Thursday, October 31, 2013

Roasted Spiced Butternut Squash Soup

Autumn Mist by Pianissimo Brothers
Last year I really got the urge early to start listening to Christmas music and it frustrated me!  I'm definitely one of those who don't like to shortchange the Thanksgiving season.  And I didn't want to tire of my Christmas music before it even got to Christmas!  So I took my frustration to the iTunes store and  looked to see if maybe there was some Thanksgiving music out there, too!  And, oh happy day!  There was!  I downloaded a few albums of mostly instrumental music that brilliantly matched that autumn feel - the feeling of winding down - the feeling of reflection - the feeling of taking stock of your blessings.  And the feeling of wanting to cozy up to a bowl of really good soup!  This song does all those things!  If you're wanting some holiday music of a non-Jingle Bell persuasion - at least for now - check out the album that this song is on.  And make some soup!

My great group of girlfriends and I have been holding these Jumble Sales this past year.
We have a theme of reusing, repurposing, and recycling.
We call our little boutique "Twice Is Nice" and send out flyers and 
invite all our friends to come see what we've been up to and maybe buy some of it!
We held the first sale in the spring and then the second one just last week.
We have so much fun doing it.

For me, though, it has become something more.
It has become a place to funnel all my creative energy - and 
I have lots of it running around inside my head - keeping me up at night.
The thrill and buzz I get from looking at something and 
imagining it in a new way is indescribable.
It is a high for me.
It is euphoric even.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Witch Hat Sugar Cookies

Witchy Woman by The Eagles
That little witch above has got her work cut out for her!  Shopping for the perfect hat with which she will be able to dazzle and put a spell on Don Henley and be the mysterious woman of this song!  But, let's be honest.  If there's anyone casting spells and captivating eyes and hearts, it's Don Henley!  Am I right, girls?!  Am I right?!  I got to see The Eagles in concert recently and, every now and then, I closed my eyes and just pretended away all those thousands of other people and told myself it was a private affair event.  Yeah - he's in his 60s now but that voice is still raspy and raw - and every bit as delicious as these soft chocolate witchy cookie hats.  You WILL be spellbound!

I'm sure you've heard the saying,
"If I'm wrong, I'll eat my hat!"
Well, with these cookies around, you'll be wishing for error after error!
So very soft and moist with a rich chocolatey taste and a chaser of cinnamon.
I made a few minor changes to my Chocolate Sugar Cookie recipe and used
my Chocolate Buttercream Frosting, making it a little thinner than usual to help with
the smaller piping lines.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pumpkin Pancakes

Autumn Leaves by Eric Clapton
Our leaves are just starting to turn here in the pacific northwest.  And it's a melancholy feeling.  I'm caught between the sadness of seeing the long, hot days of summer go away and the excitement of seeing family and friends throughout the upcoming holiday season.   A wistful song seems to satisfy my mood.  Many artists have covered this song and I love them all - mostly because it's an exquisite piece of music.  Nat King Cole gives a grand studio performance - classic.  Eva Cassidy does a mournful and soulful cover that makes me want to cry - in a good way.  Miles Davis' rendition is a little sexy - maybe too sexy for pancakes.  But Eric Clapton's version is so intimate.  It feels like he is sitting right there with you.  And this is a scenario that I can picture quite readily.  Me sitting there enjoying these delicious Pumpkin Pancakes, while he serenades me with his impeccable guitar skills.  Wistful - melancholy - yes, it must be autumn!

One of the best things about this time of year is the arrival of 

I have found some really great ways to incorporate pumpkin in some of my recipes lately.
This recipe today is just one of them.
And I'm happy to share!

The traditional Halloween night dinner I made for my kids, and they mostly ignored
in their scramble to get out the door, was hot dogs and macaroni and cheese.
Yes, the Kraft in a box macaroni and cheese.
I'm thinking that these pancakes would be a more welcome lure to the table.
Served up with a little bacon, of course.
A glass of milk or hot cider (if it's nippy out there) and they'll be
fueled for an evening of fun!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Sailor Jack Muffins

Brandy by Looking Glass
This song from my youth used to act like a pause button.  My mother hated songs like this because they'd make me stop what I was supposed to be doing and stare off into space.  I guess I should say she didn't hate the song - just its effect on me.  Although I had yet to see the ocean or a port, except in the movies, this song made me imagine I was standing right there on the dock.  I thought what it must have been like to be Brandy, watching each ship come in and unloading their cargo, hoping to see her love and what treasure he had brought from far, far across the sea.  I never gave much thought to the treasures they might have been loading INTO the ships before they set sail.  The song clearly states that Brandy lived in a port on the west coast.  Why not the pacific northwest?  And what those ships would be loading up would be these delectable and delicious and delightful Sailor Jack muffins!  It's true!  Ah!  Had Brandy caught a whiff of these spiced breads she would have quit her job at the tavern and ran off with . . . not her love . . . but with Sailor Jack!  Oh yeah!

If you were to see me, you'd see I'm about bouncing out 
of my chair with excitement to bring you this recipe today!
No kidding!
I tasted these stud muffins for the first time about a month 
ago and the world truly stood still for a minute!
I can't even explain how serious I am!
Let's put it this way - 
if one of these muffins were placed in front of me 
along with a dish of the most decadent silky chocolate mousse - 
or even ganache -
I'd choose the muffin!
Let me tell you about it.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Apple Crostata

Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon by Queen
Being lazy.  Sometimes it's a good thing!  It's what we call it when we don't feel like going to alot of trouble over something.  For instance, "I was feeling lazy so I just popped something into the microwave!"  We've all said something to that effect.  I wanted a song that would reflect that attitude and it gave me the opportunity to tap into one of my all-time FAVORITE albums - A Night At the Opera by Queen!  Sheer brilliance.  I won't tell you just how recent it was that I realized I had been singing the wrong lyrics to this song.  Let's just say woohoo for being able to Google lyrics, eh?  I had been singing, rather loudly I might add (as is the only way to sing most of this album), that "Fridays I go painting in the N-U-U-U-U-U-D-E!!!" Didn't quite catch that subtle "V" at the end, making the more logical and correct lyric - "Fridays I go painting in the L-O-O-O-U-V-R-E!"  Ah, well,  we have all done this - and you have to admit that, being Queen, they could very well have said the nude thing, too!  Our family has some hilarious lyrical goofs.  What are some of yours?

It's a busy time of year.
The holiday rush has already seized me.
I have commitments and projects lined up, ready for me to knock them all down
as we gallop forward toward the end of the year.

I'm not just talking Christmas.
That's why it's called the "holiday" rush or season.
All the holidays between now and the end of the year require a degree 
of planning and preparation.
At least in my world they do!