english toffee

I saw this recipe a couple weeks ago and figured in place of granola, I should fill my jar with english toffee. It was easy enough, and of course I had a ton of butter in my fridge. Once it was done, you simply break it in pieces and put it in the jar- or in cute little bags with red ribbon and a note to bring out the martha in you...

Mailing Toffee- thanks to the Kitchn
makes 4 pounds

1 lb. butter
3 Tbsp. water
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 12-oz. pkg semi-sweet chocolate pieces
1 cup chopped or slivered almonds

In a large skillet, melt butter, water, sugar, and salt over medium high heat. Stir constantly and rapidly with wooden spoon, keeping sides of pan clean. Boil, stirring rapidly, until mixture starts to turn a deep golden tan. Quickly remove from heat so as not to burn the mixture. Stir in the vanilla.

Pour mixture into rimmed cookie sheet or baking pan, lined with foil or waxed paper. Allow to cool slightly, about 5 minutes, then sprinkle mixture with chocolate. When chocolate looks glossy, spread with an offset cake spatula or a wooden spatula, and sprinkle with nuts. Press nuts into chocolate by covering pan with wax paper and pressing with palm of hand.

Cool 8 to 12 hours, then break toffee into chunks. Wrap in foil or plastic film for giving away.

26 years ago today....

...God created me.

Thanks for all the birthday love friends! A friend (Roth) this morning gave me a card that says "Blog" about 50 times on the front. Inside she mentioned the ways this year has been quite mysterious and wonderful for me. It's true- a lot of random (but not so randoms) happenings in the past year which have all worked out for the good- I love how that happens. So, here's to 26! Many more random mysterious happenings all for the good!

Oh, and here's to a picture that somewhat resembles me blowing out a candle, but really I'm "kissing" a green lady bug we found in arugula. Totally makes sense...

benny in the barbara

Benjamin's visiting SB and the visit started of course with a walk on the beach. How beautiful is it? I love being reminded of the paradise I get to call home right now. So wonderful. Benny's also been to the barber- it's like getting a facial man style. They do a straight razor shave and hot towels. The shop itself couldn't be more charming and right now looks like an igloo with a polar bear on top. More later- for now- we're off to wine country. Such a good life.

sriracha chicken

Awhile ago I saw this post about a chicken recipe that had quite strong reviews. This wasn't just something people liked, they loved it. A few months later, I finally made it. And, people loved it. Loved it so much in fact I've made it twice in the past 2 weeks. It's so easy (assuming you have a food processor) and so delicious. There is some heat, but not too much, and the sauce over rice is dynamite. Make this. Soon.

recipe thanks to sassy radish. I doubled the recipe below each time using a cut up chicken from trader joes which runs around $10 and will easily serve some hungry people.

Apricot-Glazed Sriracha Ginger Chicken
Loosely adapted from Gourmet, June 2009

3 garlic cloves
1 (3-inch) piece peeled ginger, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup peach or apricot preserves or jam
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
2 tbsp Sriracha
4 bone-in chicken legs (drumstick & thigh) – washed and patted dry

With motor running, drop garlic into a food processor and finely chop. Add ginger and finely chop. Add preserves, soy sauce, water, and Sriracha and pulse until sauce is combined. Place sauce and chicken in a plastic bag or bowl and let marinade for an hour or more.

When ready to cook preheat oven to 400 and place chicken in 9x13 pan with sauce. Bake for 35-45 minutes, checking until juices run clear. Spoon sauce over rice. Yum.

pulled pork sandwiches

Along with the lovely salad, we made pulled pork sandwiches. Yum. I've seen these little sandwiches of love showing up on classy menus, and well, good for them. It's a super cheap cut of meat and the results are heavenly. We made a homemade cole slaw to top em, and got Hawaiian sweet rolls a la costco for the delicious buns.

If you have a crock pot, you really should look these up and make them, oh I don't know...tomorrow. We got the meat and seasoned it with the below items. You really can't go wrong here and should hopefully have most of these spices anyways!

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground oregano
4 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon pepper

Camille made a homemade bbq sauce. Seeing as she's miss personal chef, she didn't write down the recipe and went from what she knew would work- ketchup, molasses, onions, oh my. Sooo good. This was quite possibly the secret ingredient that really caught all the attention. To make the pork itself, we got Pork Shoulder (butt works as well) and rubbed it well with the spice rub. We then seared it just to get a good golden color and then put it in the crock pot. It was covered with beef broth, coffee, and a little bit of beer. Delicious. It cooked for about 8 hrs, was taken out, pulled apart, and combined with the bbq sauce. I'm getting hungry just remembering these...

a winter salad

A few weeks ago Camille and I hosted a little dinner for our friends. We went to the market in the morning and got pretty excited about each course. To start off with, we served a salad of arugula, pomegranate seeds, butternut squash roasted with jalapeno jelly, and some excellent goat cheese. That's a mouth full, but it was really delicious and the colors were just perfect for the holiday season.

The squash was a hit and something I'd recommend adding to your salads. She roasted the squash and then just before it was done, added a dollop of some spicy jelly on top. The results were spicy and sweet paired with tangy arugula and excellent earthy cheese. A vinaigrette of balsamic and good olive oil, a little mustard and salt and pepper was drizzled on top.

To me, this seems to be a tribute to salads. Get away from what you know and try for something new and wonderful. You're bound to be a smashing success.

Celestial Pork Tenderloin

I'm not so sure why this recipe is called "Celestial Pork Tenderloin." What I do know, is this is part of the menu we would always have when company was coming over. Pork Tenderloin with a Mustard Sauce. It was always just a bit different, easy, and delicious. I made it in Montana for Benjamin and thanks to the small number of ingredients, it was a winner for us as well. We used 1 pork tenderloin, but you could easily make 2 with this recipe.

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup bourbon (Jim Bean)
2 Tbs. brown sugar

Combine the above and pour over pork tenderloin. Refrigerate in marinade several hours. Return meat to room temperature and place on rack in shallow dish. Bake at 300 for 1 hr- check and baste while marinating about every 15 minutes if you can. It may take up to 2 hrs to cook if you're using a lot, but ours took just about an hr. Pork is tricky because you don't want it to be dry, but you also don't want it to be rare. I'd say ours turned out quite well.

Serve with Mustard Sauce:
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup mayo
1 Tbs. dry mustard
1 Tbs. chopped scallions
1 1/2 tsp. wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients for sauce and put in a serving dish. Enjoy! You can use the remaining Jim Bean in egg nog...

mashed potatoes

These mashed potatoes are the winner for the holiday meals. Probably because you can make them a day ahead. Also probably because you add butter, cream cheese, and sour cream. Need I say more? My mom found this recipe in a newspaper some years ago and ever since it's been what we've used. Some day I want to get a ricer to mash potatoes. I used it once with Les and Jer and it's true- they are so creamy and delicious like that. Until that time, this is a great recipe to use when you want to get some of your cooking done a day ahead.

Holiday Mashed Potatoes- Thanks to the Plain Dealer

3 pounds (about 12 medium), peeled, cooked, and hot
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs lightly beaten
1/4 cup chopped onion- optional
1 tsp. salt

In a mixer add hot potatoes and mash until lumps are removed. Next add cream cheese in small pieces, then the butter. Beat well until both are melted and completely mixed. Mix in the sour cream. To the milk add eggs and onions, then add to potato mixture. Add salt and pepper and beat well until light and fluffy.

Place in a greased 9-inch round casserole and refrigerate several hours or overnight. Take out of the fridge before using to return to room temperature. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes until lightly browned on top. Makes 8-12 servings.

p.s. How great is this picture thanks to Benjamin's camera? Pretty great.

cranberry, apple, walnut relish

For me, when there is turkey, there is cranberry sauce- and not the kind from the can. It's fresh and tart and so easy to make, it's become a staple. When there's leftover turkey I like dipping it into this relish, or maybe putting it on a sandwich. Yum. I've made a couple different variations of cranberry sauce and think I've landed on this one. I like the crunch of the walnuts and proportion of apples to cranberries. Add this to your table...for Christmas perhaps!

Another recipe care of Cooking Light


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cranberry-apple juice
  • 1 pound fresh cranberries
  • 4 cups diced peeled Granny Smith apple (about 1 pound)
  • 2/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts


Combine sugar, juice, and cranberries in a large saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat; simmer 15 minutes or until cranberries pop and mixture thickens.

Remove from heat; stir in apple and walnuts. Spoon into a bowl; cool. Cover and chill at least 4 hours.

the go to pumpkin pie

I've been making this pumpkin pie for years now and I still think it's a winner. It's a winner because it's what I want following Thanksgiving with a hot cup of coffee, and for a couple days after maybe for breakfast. I can justify the vegetable that is pumpkin real easily. The fact that you make a gingersnap crust really makes me happy, as does the fact that this recipe uses pre-made dough. We all know someday I hope to master the art of pastry dough, but right now, the frozen stuff works just fine. Funny enough, pumpkin pie is the one thing I really want ready-whip on. Or cool whip. I remember my mom's aunt bringing it over when we had Christmas with all her aunts, uncles, and cousins and loving it. It's one of those "fake foods" I love every once in awhile. This pie also brings memories of my mom and I chatting over the kitchen table and the pie slowly decreasing in size. Funny how that happens.

This year, she told me she was making Libby's- from a can. I explained that my pie really wasn't hard, and she should do it. Without being there to make it, she wanted to reduce some of the cooking so fair enough. Needless to say I was happy to hear she ended up making this pie after all. Good job, Mom.

Recipe, thanks to Cooking Light


  • 1/2 (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie dough (such as Pillsbury)
  • 10 gingersnap cookies
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 (15-ounce) can unsweetened pumpkin
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated fat-free milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 large egg whites


Preheat oven to 350°.

Roll dough into a 12-inch circle; fit into a 10-inch deep-dish pie plate. Fold edges under, and flute. Freeze 30 minutes.

Place cookies, 2 tablespoons sugar, and flour in a food processor; process until cookies are ground. Add butter; pulse until crumbly.

Combine 3/4 cup sugar and remaining ingredients; pour into prepared crust. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes. Sprinkle crumb mixture over pie; bake an additional 20 minutes or until center is set. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack.

the beer we brew

About a month ago we brewed a Scottish Ale. It had some time to ferment and we tapped into it last week. It was... delicious. Of course I'm going to say that, but it was a great really rich dark coffee-like beer. I wonder what's on tap next...

walking in a winter wonderland

On my last day in Montana we wandered out for a drive to the mountains and the snow. We went by the local ski hill and got out to walk in the woods. The "cutest family ever" was coming out of the woods with the tree they had just cut down, their dog, and 3 kids. They proceeded to go play in the snow. It was great to get out and see the beauty of the seasons. To tromp in the snow and leave the tree for just a bit.