Sunday, December 19, 2010

Haystacks (Butterscotch Noodles)

These are a Christmas cookie classic for us, I can remember making them as far back as middle school with either my mom or grandmother. They are very simple to make, but continue to be one of our favorites, along with “White Chocolate Treats”.

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  • 1 12oz. package butterscotch morsels
  • 2 cups chow mein noodles
  • 1 cup spanish peanuts

Melt butterscotch morsels in the microwave for 1 minute, stir, then 30 second intervals until just melted. Stir in noodles and peanuts.

Drop by teaspoons onto waxed paper, let stand until thick, 20 to 30 minutes.

Yields 3-4 dozen

Chocolate Peppermint Cake Balls

Similar in appearance to Brownie Lollipops, however I enjoyed the peppermint aspect of these. Next go around I think the brownie base would be perfect paired with the mint flavoring.

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  • 1 box (18.25 ounces) devil’s food cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1⅓ cups water
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 3 teaspoons pure peppermint extract, divided
  • 1 container (16 ounces) prepared fudge frosting
  • 1 package (about 24 ounces) chocolate almond bark

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan. Line two cookie sheets with wax paper.

In a large bowl, stir cake mix with eggs, water, oil and 11/2 teaspoons peppermint extract until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 33-38 minutes.

Cool slightly and crumble while warm into a large bowl; stir in the frosting until well blended.

With a small cookie scoop, form balls (smooth with hands if desired) and place on wax paper. Chill 20-30 minutes in the refrigerator or freezer. Insert candy cane ends or lollipop sticks, if desired.

In a heatproof bowl, melt chocolate bark in the microwave set on HIGH for 90 seconds. Stir and heat at 30-second intervals until melted; stir in remaining extract until smooth.

With a fork, dip balls into chocolate, shaking gently to let excess dip off. Return to wax paper and sprinkle with crushed candy cane. Let sit at room temperature until coating hardens. Store in an airtight container.

Makes 36-42 cake balls.

Recipe courtesy of Bliss Tree

Chocolate-Raspberry Thumbprints

These are a bit time consuming, but are my all time favorite Christmas cookie!! Don’t tell, but underneath the raspberry jam is a dollop of chocolate.

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  • 1/4 Basic Sugar-Cookie Dough, premade and chilled
  • 3 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 4 ounces walnuts, finely chopped (1 cup)
  • 1/3 cup seedless raspberry jam, warmed
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. Allow your disc(s) of dough to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes. Place walnuts in a shallow dish. Form dough into 1-inch balls; roll balls in nuts, coating completely.
  2. Place balls on parchment- lined baking sheets. Use your thumb to make an indentation in center of each ball. Chill 20 minutes.
  3. Bake cookies in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching positions of sheets halfway through, until firm to the touch, 12 to 16 minutes. Remove from oven. Using a small teaspoon or the handle of a wooden spoon, press indentation of each cookie to redefine shape. Allow to completely cool on wire racks.
  4. Melt chocolate and fill each with about 1/4 teaspoon. All chocolate to completely set. Cover each chocolate portion with raspberry jam, so the chocolate becomes a hidden surprise. Store in airtight containers at room temperature, up to 5 days.

Makes about 1 1/2 dozen

Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Holiday Brie en Croute

Tonight we hosted 10 church friends at our 2nd Annual Christmas Cookie Exchange. Along with lots of cookies (recipes to come), I also prepared a few appetizers: holiday brie en croute, mexican dip, spicy sausage balls served with apple cider punch, wine or beer.

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  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 of a 17.3-ounce package Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets (1 sheet), thawed
  • 1/2 cup apricot preserves or seedless raspberry jam
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberry
  • 1/4 cup toasted sliced almond
  • 1 (13- to 16-ounce) Brie cheese round
  • crackers

Heat the oven to 400°F. Beat the egg and water in a small bowl with a fork.

Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Roll the pastry sheet into a 14-inch square. Spread the preserves on the pastry to within 2 inches of the edge. Sprinkle with the cranberries and almonds. Place the cheese in the center of the pastry. Fold the pastry up over the cheese to cover. Trim the excess pastry and press to seal. Brush the seam with the egg mixture. Place seam-side down onto a baking sheet. Decorate with the pastry scraps, if desired. Brush with the egg mixture.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Let stand for 45 minutes. Serve with the crackers.

Recipe courtesy of Pepperidge Farms

The pups getting ready for the festivities…

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Kelly’s Peanut Butter Fudge

My best friend Kelly Winebarger shared this recipe with me back in high school and it’s been my go to fudge recipe ever since. I haven’t made it in a couple years, but so glad my pregnancy cravings pulled this one back up to my memory. (She also has a wonderful peanut butter pie recipe that I will have to share sometime too.)

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  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 1 1/3 c peanut butter (used natural)
  • 1 7oz jar marshmallow crème
  1. In a saucepan, bring sugar and milk to a boil; boil for 3 minutes.
  2. Add peanut butter and marshmallow crème, mix well.
  3. Quickly pour into a buttered 8-in square pan; chill until set. Cut into squares

Yields 3-4 dozen

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I’m pretty pleased with myself for getting back into cooking this week. Earlier in the week I made us two nights worth of taco salads (romaine, ground chorizo, tomatoes, avocados, and corn chips); Friday night a made a homemade pizza (chicken sausage, green onions, green olives, mozzarella and goat cheese); Saturday morning two dozen hanky panky on split English muffins, peanut butter fudge; and finally this morning banana flax pancakes and gingerbread cookies!!

I also happened to be at the grocery store at just the right time yesterday morning and the florist gave me this free bouquet of flowers, as they were deemed no longer sellable – but they are gorgeous and smell wonderful!

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Finally, we got an 1 inch of snow in North Carolina yesterday afternoon, during the UK game. It was beautiful to watch come down and we got to enjoy it all evening.

Winter 2010 (6) Winter 2010 (1) Winter 2010 (3)

Monday, November 29, 2010

It's a...

sweet little baby girl!! I can hardly believe it and was almost in tears of joy this afternoon after our ultrasound. It was a little mentally exhausting though, our little girl was all balled up for most of the 90 minutes that it took to do the anatomy scan and we almost didn't get a good look at the sex, thank goodness for the last few minutes and our techs determination.
(Feet and legs are up in the air)

During the ultrasound the tech had the chair going up and down, she was tapping on my stomach, and even asked me to take a break to get up and walk around twice...all in an attempt to get the baby to move positions. She apparently was quite cozy with her hands over her face and feet tucked closely to her belly.
We are so happy with our little one, Andy is already joking that he's wrapped around her little finger... <3

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Our Family's Growing

Since I'm going on my 14th week, we thought it was an appropriate time to share our exciting news - I'm pregnant!! Thankfully, I have overall been feeling really great, besides the whole exhaustion thing. In the evenings after work, instead of cooking, I would come home, curl up in bed, and enjoy a nice nap with the dogs. Mainly we've been having quick easy meals, frozen foods from Trader Joe's, or the Foster's Family Dinners that I mentioned in my last post...you can imagine that these meals weren't all that blog worthy and thus the lack of posting.

This pregnancy didn't come easy for us, we'd been trying to conceive for just over 2 1/2 years when we finally got our good news. We went to a lot of doctor appointments, we each underwent a lot of testing, we had a lot of stress, and I shed a lot of tears. However, we also had a wonderful team of doctors at Duke Fertility Clinic and right as we were seriously considering IVF (we'd already taken the meds course and I had a Hysteroscopy performed) we asked if we could try the minimal stimulation procedure one last time (a series of oral meds and shots)...and that's when it happened for us!! WE WERE SO EXCITED!! I am considered a high risk pregnancy and am being closely monitored at Duke Medicine due to having antiphospholipid syndrome, a coagulation disorder that can cause blood clots and other pregnancy complications. I am currently on two syringes of Lovenox a day. The pregnancy is going great...we can't wait to welcome our little one into our lives at the end of April.
Our 12 week, 3D ultrasound - our baby is just 2inches long at this point.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Prepared Family Dinners

Several months ago I heard about Foster's Market "Family Dinners".  They have different sized shares, but for my husband and I (a couples share) it is $100 for 5 made-from-scratch meals where all we need to do is reheat them. It also comes along with a large salad, some type of bread, and dessert (rotates weekly to go along with the menu). Plus, they have a daily vegetarian offering, kids items, and a couple other entrées available to add on. I placed my order last Friday for the following and picked it up Monday evening. (I meant to take a photo of it all packaged up so neatly, but came home and on auto-pilot immediately started putting it all away - next time).

  • Beef Lasagna
  • Creamy Chicken and Mushroom Risotto
  • Rosemary Port Roasted Pork Loin
  • Bulgur Wheat and Grilled Vegetable Casserole with Chevre
  • Penne Pasta with Roasted Eggplant, Spinach, Onions and Capers with a Balsamic Red Wine Sauce
  • Garden Salad with Buttermilk Ranch
  • Baguette
  • Assorted Fresh Baked Cookies

Since I do cook 2-3 times a week, I plan to freeze the beef lasagna and rosemary port pork loin for sometime next week, use the bulgur wheat with grilled veggies as a lunch item, and have the chicken & mushroom risotto and penne pasta with garden salad as dinner items this week. I am also already thinking ahead and planning to order in advance several items for us to take along for our upcoming beach trip.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sweet & Spicy Sesame Nuts

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  • 1 pound nuts, of your choice (about 4 cups)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2/3 cup sesame seeds (4 ounces)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large, wide saucepan, combine the walnuts, sugar and water and bring to a boil. Add the sesame seeds, cayenne and salt and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until the water is nearly evaporated, about 4 minutes. Lower the heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the walnuts are golden brown and sandy, about 4 minutes longer.
  2. Immediately pour the walnuts onto the prepared baking sheet and spread in a single layer. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the nuts are deeply golden and covered with a sandy coating. Let the walnuts cool completely. Break any large clusters apart; transfer to a bowl to serve.

Recipe Source

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Roasted Tomato and Black Bean Soup

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  • 7 medium tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 large onion, cut into large pieces (about 1½ inches)
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 5 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 (15.5 oz.) cans black beans (preferably low-sodium), drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoons hot pepper sauce (like Tabasco)
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Toss tomatoes, onion, and garlic with oil, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper in large bowl, then transfer to baking sheet. Roast until garlic cloves have softened, edges of onions are browned, and tomatoes have collapsed, 35 to 40 minutes, stirring once after first 20 minutes.

2. Transfer roasted vegetable mixture to 4-qt. saucepan. Add broth, beans, cumin, chili powder, and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.

3. Remove from heat and blend until smooth with immersion blender or in batches in regular blender. Stir in hot sauce. Divide among 4 bowls and garnish with dollop of sour cream.

Original Recipe

Friday, October 1, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Latte

If you still need a pumpkin fix try this too!!

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  • 1 c. strongly brewed coffee
  • 3/4 c. milk
  • 1 T. vanilla creamer
  • 2 T. canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. ginger
  • 1/4 t. ground nutmeg
  • sugar to taste

Brew your coffee using 1 T. of ground coffee for each 6 oz. of water.

Combine remaining ingredients in a microwave-safe measuring cup. Heat milk/pumpkin/spice mixture until it is very hot, about a minute and a half in the microwave or a few minutes on the stove top.

Pour mixture into a high speed blender. Blend on high until mixture is fully incorporated and frothy.

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Pour frothy pumpkin milk into a large coffee cup. Pour freshly brewed coffee into pumpkin milk and gently stir.

Original Recipe

Pumpkin, White Chocolate Chip, and Walnut Cookies

Very yummy!!

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  • 1 cup of all-purpose white flour
  • 1 cup of whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 cup of butter, softened (I used 1/2 c butter, 1/2 cup canola oil)
  • ½ cup of granulated sugar
  • ½ cup of packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup of pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla
  • 2 cups (12 oz package) of white chocolate morsels
  • 2/3 cup of coarsely chopped walnuts or macadamia nuts, toasted

Combine the flour, spices, and baking soda in a small bowl. Set aside. Beat the butter and sugars in a large mixer until creamy. Beat in the pumpkin, eggs, and vanilla until well mixed. Gradually beat in the flour mixture. Stir in the morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto a greased baking sheet. Flatten slightly with the back of a spoon.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350° for 11-14 minutes. Let the cookies stand for 2 minutes. Remove them from the baking sheets and let cool completely on wire racks. Makes 2 dozen.

Recipe given to me by Liz Mockbee

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Basic Chai Tea

In the colder months, I like having special hot drink mixes on hand, normally it’s hot chocolate but currently I’m finding this chai tea blend quite nice.

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  • 3/4 cup dry black tea
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • milk
  • agave or honey
  1. Mix all dry ingredients together in a small bowl. Put in a bag or other container to store.
  2. Use 1 teaspoon tea mix per 3/4 cup water (or so, depending on your preference).
  3. Fill glass about 2/3 full with tea, 1/3 with milk, and add a bit of sweetener.

Original Recipe

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Cookie Dough "Sarahbars"

I’ve been a huge fan of Larabars for the last few years, this homemade version will knock your socks off at how good they are. With so few ingredients it is surprisingly amazing at how flavorful they are…and they really do taste similar to cookie dough batter.

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  • 1 c. raw almonds
  • 2/3 c. pitted dates
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t. sea salt
  • 1/8 c. organic chocolate chips

Grind almonds in a food processor or high speed blender until the texture of wet sand.  Remove from blender and set aside.

Add dates, vanilla and salt to blender and blend until very finally chopped. Loosen the date mixture and add almonds back to blender along with chocolate chips and pulse just until a “dough” starts to come together.

Pour mixture onto a piece of plastic wrap or waxed paper and press into a large square. Refrigerate for at least an hour, then cut into eight pieces.

Original Recipe

Mango Chutney, Prosciutto and Paneer "Pizza"

Loved using naan as a pizza crust base, it heated nicely in the oven and even got a little crunchy on the edges. It made for a great individual sized portions. The prosciutto and mango chutney sauce were a nice treat too.

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  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons sweet mango chutney
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup crumbled paneer cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 large green onion, finely chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • A glug extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 frozen naan bread (recommended: Trader Joe's)
  • 4 slices prosciutto, torn

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

In a small saucepan, combine the tomato paste, mango chutney, minced garlic, and water over medium heat, until well combined. Season the mixture with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes and then remove the saucepan from the heat and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the mozzarella, paneer, red pepper flakes, cilantro, green onion, ground cumin and extra-virgin olive oil. Season the mixture with salt and pepper. Add more red pepper flakes if you like it spicy!

Arrange the naans on a cookie sheet. Divide the tomato-mango chutney sauce evenly among the naans, spreading to coat the top. Evenly divide the cheese mixture among the naans. Throw in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until crisped around the edges.

Meanwhile, tear the prosciutto into small pieces. When the pizzas are ready, top them with the fresh prosciutto. Cut each naan into 4, and serve!

Original Recipe

The pups love the fall-like weather we’ve been having. We catch them sun bathing every time we let them out in the backyard.

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Zucchini Lasagna

We had this earlier in the week and were both very pleased with the dish. A great vegetable and grain alternative to lasagna.

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Serves 4-6

  • 2 large zucchini, cut into 12 thin, 1/4 in. thick slices
  • salt
  • 1 c. quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 c. vegetable broth
  • 1/2 c. tomato sauce
  • 1/4 c. minced onion
  • 1 t. dried oregano
  • 1/4 c. fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/4 c. fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 T. organic cream cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 jar organic marinara sauce
  • 1 c. organic mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400.

To prepare zucchini, cut a strip off of one side to make a flat base. Then, thinly slice zucchini into “noodles.”  You’ll want 12 noodles in total. Place noodles in a colander and sprinkle with salt, layering between paper towels. Let this sit and absorb moisture while preparing the quinoa.

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Combine quinoa, vegetable broth, tomato sauce, onion and oregano in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and lower heat, simmering for 20 minutes. When quinoa has absorbed all the liquid, fold in cream cheese and herbs. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour enough of marinara in the bottom of an 8×8 baking dish to cover the bottom.  Using a clean dry towel, blot remaining moisture and salt from zucchini and layer 4 noodles across the sauce. Put a layer of quinoa across the zucchini, and cover with another 1/3 c. of marinara sauce.

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Repeat with another layer of quinoa, sauce and zucchini. Top the final layer of zucchini with remaining sauce and 1/2 c. of cheese, if using.

Bake lasagna for 30 minutes, until heated through and zucchini is tender.

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Original Recipe

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Creamy Lemon Pasta

Love, loved, loved this – hummus, lemon, and whole wheat pasta – yes, please!!!

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  • 8 oz. whole wheat spaghetti (or other noodles of your choice, i.e. zucchini pasta, kelp noodles, etc.)
  • 1/2 c. hummus, prepared or homemade
  • 1 lemon, juiced + 1 T. lemon zest
  • 2 t. reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 T. nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 c. chopped basil

Prepare noodles and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine hummus, lemon juice, soy sauce and nutritional yeast.

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Add pasta, lemon zest and basil and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Original Recipe

Sunday, August 29, 2010

11th Annual Paperhand Puppet Intervention

Friday night a friend and I went to Chapel Hill to see “Islands Unknown” put on by the Paperhand Puppet Intervention – it was fantastic and was even better than expected.

Here are some photos of the life size puppets, masks, and shadow puppetry.

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“The Library”

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“Animal Island”

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“Mustache Island” I thought this was the funniest act.

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“Wilderness Island”

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“The City with No Past”

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“Islands of Trash”

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“The Storyteller”

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