Win a Luxury Chocolate Gift!

Email-lovers-dark.jpgOK - if you have been thinking about blogging and have yet to do so... let me give you one good reason to start. Amazing opportunities fall into your lap if you devote yourself to your blog. Amazing opportunities? Oh surely you think I am talking about book deals, travel adventures, hob nobbing with the rich and famous? Nope... those things would be great, but how about this for greatness... the opportunity to sample wonderful products, like...let's say... CHOCOLATE! Yes, and guess what? I am teaming up with Hotel Chocolat to give one of my lucky readers the opportunity to win some chocolate of their own. One of my readers is guaranteed to win a selection of prizes from Hotel Chocolat’s Valentine’s selection (make sure to use the link below to enter...and enter by February 8th!)  If you enter, please leave a comment here to let me know. Oh - and if you win, promise you'll share :)

Here is the scoop, written by the wonderful people at Hotel Chocolat... in official PR speak:

Win a luxury chocolate gift for a loved one this Valentine’s Day!

Because we all need a little luxury once in a while, Dine and Dish has teamed up with Hotel Chocolat to offer you the chance to win a selection of decadent chocolates from Hotel Chocolat’s Valentine’s Day to the range for a loved one.

To enter, click on the link below and tell us in 200 words or less why we should surprise your loved one with this luxury gift. It’s time to tug on our heart strings and get out your violin, as the most compelling entry will win! The competition closes on 8th February 2008 and entries will appear live on the Hotel Chocolat site.

Click HERE to enter! 

Posted on Friday, January 25, 2008 at 09:31PM by Registered CommenterKristen | Comments19 Comments

Winter Funk

CitrusPoundCake012.jpgI am in a major funk. I have no idea what is wrong with me lately, but I just feel like getting back into bed each morning and pulling the covers over my head until winter passes. I'm sick of the snow. I'm sick of the frigid temperatures. I'm sick of the gray and gloomy skies. I am sick of being cooped up in the house with the kids all day because it is too cold to go outside and too much trouble to get everyone bundled up to go somewhere. My attitude stinks... I'm getting irritated about things and people that I normally wouldn't let bother me.

Typically, I am a fairly laid back person. I tend to be somewhat cheery and happy about life in general. Not lately. I am thankful for all that I have, but I am not cheery about it!

One of the things I have been trying to do to get me out of my overwhelming gloom is to open the blinds wide to let what little sunshine there is pour in,  and to bring some "summertime" in by the foods I cook. We have been having some non-seasonal dishes lately just so I can feel like maybe the warmer months are around the corner.

One of the recipes I made lately was the Citrus Pound cake from that wonderful January 2007 issue of Gourmet magazine that I keep raving about. Little bits of lemon and orange zest in a rich and buttery pound cake. The smell alone of it baking made me feel happier. Then I took a bite and the flavor... oh the flavor! It is like a springtime shower in your mouth... bursting with a full citrus flavor that will turn any funk into a "dance around your kitchen singing at the top of your lungs" kind of mood.

If you are suffering from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and need a quick lift, try this Citrus Pound Cake recipe. I'll post the recipe here... but really... you MUST pick up a copy of this issue of Gourmet if you haven't done so already!  

Happy baking!

Citrus Pound Cake

Serves8
  • Active Time:20min
  • Start to Finish:3 1/2 hr (includes cooling)
January 2008
Homemade pound cake hits all the right notes—it’s buttery, rich, and immensely satisfying. This version is classic, with hints of lemon and orange, perfect with afternoon tea.
  • 2 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature 30 minutes
  • 2 teaspoons fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Garnish:

    confectioners sugar for dusting
  • Preheat oven to 325°F with rack in middle. Butter an 8 1/2- by 4 1/2-inch loaf pan.
  • Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Mix together sugar and zests with an electric mixer at low speed until sugar is evenly colored, then add butter and beat at high speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  • Beat in eggs 1 at a time at medium speed, scraping down side of bowl frequently, then beat in juices and vanilla. At low speed, mix in flour mixture until just incorporated.
  • Spread batter in loaf pan and rap pan several times on counter to eliminate air bubbles. Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Cool in pan on a rack 30 minutes, then run a knife around edge of pan and invert cake onto rack. Cool completely, top side up.
Cooks’ notes: Cake improves in flavor if made at least 1 day ahead and can be made 5 days ahead and kept, wrapped tightly, at room temperature.

 

Posted on Wednesday, January 23, 2008 at 08:38AM by Registered CommenterKristen | Comments31 Comments

Adopt a Blogger 2

bloggerstatic.jpgI have had so much interest in the Adopt a Blogger event that I have decided to host a second one... but it won't be for a month or so. If you have indicated in a different post that you are intersted in signing up to be adopted or to adopt someone and it was past the deadline for the first adopt a blogger (which was in December), please put your information in the comments section here. I will try to gather the comments from the other posts as well, but to make my life easier, sign up here to make sure you are included!

Keep checking back to Dine and Dish and to other sites like Sticky Date and Is My Blog Burning for details about the next Adopt a Blogger event! In the meantime, notify your veteran blogger friends because it looks like we'll have a lot of newbies ready for your guidance!

Posted on Wednesday, January 23, 2008 at 07:58AM by Registered CommenterKristen | Comments55 Comments

Tips for the Aspiring Blogger

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I feel almost silly writing out tips for bloggers... I am not nearly as accomplished at blogging as some of the people out there, but I get asked questions about it often, so I thought that in honor of the Adopt a Blogger event going on, I would throw my two cents into the ring.

First of all, let me introduce you to my new blogging friends... my adoptees are Yamiam and Jennie. I will most certainly be doing a more formal introduction later, but I at least wanted to get their links out there for all of you to visit - hint, hint!

Okay... on to my tips.

1) Blog Regularly. By regularly, I don't mean every, single day. That isn't necessary and could easily cause burnout if you put that kind of pressure on yourself. My suggestion would be to do 1-3 new posts each week. If you want people to keep coming back, you have to give them something new to come back to. 

2)  Contact. Give your readers some way to contact you via email if they have questions, or as Deb over at Smitten Kitchen mentioned to me... give someone a way to contact you if they have a book deal for you!  Some of your readers may be too timid to leave a comment on your site directly but may feel more comfortable emailing you with questions. Have a "contact me" button, or something on your blog so that those individuals can easily get a hold of you.

3) Photos. We are foodies... we like recipes and details, but we LOVE photos. If you have access to a digital camera, try food photography on for size. Your photos don't have to be perfect! Just give us something to look at along with your post.,

4) Give and you shall receive. If you want people to visit your blog, you first have to visit the blogs of others. Don't spam other blogs with your information... just visit those blogs that interest you and leave genuine comments. You will be amazed at how many people will come and visit you based simply on a comment you might have left at someone else's blog.

5) Find your place...find your style. We are all unique and everyone has something different to bring to the table, so to speak. Don't try to copy someone else's style. Be yourself and blog about what comes naturally to you. If you stay true to who you are, eventually the whole blogging thing will come very easily for you!

6) Don't make visitors register. If you want people to leave comments on your blog, don't have a big registration process for them to go through. Do the standard Google, Wordpress, Squarespace form, but don't make people fill out a private registration just so they can make a comment. Chances are, you will lose the interest of potential regular readers.

7) Participate. I know what you are thinking... hypocrite! I am the last person to talk about participating in blogging events. I used to do so regularly, but just haven't been able to do as much as I would like to lately. If you want to connect with others in the Food Blogging community one of the best ways to do so is by participating in the hundreds of blogger events that happen throughout the year. You can find a complete list of various happenings in the food blogging world as they are updated, here.

I hope this was helpful to some of you new blogger's getting started out there. Veterans...if you have any suggestions, feel free to leave them here. Later on I will compile them all (with credit to you) and make another post for our newbie blogger friends! 

For suffering through my endless babbling, I will leave you this recipe for Fluffy Chocolate Silk Pie. This is a decadent, rich and delicious dessert from the February 2008 issue of Simple and Delicious magazine.

Fluffy Chocolate Silk Pie 

1 (9 inch) unbaked pastry shells
1 (7 ounce) jar marshmallow creme
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter, cubed
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate squares
2 tablespoons strong brewed coffee
1 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped

Topping

1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
  1. Line unpricked pastry shell with a double thickness of heavy duty foil. Bake at 450 degrees for 8 minutes. Remove foil; bake 5 minutes longer. Cool on a wire rack.
  2. Meanwhile, in a heavy saucepan, combine the marshmallow creme, chocolate chips, butter, unsweetened chocolate and coffee; cook and stir over low heat until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Cool. Fold in the whipped cream; pour into the crust. Let chill at least 3 hours before topping with whipped topping.
  3. For topping, in a large mixing bowl, beat cream until it begins to thicken. Add confectioners' sugar; beat until stiff peaks form. Spread over chilled filling. Garnish with chocolate curls if desired.

 

Posted on Wednesday, January 16, 2008 at 11:10PM by Registered CommenterKristen | Comments46 Comments

Oh, Gourmet... You Tease!

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I had torn up my "Final Notice" subscription renewal form from Gourmet magazine. I had convinced myself that I no longer needed to see the magazine monthly and that not renewing my subscription would be one small step I could take towards budgeting in the new year. The truth is, I haven't been overly crazy about the past few issues of Gourmet. They left me uninspired and uninterested. It was disappointing because in the past, Gourmet had been one of my favorite cooking magazines.

I was ready to say goodbye to Gourmet...this was until the January 2008 issue showed up in my mailbox. What was to be my final issue of Gourmet completely made me change my mind about not renewing my subscription. The January 2008 issue is all about "What is Southern?" and it is jammed pack full of recipes that I have earmarked to try. From the Brandied-Peach Pork Chops and the Potato Casserole to the Buttermilk Cookies and the Mile High Chocolate Cake... this issue of Gourmet magazine brought me back to the reasons I subscribe. Great recipes that produce amazing results.

So far, I have given two of the recipes a try. The recipe for the Caramel Cake was incredibly simple to make and it was definitely company worthy.  The other recipe that I tried, the Savannah Cream Cake, was beyond compare to anything else I have ever made. It is a rich and delicious dessert with a unique flavor that keeps you coming back to sneak another bite.

If you gave up on Gourmet before this January issue came out, you will be sorry. Head to the newstands today and pick up a copy...budgeting can wait 'til next year.

SAVANNAH CREAM CAKE (from the January 2008 issue of Gourmet magazine)


INGREDIENTS:
1/2C. plus 1 TBS. cake flour ( not self-rising )
1/4tsp. grated nutmeg
3/4C. sugar, divided
6 large egg whites
1/2tsp. cream of tartar
1/4tsp. salt
1/2tsp. pure vanilla extract
FOR SHERRY CUSTARD
1 1/2tsp. unflavored gelatin ( from a 1/4 oz. envelope.)
1/4C. plus 2TBS. water, divided
2 large egg yolks
1/4C. cream sherry
1/4 plus 2TBS. sugar, divided
1C. heavy cream
2tsp. pure vanilla extract
FROSTING
1C. chilled heavy cream
2TBS. sugar
EQUIPMENT
a 10 x 4 1/2 inch (16 cup) tube pan( preferably with a removable bottom)
a 9 inch springform pan
GARNISH
fresh berries
Pre heat oven to 350 with rack in middle. Sift together flour, nutmeg, and 1/4C. sugar 3 times. Beat egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer until frothy, then add cream of tartar and salt and continue beating until whites barely hold soft peaks. Beat in remaining 1/2C. sugar, 2TBS. at a time. Add vanilla and beat until whites just hold soft peaks.
Sift one fourth of flour mixture over whites and fold in gently but thoroughly, then sift and fold in in remaining flour mixture, all at once, in same manner.
Spoon into ungreased tube pan and smooth top ( pan will not be full ) then rap pan on counter twice to eliminate any air bubbles. Bake until springy to the touch and a wooden pick comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
If pan has feet, invert it on a work surface; otherwise, invert it over a long necked bottle. Cool cake completely, about 30 minutes.
Run a thin knife in a sawing motion around edges of pan and tube to loosen cake. Cut cake with a serrated knife into 1-inch cubes.
MAKE SHERRY CUSTARD
Butter bottom and sides of springform pan, then line bottom with parchment paper.
Sprinkle gelatin over 1/4C. water in a small bowl and let soften, about 1 minute
Beat yolks with an electric mixer until very pale. With mixer at low speed, add sherry, 1/4C. sugar, and remaining 2TBS. water. Cook mixture in a small heavy sauce pan over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until very thick, 3 to 5 minutes.
Whisk in gelatin mixture until gelatin has dissolved. Quick chill by putting sauce pan in an ice bath. Cool mixture to room temperature, stirring occasionally, then remove pan from ice bath.
Beat cream, vanilla, and remaining 2TBS. sugar in a large bowl with cleaned beaters until mixture just holds soft peaks.
Fold in sherry mixture gently but thoroughly, then fold in cake cubes.
Transfer to springform pan and smooth top. Chill, covered with plastic wrap until set ( at least 4 hours. )
Run a thin knife around cake and remove side of pan.
MAKE FROSTING
Beat cream with sugar using an electric mixer until it just holds stiff peaks. Frost cake

 

Posted on Thursday, January 10, 2008 at 10:05PM by Registered CommenterKristen | Comments26 Comments

Favorite Recipes the Costco Way

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My husband always passes up freebies. You know, when you are in the store and they have a free sample of this or a free sample of that, he walks right on by. I, on the other hand, am a freebie fool. Even if I don't like the sample, I usually find myself taking one...just because it is free.

One freebie I never pass up is the annual Costco cookbook. Costco picks one weekend a year to give away a cookbook of Costco recipes. This year it is a cookbook titled "Favorite Recipes the Costco Way ". This is probably one of the best cookbooks I have come across in a long time, simply based on ease, presentation, and variety of recipes. The photographs are gorgeous as well, which always draws me in.

If you missed the chance to get one of these fantastic, 248 page, glossy cookbooks, don't fret. You can check out the listings for Favorite Recipes the Costco Way on Ebay. I have no idea why anyone would want to give up such a great cookbook, but to each is own.

Expect to see a lot more from me over the next few months from this lovely cookbook. In the meantime, I'll share this recipe with you form the cookbook for free :)

Sausage-Stuffed Mushrooms

12 ounces ground sausage
18 large white mushrooms
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
3/4 cup red wine, divided
1/4 cup real bacon bits
 
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Cook sausage in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat, stirring and breaking up with a fork, until evenly browned. Drain and set aside.
Clean mushrooms with a damp cloth. Remove, chop and reserve stems.
In a medium bowl, gently  mix the chopped mushroom stems, cream cheese and bread crumbs. Stir in the sausage, bacon bits, and 1/4 cup wine.
Spoon the sausage mixture into the mushroom caps. Transfer to a large baking dish and drizzle with remaining red wine.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Makes 6 servings.

 

Posted on Sunday, January 6, 2008 at 10:51PM by Registered CommenterKristen | Comments19 Comments | References9 References

Adopt a Blogger - Matches have been made!

First of all, we had over 80 participants for this event. THANK YOU!!!

The Adopt a Blogger matches have been made! If you signed up for the Adopt a Blogger event, you should have received and email in your inbox or a comment on your blog tonight indicating who you have been matched up with.

If for some reason you signed up and did not receive any information, please respond to this post or email me to let me know. I am sure there have been a few oversites.

Also - I have two vegetarian bloggers who need to be adopted. Obviously, my meat and potatoes blog does not attract a ton of vegetarian readers. If you know of anyone, please let me know as soon as possible.

If you haven't heard from your partner within a week or so, please notify me of that as well.

Have fun and remember to report back to let me know how everything is going! 

Posted on Sunday, January 6, 2008 at 10:47PM by Registered CommenterKristen | Comments15 Comments | References1 Reference

Fill a Tummy and a Heart with Love

The Adopt a Blogger match up is almost complete. I need eight more veteran bloggers (have had an active blog for one year or more) to adopt the newbies that are still available. I would love to have a couple of veteran Vegetarian / Vegan food bloggers join us. As soon as I have 10 more volunteers, I will be able to get the matches out to you all :) Pass it on to your veteran blogger friends. If you are a veteran who has signed up and would be willing to adopt two bloggers, let me know. THANKS!

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Written for the February issue of Her Life Magazine and for Meeta's Monthly Mingle

It is February and the frenzied holiday season is now behind us. We may look back over the past months and remember the joyous times of giving gifts to others, celebrating the true meaning of the season, spending time with family and friends, and the food… the overflowing, endless amounts of food.

During the holiday season our kitchens are bustling with activity. Cookies, candies and baking mixes galore are leaving our homes and are being sent on as gifts to ones that we love. At the same time, similar tokens of love and appreciation are being given to us from friends and family. Come January 1st, eating yet another cookie or popping another chocolate into our mouths is about the last thing that we want to do.

The unfortunate fact is that not everyone was spoiled with loving gifts of food and goodies over the holiday season. There are individuals displaced from their homes who felt blessed if they simply had one hot meal over the holiday season. A gift of home baked goodness is a luxury they cannot afford.

With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching we have another chance to provide those less fortunate with something home baked with love from our kitchens. Lydia Walshin founder of the organization Drop In & Decorate Cookies for Donation encourages people to bake with love throughout the year, not just during the holiday season.

Drop In & Decorate Cookies for Donation is a simple, yet novel idea. Bake some cookies. Invite friends, family, co-workers, or neighbors to help decorate. Donate your cookies to a local agency serving people in need (such as a soup kitchen, domestic abuse shelter, senior center), and "give back" while having fun.

Lydia has been touched by how her organization has taken off around the world and how the concept has blessed so many lives. Recalling the start of it all, Lydia explains. “ I did not set out to start a tradition, but that's the thing about traditions: you do something once, and it is so much fun that you want to do it again and again. That is how Drop In & Decorate started. A friend and I wanted to try to decorate cookies with a new icing technique. Since neither of us are cookie eaters we made a plan to give the cookies to a local shelter. We started with a few dozen cookies. By the time we got the hang of the icing technique, we realized our cookies didn't look wonderful. I decided to invite a few friends over to come and help us redecorate. Those first cookies had two layers of icing, but in the end they looked beautiful! We wrapped each cookie individually, with lots of ribbon, and delivered them to a family shelter. We had such fun doing the decorating, and everyone who saw those first cookies broke out with a huge smile.”

“Afterwards, my friends asked when we were going to do it again, and I realized that decorating cookies for donation would become an annual tradition. It was the smiles that inspired me…the smiles on the faces of the friends who helped decorate, and the smiles on the faces of those who received the cookies. Through the simple gift of cookies, people are making connections and are learning about the work of agencies in their own communities.”

Getting involved and hosting your own Drop In & Decorate event is easy. On Lydia’s website, www.ninecooks.com, there is a complete guide to getting started. This guide includes a delicious cookie recipe, a list of supplies you will need, information about how to donate the cookies once decorated, and more.

Share the love this Valentine’s Day by giving those less fortunate something to smile about. A heartfelt gift of homemade and beautifully decorated cookies from your kitchen could be just the thing to fill a tummy and a heart this Valentine’s day.

Strawberry Valentine Cookies (From Simple and Delicious Magazine not included in the HLM article)

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup strawberry drink mix
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • GLAZE:
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon shortening
  • FROSTING:
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons strawberry drink mix
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 3 to 5 tablespoons milk

Directions:

In a small mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg and lemon juice. Combine the flour, drink mix, baking powder and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4-in. thickness. Cut with a floured 2-1/2- to 3-in. heart-shaped cookie cutter. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes or until set and edges begin to brown. Cool for 2 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.
In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate chips and shortening; stir until smooth. Spread over cookies; let stand until set.
In a small mixing bowl, cream the butter, drink mix and salt. Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar. Add enough milk to achieve desired consistency. Decorate cookies. Yield: about 2 dozen.

Posted on Saturday, December 29, 2007 at 10:21AM by Registered CommenterKristen | Comments15 Comments

Food Photography

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There are some times that I am a little embarrassed to admit that one of my hobbies is food photography. I am not as in to the hobby as some people. I only take a small handful of photos of each of the things that I make and I have yet to really get into props all that much. I do find myself, with each passing meal, visualizing what I would do with certain meals if I had the props. I pour over food magazines and blogs admiring the talent of all of the photographers out there. So, why don't I spend more time shooting my photos? Because I like to eat hot food even more!

These cinnamon rolls are our traditional treat for Santa as well as our breakfast every Christmas morning. The thing about these cinnamon rolls is that they can't be beat fresh out of the oven, ooeey and gooey with the filling and frosting. Taking the time to stylize the photo and continuing to take pictures would mean I would miss out on the best part of these cinnamon rolls...the hot, fresh, yumminess.

I hope each and every one of you had a very Merry Christmas! This was a fun year for us...our kids are at a very fun age!

May you and yours enjoy the blessings of the holiday season! 

Copycat Cinnamon Rolls for the ABM (from Recipezaar

Rolls

1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup water
2 1/2 tablespoons vanilla instant pudding mix (about 1/2 package of pudding)
1 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups bread flour
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast

Filling

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon



 

Frosting

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons milk
  1. Roll: Place ingredients in the machine following manufacturer's instructions and set for dough cycle.
  2. After completion of cycle, remove from machine and roll out to 17x10-inch rectangle.
  3. Filling: Mix together brown sugar and cinnamon.
  4. Spread softened butter over dough and sprinkle brown sugar/cinnnamon mixture over the top.
  5. Roll tightly from long end, pinching edges closed when finished.
  6. Slice into sizes of your choice (I usually get 12 rolls from this).
  7. Place on greased cookie sheet and let rise until doubled.
  8. Bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes, until golden-DO NOT OVERBAKE!
  9. Frosting: Mix together and spread over hot rolls.
  10. Enjoy!
Posted on Tuesday, December 25, 2007 at 04:53PM by Registered CommenterKristen | Comments31 Comments

Housekeeping - Adopt a Blogger and Pay It Forward

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I have a ton of housekeeping to do around here! This post isn't going to have a whole lot of substance, but I promise a great soft sugar cookie recipe at the if you hang in there through to the end.

Pay It Forward:

Sandi over at one of my favorite blogs, The Whistlestop Cafe, posted a little something on her blog last week about a Pay It Forward thing going on around the blogosphere. I decided to participate and with that you get the chance to participate as well!  Here's the scoop:

 “I will send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment on my blog requesting to join this Paying It Forward exchange. I don’t know what that gift will be yet and you may not receive it tomorrow or next week, but you will receive it within 365 days, which is my promise! The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog.”

Adopt a Blogger

Thank you all for being so patient about the Adopt a Blogger event. What was I thinking starting this right around the holidays? My goal is to have everyone matched up by the middle of this week. We are still very top heavy on the newbie bloggers. If you are a blogger who has blogged for a year or more and are interested in participating, please add your request to join in the comment section of the original adopt a blogger post.

Nick 'n' Soft Sugar Cookies - Recipe from the December 2007 issue of Taste of Home magazine

These cookies are perfect for cutouts. The dough is incredibly easy to work with! Santa would love this with a big old glass of milk!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2-1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • FROSTING:
  • 2-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 teaspoons meringue powder
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • Green, red and yellow food coloring

DIRECTIONS

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually add flour. Divide dough in half. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or until easy to handle.
    On a lightly floured surface, roll out one portion of dough to 3/16-in. thickness. Cut with floured cookie cutters. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 375° for 5-7 minutes or until set. Cool for 2 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.
    For frosting, in a small mixing bowl, beat the confectioners' sugar, water and meringue powder on low speed just until combined. Beat on high for 4 minutes or until soft peaks form. Add corn syrup; beat 1 minute longer.
    Tint with food coloring of your choice. Cover frosting with damp paper towels or plastic wrap between uses. Spread and/or pipe frosting on cookies. Let stand until set. Yield: 3-1/2 dozen.

Editor’s Note: As a substitute for each cup of self-rising flour, place 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a measuring cup. Add all-purpose flour to measure 1 cup. As a substitute for each 1/2 cup of self-rising flour, place 3/4 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a 1/2-cup measuring cup. Add all-purpose flour to measure 1/2 cup. Meringue powder is available from Wilton Industries, Inc. Call 1-800/794-5866 or visit www.tasteofhome.com for a Web site link.

 

Posted on Sunday, December 23, 2007 at 10:45PM by Registered CommenterKristen | Comments8 Comments

Call Me Mrs Sophisticated

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We are a sophisticated group, my friends and family. Friday night we got tipsy off of boxed wine and did Karaoke.... Karaoke that we thought sounded GREAT but probably in reality was not so much. Saturday, some of us Kathy had to recover from said boxed wine. Sunday, the purchaser of the boxed wine was over hanging out while the hubbies were out watching football. I was determined to get some baking done, but got more chatting done instead.

One of the recipes I made was from a little magazine called Cook's Country. My friend (and talented photographer) Julie had given me a couple of issues awhile back and when I saw the recipe for Quaker Bonnet Biscuits, I bookmarked it to try at a future date.

Well, that day was yesterday. As Sara and I were chatting the timer for the oven went off and I pulled out the tray of Quaker Bonnet Biscuits. Setting them on the counter, Sara and I both looked at them...not quite seeing the "bonnets". As we continued to stare, it suddenly came to me. "Boobs! These biscuits look nothing like bonnets. They look like boobs! I am going to call this 'boob bread'."  Sara went on to say not just any boobs...but pregnant boobs.

Of course, when the hubbies came in, we offered them some "boob bread" and many more sophisticated comments came out of their mouths. I'll spare you the details.

If you can get past the boobs and get on with the bonnets, this bread recipe is really a good one! It is more like a dense bread roll consistency rather than a biscuit. The recipe can be completed in about an hour, which is a great thing for those of you who like homemade bread with your dinner but don't have the time to spend hours on it after work!

Bring a little sophistication to your table tonight. Give this boob bread... oops..I mean, Quaker Bonnet Biscuits a try! 

Quaker Bonnet Biscuits

Makes 18

To make these biscuits without a food processor, freeze the sticks of butter until hard and then grate them into the dry ingredients using the large holes of a box grater. Toss gently with your hands to evenly distribute the butter, and proceed with the recipe.

1 cup whole milk 
1 large egg 
1 package  rapid-rise yeast or instant yeast
4 cups all-purpose flour , plus extra for work surface
2 tablespoons sugar 
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt 
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1-stick), cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled, plus 1 additional tablespoon, melted (for assembling biscuits)

1. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 200 degrees. Once oven reaches 200 degrees, maintain temperature for 10 minutes, then turn off oven.

2. Stir milk, egg, and yeast together in large measuring cup until combined.

3. Process flour, sugar, and salt in food processor until combined. Add chilled butter and pulse until mixture looks like coarse cornmeal, about fifteen 1-second pulses. Transfer to large bowl.

4. Stir in milk mixture until dough comes together. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Briefly knead to bring dough together, about 1 minute, adding more flour if necessary. Following steps 1 through 4 below, roll, cut, and assemble biscuits on parchment-lined baking sheets. Cover with kitchen towels and place in warm oven. Let rise until doubled in size, 25 to 35 minutes.

5. Remove baking sheets with biscuits from oven and heat oven to 375 degrees; return baking sheets to oven once it is fully preheated. Bake biscuits until golden brown, about 15 minutes, rotating and switching baking sheets halfway through baking time. Serve hot or warm.

How to Assemble Quaker Bonnet Biscuits

1. Roll the dough into a 12-inch round.

2. Cut out eighteen 2 1/2-inch circles, 3/4 inch thick, and place them on parchment-lined baking sheets.

3. Lightly brush larger dough rounds with melted butter.

4. Place one smaller round slightly off center on top of each larger round.

Posted on Monday, December 17, 2007 at 01:52PM by Registered CommenterKristen | Comments22 Comments

My Crazy Impulsive Night

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I can be an impulsive person. I come by it honestly because my parents are very impulsive. They would go out shopping to buy a gallon of milk and would come back with a new car. When I was a teenager, it wasn't a surprise to me to wake up on a winter Saturday morning to find a note on the table that would read "We went to find the sunshine!". We live in Kansas... usually finding the sunshine in the dead of winter would mean at least an 8-10 hour drive to Texas. When an impulse would hit, they would follow it.

Last night I was a bit impulsive. No... I didn't buy a new car or take a jaunt to someplace sunnier. I did not even buy that iPhone that I have been so tempted to buy. Nope... at 11pm last night, I had a sudden urge to give caramel making a try. I have been wanting to make caramel for a long time. What made that want suddenly a must last night, I have no idea... but when the urge hit I went with it.

Browsing the web a bit, I stumbled upon the blog of Chez Pim (who incidentally is the one hosting Menu for Hope...have you seen all the great prize donations??). Chez Pim has a recipe for Salted Butter caramels that tempted my taste buds the very first time I read the recipe. I decided that this recipe would be the one I use for my first attempt at caramel making.

Of course, sometimes when you are impulsive, you run into obstacles.  One... I had only a half cup of honey. Two... my cream had gone bad. If you remember from any of my previous posts, one area I am not impulsive in is cooking. I am most definitely a recipe follower.  Every once in awhile I will shake things up, but NEVER on my first time of trying something out. Last night, with the strong desire to taste a salty, buttery caramel, I got crazy and became an impulsive cook. I had Bailey's Irish Cream in the fridge... it couldn't hurt to try that instead of heavy whipping cream. I changed the sugar amounts as well to make up for the lack of enough honey. My attitude was if it didn't work out, no loss. I just wouldn't get to taste a yummy caramel, but I could always try again a different day.

The result of my impulsive, crazy night? Probably one of the best tasting caramels I have ever had. I know... I am not being modest right now, but I can't contain myself. These little chewy morsels were soooo good. My only problem was that they did not firm up very well. I think next time I make them (which very well might be today), I may read through a few more caramel recipes to see what the problem might have been.

For this wonderful recipe, head over to the blog of Chez Pim and give it a try for yourself. To give my version a try, follow the recipe exactly but substitute the Heavy Whipping Cream for Irish Cream and use 1 1/2 cups of sugar and 1/2 cup of honey. If this is what being impulsive brings, I'll take it! 

Posted on Friday, December 14, 2007 at 02:39PM by Registered CommenterKristen | Comments15 Comments | References2 References

Traitor, Hypocrite...call me what you'd like

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I feel like such a traitor. We have the best little local coffee house in our suburb. It was the only little coffee house in our suburb.  The Country Club Cafe is a family friendly place that has a small play area for the kiddos to hang out at while the mom's sit around and chat and enjoy a nice cup of coffee. The owners of the coffee house give back to the community and seriously make you feel like you are part of a family right when you walk in the door.

Well, guess who just went in right next door?  Starbucks. Seriously, they practically share the same parking lot and of all the places out here that would be ideal for another coffee shop to be, Starbucks had to go in right...next....door.

I was really upset about it when I first heard the news and saw the building as it was being constructed. I did not want my little coffee shop to be shut down by a Starbucks! I just didn't get it.

Well, it took about a month of being open before I was actually tempted to stop by. It was pouring rain, freezing cold and I had all three kids in the car. I needed something to warm me up and as I passed my neighborhood coffee shop, and then passed the Starbucks, the sign reading "drive thru now open" drew me in. Before I knew it I found myself ordering an eggnog latte. I felt a bit guilty as I drove out of the parking lot and looked over at my neighborhood coffee shop. Not so guilty that I didn't totally enjoy the coffee, but I did feel like a bit of a traitor.

Two days later...same scenario. That dang drive thru sign, the snow and ice falling in buckets and the remembrance of the tasty eggnog latte warming me up got the best of me. Once again, I was giving my hard earned money to Starbucks...and it was soooooo good! 

Now, I will tell you that the entire time I am drinking each of my tasty Starbucks drinks, I have had an immense feeling of guilt and betrayal. I went back one more time to Starbucks and ordered an eggnog latte for me and a pumpkin spice latte for my husband. As I headed to the window to pay, the friendly guy working there leaned out the window and told me that my order was on the house. Well, that does it. How the heck are you supposed to feel guilty drinking free coffee? I drank that eggnog latte without guilt, enjoyed every last drop of it, and then vowed that come rain, sleet or snow... I need to get some dang morals and support the local coffee shop so it will be around forever.  

Today my friend Jennifer and I went to the Country Club Cafe coffee shop...and it was jam packed full. By the time we left, there were groups of people waiting for seats. It made me feel so good knowing that there are plenty of supporters out there who will hopefully keep this lovely coffee shop open and thriving.

You may be wondering what the heck this story has to do with the recipe I am getting ready to post. To be honest with you, the two have hardly anything to do with each other. Basically...I ordered an eggnog latte at Starbucks and the recipe I am sharing with you is for an Eggnog dip. So...there's my tie in. The eggnog!

Each and every year around this time, I long for a glass of eggnog. I go to the store (no... I'm not as ambitious as some of you who make your eggnog from scratch!) and I pick up a carton of eggnog. When I get home I pull out a juice glass, fill it with eggnog and drink it up. Then, as it happens every year, I remember that I really don't like eggnog all that much. So, here I am with one little glass of eggnog gone and an almost full carton left to use. If you are like me and are needing some creative uses for your almost full carton of eggnog, there are some options out there! Eggnog cookies, eggnog pancakes, and eggnog quickbread are just some of the recipes I have used over the years to keep from wasting the remaining eggnog. This year, a recipe from a magazine insert for Eggnog Dip caught my eye. This recipe is extremely easy and has a very mild eggnog flavor... so if you don't love eggnog, but like it a little bit, you will really enjoy the flavor of this recipe! It is the perfect use for your leftover carton of eggnog.

eggnogdip.jpgEggnog Dip - Serve with cut up pound cake or fresh fruit

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups eggnog
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon rum extract, optional
  • Assorted fruit and pound cake cubes

Directions:

In a saucepan, combine the eggnog and cornstarch until smooth. Bring to a boil; boil and stir for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in sour cream. Cool completely.
    In a small mixing bowl, beat whipping cream and sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold into eggnog mixture with extract if desired. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Serve with fruit and cake cubes. Yield: about 2-1/2 cups.
Posted on Wednesday, December 12, 2007 at 12:14AM by Registered CommenterKristen | Comments19 Comments

Menu for Hope

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Like every mother out there and every mother's mother, I can often be found spouting off the words "There are starving kids in <enter country/city/state on the tip of your tongue at the moment> who would love to have a nice hot meal. Eat your dinner!". Well, it is time that I put my money where my mouth is. There are starving kids all over the world. Kids who do not know when they are going to have their next meal...let alone a hot meal. Kids who have maybe lost their parents...kids who have to beg for a simple meal simply so they can survive.

How many times do we look into our overflowing pantry and still complain that there is nothing good to eat? Well, these children do not have the luxury of overflowing pantry's or the ability to make a quick jaunt to the store to buy what they crave. They simply eat when the food is available, which in many cases, is on a rare occasion. They cannot afford to be picky... whatever they get is what they take. 

BreadmanPro.jpgFor the fourth year running, blogger Chez Pim is hosting the Menu for Hope. Last year Menu for Hope raised almost $61,000 to help fight hunger. I can tell you are intrigued. Keep reading to find out what Menu for Hope is and how you can donate as little as $10, earn the chance of winning some fantastic prizes (like the Breadman TR875 2-Pound Breadmaker, Stainless Steel I'm donating) and help a very worthy cause. What exactly is the Menu for Hope?  (Scroll down to the very bottom of this post to see how you can donate and win!) In the words of Chez Pim:

Menu for Hope is an annual fundraising event in support of the UN World Food Programme.  Five years ago, the devastating tsunami in Southeast Asia inspired me to find a way to help, and the very first Menu for Hope was born.  In 2006, Menu for Hope raised US$60,925.12 to help the UN World Food Programme feed the hungry.

Each year, food bloggers from all over the world join forces to host the Menu for Hope online raffle, offering an array of delectable culinary prizes.  For every US$10, the donor receive a virtual raffle ticket toward a prize of their choice.  This year, the prizes include once in a lifetime experiences such as touring the elBulli laboratory with Ferran Adrià , dining on a historic British meal prepared by Heston Blumenthal, or joining Harold McGee on a lunch date to satisfy a lifetime's worth of cooking curiosity.  You can also tag along with your favorite blogger on a tour of their favorite markets, restaurants, or even receive a care package fashioned especially for you from your favorite bloggers themselves.  All you need is $10 and a bit of luck.

We may never eradicate hunger from the face of the earth, but why should that stop us from trying?

Who benefits from Menu for Hope 4?

Wfplogosmall This year for the 4th annual Menu for Hope, we are again supporting the UN World Food Programme.  WFP is the world’s largest food aid agency, working with over 1,000 other organizations in over 75 countries. In addition to providing food, the World Food Program helps hungry people to become self-reliant so that they escape hunger for good.

With a special permission from the WFP, the funds raised by Menu for Hope 4 will be earmarked for the school lunch program in Lesotho, Africa.  We chose to support the school lunch program because providing food for the children not only keeps them alive, but helps them stay in school so that they learn the skills to feed themselves in the future. 

We chose to support the program in Lesotho because it is a model program in local procurement - buying food locally to support local farmers and the local economy.  Instead of shipping surplus corn across the ocean, the WFP is buying directly from local subsistent farmers who practice conservation farming methods in Lesotho to feed the children there.

We feed the kids, keep them in school, and support their parents and community farming.  This sustainable approach to aid is something we believe in and strongly support.

To help support this worthy cause, Dine and Dish will be donating a Breadman TR875 2-Pound Breadmaker, Stainless Steel (Prize number UC22). This is a great machine and it is extremely simple to use. If you have been too intimidated to make homemade bread in the past,  fear no more. Use one of over ten different cycles to make the perfect loaf of bread you desire! $100 value, and shipped only to US addresses (sorry!). If bread baking isn't your thing, head over to Chez Pim to check out the other prizes being raffled off. You can also view the prizes by region. Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen is coordinating the prizes for the US Central region. Check 'em out! $10 buys you one raffle ticket and you can put that $10 towards prizes of all values!

I hope that you will help provide hope for this worthy cause. Skip Starbucks twice this week and you easily have the $10 needed to help fight hunger. 


Instructions for how you can donate to enter the raffle:

Here's How to Participate in A Menu for Hope
1. Choose a prize or prizes of your choice from our Menu for Hope at Chez Pim.

2. Go to the donation site at First Giving and make a donation.

3. Please specify which prize you'd like in the 'Personal Message' section in
the donation form (The bread machine is UC22). You must write in how many tickets per prize, and use the
prize code. (Each $10 you donate will buy one raffle ticket toward any prize.For
example, a donation of $50 can be 2 tickets for EU01 and 3 tickets for EU02.
Please write 2xEU01, 3xEU02.)

4. If your company matches your charity donation, please check the box and fill
in the information so we could claim the corporate match.

5. Please check the box to allow us to see your email address so that we could
contact you in case you win.Your email address will not be shared with anyone.
Check back on Chez Pim on Wednesday January 9 for the results of the raffle.

 

Posted on Tuesday, December 11, 2007 at 09:11AM by Registered CommenterKristen | Comments3 Comments | References1 Reference

A Very Humble Thank You

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I remember the Well Fed Networks Food Blog awards from last year. I was new to the food blogging world then, and recall being introduced to several fabulous food blogs through those awards.

Right now the 2007 Well Fed Networks Food Blog Awards are taking place. I knew and was surprised that I had been nominated in the category for Best Food Blog - Family/Kids category. I was even more shocked this morning when I was notified that my blog made it to the final nominations...Dine and Dish is in the top five finals in the Family/Kids category with four other amazing blogs. I am completely  humbled, and want to thank you all for your support. I started this blog to stay connected with my family. It has turned into a passionate hobby... having readers that keep coming back and that get some joy out of what I write makes it the icing on the cake. I couldn't thank you all more.

Make sure you head over to The Well Fed Network and vote for your favorite blogs. There are a lot of great categories and to even be considered a finalist among all of these talented writers is humbling. Thank you!

To vote in the category for best Family/Kids blog, head here (click on the highlighted section):

Well Fed Network Best Food Blog - Family/Kids

To see the entire list of food blogs nominated for different categories, click below:

Well Fed Network Best Food Blog Awards 

 

Posted on Monday, December 10, 2007 at 05:04PM by Registered CommenterKristen | Comments15 Comments