Monday, December 7, 2015

Welcome to the Christmas House ♥

Here is a short video I just took of my family room and kitchen.  I love this time of night when all of the Christmas lights are glowing. 
I had The Boston Pops Orchestra CD playing in the background.  I hope you enjoy it! ♥♥♥

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Soft Ginger Cookies ♥

Good morning and welcome to what I like to call "Eat Week"! This Thursday is Thanksgiving and I've got my stretchy pants all ready go. Well, not really - but I do see elastic waste pants in my future.  All bets are off this week.  Especially since turkey dinner is my absolute favorite meal! I love the stuffing and mashed potatoes drowning in gravy, the cranberry sauce and the butternut squash.  Its all so delicious.  It's a wonder I even have room for pumpkin pie but somehow I find it. Oh dear....yup....elastic waste pants are definitely going to be must! : )  

When I was a kid I don't remember being that crazy about Thanksgiving.  I think as a small child I thought of it as just a warm up to Christmas, except with no presents. I saw relatives I hadn't seen in while and my mom would buy nuts and weird fruit that hadn't been around since last Thanksgiving. I have very vivid memories of watching The Wizard of Oz.  It used to be on every Thanksgiving night and I waited all year for it.  It was a major treat! ♥
It wasn't until I got older did I realize how wonderful a holiday it actually is.  It's a holiday all about families & friends getting together to celebrate thankfulness and all the blessings in our lives.  What a wonderful thought.  Especially with all the sadness and suffering in the world, I am continually reminding myself how very blessed I am and remember to be grateful everyday.  No matter what - there is ALWAYS something to be grateful for. And if I get to do that over turkey with a glass of wine, even better ♥

I made a batch of these soft ginger cookies last week to bring to work.  They were so good that I decided to bring them to Thanksgiving dinner this year.  They were really easy to make and made the whole house smell like gingerbread while they were baking.  If that doesn't get you in the holiday spirit I don't know what will. ♥
(Public Service Announcement: if you want to make friends at up with cookies : )
Recipe from Grandmother's Kitchen (how could I resist?)
2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, softened (no substitute)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons sugar, plus additional to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Combine flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer beat butter for 30 seconds. 
Add sugar and beat until fluffy. 
Add eggs and molasses.  
Beat well.  
Add half of the flour mixture; beat until combined.
Stir in remaining flour with a wooden spoon.

Shape into 1 inch balls.

Roll in sugar. 
Place on ungreased cookie sheet 2 inches apart and bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes or until light brown and puffed. 

Sprinkle  tops with sugar.  Let cool on cookie sheet 2 minutes.  Transfer to wire rack to cool. 

They taste just like a ginger snap except soft and chewy. MMMM!
I hope you make a batch and share with someone you love ♥
Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Eat Week to all!!! 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Pumpkin Biscotti ♥ You can run, but you can't hide (from cookies! : )

Happy November 1st!

Last night was Halloween.  We spent the night trick or treating with great friends around their neighborhood and then went out to dinner afterwards.  Turns out everyone loves a "hot dog" and we came home with boat loads of candy!

The weather was gorgeous - crisp and cold with a smell of burning wood in the air.  It reminded me of one of those perfect Halloween night's when I was a kid.  That happy smile lasted all night ♥

The colors have been absolutely gorgeous lately.  My yard is a painting of reds and oranges.  It's a shame the leaves have to fall so quickly.  I wish they would stay longer.  I'm sure my hubby wishes that too, since he's the one in charge of the raking. LOL

The mornings have been freezing.  Have you ever noticed how much better your coffee (or tea) tastes on a cold morning? That first sip is magical.  You can feel it all the way down to your toes. For me, it's heavenly.  Especially with it being so dark now, it's harder and hard to get out of a warm bed.  I just want to stay in my pj's and watch I Love Lucy all day. 

About two weeks ago I was in the mood for something pumpkin so John and I made these pumpkin biscotti cookies together.  He's been helping me a lot in the kitchen lately.  And even though things take extra long and the mess is.....very big.... I really hope he's leaning something that will stay with him, because let's face it - there's nothing like a cute guy who can cook  ♥  Am I wrong?

Anyway, they came out really yummy..... here's the recipe:

2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of ginger
pinch of cloves
pinch of salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven 350 degrees.
Sift together flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, and spices into a large bowl.
In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin, and vanilla.  Pour the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture.  Give it a rough stir to generally incorporate  the ingredients.  The dough will be crumbly. 

Flour your hands and a clean kitchen surface and lightly knead the dough.  Lightly grease a baking sheet or line it parchment paper.  Form the dough into a large log, roughly about 15-20 inches by 6-7 inches. The loaves should be relatively flat, only about 1/2 inch high.  Bake for 22-30 minutes, until the center is firm to the touch. 
**Feel free to form two smaller logs instead, just cut the baking time to 18-24 minutes.  That's what I did **

Let biscotti cool for 15 minutes and then using a serrated knife to cut into 1 inch wide pieces.  Turn the oven to 300 degrees and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes.  Cool completely. 

If you like your biscotti more crunchy vs. chewy, let them sit uncovered overnight in a dry space. 

We decided after they were done to add a little chocolate, so I melted some chocolate chips in the microwave and we got dippin'.....
They were delicious with or without the chocolate.  Perfect with coffee on a cold fall day. 
I want to make up another batch of these for a party that I am going to next week. 
The eat fest has officially begun and will not end until January 1st.  You can try, but you can't hide from it!
The best thing to do is take advantage of the nice days and go for long walks, breath in the fresh air, and enjoy the season before it gets too cold to go out.  Try to burn off all those Kit Kats, peanut butter cups, and in my case - pumpkin biscottis  : )
It's a losing battle, but good luck anyway! ♥♥♥

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Butternut squash & apple soup ♥

Hello Friends!
We had our first frost last night.  This morning the house was freezing!  Resisting the urge to turn the heat on so early in the season, I wandered around my kitchen wearing an old cardigan sweater and wrapped in a fleece blanket.  I have to admit it felt good to be cozy. My coffee tasted just a little bit better this morning. 
The days are getting very chilly now.  It's windy and blustery.  I feel my sense of nesting kicking in.  It's dark when I wake up in the morning and every day it's harder and harder to get out the door.  Do I have to face the world today? Really? I would just rather stay home and watch old movies  : )
"Autumn...the year's last, loveliest smile."
                                                                                              -William Cullen Bryant
Friday John was home sick with a fever. I took the day off from work to stay home with him.  He rested on the couch for most of the day watching the Disney Channel and I took the opportunity to make something I have been craving for weeks.  Butternut squash soup.
I was looking at recipes online and I found one that had apple it.  It sounded really good so I gave it a try.  It was delicious!  The apple sweetened the soup just a little, but not too much. 
I think you would really like it..... ♥

Recipe courtesy of ♥
1 medium yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 celery rib, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 tablespoons butter
1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped
1 green apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
3 cups (low sodium) chicken broth
1 cup water
pinches of nutmeg, cinnamon, cayenne, salt & pepper

Heat a large thick-bottomed pot on medium-high heat.  Melt the butter in the pot and let it foam up and recede.  Add the onion, carrot, and celery.  Sauté for 5 minutes.  Lower the heat if the veggies begin to brown.

Add the butternut squash, apple, broth, and water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce to simmer, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes or until the squash and carrots have softened. 

Use and immersion blender to puree the soup, or work in batches and puree the soup in a standing blender. 

Add pinches of nutmeg, cinnamon, and cayenne.  Add salt & pepper to taste. 
**I don't have an immersion blender so I did batches in my food processor and it came out great.  I also had two cloves of left over roasted garlic in my fridge that I threw in.  I come from the soup school of a little of this and a little of that - just throw in what you like....and that's what I did**

This is "autumn in New England" in a bowl.  I added an extra dash of cinnamon on top before serving.
So good and warmed us to the bones.  Too bad John doesn't like squash. 
I keep trying but it's a NO GO every time : ( 
When he's sick the only thing he asks for is good old fashioned Campbell's Chicken Noodle soup.
  It works every time.  I can't say I blame him. 
 I love it too~
"Autumn sings of freedom and new beginnings.  Even the leaves have put on their richest gowns to dance freely and giddily into the unknown."
                                                                                                           -Clair Perkins
 We haven't reached our peak with foliage yet, but it's coming.  Some of the leaves are already starting to fall off the trees.  Walking around my yard in the morning I like seeing the contrast of colors.  Pretty soon they will all be bright orange ♥  I got yellow mums and a big, fat pumpkin for the front steps. 
"October's poplars are flaming torches lighting the way to winter."
                                                                                                            -Nova S. Blair
Have you read Susan Branch's The Fairy Tale Girl yet? Anyone that knows me knows how much I adore her.  She's been a part of my life for at least twenty years.  In her new book she tells the story of her life, taken from diaries she's kept all her life.  As a true fan of Susan's, this book answered so many questions for me. I started crying on page 14 and continued up until the end.  She's so relatable and I see myself in many ways.  I cried for sadness and for happiness. 
It was an emotional ride ♥
"Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the Fall".
                                                                                                       -F. Scott Fitzgerald  
For two nights in a row I was up until three o'clock in the morning reading.  I wanted it to last, but I couldn't read it fast enough.  The book ends in 1982 when Susan moves to Martha's Vineyard.  Part 2 called Martha's Vineyard, Isle of Dreams is coming out next year, where she continues her journey.  It's like waiting for the final season of Downton Abbey.  I want it to come, but I want it to last forever.  I didn't think it was possible, but I love her even more for sharing her story with all of us.  She's such an inspiration to me.
The morning after I finished the book I tweeted her and within 5 minutes she replied back to me.  Because she's awesome.
And when I'm not reading I've been pie making.  The apples have been delicious this year.  We are  pie people in my family and I somehow inherited my grandmother's knack for making pie crust.  Whenever I send one over my parent's house my Dad gives me the clean pie plate back asking for a refill.  I also have two in the freezer, ready to be baked for the holidays.  I feel like I've got my act together when I have pies on hand ♥
And by the way....thank you so much to all of my friends who have been asking about my mom.  She's feeling much better and appreciates all of your prayers! xo
"Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree."
                                                                                                                  -Emily Bronte 
 yes, it is : )
 Have a great week, girlfriends!   Halloween is less than two weeks away.
The month is flying by!!! 
Have a cup of pumpkin spice anything and enjoy it~
"Autumn carries more gold in it's pocket than all the other seasons."  
                                                                                                               -Jim Bishop

Friday, October 9, 2015

Caramel corn ♥

This recipe was a special request from my eight year old son, John.  He saw someone making caramel corn on TV and said "we could do that....right?" I had never made it before, but I liked his style, so without hesitation I said, "sure, why not!".
Caramel corn is the perfect Fall treat.  It reminds me of Halloween and now that I know how easy it is, I will keep it in mind for parties....
Cause once you just can't stop! ♥
4 cups popcorn
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Spread your popcorn out on a baking sheet. (btw- this was my first time making popcorn with coconut oil and it was delicious!)
It's important to make sure your helper doesn't eat all the popcorn before we finish the recipe : )
For the caramel:
Melt the brown sugar and butter over medium heat.  The mixture will start to bubble. Keep stirring so the butter doesn't burn.  Gently add in the corn syrup.  Cook about 10 minutes, while continually stirring. 
**Caution - this mixture is very hot.  If you have a helper like I did, make sure to keep a close eye on everything!
After 10 minutes remove the pan from the stove.  Add in the vanilla and baking soda.  Stir to incorporate.
Drizzle over the popcorn. 
Bake in a 250 degree oven for 1 hour. 
Remove from the oven.  Break it up a little with a wooden spoon if you need to... and viola!
You've got caramel corn!
(store in an airtight container)
I think adding peanuts, M&M's, or candy corn would also be yummy mixed into this. 

We are in full Fall mode here in New England.  The days are cool and the nights are crisp.  It's officially sweater weather!

Halloween is fast approaching and John has decided he wants to be a hot dog this year. 
This should be interesting! 

Happy Days! ♥♥♥


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Honey roasted chickpeas ♥

Here is a super easy recipe for honey roasted chickpeas.  These beans have been a lifesaver for my nightly snack attacks! I don't feel as guilty reaching for these as I do when I scoop Nutella straight from the jar (don't tell me you've never done it...come on : )
Chickpeas are high in fiber and rich in victims and minerals. Just don't go too heavy on the sea salt and they are the perfect snack to satisfy that little nagging voice inside you. 
I found several variations online, but this basic one is my favorite. 

recipe courtesy of  Alida's Kitchen
15 oz. can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 tablespoon canola oil
sea salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.  Set aside.
Empty the chickpeas into a colander and rinse until no longer foamy. Drain. 
Put on a paper towel and pat to dry.  Remove skins from the chickpeas.  Gently roll the beans between your fingers and the skins will easily come off ♥
Place the beans in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes, or until crunchy (if they are still soft add an additional 5 minutes of baking time).
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl whisk honey and oil. 
Add the hot chickpeas and toss to coat. 

Put the beans back on the baking sheet and return to the oven for an additional 5 - 10 minutes, until caramelized. 
Sprinkle with sea salt ♥
{Other versions I saw added cinnamon & sugar, garlic salt, or cumin.  I say just do what you like }
Let the bean cool completely and store in an airtight container. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Dark chocolate chunk oatmeal bars ♥

Hello Friends! It's September!  Two weeks ago (where does time go?) I made these dark chocolate chunk oatmeal bars that I promised to share with you.  I was scanning Pinterest the night before school started because I wanted to make a treat to celebrate.  Also, I couldn't sleep.  It wasn't even ME going to school, but I had the butterflies.  Crazy.  Anyhow, I came across these bars that looked so delicious I couldn't resist. 
That morning I brought John to school for his first day, came home, and made these bars. 
recipe courtesy of
2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup coconut oil, melted (if needed you may sub canola oil)
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
8 oz dark chocolate, chopped into chunks (about 1 1/2 cups)
 Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Grease a 9x13 baking dish or line with parchment paper
In a large mixing bowl blend together the oatmeal, flours, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, coconut oil, eggs, and vanilla.  Beat until completely combined and the dough holds together.  Mix in about 1 cup of the chocolate. 
Turn half the batter out into prepared pan, pushing the dough into the pan evenly.  Sprinkle on the rest of the chocolate, and then press the remaining half of the dough over the chunks.  
Bake for about 20-25 minutes.  Allow bars to cool in pan for at least 30 minutes before slicing. 
*This was my first time baking with coconut oil, and I have to say it gave the bars a slight coconut taste which I really liked.  However if you are not a fan of coconut the just use canola oil instead.  I also stored my bars in the fridge.  The chocolate is gooey and having them refrigerated kept everything at a perfect texture and consistency.  And lastly, if you don't have whole wheat flour, I see no reason why you couldn't just use two cups of all-purpose flour ♥
The bars were perfect with my afternoon tea. I brought one to work everyday for a week.  And the dark chocolate really hit the spot! Over the course of a week they were packed in lunches and in one case - crumbed up an put over ice cream! : )
The bars weren't even fully cooled yet and it was time for pick up.  And so it began....
A new season ♥
The first day of school came and went.  Easy as pie.  Third grade is off to a terrific start! 
Not even one butterfly.  I'm so jealous! (I didn't sleep a wink! LOL)
Also, that day the Fall decorations came out (even though it was 85 degrees!).
And this week I discovered the beauty of slow cooker apple pie oatmeal.  Oh ya - it's a thing!
Another reason why I love my crock pot!

So light your favorite Fall scented candle...there are so many to pick from....

And enjoy the beauty of this glorious season, which just so happens to be my favorite ♥
It didn't take long to get back into the usual swing of things.  Funny how that happens. 
It's a good thing.
By the way....our Disney trip was SO MUCH FUN!!!!  On our way home we were planning our next visit back!  
(a Disney post with pictures to come!!! )
I hope you all are enjoying these early day of fall. xo