2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 470,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 20 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Buffalo Chicken Dip

Buffalo Chicken Dip

It’s New Year’s Eve and what better way to end the year but with a party dip?! This is my son’s favorite dip, he requests his own dish to eat all by himself. He was so excited for me to make Buffalo Chicken Dip that he went to the market and bought all of the ingredients for me to make it! Sounds great to me, he can do the shopping anytime! This recipe comes from my friend Cooking From a Stay at Home Mom. This recipe is a keeper that I have made again and again! Happy New Year!!

Buffalo Chicken Dip

8 oz Cream Cheese
1/2 cup Ranch Dressing
1/2 cup Cheddar cheese, grated, extra for the top
1/2 cup Buffalo Wing Sauce
2 Chicken breasts, shredded

In a bowl mix cream cheese, Ranch dressing ,cheddar cheese and wing sauce. Add chicken and mix. Pour into casserole dish. Top with cheddar cheese and bake at 350 until cheese has melted.

Serve with vegetables and crackers.

Recipe adapted from Cooking From a Stay at Home Mom.

Ham and Pea Soup

Ham and Pea Soup

It’s very snowy here in Maine and I have a meaty ham bone from Christmas! You know what that means??? Ham and Pea Soup!! I love it chunky with whole peas and lots of veggies, but you can use split peas if you like and puree the soup, your choice. This is my recipe that I have been making for many years.

Ham and Pea Soup

Ingredients
2 tbsp olive oil
1 meaty ham bone
1 bag whole peas (dried)
2 cartons low salt chicken broth, or 64 oz water
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 potatoes, chopped into chunks
pepper to taste

Directions

In a large pot add olive oil over medium heat, add onions and garlic and saute until soft and fragrant, add carrots, celery and potatoes, saute for another 5-6 minutes. Add ham bone and peas, cover with broth or water. Bring to a boil, turn down heat and let simmer on a gentle boil for around one hour or until peas and veggies are soft. Remove ham bone, cut off ham into bite size chunks, add ham back to soup. Stir in and serve. Add pepper to taste.

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MAGIC BARS

MAGIC BARS

Merry Christmas! I have heard of the infamous Ice Storm in 1998 where so many lost their power for three weeks. So when we were welcomed by this ice storm this week, we were all in shock to lose power. No heat, no electricity, not so much a welcome for Christmas. This has been the first time that I have been on the internet in 5 days, so I am excited to share a recipe with you, I started to bake these right when the power came back on, or else they would have gone on the BBQ Grill! That is a whole other blog! These really are named appropriately, they are magic. Everyone kept going back for second and third helpings. A layer of graham cracker crumbs, a layer of coconut, a layer of chocolate chips, a layer of nuts, so easy! This bar freezes well too!

MAGIC BARS

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, melted

1 1/2 cups (150 grams) graham cracker crumbs (or crushed Digestive Biscuits)

1 cup (90 grams) sweetened or unsweetened flaked or shredded coconut

1 cup (170 grams) semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup (100 grams) chopped walnuts or pecans

1 – 14 ounce can (396 grams) sweetened condensed milk

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place the rack in the center of the oven. Lightly butter or spray with a non stick cooking spray a 9 x 9 inch (23 x 23 cm) square baking pan.

Melt the butter and pour it evenly over the bottom of your pan. Sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs evenly over the butter. Sprinkle the coconut over the crumbs. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the coconut. Sprinkle the nuts over the chocolate chips. Finally, drizzle the sweetened condensed milk over all the ingredients. Do not mix the ingredients together, just layer them.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the squares comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Cut into squares. Store in the refrigerator. These bars can be frozen.

Makes about 16 – 2 inch squares.

recipe adapted from Joy of Baking

 

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ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP

ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP

Italian Wedding Soup is one of my favorite soups. It is served at Italian weddings, American Italian weddings. It is not a heavy soup, perfectly delicious. It is also called Italian Escarole Soup or zuppa di scarola. I used beef and escarole for this recipe, but you can use any type of ground meat that you like such as chicken, pork or turkey. You can also use Swiss Chard or Kale. Try these different flavors, depending on the season and what is fresh.

Italian Wedding Soup serves 6 to 8

3/4 pound ground meat (chicken, turkey, pork or beef)
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
3 large eggs
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese, divided
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups chicken stock
1 bunch greens trimmed and torn into bite-sized pieces (about 6 lightly packed cups)
(Escarole or Swiss Chard or Kale)
1/2 package short tube pasta ( cooked al dente)

Directions

Combine the ground meat, bread crumbs, 1 egg, 1/4 cup of each cheese, oregano, salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix thoroughly, then form the mixture into 3/4-inch to 1 1/2-inch balls. You should have 20 to 30 meatballs, depending on how large you form them.

In large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium high heat. Add the meatballs in batches, and cook, turning, until browned all over, 3 to 5 minutes. (If they are still a bit pink in the middle, don’t worry, they will continue to cook in the broth.) Set them aside on paper towels to absorb excess oil.

In a 4 to 6 quart soup pot, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until onions are tender and garlic is soft, but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add celery and carrots, saute 5 mins. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Add the greens, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the meatballs and cook another 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine remaining 2 eggs and remaining cheeses in small bowl and stir with a fork to blend. Slow pour the egg mixture into hot soup, stirring constantly. Cover and simmer just until egg bits are set, about 1 minute. Add cooked pasta. Stir. Season to taste with salt and black pepper, maybe even a squirt of lemon juice, and serve immediately in a low bowl if possible so the meatballs are visible.

To re-heat, simmer gently over low heat.

Recipe adapted from theKitchn

PECAN PRALINES

PECAN PRALINES

When we visit New Orleans, I can’t get enough of these southern treats! They are just perfect for the holidays. So I thought would make a double batch.

Tricks for Perfect Pralines ( From the Southern Living.com site)
Pralines aren’t difficult to make, but they can be tricky. The requirements are plenty of stirring, patience, and careful attention. Two big questions usually come up during preparation: when to remove the candy mixture from the heat and when to stop beating and start spooning. (You’re allowed to enlist an extra set of hands at this stage.)

If the mixture gets too hot, the candy will be dry and crumbly. If it isn’t cooked long enough, the mixture will be runny and sticky.

One trick we learned after making several batches in our Test Kitchen is to remove it from the heat at about 232°. The mixture will continue to climb to the required temperature (236°). A candy thermometer gives the best temperature reading and takes out most of the guesswork. We like to use two thermometers for accuracy.

Beat the mixture with a wooden spoon just until it begins to thicken. You’ll feel the mixture become heavier, and its color will become lighter. Often the last few pralines that you spoon will be thicker and less perfectly shaped that the first, but they’ll still be just as good. The candy tastes the best if eaten within a day or two; pralines become sugary and gritty with age. Be sure to store them in an airtight container (a metal tin works well).

Be sure to use a heavy Dutch oven and a candy thermometer, and make pralines on a day when the weather is dry—humidity can make them grainy.

Pecan Pralines

makes 2 dozen

Ingredients

2 cups pecan halves and pieces
3 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Wax paper
Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through. Cool completely (about 15 minutes).
2. Meanwhile, bring brown sugar and next 3 ingredients to a boil in a heavy Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes or until a candy thermometer registers 236° (soft ball stage). Remove sugar mixture from heat.
3. Let sugar mixture stand until candy thermometer reaches 150° (20 to 25 minutes). Stir in vanilla and pecans using a wooden spoon; stir constantly 1 to 2 minutes or just until mixture begins to lose its gloss. Quickly drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto wax paper; let stand until firm (10 to 15 minutes).
TRY THESE TWISTS!
Chocolate-Pecan Pralines: Prepare as directed through Step 2. Add 2 (1-oz.) unsweetened chocolate baking squares to sugar mixture. (Do not stir.) Proceed as directed in Step 3.
Café au Lait Pecan Pralines: Add 2 Tbsp. instant coffee granules with brown sugar in Step 2.
Bourbon-Pecan Pralines: Add 1/4 cup bourbon with brown sugar in Step 2.

recipe adapted from Southern Living

Smashed Potatoes and an Advent Wish For Karen from Baking in a Tornado Blog!!

Smashed Potatoes and an Advent Wish For Karen from Baking in a Tornado Blog!!

Advent wish for Karen!

When I was asked if I would like to be a part of a group in presenting an online Advent Calendar for Karen from Baking in a Tornado, how could I say anything else but yes! Karen and I are friends, we are also in another group together, the 12 Cakes of December! If you ever need any cheering up, just stop by Karen’s page, she has me in stitches on a daily basis. She is a very clever lady!

You see, Karen has never had an Advent Calendar. So I am celebrating the 18th day of December with Smashed Potatoes, because, to me, celebrations always include food, delicious comforting food. I  decided to share the Smashed Potato. What is a potato to you? To me, the potato is a perfect meal in and amongst itself. I have never come across anyone who doesn’t like a potato. Be it  baked, roasted, or fried, it is natures gift to us. I had a dream last night that I was carrying a bag of potatoes around my house. Imagine a Mr. Potato Head in place of the numbers of the advent calendar!
image

By @makeitandloveit

Experience.com explains what dreaming of potatoes means. Dreaming of potatoes, “brings incidents often of good. To dream of digging them, denotes success. To dream of eating them, you will enjoy substantial gain. To cook them, congenial employment. Planting them, brings realization of desires”.  So I suspect that carrying around potatoes is a really good omen for myself and for Karen! I wish you a life full of unlimited potatoes dear Karen on this 18th day of Advent!

On the 18th day of Advent, Nettie shares Smashed Potatoes with Karen from Baking in a Tornado!

Smashed Potatoes

INGREDIENTS

2 pounds medium Yukon Gold or red-skinned potatoes (about 6 oz. each)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Green onion chopped for garnish

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°. Wrap each potato individually in foil. Place on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until tender, 45–60 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Unwrap potatoes and arrange on same baking sheet. Set another rimmed baking sheet over potatoes, rimmed side up, and press gently to smash potatoes without breaking them apart. Season with salt and pepper; drizzle with half of the oil. Carefully turn potatoes to coat.
Preheat oven to 500°. Roast potatoes for 15 minutes. Drizzle with remaining oil, turn to coat, and continue roasting until crispy and golden brown, 25–30 minutes. Sprinkle green onion over potatoes for garnish.

I hope you like these Smashed Potatoes dear Karen! Happy Advent! Nettie

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit.com

 

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