Join us for Recipe Sharing Every Monday!

Munchie Monday is the Winner!

Thank you Thank you!

What a Wonderful response to the recent poll I created to help choose the name for the Recipe Sharing feature I am starting every Monday.   Thirty-one readers voted and the results were pretty close so although “Munchie Monday” is the official winner, I will be using the Menu idea on my website.   I still have some fine-tuning to do over there, but this will also be for sharing recipes which are more specific.   Fun in both places and Thank you for voting!

Staying in line with the theme of the day which is Valentine’s Day, I extend a Happy Valentine’s Day to you all and posted a repeat recipe for the cookies I recently made.   You can see how clicking on the link brings you to my blog again to view the recipe post.   When you enter your information, the reader will be directed to your own blog and able to see your recipe and your blog.   Munchies is the generic name for  this Monday Feature and really any recipe you wish to share will work.   So have fun and everyone is welcome to use this idea on their own blog.  If you do … make sure to include the words *linkup* after your name so others will click on over and add their recipe to your blog.

Looking forward to some tasty, yummy ideas!   I will also be sending out a tweet each time someone adds a recipe so watch for the hashtag #Munchie Monday and by all means feel free to share the tweet!   I am getting hungry just typing this post :-)

There was a request from a reader for a good Marinara Sauce … so if anyone has one, please post.    Any other requests out there?

Sweet and Simple Decorating

…..and Edible!!

These easy to make decorations will soon adorn all your baked goodies!   From cakes to cookies, cupcakes and everything in between.   You can make them well ahead of time and not worry about spoilage since they harden and last for quite a long time.   Keeping that in mind, you do have to keep the dough that you are not working with in an airtight container – the air will cause the dough to harden.   The dough you will be working with is called gum paste or candy dough and I do have a recipe to share.   I used the store-bought gum paste mix simply because I saw it at the store and bought it.   All I had to do was add water.   The dough is a tad sticky so adding confectioners (powdered) sugar as you work with it helps greatly.

The dough is easy to work with and making flowers, leaves and other designs is actually quite Fun!   I did use food coloring a little, tried pink sparkles which didn’t adhere and mixed in food color paste (the purple) to create a colored flower.   You can make your designs ahead of time and keep for future decorating when the occasion arises.   The recipe for Candy Dough contains 1 cup confectioner’s sugar, 1/2 cup cornstarch, sifted, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 tablespoon unflavored gelatin and 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar.   Mix all ingredients with an electric mixer.  Take the mixture and wrap it in plastic wrap and place in an airtight container.   Set aside for 3 hours.   Unwrap the dough and your imagination and get creative!

I melted some chocolate and used a plastic squeeze bottle to draw designs on wax paper.   The chocolate didn’t take long to harden up.   You do have to be careful as you peel it off the wax paper since it is rather fragile.   You can combine your candy dough creations with the chocolate designs and create quite a professional finished goodie!   You can make patterns to follow cut from cardboard or draw a design on paper with pencil, cover the design with wax paper and follow along the lines with the melted chocolate.   The best part is nothing has to be perfect or identical …  just Sweet and Simple

and Edible!!

Added this craft post to Get your Craft On linky… Thanks!

I Created a Poll and Need your Input!

Last week I thought to create a day on my blog to share recipes with my readers.   Instead of reading only recipes I post, I decided to take it a step further and create a weekly tradition on Mondays where everyone can share a recipe of their own or one they like.   Installing a feature from inlinkz.com makes this easy.   As Piglet in Portugal suggested the name “Munchie Monday”, I also had another suggestion for “Menu Monday”.   Undecided on what to name this weekly event, I created a poll and ask you…my readers to help decide.

Once the name is decided by popular vote, I will install the link each Monday and all you have to do is click and add the information where your recipe is – either on your website, blog or if you use a recipe site.   This will be a nice way to share with others and gain exposure for your blog or website.   Depending on how this concept takes off, we may even have themes each week such as appetizers or using a specific food.   For Monday next week…any type of recipe you wish to share, be it appetizer, main course, dessert is welcome.  Thanks in advance and I look forward to all the great sharing fun ahead!

Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment and please do take a moment and cast a vote for the name you prefer.   Happy Monday to you all!

I would also like to Thank Kim at DragonflyScrolls for the wonderful award she has bestowed on myself and fellow bloggers who are undertaking the Challenge at WordPress to create a blog post daily or weekly.   It definitely has been a challenge and I will say the benefits from participating in this challenge are remarkable.  

To step outside our comfort zone and take on challenges in life can only build a stronger character and open our eyes to the many wonderful people, places and customs in the world around us.  -Debbie

Food Focus or Munchie Monday!

Eat healthy!  

I think those two simple words are tattooed on my brain and will be there forever!   I am constantly aware of what I eat, how much and how good it is for me … it’s not really an obsession, just an awareness thing.   How can I say it’s not an obsession?   Simply because I don’t abide by those two words as an obsessive person would.   The holidays are now well past and I can honestly say “I did not Eat Healthy”.   The few extra pounds can verify that fact and although it may not all be the eating thing – lack of outdoor activity may factor in somewhat … I am betting all those calories consumed helped boost along this weight gain.   Last year about this time I found Spark People - which is an interactive website which helps you track your calories and activities.   I highly recommend it – I even purchased the book which was brand new to the market.   I did Great and felt Great …. I may head on back there for a refresher!

Recently, I discovered another site that has me heading back for more – this time for recipes and a theory they call “healthified”.   You can listen to the explanation here - a simple concept of reducing some of the fat and extra calories in foods we eat.   What I initially planned to post today was a few recipes from the site Eat Better America, cook a few up and post pictures.  

Then … Another idea came to me!  As I was catching up reading posts from fellow bloggers, my creativity alert went off (the very one that loves to play hide and seek with me!) and the idea came from this post over at Piglet in Portugal.   She even suggested a name for me “Munchie Monday”!   Her “Foodie Fridays” feature recipes she would like to try and has received help with suggestions from some of her readers.   An excellent way to learn and try some new recipes!

So my thought was to create a Linkup for Munchie Monday and invite readers to post their recipes to share.   Checking with my account, I see there are some changes being made and I need to do a little further investigating.   Hopefully, by next Monday I will have a plan in place!  

Thank you to Piglet in Portugal for that spectacular idea and I must go do some more blog reading to see what all the rest of you creative folks are up to!       Tonight’s dinner will be Healthified Ravioli and Squash Toss  … easy enough!

I Love to Bake!

I could bake all day long, day after day, and never get bored!   I try to bake healthy using whole wheat flour and adding flaxseed or applesauce as substitutes for higher calorie ingredients.   With our current empty-nester status it is not as common to find me baking away in the kitchen these days, but you can bet I am always searching for a new recipe or two to try out.   This weekend I have a family birthday to celebrate and I plan to bake up a bunch of goodies.   The main attraction will be the birthday cake of course and chocolate candies which has been my latest fascination.

I do have some different flavors I will be experimenting with this week – these are filled with a peppermint ganache and melt in your mouth!   I have also decided to explore decorating the candies and cake with a bit more fancy details.   In the past, I normally would just use store-bought frosting mix and tube icing to decorate.   Researching a bit I have discovered two different homemade frosting or icing I am anxious to try.   Having often wondered about the two but falling short of actually looking into them I would just grab the store-bought can of mix.   Buttercream frosting and Royal icing are the star players I am referring to here.   Buttercream is more creamy and has more flavor whereas the royal icing dries hard and can be used to make flowers and other decorations.

You want to keep the Buttercream Frosting in the refrigerator when not using and it will keep for 2 weeks but must be whipped again before using.   The Royal Icing sets quickly, so keep the bowl covered with a damp cloth at all times to prevent drying.

                                                    and Speaking of Snow……

Here is a cute recipe that is perfect for this time of year.    I am sure young and old alike would enjoy it!

Candy in the Snow - Only one ingredient and a generous snowfall needed.   Gently boil 1/2 cup of maple syrup until it has thickened, for about 5 minutes.   Fill a bowl with clean snow and drizzle the hot syrup over it.  The syrup will harden into “candy” you can eat with your fingers.

Garlic Biscotti and Minestrone Soup

A perfect winter meal!   I have wanted to try a Garlic Biscotti for some time now and thought I would just fine chop the garlic and add to a recipe, but once I discovered this recipe using Roasted Garlic – I knew it was the way to go!

The recipe may need some adjustments since it didn’t rise as much as I had hoped … and I tasted the Rosemary flavor quite a bit and hardly any of the Garlic flavor.   So I will be tweaking the recipe next time around.

Roasting garlic takes about an hour and all you have to do is cut the top of the bulb off, drizzle with olive oil and cover.   Bake in the oven 45 minutes to an hour.   Your whole house will smell like “Garlic”!

The Minestrone Soup was perfect!   I love this soup and it has to be one of the easiest dinners to prepare.   Since the Garlic Biscotti only called for 2 large cloves of roasted garlic, I added the remainder of the bulb to the soup along with the rest of the ingredients.  It was quite delicious and with this soup you can add an assortment of vegetables – whatever  you happen to have on hand …. peas, green beans, cabbage.

I had intended to make a new recipe for dessert called Snowball Cookies, but instead I actually spent the afternoon outside shoveling Snow!   I didn’t pay attention to the weather this morning and had no idea we were in for this much snow … Surprise, Surprise!

Have you had your Grains today?

Grains are delicious, nutritious and easy to prepare and should be included in your daily diet.   Grains provide nutrients which are essential for optimal health and well-being.   Researching grains on the internet I came across two sites that offer a very nice guide along with some great pictures of the different grains that exist.   Culinate has a picture perfect whole-grain glossary with a nice description of each grain and FoodFit also offers a nice Grains Guide with recipes for each grain.   Do take some time and browse these sites if you are curious about grains and incorporating more of them into your daily cooking routine.

Most of us are aware of the common grains such as oats, wheat and barley – these along with many others, are easy to grow in your garden.   Easy to grow but not very practical if you are looking to supply your pantry for the coming year.   I have experimented and grew several new and different grains, millet, amaranth and buckwheat.   You will have a harvest if you tend to them regularly, but unless you plant acres and acres … your harvest will be minimal.   The millet and amaranth are tiny seeds and plentiful on the plant, whereas, the buckwheat is a bigger grain and my purpose for growing was as a companion crop.   They are beneficial in attracting good insects to your garden and offer nutrients for the soil.

With the New Year still ringing in our ears, the healthy eating resolution is still within plain sight.   I recently purchased the cookbook, Whole Grain Recipes, by Jean Pare and it has some outstanding recipes to try.   Tonight I decided to bake up the Vegetable Barley Manicotti and love the idea of using barley … and it is rather easy to put together.

Complete recipe posted at Vegetable Barley Manicotti – Mixing Bowl — Enjoy and Be Healthy!!!

Monday is Food Day!

Good Monday Morning!   Let’s start the first week of the New Year with my Monday topic pick which is “Food”!   You would think I had enough food over the holidays, especially sweets, to tide me over for at least a month…but nooooo.   I was going to start with the healthy route since I am a huge fan of eating healthy except for the fact that I had these two recipes which I never “got to” over the holidays – so I baked them up yesterday.

Cranberry Orange Biscotti

Lemon Lavender Cookies

I have to mention once again Chef Paul over at The Pantry Blogger and the fantastic giveaway he held recently which I won!   I used several of the great goodies making the above cookies and I am now blessed to have a food grater that I can successfully use without grating my fingers!

My fingers will be forever grateful (nice play on words….I know, I know…corny!)  

Thank you and I look forward to many more of Chef Paul’s wonderful recipes in the coming year!

Over the holiday season I discovered The Spice House which is right in my own neck of the woods.   I was searching on the internet for orris root to use in the potpourri I am making and found them listed.    

I found the shop stocked with all types of herbs and spices, gift sets and even recipes – the above Lemon Lavender Cookies I picked up from them.   I received personal attention as each purchase I made was taken from the jar and bottled up for me.   I can’t wait to head on back there!

I can honestly say that since I have been baking with the fresh chicken eggs there is a definite difference in taste.   The chicks are still laying eggs even in this brutal cold weather but not as many as during the warmer months.  

I must also mention a spectacular email I received yesterday from Sea Willow Herbs informing me that I had won their giveaway!   Thank YOU Jennifer …… I await my gifts with much excitement!!   I am feeling quite fortunate and happy as I bring in the Year 2011 ….

Chocolate Candy Making is No Easy Task!

For years I have made homemade chocolate candies for the holidays!   I would simply buy the candy wafers at the hobby store, melt them down and pour them into the candy molds.   I have been creative at different times and added swirls or peanut butter inside and even made turtles one year with pecans and caramel.   Everyone  loved the creations and I was always proud!  

I rarely indulged in the creations since I found the candy wafers too sweet for my liking.   So this year I got to thinking ….. maybe I should make some good “gourmet” chocolate and I started researching.

This candy book I had picked up some time ago and never really looked at it.   Now I find it listed as a collector item ….. and it has my attention!   I also ordered these books recently and realized that working with chocolate is an art and takes quite a bit of skill!!

The chocolate wafers I have been using are actually a coating and not the real stuff.   The good gourmet chocolate can be purchased over the internet and does cost quite a bit more than the wafer coatings.   I also learned a very important major difference ….. a process called tempering.   This is where you melt down the good chocolate to a specific temperature, let it cool to a specific temperature and then heat it back up slightly in order to work with it and give it that gloss and crunch that goes along with a good chocolate bar.   There are also various fillings and caramels and techniques that need to be mastered and I fully realize that Chocolate Candy Making is No Easy Task!

There are truffles and fudge and candy molds to fill ….. but to be very honest, I think if I have even one more tiny teeny piece of any kind of sweet stuff right now I will lapse into a shivering blob of sugar.   What I really, really want to do is create the ultimate healthy gourmet candy and infuse it with basils, lavenders and all things that remind me of the flavors from gardening!   I do miss my garden once again ………..

Hoping everyone enjoyed the first round of holiday festivities and Wishing you all a  ………  Happy New Year!!!

Holiday Fun!

The holidays are Here!   I have been baking up a storm this week so I have plenty of goodies to give as gifts and to bring to the Christmas feast at my brother’s.   I am really looking forward to all the family fun and “Eating” we will be doing!   I have already had quite an exciting week receiving Christmas gifts … the same day that I received my new Mac computer, I also received my wonderful “huge” box of presents from a recent giveaway I had entered.   The Pantry Blogger gave away tons of cooking tools (and I mean tons!) and I WON!   Believe me they are very appreciated and will get well used!

This was left at my door ………  yes, there is a Santa aka The Pantry Blogger!

I opened the package and took out each item … in utter disbelief of all the wonderful goodies I now have.    Remember that feeling on Christmas day when you open all your gifts and then organize it all and just sit there and “look” at everything?   You don’t want to use or put anything away just yet … it needs time to be cherished.   And so …. my gift still sits all laid out so I can take it all in and think about each item individually.

Of course, Ms. Billie thinks I am out of my mind and worries about my sanity at times!   It’s OK I tell her……  it’s ok to believe in Santa Claus!

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