Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Banana's Foster

banfostTonight the pile of bananas on the counter beckoned to me and so I decided to try this recipe for Bananas Foster.  It was very yummy, although you really probably should divide it between four servings as the recipe calls for, not two.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Banana Teething Biscuits/Cookies

GBaby is popping teeth left and right and I'm exploring new foods with her as she begins her journey into finger-foods and table foods.  She is up to seven teeth, so I thought it was time to give teething biscuits a try.  A friend showed up today with a bunch of bananas that needed to be baked with so the challenge was on!  I went through a few recipes and settled on ingredients that were age appropriate for an 8 month old and set to work.  I also didn't want a cookie that was super sweet and wanted to let the bananas add the sweetness.  This is the recipe that I came up with and it worked out great.   GBaby gnawed the heck out of the teething cookie while we ate dinner tonight.

teethcookieBanana Teething Biscuit/Cookie

2 medium Bananas

3 Egg Yolks

1 cup Powdered/Confectioners Sugar

2 1/2 cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour

1 cup Whole Wheat Flour


1. Puree bananas and egg yolks until a smooth, thick liquid.

2. Place in mixer bowl and add powdered sugar and mix until smooth.

3. Add flours 1/2 cup at a time until you reach a thick dough - should be similar to a soft play dough.

4. Divide dough into 6 pieces and roll out into long ropes about 1/4 inch thick.  Cut into pieces 3-4" long and flatten slightly.

5. Bake at 325 for 30-45 minutes or until golden brown and hard.

NOTE: It is always important to monitor your child while they are eating any foods. While these cookies are fairly hard it is always possible for small chunks to break off and become a choking hazard.  Always check with your pediatrician or a trusted source regarding age appropriate ingredients for your child.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Monday, September 28, 2009

All in a Day's Work: Greene Apple Fest

CCDisplay 002One major source of exposure for Charity's Candles and Crafts is craft shows.  Most of the time the ones I attend are part of larger festivals are well known dedicated craft fairs.  Both draw significant crowds.  A well established event will have attendees that will come rain-or-shine because it is a tradition.

While visitors to these shows arrive looking for their favorite gift items or foods, I arrive looking for my competition - and at these events it's not always other candle-makers.  Often times its the little things that will draw the cash out of an attendee's wallet before they ever get to my booth.  Are there admission fees or parking fees?  Will visitors hit the craft area first or the food area and be tempted by all the delicious smells of food vendors?  All of these are things I take into consideration when I'm evaluating a craft fair.

Greene Apple Festival in Greene NY has become one of my best fairs of the year.  This past Saturday I left the house at 6:45 am and had my tent and booth set up by 8:30.  My feet were freezing and I was so happy to have dry warm socks and shoes to change into once I was set up!  The day was fairly grey and dismal but there were large crowds all day.  The rain held off until it was time to break down.  So I loaded up my little car in the rain and headed home for warm, dry clothes!  Once home it's dinner, GBaby to bed, and then inventory, accounting and then to bed myself!

AppleFest is one of those events that folks come to as a tradition.  In 2008, I set up in the rain, I sold candles all day in the rain, and packed up in the rain.  Folks were pushing around mud-caked strollers, kids were stomping in the mud in their galoshes and rain jackets and those who came out were having a great time!

This year was weather was dryer, the crowds were bigger and the sales were better than in 2008 and I look forward to seeing the crowds in Greene again next year!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday Sunshine: Candles and Craft Shows

sundaysunshinesm Practicing contentment by remembering the graces of the week.

This has been a very full week.  I was able to slip away for a Ladies Bible Study on Wednesday which was a great time with friends.  I also managed to get everything ready for the Greene Apple Festival where I was selling candles and in spite of the chaos of trying to get everything together and then realizing once I got there that I had forgotten stuff - the entire week was covered in a wonderful peace.  GBaby has popped another tooth.  She's up to 6 now and today seems to be a "happy in between teeth day" - for that I will be thankful!  I had been saving up for a little bit to make a purchase that I was able to make this week and my new sewing machine arrived on Wednesday.  I am very excited about this and will be posting much more on this in the near future!

Blessings to you on this first day of the week!


Friday, September 25, 2009

Freezer Friday: Canned Pumpkin Shortage? No Problem!

pumpkin1Updated 9/30/2010: This post has been linked up at Life as Mom's Ultimate Recipe Swap.  This is a great way to bring fresh pumpkin to your favorite pumpkin recipe- and it freezes great!

This week rumors are flying around the internet about a shortage of canned pumpkin.  While I haven’t been able to find anything on the national news sources, one station in Iowa and one in West Virginia have both carried stories this week.  Oh dear, what ever shall we do?!  With Thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner, ‘tis the season for pumpkin pies- this could become a major crisis in some households.  Now, while our great-grandmothers are rolling with laughter from their graves at our dependence on commercially canned pumpkin, I’ll share a page I’ve taken from their cook-books.   It starts with these bright orange fruits that are about the size of a bowling ball and that are probably more prevalent than their canned byproducts.  That’s right folks.  You can do more with a pumpkin than carve a face in it!

For baking, you want to make sure you procure good pie pumpkins that are generally smaller in size than their carving counterparts.  They are also bred to have better flavor and cook up great.  Plus, they’re easier to work with!  I was able to get them for about $1 a piece at our local farm stand.

First, cut that sucker open and core all the seeds and goo out of it.


Then, put about a half inch of water in a baking pan and place the pumpkin, cut side down into the pan.  Bake it at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until a fork will slide into it easily.


Next, carefully turn the pumpkin cut side up and let it cool.


Once the pumpkin is cooled, if you want to create your own “canned pumpkin” simply spoon out the flesh from the pumpkin and run it through a blender or food processor. (or take your immersion blender to it).


1 ¾ cups of pumpkin puree is the equivalent of a 15 ounce can.  Measure your pumpkin puree out and freeze these portions.  When you’re ready to bake, thaw and use in your favorite recipes.

So in addition to insuring that we will have pumpkin pie this holiday season, it has been another busy week for the MamaMixer and the Food Grinder/Strainer Attachment .  I have put away pear baby food, another batch of applesauce with results that were as great as last time.  I also made a batch of Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins from this recipe that turned out great.  (I stayed pretty close to the recipe but I did sub in 1 cup of whole wheat flour, cut the cinnamon out and upped the nuts and chocolate chips to 1 cup each.)  Did you get anything stashed in your freezer this week?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

[Green] Baked Potato Soup


Growing up I remember my mom’s potato soup on cold winter nights and since I’m a meat-and-potatoes girl at heart, potato soup often comes up on our menu once the temperature drops.  Originally I tweaked my mom’s recipe to turn it into at Baked Potato Soup.

This last time I made this soup is was particularly special because I used potatoes from our garden.  So yummy!  I added the [Green] before the recipe because when I made it this time around I added pureed zucchini to add a few more nutrients.  HandyMan said he could taste the zucchini a little, but I couldn’t. I may be becoming immune to the flavor of the zucchinis.  I did change the texture a bit but overall the finished product was pretty good.

The premise of the Baked Potato Soup is that you start with the soup as your base and pile on whatever you would want on a baked potato.  For us this has included steamed broccoli, grated cheddar cheese, bacon bits, chopped chives and even chili.  The list could go on as far as the reaches of your imagination.  By adding the broccoli (and the zucchini in the Green version) you add a bit of vegetables to this starchy comfort food and a bit more nutrition.

carryover I cooked the entire package of bacon and put remaining bacon strips in the fridge to use for meals later in the week, like egg sandwiches or on top of salads.  The flavor for this recipe really comes from the bacon drippings left after you’ve cooked the meat.

[Green] Baked Potato Soup

2 lbs Potatoes, scrubbed, peeled and chopped.

1 onions, chopped

2 cups Milk

1 tsp Salt

1/2 tsp Pepper

[2 cups Pureed Zucchini]

1/2 lb smoked Bacon

4 cups Water (less if using Zucchini)

Soup Toppings: Steamed broccoli, bacon bits, shredded cheese, chives, etc.


1. Boil your potatoes in a large stock pot until fork tender.


2. Drain potatoes and put potatoes in a different bowl.

3. Cook your bacon in your stock pot until it reaches your preferred crispiness. Remove bacon, but leave drippings in the pot.


4. Add onions and sauté until clear.


5. Add milk, salt, pepper, water and [zucchini puree if you so choose] to the pot. If you want a smoother soup base, puree this mixture with an immersion blender.


6. Once the base is as smooth as you would like it, add the potatoes back into the pot. The liquid base should cover the potatoes, if not; add more water until the potatoes are covered.

7. Allow to come to a boil. Once soup is hot all the way through, gently mash with a potato masher to break the potatoes into soup size pieces. Again – this is a matter of preference. To mash or not to mash is up to you.

8. Serve with your soup toppings and enjoy.


Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Updated 10/7/2010 - If you've landed here from LifeAsMom's Ultimate Recipe Swap - welcome!  I made this last fall about this time and it will be on my menu again as soon as we get around to digging up this year's potatoes.  I love that there's extra veggies hidden in this soup to make it a little healthier for me and  my family!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

All in a Day's Work

As part of Charity's Candles, I am a member at Made in Chenango, which is a local artisan co-operative. It's a great little store with handmade items including candles, soaps, woodworking, fiber arts, sculpture and jewelry. If you're ever in the Norwich NY area, it's worth a visit. Part of my responsibilities as a member include working a certain number of hours a month - which is where I'm headed today. Usually, while I'm minding the shop I have time to do things like catch up on my own book-keeping and type up all the recipes I've promised you all! Stay tuned!

Monday, September 21, 2009


I know fall has begun to make it's way into our neighborhood when I reach for my Bread book. I picked up a copy of Bread a couple years ago and it has become my go-to cookbook for making yeast breads. It is filled with techniques, recipes and tips I have found many of them helpful as I work to perfect my technique and would be helpful for a baker at any experience level. The recipe for Parker House rolls - phenomenal! I have yet to make a perfect ciabata but I will keep trying!

I love to make bread in the fall and winter and homemade soup and fresh bread is a common meal in our house. Having the oven on takes the chill out of the house and warm, fresh bread seems to warm the soul. Kneading, mixing and the smell of active yeast somehow seems therapeutic against dark drab days. So stay tuned and I will be sharing some of my favorite bread recipes as we head into soup and bread season. What are your favorite breads?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday Sunshine

sundaysunshinesmPracticing contentment by remembering the graces of the week.

This has been a wonderful week with safe travels home, and a clean house when I got here!  GBaby did wonderfully on our flights and is a great little traveler!  I also scored big this week at a huge sale on sewing patterns.  I'm excited to bust through some sewing projects in early October.  The first signs of sunny fall days, while seemingly too soon, are a welcome change to the super rainy season we've had.

Family time is appreciated when it can be scrounged and a little personal time was an amazing luxury.  Off to chase my super-active baby.  Blessings to you as this week begins!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Charity's Candles Side of ThrivingMama

Some of you may have noticed that there's a link at the top to one of mycandle 005 part-time-work-at-home-mom endeavour: Charity's Candles and Crafts.  If you're in need of yummy soy candles to warm up your fall, I'm your gal!   September usually marks the beginning of the busy time under my Candle-Maker’s hat and this September is no different.  I have four good-sized craft fairs lined up for this fall in Greene, Walton, Oneonta and Chenango Valley, NY.  I also have two retail locations in businesses in Bainbridge and Norwich that will keep me on my toes.  This week I’ve been pouring and packaging candles and trying to get ready for the Greene Apple Fest the end of the month as well as working at the store in Norwich.

I’m glad to find that I still enjoy getting my hands waxy and pouring candles.  My dedicated chunks of time to the work seem to be a bit shorter, since there’s a short person in the house calling for lots of attention, but with one ear on the baby-monitor and one ear taking in an audio-book, I can get lost in my work for as long as nap-time will allow.

Just how much is that you ask?  Friday morning (after finding coffee, starting laundry, unloading dishwasher and finishing last night’s dishes) I managed to package about 70 candles poured earlier in the week, and pour about 50 candles in 6 different fragrances.  I was also working on pulling orders and organizing stuff in the chaos of my work-room.  All in the three hours between GBaby’s first breakfast and when she was ready to face the day.  I’m learning just how much I can get done in short spurts of time!

When do you find you can get the most done?  What is your favorite fall candle fragrance?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Freezer Friday: Potatoes, Zucchini & Cucumbers from the Garden

freezerfridaysmgardenyieldWhile I was out of town this week, the goodies from our garden continued to trickle into the kitchen.  I have more zucchini (anybody out there want to trade!) and cucumbers as well as some of our garden potatoes.  While none have made it to the freezer yet, I know the plans I have for them, says the chef!

The zucchini will be shredded or pureed and sent to the freezer for baking or smoothies.  The cucumbers are destined to be refrigerator pickles. (Close to the freezer, right?).  The potatoes are going to be transformed in to my mom's potato soup, which I've doctored into Baked Potato Soup.

I also made a great Harvest Rice dish this past week with acorn squash, italian sausage, apples, dried cranberries and pecans.  It was great and a portion of that went to the freezer too.  Both the soup and rice recipes are coming, once I get a free moment to type them up.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Pretty Baby Crochet Sweater- Progress #1

In the piles of kitchen projects, last week I decided that I needed a break.  So I started a sweater for GBaby using this pattern.  I'm working on the body part and about two or three inches away from working the sleeve holes and neck into the pattern.  I've tweaked the design a little and my guage is off (as usual).  While I'm following the pattern for the 3 month size, since I'm using a thicker yarn and hook I think the finished product will be a great 12-18 month size.  I've done tons of crochet blankets, but this is my first attempt at "real" clothing. So far I've only found one goof but you have to look pretty hard to find it.  I'll post again when I've made a bit more progress :)  Anyone else working on fun fall craft projects?


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Chocolate Mint Grasshopper Brownies

I'm not sure how the combination of chocolate and peppermint became known as "grasshopper" but I do know that this is a great easy brownie recipe that's sure to win you lots of comments at your next party - if they make it to the table!  This is a great way to dress up a brownie mix and make folks think you spent hours making a pretty dessert!  Around the holidays, dress it up with crushed candy canes sprinkled on the very top.

Grasshopper Brownies

Step 1: Make a batch of brownie-mix brownies according to the directions and let them cool.

Step 2: Mix 1 teaspoon of Peppermint Extract into a standard container of white frosting and spread on cooled brownies.

Step 3:  Melt 4 Tbs of margarine and 4- 1 ounce squares of semi-sweet baking chocolate the microwave or in a double boiler. Note- chocolate chips do not work for this - as I learned the hard way when I made these last weekend!  Once melted pour on top of the frosting and tip the pan around to spread the chocolate glaze layer.

Step 4: Chill.  Once chocolate top is set, cut in to squares or triangles and serve.

Click here for the printable version of this recipe.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Pantry & Freezer Stocking List

Are you intentional about what gets stocked in your pantry and freezer or is it a catch-all spot for leftover ingredients from meals gone by? Since shopping is a chore for me I try to be pretty intentional about what get stocked in the pantry and freezer from my shopping trips.

The first step in stocking the pantry and freezer with ingredients is to look at what you cook most often and what you like to have on hand for quick meals.  I've found that stocking the pantry with items that I rarely use ends up being a waste of the space.  While I don't usually go for prepared food I usually have a few quick meals stashed in the pantry.  Additionally, this girl can't be caught without the means to a chocolate chip cookie, so those important ingredients are usually found on my baking shelf.  In the fall and winter, I often throw together soups on a whim so the pantry is usually stocked with soup ingredients.   As fresh fruit becomes more expensive in the cooler months, canned fruits begin to make their way to the pantry.  Dried goods and snacks are also a staple items that get some of the pantry real estate.  The freezer also has a stash of frequently used ingredients.

Here's a breakdown of what's in my pantry and freezer stash:

Freezer: Orange Juice concentrate, Coffee (decaf & regular), Margarine for baking

Baking Ingredients: Unbleached Flour, Whole Wheat Flour, Chocolate Chips, Sugar, Brown Sugar, Spices

Canned Goods: "Cream of" Soups, Diced Tomatoes, Tomato Paste, Kidney Beans, Pineapple, Mandarin Oranges, Water Chestnuts,

Dry Goods: Pinto Beans, Black Beans, White Beans, Spaghetti, Pasta, Rice, Ramen, Macaroni & Cheese, Broth Cubes, Cereal

Snacks: Trail Mix, Popcorn, Chips

What are the staples in your pantry?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Pantry Reorganization

Inspired by Erin's Pantry Make-Over and frustrated by the chaos that was my pantry, it was time to do some re-organization.  Plus, the local mice population has started their inward migration for the fall and I wanted to make sure that they stay out of my food (unless its on the traps!)

So with $30 in shelves and bins I started with a pantry that looked like this:


and re-stacked my canned goods, labled my spices, and put snacks, dry-goods and baking-bits in bins and now I can find what I'm looking for when I'm cooking or baking - such a huge improvement! Now if I can just remember to wipe off the camera lense on my phone, I'd be able to get some non-smudged pictures!


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday Sunshine: Generations & Family

sundaysunshinesm Practicing contentment by remembering the graces of the week.

This week I have the privilege of travelling with my mom to visit my grandparents and introduce GBaby to her great-grandparents.  I have a heritage of mile-stone anniversaries in my family tree.  My paternal grandparents saw their 50th wedding anniversary and my mom's parents have celebrated their 60th.  This year my parents hit their 33rd.  I love that!  So this weekend four generations gathered to reunite and introduce our newest family members.  It is an awesome thing!

This week also brought the blessing of a few predictable naps from GBaby so I was able to leave a clean house when I left and I'm sure it will still be clean when I get home.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

HV Marinara/Spaghetti Sauce

marinaraA few years back, I began reading labels and realized how much other "stuff" is in processed foods, including sauces.  So I began making our marinara that we use for pasta sauce, pizza sauce and anywhere else you'd use a jar of spaghetti sauce.  While often the batches of sauce will have some variation, this recipe is one that I've come to stick fairly close to.  In addition to the tomatos that are the base, this sauce is packed with other veggies.  I add pureed squashes for nutrients, carrots for sweetness and peppers and onions for flavor.  The carrots and squash are pureed in but we prefer the chunks of peppers and onions.  If you prefer a smoother sauce, simply puree these too.  This recipe is great on the stove-top or in the slow cooker.

HV Marinara

2 Tbs Olive Oil

1 large Onion

4 sweet Bell Peppers (green, yellow, orange or red)

4 cups of chopped Carrots

6 cups of chopped Zucchini or Squash

#10 can of Ground Tomatoes (6 pound)

1 head of Garlic, minced

2 Tbs Basil

1 Tbs Parsley

1 Tbs Oregano

1 cup Red Cooking Wine

Directions for Crock-Pot

1.  Cook Zucchini and Carrots and puree.

2.  Put all ingredients into slow cooker and allow to cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Directions for Stove-Top

1.  Cook Zucchini and Carrots until soft and puree.  (quickest cooking method is microwave)

2.  Place oil, onion and peppers in large stock pot and saute until tender.

3.  Add remaining ingredients to the pot and allow to simmer, covered, on medium low for 3-4 hours, removing lid if sauce seems too thin for your liking.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Freezer Friday: Apple Sauce and Marinara

freezerfridaysm This week I made apple sauce and marinara to stash in the freezer.  Our local farm stand has ten pound bags of apples that are "seconds" for $5 this time of year.  For applesauce, this means that I have to be ready to make it within a day or so of getting the apples and I have to cut a few bad spots off.  The final product is delicious applesauce.  I use the Fruit and Vegetable Strainer that goes with my MamaMixer and applesauce is a breeze.

This time I went with the super-time-saver method.  I scrubbed and chopped the apples and cooked them in the microwave (large mixing bowl for 7 minutes) until they were soft and then sent them through the strainer.  I made about 1-1/2 gallons of applesauce in about two hours (with the interruptions that come with life with a 7 month old).  I'm a purist - my apple sauce is just apples.  No added sugar and no additional fruits or juices.  It is so good and it freezes great!

To give you an idea of the efficiency of this method, I started with these apples:


Which made this much apple sauce (3 cup plastic containers and 1-24 oz jar)

applesauce2and this was all the waste left over - bruises, peels, cores, seeds everything (3- large margarine containers)

applesauce3I also got a batch of marinara in the freezer - I'll post that recipe tomorrow.  Happy Friday!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Grilling Corn

There is nothing like the flavors of fresh sweet corn and in many areas of the country the farmers markets and produce aisles are stocked with the freshest of this year’s sweet corn.  This year I’ve taken to grilling our sweet-corn in the husks.  It’s super easy and there’s no foil and boiling water involved!

First, take your sweet corn, in the husk and put it in a sink or bowl of cold water for ten minutes.  The idea is to soak the husk so that the extra moisture will help steam the corn and keep the husks from igniting on the grill.


Once saturated, peel back the husk and remove all the silk.  Add butter, if desired.


Close the husks back up, making sure that they fully cover the corn cob.  Take a strip of an outside husk and tie the husk shut.


Place corn, on the hot grill over medium low heat/coals for about 20 minutes, turning half way through.

Remove from grill, pull back the husk and serve as is, or remove husks to serve.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Chicken Pot Pie

As promised yesterday, here's the recipe for my Chicken Pot Pie.    In the area of the country where we live now, I think it may be better known as Chicken & Biscuits, but I’m really not sure.  Look it over and let me know what those around your dinner table would dub this pot of supper goodness!  The combination of the  smokin’ deal on chicken this week, the fresh carrots and the cooler mornings, I decided to make what I knew growing up as Chicken Pot Pie.

A note on the biscuits:  there is no wrong way.  I’ve included the biscuit batter recipe I use, and it’s very easy and hard to mess up.  But, if you prefer a boxed biscuit mix, that will work, so will the pre-made biscuits from the refrigerator section of the grocery store if you prefer those. Take your pick, throw the biscuits on top and bake it up.  Enjoy!

timesaver The Chicken Pot Pie recipe below is for one casserole dish.  When I made it this week, rather than cooking it in the cpp4oven as the directions call for, I made a triple batch of the filling in my Crock-Pot.  Once the filling was done, I transferred one batch to the casserole dish and two batches to freezer containers.  Later this fall, I can thaw, add biscuits and bake the Pot-Pie and have dinner ready in a fraction of the cooking time.

Thriving Mama’s Chicken Pot Pie

1 pound Chicken meat chopped or shredded (I prefer boneless/skinless chicken breast, but any will work)

1 cup Chicken Broth

2 cups chopped Carrots

1 cup frozen Corn

2 cups diced Potatoes

2/3 cup chopped Onion

1-10.5 oz can of Cream of Chicken Soup

½ teaspoon Black pepper

1 teaspoon Thyme

Biscuit Topping:

2 cups Flour

1 Tablespoon Baking Powder

2 teaspoons Sugar

½ teaspoon Cream of Tartar

½ cup melted Butter

1 cup Milk

Oven Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients (excluding Biscuit Topping) and place in a two-quart oven dish.

  2. Cover and allow to cook 45-60 minutes at 375, or until vegetables become tender and chicken is cooked through.

  3. Combine biscuit topping ingredients, mixing the dry ingredients first then adding the butter and milk.

  4. Remove filling from the oven and drop spoonfuls of biscuit batter on top of the filling.

  5. cpp5

  6. Return to the oven and cook 25-30 minutes or until the biscuits are golden brown.  Allow to stand 5 minutes and serve.cpp6

Crock-Pot Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients (excluding Biscuit Topping) and place in a slow cooker.      cpp1

  2. Cover and allow to cook on high until mixture is bubbly (2-3 hours) then reduce to low until vegetables become tender and chicken is cooked through (additional 3-4 hours).  If you over cook it, the condensed soup will separate and you will lose the “creaminess” of the filling.  If you will not be around to tend to the crock-pot, cook on low.      cpp3

  3. Combine biscuit topping ingredients, mixing the dry ingredients first then adding the butter and milk.

  4. If you have a removable crock in your crock-pot, carefully drop spoonfuls of biscuit batter on top of the filling.  Otherwise, transfer the filling to oven-safe bakeware and add biscuits.  Place in oven cook 25-30 minutes or until the biscuits are golden brown.  Allow to stand 5 minutes and serve.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

10/28/2010 Update: This is an easy recipe to take to a friend, cook one for you and one for them-all in one pot so it's easy clean up too!  This Chicken Pot pie is great comfort food with all the food groups involved!  (Linked up at The Ultimate Recipe Swap)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fresh From the Garden Carrots!

carrotLast week I decided it was time to pull up my carrots.  I had planted the Danvers Half Longs back in April.  Ok, "planted" may be too technical of a term - I dumped a packet of carrot seeds over a four by four foot area and swished the dirt around and watered.  These are a shorter carrot variety that do very well in raised bed gardens.  This year they did great, even though they were crowded and overrun by weeds due to gardener neglect.  I gathered up a large bowl of carrots that have some very special destinations.  GBaby gets some as baby food and cooked up as finger food and a bunch ended up in Chicken Pot Pie (I'll post that recipe tomorrow :-))

Monday, September 7, 2009

Easy Cookie Bars!

cookiebars2Returning from a trip is always so much more work than leaving for the trip.  Last week was filled with a task list a mile long and lots to do for everyone else.  By Thursday afternoon, I decided it was time to do something for me.  I am a huge fan of coconut, chocolate and pecans and easy cookie bar recipes are my best friend!  I had used a spoon of sweetened condensed milk in my much needed coffee on Tuesday before I got to the grocery store so I needed to use the rest of the can (see, I HAD to make these).  This recipe is in the tradition of the Magic/7 Layer Cookie Bars, with the ingredients slightly tweaked.  Prep time is 10 minutes- tops.  Bake it for 25 and then let the cookie bars set- that’s the truly hardest part- and enjoy! (Click here for a printable version of the Macaroon Cookie Bar recipe)

Macaroon Cookie Bars

1 ½ cups crushed Graham Crackers (usually 1 package, crushed)

½ cup Margarine, melted

1 cup chopped Pecans

1 ½ cups Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, divided

2 cups Unsweetened Coconut, divided

1-14.5 oz can Sweetened Condensed Milk

  1. Combine graham cracker crumbs and melted margarine and press into the bottom of a 9x13” pan.
  2. Sprinkle 1 ½ cups of Coconut, 1 cup of Chocolate Chips and chopped pecans on top of graham cracker crust, in that order.
  3. Drizzle Sweetened Condensed Milk over the top – covering thoroughly.
  4. Sprinkle remaining coconut and chocolate chips on top and bake for 20-30 minutes at 350° or until coconut on the top begins to look a little toasted.  Allow to cool completely before cutting.

When I made the Macaroon Cookie Bars last Thursday, I thought there would be enough for me to take some to a party on Saturday.  Um, yeah, well, there wasn’t. So I made Magic Cookie Bars to take to that shindig.  Equally easy and pretty darn yummy.

Magic Cookie Bars

1 ½ cups crushed Graham Crackers

½ cup Margarine, melted

1 cup chopped Pecans

1 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

1 cup Butterscotch Chips

1 1/2 cup Unsweetened Coconut

1-14.5 oz can Sweetened Condensed Milk

1.   Combine graham cracker crumbs and melted margarine and press into the bottom of a 9x13” pan.

2.  Sprinkle Coconut, Chocolate Chips, Butterscotch Chips, and chopped Pecans on top of graham cracker crust.  Drizzle Sweetened Condensed Milk evenly over the top.

3.  Bake for 20-30 minutes at 350° or until it begins to show signs of browning or bubbling around the edges.  Allow to cool completely before cutting.

Click Here for a  printable version of this recipe.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sunday Sunshine: Sunny Days & Learning New Things

sundaysunshinesmPracticing contentment by remembering the graces of the week.

This week has been beautiful!  Hazy, foggy mornings giving way to beautiful blue skies and sunshine.  It's been the perfect combination for morning rest and bright energy for the rest of the day.  GBaby is learning new things by the day (signing, almost crawling and how to balance large objects so they don't fall on her head) and I'm learning right along beside her.  I'm rewarded often with bright smiles and happy squeels.  I've continued to gather garden produce for the freezer and was able to spend some good time cooking and baking this week.

What added bright spots to your week?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Travelling Reviews: Thrifty Car Rental (LAX)

thriftyIn the seven years that HandyMan and I have been married, we have travelled extensively.  On occasion we come across service providers that are excellent.  In other cases we come across those who we can’t recommend as wholeheartedly and some with whom we just have weird experiences.  Thrifty Rental Car at LAX was one of these providers. Because Thrifty rental locations are locally operated, this review references the LAX facility only.

After eight hours of travelling we arrived at LAX bright and early at 10am.  I consulted our rental car reservation which said to call the office upon arrival then meet the shuttle at the designated curb.  Easy enough – we’ve received and followed such instructions on many occasions.  What the reservation didn’t tell us is that when you call the number, or use the convenience phones to contact the LAX Thrifty office your really get the phone bank automated maze that can tell you nothing about the local rental car site.  (Thrifty, if you’re reading this – it’s time for you to revise the directions that come with reservation e-mails).

Once in baggage claim we discovered that our luggage had taken an alternate route and had not yet arrived in LA and the convenience phones were not so convenient, we gave up and went to the curb, where we waited.  Other, less thrifty, rental car companies had shuttles pulling to the curb about every 2 to 3 minutes.  Our Thrifty bus pulled up after about ten minutes.

By the time we arrived at the rental car terminal, GBaby was hungry go HandyMan went to get the paperwork done while I fed her.  Long line and lots of paperwork later, G’s fed and we’re instructed to go pick a car from Section 6.  Ok.  We go out into the blazing southern California sun and see three vehicles parked in section 6: a minivan, a 4-door-hatchback and a midsized car.  We had reserved a compact.  So we loaded up the minivan, before someone realized they were giving away free upgrades, and got ready too take off.  I picked up the contract and almost choked on my trail mix.  The total was more than double what our reservation was.  We stopped and looked it over and through some misunderstanding we had been given their full, top of the line insurance coverage, even though HandyMan had declined it.  HandyMan headed back inside to get this fixed before we left.  I sat in the van and watched two equally confused customers come out with their contracts in hand and try to figure out what car they were supposed to leave with, while three other multi-sized vehicles – fresh with water droplets from the car wash, were added to the selection at Section 6.

Ten minutes later, with the paperwork corrected we took off to face the highways of Los Angeles.  One week later when it was time to return the car, I planned extra time, just knowing there would be a delay of some sort when returning the rental car.  We had prepaid the gas tank so we didn’t have to fill it up (and for those who know our history, we were in no danger of running out of gas).  Arriving at the rental car return, we unload all our stuff, the customer service rep looks over the car and hands us a receipt.  I look at it and it’s about $40 more than our contract.  I politely ask if she can explain why it’s more than the contract.  She says, we didn’t fill up the gas tank.  Ugh.  I point out on the contract that we had pre-paid for the gas, she sends us inside to get it corrected.  While another agent is fixing our charges, we watch our shuttle bus leave.  We catch the next one, with corrected receipt in hand.

So, this experience is what it is: our encounters with disorganization for the good and the inconvenient at Thrifty Car Rental at LAX.  What’s your latest travel adventure?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Freezer Friday: Chicken, Zucchini & Carrots

freezerfridaysmThis has been a very busy week in my kitchen!  Chicken, carrots and zucchini from the garden were the central ingredients of my freezer stashing this week.

Ten pound bags of boneless skinless chicken breast were on sale for $1.29/lb.  I couldn't pass that up!  So shredded chicken, broth, and Chicken & Biscuits filling made it to the freezer.  The I'll post the Chicken & Biscuits batch recipe next week.

Surprise, surprise, after being away from my garden for a week, there were zucchini's waiting for me.  And this is after I gave a whole shopping bag of zucchini to a friend!  I froze about 15 cups of grated zucchini  (Click here for the "how to") and made a double batch of the A to Z Zucchini Sweet Bread with pecans, orange and cranberries - very yummy!  Three loaves of the bread made it to the freezer.

When I made it out to the garden on Tuesday, I couldn't find the carrots for the weeds so I just started pulling.  Much to my surprise, there were quite a few carrots there.  So, some of those made it into the Chicken & Biscuits and the rest are baby food and finger foods for GBaby.  I also made a batch of pear baby food.

Phew.  All in three days!  Now for a couple days out of the kitchen...

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Corn Thief!

corn thiefUpon arriving home from a week away I took a quick stroll of the garden to assess the chaos.  The blight had taken over all of our tomato plants :(.  I have carrots that are waiting for me to free them from the weeds.  Piles of beautiful broccoli florets ready to be picked, and a few green peppers sizing up nicely.   There was also handful of green beans that grew on the three green bean vines that survived the Vine Chomper.  When we left last weekend, there were about a half-dozen nice ears of corn that looked like they were going to be beautifully ready when we got home.  I guess they were ready early and a little Corn Thief decided to help us out.  These cobs were peeled and eaten, down to the last kernel!  Next year's gardening plan is going to involve battle strategies against our local wildlife!