Posted at 10:10 am , on January 23, 2018
This may seem a bit odd, cooking up lotions and potions instead of food but I wanted to share what I “cooked up” for homemade gifts over the holidays. As I grow older maintaining a state of well being and striving to live healthier takes work. What I want most these days are things that will make my life easier and more comfortable. My siblings also experience the aches and pains of growing older. Taking a pill or buying expensive organic remedies won’t cure all but there are things to try and experiment with to see what works and what doesn’t. My sister Kat has inspired me with her knowledge and willingness to try new things. She has influenced my way of thinking about organic and natural ways to feel better. For instance she gave me a pink himalayan salt lamp that proponents claim to have a calming aura which can affect your mood and wellness, as well as boosting blood flow, improving sleep and increasing levels of serotonin in the brain. And last year she gave me a diffuser with essential oils that I keep nearby when I’m working on the computer. I have been exploring the benefits of essential oils and found many bloggers experimenting with different oils and organic materials to make lotions and body butters that can help with anything from dry skin to painful joints to sore muscles. These are my picks that I feel are the best of the best. These bloggers have shared an abundance of information on how they are made, the benefits of essential oils, what products to use and even how to clean up after making them. I will provide the links to the original posts so that you might find some ideas on how a homemade remedy might be beneficial to you. Also I’ve added links to the products I ordered and used specifically for these lotions and potions.
Posted at 10:02 am , on January 12, 2018
It’s hard to believe I’ve never posted a recipe for pasta carbonara before now. It has to be one of my top all time favorite pasta dishes. Often referred to as bacon and eggs pasta, it’s traditionally made with bacon or Pancetta, egg yolks whisked with pasta water and a hard cheese such as Parmesan or Romano. When I’m in a pinch for time it’s the perfect recipe because I always have bacon, eggs and cheese on hand. It’s also the perfect recipe to experiment with. I ‘ve found that a few additions to this basic recipe can take it to another level of goodness. My personal favorite is the addition of sun dried tomatoes. You can’t beat the taste of creamy pasta with bits of bacon and sun dried tomatoes. And if you like it spicy, add some red and black pepper. Today I seared shrimp and scallops with blackening seasoning to go on top of the pasta. Oh my gosh, it was so good!
Posted at 9:50 am , on January 5, 2018
Early last December Joe and I visited Panama City Beach, FL for a short getaway. We thought a visit to the Sunshine State before Christmas would be a great time to get away without all the crowds and have the beach to ourselves. We were prepared for cooler weather but determined to enjoy the sunshine and white sandy beaches. Little did we know Mother Nature had other ideas. It was unusually cold and rained the entire time we were there. We rented a little condo on the beach where you walk off your deck straight onto the beautiful white sand. It would have been paradise had the wind not been so blustery with cold rain coming off the ocean. Mostly we just looked out the window because it was just too cold to venture out. We expected mid 50’s and got 30 and 40 degree weather, brrrr. It wasn’t a total loss, we went out to the movies and found a couple museums to wander around. We decided we would splurge for a big breakfast, skip lunch and find some good seafood to eat for dinner. My favorite breakfast was from Andy’s Flour Power Cafe and Bakery. I had the french toast plate with thick slices of french toast topped with candied pecans and fresh strawberries. I loved every bite and vowed to recreate it one day. This is my version of the Flour Power French Toast!
Posted at 10:11 am , on December 22, 2017
This cranberry relish is what we fondly refer to as “The Cranberries”. Joe’s mom (Joan) always makes this cranberry relish for the holidays and it’s been a favorite that we’ve enjoyed for many years. Joan always grinds her cranberries but since I don’t have a working grinder I used my food processor to get the same effect. It’s a simple mix of fresh cranberries, an orange, and some sugar. The contrast of sweet cranberry orange flavors really enhances any traditional holiday meal. My favorite thing is leftover roasted turkey or chicken, stuffing with a drizzle of gravy and cranberry relish piled on a toasted slice of crusty artisan bread. Yum, it doesn’t get much better than that!
Posted at 9:06 am , on December 19, 2017
This is Josh’s recipe for Crusty Artisan Bread. He’s always been the bread maker in this family and makes the most beautiful loaves of bread. He would tell you it doesn’t always come out perfect but I have yet to taste any bread that he has made that didn’t taste absolutely delicious! Since I can’t count of Josh for making the bread this year for the holidays (he is off on an adventure in Australia), I decided to give his recipe a try. He left me his big bread bowl and his oval dutch oven so I am using them for good luck. Josh told me not to over knead the dough, just incorporate the ingredients and let them sit out to proof for up to 24 hours. That was hard for me, I have made the artisan bread that you refrigerate but never let it sit out at room temp for that long. After agonizing over the process, I decided to trust his technique and it turned out great. I’ve made 3 loaves so far and they have all turned out as good as any you would find at a bakery. This one is the last loaf I made and it was incredibly light and airy with the perfect artisan crust. Practice does make perfect!
Posted at 9:23 am , on December 4, 2017
I love fig newtons, don’t you? They taste so different from other cookies. The dough is more like cake than cookie dough and is amazingly soft surrounding a fig paste that is flavored with a hint of orange. My opinion is that homemade newtons are more flavorful and aromatic than store bought. You can make the dough and fig paste ahead of time and refrigerate up to a week. This was a huge help to me as I didn’t have all day to make cookies. When I was ready, I just set the dough and paste out for about half an hour to soften at room temperature. The dough was cool but pliable and easy to work with and roll out. The fig paste was thick and sticky and I wasn’t sure how I was going to spread the paste onto the dough without making a mess. I dropped the paste onto a long sheet of plastic wrap and shaped it so that it was somewhat round and long like a rope. The paste didn’t stick to the plastic wrap and I was able to set the long strand of paste onto the dough and peel back the plastic. It made wrapping the dough around the fig paste quite easy. They baked perfectly in 18 minutes, golden and soft to the touch. And they look and taste just as good if not better than any you could buy at the store.
Posted at 9:44 am , on November 28, 2017
These scallops are seasoned with the copycat seasoning that Outback Steakhouse uses for their famous Aussie shrimp. This seasoning is my go to for grilled shrimp and also tastes great on scallops. Seared in butter with lemon and spices, this is simply one of the most succulent and mouthwatering dishes to make. Australia has been on my mind for some time. Over the summer our oldest son Josh announced that he was going to take a year and travel around Australia. He left just over a week ago and is now on his first leg in Melbourne. I am so proud and happy for him, I know his experiences will be life changing. And I hope he will share some new foods that he tastes along the way. He has always shared my love of cooking and good food so this one is for you Josh!
Posted at 11:08 am , on November 3, 2017
One of my favorite things is cinnamon apples. The aroma of apples cooking in cinnamon sauce is so fragrant throughout the kitchen. It definitely sets the mood of Fall. I made these as a side dish for the smoked ribs that we had last week. They also make a good dessert with a scoop of ice cream on the side. These were made with Honeycrisp apples and brown sugar but I’ve also tried McIntosh apples and granulated sugar. Joe loves the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture but I like the lighter flavor of granulated sugar. Either way you can’t go wrong!
Posted at 9:54 am , on October 27, 2017
I’ve always felt a bit intimidated when it comes to smoking meats. I think it comes from living in Kansas City, known as the barbecue capital of the world. Kansas City is famous for it’s bbq and you will find many restaurants serving up some of the finest barbecue around. And for the serious smokers there is the “American Royal” where hundreds of competitors come from all over the country to show off their best barbecue skills. I live just a few blocks from one of the most famous bbq joints in the country, “Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que” aka “Oklahoma Joe’s”. Yes, they changed their name a few years ago but they will always be “OK Joe’s” to me. Their burnt ends (my personal favorite) are to die for, the most tender and flavorful morsels I have ever tasted. Once I tasted “Joe’s” I’ve never found anything that compares. It’s just that good! We go at least twice a month and it never fails that there is a long line either to the door or out the door and around the building. The original “Joe’s” is located in KCK in a gas station where you can still buy gas and get your bbq to go. Our local “Joe’s” here in Olathe has the Kansas City BBQ store located a few doors down and you can find any and all bbq essentials from wood and smokers to sauce and rubs. Anything you need, they have it. Yes, I’ve always felt a little out of my element when it comes to barbecue but I did my research and felt ready to jump in and see if I could do it myself. I’m really happy with how it came out, maybe it’s not as good as “Joe’s” but pretty darn good, if I do say so myself. And just to make sure it wasn’t beginners luck, I smoked a second batch of ribs. . . Awesome!!
Posted at 9:55 am , on October 16, 2017
If you enjoyed the Cinnamon Streusel Brioch Bread then you will love this bread pudding. It practically melts in your mouth and is topped with a sweet crunchy streusel that adds texture and sweetness to every bite. The recipe is almost the same as the Cinnamon Streusel Brioch Bread except the loaf is baked without the streusel and saved for topping the bread pudding. It is so delicious it could be served as breakfast, brunch or dessert.