Date-Bars-18

It seems like dried fruit is always front and center this time of year.  I enjoy most dried fruits but dates aren’t necessarily one of them.  However, they are one of Joe’s favorites and he loves date bars so I thought I would give them a try.  He described a soft chewy bar with a bottom crust and date filling, topped with a crumbly streusel.  They must have turned out pretty good because he grabbed a bar every time he walked by and gave me a thumbs up with a smile!
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Creamy-Risotto-18

Creamy Risotto is one of my favorite comfort side dishes. It’s similar to the recipe Pioneer Woman makes which was my inspiration.  It’s so easy to make, the only requirement is that you stay close by and continuously stir the pot as the liquid is absorbed into the rice.  The process is repeated by adding additional amounts of liquid until all is absorbed over an approximate 20 minute period.  Then comes the delicious creamy part, adding a blend of three cheeses with a splash of cream that taste so good that you could eat the whole bowl!  It’s meant to be a side dish but could easily be the main attraction!
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Chicken-Mole-Nachos-13

Making anything from scratch is the way to go if you have the time and effort to do so.  Mole sauce is a favorite of mine but is a bit complex to make with a long list of ingredients.  When in a pinch for time, I sometimes reach for a Frontera sauce packet for a quick and easy meal.  Frontera is founded by Rick Bayless and makes some of the most flavorful sauce blends you can find that is packaged and ready to go.  I don’t usually promote pre-packaged anything but I will make an exception for Frontera products. This chicken mole makes fantastic nachos but is so versatile it would be yummy folded into tacos, rolled into a flour tortilla for burritos or stacked between corn tortillas for a savory enchilada with melted cheese and a fried egg.  You can’t beat the flavor combinations of rich smoky mole chicken with melted Manchego cheese, jalapeno slices, fresh avocado pico, sliced black olives and verde seasoned sour cream.
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Cranberry-and-Pecan-Salad-from-Great-Day-Cafe-2

Great Day Cafe is one of our favorite little cafe’s in the heart of downtown Overland Park.  It’s a quirky little cafe with a cool menu of sandwiches and panini’s with vegetarian and gluten free choices, a new soup for each day of the week, quiches, and my favorite, this Cranberry and Nut salad which comes with your choice of pecans or walnuts. You can’t beat the charming staff or the black board specials where you might find something new to tempt your palate!  A very tiny space with an outdoor patio featuring artwork and a small band in house for a unique experience.  Located next door to the Farmer’s Market, Penzey’s and The Tasteful Olive, it’s safe to say I’ve been there a few times.  After my last visit I came home and made a Cranberry and Pecan salad at home with a homemade Raspberry Vinaigrette. I don’t have a house band to entertain you but the salad is great!
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Shrimp-and-Pasta-with-Lemon-Cream-Sauce-11

Times are changing, my nest has recently become empty and I now only need to make meals for two.  My boys have both tested their independence at different times but also returned for a while.  This time feels more permanent somehow.  While Josh moved across town to his own place, Cameron made a move across country leaving me with a range of emotions.  With only having two to cook for, my habits will have to change.  I’m going to try to cut down my recipes to fit two people and also try to create more simple and frugal recipes that Josh and Cam can make.  This shrimp pasta is a good recipe to start with.  It makes a great meal for 2 – 3 people. And if shrimp is a little pricey for your wallet, boneless chicken breast or thighs would be a good alternative.  In the time it takes to boil pasta, you can make a lemon cream sauce that tastes just like you ordered it from a restaurant.  Serve alongside a garden salad and a hunk of french artisan bread and you’ve got a complete and flavorful meal!

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French-Laundry-Apple-Cake-10

The first time I saw this Apple Kuchen from The French Laundry” I was pretty much in love. Such a pretty cake decorated with apple slices sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.  This cake has a delicate moist texture within a crisp outer crust.  The cake itself is not overly sweet but melts in your mouth when you drizzle a bit of warm Vanilla Cream Sauce over top.  A simple dessert that looks like you fussed for hours.  But once you find how easy it is to prepare, you’ll want to make it again and again!
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Red-Wing-Cookies-24

Hockey season is back!  Finally. . .  after a long summer break, the Wings are about the hit the ice for another year of Red Wings Hockey.  I can’t wait until tonight when they open the season full of excitement and high expectations for a successful season.  For 23 years straight my Red Wings have made the playoffs, gone to the finals 6 times and won the Stanley Cup 4 times in 17 years.  Last year I watched HBO’s 24/7 which featured behind the scenes with the Red Wings organization and players leading up to the outdoor Winter Classic on New Years Day. There was a scene where the Wings were flying to a road game and while on the plane the guys were served sugar cookies with their jersey names and numbers.  They were so COOL!!  I searched online and found a jersey cookie cutter then sent off for some winged wheel edible icing images to decorate the white jerseys.  I used icing tips to write their name and numbers on the home red jerseys.  They were so much fun to make, a lot of work but worth every minute. I’m especially looking forward to this season because we are flying to Detroit in January to see the Wings play at Joe Louis Arena!!  I can’t wait!
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