March 14, 2014

Blog Update

Hi everyone!  I am back from vacation, and settled back into work mode.  The other day I was excited to get back to work on posts for this blog.  However, as luck would have it, my computer has died!  So unfortunately, at this point in time, I am not sure when you will see another post from me.  This weekend I plan to take my computer somewhere to see if it can be fixed.  If it can be fixed, I have no idea how long it will take.  If it can not be fixed, I am not sure when I will get a new one, but I'm guessing it may have to wait a couple of months before that happens.  

I am trying very hard to not get stressed out about this.  There have been so many other things that have gone wrong in the last week, so I am on stress overload!  Today I am going to forget about the 2 feet of snow we got yesterday, I'm not going to worry about the fact that our furnace continues to have problems and I am going to close my eyes and try to put myself back in Antigua.  Warm weather, beautiful beaches and no worries.  That's where I am my head anyway!  

Thanks for your patience, and I hope to be back up and running sooner rather than later.  In the meantime, here is the latest picture of our baby girl that will hopefully be arriving next week.  We are so excited to welcome her to the family and shower her with love ☺.

Seriously - could she be any cuter???

3/21/14 UPDATE:  So, it turns out my computer has a virus that wiped out my operating system.  We are trying to get it fixed but it's not looking good.  Fingers crossed that at the very least I can recover my files! 

This adorable puppy arrived this week - we have named her Bleu. She is the most adorable puppy ever and is super smart!  Wish us luck in getting her trained quickly ☺

February 24, 2014

Faux Garlic & Chive Mashed Potatoes

For the past two months I have been on a low carb kick, along with my gluten free diet.  This can become challenging when it comes to finding low carb side dishes.  There are times when you just want mashed potatoes!

So this is what I came up with to satisfy my mashed potato craving.  Delicious and satisfying - I really felt like I was eating mashed potatoes.  Can't get much better than that!

Faux Garlic & Chive Mashed Potatoes

1 medium head of cauliflower
2 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tsp garlic, chopped
1 tbsp chives, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Pour the broth into a saucepan and bring to boil.  Rinse and cut cauliflower into pieces then add to the boiling broth and cook for about 6-8 minutes, or until soft.  Drain and pat dry with paper towels (you want it as dry as you can get it), but do not let it cool.  Place cauliflower in the bowl of a food processor and add the remaining ingredients.  Puree until nice and smooth and it resembles the look of mashed potatoes.  Makes about 4 servings.

February 18, 2014

Penny Cluse Cafe, Burlington VT

Man, the last couple of weeks have been crazy around my house!  Problems with our furnace, major issues with my car, getting ready for vacation, anniversary/birthdays/ name it and it seems we've been hit with it!  I feel like I haven't had a second to breathe, much less work on my blog!  So, I decided to do a post on one of my favorite places in the world to have breakfast - Penny Cluse Cafe in Burlington, VT.

I say it's one of my favorite places for breakfast simply because that's the only meal I've gone there for, but I'm sure lunch would be just as fabulous!  Plenny Cluse was featured in a 2010 edition of the Food Network Magazine for the best place for breakfast in all of Vermont.  Specifically noted was their biscuits smothered in herb gravy.  I have to tell you - I am not a biscuits & gravy person when it comes to breakfast food, however Penny Cluse's herb gravy is TO DIE FOR!  I would order this for breakfast just so I can eat their amazing gravy!  I hope to one day be able to replicate that gravy. 

This past weekend was my birthday, so my husband took me to Penny Cluse for a celebratory birthday breakfast.  My most favorite thing in the world to eat for breakfast is banana pancakes.  It is the only type of pancake I will other is worth eating in my book.  Needless to say, I think I have banana pancakes maybe once a year so it is a special treat for me!  Penny Cluse happens to be the only place I know of that makes them the way I like them, so it's a great excuse to make the trip out there (below is a picture of a batch of banana pancakes I made - click here for my recipe).  

Breakfast at Penny Cluse was a wonderful start to my birthday!  If you are ever in Burlington VT, I highly recommend going to this amazing cafe - I promise you will not regret it!  

In the next few weeks I have a couple of fun things to look forward to - thank God because I could use a break!  First off is vacation in Antigua with my amazing husband to celebrate our 10th anniversary.  Then shortly after that we will be welcoming a new puppy to our family - a female charcoal lab.  We haven't decided on a name yet, but here is a picture of her:

She is actually the color of charcoal/gray (this picture doesn't do her coloring justice & the "brown" label simply means the color of her collar so they can tell them apart).  We are very excited to bring her home in a few weeks!  After we settle in with her, I hope to get back to more regular blog posts, so stayed tuned!  Till then - I will be thinking of you all as I bask in the Caribbean sun! ☺

February 9, 2014

Mexican Brownie Sundaes

I decided to challenge myself by entering a recipe contest (you can click on this link to see the contest  They gave us three ingredients that had to be in the recipe - chocolate, cinnamon and strawberries.  I am not a big fan of chocolate, but who can resist a thick gooey brownie with some vanilla ice cream?  Even I love the combination, and it's even better with a drizzle of caramel sauce.  These were the thoughts going through my head as I pondered what to make.  

I decided to go with a variation of it by making Mexican brownies (brownies with cinnamon in them) and using them in a sundae with vanilla ice cream and strawberries.  It seemed like a great idea in my head, so I went with it.  

I actually really enjoyed this dessert.  Everyone in my house did actually, which surprised me a little!  People in my house tend to prefer sticking to original recipes, so I was thinking they may not like the brownies with cinnamon in them.  They did however, and they loved this sundae.  Yay!  

Mexican Brownies

2 sticks of butter
4 oz of unsweetened chocolate
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1 tbsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325.  Line an 8x8 baking dish with parchment paper, grease it well with butter or cooking spray and set aside.

Melt the butter in chocolate in a medium sized saucepan over low heat, stirring continuously.  Remove pan from heat and stir in the sugar.  Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk to combine until nice and smooth.  Add the flour and cinnamon, and stir until just combined.  Pour into baking dish and bake for about an hour, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.  Allow the brownies to cool for at least an hour before cutting.

To assemble the sundaes:  Put about 1 1/2 cups of sliced strawberries in a bowl and add about 2 tsp of sugar, then mash them together until they become mushy and juicy (feel free to add more sugar if you like them sweeter).  Take one brownie and crumble it up in the bottom of a bowl, top with some vanilla ice cream, then add some of the mashed strawberries, and then crumble some more brownies on top.  Enjoy!

January 31, 2014

Beef Brisket

Pulled pork is one of my favorite things to cook for a crowd, especially in the summer for some reason.  I love that it can feed so many people, yet is so easy to cook.  It was this thought that led me to try my hand at cooking a beef brisket recently.  I wanted to make something that I could use for several different meals, and since I've never made it before, I was excited to give it a try.

This worked out really well, and I was able to use the meat for several different dishes.  First, I served it over mashed potatoes with a side of veggies, next I added some BBQ sauce to it and made sandwiches, and lastly I made quesadillas with it.  Everything turned out delicious, AND I had some left over that I put in the freezer for a later date.  All in all, cooking this brisket was a huge success.  With a little planning and a little time, this brisket went a long way in providing several meals for us.  I've already thought of a few more uses for it, so I will definitely be making this again!

Beef Brisket

6 lbs beef brisket
1/2 cup red wine
2 cans beef broth
1 cup water
1/2 cup Tamari sauce (can substitute with soy sauce)
1 tbsp garlic, chopped
Juice from 1/2 of a lemon

Add the wine, broth, water, Tamari, garlic and lemon in a large roasting pan and stir to combine.  Lay the beef brisket, fat side up, into the pan and cover with foil.  Place in the refrigerator and let it set for 24 hours.  

Preheat oven at 325 and cook brisket for about 4 hrs, or until it comes apart easily when pierced with a fork.  Remove from pan and either cut into slices, or shred with a fork (or some of both).  This will yield about 8-12 servings, depending on if you slice or shred it, and depending on your serving sizes (definitely at least 6 large servings though).

January 26, 2014

Easy Creamy Chicken

We are all looking for quick and easy weeknight meals, right?  I am always finding it difficult to come up with new ideas for chicken, but to have a quick chicken dinner is ideal.  This one fits the bill - easy, quick and best of all it's delicious!  I served it with a side salad, but you could put this over some pasta, or pair it with a baked potato and veggies.  Whatever you serve it with, just try will not be disappointed!

Easy Creamy Chicken

2 large chicken breasts, each cut in half to make 4 pieces
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp Italian seasoning (can substitute parsley - 1 tsp dried or 1 tbsp fresh chopped)
1/2 tsp salt
couple dashes of cayenne pepper (this is really to taste - if you like it spicy, add more)
2 tbsp butter

Combine the garlic powder, chili powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning, salt and cayenne pepper in a small bowl and mix to combine.  Coat all sides of the chicken with the seasoning mix.  Melt one tbsp of butter in a large skillet on medium-high heat.  Once butter is melted and pan is hot, place your chicken in the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes, then turn the chicken over and cook another five minutes, or until juices run clear and they are cooked through.  Add the remaining tbsp of butter and the heavy cream, mixing to combine.  Turn heat to medium-low and let the chicken simmer until the sauce has thickened, about 10 minutes.  Serves 3-4, depending on how large the chicken breasts are. 

January 19, 2014

Gooey Cinnamon Squares

We had a slumber party last night with three of the grand-kids!  I love when they come over, mostly because I just love them, but also because it gives me a chance to make something yummy.  Making treats for them gives me great pleasure!

This time I decided to try something new.  I received the Smitten Kitchen cookbook about a year ago, but haven't tried much from it.  I pulled it out the other day and was thumbing through it when I came across this recipe for gooey cinnamon squares.  Hmmmm, not only did they look and sound yummy, but it seemed like something the kids would like also.  

These babies are very interesting.  They taste like a snicker doodle, but the gooey factor makes it seem like they are under-cooked when really they aren't.  It takes a couple of bites before you get past feeling like they need to be cooked more.....and then they become addicting.  And more delicious with each bite.  Everyone loved these, so I guess this one is a keeper.  Thank you Smitten Kitchen for a super yummy, and very interesting dessert!

Gooey Cinnamon Squares (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Cookie base:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Gooey layer:                                  
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup half & half (can use milk or heavy cream if you want)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup all-purpose flour

2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 and line a 9x13 inch baking pan with parchment paper with a 2-inch overhang. 

To make the cookie base:  In a large bowl combine the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium high speed until pale and creamy.  Add the egg, mixing until well blended. Add the flour mixture in two additions, alternating with the milk, and mix just until combined. Spread batter into the bottom of the prepared baking pan. 

To make the gooey layer:  In a small bowl, whisk together the corn syrup, half & half and vanilla. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar on medium high speed until pale and creamy.  Add the egg, mixing until well blended, then add the salt. Add the flour in three additions, alternating with the half & half mixture, starting and ending with the flour. Spread the batter evenly over the cookie base in the baking dish. 

To make the topping:  In a small bowl, combine the sugar and ground cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over the batter. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until top is golden brown. The gooey layer won't set until the squares have cooled completely.

Let cool before cutting into squares. You can store these in an air-tight container at room temperature.