Friday, December 30, 2016

Top 3 Recipe Posts in 2016

 

 

Recipe posts are definately some of my favorite posts to write. Every recipe that I post has a story that goes along with it and I try to evoke the feeling of you cooking right along with me, in my kitchen. It's fun for me to try new recipes and share them with all of you.

I wasn't really surprised to see that the top three recipes are sweet treats, because that is my favorite kind of new recipe to try and usually turn into a lower sugar version, if possible. Sometimes I change the recipe by leaving out excess sugar, but usually I substitute Truvia as a sugar equivilent. As a diabetic, it's all things in moderation and by baking at home, I can indulge a little.

These three recipes are simple, sweet, seasonal and delicious. Any kind of fruit can be substituted for each recipe; even frozen if you can't find fresh fruit to your liking right now. Enjoy and Happy New Year!

 

Strawberry Shortcake Coffee Cake

 

2 Ingredient Fluff Cake

 

One Bowl Apple Plum Cake

 

See you in 2017!

 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Our Christmas in Photos

 

 

 

 

We are still celebrating all this week and the fun didn't stop on Christmas Day, but I wanted to stop in with a quick post on what I have been doing lately. First and foremost, it was so much fun having the girls home and together. After brunch at my brother's house and mass at our church, we had a quiet Christmas Eve with the girls in matching pajamas. We opened presents, watched Christmas movies in front of the fire and toasted the night with glasses of bubbly.

 

 

 

After a late night on Christmas Day, talking and laughing away the night with my husband's family, we were tired, but off again the day after Christmas to have a little fun cousin time. We went to an Escape Room and then out for pizza. Another fun night with family, creating even more memories.

 

 

Last night, the fun continued with my sister in laws big family. They invited us along to play bocce ball at an Italian American Club where we had a huge tournament that lasted until almost midnight. We missed having Megan there, since she had gone back to Pittsburgh for work, but Melissa and I were partners and while bad at bocce ball, we still had so much fun.

The plan is to go out to dinner again tonight before everyone leaves town, so the Christmas fun will continue just a bit longer. It really is the most wonderful time of the year.

Happy Wednesday!

 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Baking Day

 

 

 

My daughter had the day off work yesterday and she chose to spend it with me - baking cookies. How great is that!? We had a lot of fun mixing, baking, decorating and talking, all the while listening to Christmas music. I also took her to a nice lunch, where we had delicious food with a glass of prosecco and toasted our day together.

But, back to the baking. My Christmas baking is usually pretty traditional, but I decided to try some new recipes this year and Melissa found a recipe for cake balls that she wanted to attempt. We also made home made dog treats for all the dogs in our family. My puppy was the official taste tester and she definately approved of both the taste and the texture.

I really missed having Megan there too, and she will be here in two days, but we called her to let her know how much we wished she was with us. Christmas baking with my daughters was always an intregal part of our holiday traditions and when they no longer live at home and are busy working, it's hard to find the time. I will definitely keep this day as a special memory to add to all the others we've spent together in my kitchen.

 

Vanilla Cake Balls

 

Italian Ricotta Cookies

 

Peanut Blossoms - everyone has their own recipe and mine is from the cookbook my daughter's preschool put together while they attended.

 

Peanut Butter Cheerio Dog Treats

 

Have a wonderful Christmas. I will be spending lots of time over the next few days with family and I hope you all will be doing the same. I wish you much joy and happiness and appreciate your readership and kind words more than you know.

 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Gingerbread Coffee Cake

 

 

 

Christmas and the scent of gingerbread baking is such a holiday classic and I felt the need this morning to indulge in a sweet Christmas treat. I usually bake ginger cut out cookies from a treasured family recipe, but decided to try a few new recipes this year and save the cut out cookies for when we have little ones in our family again. But, I need that gingerbread flavor in something.

This gingerbread coffee cake is deliciously spicy and sweet, just like my favorite cookies. I already had all the ingredients in my pantry, so that is a win in itself - no extra trip to the store at this busy time of the year needed. And, it was perfect with my morning coffee on a cold, snowy Christmas week morning - served so prettily on one of my Christmas plates.

Happy Christmas baking!

 

Gingerbread Coffee Cake

 

3 cups flour

2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg

3/4 cup dark molasses

3/4 cup applesauce

1/2 cup milk

1/3 cup brown sugar (I used Splenda for baking)

1 stick butter, softened

Powdered Sugar

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a rectangular baking pan with cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl combine all dry ingredients. In another large bowl add egg, molasses, applesauce, milk and brown sugar. Mix with hand mixer until combined. Add dry ingredients by 1/3 and mix well with each addition. Add softened butter and combine well. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 40 - 45 minutes or when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool and sprinkle top generously with powdered sugar.

 

A Recipe for my Daughters - Ginger Cut Out Cookies


{Linking with these friends}

French Country Cottage

A Stroll Thru Life

Savvy Southern Style

The Charm of Home

Have a Daily Cup

Between Naps on the Porch

Skip To My Lou

Craftberry Bush

21 Rosemary Lane

Stonegable

Rattlebridge Farm

Momfessionals

 

Friday, December 16, 2016

It's The Holiday Season

 

 

 

It's definately the holiday season around here. This has been a busy week so far, of holiday parties and lunches and it will continue into this weekend. But, isn't that what makes Christmas such a special time of the year - all the holly, jolly festive atmosphere and spending time with friends and family?

First, one of my friends hosted a beautiful lunch at her new home and it was just a lovely way to spend a few hours on a Tuesday. She served pretty champagne cocktails, a creamy potato soup and an amazing salad of fresh fruit and chicken salad with grapes and cashews. We talked and laughed about life and enjoyed each other's company so much.

 

 

 

The next day, my husband and I took a little road trip to a German style town about an hour away that is famous for their family style chicken dinners. It is also the home of the world's largest Christmas store, so they are all about celebrating the season. It's very touristy, but we love going there to eat some yummy home style, German food. The weather even added to to atmosphere, and if you look closely, it was snowing pretty heavily by the time we finished lunch.

 

 

 

Last night, my book club decided to do things a little differently this year and we made an outing of our holiday get together. First we went to the newest craze around here - an escape room. You are locked in a room and have one hour to solve clues and "escape". We had a great time and it definately required teamwork. Later, we went out to dinner (and wine) at a wood fired pizza restaurant. The atmosphere was great and we had a fabulous waiter that spoiled us with great service and even a decadant chocolate dessert on the house. We laughed a lot and enjoyed celebrating our friendship.

Tonight is my progressive holiday bunco party and tomorrow is a neighborhood party, so the Christmas fun continues.

Have a wonderful weekend.

 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Winter Reading List

 

 

Out of all the blog posts that I write, these reading list posts are the ones I look forward to writing the most. And, I love to read these kinds of posts too. It's really a simple thing to understand, because you see, books are my passion. I love to contemplate reading a book, almost as much as actually reading the book itself. To read the reviews and what other readers think and in turn decide if a book is for me. Over the years, I have become a pretty good judge of what I like, and I rarely choose I book I can't get through. Of course, some are better than others, but that's the thrill of reading. You never know when you might discover a new favorite book that becomes impossible to put down. And, now writing this blog, I have a forum for my excitement in sharing a good book. It's like a big book club, that everyone is welcome to join.

Winter really is the perfect time to get caught up on your reading list. The long, cold nights are made for a good book, a cozy blanket and something warm to drink. I'm pretty busy right now and will be even busier in January and February finalizing the details of putting our house on the market, but that won't stop me from reading. I'll snatch the chance to read a few chapters here and there and it's always how I end my day. It's just a part of me and a big part of who I am. Yes, I'm that girl who always has her nose in a book and that's ok.

 

A book about a book club and favorite books sounds perfect for me. I will be reading this one next.

 

A group of women in Italy meet weekly to cook, eat and discuss life, food and friendship.

 

I read another book by this author and enjoyed the midwifery stories, so this should also be a good read.

 

Deborah Crombie's Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James are finally back and that makes me happy. I love a good British police procedural and this series is one of the best.

Happy reading!

 

Friday, December 9, 2016

Winter White Peppermint Baked Doughnuts

 

 

 

A snowy morning seemed a good time to make some fun, snow inspired, baked doughnuts. I am having so much fun with my doughnut pan and there are so many recipes with unique or seasonal flavors to try. And, the best thing about making your own doughnuts at home, is that I can control the ingredients and sugar content if I wish. These have icing made with powdered sugar, but I could easily leave that off if I choose and I always use Truvia when I bake to lower the suger amount.

The icing has a hint of peppermint extract, perfect for the winter season and the white sprinkles give these doughnuts a sophisticated, yet fun touch. I have seen snowflake sprinkles at the store and they would be even more fun and whimsical. I'm having one with my coffee this morning, but they would also pair perfectly with a mug of hot chocolate for a fun winter treat. If you don't have a doughnut pan, you don't know what you are missing :-)

Happy Friday!

 

Winter White Peppermint Baked Doughnuts

 

For Batter

2 cups flour

3/4 cup sugar (I used Truvia)

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup milk

1/4 tsp lemon juice

2 beaten eggs

2 T melted butter

 

For Icing

2 cups powdered sugar

3 T milk

1/4 tsp peppermint extract

 

White sprinkles

 

Add lemon juice to milk (makes buttermilk). Spray doughnut pan with cooking spray. Combine all dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Add beaten eggs, milk and melted butter. Mix until just combined. Fill each ring (6) of doughnut pan to top, leaving center hole open. Bake at 425 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until tops spring back when pressed. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes then remove and place on wire rack. In a small bowl that will allow doughnuts to be dipped, combine icing ingredients and stir until smooth. Dip the tops of doughnuts in icing and sprinkle with decorations one at a time. Enjoy!

 

{Linking with these friends}

French Country Cottage

A Stroll Thru Life

Savvy Southern Style

The Charm of Home

Have a Daily Cup

Between Naps on the Porch

Skip To My Lou

Rooted in Thyme

Craftberry Bush

21 Rosemary Lane

Stonegable

Rattlebridge Farm

Momfessionals

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Christmas Sparkle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It seems that every year I go a little more simple with my Christmas decorations. I am drawn to less red, with more neutral colors becoming the star. Still a lot of sparkle and also a lot of white lights and gold for more subtle tones. There are natural elements too, with the use of pine cones and greenery that provide a strong base for the sparkle.

As I was emptying my Christmas boxes this year and deciding what to keep and what might look good in a Florida house, it was the more neutral decor that was winning out, rather than the traditional Christmas colors. My style in Florida will be beachy and modern and I will be leaving my more traditional tastes behind. Like everything else it will take a bit of adjustment for it all to fall into place. But, I think the sparkle will stay.

Happy Tuesday!

 

{Linking with these friends}

French Country Cottage

A Stroll Thru Life

Savvy Southern Style

The Charm of Home

Have a Daily Cup

Between Naps on the Porch

Skip To My Lou

Rooted in Thyme

Craftberry Bush

21 Rosemary Lane

Stonegable

Rattlebridge Farm

Momfessionals

 

Friday, December 2, 2016

Starting Out The Holiday Season

 

 

 

 

My calendar is full already with holiday gatherings and we started out the season last night with a lovely dinner at our club. There is a private room that can be reserved and it is a wonderful and intimate spot for a dinner with friends. The room was beautifully decorated for Christmas with trees in each corner and sparkling touches of red and gold throughout. The candles were lit on the table when we walked in and the atmosphere made us relax and look forward to a nice evening.

We have made good friends here and most have a connection to our parish school and all the years we were involved with our children. Those experiences; working on auctions, musical theatre, parent teacher boards and even just playground duty, really do bring you close and create bonds that will last. We may not see everyone as often as we once did, but that connection will always be there and we pick right up where we left off the last time we saw each other.

I'm positive that when we move to Florida that I will make new friends and get involved in something, because that is just the kind of person I am. But, it will require a little more effort in some ways, because there will be no children creating that instant connection. It is comforting to know that even with changes ahead, I will always have these friends rooting us on from afar and hopefully coming to visit on any Florida trips they take in the future.

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Cranberry Apple Sangria

 

 

 

For me, one of the highlights of our Thanksgiving day was this sangria that my daughter Megan made. There was just enough for everyone to have a glass to start the day and it was a lovely festive touch. The glasses looked so pretty full of cranberries, apples and a cinnamon stick.

This is a red wine sangria, so perfect for fall and winter celebrations. We used a Pinot Noir, but I think it would also be good with a Merlot. The only change we made to the recipe was to use light cranberry juice, since that is what I had and to then use half the amount of simple syrup. I would also suggest using unsweetened apple juice if cider is out of season.

It's so easy to make; just pour everything in a pitcher and chop up some apples and you are done. For better flavor, it is best to make it a few hours before serving. We all thought it was delicious and perfect for any special occasion.

 

Cranberry Apple Sangria

 

1 bottle red wine

3 cups apple cider

1 cup unsweetened cranberry juice

1/2 cup triple sec

1/2 cup simple syrup ( equal parts sugar and water, cooked over low heat until sugar is dissolved)

1 cup fresh cranberries

1 cup diced apples

Sparkling water to finish

Cinnamon sticks for garnish

 

Pour all ingredients into a large pitcher. Add cranberries and apples. Mix well. To serve: pour in a glass, add a splash of sparkling water and spoon some of the fruit on top. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

 

{Linking with these friends}

French Country Cottage

A Stroll Thru Life

Savvy Southern Style

The Charm of Home

Have a Daily Cup

Between Naps on the Porch

My Side of 50

Skip To My Lou

Rooted in Thyme

Craftberry Bush

21 Rosemary Lane

Stonegable

Rattlebridge Farm

 

Friday, November 25, 2016

Thanksgiving Reflections

 

 

 

It was a lovely Thanksgiving at our house with good food and more importantly family all around. I can't count how many times it was mentioned that this would be the last Thanksgiving celebration in our house (we toasted to our 20th year around this table ) and that next year we would be in sunny Florida. To be honest, I was feeling more excited for what the future will bring, rather than nostalgic, but I think that those feelings will hit me at some point. I'm sad it will be hard on my daughters, but I keep saying it will be different, but different is not bad.

Having my daughters here is everything to me and they are so much fun and such good helpers in the midst of getting dinner on the table. As anyone who cooks a Thanksgiving dinner knows, it becomes a fast and furious process at the last minute, no matter how organized you are. You are juggling things in and out of the oven, making gravy and helping with the turkey carving. Having smiling and willing helpers, who make sure your wine glass is full, can make all the difference.

As I write this morning, most of the cleanup is done although I'll be emptying a full dishwasher soon and taking care of all the china, glasses and serving platters piled on my dining room table as soon as my house wakes up. Then it's leftovers and off to one store (Old Navy) with my daughters for a little fun Black Friday shopping.

It was a good day for us and I hope you all had a wonderful family day as well.

 

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Weekend

 

 

 

 

 

Winter arrived in Michgan this weekend with cold, windy snowy conditions and wouldn't you know I spent most of the day Saturday sitting in Spartan Stadium trying to keep from freezing. Actually it wasn't too bad until the end of the game since we were dressed for it and had a warm blanket to snuggle under. It was snowing and blowing into our faces at times, but the first snow of the season is always exciting, so we didn't mind too much. Melissa and I had a mother daughter game day and it was really fun. We did a little bar hopping before game time, including the bar where she worked as a bartender during college and they took very good care of us. I hadn't been inside that bar for many years and despite a name change, it still looks the same. My favorite drink of the morning was a cidermosa made with hard cider and orange juice - it was really good and different.

Sunday needed to be a lazy morning after a tiring Saturday, so I decided to make some easy pumpkin pancakes to enjoy with my coffee. They were a delicious way to start the morning and gave me fuel to make my second trip to the (crowded) grocery store to make another dent in the Thanksgving dinner shopping list. Now I just have the fresh ingredients to purchase and the list size is a lot more manageable. I love hosting Thanksgiving, but it sure takes a lot of pre planning. Happy Monday!

 

Bisquick Pumpkin Pancakes


2 cups Bisquick baking mix

1 cup milk

1 egg

1/2 cup pumpkin purée

2 T sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ginger


Mix all ingredients together ( batter will be lumpy) with a wire whisk. Pour about 1/2 cup onto a hot griddle prepared with a coating of melted butter. Cook until bubbles form on top, then flip and cook until until golden brown. Makes 6 large pancakes.

 

{Linking with these friends}

French Country Cottage

A Stroll Thru Life

Savvy Southern Style

The Charm of Home

Have a Daily Cup

Between Naps on the Porch

My Side of 50

Skip To My Lou

Rooted in Thyme

Craftberry Bush

21 Rosemary Lane

Stonegable

Rattlebridge Farm

 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Lately

 

 

 

Life has been a whirlwind lately. It seems we are having workers come to the house every day, because we are trying to repair the odds and ends we need fixed and spiffed up before we put our house on the market. And, we are also doing a lot ourselves. I hope to post some pictures soon of my updated master bath. It is very neutral and therefore not too exciting, but the new shower is fabulous and it's all now in perfect shape for going on the market.

I took a much needed break last night for a girl's night with a couple of friends. I forgot to take a photo, so you will forgive the use of an old photo from another time at our club, but the company was the same and I even wore the same dress. We had a lot to catch up on and the evening just slipped away before I realized it. My phone never made its way out of my purse. But, it was a lovely dinner and we did drink a little wine too :-)

Thanksgiving is looming and today I will make my first of three or four runs to the grocery store between now and Thursday. I love cooking the meal, getting up early to make the stuffing and get the turkey in the oven, setting my table and having all my family here. The grocery shopping and the long shopping lists I can do without.

Is anyone watching Poldark? I am really enjoying this season and it was interesting to read that the last episode on PBS was edited different than the BBC version. It seems we saw a different version of what occurred between Ross and Elizabeth and I wonder how all will make sense going forward.

I have been so busy that I am very much behind in my television watching. I am weeks behind in Grey's Anatomy and have yet to start watching This Is Us. Also, a new season of The Fall is on Netflix and I need to binge watch that very soon.

Finally, it will be a short visit, but both of my daughters will be home for Thanksgiving and I can't wait to have them sitting on my couch, in their pajamas, the tv on, a fire burning in the fireplace and the sound of their voices and laughter filling the house. There is nothing better in this world.

Happy Thursday!

 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Veteran's Day at Spartan Stadium

 

 

 

 

 

It was a beautiful sunny day on Saturday, but it sure was a cold one too. The flag was front and center all day to celebrate Veteran's Day and it made my heart happy to see it. We could all use a little healing and the flag has that power.

Before the game, we had another fun tailgate with great food including made to order grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup and chicken tortilla soup. We definately needed the hot soup on such a cold day and the two heaters we used also warmed our tents perfectly. By game time, the sun warmed things up even more and with my blanket on my lap, I was just fine. And, we won the game, so that was fun. It's been a tough year, but it definately is more fun to win than to lose.

When we move to Florida, one of the things I will miss the most are these Saturday tailgates in the fall. We will be back for at least one game, but I will miss being a season ticket holder. There is no place I love more than my favorite college campus on a pretty fall day.

Happy Monday!

 

Friday, November 11, 2016

November Book Club

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had to miss my book club last month, so I was so looking forward to going last night. To tell the truth, I was very behind in finishing the book and was frantically reading whenever I had a few minutes yesterday, so I could finish. It is so much more interesting to be involved in the discussion if you have read the book, rather than trying to follow along and this was a book where I knew, the ending would be spoiled.

It was a lovely evening, with a much appreciated glass of wine to start the night and an absolutely beautiful dinner. We were so comfortable at the table, we stayed in place for dessert and our book discussion. As you can see from the photos, our hostess outdid herself, from wonderful cheeses to start to two kinds of soup (creamy chicken with mushrooms and Italian wedding style with orzo pasta) to a delicious layered salad full of veggies and creamy avocado. And the desserts; white and dark chocolate pumpkin truffles and vanilla bean panacotta with raspberries. All I can say is wow!

 

 

The book we read and discussed is an old one, but really made for an interesting discussion for anyone with children. A district attorney's son is accused of murder and it is a what would you do as a parent story from start to finish, as both the mother and the father make startling and thought provoking choices in the interest of their son, who we find out is more damaged than they ever imagined.

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Empty Nest Changes - A Decision

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It has been a little quiet on the blog this past week, but it's because a lot has been happening. We are back from a whirlwind trip to Florida and my life is about to get a whole lot more tropical. After a week of looking at houses, we made the decision to buy a new construction house that will be ready in about 7 months. It's equal parts scary and exciting and there is a lot to do (emptying one house and making design decisions on another) between now and then, but we are happy with both the location and the house plan.

We saw many existing homes, that just weren't quite right and actually saw the place we did buy on a whim by our realtor, at the end of a long day. It just felt right, for many reasons and we were able to get the lot we wanted, with a pretty lake view. We are just 6 miles from the closest beach and we love the downtown area of the city we chose. There is also a 9 mile walking trail along the inter coastal waterway that will be amazing for long dog walks. The weather was perfect while we were there and we look forward to sunny and mild winters for the rest of our days.

Leaving our daughters, family and friends will be hard, but we anticipate many fun visits with days spent at the pool, the golf course or the beach. It will be a totally different lifestyle, but one we will embrace. I am really a homebody at heart and once I am settled in my pretty new house, with all my things both old and new all around me, the location is just a bonus. And, we are only a 2 hour plane ride away if a visit to Michigan is needed.

Things are about to get interesting around here.

Happy Monday!

 

{Linking with these friends}

Savvy Southern Style

Between Naps on the Porch

21 Rosemary Lane

Stonegable

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