Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Countdown to 2015-Most Popular Recipes of the year

Join in on the Countdown to 2015 to share the best recipes of 2014 from your blog! #recipes #blogfun #2015

Today, Sarah of Fantastical Sharing of Recipes, has challenged us to compile the entire year's most popular recipes.  This was quite the project and I almost didn't join in but my right hand guy sat down with me and gave me a hand compiling all the stats.  I am sure that is exactly how he wanted to spend his evening!  It was difficult as well because my posts often contain content in addition to recipes so I don't know if the visits were for the food or the content.  I finally settled on including the most popular posts that contained recipes.  

The most popular by far was my post "A Double Celebration".  In this post we had a birthday party for Ting featuring 5 recipes and the party finished up with Tony's wedding proposal.  It is a great post and it features some great food.

BBQ Ribs, Roasted Red Skin Potatoes, Baked Beans, Rice Mingle Salad, Fried Chicken.

Coming in second place was my second post for SRC, featuring Cheese and Spring Onion Scones.

In third place was a creation I made for #BundtBakers when the theme given was caramel.  This was the most decadent cake I have ever made.  Introducing my Milky Way Bundt Cake.

Another Birthday Celebration placed 4th.  This one again featuring several different recipes.

Carrot Spice Muffins, French Toast Casserole, Cheezy Potatoes and Buttercream Frosting.

We took a Day Trip to Poland in February that came in 5th place.
This post featured Angel Wings and Lazy Pierogi.

6th place was another #BundtBakers post.  This month's theme was Booze!!
I created a Pumpkin Spice Cake.

Earlier this month, Colleen of The Redhead Baker hosted a Cupcake Day Challenge.
My Gingerbread Cupcakes were the 7th most popular post on my blog this year.

Another Challenge slipped in to make 8th place.
This post for  #10DaysofTailgate, hosted by Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla,
 was my first entry for Day 1 of the Challenge.
  It is chili featuring Bean Mix from Bob's Red Mill who was on of our sponsors.

Coming in at #9 is another Secret Recipe Club selection. 
This Veggie Pizza Appetizer was taken from Turnips2Tangerines who I was assigned in September.
I also featured this recipe on Day 3 of the #10DaysofTailgate Challenge.

And last but not least, placing in the #10 slot is yet another club selection.
This one from #WinePW which was hosted by Jeff of Food, Wine, Click. just a couple of weeks ago.
This post features 2 different appetizers, both of which were lovely and would be perfect for your NYE celebration this evening.

Wishing you all a safe and Happy New Year's Eve.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Tuesday Trading

I don't know why I bothered with a Weekly Menu this week because the holidays are still creating lots of diversions around this house.

Yesterday we ended up eating out instead of cooking.  Yesterday we also recieved an invitation to go to Frank's brother's house for dinner on New Years Day.

Originally we were going to try a recipe for Cranberry Chicken for dinner tonight but all my Cranberries got eaten and I don't feel like leaving the house so instead I am making Thursday's meal for Try it Tuesday.  I am going to include the information on the cookbook I am using as this was supposed to be my first meal utilizing all of the cookbooks I have on my kitchen shelves.

We had a lazy day, straightened the basement a bit and then laid around watching cheezy movies. Some crazy thing about some guys that were abducted by aliens (suppsosedly a true story) and then Bird on a Wire with Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn.

When the movie was over Frank and I went into the kitchen to try our hand at homemade pasties.  Pasties are a common dish in Northern Michigan and perhaps Minnesota or Wisconsin but I had never heard of them being served anywhere else so I did a little research and this is what I found from Wikipedia.

Migrating Cornish miners and their families (colloquially known as Cousin Jacks and Cousin Jennies) helped to spread pasties into the rest of the world during the 19th century. As tin mining in Cornwall began to decline, miners took their expertise and traditions to new mining regions around the world. As a result, pasties can be found in many regions, including:
  • Many parts of Australia, including the Yorke Peninsula, which is the site of an annual pasty festival since 1973, which claims to be the world's largest. A clarification of the Protected Geographical Status ruling has confirmed that pasties made in Australia are still allowed to be called "Cornish Pasties".[46]
  • The Upper Peninsula of Michigan. In some areas, pasties are a significant tourist attraction,[47] including an annual Pasty Fest inCalumet, Michigan in late June. Pasties in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan have a particularly unusual history, as a small influx ofFinnish immigrants followed the Cornish miners in 1864. These Finns (and many other ethnic groups) adopted the pasty for use in theCopper Country copper mines.[48][49] About 30 years later, a much larger flood of Finnish immigrants found their countrymen baking pasties. The pasty has become strongly associated with Finnish culture in this area, and in the culturally similar Iron Range in northernMinnesota.[50]
  • Mineral Point, Wisconsin was the site of the first mineral rush in the USA during the 1830s. After lead was discovered in Mineral Point many of the early miners migrated to this south-western Wisconsin area from Cornwall. Those Cornish miners brought their skills working in the deep underground tin mines of Cornwall. They also brought their recipe and appetite for the pasty.[51]
  • A similar local history about the arrival of the pasty in the area with an influx of Welsh and Cornish miners, and its preservation as a local delicacy, is found in Butte, Montana.[52]
  • The Anthracite regions of northeastern Pennsylvania including the cities of Wilkes-BarreScranton, and Hazleton, had an influx of miners to the area in the 1800s and with them brought the pasty. To this day pasties are still a local favourite.[citation needed] In 1981, a Pennsylvania entrepreneur started marketing pasties under the brand name Mr. Pastie.
  • The Mexican state of Hidalgo, and the twin silver mining cities of Pachuca and Real del Monte (Mineral del Monte), have notable Cornish influences from the Cornish miners who settled there with pasties being considered typical local cuisine. In Mexican Spanish, they are referred to as pastes.[53]
  • They are also popular in South Africa and New Zealand.[54]

I guess pasties are more well known then I had thought.  We love pasties and often go to Cousin Jennies Pasty Shop when visiting in Traverse City.  So when I was thumbing through Wildlife Chef, a publication of the Michigan United Conservation Club, and came upon a recipe for venison pasties I knew I had to try them.


I had all the ingredients on hand as they are common staples around here and our friend, Kurt, had a very successful hunt this year and gifted us with tons of venison to enjoy.  It you are not lucky enough to have a hunter in your household you can use beef instea of venison.

I pretty much followed the recipe as written except that I added garlic because isn't garlic a requirement when cooking dinner??  I also used my herbs from Gourmet Gardent that I was provided with for participating in an upcoming event.  This makes 2 large pasties....enough for a family of 4.  We had one for dinner and the other went into the freezer to be pulled out then next time life gets busy.

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.

Place the pie crust into a pie pan to help hold it in shape as you fill it.

Place half of the filling ingredients onto half of the pie crust.
Fold the other half of the crust over the filling and pinch it shut.

Repeat with remaining ingredients.
Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 375* for an hour and 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and easily pierced with a fork. 

They smelled as good as they tasted.  
I let them bake the entire 70 minutes.

 I am including my recipe for beef gravy in case you, like me, prefer your pasties drenched.

Venison Pasties
slightly adapted from MUCC

1 lb lean venison, any fat or white membrane removed, cut into small dice
2 med. potatoes, peeled and cut into small dice
2 carrots, scraped and cut into thin slices
1/4 of a small onion, minced
1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced (I used 2 t. Gourmet Garden garlic paste)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 t. dried thyme, crushed
2 T. fresh parsley, chopped (I used Gourmet Garden)
4 t. water
2 (9") pie crusts

Combine all ingredients except for pie crusts in a large bowl and toss to combine thoroughly.  Place on of the pie crusts into a pie pand and cover half the bottom with half of the filling ingredients.  Flip th eother half of the pie crust over the top of the filling and fold and pinch the edges together.  Do not vent the crusts.  Remove to a parchment lined baking sheet and repeat with remaining ingredients. When both pasties are placed on the baking sheet bake in a preheated 375* oven for an hour and 10 minutes or until the vegetables are fork tender.   Print Recipe

Beef Gravy

1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. flour
1 c. Beef Broth
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a saucepan over med heat.  Add flour.  Cook and stir until flour is browned. Gradually whisk in the broth until gravy is smooth.  Add more or less broth to get the consistency you like for your gravy.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Print Recipe

My 10 Favorite Reads of the Year

I am linking up with Ten on Tuesday to share with you my top 10 favorite books that I read in 2014. Stop by Carol's page and see what other books are being recommended.

I have read 30.5 books this past year.  I am only through half of the 31st book but I think I will finish it today or tomorrow so I am including it on my list because it another excellent book by one of my favorite authors, Ken Follett.

So here, in no special order, are 10 books that I read and enjoyed and am recommending to you for 2015.  You can find my complete list and reviews here.

  1. Fall of Giants by Ken Follett.
  2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  3. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
  4. Calico Joe by John Grisham
  5. The Great Divorce by CS Lewis
  6. Written in My Own Heart's Blood by Diana Gabaldon
  7. My Father's House by Todd Saville
  8. The Fault in our Stars by John Green
  9. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  10. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Wow, choosing only 10 books was much harder than I thought it would be.  It would have been easier to list those books I would not recommend.  Looking forward to sharing more reading adventures in 2015.

Countdown to 2015-Best Desserts of the Year

We are getting down to the wire.  Here it is December 30th, 2014 is coming to a close and 2015 is looming with huge possibilities and opportunities.  I am looking forward to the coming year and I hope all of you are as well.  Before we go though I am going to continue to hook up with our darling Sarah of Fantastical Sharing of Recipes.  She has been working hard all week gathering together all of our favorite recipes from 2014 and compiling them all so that you can easily link to and find some great new recipes to try in the New Year.

Join in on the Countdown to 2015 to share the best recipes of 2014 from your blog! #recipes #blogfun #2015

As you can see today is the day that Sarah has dedicated to my favorite category....Desserts.  I am going to showcase some of my best desserts from this past year.  You can find all of my dessert recipes right here as there are far too many of them to share in this collage.  I know, I know....we are all trying to cut down on desserts at this time of the year but, trust me, you are going to want to bookmark this page because Valentine's Day is right around the corner and you know you are going to want to make some sweets for your sweeties.

I hope these recipes inspire you.  Make sure you stop by Sarah's page where you will find all of us joined together sharing even more fantastic desserts.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Happy Anniversary Mom and Pops

Today would have been my parent's 77th Wedding Anniversary.

This is on their 70th as they wait to renew their vows.

This is at the party following Mass when the family was complete and intact.
Before we lost Pops. Before we lost Danny.  Before Mom lost her mind.
Seven short years how quickly life changes.

There were some changes in our plans here today as well.  We slept in this morning, straightened up a bit and then went to the movies...this was all in our plan.  We went and saw Unbroken.  It was very about life changing for you in a flash!!!  We were then going to stop in and see Mom before coming home to make Brocolli Soup for dinner.  But on the way to the show we saw that a new Mexican Restaurant had opened in town so we ended up going there after the movie instead.  It was pretty good and we were happy because there were no Mexican Restaurants close to us since our old one burnt to the ground a couple of years ago.  

Then we stopped and saw Mom on the way home.  She was busy making placemats for their NYE party.  They are having hats and noisemakers and special party foods.  Countdown will begin 10 seconds before Noon on Wednesday.  Mom, of course, doesn't remember that it was just Christmas. She doesn't remember being at the house with all of us who love her.  She doesn't remember being married at all, let alone for nearly 74 years before Pop's passed.  But she remembers that I am her sister (today I was her baby sister) and she remembers that I love her and she is happy amidst all the changes life brings so that makes me happy as well.

Countdown to 2015-Best Snacks and Apps of the year.

Join in on the Countdown to 2015 to share the best recipes of 2014 from your blog! #recipes #blogfun #2015

Today, with the help of Sarah from Fantastical Sharing of Recipes, we are spotlighting our favorite snacks and appetizers of the year.  Stop by Sarah's page to find more great recipes in this category or to join us and link up your favorites from 2014,

Sunday, December 28, 2014

All that Glitters is not Gold, All that Sparkles is not Silver

So here's the thing.  I love all these cooking clubs.  Everytime I see a new one I get all excited and I join.  I have met so many wonderful people who, like me, love food, cooking and blogging.  I have gotten excellent recipes and ideas.  I have had a lot of fun.  And sometimes......Sometimes I get confused.  Each club meets each month with a different day, different theme, different rules.  I need a day planner to keep it all straight.

I am not complaining.  I love it.  My first club and the one I will always hold closest to my heart is the Secret Recipe Club.  I did that for quite a while but then I made friends and those friends belonged to other clubs.  There is Food n Flix, Cook the Books,  Bundt Bakers, Bread Bakers, Food and Wine Pairing, Blogger CLUES and now CIC (Crazy Ingredient Challenge).  That is a lot of clubs but hey, I need to cook anyway so I may as well keep it interesting!

This month one of the clubs themes was "Something Sparkly".  So I went on to Pinterest and found this great recipe.  I read it and thought "Perfect"!!!  So I dragged Frank into the kitchen and had him pop some corn while I melted some white chocolate and pulled out my sprinkles.  It turned out beautiful.  It was delicious.  It was perfect!!

Except that when I went to write this post and link it to the correct club, I found that this theme is for Bloggers CLUES, in which we are not only given a theme but we are also assigned a blogger and we have to sneak into their recipe files to find a dish that we can use to incorporate with the theme. Sigh......

Since the recipe turned out so beautiful and so delicious I thought I would still share it with you tonight.  You never know...whoever gets assigned my blog might be very grateful that I made life so easy for them LOL.  Frank and I enjoyed this very much and I hope you do as well.  Keep in mind that we made this for just the two of us.  Adjust the amounts for how many servings you wish to have.

Gold and Silver Popcorn
adapted from Nest of Posies

1/4 c. popcorn kernels, popped
1/4 c. white ghiridelli chips
1 t. butter
1 T. milk
1 small tube of gold star glitter (edible)
1 T. of silver glitter (edible)

Place popped popcorn in a large bowl.  In a 2 c. glass measuring cup, melt the white chips and butter at 30 minute increments until smooth.  Add milk to thin and stir until combined and smooth.  Pour over popcorn and toss.  Pour coated popcorn onto a baking sheet and sprinkle with the edible gold stars and edible silver glitter.  Let dry for a few moments and serve.  Print Recipe

Countdown to 2015-Best Main Dishes of the Year.

Join in on the Countdown to 2015 to share the best recipes of 2014 from your blog! #recipes #blogfun #2015

Today, Sarah of Fantastical Sharing of Recipes, has invited us to share our favorite Main Dish posts from 2014.  I hope you enjoy my collection and stop by Sarah's blog to link to other blogger's selections.

There were so many main dish recipes from which to choose that I finally gave up and just limited myself to what would fit nicely on the collage. Stop by my recipe page and you will find all of my recipes indexed by category for your convenience.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Countdown to 2015-My Favorite Crockpot Meals of the Year

Join in on the Countdown to 2015 to share the best recipes of 2014 from your blog! #recipes #blogfun #2015

Today, thanks to Sarah of Fantastical Sharing of Recipes, a group of us are sharing our favorite crockpot recipes of the year.  Now, if like me, you rely on your crockpot to see you through those busy day when you are running around all day and have a very short window for dinner before heading out for more obligations in the evening, you cannot have too many crockpot recipes.  They are a life saver!  Unfortunately, I find that I go back to my old favorites each time I find myself in that fix so I was very excited when Sarah chose this as one of the categories for this round up.  I am looking forward to finding some new favorites to add to the list.

So here are some of my favorites.  I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

I am going to share this collection at Small Victories Sunday as well as Simple Supper Tuesdays. You should stop by and see what others are sharing this week.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Cookbook Inspiration for 2015 and the Weekly Menu.

I got a new cookbook for Christmas.  That brings my total number of cookbooks to one hundred thirty nine.  This does not include 10 years worth of Cuisine at Home that I share with you quite often.

I love cookbooks.  I read them like novels.  I flip through them at my leisure and get ideas.  I cannot wait to curl up in my chair as soon as I have a free afternoon or evening and delve into this one.

I have numerous cookbooks that I have taken recipes from that have become family favorites and are made quite often.  I have other cookbooks that are marked with recipes I want to try and have not yet gotten around to them.  I have also found that each time I pick up a cookbook and thumb through it I discover recipes that I missed every other time I opened them.

So one of the things I am going to do for this coming New Year is pick one recipe from each cookbook for every meal that I cook.  I am just going to go down the line of shelves when I am doing my Weekly Menu and have at least one item each day that I am cooking come from the cookbook for that day.  I will list the title and author of the cookbook on my menu plan and share photos and recipes when the meal is prepared.

I am still going to have Meatless Mondays, Try it Tuesdays, Fish Fridays and Soup Saturdays
 but every day will also feature one item from that days chosen cookbook.

Saturday, Amy and Chuck are taking me to see Wicked!!  Don't be jealous....ok be is a great show and I am very excited.  Afterwards Frank and Doug are meeting us for dinner at a local Mexican Restaurant that we love.

Sunday we have to take Chuck back to the airport and then we are stopping to see Frank's Aunt Irene and cousin, David.  We are going to stop and pick up carry out to enjoy with them for dinner.

We have no big plans for New Years Eve or Day.  We will celebrated quietly or have a small gathering depending on how things pan out during the week.

So please enjoy our weekly menu for this week. Stop by for photos and recipes each day and on Monday join me at MPM for many more wonderful menu ideas.  I am also sharing this post at Inspiration Monday, stop by and share with us what inspires you!

Happy New Year everyone!!

Out for Dinner

Taking Carry out to Aunt Irene's

Meatless Monday
Broccoli Cheese SoupWent out for Mexican

Try it Tuesday
Cranberry Chicken
Baked Potatoes
Venison Pasties- Wild Life Chef Cookbook by MUCC

Wednesday-New Years Eve
Prime Rib Roast
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Glazed Carrots

Thursday- New Years Day
Waffles with Fresh Strawberries-Cooking with the Best, St. Anne Catholic Community
Fresh Strawberry Syrup
Breakfast Pork Sausage
Venison Pasties- Wild Life Chef Cookbook by MUCC
Dinner at Dan and Rebecca's

Fish Friday
Halibut with Puttanesca Sauce-What to have for Dinner by Martha Stewart
Roasted Red Skin Potatoes
Garlic Green Beans

Countdown to 2015-My Best Breakfasts of the Year

Join in on the Countdown to 2015 to share the best recipes of 2014 from your blog! #recipes #blogfun #2015

Our friend and leader extraordinaire, Sarah of Fantastical Sharing of Recipes, has invited us to link up with her and others to share our favorite recipes that we shared during 2014,  On each of the above days we will be posting our favorites from each category.  Then we are linking up so you can easily find all of our recipes right here.

As you can see, today's post is breakfasts.  The most important meal of the day.  I am showcasing a few of my breakfast recipes with you today but you might also want to check out my Breads and Muffins page for those of you who, like me, love a grab and go breakfast.

I tried to give you nice selection of recipes to be used for breakfast whether you are cooking for one or a crowd.  I have a couple of egg dishes, a couple of casseroles and a couple of pancake recipes. You can find all my breakfast recipes, including omelots and scrambled eggs on my Breakfast page.

Here are the recipes I decided to showcase for you from this past year.  I hope you enjoy them.
Make sure you stop by and visit the other bloggers who are sharing their favorite breakfast recipes today and stop by tomorrow for our favorite crockpot meals.

I am also sharing this collection with Small Victories Sunday.  Stop by and see what others are sharing this week.
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