Monday, December 30, 2013

Raise Your Glass to 2014!

Time to raise your glass to 2014!

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Friday, December 27, 2013

Satisfying Your Sweet Tooth This Holiday Season With P. F. Chang's

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of P.F. Changs for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

It's time for a sweet little treat with friends and my Honey to celebrate the Holiday Season at my favorite P.F. Chang's!
At P.F. Chang’s guests are surrounded by a unique, modern environment combining influences of Asian and American cultures evident from the d├ęcor through the menu. From classic favorites to seasonally-inspired fare, P.F. Chang’s offers a delicious array of hand-crafted dishes, desserts and cocktails.
Holiday is a time to celebrate with family and friends, surrounded by the sweet flavors of the season. With two new delicious handmade dessert wontons – Chocolate Raspberry, and Sweet Vanilla Cream – P.F. Chang’s is a perfect spot to answer the call of the holiday sweet tooth. In addition, two handcrafted holiday beverages – Peppermint Mocha Cappuccino and Vanilla Bean Bourbon Milkshake – bring a fresh perspective to holiday sweets in a perfect sip. photo 542c2e8c-e075-468c-9373-d329061a09a1_zps72d91a85.jpg
 photo d3f7af4a-3858-4175-a9d5-7e42e8ad35ae_zps70fdfd3f.jpg"Yes. please.  You may have a sip of mine and I would love one of your Chocolate Raspberry wontons!"
Seriously, check out the Holiday Sweets at P. F. Chang's!
Check out what's happening at P. F. Chang's with social media:
P.F. Chang’s
Follow @pfchangs
Follow P.F. Chang’s on Pinterest
What new Holiday Sweet Treat are you most excited to try at  P.F. Chang’s?

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Cranberry Spinach Couscous

Flavored Couscous is a favorite with us.  Today, I am making a side dish of Cranberry Spinach Couscous to serve with dinner tonight.  I am going to have to make a few recipe adaptations though, due to "someone" not restocking the pantry with pearl couscous : )
Chop one cup dried cranberries and one medium onion.  Add both ingredients into pan with 2 tablespoons melted butter and saute until onions are translucent.

Add one cup pearl couscous (this is where I venture off the culinary path thanks to a depleted pantry) or in this culinary dish I am creating today, a box of garlic flavored couscous mix with the seasoning package.
Add 1 1/2 cups chicken stock to pan to simmer.
If you are using pearl couscous also add 2 teaspoons of finely chopped garlic.  I did not because I am using the box mix seasoning package.
Add one teaspoon German style brown mustard.  
Rough chop 1 cup of spinach and add to pan.
Stir into couscous mix and cover until spinach is cooked 6- 8 minutes.
I love this stuff, the couscous garlic box mix worked just fine in this recipe : ) sometimes a new direction/shortcut works out fine in the kitchen...

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Give the Gift of P.F. Chang's for the Holiday

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of P.F. Changs for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.
 I have been known on an occassion or two (okay, maybe more) to relieve the stress of the holidays with an evening at P.F. Chang's.  Have you been to P.F. Chang's?  Tempting and yummy menu choices await for my  selection.  My top three favorites on the menu are Mandarin Chicken, Mongolian Beef, and the crowd pleaser in my house, Sweet and Sour Pork.  The flavors of these dishes are savory and delicous.  At P.F. Chang's guests are surronded by a unique, modern enviroment with an American and Asian influence combined.
One of my favorite gifts to get and give if a P.F. Chang's gift card! This holiday season, take the stress out of gift-giving with a gift the entire family will love, a fun and relaxing night out at P. F. Chang's!  Take a break at P. F. Chang's and enjoy a fabulous meal at  P. F. Chang's while picking up gift cards for friends, family colleagues on your gift list.  An awesome deal awaits when you purchase a $100 in gift cards, you will receive a bonus $20 gift card to treat yourself!  Plus this offer is available online at
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Keep up with the happenings at P. F. Changs through social media!
Who in your inner circle is most deserving of a P.F. Chang's gift card?
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Friday, December 13, 2013

It's a Corn Bread & Chili Kind of Day in the Land of Brrr and Snow

Cake Mix and Corn Muffin Mix make Cornbread
In the land of brr and snow we know when to slow simmer a crock of chili and make corn bread.  Today.  Maybe tomorrow.  And possibly the weekend.  The local and national weathermen and reporters told me,  "Blustery and Snow Advisory".  It's a Corn Bread & Chili Kind of Day in the Land of Brrr and Snow.
Corn Bread Ingredients:
1-(8.5 oz.) box of corn muffin mix
1/2 box of yellow cake mix
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1/8 cup oil
All ingredients in mixing bowl and whisk until blended.
Bake @ 375 degrees Fahrenheit in 8x8 glass baking dish for 30-40 minutes until done.
Make large crock of your recipe for chili.
Yum, time to take the chill out of the toes, 
it is indeed a Corn Bread and Chili kind of day in the land of Brrr and Snow.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Snow Happens

This is New York and ...

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Mom's Peanut Butter Cookies

My Mom made Peanut Butter Cookies for us kids often during my childhood, just like many Moms of her generation for an after school snack.  They were a favorite of Dad's too.  When my sisters and I were old enough to bake, we started making Mom's Peanut Butter Cookies.  Today is a perfect warm cookies and milk kinda rainy and snow day here.  Thanks for a great recipe Mom, I'll have one or two cookies in memory of those baking days of long ago.

Mom's Peanut Butter Cookies
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Combine first 8 ingredients in a large bowl, blend well.  Stir in remaining dry ingredients, blend well.  Roll into 1 " balls and place 2" apart on ungreased cookie sheet.  Flatten with a crisscross pattern with a fork dipped into sugar.  bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown.  Immediately remove from cookie sheet.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Pumpkin and Cheesecake Topped Mini Loaves

Some days a girl just needs a little some 'um some 'um with a fresh brewed cup of coffee for a well deserved afternoon break. 
I make a couple of versions of the Pumpkin and Cheesecake Topped Mini Loaves.  Pumpkin, Gingerbread, Banana and Carrot Cake versions make the cut for  the dessert table at the holidays.  These mini loaves make a delicious little take away gift for guests at Thanksgiving and the Holidays.
Pumpkin and Cheesecake Topped Mini Loaves
makes 3 mini loaves
Pumpkin Batter:
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
15 ounces pumpkin puree
2 Tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cup flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon cloves

pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie mix
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, butter three mini loaf pans.
For the pumpkin batter, whisk together the brown sugar and eggs until light.  Then stir in remaining ingredients.  Do not over mix.  Divide batter into three mini loaf pans.
of course I have four loaf pans not three

Cheesecake Topping Batter:
8 ounce brick of cream cheese warmed to room temperature
1 lightly beaten egg
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Beat all ingredients together in a bowl until smooth and creamy.  Pour on top of pumpkin batter in mini loaf pans. Bake 35-40 minutes until done.

 Allow to cool before removing from pans.
The star of my afternoon break....

Friday, November 15, 2013

Plaster of Paris Fall Leaves Nature Wreath

Today is a beautiful, unexpected gift of sunshine kind of day here in New York and has inspired me to create my Plaster of Paris Leaves Nature Wreath.    
Plaster of Paris leaves start with silk leaves and Plaster of Paris mixed to a loose pudding consistency. I did a 2 to 1 ratio with a smidge more than one on the water.
Dip the leaf and set it to dry on a sheet of wax paper.  You may need to repeat the dipping process to coat evenly.  Allow to completely dry.  Mine set up for 48 hours.
Next I glued the Plaster of Paris leaves and some small pine cones to a rustic vine wreath.

Added some dried baby's breath and cattails.
My Plaster of Paris Fall Leaves Nature Wreath is ready to greet.

Happy Fall.

Friday, November 1, 2013

A Nod to Fall

Fall is my favorite color : )
Raking leaves today is futile with the huff and puff blow your leaves and house away winds gusting 60-65 mph today...

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Cauliflower Blue Cheese Soup

Today the weatherman used the "s" word more than once in reference to the weather forecast.  Whew, takes the wind out of my sails when he uses the "s" word. That said, it's time for some recipe inspiration from a television favorite,  Weekend Today in Central New York on NBC3  with Laura Hand.  Laura comes into my home via television on Saturday mornings for my wake up coffee most weekends.  Shout out to Laura as thanks for the yummy soup recipe inspiration and for her generous sharing of the recipe!  A couple of minor modifications and eureka...a fabulous warm me head to toe, forget the "s" blues,  soup to make many more times this season!  Deep breath, okay brace yourself we are approaching the snow season in CNY.  Much more bearable now thanks to Laura Hand.

 Cauliflower Blue Cheese Soup

Chicken stock or Bouillon, 28oz   (quick:  2 14oz cans)
Onion,           1 large diced
Garlic            1 small clove
Cauliflower     approx 1 lb or medium head (florets only)
White wine     ½ cup
Cream (1/2 and 1/2)  1 cup  (lower cal, use milk)
Blue Cheese   ½ lb, crumbled
Bacon   8-10 cooked slices, crumbled
Green Onion  4-5 onions chopped fine, with some of the green
With a small amount of olive oil  in pan, saute onions and garlic.
Chop cauliflower florets into small pieces, add to onions.  
Continue to saute cauliflower and onions, garlic.
Add chicken stock and continue to simmer until cauliflower is tender.  Approximately 1/2 hour.
Puree cauliflower stock mix.
Return to stock pan.
Now for the "makes me smile" ingredients.
Add wine, room temperature 1/2 and 1/2 cream, blue cheese and continue to simmer until smooth.

Garnish soup bowls of steamy and creamy Cauliflower Blue Cheese Soup with diced green onions and bacon crumbles.
Mmmmm...I'm not afraid of a little snow with this to warm up the toes : )
You're Welcome

Monday, October 7, 2013

Beef Barley Soup and Fresh Baked Roadhouse Rolls

 The Fall weather has slammed the brakes on my outdoor projects the last few days.  Rain.  Drizzle.  And downpours.  A crackling fire in the fireplace to take the chill off us and warming up from the inside out with Beef Barley Soup and Roadhouse Rolls for dinner tonight is the plan.
Let's start with the Roadhouse Rolls so they are going through the rising process as the soup simmers.
1 packet rapid rise instant yeast
1/4 cup warm water (120 degrees Fahrenheit)
1 cup milk, scalded and cooled to lukewarm
1/4 cup granulated sugar
 2 tablespoons melted butter
 1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups AP (all purpose) flour
Stir the yeast, water, milk, sugar, butter, egg, and salt until combined. Gradually add the flour and knead until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Let the dough rest for 5-8 minutes. I mix the bread by hand and a giant hand whisk.  Use a mixer with a dough hook if you prefer.  Put the dough into a large greased bowl, turn so the top is coated with grease also.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a warm, wet clean dish towel.  Let the dough rise until doubled in size, approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Punch the dough down and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a 1-inch thick rectangle. Cut the dough into 2-inch squares. A pizza cutter works well for this.  Move the squares to a baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap.   Let rise until doubled in size, approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the rolls for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Butter the tops of baked rolls with butter.
Let's get a stockpot of Beef Barley Soup simmering on the stove.
Ingredients and Directions:
Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in pot and add 1 large onion chopped, 1 stalk of celery diced small, 1 green pepper diced small. Saute until onions a light golden color.  Add thin sliced steak cut into small pieces.  I had sirloin steak sandwich slices today, so that is what I used.  I have used pot roast leftovers, and even frozen steak slices from a package.  Continue saute until meat is browned.  Add 2 cups peeled and sliced carrots, 2 large potatoes cut into small chunks, 6 cups beef stock ( I made mine using water and beef bouillon cubes)  a package of brown gravy mix, 1 cup frozen peas and 1 cup barley to the simmering soup.  Season with 1 bunch fresh parsley chopped fine, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon fresh oregano chopped, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until all ingredients are cooked.  I simmered the Beef Barley soup a couple of hours while the Roadhouse Rolls were rising.
Mmm...chasing the chill away : )

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Local Legend-Dinosaur BBQ

In Syracuse, NY the Dinosaur BBQ never disappoints for a scrumptious lunch...

Monday, September 16, 2013

Zucchini Soup

Zucchini  Soup is a welcome warm up in the winter months and it gives those of us that get a hundred inches plus of the white fluffy stuff, snow, hope that spring gardens will be in the near future.
2-3 vegetable bouillon cubes
8 cups water
1 large can of peeled stewed tomatoes
3/4 cup tomato vegetable paste
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 cup frozen peas
1 zucchini, peeled and sliced into chunks
4 carrots, peeled and sliced into thick slices
1/2 cup diced onions
2 stalks celery, cleaned and diced
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3-4 sprigs fresh basil rough chopped
1 -2 medium sprigs fresh rosemary
1-2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
1-2 sprigs fresh oregano
1 large bunch of parsley chopped fine

the aroma of fresh herbs...

All ingredients in the pot and on low to simmer to perfection.  I simmered for two hours.  Some times if I know I will be simmering longer, I add the zucchini late to the mix to avoid the zucchini getting mushy.  I froze the remaining Zucchini Soup for the freezer inventory.
Zucchini Soup is fantastic with fresh, warm French Bread.  Yummy meal tonight of Zucchini Soup and crusty, warm French Bread. The bread only takes an hour and half start to finish.  I posted the recipe for it here-French Bread.