Thursday, February 23, 2012

Stationery card

Storytime Boy Birth Announcement
Birth announcements & graduation announcements by Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.
Introducing my precious baby boy.  One day before my 10th Wedding Anniversary me and my husband found out we were expecting this precious baby- one we thought we'd never have.  Aiden Paul completes our family joining his two brothers and two sisters.  We're all in love with this little bundle of joy and feel extremely blessed.  Now with a new baby time will be short on top of my job, but I will find time to bake and blog again- hopefully sometime soon.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Supporting a cause and giving tribute to a survivor!

I am extremely honored and excited for this post. It is honestly a very short blog this time, even if I have been absent lately.  I do promise for some new recipes soon.  And already have one in mind~ the fresh grapefruits on my tree are awaiting their purpose.



However, please go to Frosting for a Cause were I am being featured as a guest blogger on this wonderful site where as they say "Together we are Baking a Difference".  This is a cause near and dear to my heart and I feel so honored to join 365 other bloggers from across the US and Canada with hopes of bringing awareness and a cure to the fight against cancer. It is with efforts and talents of wonderful people and organizations like Frosting for a Cause that adds hope and light to our future.

My tribute was to a dear friend and even as I type this I know many others who deserve the same tributes, wonderful brave women who have faced cancer as a survivor or women who lost the battle to this horrendous disease. Families faced with the emotions of seeing loved ones battle or living with memories of loved ones lost.  We must not forget that together we can make a difference.   

A great quote: 
Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.  ~Edmund Burke

Every little bit adds up to the greater picture. And Frosting for a Cause is a wonderful example of what a difference can be made by being creative and doing what may seem little in the grand scheme of things-however it does have a mighty impact!

Please visit Frosting for a Cause to see my guest post and get the recipe for the delicious cookies pictured below:


Friday, March 4, 2011

Going Bananas

Have you ever had that moment (or moments) in your life where you just feel like you're quite possibly "going bananas"? I mean this in a relatively comical sense, as I will save going insane & crazy for another post. If anyone answers "NO" to this question, please send me a comment to explain how you keep such a calm existence. 

However,I still wouldn't be convinced, but that then could be misinterpreted to "jealousy". Ha!!

Now I believe I have a pretty good balance in my life, my children remind me daily of how lucky I am & also how quickly time goes by, for the most part my husband keeps me grounded & offers that strength I sometimes find I need & my parents have given me the many roots & values I've carried through my life. All of them including a handful of wonderful & true friends (you know who you are) have given encouragement & support for well just about everything. To all of the before mentioned I am forever thankful. So with all that said, one could ask "how could you be going bananas"? Remember, its used loosely, I'm not going crazy yet. . . Ask me in a week though!

I have felt rather busy, not overwhelmed, but out of my realm of every day comfort. I guess I could blame it on being at home for awhile & not having a job per-say however, it is not lazy. Cause believe me I was busy than. Being a mom, housewife, blogger, baker,writer really is a full time job. Yet the schedule is quite different. Now I'm a full time worker plus a full time mom, housewife & wishing I could find time to blog, bake and write. Maybe that's part of it "I'm going bananas" because I am missing my time to blog, bake and write. But as with everything new job, once I learn I will have that ease to add things into my time. Plus, when you're packing boxes to move one can go a little bananas... or maybe that will be the blog for "going crazy".

Whatever the day or reasoning for your funny and insane moments of going bananas I have a delicious recipe to share. I had originally wanted to share my mom's recipe for her banana bread, however it has disappeared. My mom is kind of a pinch here, dash there cook/baker, however she did write down here recipe the last time she made it, now just can't remember where she put it.  So the picture is of my mom's bread~ which I will share once it is found or she gets the measurements of each ingredient again.


The recipe is from this wonderful bed and breakfast in Arizona~ Aravaipa Farms Bed and Breakfast, one of my all time favorite places, a true escape from the crazy busy of everyday and just unwind and relax. The hostess is ultimately delightful and the meals are delicious. Upon your arrival you are welcomed with a picnic basket and the delights don't stop throughout your stay. Now, I have had a few bites of this bread and can say it is really amazing... but I am allergic to bananas so don't like to over do eating it, although I really have a hard time because it is so yummy. But my family loves it.  I believe it's been posted in a few magazines as I know the owner of the B&B has been included in different magazine articles and featured on Arizona Highways.  Her dishes, meals and B&B really are a true delight to the senses, hope you enjoy the bread.

Aravaipa Farms Morning Banana Cake

Ingredients:

2 1/3  cups  all-purpose flour
1  cup  pecan or walnut halves
1  cup  dried cranberries
1  teaspoon  baking powder
1  teaspoon  baking soda
1/4  teaspoon  salt
2 1/2  cups  sugar
1  cup  mashed ripe banana
2  teaspoons  vanilla
2  large eggs
1  cup  (1/2 lb.) melted butter or margarine
1  cup  buttermilk

Preparation:

1. Mix flour, pecans, cranberries, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
2. In a large bowl, mix sugar, banana, vanilla, and eggs until well blended. Add butter and buttermilk; mix well.
3. Add flour mixture to bowl and stir until evenly moistened.
4. Butter and flour-dust a nonstick 10-inch decorative tube pan. Pour batter into pan.
5. Bake in a 350° oven until a long wood skewer, inserted in the thickest part, comes out clean, and cake pulls from pan sides, about 1 hour.
6. Cool cake in pan on a rack for 15 minutes. Lay a rack on top of pan. Holding pan and rack together, invert to release cake. Lift off pan. Serve cake warm or cool.


My mom's bread is equally hard to resist... it is just perfectly moist and she adds some delicious ingredients,  just have to resist~ one thing my family don't mind eating without sharing.  They love love banana bread.

So hopefully in a week or so I'm no longer going bananas and especially hoping to not have reason to blog about "going insane" and I can get some treats posted to share, I really do miss my blogs.  Hope everyone is doing good and not part of the "going bananas club".

It is the weekend you know, find some "you" time or what I like to say "baking time".


Monday, February 14, 2011

Key to My Heart Sugar Cookies

For spoken words are never as sweet as hearing a beating heart and knowing it loves you unconditionally.  How is it that a four letter word has so much power over how one can make you feel?  
LOVE

 Some say it's just a silly day and so it may be~ but call me silly for I'm in love.
Here's wishing you a happy heart.

So I'll keep this short and sweet just because I'm exhausted, but wanted to post my sugar cookies I made.  I've made a few different cookies, but till now haven't shared the recipe.  This batch I covered with the chocolate I used for the cake pops, I thought "why not" and they really are pretty yummy this way.  Not an overly sweet cookie- but just right.  Many have said my sugar cookies are the best, hope you enjoy if you whip up a batch.
He holds the key to my heart & in my heart he'll always have a place.  ~ unknown



Simply Sugar Cookies

Ingredients
1  cup  butter, softened
1  cup  sugar
1  teaspoon  baking powder
1/4  teaspoon  salt
1    egg
1  teaspoon  vanilla
2-1/4  cups  all-purpose flour
  
Directions

1. Beat butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping side of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour. Cover and chill dough in the refrigerator for at least 1 to 3 hours or until easy to handle.  Can be refrigerated overnight and brought out to room temp. Divide dough in 1/2.

2. Preheat oven to 375F. Roll each half of the dough to 1/8-inch thickness, on a lightly floured surface. Cut dough with your desired cookie cutter. Place cutouts 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. (I like to use parchment paper)

3. Bake in preheated oven about 8 minutes or until edges are set. Transfer cookies to wire racks and let cool.

4. To store: Place uniced cookies in layers separated by pieces of waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw cookies, if frozen. If desired, spread and/or pipe icing on cookies.



I really need to work on my lighting for pictures... but it was either fuss with pictures or get ready for date night.  Date night won and we had lots of fun- can't pass up Chinese food and a movie. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Legend of Saint Valentine

I think we sometimes just think of certain holidays as what I've heard some people refer to as "Hallmark holidays"- created by companies to sale cards or candy.  But in all truth there is a story behind the holiday, it's more than just flowers, cards, and candy.   And here it is: 

The Legend of Saint Valentine
Once upon a time, in ancient Rome, a healer welcomed patients to his home. 
His name was Valentine, and with his art, he ministered to body, mind, and heart.
One day, a jailer from the citadel said, "Can you make my little daughter well? 
Though sightless, she is all the world to me!  Dear Valentine, please help my daughter to see!"
With gentle herbs and, most of all, with prayer, the kindly Christian treated her with care.  
With faith and trust in God, between the two a sacred bond of heartfelt feeling grew.
The emperor of Rome became aware that many Christians lived and worshiped there.
Accusing them of evil with a lie, he sentenced every one of them to die.
So in prison, Valentine was thrown, to spend his final days on earth alone.
"Let's write to him," his little patient said. 
"To My Dear Valentine," her message read.
Her Christian friend departed to the Lord- 
yet on that day, her eyesight was restored.  
This miracle inspired the cherished sign of love and friendship called a "valentine."

Another story is:

 He was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that 
single men made better soldiers than those with wives, he outlawed marriage for young men. 
Valentine defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers.
When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered him to death. While imprisoned, he fell in love with the jailor's daughter and sent her the first "Valentine" greeting. He signed it, "From your Valentine."

Whatever be the true lore and beginning of Valentine's Day can probably be searched to many different stories and interpretations.  But I believe everything comes from some beginning, I mean obviously everything does start somewhere.  It's a nice thought of people doing good for others, people loving one another unconditionally and a day for things simply filled with love.  Honestly every day should be filled with love, there shouldn't be just one day devoted to such a powerful thing.  
So as we go into tomorrow, I wish you all a very Happy Valentine's Day. No matter how you celebrate it, 
or with whom~ may it be filled with happy things and that warm fuzzy feeling called LOVE!

Now I've been busy- but I couldn't pass up another opportunity to bake.  And honestly I'm not sure how I found the time- it was a pretty big weekend for our household.  My beautiful daughter, my baby girl turned
13 years old on Saturday~ so needless to say it was a busy day getting ready for a household full of teenage girls, a trip to the mall, some yummy punch & pizza & ice cream cake.  Guiltily I must confess I did not make the cake- she wanted an ice cream cake & that is one thing I have not attempted- but I did make the punch & it was loved by ALL.  But after a late night of girls and giggles, I did find the time to make up some cake pops.  The girls got to enjoy one while watching a movie & I packaged up a dozen for a bake sale at my work tomorrow, and yes I did set some aside for my loving family to enjoy.
They're pretty much the basic recipe for cakepops~ with my own color scheme and sprinkles.



I also made a batch of cookies~ but I will try to blog about those tomorrow.  Oh & the punch from the party.
Happy Valentines Day!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

National Don't Cry Over Spilled Milk Day & Yummy Cookies

Yes indeed February 11th is National Don't Cry Over Spilled Milk Day~ honestly there couldn't be a more perfect day for my blog, simply perfect and goes hand in hand with my thoughts and how I came upon my name.

Funny thing is I have been searching for some ideas and pictures to create a little button/logo for my blog and that is when I stumbled upon this date and national day.  Here is some information I was able to find on the meaning and origins of this day:

National Don't Cry over Spilled Milk Day is celebrated every February 11 in the United States. The origin of the holiday is unknown. It comes the day before Abraham Lincoln's birthday, which was a national holiday until it was combined with George Washington's to create President's Day.

The day represents a moment to regroup after recent hardship and push forward with a positive attitude. The phrase points to the idea that getting upset over every little problem will lead to nothing beneficial. A number of theories have emerged on the origin of the proverb itself, from fairy lore to dairy farmers during the Great Depression.

National Don't Cry Over Spilled Milk Day History
The origin of the holiday is unknown, however there are a number of theories on the origin of the phrase. "Don't cry over spilled milk" is an age-old proverb that is speculated to come from a number of sources. One is European fairy lore. The fairies would drink the spilled milk, as it was one of their favorite foods, and therefore its loss would be negligible. The other theory is that the phrase originated in America during the Great Depression in the 1930s. With an overabundance of crops and food produced by animals, farmers ended up with too much supply and not enough demand. Therefore, dairy farmers may have created the phrase because they had too much milk.

The depression origin is unlikely, as the phrase can be traced as far back as 1659, where it was used by British historian and writer James Howell in his literary work, Paramiography.
National Don't Cry Over Spilled Milk Day Celebration

National Don't Cry over Spilled Milk Day celebrates the ability to remain optimistic through any obstacles and failures in life. It dictates that life may throw complications at people, but realizing they are just passing events that may lead to positive experiences is incredibly important. The day is meant to serve as a reminder of this concept.

I think the phrase isn't used quite as often today as it once was, especially with the younger generation~ if we mentioned it to them we'd likely get a funny look followed by "what?".  But it is truly a concept, we as humans should not forget.  I believe in the hustle and bustle of our every day busy lives we often stress and fret about things which are beyond our control and must try to remember to be optimistic during the rough patches of life.  Sometimes life throws us that curve ball, but we must remember it's all about how we handle it and ultimately must enjoy and appreciate the game (aka LIFE).  I'm a big believer in the "simply things in life", but I have been known to not always be optimistic~ sometimes it does seems hard.  But I too must remember; Don't Cry Over Spilled Milk.


Now I couldn't pass up the opportunity to make something to celebrate this day and I had been sketching up some designs for cookies.  This presented the perfect time to premier those cookie designs.






 The pictures aren't the best... still working on the photography aspect, and also getting ready to invest in a new camera~ the one I have is pretty old school and tonight I was just too tired to retake.  But again, not going to cry over the spilled milk~ looking forward to my 1st paycheck from my new job & getting a new camera- Yippie!

Hoping you all can remember this positive quote when times seem a little tough and that its silliness and simplicity  can help to put a smile on your face & even better yet~ maybe you too could bake up a batch of your favorite cookies, what better goes with milk spilled (poured) into a glass.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Tale of two meals- we just couldn't choose.

I've been a little busy since my last post & I had previously said I wouldn't let so much time go between them~ opps I guess that's what happens when life happens!  But I have had a wonderful day spending time with my mom, good talks, grocery shopping, present unwrapping, laughing lots of laughing & cooking!

First we started with some really good sandwiches today~ hey we went shopping when hungry so that just lead to tons of trouble, always does!  However, my mom had brought over a recipe for egg rolls- she didn't necessarily  bring it cause she wanted to make them (or maybe secretly she did) but for me to write down the recipe and blog it.  But than I was like- I take pictures, so we'd have to make them.  I also had some beautiful portobella mushrooms I had bought and was thinking of stuffing.  We went back & forth thinking of what to make for dinner, no one was making any decision so we ultimately decided to make both.

Yep~ Crab Stuffed Portobella Mushrooms and Shrimp & Veggie Egg rolls.  This is my first time making egg rolls, my mom has made them before and we have just never gotten around to making them together.  Now that I've made them I can honestly say - WOW what took me so long, they really were easy to make & absolutely delicious.  Now, I know it really isn't a balanced menu~ but it was simply delightful & well that's what happens when you can't decide.

Shrimp & Veggie Egg Rolls
Egg roll wrappers absorb very little of the fat they are fried in, so the egg rolls remain light.
You Can Substitute the shrimp for a different meat or minus the meat all together and add more veggies!
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
8 cups finely shredded green cabbage
2 cups coarsely grated carrots
2 to 3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 cloves garlic finely minced
1 tablespoons ginger- finely minced (can substitute ground ginger)
4 scallions cut into very thin slices
1/2 pound cooked shrimp (shelled & deveined) cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 C. finely fresh basil or mint ,cilantro
salt to taste
12 egg roll wrappers
1 egg lightly beaten
1 1/2 C veg. oil

1. In a large, heavy pot, heat the 2 tbl of oil. Add the cabbage and carrots; cook over med-high heat for 3-4 mins or until cabbage is wilted and bright green.  Stir in soy sauce.

2. Add the garlic and ginger; cook for 1 min. stirring.  Remove from heat and stir in scallions, shrimp, cilantro, basil & if desired salt.  Remove to a bowl and bring to room temperature.

3. When working with egg-roll wrappers, cover them with a damp kitchen towel so they don't dry out.  Stuff wrappers one at a time: place one tip facing you like a diamond shape on a flat work surface.  Place 1/3 cup of filling 1 inch from the bottom point and across the wrapper to within 1 inch of each side. 
Fold bottom tip up over filling and roll away from you halfway up. Brush egg over exposed edges with a pastry brush.  Fold in  1-inch side tips and finish rolling tightly.  Place on a plate seam-side down.  Repeat procedure with the rest of the wrappers.  Keep finished egg rolls covered with a damp towel.

4. Heat 1 1/2 cups of oil in a 101/2 inch skillet until it begins to bubble a bit on top.  (To test for temperature , drop a cube of white bread into oil; it should brown in 1 minute.)

5. Add 3 to 4 egg rolls at a time to the oil and fry for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes on each side or until golden brown.  Drain on a paper towel.  Serve immediately with soy sauce, chinese duck sauce and Chinese mustard for dipping.

Yield: 12 egg rolls.


 
Mixture while cooking.




Yum Egg Roll all cooked up & ready to eat.



Crab Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
Adapted from Recipe: Original Sicilian Pasta Co. Stuffed Portobellos

8 Medium Portobello Mushrooms — cleaned
8 Oz. shrimp — chopped fine (I used about 1/2 a pound of crab meat)1 C. mushrooms — chopped fine (I just chopped up the stems & some of the insides of the mushrooms I used)
1/2 C. onions — chopped fine
3 Oz. Butter
1 Oz. Olive Oil
1 Tbsp. Garlic — minced (I used about 4 cloves)
2 Medium eggs
2 Tbsp. Lobster Base  (didn't use)
2 C. Breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp. parsley  (I also added basil)
1 tsp. coarse ground black pepper
2 Oz. white wine (didn't have any white wine)
12 Oz. crabmeat — shredded
8 Oz. Mozzarella Cheese — shredded

Brush Portobellos with olive oil and grill until done approx 5-7 minutes. Meanwhile saute shrimp, mushrooms, and onions in butter, olive oil and garlic until shrimp turns pink. Remove from heat, add all other ingredients and mix well until mixture becomes firm. Add an additional egg or additional breadcrumbs until the mixture can easily be formed by hand into balls. Place approx 4-5 ounces into portobello mushroom, spreading so that it covers from edge to edge. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella, and broil until cheese starts to brown. Serve.
Sauteing the onions, garlic & mushrooms...

Now just because we couldn't make a decision- hopefully you can, and well if not it really did make a good combination... but meal suggestions could be some nice soup to accompany the egg rolls, something like sweet & sour soup or egg drop.  A nice salad to accompany the mushrooms or a more filling meal could include something like pasta.  We were completely satisfied and full after a mushroom a piece and a couple egg rolls.  Not over full, but just enough room for dessert~ hmm wonder what that will be...