Friday, January 28, 2011

Chocolate + Orange= Match Made in Heaven

We were having special people over for dinner and I really wanted to make a special dessert. I have never attempted a torte but this recipe for Orange Chocolate Torte popped out at me from Taste of Home which I so badly wanted to try. I loved the orange extract in it and even grated a bit of orange rind around the base as I served it.

Of course, as hard as I tried, I could not imitate the picture and mine ended up being lopsided AND my truffles flattened in the frig, never to be round again AND it was harder than it looks to get those chocolate sprinkles around the side of the torte! But nonetheless, it was splendidly rich! The recipe says it should take 30 minutes to prepare and 25 minutes to bake and cool. Uh, good luck with THAT! This took my all afternoon! The best part was having fingers and spoons to lick! :)

I remember ordering a Mocha Valencia at Starbucks which is a rich, creamy blend of  coffee, dark chocolate, and zesty orange. It was my favorite drink. It's no longer on the menu board, but I bet they'll make it if I ask. It's just that every time I go in, I stare at the board and end up ordering something I've had a million times.

 We have about 10 inches of snow on the ground- maybe this weekend is a good time to order one!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Picture Play

 We went to the OBX last summer but one thing I really wanted to do was get up with my husband and go watch the sunrise.

I took this photo and always loved it.  I decided to try framing it with a scripture verse on it. I wanted it big but I wasn't about to spend a full photo developing price so I took it to Staples and did two color copies. One on a regular 11x14 piece of paper ($0.20) and the other on glossy ($2.00).  I actually didn't like the glossy- it darkened the print. So I went with the first copy.

I framed it in an off-white frame I found at a shop for $12 and now it hangs over our piano.  I am real proud of it but someone walked in the door and said the font was boring... LOL

I really do love my husbands honesty. He commented on how "bony" his feet look and how boring the font is. He cracks me up.

I may play around with another picture and scripture verse sometime and change it up.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Peanut Butter+ Hot Chocolate= Perfect Marriage

I was sitting in a mechanic's shop during an oil change and picked up a LIVING magazine. A recipe for hot chocolate popped out at me!

 The best combination in the world of food is CHOCOLATE AND PEANUT BUTTER!My dear friend, Lindsay, made rockin' cupcakes- Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes. Check it out!

I came home and got busy with the recipe. I used organic peanut butter which is a bit oily and left a small about on oil on top. Other than that, it is incredibly rich and I put the leftovers in the refrigerator which I reheated the next day and it was just as yummy!

Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate - serves 4
3 cups milk
1 cup light cream
8 oz. chocolate bar, chopped
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
pinch of salt
In a medium pot over medium heat, warm the milk and cream. Add chocolate car, stirring until dissolved. Add peanut butter and salt. Stir until hot and serve immediately.  *As the hot chocolate cools, it separates.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Baked Oatmeal is for Winter

What could be better than a bowl of baked oatmeal on a cold morning?

I went to a friend's house and she served us some of her yummy baked oatmeal for brunch. She added blueberries that she had picked and froze last summer.  Just simply delicious!  I came home and realized it's so easy and it lasted us all week! Savannah and I have been putting leftovers in bowls, adding milk and microwaving them until warm.   I had a bag of frozen mixed berries I added and loved it!  I think you can throw anything you'd like in the mix- even shredded carrots to give it a "carrot cake" look and taste.

Here's the recipe I used- but there are tons out there and feel free to swap out or switch up as much as you'd like with a simple recipe like this.

Winter Baked Oatmeal

5 cups of oats
2 cups milk
4 large eggs
 1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pinch of salt
1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
Options: 1/2 cup raisins, 1/2 shredded carrots, chocolate chips, frozen berries, fresh seasonal fruit ( I have enjoyed strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, peaches, apples etc).
 Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix up everything in a bowl and pour into a greased 9x13 pan.
Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Any leftovers store nicely in the refrigerator!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Keeping the Fresh in Herbs

I am always buying a bunch of cilantro or parsley and use part of it for a recipe, but then it goes into the produce drawer of my refrigerator and there it withers and dies within the week.

I saw a herb saver invention on TV but I cannot spend the money on something like that right now. I experimented with just setting the herbs in a glass with a bit of water on the door of the frig but they still died. Once I covered them with a seal-out-the-air bag, they seem to be lasting forever! It's been 3 weeks and I am still cutting off yummy fresh goodness for recipes! A quick change of water when you use it will help with the length of the herb's life as well.

So there you have it- a little glass from your cupboard and a 5 cent zipper bag does the same trick as a Pepara Herb Saver for $50.

Why does it take me so long to figure these little tricks out?!!?!?!

Friday, January 14, 2011

It Might Choke Arti, but They Won't Choke Me!

I bought some artichokes today for 15 cents apiece. I have never attempted fresh artichokes but this was the day to do it! And let me say, online videos are SO HELPFUL! That's all I did when figuring out where to start with these things.

I cut them and boiled them for 45 minutes. I ended up only eating the hearts anyway since the leaves seemed a little tough to eat. I cut them in quarters,generously sprinkled sea salt and squeezed lemon juice all over them.   DELICIOUS!  I sat here and ate 3 of them in the middle of the afternoon! What a strange snack if you're not a Foodie :)

Next time I might turn it into a pasta dish but I still prefer canned artichoke hearts and use them in a fabulous recipe for Spinach Artichoke Dip here.

Any other artichoke ideas you can share with me?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

10 Thousand Villages Warehouse Sale

Hi Pennsylvania Friends!

Isn't this snow wonderful? I am loving the fact that we have 4-5 inches outside but all the roads are clear so what's left is a nice, fresh blanket of snow on the trees and in the bare fields.

I have always loved 10 Thousand Villages! This place allows artisans in developing countries to make an income by selling their products through this fair trading, long-term relationship store.*  The items in this place are so unique and since everything is handmade, you know it is crafted well. Check out their website- you can shop online from jewelry to home decor.

But I just want to alert you that the store in Ephrata is having it's annual three-day sale this month.
Thursday, January 20 (10 am-5 pm), Friday 21(10 am-8 pm) and Saturday 22 (10 am-4 pm).

They will have one-of-a-kind, maybe slightly damaged items up to 75% off the original price!!! This discount increases daily until the last hour of the sale.

* The artisans have been paid in full for all sale merchandise ahead of sale.

The store is located on Rt. 272.  Won't you come along?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Mouth -Watering Enchilada Recipe

I just came across a can of chopped chipotle chiles in adobo sauce at the store and bought it for another recipe but as I was preparing enchiladas for dinner, I kept looking at it thinking I should open it.  WOW! What a flavor!! I was overwhelmed with a smoky, spicy flavor.  But then I grabbed my smoked paprika and it smelled very similar. I did some reading and found out that paprika is a dried pepper! I didn't know this.  We are most familiar with Hungarian paprika but the smoked Spanish paprika is my ultimate favorite right now.

I use it in everything: sauteed kale, taco meat, guacamole, fish and tonight, enchiladas. 

But back to the chipotle chiles- I threw them into the blender to get a smooth paste. This little can cost me $2.25 so I am going to savor every last drop. I only used a tablespoon in my enchilada mixture, so the rest I poured into an ice cube tray and will pop them into a bag for later uses.

Here's the recipe- serves 10

  • 10 (8 inch) flour tortillas
  • 3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle pepper paste
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can enchilada sauce, divided
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 9x13 pan and spread 1/4 cup enchilada sauce on bottom of pan.
Cut chicken breast into large chunks and throw into a pot of water and a pinch of salt. Boil until thoroughly cooked. Drain.
While the chicken is cooling, combine the soup, sour cream, chopped onion, chipotle pepper, 1/4 cup enchilada sauce and paprika in a bowl. stir until blended.
Shred chicken and add to bowl. Stir well. Spoon 1/2 - 2/3 cup down the center of each tortilla. Roll up and place (seam-side down) in pan. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over top. Cover with cheese and bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.
Serve with shredded lettuce, sour cream, black olives and fresh salsa.

Give your taste-buds a treat!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Anyone can paint a silhouette!

I have been enjoying oil painting on canvas but can't imagine venturing out to shading and any other detailed landscapes. But when it comes to silhouettes, any one's a master! LOL

I love the idea of birds sitting on a wire so I ventured out and made one for my sister-in-law. She lives in MI so I copied off the atlas map of MI and glued it to a piece of canvas, using Mod Podge (matte).

Then I used oil paint and freaked out a few days later wondering if oil would ever dry on Mod Podge! I called a painter and she reassured me that it will, just takes a LONG TIME! Sure enough, it did. Acrylics might be the better choice next time.

I decided it looked a little drab, so I added some swirly branches and called it complete.

I then ran a coat of glue over the entire thing to give it a soft, finished look.

So there we are, two little birds chattin' it up on her turf!

My dear friend has 4 little cuties and since I am on a bird kick, I decided to create their family as birds on a line. I told her I can add a little bird with every baby she has and if needs be, I'll make another line for more birds! :)

It was also my sister's 19th birthday and she has a coolest pale purple painted room with white and back accessories. She painted bamboo on her folding closet doors so I thought of making (once again) a silhouette of bamboo on a background of purple/pink!

I did the first batch of bamboo with a smaller brush and in gray to give it a far-away appearance. And then added a few black, bigger ones in the foreground for depth. Very easy.

Once again, coating it with matte- finish mod podge.

Happy birthday, pretty sister!