Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hi faithful readers, I have great news! This blog has moved on to a bigger and better site. Check out the new digs:

Instead of using Google to subscribe, I'm now using a larger website to host my blog that allows anyone to subscribe simply by typing their email into the "Subscribe" box on the right. You should automatically get an email confirmation and anytime I update this blog ... you'll get an email to your inbox.

Thank you for subscribing here and wish me luck at my next virtual blog home ;)
Mangia! Mangia!

Chocolate Chip Cookies, made with love!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

These cookies were definitely made with love. I always say that. This apple cobbler? Made with love. Oh, even Buffalo Chicken Dip can be made with love. To me, when you make something with love, you put your heart, soul, mind and body into it. I imagine my thoughts as powdered sugar, sifted into something sweet like icing. Or my frustrations kneaded and pounded into fluffy dough for bread. Oh, and of course, some laughter sprinkled on top of fresh baked muffins for some extra love.

See, for some people jogging a few miles or singing in the shower is their "think" time. For others it's constant prayer. While I love a good prayer session with My Man ... ahem, God... when I need "me" time I turn to my pots, pans and my trusty 80's apron. I set my phone aside, turn up the music in the next room and submerge myself in measurements, chopping, sifting, stirring, slicing and of course tasting. I talk to myself too! Oh to be a fly on the wall at my house! Ha! I'm telling you, I always feel better once I taste the batter of a new cake or see golden brown cookies raise perfectly after spending just the right amount of time under the hot lamps of my oven. No matter how I'm feeling that day, I know being in the kitchen will produce a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction. Perhaps it's all that I've stated above but I'd also like to think My Man and I get to spend some quality time together in the kitchen. Sometimes, before I know it, in the sounds of a beating mixer or tick of my kitchen timer, whatever answer I was initially seeking in my heart is revealed. I believe it's because My Man knows I'm not the best listener so he speaks to me in my element. Which is of course, my kitchen. ;) Now do you get it? Do you get why I say my food is made with love?

Some of you may think my nickname for God is irreverent. Nothing could be further from the truth! I call God and Jesus "My Men or My Man" because when I visited my brother in Russia a few years ago we met a Russian girl who tried to explain to us how to go into a Russian Orthodox Cathedral with a candle and pray. She knew we were Christian, so we wouldn't necessarily be praying to all the Saints in the Cathedral. But, we wanted to experience something spiritual. So, she grabbed two candles, pointed at Jesus and said "Go pray to your Man." It was the funniest and cutest way of referencing Jesus I've ever heard. My brother and I will forever talk about praying to our Man, and of course, we do it in our best Russian accents. Join us in the laughter and prayer to Our Man, it's a cherished memory I'm sharing with you. With love. ;)

This is my brother and I before praying to our Man.

And this, is a terrible picture of a picture, but nevertheless, our Man.

Oh, I'm SUCH a sap! Okay, I'll move on to the chocolate chip cookie recipe I am sharing with you. Picky Pants loves chocolate chip cookies, perhaps more than he loves me. (How dare he?!) So, since it's our anniversary week, I thought I'd surprise him with his favorite thing in the whole world: warm from the oven, ooey, gooey, chocolate chip cookies. Now, you all know by now if I'm going to make something and blog about it, it's probably a new recipe. This blog post is no different. I have made my Mom's Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe for years, but my friend and fellow blogger enticed me with her recipe. Have you heard of anyone putting their cookie dough in the refrigerator for 24 hours or so before baking them? I have and I remember reading a lot about it a few months ago. I'm not sure why I haven't tried it until now, but it seems the secret to this recipe is simply refrigerating the cookie dough for a bit before baking. If you're like me, it's actually not so simple because I'm a sucker for cookie dough. I can't keep it in my freezer because I'll find an excuse to break off a piece and eat it for dinner ... or lunch ... or breakfast. Do you see why I work out so much now? ;)

Here's the recipe from Erin's blog
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Firmly packed light brown sugar
1 Stick unsalted butter
1 Large egg
1 TSP Vanilla
1/2 TSP Baking Soda
1 1/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
1/4 TSP Salt or 1/2 TSP Flaky Sea Salt
1 1/s C Choc. Chips

1. Beat Sugars and butter together until smooth. Mix in egg, vanilla and baking soda.
2. Stir together flour and salt then mix into batter. Mix in Chocolate chips.
3. Press the dough into the bottom of the bowl, press plastic wrap to dough and make sure to get all the air out. Sit in refrigerator for 36 - 48 hours.
4. Scoop cookie dough to 2 tbsp balls
5. Bake 18 minutes, 300 degrees

The cookies turned out fantastic, especially because they were made with love ;)
Sit and enjoy your family today and Mangia! Mangia!

Hola de Espana!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hola! I'm back from Spain safely and with much to tell! I will start by bragging on my girl RW and myself. We chose to order EVERYTHING from the Spanish menu even though each waiter brought us the English version. I'm not sure how, but everyone knew we weren't from anywhere but the good 'ol US of A. Is that a compliment?! Not sure ... Anyway, we were glad to pick and choose the words out of the menu we knew and most the time happily surprised at what came to the table, especially after a glass of wine or two. =) It forced us to learn a lot of the language and I think the Spanish people appreciated us trying to learn too. (As badly as we may have sounded trying to speak it). Actually, I have a confession to make: RW knows way more Espanol than I do and if I were there by myself I'm pretty sure I would have gotten on the train to Siberia accidentally or missed the train all together. Yes, we all know what a scatter brain I can be.

My thing is food, we all know this. So, we went to the San Miguel Food market in Madrid which was great! If you can imagine an upscale food flea market, that's exactly what it looked like. Huge glass windows surround the entire building giving passersby a glimpse of the succulent food inside. It would lure me in anyway. We took a few pictures but the prettiest ones were the fruita. I haven't met a fruit I don't like and in Spain it was no different! Have you heard of an Higo? Pronounced I-go ... silent "H." I'm not sure if I'll do it justice by explaining: the Higo is small. You peel the skin down like a banana even though it's circular in shape. The inside has a few seeds but they're tiny and barely noticeable. These babies are juicy and taste like a mixture of many tropical fruits. See, I told you I wouldn't do it justice.

Moving on to Pardon Pimientos. I believe it's translated "green pepper" but I also think the word "spicy" gets lost in translation. When we were in Barcelona we went to an awesome Tapas place. I saw a man across the restaurant eating a plate of broiled peppers sprinkled with salt. I had to get my hands on them, I love spicy food, plus I'm a sucker for anything as pretty as these shiny, small tamales! (They're not really tamales) I ate half the plate, they were delicious!

I had just arrived in Madrid and of course barely slept on the plane. RW and I walked around and explored our new surroundings for a while and stopped at a little cafe where it seemed we were too early for lunch. Remember when I told you we screamed "Americans?" Well, I'm pretty sure it was noon on the dot and Spaniards don't eat lunch until 1:30pm or later. Need I mention the slow service we received or how I pretended to eat the bush behind my chair? A 10 hour plane ride can make a sister hungry, ok!? All kidding aside, we were pleasantly surprised when we ordered from the menu. This is the sandwich I ordered from the menu that read : Bocadillo Especial. I had no idea what was on it and frankly at that point didn't care. When it came out looking like this:

I was happy. By the way, in Spain they either serve everything with fries or eggs. It's their 'thang' I suppose. We both gave this sandwich two thumbs up!

Back to reality. It's almost fall here in Bowling Green, has anyone noticed? Fall is my favorite time of year and most always I'm urging the calendar to hit September first so I can break out my pumpkin throw pillow and fall decor, but, not this year. I'm actually very sad about summer coming to a close. =( Sorry to be a downer, but I tried to ring in the fall-like weather with a fall-like dish I found from Better Recipes. The flavors in this dish are so ... opposite. The spicy sausage mixed with the sweet maple syrup really gave the meat a kick of it's own kind. Don't skimp on the rubbed Sage, it's big flavor really enhances the meat and onion mixture. Acorn squash is sweet and versatile, you can make it taste like anything you want. (Squash Pizza Dough, anyone?)

Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash
2 Medium Acorn Squash, halved and seeds removed
1 LB pork sausage (I used HOT)
1 Small onion, chopped
1 TBSP Rubbed Sage
1/4 C Maple Syrup (I believe you could use less!)

1. Place the squash, cut side down in a shallow baking dish or pan. Add 1/2 C water and bake at 350 degrees 30-40 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile brown the sausage (stirring frequently to loosen) and add chopped onion and sage. Cook until tender.
2. When squash is finished remove from oven. Add maple syrup to sausage mix and spoon into the squash halves. Serves 4.

Have a great week, Don't forget to ENJOY and Mangia! Mangia! xxoo

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