Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Butterfinger Cookies...

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One thing my Mom made sure she passed onto her girls, was an ability and love of cooking. As a young girl she wasn't allowed in the kitchen and when she got married, she basically knew how to boil water and that's it. Fast forward 50+ years and my Mom is an ahhhhhmazing, self-taught cook. Yes, there have been a few disasters according to my Dad {tomato aspic???} but all in all she's so good at what she does. And she passed on that love and desire to cook to my sister and I. I'll admit, being single it's not always been easy to find the desire to cook every night. But eating out gets expensive and tough on the waistline:/

My sister made these cookies a few months ago for me and good golly they are great! I mean, what's not to like? Candy and cookies mixed together. Sign me up!! So on this hump day I'm sharing her recipe for Butterfinger cookies and I hope you enjoy!

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Butterfinger Cookies Recipe:

  • 1 3/4 cup Flour

  • 3/4 tsp Baking soda

  • 1/4 tsp Salt

  • 3/4 cup Sugar

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened

  • 1 Large egg

  • 1 cup Butterfinger candy - coarsely chopped

Pre-heat oven to 375*. Combine four, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Set aside. Beat sugar and butter until creamy. Beat in egg. Then gradually beat in flour mixture. Fold in chopped candy pieces. Drop by rounded tablespoons (I like to use an icecream scoop) onto cookie sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

{We like to take them out early, around 8-9 minutes and let them harden on the cookie sheet. This creates a crunchy outer cookie with a soft center. Yummmy!!!}


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Buttermilk pancakes with a fresh blueberry compote...

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Food Photography, Photo Styling, Pancakes, Blueberries

There's something about Sundays. Next to Friday I think it's my favorite day of the week. There's a slowness to the day.{ Unless you're one of those people who spends your Sunday running around getting ready for the upcoming week!} I like to start the day with a big cup of coffee and CBS Sunday Morning on the TV. By the time the show is over, it's time for breakfast!!! The rest of the day is usually spent catching up on the previous weeks TV obsessions, cooking for the upcoming week reading alllllll my favorite food blogs and taking a nap. Not a bad way to spend the day eh?!

I really enjoy cooking breakfast foods...so warm and comforting. When my sister got married last year, she had a brunch reception and it was fabulous! Eggs, waffles, bacon, biscuits, fresh fruit, pancakes! God, what is there not to like??? In the summer months I like to incorporate a lot of fresh fruit into my meals and breakfast is no different. These buttermilk pancakes are the perfect combination of sweet and fluffy. Adding a fresh blueberry compote in place of maple syrup is a nice change. Sprinkle a little powedered sugar on top and you're gonna be in breakfast heaven....promise!

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Buttermilk Pancake Recipe:

  • 2 Eggs

  • 2 tsp Baking powder

  • 1 tsp Baking soda

  • 2 cups Flour

  • 1 tsp Salt

  • 2 tbsp Sugar

  • 2 tbsp Butter

  • 2 cups Buttermilk

  • 2 tbsp Butter melted

In a medium bowl, combine the salt, baking powder, baking soda, flour and sugar. In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs and buttermilk adding the melted butter.  Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients, stirring until almost completely combined.

Butter your griddle or pan and scoop 1/3 cup of batter and cook until bubbles begin to form, flip and cook until golden brown. Serve immediately with your warm blueberry compote!

Blueberry Compote Recipe:

  • 1 cup Blueberries

  • 2 tbsp Water

  • 1/3 cup Sugar

  • 1 tsp Lemon juice

  • 1 tsp Cornstarch (optional)

Combine the above ingredients over a medium heat on your stove top. Stirring constantly to avoid burning the fruit. Add the cornstarch if you feel you need a thicker consistency. Pour over your pancakes and enjoy!!



Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Authentic gazpacho, straight from Spain!

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Last time we spoke, I told you about my time living in Italy during college. Well before all that, I lived in Spain for 3 glorious, wonderful, spectacular years! {can you tell I loved it?!?!?} From 6th to 8th grade I called Rota, Spain home. For three years we absorbed every experience that Spain had to throw at us.  It. Was. Fabulous. During those three years we never came back to the U.S. instead vacationing all over Spain, Portugal and the rest of Europe. Not many people can say they were able to do that, and I'm forever grateful to my parents for making that decision in 1981 to take a chance and jump head-first into the unknown! Thirty plus years later we are still talking about it. That's pretty cool!

While there we pretty much ate our way through the entire country. Stopping only to have a Fanta or Cafe con Leche. Otherwise we were stuffing our faces with the most amazing food I've ever experienced! To say everything is cooked in garlic is not a lie. We were the healthiest ever during that time frame and I attribute it to all the garlic we ate! One of my favorite starts to dinners out was gazpacho. A cold, tomato soup. At first I was turned off by the cold factor....most 11 year old kids are not thrilled with the idea of cold soup. But like all good parents...mine made us try everything at least once, sometimes twice before we could justifiably say we hated it. It only took one try for this girl to get on board with gazpacho and I've been loving it ever since! Add some red wine sangria with fresh fruit and some condiments in the soup and you are good to go! The recipe at the end is authentic, straight from a local Spanish woman we knew. I hope you take a moment to try this...you won't be sorry....promise!!!

P.S..... as promised, some behind the scene images of my kitchen assistant =^^=

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Gazpacho Recipe:

  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded & chopped {use 1/2 in soup prep and save 1/2 for condiments}

  • cucumber, peeled and sliced

  • 1 hard boiled egg 

  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 1/2 cup olive oil

  • 2 slices bread

  • 6 tomatoes, peeled and quartered {personally, I don't peel them and it turns out just fine}

  • 1/2 tablespoon salt

  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper {add more if you like it spicy, like I do!}

  • 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

  • 1/4 teaspoon olive oil


Blend the red bell pepper, cucumber, garlic, and 1/2 cup olive oil, cayenne pepper and salt together in a blender until smooth. Soak your two slices of bread in water, wring out the water with your hands and add the slices to the blender one at a time and blend each into the mixture until smooth. Blend the tomatoes into the mixture one at a time until smooth.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl; season with salt and cayenne pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon olive oil and add your condiments. I like to use chopped cucumber, red pepper, hard boiled egg and some home made croutons. It's up to you what you want to add...feel free to improvise and do what you like!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Ciao! Caprese salad!

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2014-07-12_0002Happy Hump Day! We're half way there people! Keep, keepin on as they say and before you know it...you'll be kickin back and enjoying the weekend:) I know I'm looking forward to it, I'm going out of town! Yayyyyy! Doesn't take much to get me excited these days....a trip to NC to see family is just what this girl needs.

When I was in college, my Dad was still in the military. I'd grown up my whole life a Navy brat....so we were used to moving every 3 years or so. During my junior and senior year, my family got orders to Naples, Italy. I remember them asking if I would be okay with them being in Italy while I finished school and I'm pretty sure my response was "Heck yeah!!" We had lived in Spain when I was 11-13 years old.....so I was familiar with the process and knew exactly what to expect. It helped that my grandparents were about 4 hours away in NC so I could spend the occasional weekend with them and Thanksgivings! It was Christmas and summer vacations that were spent in Naples for two years. How does someone turn down that opportunity? They don't!!

We traveled everywhere during those two Christmases and summers....eurailing around Europe and seeing every bit of Italy that we could. The food, it was amazing! I love the food of Spain and I'd have to say that Italy comes in at a tie. My favorite dish was the Caprese Salad with mozzarella di buffala. I cannot explain to you how ahhhhhmazing it was/is and I hope that you get a chance in your lifetime to visit southern Italy and try it yourself!

Last week, I was craving this dish so I hit up the local market for fresh mozzarella. Unfortunately they were sold out of the large rounds but they did have the smaller rounds. They were just as great and it satisfied my craving...for the time being;) I just sprinkled a little olive oil and vinegar plus some basil across the top and then devoured the plate!!

Definitely on my list of do-agains this summer!!!

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

lemon, strawberry cake with cream cheese, cool whip topping!

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2014-07-10_0001Happy Sunday! Why do the weekends go so fast? I think a 3 day weekend should be mandated into law. Or we should follow the traditions of Italy & Spain and take the entire month of August off for holiday:) Knowing that I'd be off for an entire month would make me work hard and not complain about the day to day grind. But hey, let's make the best of it and just keep chuggin along! I am getting out of town this coming weekend so I'm super excited about that. My sister and I will be going to Newbern to visit Dad for his birthday. It will be a short visit, but that's okay. It's good to get away from your daily life every once in awhile so you can appreciate what you've got:)

For July 4th I made a version of this cake and brought it to my friends barbQ and it was great! Never mind that Roger and Mike didn't like the strawberries....it was yummo! Cold and refreshing on a hot day, ahhhhh! When I got home I kept thinking of an alternate version. White cake is good for certain occasions...but it doesn't have that za za zoom that sayyyyyy......lemon does!! I adore lemon recipes. Lemon chicken, lemon curd on pound cake, lemon bars, lemon drop cookies, you get the picture! So all I did was substitute the white cake for a lemon version and voila! Now I'm not gonna lie, this is a store bought lemon cake mix. I didn't have the time to put together anything from scratch -- next time for sure -- so any of your favorite brands will do just fine:)

Have a fabulous week ahead, it's going to be super hot here in Virginia to start....then I think it cools off a little mid week. Can I get an Amen for that?!?!? Come on summer, do your thing and let's get you outta the way for Autumn:)

Stay Blessed,


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Lemon Strawberry Jello Cake Recipe:

  • 1 store bought lemon cake mix - or your perfect lemon cake recipe you have!

  • 1 box strawberry jello mix

  • 1 cup boiling water, 1/2 cup cold water

  • 8oz cream cheese - softened

  • 1 cup powdered sugar

  • 1 tub cool whip

  • 1 lemon

  • 1 cup blueberries

Make your cake and put in the fridge to cool for about 3 hours. This cake works best in a sheet cake form, not rounds. Once cooled use the end of a small wooden spoon and poke holes in the cake, covering the entire surface. Mix the strawberry jello mix with 1 cup boiling water. Stir until dissolved then add the 1/2 cup of cold water. Pour the strawberry mixture across the top of the cake. (don't worry, it will not be soggy...keep pouring!) At this point put the cake back in the fridge to cool for another hour.

Mix the cream cheese and powdered sugar together with either your kitchenaid or hand held mixture. Slowly add the entire tub of cool whip to the mixture and then squeeze the juice from your lemon in. Keep mixing until you have a creamy mixture with small peaks. Spread the topping on your cooled cake, garnish with lemon and blueberries then prepare to devour!! I do think it tastes best cold so I will store this in the fridge.

If you're like me, you'll find yourself having this for breakfast! Shhhh....don't tell anyone;)