WOW, its been awhile….

Its been more than a year since the last time I posted….Where does time go?? Goldilocks has had 2 birthdays, I have a nephew that is over a year old, We’ve moved… TWICE! there have been highs and lows, baking experiments and cooking fails, snow, rain, ice, sunshine and did I mentioned we have moved twice?! Crazy, right?? I’ve definitely gotten good at packing…. and cardboard boxes are for novices. We have plastic totes! Lol… but truly. Free boxes are really hard to come by anymore. Most stores use the reusable one that have to be sent back to the manufacturer, and to BUY them is ridiculous. Its cheaper to buy plastic totes at Walmart. But I digress….

The first move was just to a different location in the same city we were in. No big deal. We got lucky and some friends helped us move, so we saved the expense of a moving truck. the Second move was BIG. We moved back to Florida!! Woohoo!! Finally!! it has been years in the making, but it finally happened. We are back in my hometown currently, but will eventually be moving about an hour to an hour and a half south.  Anyway, I am soooooo happy to be back in the sunshine state. I’ve managed to make it out to the beach a few times, but for the most part its been a bit too chilly or raining… or I haven’t had the means to get out there,(single vehicle family… Dear Husband commutes for now). We have plans for the beach this weekend and I am excited!! Pics will be coming!

In the past year I have learned how to make ice-cream … Like REALLY good ice-cream! So far I’ve made Vanilla, Bourbon Peach cinnamon , Chocolate-chip Cookie dough, Chocolate, Strawberry….. I have plans for more, but those are the what I have done so far. I have also learned how to make Macarons! I stayed the Dragon!! I was soooo afraid to even attempt them. One day, I just decided I HAD to try. the ingredients are so simple… I knew if I crashed and burned the first time, I would try again. Wonder of wonders, the first batch came out AMAZING! So, I made another, and another… came up with different flavor combos and made more… I LOVE making them! Its fun! They are DELICIOUS!  You can pack so much flavor into a two-bite cookie! I have learned some tips and tricks and they tend to come out pretty good (almost) every time.

Ive made cakes and cupcakes and actually been paid for them! How cool is that?? It started with a slice of coconut cake, and spiraled from there. That first move I mentioned was to an apartment over a little jewelry store. My Landlady was the jewelry store owner, and the apartment was on the historic tourist destination in the city… so lots of Antique stores, old houses and cute one-of-a-kind restaurants. The apartment we lived in (and the jewelry store) was a house that was built in the early 1800’s. Very cute place, and even though we only lived there for a few months, it was definitely cool to live on that street, and be able to walk out the front door and down to the cute shops and such. ANYWAY… I keep running off on a tangent.

SO, we moved in a week or so before Thanksgiving and decided to do a dessert night, with the friends that helped us move, thanksgiving weekend. I made Coconut cake and an apple küchen cheesecake with caramel sauce. Well, of course there was leftovers, so I ran a few slices downstairs to the Landlady and the other lady that worked with her. She went absolutely swoony over my cake! She seriously had me blushing with her compliments! She wanted to know if I would make cupcakes and cakes for money… well of course I would, but never had before. So she started scheduling orders for cakes and cupcakes…. and even made some macarons for a friend of hers after she tried some that I brought down. It is extremely gratifying when someone thinks your stuff is THAT good. I had fun with that for sure. (pics below are some of the deliciousness that I’ve done)

I’ve made a few more quilts since my last post too. Right now I am trying to raise some money for something special, that just trying to save for isn’t going to cover. SOOOO, I am making quilts… mostly baby/crib sized ones, when people request them. This is where belonging to a mommy group is AWESOME. The one I belong to has “small business days” twice a week, so that you can promote your mommy or baby or family related business. I did my first post yesterday and already have a few orders. It gives me hope that I can actually do this. (pics are some of the quilts I’ve made)

I’m sure some of you are probably thinking, “just get a job”…. well, 1 car+360 miles a day(if I kept the car I would have to drive DH to work and back and then pick him up)+then having very limited hours to work(something like 9-3, because I would have to be off in time to get Goldilocks from school and immediately leave to get DH)= not many if any place that would work with me on that on top of spending 40$ or more a day on GAS…. yeah… all that adds up to me not making anything. Between taxes and gas, I wouldn’t be making anything at all. Again… I digress….

I am holding on to the hope that I can make enough quilts and add that to the money I can manage to save every month…. and I can meet the goals I have set. Say a little prayer for me! or send good Vibes… whatever it is you do! I appreciate all of it! Thanks.

P.S. Definitely will be doing better with this whole blogging thing… Sorry the last few years have gotten away from me!

P.S.S. OKRA!!! I made fried okra! and it was so good!!!

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More Puppies and SNOW!!

I just realized its been since July since I have posted anything! Sorry guys! Life kinda gets away from us, doesn’t it?
I have a few updates…
We have a new addition joining our family, a pretty Red Boston named Gidget. She will be coming home early February. She is adorable and I can’t wait to bring her home and snuggle!

So Sweet and Cute!

So Sweet and Cute!

Harley is big now and will be having puppies of her own soon. Estimated date of arrival is St. Patrick’s Day! We had to drive 6 hours to meet with Southern Pride Boston Terriers to pick up Harley’s boyfriend, who is staying with us till its time to pick up Gidget in February.

My Big (not so big ;) ) Girl

My Big (not so big 😉 ) Girl

Southern ride Boston Terriers Ozzy

Southern ride Boston Terriers Ozzy

The day that we made the trip it had been snowing all night and was still snowing at dark-thirty in the morning. It made for an interesting drive, to say the least. Thankfully DH is okay driving in snow and ice, as I am not. It did make for some very pretty scenery too!

Early Morning on a Snowy Road

Early Morning on a Snowy Road

Snowy roads and Mountian Views

Snowy roads and Mountain Views

Snow Covered Mountain Town

Snow Covered Mountain Town

The snow didn’t last for long, only a couple of days, but it was long enough for the dogs and Goldilocks to pay in it. While Ozzy is a couple of years old and has had some experience with snow, this is Harley’s first time playing in the fluffy white stuff. She definitely had a blast and had Goldilocks and I in stitches from giggling so much!

 

Playtime in the snow! So much fun but SO COLD!

Playtime in the snow! So much fun but SO COLD!

kicking up so much snow!

kicking up so much snow!

You're ready to go in? I'm not!~Harley

You’re ready to go in, Mom? I’m not!~Harley

Goldilocks was loving the snow and chasing the dogs around.

Goldilocks was loving the snow and chasing the dogs around.

Even after all the snow was going the ice was still on the river. It made for a very cold, pretty walk.

Ice where the water slows and pools around the rocks.

Ice where the water slows and pools around the rocks.

Sheets of ice on the river. The swirling of the current causes the pretty patterns.

Sheets of ice on the river. The swirling of the current causes the shapes and circles.

More updates will be forthcoming… as well as some new recipes and fun pictures! Banana bread, birthday cakes and Harley’s puppies (when they are born), a post about Gidget when she comes home and a trip home to Florida. Until then….

 

Coming Home

 

She’s home! Its been a month since we brought our beautiful little Harlequin home from Kentucky. We obviously have been super busy, not just with the new puppy, but the three bears were here also. That was a very busy weekend! I picked the boys up from their father on Friday (I drove 4 hours to meet them halfway between their house and ours) and the very next day we all drove to Kentucky to meet my Friend with Southern Pride Boston Terriers to pick up our new baby.

Harleycominghome Slept the 7 hour trip home…..

Her official AKC name is Dunn’s Darling Harlequin. We just call her Harley. She is the sweetest little girl. she is also a priss about getting her paws wet, lol… she is doing pretty good at the potty training, unless it is raining. That little girl will put all her weight (less than 10 pounds!) into NOT walking in the yard for her potty break! Silly puppy 🙂

Checking out some of her new toys…..

The boys all enjoyed playing with the puppy and couldn’t get enough snuggles and puppy kisses. Harley, of course was all about playing with her new toys, nipping at little boy fingers and snuggling in her new blankets.

Look at that face! Such a cutie 🙂

After the bears were here for about 2 weeks, we all made a trip south to see the rest of the family for father’s day weekend. We did a lot of driving and visiting and Harley had a blast playing with my mom’s dog Lily. Lily wasn’t to sure about this little puppy coming into her house, but still being quite young herself she took to playing chase with Harley through the house, causing lots of laughter all around.

After a long weekend of visiting we headed home with the smallest of the three bears, who wanted to stay for another 2 weeks. We did some painting, played at the park, watched movies and played Monopoly…the stuff summers are made of, lol. My smallest bear went home this past weekend and now we are trying to get resettled back into our normal routine and also trying to get Goldilocks ready for School. My next post will be on some of the cooking/baking I have done recently. Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed the puppy pictures!

 

Puppies and Pineapple Upside- Down Cake

harley5weeks3

Isn’t that the absolute sweetest picture! That is my sweet little Harley. She is (in three more excruciatingly LONG weeks!) the newest member of my little family. My sweet friend in Kentucky (@southernpridebostonsterriers) is the breeder and her dogs are gorgeous. At just a little over 3 and a half pounds, my little girl is the smallest of the litter but from the pictures and videos I have been sent she is developing a sweet little personality and from what I am told and some of the pictures and videos I have seen she is going to be a snuggler. Anyway, I just wanted to share my happy news, and i just cant wait to get her home! Oh… and here are a few more cute pics:

Now I want to tell you about this cake. It is moist, a little on the dense side and sweet with a little tang to it. Are you ready?

pineappleupsidedownbundt

Pineapple Upside down Bundt cake! Yep, I said Bundt. It is so delicious! Now, I do not care for Maraschino Cherries, but if you do, you can totally add them in. I don’t so  I didn’t, LOL.

Anyhow, I had made the decision that I wanted to make this cake, so I did what I normally do and went to Pinterest to find a recipe. While there are lots of pinned recipes, which I discovered very quickly were pins and re-pins of the same 3 or 4 blog posts/ recipes, I couldn’t find a single recipe that didn’t start with a BOX CAKE MIX! Sacrilege! I only use box cake mix for one thing, and it ISN’T cake! But that is another recipe for another blog.

Because I couldn’t find what I wanted, I decided I would have to create my own. Since all of the recipes call for a yellow cake mix, I knew to get the flavor I needed I would need to use my go to Butter cake recipe for a base. I also knew I would need to change up a few things. I did get the idea for using a bundt pan  instead of a regular cake pan from a pin. I thought it was a stellar idea. I liked the neatness of the pineapple in the pan…the OCD in my brain was very happy ;).

As you can see in the picture with the slices in the pan I also added little chunks of pineapple where some of you might like to put the cherries. But do you see how neat and lined up they are? It’s so PRETTY!  In this recipe you are using a 20 oz. can of pineapple slices and cutting them in half. You are also using all the juice that is in that can, so you need to drain it into a measuring cup for later. I drained the juice into a measuring cup and dumped the slices in a stack into another bowl then used a large knife to slice them in half. Once you have placed them into the cake pan, there will probably be more juice in the bowl. Pour that into the measuring cup too. the total amount of liquid you will have in the cup is 1 and 1/4 cup. This will be a combination of juice and milk. I also add the extracts I use to this measuring cup as well, just to streamline the mixing process. Ready for the recipe? Here we go!

Pineapple Upside-Down Bundt Cake

1 cup (2 sticks) of butter, softened

1 1/2 cups of sugar

3 large eggs

1/4  cup REGULAR Mayonnaise (you can also use a 4th egg, I use mayo for the added moisture)

3 cups cake flour (you can also use All Purpose flour, but the cake will not be as tender)

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp rum extract

3/4 to 1 cup pineapple juice (all the juice in the can)

1/4 to 1/2 cup of milk (remember the total liquid needs to be 1 1/4 cup total between the juice and milk)

20 oz can sliced pineapple

Maraschino cherries if desired

Preheat your oven to 350F. Prepare bundt pan by greasing and flouring making sure the pan is coated completely. Line the pan with the slices of pineapple (cut these in half). Also if you are using the cherries add them in between the slices. Set pan aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, set aside. Cream butter till fluffy, if using mayo add in at this stage. Add sugar, cream together until fluffy. Remember to scrape down the sides of the bowl if you are using a stand mixer, to ensure even mixing. Add the eggs one at a time and mix in thoroughly. Add the milk  and extracts to the juice in the measuring cup and give a quick stir. Alternating dry and wet, add the flour mix and the juice mix to the bowl in 5 additions, making sure that the batter is mixed completely for the next addition. I use a rubber spatula to scrape down the bowl all the way to the bottom of the bowl to ensure complete mixing. Pour into the cake pan and smooth the top. Bake in 350F oven for 35-40 minutes or until tester come out with moist crumbs. Allow cake to cool in pan for 10 minutes before flipping cake onto a cooling rack and removing from pan. The cake will release from pan on its own if you allow the 10 minutes, Trust me! Serve warm or cool. You can also make a glaze of pineapple juice and powdered sugar for a more pineapple punch.

cakeslice

This cake is so good! It is tender and moist and you need to go make it right now! You will thank me!  Your taste buds will thank you! LOL. I had a lot of fun creating this cake. I hope you enjoy it too!

 

 

 

 

Caramel Apple Upside-down Cake and Delicious Chicken!

I don’t know about you, but there are times when I get bored with cooking. In reality, that was what started this blog over 4 years ago. There have been gaps in time where I did not blog at all, when life gets in the way and time passes without you even realizing it.

Anyway, when the boredom in the kitchen strikes, I scour Pinterest in hopes of something that looks good, has simple but delicious ingredients and is something I think my family will enjoy. Most of the time, I will find a recipe, read the recipe and make the changes i think need to be made to make it perfect for my Dear Husband and Goldilocks.

Now this dish I found on Pinterest and I liked the recipe, But I felt it needed a little something more. The recipe calls for fresh thyme. I didn’t have any fresh or dried (what? not even dried? Nope! Added to the grocery list! lol) In it’s place I used an Italian blend of spices. Mine came from Publix, but any brand Italian blend will work fine. I also added about a cup of heavy cream to the sauce after the wine reduced down for about 15 minutes and cooked it for another 10 minutes stirring the sauce around to blend the cream into everything else in the pan. chickeninpan

I used the biggest flat  bottom pan I had. After rubbing the paprika, salt and pepper into the chicken breast ( and make sure you rub it ALL over and into all the grooves and crevices.) Melt 1 tbsp of butter in pan with heat set at medium-high. Then cook chicken  on each side of the breast for 3-4 minutes or until the chicken starts to turn golden and crispy.

chickenwwine

Then add in the remainder of the butter and the minced garlic and cook, stirring the butter and garlic until the butter is melted and the garlic is fragrant. Be careful to not let the garlic burn! I then put in about 2-3 tbsp of the Italian spices in and then about 1 1/2 cups of white wine. Now I used a Pinot Grigio that I had on hand, but any white wine will do as long as it isn’t super sweet. A little sweetness is okay. I let this reduce for about 15 minutes.

chickenwithcream

After I reduced the wine, I added the heavy cream. You could probably use half and half, but I am not sure how using straight milk would do. After cooking the cream and wine together  for about 5 minutes, stirring to mix together, the sauce will thicken a bit. If you need to add more cream you can. I think I used about 1/2 more cream. This will just give you more sauce. If you don’t think you need more sauce, no need to add more cream.

After cooking the cream and wine sauce together, I added 2 big handfuls of baby spinach, covered the pan and let the spinach wilt. Once the spinach is wilted, stir to mix it into the sauce.paprikachickeninwhitewinecreamsauce

Now, as a serving suggestion, the recipe says to serve with GRAIN of your choice. I chose to use a veggie pasta (Barilla make 2 kinds of Pasta that are made of veggies instead all wheat or flour. Both are delicious.) I served  this dish with a side of steamed broccoli.

Dear Husband simply stated I could definitely make this again, lol. I thought it was a hit. Even Goldilocks enjoyed it! Score for Mom!

Now, in my house we like a little sweet after dinner. Since I love to bake, this is rarely an issue, lol. This next little slice of heaven fit the bill perfectly. I am sure that nearly everyone has heard of Pineapple Upside-down Cake, but there are so many delicious variations of Upside-down cake that are begging for a chance. This cake was so delicious, tender and moist. I made 2 changes to recipe linked above. I used cake flour instead of all purpose. I think i have stated before that I prefer cake flour to all purpose for these types of recipes because it make a more tender cake. Either works fine and really is up to you and what you have on hand/ prefer to use. Some cakes need to denser cake to hold things in place, such as a cake that has a lot of heavy chunks of fruit that need to be suspended throughout the cake. The other “change” I made was I added about a 1/4 tsp of cardamom. This spice adds a little more depth of flavor to the cake, especially when combined with cinnamon.

This cake is simple and quick and delicious. I was worried about the caramel in the cake pan sticking and not letting the cake release properly, but the was not the case. As the recipe states, coat the cake pan thoroughly with cooking spray. Do NOT coat the pan in flour at all. The caramel wont release because the flour on the pan will mix with the caramel and create a glue…not pretty! Anyway, after the cake is baked through, allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes or more. Slide a knife around the edges to make sure the cake is released from the sides and flip onto your serving plate.

caramelappleupsidowncake

I love how the apples look on the top of this cake. It is so pretty! It can be served warm or completely cooled. It is a moist, lightly sweet, very tender cake that goes really well with coffee.

I hope you enjoyed everything today! If you try either of these recipes I would love to hear how they come out for you. If you have any questions I would be happy to answer! Happy Cooking!

Let them eat cake!

blueberrycake

Doesn’t everyone love cake? Everyone has at least one that they like. Even Dear Husbands Brother, who doesn’t like sweets, Loves Angel food cake. Anyway, THIS cake….. this cake is sunshine and summer and refreshing! It is Lemony and sweet, with bright pops of blueberry combined with the creamy smoothness of a lemon cream cheese frosting. I didn’t use the full 2 cups that the recipe called for because I didn’t have enough, but I definitely will next time. The blueberries soften and burst open in the cake as it is baking, but don’t completely  blend into the cake.

The recipe I used is from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. However I used all cake flour. I just like the tenderness that cake flour lends to a cake.It retains its moisture really well.  I did mist the blueberries in water and toss them in all purpose flour before folding them into the cake batter. And, yes, you want to fold them in. If you use a mixer or a beater, it will break the blueberries up and leak into the rest of the cake. Also they are more likely to sink in the cake because you will mix the flour right off the blueberries. As for my cake…. I dint have enough blueberries. I will definitely be using more next time.

blueberry slice

My blueberries did sink some, but for the most part held their place. You can SEE the moisture in this cake. It is simply delicious. It is so light tasting and fragrant yet the cake itself is a little on the heavy side from the moisture. It pairs beautifully with an African coffee like Sumatra,Ethiopia or Veranda Blend from Starbucks*. It goes equally well with a lemonade or an Earl Grey tea. Personally I go with coffee, but that’s just me.

Unlike most of my cooking exploits, which usually start with a search on Pinterest, this recipe was shared with me via Facebook by a sweet friend. She is a fan of my baking, lol, and wanted me to bake this cake for her birthday. The problem lies in that we live about 10 hours from one another. I told her I would make it for her next visit, but I just couldn’t resist trying out the recipe. I figured it would make a good dessert for the dinner I was planning. Dear Husband had requested a bacon wrapped SOMETHING and i wanted to make a Shells and Cheese recipe I had seen on Pioneer Woman‘s blog.

shells and cheese

I left out the bacon and peas this time, but I plan to use them next time….Maybe with a pork roast entree or something. This dinner however we were having a bacon wrapped chicken breast that I coated with a brown sugar and garlic mixture.

chicken

I, of course, forgot to take a picture of the chicken after it was baked, but here it is before I slid it into the oven. Let me tell you, though, that while these were baking…. oh my GOODNESS! My house smelled so good! You could smell the crisping bacon and the garlic and the sweetness of the brown sugar….It makes my mouth water…And let me tell you, it tasted even better than it smelled!

I served the chicken up with steamed broccoli and the creamy Shells and cheese pictured above. It was a hit all around. Simply delicious.

To make the chicken, I sliced a chicken breast in half length-wise. I laid a sheet of plastic wrap on the counter, laid the 4 pieces of chicken flat and covered with another sheet of plastic wrap. Then I pounded the chicken to about a quarter of an inch thick. Doing this does 2 things. It tenderizes the meat and it also makes it easier roll up later. I then spread the brown sugar-garlic mixture (recipe will follow) all over  one side of each piece of chicken. I then put approximately 1/4 cup of shredded cheese on top of the mixture on each piece of chicken. Then, very carefully, roll the chicken up around the cheese and then rub more of the mixture on the outside of the chicken. I then laid 2 slices of regular bacon side by side and wrapped the rolled chicken in the bacon. The bacon holds the chicken together so there is no need for toothpicks or skewers to hold things together. Do this to all the chicken and places them on a prepared pan. As you can see in the above picture I use a rack on top of a tinfoil covered cookie sheet. Just spray the rack down with cooking spray and you wont have issues with sticking. Slide the pan into the oven set at 400 degrees for approximately 30 minutes. You want the bacon to get crispy, the sugar to melt and caramelize the garlic and the bacon. SO GOOD! If you try it let me know how it goes! You can use pretty much any cheese or mixture of cheeses you like as long as it is sharp and melts well. Here is the mixture I used. It is perfect for 2 Chicken breasts split in half, so if you are making more, this is easily doubled or tripled.

Brown sugar and Garlic spread

2/3 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup minced or crushed garlic

3 tbsp of melted butter

1 tsp of onion powder

1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper (or more, depending on how spicy you want it, I just wanted a little heat with the sweetness of the sugar)

salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix together well, add the garlic and butter and mix well.

I used the back  of a regular spoon to spread the mixture on the chicken. It worked well and controls the amount you are putting on at a time. Let me know if you try it! I am happy to answer and question you have or respond to any comments! Happy cooking!

*I am not in any way paid to promote Starbucks. I did work for them several times, which is why I know more about their coffees.

 

 

Day Trippin’

 

This past weekend was one of the busiest we have had in a long while. Our weekend started on Friday and Dear Hubby’s Brother was flying in from Houston. Brother had a layover in Charlotte and because his plane from Houston was late getting in he missed his connection….. so…FUN…. Poor fellow was stuck in Charlotte for an additional 4 hours!! WE drove the hour down to Richmond to pick him up, and because of the way traffic is around here, we had already made the hour trip to Richmond before we knew about the hiccup. And, again because of the traffic, it didn’t make sense to drive all the way home and back again. So, Dear Hubby, Goldilocks and I had an impromptu family day in Richmond. We stuck close to the airport and explored the stores and such around there. We finally picked up Brother around 4 and headed home. We took Brother for a walk on our trail along the river just to show him the view. river

(one of the views of the river)

The next day we took a trip up to Mount Vernon. We hadn’t toured it yet and figured Brother would enjoy it too. It was beautiful and well preserved. Goldilocks is still too young to understand the historic value of it, but she enjoyed walking around and looking at the pretty flowers and the “big house” as she called it.

This is the view of the bowling green and front aspect and the other is a view of the roof  from the side and rear of the house.

potomac

A view of the Potomac River from the rear of Mount Vernon. Pictures really don’t do the view justice. It is absolutely gorgeous!

At Mount Vernon there is also the Manor’s farm. There are still live animals and gardens growing and People dressed in period costumes showing how things were done back in the day.

I wanted to take pictures of the interior of the house, but no photos were allowed. Those big, beautiful horses are called Shire horses. They were an impressive site close up. They were busy pulling people around in a wagon while we were there.

The flowers around the manor and in Martha Washington’s garden were gorgeous. The gardens are meticulously cared for to maintain their splendor.  I had to keep Goldilocks from picking the flowers. We lasted at Mount Vernon until about 1 pm and then we all decided it was time to find some lunch. Then Brother decided he needed some new sneakers, which he found a great deal on. It definitely pays to go to a store closing sale.

The next day we drove out to Chatham Manor. Its a quick drive from where we are in the Historic part of town.Its a pretty drive and we were able to show Brother part of the Historic District. I love seeing the old houses and gardens.

This is the front view of the house, and then the view from the rear of the house of the city.

The architecture of the old houses and manors is so pretty and the gardens are like nothing you see on newer construction. Flowers are some of my favorite subjects and these old gardens are full of beautiful specimens.

We also went perusing through the antique stores in the Historic district. If I had had a pocket full of cash, I would have come home with a trunk full of antiques! I saw so many beautiful things! I will definitely be going back with some pocket change.

That was all for this weekend. I hope you enjoyed the pictures!