Thursday, December 31, 2015

Okay....These are your top picks for recipes. Countdown to 2016

According to my statistics the following are the recipes that have gotten the most reader views this month.

Italian Baked Chicken (1237 views)

Dill Pickle Chips (1057 views)

Grandma's Raisin Bread (875 views) 

Pumpkin Spice Muffins (667 views)

Bok Choy Gai See Tong (676 views) 

Brown Eyed Susans (512 views) 

Apple Cake (637 views) 

Let's take a look at the other bloggers most popular recipes of 2015

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

When the Going Gets Busy...The Busy pull out the Crockpot....Countdown to 2016

Today at our Countdown to 2016 we are sharing our best Crock Pot or Slow Cooker recipes.  I found my crockpot invaluable when I was a working Mom and continue to use it just as much now that I am retired.

This is our 5th day of this week long event.  Last year on this day I shared my Best Desserts from 2014.  Tomorrow we will be sharing our reader's favorites from 2015.  Come back to see if your favorite made the cut.

Can never have too many crock pot recipes.  Let's take a look.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Let's talk Best Desserts of 2015 on Day 4 of Countdown to 2016

My friend Sarah, of Fantastical Sharing of Recipes, is hosting this party for the second year in a row. She has invited foodie bloggers to post their best recipes of 2015 as we countdown to a New Year. Last year on the 4th day I shared Appetizers and Snacks.  This year, as you can see, we are sharing our Best Desserts.  This is apropos for this day as it would have been my parents 78th Wedding Anniversary and my Pop's loved him his sweets.

I have my Dessert Page broken down into 7 separate categories, starting with Cakes, Doughnuts and Brownies.  That is what I am starting with today.

Next up is Cookies and Bars.  I had a hard time choosing because I am the original Cookie Monster.

Here are some of my favorite Pies, Pastries, Crisps and Crumbles from 2015.

A few more from other categories

And my most unique, elegant and personal favorite

Time to drool over some more fabulous desserts

Monday, December 28, 2015

Best Main Dishes of 2015 as we Countdown to 2016

The category of Main Dish lands on the same day this year as last.  It is a tough category for me to choose simply because of the sheer number of recipes.  Last year I just chose by what I thought looked most appealing in my blog.  Just click here if you want to see what I picked.  This year I have decided to choose one Main Entree from each of the categories I have listed on my Recipe Page.

Let's take a look at what the others are sharing.

Just another #MuffinMonday

#MuffinMonday is a group of muffin loving bakers who get together once a month to bake muffins. You can see all our of lovely muffins by following our Pinterest board. Updated links for all of our past events and more information about Muffin Monday, can be found on our home page.

It is the brainchild of my friend Stacy who has a wonderful blog named Food Lust People Love.  The next time you want to get a dose of happiness you should run over to her blog and check it out.  Stacy shares her family, life and recipes with posts filled with love and humor.

This month when it came to be time to bake for Muffin Monday I walked into the kitchen and found 3 very ripe bananas on the counter and a bag of cranberries left from Thanksgiving in the refrigerator. I had bought two bags of cranberries and then Frank, not knowing I had bought them, bought another 2 bags, so we had cranberries coming out of our ears.  

Muffin Monday

I used 2 bags for my cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving day, one bag for a delicious Cocoa Cranberry Tart and the last bag was used for the wonderful light muffins with a burst of tart cranberries in every bite.  This recipe comes from Taste of Home.  I made them just as written but omitted the nuts.  The recipe said it would make 14 muffins, without the nuts I got an even dozen.

Banana Cranberry Muffin
very slightly adapted from Taste of Home reader Gretchen Zoch.

1 (12 oz) bag cranberries
1 2/3 c. sugar, divided
1 c. water
1/3 c. shortening
2 eggs
1 3/4 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. baking soda
3 ripe bananas

Place cranberries, 1 c. sugar and water into a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 5-10 minutes, until cranberries start to pop.  Drain and set cranberries aside.

In large bowl of stand mixer, cream the shortening with the remaining 2/3 c. sugar.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each.  Combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl and add to the creamed mixture alternately with the bananas. Fold in the cranberries.

Divide the batter between 12 greased or paper lined muffin cups.  Bake in a preheated 400* oven for 18-22 minutes or until a skewer inserted removes cleanly.  Print Recipe

More Muffins to Enjoy this Monday Morning

#MuffinMonday is a group of muffin loving bakers who get together once a month to bake muffins. You can see all our of lovely muffins by following our Pinterest board.

Updated links for all of our past events and more information about Muffin Monday, can be found on our home page.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Countdown to 2016: Sharing my Best Breakfasts of 2015

Today we are sharing our Best Breakfast recipes from the year.  Last year on this day we were sharing out Best Crockpot Recipes.  

This year I made some new breads including Bacci Bread and Stollen.
This resulted in two bread puddings using the leftovers to enjoy for breakfast.
Bacci Bread Pudding on the left and Stollen Bread Pudding on the right.

We built our own Eggs Benedict.

I shared some new quiche recipes, including the crustless quiche we call a frittata.

This absolutely scrumptious Coffee Cake

Tons of Muffins

And my personal favorite from the year...

Let's see how the others have been starting their days!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Weekly Menu for the First Week of Christmas

Happy 2nd Day of Christmas everyone.  In our family Christmas started yesterday and goes until January 6th when we celebrate the Epiphany.  We will continue to feast and celebrate.  The Christmas music plays and Christmas movies are watched.

Image result for 12 days of christmas

Tonight, Chuck is staying with Mom while we go over to Frank's sister's house for her open house, so dinner will be eaten there.

Tomorrow is our family Christmas with all of the kids.  We are very happy that we are going to be blessed with the presence of all our kids at one time. Dinner is as follows:

Shrimp and Asparagus Crepes
Garlic Soup
Cinnamon Roasted Carrot and Arugula Salad
Standing Rib Roast
Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Buttered Corn
Peach Pie

Monday, Chuck leaves to go back to Virginia.  It was truly wonderful having him here for these past couple of weeks.  The rest of the week is quiet.  No big plans for New Years Eve.  Frank's sister and her husband had planned on going up north and Mom Klik was going to stay here with us.  Due to health constraints she is unable to stay here with us now.  We are trying to convince them to go ahead with their plans and Frank can go there and stay with Mom Klik while they are gone while I stay here with my Mom.  It will be a very different kind of New Year's Eve but well worth it to give Frank's sister and brother in law a break.  Care giving is hard.

I will be sharing my best recipes from the past year all week long as well as posting a couple of new recipes from the Christmas season and repurposing leftovers.  Please stop by and say hello.

Party at Roz and Ron's 

See Menu above

Leftover Casserole

Beef Vegetable Soup

Egg Rolls
Pork Fried Rice

Beef Pot Pie

Depends on what is going on...Happy NYE everyone.

Christmas Dinner and Mom Klik's Mushroom Soup Recipe

I had posted my Christmas Menu last week but as life will we had some changes in plans.  Our son, Anthony and daughter, Nicole joined us for Christmas Eve at Frank's brother's house.  So they wanted to share Christmas Day dinner with their Mom.  It is difficult being children of divorce, even when you are no longer children.  I never want any of my kids feeling bad or guilty about the holidays so we adapted and decided to have them, Amy, Chuck and Tingting along with their partners for dinner tomorrow.  I am very excited about having all the kids here at the same time. With Chuck in Virginia and Nicole and Pierre having been in Maryland and then Florida, it has been about 10 years since this has happened.

Our Christmas dinner was adjusted and we ended up having only 16 guests instead of the 24 for which we originally planned.  I had planned on serving two meats in the entree course  but held back the Prime Rib to serve tomorrow.

We started with a first course of Butter Poached Scallops over Braised Endive.
I made three platters of these little lovelies.
This recipe was adapted from Mimi Thorisson's "A Kitchen in France".
It was one of our assignments for Weekends in a French Kitchen this month.
Better late than never LOL.

Second Course was Mom Klik's Mushroom Soup.
Mom has made this soup for Christmas since she was a young bride.
This year she suffered some health problems and was not up to the task.
I made this from her recipe that I am sharing below.
It got her stamp of approval so I guess I did good.

Our third course was this lovely salad that I will be sharing with you next month.

Our Entree was not photographed 

Roast Crown of Pork
Scalloped Potatoes and Carrots
Spiced Cranberry Dressing
Steamed Green Beans

For Dessert I made a Candy Cane Trifle.
I like making trifles because they are easy, peasy and delicious.
Don't let the bad photo fool you.
It was gorgeous.
I will be sharing this recipe with you later in the week.

Now onto the recipe for Mom Klik's Mushroom soup.  Mom does all her chopping and slicing by hand.  I used my food processor which makes light work of it.  Mom also uses water and bouillon cubes, I used my homemade chicken stock.  Feel free to use sliced mushrooms if you don't have a food processor.  Mom Klik likes slicing hers by hand so she can get the thickness she desires.  

Mom Klik's Mushroom Soup

2 lbs Mushrooms, sliced
1 large sweet onion, diced
2 strips of celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1/2 c. butter
6 c. chicken stock
2 c. half and half
2 T. flour
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb. egg noodles, cooked per package directions.

Melt butter in the bottom of a large soup pot.  Add onion, carrots and celery and cook until onion is transparent.  Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and let cook over medium heat until mushrooms shrink, about 1/2 hour.  Add the chicken broth, reduce heat to simmer and cook for an hour or so until vegetables are tender.  Mix the half and half with the flour and whisk into the soup. Cook over med high heat just until it is near a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.  Serve over egg noodles.  Print Recipe

Countdown to 2016-Best Appetizers and Snacks

My friend, Sarah, of  Fantastical Sharing of Recipes, is once again hosting Countdown to... A little event where foodie bloggers are invited to share their best recipes of 2015 as we get ready for 2016. This year, of course, we are Counting Down to 2016.  Sarah started hosting this last year and I was excited about joining her.  Last year our first post counted down our favorite breakfasts.  You can find my post on the best breakfasts of 2014 here.

This year, as you can see, we are starting with our favorite appetizers and snacks that we shared with our readers last year.  Please join us all week and if you are a foodie blogger go on over to Sarah's invitation post and join in.  You can post for any or all of the days.  

Let's take a look at some other great Appetizers and Snacks

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

On the 12th Day.....

It is now 12 days since Mom was released into hospice and sent home to live with us.  This was completely my choice.  Frank, our children and my siblings and friends were very supportive of this choice.  I didn't expect Mom to make it until Christmas and I didn't want her to be alone.

Mom sleeps 23+ hours each day.  She eats hardly anything, although yesterday she ate a whole cookie. She awakens every few hours.  Long enough to get a drink of water and be changed if she needs it.  Mom is still in no pain and when awake is in very good spirits. For this, I am so truly grateful.  The hospice nurse has told us that as long as Mom is taking water she could live for several weeks and even months given that she is still taking in bits of protein drink or ice cream.

Image result for family quotes

I have only to ask for anything from those who love me and Mom and it is done but I still feel overwhelmed with sadness.  There is no snow nor is there any sunshine. The last few days have felt like dusk starting as soon as you awaken.  I have time to do whatever needs to be done.  I have people who will come and stay so I can get out of the house.  Mom demands very little and cannot get out of bed so I am not chained to her bedside.  Yet, I do nothing, I go nowhere and I have to force myself to shower and dress each day.  I feel myself spiraling downward and as I type this I realize that I have not taken my medication since Mom got sick.

Image result for help for depression

Hear me breathe a sigh of relief.  This blog is a lifeline to me in so many ways.  What started out as a post to vent my sadness and frustration turned into a lightbulb moment.  I don't have to feel like this. In my busyness and stress, I had forgotten about taking care of me.  This writing reminded me so now I will wipe my tears, pour myself a large glass of ice water and help myself by taking my meds.

Image result for take your medicine

I don't talk about my battle with depression very often but sometimes it helps to know that others may be suffering in silence so I put it out there every so often.  Those of us that suffer from this dread disease often feel ashamed and weak.  We force ourselves to put on a smile and pretend like everything is fine, even when it is not.  We fear that people will judge us and/or think less of us if they know of our suffering.  If you are one of the hundreds of people who suffer from depression and/or anxiety, please know that the person sitting next to you is very likely in the same boat.  There is help.  In my case it is controlled by medicine.  Unfortunately, our minds are not well enough all the time to remember to take the medicine or we are feeling good and don't think we need the medicine. Then, suddenly, you find yourself as I did today.

Image result for seeking help for depression and anxiety

During this time of year so many of us struggle quietly.  I am sharing this with you so that if you are one of the three people struggling at this moment you will seek the help you need.  Whether you just need to talk or need to get on medication that will help you. please do so right now.  You do not have to feel the way you do. Life can go on and it can get better.  Trust me. Trust your friends and family. Trust your doctors. Trust in God.  May His peace see you through the holiday season.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Almond Cherry Snowball Cookies ala Mom Klik

Yesterday we had our Choir Advent Concert followed by a light reception so we were each asked to bring a snack of some sort to share with the congregation that comes to celebrate Advent with us.

I had some Fairy Drop Cookies left in the freezer,  a quarter pan of Oatmeal Caramelitas. a few half full candy dishes and some clementines in the house.  I also have a very pretty serving platter with five compartments so I needed something with which to fill the last space.  I decided to make Mom Klik's Cream Cheese cookies that we stuff with maraschino cherries and sprinkle with powdered sugar.  These are Frank's favorite Christmas cookies but he likes to tint the cookie green with the red cherry inside.  I don't find this at all attractive so these were made sans food coloring.

This recipe makes a lot of cookies so I had plenty to keep at home for dessert after dinner. The dough can also be used to make rolled or pressed cookies but we always use it for these Almond Cherry Snowballs and use this recipe for our rolled cookies.  Happy last week of Advent everyone, Emmanuel is coming, Maranatha!

Almond Cherry Snowball Cookies
courtesy of Mom Klik

1 lb. butter, softened
1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese
1 c. sugar
1 t. almond extract
4 cups flour
pinch of salt
1 jar maraschino cherries, drained and halved
Powdered sugar

Cream butter and cream cheese.  Add sugar and almond extract and beat until light and fluffy.  Sift together flour and salt. Gradually add to creamed butter using lowest setting on a stand mixer until combined.  Refrigerate for an hour or two.  Roll a rounded tablespoon of dough into a ball, make an indentation with your thumb or finger and place a maraschino cherry inside. Wrap and roll the dough around the cherry.  Place on a parchment lined sheet of paper and bake in a preheated 350* oven for 15 minutes.  Let cool completely and then sprinkle generously with sifted powdered sugar.  Print Recipe

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Cranberry Cocoa Cream Tart for Crazy Ingredient Challenge

Now is the time for a Holiday Crazy Ingredient Challenge and the items that had to be included in our recipe were Cranberries and Cocoa.  Ingredients are selected by voting on 2 lists, each containing 3 items.  It's a democracy so the highest vote getter on each list wins.

I was pleased with the winners this month and not too worried about coming up with a recipe.  I thought about cookies or muffins.  I thought about challenging myself and trying to come up with something savory...perhaps a turkey mole with cranberries....doesn't that sound interesting.  But then while browsing blog land I came across a blog called Family Style Food.  It was my first visit to this blog and there are so many terrific recipes that I was very excited.  Then I noticed that the last entry was on May 10 so I don't know if the owner has stopped writing and creating or if she is just on sabbatical.  Either way, I hope all is well for her and I want to thank her for this great recipe that I found and made.  

It is a very easy process but it does need an overnight chill and then another 2 hour chill so keep that in mind if you are planning on making it for an event.  You cook the cranberries until softened but still maintaining their shape before combining with unflavored gelatin and chilling overnight.  The crust only takes moments to put together and minutes to bake but needs to be completely cool before filling with the Mascarpone cream and topping with the cranberries.  Then you want to refrigerate it for another couple of hours before serving.

The finished product is gorgeous.
I only wish I had some mint leaves to add some green to the tart.

It is rich, decadent and delicious.
Everything that a holiday dessert should be.

Cranberry Cocoa Cream Tart
very slightly adapted from Family Style Food

1 t. unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 c. fresh cranberries
3/4 c. sugar
2 sleeves of chocolate wafer cookies (I used Oreos)
6 T. butter, melted
pinch of salt
2 (8 oz) pkgs mascarpone cheese
1 c. powdered sugar
1/3 c. cocoa powder
1 T. cream or milk

For the Topping: 

Sprinkle the gelatin over 1/4 c. of water in a 1 c. measuring cup and let soften for about 10 minutes. While gelatin is softening, place cranberries, sugar and 1/4 c. water into a saucepan and place over med high heat.  Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, until cranberries are softened but maintaining their shape.

Drain the cranberries over a bowl.  Add the gelatin to the juice from the cranberries and stir to dissolve.  Add the cranberries and stir gently to coat.  Cover and chill overnight.

For the Crust:

Place the cookie and salt into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to fine crumbs.  With the food processor running, drizzle in the melted butter moistening the crumbs.  Press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9" tart pan that has a removable bottom.  Bake in a preheated 350* oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

For the Filling:

Beat the mascarpone cheese, cocoa, sugar and milk together until fluffy and spreadable.  Spread over the cooled crust and top with the cranberries.  Chill for a minimum of 2 hours before serving. Print Recipe

Let's take a look at the other Cranberry/Cocoa creations

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Christmas Menu is decided....and the Weekly Menu

Can you believe Christmas is less than a week away.  I don't even have my shopping done yet! I am so glad that we had Frank's office party so early this year or I don't think the house would be decorated either.  Once Mom got sick and sent to the hospital everything came to a screeching halt. Now that she is home on hospice I am able to do the things that need to be done here at home but haven't been able to get out and shop.  Dawn is coming this today and Dick is coming tomorrow, so I have some time to get this done but we also have Mass tonight and our Advent Concert tomorrow so we will see how much time we actually have.

I am also very happy that I had bought all the kid's gifts for the Santa party.  Should nobody else get gifts they did and Christmas is all about the kids anyway.  Agreed?  Good then all the adults should understand if my shopping doesn't get done and they end up the recipients of gift cards.

Another good thing was that when I was at the Market buying for Thanksgiving dinner I had the foresight to order up my Crown Roast and Rib Roast so it will be ready and waiting for me or whoever picks it up on Wednesday.  Have I told you lately how wonderful my kids are?  They are.  I don't know how I got so lucky.  They all got together and discussed how they could help me during this and offered to make dinner.  My kids are great cooks and would do a wonderful job....the only problem is that cooking and being in the kitchen is a great stress reliever for me. They understood completely with a "Good, you cook and we will clean".  I told you they are terrific.  So here is what I am cooking:

And here is my Menu for the rest of the week:

Out for dinner after Mass and before shopping


Meatless Monday

Baked Potatoes
Steamed Green Beans

Order in Pizza

Christmas Eve
Dinner at Dan's 

Christmas Day
See Menu posted above