Friday, November 30, 2012

Foodie PenPal Reveal

Today I'm revealing the package I received from my FPP, Lauren who is from Omaha... it was the best package ever!  First it came with this cute card.

The goodies were wonderful and all local items from Nebraska.  Yummy chocolates called Baker's Candies, dessert toppings, coffee and popcorn.  Lauren is also in the publishing business and sent 2 magazines she works with. I was nice and shared with my husband - there were many more chocolates but we ate most of them before I could snap a photo!


Oh ya, these look "sinful"


Being a popcorn fanatic, this was my favorite!



Thanks Lauren!  I definitely enjoyed my taste of Nebraska!!
- - - - - - - - - -
I will definitely be participating in the December FPP.  Instead of packages, we will donate what we would have spent on a donation for the Hurricane Sandy victims.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Grow Your Blog


Hi - I'm co-hosting with Julie this week for her Grow Your Blog party and hope you will link up and check out some of the other participants... I really enjoy meeting other bloggers - always interesting to see what others are up to for new recipes or projects to try.  Happy Thursday!
 ♥♥♥



Good morning and welcome to the Grow Your Blog Blog Hop! This blog hop is all about networking and building your blog.  Each week from Thursday through Sunday I will host the Grow Your Blog link party, along with a few co-hosts, in order to promote blog networking. Why is blog networking great for you? Simply put, it increases readership and traffic to your blog. How do you network? Visit. Comment. Invite. Communicate. These are key to growing your blog. 


BlogButton


THIS WEEKS CO-HOSTS
Julie from This Gal Cooks - HOST
Paula from Call Me PMc - Permanent CO-HOST
Carrie from Frugal Foodie Mama - CO-HOST
Karyn from Pint Sized Baker - CO-HOST
Deb from Cooking on the Front Burner - CO-HOST
Jaime from Mom's Test Kitchen - CO-HOST

When you link up to this party:
  • Follow your host and co-hosts.
  • Visit and follow other bloggers. 
  • Comment to let them know that you stopped by and how you followed their blog (GFC, BlogLovin, etc)
  • Invite them to visit your blog (be sure to leave your blog web address - too many times have I seen bloggers comment and request a visit to their blog without leaving their blog web address
  • Communicate with them about what you like on their blog. Let them know you are interested in their blog. USE THEIR NAME! A simple "I'm so and so stopping by. I followed you please follow me." just isn't going to interest someone into visiting your blog. Sure, you can request a visit to your blog or a follow along but engage in some type of conversation first. 
  • Grab a button and promote the party! The more participants, the more bloggers to network with!
Contact me at thisgalcooks@gmail.com and I will schedule you!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Butternut Squash Lasagna

About once a year I make something with butternut squash.  It's a yummy veggie and goes well with other flavors.  The squash is roasted and also has caramelized onions and spinach.  It was really good but very labor intensive.  From start to table it took about 2 hours.  Good for a day when you have lots of time - I made mine on a Sunday and enlisted the help of The Fisherman too and he did a great job of peeling the squash and cubing it.

The flavors really meld together nicely and made for a great Sunday dinner.

Recipe Source:  Cooking Light


Let me know if you give it a try and if you discovered any shortcuts :-)


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Beef Stroganoff

Hold on to your hats - I actually made a dinner that isn't chicken!  I had a request from one of my girls to post something that wasn't chicken or pasta.... And while this has some pasta, the main event is the beef.  It was my first attempt at making a stroganoff and I think this recipe is a keeper.  The meat (sirloin) was very tender and I used baby bella mushrooms instead of button.  They hold their shape and do not produce much water when cooking.  Very tasty and very good reheated too.  Perfect for a cold night when you want something to stick to your ribs!

Recipe Source:  Adapted from Fresh Tastes



There you go Kristina - this is just for you :-)
Beef Stroganoff Serves: 4 Calories: na Prep Time to Table: 40 minutes
Recipe : Adapted Fresh Tastes

 Ingredients:
• 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
• 10 ounces beef (sirloin) cut into 1/4” wide strips
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 1 small onion, diced
• 9 ounces Baby Bella mushrooms halved (quarter if they are large)
• 1/4 cup dry white wine
• 1 tablespoon tomato paste
• 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
ʥ 3/4 cup beef stock or consommé
 • 2 teaspoons flour
• 1/4 cup sour cream

Preparation:
1. Add the oil to a frying pan and heat over medium high heat. Generously salt and pepper the beef. When the pan is hot and the oil is shimmering, add the beef in a single layer and fry undisturbed until it’s browned on one side. Stir and fry until the beef is mostly cooked. Transfer to a bowl.
2. Add the butter to the pan and when it’s melted, add the onions. Fry until they are soft and starting to brown. Add the mushrooms and continue frying until they are cooked through and any liquid that came out of the mushrooms has evaporated.
3. You should now have a good deal of brown fond stuck to the bottom of your pan. This is what gives the stroganoff it’s flavor, so add the wine, and scrape up those browned bits into the wine.
 4. Boil the wine until most of the liquid is gone, and then add the tomato paste, mustard and beef stock. Boil until this mixture has reduced by half.
5. In a bowl, whisk the flour and sour cream together until there are no lumps.
6. Turn down the heat and return the beef to pan along with any collected juices. Add some of the hot liquid into the sour cream mixture and stir to combine. Repeat until the sour cream mixture is lukewarm. This prevents the sour cream from curdling when you add it to the pan.
7. Add the sour cream mixture to the pan and quickly stir to distribute. The stroganoff is done when the sauce has thickened up. Serve over egg noodles

Notes:

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Book Club


It's been awhile since I've had a book club post - I'm so glad that we have gotten back on track.  The last meeting before this one was in July and due to circumstances beyond our control, we were unable to get together until the end of October.  This month's read was my selection and everyone really enjoyed the book.

It was a great read and I don't want to give much away so here is what is listed on the the Amazon site:

After the unexpected death of her parents, painfully shy and sheltered 26-year-old Ginny Selvaggio seeks comfort in cooking from family recipes. But the rich, peppery scent of her Nonna’s soup draws an unexpected visitor into the kitchen: the ghost of Nonna herself, dead for twenty years, who appears with a cryptic warning (“do no let her…”) before vanishing like steam from a cooling dish. A haunted kitchen isn’t Ginny’s only challenge. Her domineering sister, Amanda, (aka “Demanda”) insists on selling their parents’ house, the only home Ginny has ever known. As she packs up her parents’ belongings, Ginny finds evidence of family secrets she isn’t sure how to unravel. She knows how to turn milk into cheese and cream into butter, but she doesn’t know why her mother hid a letter in the bedroom chimney, or the identity of the woman in her father’s photographs. The more she learns, the more she realizes the keys to these riddles lie with the dead, and there’s only one way to get answers: cook from dead people’s recipes, raise their ghosts, and ask them.

Our night together was enjoyable too as we had just all gone to a wedding from one of our members, Anne.  And our host made a delicious dessert - Apple Crisp.  When we meet in December we will be discussing  is "The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman".  I already read it... another good read!


The gang at the wedding.. we had a great time!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving


Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving with your family and friends!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cranberry Orange Bread

Cranberry Orange Bread

A couple weeks ago as I was checking out some of the sites I frequent, I came across the Get Your Chef On challenge.  It's kind of like the Iron Chef America only the host doesn't have crazed eyes, a camera doesn't follow me around and I don't need to create 5 dishes from the secret ingredient (though I think I could!).  Today's secret ingredient is:

C-R-A-N-B-E-R-R-I-E-S
Hosted by:
Jen @ Four Marrs and One Venus
Julie @ White Lights On Wednesday


I love cranberries and what a great time of the year to bake with these and combined with orange, well - it's the best! 

Recipe Source:  adapted from My Recipes





Cranberry Orange Bread Serves: makes 2 big or 6 small loaves Calories: na
Recipe : adapted from My Recipes

 Ingredients:
 • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened, plus more for buttering pan
• 1 1/2 cups sugar
 • 4 eggs
• 1 cup orange juice
 • 1 cup sour cream
 • 2 tablespoons freshly grated orange zest
 • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
 • 4 cups all-purpose flour
 • 1 tablespoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt • ½ cup dried cranberries
• 1 cup fresh cranberries chopped
• 2 cups powdered sugar
 • 4 tbsp. Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
• 2-3 tbsp. milk

Preparation:
1. Preheat oven to 330°. Butter two pans of your choice
2. With an electric or standing mixer on medium speed, cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Add orange juice, sour cream, orange zest, and vanilla; mix until blended.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture and cranberries to wet ingredients and mix just until dry ingredients are absorbed; do not overmix.
4. Pour batter into prepared loaf pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in centers of breads comes out clean, 70 to 75 minutes for large loaves and 50-55 minutes for mini loaves.
 5. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, 4 tbsp. Grand Marnier and 3-4 tbsp milk. Glaze should have consistency of thick maple syrup or corn syrup. If it is too thick, thin with an additional tbsp. of milk.
6. Let loaves cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove and transfer to a cooling rack set over a large baking sheet. With a thin skewer or long toothpick, poke deep holes in tops of loaves. Drizzle with Grand Marnier glaze so that it coats the top, runs down the sides, and seeps through the holes.
7. Let loaves cool completely, then slice and serve, or wrap and freeze

 Notes:

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Marvelous Monday Party


Happy Thanksgiving week!  Have any of you been out shopping this weekend?  It is absolutely crazy.  Malls and grocery stores are busy busy.  I guess people are trying to get a jump on holiday shopping while at the same time planning their Thanksgiving dinner.  I also think the nice weather we have contributes to people being out and about.  I saw 2 convertibles with the tops down!  Yes, it is in the 50's but I guess when it should be about 30 in Minnesota, it's like summer is here again!  In fact, this Wednesday The Fisherman and his friend are going to the Mississippi one more time.... I do need him to provide us with some more walleye for Christmas Eve and I'm told they are "biting".

I also want to welcome you to another fun installment of Marvelous Monday  I always enjoy co-hosting with Julie, she is such a fun gal!  Not only does she blog about some good recipes but she recently started her own blog design business.  If you are in the market for a new look, check her out to see some of the designs she has already created.  

Hope you find a recipe, project or 2 to try this week.  Deb


♥   ♥   ♥  

Good evening, everyone! Welcome to Marvelous Mondays week 21! I hope you all have had a great weekend. This week's co-hosts are:

Julie from This Gal Cooks (HOST)
Leslie from House On The Way (co-host)
Ali from House Vintage (co-host)
Deb from Cooking On The Front Burner (co-host)

I am currently hosting a {GIVEAWAY} on my blog (This Gal Cooks.) See below for the entry form!
Be sure to stop by these wonderful blogs and say hello! We cannot wait to see what you have to share this week! 


If you are interested in co-hosting, please contact me (thisgalcooks@gmail.com) and let me know when you would like to co-host.)





  • Please follow your host and co-hosts via Google Friend Connect, Twitter, Blog Lovin, Facebook or RSS Feed. Please leave a comment stating how you followed so your host can follow you back. Your host and co-host links can be found at the top of the party post. 
  • Check out your fellow bloggers' projects. Leave them some wonderful comments to let them know that you stopped by.
  • Link up your recipes, crafts or DIY projects. Please link something that you made. No giveaways or shops, please.
  • Grab a button. It's not mandatory but it helps get the word out about the party.






  • Mousse Truffle Shots

    Mousse Truffle Shots
    Time for a fancy pants dessert... it's a little fussy but big on presentation and flavor!  Sometimes when I have dinner parties, I like to have a variety of desserts, so it's perfect to make them mini size so you can try them all! (These were made in 2 oz. shot glasses)  I decided to make these because my friend Sue is hosting an engagement party for her niece and was looking for some ideas for apps and desserts.  We got together for planning and I served these for her to try (along with our fellas). 

    Recipe Source:  Original


    The bottom layer is made of chocolate cookie crumbs, the second layer is a decadent, dense chocolate truffle, the third layer is a light, white chocolate mousse.  The combo is heavenly, the 2 chocolates play well together so the dessert is well balanced.  I topped with whipped cream and a raspberry (I think strawberries would be good too and a dusting of cocoa)





    Enjoy!

    Mousse Truffle Shots Serves: 24 mini Calories: na Prep Time to Table: 20 minutes plus chilling time (for both layers)
    Recipe : Original

    Ingredients:
    Crust:
    -about 1 ½ cups chocolate cookies crumbs
    -1/3 cup melted butter (use 2oz shot glasses)

    Truffle Layer:
    -12 oz semi-sweet chips
    -1 cup whipping cream
    -1 tsp vanilla
     -2 egg yolks

    Mousse Layer:
    -4 egg yolks
    -1/4 cup sugar
    -1 cup whipping cream
    -1 cup vanilla chips (white)
    -1 ½ cups whipping cream

    Preparation:
    1. For crust, combine crumbs and melted butter and mix well. Place about 1 Tbl in bottom of shot glass and press down – I refrigerated the glasses at this point
    2. For truffle: In double boiler (water should be simmering) heat chocolate chips stirring constantly until melted and smooth. Gradually add 1 cup whipping cream and stir constantly until combined (mixture may thicken up a bit but as you add the cream it becomes smooth again – just keep stirring)
    3. Stir in vanilla and egg yolks – cook and stir 5-6 minutes until thickened and hot.
    4. Place about halfway up the shot glass the chocolate mixture and refrigerate until firm (about an hour)
    5. For mousse: beat yolks until thick and lemon color (about 3 minutes); gradually add in sugar and beat until combined.
    6. Heat 1 cup whipping cream in a saucepan until just hot. Stir about half of hot cream into yolk mixture and then add it all back into saucepan – stirring constantly over low heat until thickened (do not boil)
    7. Stir in vanilla chips until melted. Pour into bowl and cover and refrigerate until just chilled (about 2 hours)
    8. Beat 1 ½ cup whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Fold vanilla mixture into whipped cream. Spoon on top of truffle mixture. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving. (you will have extra mousse leftover)
     9. To serve, you could top with whipped cream, a dusting of cocoa and a raspberry. Or other fruit.

    Notes: These will keep in the refrigerated a few days (just cover or place the cups in a large plastic container with lid)

    Friday, November 16, 2012

    Giveaway Time


    Happy Friday!  My friend Julie is have a giveaway this weekend and I am also participating and helping her spread the word!   Also, yesterday at work we had an United Way fundraiser.  My co-worker and I auctioned off a Dinner for Four and happy to report the highest bid was $200!  Thanks to all who bid and we can't wait to prepare this dinner and I'll be sure to blog about it!  Have a great weekend!

    ♥♥♥


    Good Friday morning to all of you! Welcome to the second installment of my November Fabulous Sponsors Giveaway! Today through Monday three of my lovely sponsors will be giving away some great prizes. Ad Space. Target. Who doesn't like those?! Now, let's check out these fabulous ladies and the prizes they are giving away.







    Thanks for stopping by! Please leave a comment letting me know that you stopped by! After following along my fabulous sponsors, leave them a comment and let them know you are following so they can check out your blog too!

    Thursday, November 15, 2012

    Holiday Baking Cookie Exchange


    Hmmm... are you starting to think about what cookies you want to make this year, or need some ideas?  Do you set out cookies for Santa, belong to a cookie exchange, or just make them for your family?  If so, I think you will like this idea!  I was asked to co-host, along with some other fun bloggers, an on-line cookie recipe exchange. This exchange is unique because you just mail a recipe not the actual cookies (no fuss and no crumbs!).
    Your other bakers are:

    Julie @ White Lights on Wednesdays
    Jamie @ Mom's Test Kitchen
    Carrie @ My Favorite Finds
    Michelle @ Michelle's Tasty Creations
    Carrie @ The Fugal Foodie Mama
    Kim @ The Sunflower Club

    Be sure to stop by and say hello!

    Starting today if you would like to participate, click on the sign-up button below to fill out the form.  By signing up, you agree to snail mail a handwritten copy of your cookie recipe to your partner.  And you also agree to make the recipe sent to you and share photos and the recipe in a blog post. (Please note, if you don't have a blog, no worries!, just email Julie at whitelightsonwednesday@yahoo.com your photos, recipe and thoughts on the experience and one of us will share on our blog).   You will receive by email your assigned partner on November 26 and would ask you mail out the recipe by November 29th (note you will receive a recipe from a different partner).  

    December 13th is the reveal day and you will be able to link up what you made and check out the the other goodies (so come back to link up!!).   
    **There is a place to note if you have food allergies or dietary preferences in your house that your sender should be conscious of (having a partner with the same diet preferences as you, is possible)


    Are you ready to start baking & get in the Christmas cookie spirit?

    Wednesday, November 14, 2012

    Roasted Cauliflower Soup

    Roasted Cauliflower Soup
    Fall is definitely here and if you are like me, you might be looking for some soups to keep you warm on these chilly nights.  I wanted to try this soup because the main ingredient is roasted cauliflower.  Have you ever roasted this veggie?  I love the way is softens up and takes on a caramel-ly like flavor.  Another wonderful ingredient is aged white cheddar cheese which I found at out local Trader Joe's. The final step is using a stick blender to reach a smooth consistency.  From start to finish you will have your dinner ready in an hour and I would definitely put this on a menu for company! 

    Recipe Source:  Closet Cooking



     Enjoy and keep warm!  Would love to know if you have any favorite soup recipes to share.

    Monday, November 12, 2012

    Tablescapes


    A couple weeks ago I saw an advertisement for an event being held at the Winneshiek Hotel in Decorah, IA called Deck the Tables.  It sounded so interesting as they were having 29 different tables decorated for the holidays...  I ended up going by myself and enjoyed the event and also the town - cute shops - I did some gifting and self-gifting!

    Here are some of the tablescapes...  My favorite were the New Year Eve's ones (3) 









    Vintage Barbie table





    Pretty fall table



    Winter Wonderland



    Other interesting tables

























    Enjoyable day and I came away with some future ideas!