Friday, September 23, 2011


Not that I don't love summer....I's just that the desert summers can seem sooooo  long! So today, at least on the calendar, it's official. Fall is here. The weather is even cooperating a little, providing us with some deliciously cooler mornings!  So let's get this party started with a video of one of my favorite singers, Diana Krall and some gorgeous autumn foilage.  Enjoy!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Dynamite Autumn Combo Cookie..Peanut Butter and M & M's !n

Since I've had quite a few requests for the big cookies recipe I mentioned here in my Autumn Meal post I thought I'd share them finally.  On a recent Facebook post  I said I was "Autumnizing" my house....making it look and smell like Autumn on the INSIDE even though the temps were still over 100 on the OUTSIDE! It does take some creativity and quite a bit of imagination but it is worth it. This time of year goes by so fast, and as one of my friends pointed out, it will be Christmas (and 2012) before we know it! It's amazing how quickly  time seems to pass....especially once we get into this last part of the year. 

So I took the time late this afternoon to make these cookies just because I felt like it....and nothing can make a home smell better than the smell of cookies in the oven.   Like most good cookie recipes these take very little time....don't you love that about cookies? This is a conglomeration of recipes I've seen over the years that I've tweaked to just the way I like it.....but it's very forgiving and can be played with even more. Gotta warn you though, this version is pretty darn good! Make a batch or two and see if you don't get some instant love going on at your house.

Monster M&M Peanut Butter Cookies



2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter

 1/2 cup vegetable shortening

1 cup peanut butter (crunchy preferred but smooth is fine)
1 cup brown sugar

1 cup white sugar
2 eggs (beaten)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups M&M's (divided)

Step #1: Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the baking soda, baking powder, and salt with the flour.......sifting it all together is a great way to do a large mixing bowl and set aside. Combine the next ingredients in the mixing bowl of your stand mixer, or in the bowl you use for mixing with your hand-held mixer.

Step #2: Using your electric mixer (or it can be done by hand) beat the butter, shortening, and the peanut butter until nice and smooth. Add white sugar and brown sugar and beat until well blended.

Step #3: Add the eggs one at a time....mix a little between each addition....then mix in vanilla.

Step #4: Add the flour 1/2 cup at a time mixing each time until well blended.

Step #5: Fold 3/4 cup of the M&M's into the batter, distributing it as evenly as possible.

Step #6: For really big cookies, scoop out dough using a heaping Tablespoon measure and drop balls onto a cookie sheet. Or actually use a bigger measure to make gigantic ones if you like. Be aware that if you use the Tablespoon measure you should only bake 6 or 8 cookies at a time so they will not run into each other.....even fewer if making the super large ones. If you use a teaspoon measure you can bake a dozen at a time as in most recipes. With a fork dipped in granulated sugar,  flatten each ball slightly making a criss-cross pattern on each.

Step #7: Top each batch of unbaked cookies with remaining M&Ms. Bake in the oven about 9-10 minutes for chewy cookies or 11-12 minutes for crispy. After letting them sit for a minute or two remove the cookies from the baking pan with a spatula. Let cool on rack.

HINT: As with all cookies take them out of the oven right before they look done to you. They will continue to bake for a short time after they are removed! Experiment with each cookie recipe you bake to get them just the way you and your family likes them!


Today I'm linking to these fabulous sites:

Sunday, July 3, 2011

From Our House to Yours, Happy Fourth of July!

Due to a series of events last week, it turns out that we are spending the Independence Day Holiday at home this year.  Actually this is fine with me.....I love to travel and I love to go to special events.....but I like to stay at home as well.  I'm pretty easy that way.

Waiting on the counter for tomorrow are some fresh fruits and veggies that we'll be eating with some traditional BBQ. We couldn't wait....had to cut the watermelon this was calling to us.  Turns out to be the best one so far this season.

We're also having to use some self control with the bowl of strawberries.....okay, actually we have no self control when it comes to these and have eaten quite a few of these already since I took the picture this afternoon. They're very hard to resist, so why not?

I also made a jar of sun tea this afternoon and now have it chilling in the fridge.  Does anyone else like to have a big cold glass of sweet iced tea for breakfast in the summertime?  I grew up in the South and iced tea goes with any meal, right?

Jim or Christopher are usually the ones who man the barbecue  in the family, while I make the sides. I've had my copy of The Summer Book by Susan Branch  for several years's such a cute book I'd enjoy reading it even if I never made any of the recipes.  I have, however, used it quite often over the years so this weekend I pulled it out and chose the "Peach and Plum Crisp" to make for our July 4th dessert.

Here's the finished product when it first came from the oven.  It looks and smells so good that I've included the recipe in this post for you.  In fact, I've had so much fun this afternoon looking through this cookbook with all it's adorable summertime drawings, I've decided to choose something to make from it every week for the rest of the summer.....I'll be sure to share with you when I do. :)

Peach and Plum Crisp

4 medium peaches, peeled and pitted
2  1/2 lbs plums, pitted
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbs quick cooking Tapioca
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
pinch of salt

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup oats
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Butter a 10 inch glass or pottery pie plate...... I used a different size dish because my 10 inch is broken :(   ...... I think the trick is to make sure it is at least 2 inches deep.  Peel peaches by dipping each one briefly in boiling water. Cut them and the plums into wedges.  Mix together all ingredients for filling and put into the pie dish.  Let stand one hour, stirring occasionally. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix together topping ingredients and spread evenly over fruit.  Bake on center rack of oven, placing a cookie sheet on lower rack to catch juices.  Serve hot with ice cream or cold with whipped cream. 

Enjoy and have a Happy 4th!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

My Mother's Day

Mother's Day will never quite be the same again.....

Remembering you today.......

Missing you today..........

Wishing I could talk to you today........

Even though I know I surely will again .......

Loving you always..........

Her children rise up and call her blessed....Proverbs 31:28


Be sure to join Ginger and Charlotte for Spiritual Sundays this week to read all about how Mom's influence lives.  Be blessed!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Case for Outdoor Lunches

Since I knew I'd be eating lunch alone this afternoon I made myself a favorite Spring Salad, grabbed one of the books I'm currently reading, and set a place on the patio. Such lovely weather right now........don't want to waste a minute of it.

It's so quick and easy to put together a salad like this. I like to use the Baby Leaf Spring Mix from our local Fresh and Easy market......a nice mixture of organic green and red romaine lettuce, green and red oak leaf lettuce, arugula, spinach, and chard. My sister Jane likes to put little raspberries in her salad, but today, since I didn't have any fresh or even frozen ones, I decided to add a few mandarin oranges. Then I topped it off with avocado slices and glazed walnuts.

Finally I drizzled it with Lite Raspberry Pomegranate Dressing......doesn't just reading that name make you feel good?.......and it was every bit as delicious as it sounds.

The place mat and napkin are Laura Ashley, and the salad bowl and plate are some of my favorite inherited blue pieces.


As I spent time in California a couple of weeks ago, I had several lovely lunches on Jane's patio.....and today I found myself wishing she was here enjoying this with me on my patio. Still, even lunch alone on a beautiful spring day like today is definitely worth the effort!
Hope you're enjoying your Springtime,

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tortilla Soup

A day or so after Christmas we made a trip to California to visit with relatives we had not yet seen during the holidays. While we adore leftovers this time of year (who doesn't, right?) it was really nice to find out what was on the menu at my sister's house the first night we were there. You got it......tortilla soup. Spicy, festive, and different. *Little note here....if you haven't seen the movie by the same name, "Tortilla Soup" you may want to watch it, if only for the gorgeous food preparation much fun to watch.

Jane always sets a beautiful table.....spicy and festive, just like the soup.

You garnish the meal with sliced avocados, grated cheese, and sour cream. For variety you can try the "blue" tortilla chips along with your favorite regular ones.

So here's the recipe........Enjoy.......we did!
Tortilla Soup
2 fresh tomatoes chopped ( or 1 can of tomatoes), 2 8oz cans of Tomato sauce, 2 gloves minced garlic, 4 cups water, 2 Tbl sugar, 3 tsp chili powder, 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp oregano, 1 tsp cumin, 1 4oz can of chopped green chilies, 2 cups of chopped cooked chicken,
Tortilla Chips, Grated Cheese,
Sour cream and avocado for garnish
Bring all ingredients except chicken, chips and cheese to boil in a large pot. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add chicken and simmer an additional 10-15 minutes. (This can also be made in a crock pot as shown in the pictures)
Ladle into bowls and top with chips, cheese, etc.
My first chance to say "Happy New Year!" to you all,