Friday, December 21, 2012

Have yourself a merry little Christmas....


I'll be in the kitchen baking and cooking for most of the weekend, then I'll be
enjoying time with my family and friends.

So, I'm signing off until after the holiday.

Warmest wishes for a Christmas
filled with sweetness.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Quick and Easy Creamy Clam Chowder (Chowda)

Easy Clam Chowda 1

I think it's the law that if you live in New England you need to know how to make clam chowda. Yes, you read that right, we don't say chowder, we say chowda. (We say a lot of things funny around here).

There are 3 types of chowda that are made here in New England. Red, also known as Manhattan, Clear and White. My household is a big fan of the white.

This is a cheater chowda. It's quick and easy to throw together but it tastes like a chowda that you spent hours making.

Once in awhile I get John to make clam cakes to go along with it. Clam cakes are a messy venture and require a long stand at the stove. When I made this the Steelers were on so I didn't even ask for clam cakes, I new better, lol.

We finished off the whole pot in one afternoon. I just left it warming on the stove. John was watching the game, I was baking in the kitchen and the kids were doing their thing. I left mugs and spoons out and we just ate when we were hungry.

Wouldn't it be nice to have a big pot of this simmering while you wrapped all your presents this weekend?

Easy Clam Chowda

Oh and one of the best places to take your mug of chowda and eat it is under the Christmas Tree.

I highly recommend it.

Chowda near the tree 1

Quick and Easy Creamy Clam Chowder
recipe from Lisa@ The Cutting Edge of Ordinary
1 small onion, chopped or you can use shallots like I usually do
3 medium carrots, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 stick butter
2 cans (10-3/4 ounces each) condensed cream of potato soup, undiluted
3 cans (6-1/2 ounces each) chopped clams - not minced! DO NOT DRAIN!
1 quart half-and-half cream or whole milk or 2% milk. I have used all with success.
3 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with a little cold water
More milk to get it to the consistency you like.

In a large saucepan, sauté the onion, carrots and celery in butter until tender (about 20 minutes). Stir in the potato soup and 3 cans of undrained clams and the cream or milk. If the soup looks too thick, just thrown in a little more cream or milk. I add the additional milk at this point. Just put in as much as you like. If you need to thicken it up a bit combine the cornstarch and a small amount of water in a small bowl and stir until smooth; add to soup. Bring to a boil, lower heat and continue to cook until hot. Yield: 9 servings (about 2 quarts).

Monday, December 17, 2012

Almond Cream Cheese Crinkles

Almond Cream Cheese Crinkles

After the tragic events of last Friday, I questioned myself about posting a cookie recipe. I thought about 20 mothers who couldn't bake cookies with their children, about the presents that won't be opened under the tree, about the grieving brothers and sisters, aunt and uncles, grandparents and friends, who won't have a vey merry Christmas this year.

I cannot imagine how these people are coping with such a horrific tragedy. I just hope that some how, some way, they can feel the love and prayers and know that so many people all over the world are sending them a collective hug, embracing them in our hearts and sharing in their pain and sorrow.

When tragedy strikes we always seem to come together, we always want to try and help and we try to carry on. I suppose we try to make life normal again, something I've gotten vey good at over the past two weeks. You try and move past the pain, and just function again. Reconnect to the ordinary.

I've been keeping very busy. It's how I'm dealing with it all. Not giving my mind time to wander too much. My packages have all been mailed, presents are all wrapped, the house is decorated inside and out. My menu is complete and I've picked up everything I need from the grocery store except for those last minute items. I made about 5 pounds of fudge, 60 candies and hundreds (351 in fact) of these....

Holiay Pretzel Rings 4

Holiday Pretzel Rings (you can get the recipe here). The boys love bringing these to parties at school. The fudge was mailed out to some special folks and the rest was gifted to some of our favorite people.

I think I'm good. I think I'm ready.

I've got a few more cookies to make this upcoming weekend. My molasses cookies are always a must for Christmas, and I'll make a chocolate cream pie cause it's Evan's favorite. I've got a full menu of food to prepare and a this to make for Christmas morning.

3 Cheese Breakfast Bake 2

My Three Cheese Breakfast Bake is the perfect way to begin your Christmas Day (once all the presents are open that is). You can make it the night before and just throw it in the oven Christmas morning.

I also whipped up a batch of these Almond Cream Cheese Crinkles.

I love me an almond cookie. Almond is right up there with mocha and caramel in my book.

This cookie is soft and oh so almondy.

This is a really sticky dough. Don't plan on making it and using it right away. It needs to spend some time in the fridge, overnight or at least several hours. I sprayed my cookie scoop with baking spray and the dough still wanted to stick to it. Return your dough to the fridge between batches.

Make sure to let these cool completely before digging in.

Almond Cream Cheese Crinkles 1

Almond Cream Cheese Crinkles
recipe from Plain Chicken 
1 box Golden Butter cake mix
1 egg
1 stick of softened butter
8oz cream cheese softened
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
powdered sugar

In a large bowl mix together all the ingredients except for the powdered sugar. You can use a stand mixer or a hand held mixer. This batter is very sticky, so be prepared for it to ride up on your beaters if you are using a hand held mixer. Once the dough comes together, remove it from the bowl and place it on some plastic wrap. You want to refrigerate this overnight, or at least several hours because it's such a sticky dough.

Preheat the oven to 325. Roll the dough into 1 inch balls and coat in powered sugar. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 10 - 12 minutes.I pressed the tops of each ball of dough down with my fingers just a bit.  I found 12 minutes was the perfect time for my oven. The tops of these will look under cooked  so don't over bake them. The bottoms will be golden brown. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. You want these completely cooked before you eat them. I dusted mine with a little extra powdered sugar before serving.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Double Chocolate Espresso Cookies

Double Chocolate Espresso Cookies 2

You were right.

So many of you who had lost a pet reached out to me and told me it will get better with time, and it has, a little.

That first week had me feeling like I would never have joy back in my heart again. I could feel myself slipping into a bad place. No ambition to do anything. No laughing, no smiling, just lots of tears and still feeling like the void in my life would keep me mourning forever.

Each day is gets a tiny bit easier. I'm really trying to focus on the love and happiness that Moose brought into our lives. I know we gave him the best life we could. We just all still miss him so. I am trying to get back to normal, really I am.

Part of that process was finding joy in the kitchen again. Making Christmas cookies was always one of my most favorite things to do and I didn't want to lose that this year. So even though my baby wasn't sitting close by waiting for anything to hit the floor, I got back in there baked, and it felt pretty good.

Baby steps.

I first made these cookies way back in 2008 when my blog was in it's infancy.

My photos were horrible! It's kind of comical looking back at them. Take a photo in natural light? Why I never thought of that, lol.

If you love chocolate you'll love these cookies.If you know a coffee lover, they will LOVE these cookies.

Filled with lots of bold chocolate flavor, chocolate chips and a dash of espresso powder, they are great addition to your holiday cookie list.

I dare you to find a better cookie to go with a big cold glass of milk!

Double Chocolate Espresso Cookies 1

Double Chocolate Espresso Cookies
recipe from Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary
Yields – 3 dozen
3 squares (1 ounce each) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 cups (12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
½ cup butter (1 stick), cubed
1 tablespoon instant coffee or espresso granules
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 eggs
¾ cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt

In a small saucepan melt the unsweetened chocolate, 1 cup of the chocolate chips, butter and the coffee/espresso granules. Stir until smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

In a mixing bowl beat the sugar and eggs for 3 minutes or until thick and lemon-colored. Beat in the chocolate mixture. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the chocolate mixture. Stir in remaining chips.

Drop by the heaping teaspoon full 2 inches apart onto a parchment lined baking sheet. I use a small cookie scoop. Bake for 350 for 10-12 minutes or until puffed and the tops are cracked. Cool for 5 minutes on the pan before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Finally a recipe from me.....Chicken Broccoli Casserole

Chicken Broccoli Casserole. 2jpg

It's been hard to get back in the kitchen.

The kitchen was my happy place. Cooking and baking for the people I love. Moose was always with me, laying on his bed, watching my every move, following behind me every step of the way. There have been a flood of tears. These days without him have been hard, so much harder than I ever imagined. I see him everywhere. I think I hear him, I think I catch glimpses of him. There is such a void in this house. It's so very hard.

I'm trying to get back into my routine. It's the holiday season but I can't really feel it. It's such a strange thing to go through. I love Christmas. I love making gifts and planning out menus and baking cookies. It always made my heart happy, but my heart just isn't into it this year. For the first time in 25 years I didn't send out Christmas cards. I had no desire. So if you are normally on my list, I apologize, but I just can't do it this year.

The morning after Moose died there was a mourning dove on my deck railing. I have this connection with birds. I don't know why but birds are like signs to me. They come to me when I'm troubled. I can't explain it, it's just always birds. So there sits this mourning dove, quiet and still, not frightened by me opening the door. It just sat and looked at me, and even as I inched forward it didn't move, we looked at each other. I mean I made eye contact with this bird. Finally when I got about 2 feet from it, it flew away. I can't help to think that dove was a sign from Moose saying "I'm ok Mama, I'm free".

That same night John and I headed out to the store and we got behind a bus and scrawled on the bus was the words "On the wings of a dove".

I know it sounds crazy, but these little signs help me cope a bit. Dealing with his loss has thrown me for a loop. I cannot thank you all enough for your e-mails and your words of love and encouragement. They really did help me get through those first few days when I felt like my heart was breaking in two. Thank you all. I know my heart will heal in time, it's just so darn hard right now.

So now it's time for me to get back into the kitchen and get back into a routine and cook something up for my men. You know they really did get spoiled getting fed all the time, lol.

I confess I made this a few weeks ago but never sat and wrote a post for it. It's a quick casserole to throw together. You can use fresh or frozen broccoli.

Chicken Broccoli Casserole

Chicken Broccoli Casserole
recipe from Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary
1 pound of fresh broccoli, broken into pieces and steamed until just tender - Don't overcook! (you could use frozen if you like)
4 cups cooked chicken breasts (I used a rotisserie chicken)
1 cup cheddar cheese

For the topping:
1 tube Ritz crackers crushed
1 stick melted butter

For the sauce:
1  stick butter
1/2 cup cornstarch dissolved in 1/3 cup cold water
1/3 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon Mrs. Dash or seasoning of your choice
Dash salt and pepper
1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
2 cups milk
1 cup cheddar cheese

In a greased 9x13 inch pan, layer the broccoli and the chicken, set aside.

In a sauce pan over medium heat melt the butter. Add in the cornstarch, chicken broth, seasonings and milk. Stir sauce until thickened. Once thickened turn the heat to low and add 1 cup of the cheddar cheese. Stir until melted. Pour over the chicken and broccoli.

For the buttery topping: Melt the stick of butter and stir in the crushed Ritz crackers. Scatter the crumbs all over the top of the casserole. Bake at 350 for 30 - 40 minutes of until hot and bubbly.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Moose 2004 - 2012

Moose better!

Our sweet Moose passed away shortly before noon yesterday.

We were both with him, laying our hands on him, giving him kisses
 and telling him how much we loved him. 

We feel like our hearts are broken into pieces.

We were blessed to have him for 8 1/2 years.

He was a cherished part of our family and will remain in our fondest memories.

Much thanks to all of you who held us in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Moose laying in the sunshine

What a week.

I know lots of you will relate and can totally understand when I tell you that our dog Moose is a part of our family. He's not just a pet, he's part of us and we love that little bundle of fur just like we was one of our kids.

This week has be hard. I haven't sleep, I'm not eating well, I can't concentrate and being in the spirit of the season just hasn't hit yet.  My mind is constantly on Moose.

I have had such a gut wrenching time. As of this writing he is still at the animal hospital. He did have pancreatitis. We had hoped that after a weeks stay he would be on the road to recovery, but he's not. 

We visited Saturday and Sunday. Saturday had us in a bit of an optimistic mood. Moose was excited to see us. He was up and moving and even drank some water and went outside for a bit. He gave us kisses and was wagging his tail. He looked terrible tough. The vet techs had warned us that they had to "give him a hairdo". He looked like a cross between a samurai and Gene Simmons. His hair was spiked up and held in place with gauze. His face was a mess and his little leg was shaved and covered in pink gauze. Pink. Really?

I left with the feeling that we was on the very slow road to recovery. The vet tech told us that after we left, he chewed through his nylon leash and wandered into the waiting room looking for us. Hearing that just broke our hearts. 

Sunday we returned and there was no tail wagging. There were no kisses. He was mopey. He begrudgingly went outside. I made him some chicken with the hopes that maybe he would eat Mama's food. He refused. 

The vet tech told us that the recent blood work indicated that he may have a blockage in his bile duct. What did that mean? I left in a flood of tears. I cried all the way home. I cried all afternoon. I was inconsolable. The doctor was supposed to call around 1pm. At least that is what the vet tech told us. 1pm came and no call. 2pm. 3pm.....nothing. I was beside myself. Finally John called and asked the answering service to contact him. He called us back around 4pm. 

He said he thinks Moose has an internal obstruction, not an external one which would be worse. Good news. After an ultrasound today to confirm his suspicions, he'll go on prednisone. We call prednisone the miracle pill. Moose took it when he was sick back in 2010 and it was amazing how quickly he got better.  

It's going to be a long day waiting to hear.

I'm praying and hoping for good news.

There hasn't been much cooking, baking or photo taking going on here. My poor men have had to fend for themselves almost all week. I've been so down that I barely had any desire or energy to cook. I said to John at one point " I cannot imagine how someone coping with a loved ones illness can function" How to you live with the constant worry? How does their illness not consume your every waking moment?

I'm a total mess.  This week has knocked me on my ass.

I just need Moose back home. I need the churning in my stomach to go away. I need to wake up and see that tail wagging happily at me, I need to take him on his morning walk again, I need to get back in the kitchen and cook, I need to pick up my camera again. I need everything to go back to normal.

Thank you for sticking around while I go through this rough patch.

I'd love your good vibes and prayers.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad wait...make that week!

Moose snoozin1

Blah. That's how I feel.

Did you ever have one of those weeks when everything seems to fall apart?

That usually happens on a holiday week for us, always when the doctors offices are closed. Never fails.

This past Thanksgiving was no exception.

My grandmother (Nana) went into the hospital the day before Thanksgiving. She's in an assisted living home. She has Alzheimer's. She began to act a bit more out of it than usual, so off to the hospital she went. She should be going to a re-hab home tomorrow.

My oldest son got pneumonia the week before. He's doing ok but wakes up this morning and tells me his throat is on fire. Ok, off to the doctors with him (Thanks Mom!)

My youngest son starts complaining that his ears are bothering him. He has wax issues. We do the drops, but they are not helping. Of course they aren't!

Our dog Moose started acting funny yesterday afternoon, then the vomiting started. During the night, and all morning. Thankfully John got off work to take him. Our vet thinks he has pancreatitis. He'll be staying at the vets for 3 - 5 days. To say I am a nervous wreck is an understatement.

A woman I work with lost her home and all her possessions in a fire. Clothes on her back. That's what she's left with.

Another man I work with had an aneurysm and is in critical condition.

Do you have to dump all of this on me in one week? Really universe? Could you not space out the shittiness a bit?

So, that little thing called life has gotten in the way of blogging this week. 

I know you will all understand.

I've got some great recipes coming up if I could just find 10 spare minutes to write a post!

I'll be back soon when life settles down a bit.

Next I'm off to the dermatologist with the youngest. The fun never ends!

Monday, November 19, 2012

No Knead Oatmeal Bread

No Knead Oatmeal bread

It's bread baking time.

I'm happy to report that the weather is delightfully chilly here in Rhode Island and that we even had a few inches of snow last week!

I love snow. Love, love, love it!

I'm so used to the all the grumblings about it too. I don't even let it bother me anymore. I know lots of people who live here hate it and to them I say....MOVE! You live in Rhode Island. It's going to snow. That's not going to change, so either embrace it or move somewhere that it doesn't snow! Simple as that.

Phew....I'm done with that rant. I feel so much better.

So anyway, where was I?  So it snowed and it make me so happy, even thought it was only a few measly inches and it only last a day it made we want to make hot cocoa and pies and soup and bread.

What better to eat with a piping hot bowl of soup. Bread. No knead bread for that matter.

This is a great recipe from Alexandra's Kitchen. It makes 2 loaves! I love that it's loaded with oats. It's great for toasting. It's great with butter. It's great with jam. It's just great.

Make it....especially if it's snowing!

This is how mine looked rising. I just snapped a quick picture and got it back into the oven.

No Knead Oatmeal Bread

One other little note. I did not use as much flour as the recipe called for. My dough was too dry to try and get another cup in, so I used 2 1/2 cups of each instead of 3.

No Knead Oatmeal bread 1

No-Knead Oatmeal Bread
recipe from Alexandra's Kitchen
Yield = 2 loaves
Adapted from Kathleen’s Bake Shop Cookbook

3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 3/4 cups old-fashioned oats
3 cups boiling water
2 tablespoons of butter
1 pkg active dry yeast = 2.25 teaspoons
1/4 cup warm water
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups whole wheat flour

1. Place brown sugar, salt and oats in a large mixing bowl. Add boiling water. Add butter. Let stand till lukewarm. Note: This is the only place where you could mess up the recipe. The mixture must cool to a lukewarm temperature so that it doesn’t kill the yeast.

2. In a small bowl, sprinkle yeast over the 1/4 cup warm water. Let stand for about 5 minutes. Stir. Add this yeast mixture to the oat mixture and stir.

3. Add the flours a little bit at a time. My old recipe says to add it one cup at a time, but I’m never that patient. Add it as slowly as you can tolerate, stirring to combine after each addition.

4. Transfer dough to a lightly greased bowl and cover with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours. This is what I always do for my “warm spot”: preheat the oven to its hottest setting for 1 minute. TURN OFF THE OVEN. Place covered bowl in the oven to rise until doubled.

5. Grease two standard sized loaf pans generously with butter. When dough has risen, punch it down. I use two forks to do this. I stab the dough in the center first, then pull the dough from the sides of the bowl towards the center up onto itself. Then I take my two forks and, working from the center out, I divide it into two equal portions. Place each portion into your prepared loaf pans. Let rise until dough creeps above the rim of the loaf pan.

6. Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Bake loaves for 10 min. Reduce heat to 350ºF. Bake for another 40 to 45 more minutes or until the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped — you have to (obviously) remove the loaf from the pan to test this. Turn loaves out into wire racks immediately to cool.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Mushroom Vegetable Barley Soup

Mushroom Barley Veggie soup

It's soup making time again! I can't begin to tell you all how many times a month I make soup.

I'm the master of the mish-mash soup. Mish-mash soup happens a lot. What's mish-mash soup? I'm sure you make it too but just call it something else. It's that soup that you make with everything that's left over in the fridge and freezer, or the little bits of meat or chicken that you have leftover.

I am the queen of the this kind of soup.

I love creating a big pot of goodness from bit and pieces of other meals, the last little bit of frozen veggies in the package, the ham bone left over from a dinner party. It gets my creative juices flowing.

This soup was inspired by the 2 packages of portabella's that I had in the fridge. Behind the portabellas were leeks and in the cupboard was a few packages of pearl barley that I had bought just for soup making. We love barley in soup. If you haven't tried barley in soup, you are missing out. It's deliciously nutty!

I don't usually write down my soup recipes because, well, normally there isn't one. I had a few friends ask for this before it was finished so I actually wrote it down as I went along.

This is a rare thing.....a written down mish-mash soup. Enjoy!

Mushroom, Veggie and Barely Soup
recipe from Lisa @ The Cutting Edge of Ordinary
1 large leek thinly sliced, white & light green parts only
16 oz portabella mushroom, sliced (2 pkgs)
3 tablespoons of olive oil
3 cloves chopped garlic
12 cups very hot water
3 containers of Knorrs Homestyle Beef Stock * see note
1 cup frozen peas and carrots (1/2 16oz bag)
1 cup pearl barley
1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)
seasoning of your choice

Add the olive oil and leeks to a heavy bottomed pot on medium heat. While the leeks are sauteeing, slice the mushrooms and add them into the pot. I throw in a few sprigs of thyme at this point also. Cover and let cook until mushrooms are soft. There will be liquid at the bottom. Leave it in the pot, it's just more broth for your soup!

Once your mushrooms are softened, add in the water and 3 containers of the Knorrs beef stock. Stir to dissolve.

Add in any seasonings you like now too. I use some parsley, Italian seasoning blend and some salt and pepper. Stir in your barley and let it come to a boil, simmer for 1 hour or until the barley is cooked. I throw a half a bag of peas & carrots and the heavy cream in during the last 15 minutes of cooking. The cream is optional but my guys like creamy soup so I add it in.

* Note - I have fallen in love with Knorrs Homestyle Stocks. When you can't make your own, this is the next best thing. The flavor is so good! If you haven't tried them, I highly recommend them!

Mushroom Barley Veggie soup 1 rib

Friday, November 9, 2012

Baked Apple Pie Egg Rolls

Apple pie egg rolls

My 40 pounds of apples are gone now.

I spend the better part of last Saturday making Apple Butter. I didn't make quite as much of it as I would have liked too. We stored our apples in the outdoor shed, inside a large cooler so critters couldn't get to them.

When I started the long process of peeling and chopping them for the apple butter I noticed that I lost quite a few at the bottom. They got a a bit yucky. So I salvaged what I could and left the rest of them outside for the rabbits and groundhogs and squirrels that live in our backyard.

I'm sure they had a yummy week.

I did manage to make these delicious Apple Pie Egg Rolls with them though.

Apple pie egg rolls 1 rb

This is another recipe from what is now one of my most favorite blogs Alaska from Scratch.
Maya's blog is filled with wonderful and scrumptious food and the Alaskian scenery is nothing to sneeze at either.

This was a quick and easy treat to whip up. The outside of the egg roll wrappers get all crunchy and the inside is all warm and full of squishy apple goodness.

Baked Apple Pie Egg Rolls
Makes 20 egg rolls
Adapted from a recipe at Alaska from Scratch
4 cups of apples, peeled and diced
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
dash of salt
20 egg roll wrappers
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon butter, melted
cinnamon sugar

Preheat oven to 375. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly spray the parchment with non-stick spray.

In a bowl, stir together the apples, lemon, and sugar. Add the flour, cinnamon and salt.

Beginning with one egg roll wrapper, lay it out on a work surface (I used a cutting board) and brush egg wash around each edge. Scoop about 2 tablespoons of apple filling onto one edge. Fold in the sides and roll up the egg roll tightly. Place on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat until all the filling has been used.

Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and brush each egg roll with melted butter, then sprinkle each with cinnamon sugar. Return to the oven for 5 more minutes.

Notes: Egg roll wrappers are crispy when baked and the interior layer is chewy. If you prefer your egg rolls fried, these would also be delicious deep fried, then dusted with cinnamon sugar after frying.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Chicken Pot Pie Casserole and the giveaway winner!

Chicken Pot Pie Casserole 1

We had a great week long vacation a few weeks back. We have another 5 day one coming up this week. We had a wonderful week full of long walks, and furniture re-arranging, and some new purchases, and some cleaning and re-organizing, a few dinners out, and lots of days where the clock didn't guide our day.

Sometimes you don't realize the stuff you miss when you are a working mom. For instance...I made soup during the week, something that never happens during a normal work week. Soup is almost always made on the weekend. Jesse came in from school and asked what was for dinner and when I said soup, he had this perplexed look on his face and said "Soup? On a Wednesday??" So yeah, it was that kinda week. Slow and relaxing.

I am getting ready to get my Christmas crafting started and prepping all the lists and planning that will come along with the upcoming other words...I'm in my element. My favorite time of the year. Gatherings and good food and lots of love and laughs, cause that's what it's really all about isn't it?

Another thing I love about the upcoming holidays......PIE.

It's my most favorite word this time of year.


I love pie. I am a total pie lover. Pie makes me happy. Pie crust makes me happy. Pie fillings make me happy. I'm such a pie girl. Cake is good but pie, oh my.

Give me sweet or savory, fruit filled or meat filled, there is just something wonderfully warm and comforting about food nestled between crusty layers of goodness.

I'm one of those people will usually choose pie over cake every single time. Thanksgiving....I like to call it Pie Day. The meal is ok, but the pies you after the big meal......that is the holiday to me.

So I bring you a savory pie. A casserole that is so damn easy to make it's ridiculous.

Chicken Pot Pie Casserole

Be sure not to mix the layers when you make this. You will be tempted to do so, but please refrain. Something magical happens when it bakes...the biscuit mix rises and creates a crust and the veggies and chicken lay beneath it in a creamy sauce. It's magical.

I've made this casserole twice already. The first time I made it I didn't add in any veggies. The second time I made it I added in a bag of frozen corn. The next time I make it I'm going to add in a bag of mixed veggies and some sauteed mushrooms. I have this picky child that doesn't like some veggies so I held off and just used corn the second time around. Be creative and add anything that you normally would to a chicken pie pot.

I cooked two large chicken breasts and two chicken legs when I made this version. You certainly can use the meat from a rotisserie chicken also.

Chicken Pot Pie Casserole
Adapted from a recipe at The Shady Porch

Meat from one Rotisserie chicken (or 4 cups shredded chicken)
1-16oz bag frozen mixed vegetables, thawed (or any combination of veggies you like)
2 cups chicken broth
½ stick butter (4 tablespoons)
2 cups Bisquick (or self-rising flour)
2 cups milk
1 can cream of chicken (or mushroom or broccoli, whatever cream of soup you like)
1 tablespoon of your favorite seasoning mix. (I use Mrs. Dash)

Melt the butter and place it in the bottom of a large baking dish. Spread the shredded chicken on top of the butter. Spread the vegetables on top of the chicken. Sprinkle with seasoning mix.

In a bowl mix the milk and the Bisquick and slowly pour over the chicken and vegetables. In another bowl mix the chicken broth and the cream of chicken soup together and pour slowly on top of Bisquick layer.  DO NOT MIX THE LAYERS!

Bake at 350 for 35 – 40 minutes or until golden brown. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.

Now the giveaway winner! The winner of the Jamie's Cookbook "Great Britain" is:

jennifer_f who said:

"Dinner last night was grilled steak and asparagus with mashed potatoes".

Congrats Jennifer! Please use the contact me button at the top of the blog to send me your mailing address!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Creamy Crunchy Baked Leeks and a Giveaway!

Creamy Crunchy Baked Leeks

I was asked by TLC Book Tours to review Jamie Oliver's new cookbook Great Britian.

First off let me say, if I ever had a cookbook published, it would so much like Jamies. I love that it's loaded with photos and the whole style is very unpretentious. It just flowy and fun. Just like his cooking. The recipes are authentic British foods and in most of the recipes you get a nice little history lesson to boot.

I've been watching Jamie since he was the Naked Chef. I love his casual style of cooking. I love how he will grab things up in handfuls, or gobs as he says, or how he will just say throw a bit of this in or add just a pinch of this in. My favortie Jamie saying is "this or that are best mates". Like this:

"rosemary and pork are best mates"
"apples and brown sugar are best mates"
"avocados and lime are best mates"

You get the picture. I also love how he always says "brillant". Most of the Brits do and it just tickles me to know end.

My maternal great grandmother was English so I'd like to think there are some recipes in this book that she might have grown up eating. There are a few that I had never heard of like......St Clement's Cake, Cranachan, Welsh Cakes, Arbroath Smokies, etc.

So I poured over all the recipes in this book and I had it narrowed down to two recipes. This one for Creamy Crunchy Baked Leeks and his Jammy Coconut Sponge Cake. As luck would have it, my friend Amy at Very Culinary made the cake. You should go check it out! Click here! Amy and I always seem to be on the same wave length when it comes to food so I'm a little surprised that we both didn't post the same recipe.

I'm a leek lover. Caramlized leeks just send me over the top. Leeks baked with cheese. I can't even speak.

This recipe was every bit as delciious as I expected it to be.

Creamy Crunchy Baked Leeks 1

Creamy Crunchy Leeks
recipe from Jamie Oliver's Great Britian
1 rasher of bacon, finely sliced (I used 3 strips) I hear from my Brit friends a rasher is normally 1
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 fresh bay leaf
¾ lb baby leeks (I used regular ole leeks)
Sea salt and ground pepper
1 cup organic chicken stock
5 tablespoon light cream
1.7 ounces cheddar or any delicious cheese crumbled.
1 clove of garlic
3 thick slices of stale white bread, crusts removed
Small bunch of fresh thyme, leaves picked.

Oven to 400.

Put a medium sized pan on medium heat. Put the bacon, the oil and the bay leaf into the pan and fry for a few minutes until lightly golden. While that’s happening top and tail the leeks (cut off the bottom and the dark green tops), cut in half lengthwise and wash well. Slice them into 1 inch pieces and add them to the pan. Stir together, season generously with salt and pepper then pour the stock and cream in and bring ot a boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes. At this point turn off the heat and stir in most of the cheese. The mixture will still be quite runny at this point but don’t worry; it will thicken up in the oven.

Meanwhile, put the garlic and the bread into a food processor with the thyme leaves and pulse until you have nice coarse flavored breadcrumbs.

If your pan is ovenproof you can simply pop it straight into the oven, if not, place into a shallow 8x10 inch pan. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and cheese. Cook on the top shelf for 30 to 40 minutes or until golden and crispy. Serve with absolutely anything you like.

So I want to share this wonderful cookbook with one of you. Here's what you need to do to win....

Leave a comment answering this question: What's the last thing you ate?

One lucky U.S. or Canadian reader has a chance to win a copy of Jamie Oliver’s Great Britain.

If you don't have a blog, please leave me email address to contact you!

There are three ways to enter: (1) leave a comment on the blog (2) go “like” The Cutting Edge of Ordinary on Facebook or (3) Already a fan? Just leave a comment on The Wall. Want to increase your chances? You can leave a comment here and on Facebook.

Giveaway ends on Friday November 2 at midnight EST. Good Luck!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My baby is Sixteen.

Oldies Evan
Evan circa 1998.

See that smirk? He still makes that face.

Evan turned 16 on the 17th of this month.

My baby is 16. I can hardly believe it.

I'm so lucky to have such a sweet boy.

I'll be busy getting ready for his party this weekend.

Our house will be filled with food, family and friends. I can't wait!

I have lots of food to cook but I'll be back Monday
 with a new recipe and a GIVEAWAY!

See you then friends.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Garlic, Basil & Parmesan Cream Biscuits

Garlic, Parmesan, Herb Cream Biscuits 2.

Things are shaping up here at the homestead.

We got some big projects done over the weekend. My hubby made me a beautiful prim shelf and I painted and primed it up. Oh my aching hands. It takes a lot of sand paper to rough up a big piece like that. Good thing I don't have nails or they would have been a wreck. Here's a photo of his handiwork.

Prim Shelf

I'm pretty lucky that I can just show him a picture and say...."I want that" and he can make it for me.

So I spent the next 2 hours arranging and then re-arranging and re-arranging this shelf and another that I had moved in the room, in fact after I took that picture I changed it again, lol. I just need to stop looking at it.

John had headed out to a game dinner so the boys and are were on our own Sunday. I decided it was Jesse's turn to choose something to make. He loves soup so I suggested we make a mushroom based soup cause he is a mushroom lover. I ended up concocting a Mushroom Vegetable Barely Soup. I'll be posting that soon.

I had been meaning to make a savory version of a biscuit that I had made awhile back. Remember when I made the Blueberry Cream Biscuits? Well yesterday was the day I whipped up a batch.

I am always blown away at how easy and quick these are to make. I thought I could make this version be just as delicious as the sweet blueberry ones and I was right.

I loaded up on some fresh chopped basil, parsley  thyme and rosemary. You can use whatever combination you have on hand. Then I threw in some garlic and shredded Parmesan. Perfecto!

Garlic, Parmesan, Herb Cream Biscuits 1.

Garlic, Basil & Parmesan Cream Biscuits

The key to theses melt in your mouth biscuits is a light touch. Don’t overwork the dough!

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cloves minced garlic
1 heaping tablespoon finely chopped fresh herbs
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 ½ cups whipping cream

Oven to 425. In a large bowl stir together all the ingredients except the cream. Mix together gently. Stir in the cream until just moistened.

Turn the dough in the bowl. Gently lift and fold four or five times, making a quarter turn between each fold. Place the dough on a parchment lined baking sheet. Form into a 7 to 8 inch square approximately 1 inch thick. Using a floured pizza cutter or knife, cut 12 to 16 biscuits, leaving the biscuits intact. Bake in the upper half of the oven for 17 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cut or pull apart to serve.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Anginetti (Italian Egg Biscuits)

Anginetti 1

My Mom is a great cook. Growing up my brothers and I never really realized that not all kids ate they way we ate. The homemade pizzas, the soups, the casseroles, the cookies, the cakes. My mom and my grandmother were always in the kitchen.

There is one thing I never remember my mom making though....pie.

I am the pie baker in the family. Even she admits it. She can't make a good pie. Luckily I can.

She can make great cookies though. Her three standards are wine biscuits, pepper biscuits and egg biscuits (Anginetti). She also makes a boatload of Pizzelles. Those are my favorites. I told her I have to have her be a special guest on the blog so I can document her Pizzelle making.

She makes lots of egg biscuits too.

She lives 3 minutes away from where I work (yes, Rhode Island is that small of a state) so she often stops by and brings in egg biscuits for my co-workers. They love it when they see my Mom in cause she almost always has some treat with her.

Out of all the cookies she makes, these Anginetti are their favorites.

Super soft with a hint of lemon. These are always gone in a flash.


Anginetti (Italian Egg Biscuits)
Recipe from my Mom Mimi

Makes approx 45 cookies
4 cups all-purpose flour
3 ½ teaspoons baking powder
Pinch salt
1 cup sugar
½ cup solid vegetable shortening
3 large eggs
½ cup milk
2 tablespoon lemon juice (I use fresh my Mom uses the juice in the bottle)

1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Warm water

Sift together the flour baking powder and salt onto a piece of wax paper.

In a large mixer bowl beat together the sugar and the shortening until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time until blended. Beat in the milk and the lemon juice scraping the sides of the bowl. Holding on to the wax paper like a funnel, add the dry ingredients into the mixer. Mix until well blended. The dough will be soft and sticky. Cover the bowl and wrap with plastic wrap. Chill at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven 350. Line two large baking sheets with parchment. Spray lightly with cooking spray.

Using a medium scoop (approx. 2 tablespoons) place dough on baking sheet about an inch apart. Bake 12 minutes. These will not brown. If they turn brown you have overbaked them. Let cookies rest 5 minutes in the pan. Transfer to rack to cool completely.

To make the glaze: Combine the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl. Stir in water 1 teaspoon at a time until glaze is as thick as heavy cream. Dip the top of the cookies into the glaze. Sprinkle with jimmies (sprinkles) if desired. Place on rack to dry. Store in air tight container or fridge.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Chocolate Chip Espresso Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin Espresso Chocolae Chip Bread>

Yes I jumped on the pumpkin bandwagon.

It seems like everywhere I turn I seem something pumpkin flavored. Coffee, cookies, cake mixes. Pumpkin is everywhere and I'm so ok with that.

Every fall I stock up a bit on pumpkin. My local BJ's Wholesale club sells pumpkin in a three pack. I'm talking the big cans too. I usually buy a couple each year so I'm always stocked with pumpkin. You never know when there will be a pumpkin emergency you know?

Did you also know that pumpkin is really good for your dog if they have an upset stomach? A few tablespoons is all it takes and I can tell you from experience it really works.

Although I'm sure Moose would love to get a hold of a peice of this bread, this was only for the humans in the house.

This recipe makes 3 loaves of bread. I love that. One to keep and two to give away. I wrapped up one of these loaves and hung it on a friends door handle. She was so happy with the surprise. I gave another to my neighbors son who helped us move a really heavy TV. He's always happy to help us cause I pay him in food.

You could add nuts to this, but my picky crew would complain, so I went with big chocolate chips. Good decision.

Pumpkin Espresso Chocolae Chip Bread 1

This is the second fantastic blog I've found lately. Check out Add a Pinch. Her site is loaded with goodness.

Chocolate Chip Espresso Pumpkin Bread
recipe from Add a Pinch
Makes 3 loaves.
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
⅔ cup espresso *Note
3 cups granulated sugar
3½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1½ cups chocolate chips **Note
1 cup walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Add all ingredients except the chips and nuts to a large mixing bowl. I whisked all my dry ingredients together and add them into the batter. Stir together until just combined. Add the chips and nuts in and stir until just combined.

Pour into three loaf pans prepared with baking spray or lightly buttered and floured. I found that each pan held about 2 cups of batter. I scooped up the batter with measuring cup so each pan would have approximately the same amount. I also dotted the top of each loaf with additional chips.

Bake for 50 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Turn out of loaf pan and allow to cool completely.

* Note - I'm not a coffee drinker, so I'm certainly not an espresso drinker but I do keep instant espresso powder in my spice cupboard. What I did was add 2 teaspoons of espresso powder to 2/3 cup of very hot water. Stir and add!

*Note - I used Ghiradelli double chocolate bittersweet chips.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Yesterday we celebrated our anniversary.

We took a long walk in the woods with Moose.

Moose was one happy (and tired)
 pooch at the end of the day. 

Walk in the woods with Moose txt

Walk in the woods with Moose

Walk in the woods with Moose 1

Walk in the woods with Moose 3

Walk in the woods with Moose 5

Walk in the woods with Moose 6

Walk in the woods with Moose 9

Walk in the woods with Moose 8

Walk in the woods with Moose 4

Walk in the woods with Moose 12

Walk in the woods with Moose 2

Walk in the woods with Moose 10

Walk in the woods with Moose 11

Walk in the woods with Moose 14

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Apple Crumble

Apple Crisp

We are off on vacation this week!

We always take a week in October because it's my favorite month.

We celebrate 3 birthdays in October, my sister-in-laws, my Dad and my youngest son, and 2 anniversaries, my brother and his wife and ours, so October is a pretty great month in my book and then on top of all the celebrations we have Halloween! My second favorite holiday (Yes Christmas is #1).

I love that the air is crisp and chilly. I love to see the leaves turning magnification colors. I love pulling out my sweaters from the cedar chest.

It's time to settle in and hunker down in our cozy little home.

Vacation is also a time for me to make a bunch of recipes. I'm testing out a new bread recipe, a few casseroles and a potato dish that looks fantastic. I can't wait to share them with you all.

This Apple Crumble will have to hold you over for now.

I found a great blog last week called Alaska from Scratch.  It's one of those blogs that just pulls you in and makes you feel right at home. I found myself scrolling through page after page after page, bookmarking so many of Maya's recipe that I think if I actually blogged them all she would think I'm a bit of a stalker.

I saw her recipe for Ginger Peach Crumble Bars and with a little tweaking turned them into Apple Crumble.

Remember, I have 40 pounds of apples to use up. You are going to be seeing quite a few apple recipe in the near future I can promise you that.

My apples were very sweet to begin with. I used a blend of Macouns and McIntosh apples. If you are using a tart apple, like a Granny Smith you may want to increase the sugar just a smidge.

Can I just say one last thing. Warm Apple Crumble on a chilly day - perfect comfort food.

Thank you for this recipe Maya!

Apple Crisp 1

Apple Crumble
Adapted from this recipe at Alaska from Scratch
4 cups peeled and diced apples
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
Dash salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg

For the crumble
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
dash salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 stick cold butter cut into small pieces
1 egg beaten with 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract or vanilla paste

Oven to 375.

Put the apples in a large bowl. Add in the flour, cornstarch, sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix with a spoon to coat. Set aside.

In another bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Using a pastry blender or two forks, cut the cold butter into the mixture until it resembles crumbs. In a small bowl beat the egg and the vanilla with a fork and add it into the mixture. Stir to incorporate.

Evenly divide the apples into 4 large baking dishes or 8 small ramekins  If you want to make one big apple crumble, pour the apples into an 8x8 inch baking pan. Spread the crumb mixture over the apples and bake 35 - 45 minutes depending on what size baking dish(es) you are using. When a knife slides into the apples easily, you should be good to go! Place on a cooling rack or eat warm!!