Saturday, May 28, 2011

Wedding Joy

We have had a whirlwind of a week. I am sitting right now in the mountains near Santa Cruz, CA basking in the afterglow of my son's wedding. It was beautiful, amazing and one of the best days in the life of our family.

As you can see from this beach scene we are a ways from our Kentucky home. The wedding took place in the beautiful city of Monterey, CA. It is so amazing to me the twists and turns of life! My Dad was actually born and raised in Monterey and my son's new bride was born and raised just an hour north of this beautiful city.

They were married just blocks from beautiful Monterey Bay, which was a very picturesque place made even more lovely on this day.

The beautiful wedding party. My 4 sons are all in a row, starting to the right of the stunning bride.

The proud parents and my parents to the very right. The height of any children coming from this marriage is hard to predict.

The perfect end of a perfect day was an incredible sunset! Here you see my handsome husband and I enjoying the end of a wonderful day.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

This post has been linked to Eat at Home.

This will be my last "food made from my kitchen," post for a while. The big wedding is upon us and we will be traveling to exotic locations. Okay, not really, how about a beautiful destination! See if you can guess. No cheating, if you already know. Whatever you do–keep checking back because I will be posting wedding pictures and photos of other places and other foods. I will want to share with you some of the memories that we make along the way.

I was appalled to discover that this is the very first cookie recipe I've posted. That just doesn't seem right. How can I even consider myself a true food blogger without any cookie posts? I hope to redeem myself, by sharing this awesome recipe with you.

Behold the featured stars of this delicious cookie production! The players are coconut for toasting and dark chocolate.

These cookies were hot out-of-the-oven, just waiting for us to grab a glass of milk and indulge. Oops, bummer, we were out of milk. Off to the store for some. We couldn't bear to eat cookies this good without milk.

Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

  • 1 cup flaked sweetened coconut
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
  • Cooking spray
Preheat oven to 350°.
Arrange coconut in a single layer in a small baking pan. Bake at 350° for 7 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring once. Set aside to cool.
Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk until blended. Place sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Beat in vanilla and egg. Add flour mixture, beating at low speed just until combined. Stir in toasted coconut and chocolate.
Drop by level tablespoons 2 inches apart onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until bottoms of cookies just begin to brown. Remove from pan, and cool completely on wire racks.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

I had been wanting to make this ice cream for several weeks. Friday night we had a house full of teenage boys so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity.

I was so pleased with this ice cream. In fact, it is the best ice cream I've made. Both in terms of ease—no stovetop involved because there are no eggs—and in terms of flavor, this dessert was incredible! It is creamy, rich (but not too much) and yummy. The cream cheese really did add a whole new dimension and depth to this ice cream. I will not only be making this again soon but can't wait to try it with other fruit, including blueberries and raspberries!

These sweet red beauties are nestled in the food processor ready to whirl.

About 1 cup of puréed strawberries ready to combine with cream.

Here is the ice cream maker I use. I received it a couple years ago for my birthday. What a great gift, huh?

The ice cream in its final stages, almost done and ready to go in the freezer. We could have eaten it as is, but I like for the ice cream to firm up a bit in the freezer before we indulge. But, oh my, it's so hard to wait!

This ice cream got rave reviews from all the visiting teenagers, my sons, and of course my husband. Their only complaint? It was gone way too fast.

This post has been linked to Eat at Home.

Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream
Adapted from

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 2/3 cup sugar ( if using sugar or syrup packed frozen berries, omit the sugar in the recipe)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup fresh pureed strawberries
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream


Blend all ingredients until smooth. Pour all blended ingredients into ice cream freezer bowl and follow the manufacture's instructions.
Transfer ice cream to airtight container and freeze for 2 hours or overnight.

Yield: about 6 servings

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Artichoke Risotto and a Wedding

I hinted in a previous post that we have an up-coming wedding, and we are in the final stretch now. In less than 2 weeks our oldest son will marry and we couldn't be more thrilled.

Last year my son was finishing up medical school, deciding where he would spend his residency, when a friend from church told him, "Hey, you have got to meet my cousin." A blind date was arranged and I think it's fair to say, they had a wonderful time. Only one problem, she was a few states away with one more year of grad school and he was now bound for another state, even further away, to begin his residency. Needless to say, they were engaged last summer and spent this year apart, sneaking in visits whenever and wherever possible. They set a date as soon as they could after she graduated. We spent this last weekend attending her graduation in Chicago and now after a very long wait the wedding is just around the corner.

My future-daughter-in-law is wonderful! The kind of girl every mom longs for her son to bring home. She is sweet, kind, and caring. Spontaneous and adventuresome, she has a great sense of humor that brings out her dazzling smile! We do a lot of laughing in our family and she joins right in with it. She will make a wonderful wife and an incredible (Lord willing), mother. Our son brought home the total package! My husband and I feel very blessed indeed! And, I don't want to leave out, after raising four boys, we will finally have a daughter! - JOY!

My future-daughter-in-law is also a vegetarian. I have learned much from her and am learning more as I incorporate more meatless dishes throughout my week. So, in honor of her and their upcoming wedding, today's post is a great meatless entrée. Artichoke and Red Pepper Risotto.

To prepare this dish, you start by browning a couple jars of marinated artichoke hearts.

Browning the shallots and Arborio rice makes for a fragrant kitchen.

Then, the customary method of cooking risotto, adding the broth in increments.

Adding the liquid in stages allows the rice to cook slowly and release the starches, creating a creamy texture.

Artichoke and Red Pepper Risotto

  • 5-6 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth, divided
  • 2 jars (7.5 oz each) quartered marinated artichoke hearts, drained
  • 3 shallots
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked Arborio rice
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine (such as Chardonnay) or substitute more chicken broth
  • 1 small red pepper
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 ounces Parmesan Cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
  • Snipped fresh chives (opt).
Heat broth in saucepan or in microwave. Meanwhile, place artichokes in skillet; sauté over medium-high heat 4-5 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from skillet; reserve 1/2 cup of the artichokes. Set aside remaining artichokes.
Meanwhile, finely chop shallots. Add oil, shallots and rice to skillet; cook and stir 1-2 minutes or until shallots are tender and rice is shiny and translucent. Add wine; cook 1-2 minutes or until wine is completely evaporated, stirring constantly. Add 1 cup of the broth to skillet; cover and cook 2-3 minutes or until broth is absorbed, stirring occasionally. Repeat with remaining broth in 1-cup increments, cooking 2-3 minutes after each addition or until broth is absorbed (13-15 minutes total cook time). Remove skillet from heat.
Meanwhile, slice bell pepper into 1-in. pieces. Stir remaining artichokes, bell pepper, peas, cream cheese and Parmesan cheese into rice. Top with reserved artichokes and garnish with snipped fresh chives, if desired.

Yield: 6 servings; Calories - 380 per serving

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Growing up, I believe my favorite food was cereal. Not the healthy kind. I preferred those that were laden with sugar. You know the ones–Captain Crunch, Sugar Smacks (now called "Honey Smacks"), Frosted Flakes, etc... Being the youngest of 5 kids growing up, it was a feat trying to get my fair share of the cereal. You could often hear statements like this ringing through our home, "Susie (my sister), you big pig, you ate all the Captain Crunch!" My Dad still teases us about this.

I no longer indulge in bowls of sugary goodness in the morning. However, I do still buy them on occasion. I have one son that has followed in my footsteps. He has a deep love and devotion to all things "cereal." The boys rarely have cereal for breakfast, so we eat cereals as more of a dessert or snack.

Yogurt with Granola

When I was young, my mom would buy Granola on occasion but for some reason every time I tried it, I didn't care much for it. Hmmmm, I'm not really sure what that was all about. Consequently, I have been wanting to try "real" granola for some time now. This is the first time I've made it. There are a ton of recipes for Granola. Here's my version. I have to say, my kitchen smelled soooo good while this was baking! And the taste? Fantastic! My granola didn't clump together like some does. It had a wonderful "cereal" consistency with a toasted crunch with naturally sweet flavors. Oh, and the best news—unlike my experience as a child, I found this granola to be absolutely delicious!


  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3/4 cup shredded sweet coconut
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine first 8 ingredients, oats through cinnamon.
In a separate bowl, combine maple syrup, oil, and salt. Combine both mixtures and pour onto 2 sheet pans. Cook and watch carefully for 30-45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes, till color is even and golden brown. Remove from oven and transfer into a large bowl. Add raisins and mix until evenly distributed.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Asparagus and Cheese Tart

Asparagus is another spring food that I find irresistible. In fact, my husband refers to this delectable food as "the queen mother of all vegetables." I would have to agree, although, artichokes are right up there too.

Our favorite way to enjoy asparagus is either roasted or grilled (with olive oil, garlic and seasonings). I wanted to make a savory tart that included aspargus and found this recipe on one of my many favorite blogs— Closet Cooking. I did change the recipe a bit however. I went to buy the gruyére cheese and knew that it was expensive but oh my! At my local Walmart it was $13.95 for a half a pound! Ummmm, talk about sticker shock! Time to change the recipe a bit. So, I settled for swiss cheese. I am very happy to report that we did not miss the gruyére.

This tart was very tasty. It works well as a side dish or, it would make a wonderful appetizer. The "queen mother" never disappoints!

Asparagus and Cheese Tart
Adapted slightly from Closet Cooking

1 sheet puff pastry (thawed according to the packages directions)
2 tablespoon honey dijon mustard
2 cups swiss cheese (sliced or grated), or gruyére cheese
1 pound asparagus (cleaned and bottom of stalk broken off)
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil

Roll the puff pastry out to a 15x10 inch rectangle.
Score a line around the puff pastry 1 inch from the edge.
Brush the mustard around the inside of the cut.
Sprinkle the cheese over the mustard.
Arrange the asparagus in a single layer over the cheese.
Season with salt and pepper.
Brush the outside inch of the pastry with the oil.
Bake in a preheated 400F oven until the asparagus is tender and the pastry is golden brown, about 15-25 minutes.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Strawberry Cream Cake

As I mentioned in my previous post, I made 2 desserts for our Easter family get-together last weekend. I figure you can't have a spring get-together without including some kind of strawberry dessert. Have I mentioned my deep love for strawberries?

This cream cake is a bit of a twist to the traditional strawberry short cake. The buttery cake, although rich, is a wonderful "partner" to the strawberries and cream. This cake was served up and gone in a flash. I'm glad that I had the carrot cake as a back up for those who didn't get a big enough piece of this strawberry deliciousness!

Strawberry Cream Cake
Adapted from Martha Stewart

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar (divided)
2 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk
1 pound strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter bottom of an 8-inch round cake pan, and line with parchment paper. Butter and flour paper and sides. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter and 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs and yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. With mixer on low, alternately add flour mixture in 3 parts and milk in 2, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until combined. Spread batter in prepared pan.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes; invert onto a wire rack to cool completely. Using a serrated knife, split cake in half horizontally; place bottom half, cut side up, on a serving plate.

Make topping:
In a large bowl, combine strawberries and 1/4 cup sugar; set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat cream and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a large bowl until soft peaks form.
Arrange half of strawberries over bottom cake layer; top with half of whipped cream, leaving a 1-inch border. Cover with top half of cake, cut side down. Top cake with remaining whipped cream, leaving a 1-inch border. Refrigerate cake and remaining strawberries separately, at least 1 hour (or up to 1 day). Just before serving, spoon strawberries over cake.

Yield - 12 servings