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6.30.2013

Easy Peasy One Bowl Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

This is a sponsored post.


Between the move and this heat wave it is a wonder I have turned my oven on at all! Thank goodness for the invention of AC. Without it there would be no cookies during our hot months. Though it has been hot and muggy outside, it is also rainy. The internet and cable had yet to be hooked up, and half of the kid's toys and books were still packed away. To cure their boredom, I let the boys loose in my new, clean kitchen to make some peanut butter chocolate chunk cookies. 


Baking with my kids is probably one of my favorite parts of the week. Letting them mess up the kitchen and let their little minds and taste buds create something is so entertaining.When I was their age one of the first things I remember baking was peanut butter cookies. My mom did all the hard work and I was allowed to do the crisscross markings with the fork.


Now that it's my turn to play mom and teacher, I let the kids take over. My oldest son knows how to measure and with some simple enough directions he can even sound out the recipe so he can read/direct his younger brother. This recipes only calls for a few ingredients, and only requires one bowl. Easy enough a first grader could bake them all on his own!


6.28.2013

Roasted Tomato and Pepper Tortellini Soup with Chèvre AND.... It's Bakeaholic Mama's Birthday! Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery and Zutano Givaway!!




I am sure you are wondering why on earth I would be posting a soup recipe right after a huge heat wave. In New England we had 90 degree temps all week. However 2-3 weeks ago... it was rainy and cold for days and days. During that time my kids and I were all sick with a nasty chest cold that just would not quit. What better way to cut through a cold than a bowl of healthy, hearty soup? In the summer when we have fresh tomatoes and basil I can't think of any way I'd rather use them than in a roasted tomato soup. It is one of my favorite kid friendly comfort foods.


To make this soup, I start by roasting my tomatoes, red bell pepper, onion and garlic in a little bit of olive oil. I then puree it with some chicken stock. To make it creamy and for some added protein and calcium I added in some goat cheese. My youngest daughter loves goat cheese. I have been giving it to her since she was an infant. She spreads chevre on her crackers, or just pokes her finger in the package and eats it when I am not looking. In fact I have never met a cheese she did not like.



6.26.2013

We Found Our New Home, and Relaxation at Last

 

For a lot of years we were middle class poor. What is middle class poor you ask? Middle class poor is when you make a decent living, but not enough to makes ends meet, though too much to get any sort of federal or state assistance. This is where most Americans fall.

There was a period of time when I first started staying home with the kids where we struggled. We dug ourselves in a deep never ending hole of debt. This debt was not charged up with store credit cards and shopping sprees. We did not own flat screen TV's, fancy cars, or wore nice clothes. Our debt was created by buying food, medical expenses, gassing up the one car we owned and shared, heating our home.... you get the idea. Debt from living. Three years ago my husband got a promotion that doubled his income, we finally had the ability to buy what we needed without worry. All those sleepless nights stressing if we would have enough gas in the car to make it through the week, days of bounced checks, and creditors hounding us were over.

Though we were bringing in a comfortable income, we still had the debt from the previous years looming over our heads. It took us three years to pay it ALL off, save a nice healthy chunk of cash for a down payment as well as a comfy cushion in our savings account. We did it, and we bought our own home. Last week we signed our life away (or 30 years to be exact) and signed our first mortgage.

There are no words to describe how good it felt. We did it, on our own. No help from anyone but ourselves. My husband's long hours at work busting his buns, my long days at home tearing my hair out with the kids have payed off.

As I write this, I am sitting in our living room on our new furniture, in our new home, that is all ours, in a new town with new opportunity and a life to be made.... and I feel content and fully relaxed for the first time in years. I am so happy and so grateful. 

Here is a little look into our new home. Don't mind the mess.... there are 2 adults, 3 kids, 2 dogs and 3 cats living here after all.... And we are not done unpacking/decorating!

11 Wayside Dr, Bedford, NH 03110
Exterior photo  from Zillow.com




6.19.2013

Summer Sangria Pie


 This is a sponsored post. 

Pie crust is easy. I know too many people who say they are too scared to make it, that when they try it is either soggy, chewy, too crunchy, not flaky, or is too hard to roll out. People it's just flour, fat and liquid. I promise you if you try it again, use quality ingredients, pay attention to the dough, don't over work it,  it will be perfect.

For flour I always use King Arthur Flour, it is far superior to any flour I have ever baked with. For my liquid, I  use buttermilk. Most recipes call for water, I however am hooked on buttermilk. I was a little hesitant the first time I tried it.... but it's the best! It gives the crust flavor. I can thank  Joy the Baker for that little tip. For my butter.... I am now hopelessly hooked on Vermont Creamery's Sea Salt & Maple Butter, my good lord.This butter is so creamy, slightly sweet with a bits of sea salt. I am so head over heals in love with it. WHAT kind of weirdo am I? I could go on and on about the butter. I obviously have butter issues.

To start the dough, I always start by measuring the dry ingredients and butter according my recipe directions. I keep a little extra flour on the side for my counter, rolling pin and extra in case my dough is too moist. The temperature and humidity in your kitchen can greatly affect the outcome of your dough. I find it works best when my butter is super super cold, so I chill it in the freezer for 15 minutes before I am ready to work. I also think working on a cool surface is great. Some people use marble, I find that my counter top works the best for me.


Some people prefer to use their food processors or mixers for this next part. I however think it is too easy to overwork the dough which will result in a crunchier cookie like crust. I think with a little patience doing it by hand is THE way to do it. Plus... working butter into the dough with your finders is relaxing and fun. (again...I  have butter issues) Toss your butter in the flour, work it just enough forming small butter disks and pea sized bits. Slowly pour in your liquid while tossing the mixture. Once it is shaggy, give a couple kneads, wrap and refrigerate for an hour or more.

I make my batches in bulk, and freeze. It is so nice to have it on hand at all times. I don't just use it for desserts, it's great for savory dishes as well. Nothing compares to flaky, buttery homemade crust. It's too easy and too good to buy store bought or to use a mix. Give it a whirl!

Once you make some bad ass buttery crust, it's time for the filling. Now for me, I am all about the pastry. The filling is always second best. However, this Summer Sangria filling is amazing. It's so good I made extra filling to use as an ice cream topping.


Most fruit pies consist of raw fruit tossed in sugar and a thickening agent. You fill your crust with it uncooked. It works. It's delicious and it's simple. Sometimes however.... you want to dress it up a tad! For this particular filling, I cooked my fruit and reduced it down in white wine, brown sugar, and some of my favorite pie filling thickener, King Arthur Flour's Pie Filling Enhancer. This stuff is so good, it thickens your pies perfectly without gelling up.

With BBQ's and pot lucks coming up with the 4th of July, a good berry pie recipe is a must! Be sure to treat your family and friends to this fun twist! To top it off... instead of whipped cream try using Vermont Creamery's Madagascar Vanilla Crème Fraîche.


6.17.2013

iPad Giveaway!!!

I feel guilty that I have not been posting as regularly on my blog the past few weeks. I've dropped from 3-5 recipes per week to 1. Can we spell L.O.S.E.R.

To make it up to you all.... I teamed up with some of my favorite bloggers to give one lucky reader an iPad!

 
I think iPads are fabulous. I use mine in the kitchen on a daily bases for browsing recipes, music, reading new books, games for the kids on long car rides, movies, the list goes on.  I love my iPad so much I want you to have one as well! To enter to win follow the directions on rafflecopter widget below and be sure to leave a comment telling me how you would use an iPad if YOU won!

A huge thanks to my friends who joined in on the fun and helped put this giveaway together. Be sure to go check them all out after you enter to win!


a Rafflecopter giveaway (Disclaimer: Giveaway is open from 6/17/2013 at 6am EST until 6/23/2013 at 11:59pm EST. Open to US residents only, ages 18 or older. The winner will be announced via email with in 48 hours of the giveaway end. The winner has 48 hours to respond to the email before another winner is chosen. This giveaway is sponsored by the bloggers listed above. I was not compensated to write this post, all opinions are 100% my own.)
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6.11.2013

Kiwi and Mint Tom Collins



I'm sick... like really super duper sick since Friday. I can't  rid myself of a low grade fever and a nasty chest cold that is taking over my life. I am also packing up our life into boxes, getting ready for the new house... and dealing with a flooded basement. Things have been.... fun. I really want to blog, however looking at the computer screen for too long starts to burn my eyes and makes my brain want to pop... so this is going to be a short and sweet blog post.

In the summer there is nothing I love more than an ice cold cocktail made using gin. I'm not a big cocktail person. I typically stick to wine and hard ciders. However gin has a small piece of my heart. If you are not a gin fan (I'm questioning why we are friends) you can use vodka. You can also omit the alcohol for a refreshing kiwi mint cooler as well.


6.06.2013

Sea Salted, Maple Glazed Beet and Sweet Potato Chips


I admit it, I can be a mindless snacker. Lock up the crackers, nuts, pretzels and chips. They are not safe around me. Solution? Only keep healthy snack options on hand. I learned years ago that chips were not allowed in the house. I have an issue with them. I start with one, two, a small a handful then poof. The whole darn bag... gone.


My kids are the same way. If I allowed it they would snack on gold fish, peanut butter filled Ritz, and popcorn all day long and never eat a decent meal. I call them grazers. They never sit down for more than 3 seconds and eat a plate of food. They nibble here and nibble there. Keeping healthier unprocessed snacks around plus an abundance of fresh fruit and veggies. I can rest easy knowing they are grazing on healthy foods. 

Some of my favorite healthy chip alternatives are oven baked kale chips, apples chips, baked chick peas, and now a family favorite... sweet potato and beet chips. They are simple enough to whip up and highly addictive but pretty guiltless. Peel, slice, brush with oil and maple, salt, bake, then eat.