30 September 2009

New York

I spent the weekend in Ithaca, NY at a wedding for my dearest friend since the 7th grade. Everything about the weekend was perfect. The wedding, my friends, the food. I have known and loved these women since middle and high school. They are stunningly beautiful, amazingly successful, and so kind, so sweet. After a rough summer here, it was just what I needed.

I didn't take as many pictures of the food as I thought I would. I was too busy enjoying myself. And laughing. We did A LOT of giggling. Just like old times.

Here is the wedding cake--so beautiful!

The day after the wedding two of my best friends and I visited the hotel spa and then had brunch in their bistro. I had a facial and...oh, wow. So, so nice. My skin looks amazing. I was totally spoiled by the time I got home. It was wonderful! I came to the revelation that I have to start taking care of myself. I have spent the past 13 years concentrating on my husband and daughters while completely ignoring my own needs. It's time to change that. You know you have great friends when they can (kindly) point out what you have being doing wrong in your life and you realize they are absolutely right.

The brunch was extraordinary. I had Oatmeal Crusted French Toast with a Brown Sugar Glaze. I HAVE to figure out to make it! Oh, and a mimosa. :)

Mrs. K had the Mexican Burrito with Mole Sauce. Really, really good! Not too spicy with a hint of cumin.

Ms. F had the Daily Quiche. Flaky, buttery crust filled with spinach, cheese, eggs, and tomatoes. Yummy! Both ladies chased their brunches with Bloody Marys.

That afternoon Mrs. K and I went to Ithaca's Apple Festival. It rained all day so I didn't take out my camera. A shame really because we had something delicious treats. Hot apple cider, apple cider doughnuts, and a whole apple cut into wedges and drenched in warm caramel with whipped cream and pecans. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

After the festival we went to A Taste of Thai. My first Thai food and now I'm hooked! Mrs. K had Green Curry with steamed tofu. Oh my, it was good. I have never been a fan of tofu, but this was delicious!!

I had Pad Thai with chicken and prawns and loved it!! My only regret is that we got too full at the festival and couldn't finish our meals. We took the leftovers back to the hotel, but left the next morning at 5:30 and didn't feel like Thai for breakfast. :)

Bubba and the girls did a great job taking care of themselves while I was gone and even cleaned the house! Mom is now thinking that there may be more of these weekends in my future... :) :)

22 September 2009

My Favorite Fudge Brownies

I have been making these brownies since I cut out the recipe from my mom's Better Homes and Gardens in November 1993.

See? :) I am not even going to pretend that these brownies are healthy and I never try to "improve" this recipe. They are absolutely perfect...unless you like cakey brownies, which I do not. These brownies are gooey and rich and oh soooo good!

You will need:

1/2 cup butter
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
For Chocolate Glaze:

3T butter
2T cocoa
2T milk (I used skim)
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Chop up the butter and add it and the chocolate to a medium saucepan.

Melt over low heat.

Turn off the heat and stir in sugar.

Mix thoroughly.

In a separate bowl, scramble your eggs.

Then add about 1/2 cup of the chocolate mixture to the eggs to temper them. You don't want little bits of cooked egg in your brownies. Big yuck.

Now add your flour and combine. Yep, just 2/3 of a cup. This recipe is heavy on the sugar, easy on the flour. Makes for a fudgy brownie.

Pour into a greased (on the bottom only) 8-inch pan. Bake for 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Don't overbake!!

Let cool completely on a wire rack. This will be hard. They smell awesome and you are going to want to dig in right away. Hold off--the glaze is amazing! Tink asked me every five minutes if the brownies were cool yet.

Add your 3T butter, 2T cocoa, and 2T milk to a saucepan.

Stir until the mixture comes to a boil.

Remove from heat and add the powdered sugar and 1/2 tsp vanilla.

Pour over your brownies.

Wait no longer! Time to cut into these yummies

and feast!


20 September 2009

Soft Chocolate Cookies

Sunshine Mom is feeling great (after beating H1N1) and could not stay in bed for one more second. I promised brownies, but was out of unsweetened chocolate so I made cookies instead. These cookies are my kids absolute favorites. Even Tink, my low-tolerance-for-sweets eater, ate four of these cookies at one time. In fact, although I still have some oatmeal cookies in the freezer, the soft chocolate ones are gone. These cookies stay fresh for days because they are so soft and moist.

You will need:

1 cup Smart Balance (melted, but not hot)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour (I used white whole wheat)
2/3 cup cocoa (I used Hershey's Dark)
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Add the sugar to a large mixer bowl and pour the melted (but not hot) butter on top. Mix together until it lightens, but before it gets fluffy.

Add eggs, one at a time mixing after each addition.

Then add the vanilla.

In another large bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.

You can size these cookies any way you like them. I use a large soup spoon and make a big ball with the dough. They aren't perfect. My cookies never look like they were made in a factory. Imperfect and definitely homemade, and that's the way I like them! If you want a more polished look, refrigerate the dough for an hour and then make perfect 1-inch balls. You don't need to flatten them with a fork.

Bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes. (If you don't line your cookie sheet with parchment, give it a very light greasing with cookie spray.) Take them out when they still look slightly underdone in the middle. They need to set five minutes on the cookie sheet before removing to a wire rack. They seem like they will fall apart, but when they are completely cool and they stay together perfectly.

Melt in your mouth!! Super soft (but still holding together). After the first day I store them in a freezer bag in the freezer. I'm sure they would last a month in there, but we are lucky to make it three days.


16 September 2009


Sunshine Mom has been taking care of a sick monkey down with H1N1 all week. It's been kind of scary and now...Sunshine Mom is feeling bad. Sick. Heavy headed and weak. I'm hitting the Airborne and Cold MD pretty hard in the hope that maybe I won't get too sick.
So please excuse my temporary absence from food blogging. Right now, no one wants me handling their food. :) I'll be back soon! (I have a fudge brownie recipe to post that shames all other brownie recipes.)

14 September 2009

Sunday Roast

This recipe started with my mom, but we have differing opinions on whether or not to brown the outside of the roast before cooking. She does, I don't. I really don't think it is necessary and I think that the roast is more tender and juicy without browning first. (Sorry, Mom!) The meat comes out of the oven so tender you can practically cut it with a fork.

You will need:

eye of round roast (no substitutions)
onion powder
celery salt
garlic salt

The eye of round roast is the most tender of the round roasts or steaks. It's on the opposite side of the tender spectrum from the London Broil. It's also a bit pricier. But supermarkets put it on sale all the time, so keep an eye out for the weekly ads. It's still less than $10 to feed a family of four and have leftovers.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Typically the eye of round comes with a relatively thick layer of fat on the bottom. You can have your butcher trim it for you (and they will, no problem) or do it yourself with a sharp carving knife.

I do it myself. It's not always pretty, but once it is baked you can't tell. :)

No measuring for this part. I just sprinkle on the salt, pepper, paprika, celery salt, and garlic salt.

Now pat or rub the seasonings into the roast. Repeat for all the sides and ends.

And place on a foil-lined cookie sheet with sides or in a roasting pan (although you may have to bake it a bit longer if your roasting pan has deep sides). It makes clean-up so much easier. I use recycled foil.

Place in the oven and turn it down to 350 degrees. Bake for approximately 45 minutes to and hour. I pull my roast out at 45 minutes and stick a digital thermometer in the top. 120°F to 125°F is rare, 130°F to 140°F is medium rare, 145°F to 150°F is medium, and 155°F to 165°F is well done. We like it at about 140.

See how there is barely any juice running from the roast? That's because it is all still inside!

You need to let it rest for a minimum of 15 minutes. If you cut into it right away all the juices will run out and your meat will be very dry. (Remember that it will continue to cook just a bit after taking out of the oven.)

I like to put a few paper towels under the cutting board to catch any run-off. Then I just spear the roast with a large fork and start slicing. Slice as thick or thin as you like! (I use this exact recipe when I make French Dip and just slice the meat very, very thin.)

Absolutely delicious! And did I mention tender? Because it really is--you hardly need a knife at all.


10 September 2009

Chicken Pot Pie

One of the girls' favorite books when they were little was Moostache. I loved reading it to them, too. Really, really fun. The main character is a moose with an unruly mustache that he tries to tame. Every plan seems "so simple. So easy. So perfectly perfect." It's become a family mantra. This recipe epitomizes Moose's refrain. It is easy, it is super simple, and the end result is perfect. :)

You will need:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, baked
2 cans of No Salt Added veg-all
2 cans cream of potato soup
2 pie crusts
9-inch deep dish pie pan
Cavender's (optional)

I buy those bags of frozen chicken. It's much cheaper, which is a plus for our strict budget family that goes through so much chicken each week. So I took out two breasts, sprinkled them with Cavender's and baked for 25 minutes on 400.

When the chicken is cool, tear it up into bite size pieces. You can chop it up or cube it if you like that better, but I always tear up my chicken.

Add the two cans of potato soup...

then your veg-all. I don't use canned veggies very often, except for green beans. (Frozen green beans are a nightmare. Why are they sooo bad?) Veg-all is perfect for this easy dish, but feel free to use fresh carrots, celery, potatoes, peas, and a bit of corn. Just saute them until they soften slightly, but still have bite.

Sprinkle with Cavender's. I found a copycat recipe online if you would like to make your own. If you don't have it and don't want to make it, don't worry! Just use salt and pepper to your taste, and give a couple of shakes of onion powder, garlic powder, and parsley.

Mix together and add some milk. Start with a half cup and go from there. You want it to be very creamy, but not wet.

Put a little flour in the bottom of your pie plate so the crust won't stick. I like to use the refrigerated pie crusts, but to make this recipe even easier you could absolutely use those deep dish frozen pie crusts. They come in a package of two and you could use the second one to top the first. Less dishes that way, too. But that's the only time I will ever recommend frozen pie crusts. :)

Place one of your crusts into the pie dish.

Pour your filling into the pie pan...

and top with second crust. I don't bother with making an edge crust for my chicken pot pie. I just tuck the top crust over the bottom and down the side of the pie pan.

Cut a few holes into the top crust to let out the steam. Feel free to get creative. I just sliced a few lines, but I have been known to spell out someone's name.

Bake at 400 for 40 minutes or until filling is bubbly hot and crust is golden brown.

Let it sit for ten minutes and then feast!

My girls devour this dish. Even Tink, who refuses to eat most chicken dishes because we have pet chickens. This pie is perfect the next day, too. I just warm up a piece in the microwave for one minute on high.