Archive for December, 2010

December 31, 2010

Life Lesson: Men.

Care for the men in your life, that respect their mothers.

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December 29, 2010

Life Lesson: Boots and cows.

Wear cowboy boots – even if you don’t live in Texas.

December 28, 2010

Food: Sweet Potato and Chipotle Soup.

I love going through old food magazines. I rip out all the recipes that are inspiring and those that I hope to try one day. Well this was one of those afternoons. If you like sweet potatoes – I happen to love them – this is the soup for you. The chipotle chili addition is fantastic. I almost jumped up and down with delight. It brings the love out of the same out sweet potato soup and makes it memorable. Can a soup be memorable?

(Recipe adapted from Everyday Food Magazine)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • coarse salt & ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes (2 lbs total) peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 to 1 whole chipotle chili in adobo, chopped
  • 7 cups of low sodium chicken broth
  • sour cream, cilantro, salted tortilla chips, optional for serving 

1. In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium high heat. Add onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook until beginning to brown around the edges, about 7 mins. Add cumin & garlic and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 1 min. Stir in sweet potatoes, chile, and broth. Bring to a boil’ reduce to a rapid simmer, partially cover and cook until sweet potatoes can be mashed easily with a spoon, 20 to 25 mins.

2. Let soup cool slightly.  Using an immersion blender, puree soup in the pot.  You can use a blender if you work in batches. 

3. Season with salt & pepper. (This is where I added some chopped cilantro). Serve and Enjoy.

*Top with sour cream or serve with tortilla chips.

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December 27, 2010

Food: Lemon Blueberry Muffins.

So just like you, I have tried my share of blueberry muffins. Too many blueberries, not enough berries, too crumbly, dry, too moist and many other not so positive adjectives. Well, let me put your blueberry muffin nightmares to rest – this is the recipe! Okay, maybe you haven’t had nightmares about blueberry muffins but let’s face it they are great stand-in’s and super easy to make for that grab and go breakfast or snack. They don’t last long in my house, especially during those mornings when we are running a little late.

Another note – since I haven’t been that much of  a successful baker at high altitude I was a little apprehensive. But these beat the mile high thin air.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups or a little more of blueberries (if you use frozen, dry them as best as you can before hand; you can also use half – fresh and half-frozen blueberries)
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature (8 tablespoons)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1-2 tablespoons turbinado sugar (optional; for sprinkling on top before baking)

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper muffin cups and spray with Pam.

1. In medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

2. In another bowl (I use a 2 cup measuring cup for this part), toss the blueberries with about 1 tablespoon of the flour mixture. This is the secret to this fabulous recipe – helps the berries stay afloat in the muffins; not at the bottom. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl (Kitchen Aid bowl, if you have one) using your paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, and lemon zest on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. This is the most important step!

4. Add eggs one at a time and beat well, then mix in the vanilla extract. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat until just moistened. Add the milk and beat just until combine – don’t overbeat.

5. Lightly fold in the blueberries using a rubber spatula, careful not to smooch them. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups so that each one is 2/3 full. Sprinkle a small amount of the turbinado sugar over each muffin.

6. Bake until the muffins are golden brown and toothpick inserted in the center of one of the muffins comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool. Remove and let cool completely or if you are like me eat when they are still warm with some butter in the middle.

7. Enjoy! Keep covered on the counter for easy access.

*Sometimes there is more batter than the 12 muffin pan provides – so I bake another batch.

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December 27, 2010

Thoughts: Looking for Guest Posts for January!!

So you think you have what it takes? You think you have a super fantastic lesson? I bet you do. Tell me about it. It can be short and sweet – like many of mine are. Or you’ve got a story that has to go along with the lesson. I totally understand and want to hear it. So put it together and shot me an email. I can’t wait to hear from you. Don’t be shy.

Oh and yes it does take 3 lovely ladies to baste a turkey. Just sayin.

Just click here if you would like to enter a guest post for this month!

December 26, 2010

Food: 5 Herb Roasted Chicken

I’m not sure what is easier than making a roasted chicken. Maybe drinking a glass of water. Seriously, it takes 3 minutes to prep it and then the oven takes care of the rest – creating this juicy flavorful delicious meal! Herbs de Provence is a must with this roasted chicken – the intense layers of earthy flavors are infused throughout the entire bird – plus your house will smell amazing. Great dish for entertaining. Look at this bird. It is pretty impressive. Just don’t tell your guests it took you only 3 minutes!

  • 1 whole roaster chicken
  • 2 tablespoons Herbs de Provence
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2-3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 400F

1- Combine Herbs de Provence, salt, pepper, paprika and butter. It will form a paste.  Place chicken in roasting pan. Rub spice and butter paste underneath the skin all over the chicken. Spread the oil on the top of the chicken (add more salt and pepper on top, if desired).

2- Tent foil over chicken and place in oven for 1 hour. Remove foil to let skin brown. Depending on size of chicken – mine only took 30 more minutes with the foil off.

3- Let rest for at least 10 minutes before cutting into it.

4- Enjoy!

*I added some vegetables to roast along with the bird – I made stock with them afterwards!

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December 26, 2010

Life Lesson: Shopping Carts.

Return your shopping cart. It is a good deed. It is a nice gesture. You are helping the high school kid do his job.

December 25, 2010

Life Lesson: The art of giving.

Learn the art of giving. Giving is rewarding. It warms your heart. To see someone smile from receiving something from you is such a joy. Giving doesn’t have to always involve the giving of a material thing – giving love, support, friendship and hugs are more important.

December 24, 2010

Life Lesson: Wreaths.

Wreaths on front doors are not just for holidays. They encourage congeniality and happiness all year round.

December 23, 2010

Life Lesson: homemade.

Learn the art of making homemade mac and cheese. It’s a comfort thing.

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December 22, 2010

Food: Roasted Spiced Almonds

I’ve never made these before but they are everywhere this time of year. I read this recipe and couldn’t believe how simple it sounded. I added some cayenne pepper to the mix to add a little heat. Super simple and great to have around the house for a little snack. I was devouring them well I was cooking dinner – yikes, might not have room for that tenderloin after all.

By the way, Spanish smoked paprika is my new favorite thing. Just thought I should tell you. I use it in everything – on eggs, potatoes, tacos…yes, everything!

adapted from Cookinglight magazine

  • 1  tablespoon  water
  • 1  large egg white
  • 1  pound  raw, unblanched almonds
  • 1/2  cup  sugar
  • 1  tablespoon  salt
  • 1  teaspoon  Spanish smoked paprika
  • 1  teaspoon  ground cumin
  • 1  teaspoon  ground coriander
  • 1/2  teaspoon  chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 300°.

2. Combine 1 tablespoon water and egg white in a large bowl; stir with a whisk until foamy. Add almonds; toss well to coat. Place almonds in a colander, and drain 5 minutes.

3. Combine almonds, sugar, and next 5 ingredients (through cayenne pepper) in a large bowl; toss to coat. Spread almond mixture in a single layer on a jelly roll pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 300° for 15 minutes. Stir almond mixture; reduce oven temperature to 275°. Bake an additional 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Remove from oven; cool 5 minutes. Break apart any clusters. Cool completely.

4. Enjoy, by the handful or just one at a time. Save them in a glass jar or Tupperware container.

December 22, 2010

Thoughts: It’s that time of year.

It’s that time of year around these parts. Well I guess a lot of parts, it’s that time of year. Yes, its Christmas time. But here in Colorado it is the season for snow. Here I am this past weekend. Enjoying all what Mother Earth dumped on us.

Do you enjoy the snow? I guess it’s in my blood. Growing up in Maine you have to learn to love it. Well, I love it. Sledding. Skiing. Snowmen or Snow-women depending on what kinds of coal and carrots you use. Sorry, it’s true. Off to enjoy more of this feathery light white stuff.

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