Friday, February 25, 2011

Flashback Friday ~First Memories and a Cookie

Just a quickie Flashback Friday today. My niece Emily was going through old photo albums and posting some vintage shots to Facebook last night. I downloaded a few and thought I would share one here. I'm not sure why we were all lined up. Maybe to show who was taller? That's my Mom looking all cute in the back, my oldest brother Larry holding a none too happy PeeWee our dachshund beagle mix, brother Mark, my sissy Cindy and Little 3 year old me. My Dad must have been taking the picture. We were living in the Panama Canal Zone where my Dad was stationed for the Air Force. This is really where my first memories start and the farthest I can personally "Flashback". Before 3 its all a fuzz :-)

Also flashing back to a great recipe I posted about a year ago HERE. These are worth the repeat and I wish I had a cookie jar filled with them and the calories to spare to eat them all!

Nell's Wonderful Peanut Butter Cookies
From 'Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters"

1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup butter (I used margarine with success)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 egg
1/2 cup broken salted peanuts (add 1/4 tsp salt if you use unsalted)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (I used more)

Sift flour, baking soda and baking powder together. Cream butter, brown sugar, sugar and peanut butter. Add egg and mix thoroughly. Add sifted ingredients. Fold in peanuts and chocolate chips. Chill dough for 1/2-1 hour or until firm enough to handle. Roll dough into balls lightly flouring hands if necessary ( I didn't have a problem without flour). Place balls 2 inches apart on greased foil or silicone mat lined baking sheet. Flatten with the bottom of a glass dipped in flour. Bake 12 minutes or until golden brown (Mine went 14 mins). Cool on rack. Makes 40 cookies.

If you have a Flashback you'd like to share add your link here.

I'm also sharing over at Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday. Its here second anniversary for the weekly event. Check it out!

and at Sweet Tooth Fridays. Check out all of the tasty posts HERE.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Mosaic Monday ~ Can't Wait for Spring

Late winter is looking good here. Although we have had freezing temps at night the plants seem to be marching on to spring.

If you are looking for winter color hellebores are a great choice. They are also called Lenten Rose or Christmas Rose. I'd say Lenten is more appropriate for my location.

They come in a variety of colors

Their only drawback is that they tend to point their little heads down. But that's not all bad. It makes you stop and take notice of them and gets you squatting close to the ground to turn them upright. Exercise!

It seems that most late winter, early spring flowers are very low to the ground. Like these pretty snow drops.

And Crackpots little primroses

The crocus are really going to town now.

Even the white ones which are always the last to bloom in my yard are opening up.

I am always happy to see the primroses blooming yet again. They are perennial here and bloom several times a year.

Randy has been helping with weeding when we have a spot of sunshine. The front bed is looking nice. You can see the new leaves sprouting up a lot easier than when there are pesky weeds around!

Here's another addition to your garden you need if you want early color. These Tete a Tete daffodils are tiny, but they sure do bloom early!!!!

I was excited to see that the Camellias are getting close to blooming. Those on the side of the bush closest to the house are looking like this.

So even though spring seems to be close, the temperatures are still saying winter and I'm still craving comfort food. I made stuffed bell peppers this weekend to satisfy that!

I think stuffed bellpeppers are kind of like meatloaf. The recipe changes based on your mood and what you have on hand. For these I used

Ground Beef (about 1 lb)
chopped onion
chopped mushrooms
cooked white rice (about 2 cups)
Worcestershire sauce (1 T)
Seasoning to taste (garlic salt, onion powder, Tony Chachere's Seasoning)
Tomato paste (about 1 T)
2 eggs
Spaghetti Sauce 1/2 cup for stuffing and about 2 cups for cooking
6 bell peppers with tops sliced off and insides cleaned out and rinsed.(Cook peppers in boiling water for about 3 minutes to soften)

Mix all ingredients including the 1/2 cup of sauce. Stuff into softened peppers . Put peppers in a casserole dish. Pour rest of sauce over and around the peppers. Bake at 350 for about 50 minutes. You can sprinkle cheese on them but they are good without. I served with some fresh corn. No idea where the cobs came from, but there were fresh ears at the grocery store the other day, so had to buy a couple. It was good!

I'm joining in over at Little Red House for Mosaic Monday...a little late but its still Monday here!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Flashback Friday ~Butterflies and a Tropical Taco

I'm flashing back to early December when we took a trip up to Seattle to see the Harry Potter Exhibit at the Pacific Science Center. They didn't allow photos to be taken at the exhibit, but while we were at the Science Center I made a point of us visiting the great butterfly exhibit they have there. Besides the butterflies its also a great place to pretend for a few minutes that your visiting some warm tropical locale...not a bad thing to be able to pretend on a Seattle winter day!

The place smells great too. Could have been the gardenias!

There are so many of these cuties flying around.

Or resting on lily pads

The hibiscus really adds to that tropical illusion

If Harry Potter hadn't been calling I would have stayed at least a little longer watching these beauties flutter by.

So carrying on the tropical theme I recently made some really fresh & *hot* but tasty shrimp tacos. Now..I know..if you are like me when you say fish or shrimp and taco in the same sentence it just makes you kind of shudder. Somehow it just doesn't sound right.

But I have really been on a healthy eating kick lately and I've been craving lighter foods. So I decided to go outside my comfort zone a little bit and give these a try. I kicked it up with some Chipotle peppers and the whole combination really won me over to the dark taco side :-) They were super quick and I really just kind of winged it after looking at a few similar recipes.

Shrimp Tacos
Serves 1

12 medium shrimp
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning or salt/pepper to season
2 tsp olive oil or spray to coat skillet
shredded lettuce or coleslaw mix
1 small tomato, chopped
2 radishes, sliced thin
green onions, chopped
3 corn tortillas

2 Tablespoons light sour cream
1 Tablespoon mayonnaise
1-2 tsp lime juice
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped

Prepare sauce by mixing all ingredients. Can be made ahead and refrigerated. Heat skilled with 1 tsp of oil. Heat tortillas until begin to brown just a bit on each side. Put on serving dish and layer with lettuce or cole slaw mix, tomato, radishes & green onions. Season shrimp then saute in oil with chopped chipotle until shrimp is done. Divide shrimp between the tacos. Drizzle with sauce. Enjoy!

If you have a Flashback you'd like to add put your link below and link back to me on your blog! Thanks!

I'm joining in for
Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum
Flaunt Your Flowers at Tootsie Time
Inspiration Friday At the Picket Fence
It's a Hodge Podge Friday

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day 2011!

Happy Valentine's Day to all My Blogging Buddies & Family! If I could I'd send each of you one of these cupcakes I made to bring to work today. I used Martha Stewart's one bowl chocolate cupcakes and Magnolia Bakery's Vanilla Buttercream Icing. The icing is my favorite and its a really easy recipe. The cupcakes were pretty good too. But really...the icing is what makes the cupcake, no?

I just love vintage Valentine's cards and these cupcakes picks were too cute to pass up in the sales bin at Hobby Lobby a couple of years ago. I forgot about them last year and didn't want them to go unused again.

Isn't she sweet :-)

Here are a few Valentines from my garden. There is hope that Spring is on its way!

I'm joining in for Mosaic Monday today..a little late but better later than never :-) Check out the other Mosaics here at Little Red House.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Flashback Friday ~Sweet Potato Pancakes

Every Friday I try to Flashback to a favorite photo, memory or recipe. I call it Flashback Friday..clever huh? :-) HERE are some older Flashback Friday posts to check out. Huh...Flashbacks to Flashbacks. That's getting too deep for me!!!

This Friday I'm sharing a recipe for a favorite food from my past. Sometimes I get a little "foodsick" for my home state cooking and I have to try my best to whip up something myself to get over it. There's a restaurant in Lafayette, La called Dwyer's Cafe that serves great plate lunches and the best sweet potato pancakes in the world. And I have been craving them for a while.

They don't have a web page that I can find but they do have a Facebook page that you gotta love. They post the specials of the day. Here's a list of what they had going on today.

Is your mouth watering???? I know mine is!!

I found a great recipe recently on Closet Cooking (one of my favorite food blogs) for sweet potato pancakes, so I thought I would give them a try and see if they satisfied my envie (Cajun for craving) for Dwyer's version. It came pretty close! And my stash of Steen's Cane Syrup that I brought home from my list trip to La helped to make it even closer since that is what they serve with it. Cane syrup is similar to molasses but not as dark or strong. It has a distinct flavor all its own.

They would be great with regular syrup don't let your lack of Steen's throw you off. I made enough to have some for breakfasts on the go during the work week. They were yummy spread with a little peanut butter/Steen's mix too.

Sweet Potato Pie Pancakes
from Kevin at Closet Cooking (if my picture doesn't make you want some his WILL)
8 pancakes

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (I cut back to 1/4 tsp)
1 cup buttermilk (or milk)
1 egg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted)
1/2 cup mashed sweet potato (cooked) (I used canned and a more like 1 cup)
1 handful pecans (chopped)

1. Mix the flour, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl.
2. Mix the buttermilk, egg, butter and mashed sweet potato in another bowl.
3. Mix the wet and dry ingredients making sure to not over mix.
4. Heat a pan and melt a touch of butter in it.
5. Pour 1/4 cup of the mixture into the pan and heat until the surface starts to bubble and the bottom is golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.
6. Flip the pancake and cook the other side until the bottom is golden brown, about 1-2 minutes.

I just have to add this picture of my cousin Danny enjoying a cup of coffee in the little outdoor dining area at Dwyers. I think he'd had a late night and the sun was wayyyyy to bright :-) Love ya Little Danny!

If you have a Flashback of any kind that you'd like to share please add your link here and link back to me on your blog - or share a favorite flashback in the comments section if you don't have a blog.

I'm joining in over at Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday this week. Check it out HERE.
And I'm joining in for Sweet Tooth Friday for the first time. Visit it HERE.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Great Cooking Magazine Challenge February 2011 Edition

Last Sunday I invited everyone to join me in the Great Cooking Magazine Challenge once again. I hope everyone had time to try something new out of some of your cooking magazines - if you are like me you have piles of them waiting to be read. If you didn't have time this week..feel free to add your link later! I had a lot of recipes marked to try for this challenge, but settled on two. Both were fairly quick and both I'd make again, so it was time well spent.

First up is an unusual (at least to me) sounding recipe from the February issue of Bon Appetit (my newest subscription) that caught my eye as something that would be different, flavorful and light - all a bonus when you're watching your weight! I have to say that the highlight of this recipe, to me were the crispy crumbs. Not a one of those went to waste. They kind of remind me of those mustard flavored pretzels. A tip with the recipe noted that the addition of these crumbs eliminated the need for toast and I do agree it was enough to satisfy my carb addicted taste buds.

Sunny Side-Up Eggs on Mustard Creamed Spinach with Crispy Crumbs

Bon Appetit February 2011

  • 1/2 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs made from crustless country-style bread (I used a great roasted garlic stuffed bread)
  • 5 teaspoons Dijon mustard, divided
  • 2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 9-ounce package fresh spinach leaves (I used kale because its what I had on hand - any green would do)
  • 3 tablespoons half and half
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 large eggs
  • Fresh thyme sprigs (for garnish)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss crumbs with 2 teaspoons mustard, 2 teaspoons oil, and mustard seeds in medium bowl to coat. Scatter on rimmed baking sheet. Bake until golden and crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Meanwhile, add enough water to deep large nonstick skillet to cover bottom. Add spinach; toss over high heat to wilt, about 2 minutes. Scrape into sieve set over bowl; press out liquid. Wipe out skillet; reserve. Transfer spinach to medium saucepan. Add 3 teaspoons mustard, half and half, and chopped thyme. Stir over medium heat until thick, about 3 minutes. Season with freshly ground black pepper. Remove from heat. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in reserved skillet over medium-high heat. Crack eggs into skillet, spacing apart. Fry until whites are cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Divide spinach between 2 plates, spreading out as base for eggs. Top with eggs, crumbs, and thyme sprigs.

The second recipe I tried comes from the February/March edition of Taste of Home. I've been getting this magazine for years and it really doesn't let me down often, especially in the dessert department. This one sounded to yummy and warm and comforting and it was every bit of that! The cake is a bit gingerbready and the topping peary, appley, nutty and caramely - so many good things wrapped up into one!

Spiced Pear Upside Down Cake

Taste of Home - February/March 2011

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large pears, peeled and sliced (I used 1 pear and 1 apple)
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • Ice cream, optional
Pour melted butter into a 9-in. square baking pan; sprinkle with nuts and brown sugar. Arrange pears over nuts. In a large bowl, cream softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and molasses. Combine the flour, ginger, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and baking soda; add to creamed mixture alternately with water, beating well after each addition. Spread batter over pears. Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate. Serve warm with ice cream if desired.

So lets see what you did for the challenge! Add your link below. I'm trying Linky Tools this time instead of Mr. Linky, so hopefully it works well. Let me know if you have trouble.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Flashback Friday ~The Great Magazine Challenge Revisited

Last Sunday I threw out my Great Cooking Magazine Challenge to get us out of our winter funk. Hope you all have been trying out some new recipes this week! Come back here on Sunday and post your link or make a comment about what you did with the challenge.

To get you in the mood I'm flashing back this week to a recipe I tried in a previous Great Cooking Magazine Challenge. How about some juicy strawberries to make you think toward spring!

Chocolate Strawberry Shortcakes
Adapted from June/July 2009 Food Network Magazine

For the Shortcakes

1 cup all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons dutch process cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cold butter cut into pieces
3 ozs milk chocolate roughly chopped
2 large eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
raw or turbinado sugar for sprinkling

For the Topping
1 quart strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat. Make shortcakes: Whisk flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour mixture until sandy. Add the chocolate. Whisk 1 egg, the cream and vanilla in a glass measuring cup; stir into a flour mixture with a fork to make a shaggy dough (there will be some dry bits). Turn out into a lightly floured surface; pat flat until 1 1/2 inches thick. Cut into 6 rounds, using the scraps for the last cake. Place rounds on the baking sheet and place in fridge or freezer for 20 minutes. While in fridge preheat oven to 400°. Beat remaining egg and brush onto cakes and sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake until firm, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool. While cooling make the toppings. (Recipe calls for half of strawberries to be cooked, but I skipped that). Toss strawberries with sugar. Whip the cream until medium peaks forum. Swirl in a little of strawberries and juice into whipped cream. Split the shortcakes in half. Layer the cream and strawberries then cover with second half. Top with more cream and strawberries.

If you have a FLASHBACK you'd like to share please add your link here. This isn't the Cooking Magazine challenge...just my weekly Flashback Friday post. So come back Sunday to share your Magazine reviews and recipes!

I'm also joining in with Foodie Friday this week over at Designs by Gollum. Check it out HERE.
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