Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Candy corn has never been a favorite Halloween treat for me, until I saw my friend Kylie's little girl, Lilah dressed as it! She is such a little cutie pie - and I could literally eat her up!

Kylie made this costume for Miss Lilah. I'm so impressed. I literally can't even sew on a button. Either my Grandma or the tailor do it for me. (I know, I know - I should learn.)

Hope everyone has a wonderful Halloween!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

La Quercia

Cured pork. Yum. And especially tasty when you know it's raised humanely. About a year ago, I read an article about La Quercia in Saveur magazine. I took a mental note, and promised myself I'd order some of their charcuterie.

I read an article in Niche Pork recently that my friend Julie sent, and there was an article about La Quercia. Lucky for me, I'd just received some birthday cash, and decided to put it to good use and buy cured pork. I ordered the Salumi Sampler and 2 packages of Pancetta. I called to place my order, and happened to talk with the owner. She was a delight (I just love Iowans in the pork industry - you will never meet more salt of the earth people). My order came in one day!

In the past couple of weeks, I've made Mark Bittman's Chicken with Pancetta and Balsamic Vinegar, pancetta pizza, served prosciutto sliced as an appetizer with cheeses and day dreamed of what else I will do with my beautifully cured pork. La Quercia's wonderfully done charcuterie comes highly recommended from this charcuterie eater.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Great Pumpkin Trifecta

I'm slightly obsessed with pumpkin. In the past eight days, I've made three pumpkin recipes.

For you adventurous types (and you won't be disappointed), try the Pumpkin Lasagna. Randy turned his nose up at the idea but ate two big pieces the night I made it! :)

Fresh out of the oven

For a wonderful fall treat, try the trusted and true Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Icing. Martha wouldn't lead you astray, at least not with this recipe. But be ready for a time commitment, you can't whip these up in an hour. The recipe makes six dozen, and after baking them - it's on to frosting.

Last but certainly not least in my book is good ol' pumpkin bread. I use the Women of Great Taste (Wichita Jr. League cookbook) recipe. I've been making it for 10 years and it's always been heavenly. Occasionally, I put a topping on it too - but not tonight. I put it in the oven at 11 p.m.

Baked to perfection if I do say so myself!

Thursday, October 16, 2008


I've posted several times about the change of the season, but I had to add another. This video is thought provoking about nature, changing of the seasons and just a pleasure to watch. Enjoy.

A Beautiful Ending from Steven Dempsey on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Speaking of Niman

Fabulous article in the NY Times today about Bill's new adventures of raising goat. I haven't had goat before, but you better believe if Bill's raised it, it will surpass anyone's wildest expectations. The guy's the Einstein of natural, humanely raised meat. And I'm happy to eat it. Can't wait to try the goat!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Artfully Done Cookbook Launch Party

This is part 1 of the party. I'm going to break this post into 2 pieces because there are so many great pictures.

The Friends of the Wichita Art Museum were responsible for gathering recipes and including 100 pieces of art from the Museum's collection. Connie Kendall and Karla Fazio were in charge of putting on the event, and wow did they do an incredible job! The cookbook was complied in memory of Carlene Banks, a longtime Friend. The party was a huge success and fun was had by all!

Tribute to Carlene

Room ready for the party

I love this chandelier!

Our fearless leaders on this adventurous project!

From left to right: Mary Ellen Joyner (Chairperson of the FWAM), Joan Seaton (Cookbook Committee Co-chair), RoxAnn Banks Dicker (Editor and daughter of Carlene Banks), Patty Bennett (Cookbook Committee Co-chair) and Stephen Gleissner (WAM Curator).

Bacon is God's Gift

Truly. If you've ever had Niman Ranch bacon, you KNOW it's hands down the tastiest bacon that's ever melted on your tongue. For full disclosure purposes, I used to work for NR. I hadn't been on their site in the past few months and just realized they no longer handle their own DTC (direct-to-customer) sales.

Anyway, back to the point. Bacon. I was perusing some blog catalog online and found this blog, Royal Bacon Society. The mastehead from the blog is above. (I also find it ironic that they used Niman Ranch packaging to design their maste. Smart bacon eaters. They know who is king.)

My cousin Rachel, who formerly worked at an all natural meat company (not Niman, but another one) used to joke about starting a club called Vegetarians for Bacon. Because who doesn't love it?

All this bacon talk has got me pumped to place an online order and get my hands on some Niman bacon.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Veggie Tea Towels

Sunday through Monday - a new tea towel and vegetable for each day!

Wednesday Miss Asparagus is my fav!

Fall Outside Too

Hanging the wreath and being goofy!

Decorated for Fall!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Yes on Prop 2

If I were a Californian, that is how I'd vote.

Watch the HSUS video below (although this is your warning, not for the faint of heart!).

I feel strongly that the animals that are raised for human consumption should be treated with dignity, respect and enough room to be comfortable.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Pioneer Woman's Apple Dumplings

Fresh out of the oven

Look no farther if you want a very tasty, oooey gooey appely dessert. But keep in mind, you will be addicted and it's impossible to eat just one.

Apple Dumplings

2 Granny Smith apples
2 cans crescent rolls
2 sticks butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoons vanilla
1 small can (or 8 oz) Mountain Dew

Peel and core apples. Cut apples into 8 slices each. Roll each apple slice in a crescent roll. Place in a 9 x 13 buttered pan. Melt butter, then add sugar and barely stir. Add vanilla, stir, and pour over apples. Pour Mountain Dew around the edges of the pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

(And excuse the horrid photography - my husband had the Sony, so I used this new gizmo we got that takes short videos. If you want pretty pictures, click on the link above and check out the Pioneer Woman's - she's a lovely photographer.)

Such a tasty dinner

I thawed some chicken thighs to do them in the slow cooker, but since they were still frozen this morning (in the fridge) - on to Plan B.

Found this recipe online at Real Simple, Chicken Thighs with Creamy Spinach and Shallots.

Oh lord, this is SO GOOD that it will be a part of the dinner rotation.

I did dredge the chicken thighs in flour first, so it was more like fried chicken. Oh and I cooked those thighs for 20 minutes each side (the recipe called for 10 minutes per side - it would have been RAW).

Chicken with Creamy Spinach and Shallots

2 tablespoons olive oil
8 small chicken thighs (about 2 pounds)
Kosher salt and pepper
4 shallots, thinly sliced
1/4 cup dry white wine (such as Sauvignon Blanc)
1/4 cup sour cream
2 bunches spinach, thick stems removed (about 8 cups)

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook until browned and cooked through, 20 minutes per side. Transfer to plates.

Spoon off and discard all but 1 tablespoon of the fat and return the skillet to medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until they begin to soften, 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in the wine and sour cream. Add the spinach, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, tossing gently, until the spinach begins to wilt, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve with the chicken.

Yield: Makes 4 servings

Cast iron skillet is a must when fryin' chicken

Almost done - yum

Dinner is served!

What a birthday!

How could I NOT have a birthday when this video came via email from my niece and nephews yesterday?

Not to mention my WONDERFUL new Macbook from my husband (wow, am I lucky or what?)

And ADORABLE tea towels with days of the week from my MIL and FIL, birthday cash, some fun stationary, crystal vase, butterfly potholder, 3 mums and a beautiful fall wreath.

I feel very loved and thankful to have such wonderful family and friends.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Fall Time

Getting into the spirit of fall just makes me happy. It seems like this year has flown by so quickly. I decorated my house to bring the fall feeling inside.

Decorated dining table

Entryway table

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

AMAZING Chocolate Chip Cookies

In preparation for the tailgate we hosted last weekend, I had a bake shop going on Friday night. I made 4 dozen of these babies (doubled the recipe and I made them big). I always figure that if you're going to the trouble, you might as well have double the goodies to share.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 eggs
2/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix together.

1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 1/2 cups flour

Mix all ingredients together.

Add 16 oz. bag of chocolate chips and mix dough.

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes (or if your oven is hot like mine, only 8 minutes).

Lotsa cookie dough. I only ate a few bites. :)

Scoop the cookie dough with an ice cream scoop for uniform cookies.

Cooling on my new racks.

Stack o' cookies. Yum.

Homegrown Onions

While they aren't as gratifying as homegrown tomatoes because you really can't tell the difference in flavor, my husband sure was proud of his onions. It was the first time we've grown any. Onions seem to be pretty low maintenance and it's nice to have some that you grew with your own two hands.

And we sure enjoy eating them.

Pupply Love

My adorable fur babies.

Habibi (aka Angel Boy)

Beasley (aka Devil Dog)