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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Chew on This | Spicy Hot Chocolate

We took a trip to the book store yesterday. It was bursting with people. And though I normally don't want to jockey for shelf browsing rights, it wasn't a problem. We lingered and contemplated our options and finally came away with more choices then we had allocated for. Collecting our bundle of books at the checkout The Sprite noticed that it was snowing. Our first snow of the season (though it was hardly a sputtering)! It seemed completely fitting that we go home, cozy up with our books, and sip a warm cup of glorious hot chocolate.

This Spicy Hot Chocolate is thick, luxurious and layered with flavor. The children preferred it with marshmallows, which added a touch more sweetness. The Husband and I enjoyed a cup with a dollop of whipped cream and grated nutmeg. It was amazing - Enjoy!


Here's our recipe:

Spicy Hot Chocolate
(serves 4-5)

1 C heavy cream
2 C unsweetened almond milk (our milk of your choice)
3 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (I used Green & Black's organic 70% dark)
1 1/2 ounces milk chocolate, chopped (I used Green & Black's organic)
1/8 t cayenne pepper
1/8 t nutmeg
1/8 t cinnamon

Topped with whipped cream and grated nutmeg

In a sauce pan over medium to medium-low heat, warm your cream and milk until steaming - but NOT boiling. Turn off heat and add cayenne pepper, nutmeg, and cinnamon - stir to incorporate. Now add your chocolate and do not stir, allowing chocolate to melt for about 5-7 minutes. When ready, stir until chocolate in completely melted and mixed.

Pour into mugs, top with whipped cream (or marshmallows) and some grated nutmeg. Enjoy!!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Chew on This | No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake with Toasted Sugared Pecans

Just a quick hello today.


Trick-or-Treat will begin here in the next hour. Yes, it's Oct. 26th. Yes, it's the middle of the day. Yes, I had no idea Trick-or-Treat was happening this early until Friday. Yes, the kids do not have the costumes I ordered, since they are arriving tomorrow. Yes, The Husband ran to the store yesterday to raid the candy aisle for treats to pass out (no tricks here).

No biggie. It's a gorgeous, gorgeous day out. We have candy. The kids rummaged through our dress up basket and created adorable costumes (we'll be doing this from now on!). And of course, I should have known our township recognizes that practically every neighborhood around has no sidewalks and no street lamps so, safety first. We agree.

Now, to costume up my two ghouls. Have a great Sunday!!


Here's our recipe:

No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 C granulated sugar
1 C pumpkin puree
1 t vanilla
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
pinch clove
1/2 C heavy cream
1 T granulated sugar
1/2 C crushed graham crackers
2 T butter, melted

Optional garnish:
1 C pecans
1 T butter
1T sugar
1 t salt

8" round spring form pan

In a large mixing bowl, beat softened cream cheese and 1/2 C sugar until well blended. Add in your pumpkin, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove, and mix until combined. In a separate bowl, whip your heavy cream, streaming in the 1 T of sugar while whipping, until soft peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture.

In the bottom of your spring form, stir together your crushed graham crackers and melted butter. Press your crust into the bottom of the pan. Spoon your cheesecake mixture onto the crust and smooth out. Cover and place cheesecake into the refrigerator to set up a bit (several hours or over night). Garnish with toasted pecans, slice and serve. Enjoy!

Optional garnish:
Place pecans, butter, sugar, and salt into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high in 30 second intervals until butter is melted. Stir to coat all the pecans and place pecans onto a small cookie sheet. Place cookie sheet into a 350℉ preheated oven. Allow the pecans to bake for 5-7 minutes, or until toasty. Remove from oven and allow the pecans to cool completely before chopping and sprinkling over the cheesecake.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Chew on This | Cheesy Bread Sticks

Our fall has been both eventful and quiet. 92% of the eventfulness has been joyfully entertaining. That other 8% - not at all. Though, because of the 8%, we have had days, that would have otherwise been jam packed and busy, turn into easy, quiet, do-whatever-days. I can't tell how lovely this has been. Now, I certainly don't want a redo of the circumstances that led to these now open days - but my family and I are very much taking advantage of this strange and wonderful schedule freedom. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Chew on This | Warm Rosemary Bean Dip

Last Thursday I was sitting at the kitchen table enjoying the peaceful quiet while one kid was playing outside and the other was reading a book. A glorious fall evening, I had the doors open and was gazing out into the backyard when suddenly a mass of movement crossed my line of vision. The mass landed with a loud thud onto the porch, right outside my door.

My first fleeting thought was that the mass was a ball that The Boy was throwing around, it finding its way onto the porch. But I knew quite quickly that I had made an incorrect assumption, replaying in my mind what I had actually seen. Standing, looking, seeing - I confirmed that the mass was two birds that had some how managed to collide, mid-air, and fall to the porch. They didn't move. They didn't move.

I couldn't believe it. I was equal parts sad and dismayed that these sweet, tiny birds perished before my eyes. I stood there looking at them in a bit of a stupor when one of them abruptly flipped over, sitting himself upright. Gasping, I said a little pray of thanks and continued watching, waiting, formulating a plan of how I would carefully collect the bird and get it to a wildlife rehabilitor. While making calls and getting organized, that birdie found its strength and was able to fly away. Right before my eyes! It was truly amazing! Yet, his companion was not going to be so fortunate. During that hour I did see him trying to move a few times and thought, "Hurray! Both will live!" - but he soon stilled, and stayed that way long after his friend left.   

Knowing that the second bird had probably passed, the evening dragged on as I looked out the door almost continuously, hoping. I could hardly keep focused on any one thing, except the bird. As the sky grew dark I turned on the lights for another check and was stunned. That second bird has righted himself and moved several feet to the left. What!?! And when I looked again, he was gone. 

I tell you, in those hours witnessing, watching, waiting…I experienced a roller coaster of emotions. What I came away with was an appreciation for the struggle and perseverance of all creatures - bird and human alike.


Here's our recipe:

A delicious, soothing, stick-to-your-bones dip that will keep everyone coming back for more. Perfect for get-togethers or as a meal. Enjoy!

Warm Rosemary Bean Dip

1 medium sweet onion, diced
2 T butter
2 (15 ounces) cans white beans, drained and rinsed
2 large sprigs rosemary
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 - 1/3 C heavy cream (milk or chicken broth could be used in place of heavy cream)

In a sauté pan, over medium-low heat, melt your butter and add your onions. Cook onions until they just start to caramelize (about 20 minutes). Add in your beans, rosemary sprigs, and salt and pepper, toss to incorporate and coat beans. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until beans are soft. Add in your heavy cream (or other chosen liquid) and stir. Some of your beans will begin to break down and the dip will really thicken up - if you prefer and thinner dip, add more liquid. Remove from heat, place into a serving bowl and serve with chips, veggies, and/or French baguette. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Chew on This | Corn Chowder

I have made soup three times in the last week. One day it was creamy tomato basil (recipe coming soon). Another day it was creamy broccoli, adoringly known in these parts as Green Cheese Soup. And today, I made this absolutely fantastic Corn Chowder. 

This chowder is the perfect blend of summer and fall. The crisp, sweet corn kernels mixed with the soft, silky potatoes - bliss! And a few tricks of the soup makin' trade (listed below) add incredible flavor and richness without you having to spend hours and hours and hours at the stove. 

I don't know when this soup bender of mine is going to come to an end. I'm thoroughly enjoying it - as are the soup addicted members of my family. I'll be sure to share whatever happens to simmer up - Enjoy!!


Here's our recipe:

Corn Chowder
2 T butter
1 T oil

1 medium sweet onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
4 medium potatoes, medium dice
6 ears of sweet corn, kernels removed (reserve two corn cobs, after kernels are removed, for added flavor while soup is simmering)
4 C chicken or vegetable broth
1 C milk
1 C heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

bacon, chives, green onions

In a large soup pot over medium heat, add butter, oil, onions, and garlic. Salt and pepper to season. Sauté for about 2-4 minutes, or until onions are softened. Add in your potatoes and stir to coat. Cover the pot and allow the potatoes to cook for 3-4 minutes. Next, add in your corn. Stir to combine. Add in your broth, milk, and heavy cream, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook until the potatoes are soft.

To make the chowder extra creamy and divine, take 3-4 cups of the chowder (after it has cooled for about 30 minutes) and blend until smooth in the blender. Pour the blended soup back into the larger pot and warm to serve. Garnish each bowl with bacon, chives, and/or sliced green onions. Enjoy!!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Chew on This | Crustless Mushroom Quiche

After some serve thunderstorms (and even a few tornadoes) raced through our area Wednesday evening, fall weather officially arrived to our home Thursday morning. It has been cool and crisp ever since. So of course all I want to do is open all the windows, bake, pull on a sweater and boots, and drink hot apple cider by the fire.

What to do first? Well, I figured to kick things off right, I needed to bake something pronto. My oven had been feeling neglected the last few weeks because of the heat and sticky humidity. So, with screened doors and windows opened, I made a warm and perfectly savory quiche. Too lazy to make a pastry crust, I opted for simple and quick, and a crustless quiche was conceived. The fruits of my minimal labor rewarded me and the family handsomely. Why don't you let the cool air in and reward yourself with this delightful dish, too!


Here's our recipe:

Crustless Mushroom Quiche

1 T butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
8 ounces portobella mushrooms, sliced
salt and pepper
4 large  eggs
1/4 C milk
1/2 C heavy cream
4 ounces Havarti cheese, shredded
2 ounces parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350℉. Generously grease an 8" or 9" pie plate.

In a large skillet, melt your butter over medium to medium-low heat. Add in your onions and garlic and cook until soft. Next, add your sliced mushrooms. Season to your taste and allow the mushrooms to cook until softened. Take skillet off the heat and set aside until needed.

Next, in a mixing bowl, whisk together your eggs, milk, and heavy cream. If you want, season this mixture with a bit of salt and pepper. 

Now you can spoon your mushroom mixture into the bottom of the prepared pie plate. Be sure not to include any of the rendered juices from the mushroom mixture. Next, sprinkle on your cheeses. And finally, pour your egg mixture over the ingredients. Put your pie plate onto a cookie sheet, to avoid any spillage, and place into the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, or until the center of the quiche is almost set. You may find that the edges of the quiche begin to brown before the quiche is finished, cover the edges with some tinfoil and continue baking until done. Allow the quiche to cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Enjoy!!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Chew on This | Pesto Zucchini Spaghetti

My grandparents lived a mere 10 minutes away from our house when I was a kid. We spent lots of time with them and I can honestly say that I can't recall ever being bored during any visit. It was never a bother to go and visit them but always something I looked forward to doing. While there, if my sister and I weren't listening to the adults talk, we were playing in the back yard, down in the basement on my grandpa's organ, playing bumper pool, luring the neighbor's cat to come over and ignore us, or sneaking repeatedly into the bathroom to powder ourselves with my grandma's rose scented powder, or spraying her Evian facial mist onto our sweaty kid faces.

My grandparents backyard was not huge but was perfect for their needs. In the far left corner they had a small garden growing during the summer. When we were young, they had a marvelous screened in porch, where many a celebration were held. From the porch you walked out to their small patio. Growing along the fence, next to the patio was a huge, beautiful, old yellow cottage rose bush, and it smelled like heaven. And, in the far right hand corner of the yard was an area that was umbrellaed by trees, creating a special little alcove my sister and I claimed for playing. 

My grandma was hard-pressed to grow something, anything, in this corner. Hostas, impatiens, pachysandra…none of it would thrive. There was not much sun light and it was a bit damp. And truly, while we were young, I think she didn't try too hard to grow anything because she knew that my sister and I liked to play there. It was a place fairies came to visit, where mud pies were made, where little girls could lie back and dream while staring up through the branches.

Today I felt the strong pull of those childhood memories. I wanted to smell those creamy yellow roses. I wanted to introduce myself to the fairies living under the toadstools. If only.