Perfect Pumpkin Bars~

Pumpkin Bars

~Pumpkin Bars~

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of Sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 can of Pumpkin
  • 1 cup of oil
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder

  • 3 ounces of cream cheese
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 1 (+/-) tablespoon of milk
  • 3 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional but delicious)
  • (also optional, you can decorate the top of the bars with candy corn!)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease a 16” pan. Mix together all wet ingredients. Slowly add in dry ingredients until batter is smooth. Pour into prepared pan, bake for at least 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. While bars are baking, mix together the cream cheese, butter and sugar. Slowly add the powdered sugar until mixture is the consistency you want! Once bars have cooled good, spread the frosting over and enjoy!

Happy Fall Y’all! 🙂  Shawn

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S’mores Brownies~

S'mores Brownies

What’s more synonymous with Summer than S’mores? It’s the simplest of things really; marshmallows…chocolate…graham crackers all gooed up together!  My kids would eat them everyday, if I let them 🙂  so they were super excited when I told them I was making these!

The bottom is a basic graham cracker crust, that you bake brownies on top of.  Now, I can see this going many different ways…chocolate chips in your brownie batter…caramel somewhere…but today, I am making it per the recipe, which I found on the Food Network website.  (Note: this recipe shows you how to make the Brownies from scratch, but if you have a favorite “shortcut” for your brownies, that should be ok)

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S’mores Brownies:

For the Crust:   6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted ~ 1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers ~ 2 tablespoons sugar ~ pinch of salt

For the Brownies:   8 tablespoons unsalted butter ~ 4 ounces of unsweetened chocolate, chopped ~ 1 cup packed light brown sugar ~ 3/4 cup white sugar ~ 1 1/2 teaspoon fine salt ~ 4 large, cold eggs ~ 1 cup all-purpose flour

Topping:   4 cups large marshmallows

Begin by preheating your oven to 325 degrees.  Line a 8 x 8 inch (square) baking pan with foil so it hangs over the edges by about an inch.

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Crust:  Lightly butter the foil, (including up the sides) with some of the melted butter, using a pastry brush if you have one, or fingers work great too!  Mix together the crushed graham cracker crumbs, sugar, pinch of salt and melted butter.  Attempt NOT to eat this immediately. 🙂  Press the crumb mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan, and place in the preheated oven.  Bake about 20 minutes, or at least golden brown all over.  (more so than when you started…as the crumbs are already golden brown!)

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Brownie:  Place butter and chocolate in a medium microwave safe bowl and melt on 75% power for two minutes.  Stir and repeat, until melted.  You can also make yourself a double boiler and melt the chocolate that way.  Continue by stirring together the brown and white sugars and vanilla into the melted chocolate.  Add the salt…then the eggs and beat vigorously to make a thick and glossy batter.  Add the flour and stir until just incorporated.  Pour batter over the graham cracker crust and bake until top is crispy and a toothpick, inserted in the middle, comes out mostly clean.  Will be approximately 40-45 minutes total.  Place brownie pan on a surface that won’t burn.

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Move your oven rack up to the highest level, that will keep the Brownies a safe distance from the burners (six inches is good) and preheat the broiler to the low setting.  Line the marshmallows across the top of the brownies, in a fashion you like best.  Place the pan under the broiler and DO NOT LEAVE.  Keep a constant eye on those little babies, and rotate the pan as you like, for even browning.  After about two minutes, or as browned as you like them, remove from oven and let cool on a rack, gently removing brownies from pan by lifting up using the foil liner.  Pull the foil liner down from the marshmallow, to keep from sticking as it cools.  Once cool, cut & enjoy!

fireSee you soon!

Cheers, Shawn

National Corn Fritters Day~

Welcome to MN sign

Greetings food-lovin’ friends!

It’s late-July…did you notice? I don’t know about you, but this summer has been flying by! Between a busy Real Estate market (know someone needing my help?) and trying to squeeze in fun with the family, it’s been a master juggling act! I think we are fairing pretty well, having just come off of two short but fun camping trips; one with the kids and the other without! Yes, I know, awesome! We hardly ever go anywhere without them; they are always so much fun to be with, that it’s hard for us to leave them behind.

Interstate Park MN

Our first camping trip, with the kids, was to Interstate State Park, in the quaint little town of Taylors Falls, Minnesota. It’s just a short drive from where we live, so we go there often just to hike. Our campsite was riverside, as the park resides along the St. Croix River. We didn’t have the greatest view though, compared to some of the other sites next to us. But that was okay, as all of our hiking allowed us plenty of river views.  One of the fun things about Taylors Falls, are the daily boat tours! (pictured above)

The following week, the hubby and I went up to Wild River State Park. Again, nestled along the St. Croix River, this gem of a state park was just what we needed! Quiet, remote, with lots of hiking opportunities! Oh and another awesome benefit to no kids…we got to eat what WE wanted! Yep, we definitely pigged out.

Dinner night 1

In addition to this steak, mushrooms, onions & herbs, corn and potato packet meal, we had stuffed french toast…and the best meal (at least to me) was the Carpet Picnic! I can’t remember if I’ve ever talked to you about our Carpet Picnic’s…in fact, that might be a fun thing to blog about! Basically we roast up some Roma tomatoes, caramelize a sweet onion-sliced very thin, roast a big head of garlic, buy a good salami, a loaf of crusty french bread (ciabbata works great too) and cheese…usually it’s Brie or Camembert when at home, warmed in the oven so it’s gooey. But this time we splurged and got a Triple Cream Brie and a creamy Blue, neither needing warming so they were good choices for camping. We also sautéed some Kale from our garden and instead of the roasted garlic, we bought some fermented black garlic from Trader Joes. It was SO good!

Camping Carpet Picnic

Anyway, the hubby is back at work and I am back trying to get into a routine that works for the rest of the summer. One of the things I miss, is this blog! I miss writing and talking about food with you! So, I’ve challenged myself to blog one recipe, each week, for the rest of 2014! Help hold me accountable, if you go without seeing something from me each week, going forward!  I have all the recipes picked out, from my overflowing collection of things I’ve been wanting to make.  That should make it easier…hopefully!

Food Fest 365

This weeks recipe was found in a great little book I picked up at a garage sale earlier this summer, called Food Fest 365!  July 16th is National Corn Fritters Day and with the sweet corn season underway here in Minnesota, I thought this would be a fantastic recipe to share! One note though, the recipe calls for canned corn, so I substituted fresh, roasted then cooled corn, as you’ll see in the directions.

Corn Fritters

Sweet Corn Fritters with creamy Basil-Lime dipping sauce:

Oil for pan-frying
2 eggs
salt, pepper & seasonings*
fresh herbs**
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
sea salt (for sprinkling on fritters once cooked)
2 cups of fresh roasted corn, removed from the cob (don’t forget to juice it!)

Basil-Lime Dipping Sauce

Basil-Lime Dipping Sauce:

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1-2 tablespoons of milk
zest & juice of a half of a lime
Basil, chiffonade
seasonings of your choice (I used Cajun!)

Mix all ingredients together until smooth and chill until ready to use.  (use any leftover dip on sandwiches or as a dressing for your next salad!)

Roasted Corn

First step for this recipe is to roast your corn. (Ideally, this would be done on the grill, but you could also boil or steam them in the microwave) Take the first layer of husks off your corn and remove the tassel from the top. Place on a medium high grill and roast for about a half hour, turning every ten minutes or so, a quarter turn each time. Your corn will be done when, you can smell it & when the husks have dried and turned brown to black in color. Let the corn cool until you can easily touch it.

Then, using a sharp knife, place the cob on the cutting board, vertically. Remove the kernels from the cob, starting at one, sliding away from you towards the cutting board. Once you’ve removed the kernels, flip the knife over, using the back of it and “juice” the cob. Trust me, you don’t want any of that fresh corn to go to waste! Set your corn kernels and juice aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine your eggs, salt, pepper and seasonings. Then sift in your flour (sifting it in, helps it incorporate better, so you don’t have chunks of flour floating about) and then add your corn and fresh herbs. Let the batter sit while you heat your oil.

Set a plate, lined with a paper towel, next to your frying pan.

Fritters be a fryin

In a large skillet pan, add oil 1/4” deep and heat to medium-high. You are ready to start cooking once the oil begins to smoke. Using a large spoon, CAREFULLY drop a spoonful of the batter into the pan, continuing until you have four or so fritters, with plenty of room for the oil to get around each one. You are going to cook these for about two minutes on each side, but carefully check them, as you may want them lighter in color. *PLEASE NOTE that you are frying wet ingredients in very hot oil, and with corn, you can have flying missiles of hot oil, so if you have some sort of metal screen or vendable lid, I would use it. I went it to flip mine the first time out and got splattered in about five different places from my face to my belly 😦

Fantastic Fritters!

Once you’ve cooked both sides of the fritters, remove to your lined plate and sprinkle immediately with sea salt (or plain salt if you have only that).  Serve with your Basil-Lime dipping sauce and enjoy! ❤

Panaroma of St. Croix River

I’ll be working on my next blog post soon, S’mores Brownies, so stay tuned for more deliciousness soon!

Let me know if you make these Sweet Corn Fritters, and what you think of them!

xoxo Shawn

 

 

Summer Favorites…

Blossums

Hello lovelies!  I’ve missed you!  I have been busy with Real Estate and with the end of the school year, which for some reason, is always nuts.  Is it that way at your house?  It’s the last week of school here, and for one kid, it’s all play…the other kid, all tests!

Hammock time

After the Winter that we had, Spring finally arrived with brilliant blue skies & delicate blossoms everywhere!  Things heated up quick, making the need for Summer to arrive, stronger than ever!  I actually love having the kids home in the Summer.  I know alot of parents dread the break, but for me, I enjoy it, because I get to spend more time, especially time not rushed, with my kids.  Hanging out on the hammock, going to the beach & the park…hiking, biking, camping and just slowing things down.

Gets me thinking about all the things I love about Summer!

Fresh Herbs

Fresh Herbs and the Garden springing to life!

Summer Salads

Summer salads of all kinds…my favs…fresh Caprese…Roasted Beet salad with Goat Cheese, fresh Chives & a Balsamic syrup (Trader Joe’s-get yourself some quick!).

Cool Drinks 1

Mojitos & Margarita’s of many flavors…Sangria, Pisco Lemonade (with fresh Basil!), Sun Tea…and cold, crisp Wine on hot days!

Harvest

Garden harvesting!

Grilled anything

Grilled anything! (yes, that’s Watermelon…try it!)

Zucchini

Zucchini everything!

Sweet Corn

And probably every Minnesotan’s favorite…SWEET CORN!

Cool Drinks 2

Oh and more cold drinks… 🙂

warm sun

What are some of your favorite Summer delights?

So here’s to hoping the week will go by fast, the Sun will stay out and you’ll get lots of your version of “hammock time” in soon! I am going to try and add more posts over the Summer to my “Summer of Salads” and “Summer Sippers” series, so stay tuned for that!  Until then, ❤ ~Shawn

 

My March Madness…

Happy Spring foodie friends!  Yes, I know, if you live in Minnesota, it isn’t feeling much like it yet…

Augie Dogie

Even Augie says “I’m outta here!”   You know it’s been bad when the cats want to migrate south….

It’s been a crazy ‘mad’ month for me… the hubby flew out of town twice this month…it’s tax time, as you know…which always makes me a little psychotic!

Oh and this is happening at the end of the month…

Store closing announcement!

Yep, ten+ years of basket-making, all coming to an end on March 31st.  Don’t be sad for me; in fact, that reaction is so strange to me!  I am THRILLED and excited and optimistic and THANKFUL that I have been able to do it for so long!  Last year, after getting my license as a Realtor® I decided the time had come, to say goodbye to that chapter and to move on to the next!  I am totally loving Real Estate and decided it was time to devote my full attention to it.  Now, if the snow would just melt already…

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I have had a little fun this month; one of the association’s I am on the board of, MPI MN, hosted it’s monthly lunch meeting at the Hilton Minneapolis-Bloomington last week and the lunch was amazing!  The room was a gorgeous Spring setting, the meal was completely gluten, dairy & nut free!  The dessert was my favorite…Coconut & Kiwi Panna Cotta…oh my!  It is quite the challenge to undertake, for an entire meal and they killed it!  They brought their A-game, just when they needed to, for a crowd full of Meeting Planners who, I bet, will be looking to book events there very soon!  But my favorite part, was a video the hotel had made, a parody on one of my favorite songs “Don’t Stop Believing”…I will edit this post and include a link to it when I get access to it.  It was GREAT!  I love it when organizations think totally outside the box for getting their message out into the noisy world.  And people, if you haven’t figured it out yet, VIDEO IS KING in marketing right now!

Rueben's

As you know, the other big fun in the month of March is St. Patrick’s Day.  I am Irish, yes, so I feel obligated to join in the fun, although I will admit to not having a green beer for quite some time, happily.  And yes, I know, Rueben’s are not necessarily eaten in Ireland, but it’s the tradition my family loves.  The first day, we have our Corned Beef, Cabbage, Carrots & Potatoes…it’s really hard not to polish off the entire hunk of meat!  Day two, brings the Rueben…ahhh, I just love this sandwich!

Corned Beef

The hubby has to help me slice it thin…he’s way better at that then I am!  And I love watching him cut things…is that weird? 🙂

Frank's Kraut

Oh, and don’t skimp on good Kraut.  Frank’s is always the one we grab…not just for Rueben’s, but for Hunkie Ribs as well.

Homemade 1000 Island Dressing

I also like to make my own 1000 Island Dressing.  We hardly ever eat that kind of dressing, so if we buy it, it literally will sit in the fridge for an entire year.  Gross.  Making your own is SUPER easy, and you probably have all the ingredients on hand.

Homemade 1000 Island Dressing:

1/4 c. Mayo

1 T. Ketchup

Splash of Worchestshire Sauce

Pickles, chopped (as small as you want)

1/2 t. Sugar (or more to taste)

Optional:  dijon mustard, garlic powder, salt & pepper

Mix all ingredients together and adjust to taste.  We also make the Rueben’s and then put the dressing on the side…just easier to eat that way.  This time, we decided to have Onion Rings with our Rueben’s 🙂  They were Alexia brand, and SUPER tasty!

Rueben's

As I write this, the birds are heavily chirping away in my backyard.  I hope it’s a sun-chant.  Poor things, they have got to wonder what is going on!  The weather forecast calls for warmer temps by the weekend…keeping my fingers crossed for that!  Think Spring – Think Spring – Think Spring!

See you next time lovelies!

❤ Shawn

Christmas past….

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What the heck happened to January?  Although, with the craziness happening in my family & the weather issues we’ve had this month, it feels like it was three months long.  I once again fell off the blogging train, not being here since Thanksgiving, and am sorry for that.  As per usual, one of my goals this year is to post more often…we will see how that goes!  This post, is more about fun & memories, than food & recipes…but there is always food in our memories, so I guess it’s all of the above!

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After another crazy busy holiday basket season, we decided that we would take a surprise trip out East, to see my husbands side of the family for Christmas.  We only told one person, everyone else, we just surprised.  It was great, but in hindsight, we should have told a couple more people, just so we could have seen everyone and spent more time with others…

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We had plenty of “coffee talk” time…

Shrimpin'

And we were able to help prep for the big feast on Christmas Eve…we are “shrimpin” in the above pic…

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And that big feast…oh there was a little of everything….Shrimps done three ways, Baccala, Scallops & other fish dishes, Minaste, white spaghetti’s & spaghetti with sausages, appetizers & dips, a giant pan of ridiculously awesome potatoes that were perfect with the Prime Rib, which was in the other room…  Over thirty people, eating, drinking, having a perfect Christmas Eve!

We even brought a little snow out for everyone…beautiful isn’t it?

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(photo above courtesy of Visit Philadelphia)

There are certain requirements food-wise, for us when we visit our family out East.  Dunkin’ Donuts (but did you hear, they are coming to Minnesota!) & Wawa… but number one of the list; Cheesesteaks & Hoagies…from Ice House in Pottstown.  One year we went out East and did a little taste test between the two most famous Cheesesteak places in Philly, Pat’s & Geno’s.  We had a favorite between those two, but hands down, Ice House, is the place to go for a great Cheesesteaks & Hoagies.  Like em’ on Facebook here to see all the deliciousness that happens in their joint.

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Second food requirement on our list; Tomato Pie.  People, this is the stuff.  Served at room temperature, it’s not pizza, but a soft crust, topped with a tomato (paste almost consistency) sauce and Romano cheese…It’s addictive and so delicious.  The only place to get them is Corropolese (we went to the location in Douglassville).  They have them stacked up, ready to go, and they go.  We went in to get bread for the big feast and the lines were incredible!  I chatted with some of the other people in line and they come from counties around for the bread & Tomato pie.  It’s that good!

Veggie Pie

They make other versions too, and this time we tried a Sweet Pepper Pie as well.  It was really good, but my heart lies with Tomato Pie.  Now, if I could just figure out how to make it at home….

Wine for Dummies

There were so many other great memories that week, that this post would be twenty pages long if I went on about them all.  Of course we visited the local wine shop when we first got in…and this wine caught my eye.  Have you seen this anywhere?  I tell you what, just about anybody can make wine nowadays, can’t they….and no, I didn’t buy any.  🙂

This last day of January, is also the Chinese New Year, year of the Horse.  There are some pretty interesting predictions for the year…read them here if you are curious!

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I made these beautiful cookies last year for the Chinese New Year and kicked myself last night when I realized it was today…hmmm…maybe I have everything to make at least one of the recipes…

Are you watching the ‘big game‘ this weekend?  We are, but not really rooting for either team…but the kids want to eat like we are having a party, so we’ll try a few things like this recipe for Chicken Ranch Nachos, um yes!  And my son would love this Pizza Nachos recipe.  Or this recipe for Artichoke & Asiago Poppers …or maybe even these adorable individual Seven-Layer Dips….I love these kid friendly Mini Corn Dogs and my kids would love these Coconut Crunch Chicken Strips with creamy Honey-Mango dipping sauce.  The possibilities are ENDLESS!

What are you making?

Thanks for reading along, stay warm my Minnesota friends and have a great weekend!

Cheers, Shawn