Monday, October 31, 2011


 Happy Monday! Happy Halloween! I am still trying to get over the freak snow storm on Saturday.  Lucky for me the week's temperatures are suppose to get up in the 50s and sunny.  I don't have anything too exciting going on this week.  I am in the office till Friday when I will be taking a little jaunt up to Albany for the day.  I am hoping the warmer, sunnier days down here will make it up there.  I recently ordered new work clothes...all of which are dresses and skirts.  Not sure I was thinking clearly at the time.  Even with tights I think my legs are going to freeze.

As for the cookies...Well, they taste good even though they look a little ugly funky. I thought "bigger is better".  I was wrong.  My oven was acting funny this weekend.  It was probably rebelling against the long break I gave it over the summer.  I decided the best way to stay warm is standing in front of a heat 350 degree oven.  It was on for about 4 hours Saturday afternoon as I made 3 different types of cookies and roasted a chicken.  I got my cookie groove on to prep for the holidays.  I had to practice and taste test all of the cookies I will be making and giving away in a few short weeks.

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2011

In fact I recently signed up for the The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2011 put on by Love & Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen. You agree to bake 3 dozen cookies and send them out to three different bloggers. In return you will receive 3 different dozen cookies yourself.  Great idea right?  I cannot wait. You have till November 18th to sign up.  I highly recommend it.


1 1/2
C sugar
butter , softened
2 3/4
C all-purpose flour
 tsp cream of tartar
 tsp baking soda
 tsp salt
C sugar
 tsp ground cinnamon
  1. Heat oven to 400ºF.
  2. Mix 1 1/2 cups sugar, the butter, shortening and eggs in large bowl. Stir in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.
  3. Shape dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. Mix 1/4 cup sugar and the cinnamon. Roll balls in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet.
  4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Snow, Snow Go Away!

Yesterday this was the view out of my window at 1pm.  It was not suppose to start snowing till night time.  They were wrong.  

To distract myself, I spent the whole afternoon and evening in the kitchen.  Our kitchen is in the back of the apartment with no windows. If I cannot see the snow it must mean it is not really snowing. 

Dozens of cookies later and multiple breaks to clean out the sink I finally called it a day.

I also finally got around to taking a picture of my neat little eat sign I got for my birthday.  You don't have to tell me to eat twice. I think it is the perfect decoration for the kitchen.

If you are hungry check out the bake sale going on at Running Ricigs. All proceeds go to Kisses From Katie.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Bake Sale Tomorrow

Tomorrow one of my friends and fellow bloggers, Kari,  is hosting a bake sale to round out a year long fund raising effort to support Kisses from Katie.  She ran many, many miles.  We ate.

The Cause:

In 2008, our friends Alan and Vickie Manning lost their five month old daughter Katie to a congenital heart defect.  Shortly after their loss, they started
Kisses from Katie - an organization that offers comfort to children and families in pediatric intensive care units.  Since the organization is run by the efforts of the Mannings and volunteers, 100% of your donation will go directly to the cause.  

Be sure to check out all of the delicious bake goods up for sale.  I am going to be donating Mama Pea's Dough Balls...Peanut butter and chocolate chip gooey goodness.  I know you want some.

Sunday 10am-8pm  Running Ricigs

Thursday, October 27, 2011


At times we all need a little extra comfort in our lives.  This week I was reading the November issue of Whole Living.  One of my favorite parts of the magazine each month is the "10 Thoughts on Whole Living" section.  It always gives me a sense of pause.  I wanted to share the November ones with you...I got some comfort thinking about them.

1. A meal shared with family and friends sustains you in more ways than one.

2. Gratitude cannot always change circumstances, but it can help you see beyond them.

3. With reflection comes a decision: You can either turn back or find a new way forward.

4. Feeling restless may be a sign that you haven't sat still long enough.

5. Stop seeing life as a problem to be solved and instead, as a mystery to be enjoyed. 

6. Sometimes you have to travel to a new place to rediscover the old you.

7. To make the best use of your intuition, think less and listen more.

8. Give about and beyond what you think will help.

9. Rather than worry about how your body should look, focus on how you want it to feel.

10.  Virtuous and delicious aren't mutually exclusive; the most nourishing foods can also be the most delightful.

What is your favorite one?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Some days take a lot out of me. Yesterday was one of them. I was so happy that it was expected and I was able to plan out a slow cooker recipe. I posted the recipe as written but to truly make this quick and easy I just threw the meat right into the pot. No pre-cooking for me. One slow cooker, a cutting board and you are good to go.

Slow Cooker Beef Stew
Adapted from Real Simple Dinners

4 pounds bottom round, well trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup olive oil (plus more if needed)
large onions, diced (2 cups)
6-ounce can tomato paste
1 cup dry red wine
1 pound potatoes, cut into 2-inch pieces (about 4 cups)
1/2 pound baby carrots (about 2 cups)
2 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
bay leaf


  1. Coat the beef in the flour. Heat a few tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the meat, a few pieces at a time, adding more oil as necessary. Transfer to a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker.
  2. Add the onions to the skillet and cook over medium heat until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and coat the onions; transfer to the cooker.
  3. Pour the wine into the skillet and scrape up any browned bits; add to the cooker. Stir in the potatoes, carrots, broth, salt, thyme, and bay leaf.
  4. Cover and cook on low heat for 7 1/2 hours, or on high for 4 hours. 

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011

    Confessions From My Life

    1. I woke up this morning trying my mightiest to be in a good mood, something that is difficult when I have so much to do.  Any hope went out the window when I turned on the news to the dreaded "s" word.  Possibility of snow on Saturday.  I am not ready. I blame mother nature for throwing out sunny 80 degree days a couple of short weeks ago.

    2.  Last week my view was pretty much like this 24/7...locations varied.  I call it my three C's:  Computer, Coffee, and Cookie.  For me it is somewhere between an addiction and a necessary evil.  Note to self:  you will get funny looks if you seat in Whole Foods for an hour conference call on mute.  I guess they expect you to talk into the phone if you are on the phone.

    3.  While driving I play a game with the GPS.  It gives me an arrival time...I determine that is just too long.  I must beat it.  Typically I win.  It is good for my confidence.

    4.  I had absurd amounts of coffee, lattes and expresso.  I think I need to detox or at least hide the evidence a bit better.

    5.  Our Sunday night dinner was fried chicken bought from the store.  In my mind this is better than take-out.  Plus I served raw cut up veggies on a cutting board.  Classy I know but at least I hit 3 food groups....protein, veggies and friedness.  I was then reassured that Mr. J would have leftovers for lunch the next two days.  What a good wife I am!

    Monday, October 24, 2011

    Pumpkin Spice Coffee Cake

    As  part of the Tastemakers program from Foodbuzz I received a sample of Godiva's seasonal Pumpkin Spice Coffee.  It took about two weeks for me to finally open up the package and try a pre-baking sample.  This was a bad idea as the coffee itself was delicious.  I simply wanted to have some everyday and not use it for anything else. 

    Then, I saw this pumpkin coffee cake in a magazine and knew it was meant to be. The recipe is somewhat complicated. I managed to fill the dishwasher just with this one cake. It was delicious and well worth the effort.  We were fighting over the last piece within 24 hours.

    Pumpkin Spice Coffee Cake

    Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Fall Baking 2011

    Pumpkin Spice Coffee  Cream Cheese Swirl
    2 large eggs
    2 teaspoons Godiva Pumpkin Spice coffee power
    1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
    2/3 cup granulated sugar
    2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

    Pumpkin Coffee Cake
    3 cups all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
    1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
    2 large eggs
    2/3 cup canned pumpkin
    1 cup heavy cream

    Coffee Drizzle
    1 cup confectioners sugar
    1/2 teaspoon Godiva Pumpkin Spice coffee
    1-2 tablespoons brewed Godiva Pumpkin Spice coffee

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×9 baking pan with parchment paper and spry with non-stick cooking spray.
    2. Prepare pumpkin latte cream cheese swirl. In a medium bowl beat cream cheese with an electric mixer for about 1 minute until fluffy. Add eggs, espresso powder, sugar, flour, vanilla extract, and pumpkin pie spice. Mix on low until smooth.
    3. Prepare Pumpkin Spice Coffee Cake. Whisk flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Set aside.
    4. In a small bowl stir heavy cream and pureed pumpkin until dissolved. Set aside.
    5. In the bowl of a stand mixer cream butter on medium speed until fluffy, about 1-2 minutes. Slowly drizzle in sugar and continue mixing. Add eggs one at a time and mix on low speed until incorporated.
    6. Alternate the addition of the remaining dry and wet ingredients into the butter mixture.
    7. Cover the bottom of the pan with a 2-3 inch thick layer of cake batter. Pour cream cheese mixture over the top and with a spoon swirl into the cake batter. Top with remaining cake batter and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Prepare drizzle while cake cools.
    8. In a small bowl whisk together confectioners sugar, instant espresso powder and 1 tablespoon brewed coffee. Use additional brewed coffee to thin drizzle if too thick.

      Saturday, October 22, 2011

      Perfect Fall Dinner

      Fall is about pumpkins and apples. I love them both and have thus far enjoyed playing in the kitchen with the two.  But there is another often forgotten fall food.  The squash.  Yes, I know pumpkin is a squash but what about butternut or acorn? I don't want to forget.

      I had three acorn squash on my hands the other day.  I was very very tempted to make some soup but Mr. J was down with the idea. He did however jump to the idea of simply roasting it for a dinner side.  The directions are so easy. Cut the squash in half and seed.  Slice in half moons.  Drizzle olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Put in an oven at 375 degrees and roast for 45 minutes.  A fork should go through easily when done.

      Volia! Squash, Brussel Sprouts and Pork Roast.  A Perfect Fall Dinner.

      Friday, October 21, 2011

      Friday's Five: Soups

      There is nothing like soup in the colder months to warm up the soul.  And although I am looking to whip up some new creations I was reviewing some oldies this week.  Needless to say my mouth is watering.  I hope you enjoy!

      Broccoli Cheddar Soup

      Spinach Ravioli Soup

      Chicken Bow Tie

      Black Bean Soup

      Roasted Veggie Soup

      For more Friday Fives check out Living Like the Kings.

      Thursday, October 20, 2011

      Applesauce chicken {in a crock pot}

      That applesauce I made yesterday.  Well, I made it because I needed applesauce for dinner.  This is one of the great throw everything in a crock pot and press start.  I did this at lunch time and when I was home for dinner I had a lovely chicken dish to serve.  Add a few simple sides and you have a great home-cooked meal in the middle of the week.

      Applesauce Chicken
      From A Year of Slow Cooking

      4 chicken breast, boneless and skinless 
      1 1/2 cups of applesauce*
      1 yellow onion, chopped finely
      1 T apple cider vinegar
      1/4 tsp cinnamon
      1/2 tsp black pepper
      2 cloves garlic, minced
      1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

      *I used homemade cinnamon applesauce and omitted the cinnamon.

      Put the chicken pieces into your crockpot. Add the onion.  In a bowl, mix the applesauce, vinegar, garlic, and spices together and pour on top of the chicken.

      Cover and cook on low for 5-7 hours, or on high for 3-4.

      Wednesday, October 19, 2011

      Homemade Applesauce {10 minute side}

      When I am stressed out and busy I don't sleep well. I can fall asleep just fine but I will wake up in the early morning.  Once I am up its over; there is no hope of going back to sleep.  Last week I decided that instead of laying there being mad about not sleep I would be productive. 

      What helps relieve my stress is cooking and baking in the kitchen.  I love it.  You focus on what you are mixing and combining. You can touch, feel and smell.  And in the end the best part is enjoying what you made. 

      My productiveness at 4am came out in the form of food.  The apple pie and banana bread from last week were both works of early morning kitchen time.  Amazingly I didn't bang around too much as to disturb Mr. J.  Each morning he would walk up with a huge grin knowing there was going to be something really good for breakfast. 

      Something else I made early one morning is so quick and easy you don't even have to walk up at 4am.  We had an over abundance of apples.  I had a recipe that required applesauce and didn't have a jar. Well, an easy solution was to make some myself. 

      Homemade Applesauce

      5 medium apples, cored and sliced
      1/2 C water
      2 tsp cinnamon

      I like the texture of the peels and leave them on. You can easily remove peels but it will take longer.
      Also don't add any sugar, the apples are sweet enough for me but you can add approximately 1/4 C sugar.

      Throw all ingredients into a saucepan. Cook on medium heat.  Stir occasionally. After 5 minutes the apples should become soft.  Use the spoon to mash up the apples to your liking.

      Tuesday, October 18, 2011

      A little reading for the soul...

      I have been super duper busy at work.  The good news is the end is near.  At least I can hope it is.  Although I am going away for the rest of the week and then another day trip come Monday the rest of that week will be at the office...the first long

      On some of those long travel trips in the past I have read a few books to keep me entertained in the airplanes, etc.  On some very poor advice and decision making on my part I decided to start two different trilogies.  These trilogies turned out to be very addicting, all time life consuming.  Mr. J said he felt neglected.  When I wasn't reading I just thought about what could possible be next up in the story.

      Meet The Hunger Games.  It's fantastic.  About a million zillion times better than the Twilight series.  I lost sleep but it was worth it.  I stupidly decidedly asked Mr. J to give me the whole set for my birthday.  It was on my Nook.  I ended one book and went right on through to the next.  It was the best birthday present ever.  I cannot go into detail about this book.  It is just too hard to explain. Too many stories and I would go on recapping all the glorious parts.  Just know you have to READ it.

      My second addiction was to the Stieg Larsson series The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  This was a bit of a different story.  I heard mixed reviews about this book. Mainly that it was hard to get into and there were too many characters to follow.  I had this book for 10 months before I dug in.  I read this one and the second one straight through.  Then I had no Internet and couldn't download the third. What's a girl to do?  Well not knowing how The Hunger Games would suck my life away (in a good way) I took a little bread.  Like I said I read that whole series in less than a week, so it wasn't long before I could start the third and final book in the series. I had no trouble getting right into it.  It was a mystery and I needed to know "who done it"

      More recently though I have been reading all of the holiday issues of my magazines.  My favorite time of the year is when all of the Thanksgiving and Christmas issues come out.  Although I am completely scared about it being the end of October already, I cannot wait till Thanksgiving. It is my favorite holiday.  I love spending the day in the kitchen with my mom. Gifting giving is also a fun joy for me.  I am already plotting out what I want to get my friends and family. 

      What good books have you read lately? 

      Monday, October 17, 2011

      Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips

      My husband thinks I have a problem with patience.

      A problem when we are stuck in traffic...

      A problem when we are waiting at the gate for the plane to take off...

      A problem in line when the person in front of us is still not ready to order after waiting in line for 10 minutes...

      However, I would like to say that this is a trait we both share.

      I have quite the delicious recipe today.  Banana bread with Chocolate Chips.  It is not quite breakfast and not quite dessert.  It is just one great any time of the day snack.

      As I said I have the recipe for you but I only have a few pictures of bread that has already been cut.  Why you ask? Well, my dear husband has no patience when things come out of the oven...things that smell good...things that are not quite breakfast but not quite dessert.  For him, banana bread with chocolate chips is the perfect 3 snack after dinner.  You know the snack after all of the dinner dishes have been put away.  Thank goodness I love him.

      Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips
      Adapted from Cooking Down East

      1/4 c butter
      1 tsp salt
      1 C sugar
      2 eggs
      1 1/2 C flour
      1 tsp soda
      3 bananas, beaten creamy
      1/2 C chocolate chips

      Cream butter, add salt and sugar, gradually.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Sift flour, measure and sift together with soda.  Mash bananas with a fork, beaten until light.   Add alternatively with dry ingredients to egg mixture.  Add chocolate chips.  Turn into a greased loaf pan.  Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees.

      Sunday, October 16, 2011

      Wheat Fields Make Me Happy

      Did you see the story on 60 minutes tonight about Vincent Van Gogh?  Very interesting.  I love this picture and today with the cool winds and fall color it just seems fitting!

      Saturday, October 15, 2011

      Apples Keep the Doctor Away

      I have been more busy in the last to months than I can remember. I feel like I have lost a bit of control over my life.  Being somewhat type A this is not a good feeling.  I have been traveling so much that my time in the kitchen was pretty non-existent.  I am sure you noticed the blog has been more about what I have been eating vs. what I have been cooking. Just recently I have been able to get a bit more settled.  As in I spent 3 nights in a row in my own bed.  It.was.lovely.

      Being home also meant being able to cook, more specifically bake.  Baking is my thing much more so than cooking. With Mr. J's birthday I wanted to make something for him.  Much to my dismay he doesn't like cake and although I can win him over with cookies he really prefers pie.  To me fruit pies are just a waste of fresh fruit and calories for treats.  I will take an apple and a cookie any day over a piece of pie.  But it was HIS birthday so he WINS.

      Best Apple Pie
      From Cooking Down East

      Pastry for 2-crust pie

      Gala Apples for a well-filled pie (about 10) 
      3/4 C sugar
      1/4 C brown sugar
      1/4 tsp salt
      1/4 tsp nutmeg
      1/2 tsp cinnamon
      1 Tbsp butter

      Line a pie plate with pastry, allowing 1/2 inch to overhang plate.  Prepare apples by washing, paring, and coring.  Slice thin and put in bowl.

      Mix white sugar, brown sugar, salt, and spices.  Pour over apples and combine so all of the apple slices are covered with mixture.

      Pack into pie shell.  Cut up butter into little pieces and top apples.

      Lay top pastry over filling.  Bring edge lower pastry up over top edge and fold together.  Flute edge.  Brush with egg wash.  Bake at 425 degrees for about 50 minutes.

      Friday, October 14, 2011

      Molly's Wedding

      The whole reason for going to Chicago was for my dear friend Molly's wedding.  We have a long Bryn Mawr history.  We met at Bryn Mawr freshman year in our Intro. French class.  She also lived on the floor above mine in the dorms.  We bounded over our strange roommate experiences.  We continued through all of our French classes together and eventually landed in Paris junior year.  While in France she met Kaspar. 

      The wedding was held at the University Club of Chicago.  The room reminded me very much of the Great Hall at Bryn Mawr. It was a great setting for a wedding.

      I don't know how I ended up in the worst seat ever for pictures.  This is actually one of the better ones.  Although Molly is a bit lost you can see the big smile on Kaspar's face.

      The bride was beautiful and I had such a great time seeing old friends and meeting new.  Molly's family is a big catholic family.  They were all so welcoming and friendly.  We had a marvelous time.

      Of course for me, I love seeing what the food will be.  They had a beautiful cake that matched the invitations.  And the squirrel cake toppers were so cute.  I think they might rival my lobsters.

      The first course was butternut squash ravioli.  It was very rich and dense; I could have eaten a pot full.  Somehow I missed the picturing the Caesar salad.  I was very happy to have some greens after all of our not-so-healthy dinning in Chicago.

      The main course was Amish Chicken.  Not sure what that is exactly but we dined on a split chicken breast with saute onions between.  The sauce was so light and just kept the chicken moist.  My favorite part was the potatoes dauphinoise.

      Of course, wedding cake finished the night off.  Mr. J and I left feeling quite old.  We walked out the door around 11:30pm, way past our normal bedtime.  Sunday we were slow getting out the door and I kind of feel like I am still recovering.  Regardless, we had a great time and I was so happy to be able to celebrate the big day with the bride and groom.  Congratulations!

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