Thursday, November 29, 2012

Autumn Chopped Salad

This salad has quickly become a favorite in our house.  I'm not sure if it's the list of ingredients that comes on this salad or if it's the vinaigrette that makes is so good, or maybe it's a combination of both.  Whatever it is, I'm glad I made it. 

It is no surprise that I love salads.  Even more, I love salads with fruit on them.  I guess it's the whole sweet and savory thing that reals me in.  This particular salad has it all; sweet, salty, smokey and tangy.  I love it.  This salad is the epitomy of easy and delicious.  What more coud you want in a meal, especially one for the weeknight? 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

DB: Twelve Days of Cookies

Holiday season is the time for sharing and Peta of Peta Eats is sharing a dozen cookies, some classics and some of her own, from all over the world with us.
We are embarking on my most favorite time of the year, Christmas!  Can you believe it's here?  I can't!  The time and year has just flown by, but boy I'm glad it's here.  My tree is up, presents are wrapped and now I'm just enjoying the decorations, music and merryment of the season.  When I think of Christmas I think of hot chocolate, hot apple and muled cider, and of course homemade cookies and goodies! 

Monday, November 26, 2012

SRC: 3 Ingredient Nutella

For the November installment of the secret recipe club swap I was assigned Deanna's blog, The Mommy Bowl.  Deanna is a cereal lover turned gluten-free.  While this is a challenge in and of itself, she's also determined to serve her family delicious and tasty gluten-free meals and treats.

After looking through numerous recipes on her blog, I finally decided on 3 ingredient  Nutella.  As if this stuff weren't addicting enough from the store, I know have the means to make it for myself at home.  Any time I want.  How dangerous is that?  I love Nutella and I'm slightly obsessed with it.  Over the years I have used much self-control and tried to limit my intake of this heavenly chocolate spread and I must say, I've done quite well.  Well, now that I've discovered this recipe I can make it myself anytime I want.  It's slightly easier to practice self-control when I have to get in the car, go to the store and buy a jar when I have a craving.  Now my control and discipline is going to be tried even more so now that I have the recipe.  One plus with the homemade stuff is that I can control the quality of the ingredients which means I can make it slightly more healthy than the stuff I could buy in the store.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Homemade Marshmallows

By now, you know that I'm a fan of everything homemade.  If there is a storebought version, I try to figure out how to make it successfully at home.  In my humble opinion, everything made at home is about 1000 times better that the stuff from the store.  Not that I don't get help from time to time with the store bought stuff, because believe me, this busy girl can use help and time savers!  But, I am saying that I do enjoy the homemade stuff better!
Enter these homemade marshmallows.  Who doesn't love a good marshmallow?  I have memories throughout my childhood of stuffing marshmallows in my mouth as fast as I possibly could...because they were just so good.  And yes, there was the occassional game of "fuzzy bunny", you know the one where you stuffed a ton of marshmallows in your mouth, one by one, and tried to say fuzzy bunny and whoever had the most in their mouth and could still be understood was the winner?  Yes, you know the one.  That game, too, had a factor in my intake of marshmallows.  And while those packaged marshmallows are good, I have something that's even better!  Homemade marshmallows!  But I have a feeling you won't want to play the fuzzy bunny game with these, you'll want to savor every last morsel. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

15 Gifts for the Cook in Your Life

Can you believe it?  We are in November folks and Christmas is steadily approaching.  Christmas will be here in exactly 42 days (no pressure).  Wow!  Where has this year gone?  This picture of my little man with Santa is from last year, it seems like yesterday we were there talking to Santa and posing for this picture.  I can't believe it's time to go see him again and give him a Tucker's wishlist.

I know Tucker is getting his list ready for Santa!  Are you?  If you're struggling with what to put on your list or to buy that special cook in your life, I have a few ideas to share with you that just might help you out!

1. Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics- I adore Ina Garten, she's incredibly inspiring and truly amazing.  I adore all of her recipes and this cookbook is a staple in my collection.

2. America's Test Kitchen: DIY Cookbook- America's Test Kitchen has been around for years and is a trusted resource to all cooks.  They continue to release amazing cookbooks that not only have pleasing and tasty recipes, but secrets behind the recipes and why they work.  This DIY cookbook looks amazing and takes those everyday, storebough favorites and shows you how to make them at home. 
*This is on my wishlist!

3. The Cookie Dough Lover's Cookbook- Lindsay Landis, one-half of the awesome cooks and creative minds behind Love and Olive Oil, has gone there.  Yes, there!  She's made a cookbook that has cookie dough in every. single. recipe.  How crazy and exciting is that?  This is the perfect present for that cookie (dough) lover in your life!
*I've been drooling over this since it's release, it's on my wishlist.

4. Bon Appetit, Ya'll- Doesn't the title of this book just mamke you smile?  I don't know how you can be from the south and not have a cookbook in your collection that includes the word "ya'll" in the title.  This book is another I've been lusting over; the recipes look incredible.  A mix of classic, southern recipes with a slight French twist (and no, not the hairstyle!)
*Another that's on my wishlist.

5. Smitten Kitchen Cookbook- Words cannot even describe how excited I was when I learned that Deb Perelman, the creative genious and cook behind the ever-so-popular blog Smitten Kitchen was releasing a cookbook.  I have followed her blog for I don't know how long, so needless to say, I was ecstatic when I heard about her cookbook.  To say the recipes she's developed for her blog are incredible and delicious would be an understatement.  And now, she's developed more original recipes to go inside this wonderful cookbook. 
*Another one that is on my wishlist!

Kitchen Aid-
6. Batter beater attachment for Kitchen Aid stand mixers-this attachment is a staple in my kitchen.  Any time my mixer is in use, it's a safe bet that this is the attachment that is at work.  It's a life saver, it simply scrapes the bowl with each passing spin.  It eliminates the need to stop the mixer, scrape the bowl and then proceed with mixing.  Perfect for that baker in your life.

7. Kitchen Aid professional stand mixer- This was a splurge for me when Spencer and I got married.  I used gift cards and registry completion discounts to get this baby, and I'm so glad I took the plunge.  I LOVE my mixer.  I've made countless cakes, frostings, cookies and breads using this mixer and it's withstood the load every. single. time. 

8. Kitchen Aid ice cream attachment- This was the first attachment I "wished" for after I bought my mixer.  I am an ice cream lover and I can't count the number of times I've whipped this baby out and made a batch of homemade ice cream.  This is a must for your ice cream lover.

Kitchen essentials-
9. OXO mandolin slicer- Slice it thick, thin, in sticks or even waffle cuts.  This slicer does it all!  I received mine for a birthday present last year from my awesome brother-in-law and sister-in-lawe.  I LOVE it.  I use it all the time; and even better, every slice is exact and uniform.  I'm not really sure how I survived without it, but I'm so glad I don't have to do without one now.

10. Le Creuset Spatulas- a good set of spatulas and scrapers is a must in any kitchen.  I love my Le Creuset spatulas; they are durable, sturdy and get into the nooks to ensure every bowl, jar and bottle is scraped clean.  I believe it's good to have a variety of sizes to accomodate your needs.  I also believe it's a must to have spatulas that are heat resistant to a fairly high temperature, to ensure you don't melt your spatula while make the perfect sauce, dip or candy.

11. Cast Iron Skillet- every kitchen needs at least 1 seasoned cast iron skillet.  I can't tell you how many times I use my cast iron skillets, and I use them for all sorts of things.  If you're going to invest in just 1 I recommend buying a 12 inch skillet.  I personally have one 12inch and two 8inch. 

12. Enamel coated cast iron dutch oven- I use my dutch oven for so many things.  Since I received mine last Christmas it truly has become an essential in my kitchen.  Soups, stews, stove top to oven, roasting chicken, roast or briskett; the uses are endless.

13.  OXO kitchen scale- Whether you're counting calories and servings or weighing ingredients for your perfect cookie or cake recipe, a kitchen scale is a must.  After receiving this for a birthday present a few years ago, it's not only been my best friend in the kitchen but I immediately knew what I was getting a few friends for their upcoming birthdays.

14. Pampered Chef pizza stone- We love pizza, and we thoroughly enjoy making pizza at home.  Sometimes we get creative, other times we stick to the more traditional toppings.  No matter what type of pizza we make, we always use our pizza stone.  It turns out the perfect crust, slightly crispy edges and fluffy middle, every single time.

15. Nesting bowls- A nice set of nested mixing bowls are a crutial piece of any kitchen.  I find it nice to have a fairly large set with various sizes so I can accomodate the ingredients for whatever it is I'm making.  I'm in love with this set from Williams-Sonoma, it has every size I could possibly need and they nest perfectly for easy storage.

I hope that this has given you some ideas for that special cook in your life!  Christmas will be here before we know it!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Baked Pumpkin Donut Holes

Donuts have become sort of a weekend ritual for us as of late.  I enjoy the time we spend on Saturday mornings; sitting and hanging out with each other and enjoying some donuts while watching cartoons.  It truly doesn't get much better than that.  Sometimes we'll go to the donut shop, get an assortment of donuts, a couple of kolaches, and of course let Tucker pick out a few donuts of his own!  Other times we decide to stay home and I'll make up a batch of donuts and twists.  Sometimes it's all 3 of us in the kitchen, while other times Spencer sleeps in and Tucker and I will make a batch of donuts.  I love that Tucker is so interested in being in the kitchen and helping out, I also love the time we have together and the memories we make!  I know I will hold them dear to my heart forever.
A couple of pics I snapped real quick with my phone.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Creamy Spinach and Arugula Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Tomatoes

Here we are in the midst of fall, part of the country is being slammed with rain and snow but here in Arkansas we've had no such weather.  We've had some chilly days but no frosts or severe weather, yet.  So, unlike a lot of people, our garden is still in full bloom and we are still picking bell peppers, tomatoes, and jalapenos by the buckets.  Believe it or not, my herbs are still in full bloom too; parsley, basil and even some cilantro.  Wild, right?  I plan to utilize every piece of fresh produce possible while I still have access to it.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Crockpot Sausage, Peppers, and Onions

I absolutely adore recipes that are big in flavor, yet minimal in ingredients.  And yes, this recipes is one of those.  Even better, it's a recipe that is full of flavor and requires very little prep since it utilizes the good, ol' slow cooker.  I love using my slow cooker.  In my opinion, one of the best things is walking in the door at night and having supper just waiting on you.  This recipe offers that; tasty, full of flavor, comforting and has the food waiting on you to enjoy.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Melting Moments

Over the past few months I have come across  couple of cookies that were simply amazing and that literally melt in your mouth.  Both of the recipes that come to mind had brown sugar in them; one had brown sugar in the cookie alone while the other had brown sugar in both the cookie and the frosting.  The brown sugar in these cookies was the secret behind them literally melting in your mouth at first bite.  Both of these cookies have quickly grown to be a favorite, not only in our house but for my friends and co-workers as well.  I honestly didn't know if I would ever find a recipe to top the recent favorites, but I think I least for some people.
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