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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Spinach Tortellini Soup

I decided to make my one pan chocolate cake for dessert tonight. Have you made it yet? I posted about it on October 16, 2012. It's amazing to me how quickly I forget how much I love to make this cake, as much as flour-less chocolate cake. It's one pan, no greasing, no eggs, just dump, mix all together and bake. Once done, you can sprinkle with confectioners' sugar as I do or frost with your favorite frosting. There you have it, easy, moist & delicious and with only a few measuring cups & utensils to wash. Just the right size for a family of four with a few slices leftover for lunch or snack the next day. Now this post isn't about cake, but about this quick delicious soup. Oh, how I love soup. I could eat it all year. However, I know that with warmer weather soon approaching, chili, stew, soup and those comforting meals that wrap you as a blanket will need to be placed with summer fare. BBQ's, salads, fresh fruits & vegetables, pizza on the grill, clams and yes, ice cream stands! This soup is an easy throw together, once you get the small list of ingredients down, you will be able to throw it together in a snap. Use whatever ground meat you like and you could easily change out the tortellini for small raviolis. It's healthy and so easy, you won't even need to follow the recipe the next time you make it.

According to the calendar it is officially spring. The weather outside says otherwise. So many are just wishing for it to be gone and nice weather here now. There is a time for all things! I have just enjoyed watching what might be some of the last snow flakes falling from the sky. The cold blowing wind against my face, breathing the crisp air and the bright sun on my face. Warm weather is approaching, days at the lake are just around the corner. Bonfire's, roasting marshmallows, splashing the boats, splashing ourselves in a friend's pool, the farmer's market, all on the horizon. It's good for us not to wish the days away, but to awake and enjoy the day ahead. The weather and each moment are part of the day. We should take the time to smell the coffee while it's brewing, the sounds around us. If we spend our days wishing for the next one, we miss out on the beauty that God has blessed us with and the treasures that will be uncovered in it. Take time to look for those spring flowers, to listen for the returning birds and watch the snow melt away. Soon our boys will be able to take their traditional dip in the lake as the ice moves out, but until then, snow needs to be shoveled from the back of the truck!


Ecclesiastes 2:25-There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.


Tomato Soup W/Cheese Tortellini

Ingredients-

1 bag frozen cheese tortellini
1 package baby spinach
1 lb lean ground turkey, chicken, or beef
1 bottle V8 low-sodium juice
4 cups of chicken broth
2 tbsp chopped garlic
1 small onion
1 tbsp oregano
garlic salt or powder
black pepper

Directions-

Add a little butter & a drizzle of olive oil to a pan. Heat and add onion, garlic & seasonings. Light cook until softened about 5 minutes or so. Add the meat and brown. Drain. Return to pan. add the V8 juice & broth. Bring to a boil. Add the spinach and cook for another 10 minutes. Add the tortellini and cook about 5 minutes more. Add extra water if needed.




Monday, February 11, 2013

Our Family Pizza Dough

Do you not just love this danish dough whisk. One of my favorite kitchen tools of all time. Find it here at www.amazon.com. My mom was an amazing cook & baker. She had just a handful of cookbooks, mostly she would use them as a guide for her baking. Me on the other hand, has a never ending collection. I loved it when she went grocery shopping and she wanted to make a pumpkin pie. No big deal, just picked up a can of pumpkin pie filling and made sure that she had all ingredients on the back of the can. Great pie, perfect every time she made it. The same was true of her lasagna, she just followed the recipe on the back of the box. Always the same. The same held true with her lemonade, brownies, and on it goes. I wonder how many meals I could make or desserts that would not require me to open one of my books??    

One book  to never get tired of opening, is the Bible. just spending a few minutes a day in God's word can make a complete difference on how you start your day, change the day or end your day. It has all the ingredients for the recipe of your life. 1 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.

Such pretty handwriting!
This is our family pizza dough. My mom & aunt having been making this since I can remember. Mom never ventured from this recipe. In fact the only other dough she would use was one from a local grocery that closed many years ago. I have tried many pizza dough recipes and I always come back to my mom's. I just tweaked it a little to make it more of my own. Taking bits & pieces from other recipes that I liked. I replaced the oil with olive oil, and the water for some room temperature beer. Yeah, I'm in love with beer in my pizza crust and so is my family. It gives the crust such flavor, malty, earthy and our house smells like those pizza shops with the brick ovens. Just wonderful. I secretly have a case in our pantry just for pizza crust and of course taco soup would not be the same without it. I have made this dough just before leaving for work and have left it to rise for several hours. I punch it down when I get home and prep all the other ingredients and it never fails.
All ready to be topped!
Pizza hot out of the oven!
Once it's punched down, divide in half and place on prepared sheets. Let rise for about 10 minutes or so, and take your time to spread into the pans. It feels good and pliable. The crust is not super super thin nor is it thick like bread. It's in between with just enough crust around the edges to hold on to and the base is just thick enough to hold all your toppings. This recipe makes two crust and does very well on regular cookie sheets. No stress if you do not own a stone. If you do, feel free to prep your pizza and then transfer to heated stone.I love my cheese topping a little on the crispy side. Making pizza crust is easy, not time consuming and is so much better tasting than what you can buy in the store. It took me all of ten minutes from the start of mixing to putting the bowl in the oven to rise. So do yourself a favor, buy some good Amber beer leave it a room temperature, and the next time you want some pizza take the time to make your own dough. You just might get doughed over!

Our Family Pizza Dough-

Ingredients-

6 cups flour
2 cups warn water or (room temperature Amber Beer)
1/2 cup warm water
2 packages dry active yeast 
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
4 Tablespoons oil or olive oil

Directions-

Mix flour, salt & sugar together in large bowl.

In a small bowl add the yeast to the 1/2 warm water & let set for a few minutes until it starts to get all bubbly.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the oil, 2 cups of warm water or beer, and the yeast mixture. Stir till all combined adding additional water by Tablespoons as needed to incorporate all the dough. I know that on days when there is allot of moisture in the air my dough requires little extra water. On days when the air is dry it might need a little more. Dump on a floured surface and knead for a few minutes. I stop kneading and poke my finger in the dough, if you leave a little imprint it is ready for the rising. Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover and let rise for an hour or more.
Like I said, I have made this dough first thing in the morning, left on counter and then made our pizza for dinner. 

Mom always used a little butter on the bottom on her pizza pans to prep them. Punch down the dough, cut in half and place each half on prepared sheets. Let rest for about 10 minutes. Gently spread dough on your pan. Top with desired toppings and bake at 425 degrees for about 20-25 minutes.

If using your stones, heat first then transfer to them and bake, check after 15 minutes.

We spread our dough with sauce, then top with cheese and then our goodies.




Monday, January 7, 2013

Eggnog Sparkle Star Cookies

A belated Happy New Year to everyone! I pray that 2013 will be filled with lots of  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness & self-control. Good health, happiness and dreams come true. Maybe a new friendship or two. Sorry for such a late post, but due to some health related issues my post will be few until March.

Eggnog, one of my favorite holiday drinks between Thanksgiving & Christmas. I was unable to indulge very much in this rich and creamy beverage this season. Oh, how I love a small glass with Thanksgiving dinner, one while I am wrapping presents and love to share one with friends over ice with just a splash of rum.

A friend emailed me this yummy cookie recipe with all the flavors of rum eggnog, and while searching for another recipe, I came across the same exact recipe in my Taste of Home Baking Book! They call them Butterscotch Eggnog Stars. I like to call the Eggnog Sparkle Star Cookies. I love how the candy just shimmers when the light hits them. While baking these delicious bites, I could not help but think of the Star that led the three wise men to the manger of baby Jesus, Matthew 2:9-After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was, 10- when they saw the star, they were overjoyed.

My thoughts also went to the beginning of creation, Genesis 1:14- And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark the seasons and days and years, 15-and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so, 16-God made two great lights-the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars, 17-God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on earth, 18-to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. How fitting that are youngest son received a telescope for Christmas and he can gaze upon the heavens at night and check out all stars and constellations.

These cookies would be great for your Thanksgiving dessert menu and of course Christmas cookies trays. You can easily double the recipe and have them for your cookie exchange parties. Dont' shy away from making these cookies because it only calls for a small amount of eggnog, and you're left wondering what to do with the leftovers, other than drinking the entire carton, I have found a wonderful recipe for whipped eggnog bread at www.thekitchn.com, or an eggnog cheesecake at www.familycircle.com. If you make the cheesecake, use eggnog instead of milk. You could by a 1/2 gallon of eggnog and plan on afternoon of baking these wonderful treats to share with anyone on your list. A slice of bread with your morning coffee, cookies for that "Star" in your life, or an ending to a wonderful evening with family & friends.

 I hope this year finds you following the Star of Creation, and being overjoyed while doing so!

Eggnog Sparkle Star Cookies-
Adapted from Taste of Home Baking

Cookies-


2/3 cup butter softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup eggnog
2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup crushed hard butterscotch candies -or- whatever flavor you like, lemon would be nice

Icing-

1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon rum extract
2 -3 Tablespoons eggnog

Directions-

Grease foil lined baking sheets and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter & sugar until light & fluffy. Beat in the egg and eggnog. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt & nutmeg, gradually add to the creamed mixture. Divide the dough in half. *at this point I did not have time bake them and they remained covered in my refrigerator for about three days.

On a floured surface, roll out one portion at a time to 1/4" thickness. Cut with a floured star cutter about 3 1/2" and then cut the centers out with a smaller star cutter about 1 1/2". I used a water bottle cap for the round center.

Place large stars 2" apart on prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon candy in the center of each cookie.

Bake at 375 degrees for 6-8 minetes or until the edges are just starting to brown. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes. *As the cookies cool, the candies continue to melt and fill the holes nicely. Remove from foil and cool on wire racks.

For icing, mix all ingredients together adding enough eggnog to make a drizzle consistency. Drizzle over cooled cookies. * I did not have any rum extract, but had some rum, so I used that instead and it nice hint of flavor.

Eat & Love Well,
XO Sonya

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving & Pumpkin Carmel Whoopee Pies!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my blogger friends & family. The winner of my cookbook giveaway will be receiving it shortly in the mail. This was her comment/email to my question "What are you thankful for?"

"My list of what I'm thankful for is mighty long. It has what most people have, family, friends, job, my car, $ to pay my bills, my health, house,and extras. Lately, I've been trying really hard to see what smaller things in my life I'm thankful for, and here are some,

I am thankful for not just my family, but for the relationship that I have with my sister, I really like her, for my boss letting me out 30 minutes early on Mondays- I miss all the traffic to pick up my son, for my dentist who gave me the gift of a new electronic toothbrush, saving me a ton of $$$$, for my car needing no repairs so far this month, for everyday I wake up and can pet my dog. For the laughter my household has daily, for my 30 minutes of quiet time each morning, for the cutout cookies being exactly what our little guy wanted them to be and not being burnt, he loved them, and my list continues, I am really really blessed." 

You will be receiving your Smitten Kitchen Cookbook soon!

Pumpkin Whoopee Pies, YUM! A very nice change from the chocolate cake bottoms. These actually, are very similar to a pumpkin roll. The filling has a nice carmel sauce addition to the cream cheese batter. You should definitely use this filling recipe if making a pumpkin roll. These are perfect individual servings which makes a nice addition to a dessert buffet table. I rolled a few in colored sprinkles and some plain. For those guest who love pumpkin pie & for those who love pumpkin roll, this dessert is a little of both. I know that with my tradition of having a cup of coffee with a slice of pie on the morning after Thanksgiving, these are going to fit the bill nicely.

Enjoy dinner with those around your table and may you find God's blessings rich.

Pumpkin Carmel Whoopie Pies-(Emily Luchetti-Martha Stewart siriusxm.com/martha)

Ingredients for the cakes-

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar (I used light)
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Ingredients for the Caramel filling-

8 oz cream cheese room temperature
1/2 cup cold caramel sauce, homemade or store bought (I used store bought)
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
large pinch kosher salt

For the garnish-

1/4 cup cocoa nibs
2 Tablespoons diced candied ginger

-or- holiday sprinkles of your choice

Directions-

Preheat oven to 350 degreees. In a bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugars, oil and pumpkin puree. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well.

Line 2 baking sheets w/parchment paper. Place 1 Tablespoon - mounds of batter several inches apart on the baking sheets. If you have large sheets you can fit 15 on each. Bake for 10-12 minutes until firm to the touch. Cool to room temperature before you fill.

Filling- Beat all filling ingredients together until well mixed. Place a heaping tablespoon of the filling on the flat side of one cookie and top with another cookie. If desired, roll in sprinkles or the garnish of choice or leave plain.








Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Give Away & Rice Crispy Treats

After the short delay due to hurricane Sandy, my Smitten Kitchen Cookbook has arrived! Yeah! This book is beautiful. Once you take a look at the gorgeous food photography and read the short stories behind the recipes, you will want to get cooking or baking something right away. I have followed Deb's blog www.smittenkitchen.com for sometime now and her new cookbook is as delightful as her blog.  I flipped through the book as soon as I got it and now am taking my time reading each recipe. The first one I tried was her pizza crust and that did not disappoint. Trust me
we are picky about our pizza crust and so far Deb's ranks up there with our favorite made with beer (that's right) (recipe soon to come). I'm a huge fan of rice crispy treats, so when I saw her recipe tweaked a bit, I had to make a batch. Who would of thought that browning the butter, adding a touch of salt would make that much difference! Oh, but it does... Just a hint of salt now & then against the sweetness of the marshmallows and a slightly nutty flavor from the butter. You must make these NOW!! They should be on your dessert menu whenever possible. Who doesn't love rice crispy treats? You will love these. I also love s'mores. It's probably a very good thing that I do not have a wood burning fireplace. S'more making would be a nightly event for me. So, when I came across her picture of S'more layer cake, yes, you know where I'm going with this...Well, it will be on my list of what I'm baking next. 

I am also very glad to announce that I will be given away one of her cookbooks! Contest starts today and will close on Tuesday, November 20th at midnight. Since I mentioned on my last post about keeping track of your blessings till Thanksgiving, I would love to hear what some of those blessings are and or what you are most thankful for. The winner will be randomly chosen. Winner to be announced on November 21st.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.


Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats-
the smitten kitchen cookbook

Ingredients- 

8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
heaping 1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt
one 10oz bag large or miniature marshmallows
6 cups puffed-rice cereal (or just about 1/2 of a 12oz box)

Directions-

Butter  an 8" square pan with 2" inch sides.

Brown the butter in a large pot. Melt 1 stick of butter over medium heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden, and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up the bits on the bottom of the pan. Do not take you eyes off the butter, it will go from golden to burnt in a matter of seconds. As soon as the butter is melted and takes on a nutty color, turn the heat off and sprinkle the salt over the butter. Stir in the marshmallows, the heat should be enough to melt them, but if not, turn the heat on to low and stir till smooth.

Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the cereal until well coated. Quickly spread into the prepared pan. Use a piece of waxed or parchment paper that has been sprayed to press it firmly into the pan. I just lightly butter my hands and pressed the cereal mixture into the pan. Let cool and cut into squares.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Pepperoni Pizza Pull Bread

Okay, this one is not made with pepperoni, but with ham. I made this on a whim for a quick dinner along with a salad. I found the recipe in a magazine that I flipped through at the grocery store. With some great recipes in it, it quickly made it's way in the cart, along with the ingredients to make this. I am a shoe in for magazines. I hear them calling me when I walk through the doors of any grocery store or bookstore. Come quick and see my front cover, I know your just dying to flip my pages and smell my fresh of the press scent. I see the cover and I'm done. This bread was devoured quickly and requested again. My husband said it tasted better than anything he had along the Jersey Shore! Now that's a keeper. The first one I did make with pepperoni. It reminds me of pepperoni bread or sausage bread without the work of rolling out pizza dough. It only takes a few ingredients and one of them being refrigerated bread sticks! After it cooled for a few minutes, it slid right out easily and I placed it on a cutting board for all to pull apart. Similar to Monkey bread, you just pull of chunks of soft pillows of bread with gooey pockets of cheese & ham. I know that I could eat this entire loaf by myself.,This makes a great after school snack, movie snack, appetizer or make two with a salad for a light dinner. If you own a bread pan and can cut & mix, your half way there. With only about 25 minutes baking time, it doesn't get easier than that. You can mix it up with cooked sausage, mushrooms & onions or just about any topping you like on your pizza.  I'm planning on making a loaf for Halloween and thinking about Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve as well. I'd better stock up on bread sticks!!!

Just a few more days to my giveaway announcement. Are you blogging in? 

It's hard to believe that we are at the end of October. Ecclesiastes 3:1 There is a time for everything  and a season for every activity under heaven. A season of Thanksgiving is quickly approaching us. I  encouraging you to find something each week to be thankful for and to spend a few minutes thinking over your year so far. Jot them down on a piece of paper all that comes to mind and on Thanksgiving Day you will be amazed of the blessings! It might be the little things that bring you the biggest blessings. I already have many on my list and one is friends. I am so thankful for some very close friends that make me laugh, who call & text me, encourage me, support me and stretch me to go beyond what I think I am capable of. Whenever we part there's a feeling of Wow our time together was wonderful and we are so looking forward to the next minute to share. God has truly blessed me with some great girlfriends. What's first on your list?

Pepperoni Pizza Pull Bread-
Comfort Food Magazine 2012

Ingredients-

1/2 cup pepperoni, chopped, or ham diced, or cooked sausage, etc.
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 11oz package (12) refrigerated bread sticks
1 cup pizza sauce, warmed

Directions-

Grease a 9x5x3" loaf pan, set aside. In a medium bow, combine pepperoni or choice of filling, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, set aside.

Open bread sticks and cut 4 (four ) of them into 1" chunks and place in the bottom of greased loaf pan. Top with one-third of the cheese mixture. Take another 4 (four) bread sticks and cut into 1" chunks and place on top of the cheese mixture. Layer another one-third of the cheese mixture. Now do the same with the last bread sticks and cheese mixture.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan 5 minutes and remove. Serve with warm pizza sauce.

Like magic it will disappear in a matter of minutes.

Eat & Love Well,
Sonya xo






Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Chocolate Cake Pan Cake

Do you have a "go to" cake in your recipe collection? The one that's easy, quick and always gets rave reviews! Kinda like having that little black dress that you can wear for any occasion, those great black pumps that pair so well the dress, the slacks or those jeans. I was searching out some pizza crust recipes over at www.kingarthurflour.com, and came upon this little number. I have a few standby chocolate cake recipes and there is always room for another. My Mom has a great chocolate cake with a cream filling and a decadent chocolate frosting. I have another from my Aunt that calls for coffee, makes a very moist cake, a chocolate snack cake and yet another that I love from Barefoot Contessa. I made this one for my Nephew's birthday. You mix, bake and serve this cake all in the same pan. Makes a great dessert to take along just about anywhere. I think it would also make a nice gift for someone. Like my chocolate snack cake, this also calls for no eggs. A bonus for someone who is allergic to eggs. I doubled the recipe and just sprinkled it with confectioner's sugar. A scoop of ice cream to top it off and it was delicious, moist, chocolatey and incredibly easy to make. A huge hit with everyone at our table and request to make again. Which, of course I will, but there is still another chocolate cake or two to make.... You know, like adding another "little black dress", or another pair of "'black pumps," one is just not enough!

Although we may have many "little black dresses" or "chocolate cakes" in our lives, scripture makes it very clear that there is only way for salvation. John 14:6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Only a few short weeks before my give away announcement. I am getting very excited to share with you. Stay tuned.

Cake Pan Cake
King Arthur Flour

Ingredients-

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1'2 teaspoon espresso powder, (optional)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon Vinegar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cups cold water or coffee, or milk or 3/4 cup water & 1/4 cup rum

Directions-

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  

Measure all dry ingredients into an 8" or 9" round or square cake pan. If you are using an 8" pan, make sure that it's at least 2" deep. Blend the ingredients together thoroughly with a fork or whisk.
Make three indentations in the mix.

Pour the vanilla into one hole, the vinegar into another and the oil in the last hole.

Take the cup of cold liquid of your choice and pour it directly over everything in the pan. Stir all
ingredients together until they are well blended and smooth.

Bake for 30-35 minutes. I let the cakes cool completely then dusted with confectioners' sugar. You can also frost with your favorite homemade frosting or store bought! Serve with ice cream of course.


Eat & Love Well, xo
Sonya

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Peanut Butter No Bakes & My First Giveaway!

It's hard to believe that in all my baking experience and trying many things, I have never had a no bake cookie. When I mention this to friends they look at me like I have a 12 heads. "What you've never had a no bake!".  It's the same reaction when I tell them I have never been to Kohls!  So, I decided to make a double batch for work, and of course, it was the hottest day of the summer. With temperatures nearing a 100 degrees. I know, the thought of making any cookies when it's that hot out is just crazy! The thought of turning on a oven and heating the kitchen anymore just wasn't an option either. I just had to make these and find out what I was missing and my co-workers really need a treat. With these little gems, you don't have to turn your oven on. No you don't and they are absolutely amazing. Amazing I say. I have made them twice and you can bet I will be making them again real soon. I think they would make a nice addition to the Holiday cookies trays that will soon be upon us. They taste like peanut butter fudge, oh so chocolaty, peanut butter, oats, addicting and just wonderful. I made a double batch and there was not one cookie left. If there is any left, someone could easily get into a fist fight over these. These cookies require no flour or eggs and are a great treat for those who are watching their gluten intake or have an allergy to eggs. These cookies double well and make lots. The recipe also comes from one of my favorite cookbooks Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis & Renato Poliafito. Just a wonderful dessert cookbook.  "What you've never had a no bake!"

Wow, this year has gone by so fast. I have been posting since last October. I have been richly blessed. I give God all the Praise & Glory for giving me the words to write and the resources & ability to create wonderful food for you. Thanks to each one of you who have read my blog, tried the recipes, commented and became of follower. Thanks to my family for their support, encouragement and always willing to try a treat or two. In honor of my one year anniversary coming up, I will be doing my very first cookbook giveaway around Thanksgiving time. I am very excited about the giveaway and it's from one of my favorite blogs that I have been following for sometime. Watch for details coming late October/early November.

Ezekiel 35:26 I will bless them and the places surrounding my hill. I will send down showers in season: there will be showers of blessing.

Peanut Butter No Bake Cookies
Baked Explorations

Ingredients-

1/2 cup whole milk
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder (I used regular Hershey's cocoa because that is what I had on hand and they were still amazing)
1/2 cup (1stick) butter, cut into 1/2" cubes, softened
1 cup chunky peanut butter
3 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions-

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stir together the milk, sugar, cocoa powder, and butter until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved. Bring the mixture to a boil, stop stirring, and boil for a full 90 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat and add the peanut butter, oats and vanilla. Stir until the mixture is combined.

Use a small ice scream scoop with a release mechanism or a tablespoon to drop the no-bake cookies onto the baking sheet (leave some room around them, they will spread). Let the cookies cool, then refrigerate them for at least 1 hour. They can be eaten directly from the refrigerator or at room temperature.

Store the cookies between layers of parchment paper in a tightly sealed container for up to 3 days. (if they last that long)

Eat & Love Well,
Sonya xo


Friday, August 31, 2012

Cheesy Potato Soup

I can not take any credit for this picture or for the recipe. This is how it unfolds. My husband & I were both sick at the same time. At the same time!!! We have not been sick together in a very long time. I said my good nights to our youngest and went to bed. First thing Sunday morning, he tells me that he stayed up late Saturday night and was going through his Betty Crocker Kid Cookbook and found a great soup recipe that would make me and Dad feel better. He also had some other recipes we should try during the week. Melt my heart....Feeling better with just that!!! Where in the world did he get this from??? Staying up at night reading cookbooks! Hmm.. This is what he choose for us. Cheesy Potato Soup. How could I say no, especially, when I have been asking God to reveal spiritual gifts that our children have, and let me see that they are aware of them as well.  Do you ever stop and ask God to show you how he is working in your children's lives. Do you ever  just observe their gifts in action... He showed me once again that morning, our youngest' s gift of mercy, compassion and thoughtfulness for someone else. I saw this a few years back when he asked if he could make chocolate chip cookies and bring them along with hot coffee to our town plowers. He wanted to thank them for plowing our roads at all hours of the night. He was not prompted by anyone, except the whisper of the Holy Spirit prompting his spiritual gifts at a early age! I was just the vessel God used to accomplish these requests. We shopped for soup ingredients, made this very delicious and quick soup and everyone loved it. He even asked to take a picture for my blog. Yes, this is his photo not mine.

We are commanded by God to encourage each other, including our children. Hebrews 3:13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. Just by taking him shopping, and making the soup he picked out helped to cultivate that gift of mercy. Helping him make those cookies, picking up the coffee and driving him to the town hall encouraged him to have compassion on others who are up working all night doing something for us. Encouragement should not be limited to your friends, those that attend church with you, co-workers or strangers, but those living with your from youngest to the oldest.

Romans 12:6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man' gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve, if it is teaching, let him teach, if it is encouraging, let him encourage, if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously, if it is leadership, let him govern diligently, if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. Spiritual gifts in action!!

This soup is wicked easy, quick, delicious, healing to a body with a cold and balm for the heart. I'll probably never eat potato soup without thinking of  how this came to be.

Cheesy Potato Soup
Betty Crocker Kids Cookbook
6 servings

 
Ingredients-


1 medium stalk celery diced
2 14oz cans chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 bag (32oz) frozen southern style diced hash brown potatoes thawed
1/2 cup frozen chopped onion (from a 12oz bag thawed) I just used one small onion
1 cup water
1 cup milk
3 Tablespoons all purpose flour or cornstarch
1 bag (8oz) shredded cheddar cheese just about 2 cups

Toppings if desired-

4 medium green onions chopped
sour cream
lots of cooked chopped bacon

Directions-

Place the celery, chicken broth, the potatoes, onion and water in a medium stock pot. Cover and cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes.

Put the milk in a small bowl and add the flour or cornstarch and mix well. Pour this mixture into the potato mixture. Turn the heat to high, cook & stir with a wooden spoon for 6-8 minutes or until the mixture thickens. Add the cheese and stir until melted. Turn off heat & remove from burner.

EASY, EASY, after you make this you won't even need to follow a recipe the next time... 

Serve along with desired toppings. We had ham & turkey sandwiches along side of the soup. Double for lunch leftovers the next day....

Eat Well, XO Sonya

Monday, August 13, 2012

Rustic Berry Tart

Rustic Berry Tart, one of my all time favorite summer desserts. This is the season when local farmer's markets and drive by fruit stands have an abundance of fruit to choose from. I mean an abundance, from your berries to your stone fruits. You can create any kind of fruit tart. A throw together of whatever suits your fancy. Mixed berries, peaches, plums, apricots, peaches & raspberries, plum & apricots. You get to choose! I love food like that. What I love about this dessert is that there really isn't a recipe to follow. You don't even have to make the crust! Store bought pie crust works just as well. I just so happen to have an extra pie crust in the freezer that I used. I do have a box of  pie crust in our refrigerator as a matter of fact. Just waiting to be the base of another tart or the cover for a pot pie. I'm sure with these hot days of summer and just the business of summer activities you probably don't want to be spending a lot of time putting a dessert together. Keeping a box of refrigerated pie crust on hand, and picking up a few pints of fruit, some ice cream or whip cream and you will have a quick & easy treat in no time. You can pretty much make this no matter where you go. Go ahead be creative, bake on the wild side!!!

When thing that I do enjoy doing is putting a meal together with what I have stashed in the freezer or pantry. I do like the challenge of what can I make with whats on hand. Some of our favorite soups, stews, pot pies & chili have been using what's on hand. Since I always have things rotating in & out nothing will taste the same twice. Always an adventure! I have been working on being more flexible when it comes to throwing a last minute meal together, packing for a day on the water or just a weekend of whatever comes our way. No plans at all, or changing plans to do something else. What I do love is the fact that God has the perfect plan. He created His world in Six (6) perfect days, a little on each day and rested on the seventh (7). Genesis 1:1-31 & Genesis 2: 1-3. I find myself being happy doing very little activity on Sundays. His perfect plan of salvation, through the sacrifice of His only Son, so that I have eternal life with Him. Romans 10: 1-13. His perfect plan of my life, never a throw together or mix match of this and that, but that everything and everyone who comes across my life is His perfect plan for me. Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Rustic Berry Tart-

Ingredients-

1 Store bought refrigerated pie crust or one of your own favorites.
3 pints or roughly 3-4 cups of mixed fruits of your choice. I used blueberries, raspberries &
blackberries. Rinsed just before using and drain in a strainer.
2 Tablespoons or so of sugar & flour
Sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg if desired
Some grated lemon peel if lemons on hand

 Directions-

Preheat oven to 350.
Mix the fruit with sugar & flour. Sprinkle with cinnamon or nutmeg if desired. Can add some grated lemon peel if you want. Just a sprinkle. 
Roll out pie crust gently into a 10-12" circle.
Place the fruit in the center of dough but leaving a good 1" or 1 1/2" around the edges. Bring edges up on top of the fruit so that it just lays on top of the fruit. Lightly brush the edge with a little 1/2 & 1/2 or heavy cream or milk & then sprinkle the entire tart with a little more sugar. I like to add a dot or two of butter.

Bake for about 35-40 minutes or just until the crust is evenly browned. Let cool. Slice and serve with vanilla ice cream or whip topping.

Eat & Love Well, Sonya


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sweet & Sour Chicken

Sweet & Sour chicken, Shrimp Fried Rice, Egg Drop Soup, Won ton Soup, Beef & Broccoli, Egg Rolls, General Tao's Chicken, Vegetable LoMein & my mom's Chicken & Snow peas are just a few Chinese dishes that we enjoy. Ordering take out is a special treat and can be very expensive. With the collection of cookbooks that I have and an array of recipes on line, we can have Chinese at home for a fraction of the cost of take out.  Plus, we get to decided what goes into our dish!!!! This dish is easy prep and we loved the way the sweet & sour played on each other. With Steamed brown or white rice and vegetables of choice, you have a pretty healthy meal. With the abundance of fresh produce this time of the year, you can have a wide variety of vegetable choices.  I usually have all ingredients on hand so this is an easy dinner item. This recipe fed our family of four with leftovers for lunch the next day. I plan on tripling the sauce the next time because my family loves extra sauce over their rice and vegetables. The dish calls for chicken breast, but I think that a mix of chicken breast and boneless chicken thighs would be a match. Well, I do because I love those thighs.... I prepared the chicken before work and topped with the sauce ingredients, placed in the fridge and brought it back out for about 15 minutes while oven was warming up. Dinner was ready in under 1 hour. You can even bake the rice right along side the chicken! Just Wonderful!!!! 

Psalm 119:103 How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth. God's words are sweet to us.  It's meant to give us nourishment, just as the food we eat daily. If we are daily reading God's word we can experience His Sweetness every day. Good food is meant to be shared with family, friends and strangers along the way, so is God's word. When we are not eating the right foods, our bodies suffer, we become sour, and it's the same when we are not feeding our souls and we become sour to those around us. Take in God's spiritual food, it is sweet and share it with others by what you say & what you do! Sourness does not belong in our spiriutal diet!

Sweet & Sour Chicken-

Ingredients-

4-5 Boneless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
2-3 eggs slightly beaten
1 1/2 cups cornstarch
sprinkle of salt & pepper over the cornstarch
oil for frying

Place beaten eggs in one bowl and the cornstarch in another. Drop chicken pieces in the egg and then roll in the cornstarch to cover and then on a cookie sheet. I like to do this all first before lightly frying.

Heat oil in dutch oven or stir fry pan. Lightly drop chicken pieces in oil and brown, they just have to get their coating slightly crisp, they do not have to be cooked. The chicken will finish cooking in the oven. Remove with slotted spoon and place in a 13 x 9 baking dish. ( I used my stir fry pan and used sesame oil to brown the chicken. They came out perfect).

Sauce Ingredients-

4 tablespoons ketchup
3/4  cup sugar
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic salt
 
Mix sauce ingredients and pour over the chicken. You can at this point cover and refrigerate and bake later. If baking right away. Pre-heat oven to 350 and bake the chicken for 45 minutes. Stirring every 15 minutes. The will become thick as it cooks.

Steam rice & vegetables of choice to serve with the chicken. To bake rice. I place just over 2 cups of rice in a buttered dish and add 4 cups hot chicken broth, cover and bake for 20 minutes. Gently mix and add 2 tablespoons butter. I freeze any leftover rice for future soups!

Eat Well, Sonya




Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth of July!

Happy fourth of July!! I love this holiday, fireworks, food, family, the colors especially, red, white & blue. Some of my favorite colors. The flag. My mother-in-law always had holiday plates, cups, napkins, her flags everywhere and great holiday food.  I was requested by some fellow co-workers for a menu of goodies I could make. With the fourth just a few days away and a new summer magazine that I received as a birthday gift, filled with tons of summer recipes including these cookies, well it was meant to be. Thanks Leslie for a great magazine! These cookies are amazing. Our oldest son could not get enough of them and has requested that they are a house staple for every day of the week for life! A cookie for everyday for life, this recipe is a keeper. I just love it when the boys take a bite of anything I make and go crazy with oohs and aahs and these are so good......They were a huge hit at the office as well and I am sure by the end of the night there were only crumbs left. They are easy to mix and roll out beautifully. One batch makes about 10 dozen. I doubled the batch and got a bazillion cookies. More than enough for home and to take to work. They have a touch of lemon extract which compliments nice with the cream cheese & frosting.  I made the cookies on one day, frosted and decorated the next. With red, white and blue frosting and sprinkles to match they will make a nice touch to celebrate the day! I think I will have to make another batch very soon, there were just a few cookies left when I came home from work...

July 4, 1776 a day to remember our independence as a nation. We too can have independence from sin. Galatians 5:1 It is freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand Firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Christ died to set us free! Free from sin. What is holding you in bondage today?What day is or will be your independence day?


Sugar Star & Flag Cookies
Adapted from Taste of Home best of Summer Recipes

Ingredients-

1 cup of butter-softened
1/2 cup cream cheese-softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
5 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons salt


Directions-

In a large bowl, cream the butter, cream cheese & sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and extracts. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or until easy to handle.

On a lightly floured surface roll out dough to a 1/4" thickness. Cut with floured 2 or 3" cookies cutters of your choice. Place 1" apart on un-greased baking sheets. Sprinkle with colored sugar or leave some blank to frost. Bake at 350 for 9-11 minutes or until lightly browned and set.

Cool and then frost with your favorite frosting.

Butter Cream Frosting
Adapted from Taste Of Home

1/2 cup softened butter
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-3 Tablespoons of milk

Beat butter until light & fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Add the milk to thin as needed to make it spreadable. Tint with desired paste food coloring.

Frost, decorate and let the frosting dry a bit before stacking on a tray or in a cookie jar.




Sunday, June 24, 2012

Maple Banana Muffins

Wow! These last few weeks since my last post have been busy. Mother's day, birthdays, Memorial Day, Father's day and our youngest graduating from 5th grade! Another milestone.  Elementary school days behind us! Hard to believe that our oldest is going to be a Sophomore. Mom was right, once they go to school, time will just fly by.  I love banana muffins and the addition of maple syrup takes these muffins up a notch. I love the deep flavor that maple syrup adds to just about anything.  Scones, muffins, bread and when it is added as a "secret ingredient" to eggs, you'll never want to be without a bottle of syrup. Pure Maple Syrup that is. I just love the flavor combination of maple & bananas, maple & pecans, maple bacon vinaigrette, they just go together. My family loves fruit and it goes quickly, but I love to see a few rotting bananas in the bowl. Gets my mind thinking of all the recipes I could make with them. Throwing them in the freezer after they get pretty rotten ensures a treasure treat in the near future. This recipe doubles & freezes well. I just have this thing if you are going to turn the oven on, you might as well double the recipe and have some for now and freeze some for later. Stocking up the easy way! I like to sprinkle some raw sugar on top before baking just to add a bit of crunch. 

Things that just go together, peanut butter & jelly, egg & olive, hot dogs & beans, eggs & bacon, grill cheese & tomato soup, black & white cookies, chips & dip. Boaz & Ruth, David & Goliath, Rahab & her scarlet chord, Moses & the Israelites, Jonah & the whale, David & the Lions, when you think of these people you always think of them and their stories. Stories & lives that would not be without the other. Jesus & the cross. Forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation! 


Maple Banana Muffins-

Ingredients-

1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar (or 1/2 cup maple sugar)
1/4 cup melted butter
1 egg slightly beaten
1 teaspoon maple extract
2 medium bananas mashed
4 tablespoons milk
4 tablespoon maple syrup

Directions-

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease muffin tins or place cupcake liners in the tins and set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda & baking powder. Mix in the sugar. (Feel free to use maple sugar if you find some).

In a large bowl, combine the melted butter, beaten egg, maple extract, bananas, milk and the maple syrup and beat with a fork. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture and mix until the dry ingredients are combined. Spoon the batter into greased muffin tins and bake for about 20 minutes or until the muffins are lightly browned. Cool completely before freezing.

Eat Well, Sonya




Monday, May 7, 2012

Homemade Ricotta Cheese & Ricotta Pie

This
Made This


Have you ever thought about making homemade ricotta cheese? I'm sure with everything that goes on in your day, homemade cheese is not on the top of the to do list. I felt the same way until I had a slice of homemade ricotta cheesecake made with homemade ricotta cheese. I knew right after the first bite that I was going to be making a batch of ricotta cheese that week. After finding out how easy the recipe was, it was now a top priority. When a ricotta pie was requested, I just knew it was meant to be! I had all ingredients on hand and within a half hour I had delicious ricotta cheese. That's it 30 minutes to cheese. Glorious Cheese! The only draw back is that the cheese needs to sit overnight in the refrigerator. When I have a recipe that needs ricotta cheese I will be taking the time to make my own. However, I  amazed  myself when I went searching in my never ending collection of cookbooks and could not find a single ricotta pie recipe. Not one. Only for ricotta cheesecake and the request was for a pie. I was more than happy to search the Internet and came across another blog that I like called www.the parsleythiefcooks.com, and guess what? There it was "Easter Ricotta Pie." I followed her recipe and it was absolutely amazingly scrumptious. This pie was so easy to throw together. Of course it had to be, since it was adapted from her grandmothers recipe. When the recipient of this pie had a bite, the response was "the best ricotta pie ever!" Two things that I love about cooking and baking is how you can take simple ingredients, or when you open  your refrigerator/pantry doors and you start transforming them into a meal that comforts your family. The second is seeing the complete pleasure and happiness in those that I feed whether it be my family, friends or strangers.

Is it not wonderful how things in creation are transformed, the Caterpillar that changes to a butterfly, Chameleons that change their color for protection, leaves on the trees that transform from lush greens to vibrant autumn colors that grace many mountains in the Northeast, tadpoles that become frogs, and we too can be transformed, 2 Corinthians 3:18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. For the believer, becoming Christ like is an ongoing transformation. Each and every day is a choice we make to do as Christ would have us. Renewing our mind with scripture and spending time in prayer is a great place to start. Letting Christ be our example in our day to day routine such as in our speech, actions, where we go, how we spend our time. I hope that today finds us being transformed in being more like Christ. 

Homemade Ricotta Cheese-

Ingredients-
2 quarts whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
3-4 Tablespoons lemon juice

Directions-
Line a large fine mesh sieve with cheesecloth and place over a large bowl.
Slowly bring milk, cream and salt to a rolling boil in 6 quart heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Add lemon juice, reduce heat to low and simmer stirring constantly until curdled. May take about 10 minutes or so. Once mixture starts curdling well, pour into lined sieve and let drain for 1 hour. Chill covered in refrigerator. Will keep up to 2 days in refrigerator.



Homemade Ricotta Pie-
adapted from www.theparsleythiefcooks

Ingredients for crust-
3 cups flour
1 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
2 sticks unsalted butter softened
1/2 cup sugar
zest of 1 orange
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
plus one additional egg for brushing the top of the pie

Directions-
Whisk together the flour, baking powder & salt in a mixing bowl. Set aside. Cream the butter & sugar until light & fluffy about 4 minutes. Add the orange zest and beat for another minute. Add the egg yolks, then the whole eggs, beating after each addition & scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. With mixer on low slowly add the dry ingredients & beat until just combined. Dump the dough out onto a well floured work surface and shape into a ball. Divide into 2 balls one slightly larger than the other. Shape into disk, wrap in plastic & chill for 1 hour.


Ingredients for filling-
1 pound ricotta cheese (part skim or whole)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 eggs
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Directions-
If using store bought ricotta cheese, place ricotta in a colander and set over a bowl, cover w/plastic wrap and leave in the refrigerator to drain overnight.

Transfer the drained ricotta to a mixing bowl. Add the sugar & cinnamon stir until combined. In a separate mixing bowl beat eggs lightly. Add them to the ricotta mixture and stir. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Take the larger of the two doughs and roll out about 1/8" thick round. Carefully fit it to a 9" deep dish pie plate. Pour in the filling. Roll the second disc of dough out and cut into strips. Arrange the strips over the top in a lattice pattern. Crimp & seal edges. Brush crust with the beaten egg. Bake for about 1 hour until the crust is golden brown. Remove and cool on rack completely. Store in refrigerator. Serve slightly chilled by taking out of refrigerator about a 1/2 hour before serving.


Eat Well, Sonya


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

French Onion Soup

Is is not wonderful how the humbleness of a vegetable, the onion, can turn into an amazingly delicious soup. French onion soup is one of my favorites. I love that it only requires just a few ingredients for a whole pot of goodness. When there is only onions, bread & cheese, make soup I say! My Aunt use to make this for me when I would visit her. I can remember to this day the little crocks she served it in and how quickly a warm and delicious dinner came together. A meal shared at her table in the kitchen in what I thought was "The Big City!" To this day, I always check out the menu when at a restaurant, looking for French Onion Soup. I seem to want to try it every where I go, just to see if it measures up to what I had with my Aunt. There are tons of variations, but I pretty much stick to her recipe and tweak it just a bit combining ingredients from a cookbook my sister bought me, "The French Country Table," simple recipes for bistro classics by Laura Washburn. Her fresh fruit tart is amazing and most of her recipes require a small list of ingredients. Classic country French food and rustic Italian is what I love. A little of her and me. I usually make a pot of this soup, laddle into the soup crocks, top with toasted french bread, some cheese and place under the broiler for a few minutes. However, may I suggest that if you are using your oven for other things and have some room, by all means, throw a pan of onions in and let them roast until soft and slightly brown. You can cool them, refrigerate and be well on your way to dinner for the next day. This is also great for a get together with many guests, you can easily double the recipe, toast your bread slices, place them on the broiler pan, top with cheese and melt for a few minutes. Each guest can laddle their own soup and top with the cheesy bread slices. I was beyond thrilled when a friend surprised me with these soup crocks. I just love them. I could easily find myself making a collection of soup crocks. Since my family is not big on onions, the four I have make the perfection collection. 

Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me all you who are weary and burden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. 

The days when I feel heavy hearted & filled with burdens of one thing or another, I seem to forget that if I release them to God, I find peace and a lightness that only He can lift from me. I must not forget that He only is my source of love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulless, kindness & self-control.


French Onion Soup -

Ingredients-

3 cups sliced onions ( I use a combination of regular & sweet) large just about 3 pounds
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 Tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic crushed
1 Tablespoon flour
2 cans (10 1/2 oz) beef broth (use the one with no msg & low sodium)
1 1/2-2 cups red wine
1 teaspoons worchestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
2 springs of thyme

1 loaf of french bread sliced 
1 1/2 cups grated cheese, Swiss, Gruyere, Pravalone, Mozarella or a mix

Directions-

Saute the onions in butter and olive oil for about 30 minutes on low heat. Add the garlic and flour stirring for about 1 minute. Add the stock and wine, bay leaf and thyme. Season with salt & pepper, bring to a boil for about 20-30 minutes. Before serving, preheat the broiler. Put the french bread slices on baking sheet and broiler till just lightly brown. Leave broiler on. Ladle soup into oven proof bowls and top with a few slices of toasted bread. Sprinkle generously with cheese and cook under the broiler till cheese is melted and bubbly..

Eat Well, Sonya




Friday, April 13, 2012

Busy Day Cake

Don't you just love the name of this cake? "Busy Day" I have been making this cake since I was in elementary school. It was one of the first things I learned to baked from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook that my mom gave me. I often imagine that it got it's name from homemakers that were so busy with housework, chores, working, errands, that they wanted a quick, easy dessert to throw together for after dinner. This is it! Over the past 20 years my cooking and baking has evolved to the love of simple ingredients that make delicious food. This recipe is one of them. Another short list of ingredients that is whipped up in a matter of minutes and baked under 30. You probably already have everything you need. I find that when I use the best ingredients that I can afford, my recipes taste that much better. This cake is absolutely delicious with a sprinkling of confectioners' sugar, or frosted with your favorite frosting, and even better in the summer with fresh picked berries and some homemade whip topping! It's one of those desserts that like a great pair of jeans, can be dressed up or down. I am admitting that after I made this cake, I had an urge, yes an urge from where I don't know, but I put a piece in a bowl and poured some milk over the top! I really can't believe I was doing this, but with one bite, another, and another, I was hooked and ready to pour milk over the rest of the cake and devour it. I never wanted to try milk over cake, ever. Milk is suppose to be in a cup, to be drunk with the cake. After watching my husband's family do this for years, I have now crossed over to their side. It was absolutely delicious. This warm slice of cake soaking up the milk, tasting like a Snickerdoodle cookie. With just the right ratio of milk to cake there was  no sogginess at all, just pure wonderful deliciousness all in one bowl! Cake will never be the same. Trust me you have to try it. I hope that even among your busiest days, or on the days when you have some down time, you take the time to make this cake. You can never be to "busy" for Busy Day Cake! Our oldest son thinks this should be an Every Day Cake!! and it just might, they ate it all in one sitting.

Busy days. This verse in Joshua 3:9 got me thinking, Joshua said to the Israelites, "Come and listen to the words of the Lord your God. "Come and listen." Are our days too busy and filled with too much to do, places to go, people to see, never ending list that we forget to come and listen. How do you come and listen?, Psalm 5:3 says that In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation. I love how it says "in the morning you hear my voice" before your day starts and gets busy. Starting your day alone with God, quietly, laying your requests, praising Him, giving thanks and listening for His voice with expectation that He is going to respond. Let us not get so busy that we forget that This is the day that The Lord has made!

Busy Day Cake 
(Better Homes and Gardens Complete Step by Step Cookbook) What is great about this cake is that you can make it your own. Change out the extract for lemon, orange or almond. Add some grated lemon or orange zest. How about a dash of nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice whatever mood you find yourself in.

Ingredients-

1/3 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Directions-

Grease & flour a 9x9" square cake pan. Preheat oven to 375.

In mixing bowl add butter, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add 1/2 the milk, egg and vanilla. Mix well and beat for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and add the rest of the milk. Beat for 2 minutes more. Turn into prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, until tester comes clean. Cool and sprinkle with confectioner's sugar, frost with your favorite frosting. During the peak berry season, top with fresh berries and a dollop of whip topping, or place a piece of cake in a bowl pour some milk over the top and enjoy a sweet moment.

Eat Well, Sonya

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Happy Easter, and Oh My Lemon Meringue Pie!

Easter is one of my favorite Holidays. I do remember our Easter's growing up. Mom would make my sister and I matching dresses and some of them where crocheted. Just gorgeous. My sister and I for many years always had matching outfits, and my brother was dressed in a color that matched as well. We had a huge breakfast at Grandma's, sometimes an Easter egg hunt and the best Easter baskets ever. Then after Easter service where the everyone was dressed to the nines, we would have Easter dinner at Grandma's. I think lemon meringue pie is the quintessential dessert for Easter. Big pillow puffs of meringue, which I love to eat right off the whisk and a bright, very lemony, I mean where your cheeks pucker in a bit and Hello lemony tart flavor. I like my lemon meringue pies more on the tart side with just a touch of sweetness. Our Mom would make one every Easter and Thanksgiving. Her pies where masterpieces. The crust was always perfect, and she would make these beautiful individual meringue puffs. I remember her taking a cookie sheet placing a piece of foil over it and marking out six 4" circles on the foil. She would lightly spray it with cooking and spray and then fill each circle with the meringue, making them tall and full. They would get baked just till the peaks were getting brown and then she would pull them from the oven. Once the crust and the filling were cool, which I never did ask why she never made her filling from scratch, but always used the Jello pudding and pie filling, she would fill the crust and gently remove the meringues and place them on top of pie. I haven't followed in her steps, except for making the crust from scratch. I do make my own filling and top the entire pie with meringue. I like it when you don't see the lemon filling and your guest are wondering is it lemon, grapefruit, key lime chiffon, etc, etc.... I do know one thing is that Mom's pie was delicious and there were never any leftovers. She was an amazing cook and baker among many other things that she did well. There is no doubt about how fun Easter is with dying eggs, baskets, dressing up, baking and enjoy a meal with family & friends. More than all of that, with Spring and the rebirth of all things greens, we too can have a rebirth, because Amen, and Praise The Lord, Jesus was victorious over death! Have a blessed Easter!

The Easter story continued- Matthew 28:1-7 After the sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came  down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him. Now I have told you." 

I just love that "is going ahead of  you into" Do you ever hear little ones say, "you go or you do it first?"Well, my friends, Jesus is ahead of us first, he has already gone there, waiting for us, we just need to follow.. 

Lemon Meringue Pie 
(Fresh Every Day by Sara Foster)

Ingredients-

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon extract (for that extra lemony flavor)
3 lemons (grated zest of 2, juice of 3)
6 large eggs, separated
4 Tablespoons butter cut into pieces
1 pre-baked pie shell (use your favorite recipe or if your not into making crust, a frozen pie shell or the refrigerated dough works just as well)
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

Combine the sugar, cornstarch, salt, lemon extract, lemon juice and 1 1/2 cups of water in a heavy bottomed saucepan placed over medium heat and stir to combine. Stirring constantly until the mixture begins to boil 6-7 minutes, and continue to boil, stirring until it is thick and glossy for about 1 minute more.

Lightly beat the egg yolks in a small mixing bowl and then whisk 1/2 cup of the hot sugar mixture into egg yolks  until smooth. Pour the warmed egg mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining sugar mixture and whisk constantly over very low heat for about 4 minutes, until it thickens to the consistency of pudding. Be very careful not overcook the custard, it will curdle if it is cooked to long over the high heat. 

Remove the custard from the heat and whisk in the butter and the lemon zest, and pour into the pre-baked pie crust. 

To make the meringues, place the egg whites in a mixing bowl and beat for about 1 minute until they begin to thicken. Increase the speed of the mixer to high and continue beating until the egg whites are frothy. Add the confectioners' sugar and beat until the whites form soft peaks. The peaks will hold their shape when you lift the batters out of the bowl.

Spread the meringue over the filling touching the sides. Hide the filling with the meringue!!
I like to make swirls and peaks with the back of the spoon. Bake the pie on a center rack in the oven for 10-12 minutes, just till the peaks are turning brown. Cool for at least 1 hour before serving. 

Eat Well, Sonya

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Show me your Glory!!!

Daffodils reaching for the sun.
Daffodils starting to open!
I had asked God one morning to "Show me His Glory!" I am trying to get in the habit of asking to see Him in the most unexpected places. Sometimes we are aware of him when it's right in our face, but for us to stop and really look, to search like we are looking for hidden treasure is where He will surprise us. Since we have been blessed with early spring and almost summer like weather, I was out doing a walkabout of our yard. Yes a walkabout! Have you ever done this yourself? I started to do this shortly after we moved in our home. I observed my Mother-in-law in the spring, summer and fall just walking about the perimeter of their lake property. I often wondered what she was looking for or thinking about. Was she looking for bunny nests, dropped bird eggs, where to plant flowers, what to prune, rocks that need to be re-stacked, repairs that needed to be done from the winter. I start at one corner of our property and slowly work my way around. This is when I find myself looking for the bunny nests that we have been blessed with since we moved in, picking up scraps of unused materials that birds do not use for their nest, checking out the house and looking to see what needs to be repaired and just observing just as she did.

As I was coming upon the left side of our front steps, there His was! Daffodils, no way!! There has not been one blooming daffodil in this spot since we moved in 9 years ago. It's like someone just planted these bulbs in a perfect circle. Just amazing. We had a small row of them by fence, but they never got more than 4" tall, no blooms then they stopped coming up all together. I love daffodils, who doesn't, one of the first to break thru the ground in Spring. Rebirth, joy, happiness, farewell to winter. I see those stems just reaching as straight as they can toward the sun. I too need to keep myself reaching towards the Son. If in full bloom for Easter Sunday, they will make a nice addition to our table. I was in search for God's glory and there he was right at my front door! Matthew 7:8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. I can only imagine what Mom's walkabouts are like now. Talk about treasures...I am looking forward to my next walkabout at the lake.

The Easter Story Continued-Matthew 27:57-65 As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus' body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb. The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate, "Sir," they said, "we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, "After three days I will rise again." So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has risen from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first. "Take a guard," Pilate answered. "Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how. So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

I can't believe you made that cake! Baking with Nicole.

Nicole and I finally got together to make this cake and yes, the recipe name is correct. We can't believe WE made this cake! We were hoping to post this in February for Valentines, but with sickness and schedules we just couldn't hook up. However, chocolate and strawberries are not just for February and Valentines. This cake is absolutely gorgeous and would be a delightful dessert for any occasion, especially with Easter and Mother's day just around the corner. It looks really complicated, but actually it's pretty easy. We took our time baking and assembling over the course of two days. We baked the cake one day, and the next day we made the frosting and chocolate chard's. Putting it all together was the fun part. You could easily use just one chocolate for the chard's and mix up the berries would still result in a  beautiful cake. I'm thinking white chocolate chard's and blueberries for the fourth of July. The recipe came from one of Nicole's favorite cookbooks, Baking made easy by Lorraine Pascale. I like my frosting on the soft side and removed it from the refrigerator about an hour or so before serving. It is delicious all by itself and really does not need any adornment. Feel free to use your own favorite cake recipe. It doesn't have to be chocolate, yellow or white would be equally delicious. We've started a binder to keep track of all the recipes we are making together. We have fun in the kitchen, we bake, sample and go out for lunch. A young foodie who understands the passion and language of food. How cool is that. You too can make this cake!


Easter Story Continued-Matthew 27:51-55 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people. When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, "Surely he was the Son of God!" Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's sons.



I can't believe you made that cake!

Cake ingredients-

7 oz butter softened
7 oz caster sugar ( I used regular sugar)
4 eggs
5 oz plain flour
2 1/2 oz cocoa powder
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons baking powder

Directions-

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease & flour an 8" in round cake pan. Cream together the butter and sugar until they are pale. Add half the eggs and half the flour and mix well. Add the rest of the eggs, flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder and beat for a minute or two. Pour into your prepared pan and bake for about 30-40 minutes. (Our cake took just about the whole 40 minutes.) Bake until a toothpick comes out clean. Leave to cool in the pan. We left ours to cool and went out for lunch. When they were cool enough I covered with foil and left out overnight.


Butter-cream frosting ingredients-

9 oz softened butter
1 lb 2oz icing sugar (confectioners')
3 1/2 oz good dark chocolate (we used Nestle's dark chocolate chips) melted and cooled
just a splash or two of half and half to thin as needed

Directions-

Place the butter and icing sugar in a bowl and beat until the mixture is fluffy. You might need to add some half & half or milk just to help it mix well. Add the cooled melted chocolate and beat until all well combined.

Chocolate chard's-


4oz white chocolate melted
4oz milk chocolate melted
9 oz bittersweet chocolate melted

We made the chocolate chard's in between making the frosting and frosting the cake. Melt each chocolate in separate bowls using the microwave in increments of 20 seconds. Stirring until smooth.
On a cookie sheet, place a piece of wax paper and drizzle the white chocolate all over, refrigerate till harden about 10 minutes or so. Take out of refrigerator and drizzle the milk chocolate over the white, refrigerate for another 10 minutes or so or until harden. Take pan out of refrigerator and spread the bittersweet chocolate over the drizzled chocolate, covering all the chocolate and again refrigerate until harden. When all is harden well, break into good size chard's to cover the edges of the cake. Leave in the refrigerator until ready to decorate the cake.

Assembling the cake-

At least 1 quart of strawberries, remove tops, wash, dry and slice.

Cut the cake in half. Place one layer on plate and spread with some butter-cream frosting. I like a generous helping of frosting in between the layers. Just make sure you have enough left to frost the whole cake. Place the second layer on top and lightly coat the top and sides with some more of the butter-cream frosting. Refrigerate until the frosting is firm. Once the frosting is hard to the touch remove and frost the cake with the rest of the frosting. Gently place the chocolate chard's around the cake. Top with the strawberries. Refrigerate, take out about an hour or so before serving...