Monday, November 30, 2009


Our new puppy... Baxter the Goldendoodle. He's a bundle of furry energy and joy!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Peachy Cocktail

In the Adam's mixology app on his iPhone, we put our liquor cabinet contents into the app and while searching the possible drinks we can make, he found this drink. I'm enjoying it right now! I'm loving it so much, I had to share! He adapted it a bit so here's what he did:

3 shots orange juice
1/2 shots cranberry juice
1 shot vodka
1 shot peach schnapps

Fill a tall glass with ice. Add juices, then vodka and schnapps. Stir. Yum!

It's kind of a summery drink but I'm really enjoying even though the days are getting quite chilly!

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

I recently stumbled upon a blog called Our Best Bites. It has the most clever and delicious recipes and amazing photos to go along with them. While everything sounds so appetizing - I already made sweet potato fries I found on the site, I wanted to make something easy and enjoyable for everyone to take along to Thanksgiving dinner at Adam's sister's house. I stumbled across peanut butter sandwich cookies and they sounded devine. I whipped them up while keeping a watchful eye on our new puppy who walked around the living room and eventually came over and decided to take a nap with his head resting on my feet while I formed the cookies.

1 cup butter flavored Crisco
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup real butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar (I used about 3 1/2 cups. You be the judge)
2 teaspoon vanilla
5-6 Tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream shortening, peanut butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add in vanilla and eggs one at a time. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, baking soda and salt and add to the dough. Mix to combine.

Roll into balls about the size of a quarter, roll in sugar, place on cookie sheet (I lined it with parchment) and make the fork criss-cross print. Remember to keep the cookies small because they will be sandwiched. They can be placed pretty closely together on the baking sheet.
Bake cookies for 6 to 7 minutes. I baked mine for 6 minutes and that seemed to be perfect. Remove from pan and place on cooling racks.

To make filling, whip the peanut butter and butter together until smooth. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Then add milk one tablespoon at a time. You may not need it all. You want the filling to be on the thick side; it should just have enough milk to make it spreadable.

Once cookies are cool, place a generous amount of filling on one cookie and sandwich it with another. Store in airtight containers.

Cookies ready for the oven.

Waiting to turned into sandwiches.

The finished product!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

New Man In Town

Yes, I have a few things I want to make to take to Thanksgiving dinner, but nothing is more important than giving all my attention to the newest member of our family - a 3 month Goldendoodle (name to be determined). We just picked him up this morning. With 3 males to choose from, it took us awhile but we decided on this little guy:

Adam and I are now the proud parents of this guy - Beardsley, Baxter or Merrick. With a golden retriever mother and a standard white poodle father, this little guy will grow up to be a big fella! We figured this is the perfect time to get him since we have time off for the holidays (he just walked over my keyboard hahaha). He has had a bath, play time with his big brother Trapper and his first meal at home. Now he's wondering around the house, getting aquainted.

The car ride home.

Adam introducing him to his new toys. He likes his new bed too!

Big brother Trapper

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

PtitChef Website

I've recently been invited to join the PtitChef website. You can see the icon on the top right of my page, right below the header. The website features recipes from their members' food blogs. I've found quite a few good recipes from fellow bloggers that I would have never found before, including several international dishes - the website is not American, but French. If you have some free time, take a peak at their site!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pretty Meadow Farm

Last evening Adam and I had the pleasure of visiting an absolutely beautiful bed and breakfast in Newport, PA. Pretty Meadow Farm is hidden in the coutryside of Perry County, a wonderful surprise on a rural back road. We arrived to the farm for their open house after dark so we could only see the lights in the house's windows but immediately I could tell we were in for a special treat!

I wasn't wrong.

We entered through the kitchen and were greated by the owners and their wonderful staff. As we talked through the door we smelled the spiced cider warming on the stove in a beautiful copper pot. We continued through the kitchen - Adam had to mind his head quite often because a house built in during the turn of the 19th century did not accomodate 6'4" tall gentleman! We then entered the foyer and to the right was a sitting room and the dining room. In the dining room, we were welcomed by not only a warm fireplace and unique wall art, but a beautiful spread of hor d'oeuvres. The owners of Pretty Meadows raise beef cattle and garden so nearly all of the appetizers were grown/raised locally.

The spread was wonderful and very inspiring for my own holiday entertaining - endive leaves stuffed with bleu cheese & topped with pear curd, brie topped with quince jelly, various spiced & sugared nuts, sweet mini cupcakes, mac 'n cheese, & spinich and leek quiche. All so delectable!

The owner's farm raised beef brisket baked with chiles and cocoa. Wonderful!

After enjoying the company of other guests, we wondered upstairs to see the four guest rooms. The walls of the rooms are painted in vibrant colors which made them feel warm and welcoming! The windows are original - I love the wide sills! The exposed beam ceiling give an extra rustic feeling. Here are three of the rooms:

If you're like me, you're wondering when you and/or your friends can stay here for a night and enjoy some the local, delicious food. Well they are hoping to be open for business in the spring. I will be anxiously awaiting and sure to let you all know about the grand opening!

A special thank you to Pretty Meadow for their hospitality and to Rick at the Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau for telling me about this hidden treasure!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Venison Loin with Red Wine and Cherry Sauce & Sweet Potato Fries

This week I set out to find a venison recipe and when I can across venison loin with red wine and cherry sauce, I thought the combo of ingredients sounded interesting. Thanks to Adam's dad's wonderful supply of venison, we tried the recipe on Friday night.

I found this recipe on but it was originally printed in Cooking Light, November 2006. Below is the recipe according to how I made, which includes modifications from the original recipe.

5 shallots, peeled and quartered
4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 venison tenderloins, trimmed (about 9 ounces each)
kosher salt
5 sprigs fresh rosemary, leave chopped
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 cup cabernet sauvignon or other dry red wine
3/4 cup dried cherries
1 1/2 cups less-sodium beef broth
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 400°.

Combine shallots and 2 teaspoons oil; toss well. Arrange shallots in a single layer in a shallow roasting pan.

Rub venison evenly with 1/2 teaspoon salt, half of the chopped rosemary and some pepper. Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add venison; cook 6 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove venison from pan; arrange on top of shallots in roasting pan. Bake at 400° for 17 minutes or until a thermometer registers 145° (medium-rare, but I cooked it closer to well done and it still tasted good!). Remove venison and shallots from pan. Keep venison warm. Chop shallots.

Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots, wine, and cherries; cook until liquid is reduced to 1/2 cup (about 3 minutes), scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add broth and 1/2 teaspoon salt and the remaining chopped rosemary; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until reduced to 2 cups (about 5 minutes). Combine 1 tablespoon water and cornstarch in a small bowl. Add cornstarch mixture to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in butter and juice. Cut venison across grain into thin slices; serve venison with sauce.

Adam took this candid of me while slicing the venison. Notice the lovely peony demi apron - a birthday gift from Rebecca!

I am a huge fan of sweet potatoes and this time of the year I have even more cravings for them. Candied sweet potatoes with lots of brown sugar and butter are my favorite but a close second are sweet potato fries. Thanks to Adam's patience and precise chopping skills, we made these delicious. While these oven fries didn't turn out as crispy as we had hoped, they were still tasty!

Sweet Potato Fries from Our Best Bites

2 medium-sized sweet potatoes*
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1/2 t cumin (We did not use)
1/2 t oregano
1/2 t coriander (We did not use)
1 t kosher salt
1 t parsley
fresh ground pepper (about 10 turns of a pepper mill)

*you want 1lb sweet potatoes after they are peeled, sliced, etc. If you weigh them at the store make sure you have a little more than a pound to allow for the peeling, and tossing of small pieces.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Spray a cookie sheet lightly with cooking spray (don't use foil on the cookie sheet).

Slice your sweet potatoes into french fry shape and size - about 1/4 inch thick. Cutting them larger, like steak fries, will sometimes result in a big soggy mess, so stay small to get the best results.

Put the sweet potatoes in a bowl and drizzle the olive oil over them. Use your hands to make sure each one is coated. If you've got more than a pound of sweet potatoes, add a little extra olive oil. Then sprinkle on all of the herbs and spices and continue to toss until well coated.Place the fries on the baking sheet. It's very important that they are not touching.

Place cookie sheet in pre-heated oven and set the timer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes take pan of oven and flip the fries with a big spatula. Make sure they're spaced out again.

Bake for another 15-20 minutes until golden brown

Take them out of the oven and serve immediately. They cool off very quickly so they're best eaten right away. Serves about 4.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Autumn Potato Salad from 101 Cookbooks

I made a delicious fall side dish last night. Adam and I didn't get home until late but I wanted to toss this easy recipe together so we can eat it over the next few days. I have some for lunch today and I can hardly wait to enjoy it!

Unfortunately I left my camera at my parents' house so I wasn't able to take a photo of my Autumn Potato Salad (I also made pumpkin roll on Sunday and I had my camera but my memory card was back at Adam's in his computer, but it's ok because the pumpkin roll was kind of a flop...).

I owe this creation to 101 Cookbooks. Here is the wonderful recipe.

Some things I did differently:
  • Because it was late in the evening, I didn't make rice to go with the salad but I was planning on making brown minute rice for time saving purposes.
  • I couldn't find parsnips so I used turnips.
  • The green onions didn't roast well so I didn't end up putting them in the salad.
  • I didn't add cream to the vinaigrette. I didn't have any and was going to use milk but I forgot!

This is a delicious salad! The vinaigrette made the dish! Thank you, 101 Cookbooks!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sausage and Tomato Rigatoni

Last Thursday Bec and I decided to get together after work and cook dinner together. Wednesday we had planned to make chicken chasseur, with Bec picking up the ingredients after work and me bringing dessert. We would cook at her house. But as you all know, a day can change things and it turned out our mommas made most of the dinner for us! Bec's mom started a delicious Sausage and Tomato Rigatoni (and Bec finished it) and she baked wonderful wheat and white rolls. Bec made a salad with nuts, feta and apples, which was delightful. And my mom made us three different desserts - banana cake, carrot cake and a crescent roll cream cheese squares.
Thank you to our mommas!

Here is a Sior Family Favorite -
Sausage and Tomato Rigatoni

4 cups (8 oz pkg) rigatoni, cooked according to package instructions
1 lb. bulk Italian sausage
1 medium red onion, sliced
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup Kraft Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette Dressing
Fresh parsley, chopped
Parmesan cheese, grated

Brown sausage in a large skillet. Drain and return meat to skillet. Add onion and tomato paste. Cook on medium-high heat for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package instructions.

Add dressing to meat mixture then toss with pasta. Top with parsley and cheese.

Bec putting the final touch on the pasta.

Pasta, salad and bread. Carbs are the best!

My mom's dessert tray. Recipes to follow!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Veggie Stuffed Mushrooms

Yesterday Adam and I wanted to make a few snacks for our friends who were coming over to watch the Penn State/Ohio State game. My mom made these stuffed mushrooms for Adam and I once and he loved them so I thought I'd give them a try. Eventhough PSU lost, the mushroom caps were delicious!

20 large mushrooms (white or baby bella)
1/2 cup brocolli, finely chopped
1/4 c carrot, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon onion, finely chopped (I sliced up 2 green onions)
1 cup seasoned croutons, crushed to 1/2 cup
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoon butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Clean and remove the stems from the mushrooms, reserving the stems. Cut away some mushroom for a larger hole. Place the mushrooms, rounded side down, in a deep dish baker.
Using a small chopper, chop enough mushroom stems to equal 1/4 cup. I used a small chopper to chop up the broccoli and carrots too. Adam crushed the croutons with the back of a wooden spoon. ha! Whatever works! :)

In a medium bowl, combine the broccoli, carrots, onion, croutons, cheese, salt and butter.

Gently fill each mushroom with stuffing.
Bake 15 to 20 minutes until....

... golden brown.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Journey of a Pumpkin

So once a long neck pumpkin was born (well, probably sprouted, then budded, then bloomed, then grew). That pumpkin was very large and he found his way to a road side "fall decoration" stand. I pulled over and for $4, he was all mine. I bought him, a mum, a medium sized Jack O Lantern pumpkin and a bunch of gourds to decorade the alter of my church for the harvest season. A few weeks went by and because I was horrible at remembering to water the mum that it nearly died, I took all the decorations home (I tried to do mum CPR but she just didn't pull through). Then the decorations made a journey to Adam's house to grace his stoop. Last weekend I decided I wanted to make a few pumpkin rolls so the long neck traveled back to New Bloomfield where last night I chopped it up, peeled it and cooked it down in preparation for the pumpkin roll. Here are some pictures:

Here is the long neck outside of my parents house, enjoying the simple life of being a fall decoration.

But then I snatched it up, took it inside and began cutting it up. I had the strength to chop through the tough skin knowing that in just a few days, I'll be enjoying some delicious pumpkin roll!

Here are all the peeled pumpkin chunks. I put them in a large pot with a cup of water and let them simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Once the pumpkin was soft, I took it off the heat, drained it and mushed the pumpkin with the back of the spoon.

The next step is to put it in a food processor to make the pumpkin into a smooth puree. But because it was already past my bedtime, I just put it in the refrigerator as is and I'll puree it right before I make the pumpkin roll.

I only cooked half of the long neck so I am guessing my mom will prepare the other half and save it for pumpkin pie and other pumpkin-related treats.

Cooking down pumpkin is sooo easy and much more cost effective than buying canned puree. I know I'll resort back to canned simply for convenience purposes, I hope to use fresh pumpkin as much as I can.

I hope to make the pumpkin rolls on Sunday. Stay tuned for photos!

So this long neck pumpkin has seen many places - and will see more before his life is over. He was a good pumpkin and has so far, served me well.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Pepper Poppers

For my birthday, my best friend pre-ordered me a copy of The Pioneer Woman Cooks for my birthday because the book wasn't published until after my birthday. I just got the book on Friday night so throughout Saturday I looked at the books, reading the Pioneer Woman's life stories and delicious recipes, enjoying her vivid and lively photographs. I really wanted to make something from the book and the bacon wrapped jalapenos caught Adam's eye. However, we couldn't find jalapenos so it was Adam's idea to use red and green bell peppers instead. They turned out to be quite tasty!

BBQ Jalapeno Poppers from the Pioneer Woman

18 fresh jalapenos, sliced lenghwise, cleaned of membranes and seeds - OR, bell peppers work too!
1 8oz. package cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 grated (I used shredded) cheddar cheese
1 (I used 2) green onion, sliced
18 slices thin bacon
Favorite BBQ sauce

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil.
In a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, cheddar cheese and onions until well incorporated. Fill each pepper half with the cheese mixture and place on baking sheet. Cut bacon to fit around each pepper half. Wrap each pepper with a piece of bacon - but not too tight because bacon shrinks as it cooks - and secure with a tooth pick. Brush the bacon wrapped peppers with BBQ sauce. Bake for one hour until bacon is cooked.

The baked peppers. Anything with cheese and bacon turns out good!