Thursday, November 29, 2012

Soft Molasses Cookies

Return to Pooh Corner by Kenny Loggins
Today's recipe takes me back to my children's childhood - so I needed a song to reflect that time of our life.  This CD played on an endless loop in the house as well as on the road.  It made everyone happy - especially in the car.  Although it is a children's album, it appeals to all listener's.  For years it was my gift of choice for baby showers as I was eager for others to experience it's soulful and calming charm.  Call it the "Child Whisperer," if you will.  It was hard for me to settle on one particular song from the collection, but in the end I've decided to go with the title track - mostly, to be honest, because of the recorded child's giggle at the 2:18 mark.  Who can resist a giggling child?!  And that's Amy Grant making a contribution on one of the verses and harmony.  I'd say to just get the whole album, have a listen, and just try to be grumpy.  It's impossible!  All is well in the world at Pooh Corner!  And in my kitchen at the moment ~

My children used to get a kid's magazine in the mail.  It was filled with fun stories, quick crafts, and, often, a recipe.  For the most part, the recipes were elementary things like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or chocolate milk.  But, now and then, they had something that caught my eye.

I'm not certain, but I think that this recipe came from that magazine.  You see, I copied it off, by hand - and then have recopied it several times, by hand, and, over the years, I just can't remember for sure how it landed in my recipe box.  Let's just say I'm glad it did!  And you will be, too!

The molasses cookies in my life, up to the point of finding this recipe, had been the hard kind - crispy - a bit harsh in flavor.  The molasses would bowl you right over with it's strappy flavor.  Nothing like a mouth full of sulphur, right?  But these cookies are soft!  And the molasses, while prevalent, is luxuriously alluring - almost like chocolate.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Cranberry Orange Scones

Gotta Have You by The Weepies
So there I was, enjoying an episode of One Tree Hill, when a song starts playing and I am captivated!  Well, more like, OBSESSED!  Who IS this?!  I didn't rest until I tracked it down (thank you, internet!) and stepped into the world of The Weepies - a very happy day for me!  I discovered a treasure trove of songs that I knew I HAD to have in my life RIGHT NOW!  Since then, I've recognized their songs in the backgrounds of all sorts of other TV shows, movies, and commercials.  They are also often playing in the background of my daily life - like Gotta Have You.  Whenever I come across something that is highly desirable, this song starts playing.  When I pulled these scones from the oven, it was what was playing in my head - as I did a little happy dance, of course!

It was time for another flavor of scone.  I could feel it in my bones.  I'm a scone-loving fool anymore.  But when the texture and flavor are perfect, it's hard not to be!

A flavor profile that is plentiful right now is cranberries and orange.  They love each other's company and I enjoy hanging out with them when they are together!  Most people have cranberries hanging around the house in some shape or form after Thanksgiving.  I'd be willing to bet, though, that the most popular form is the dried cranberry popularly known as a Craisin.  These little snacks have catapulted cranberries from the "No, thank you, Grandma" category into the "Yes, please!  And what else can I throw these into" category.  They are yummy as is or do wonders as an add-in for salads, side dishes, and desserts.  No pantry should be without them!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Happy Thanksgiving ~ from my fork to yours!  Wishing you a blessed holiday!  See you next Monday with more music and recipes!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Apple Walnut Salad

So what IS a natural woman anyway?  Does it involve a way of life?  Does it embody a point of view? Are we embracing a particular stage of life here or are all stages eligible?  Are natural women sans silicone or artificial joints or must they be as they were on the day they were born?  I was on my way to making this favorite holiday salad and I ran into a women's issue.  Read on ~

So, last post I was raving about my Dad's stuffing and how he was Commander-In-Chief in the kitchen on Thanksgiving Day.  Today I'd like to give my mother her fair share of kudos for creating some of those wonderful dishes that graced our feasting table as well.  

I can't remember a single Thanksgiving growing up that didn't have a Waldorf Salad on the table.  I remember my approach to eating the salad - I would eat each ingredient one at a time.  For instance, I'd pick out all the apple pieces and eat them and then I'd move on to the celery, then the raisins, and then, if I was feeling like it, I'd eat the walnuts.  And those are pretty much the ingredients that make up the salad.  It's mixed with a mayonnaise-based dressing and you have a tasty dish with tarts, sweets, and texture.  Every bite is satisfaction!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Roasted Chestnut and Apple Stuffing

Grandpa (Tell Me 'Bout the Good Old Days) by The Judds
I probably spend more time reminiscing at Thanksgiving time than any other time of the year - Christmas included.  It is crammed full of memories of my father.  The images of him in his apron at the stove - bustling around the kitchen, always quick with a corny joke, teasing my mom.  I loved being in the kitchen with him.  Oh dear - the tears are flowing already.  It's gonna be one of those posts today.  This song by The Judds has always pulled at my heartstrings as well.  It's purpose is one of reflection - and hopefully, by reflecting, we can glean some insight as to how to bring those very good parts of the not-so-long-ago back to the present.  I can do it by closing my eyes - or making the stuffing on Thanksgiving Day!

My father was not one of those guys who expected dinner on the table when he got home from work - although it usually was.  He would frequently get home, take off his suit coat, roll up his sleeves, grab an apron, and help finish up what needed finishing.  I thought all dads did this.

Although he did help a great deal with meals, still, I considered the kitchen my mother's domain.  Except on Thanksgiving Day!

Monday, November 12, 2012


Dancin' In the Moonlight by King Harvest
Today's recipe is from a classic that is almost always enjoyed in the moonlight in the outdoors.  I will admit that, at times, it is the sole impetus to pack the car and endure days of no showers, grit in my food, and bug bites.  It is the one thing, without fail, that kids will double and triple check that parents or leaders have the ingredients for on the supply list before heading out to the great outdoors.  In short, no camping trip will commence without graham crackers, chocolate bars, and marshmallows!  This take on that classic is meant for the indoors - and it is indulgent enough to be classified as slightly sinful - maybe even sexy.  You will dance!  Indoors or out!  I love the frolicking image this song has always brought to my mind.  What else would they be dancing about if not s'mores?!

This past summer, to celebrate our 34th wedding anniversary, my husband and I took a drive down through Washington, Oregon, and California and then back up the Pacific Coast Highway.  Prior to leaving, my oldest daughter had told me that I absolutely MUST stop in Sonoma, California.  She had recently been there while visiting with her in-laws and thought it was a place that I would regret not having on my list of stops.  She knows me rather well so I definitely created a path for it!

This trip was about no agendas.  Most of our road trips had been with children - and we all know that their needs alone determine the path and speed of a journey!  We had some key points we wanted to catch but, for the most part, it was about taking it easy - stopping where we wanted to and when we wanted.  We were interested in seeing what was beyond the interstates.  For this reason, I charted a route into the Napa valley via some back routes.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Baked Apples

Home by Philip Phillips
It's been a rough road, this presidential campaign trail.  Whether your candidate won or lost, we're all feeling a little rough around the edges.  I'm not about to suggest that anything we eat is going to fix the troubles we're facing as a nation, but it might put us in the right mood.  A peaceful mood.  A reflective mood.  We need something deeply American.  How about a baked apple, that's also partly pie?  I promise this is a decision you'll be able to make with utmost confidence - the outcome a certainty.  It'll feel like you've come home.

Today's post is brought to you by my siblings!  Yep!  It's a family affair!  Let me fill you in.

A month or so ago, my oldest brother, Ed, asked me if I could come up with a recipe for a baked apple like one he had recently seen.  He described it to me and, I, like him, was just drooling!  It sounded heavenly!  But could I come up with something that would equal the "dream" version?  I started thinking about the descriptors - mystery creamy filling, caramel drizzle . . .  Hmmm.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Lemon and Toasted Coconut Biscotti

Don't Think Twice, It's Alright by Peter, Paul and Mary
Some things just don't get any clearer, no matter how long you think on them.  So, as Bob Dylan tells us, don't give it any more thought - it'll be alright.  Bob's words are brought to you today via a folk-singing trio that got a great deal of play in my house as a kid - Peter, Paul and Mary.  They were a part of the 1960s conscience-raising scene and are most famous for their recordings of "Blowin' In the Wind" and "Puff the Magic Dragon."  Their music is calming to me - so when they tell me Don't Think Twice, It's Alright - I believe them!  What kinds of things have given me hours of puzzlement?  Well - plenty, actually.  For one, my Mom's ban on dunking food when we were kids.  I don't get it.  Never have.  Never will.  But, it's alright.

I'm a natural-born dunker.  As a kid, EVERYTHING tasted better after a good dunking.  Alas, my mother forbade it.  Was it because she found it to be a messy endeavor?  Perhaps.  Did she find it uncouth and rude?  Possibly.  

Here's the thing - no matter the avenue taken - eating is going to be a messy business with kids.  The food is going to be everywhere.  As a mother of five, I know this.  No matter what I tried, mealtime required some cleanup.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Baked Ziti

Lean On Me by Bill Withers
Whenever I make Baked Ziti I think of my dear friend, Connie.  And when I think of Connie my heart never fails to fill with love and the deepest kind of gratitude.  She was THAT friend.  The friend on whom you could always rely - who was never too busy.  And she was put into my life at exactly the right time!  And, although we lived by each other only five years (1986-1991), we have remained just as close of friends.  We don't talk every day - not even every month - but I know she is always there for me - and I for her.  That's the hallmark of a very good friendship.  Oh - and that they share really yummy recipes with you!  

The last five years of my husband's education found us moving to upstate New York.  We lived in a little town outside of Syracuse called Baldwinsville.  At about the same time, Connie and her family moved into the area.  We met at church and the friendship was immediate.  

I could not have survived those years were it not for Connie.  My husband's work kept him away for days on end, never knowing when he would be home again.  With three little ones - and eventually five little ones - she became my life raft!  Even if it was just being someone I could call and chat with each day - that tether to the outside world!