Family · Family Favorites

This ‘n That

Sometimes you just need a time-out for a little R&R.  I needed a time-out this year based on my last post.  On one hand, it made me sad to take a break because summer and fall are my favorite seasons to cook with fresh vegetables and fruit. On the other hand, if you’re not in the zone, it’s a worthless venture.

August and September are big birthday months in our family (yours too?).  In total, we have 13 birthdays.  ABC News reported in 2005 that more babies are born in July, August and September with no real reasoning.  Really? It seems so simple to me. Colder weather, holiday celebrations… Maybe I should have been a rocket scientist.

September, October and early November in Colorado were unseasonably warm and utterly beautiful. We all knew it wouldn’t last but we felt blessed for the beautiful fall colors accompanied by the warm sun and cool breezes.

IMG_5376

Our family traveled to Columbia, Missouri for Homecoming weekend and the dedication of Traditions Plaza and Legacy Circle, where Karl’s memorial was placed. We enjoyed family time and the festivities of the weekend.  Little did we know the NCAA recognizes the University of Missouri as the birthplace of homecoming.

MIZZOU

The Chihuly Exhibit was showcased at the Denver Botanic Gardens this Summer and Fall.  I saw the exhibit in Phoenix earlier this year and enjoyed two additional visits to the Denver exhibit.

IMG_4634 IMG_4674 IMG_4746

Temperatures in Colorado are now below freezing and time to make my favorite soups and comfort foods:

Chicken and Noodles
Beef Stew
Portuguese Kale Soup
Green Chile
Red Chili

I’m looking forward to being back, sharing recipes, stories and life.

Family

Live Your Life Today…Not Tomorrow

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks from the high point of celebrating my Aunt’s 100th Birthday with family in Iowa, to returning home to a call that my husband had been rushed to the hospital and passed away that afternoon.

These are the times that we take stock of what is truly important in our lives, today. Not tomorrow. The thought of writing about something delicious or witty is escaping me now but I will return in a few days or a few weeks. In the meantime:

Those we Love remain with us,
for Love itself lives on.
Cherished memories never fade,
because a loved one is gone.
Those we Love can never be,
more than a thought apart.
For as long as there is a memory,
they’ll live on in our heart.

~Author Unknown

New Favorite

Cranberry Bars…perfect for your Valentine!

Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars are daughter Sarah’s favorite holiday treat. When she was a teenager I bought her a pan of Cranberry Bliss Bars for her November birthday and she was ‘WOW’d’. Before Christmas this year she was very depressed that Starbucks/Denver had sold out of Cranberry Bliss Bars and, being pregnant, she had cravings that we needed to fill.

 

Sarah found this recipe on Pinterest and we made them for the holidays. They were delicious and very close to what we experience at Starbuck’s.  Perhaps this will become a new Valentine’s tradition in our house and in yours.   XOXOXOXOX

CRANBERRY BARS

BLONDIE LAYER:
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter, cubed
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup dried cranberries
6 ounces white baking chocolate, coarsely chopped

FROSTING:
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
6 ounces white baking chocolate, melted
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 13×9-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.
  • Prepare the blondie layer: In a medium bowl, melt butter for one minute in the microwave; stir in brown sugar. Scrape the butter & sugar into a large bowl and let cool to room temperature. Use an electric mixer to beat in the eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon; gradually add the dry mixture to the butter mixture. Stir in the cranberries and chopped chocolate (the batter will be thick).
  • Spread the blondie batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 18-21 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean (do not overbake). Cool completely on a wire rack.
  • Prepare the frosting: In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar until well-blended. Gradually add half of the melted white chocolate; beat until blended. Frost brownies. Sprinkle with cranberries. Drizzle with remaining melted white chocolate. Cut into bars- square or triangle-shaped. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Tips:

*If you’d like to add an orange flavor to these bars, add 1 tablespoon grated orange zest to the frosting.

Recipe from:  http://www.recipegirl.com/2011/11/14/cranberry-bliss-bars/

Family Favorites

It’s my Birthday…Popcorn Cake!

I’m from Iowa and I’m pretty sure popcorn is its own food group.  We grew popcorn on the farm from time to time and I remember stripping the tiny dry kernels from the cob.  My best popcorn memories are, of course, eating it! Popcorn for dinner, leftover popcorn for breakfast, kettle corn at the fairs, popcorn balls in the fall…why not a popcorn cake? My college buddy, Mary, celebrates her birthday in late July.  When we were in college and celebrating BIG for her birthday, I decided to make her a popcorn cake.  A month later, Mary made me a Snickers birthday cake (winding my favorite miniature circles of Snickers bars into a cake). Until this year, it was the only popcorn cake I’ve ever made but I decided to celebrate my birthday BIG this year by making myself one and sharing it on my blog. Happy Birthday to Me!  Now that I’ve told everyone about it, does that I mean I have to share?

POPCORN CAKE

2/3 cup light corn syrup
2 cups sugar
2 tablsepoons vinegar
2/3 cup boiling water
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/3 teaspoon baking powder

  • Pop about 10-15 cups of popcorn (2 batches in the air popper).
  • Bring sugar, water, vinegar and syrup to a boil.  Add cream of tartar and boil to soft crack stage (260 degrees–use candy thermometer).
  • Add the melted butter, vanilla and baking soda. Stir well. Pour over popped corn and stir to mix well.
  • Pour popcorn mixture into a buttered angel food cake pan. Push the popcorn down with buttered hands to remove air pockets. Let cool.  (Note:  if you have any remaining popcorn mixture, use buttered hands to shape into popcorn balls about the size of a baseball.  Place on waxed paper to cool.)
  • Once cool, take a knife and go around the sides of the angel food cake pan to release the popcorn mixture from the pan. Push the cake out of the pan from the underside of the pan (removable bottom).
  • Decorate as you wish. I decorated the top with colored candies and candles and tied a purple ribbon around the middle. Add candy to the popcorn mixture or use icing to write on the top.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME…HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME (and Mary, too!)