October 31, 2011

Chicken Tenders in Garlic Tomato Sauce with Buccatini

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I. crave. pasta.  If anyone ever told me that I could not eat it, I would be devastated.  Likewise, if anyone had ever told me when I was a young girl that I would love it as much as I do now I would have given them a funny look!  I hated it as a child.  I know, I was weird.  Potatoes & Pasta....neither one of them were foods I wanted to eat as a child.

Still, as an adult, I'm not normally a tomato sauced pasta lover.  I'd rather have a butter sauce, Asian sauce, or cream sauce with my pasta.  However, Saturday I was craving a tomato-ey coated thick pasta.  I had some buccatini left in my cupboard and I wanted to use that.  I knew to use that I needed a sauce that would flow through the tube of the buccatini.

I decided I had to make do with what was in my cupboard to create a dish because I was not going out in the snowy cold weather we were having on that lovely October day!  Seriously, I really hate seeing snow before December.  Grumpy is a lot like me when it comes to pasta sauce - and he wants his full of beef if he has it in a tomato based one...so he wasn't extremely excited about the dinner, however, he did eat it and say it was good.  I guess that's good enough of an endorsement from him!


This will be my submission for Presto Pasta Nights.  This week Ruth of Once upon a Feast is hosting.  For the guidelines on participating, please check out the PPN website!  I hope to see you there :)

Chicken Tenders in Garlic Tomato Sauce with Buccatini
printable recipe
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 lbs chicken breast tenders
3 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup diced tomatoes with liquid
1-1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup water
1 chicken boullion cube
1-1/2 tablespoon tomato paste

Heat olive oil in large frying pan.  Place chicken tenders in hot oil and season with pepper.  Cook about 4 minutes on each side over medium heat.  Remove chicken from pan and set aside.

Leave oil from cooking chicken in pan.  Add garlic and stir fry for a minute.  Add chopped parsley and stir-fry another 30 seconds.  Add Tomatoes, vegetable broth, water, and chicken bouillon cube.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat.  Place chicken back in pan.  Simmer covered for 15 minutes.  Remove cover, remove chicken and set aside.  Add tomato paste and simmer 5 minutes uncovered.  This will reduce the liquid and thicken it.

While chicken is cooking, cook buccatini according to package directions.  Drain, add about 1 teaspoon oil to hot pasta and set aside.

When sauce is reduced and thickened, toss with buccatini.  Top with chicken and more fresh chopped parsley and serve!

October 30, 2011

Sautéed Steel Cut Oat Cakes with Cranberry Infused Maple Syrup and Toasted Walnuts

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Its been a while since I've posted two days in a row, but today I just can't help it!  This recipe is just THAT good.  Not to mention its a good make ahead recipe that you can feed your kids on a cold winter morning before they head out to the bus stop! This would even be a delicious dinner treat along with some crispy bacon!

October 29, 2011

Almond Coffee Cream

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Today I'm going to talk about three of my favorite things.  These favorite things just happen to create this awesome after dinner or cold fall afternoon drink!  We'll be short and sweet and cut right to the chase today.  After I share a few more photos.  :)

Amaretto flavored liquor.  One of my favorite things.  I especially love this Disaronno liquor.  Just open the bottle and take a deep whiff.  The almond scent is enough to make you feel comfy.  This is the time of year that I start to want something to warm me up.  Especially when we are expecting a bit of snow to hit the ground.  (that comment just doesn't sound right for snow in October you know, however, we've had it before)

Ah, yes.  Jernabi Coffee.  To me it is a very special treat.  Especially since I don't live in Northern New York anymore - where this coffee is roasted.  I know Kristina reads my blog regularly....I hope she reads this part. Jernabi Coffee would make a wonderful Christmas gift for the coffee lover in your life.  

The third ingredient in this recipe is cream....and what more wonderful to add to two other awesome ingredients than cream!

So, make yourself a pot of coffee, grab the cream from the fridge and the Amaretto liquor from your cabinet. Stir it all up and sit down in your lounging chair with a down filled blanket and tune into Lifetime Movie Network.  I can't think of any other way to enjoy a cold Saturday afternoon.  Can you?

Almond Coffee Cream

3/4 cup of your favorite brewed coffee
1/4 cup heavy cream, brought to a hot simmer
1 shot glass Amaretto liquor

Pour all 3 ingredients together in a coffee mug and stir....then enjoy.  :)

If you drink.....don't drive.  Drinking and driving has touched people I love recently and they have lost a child because of a drunk driver.  I hope that if you want to enjoy a drink, you will be smart enough to stay home or ride with a designated driver.

October 26, 2011

Pan-fried Tofu with Dark Sweet Soy Sauce

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Have I told you before that I love tofu?  I'm so addicted and this was so crispy and yummy!  I'm not sure why, but I just seem to crave tofu and it is probably one of my very favorite foods.  Too bad Grumpy doesn't feel the same way - or at least he gives me a hard time admitting it.

My friend Rachelle from "Mommy, I'm Hungry" and I both share a passion for Jaden Hair's cookbook "Steamy Kitchen" and we talk about it often on Facebook when discussing what we are making for dinner and of course I am always jealous when I read what she is making from Jaden's cookbook!  I'm such a Jaden addict.  I think she is one of the very best out there for food blog - Steamy Kitchen - and her cookbook!  If you need to buy a foodie friend a gift, this is the perfect book to give. I don't think there is anything of hers that I have made that has not been awesome.

As always, I knew Grumpy would have something to say about the fact that our main course was going to be tofu for dinner.  I'm pretty used to it.  If its not steak, mashed potatoes with gravy and one of his favorite veggies then its not a meal.  He doesn't get that every night (wouldn't be good for his health anyway!) and its a treat when he does.  This night, dinner was going to be my treat and he was just going to have to deal.  :)  His favorite saying to me is "the words tofu and yummy do not belong in the same sentence".  He contradicts himself though everytime he tries one of the tofu dishes I make because he cannot tell me its not good!  I think he's a tofu convert who is unwilling to admit it!

I made enough of this so I would have leftovers the next day.  I could eat the whole recipe all by myself to begin with so I knew I had to double the recipe in order to have anything for lunch.  Somehow it became breakfast, I don't know how that happened though.  I even ate it cold.  Jaden, if you are reading this:  I.Love.You.  and I'm so glad I found you.  :)  You make my tastebuds and tummy extremely happy.  Thank you.  Grumpy ate this too and I didn't hear any complaints while he was mowing down so I think he's in "secret" love.  ;-)

Pan-fried Tofu with Dark Sweet Soy Sauce
from Jaden Hair's cookbook "Steamy Kitchen"

Printable Recipe

2 Tablespoons Dark Soy Sauce
1 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sambal olek
1 block firm tofu
1 tablespoons high heat cooking oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 fresh chili (I used jalapeno and sweet red pepper)
1 green onion, sliced (I did not use this)

My method of putting this all together was a little different from Jaden's so I will tell you how I did it.

In small bowl combine the soy sauce, honey, rice vinegar and sambal oelek.  Mix together and set aside.

I do my tofu a little differently than Jaden - how I do it:  I place the tofu block between paper towels and sit a heavy object on top (I have these  heavy dinner plates that I use one of).  I let this sit for about 30 minutes and then cut the tofu into triangle shapes.  You can cut your slices in any shape you want, but you want it thin enough so that it will crisp up.  Cut it too thick and you will have mushy tofu.

Heat a frying pan over high heat until water sizzles upon contact.  Pour enough oil to coat the surface of the pan and add tofu pieces.  Be careful doing this as it will sizzle and pop.  Tofu slices "should" release themselves from the bottom of the pan when they are ready to flip.  Tilt the pan away from you when flipping to avoid being spattered by hot grease.  Remove from pan and drain on a paper towel.

Drain all but 1 tablespoon of hot oil from the pan and return to medium heat.  When hot, add the garlic and fry until fragrant about 15-30 seconds.  Be careful not to burn...don't leave the stove while the garlic is in the hot pan!  Pour in the soy sauce mixture and let simmer for 30 seconds to thicken.  Place tofu pieces into the pan and toss with the sauce.  Top with fresh chili and green onion.  Enjoy hot or cold.  :)

October 24, 2011

Macadamia Rum Biscotti with Rum Glaze

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I'm not sure how long its been since I've made a biscotti, but I am sure its been way too long.  I remember a few years ago I was making it all the time and making every kind I could think of.  I had some biscotti when I went to the Price Chopper baking class and it got me to thinking I should be making it again.  While I really enjoyed the biscotti there, I wanted something that had a different flavor.

If your a regular reader of this blog, you know for certain that I am a lover of rum.  I especially like Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum.   I was thinking of using cashews for nuts, but all I had were raw ones and I had bought them for another purpose so I went digging through my freezer to see what else I had for nuts.  I found a bag of chopped macadamia nuts and those were the perfect choice for this lovely, crispy biscotti!

These were oh so good and oh so perfectly biscotti-like, as they should be!  They had the perfect color and the perfect crunch with the entire right amount of sweetness and buttery rum flavor.  Absolutely perfect to go with a cup of hot tea.  This recipe is a definite keeper.

After I pulled the biscotti out of the oven from their first bake and let them cool a bit, I cut them into strips and put them in the oven - with the exception of the ends.  I took them in the living room and sat down to eat them.  Grumpy wasn't paying any attention to me until he heard me crunching my biscotti.  Its a little impossible to not make noise when eating one!  Needless to say, he grumped because I made crunchy cookies and not some chewy ones.  I'm sure he'll get something sweet made for him this week although I don't understand why I'm not enough sweetness for him.  ha ha!

Macadamia Rum Biscotti with Rum Glaze
Printable Recipe
2-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped macadamia nuts
2/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup light olive oil*
2 eggs
1 tablespoon Captain Morgan's 100 proof Spiced Rum

1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon Captain Morgan's 100 proof Spiced Rum

*Note, I used Crisco Light Olive Oil - this is very, very mild in flavor and a great oil to use for health reasons!

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cookie sheet with parchment paper

Mix flour through salt together in mixing bowl to combine.  Set aside.

Stir together olive oil, sugar, eggs, and rum until thoroughly incorporated.  Stir in 1/2 flour mixture until all ingredients are wet.  Stir in remaining flour.  Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead a few times to bring it all together smoothly.  Divide dough in half and shape each half into a log about 1/2 inch thick.  Bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted into center of dough.  Cool about 15 minutes and then slice diagonally with a serrated edged knife into bars.  I do this right on the cookie sheet.  Leave biscotti standing upright and leave about 2 inches between each cookie to allow the heat to hit all sides of the cookie.  Bake another 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool on cookie sheet.

To glaze, stir together the confectioners sugar and rum.  Drizzle over top of biscotti.  I used a sandwich baggie and snipped off the corner of the bag to squeeze the drizzle through in an even stream.  Let sit for about 1/2 hour to allow glaze to dry.

These biscotti are crunchy but not so hard they will break your teeth!  I think they are the perfect crunch.  Give them a try and mix up the flavor and nuts, YUM!  Some other biscotti recipes I have made are listed below:

Cappuccino Biscotti
Maple Walnut Biscotti
Cinnamon Biscotti
Pumpkin Biscotti
Brownie Biscotti

October 21, 2011

Presto Pasta Nights #236

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Fish-Cake (Satsuma age) and Vegetables Noodle Stir-Fry
What is this lovely dish you ask?  This is the first submission I received for Presto Pasta Nights this week.  When I saw it I knew I would immediately want it but I wasn't sure what it was.  I just knew it looked delish!  It is Fishcake (Satsuma-age) Vegetable Stir Fry.  Head on over to Teczcape - An Escape to Food Blog and find out what it is!  I am quite certain it is yummy!

Presto Pasta Nights
 Welcome!  This is the Presto Pasta Nights round up #236.  We had a great week this week with several yummy pasta dishes on our tables.  Read on to discover who else particpated and what delicious pasta meals they served this week. 

Spaghetti with Balsamic Mushrooms, Walnuts, and Dolcelatte
 Sara from La Cuisine de Sarah served up this really flavorful sounding and very yummy looking Spaghetti with Balsamic Mushrooms, Walnuts, and Dolcelatte.  I admit, I had to look up what Dolcelatte was - because I had no idea.  I guess the name should have indicated to me that it had something to do with dairy!  It is a soft creamy Italian Blue Cheese with a mild flavor.  Sounds YUM.  Now that I think of it, I do believe I have seen this in Price Chopper before.  I will definitely be making this dish some night - it is right up my alley!

Rigatoni with Tomato, Eggplant, and Ricotta
Andrea from Nummy Kitchen submitted this "peasant pasta" dish as her contribution to PPN!  I'm very impressed with her attempt to garden and am glad she had some produce to work with....I'm also glad that she isn't discouraged and will plant a garden again next year!  She made this Rigatoni with Tomato, Eggplant, and Ricotta with eggplant from her garden.  It looks great and looks like she did a good job utilizing her produce!

Swiss Chard Spatzele
Clarion from Preventing Culinary Amnesia (I love that title!) is a new Presto Pasta Nights participant.  She shared her Swiss Chard Spatzele with us this week.  This is definitely comfort food with its cheesy creaminess (note: heavy cream) but it sounds like a real treat when your ready for some good ole' pampering. 

Rotini with Roasted Butternut Squash, Brussel Sprouts and Mushrooms
Ruth from Once Upon a Feast, and also the founder of Presto Pasta Nights, celebrated Sukkot this week with this flavorful Rotini with Roasted Butternut Squash, Brussel Sprouts and Mushrooms.  The caramelized goodness from the roasted veggies must have made this one yummy dish!  If you don't know what Sukkot is, Ruth tells you in her post :)

Lemon Pepper Shrimp Shrimp Scampi
So, this dish?  This has Shelby written all over it and I have made a dish very similar to this one several times!  This Lemon Pepper Shrimp Shrimp Scampi is yummy - Elizabeth from The Law Student's Cookbook made this dish for her dinner and I'm certain it helped sustain her during her hard studies! 

Linguini with Frenched Green Beans and Parsley Pesto
Rachel, from Rachel's Bite submitted this lovely green pasta dish that I'm sure is full of flavor with the pesto!  Her Linguini with Frenched Green Beans and Parsley Pesto had her "feeling Italian" this week.  I loved how she wrote her post and made me want to get out in my kitchen and "feel Italian" myself!

Salmon Pasta Bake
Corina from Searching for Spice submitted this Salmon Pasta Bake.  This is another dish that shouts out comfort to me with its creamy cheesiness combined with pasta.  This dish is a recreation of a dish her mom made and was her favorite childhood dish. To me there is nothing that makes a dish more special than the nostalgia that goes along with it. 

Japanese Eggplant Carbonara
This is Japanese Eggplant Carbonara is gorgeous.  I love this photo and it makes me wish that I could do eggs like this!  Anna from Were Rabbits submitted this dish.  Anna's calls herself "pescetarian" - kind of like me calling myself "flexitarain".  She is a lot like me in the way she eats (with the exception that I would love to be entirely vegan) and eats the way she does for health reasons (also like me!).  Good reason to eat that way Anna! 
Pork and Mushroom Farfalle
Tandy of Lavendar and Lime made this flavor packed Pork and Mushroom Farfalle.  She even tells us how to make our own pasta shapes :)  This is a versatile recipe as you can use any left over meat you may have in your fridge.  Definitely sounds like a quick and easy weeknight recipe!

Lastly, I shared with you just yesterday, this yummy creation made from cravings and ingredients I had on hand.  Lately I have not been buying a lot of groceries at once.  With just Grumpy and me in the house (and the cats) we don't go through as much people food as the cats seem to go through cat food!  So, trying to be resourceful and using what I had on hand and in the process also satisfying my craving for pasta and sweet heat, I made this Cheese Ravioli with Butternut Squash and Sage Browned Butter.  Now I have set the bar for myself and need to challenge myself to find another just as interesting and yummy dish for next week's Presto Pasta Nights!

If you enjoyed this round up and also love pasta, why don't you join us next week?  Theresa from The Food Hunter's Guide will be our host next week.  You can submit your entries to her by end of the day Thursday, October 27th (my daddy's birthday!).  Visit the Presto Pasta Nights website for guidlines of submission. 

Thanks to all who particpated this week!  You all had great sounding and several comforting dishes to divulge in this last week.  I can't wait to see what's in store!

October 20, 2011

Cheese Ravioli with Butternut Squash and Sage Browned Butter

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Cheese Ravioli with Butternut Squash and Sage Browned Butter #fallrecipes #squash #sage
Yeah.  That is one mouthful of a title but, its a good mouthful!  When I told Grumpy what we were having for dinner I got the "look".  The look that says, "Are you crazy Buzzy?"  Nope, I sure wasn't!  I have a few butternut squash that my mom and dad sent home with me on my last visit.  They also sent some canned goods and fresh grown garlic.  I sure do love shopping at my mom & dad's!  I've been thinking about that squash and how I love sweet heat.  

October 19, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Baseballs

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I make Chicken Baseballs often.  As a matter of fact, way back in 2008 when I was just a baby blogger, I blogged about them.  I love them.  They are not terrible for you calorie wise if you use the low-fat crescent rolls and non-fat or 1/3 less fat cream cheese.  Recently I started thinking I should try my hand at a different flavor such as....Buffalo!  Why not?  After I made the Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad I realized I could probably do the same thing with these Chicken Baseballs.

Grumpy and I both enjoy Buffalo Hot Wings, but neither one of us need the fat and calories involved in eating them.  Once in a while its ok to have them but we like that buffalo flavor more often than that.  I'm so glad I made these this way.  Grumpy's exact words were "These were the best Chicken Baseballs you have ever made."  I'll definitely make them again because I pretty much feel the same way!

I use Pillsbury low-fat crescent rolls because in my opinion, they are the best ones out there to use.  I know there several store brand rolls but I have not yet found one that I like as well as Pillsbury.  (I am not being compansated for telling you this - it is just my opinion.  However if Pillsbury wanted to pay me I wouldn't say no!  ha!)

Buffalo Chicken Baseballs
Printable recipe

Makes 4 baseballs

1 can Pillsbury Crescent Rolls (low-fat)
2 cups diced cooked chicken
5 oz. 1/3 less fat cream cheese - I do use Philadelphia.  There is a difference in texture when you buy no name brands)
1-2 tablespoons Frank's Red Hot sauce
2-3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
Milk, as needed, to make sauce creamy - I used about 1 tablespoon of almond milk

With electric mixer mix hot sauce and cream cheese together until creamy.  Add a couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce and milk as needed.  Once incorporated stir in chopped chicken.  Set aside.

Open can of crescent rolls and separate the four rectangles from each other.  Do not separate the rectangles into the triangles.   Using a rolling pin, roll out one of the rectangles to flatten and stretch it out more, pinching seams together to prevent holes as you roll.  Place 1/2 cup chicken mixture in the center of dough and then pull opposite corners over the filling and pinch together to seal.  Place on parchment lined  cookie sheet and sprinkle with breadcrumbs.  Repeat with remaining 3 sections of dough.

Bake at 350 for20-25 minutes, or until roll is browned.

October 17, 2011

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies - Gluten Free and Price Chopper Premiere Baking Class

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This is my first ever official Gluten Free post.  Neither Grumpy or I need to eat gluten free, but the number of friends we have that do seems to have really grown.  However, two things prompted me to make these goodies.  Price Chopper and my friend Theresa. 

How did Price Chopper prompt me?  They invited me to a baking class that was going to feature two cookbook authors, one of them being Elizabeth Barone.  Elizabeth is the author of Easy Gluten-Free Baking.  and has her own website with free recipes.  

I had photos of the event but since I loaded them onto my computer the hard drive has failed and I can't retrieve the photos.  So, until Justin (my favorite computer programmer and wonderful son) tries to recover any data from the dead drive I don't have any of my files that were on my computer.  Big lesson - back your computer files up every day that you use them because one day you may lose every one of them!  

If I had to eat gluten free I wouldn't be missing out on anything when it came to whoopie pies!  Even Grumpy said they were good (and more than once!)!  This is definitely a recipe to make if your craving some goodies and can't eat gluten.  I believe I made my friend Theresa, who was visiting me and who is gluten free, very happy!  Grumpy will be taking a few of them to a co-worker who is gluten free and who doesn't get to eat the other goodies I send with him to work.  

Below are some of the other bloggers I met at this event.  Link will take you to their blog post about this same event.

Thank you to Price Chopper for the invitation, my registration fee was comped in exchange for blogging.

Gluten-Free Mini Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
recipe from Easy Gluten Free Baking

Printable Recipe

Dry Ingredients:
1 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 cup cornstarch or potato starch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

Wet ingredients:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened (I used unsalted)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Marshmallow Filling
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 jar (7-1/2 ounces) marshmallow creme
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Set aside.  In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.  In a large bowl of a cream together butter and sugar until thick (I used a hand mixer however Elizabeth uses a stand mixer - either will work!  Add eggs, one at a time and mix until incorporated,  Scrape sides of the bowl as you are going along.

Add half of the dry ingredients.  Mix until thoroughly incorporated.  Add pumpkin and vanilla extract.  Mix until combined.  Add remaining ingredients and mix until a thick batter forms.

Using a small cookie scoop, place batter on cookie sheet covered with parchment paper, about 2 inches apart.  Bake until cakes are golden brown and firm to the touch.  This took about 15 minutes with the mini cookies. 

Remove from oven and transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

While cakes cool, prepare filling.  In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and vegetable shortening until light and fluffy.  Use high speed on a handheld mixer.  Add the powdered sugar and mix until combined.  Add the marshmallow creme and vanilla extract.  Mix until fluffy.  

Sandwich cooled whoopie pies together with marshmallow filling.

October 14, 2011

Chocolate Cupcakes with Almond Cream Cheese Frosting

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This time of year seems to have a lot of birthdays.  One very important one that I missed and felt oh so terrible for because its one I never want to miss....and that is my very special nephew Matthew.  Remember this photo?  You just gotta love that crinkle in his nose and look in his eye while he's chowing down on that cupcake!

We have had so much going on here lately that I totally let his birthday slip by me.  I actually remembered on the day but not early enough to have sent him a birthday gift.  Oh what a bad Auntie I was this year.  I have to make it up to him.  I did call him (on his own cell phone) as soon as it hit me that it was his birthday.  I think the insurance agent who had me on the phone thought I was having a heart attack when I heard him say today was 10/10.  Matt was having dinner at Steak n Shake-seems to be one of his favorite places to eat!  I am so sorry that I am late sending his gift, but I'm hoping he will forgive me and be a happy camper when he does receive it.  Oh the guilt we feel when someone special to us is forgotten.
So, with my confession out of the way, let me tell you how hard it has been to remember anyone's birthday lately.  Maybe its the fact that I myself turned another year older not so long ago?  In any case, my brother, my cousin, my father-in-law, my nephew.  My dad's birthday is coming up at the end of this month, along with my aunt's, and.that is just my family that all had birthdays within a few weeks of each other! My goodness, am I ever so glad I do not have to remember my children at this time of year also because I am already broke as it is!
We also have had several birthday celebrations at work - one of which I happened to make this pretty little cupcake for.  Have you ever noticed that when you see something pretty that you have a hard time not taking several photos?  Then trying to decide which ones to use can be a hardship too.  :)

I also have surprise for you!
I was visited.  Visited by the Fairy Hobmother.

Not too long ago I happened to be reading a friends blog, Megan's of Megan's Cookin.  She had made this awesome Caprese Quinoa Salad and she had been visited by the Fairy Hobmother who gave her a gift.  When I left a comment on Megan's blog I wasn't really thinking about getting a visit or receiving a gift.  As most of you know, I rarely participate in giveaways and happen chance.  I never expected a visit from Ian and totally forgot all about it.  Until the other day.  

I received an email from Ian reminding me that I had left a comment on that particular post of Megan's.  Ian is from Appliances Online who is currently promoting the Bosch Logixx range of appliances.  He granted me a $40 Amazon gift certificate which I happily accepted.  Maybe the Fairy Hobmother will visit you next and who knows what surprise he may have in store for you?  Thank you Ian for visiting and thank you for the gift...it obviously came at a great time of year since I just turned a big ole 29.  Ok, ok. so maybe I was wishing he had waved his magic wand and made me younger...but I guess I am still 48.  However I am now happily looking for something to apply that Amazon gift certificate towards!

Why don't you join me in all the birthday celebrations over the last month and enjoy one of these cupcakes?  Don't you want to just sink your teeth into that wonderful frosting and cake like Matt did?  
Chocolate Cupcakes with Almond Cream Cheese Frosting
the cupcake recipe is my Nanny's Mayonnaise cupcakes that have become my signature cupcake!  I just mixed it up with flavor and added almond instead of vanilla extract this time.

Printable Recipe

3 cups flour
6 heaping tablespoons Hershey's Cocoa Powder
3 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups sugar
1-1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 -1/2 cups water

For the frosting:
4 oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3-1/2 to 4 cups confectioners sugar (use what you need to make frosting the consistency you want it to be)
1 teaspoon almond extract

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Line two standard 12-cup muffin tins with paper cupcake liners.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In another bowl, combine 1/2 cup water, mayonnaise,and vanilla .  On medium speed with an electric mixer beat in half of the flour mixture just until combined.  Alternate between the remaining flour mixture and  1 cup water until all ingredients are mixed.

Divide batter among cupcake liners filling about 2/3 full.  Bake 18-22 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted in center of cupcake.  Cool completely on wire rack.

While cupcakes are cooling you can make the frosting.  With electric mixer on medium speed, mix butter, almond extract, and cream cheese until creamy and incorporated.  Gradually add sugar, 1 cup at a time and blend on low speed.  Frost cooled cupcakes.  Refrigerate any leftovers.

October 12, 2011

Pretzel Rolls - A Guest Post by Katherine Martinelli

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Let me introduce you to Katherine Martinelli.  I am honored to have her as my guest today here on my little ole' blog!  Katherine is one impressive lady to say the least.  Her life is one I would love to be a part of!  To be able to travel to different areas of the world, eat their food, photograph, and write...that would be my idea of a wonderful life!  I want to thank Katherine for agreeing to share here today and I hope you will enjoy what she has in store!  So, without further adieu.....Here's Katherine!
I am so thrilled to be guest posting on The Life and Loves of Grumpy’s Honeybunch! I’ve made quite a few of Shelby’s recipes and they are all equally amazing!

Have you ever seen a recipe and said, “I need to make this now!”? Well, that’s exactly what happened when I saw a recipe for Pretzel Rolls on a blog. I stopped everything I was doing and immediately set to work making them. It didn’t matter that I had work to do, or that it would take an hour and a half for the dough to rise. I just had to have them. And since the ingredients are just milk, yeast, sugar, flour, salt, and butter I was set to go (if my pantry is low on any of those items I tend to freak out and stock up).

October 10, 2011

Chocolate Coated Caramel Apples

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You know its the fall season when you see things like pumpkins, butternut squash, apples, and caramel.  :o)  I love caramel and I really love caramel apples but they are a special treat I will only make in the fall right around Halloween time.  So, I was tickled pink to see that Jane of The Heritage Cook had Chocolate-Dipped Caramel Apples on her blog.

I was given Jane's blog for this month's Secret Recipe Club assignment.  I have been reading her blog right along for quite some time now and I enjoy the segments on her blog like "Chocolate Monday's" and "Festive Friday's".  I felt with our reveal day being on Monday that I would follow suit and do something that also had chocolate.  Then I found the Caramel Apples.  Oh my goodness.  I knew immediately that I was going to make them and I not only made them once but twice!  The first time I only dipped 4 apples, shared one with Grumpy and the other 3 with friends at work.  I had a good amount of caramel left over so I cut them into pieces and wrapped them in wax paper.  I ended up taking a few of these caramel pieces to work for one of my friends who told me she had shared her apple with her dad and that he loved the caramel and that I should just make some of the caramel.  :)  Little did he know that I already had some and he became the receiver of what I had left at home after I heard that he enjoyed it so much!

I also made Jane's Pumpkin Bread recipe but I did not take photos.  I was intrigued with how she had you mix chunks of butter into the batter....that was very different to me and while I did exactly as she told, I was nervous about it!  I should have known better though because it turned out fabulous and I will make that recipe again since I didn't get to eat much of it.  I didn't glaze the loaf I made but the next time I make it I will definitely be trying out the glazes also - the loaves look so yummy with the glazes!

Grumpy pretty much consumed the loaf of bread on his own as I made it for him to have while I happened to go back home for the weekend to spend time with my mom, dad and children, not to mention re-list our house (click to view, maybe you'd be interested in the old country home on almost 10 acres? The mls is 27092 if it doesn't pop right up)  :o)

I had a great time this last month going through all of Jane's blog and will continue to use her as a resource!  She offers a lot of knowledge and great recipes.  Make sure you check her out!

Chocolate-Dipped Caramel Apples
from The Heritage Cook
Printable Recipe

2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons butter, cut in pieces and softened
1/2 tablespoon butter rum extract (Jane uses 1-1/2 Tablespoon Vanilla extract)
1- bag semi sweet chocolate chips
candy sprinkles, crushed toffee, cookies, nuts - you name it, whatever you may like to decorate the apples with!
10 apples, washed and stems removed (I used Honeycrisp apples that I bought at Indian Ladder Farms)

Bring sugar, corn syrup, and honey to a simmer over medium-high heat.  Once it starts to simmer, wash the sides down with a pastry brush and water to remove any sugar crystals.  Cover and cook for 3 minutes.  Remove cover and wash down sides once more.  Insert candy thermometer and cook syrup until it reaches 305 degrees.

While syrup is cooking, bring heavy cream to a simmer and keep warm until caramel is to temperature.  Once Caramel reaches 305 degrees, add butter and cream....slowly.  The syrup will bubble madly when you are stirring in the butter and cream.  Once incorporated, return pan to burner and boil until it reaches a temperature of 250 degrees.  Remove from heat and transfer to smaller bowl to allow covering apples easier.  Let cool 10 minutes.  Dip apples and let cool until caramel has hardened.  I put them in the refrigerator to help the speed up the process.  You may then dip the caramel apples in different varieties of chocolate and toppings.

October 08, 2011

Twice Baked Potatoes

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Earlier this week I had Grumpy tell me things he would like to eat.  Making a menu for during the week can be very challenging because a lot of the time he doesn't get home until late.  He mentioned twice baked potatoes and my response was "on a week night?!"  He obviously doesn't realize how long it takes to make them.

I decided that on Saturday we would have the steak I bought at The Meat House over in Stuyvesant Plaza.  The weather was beautiful for an October day and Grumpy decided to grill the steak.  I got the potatoes going in the oven and about an hour later, as I was assembling them Grumpy was cooking the steak to perfection.  The steak by the way was absolutely melt in your mouth delicious.  We will definitely be going back there.  I have a coupon for a free sample of their steak tips that I intend to use soon! (another good reason to subscribe to the Times Union as that is how I obtained the coupon!)

While I was getting the potato filling prepped, Grumpy came out into the kitchen and said "what ya doing buzzard".  I told him I was making twice baked potatoes.  His response?  "Well its about time you listened to me".  I don't know who he thinks he is, but he sure isn't my boss.  ;-) So of course I went back at him and said, "I didn't make these for you.  I made these for me and you will be lucky if you get even one!"  Of course that entailed him cornering me in the kitchen, grabbing my wrists, and saying "I will too get one Buzzy!"  Of course I told him "Not unless you let go of me and let me finish making them!"  He seems to like to play this game where he thinks hes the boss.  On second thought, I should have bargained for a good old smooch in exchange.  ha ha ha.

While I was prepping the bacon for the potatoes, I received a text from my neighbor - see below:

What you can't see is after she said it was good, she said "you can never move."  I may have gave her some yummy twice baked potato tonight, but she does a lot for us and I just love her!  Jill deserves anything she wants.  Do you hear that Brian?  ;)  She has a heart of gold.

After I gave Jill her potato, I went back in the house and did the finishing touches on dinner.  I'd say Grumpy did eat like a King tonight.  I guess one night out of 7 isn't too bad!  Tomorrow's my turn though.  :)  Maybe I'll feed us tofu.

Twice Baked Potatoes
Printable Recipe

3 large russet potatoes, washed
1/2 cup sour cream
1 green onion, chopped, reserving green tops for garnish
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 pound cooked, crumbled bacon, divided in half
1 cup Colby Cheese, shredded
1 cup Italian 3 cheese, pre-shredded (this comes from Kraft)

After scrubbing potatoes, pierce each one with a sharp knife 3 or 4 times.  This will allow the steam to escape while the potato bakes and it won't explode in your oven!  Bake at 375 for 40 minutes or until a sharp knife slides easily into the potato.  Remove from oven and let cool slightly.  Reduce oven heat to 350.

Cook bacon, drain, and crumble.  Slice potatoes in half and scoop out potato, leaving a slight bit of potato in the shell to help it hold its shape.  Mash potatoes with sour cream, salt, and pepper.  Mix in 1/2 crumbled bacon, green onion, and Italian cheese mix.

Fill potato skin shells with filling, top with Colby Cheese and bacon then bake for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven, arrange on serving platter and garnish with green onion tops.  Enjoy!

October 06, 2011

Garlic Noodles with a Kick

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Garlic Noodles have to be our very favorite Asian Pasta dish of all time.  These noodles are so addiction.  I needed a side to go with our honey walnut shrimp we had over the weekend so I decided this would be it.  I also decided that I needed to add some heat to the dish this time.  There is nothing I love more than a dish that has some sweet heat.  :)

Grumpy loves these noodles too.  So much so that whenever I am going to make a starchy side dish and think  it may be rice, he will pout.  Yes, Grumpy pouts.  He pouts a lot.  That is how he gets his way with me.  I've always been a sucker for someone who wants something bad enough to pout for it.  Sometimes they will get what they want (like food) sometimes they don't (like new hunting rifles).  I think Grumpy's the biggest kid in my life.  Justin & Christopher never really ask me for anything anymore, but believe me, when they were little, I always had the hardest time telling them no.  If they were to ask me for anything today though I would still have a hard time not giving it to them.  I'm pretty sure this is an inherited trait from my Grandpa Whitton (Poppy).  He was a sucker for his grandchildren.  If any of us wanted anything, he was right there ready to make sure we had it.  I definitely come by it naturally.  Needless to say, Grumpy gets his noodles without much of a fight although I do like to give him a hard time about it.  :)


I am submitting this post to Presto Pasta Nights.  Ruth, the genius behind PPN and blogger at Once Upon A Feast  is hosting the event.  Hop on over there tomorrow to see the round up of pasta dishes people made this last week.  Next weeks host will be Kirsten of Kirsten's Kitchen to Yours.  If your making a pasta dish this coming week and want to join in, make sure to submit your entries to her by Thursday, October 13, 2011.  You can read the guidelines for submission over at the PPN site.  Hope to see you there, after all, who doesn't love pasta?

Garlic Noodles with a Kick
Printable Recipe
1/2 box dried pasta (about 7 ounces) or use fresh pasta (our favorite), cooked until al dente. 
3 scallions, chopped, setting aside the green part of the scallion for garnish
1 teaspoon dried chili pepper flakes (adjust to your heat tolerance)
2 - 3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
3 tablespoons butter

Melt butter over medium heat until bubbly.  Add dried chili peppers and cook for about 1 minute (be careful not to burn the butter).  Add the minced garlic and scallions and saute about 1 minute, until softened.  Mix together brown sugar, fish sauce, and oyster sauce.  Add to butter mixture and cook for 1 minute or until sugar is dissolved (this doesn't take long).  Add pasta to the sauce and toss to mix.  For some color, toss in the green part of the chopped scallions.  Serve & enjoy!

Some other noodle dishes we enjoy:
Sesame Peanut Noodles - this is a yummy weight watchers recipe!
Longevity Noodles - a cooking light recipe
Garlic Scallion Noodles - a slightly different version
Beef Lo Mein - another weight watcher recipe
Light and Hearty Tuna Noodle Casserole - Grumpy loves tuna noodle!

October 03, 2011

Honey Walnut Shrimp - Revisited

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Honey Walnut Shrimp is Grumpy's favorite Chinese Dish ever.  There is something about the salty sweetness of the sauce that coats the crispy cooked shrimp that is irresistible.
Honey Walnut Shrimp - crispy cooked shrimp coated with a sauce that is a mix of sweet and savory!

I don't make it very often though, maybe once a year if that!  Mostly because it is a fried food and I don't like frying food for a couple of reasons.  One, I hate snappy,  grease that splatters all over and two, its not the healthiest for you.  So, this is a treat when we do have it.  Since it had been way more than a year since I've made the dish, I figured it was time to make it again.

This is a revisited recipe because this time I did it a little bit differently than I did when I made it and posted it the last time - way back in January of 2009.  Not to mention, my photography has improved a lot since then also and I wanted an opportunity to get some good pics of the dish.  :o)  When I made this dish before I wasn't as patient with the shrimp when I coated it with the cornstarch mixture.  This time I took my time and dipped them one by one and let the batter drip off before placing it in the hot oil.  This allowed me to have individual pieces of battered shrimp instead of them sticking together.  I also adjusted the sauce a little bit.  I have to say I think this is the best I have ever made this recipe!

Honey Walnut Shrimp - Revisited
Printable Recipe

1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (I use 21/25 count)
2/3 cups cornstarch
4 large egg whites
1/3 cup Hellmann's Mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons Honey
1 Tablespoon Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 Cup Vegetable Oil for frying
1 cup water
2/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup walnuts
1 large broccoli crown

Prep walnuts.  Bring 1 cup water and sugar to a boil.  Add walnuts.  Bring back to a boil and boil for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and drain water.  Place walnuts on a cookie sheet to dry.

Peel and devein shrimp.  Rinse and pat dry.  Set aside.

Whisk egg whites until slightly foamy.  Stir in cornstarch, 1/3 cup at a time.  If cornstarch mixture starts to stiffen you can thin it out some with a little bit of cold water.

Heat oil to 350 degrees.  Place shrimp in cornstarch mixture and remove pieces with fork, letting coating drip off so you don't have a really thick crust.  Place in hot oil, repeat with remaining shrimp.  Turn pieces several times until shrimp coating is browned.  Be cautious as you are cooking the shrimp as sometimes the oil will snap and pop right out of the pan.  Have a lid nearby to partially cover pan if necessary to prevent grease from popping out of the pan.  This is where a deep fryer with thermostat control and a cover works well!  I have one of them but I am lazy (yes I admit it) when it comes to pulling it out and filling it with grease.  I'd rather use a small pan with less oil.

Once shrimp is cooked, mix mayonnaise, honey, and sweetened condensed milk together.  Pour over top of hot shrimp.  Add sugared walnuts and toss to coat shrimp and walnuts with sauce.

While shrimp is cooking, rinse broccoli and place in a microwave safe bowl with a lid.  Add about 2 tablespoons of water to broccoli, cover, and microwave for 5 minutes.

Arrange broccoli on serving plate, top with Honey Walnut Shrimp Mixture and serve.

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