Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Peanut Butter Rocky Road Fudge

Candy making season is upon us! I love candy-making season, don't you? There's just something about the smell of warm caramel, melting chocolate, and marshmallows that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Perhaps it's because my mother used to make candy every year for the church bazaar when I was a little girl. If you like to make candy as much as I do, you are going to love this recipe. No baking is involved, just melting, stirring, pouring, waiting, and then digging in. When I made this last month for my dad he gobbled it up and asked for more, so give this simple and delicious recipe a try, nothing is easier.

Peanut Butter Rocky Road Fudge

1½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1½ cups peanut butter chips
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk, divided
2 tsp vanilla extract, divided
2 tbsp butter, divided
2 cups miniature marshmallows, divided
2 cups dry roasted peanuts

Line a 9” x 9” pan with foil, leaving a 1-1/2” overhang on each end. Spray foil with Pam; set aside.

Divide sweetened condensed milk between two microwave-safe bowls. (Just eyeball it.) In one bowl add chocolate chips and 1 Tablespoon of butter; in the other bowl add peanut butter chips and 1 Tablespoon of butter. 

First microwave the chocolate and condensed milk combination, stirring every 30 seconds until melted. Next microwave condensed milk and peanut butter chips, stirring every 30 seconds until melted.  Stir 1 teaspoon of vanilla into each bowl.

Pour mixtures into the pan, one at a time, swirling together if you like (I didn't). 

Sprinkle peanuts on top, and then follow with the marshmallows, pressing down lightly. Chill until firm.

Carefully lift out of the pan with the ends of the foil; cut into squares.
This post is linked to:

Monday, November 28, 2016

Mr. Tom Turkey Tablescape

If you're anything like me, once Thanksgiving is over, you want to kick pumpkins to the curb. In any case, I still wanted to share the table that I had for Thanksgiving. This year I actually set two tables, but with all of the activity of Thanksgiving Day, only had the opportunity to photograph one. I hope you enjoy it as much as my guests did.

As you can see, I swapped out my more rustic looking turkey from my Neutral Thanksgiving Tablescape for the ceramic turkey from Crate & Barrel as a part of my centerpiece. Easy.

The white turkey plates are among my favorites; I wish I would have gotten more than four. These are years old and from Pottery Barn. They work great as salad plates or sandwich plates when I serve a turkey sandwich along with a hot bowl of turkey noodle soup after the big day.

If you look carefully you can spot the corncob candles from my last tablescape. Here they are in a pair of my favorite rustic candleholders of pilgrims, perfect for Thanksgiving.

The glass turkey tureens are from William-Sonoma; I have had these for 20 years or more. At the time that I got them they were affordable, but they no longer are, so I am really pleased to have these.
The flatware with the bamboo handles is from eBay. A fun find, and I use these a lot.
You'll see the familiar brown spice route plates from Pier 1 as the dinner plate, and the salad/sandwich/appetizer plate in gold on top of it. These are among my favorite plates, as they are perfect for layering; you will see the brown ones again in a holiday table setting coming up soon.

The pitcher and salt and pepper shakers I've had a long time as well, and they are from Fitz & Floyd. I love the look on the turkey’s face as he peers over the shoulder of the Pilgrim reading the recipe book. Both the salt and pepper shakers and the pitcher add a fun bit of whimsy to the holiday table.

This post is linked to:

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Slow Cooker Orange Chicken

Thanksgiving seems to open the season of eating lots of rich food. Don't get me wrong, I like rich food as much as the next guy, but once the season comes to an end I am more than ready for something simple like a slice of meatloaf, macaroni and cheese, a nice salad, or some Chinese food. To get you thinking about what you may want after the holidays during your focus on making the Thanksgiving meal, here is a simple, very delicious recipe for orange chicken made in the slow cooker.
Prior to trying this recipe I’d never had orange chicken before, so I really didn't know what to expect. My number two son and his wife buy the frozen orange chicken from Trader Joe's and really enjoy it, so I figured I would give this a try. If I didn't like it, I reasoned, I could always fob it off on them. :-) Fortunately I did like it, and thought I would pass it along to you. File this away in your folder for recipes that are quick, easy, and a relief from rich holiday food.

Slow Cooker Orange Chicken

8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
3 tablespoons flour
1/3 cup orange marmalade (I used homemade)
1/3 cup barbecue sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root 

Toss chicken with flour in slow cooker. Stir together remaining ingredients; pour over chicken. Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or on HIGH for 3-4 hours. Serve with rice.

This post is linked to:

Monday, November 21, 2016

Joanne Fluke's Pecan Divines

I have a love/hate relationship with the Hannah Swenson culinary mystery series by Joanne Fluke. Early on I read the books because I enjoyed them. These days I think I read them just to torture myself. I do enjoy the Hallmark movies based upon the series, and I do enjoy the recipes that are incorporated throughout the books. This recipe is one of them. These cookies are called Pecan Divines, and are from the book, Fudge Cupcake Murder. I'm not quite sure why they're called that because, essentially, they're nothing more than a chocolate chip cookie. The difference is they're very crisp, and I like a crisp cookie. These are made with melted rather than softened butter, and it yields a very nice texture. I will be making these again, but I think I'll probably use mini chocolate chips and twice as many pecans. Try them for yourself and see what you think. The cookie baking season will soon be upon us, and this is going to be a crowd pleaser on your tray.
Joanne Fluke's Pecan Divines

2 cups melted butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3 cups white sugar
4 tsps. vanilla
4 tsps. baking soda
2 tsps. salt
4 beaten eggs
5 cups flour (not sifted)
3 cups chocolate chips
4 cups chopped pecans

Melt the butter. Mix in the brown sugar and the white sugar. Add the vanilla and the baking soda. Mix thoroughly. Add the eggs and stir it all up. Then add half the flour, the chocolate chips, and the chopped pecans. Stir well to incorporate. Add the rest of the flour and mix thoroughly.

Drop by teaspoons onto greased cookie sheets, 12 cookies to a standard sheet. If the dough is too sticky to handle, chill it slightly and try again. Bake at 350
° F for 10 to 12 minutes, or until nicely browned.

Let cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes, then remove to a wire rack.

Yield: Approximately 10 dozen.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato & Yam Soup

Many people tend to confuse yams with sweet potatoes. In truth, they are nothing alike, particularly when talking about Japanese yams. The Japanese yam, which is definitely something to be tried, is a red-skinned, white-fleshed potato. It is not sweet nor does it taste like a sweet potato, but is more to the nutty side, like a chestnut.
Pairing a Japanese yam with the sweet potato makes for an ambrosial combination. I did just that when I made this wonderful, hearty autumn soup. If you're looking to make an exotic, spicy, warming soup, this is it. The yams and sweet potatoes complement each other beautifully giving the soup a not-too-sweet, lightly nutty flavor that is going to put this far and above any other sweet potato soup that you've ever tried. The addition of a wide variety of spices makes this extra special. This is a highly seasoned and spicy soup. Feel free to cut back to suit your own tastes. You can certainly cut the amount of chili powder by half or by thirds if you don't want a soup that is quite as spicy. Personally, I loved the zestiness of the soup; it is a real fall eye-opener.
Slow Cooker Sweet Potato & Yam Soup

2 (16 ounce) cans coconut milk
1 onion, sliced
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of cloves

Stir sweet potatoes, yams, coconut milk, onion, basil, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, and cloves together in a slow cooker.
Cook on High for 6 hours (or on Low for 8 hours). Using an immersion blender, blend soup. (I didn't blend mine until smooth because I wanted a chunky main dish soup.) If you lack an immersion blender, pour soup into a countertop blender no more than half-full. Cover and hold lid down; pulse a few times before leaving on to blend. Puree in batches until smooth. Garnish with sour cream and cilantro.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Neutral Thanksgiving Tablescape

As we make our way closer to Thanksgiving, tablescapes change from the brilliant orange, amber, and brown hues into something more frosty and tranquil as we head toward the chill of December.
This table is similar to last week’s table in that I kept the wonderful tablecloth, and double placemats along with the spice root dinnerware from Pier One, this time topping it with these fabulous pumpkin and vine soup bowls by Maxcera.

I am crazy about white and green, so was over the moon to have found this set of dinnerware; it appeals to me on so many levels. The harvest image, the fall pumpkin, the vine, the green and white, the fact that it will go with so many different layers of plates.

The centerpiece is a bit of a sentimental one, because both candle holders and candles once belonged to my mother. When my son and his family came for brunch on Sunday he spotted them right away, recalling that they had been used at my parents’ lake house many years ago. 

I love the whimsy of the candle holders, and I'm truly in love with these corncob candles. Where on earth does a person find candles that look like this any more? It seems to me there used to be a lot of different shaped candles, but now I find even tapers are more and more difficult to locate. At any rate, these wonderful candle holders and candles flank last week’s centerpiece, changed up only slightly by removing the hurricane and candle, and replacing it with the simple turkey.

I have had this turkey for more years than I care to remember. When I first bought it years ago at a shop on Main Street in downtown St. Charles Missouri, that is, sadly, no longer in business, it had all kinds of dried flowers, leaves, feathers, etc. sticking out of the back. As the dried arrangement was seriously showing its age (and aren’t we all!) when I pulled it out this year, so I managed to retrieve the two feathers to use in the bowl with the other organic bits, pulled everything else off of the turkey, and had intended to spray paint it white. As it turned out, I loved it so much as it is that I decided to keep it.

This is just another example of how easy it is to create a table, making slight changes from week to week, to get an entirely new look, putting into service beloved items from the past that may have been showing their age, but can be revitalized with a few simple touches.
This post is linked to:

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Black Grape Compote

If you'd like dazzling deliciousness at one of your holiday parties this season, you need look no further than this decadent, easy, make-ahead dessert. All it takes is a little advance preparation, and you will have an unforgettable dessert that your guests will be raving about. This grape compote is an amazingly delicious topping for ice cream, pound cakes, and even blintzes at brunch. It's simple to put together, keeps for 5-7 days when covered and stored in the refrigerator, and only needs a slight warming before use. If you want to make it sinfully delicious, drizzle a bit of dark chocolate syrup on top and your guests will swoon.
Black Grape Compote
Adapted from

2 star anise pods
3 cups
Melissa’s Organic Black Grapes
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of cloves
1 T. unsalted butter
Bring star anise, grapes, sugar, lemon juice, and spices to a boil in a large skillet, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until grapes burst and mixture is syrupy, 10-15 minutes. Discard star anise; whisk in 1 tablespoon unsalted butter. Cool.

This post is linked to:

Monday, November 14, 2016

Pimiento Cheese Bread

Last week I told you about that delicious warm Pimento Cheese Dip. Today I am going to give you the recipe for the Pimiento Cheese Bread that I made to use as toasted dippers for the warm dip. When thinking about how much I enjoy pimiento cheese, I decided the best way to eat a sandwich of pimiento cheese was to serve it slathered on top of a slice of pimiento cheese bread. It was experimental, but an experiment that worked out beautifully. I'm going to give you the recipe, and tell you that this was made super easy in my automatic bread machine.

One thing that surprised me was that the large pieces of roasted red peppers (much better than jarred pimientos, see recipe) that I put into the bread machine ended up being chopped fine and incorporated throughout the dough. This was no problem because the bread is a beautiful color with little flecks of roasted red pepper throughout, however the next time I make this (and there will be a next time) I'm going to knead larger pieces of peppers into the dough after the cycle is finished so that they're more obvious than they are here. Also, this is a lot of dough and it can tend to rise up pretty high and, as a consequence, tends to hang over the top of the pan as you can see from the picture.

Be sure to add the cheese on top because it gives it a wonderful cheesy crunch.

This is a beautiful and delicious bread, and makes wonderful toast spread with butter for breakfast in the morning. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


Pimiento Cheese Bread


1 pinch saffron thread
1 tablespoon water, boiling
2 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons honey
2/3 cup hot water ( 100F-105F)
5 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/4 cup diced Fire Roasted Sweet Red Bell Peppers (I used Melissa's)
4 oz. (1 cup) grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups white bread flour
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Pinch of dry mustard
Dash Tabasco
1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1 egg, beaten for brushing over
1/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Heat 1 tablespoon of water in the microwave for 30 seconds. Drop the saffron threads into the water and soak for ten minutes.

Meanwhile, place the beaten eggs, honey, hot water, and melted butter in a bowl. Mix well. Add the saffron threads with the soaking water, stir and pour the mixture into the baking pan of your bread machine. Add mayonnaise, peppers, and cheese.

Mix the salt into the flour and add to the baking pan. Top with scallions, cayenne, mustard, Tabasco, and then sprinkle the yeast on top.

Set the program to 'DOUGH.' When the dough is ready (mine takes 90 minutes), transfer it to a lightly floured surface and knead it for 2-3 minutes. Shape the dough into a loaf and place it into a greased 9"x4" loaf pan.

Shape the dough into 3 equal-sized pieces, then roll each piece into a sausage shape measuring approximately 12 inches in length.

Brush with oil, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place.

Preheat the oven 425°F. When the dough has nearly doubled in size, remove the plastic wrap and lightly brush the top of the loaf with the beaten egg and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer the loaf to a wire rack and leave it to cool before serving.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Indian-Spiced Cauliflower Soup

The importance of eating vegetables is widely known. Some people, however, simply don't like vegetables. I get that, but you can still get your daily servings of vegetables in a relatively painless way by drinking vegetable juices, and by eating soup. I'm a huge fan of soup, so I'm always trying new recipes. I tend to like soups of all kinds, but when there's a chill in the air I like something warm and spicy and exotic.

When I found myself with a huge head of cauliflower lurking in the back of the vegetable drawer, as cauliflower tends to do, I knew I had to take action. I started looking around for soup recipes that employed the use of cauliflower, and I found a lot of them. Unfortunately, most of them called for ingredients that I didn't happen to have on hand. Amazingly enough, I did have the ingredients to make this Indian-Spiced Cauliflower Soup, most probably because I do a lot of Asian cooking, and have the spice rack to prove it.

I think I found this recipe on, but honestly I don't remember. I adapted it beyond recognition, so I will give them partial credit, but essentially this recipe is a new one created on my own. It is perfect for this time of the year. The warm spices give an incredible aroma, and it warms you up both inside and out. By adding a generous scoop of rice to each serving you have more than just a bowl of soup, you have a meal.
Indian-Spiced Cauliflower Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 medium potato (about 6 ounces), peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon peeled and chopped fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped (more or less to taste)
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1-1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
3 cups cauliflower florets
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
4 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste

Heat oil in 4 to 5-quart pot over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the cumin seeds, stir, and add the fennel seeds. Stir in the onions and potatoes, and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, and green chilies and stir for 1 minute more.

Turn the heat to medium-low and add the coriander, cumin, curry powder, turmeric, and chili powder. Stir for 1 minute. Add the cauliflower, tomatoes, and salt, and stir for 1 minute. Add 4 cups water, stir, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, lower the heat again, and simmer gently for 25 minutes.
Allow the soup cool slightly, and then blend it to your desired texture using an immersion blender. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Ladle into bowls and add a dollop of yogurt or tiny swirl (about 1/2 teaspoon) heavy cream, if desired. Squeeze lime juice over, add a few grinds of black pepper and place 2 tablespoons cooked rice to the center of each bowl. Scatter with cilantro or sluices of jalapeno, and dig in.
This post is linked to: