Archive | May 2012

Well, I guess…..

I am going on a diet. There. I said it. On a public forum, no less. So, guess what, readers? While I have a back log of things to post about, I will also be adding recipes for the things that I posted. Aren’t you excited??? The recipes are going to be like extra posts. I will put the picture and recipe on a post all by itself and it will have its own category so that you cooks and bakers out there can find them easily :). I just can’t cook and bake these delicious non-diet foods and not indulge in them! It’s just too hard. I have to taste things so I know what they actually taste like and so if they can be improved, I know what to change and what to leave alone. Ok, rant over…on to the deliciousness that I made the other day at the request of my sweet hubby :).

I have made this dish before, and knew that if I ever made it again, there were some things that I wanted to change to bring it closer to the the original. I am talking about Panera Bread’s Sanoma Stew with their Dry Cheddar Jack Biscuits. If you have ever had this delicious goodness, you know what I am talking about. It is creamy, savory and satisfying, with the extra kick of the cheese in the biscuits that melt just a little as you break them up in the stew….my mouth is watering just thinking about it! Well, My best friend and I used to (notice the past tense here) go there every Saturday on our Girls Night Out and get a bowl of this stew. I mean EVERY time! We absolutely adored this stew! It was like manna from heaven. Then one night, when we were desperate for something to eat (we had been playing a little to long), we stopped in at the closest Panera and were all set to order a bowl. To our surprise, it had been removed from the menu! Gasp! What were we supposed to eat now?? The only thing that kept me from walking out was the fact that I was to hungry to drive anywhere else! I asked why they didn’t serve it anymore, and they told me it was a seasonal item…..ggrrrrr, ugh, and all other unhappy sounds. We were SSOOOOO not happy!

Right then and there I decided that I was going to try to recreate it at home. I had already figured out the that the “biscuits” were actually savory scones. Easy Peasy…I knew how to make scones, I just had to figure out the right flavor profile. The cheese was obvious, Cheddar and Monteray Jack cheeses, but the other ingrediants were a little more involved. The first time I made the scones, they were good, but they weren’t…right? I guess. After doing a little more research (a.k.a. reading LOTS of savory scone recipes) I discovered something that my scones were missing. These recipes called for an egg to be whisked into the cream…..I didn’t do that! I made perfect sense to me, though. That was definitely what my scone was missing texture-wise. Anyway this is the batch that came out perfectly, taste, texture and all things delicious in a savory scone!

   I was so excited that they came out so well! They smelled right, just like the ones from Panera and they were pretty, even with the oozing melted cheese. I honestly don’t know what Panera does to keep their cheese from melting but I really don’t care. Those bits of cheese were the fast track to adding thier flavor to the stew 🙂

As for the stew, well, that was way more involved. Luckily for me, I had managed to get my mom to have some of Panera’s stew before it dissappeared. I remembered her making the comment that it tasted a lot like our Chicken Pot Pie filling. That did it for me. I knew that recipe by heart so I knew I need those basic ingredients, but I also knew there was a little more to it than that. I knew I need to cook it for a LONG time. I knew that I needed to make sure that the chicken was cooked and flavorful before I even added it to the rest of the stew ingredients. I knew it had to be creamy, but not to chowder creaminess. Like the scones, the first time was close but not quite there, even though it tasted good.

The second time, which my hubbs requested turned out MUCH better. I tweaked a few things and cooked this stew about 8 hours longer than the first time (I cooked it all night in my Crock Pot) so by the time hubby had it for lunch it had been cooking for about 14 hours. I had prepared it the night before, prior to hitting the sack. It was sheer perfection! It was creamy, flavorful and, well, see for yourself:

original idea from Panera BreadMy hubbs was blissed out after the first bite. He liked it so much he made sure he took it to work for his dinner, along with several scones 🙂 I love when he loves what I made. It makes me feel like all my work was worth-while.

It was Wednesday, so afore-mentioned Best Friend was coming over for dinner, so she had some as well.  She could tell that I had tweaked it (she had some of the first try)I was so happy that it came out so perfectly. I think it is time to leave that recipe alone…I guess I should write it down 😉

As I mentioned above I will be posting some of the recipes for the things that I have posted, adding more as I go so, Stay Tuned…..


Happy National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day!!!

So..I don’t know how many of you know that such a day exists, but it does, and it is TODAY!! Actually, to be honest, I didn’t know it existed either until earlier this afternoon. Which was after I made these:

Malty, Chocolatey goodness

(Click here for the Recipe)

   Malted Chocolate Chunk cookies. If you like malted chocolate balls (that sounded a little dirty..), this is your cookie. My mom is a huge fan of the afore-mentioned candies, and she really liked these :). Now, it wasn’t until later when I was perusing my favorite site, Pinterest, that I saw posted in a few different places that it was a cookie Holiday! Whoopie! Who doesn’t love a reason to eat a cookie? I found it funny that I had already made the cookies ;).

      Today is also My oldest Bear’s Birthday 🙂 This is his last year in the single digits! Gosh, I feel old now 😦 Oh, well…Anyway, my family usually celebrates birthdays together, and this is usually on a Sunday after church. Well, the Sunday closest to his birthday also happened to be Mother’s day this year. Of course I didn’t really mind sharing the day with the child who made me a mother to begin with. My Mom didn’t either 🙂 This was the perfect excuse to make this cake:   I had asked Bear #1 what kind of cake he wanted and he wanted coconut. It was a match made in heaven! It was just the excuse I needed to make this cake! I got the recipe from here. Make sure to read the comments at the bottom of that post for some helpful hints, should you decide to make the cake, which I advise whole-heartedly. The cake comes out soft and tender, the topping is just delicious and it is easy to make! Definitely a crowd pleaser in my family. Birthday Bear was happy with it as well, which was what really mattered.

I have quite a back log on things I have made so I will be posting about them soon. I hope you will go enjoy a chocolate chip cookie in any of its forms! Stay tuned…..

We bought a Zoo

very cool :) Ok, well, we didn’t buy it. We did go to the zoo :). Our friends from further south than us came up for the day and wanted to visit our zoo (which is beautiful, by the way), so we did! I also had prepared several yummy things for us to have for our meals.

For the zoo, I had picnic food ready; chicken salad sandwiches and potato salad. The friends were impressed 🙂 and all I could think was “wait till you see what I have planned for dinner!”

We had a good time walking around the zoo, my kids love it and Goldilocks is getting to the age that she actually notices the animals. Of course, everything is a “te-te” (kitty) or a “ze-ze” (Daisy, my mom’s dog’s name). I am just glad she is actually noticing the animals!

Back to the food… After we had walked around the zoo for about 4 hours, we went home. My friends had been up since about 5:30, so they were ready to take a little power nap. This was fine, because it gave me a chance to clean up the mess from breakfast that morning and finish preparing dinner.

Dinner that night was a hit! I made Chicken Florentine meatballs in a light sauce served over pasta with from-scratch English muffin bread, toasted and slathered with an herbed butter. For dessert I made a decadent Chocolate truffle cake, which got rave reviews both at the table and via a picture-post that my friend decided to put on Facebook 🙂

Alright..I guess that is enough drool inducing for today….I will post again soon with more of my creations, So Stay Tuned……

My crazy life…

So, I have been a busy mommy the last week! It has been crazy! I have been cooking and baking and creating up a storm :). This past Saturday I had a birthday party to go to (My friend Courtney’s little one, his first birthday!!) and My friend Robin’s baby shower on Sunday. Well, let me just say that this was a week of no money…you know those right? The ones where you have just enough money to pay all the bills, and pay for the Groceries, but that is it? This was one of those weeks. It didn’t matter, really. My pantry was full and the bills are paid, so all is well :). There isn’t a need for anything else.

Anyway, So I now have these two functions to attend, no money for gifts and not really sure what I was going to do! Then I had an epiphany. I could make the gifts :). Now, it was deciding what to make. Robin is having a baby Girl, so that was easy, I could make her a dress. I have made lots of things for Goldilocks, so I had fabric and the know how, and even a cute pattern. I printed the pattern out (it was one I had saved on the computer) and started rummaging around for just the right fabric. I found what I wanted and, since Goldilocks was napping which is the best time to do this kind of project, I began cutting. I had to stop when Goldilocks woke up, but finished it up when she went down for her afternoon nap. Here is the finished product :

When she pulled it out of the bag, I could see that she truly loved it! She didn’t know I made it. She had already gotten several other outfits, but this one took the cake for her apparently. Her exact comment was ” I think I just found my going home outfit!” I cannot tell you how gratifying that was to me. I was so worried that she wouldn’t like it….Well, she put all my fears to rest. Her sister spoke up and asked me where I bought it (here was where the truth was going to come out), and I told her I had made it. The exclamations from the ladies in the room were nearly deafening! None of them, except Courtney (who was also there) and Robin even knew me and therefore knew that I am crafty ;), so everyone was genuinely surprised that it was my creation. I was just glad that Robin liked it 🙂

As for Courtney’s baby’s gift, that was a little bit more difficult, as far as coming up with something good. I had a plain white onesie that I considered doctoring up and giving to him, you know, by appliqueing something cute onto it. I changed my mind when I saw a really great pin on Pinterest for homemade play dough. This is not the kind from when we were kids, that was crumbly, dry, didn’t last very long and had to be refrigerated. This play dough comes out beautiful, smooth and feels like store-bought. I used gel food coloring to get nice rich color. here is the link to the recipe : She uses food coloring in the mix when she is heating it, but I kneaded the color in after it was cooked ( because I wanted 4 different colors). I guess it really doesn’t matter when you do it, just remember to knead the color in well if you are going to do it my way. Otherwise you end up with little pockets of dense color that will stain your hands.

The really nice thing about this play dough is that it stays pliable for up to 6 months. As long as you take care of it (i.e. put it away once playtime is done) and keep it in a cool dark place (not the refrigerator, more like a pantry of cabinet) it won’t dry out. It is great for small children as it is non-toxic. It is made out of “edible” ingredients, although it will taste bitter if eaten, so it won’t hurt anyone if baby decides to put some in his mouth. Courtney thought it was a perfect gift, and I had yet another success with a homemade gift!

I have a few yummy things that I made, but I will post about them later. One of them is a sweet that we have all grown up loving! If you want to know more, Stay tuned……