Monday, November 30, 2009

The 12 Days Of Cookies Bon Appetit Challenge!

I am really honored and excited to be a part of this group of Bakers and Bloggers to participate in baking a Christmas Cookie Recipe each day for the first twelve days of December. Each one of us will choose from an extravaganza of Bon Appetit Cookies recipes every day from December 1st through the 12th.

My mission? Choose from one of these great recipes from Bon Appetit. My first recipe? Well I wanted to start with a bang so I choose this:

Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies

These cookies are the perfect showpiece of Holiday baking and are so festive to bring to any holiday event.

Baking them really put me in the Christmas spirit. (Especially the crushing of the candy canes....VERY therapeutic. I highly recommend this.)   You can find the recipe here.

Want to see some of the other cookies selected? Click on our other participants listed below and you won't be without ideas for your next holiday cookie batch.

Andrea of Andrea's Recipes (honorary member and our founder but not participating this year)
Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen
Courtney of Coco Cooks
Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook
Judy of No Fear Entertaining
Kelly of Sass & Veracity
Michelle of Big Black Dog
RJ of Flamingo Musings
Sandy of At the Baker's Bench

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The Knitting Version of Sophie's Choice....

With only two knitting classes left, I have finally made my choice of knitting project.... I'm a big cowl fan so it will be interesting to see how it works. I'm now off to go figure out what a circular knitting needle is. With that said I thought I would post some pictures from our most recent knitting class (before Thanksgiving) there was lots of fun including a great new movie recommendation from our instructor Flo.

But more importantly we learned how to knit with two colors (or more) of yarn! Woo hoo. So I'm currently in the middle of creating a cotton dishtowel with yellow and white yarn - more pics of that to come.

After that we went to the knitting store where the wall o' yarn attacked Lauren....Really...

and Lauren found that you can meet some handsome and interesting people at the yarn store...Who knew?! We could all learn alot from that Lauren!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Another Scarf Finished and other Knitting News

I've been baking cookies all day for the 12 days of Cookies Blogging event (more info coming) but thought I would post my latest knitting project finished. (last night) It started out as a way to practice the rib stitch. It originally took me a whole day of trying and failing until I got the hang of it. Once I did, I didn't want to stop and then I had decided to use the whole skein for the scarf.

Which ended up fir a REALLY long scarf.

It goes all the way to my shins unless I wrap it around my neck (which I definitely will...many times)

Now I'm working on a kitchen towel with two colors! A new thing I learned. But knitting class is back this week so there will be more fun to report.

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Going Away Breakfast

Since my husband is leaving tomorrow for a week on a work trip I decided to make him a special breakfast.

He has a habit of buying cookbooks on these trips when he eats at a good restaurant which this time was called Norma's. Here is the recipe called the P B & C Wafflewich.

First you make the chocolate waffles:

Sift together:
2 1/2 cups flor
1/2 cocoa
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 tablespoon salt

Cream together:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
For 10 minutes

Add 3 eggs and beat for 5 more minutes. Then incorporate with dry ingredients with 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk.

Put in wafflemaker for about 3 minutes.

Then start on the Peanut Butter Mousse:

Cook together 1 cup brown sugar, 4 1/2 tbsp of butter & 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Transfer to bowl and let cool to room temperature.

Add 1/2 cup peanut butter and 3/4 cup of cream cheese. In a separate bowl whip 1 cup heavy cream and 1/2 cup brown sugar until stiff peaks. Fold the two together.

And.... Voilà

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Hangover

So as good as I felt yesterday is as tired and worn out as I feel today. But nothing feels better than seeing this site!


But I did oblige with a special dinner I had pre-planned for my husband-his favorite, stone crabs

And since my house has already been decorated for Christmas, I have more rest, knitting and maybe a craft project or two to look forward to.

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Mission Accomplished!

I realized today that Ive been cooking Thanksgiving for 6 years and during a week that I had the least amount of time I feel like I did the best.

Not sure if it's because I have the experience under my cooking belt of if everything just aligned but it felt so much easier to cook Thanksgiving dinner.

The days events were as follows:

6:00 am -wake-up to go to the Grateful Gobbler walk

8:30 am come home and make breakfast

10:30 Make apple pie

11:15 Pie goes in oven

12:00 Pie comes out - Turkey goes in

2:00 Dressing goes in oven

2:45 Turkey & Dressing comes out and then Brussel Sprouts go in. Start on gravy. Start boiling potatoes

3:15 Brussel Sprouts come out. Potatoes get mashed

3:30- dinner is served!

A big thanks to my husband for being my co-pilot today

He did a great job and he did the dishes!!! That gets a nomination for husband of the year.

I am very thankful for him.

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Thanksgiving Part 1

So getting up at 6 am in the morning on Thanksgiving isn't so bad....

Toby and I were at Chattanooga's Grateful Gobbler to benefit the Homeless Coalition. Krystal had it's Crave Cruiser there to give away coffee and hot chocolate to everyone who participated and I provided some Marketing support.

There were tons of people there and it made me proud to live in Chattanooga.

After that we came home and I made breakfast of Andouille Sausage and eggs...

Made my Apple Pie...

And put the bird in the oven... Were coming down the homestretch folks....more to come!

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Turkey Eve!!!

So basically I really had to pay for this shortened work week...stressful!

However it's time to look forward to bigger and better things which means the Superbowl of Eating Holidays-Thanksgiving!

It started with me picking up my local heritage breed bird

Of course C3PO needed to be there to witness the event.

Menu is as follows:

Herbed Roasted Turkey
Sausage Dressing
Mashed Potatoes
Brussel Sprouts with Bacon
Apple Pie
Pumpkin Pie
Dinner Rolls

But before this can happen I'll be at Chattanooga's Grateful Gobbler walk to benefit the homeless coalition on behalf of the Krystal Company. Looking forward to thinking of others and helping those in need.

I don't know how Ill get it all done but the good part is that I'm decorated for Christmas.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Cheesecake to start off the week

This may be a short work week but it's a very busy and stressful week. So I thought I would start off the week by baking a cheesecake.

My mantra is this when choosing recipes: experiment with different types but when you find your recipe that's "the one" keep it as a staple- you'll save yourself a lot of space and need for organization.

My staple recipe is Tyler Florence's Ultimate Cheesecake. I can take or leave the lemon blueberry topping. But the cheesecake is truly amazing.

2 cups finely ground graham crackers (about 30 squares)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 pound cream cheese, 2 (8-ounce) blocks, softened
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 pint sour cream
1 lemon, zested
1 dash vanilla extract
Warm Lemon Blueberry Topping, recipe follows
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, combine the ingredients with a fork until evenly moistened. Lightly coat the bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Pour the crumbs into the pan and, using the bottom of a measuring cup or the smooth bottom of a glass, press the crumbs down into the base and 1-inch up the sides. Refrigerate for 5 minutes.

For the Filling:

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on low speed for 1 minute until smooth and free of any lumps. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and continue to beat slowly until combined. Gradually add sugar and beat until creamy, for 1 to 2 minutes.

Add sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla. Periodically scrape down the sides of the bowl and the beaters. The batter should be well-mixed but not overbeaten. Pour the filling into the crust-lined pan and smooth the top with a spatula.

Set the cheesecake pan on a large piece of aluminum foil and fold up the sides around it. Place the cake pan in a large roasting pan. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan until the water is about halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan; the foil will keep the water from seeping into the cheesecake. Bake for 45 minutes. The cheesecake should still jiggle (it will firm up after chilling), so be careful not to overcook. Let cool in pan for 30 minutes. Chill in the refrigerator, loosely covered, for at least 4 hours. Loosen the cheesecake from the sides of the pan by running a thin metal spatula around the inside rim. Unmold and transfer to a cake plate. Using a spatula spread a layer of Warm Lemon Blueberry topping over the surface.

Slice the cheesecake with a thin, non-serrated knife that has been dipped in hot water. Wipe dry after each cut.

Warm Lemon Blueberries:
1 pint blueberries
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 tablespoons sugar
In a small saucepan add all the ingredients and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes or so until the fruit begins to break down slightly. Leave to cool before spreading on cheesecake.

Enjoy this Holiday Week everyone!

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

That's What I Call Progress!

Hello my name is Tiffany and I own a cottage built in 1950...

Yes I love the architectural affects and the original hardwood floors. I live the old fashioned door handles and the curved doorways...

But sometimes I do not love my house....

To use an overused saying: the people who "renovated" it for us to buy it 5 years ago..."put lipstick on a pig"

So I regularly have a list a mile long of things to find skilled laborers to fix. And when you have a busy job and a husband with a busy job you don't exactly get to check things off your list at a fast pace.

But this project was a big one. My back door (original to the house complete with poured glass and antique hardware) also poured air conditioning/heating from my house like Swiss cheese. Nevermind that the previous owners cut a 34 in door to a 32 inch and then framed around the opening to make it work....

So after Lowes came and said there was no way I would be able to get a new door without major work (which they would not touch) I almost gave up hope.

Until I got a referral who said my two favorite words "no problem"
And now I have an efficient door (tax deductible-so says the paperwork) that looks great!

I love my house, I love my up...My chimney needs a flue or reasons I'd like to hunt down the previous owners.. Sigh.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Infamy of Squash Soup

You may not realize but the term "Squash Soup" in our house has always been met with derision. Once my husband saw it in a recipe and not understanding the difference between Butternut Squash and Yellow Squash instantly thought it sounded like the worst thing ever.

Then it became a long standing joke and veiled threat "If you don't stop xxx I will make Squash Soup" in which he would laugh and say "but I want it, you won't make it for me!!!"

Lately I've become a miniature soup nazi... Only it's "Soup For You!!!"

And I secretly plotted to make the dreaded soup... When I broke the news to him, it was on a Sunday night and didn't see it coming.

Then I got the attitude. "Why would you risk a whole dinner on this?!?" he whined as his panic grew...

But he tried and loved it. No surprise here but it was fun toying with his emotions.

Recipe below: I found it in the Epicurious App for Iphone (also I made it sans shrimp)

24 large shrimp in shell (about 1 lb), peeled, leaving tail and first segment of shell intact, and deveined
1 tablespoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger
2/3 cup chopped shallot
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
3 whole star anise
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 3/4 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (5 cups)
4 cups chicken stock or broth
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Garnish: fresh cilantro sprigs

Cooks' note: Soup (without shrimp) can be made 3 days ahead and chilled, covered. If making soup ahead, begin marinating shrimp about 40 minutes before serving.

Toss shrimp with ginger in a bowl and marinate, chilled, 30 minutes (do not marinate any longer or enzymes from ginger will begin to cook shrimp).

Make soup while shrimp marinate:
Cook shallot, garlic, and anise in butter in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until shallot is softened, about 5 minutes. Add squash, stock, and water and simmer, uncovered, until squash is very tender, about 20 minutes. Remove star anise.

Purée soup in 2 batches in a blender (use caution when blending hot liquids) until very smooth, about 1 minute per batch, then transfer to cleaned pan and keep warm, covered.

Sprinkle marinated shrimp with salt. Heat oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté shrimp in 2 batches, stirring, until just cooked through, about 3 minutes per batch, transferring to paper towels.

Bring soup to a simmer and season with salt and pepper. Divide among 8 shallow soup bowls and mound 3 shrimp in each bowl.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Christmas Early-Deal with it!

I've been hearing a lot from friends and coworkers on how horrible it is to decorate before Thanksgiving.

"It's tooooo earrrrrly!" they say in their whining tone....

Ok before Halloween I agree- too early. But after Halloween and it's completely wide open. Throw in a busy job and the fact that I'm going to my parents for Christmas and well... Here we are!

So you know where I'm going with house is now finished with Christmas decorations.

I haven't made any additions or changes in a while... But I'm not sure if it's the "Nesting Project" that brought it out in me but I made some great changes...

I've never put garland on my bookcase before. Plus I added lights!

Or on my piano...but as you can see I'm rockin the candy theme

I also changed the chandileer decor in my dining room...

Last year it had only the garland and bows.. I'm lovin the fruit...

Besides my tree the only thing I really didn't change is my mantle.

This is truly the most organized I've been in any holiday season.

But we've got a long way to go....

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Friday, November 13, 2009

More Knitting Hijinks!

Houston we have a problem...

While I took to the first to stitches: purl and knit I am not doing well combining them to make ribbing and while I continue to try this out, I'm still at a loss to pick my knitting project.

However we did also learn how to make Pom Poms which will go great at the end of this scarf

And our 4th muskateer joined us Lauren! Who had been sick and not able to join us

You know why she is so happy?Because she picked up the knit stitch faster than anyone else...

Now I'm off to find a project

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