Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Susan Branch give-a-way! ♥

We are having a snow day today in Massachusetts!  What better time for cleaning out the closet.  And look what I found! I forgot that I had picked up this binder at Barnes & Nobles last year on a clearance table! I have several recipe binders already and didn't really need it, but I can never pass up a Susan Branch item, especially if it's on clearance!
It's just been sitting in the closet (no place for such a pretty book) so I decided I would like to give it to one of you! ♥
There are places to write your own recipes or paste recipe cards on.
In the back there are pages of helpful tips on herbs & spices, cookies, sauces, and more!
Susan Branch is a master at kitchen tips! ♥♥♥
If you would like this binder just leave me a comment below.  I will pick a winner on Friday!
This give-a-way is open to EVERYONE so please spread the word and enter!
I hope you are staying warm & cozy on this snowy Tuesday : )
Time to put a movie on and wrap up in a blanket.
How we LOVE snow days! xo

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Morning Glory Muffins

Hello Friends!
Life is full of simple pleasures, isn't it? Right now I am in the throws of a Nora Roberts novel that I cannot put down.  It's called The Three Fates and it's got it all: mystery, romance, suspense, and a dreamy (well, in my mind he's dreamy) leading man.  I am worried about the characters and what will become of them and I know I'll be sad when it's over.  I think subconsciously I'm reading extra slow so it will last longer.  Geez, I love a good book! Between that and Downton Abby I'm happy as can be! It's so good this season, isn't it? Every time I watch an episode I wonder what it would be like to live in an English manor and wear gorgeous dresses and hats everyday. 
Simple pleasure? Yes, definitely!
As I type this blog post I am wrapped up in a black and white polka dot bathrobe (something I would NOT be wearing in my imaginary English manor) and have a cup of Sleepytime by my side.  It's night and everyone in the house is asleep. I took a break from my book tonight because I wanted to share with you a recipe that is so goooood!  
And there is a story that goes with it...
A few years ago (yes, years!) I ripped this recipe out of the newspaper and tucked it away for safe keeping.  It reminded me of a muffin that I used to get at an office building I worked at back in the 90's.  The baker in the cafeteria would make a batch of morning glory muffins every day at 9 am.  I would be in line at 9:01 to get a coffee and MY muffin.  This ritual made going to work everyday much more enjoyable, let me tell you.  The job was stressful and I looked to the little things to brighten my day.  This was one of them. 

At first I couldn't place the taste, I just knew I liked it.  Then I finally realized what it was. Carrot! Carrot cake, only better.  And perfectly acceptable to eat for breakfast!
The recipe simple. 
The most time consuming part is grating the carrots. I had every ingredient on hand which is also a winner in my book.    
The recipe says it makes 15 but I kept it at 12.  Not only did they come out nice and big, I only had to use one muffin tin : )
You could easily frost these up with cream cheese frosting and serve for dessert.  I prefer to just sprinkle them with coconut and have for breakfast or a snack.  John loved them too.  I laughed sneakily because he had no idea they have a vegetable in them.  One point for Mom!
Warm with a little butter is my favorite!
I really love these muffins and I hope you will too ♥
Here's how to make them:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (mixture of ground cloves, cinnamon, allspice, & nutmeg)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)
1/2 cup raisons
1 cup shredded coconut
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine sugar, oil, and eggs.  Beat at med-high speed until smooth and creamy.
Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, pie spice or spice mixture, and salt into a bowl.  Add egg mixture and combine at med-low speed. 
Add the vanilla, carrots, nuts, raisins, and coconut.  Beat at low speed for 30 seconds. Remove the bowl for stand mixer.  Use a rubber spatula to finish mixing the dough, which will be quite thick. 
Spoon the batter into a greased (12 cup) muffin tin.  Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with extra coconut : )
Bake for 30 – 35 minutes, or until muffins are firm to the touch and lightly browned.  Let them cool slightly in the pan and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


Before I go I wanted to share with you a few snapshots from last week. 
One of my intentions for the new year was to spend more time outside. 
I've been doing that...

I've been taking drives to the ocean.  Although it's freezing here, the beach is really a spectacular place in the winter.  It's quiet and peaceful and I feel like I have the entire ocean to myself. I walk and breathe the fresh air into my lungs, staring out into the horizon wondering what is beyond what I can't see. It's been a perfect spot for me to reflect and be alone with my thoughts.  Almost therapeutic.
One day I actually saw the sunrise and the sunset in the same day.  This is not a normal occurrence for me and I couldn't get over the beauty of it. 

The universe is really an amazing place if you look closely enough.
There is magic around every corner ♥
I hope you find happiness in the little things today. 
And also enjoy a yummy muffin! It works...trust me! : )

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Tuscan Vegatable Soup ♥

Hello Friends!
How is January treating you so far?
Today was the first day that I actually felt myself falling back into a regular routine. The house is back to normal and my little one is back to school.  All the Christmas décor is down and I must say things look a bit bare.  However, it is nice to have my family room back. We can see the TV again without any obstructions! : )
Time to start making lists and getting my act together for 2015. 
So, five days into the month I held true to one of my intentions (yay!) and made a healthy soup for dinner. Since it's absolutely freezing I thought soup would be perfect for tonight! I wanted a recipe that had lots of veggies since we are really trying to start the year off right. 
I found this recipe for Tuscan Vegetable Soup thanks to Pinterest

It's from this blog: www.recipegirl.com (She's got tons of other soups that look delicious too! : )
This soup took under 30 minutes to make and came out SO GOOD! Is there anything better than a hot bowl of soup on a cold January day?
I can't think of a thing..... ♥

1 (15.5) can cannellini beans, rinsed & drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup diced onion (about 1 medium sized onion)
1 cup diced carrots (about 1 large carrot)
1 cup diced celery (about 2 large stalks)
1 cup diced zucchini (about 1 medium sized zucchini)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste
4 cups low-sodium, fat free chicken (or vegetable) broth
1 (14.5) can diced tomatoes, with juice
2 handfuls baby spinach leaves (about 2 cups packed)
Parmesan cheese 

In a small bowl, mash half of the beans with the back of a spoon.  Set aside.

Heat oil in a medium sized soup pot over medium-high heat.  Add veggies & seasonings and cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are tender - about 5 minutes.

Add the broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil.  Add the mashed and whole beans, and the spinach leaves.  Cook until the spinach is wilted, about 3 - 5 more minutes. 

Serve topped with Parmesan cheese.

And there you have it!
Serve with some crusty bread and butter to dunk and a glass of red wine to warm the bones ♥
Enjoy! ♥