Saturday, December 12, 2009

Best Cookies Ever!!!

Oh my goodness these cookies taste even better than the ones you buy at cookie shops in the mall. Holy cow. Hands down, best cookies ever!

Take a look at the step by step. The recipe is from America's Test Kitchen.

Roll the dough out into a ball.

Then you break the ball in half.

Smush the two halves together with broken sides up.

Lay them out on parchment paper.

And after 15 minutes you get these beauties!!

Look at the size of this cookie!

Slightly crunchy on the outside.

Moist and chewy on the inside.

Oh my!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Pizza Hut, Schmizza Hut!

Who needs that place when you can make your own delicious pan pizza right at home. I don't really care for chain restaurants at all. But Pizza Hut seemed to be the only place that did a pan pizza. Because of that, I hadn't had one in years!!! But now...thanks to America's Test Kitchen, I made some of my own with quality ingredients. I did cheat from their recipe and I bought the pizza dough from our local EarthFare market. But it came out fantastic! I couldn't help but comment on how good it was all through dinner (kinda had a What about Bob? moment).

Oh my folks, you have to check out the recipe on America's Test Kitchen website.

Check out the crispiness people!!!

Really Cute Video!!!

You guys have to check this out!

If the video isn't working, you'll just have to click the link.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Perfect Weather for Soup

Yesterday it was all cold and rainy outside. I couldn't have planned a better day to try out my new Beef Vegetable Soup recipe from America's Test Kitchen. What a great recipe! The most involved part is chopping the vegetables (mushrooms, onions, carrots and potatoes). No lie this recipe takes a little over an hour and it tastes like it's been cooking all day. Yum! The original recipe calls for beef, onions, mushrooms, carrots and celery. I did mine with beef, onions, mushrooms, carrots (shocked?), red potatoes, frozen peas and frozen green beans. Totally delicious and nutritious.

Check out the recipe on America's Test Kitchen

Mmmm! Served with some cheese toast.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Countdown to Christmas

It's official the countdown has begone. I have my Advent Calendar and it's filled with little treats (4 types of Dove chocolates to be exact). I was so happy to get one this year. Last year Target sold out before I could convince David.

At door 11 I think I'll treat myself to an extra chocolate b/c my last paper of the semester will be done!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Applesauce Cake

Another winner from America's Test Kitchen! I love these people! I made a sweet potato casserole earlier this week that was hands down the best I've ever had or made. (and I am known for my sweet potato casserole at the holidays) This new recipe will become a holiday staple. Back to the cake...A little different than just a regular apple sauce cake, you reconstitute dried apples in apple cider on the stove top. It gives the cake great flavor! The topping is just a simple spiced sugar sprinkled over the top.

Look how tasty!

Brilliant idea of making a parchment paper sling that allows you to lift the cake out of the pan.

Take the cake out and start cutting!

Oh so moist and delicious. It's not dense. It's not overly spiced. Just right.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Spicy Peanut Noodles with Chicken

I adapted this recipe from Cooking Light's Sesame Noodles with Chicken. It's different in that I don't put sesame seeds in mine b/c I don't always have some. I use more chili sauce than their recipe calls for (makes it spicy). I add chicken stock instead of vegetable stock b/c it's what I keep in my pantry. And I use a vegetable peeler for my carrots and I stir them in while everything is hot so they don't fully cook (b/c many of you know I hate cooked carrots). Clearly this recipe is very versatile. It reminds me of almost Pad Thai. David wants to try it with shrimp one day.

Here's the original from Cooking Light's website:

8 ounces uncooked linguine

1 cup matchstick-cut carrots

2/3 cup organic vegetable broth (such as Swanson's Certified Organic)

1/2 cup reduced-fat peanut butter

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon bottled ground fresh ginger (such as Spice World)

2 teaspoons Sriracha (hot chile sauce, such as Huy Fong)

2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast

1 cup thinly sliced green onions

2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Add carrots to pasta during the last 3 minutes of cooking. Drain well.

Combine broth and next 5 ingredients (through Sriracha) in a food processor; process until smooth. Combine pasta mixture, chicken, and onions in a large bowl. Drizzle broth mixture over pasta mixture; toss well. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Kim to the Rescue!!!

So yesterday I kept hearing a screeching coming from our fireplace. And then last night some scratching. I couldn't convince David to poke around in the chimney, so we called our apartment office to have someone take a look on Monday. But then this morning I heard less scratching and no screeching. I got worried. Worried enough that I was going to poke around myself if David wouldn't. But he came to my rescue, seeing as how I was getting upset, and poked through the leaves that blocked our flue. Lo and behold look what we found!

She was cold to the touch at first, so I heated up my rice heating pack and made a nest for her. Poor little thing; helpless, cold and doesn't even have her eyes open yet.

After searching on the internet, I found someone who answered their phone and would take her in. According the rehab volunteer, squirrels are having babies late this year and it is highly unusual to have a 4 week old squirrel in November.

My efforts worked, and when it came time to drop her off she was moving and screeching again! Looks like she's gonna make it!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Doggy Sweaters

So today is my big sister's birthday...Happy Birthday!!!! And since I don't live near them anymore I had to mail her present down to FL. She got an extra special set of presents this year, handmade with love. Hehe. Look how cute. Little doggy sweaters. She has 2 small tea cup size Chihuahuas.

Both are in a lovely Avocado sister loves the color green people.

A bow for the girl and buttons for the boy.

Here's Moxie or as we fondly call her Miss Mox.

And Mojo!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Dinner Tonight 11/04/09

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

This recipe is soooo easy. And though the photo looks like a plain pureed broccoli soup, I assure you it's very cheesy. And you don't have to puree the whole thing, you could very easily save some smaller bits of broccoli out to stir in later. I used fat free evaporated milk and skim milk, that way I can use the full fat cheddar cheese and not feel too guilty. And if you like cauliflower you could substitute that for the broccoli. The sharp or extra sharp cheddar is really key here people. Do not skimp on a cheapo brand. As you can see the soup is green, you are not making a cheese sauce so you need the cheese to have really good flavor. But I assure it is cheese-licious.

Mrs. Bailey's Broccoli Soup

Broccoli - 3 large stalks
Chicken Bouillon Cubes
Can of Evaporated Milk
1/2 cup of Milk
Butter (optional)
1 - 1 1/2 cups of Cheddar Cheese (good and sharp, my favorite is Cabot's Extra Sharp)
Salt & Pepper to taste

3 large stalks of broccoli cut into small pieces
Cook in 1 cp of water and 3 small chicken bouillon cubes or 1 large.
Take the Broccoli out and put into the blender with 1 can of evaporated milk and puree.
Then add the cheese and some of the milk, add it all if it too thick or add more to get it to your liking. Season with salt & pepper. I usually pop it back into the sauce pan I cooked the broccoli in to warm it back through.

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Dinner Tonight 11/03/09

David and I love Asian style food. Luckily for us Cooking Light did a feature of delicious noodle bowl recipes. Here is my first attempt. It's Char Siu over Sesame Noodles. If you look at the recipe it calls for a pork roast but I did a pork tenderloin instead. It turned out great. The marinade on the meat was fantastic. I don't eat a lot of pork tenderloin or pork chops but I ate seconds tonight!

Here's the recipe courtesy of Cooking Light:

1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce, divided 1/4 cup honey 3 tablespoons rice vinegar 3 tablespoons dark sesame oil, divided 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

2 tablespoons chile paste with garlic (such as sambal oelek), divided 5 garlic cloves, divided 1 (1 1/4-pound) boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), trimmed 12 ounces (1/4-inch-thick) uncooked rice sticks (rice-flour noodles) 1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves 3 tablespoons torn fresh mint leaves

1. Combine 1/4 cup soy sauce, honey, vinegar, 1 tablespoon oil, hoisin, 1 tablespoon chile paste, and 3 garlic cloves, stirring well with a whisk; place mixture in a heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag. Place pork in bag; seal. Marinate in refrigerator 8 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.

2. Preheat oven to 450°.

3. Remove pork from bag; reserve marinade. Place a roasting rack in a small roasting pan; fill pan with water to a depth of 1/2 inch. Place pork on rack. Roast pork at 450° for 15 minutes. Baste pork with some of reserved marinade. Turn pork over; baste. Reduce oven temperature to 400°. Cook pork an additional 40 minutes, basting every 10 minutes. Discard remaining marinade. Let pork stand 10 minutes; thinly slice.

4. Prepare noodles according to package directions; drain. Combine remaining 1/4 cup soy sauce, remaining 2 tablespoons oil, remaining 1 tablespoon chile paste, remaining 2 garlic cloves, juice, and sugar in a large bowl, stirring well. Add noodles to bowl; toss to coat. Divide noodles evenly among each of 6 bowls. Combine cilantro and mint; sprinkle about 1 tablespoon herb mixture over each serving. Divide pork evenly among bowls.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 cup noodle mixture, 3 ounces pork, and 1 tablespoon herb mixture)

CALORIES 428 ; FAT 13.3g (sat 3.4g,mono 5.4g,poly 3g); CHOLESTEROL 42mg; CALCIUM 33mg; CARBOHYDRATE 60.1g; SODIUM 623mg; PROTEIN 15.8g; FIBER 0.6g; IRON 2.4mg

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Celtic Knot Doily

Here is another doily that I made an edging for. Some friends of ours have Irish heritage, so I thought they might like this one. The edging was a little difficult to make. The knots are created by weaving it in and out. Without anything to really hold them in place, I had to starch it a little to keep the knotting intact. Not exactly even looking but I think it's okay. Thoughts?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Weekend Getaway

We're back from our lovely weekend getaway. Our anniversary is Tuesday, to celebrate we spent a long weekend at the Mast Farm Inn where we were married 2 years ago. It was raining when we got in but the weekend turned out to be glorious. Our stay at the Inn was fantastic and I will post pictures of all that later. For now, here are some of our outdoors pictures.

What a view!

Me being silly.

These are some lovely little falls located right in Valle Crucis. Apparently no one must know about them because we had them all to ourselves Saturday morning.

Quality time.

I just like this picture showing the water swirl.

Found some lovely friends along the way.

He looks cute and fuzzy but don't touch....

And here's a second set of falls that we hiked to that day.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Autumn Leaves Doily

This thread I ordered, called Autumn Leaves, is so pretty. I just had to do something else with it. So I made my mom a doily centerpiece for her dining room table. It's going to look so pretty at Thanksgiving!
From the tip of one edging to the other, this thing is 14 inches in diameter.

David did a scan of it so you could see the true colors and detail.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Zoo Day!

So in my quest to forever procrastinate in doing my graduate work that I loathe, we went to the zoo today. For those of you not from North Carolina, we have a super nice zoo that has a 2 mile loop of exhibits. Most of the exhibits are large and more of a natural environment. It was a little chilly but it was nice and cool for all the walking that we did. Here are a few of the pictures.

The elephants are one of my favorites to sit and watch. They have acres of land to roam but this little guy seemed very interested in his pile of hay. Yum!

There are these bronze statues throughout the grounds, very well done.

I'm not sure what this plant is called but I thought it was pretty and made David take a picture.

It's Chopper Dave! For once, there was not a huge line to get inside their model of a safari copter.

Unfortunately we arrived just after the closed the new boardwalk for viewing and feeding the giraffes. FYI it's only open 10-12. But I still got a decent view of these guys. And no I did not wear my giraffe print handbag, that would be wrong.

Next to the elephants, the birds in the Aviary are my next favorites.

This guy was asleep until David's flash went off. Sorry....

And for my mom, here's a Scarlet Ibis.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Comfort Food

It's been cold and rainy here the past couple of days and it made me crave a dish that my mom made in the winter time when I was growing up. White Lima Soup has to be the easiest soup to make that doesn't come out of the can. Buy a bag of the dried large lima beans. Rinse them and soak them in warm water for about 2 hours or so. When that's done, take a large pot and add ham bits (I don't know exactly what they're called people! It's a pack of chopped/diced ham bits), the beans and cover them with water and some chicken stock. Bring it to a boil and then let it simmer for another 1-2 hours until the beans are tender but not mush! Add some S&P and call it a meal! For a little more protein I brown up some turkey Kielbasa sausage. And to make it extra comfort food, I make corn bread muffins. And yes I'm talking the 5o cent Jiffy box mix of corn bread muffins. It's the simple things in life people!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dinner Tonight 10/14/2009

Chicken Saltimbocca

I have to give it to America's Test Kitchen, they know their stuff! This recipe was great! It calls for chicken cutlets so that they brown and cook evenly in the skillet. You lightly flour the chicken, put some minced sage leaves on top and then lay a slice of prosciutto (just enough to cover) over the whole thing. Amazing! Then a white wine sauce for the top. Can't beat that! Well maybe, how about some Parmesan smashed potatoes?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Slurpees, Dunkin Donuts and Illy Coffee

I'm back! We've been up in CT for a family funeral but now we're back. It really wasn't a bad trip. Jet Blue is a really nice airlines and I would highly recommend them to anyone. Plus their terminal at JFK airport is super sweet. Connecticut is a lot like NC, so nothing new there. But it was nice to meet a lot of David's family. Hopefully next time we'll be able to make it into the city to see our friend. I didn't really take any pictures since it wasn't really my family and I spent a lot of time doing school work (boooo). But I do have one picture to share.

Look at my super cute Domo slurpee cup and straw. Hinted at my my title, it's the simple things in life that make me a happy camper.

Oh, I did get a really cute sweater from the Martin & Osa store (I had never been in one). Stay tuned for a pic.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Need a Hanky?

So in between various school projects I have been working on this Celtic edging. I used this really pretty autumn colored thread. I finally got up the gumption to sew it on to a handkerchief. I hate sewing. But I did it and it doesn't look half bad for a first attempt. And let me just say, rounded-end tapestry needles still hurt like a &*^%# when you poke yourself.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Scent of Grad School

It seems like everywhere smells like old books. Maybe it's just my imagination. But the office definitely does. When you have over 50 library books crammed together around one desk, that tends to happen. Fifty library books people. And that's just a portion of my research and comp exam books. My corner of the office smells like an old library. I hate the way libraries smell. (that should be a clue to never get my PhD). Old books just smell old. And I feel so germy after handling them. Who knows where they've been.

Just thought I'd share. This has been my world for the past week or so. Back and forth to the library coming home with a large tote bag full of books.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


This is what it's come to people! Graduate school has taken it's toll. It's left me with no choice but to....bake cookies! Chocolate therapy. Sweet relief. Thanks America's Test Kitchen for yet another great recipe.

Am I concentrating on work or the cookie?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Tatting Update

So I thought I'd put up a a picture of the things that I have made over the past week. I feel like I'm really getting the hang of it.