December 31, 2011

Ringing in 2012 with some favorite appetizers!

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Its no secret, I love appetizers.  I love making a meal of small bites.  I think my grandmother would have thought the same way!  When we were at my Aunt Ann's for Christmas my cousin Ryan was asking what kind of pie should he have....and I told him "do what Nanny would have done....have a tiny piece of each!"  Um, there were 3 pies and guess what?  Most of us did just that!  I decided that since I love appetizers so, I would share some from my past and maybe give you some last minute ideas for New Years Eve!
Buffalo and Blue Cheese Stuffed Button Mushrooms - this is my #1 favorite!
Brader's Artichoke Bruchetta - my #2!

Cheesy Garlic Bread - One of Grumpy's Favs!
Roasted Shrimp Tasting Spoons - oh so good!

Butternut Squash Bruschetta - a new fav!
And my newest appy treat I made for my 4 year blogging giveaway post - Brie Popover Bites with Seckel Pears.  Check out the links on the post to my blogging friends who are helping me celebrate for their appetizer contribution and don't forget to enter if you haven't already!
Brie Popover Bites with Seckel Pears
Happy New Year!  
Lets enjoy 2012 with lots of great fun and recipes!

December 26, 2011

Brie Popover Bites - a 4 year Blog Anniversary Party!

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There are people and events in our life that we just will never forget.  One person who meant the very world to me, my Grandmother aka "Nanny", Mae Iris Whitton, is one person that my heart still aches to see on a daily basis - and it is so hard to believe she has been physically gone from my life for so long my Aunt Marlene said on facebook on Christmas morning, that "there is not much to one year.  Not much to 20 years either now that I think about it."  That is true, but when it comes to a lost loved one, it can feel like yesterday when you lost them and your heart still aches just as hard as it did when you lost them no matter how long it has been and that feeling never goes away.
Pies Nanny would have been proud of!
My grandmother is one reason that I go on with my life the way that I do.  I strive to be like her - non judgmental, loving, and kind.  I think about what she would think or what she would say about something I have accomplished or agonized over.  I wish so much that she were here with me today.  She loved to bake cookies, pies, and cakes and would love to see all the desserts I have made and posted about on my blog if she were with us still.  The first dessert I ever made was a rhubarb pie and Nanny just raved and raved over the pie I had made.  :o)  Our last years together we enjoyed baking and decorating sugar cookies and making stuffed teddy bears for a special charity that I was very involved with.  I haven't made a teddy bear since she's been gone and I can't bake sugar cookies ever without thinking of her.
Nanny & Me
When I started this blog 4 years ago, I started it with the thought that it would be a "live diary" for my children and future grandchildren to have to remember me by.  My grandmother would write in a journal every day of her life. She wrote what the temperature was every morning when she got up and would write about what she did and who she saw that day in particular. I always loved to read through her journal when I would visit so I could see what she had been doing and who she had seen - and she gladly would let me. When Nanny passed away her story from her point of view had ended.
A few years later I decided that where her story had ended, I felt mine must begin. I wanted my children to be able to go back and always read what I had written. My happy stories, my sad stories, my thoughts, my memories and my recipes, but most of all, my love for them and how great it is. My blog title may be Grumpy's Honeybunch, but I am Justin & Christopher's mom first. They are my babies no matter how old they become and will always be in my heart and this story is for them.

I haven't celebrated my blog anniversary with a giveaway before, but tomorrow (December 27th), being the 4th anniversary of my blog I decided that I wanted to celebrate and involve several special people who have also become very special in my heart and if it weren't for blogging, we would have never met.  Those who were able have joined me in this celebration and have contributed a party appetizer bite to celebrate on their blog.  Please visit the link there to see their celebration post and leave a comment to enter the giveaway (details at the end of this post).

However, there is one person that I must tell you about first: Linda aka Grannyloohoo.  Author of  For Goodness Sake and Talking Stash.  She is the first and foremost person in the world of food that I had contact with whom I had never met.  We met through and I became a member of a forum that she belonged to that were foodies and members of  Granny quickly became someone special in my heart.  There was something about her that drew me to her from the get go.  Even Grumpy knows who I mean when I say "Grannyloohoo".  She's the one he was talking about when he said I should make something "scrumpdillyumptious" like she did after I showed him a photo of peach pie she had made!  Linda and I have exchanged emails several times and I have grown to feel like she is family to me.  If I had the opportunity to meet one person from my foodie world and cook a meal AND dessert for - it would be Grannyloohoo.  I would also wrap my arms around her and feel like she is my family.  I only hope she knows just how dear she is to my heart and how happy I am that we met.  She has been there every step of the way over the last 4 years...when Justin was married, when my sons lost their uncle in a tragic accident, when I had to have neck surgery, when Grumpy was laid off and went back to school, right up to today - she is there for me to turn to when I need to talk about something I can't talk to everyone about.  She is caring and beautiful inside and out!  I guess if I were to have a bucket list, meeting Grannyloohoo would be at the very top.

There are many other bloggers out there that I met in the beginning of days that I still keep in touch with and feel a special closeness to.  However, if it weren't for Granny who started the whole ball rolling by introducing me to a world of online foodies, I would never have met any of the rest of them.  Thank you to all of you who participated and to those who were unable to participate - I love you all and am so happy to have you as a special part of my foodie life!
Now for the giveaway!  My favorite way to eat is appetizer/small plate style so I asked my friends if they would join in by creating an appetizer to post about and collect comments to help me with the giveaway celebration.  There is a link collection at the end of this post that will take you to each blogger's post where you can see what appetizer they made for me and leave a comment for an entry in the giveaway.  

Details and how to enter the giveaway - Good Luck!
  1. Leave a comment on this blog post telling me who is your inspiration in life and what special part that person plays in your life.
  2. Visit the blog links that will take you to my blogging buddies page where they have joined in the celebration party and leave a comment on their post.  Each comment will count as 1 entry.  
  3. Giveaway will end on January 7th at 5 PM EST.
  4. Winner will be announced on January 8th via blog post on The Life & Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch.
  5. Winner will be chosen via random drawing - drawing to be done by Grumpy.
  6. Value of giftdcard will be $50 and can be ONE of the choices listed below:
    • Sears
    • Kohls
    • Amazon
    • Target
    • Wal-mart
    • Chili's
    • Uno's
    • Marshalls/TJMax
    • Bed, Bath & Beyond
    • Macaroni Grill
    • Olive Garden
    • Starbucks
    • Barnes & Noble

Mini Popovers Brie Bites with Seckel Pears

Non-stick cooking spray
2 beaten eggs
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray mini muffin tins with cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium bowl, use a wire whisk to beat eggs, milk, and oil until combined.  Add flour and salt; beat until smooth.

Fill the prepared cups half full with batter.  Bake for 20 minutes, remove from oven, slit tops of popover and place a small chunk of brie cheese inside slit.  Place back in the oven and bake 5 minutes more.  Serve with pears (or fruit of your choice).  

Makes 24 mini popovers or 12 regular (muffin sized) popovers.

December 25, 2011

December 23, 2011

Italian Ricotta Cookies and a special giveaway announcement!

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Oh my goodness, are these cookies ever the bomb!  I'm probably late on the band wagon with these cookies, but honestly, the first time I ever ate one was almost a year ago.  We were invited to our new neighbors house for their daughter's birthday.  We met some more of our new neighbors, one of whom had made these awesome cookies that I didn't want to stop eating.  They were the perfect cookie, soft and tender with an awesome lemon flavor in the cookie and the icing.  I fell in love.
The next month I had a surprise birthday party for Grumpy.  I thought it would be a good way to get to know our new neighbors more and an opportunity for me to feed people!  Of course when Stacy, one of our new friends asked what she could bring, my first response was her Italian Ricotta Cookies!
I decided these would be a great cookie to make to wrap and give as gifts to a few special people this year so I asked Stacy if she would mind if I made her recipe and blogged about it.  Of course the response was positive 'cause here I am!

This also is the "pre-announcement" of my 4 year blog anniversary giveaway!  I have never really celebrated a blog anniversary and this year I felt it would be a great time to do so.  I have made so many friends through blogging over the last 4 years and several of those friends will be joining me on December 27th to celebrate on their own blogs.  Watch for the post coming up next week to see what the prize will be along with all the wonderful foodie items that my friends and I will be sharing with you!  I have some very special people in the bloggy world that I will be talking about and showing my appreciation for - you don't want to miss any of it!

In the meantime, if you need to make some other treat that is quick, easy AND delicious, definitely make these cookies.  They take very little time and you will become the star of the day by serving them to those you love.  Thank you Stacy for sharing your recipe with me.  Your awesome!

Italian Cookies (Ricotta)


1/2 lb butter (2 sticks), softened
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons lemon extract (I used pure lemon juice and the zest of 1/2 lemon as I had no lemon extract)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 container Ricotta Cheese (15 oz)
4 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together butter and sugar.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add vanilla and lemon flavorings (you can also substitute Anise flavoring for the lemon).  Stir in the ricotta cheese.

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Gradually add flour mixture to batter and stir until combined.

Drop by teaspoons onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Cool, frost, and decorate with sugar sprinkles or lemon zest (which I did with some!)  If you love fresh lemon, you will LOVE these cookies.  They are so soft and tender and lemony!  Enjoy!

NOTE:  I used two different cookie scoops - one large one and 1 small one and got 2 dozen large cookies and 1 dozen small

Lemon Icing

2-1/2 to 3 cups confectioners sugar
Juice of 1-1/2 lemon
zest of 1 lemon

Mix well going with the smallest amount of sugar first and adding more as needed for the consistency you want for your icing.  You can go thick or thin....if you do a thin icing, you can just dip the cookie tops in the icing and sit them on a cooling rack to dry.  Sprinkle with sugar sprinkles and/or lemon zest.  Let dry completely and store in airtight container.

December 18, 2011

I'm Coming Home

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I'm sure he misses me.
Even though he has probably slept most of his day away
However, I'm sure he is showing Chubby the affection he's not shown me all week long.
But I'm pretty positive he can't wait for me to get home.
although he may punish me for a little while and not want to crawl under the covers with me for a night or to...
or maybe not...since he does seem to be attached to me like GLUE
I can't help but think he must have felt like this all week.  :*(
and I'm sure he has wished I was home so he could be right where he thinks he belongs...
snuggle bugging with his momma....
and while I can't wait to see my Rotten Little Rudy Rut-ton 
(and of course Chubby and Kitty....but Rudy is my baby....)
I really can't wait to see these a couple of weeks.  
The bestest and goofiest kids in the whole wide world
I'm coming home.  :)

December 16, 2011

Prime Rib Roast with Pan Gravy

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Today my guest is Jane of The Heritage Cook.  I have been reading Jane's blog for quite some time now and I first came upon her by StumbleUpon.  I love her themed posts - especially her Chocolate Monday's and Festive Friday's!  Today she is sharing a meal fit for a king's family - and one that Grumpy would enjoy for certain!  Thank's Jane for being my guest while Grumpy and I a relaxing in the Caribbean!
It is always an honor to write a guest post for another blogger that I admire and today is no exception. Shelby of Grumpy’s HoneyBunch is extremely talented, funny and generous. While she is basking in the Caribbean sun, I am happy to present you with one of my favorite holiday meals, Prime Rib!

When I think of serving a special occasion meal, in particular one during the holidays, Prime Rib is at the top of my list. It is elegant, easy to make and doesn’t require a lot of work or last minute preparations.

Every year my father-in-law roasts a large beef rib roast for the family Christmas dinner. When we walk in the house we are instantly enveloped with the mouth-watering aromas of roasting beef. Yum!

A standing rib roast may seem hard to make, but it is probably the easiest of all the party entrees to make. It can be as simple as seasoning the roast with salt and pepper or you can go all out and make a complicated rub and crust. I like something in between, with all the flavor but not all the work. The only equipment you need is a roasting pan and an instant-read thermometer. There is no need for a rack because you stand the beef on the ribs raising it off the pan and allowing the heat to reach all sides at the same time.
When you buy the roast, have your butcher cut the bones off and tie them back on. This is called “cradling.” This gives you the flavor of roasting the meat on the bone without the hassle when you go to carve it. Just don’t forget to remove the strings before you serve it!

The trick to perfectly cooked roasts is to cook them below your desired final temperature and let the residual or carry-over heat finish cooking it. While resting, the juices have a chance to be redistributed throughout the roast, keeping it juicy. Transfer it from the roasting pan to your cutting board and cover loosely with foil. And don’t worry about it cooling off – it will easily stay warm for the 15 to 30 minutes it will rest.

The classic English side dish is Yorkshire pudding. It is a cross between a baked roll and custard with a crunchy exterior and creamy interior. Cooked in the drippings from the roast, it is a savory pastry designed to absorb the juices from the plate, so place it next to the beef for maximum flavor. Often made in individual portions, I like Tyler Florence’s version cooked like a Dutch Baby (large pancake).

Horseradish sauce is one of the traditional accompaniments for roasted beef. The pungent, spicy flavor is addicting and helps cut some of the richness of the beef. Horseradish is a member of the mustard family and the version we are all accustomed to seeing is made from the thick, white root. The longer it sits in the refrigerator, the milder it gets, so for the fullest flavor, buy a new jar before the holidays.

I have included two recipes for slightly different versions of a horseradish sauce. The first is made with whipping cream and the second with sour cream. Make the one that suits your personal tastes. If you like sour cream on your baked potatoes, try this version – it will wake up your taste buds!

And finally, Bearnaise sauce, a variation on Hollandaise that is artery-clogging but oh so good. It is hollandaise with shallots and tarragon. It was my father’s favorite sauce with beef and the one he always requested for his birthday. Today’s recipe utilizes a blender, which makes this a snap to make. Definitely worth the effort, this sauce is likely to become one of your favorites, just like my dad.
The holidays can be stressful, but if you plan ahead and do a little at a time, you can cruise through the season. I hope that today’s recipes help to make these holidays extra special!

Prime Rib Roast with Pan Gravy
Simply (with a few notes from me)
Yield: 2 servings per rib

printable recipe


1 standing rib roast, 3 to 7 ribs (estimate serving 2 people per rib), bones cut away from the roast and tied back to the roast with kitchen string (ask your butcher to prepare the roast this way)
Freshly ground black pepper
Simple Dry Rub, optional (recipe follows)

Remove roast from the refrigerator, loosely wrapped, 3 hours before cooking. Roasts should always be brought close to room temperature first, before they go in the oven. (This helps them cook more evenly.)

Cookbooks often call for the excess fat to be removed. By "excess" fat they mean any fat more than an inch thick. The fat is what provides the flavor and what you are paying for with prime rib, so you want to leave it on. Your butcher should have removed any excess fat.

If your butcher hasn't already done so, cut the bones away from the roast and tie them back on to the roast with kitchen string. This will make it much easier to carve the roast, while still allowing you to stand the roast on the rib bones while cooking.

Preheat your oven to 500°F, or the highest it will go (our oven only goes up to 450°F). Generously sprinkle salt and pepper all over the roast. Alternately, you can replace the salt and pepper with a dry rub (such as the one below) of your choice.

Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the roast, making sure it doesn't touch a bone. (Some meat thermometers require that you poke a hole first with a skewer, and then insert the thermometer.) Place the roast, fat side up, rib side down in a roasting pan in the oven.

After 15 minutes on 500°F, reduce the heat to 325°F. To figure out the total cooking time, allow about 13 to 15 minutes per pound for rare and 15 to 17 minutes per pound for medium rare. The actual cooking time will depend on the shape of the roast and your particular oven. A flatter roast will cook more quickly than a thicker one. So make sure to use a meat thermometer. This is not a roast to "wing it". Err on the rare side.

Roast in oven until thermometer registers 115°F to 120°F for rare, or 125°F to 130°F for medium.

Check the temperature of the roast using a meat thermometer a half hour before you expect the roast to be done. For example, with a 10 pound roast, you would expect 2-1/2 hours of total cooking time (15 minutes at 500°F and 2-1/4 hours at 325°F). In this case, check after 2 hours of total cooking time, or 1-3/4 hours after you lowered the oven temp to 325°F.

Once the roast has reached the desired internal temperature, remove it from oven and let rest 20 minutes, covered with aluminum foil, before carving. The roast will continue to cook while it is resting.

With a knife or scissors, cut the strings, which attach the meat to the bones. Remove the bones (save for making stock for soup. Then, using a sharp carving knife, slice meat across the grain for serving, making the slices about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.

Making Pan Gravy: To make the gravy, remove the roast from the pan. Place pan on stove over medium high heat. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the drippings to a separate container. Into the 2 tablespoons of drippings in the pan stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons of flour. Stir with a wire whisk until the flour has thickened and the roux is smooth. Continue to cook slowly and stir constantly. Slowly add back the previously removed drippings (remove some of the fat beforehand if there is a lot of fat). In addition add your choice of water, milk, stock, cream or beer to the gravy, enough to make 1 cup. Season the gravy with salt and pepper and herbs.

Simple Dry Rub
Jane Evans Bonacci - The Heritage Cook © 2008
Yield: about 1 cup

1/2 cup sweet paprika
3 tbsp kosher salt
2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp packed brown sugar
3 tbsp dry thyme leaves

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl until evenly distributed. Store in a tightly sealed container at room temperature.

Yorkshire Pudding
Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence
Yield: 6 servings

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup pan drippings from roast prime rib of beef

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Sift together the flour and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, beat together the eggs and milk until light and foamy. Stir in the dry ingredients just until incorporated.

Pour the drippings into a 9-inch pie pan, cast iron skillet, or square baking dish. Put the pan in oven and get the drippings smoking hot. Carefully take the pan out of the oven and pour in the batter. Put the pan back in oven and cook until puffed and dry, 15 to 20 minutes.

Horseradish Cream Sauce
From Whole Foods
Yield: about 1-1/4 cups

1/2 cup chilled heavy cream
2 tbsp prepared white horseradish
3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Freshly minced chives

Beat the heavy cream until stiff. Slowly add the horseradish and lemon juice and continue to beat together. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Garnish top with chives. Serve with roasted beef.

Sour Cream Horseradish Sauce
From What’s Cooking America
Yield: about 2-1/2 cups

1/4 to 1/2 cup prepared horseradish, or to your taste
2 cups sour cream
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp salt

In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients and whisk until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Will hold in the refrigerator up to 2 days.

BĂ©arnaise Sauce
Recipe from “MEAT by the Lobels”
Yield: approximately 3/4 cup

2 tbsp shallots, minced
1 tbsp tarragon vinegar
1/2 cup white wine
5 egg yolks
1-1/2 tsp tarragon
3 peppercorns
1/2 tsp dry mustard
3/4 cup butter, melted
Pinch cayenne pepper
Squeeze of lemon juice (optional)

Simmer the shallots in vinegar and white wine until liquid has been reduced by about two-thirds. Remove from heat and cool.

Place this mixture in blender and add egg yolks, tarragon, peppercorns, salt, and dry mustard. Blend at high speed for no more than 10 seconds.

Add the warm melted butter, cayenne, and a squeeze of lemon juice (optional). Quickly turn on blender again and let it rotate until sauce thickens. Should it become too thick, add a bit of hot water and blend again.

This sauce should be made at the last minute so that it will be warm when served (but it may be kept warm in a double boiler).

December 15, 2011

Butter Pecan Cookies - A guest post from Gonna Want Seconds

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Today my friend Kathleen of Gonna Want Seconds is sharing a yummy, buttery, pecan cookie.  I met Kathleen when she emailed me to tell me she had been reading my blog and had started her own.  I was impressed with Kathleen's blog and how great her photos were.  I hope you will enjoy her cookie today, I know I will make this one when I get home!  Thanks for your post today Kathleen!
Hello everyone! I'm Kathleen from Gonna Want Seconds and I'm excited to be guest posting for my wonderful blogging friend, Shelby. Shelby is one of the very first bloggers I started reading and following way back when when I discovered the amazing world of blogging. I was immediately drawn to her blog because of her friendly, warm and embracing style and her recipes always looked amazing to me. I couldn't wait to get in my kitchen and start making whatever she had posted! When I first started writing my own blog, Shelby was always there for me to answer questions and lend support. I honestly think she is the most generous person out there in the whole blogisphere!!!

Well today I wanted to share a wonderful cookie recipe that is perfect for your holiday baking. I absolutely adore this little gem! I had a similar Pecan Butter cookie at a restaurant once and have been searching for a recipe that duplicated its deliciousness! After try untold recipes, low and behold, I have found the winner and here it is! It is super rich, buttery and virtually melts in your mouth. Now that I found this baby you can bet it will be made often! I hope you give it a try :)

Butter Pecan Cookies
from Taste of Home

1-3/4 cups chopped pecans
1 tablespoon plus 1 cup butter, softened, divided
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup pecan halves

Place chopped pecans and 1 tablespoon butter in a baking pan. Bake at 325° for 5-7 minutes or until toasted and browned, stirring frequently. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, cream brown sugar and remaining butter until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolk and vanilla. Gradually add flour, baking soda and salt and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or until easy to handle.

Roll into 1-in. balls, then roll in toasted pecans, pressing nuts into dough. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Beat egg white until foamy. Dip the bottom of pecan halves in egg white, then gently press one into each ball. (If you get the foamy egg white on the top of the pecan it with remain after baking and not be attractive)

Bake at 375° for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 2 minutes before removing to wire racks.

December 14, 2011

A Guest Post--Non-Alcoholic Pina Colada and Bunuelos and Churros

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Hi! Katrina here from Baking and Boys! So fun to be guest posting here for Shelby while she’s away!

“Cuz’ I like Pina Colada….and getting caught in the rain……”

While Shelby is off on her long-awaited and much-deserved Mexican cruise with Grumpy, she asked if I would do a guest post for her—I jumped at the chance. Shelby is such a great gal with a wonderful blog and I’ve come to think of her as another “sista from another mista”. Always happy to help my “sistas” when I can. Besides the idea of Shelby playing around in Mexico gave me things to think about as a post for her and my family and I really enjoyed what I came up with!

I thought it would be fun to do some kind of drink, since I’m sure Shelby is enjoying one or two while they are sailing away. Simple enough, I settled on the ol’ Pina Colada. The boys and Kevin and I all really enjoyed this refreshing drink one night. I was just bummed that I didn’t have any cute little umbrellas to stick in the drink!

The recipe is so simple and I like that it has no added sugar (well, I think there is a little in the coconut cream). There are also only three ingredients and that’s if you count ice as one. I found the recipe at Drink Swap. We doubled it.

Virgin (Non Alcoholic) Pina Colada

14 ounces pineapple juice

4 ounces coconut cream (I used a brand called Coco Real brand)

2 cups crushed ice

Put all ingredients in a blender, with the ice first and blender for a minute or two until smooth. Serve in glasses with fun straws.

Well, that’s not fun enough for a guest post, so I made a couple other things to go along with the drink. Churros were next up! Perfectly Mexican treats that the kids loved! What is not to love about fried food with cinnamon and sugar?

We (especially Scott and Parker) were eating them so fast I had them run a bunch over the the neighbor girls next door to share!

Another simple recipe perfect if you don’t get the real pleasure of going to Mexico (like some lucky people!) for the real thing! ;)

I followed the recipe I found at Rockin Robin's Cooking Mexican Recipes exactly. Try them—they’re great!

That just wasn’t enough, because since I had oil out for frying the churros, we remembered how much we love Deep Fried Scones also known as Sopapillas, which are also a Mexican treat known as Bunuelos. The only difference is that sopapillas are a dough made with yeast and bunuelos have no yeast and are made with baking powder. We made the Churros on morning and the boys begged me to make “scones” (as we call them), so those were made that same day in the evening. I halved the recipe linked above for the bunuelos and they ate every single one of them! (We don’t fry food very often, so I decided to just let the kids eat what they wanted.) Fried food is best fresh!

The bunuelos are traditionally made with a cinnamon-sugar mixture on them, while scones/sopapillas have butter and honey drizzled over them.

The boys ended up having the cinnamon/sugar on them AND drizzling them with honey.

Can’t get away on a cruise to Mexico? Make your own goodies at home!

December 12, 2011

Chocolate Peppermint Filled Bonbons - The Great Blogger Cookie Swap

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Do you ever take on more than you can handle?  I certainly do - and sometimes when I do this it seems like I am out to punish myself or something!  When I do take on more than I can handle though, I always end up handling it - however the end result may not always be what I wanted and so then I am disappointed in myself.

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2011

This year I decided to participate in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.  Before I realized what I was doing I had set myself up for stress.  Our deadline was December 5th, which was also the deadline for Secret Recipe Club reveal day.  I also have been out straight at my job, have had a hard time sleeping past 3:30 am, and dead tired when I get home in the evening.  If I didn't go to the gym at 5 am - I would never get there!  However, my last weekend home before our cruise and also the last weekend I had before shipping off the cookies, I spent making cookies.  Then, wouldn't you know it, I read the directions wrong and made 3 dozen of 3 kinds of cookies!  ha ha.  That's what I get for stressing myself out!
Cardamon Sugar Crisps
What it did for the recipients of my cookie exchange though was give them an extra surprise in their box when they opened it!  The rest of the cookies, I put in my freezer for gifts to give later!  Please click the link on the Cardamon Sugar Crisp photo for this recipe.

My recipients were Allison of Decadent Philistines Save the World, Denise Oviedo of addicted to recipes, and Madeline Olin of Thursday Night Baking.  I hope they enjoyed the cookies I sent them!

I received two packages before I left for my vacation.  I still hadn't received the third one before I left on Saturday morning so I can't tell you who the third person was or what they sent me.  My neighbor has agreed to open the box, take a photo, and eat the cookies for me.  :)  Thanks Auntie Jill (as Grumpy calls her!).

My first box I received was from Michelle of delishiono.  She sent me Brown Butter Holiday Spice Cookies - and they were delish!  They reminded me of a snickerdoodle.  I took these to work and shared with co-workers and one in particular said he could smell cookies and I'm pretty certain he had more than one.  Of course, I had to admit to everyone that I was not the baker this time!  lol  Great job Michelle and thank you!

The second box I received was from Kathy of Panini Happy!  I was so excited when I saw who my cookies were from.  I have been reading Kathy's blogs now ever since I started blogging.  I really love her Panini Happy Blog (she also writes another blog Cooking on the Side that is also fabulous!) Kathy also is one of the first people who's blog I made something from in my first year of blogging.  I made her Buffalo Chicken Panini in August of 2008 - and it was a great hit with both Grumpy & me!  (Kathy's Buffalo Chicken Panini Post).  Thank you Kathy.  It was a very special treat to have received the delicious chocolate thumbprints you sent!  A few were eaten here and the evening before we left for vacation I sent the rest home with the neighbors little boy who was tickled pink to get them!

To whomever the 3rd person was - I'm really sorry to have missed your cookies...I'm sure they were delicious and that my neighbor's kids were thrilled to have them!


Chocolate Peppermint Filled Bonbons

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2-1/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 Dove Chocolate Peppermint Candies, cut in 4 pieces
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon coca powder
2 tablespoons milk (more if needed for drizzle consistency)

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large bowl, mix 1/2 cup powdered sugar, butter and vanilla until creamy. Stir in flour and salt until dough holds together.

Mold portions of dough around pieces of peppermint patty to form 1 inch balls.  On ungreased cookie sheet place balls about 1 inch apart.

Bake 10-12 minutes or until set but not brown.  You can roll these in powdered sugar while still warm or drizzle with a chocolate icing.

To make the icing, mix together 1 cup of powdered sugar with the 1 tablespoon of coco and 2 tablespoons of milk.  Mix together until smooth.  Place in sandwich bag, clip corner, drizzle away!

December 11, 2011

Baked Shrimp with Feta and Tomatoes - a guest post by Aggie's Kitchen

Links to this post
Today Grumpy and I are on the Carnival Glory Ship!  While we are relaxing and enjoying the Caribbean weather, I asked a few of my blogging friends to guest post for me.  Aggie of Aggie's Kitchen, one of my longest blogging buddies agreed to guest post and she is bringing you a dish with my favorite seafood - Shrimp!  Thank you Aggie for guest posting here on my blog and I hope you all enjoy her recipe!  

I'm so happy to be here guest posting while Shelby is out on the seas cruising with her beloved Grumpy. Not going to lie...I'm a teensy weensy bit jealous...just kidding...or am I? Hope you are having a wonderful time Shelby! (I know you are!!!)

In case you don't know me, my name is Aggie and I share recipes over at my food blog, Aggie's Kitchen. I've known Shelby for...pretty much as long as I've been blogging. We've gotten to know each well over the years, mostly for our shared love of light and healthy eating as well as pretty much everything else that goes along with blogging. I was thrilled that Shelby asked me over here to today to share one of my favorite recipes with you, Baked Shrimp with Feta and Tomatoes.
If you love shrimp, like I do, you will absolutely love this dish. It's a pretty straightforward recipe that I adapted slightly from Ellie Krieger, and can easily be put together alongside some orzo or rice for a quick and delicious weeknight dinner. It's low in calories and high in protein and could even be served with steamed or roasted broccoli or green beans if you are trying to cut back on the carbs.

We eat shrimp pretty often in our household so if you are looking for new ways to serve it up check out a few of my favorite shrimp recipes:
Pasta with Creamy Shrimp, Tomatoes and Peas
Green Lightning Shrimp
Shrimp, Broccoli and Edamame Stir Fry

Thanks for having me over Shelby! Hope you all are having a great week and enjoy the recipe!
Baked Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta
Recipe slightly adapted from Ellie Krieger

printable recipe
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (14.5-ounce) cans of diced tomatoes, with their juices
1/4 cup finely minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh basil
1 tsp dried oregano
pinch of red pepper flakes
handful of kalamata olives
1 1/4 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 3 ounces)


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat the oil in an oven proof skillet over a medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for about 5 minutes, until the tomato juices thicken.

Remove from the heat. Stir in the parsley, basil, dried oregano and shrimp and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the feta over the top. Bake until the shrimp are cooked through and cheese melts, about 12 minutes.

(Note: If you do not have an oven proof skillet, cook tomato mixture first, then transfer tomatoes along with other ingredients to a casserole dish before baking)

Serve with whole wheat orzo, rice or a side of roasted or steamed broccoli or green beans.

December 10, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni & Cheese Tasting Dishes

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This is my "Grumpy's gotta have something to take to work for a party, I've gotta get my fridge cleaned out before vacation, and I wanna use my new little baking tasting dishes" kinda post."  :)

Grumpy had an office holiday potluck lunch at work last week.  I am not sure why these things are so hard for me.  Maybe because I want to make sure whatever I make is yummy but also different.  In any case, when Grumpy first told me he volunteered me to make something for his office party my first thought was that I needed to make that yummy buffalo macaroni and cheese my friend brought to work last year.  Then the thought left my mind and before I knew it the night before his party was here.
If your one of my Facebook friends, then you are bound to know that I am not a night person.  I can be up as early as 3 am and by 4:30 am will be out the door headed to the gym.  Well, the evening before his party I could not for the life of me stay awake.  It was 7 pm and I was dying to go to bed.  Miss Kitty was hogging the love seat so I threw a blanket on the floor, watched the rest of a tv show with Grumpy, and was in bed by 7:30.  Yup.  7:30 people.  I went to bed earlier than my kids would go when they were little ones.  Grumpy tells me that's what getting old gets me.  HA (I don't think so Grumpy!).  Anyway, I woke up close to 3 am and did not want to get out of bed.  Any other day I wouldn't have had any trouble.  But that day, I had to not only make Grumpy his dish for work I also had to be at the dentist for a follow up at 7 am.  There was no way I was making it to the gym that morning.  I wasn't too happy about that part, but I had to give it up for that day.
I opened my fridge doors and thought to myself, what can I use to make this dish that will help me clean the fridge out some and still not "hurt my reputation" as Grumpy put it.  I believe his words were "It just needs to be good, your reputation is at stake."  I still believe it was his reputation he was worried about.  I found some half and half, almond milk, sour cream, a mix of colby, cheddar and gorgonzola cheese.  I had a large can of chicken in the cabinet, some Frank's red hot and butter along with garlic that my parents grew in their garden that they sent home with me.  I decided I would give it a go and see where it went.  The worst case scenario would be Grumpy would have to stop at the store, grab some cheese and crackers, and tell everyone at work that I was too old and tired to cook the night before.

Before I even had the sauce and the chicken mixture mixed together, I knew it was going to be a winner.  The sauce itself was awesome.  I couldn't believe I had made that yummy sauce out of my head and with what I could find in my fridge.  I put the majority of the mac & cheese in the large crockpot dish and served up 3 small portions in my baking tasting dishes.  Baked the tasting dishes at 350 for 25 minutes, the crockpot for 40.  I put the crockpot in the warmer, set it to warm and told Grumpy to take it to work and do the same...that his reputation would be safe.  Oh, I'm sorry, I mean, my reputation.  ;)


This is my contribution to Presto Pasta Nights!  Can you believe it Ruth?!  I actually have a PPN post from my busiest week ever!  :)  This weeks host will be Rachel of The Crispy Cook.....and guess what?  She's also from the Capital District!  I couldn't believe it when I read her email address which insinuated to me where she was from....I realized she had to be from NY - so I read her about me and found out she is so close to me!  How exciting.  Her blog is a good mix of recipes (kind of how I like to think mine is!) and she has a mix of different diets in her home, just like Grumpy & me!  Now, how I didn't notice this before is mind boggling to me since she is hosting PPN for the 3rd time now!  Shame on you Shelby Mae!  ;)  I'll definitely be reading more of her posts once I return home from vacation!  Oh yeah, we fly away today to sail away tomorrow on the Carnival Glory ship for a full week of pampering, relaxation, good food, and fun!
Buffalo Chicken Macaroni & Cheese 
(for the crockpot and/or a party of baking tasting dishes!)

printable recipe

1 lb uncooked elbow macaroni, cooked according to package directions
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup Frank's Red Hot Sauce, divided
1 large can Chunk Chicken, drained
3 cloves garlic
2 heaping tablespoons flour
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup half and half
2 cups almond milk (unsweetened, plain)
1/4 cup sour cream
4 ounces colby cheese
4 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup gorgonzola or blue cheese crumbles
panko crumbs for topping

Cook macaroni according to package directions and set aside.

While macaroni is cooking you can create your sauce.  Saute 3 cloves of garlic in 1 tablespoons butter for a few seconds - until you can smell the great aroma :)  Add the chunk chicken and Franks red hot.  Simmer for a couple of minutes then set aside.

In heavy saucepan, heat remaining 3 tablespoons of butter until bubbly.  Add flour, salt, and pepper and whisk to make a roux - it will get thick.  Gradually add the almond milk/half and half mixture, whisking all the while.  Once sauce has thickened again, add sour cream and cheeses and stir until melted.  Add chicken/hot sauce mixture and cook another minute or two.

Add sauce and macaroni together and stir well.  Place in large crockpot or baking dish, sprinkle with panko crumbs.  My crockpot has a removeable bowl so I first baked mine in the oven to crisp up the top some.  I then had grumpy put the crockpot on warm setting for his party.

Serves 16 (regular sized servings)
Serves 36 (tasting dish servings)

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