before pouring!
Cherry Oroblanco Martini, maraschino cherries and citrus pair together to make this delicious martini!
I received product from Frieda's Specialty Produce.  Some of this product was used in the making of this recipe.  I was not required to blog about their product and all opinions are soley my own.

I do believe I created the perfect beverage to celebrate our Valentine Day! Its hard to believe I am on my 8th Valentine celebration since I began blogging! My first Valentine after I started blogging was in 2009. That year Grumpy really surprised me and put a necklace in his lunchbox for me to find! Every Valentine day with Grumpy has been very special even the years we didn't do anything. However, I will never forget the year he bought me an iPod and wrapped the package up in duct tape!  

Since we bought our home last year, we had a huge chain of events that really turned our life upside down. Grumpy lost his job. The job that brought us to the area we are living in, away from both of our families and the kids. Grumpy was devastated and me, I was angry. Angry that we were brought 4 hours away from our home and families and I left a job of 14 years only to 4 years later let him go. 
Cherry Oroblanco Martini, maraschino cherries and citrus pair together to make this delicious martini!
One of my followers who writes resume's for a living offered to do Grumpy's resume and we took her up on it. We contribute her participation in his job search to a large part of his success in finding a job. Grumpy went from feeling like a failure to being wanted by 3 different companies at the same time. What major flux of emotions that went on in our home since last June! We've had a lot of other things going on, but the job loss was the one that was the most devastating. Seeing him go to the lowest low when he lost his job was so hard to do. I'm so happy that other's saw the potential in him and wanted him badly enough to feel very disappointed when he had to make his decision and tell some of his offers no. We never knew that would be such a hard thing to do! Thankfully we are on track for a better future for us both now and this Valentine's Day we can just stay home and spend special time together. I look forward to many more Valentine's Day celebrations with my Grumpy.  He definitely has my heart for the long term :)
Looking for more Valentine Recipes and Ideas? Be sure to follow my pinterest board! 

Cherry Oroblanco Martini

Published 01/26/2015
Cherry Oroblanco Martini

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 2 ounces oroblanco juice
  • 1 ounces marachino cherry juice
  • 1 ounce triple sec
  • ice

Instructions

  • Place ice in beverage shaker. Pour vodka, oroblanco juice, and maraschino cherry juice in over ice. Shake well. Strain into martini glass and drop a cherry or two in the glass. Garnish with oroblanco and maraschino cherries.
Yield: 1 beverage
Prep Time: 00 hrs. 05 mins.
Total time: 5 mins.


January 19, 2015

Chocolate Dipped Almond Biscotti made with Truvia® Baking Blend and served with Earl Grey Bigelow Tea

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This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SweetWarmUp #CollectiveBias

Chocolate Dipped Almond Biscotti made with Truvia® Baking Blend and a steamy cup of Bigelow Earl Gray Tea is my grown up way of enjoying myself while cozied up on my couch with my reading material!
Chocolate Dipped Almond Biscotti made with Truvia® Baking Blend served with Earl Grey Bigelow Tea #SweetWarmUp #CollectiveBias #ad
I love it when I am on vacation and have a few days to pamper myself and do what I want.  I have always loved to read and always loved to have a snack when I'm doing it!  Back in my younger days my friend Tracy and I would read a book and eat candy bars and cheese curls.  Yeah, not really the healthiest thing to do!  As I've gotten older I have moved to more natural ways to sweeten my reading time incorporating less sugar in my snacking.  Savoring this biscotti with my tea while getting into my novel being one of them!
Chocolate Dipped Almond Biscotti made with Truvia® Baking Blend served with Bigelow Earl Grey Tea #SweetWarmUp #CollectiveBias #ad
The first time I ever had Bigelow Tea was at my friend Phyllis' home.  She had a beverage bar and it included several flavors of Bigelow Tea.  My favorite became the Plantation Mint with Earl Gray being a close second!  I have continued on with my love of Bigelow Tea by drinking it through out the day at work, a much better alternative than sugar laden soda!  Everyone that knows me well at the office, knows I have a drawer full of tea.  I'm basically the go to person for just about anything anyone needs in the office, and I'm not just talking job duties!  
Chocolate Dipped Almond Biscotti made with Truvia® Baking Blend served with Bigelow Earl Grey Tea #SweetWarmUp #CollectiveBias #ad
With Grumpy being diabetic, I like to try to find ways to make recipes that are going to allow me to make it diabetic friendly and using a natural sweetener like Truvia® Baking Blend is a good way to do so.  Making smarter choices with my baking by cutting sugars in my baking without losing the taste of the sweet treat is a win/win situation when I can please Grumpy and myself at the same time!
Chocolate Dipped Almond Biscotti made with Truvia® Baking Blend served with Bigelow Earl Grey Tea #SweetWarmUp #CollectiveBias #ad
The dark chocolate and almond flavors come through in this cookie with no bitter aftertaste from the sweetener.  These biscotti also turned out crunchy, but not break your teeth crunchy. 
To get started with my novel adventure, I went to Target and picked up a few boxes of Bigelow Tea and some Truvia® Baking Blend.  I even was able to save 10% on my Truvia purchase by using my Cartwheel app!  (If you want to try Truvia® before you buy it you can request a free sample.) 
Now your ready to get started with your baking!  I have to tell you, I absolutely love the convenient pouring spout on the Truvia bag, Not only is it much easier to measure what you want, but you have a much more secure seal to close the bag and not worry about spilling sugar all over. 
 Get all your ingredients in place.
Mix your wet ingredients
Mix your dry ingredients
Then mix the wet and dry together!  My dough was pretty crumbly as you can see, but I was able to pull it all together into logs.
Shape into logs and place on parchment lined cookie sheet.
Give the logs a bath with egg wash then bake.
Once the first baking is done, you will want to take the logs out to cool about 15 minutes.  Then slice the logs on a diagonal cut to prep for the second baking.
When second baking is done, cool completely and dip in chocolate (if desired) and enjoy with a good book and cup of Bigelow Earl Gray Tea!

If you would like to connect with Bigelow Tea and Truvia you can do so on their Social Platforms. Bigelow Tea on Twitter, Truvia on Twitter, Bigelow Tea on Facebook,  and Truvia on Facebook. You can also follow Truvia on Pinterest and Instagram!

What do you like to do to pamper yourself?  Are you incorporating smarter choices in your diet for the new year?

Chocolate Dipped Almond Biscotti

Published 01/19/2015
recipe adapted from David Lebovitz
Chocolate Dipped Almond Biscotti

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Truvia® Baking Blend
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup sliced almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips
  • chocolate candy coating (optional)
  • 1 large egg (for the egg wash)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the 3 eggs, Truvia® Baking Blend, and almond extract. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients. Mix in the almonds and mini chocolate chips until the dough comes together. Your dough may be a little crumbly. If you think its too crumbly to work with and shape into a log, add another egg.
  3. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and divide dough in half. On lightly floured surface, roll dough into two logs. Transfer to baking sheet, evenly spaced apart.
  4. Gently flatten tops of logs. Beat remaining egg and brush tops of logs liberally with egg. Place in oven and bake 25 minutes, until dough is firm to the touch.
  5. Remove logs from oven and cool 15 minutes. On cutting board, using serrated edge knife, diagonally cut cookies into 1/2 inch slices. Lay cookies cut side down on baking sheet and return to oven for 20 minutes, turning cookies over halfway during baking.
  6. Once baked, cool completely and store in airtight container. If desired, dip half of the cookie in melted chocolate and cool until hardens.
Prep Time: 00 hrs. 20 mins.
Cook time: 00 hrs. 40 mins.
Total time: 60 mins.

January 07, 2015

Roasted Tomato Soup Shooters with Brie Grilled Cheese Bites paired with Sauvignon Blanc

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Roasted Tomato Soup Shooters with Brie Grilled Cheese Bites are a homemade gourmet grilled cheese and soup appetizer recipe filled with flavor.  You have sweet, creamy, salty, and crunchy filling your senses for pure satisfaction. Paired with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc puts it right over the top perfect!
Roasted Tomato Soup Shooters with Brie Grilled Cheese Bites - sweet, creamy, salty, crunch making the perfect appetizer, tapa, or small plate.  Or, just serve up a bowl of soup with a little larger grilled cheese, you'll love it!
For the month of January, the Virtual Supper Club group decided to celebrate "A Late Night Tapas with Beverage Pairing".  At first I wanted to make a beverage to go with my tapa but in the end decided that the best drink to serve with these shooters and grilled cheese bites would be a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.
Tapas, appetizers, small plates, this is the way I absolutely love to eat.  Small bites of a little bit of everything giving me variety and the ability to try everything I want to without over stuffing myself. Personally, I think this is how we should eat all the time!

My recipe I am sharing is an adaptation of Cooking Light's Roasted Tomato and Garlic Soup recipe. I found this made the soup super creamy and think I prefer it this way myself. Grumpy on the other hand loves tomato soup with rice, so I now have a recipe I can use to make for his liking for future reference and will not blend it all together for him.

Want to pin to Pinterest for later!  Click the Pin below!


Be sure to hop over to the other members of our Virtual Supper Club and see what they brought to our "little" celebration!

Susan - at The Spice Garden - Chicken, Raisin and Pine Nut Salad paired with ProseccoSarah – at All our Fingers in the PieSmoked Salmon Spread with Cucumber Saketini
Shelby – (that be me!) Roasted Tomato Soup Shooters with Brie Grilled Cheese Bites paired with Sauvignon Blanc
Jerry – at A Life LivedGinger-Shrimp Pot Stickers with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce and Satsuma Vodka-tini
Sandi - at Whistle Stop Cafe Cookinggingered creme brulee -
Val – at More than Burnt ToastKibbeh Meatballs with Spiced Yogurt Sauce and a Pomegranate Gin Sling

Roasted Tomato Soup Shooters with Grilled Brie Cheese Bites

soup recipe adapted from Cooking Light
Published 01/07/2015
Roasted Tomato Soup Shooters with Grilled Brie Cheese Bites

Ingredients

  • 3 large beefsteak tomatoes, halved
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • cooking spray
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons butter
  • 1/4 cup uncooked jasmine rice
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 (14.5 ounce can) fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 3/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons fat free half and half
  • 3/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
  • ciabatta bread cut into 1-inch squares (40 squares)
  • 20 sliced brie cheese pieces (cut into 1-inch squares)
  • I Can't Believe it's not Butter spray

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Slice tomatoes in half and squeeze to remove seeds and reserving juice. Set juice aside for later use.
  3. Place tomatoes cut side down on foil lined cookie sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Add garlic cloves and roast for 40 minutes or until tomatoes are charred and garlic is softened. Be sure to not burn or too deeply brown the garlic as this will give a bitter taste.
  4. Melt butter in large dutch oven over medium heat until bubbly. Add rice and stir constantly for 1-2 minutes, toasting the rice. Add reserved tomato juice, tomatoes, garlic, canned tomatoes and salt to pan. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for 40 minutes.
  5. Place soup mixture in blender. Remove center piece of blender lid to allow steam to escape. Secure blender lid on blender, cover lid with a towel and pulse mixture until smooth.
  6. Pour soup back into stock pot, stir in half and half and pepper. Keep warm while making grilled cheese. Serve in single serve shooter glasses sprinkled with chives.
  7. To make grilled cheese bites, spray large hot skillet with butter spray. Lay 20 pieces of bread in skillet, top with cheese and remaining bread pieces to make sandwiches. Spray top of sandwiches with butter spray. Once bottoms are crispy and brown, turn sandwiches over and brown other side. Serve with soup shooters.
Yield: 20 Soup Appetizer Shots with accompanying sandwiches
Tags: appetizer, cheese, party food, sandwiches, Small plates, Soup, tapas, Tomato, Virtual Supper Club, food and drink pairing,

January 04, 2015

Bacon Wrapped Scallops with Maple Bourbon Glaze and 7 Year Blog Anniversary Giveaway!

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Smoky, salty bacon wrapped around tender scallops drizzled with a bourbon maple glaze.  A perfect appetizer to share with you for my 7 year blog anniversary celebration and giveaway!

This giveaway is sponsored by Pacific Merchants Trading Company.  I received free product to sample prior to my decision to offer this giveaway.  All opinions about this product are mine alone.
I must admit, this giveaway was originally planned for me to offer right before my blog anniversary date, which was December 27, 2014.  I have now been blogging for 7 years and starting into my 8th! I had some situations come up that delayed this post and that is why you do see a "red & green" theme with the colors on my food presentation.  Unfortunately, there wasn't much I could do about posting this when I planned, however the giveaway was still going to happen because I absolutely LOVE this product from Pacific Merchants.
What you see below was what I chose for my sample.  This is the oval serving tray set. What is so special about these trays? They are light weight for one, the finish is smooth, very easy to clean (they are not dishwasher safe), and they are gorgeous! They are also non-porous so those who think that because these are wood, they will absorb odors or flavors, that is not the case. You can read all about their Acaciaware on their website.  

You can serve anything on these trays.  Over the new year Grumpy and I loaded them up with cheese, crackers and pepperoni.  As you can see, I made some Bacon Wrapped Scallops with Maple Bourbon Glaze over the holidays for us to enjoy and served them up on these trays.  I have actually eaten my dinner on one of these trays also.  Yes, that is how much I love my set.  I cannot wait to purchase my set of dinner plates!
The great folks over at Pacific Merchants agreed to sponsor this giveaway for my blog anniversary and we are offering you a $50 gift certificate towards any of their products.  This is a great deal as there are several items and sets under $50 on their website.  You can enter the giveaway by Rafflecopter just below the recipe.  Offer is open to US residence only.  Good luck!

Bacon Wrapped Scallops with Bourbon Maple Glaze

Published 01/04/2015
Bacon Wrapped Scallops with Bourbon Maple Glaze
Tender scallops wrapped in bacon and topped off with a spicy sweet bourbon butter glaze.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
  • 12 slices low-sodium bacon slices, cut in half
  • cooking spray
  • 24 large sea scallops

Instructions

  1. Pre-bake bacon for about 7 - 10 minutes at 350 degrees, until bacon is limp and has started to release fat. Do not let bacon fully cook through or you will not be able to wrap the scallop. Partially cooking the bacon will allow your bacon to become crisp by the time the scallops are done cooking.
  2. Stir together bourbon, maple syrup, chili pepper flakes, and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for 3-5 minutes, until mixture has reduced and thickened slightly.
  3. Wrap partially cooked bacon around scallops (1/2 slice bacon per scallop) and secure with a toothpick.
  4. Turn the oven broiler on high. Line a baking pan with foil and coat foil lined pan with cooking spray. Place scallops on pan coat with glaze mixture and broil 2-3 minutes. Turn scallops over, coat with another coating of glaze and broil 2-3 minutes longer.
  5. Remove to serving plate and garish with desired garnish (I used pomegranate seeds but many people garnish with chives).
Yield: 24 Scallops (12 appetizer portions, 4 dinner servings)
Prep Time: 00 hrs. 10 mins.
Cook time: 00 hrs. 06 mins.
Total time: 16 mins.
Tags: bacon, seafood, scallops, maple, bourbon, chili pepper, spicy, sweet, appetizer

December 31, 2014

Smothered Porkchops #WeekdaySupper

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Seasoned pork chops smothered in a flavorful onion gravy served over a bed of rice or mashed potatoes, Smothered Pork Chops are pure comfort food in the middle of the week that don't take too long to throw together!
Smothered Pork Chops - seasoned pork chops smothered in a flavorful onion gravy!

Today's post is a part of #WeekdaySupper. Serving up recipes that take little time in the kitchen after a busy weekday.
Sunday Supper Movement 

Traditionally, from what I have read on the web, Smothered Pork Chops are served over rice. Grumpy and I aren't much on rice, so I served ours with mashed potatoes. I also used a thicker cut boneless pork chop, next time, I would likely go with a bone in thinner cut so if you do make this recipe, I do recommend that is what you do. The thicker cut chops, in my opinion and after this experience, would probably be better for a stuffed chop, rather than a smothered one.

Click to pin for later!
Sometimes after a hard day at work, I want comfort. Comfort without a lot of work. I admit, I'm one of those people who after cooking dinner, I totally do not feel like doing anything else after I eat. I have been known to rinse everything off, place it in the dishwasher and get out of the kitchen ASAP, leaving the cooking dishes in the sink. Thankfully, for this meal, you don't have to wash much but the skillet itself!
Smothered Pork Chops - seasoned pork chops smothered in a flavorful onion gravy!
I don't make comfort food like this too often but boy, when I do, oh my, it is amazing. I think my most favorite part of this meal was the gravy. It was super flavorful! I am not a huge potato eater, but I could have eaten a plateful of potatoes topped with this gravy. That is how much I loved this gravy. If your in need of some comfort with awesome flavor, be sure to try this recipe out. I know I will be making it again!

For more #WeekdaySupper inspiration, visit the other bloggers who are creating recipes this week!

Monday – Filet Mignon with Balsamic Pan Sauce by Cooking Chat
Tuesday – Yakitori Donburi by A Mama, Baby & Shar-pei in the Kitchen
Wednesday – Smothered Pork Chops by The Life and Loves of Grumpy’s Honeybunch
Thursday – Lemon Pepper Chicken & Pasta by Momma’s Meals
Friday – Bessara (Moroccan Bean Soup) by Eating In Instead

Smothered Pork Chops

Slightly adapted from allrecipes.com
Published 12/31/2014
Smothered Pork Chops
Pork steaks smothered in a flavorful onion gravy served over rice or with mashed potatoes.

Ingredients

  • 4 large pork loin steaks
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1/4 cup water

Instructions

  1. Sprinkle pork with salt, black pepper, and garlic powder on both sides. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place pork steaks in hot skillet and brown well on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
  2. Melt butter in same skillet that pork was browned in. Reduce heat to medium and add onion slices with salt to taste. Cook until onions are caramelized, about 15 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook 1 minute more. Stir in flour and cook 2 minutes.
  3. Pour chicken broth into skillet, stirring constantly, dissolving browned bits of food in skillet. Pour juices that accumulated on plate with pork chops into the sauce. Mix in half and half until smooth. Add water. Bring sauce to a simmer, reduce heat to low and cook about 15 minutes.
  4. Place pork into sauce and spoon sauce over meat to coat. Turn heat to low, cover and simmer until chops are cooked through, about 10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with gravy on top.
Tags: pork, gravy, #WeekdaySuppercomfort food, onions, quick and easy



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