Happy Anniversary

Today, June 28, 2014,  is our 28th wedding anniversary.  Kent and I met in 1982.   I eyed this young, bearded stranger at 1am on a Saturday night in early February.  Since that day we have been together. We moved in together and have never looked back.  23 years young and in love.  What a fabulous way to start a life. (I  took my first plane flight to Los Angeles to meet him for a business trip.  I was petrified.  He was there to meet me at LAX and that was all that mattered.  I remember that as if it were yesterday.)  We had many more first times of doing things together.  How awesome is that?!

Our first apartment together was me moving in to this condo he was renting.  Our next apartment was a dive in Baldwinsville, NY.  It was wonderful.  We then ended up moving into another apartment in Baldwinsville.  I consider this apartment our first, official home. It was a beautiful old house that was split into 2 apartments.  It had such character.

Then we got married!  Our wedding day was quite a memorable day.  Married by a Justice of the Peace, outside on a beautiful, sunny, warm day.  Fantastic party after our wedding, off to Jamaica the next day with Kent’s sister and her husband.  What a blast!

We moved into our new home.  We had our kids there and then moved into another wonderful home in Cicero, NY. Next best days of my life were having our children.  I never in my wildest dreams thought I would ever want kids.  I sure was wrong about that.  Wish I had more that is for sure.

Next move was Green Bay WI.  Added another child to our family. I guess you get what you wish for sometimes!

3 kids and the addition of my kids significant others and 2 dogs later (Scrappy was with us 12 years, Rooney is 1 year old).  How fabulous is that!!

We are still alive and well.  He has put up with all of me.  I am quite the handful.  We have had our ups and downs.  Don’t we all!  As long as you allow the one you love to be who they need to be and they do the same for you it will all work out.  It’s not that hard.

Happy Anniversary, Darlin’!!  june 2014 007Hope to have 28 more (as long was we are still standing)!! 😉

Peanut Butter Pie

A while ago Martin2 gave me a challenge to make peanut butter pie.  We all love peanut butter in our family. June 14 009 (Here is part of our crazy family.  What a cast of characters!!  This was my fifth pic. I gave up after this one.  Gotta love ’em!!)

I have been looking for the right recipe.  Cook’s Country magazine had a recipe I wanted to try.  I could not resist making some chocolate syrup to drizzle on this sweet treat.  That gave it just the right touch!!

Peanut Butter Pie

June 16 009

Ingredients
9 whole graham crackers, broken into 1-inch pieces
3 Tablespoons packed light brown sugar
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (you can use salted if that is what you have)
1/2 cup honey-roasted peanuts, chopped
3/4 cup (3 ounces) plus 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter  (I used Skippy Natural Peanut Butter)
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions
1.  Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease 9-inch pie plate. Process graham crackers and brown sugar in food processor until finely ground, about 30 seconds. Add melted butter and pulse until combined, about 8 pulses.
2. Transfer crumbs to prepared plate. Using bottom of dry measuring cup, press crumbs into bottom and up sides of plate. Bake until crust is fragrant and beginning to brown, 12 to 14 minutes, rotating plate halfway through baking. Let crust cool completely on wire rack, about 30 minutes. Spread 1/3 cup peanuts evenly over bottom of cooled crust.June 14 019
3. Using stand mixer fitted with whisk, mix 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, cream cheese, and 
3 tablespoons cream on low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium-high and whip until fluffy, about 1 minute. Transfer to large bowl; set aside.June 14 018
4. In now-empty mixer bowl, whip 3/4 cup cream on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to high and whip until stiff peaks form, 1 to 3 minutes. Gently fold whipped cream into peanut butter mixture in 2 additions until no white streaks remain. Spoon filling into crust and spread into even layer.
June 14 020
5. In now-empty mixer bowl, whip vanilla, remaining cream, and remaining 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to high and whip until stiff peaks form, 1 to 3 minutes. Spread whipped cream evenly over filling. June 14 023Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours. Sprinkle with remaining peanuts. June 16 002Serve.
That’s it!  Don’t forget the chocolate syrup and you will have a fabulous dessert. June 16 017 Simple and delicious!!

Chocolate Syrup – Way too easy, really!

You will love this chocolate syrup.  It is so simple and very delicious!!

Chocolate Syrup

Ingredients

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 2/3 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk cocoa, sugar and water. Bring to a boil and let boil 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Set to room temperature.  Put in refrigerator.  As it gets cold it will get thicker.  Serve over ice cream or any dessert that you love to accompany chocolate syrup.  🙂

Found this recipe here.

 

Lovage – A fun herb

A friend from work (Karen) has lots of herbs that are growing on a hill in her back yard.  She brought in some chives, oregano and lovage to share with everyone.  I had never heard of lovage before she introduced me to it.  It is similar to celery.  The plant has a hollow stem and the leaves look like large celery leaves.  I used all the herbs she gave me in cooking, salads and on a pizza. June 8 2014 007 They were delicious!

Here is how Wikipedia suggests we use lovage;

“The leaves can be used in salads, or to make soup or season broths, and the roots can be eaten as a vegetable or grated for use in salads. Its flavor and smell is somewhat similar to celery. Lovage tea can be applied to wounds as an antiseptic, or drunk to stimulate digestion. The seeds can be used as a spice, similar to fennel seeds. In the UK, an alcoholic lovage cordial is traditionally mixed with brandy in the ratio of 2:1 as a winter drink.  In Romania, the leaves are the preferred seasoning for the various locan broths, much more so than parsley or dill.”

Karen mentioned that I should make a Bloody Mary and use the hollow stem as a straw.  Well, I just couldn’t resist! June 8 2014 018  Would you?

 

Thanks for sharing Karen.  Anytime you want to unload some herbs from your hilly garden, I will gladly take them off of your hands.  They were awesome, especially the lovage.   June 8 2014 019

 

 

Tzatziki

Tzatziki

May 2014 083

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups plain yogurt (I used whole milk yogurt.  You could strain the yogurt.  I skipped that step.)
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon fresh chopped mint or dill (Mint goes great with lamb.  Actually, I prefer mint flavor over dill, kids like the dill and Kent doesn’t care!)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt

Directions

1.  Grate or dice the cucumbers.  (I grated and then chopped) Wrap the diced/grated cucumber in a cheesecloth.  Squeeze over the sink and try to get rid of as much liquid as possible.  Cucumbers are very watery. ( If you don’t have cheesecloth, use a paper towel or thin dish towel.)
2.  Add the cucumbers to the yogurt along with the rest of the ingredients.
3.  Mix well and refrigerate 1-2 hours.  This is a flavorful condiment for your falafel, duner or any sandwich.  You could use as a salad dressing.  You will love this too!

Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake

We wanted to have something chocolatey, as always, this weekend.  I thought a cake would be a nice change.  Martin suggested a chocolate bundt cake.  I went to America’s Test Kitchen and found this recipe.  I served with chocolate ganache, freshly made whipped cream and strawberries.  It was incredibly simple and delicious!

Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake

June 8 2014 020

Ingredients

Cake Release

1 Tablespoon butter, melted
1 Tablespoon cocoa

Cake
3/4 cup natural cocoa (2 1/4 ounces)
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)
3/4 cup water (boiling)
1 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour  (8 3/4 ounces)
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
12 Tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), room temperature
2 cups packed light brown sugar (14 ounces)
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
5 large eggs, room temperature
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Directions 

1. FOR PREPARING THE BUNDT PAN: Stir together butter and cocoa in small bowl until paste forms; using a pastry brush, coat all interior surfaces of standard 12-cup Bundt pan, see illustration below. (If mixture becomes too thick to brush on, microwave it for 10 to 20 seconds, or until warm and softened.) Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. FOR THE CAKE: Combine cocoa, chocolate, and espresso powder (if using) in medium heatproof bowl; pour boiling water over and whisk until smooth. Cool to room temperature; then whisk in sour cream. Whisk flour, salt, and baking soda in second bowl to
3. In standing mixer fitted with flat beater, beat butter, sugar, and vanilla on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add eggs one at a time, mixing about 30 seconds after each addition and scraping down bowl with rubber spatula after first 2 additions.
4. Reduce to medium-low speed (batter may appear separated); add about one third of flour mixture and half of chocolate/sour cream mixture and mix until just incorporated, about 20 seconds. Scrape bowl and repeat using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining chocolate mixture; add remaining flour mixture and beat until just incorporated, about 10 seconds. Scrape bowl and mix on medium-low until batter is thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds. Pour batter into prepared Bundt pan, being careful not to pour batter on sides of pan.
5.  Bake until wooden skewer inserted into center comes out with few crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert cake onto parchment-lined wire rack; cool to room temperature, about 3 hours.
6.  Dust with confectioners’ sugar, transfer to serving platter, and cut into wedges; serve with freshly made Whipped Cream and raspberries or strawberries, if desired.

I made some fresh whipped cream and chocolate ganache.  Some of us had with strawberries and whipped cream.  Some of us had with all three. June 8 2014 021 Either way this was a very simple and delicious cake. Enjoy!

Whipped Cream

This is super simple and extremely delicious.  
Whipped Cream
June 8 2014 021The whipped cream is there among the delicious chocolateyness!!
Ingredients
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place all ingredients in stand up mixer.  Using whisk attachment, whisk on high speed for 2-4 minutes.  Stiff peaks will form and you will have a delicious whipped cream!!

 

Pita Bread

This is incredibly easy.  It does take time but it is worth it!

Syrian Pita Bread (Compliment Food and Wine)

Ingredients

3/4 cup warm water
1 1/2 envelopes active dry yeast (3 3/8 teaspoons)
6 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups warm milk
Extra Virgin Olive Oil for the bowl

Directions

1.  Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Set a pizza stone on the bottom rack of the oven. (You could use cookie sheets if you do not have a pizza stone.)
2.  In a bowl, combine water and yeast and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes
3.  In a food processor, pulse the flour with salt.  Pour in yeast mixture and the warm milk and process until the dough forms a ball.
(I used a stand up mixer and that worked fine too)
4.  Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it a few times.  Form the dough into a ball. Lightly oil a bowl and turn to coat.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk.  This takes about an hour.

5.  Lightly dust a work surface with flour.Punch down the dough and cut it in half.  Cut each half into 8 pieces and roll them into balls, then flatten into 6 inch rounds.  Arrange the rounds on the work surface or on floured baking sheets; cover with plastic wrap. 04252013 006Let rise until puffy, 25 minutes.
6.  Using a lightly floured pizza peel, slide 3-4 of the rounds onto hot pizza stone and bake 4-5 minutes.  Serve hot or wrap in foil to keep warm.
7.  I placed in storage bags after they cooled a couple of minutes.  This helped to keep the pita bread soft so they could be used for wraps.

As a family we enjoyed with butter or wrapped with the Duner Kebaps.  Kyle used for a turkey sandwich and Kent used as a hamburger roll.  They were very simple and delicious!

Pasta Primavera – Simple and Delicious

It is almost Summer.  That means veggies!  I wanted to make a nice and easy meal this Sunday with veggies.  No meat I said to myself.  I told the crew I was going to avoid a meat dish this Sunday.  We will have Pasta Primavera, Israeli Salad and rolls – from Costco, I guess I was a little lazy! 🙂  Well, I did make what I wanted but I also grilled some chicken.  Eric loves chicken. I offered chicken and he accepted.  So much for no meat.  I marinated the chicken using some of the mint that I am growing.   I checked a few different recipes for the Pasta Primavera.  I ended up doing my own thing and it turned out quite delicious.  Here goes;

 

Pasta Primavera

June 1 2014 048

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups broccoli florets, cut into bite sized pieces – As you can tell from the photos my veggies were cut a bit large.  Eric did suggest next time making pieces smaller. Thus, bite sized pieces! He loved it thought!! 🙂
6-8 asparagus spears (depends on the size.  I had some thin ones and used 8), sliced into 1 inch pieces
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, diced
2-3 carrots, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup chicken (or veggie) broth
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup half and half
1 cup grated Parmesan
1 Tablespoon basil, chopped (fresh from my herb garden)
Olive Oil
Butter
Salt and Pepper
1 pound pasta.  I used Rigatoni.  Next time I will use a shell or large elbows.  You can use whatever you want.  (get that pot of water boiling for your pasta.  Don’t forget to add salt to the water.  I add 1 Tablespoon to 8 cups water)

Directions

1.  I ended up roasting the broccoli, asparagus and red pepper.  Preheat oven to 425.  Put the cut up veggies in a bowl, add 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper.  Mix together.  Put in oven for 10-15 minutes.  You want them firm not mushy.  10 minutes was my limit.June 1 2014 040
2.  If you haven’t done so, get the water boiling for the pasta.  Cook pasta while you are preparing veggies and cream sauce.
3.  Add 2 Tablespoons olive oil and melt 1 Tablespoon of butter to a frying pan. ( I used my stainless steel frying pan.)
4.  Add the onions to the olive oil and melted butter.  Cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the carrots and cook about 5-8 minutes. Throw in garlic last couple of minutes.June 1 2014 041
5.  When onions, garlic and carrots are done set aside in a bowl or plate.
6.  To the same frying pan add 1 cup of chicken broth and 1 Tablespoon butter.  Heat through until butter melted.
7.  Add 1 cup heavy cream and 1 cup half and half to chicken broth mix.  Stir together.  Add 1 cup Parmesan cheese.  Stir until heated through.  The sauce thickens as it is heated through.  About 5 minutes. Just before you add the veggies to the cream sauce, add 1 Tablespoon basil. Mix together.June 1 2014 042
8.  Add all veggies to the cream sauce and mix together.
9.  Add above to the pasta.  Mix together and serve!June 1 2014 043

We all loved this dish.  Martin2 and Rachel were working but I sent them a care package.  They both text to let me know this was delicious.  I will definitely make this again soon.  The farmers market will inspire me to use some different veggie combos next time. It did take some time, but I love my kitchen time!  I say cut your veggies and grate your parmesan the night before.  That way you will be good to go the next night to make this simple and delicious meal.  Served with Israeli salad, marinated chicken for those who wanted it, our favorite Costco rolls and for dessert – cheesecake!  Enjoy!!

Israeli Salad

So simple and so delicious.  Great for the summer.  Go to your farmer’s market and make this quick salad for lunch!

Israeli Salad (This is DELICIOUS!)

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Ingredients

1 cucumber, seeded and diced
1 Roma tomato, seeded and diced
1/2 large red pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 cup green onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 Tablespoon mint, chopped
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon lemon juice (from real lemon)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

Directions;  Mix all together and that’s it!!  This is so refreshing.  Feta, Parmesan, cheddar or any cheese is also a great addition. Personally, plain with a piece (or two) of fresh baked bread works for me. LOVE it!!