Hold On To Your Hats!

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Update your bookmarks and your RSS feeds and hold on to your hats... Dine and Dish is on the move!!

 

Hello friends! Dine and Dish is moving to a new home at www.dineanddish.net, and boy are our new digs gorgeous, or what!? I am so excited to be making a change. My home here on squarespace was lovely, but I feel like Jules over at the fabulous Everyday Design captured my personality perfectly with the new design... and she was done in like a day! Quick, affordable, amazing, talented....the list could go on. Jules, thank you again for your wonderful contribution!

The move has been absolutley effortless on my part. With a recommendation from Jules at Everyday Design, I hired Lauren from WebEx Hosting to do the transfer and I feel so blessed to have met her. She is such a great person with a fantastic sense of humor and personality...an instant friend! Please make sure to check Lauren out at BloggedIn News & Networking. We are partering together to do a fun menu segment at BloggedIn, so stay tuned!

If you like what you've seen here at my Squarespace blog, I hope you will consider joining me over at my new home! I've loved having you on this journey and look forward to our continued relationships.

 

Posted on Thursday, April 10, 2008 at 11:01PM by Registered CommenterKristen | Comments26 Comments | References3 References

Achieving Balance

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Everywhere I go these days, it seems like I run into people who are trying to find balance in their lives. I am among those searching for the perfect balance between home/work/family/fun. I have to say, I'm not doing such a great job of it lately. Work seems to be taking on a life of its own, and balancing that with the family and fun stuff is taking a lot more skill on my part.

I have often wondered what the secret is to life balance. How do those of you who are really good at balancing do it? I have a feeling that part of it is being willing to say no to things, and I know that is something I struggle with.  I recognize that achieving it all is not possible, but figuring out what exactly I am willing to let go of is difficult.

There are certain parts of my life where balance comes easy and usually that has to do with cooking. When I am in my kitchen cooking, I feel balanced. I feel like I really have my stuff together when I make a meal. Because, let's face it... knowing what's for dinner and actually getting it on the table can be one of the first areas to go out the window when your life is out of whack. If I want to feel even just a tad bit accomplished, I cook.

My friend Candace called one time and asked, "What exactly is a clove of garlic?" As I was explaining to her that garlic comes in bulbs, and a clove is a piece of that bulb, she started laughing. "No wonder my salsa tasted horrible. The recipe called for 3 cloves of garlic and I thought a clove was the whole bulb, so my salsa had 3 bulbs of garlic instead of 3 cloves!!"  Ohhhh... talk about out of balance flavor! I love garlic and all, but I am not sure that I could even down something with three bulbs of garlic in it!

Balance is a tricky thing, even in cooking. Too much of one thing, no matter how tasty, and it can throw everything else out of balance. Just like life, with cooking, balance is important.

One of my favorite salmon recipes, Garlic Lovin' Salmon, takes the flavor balance just to the brink of over the top. This simple and delicious recipe takes on the power of garlic and combines it with lemon and pepper to achieve the perfect combination of flavors. If I could achieve perfect balance like this recipe, life would be good!

Garlic Lovin' Salmon

30 min | 15 min prep | SERVES 4

2 tablespoons butter
3-4 garlic cloves, pressed
2 teaspoons lemon pepper seasoning
4 (4 ounce) salmon fillets

lemon wedges
  1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt butter.
  2. Stir in garlic.
  3. Sprinkle salmon fillets on both sides with lemon pepper seasoning.
  4. Place fish in the pan and cook on both sides for approx 3-5 minutes per side, until fish flakes when tested with a fork.
  5. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve.

 

Posted on Sunday, April 6, 2008 at 02:22PM by Registered CommenterKristen | Comments34 Comments | References1 Reference

I Swear

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Pie Crusts... some cooks swear that lard is the secret key ingredient. Others swear that the secret ingredient that makes their pie crust outstanding is Vodka. Me? I just swear...  not just a little swearing. A big bunch of drunken sailor swear words come out of my mouth each and every time I make pie crust. I have yet to make a pie crust without having some sort of random issue. The crust sticks to the board, I roll it too thin. I roll it not thin enough. It burns. It shrinks. I've been tempted to try the much acclaimed Vodka pie crust recipes, but I am afraid that with how frustrated I get when I make pie crusts, I would use the few tablespoons needed for the crust and by the end of the night the bottle will be gone because I will have drowned my pie crust frustrations in vodka. Remember the pie crust bag? Well, that worked dandy for awhile, and then it stopped... it stopped being my favorite pie crust tool. Oh - and forget trying to make them pretty. How the heck do y'all do that? My mom has patiently worked with me demonstrating how to properly crimp and let me tell ya'... I must have missed the crimping gene because my pie crusts are never, ever even close to pretty.

So, what's a girl to do when in her desperate need to get her computer fixed, she calls her uber technical neighbor (never mind that my husband is a computer guy... his computer skills are soooo not useful unless I wanted to put a giant mainframe in my house) and in order to convince him to come fix the computer she exclaims... "If you do it, I'll bake you something... anything!" Feeling pretty confident in my baking abilities, I knew it was a payment that would be simple to make. That was until he says... "I love blueberry pie. I'd love for you to make me a blueberry pie." Seriously? I can bake! I can bake breads, cakes, cookies... just about anything, and what does he choose? A flippin' pie. My nemesis in the kitchen and the one thing that causes curse words to come flying out of my normally somewhat clean mouth at a fervent pace.  But, I made a foolish promise and that promise was one I had to keep.

I found a pie crust recipe that I had not tried before. The pie crust tasted great... rolled out pretty smooth and only caused a few curse words to escape my lips.  The pie, however not pretty, was amazing. Blueberry pie... I've never made it, never tasted one and now I think I have a favorite fruit pie! One of these days, I'm going to make a pie crust and it will not make me cuss. It is my goal this year to be a successful pie crust maker. Now, I have an excuse to practice. Blueberry pie... well worth the pie crust frustration and a good reason to continue to practice.

Bakers Secret Pie Crust Recipe (from Allrecipes.com)

  • 3/4 cup cake flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 tablespoons shortening
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
  • 3 cubes ice
  • 1/2 cup cold water

Measure butter & shortening onto a plate, put into freezer for about 20 minutes.

Measure cake flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, salt and baking powder into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse for a few seconds to mix.

Take 1/2 of the cold butter and 1/2 of the cold shortening, put into processor with dry ingredients and pulse off and on for about 1 minute. Scrape down twice while doing this.

Take remainder of the cold butter & cold shortening and cut in very briefly with the processor, leaving visible pea-sized chunks. Do not over process at this stage!
In a measuring cup, mix egg yolk and vinegar together, add ice cubes and water. Let this get chilled, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Remove mixed flours and shortening from processor, put into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle approximately 4 to 5 tablespoons of this egg, water, vinegar mixture, a little at a time, mixing gently with a fork. The key to this is, you do not want a wet dough, and you do not want to overmix.
Place this dough into plastic wrap or plastic bag, chill in refrigerator for a few minutes. (May also be frozen for a few weeks at this stage for future use).
Remove from refrigerator and roll out. This makes absolutely the BEST pie crusts. I have won County Fair competitions with this pie crust. Double for making a 2-crust pie.

Blueberry Pie (from Recipezaar.com)

  • 5 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1(15ounce)package refrigerated pie crusts
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
    1. SPRINKLE berries with lemon juice; set aside.
    2. FIT half of pastry in a 9-inch pieplate according to package directions.
    3. COMBINE 1 cup sugar and next 3 ingredients; add to berries, stirring well.
    4. Pour into pastry shell, and dot with butter.
    5. UNFOLD remaining pastry on a lightly floured surface; roll gently with rolling pin to remove creases in pastry.
    6. Place pastry over filling; seal and crimp edges.
    7. Cut slits in top of crust to allow steam to escape.
    8. Brush top of pastry with beaten egg, and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sugar BAKE at 400° for 35 minutes or until golden.

     

     

     

    Posted on Friday, March 28, 2008 at 09:47PM by Registered CommenterKristen | Comments33 Comments

    Spring Teaser

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    One of the most annoying/challenging/predictable parts of living in the state of Kansas is the weather. People always say "If you don't like the weather in Kansas... just wait!" It is so predictably unpredictable. One day this week we had temperatures in the 70's. It was so lovely. Our entire neighborhood was out playing, chatting, firing up their grills and enjoying the warm sunshine beating down. By this weekend, we are supposed to have snow falling from the sky again. Yep - if you don't like the weather in Kansas, just wait because something new will be coming along the next day.

    Throughout the month of March, Spring teases us with these little glimpses of what we have in store... the mild and lovely days where capris and sandals are the norm. People begin to emerge from their homes after the long winter hibernation, and the driveway happy hours are happening on every block. Giggles are heard from the children who have stored up their energy and driven their moms crazy all winter long. The ice cream truck travels through the neighborhoods ringing its familar bell, and baths are a requirement every night because of all of the outside messy adventures the kids get themselves into. Bedtime is later because you don't want to miss a minute of what is going on outside, the outdoor grill and patio set finally get to be used again and life just seems more carefree!

    Yes... I know Spring is coming and I absolutley cannot wait. Oh wait... oh no... Warmer weather means skimpier clothes. I am not going to be able to hide under my jeans and big bulky sweaters anymore. Swimsuit season?? Eeeeeeeeks!!

    Well... as I do every winter, my winter hibernation has not helped me in the weight loss department at all. I didn't gain anything over the long winter, but I certainly didn't lose any weight either. It is time to start thinking light... to start thinking about healthier options and fresh veggies.

    One really fun way to present your salad veggies is in a parmesan cheese bowl. An edible bowl to go along with your salad is perfect for spring... you won't have a dish to do and it saves more time for playing outside!

    Speaking of playing... we are heading out of Kansas to find the sunshine for a week. We are going to Florida to visit my best friend and her wonderful family. We are going to hit the beach for a few days and do a couple days of Disney. We are so looking forward to being refreshed! When I return, some big things will be going on at Dine and Dish... stay tuned!

    Parmesan Cheese Bowls

    1 1/3 cups parmesan cheese, coarsely grated
    1 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated
    1. Spray an 8-inch non-stick saute pan with vegetable oil spray.
    2. Heat the pan over medium heat.
    3. For each Parmesan bowl, sprinkle 1/3 coarsely grated Parmesan to the bottom of the saute pan, distributing the cheese evenly across the pan.
    4. Allow the cheese to bubble for about 30 seconds before adding an additional 1/4 cup of finely grated Parmesan.
    5. When the cheese starts to turn golden brown, remove from the pan and place over any (flipped upside down) bowl you would normally use.
    6. Now, I like to place a paper towel (or two) over the grated Parmesan to soak up any oil, while I gently press/mold the grated cheese to the bowl.
    7. Allow a few moments for your Parmesan bowls to cool before removing.

     

    Posted on Friday, March 14, 2008 at 07:15AM by Registered CommenterKristen | Comments24 Comments

    Switch it Up

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    When I was younger I used to always have the radio on. When I would wake up in the morning, I would listen to music when I was getting ready for school and work. I remember bopping around the house/apartment/room to the music. I would also always fall asleep with music on softly in the background. Even after I was married, my husband and I would listen to Sting, Jim Brickman or Enya as we fell asleep at night.

    I am not sure when all of that music listening stopped. I imagine that it happened after my kids were born and my house contained enough noise to drown out any music I was listening to. Either that or I didn't turn the music on because I did not want to wake the baby. It also could have been when I would get out voted by all the little people in my house and the Top 40 hits got replaced by The Wiggles soundtrack and Raffi. Day after day of that is enough to make any mom throw out all of the radios in the house!

    I did not realize, until this morning, how much listening to music in the morning can change your mood as you are getting ready. The baby was messing with the alarm clock and somehow got the radio turned on. As I was drying off from my shower, the sound of music filled the room and I was suddenly uplifted. Getting ready this morning was a completely different experience as the kids and I bee-bopped around the house turning the routine into fun.

    It is interesting to me the different ruts we get in and how getting out of those ruts can be something as simple as turning the music on!

    The recipe I am about to share comes from the March/April 2008 issue of Simple and Delicious Magazine and yes... it does have somewhat of a tie in to my rambling above. If you live in any community where you are invited to events where you are asked to bring an appetizer, you can almost bet that at least one person will bring some form of Spinach Artichoke Dip. What they choose to accompany it may vary... crackers, pita bread, veggies, etc. Another popular appetizer is stuffed mushrooms. I'm always bringing stuffed mushrooms to things. Well, the folks at Simple and Delicious Magazine gave us all who are stuck in the "same old same old" appetizer rut, a cure! Spinach Artichoke-Stuffed Mushrooms! Yep... how brilliant is that? They combined two very popular and simple appetizers into one tasty treat. Incredibly easy to put together, impressively delicious and a perfect way to switch things up just a enough to keep people on their toes.

    Spinach Artichoke-Stuffed Mushrooms

    • 1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, softened
    • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
    • 1/2 cup sour cream
    • 1 can (14 ounces) water-packed artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained and chopped
    • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
    • 1/3 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
    • 4 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
    • 3/4 teaspoon garlic salt
    • 30 to 35 large fresh mushrooms

    Directions:

    In a small mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, mayonnaise and sour cream. Stir in the artichokes, spinach, mozzarella cheese, 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese and garlic salt.
    Remove stems from mushrooms (discard stems or save for another use). Fill each mushroom cap with about 1 tablespoon of filling. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.
    Place on foil-lined baking sheets. Bake at 400° for 16-20 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Yield: 30-35 appetizers.

    Posted on Friday, March 7, 2008 at 07:07PM by Registered CommenterKristen | Comments24 Comments

    Look Mom, No Hands!

    As a follow up to my "Life is Short... Have Fun" post, I had to post pictures of us having fun! This is Kelly, thouroughly enjoying eating her cake with no hands. I hope everyone is remembering to have fun!

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    Posted on Wednesday, March 5, 2008 at 03:43PM by Registered CommenterKristen | Comments17 Comments | References10 References

    Life is Short - Have Fun!

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    One of the most popular recipes on my site is a recipe I posted "way back when". Back when I was a newbie blogger, I posted a recipe for Oooey Gooey Monkey Bread. In that post, I encouraged people to get messy with their kids. Allow them to use their hands to eat and let all of their inhibitions go out the window.

    I know that people are going to that particular post for the recipe, as I get a ton of hits on that post each day. I hope what folks are taking away from it, besides a really yummy recipe, is the thought to let loose some, HAVE FUN (if you haven't seen this video, you MUST!), and that living life without pristine cleanliness is often times a great way to live!

    What are you doing to let loose a little? My mom called me the other day and shared something she read on the wall of her doctors office. It was something about raising happy children, and one of the suggestions was to make a cake and let your kids eat it without using their hands! Can you imagine the memory that would make in their minds? Well, we are doing it this weekend and I'll let you know how it goes!

    If you are stuck in a "can't quite get the whole let loose thing" rut, I am posting a different recipe for a pull apart bread that can be a babystep for you getting started.  I hope that you are enjoying your life because it can be very short... you might as well make the most of it and have fun!

    Pull-Apart Caramel Coffee Cake from the March/April issue of Simple and Delicious Magazine

    • 2 tubes (12 ounces each) refrigerated flaky buttermilk biscuits
    • 1 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    Cut each biscuit into four pieces; arrange evenly in a 10-in. fluted tube pan coated with cooking spray. Combine the brown sugar, cream and cinnamon; pour over biscuits. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes before inverting onto a serving platter. Yield: 12 servings.

     

    Posted on Saturday, March 1, 2008 at 09:00AM by Registered CommenterKristen | Comments45 Comments | References17 References

    The Art of Procrastination

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    I am not a procrastinator on all things, but there are some things that I procrastinate with until the last minute. Writing my freelance articles is one. It seems like my best written articles come to me when I have waited until the very last minute to write them. I do my best work with a tight deadline. Unloading the dishwasher is something else I am great at procrastinating on. It isn't like unloading the dishwasher is a hard task and it only takes a few minutes to complete, but I always procrastinate to the very last minute on that chore!

    When I was growing up my mom would leave my older sister and I at home during the days of summer. She was getting her Masters degree and took classes during the day. Each day, she would leave us a list of chores we would have to get done while she was gone. It never failed that I would start my chores at 4pm and she was expected home at 4:30. I mastered the art of procrastination at a young age, and that art still sticks with me today!

    This recipe I am about to share with you... I made in December, right around the holidays. I have been meaning to share it with you for some time because it is sinfully good, but kept procrastinating about it. Something else comes up to write about, or I would push it aside meaning to do it later and then forget. Now, it is the end of February, and the magazine I got this from is no longer in print. It was a Better Homes and Gardens special interest publication called Christmas Baking. It is a magazine stuffed full of wonderful dessert recipes for the holidays or any time of the year. Twenty-five amazing cakes, pages and pages of chocolate desserts, wonderful pie recipes... this cooking magazine is a keeper that I know I will turn to again and again.

    If you stumble across this magazine or the magazine it was previously published as (Simply Perfect Holiday Baking 2005) I highly recommend it! You'll open it up and won't procrastinate at all on finding favorites that you want to make. Now, writing about them may be a totally different story!

    Colorado Chocolate Pieces

    Cupcakes:

    1 1/3 cups hot water

    2 tablespoons instant coffee crystals

    1 box (18.3 ounce) chocolate fudge cake mix

    1/3 cup vegetable oil

    3 eggs

    20 soft caramel candies, unwrapped

    Filling and Topping

    1 container (16 ounce) chocolate frosting

    1 jar (7 ounce) marshmallow crème, chilled

    ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

    ¼ cup sweetened flaked coconut, toasted

    1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour 20 cups in two 12 cup muffins pans. For the cupcakes stir the 1 1/3 cups hot water and coffee crystals in large bowl until crystals dissolve. Let cool. Add cake mix, oil, and eggs to coffee in a large bowl. Beat 2 minutes or until well blended.

    2. Fill each muffin cup halfway with better. Place one caramel in center of each. Pour remaining batter over caramels. Bake for 12 minutes or until cakes puff. Cool cupcakes in pans on racks for 15 minutes. Carefully remove cupcakes from pans.

    3. To assemble, cut off tops of cupcakes; reserve tops. Frost cupcake bottoms with chocolate frosting. Spoon 1 tablespoon of chilled marshmallow crème on each frosted bottom. Replace cake tops. Dust with cocoa powder, sprinkle with coconut, and serve. Makes 20 cupcakes.

    Posted on Sunday, February 24, 2008 at 01:05PM by Registered CommenterKristen | Comments19 Comments

    Dine and Whine

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    You all are probably starting to think that I should change my blog name to Dine and Whine instead of Dine and Dish, aren't you? Have I been crabby the past couple of posts or what? Sorry to bring you all down, but thank you for pulling me back up. The comments on my last post about the restlessness I am feeling really put things into perspective for me. The post struck a chord with many of you and your personal accounts and advice are so appreciated.

    I do not have a lot to say today (first time for everything, isn't there?) but I have been holding on to this recipe for so long and keep forgetting to post it. This is a Recipezaar recipe... and was a spur of the moment try for me. We always have a lot of minute steak in our house and finding creative things to do with that type of steak can be difficult. This recipe for The Ultimate Steak Sandwich has to be the best use of minute steak that I have found. If you try it, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

    Oh - and PS... Adopt a Blogger 2 bloggers... I haven't forgotten about you!  I promise we'll get the second batch up and running in March. Please encourage the veteran blogs that you visit to participate because right now we are at about an 80 to 20% ratio, with new bloggers being on the heavy side. Can't wait to get started with you! Adopt a Blogger 1 bloggers, I'd love to hear how things are going with your match-ups. If for some reason you haven't heard from your match or things aren't going as you had hoped, please send me an email. Give me a few days as I work from home and my inbox is always flooded...but I will reply!

    The Ultimate Steak Sandwich

    2 minute steaks or cube steaks

    McCormick's Montreal Brand steak seasoning
    1/2 green pepper, sliced
    8 button mushrooms, sliced
    1 small onion, sliced

    butter or margarine

    salt and pepper
    3 garlic cloves

    parsley
    2 kaiser rolls (or any hardy roll, sometimes french bread does the trick)
    2 slices mozzarella cheese or swiss cheese
    1. Season steak with spice and set aside.
    2. Chop garlic and add 1/4 cup of butter and chopped parsley.Microwave for 1 minute and let rest.
    3. Add green pepper, onion and mushrooms to frying pan - dot with butter and add some salt and pepper. Cook over med/low heat until soft.
    4. Halve the kaiser rolls and butter with the garlic mixture on both sides. Add slice of mozzarella/swiss (sometimes I combine) to bottom half of rolls.
    5. Sprinkle a second frying pan (or grill) with olive oil and when ready, sear the seasoned steaks on both sides. Turn off heat and cover with tin foil tent for at least 5 minutes.
    6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    7. Assemble sandwiches by adding steak on top of cheese, add mushroom/green pepper/onion mixture and close sandwich with top of roll.
    8. Wrap in tin foil and heat in oven for 10 minutes.
    9. Remove and let then cool a bit -- then enjoy!
    Posted on Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 11:47PM by Registered CommenterKristen | Comments16 Comments | References1 Reference

    Circumstances

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    I am a person bounded to my life by circumstances. I was born and raised in a small Kansas town. Altamont, KS was a town of 1,000 people and it really was a great place to grow up. It is the kind of place where, as a kid, we could walk the streets past dark, ride our bikes out of the view of our parents eyesight and they would not worry, sit outside the post office and chat with the strangers who walked by, and more. I did not appreciate it growing up nearly as much as I do now.

    Now, I am married to a wonderful man whom I met in Kansas City, have a great family, and live in... Kansas... still. I have moved from the small town to the big city (Kansas City) but I am still in Kansas. I really do have a great life... we live in a neighborhood surrounded by some of the best neighbors you can find. I have some great friends. Our school district is one of the best in the state. The crime rate here is very, very low. My husband has a very good and stable job, that he just happens to come home griping about every single day, but all in all he is committed and is treated well.

    So, why is it that I am feeling so restless? Why do I want to leave Kansas so bad? I have always longed to live in the south. Charlotte, North Carolina to be exact. I long for the adventure of picking up everything and starting new...an adventure with my family that we can do together and grow from.

    I look at the weather reports for my favorite locations every single day. I read the newspapers from my favorite locations every single day. I go to www.findyourspot.com and dream of moving to the places that it recommends. Interestingly enough, the town that I live in now shows up as an option each and every time.

    I have friends picking up and moving... not looking forward to it and I long to trade places with them. To carry on on the journey they are about to embark on.  I often wonder if once I got there, if it would be all that I dreamed of, or if I would finally realize that Kansas is not the wrong place for me after all. I think it is a situation where you don't know what you have until it is gone, but I have a feeling I won't realize that until I can experience it for myself. Someday.... someday.

    In the meantime, I fill my time making those recipes that I consider to be truly Southern. Southern Buttermilk Biscuits is one of those recipes that, when it is snowing outside and the sky is gray, takes me to a place down south where the weather is more mild and the beach is near.  Where sitting out on the screened in porch and drinking sweet tea is a normal, every afternoon occurrence.... and Sunday's after church, Grandmother's everywhere are baking up a batch of buttermilk biscuits to feed to their family for brunch.

    I am a person bounded to my life by circumstances... and when I really sit down and think about it, those circumstances aren't so bad. Nothing like a delicious breakfast, in a warm home, surrounded by your own family, to change your perspective some. 

    Southern Buttermilk Biscuits (from Recipezaar.com)

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour , plus more for dusting the board (if you can get White Lily flour, your biscuits will be even better)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder (use one without aluminum)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt or salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter , very cold
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (I always use my buttermilk substitute... one Tbs lemon in one cup of milk... let sit for 10 minutes then stir together)

    1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.
    2. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, or in the bowl of a food processor.
    3. Cut the butter into chunks and cut into the flour until it resembles course meal.
    4. If using a food processor, just pulse a few times until this consistency is achieved.
    5. Add the buttermilk and mix JUST until combined.
    6. If it appears on the dry side, add a bit more buttermilk.
    7. Turn the dough out onto a floured board.
    8. Gently, gently PAT (do NOT roll with a rolling pin) the dough out until it's about 1/2" thick.
    9. Use a round cutter to cut into rounds.
    10. You can gently knead the scraps together and make a few more, but they will not be anywhere near as good as the first ones.
    11. Place the biscuits on a cookie sheet- if you like soft sides, put them touching each other.
    12. If you like"crusty" sides, put them about 1 inch apart- these will not rise as high as the biscuits put close together.
    13. Bake for about 10-12 minutes- the biscuits will be a beautiful light golden brown on top and bottom.
    14. Do not overbake.
    Posted on Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 11:27AM by Registered CommenterKristen | Comments32 Comments | References3 References

    Rachael Ray 365 No Repeats

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    Have you ever purchased a cookbook that you absolutely had to have right that very minute? Nothing at all could sway you from not buying it. I do that with cooking magazines all the time, but rarely is it that a cookbook catches my attention so much that I buy it immediately without running home to read the reviews on it. The Rachael Ray 365 No Repeats cookbook was that way for me. I saw it and immediately had to have it. It is not like I am a die hard Rachael Ray fan or anything. For some reason, the thought of 365 days of recipes seemed like such a brilliant idea to me that apparently I thought I needed that cookbook....right then, right now.

    Well, I didn't deprive myself and I purchased the cookbook. That, my friends, was over a year ago and that cookbook has not been used... until now. Now, I'm making up for the fact that it has been sitting on my shelf gathering dust for the past year. In fact, I sat down to make my menu plan the other day and half a months meals were from this book.  

    I think that when I purchased that cookbook, I fantasized about all of my menu planning being forgotten. I could simply open the Rachael Ray 365 No Repeats cookbook and voila... what fell on that day was what we would have! Not so in a house full of picky little (and big) people! Either way, I did manage to do a couple of weeks of Rachael Ray and each recipe I tried got high marks from my family.  So far the "Italian Shrimp and Pasta" and the "Couple of Minute Steaks and Potato Ragu" have been high on the ratings list. There is one recipe, however, that after the first night of making it my son asked my to make it again... the very next night. That recipe was for her Chicken Tortilla Soup with Lime. What a wonderful, hearty recipe to serve this time of year! Even if you have your "go-to" Tortilla Soup recipe, you should give this one a try. It is different enough that I bet you will add it to your rotation.

    If you have had 365 No Repeats in your to try pile, make sure to move it up towards the top. There are a lot of simple and delicious recipes that are sure to surprise you!

    CHICKEN TORTILLA SOUP with LIME


    2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    1-1/2 pounds chicken tenders (not breaded)
    Salt and Fresh Ground Black Pepper
    3 Garlic Cloves, chopped
    1 Green Bell Pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
    1 large Onion, chopped
    1 Jalapeno pepper minced (don't touch your eyes after cutting pepper until you have washed your hands)
    2 celery ribs, finely chopped
    1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
    1 tablespoon ground coriander
    2 cups yellow corn tortilla chips (about 4 handfuls)
    2 teaspoons hot sauce such as Tabasco
    1 quart chicken stock or broth (store bought works fine unless you want to make it homemade)
    1/2 cup sour cream, for garnish
    Zest and juice of 2 limes combined
    1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves (chopped)
    4 scallions (green onions) thinly sliced (use both the white and green parts)

    1. Preheat a medium soup pot over medium high heat and add the olive oil ... a couple times around the inside of the pan should be fine.
    2. Chop the chicken tenders into bite size pieces.
    3. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add to the hot soup pot.
    4. Lightly brown the chicken for about 3 to 4 minutes, then add the garlic, bell peppers, onions, jalapenos, celery, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper. Continue to cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
    5. While that is cooking place the tortilla chips in a food processor and process until well ground. I f you don't have a processor place the chips in a sealable plastic storage bag and crush with a rolling pin.
    6. Add the ground tortilla chips to the soup pot and stir to combine.
    7. Add the chicken stock and bring the soup to a simmer.
    8. Simmer the soup for 15 minutes
    9. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the sour cream. Pass the lime zest, chopped cilantro, and sliced scallions for each person to add to taste.

    Makes 4 servings
    Posted on Thursday, February 14, 2008 at 11:01PM by Registered CommenterKristen | Comments14 Comments | References4 References

    I Forgot to Make the Doughnuts!

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    Dates sneak up on me these days. Is it because time is just flying by too fast or is it that I have really become that unorganized? Either way, I think I'll lean towards the first excuse. Life is zooming by at lightening speed!

    Two of my favorite food bloggers, Peabody and Tartlette are hosting a calorie inducing blogging event where they asked everyone around the food blogosphere to make doughnuts and send them the results. If the blogs I've peaked at who have turned in their submissions already are any idication, I can bet that once this roundup hits the internet, we will all gain at least five pounds by just looking at the photos!

    I have never made doughnuts. I mean... I've made those Pillsbury fried bread dough "doughnuts", but I have never made real, honest to goodness fresh doughnuts at home. My mom told me that once I did make doughnuts at home, I would know right away why people go out and buy doughnuts!

    DSC_0038-2.jpgI found a recipe on Recipezaar where you could create the dough in the bread machine, cut them out, let them rise and then fry 'em. Sounded easy enough to me, except I don't have a deep fryer. Still, assuming I could just use a deep frying pan to do the job, I set out to make the doughnuts.

    The hardest part of making these doughnuts was regulating the temperature of the oil in my frying pan. Everything else was simple... the dough was very easy to work with, the doughnuts rose beautifully and they tasted so light and airy. Delicious doughnuts right from my own kitchen!

    My son gave me two thumbs up, claiming that "Now we don't ever have to go out for doughnuts, mom! These are the best tasting doughnuts ever!" I don't know about that, but these are very tasty! It looks like a fry daddy may be needed in my near future.

    Oh - and if you are looking to gain a little weight (seriosly... who ARE you people??), make sure to check out Peabody and Tartlette's roundup on their blogs on the 15th!

    Bread Machine Doughnuts - from Recipezaar 

    1 1/4 cups milk
    1 beaten egg
    1/4 cup shortening
    1/4 cup sugar
    1 teaspoon salt
    3 1/2 cups white flour
    1 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast

    Not the one? See other Bread Machine Doughnuts Recipes

    1. Measure ingredients into your ABM baking pan.
    2. Select dough setting and start machine.
    3. Roll finished dough to 1/2 inch thick. Cut with a 2-1/2 inch donut cutter.
    4. Let rise, covered, 30 minutes or until doubled.
    5. Deep fry in fat at 375 degrees.
    6. Turn doughnuts as they rise to the surface. Fry until brown on both sides.
    7. Drain on absorbent paper towels. Either glaze or dust with powdered sugar.


    Posted on Wednesday, February 13, 2008 at 03:39PM by Registered CommenterKristen | Comments19 Comments | References33 References

    A Chocolate Dipping Adventure

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    I was contacted by Hotel Chocolat a couple of weeks ago asking if I would be interested in reviewing one of their chocolate products. (Again, new bloggers...one more reason to have a place for your readers to contact you on your blog!) You may have remembered a post last week telling you how one of my readers could win the very same thing! I hope you got your story turned in... I can't wait to see which of my readers is selected.

    The Chocolate Dipping Adventure is what showed up on my porch, and I decided to patiently wait for a couple of days to open it up. I was heading out of town to visit my sister and I knew that she deserved to indulge in a little chocolate luxury!

    At close to 10pm on Saturday night, armed with chocolate, items to dip, and wine, we decided to gather the troops and start our Chocolate Dipping Adventure. We woke up my eleven year old niece and my sister, her best friend, my aunt and uncle and I had some pure indulgence.  Hotel Chocolat's Chocolate Dipping Adventure is a perfect way to celebrate with friends or to experience a romantic evening with your Valentine. The chocolate is rich and creamy. The items to dip our unique and tasty (except for the sesame crackers... not my favorite) and the experience of experimenting with the chocolate is a lot of fun. We got creative with our items as well, adding bananas, doughnuts, graham crackers and of course... strawberries!

    If you are looking for a lovely gift for a special someone, make sure to head over to Hotel Chocolat and check out their variety of luxury chocolate gifts. Your sweetheart will not be disappointed, I guarantee it! 

    Posted on Tuesday, February 12, 2008 at 06:29PM by Registered CommenterKristen | Comments19 Comments | References9 References

    The Fertilizer of Life

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    I had the opportunity to go to a half day retreat at our church this past weekend. Sister Charlotte White was the retreat leader and the retreat was entitled "Stardust and Pig Wallows." This retreat came at such a good time for me. I was feeling slightly overwhelmed by life, gloomy because of the winter weather, and was in need of a good "pep talk".

    As the tiny little Catholic nun stood in front of us sharing her wisdom, she asked a question... "What makes plants and flowers grow?" Well, the obvious answers were thrown out there... water, sun, soil, etc. She then said "Anything else?" Everyone looked around perplexed and then someone in the front said "Fertilizer". "Exactlly!", exclaimed Sister Charlotte. "Fertilizer...which is also known as sh*t. Just like plants, it is the sh*t in our lives that make us grow." The room burst out in laughter, shocked to hear a little Catholic nun use such language, but the point hit home like nothing else. In order to grow, we have to go through the sh*t. We are challenged during those times, we are put to the test, and when we survive those struggles, we grow and become the individuals we are meant to be.

    How do we get through those times though? It is one thing to be in the thick of the sh*t, but how do we survive and come out of the sh*t feeling like a beautiful rose? One thing that I think is important to have is a good friend or confidant to talk to.  Just having someone to vent to...someone to share your struggles with can help you to get through the tough times a little easier. I am lucky to have always had that in my mom, and I can tell you that just having a sounding board really does help to make times seem a little less tough.

    The other thing that I think is important is chocolate. Seriously, have you ever gone through a rough patch in life while you were dieting? It isn't fun, is it? I think not having the chocolate makes the patch all the more bumpy. Chocolate is like good therapy... sit down and savor some the next time you are down on life and I guarantee you that for even just a minute you'll feel a bit better!

    Mark over at Culinate informed me this week that one of my readers had nominated Dine and Dish for the Death by Chocolate contest. Thank you, whomever you are! A trip to Napa Valley would cure my winter blues and what could be better than going to a Chocolate Festival? Seriously... I never knew there was such a thing! Details from Culinate: The winner among readers will be chosen at random from all entries. Readers will vote for their favorite blog posts, and the winning food blogger will be selected by a panel of judges from the top 10 reader favorites.

    So, head over to Culinate.com and enter to win a trip to Napa as well as some other great prizes! I'll be submitting my "Fertilizer of Life" post as my Death by Chocolate entry.... if you feel so inclined to vote, please do! I'm sure there will be some great chocolate therapy to choose from!

    Brownie Trifle

    1 (19 7/8 ounce) package fudge brownie mix
    1/4 cup water
    1/2 cup vegetable oil
    2 eggs
    1 tablespoon dry instant coffee (dry)
    1 package chocolate flavor instant pudding and pie filling mix
    2 cups milk
    1 (6 ounce) package English toffee bits (reserving 2 tablespoons for garnish)
    3 1/4 cups whipped cream
    1. Heat oven to 350F degrees.
    2. Prepare brownie mix as directed on package for 13 × 9-inch rectangular pan, using water, oil and eggs and stirring coffee into batter.
    3. Bake and cool as directed.
    4. Cut brownies into 1-inch squares.
    5. Place half of the brownie squares in the bottom of a 3-quart glass bowl.
    6. Prepare pudding mix as directed on package for pudding, Pour half of the pudding over brownies in bowl.
    7. Top with half each of the toffee bits and whipped cream.
    8. Repeat with remaining brownies, pudding, toffee bits and whipped cream.
    9. Sprinkle with reserved toffee bits.
    10. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.
    11. Cover and refrigerate any remaining trifle (if you have any left, doubtful).
    Posted on Saturday, February 2, 2008 at 10:59AM by Registered CommenterKristen | Comments34 Comments | References11 References

    A Cup of Comfort

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    Don't forget to head over to Hotel Chocolat to enter to win a selection of chocolate from their luxury collection. One of my readers is guaranteed to win! Enter to win by going HERE.

    The other day, I made no secret of the fact that winter depresses me. I have never understood how people in the arctic cold climates keep a smile on their face when the sky is gray and the temps are frigid. I am a person who needs warmth and sunshine. I love the sounds of the warmer months... the smells of the warmer months and the ability to just sit outside and let the suns rays absorb me.

    As much as I complain about winter, there are a few things that I like about it. I do love winter clothing...bulky sweaters that wrap you in comfort, fleece pajamas that make you long to stay in bed all day and the beauty of looking out as the first snow silently falls on the ground. I love being forced by the cold weather to stay in side and the slower pace that seems to happen during the frigid days.

    One custom that I routinely participate in during the winter months is a half hour of calm and quiet. I have never been one to practice traditional meditation, but I am one who appreciates the sound of silence and being alone with my thoughts. Part of this routine, on a daily basis, is to make myself a cup of hot tea. There is something about having a hot cup of tea (with honey in it) that forces a person to slow down. One can't guzzle tea. The only way to really appreciate a cup of hot tea is to sit down, slowly sip it and appreciate the warmth it brings to you, both inside and out.

    This photo is my entry into the CLICK event over at the Jugalbandi blog. The theme this month is Liquid Comfort.

    • Camera: Nikdon D80
    • Exposure: 1/500
    • Focal Length: 50mm
    • Aperature: f/4

     

    Posted on Saturday, January 26, 2008 at 06:04PM by Registered CommenterKristen | Comments22 Comments
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