Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The year is almost over- HALLELUJAH!!!

This year wasn't quite as bad as the second half of 2014, but it was by far from my favorite. I'm really hoping for a better 2016. Not banking on it, but I'm hoping.

Christmas was what it was. I worked, I got sick, we had the family celebration on Sunday. A few of my favorite presents:

Not much else to report. Been kind of a cruddy month. I'm looking forward to getting a few days off. I probably won't do anything special, but at least I won't have to be at work!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Foodie Friday- Merry Christmas Breakfast edition- Smoked Salmon & Dill Hash

It might be too late to whip up this
tasty dish from Pioneer Woman & Friends today, but it would make a fabulous addition to your New Year's breakfast/brunch if you do that kind of thing! Or just make it whenever you feel like it- it's go no matter when you eat it. In fact, I made it as a dinner the other night.

Smoked Salmon & Dill Breakfast Hash

Prep: 15 Minutes Level: Easy
Cook: 20 Minutes Serves: 4

1 Tablespoon Vinegar
2 pounds Russet Potatoes, Cut Into 1/2-inch Dice
3 Tablespoons Plus 2 Teaspoons Olive Oil, Divided
1 Yellow Onion, Chopped
2 cloves Garlic, Minced
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Ground Pepper
4 ounces, weight Smoked Salmon, Broken Into Pieces (lox is ok, but hot smoked salmon is much better for this)
2 Tablespoons Minced Fresh Dill

Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Stir in the vinegar. Add the russet potatoes and cook until just tender, 8–10 minutes. Drain.

Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are starting to brown. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Transfer the onion mixture to a bowl and set aside.

Turn the heat to medium-high, add remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet and stir in the drained potatoes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are browned and cooked through, 15–20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

If the potatoes start to burn while cooking, turn the heat to medium. Stir the cooked onions into the potatoes, and add the smoked salmon and dill.

Stir to combine. Serve.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Not a holiday post

I am OVER the holiday hoopla. I spent all of my money & the last of my vacation time for this year to take my father to NC and I am done. The whole mess was traumatic and I'm not saying anything else about it other than NEVER AGAIN.


I have a zillion jackets & coats, so I needed another one like a hole in the head. But back in September, one of the catalogs that I get had this trench style fleece coat that I just fell in love with. I wanted it in black, but of course THAT wasn't available in my size, so I settled for gray. It was on sale, plus I had an additional discount code AND a frequent shopper reward from the company as well as a free shipping code, so I paid about $28 for a $80 coat.

Then, once it came, I decided that I didn't like the buttons on it. No biggie, a quick trip to the craft store should solve that. Right? Riiiiiiight.

A: count the number of buttons you're going to need AND measure them before you go to the craft store. I did neither. More on that in a minute.

B: when the hell did buttons get so ridiculously expensive?!? The ones I really liked started at $4-6 PER BUTTON. Since I thought I was replacing 7 of them, it seemed wrong to spend as much on buttons as I did on the he coat itself. Even with coupons, I was going to be paying a lot. So I bought 1 large button in a style that appealed to me & took it home to see how it would look.

Looked great, but it was too big. Ok, let's suit down and search the store's website. Maybe something I like & can afford will jump out at me. I found a set of 4 pretty purple & black swirled jewel tone buttons. The site said they were in stock at the store, but somehow I'd overlooked them. No problem. I took a quick look at the coat & came up with a total of 7 buttons.

I went back the next day and found them. Too small, & wrong style. I needed flat buttons & these had the peg back. So I looked for smaller versions of the big one I bought the day before. Eureka! Sold in sets of 2, a slightly different shape, but I liked them enough to go for it. Also, less expensive than the first couple of designs I looked at.

After all that, you'd think I would have gone home & started the great button replacement project. Those who know me, know what came next. The button bag got hung on the hanger with the coat and sat untouched for a couple of weeks...

...Until the day I looked at the forecast and saw the weather was finally going to get cold enough to need a coat rather than the fleece jackets I was wandering around in. (We've had an oddly warm winter) So I made myself sit down, snipped the first button off the jacket, and stitched the new one in place. Yay! Two more followed suit, easy peasy. That's when I discovered that I had miscounted and the body of the coat only had 3 buttons. No problem, I'll replace the 2 on the belt loops & have 3 left of the 8 I bought.

You guessed it. The belt loop buttons were SMALLER than the body ones. Arrrgh! Back to the stupid store. The brand I bought did make a smaller button in the same style/color, but in a different shape. I grabbed a pack of two, paid for them (after sharing my tale of woe & frustration with the amused cashier- I spend so much time there that this girl knows me on sight) and went home to finish this damned project.

Stitched the two new buttons on and started to congratulate myself when something hit me. I'd hung the coat up to take a picture, but only one belt loop button appeared to be replaced. WTF?!? I yanked the coat down & started examining it, because I *KNOW* I replaced two buttons. I was kind of right. That's when I realized that there was a THIRD belt loop button on the BACK of the coat, and that was the one I'd stitched on.

I am not embarrassed to admit I threw a shrieking tantrum. I should be, but I'm not. It was my own fault for not paying attention, counting correctly, etc. So I drove back to the craft store ONE MORE TIME for the final button. My friendly cashier started laughing when I stomped through the door with a face like thunder. "Oh dear," she said. "How off was it this time?"

Now, a smart person would have brought all of the wrong/excess buttons back for an exchange. As I've already proven, this project had turned me into the village idiot. Not only had I shredded my receipts, I'd torn all the buttons off their cardboard backing when I thought they'd get used, so I was stuck with them.

I paid for the (hopefully) final pair of buttons and went home, determined to finish this thing once & for all. I replaced the LAST button, went over the coat with a fine tooth comb (and a lint roller because the little black cat finally came to see what her mama was losing her damn fool mind over and rolled on it) and realized I was really truly finished. Tears were shed, and the coat was hung up for a picture:

And then the weather warmed up again, so it was another month before I got to wear the damned thing!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Foodie Friday: Gouda & Sage Biscuits

Don'tthese look delicious?!?

Simple Gouda and Sage Biscuits
Fluffy, buttery and flavorful biscuits made with gouda and sage. Easy, quick, and perfect for special occasions.

YIELD: 10 biscuits PREP TIME: 10 minutes COOK TIME: 12 minutes TOTAL TIME: 22 minutes

1 cup milk (see note)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tablespoon cane sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
4 ounces gouda cheese, shredded (about 1 cup), divided
1/4 cup sage leaves, packed, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 425
Measure out 1 cup of milk. Remove 1 tablespoon and set aside to use later.
Pour 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar into the cup of milk. Mix and let sit for 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, and pepper. Add the cubes of butter, and use a pastry blender/your hands to rub in the butter until you only have small pieces visible in the dough.
Fold in the sage and 1/2 of the cheese, and then pour in the milk and vinegar mixture. Use a wooden spoon to mix until a loose dough forms. Turn out onto a floured surface, and knead for one minute, until you have a smooth dough.
Roll out into 1/2-inch thickness, and use a 2 5/8 biscuit cutter to cut out biscuits. Place biscuits on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Form the scraps into a ball and roll out again into 1/2-inch thickness, and cut out biscuits. You should end up with 10 biscuits total.
Brush the remaining tablespoon of milk on the biscuits, then top with remaining cheese. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until lightly golden on top.
If not eating right away, store in an airtight container and reheat at 325 for 10 minutes.
You can replace the milk and apple cider vinegar with 1 cup buttermilk. I find that when I buy a carton of buttermilk it ends up sitting in my fridge unused, so I make my own.
Nutrition Information: Serving Size: 1 biscuit, Calories: 240, Sugar: 3.2g, Sodium: 390mg, Fat: 11.1g, Saturated Fat: 6.8g, Carbs: 28.8g, Fiber: 2.6g, Protein: 7.8g, Cholesterol: 33mg

I'm wondering how these would be made with smoked Gouda? I may have to try it.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Foodie Friday- Apple & Raisin Chutney

Yes, another one. This is good with roasted pork, cold ham, or used as a topping for bar cookies. I'm sure you can probably think of other uses!

Apple and Raisin Chutney
Yields 200 gram
Apple and Raisin Chutney is a British style savory spread made with apples and raisin.
Prep Time: 30 min, Cook Time: 30 min, Total Time: 1 hr

3-4 apples, peeled, cored and chopped
4 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped
1 lemon, juiced
2 tbsp vinegar
1/2 cup raisins
Salt to taste
1/2 cup sugar or to taste
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp oil


To make Apple And Raisin Chutney recipe, begin by heating oil over medium heat in a pan. First, saute the chopped onion for a minute or two, until aromatic.
Next, add the chopped apples along with cinnamon, salt, vinegar and lemon juice to the pan. Stir to combine and continue to cook on a medium-low heat till apples are soft and mushy.
Once apples turn mushy add the raisins and sugar. Stir to combine and gently mash the chutney with a potato masher while it is on heat.
Turn the heat to low and allow it to simmer until all the excess liquid is evaporated and the chutney begins to turn thick. Once the apple raisin chutney has begun to turn thick, turn off the heat.
Let the chutney cool down to room temperature.
Then spoon the Apple And Raisin Chutney into clean, dry, glass jars and seal with the lid.
Store the Apple and Raisin Chutney in the fridge.
Make sure to use clean and dry spoon to serve the chutney to ensure that it lasts longer.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Foodie Friday: Caramelized Red Onion Chutney

Ugh. One holiday down, several to go. I'm tired of buying meaningless gifts for people, so this year I'm thinking about making them instead. Food gifts are a fun & creative way to show your affection. This one would probably appeal to my mom. If I have any left after I try it, I might even give her some of it!

Caramelised Red Onion Chutney
Yield: 4 - 6 small jars


2 tbsp olive oil
30g unsalted butter
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 kg red onions, thinly sliced
a pinch of salt & pepper
60g golden caster sugar
300ml red wine
150ml white wine vinegar


Heat the oil and butter in a large frying pan. Add the garlic, sliced onions, salt & pepper. Cook over a low heat for about an hour, stirring occasionally. The oil/butter should have mostly evaporated and the onions should be very soft.
Sprinkle over the sugar and stir. Cook for a further 10 minutes before adding the red wine and vinegar.
Simmer for about 45 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated.When you run a spoon across the bottom you should be able to see the pan for a few seconds before the syrup spills in.
Remove from the heat and transfer to sterilised jars while still hot. Seal and leave to cool.
Once opened, store in the fridge and use within a month. Unopened jars should last for months.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Stay Home Because You're Well Day

Since my bosses never want to believe that I'm sick, I wonder how they'd react if I called in for this?!?

What would I do? Read, sleep, eat, got to the bookstore if I have money or the library if I didn't. In other words, the same stuff I'd do on my regular day off, but with the added satisfaction of just not having to go to work!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Foodie Weekend Bonus Edition- More Soup

Because it's cold & nasty, and soup is perfect for this time of year. Found here.

Tortellini Tomato Soup with Italian Sausage & Spinach
Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes



1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 lb Italian Sausage
1/2 cup diced onion (about 1/2 medium sized onion)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1-28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1-32. oz. box of vegetable broth (chicken works too)
2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 package tortellini
1 cup packed fresh spinach

1 Baguette
Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese



Heat a large, heavy bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Heat vegetable oil and add diced onion. Saute until onions are soft.
Crumble Italian Sausage and garlic with the onion. Cook until sausage is no longer pink.
Stir in crushed tomatoes, vegetable (or chicken) broth, basil, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cover. Let soup simmer for 20-30 minutes.
Add tortellini and spinach and simmer for about ten minutes, until pasta is tender.
Serve with shredded Parmesan.

Slice baguette into 1/2 inch thick slices. Butter one side and place butter side down in a hot skillet until golden brown. Flip bread slices over and sprinkle with Parmesan while the other side gets golden brown. Transfer to a plate and immediately cover loosely with foil if cheese has not completely melted.

For a creamier soup, add a half cup of Greek yogurt or sour cream.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Foodie Friday- Hot Brown Turkey Sandwiches

What do you do with leftover turkey? Try this easy & delicious sandwich! Also a Kentucky specialty, so I had to share it with you.

Hot Brown Turkey Sandwiches

5 slices bacon
1 small onion, chopped
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups milk
1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/4 cups grated muenster or monterey jack cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 thick slices white bread, toasted
Dijon mustard, for spreading
1 tomato, sliced
3 cups shredded or sliced roast turkey or rotisserie chicken
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Preheat the broiler. Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Pour out all but about 1 tablespoon fat from the skillet.

Make the gravy: Add the onion to the skillet and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, 1 more minute. Increase the heat to medium high, add the milk and chicken broth and bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 cup cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

Arrange the bread on a baking sheet. Spread each slice with mustard, then drizzle with some of the gravy and top with the sliced tomato. Toss the turkey with the remaining gravy in the skillet. Divide the turkey evenly among the bread slices, then sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Broil until golden, about 2 minutes.

Crumble the bacon over the sandwiches; sprinkle with the parsley.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving, hell! It's Cake Day!

Ok, fine. Here's a Thanksgiving dinner, which I might add looks NOTHING like anything my family puts together. We don't have the patience to make it pretty- we just want to EAT!

Now for the good stuff!

Carrot Cake

Chocolate Cake (my favorite)

Spice Cake, with a cream cheese icing

Apple Walnut Cake- my version is made with a cream cheese glaze, but this one looks pretty good!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Today is Go For A Ride Day

Going for a ride used to be one of my favorite things to do as a kid. Sometimes, on one of his rare days off, Daddy would announce that he felt like going for a drive and we'd scramble to the car. Never had a destination in mind, always had a good time. Well, except for the time we got t-boned in New Bern...

Friday, November 20, 2015

Foodie Friday- Cornbread and Bacon Dressing

I love cornbread dressing/stuffing! Oddly enough, it never occurred to me to add bacon to it until I found this recipe while i was looking for new versions to try.

Cornbread and Bacon Dressing


1 (1-pound) package cornbread mix, like Marie Callender organic cornbread mix
6 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 shallot, cut into small dice
2 celery ribs, cut into small dice
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
2 eggs, whisked
1/2 cup vegetable or mushroom broth


Cook cornbread according to package directions. Remove from pan and allow to cool.
While cornbread cools, cook bacon in a 375°F oven until desired crispiness reached. Drain the bacon on a paper towel, and reserve bacon grease. Once bacon is cool to touch, crumble it into small pieces.
In a sauté pan, heat pan over medium-high heat, then heat 2 tablespoons bacon grease. Cook shallots until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add celery and cook until tender, about 2 minutes. Add poultry seasoning and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from heat, and transfer to a plate to cool.
Grease a 9-inch square casserole dish with bacon grease.
Once all components are cool to room temperature, crumble cornbread into a large bowl. Add bacon and vegetables, and stir. Stir in eggs. Stir in enough vegetable broth to make mixture moist but moldable.
Transfer to casserole dish, and bake in a 375°F oven for 1 hour, or until casserole sets and top appears golden and crispy.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Button Day!

I admit it- I'm a button junkie. I love them. Somewhere in my closet is a jar full of them. I'm still mad that my Gramma's old collection got pitched. it's nice to know that I'm not alone, and that there's a day for us. I don't collect them for value, just for the way they look. I really should dig my collection out and do a craft project with them.

There's a mystery series about a button collector/seller, BTW. Kylie Logan wrote it. Here's the first book in the series:

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Today is Clean Out Your Fridge Day

This is actually a fridge I could aspire to. I'm not crazy enough to post a pic of my actual fridge- my mother would have a heart attack if she stumbled across that online!

This, on the other hand, is close to what our Office fridge often looks like. We won't discuss the smell.

Work or home, this is something many of us could benefit from!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Foodie Friday- Roasted Cabbage With Mushrooms and Bacon

When I was a child, my mother could rarely get me to eat cabbage. It's still not really my favorite, but I have come around to eating it more readily than I did in those days. This has become a preferred method of preparing it for me!

Roasted Cabbage With Mushrooms and Bacon

1/2 large head cabbage, tough outer leaves removed
8 ounces mushrooms
6 slices bacon
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Preheat your oven to 425°F.
Cut the half a head of cabbage in half, then slice each half into thirds, ending with six slices of cabbage. Place onto a foil-lined baking sheet. Trim the stems off of the mushrooms and cut them into quarters. (If you prefer larger pieces of mushrooms, only cut them in half). Fill in the spaces around the cabbage slices with the mushrooms. Cut the bacon into 1/4-inch wide slices. Top the cabbage and the mushrooms with the little bits of bacon. Drizzle the cabbage, mushrooms, and bacon with the olive oil, and season with the salt and pepper.
Roast for 15 minutes. Carefully flip the cabbage slices with a spatula and continue to roast for 15 more minutes, or until the cabbage and mushrooms are as crispy as you like.

Yield: Serves 3-4

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Today is Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day

This is a day I can totally get behind!
Dark chocolate with almonds is still my hands down favorite candy, although I can't eat it as much as I used to.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Today is Saxophone Day

The sax is probably my favorite instrument, so I was tickled to find that it had an official day! I'm going to celebrate by putting on some jazz cd's and letting them take my mind away. Here are some of my favorites:

Don't judge me for that last one! I really liked the track "Havana" and several others.


In all honesty, I haven't tried these yet, but I plan too, and soon! Mom was appalled when she found out I'd eaten (and enjoyed!) a sausage roll that I'd bought from a vendor on the London Underground on our trip many moons ago. I'm going to have her try one of these babies when I make them, and maybe then she'll understand why I was curious enough to try them!


20 mins
25 mins
45 mins

"The secret is the bacon..." It really takes this sausage roll to another level! Also, sautéing the onion and celery before mixing into the filling makes it sweet and more moist than the usual. The addition of fennel adds an extra burst of flavour - pork and fennel are great mates - and using panko instead of normal breadcrumbs also contributes to making the filling of this sausage roll so moist.

Serves: 20
1 brown onion, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tbsp olive oil
1 lb / 500g pork mince (NOT lean)
4 rashers streaky (fatty) bacon, or 2 rashers middle bacon
1 tbsp whole fennel seeds, toasted
Black pepper
2 heaped tsp flaked sea salt
¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
1 egg
2½ sheets puff pastry, cut into half each (so you have five 30cm / 12" x 15cm / 6" rectangles)
Extra egg for egg wash

Preheat oven to 390F/200C.
Sautee onion, celery, garlic over medium heat until soft and sweet. Do not brown. Set aside to cool.
Chop the bacon very finely, so it is a similar grain to the mince. You need the pieces to be small enough to blend in with the pork mince when it cooks.
Combine onion mixture, mince, bacon, fennel seeds, salt and pepper (lots - 10 turns), and use hands to mix well.
Mix in the panko bread crumbs, then mix in the whole egg.
Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour (preferable, but not critical step).
Lay out a rectangle of pastry, long edge closest to you. Get ⅕ th of the filling and shape into a long log shape down the middle of the pastry. Ensure the meat is tight and compact, without gaps.
Roll up the log and use some egg wash to seal.
Brush with egg wash (optional), then cut the log into four equal lengths, or just two if you want full size sausage rolls.
Repeat with the remainder of the pastry and mince so you have 20 rolls.
Place on a baking tray (you will need 2) lightly sprayed with oil and bake for 20 to 30 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.
Leave to cool on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

1. Panko - you can substitute for normal breadcrumbs, but as it is finer and therefore denser, reduce the quantity to ½ cup otherwise the filling won't be as moist.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

It's Use Your Common Sense Day!

The world would be so much better if more people used theirs!

It's also Stress Awareness Day. Most of mine is caused by people not using their common sense!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Belated Swapoween Reveal

So, I participated in the Chaotic Goddesses Halloween swap this year. What did my partner send me?

Mandy sent me a great stash of treats & decorations, as you can see. Below is the stitched piece that I got matted & framed to send to her. I'm really pleased with how it turned out. I started a few other things that I wanted to send, but didn't get them finished in time, dagnabit!

Thanks to the Goddesses for another fun exchange!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Foodie Friday- Hot Spiced Cider

Well, Happy Day Before Halloween! If your area is anything like mine, there's no telling what kind of weather you will be experiencing as you take the kids in your life trick-or-treating or go out on your own for whatever reason. Here is a nice warming drink for those that get chilly weather!

Hot Spiced Cider


2 quarts apple cider
1/2 cup molasses
4 lemon slices, cut in half
12 whole cloves
2 (2-inch) cinnamon sticks
1/4 cup lemon juice

Garnishes: cinnamon sticks,lemon wedges, whole cloves


Bring cider and next 4 ingredients to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally; reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes.

Remove cinnamon sticks and cloves with a slotted spoon; stir in lemon juice. Garnish, if desired.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

It's National Cat Day!

Here's my little owner, Nightshade, as pictured when I adopted her. And here she is more recently:

Go here for more info about my new favorite holiday. The 27th was Black Cat Day- I can't believe I missed that!