Friday, June 24, 2011

Mint Sundae Brownie Squares for the Picnic Game

I am going on a picnic and I am brining....Mint Sundae Brownie Squares!  Because I have the letter M. 
Let me explain.....

Louise from  Months of Edible Creations is once again hosting an on-line picnic.  It's so much fun!   I participated last year with Louise (and others) and just had a great time.  June  18th is National Picnic Day and Louise invites her on-line blogging friends to take part in a month long picnic....but that's not all, she asks that we play in the tradition of the child's ABC game.... You know..... I'm going on a picnic and I'm bringing an apple pie,  I'm going on a picninc and I'm bringing an apple pie and blueberry muffins---and so it goes--until you get to the letter M!  And here you get me and my  Mint Sundae Brownies.

Louise will do a 'round up' so you get the feel of the whole  ABC thing and also to see everyone's great picnic recipes on July 1st.  I can't wait to see what my friends are bringing to the table!

Picnics are such fun.   My family have always been 'picnic people'.  We've had simple picnics involving nothing more than pulling PB&J sandwiches out of paper bags, and we've had more involved picnics in which my mother pulled out  plastic champagne flutes and we had champagne and raspberries in the park.  (there was some food involved too, but I just remember those champagne infused raspberries...ahhh the memories)

It's because of my mother and the champagne picnic I feel I can bring this Mint Brownies today.
You might think they are too fussy for a picnic food, but really, they are not.
These are simple to make and  'oh-so-good!!'   You're going to have a cooler full of ice for the beer anyway, right?  So, you can just set this special dessert right on top and bring it out at the end for the 'WOW'  effect.

(Ya gotta make them even if you aren't going on a picnic!)
(and if you want---you can leave the walnuts out of the brownie mix.  I wouldn't, but that's just me.  My family, on the other hand? Well, the walnuts ruined it for them.  Weirdos.   So the walnuts are optional of course.)

Mint Sundae Brownie Squares
I found these on the Taste of Home Website, where they originated in Logan, Utah (my next door state).


1 package fudge brownie mix (13-inch x 9-inch pan size)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons peppermint extract
4 drops green food coloring, optional
2 cups heavy whipping cream, whipped
1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
1 jar (16 ounces) hot fudge ice cream topping, warmed
1/3 cup chopped salted peanuts

•Prepare brownie mix according to package directions. Stir in walnuts.

•Pour into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. Bake at 325° for
23-27 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out
clean (do not overbake). Cool on a wire rack.

•Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the milk, extract and food
coloring if desired. Fold in whipped cream and chocolate chips.
Spread over brownie layer. Cover and freeze for several hours or

•Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before cutting. Drizzle
with ice cream topping; sprinkle with peanuts. Yield: 15 servings.

I'm going on a picnic and I'm bringing...*

Apricot Cobbler

Banana Cream Pie

Cherry Bars in a Jar

Diva Doggie Bites

Emril's Strawberry Lemonade


Gugelhopf Twister

Honey Graham Rollups

Incredible "Rabbit" Pineapple Tarts

Jam Jewels


Lime Cranberry Fizz

Mint Sundae Brownie Squares

*I'm also going to link this to  "It's a Keeper Thursday" ..... because it really is a keeper!  And I made it on Thursday.  Had all intentions of posting on  Thursday, but life gets in my way all the time.  Go Check out  "it's a keeper"

And  Fat Camp Fridays at Mangoes and Chutney....because well, you will need to go to Fat Camp after eating as much of this as I have.

And Full Plate Thursday at  Miz Helen's Country Cottage... because  picnic food is good for any potluck.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Jalapeno Popper Burgers

I live in the United States, but obviously I need to subscribe to Canadian Living Magazine, because my friend Brenda is finding some good recipes  in the June 2011 issue.

Since our kitchen is still 'in progress'  (the tile is in, but painting is in progress--then a new counter top and sink) I like something that can be cooked on the grill.  I can put it together , hand it off to the Handyman and  then sit back and relax while he finishes up.  I love summertime for exactly that reason.

These burgers are going inside my 'keeper' notebook...they tasted great.  Every bite of this burger was filled with  creamy, cheesy, spicy popper filling.  Seriously, every bite!
I hate it when you cook a cheese filled burger and it all melts and   disappears into the meat.  In this recipe you freeze the filling for about 15 minutes before placing it in between 2 thin patties, and it when cooked it melts just enough so that you get that cheesy goodness in every bite.

(I got the onions a bit done....but we like them that way. )

While the canned pickled jalapeno peppers worked well for us,  some people prefer to use a fresh jalapeno, which I'm sure would work just fine, and give that little bit of spicy crunch inside the filling.

The Handyman and I enjoyed these burgers very much.  A great summer backyard meal with a cold beer, or in my case Bullfrogs  (which is what we call  vodka and lemonade).    I plan to make them again soon!

Look at all that cheesy goodness!!  In every bite!

Jalapeno Popper Cheeseburgers

1 egg
1 small onion, grated and drained
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs (I used Panko)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 lb. lean ground beef
Three-quarters sweet onion, cut in 4 thick rounds
2 tsp. olive oil
Pinch each salt and pepper
4 hamburger buns
Cheese Filling
1 cup shredded old Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup chopped drained pickled jalapeno peppers (I will use fresh next time)
2 T chopped fresh parsley

In bowl, stir together Cheddar cheese, cream cheese, jalapeno peppers and parsley. Divide into quarters; flatten each to 2 1/2-inch circle. Freeze on tray for 15 minutes.

In bowl, whisk together egg, grated onion, bread crumbs, salt and pepper; mix in beef. Shape into 8 balls. Flatten each into 5-inch wide patty. Top 4 of the patties with cheese circle; top with remaining patties, gently pressing and pinching edges to seal. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Place patties on greased grill over medium heat; close lid and grill, turning once.

Meanwhile, brush sweet onion rounds with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill over medium heat, turning once, until softened and caramelized, 8 to 10 minutes.
Sandwich burgers and onion in buns.

Makes 4 burgers.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Outdoor Wednesday

It's time for Outdoor Wednesday, hosted by A Southern Daydreamer.

Last fall, while on a short get-away,  The Handyman and I were traveling down a dirt road in Eastern Oregon and I saw these irrigation pipes so I made him  pull over so I could take some pictures.  I had just gotten a new camera and wanted to practice.
(I still need practice)
(But I'm working on it)

Stop by A Southern Daydreamer to check out more  "Outdoor Wednesday" photos.

The Big Backyard

Exciting new things are happening in the Big Backyard!

The Handyman takes an axe to a tree root and puts up an arbor!
Check it out by clicking the link.

Good Neighbors?

One of the Blogs I read every day is "The Lipstick Chronicles", written by a group of female authors.  Some of the authors I love, some I have never read (but plan too), and  I just love their blog posts.
Yesterday  a post was written by Harley Jane Kozak, called "Love Thy (Next Door)  Neighbor"

It got me to thinking  (well, that and the lemon-blueberry pound cake which is just the right size to take to neighbors as a welcome to the neighborhood gift), about neighbors and if I, myself, had any neighbor funny or horror stories to tell.

I grew up knowing all of my neighbors.  All of their names and who their children were, what they did, where they worked.

We had good neighbors --- The McLaughlin's, whose son Gene I was secretly in love with.  He would cut our lawn with a push mower every Saturday during the summer, and I would have to 'suntan' at the same time  (sigh)  or during the fall,  put on my go-go boots and dance on the fireplace hearth to  "These boots are made for walking"  hoping against all odds that he would walk by and see how cool I was and then fall madly in love with me too.
Sadly  (or happily) it never happened--he's 3x divorced with 10 kids now.  He still stops by to visit my parents when he is in the old neighborhood.

We had weird neighbors --- the  Maxwell's....they didn't like all the neighborhood kid games, such as Kick-the-Can, which went on well after they were in bed and we could never EVER ride out bikes into their driveway to do a turn-around.
We had scary neighbors --- Mrs. Orman, who my mother insisted on inviting to Thanksgiving dinner year after year.  "She's just a lonely old lady Debbie"  "She's a witch mom--  A WITCH" .

But the strangest experience I had with a neighbor was as an adult and involving banana bread. 
We had been living in  Los Banos, California for a few months and I was lonely for friends, so I decided to make banana bread and take it around to my new neighbors. 
Most of them were very receptive to me and my banana bread. (I do make good banana bread)     One of those neighbors is a good friend to this very day,  20  years and 2 towns later.

My next door neighbor tho, a lady who never opened her curtains  (beware of someone who doesn't like sunlight), opened her door --just far enough to stick her face out--and let me explain that I was bringing banana bread as a get-to-know-you gift,  listened to my invitation of:  "you could come over for coffee or tea sometime and we could visit,"  then   snatched the banana bread from my hand and said  "oh I don't do that" and shut the door in my face.

It was one of those awkward moments when I wondered if I was on Candid Camera.
I guess honesty is the best policy....she didn't want to be neighborly.
We laugh about it to this day.

Do you have any funny neighbor stories?


An update!
Every Tuesday morning at 6am, I have coffee with my 'old'  (and different than the banana bread stealing neighbor)  neighbor and friend Debbie E.
We've been doing this for years.....over 10.
We just arrive in our jammies and our coffee cups and visit and discuss the ways of the world and we make it all right.
As neighbors we  used to have afternoon iced tea, but when I moved, we never saw each other  (run in different crowds), so we decided to make the time...
on  Tuesdays, at 6am.
Every Single Tuesday, except Christmas and New Year's Day.
We've visited thru children graduating from high school, children marrying, having grandchildren, parents passing away. 
We've been there....talking it all out.
I LOVE Tuesday mornings.
With a neighbor.

(I just had coffee with her this morning, and realized that I needed to mention how much I like that)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake

My grandchildren love blueberries, so I bought a big carton of blueberries last Friday and even tho they ate their way thru so many of them, I still had enough to whip up the blueberry sauce for yesterdays German Pancakes and today's  Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake.

I let no blueberry go to waste.  (now bread?  Bread I let go to waste...but that's another story...)

This pound cake recipe can also be found at Brenda's Canadian Kitchen.  I should just start a regularly featured-weekly post about all the recipes I get from her.  There are many, and I'm almost embarrassed...but....they are really good. They call my name and I have to make them. 

I love the flavor of lemon and the blueberries in this pound cake were just an added bonus.
Pound cakes  have always been on my favorites list.  Pound cakes are usually very dense and heavy,  and while I like that heavy denseness, not everyone does. Well, let me tell you,  this particular one was kept very moist by the addition of the Lemon syrup over the top.
I am without a microwave at the moment, so I made a lemon and sugar simple syrup and brushed that over the top of the warm cake and when we bit into the cake--WOW--what a burst of fresh lemon flavor.

Blueberry Lemon Pound Cake

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
3 T milk
2 T finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen wild blueberries

Lemon Syrup
1/4 cup sugar
3 T lemon juice

In large bowl, beat butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until light and creamy. Beat in milk, lemon zest and vanilla.

In separate bowl, whisk together all but 1 tablespoon of the flour, baking powder, and salt; stir into butter mixture until smooth and blended.

Toss blueberries with remaining tablespoon of flour; fold half into batter. Scrape half of the batter into 9 x 5-inch parchment paper-lined loaf pan. Sprinkle with remaining blueberries. Scrape remaining batter over berries, smoothing top. Bake in 350F oven until cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean, about 1 1/2 hours.

Lemon Syrup: In microwaveable bowl, microwave sugar with lemon juice at high, stirring once, until hot and sugar is dissolved, 30 seconds.

With skewer, poke holes all over top of cake; brush or pour syrup evenly over top. Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan; let cool completely.

Makes 12 servings.

I ran  home at lunch today and made myself some oatmeal.
(ran:  not as in literally ran, but went home very fast in my car)
YES, oatmeal.  I like oatmeal, and I was itching to try  the blueberry sauce on the oatmeal.  (I had pound cake for breakfast, remember.....I eat a balanced meal)

Home made blueberry sauce on oatmeal is great!!


Java from Never Growing Old hosts the "Meet Me on Monday" meme.  I thought I'd play along today.

Her questions this week are:
1. What feature of the opposite sex do you notice first?
I guess I notice eyes....and if they have laugh lines.  I like somebody who laughs.  The Handyman laughs at me all the time---in a good way.  (He laughs with me)

2. Do you talk to yourself?
Of course I talk to myself....doesn't everybody?

3. What is your current relationship status?
On Friday, the Handyman and I celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary!

4. Do you have a garden?
A flower garden only this year with some herbs and a few tomato plants interspersed thru-out.

5. What is your favorite licorice flavor?
I like the licorice flavor..... black, but that is not my favorite licorice-type of candy ----since we all call Twizzlers, Red Vines, etc etc, licorice, I'd have to say that Red Vines  are my favorite.
I like to eat them at the movie theater. With popcorn.
WAIT!  I do love Good and Plenty too...and that is  'real' licorice flavor.

It's Monday (what are you reading?)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?--is hosted by Shelia from Book Journey.
She says:
It’s Monday! What Are You Reading is where we share what we read this past week, what we hope to read this week…. and anything in between! D This is a great way to plan out your reading week and see what others are currently reading as well… you never know where that next “must read” book will come from!

So let's get started.  It's been a slow reading week at the Friday Friend House.  We've had our  2-year old twin grandchildren for a few days.
Well, let me rephrase that....It's not been a slow reading week AT ALL.
We've read: 
Pickle Things
But No Elephants
Dirty Feet
The Little Engine that Could
Blueberries for Sal
One Fish, Two Fish
Hop on Pop
Ten Apples Up On Top
Cookies and Milk
The Hungry Caterpillar
Goodnight Moon
A Fish Out of Water
and more......

and some of these I read many times over!  They are THAT good!  (seriously, sharing snuggle time and books with grandkids is close to heaven)

I am almost finished with:

Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani.
I'm listening to this book on audio.
What can I say about it?
I don't want it to end.

Don't Breath a Word by Jennifer McMahon.
On my Kindle.
I'm about half way thru it.  It's  kind of eerie.   But good so far.

I should be reading:
Stiff by Mary Roach.  It's my book club (Totally Lit) pick for next week, and I haven't started it.   I like to live close to the edge like that.

So until next week then....

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Blueberry Sauce and Happy Father's Day!

The rest of the world calls them Dutch Babies, but we've always called them German Pancakes and today they are coming with Blueberry Sauce on top.

This was not the post I was planning on today----but sometimes life is crazy and throws obstacles in your path.

Okay, the truth?  My obstacle was that I slept in to 8:30!!!  We are normally early risers and are up at 5 or 5:30 am without an alarm clock.  But this morning we made a 'grandchildren transfer' at 4:30am, to send them on their way home, and afterwards,   we sat down in our recliners/couch and thought we would doze for an hour.....but no, we woke up at 8:30!   I seriously feel my day is half wasted.
How do you sleeper in-ers do that? (I'm in panic mode---the day is wasting away!!)  (my morning hour of  'sit and have coffee and read my book' is gone!)

We still managed to have breakfast on the patio and I made this fast Father's Day meal of German Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce.   I've posted about  the German Pancakes  2 years ago here, so today's post will be about the easiest Blueberry sauce  ever!

Most of all I wanted to wish all the men in my life a Happy Father's Day!
We may be far apart, but not in our hearts!

Happy Father's day to:

My Dad, who is in Whistler, BC, taking my nephew to a hockey tournament.
My husband,  who is putting the sealer on our newly tiled kitchen floor.
My sons, one in Nevada,  who is at church with his 2-year old twins, one in Nevada who just Skyped his daugther in Virginia, one who is having a lazy morning with his daughter in Arizona,  one in Washington, who is anxiously awaiting the arrival of his boys from Texas, to spend the summer with him.
And my 2 father-in-laws, one on vacation in Washington and one being taken out to brunch by his daughter.

Happy Father's Day Guys!  Wish you were here for this great Blueberry sauce
(there is some leftover---come for vanilla ice cream later)

Blueberry Sauce--the easiest ever!

Fresh blueberries--about 2 cups
1/4 cup of water
3/4 cup of sugar
lemon zest
1 Tbls fresh lemon juice

Heat it all until it begins to boil and then cook until thickened  (about  30 minutes)

That's it!
You can put it on pancakes, waffles, Dutch Babies,  ice cream, oatmeal...whatever sounds good to you.

I am going to link this great little blueberry sauce to  Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads.  (she is a cookbook collector--so she's fantastic in my book!)
That can head on over there to see all the other  food related posts.  It's a fun one because  it can be anything related to,  a review, an interesting food article or tidbit.   You name it.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Snapshot Saturday

I have my 2 year old twin grandchildren for a few days....
this morning, still in our jammies, we were out in the backyard having our breakfast.
I told them to hang onto each others hands and go find the flowers.

The picture is cute....
but Eli wanted the water barrel because he is kind of a rebel and Emmy wanted the flowers because she is a rule follower  (well....her Gram said so)
So, shortly after this--there was a fist fight over the water barrel or the flower pot.

But the whole time, they kept holding onto hands.

Stop by  and visit Alyce from At Home With Books and see what other fun photos there are for Snapshot Saturday.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Tomato, Garlic and Sausage Pizza

I bought a new cookbook!  I shouldn't being saying those words.  I should be ashamed of myself.  I have over 200 cookbook already.  What was I thinking?
Well, tell me.... if you liked to cook, if you liked pizza,  and you walked by this:

what would you do?   You'd end up with it in  your cart, too, wouldn't you?
You couldn't help yourself, could  you?
Neither could I. 
And that is how I ended up making pizza on a work day evening last week.

The book is round, shaped like a pizza, which is a cute gimmick, but not great for cookbook holders, or holding and reading thru, but I persevered and made it work.

This book contains some really great pizza recipes.  I can't wait to try out a few more that I have my eye on, but   we all loved this one very much.  The Handyman, even tho he was full after 2 pieces, managed to eat more!  And then talk about how good it was all night.
I started out to make the pizza on the cover of the book, which is a tomato, garlic and sausage pizza,  but I made a few changes. 

The recipe called for  1 cup of diced tomatoes with juice and oregano, which might be more traditional  (in Italy), but I used this homemade  pizza sauce  (It's from my friend Brenda ) and we all loved the taste of it.
The pizza recipe used fresh mozzarella, sliced and spread on top, so not every single bite gets cheese, but this technique reminds me of a more traditional pizza.   Italian sausage crumbled and cooked and fresh basil strewn on top.
I didn't use fresh sliced garlic in the toppings as there was garlic in the sauce and I thought that was sufficient.  That was it. Simple but good.

It was a fun pizza to make, simple, yet really, really tasty. 

The  Handyman likes a thin crust, but I made a thicker crust this time and he loved it.

Tomato, Garlic and Sausage Pizza

Prepare your favorite pizza dough  Or use recipe below.
Preheat oven to  500 degrees F.

1 Tbls extra virgin olive oil
8 oz of spicy Italian sausage, casing removed and crumbled
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 cup diced canned tomatoes, with juice
1 oz mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Fresh basil to garnish

Press your prepared dough into an oiled pizza pan using your fingers.
Heat the oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add the sausage and garlic, saute until browned, about  5 minutes.  Drain off the fat and set aside.
Spread the dough evenly with the tomatoes, leaving a 1/2 inch border all around.  Top with the sausage mixture and mozzarella.  Season with the oregano, salt and pepper.
Bake for 10-15 minutes until the crust is crisp and golden brown and the cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown.
Garnish with basil.
Serve Hot.

1/2 oz fresh yeast or 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
about 1 cup warm water
2 cups bread flour (extra to dust hands and work surface)
1/3 tsp salt
1 tbls extra-virgin olive oil

Put the yeast in a small bowl and add about 1/2 cup of the warm water.  Stir gently until the yeast has dissolved. Set aside until frothy--about 10 minutes.

Combine the flour and salt in a medium bowl.  Pour in yeast water, oil and enough of the remaining water to obtain a sticky dough.

Dust a clean work surface with extra flour.  Scrap all the dough out of the bowl onto the work surface. Shape into a firm round ball.

Knead the dough for 8-10 minutes. When it is firm and no longer sticks to your hands or the work surface, lift it up and bang it down hard a couple of times to develop the gluten.

Place in a large oiled bowl, cover with a cloth.  Set aside to rise for 1 hour. When ready, the dough will be smooth and elastic and show definite air bubbles beneath the surface. 

This will be cookbook #45 in my own personal cookbook countdown.
And for the first time ever, I am going to link to "Full Plate Thursday"  at

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Outdoor Wednesday

It's time for Outdoor Wednesday. 
This little hummingbird has come back to nest above our patio. It's her third year in a row....or someone's third year in a nest there.
We eat outside almost every night during the summer, and she hates it!!    She is so annoyed that we are coming to her space.

We had a little dinner party on Sunday evening.....she practically dived bombed us....  she did lots of fly-bys to try and make us leave.
She has little babies to protect you know!

Outdoor Wednesday is hosted by a Southern Daydreamer.  Head on over to check out other outdoor photos  or to find out the rules and enter yourself.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Secret Recipe Club

Today is posting day for The Secret Recipe Club!   I have missed the first couple of  round-ups for  this club,  but when I realized what  a fun idea this is, I signed  up right away so I could participate this month! In this club, we choose any recipe from the blog assigned to us and make or bake and keep the blog/blogger we are making from a secret until posting day

It came right down to the wire for me and the Secret Recipe Club!  We are just putting the finishing touches on our kitchen and dining room tile and we only got our new stove last weekend.
So, besides boiling myself some eggs, and heating some soup,  these great  Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies  (from Cupcake Muffin)  are one of the first things I've made, and the very  first I've baked in my new oven.
Speaking of  Cupcake Muffin, let me give a shout out to Sara and say thanks for the great cookie recipe.  It was fun to peruse your blog and see all the  great dishes. 
I have a horrible sweet tooth and I knew that had to be satisfied soon, and Sara has tons of great  'sweet treats' on her blog.   I can't wait to make the Sour Cream-Apple Pie with Lemon Cardamom Streusel!!   It sounded so good.
But I went with the Nutella cookies for a couple of reasons.

1.  I may be the only person in the world who has never tasted Nutella.  I bought some and it has just sat in my cupboard for a few months.  So, this was my opportunity to try it out.   (I love food and love sweets, but for some reason just can't get my mind around chocolate spread on toast  ?? )

2.  I've been really hungry for a good cookie and this one just called out to me.
I wanted a good cookie to go with my cup of good coffee.

The question is....did I find that good cookies?
I think I did!  As Sara said,  the Nutella flavor isn't very pronounced, but it does give for a smooth, slight chocolate, or understated 'Nutella' flavor.
The Handyman liked them too.  He likes a softer cookie and these were soft inside but a bit crunchy on the outside--that's a perfect texture, I feel.

I have to confess, I did eat them for breakfast with my coffee, true, but 14 hours later as I write up this blog post, I am having a couple with a glass of cold milk.
A truly versitial cookie if you ask me. Coffe AND milk.   (smiles)

Here is Sara's  recipe from her blog.
I didn't make any changes to the recipe at all.

Nutella-Chocolate Chip Cookies
from Cupcake Muffin

Makes 4 dozen small cookies

2-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup Nutella
2 eggs
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
1-1/2 cups chocolate chips or coarsely chopped dark chocolate
1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts, optional

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line baking sheets with foil or parchment.

2. Whisk together the dry ingredients and set aside.

3. Beat together the butter and sugar, and then add the Nutella and beat until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla. Fold in the dry ingredients, followed by chocolate chips or chocolate chunks and nuts, if using.

4. Drop heaping tablespoon-fuls  of dough two inches apart on the cookie sheets, and then flatten slightly by hand.  Bake 8-10 minutes, then cool on a wire rack.
If you would like to particpate in the Secret Recipe Club just follow this link to check it out.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Kid Konnection

It is apparent by reading past Kid Konnection posts from other bloggers, that I am the old one. 
Hey, hey now.....I didn't mean I'm the old lady, but rather in what books I post about.   Someone needs to champion older GREAT, well-loved books, don't they? 
I appreciate the  Captain Underpants, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Judy Moody, The Dork Diaries and Fancy Nancy books of today, but.....but..... what's the matter with  Thank you Jackie Robinson?

Thank you Jackie Robinson by Barbara Cohen
Sam and Davy come from different races, religions, and generations, but they have one thing very much in common – they both love the Brooklyn Dodgers and baseball. When Davy has a heart attack, Sam is determined to show Davy how much their friendship means to him by getting Davy a baseball signed by their mutual hero, Jackie Robinson.

Thank you Jackie Robinson was published in 1988, but it's a timeless story of  friendship, race, personal sacrifice and death.  Pretty big issues for any kid huh? 
But, Cohen handles the situations with grace and empathy and makes it a good read...alone or as a read aloud.  I love the read aloud, since it's a great time and situation to  (without lecturing) talk to your kids or grand kids about these heavy issues.  And Cohen make history fun!  And interesting.  And there is baseball's the time of year for baseball.  (another little hook there for boys if you have trouble finding something they like to read).

It's a short little post, but that's my  "old" pick for Kid Konnection this week.
Kid Konnection is hosted every Saturday by Booking Mama.

PS  my grandson is here today and we went to the library this afternoon.  We brought home:
Captain Underpants  ---3 books
Lawn Boy

Good stuff for a Saturday afternoon.

Snapshot Saturday

Keeping Your Eye on the Ball......

Ahhh........Little League.   (and Pop Warner football, and Junior Hockey League, and City-Wide Basketball--you name it, we've sat thru it)

This is my grandson Camron, who is 'not' keeping his eye on the ball.  He's on his tiptoes, swinging upwards above his head....and if you look closely, you can see the ball down by his feet.  (you can see the shadow best)

Gotta love  8 year old beginners! 
....and we do!

Stop by  "At Home With Books"  to catch a link to all the great Snapshot Saturday photos!
To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken.  Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don't post random photos that you find online.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Character Connection

Don’t you just love larger-than-life characters? The ones who jump off the page and grab you? Whether you love them or hate them, you can’t be indifferent to them.

The Introverted Reader  would love to know about the characters who just won’t leave you!  So she has a meme/ roundup called Character Connection which is posted on Thursdays.  Stop by and check out everyone's favorite characters!
Most of you will probably post about how much you love (or loathe) each character, but this is a great place for the more creative ones among you to let go and have fun! Write yourself into a scene with Anne and Diana. Write a love poem in elvish for Aragorn. Draw a picture of Harry obliterating Voldemort. The possibilities are endless.

Be sure to post the book's title and author, and be very careful not to give away spoilers while talking about how much you love your characters.


One of my favorite characters has always been  (don't laugh) Sonny Corleone from Mario Puzo's "The Godfather".   (  The Godfather was the first book I ever read---adult book, I mean.  I was 12. And yes, I do say that often in this blog--sorry. )

Okay, Sonny Corleone, he's a bad guy. I know it.  I should have a better (as in better morals) character to write about.  But Sonny has always held a special place in my  heart.    Even in the mafia circle,  he's not so good-- not evil, he just couldn't keep his temper under control, which is VERY IMPORTANT in the business---because nothing is personal, it's business.  
He was so larger than life (for me at the time at least).   With Puzo's character development in the book, one learns so much more about Santino Corleone than just what James Caan brought to the big screen.

I learned so much from that book. ( Remember I was 12.)  I learned a naughty word  that no 12 year old should know.  But that was okay....because even tho I knew the word, I still didn't know what it meant. (and wouldn't for another good ten years)
I even looked in the dictionary at the school library.
Imagine that!   The Godfather, encouraged dictionary reading!   I so badly wanted to know what Sonny was doing, but I really had no idea.

I  learned many other things from Sonny Corleone.  I learned  about revenge, and family loyalty and GREAT food,  and...well, I learned what "he sleeps with the fishes"  meant.   And also  "going to the mattresses".

Hey....I can hang with the best of the guys as an adult and understand all those "Godfather" references.  My friends cannot.  Nor do they want to.  (sigh).

For some reason, I am obsessed with this book/movie, and especially the Sonny Corleone character.  I have been known to cook a big spaghetti dinner and put the movie on ---and make my son's girlfriends watch it.
"OH....You've never seen the Godfather?  Well.....I know what we can do...."
My boys would take their friends and flee when they heard me say that.
BUT---they love it too!!   If I said,  "Leave the Gun, take the canoli"  they would say "The Godfather."   They get me.

When I was 12, I decided it was my life's ambition to marry someone in the mafia.  Take into consideration that my father was a policeman and I lived a very sheltered  "Norman Rockwell-ish" life.  I didn't really know Mafia, except for The Godfather  (The Sopranos was years in the future, and I have never seen it).

The closest I got to marrying someone in the mafia was marrying The Handyman.  He is 1/4 Italian.  He likes spaghetti.  And most importantly he knows what that naughty word Sonny Corleone's character taught me in the  Godfather.... Bada Bing!

Day 4 of AudioBook Week

Day 4 of AudioBook Week bring us to....this topic....

Whether you just started listening or have a long history with audiobooks, you probably have some suggestions for those new to audio whether for narrators, titles, or ways to experience the medium. Write a post, make a list, get creative.

My advice?  Try, try again. 
I am on only my 5th audio book, but am loving it. I love the narrator, Cassandra Campbell, and I love the story, Lucia Lucia and I love the author, Adriana  Trigiani.

But my first audio book, I didn't love.  In fact, I didn't finish it.  It was  'The Tower, The Zoo and The Tortise' by  Julia Stuart.  It got good reviews... but I just bought it because.... because.....    just because.  (it is still on my Mp3 player, so maybe I 'll start it again someday).   I didn't do enough "thinking."  Thinking what kind of books I like, thinking of  how much money I was spending for one book (there  are many ways that are not expensive, but I didn't know that at the time), thinking of how long of a book I was choosing.
These are probably things to consider if you are brand new to audio.

I put off downloading any more books for quite some time, but by reading many blog posts by enthusiastic  reader/listeners, I thought I'd give it a second try and I downloaded "the Weird Sisters"  and I loved it. 

I've loved audio books every since.  Maybe it was all in the timing.

So besides  try, try again.... and since I'm really too new at this to help out much,  my advice would be to  go visit Jen at Devourer of Books today and check out the Mr. Linky.  All these great book bloggers love audio, and they have TONS of suggestions and advice for you. TONS of enthusiasm about audio love!  Tons of ideas if you are new!

Go.  Do it now.  Click the link.   Don't waste anymore time here.  Good Audio awaits you.

See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Cobb Salad Sandwich

I love nostalgia and all things old.  Just hearing the name "Cobb Salad" makes me feel nostalgia for the 1960's.  I don't know why since many times you will still see the Cobb Salad on a restaurant menu today.

I work in a little corner office of what was once a casino.  The casino went out of business and the county bought the building as part of their convention center.  Most of the time, I'm all alone in this big, big building  (I think of Stephen King's book, The Shining, when I think of this place, because we have 4 floors, a parking garage basement, commercial kitchen, what I call the Grand Ballroom, office/meeting rooms and more. and it sits empty now, except for conventions, but a lot  of the time, it's just me)
In the lounge, we have items  leftover  from when it was a happenin casino, circa 1970's---close enough to the 60's for me---red velvet curtains,  big, semi-circle leather booths, cocktail tables and  the marquee which still says  "for your listening and dancing pleasure....."
And I KNOW they must have served Cobb Salad here in "The Star" restaurant.
Cobb Salad--it just goes with 'The Rat Pack' crowd!

Cobb Salad traditionally  has  chopped salad greens, tomato, crisp bacon, hard boiled egg, avocado, Roquefort cheese and sometimes roasted chicken.
The salad was invented in the 1940's at the Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant where it became a signature dish. 

I came across this Cobb Salad Sandwich recipe in the Better Homes and Garden's magazine called "Sunday Dinners."  (but this is more like a Sunday lunch) and I showed the picture to the Handyman and he said it looked good, so I decided to make it for him on Sunday--for lunch--when he stopped working on dining room tile long enough to eat.  (Yes, we are still working on that tiling project).
When we sat down to lunch, I asked him,  " you remember Cobb Salads?"

"Nope", he said. 
"Really? Cuz that's what we're eating now.  A Cobb salad in a sandwich."
He said,  " oh...I thought it was a BLT with egg salad."

And it basically was.
But egg salad made with Roquefort salad dressing instead of mayo.

But really Handyman,  Cobb Salad was suppose to conjure up images of  Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr....all having lunch at the Brown Derby. 
Then he said, "what's the Brown Derby?"

I can't take him anywhere!!

On the other  hand,  he has good taste and appreciation for good food, even if it is just a sandwich.

Cobb Salad Sandwiches

To make one sandwich: 
 (just double or triple if you want more)

2 pieces of toast (I used oat bread)
Blue cheese salad dressing  (or  Roquefort if you can find it--I can't)
Hard boiled eggs  (I used 5 I think, but it depends on how many sandwiches you're making)
3 strips of crisp bacon
Thin sliced tomato
1 lettuce leaf (I  used red leaf lettuce)
Avocado optional (I didn't have any)

Hard boil your eggs and then chop and mix them with the salad dressing.  Set aside.  Fry the bacon strips and set aside.
Toast your bread and then spread with the salad dressing.
Layer, lettuce, tomato, bacon, top with egg salad spread.

It tastes just like Cobb Salad in bread!

While it was a good sandwich, it was a bit time consuming, and it took a lot of steps.   (um...that sounds like I'm lazy, but I had just done the dishes ) So, while I might make it for company, probably not again for the Handyman and myself.  (we can eat peanut butter for lunch)
It was good for a trip down memory lane tho.

Friday friend recipe number 274 and 275-Grapefurit Shrimp Salad and Crispy Potato Chicken

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