Button Me Up!

Yay! Thanks to Jen of The Leftover Queen and the Foodie Blogroll Team for naming me a winner of the Foodie Blogroll 3-month Milestone Rewards Program! If you’re a food blogger, definitely check out the Foodie Blogroll and get added today. I have the Foodie Blogroll reflected on my right hand sidebar. You’ll be joining some of the finest food bloggers in the world and who knows, you just might be recognized too!

Introducing… Foodie Freebie Fridays!

My motto for the 2009 year is ‘Attitude of Gratitude ‘… in an effort to focus and be thankful for all the blessings I have in life rather than things I don’t have. One of those blessings include the readers of my blog, who inspire, motivate and encourage me to continue learning and sharing my culinary adventures. I had so much fun with the Cookie Lovers Giveaway that I wanted to continue offering food related gifts to my readers throughout this new year. So I present a new culinary adventure just for my readers… Foodie Freebie Friday!

I know not all my readers have their own blogs to participate in my blogging adventures so here’s something everyone can participate in regardless if you’re a blogger or reader. This is my way of thanking you for your readership and besides, I’d love to give you some goodies to have an actual culinary adventure on your own!

Starting Monday, January 5, 2009, I’ll post the giveaway of the week and details on how to enter. That’s 52 foodie freebies you could potentially receive! Readers will have all week to submit an entry for the giveaway up through Thursday at 12 midnight, PST (with my west coast readers in mind.) The winner will be randomly chosen by Random.Org’s Interger Generator based on the number of your comment. The winner will be announced and the foodie freebie will be mailed at the end of the week on Friday.

Good luck and Stay Tuned…
I look forward to sending you
a little culinary adventure to enjoy!

Ringing in the New Year with a Winner!

Photo courtesy of Colorcubic

Happy Happy New Year! I hope you had a fun time celebrating the new year of 2009 with loved ones! For us it was pretty low key, intimate and cozy in our pajamas. Dinner wasn’t anything fancy schmancy… but we enjoyed a fabulous artisanal cheese platter, fruit, salame and king crab legs with drawn butter. Oh, and we didn’t forget a nice chilled bottle of bubbly!

But I know what you’re more interested in… the winner of the Cookie Lovers Giveaway! Thank you to all those that participated and shared your favorite holiday baking memory involving cookies. It was so nice to read them especially after finishing up the holidays and reflecting back on previous years too! So, who’s the lucky winner???…

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:


Timestamp: 2009-01-01 07:13:18 UTC

Lucky number 7, which comment comes from
Robin of Made with Love!

Robin said…
My favorite holiday baking memory is definitely my recent annual cookie swap, 3 years and counting. It is always such a good time and I always love perusing my cookbooks, magazines, and the internet for the perfect recipes to share!

Congratulations Robin! I’ll be sending your Cookie Lovers Giveaway in the mail this Friday. I hope you enjoy and have some wonderful cookie adventures with the goodies!

Giveaway for Cookie Lovers!

In honor of the last Tasty Tools blogging adventure of 2008 where we highlighted Baking Sheets, one lucky person will receive this Cookie Lovers giveaway set which includes:

Wilton 12inch Disposable Decorator Bags – 100 count
Mrs. Fields Cookie Book: 100 Recipes from the Kitchen of Mrs. Fields

Some guidelines:
– Giveaway is only for those who live in the United States. My apologies to my international readers!
– Include your email address so that you can be contacted if you win.

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment
– Your favorite holiday baking memory involving cookies. Was it a holiday cookie swap? Baking cookie gifts for friends and family? Baking with friends or children? I’d love to hear your stories!

Deadline: December 31, 2008 at 12 midnight CST

Winner will be randomly chosen by Random.Org’s Interger Generator based on the number of your comment and will be announced on January 1, 2009. Good luck!

PS: If you have any recipes made using a baking sheet, you have time to submit your recipe to this month’s Tasty Tools: Baking Sheet Pans. Deadline for blogging adventures is December 31, 2008 at 12 midnight PST.

Almond Joy Biscotti

This is a recipe I made for my husband’s coworkers to share on Christmas Eve. What I like about this is that it incorporates all the flavors of the candy bar, packed into a perfect little dunker for coffee and/or hot chocolate!

The recipe I used was my go to recipe from Joy of Baking. I took the base recipe and added sweetened shredded coconut, almond slices and chocolate chips. I wanted to dip these in melted chocolate but because they were already pretty chocolatey, I left them as is.

Almond Joy Biscotti
recipe adapted from Joy of Baking

1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup almond slices, toasted
1/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl lightly beat the eggs and extracts together. Set aside.

In a bowl of your stand mixer (or with a hand mixer) combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Beat until blended (about 30 seconds). Gradually add the egg mixture and beat until a dough forms, adding the coconut, almonds and chocolate chips about halfway through. With floured hands divide dough in half. On a lightly floured surface roll dough into a log about 10 inches long and 3 inches wide. Transfer log to the prepared baking sheet and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until firm to the touch. Note – logs will spread during baking. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes.

Transfer log to a cutting board and using a serrated knife, cut log into slices 1/2 inch thick on the diagonal. Arrange evenly on baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes, turn slices over, and bake another 10 minutes or until firm to the touch. Remove from oven and let cool.

If you wanted to dip them in chocolate….

While biscotti is cooling, place 1-2 squares of chocolate almond bark in a mug and melt in the microwave until melted smooth (about 1 minute to 1 1/2 minutes).

Dip 1/3 or 1/2 of the biscotti into the melted chocolate and place on parchment to cool and harden.

Biscotti Bonanza!

Unfortunately, my husband has to work tomorrow on Christmas Eve. I decided to bake a few things today that he could take in tomorrow to share with his staff. I absolutely love baking and cooking for his staff at work. It allows me the opportunity to try new recipes and share them with others. (I especially like the fact we don’t have all these sweet temptations around at home where I could easily indulge and regret it all later!)

With some random baking ingredients on hand, I decided to make various kinds biscotti for them to enjoy. These are great to make since the recipe doesn’t call for any butter and uses pantry staples. Biscotti are great gifting goodies because they have a long shelf life and sturdy enough to package up. Here’s the biscotti line up I making (click the links for the recipes!):

Season’s Eatings from Spain!

Fellow blogger, Katie of Thyme For Cooking has hosted a fun foodie swap called Season’s Eatings for the holidays. I participated in this and my package of goodies arrived today… from Barcelona Spain!

A heart felt ‘Thank You!‘ goes out to Nuria of Spanish Recipes for her wonderful and tasty package. I’m so psyched with the goodies I received:

White Beans
Nuria picked this up from her local Farmer’s Market. She says they’ve been harvested recently and are famous in Spain for their fine and tender texture when cooked.
Ceps: A type of mushroom which are great with meat, omelettes and rice.
Noras: This is a small dry pepper that is used in sauces, stews and with legumes.
A great spice, especially coming straight from Spain… and is essential in paella!

If you have any recipes using the above ingredients, I’d love to hear about them! I know Nuria has quite a few in her blog that I hope to try soon!

Mama Got Her Mojo…

Once again, my fabulous friend, Jessy, has done it again! Today I received a lovely package of amazing Florida food finds. This time it had a caribbean feel with the goodies she sent including:

* Everglades Seasoning*
*Mojo Marinade*
*Havana Garlic & Lime Marinade*
*Caribbean Jerk Marinade*
*Mojo Mama Seasoning*
*Fresh Honey Mango*
*Ripe Plantains*

Thank you Jessy for sending some of that Florida sunshine and Caribbean flavors! It came right in time for my Caribbean dinner party I’m hosting next month 🙂

Homage to My Papaya Friend…

My friend Steph and I met online. A few months later, she came to visit with her husband. Four months after that, we went on a long weekend girls getaway. And since then, we’ve been there for each other through some very trying times and shared our moments of joy. Currently Steph’s known as my “papaya friend” since she’s expecting and the baby is about the size of a papaya! We have about 5-6 hours drive between us but each month we send packages of fun goodies to make up for not being there in person.

So today happened to be one of those fabulous days I came home to a package sent by Steph. She sent me the Winerd board game I’ve been eyeing for while (personal tidbit: I collect and enjoy board games that are food related!) and she also sent me a cookbook I’ve thought about purchasing myself.

This post is dedicated to Steph and in honor of her and our friendship, I made a recipe from the cookbook she sent me, The New Best Recipe. What recipe did I choose? Well, Blackberry & Lemon Cream Scones of course! Thank you Steph for being such a great friend 🙂

I took the book’s recipe for Cream Scones and put my twist on it by adding fresh blackberries and lemon zest. The end result was a light, fluffy, creamy and perfect scone bursting with blackberries and a nice hint of lemon.

Here’s my adapted recipe for Blackberry & Lemon Cream Scones, inspired by Cook’s Illustrated’s The New Best Recipe: 2 cups (10 oz) unbleached all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
2 teaspoons lemon zest
3/4 cup fresh blackberries, halved
1 cup heavy cream

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Place the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together.

3. Using a pastry blender or your fingertips, quickly cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal with a few slightly larger butter lumps.

4. Add lemon zest and stir until thoroughly incorporated.

5. Stir in the heavy cream with a rubber spatula or fork until the dough begins to form, about 30 seconds.

6. Add the halved blackberries (or whole if they are small) and gently fold into the dough so that the blackberries are evenly distributed throughout.

7. Gather the dough and all dry flour bits and press the dough into an 8 inch cake pan, then turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. With a sharp knife or bench scraper, cut the dough into 8 wedges.

8 Bake until the scone tops are light brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
*I’m also submitting this recipe to the Bread Baking Day blogging event! Check out the event round up at Aparna’s blog, My Diverse Kitchen around August 5th!

Florida Sunshine in a Box #2!

I think my friends are really tempting me to move to Florida asap! This afternoon we were surprised with a fabulous delivery of Florida goodies from my friend, Karen of Loves To Eat Weblog. (Please check out her awesome blog full of great eats!) Karen and her husband are kind & genuine folks, extremely fun to hang out with and we’re hoping they will come visit us in Chicago soon! Until then, we have these fabulous Florida goodies to remind us of the sun and sand we left behind a month ago. Karen sent us this great package from Island Grove that included:
Florida Orange Poppy dressing
Hurricane Bay marinade
Old Southern Dixie BBQ sauce
Tropical Salsa
Key Lime Juice
Carribbean Bay hot sauce
Key Lime Margarita mix

Thank you so much Karen & Mike! I plan on having a “Carribbean” inspired dinner next month and these will be great to work into my menu! **hugs**