Merry Christmas Ponderings

As I near the end of Christmas Eve and the start of Christmas Day, I am sitting in my home with 5 of my favorite people all asleep around me.  My mom is asleep on the couch, Aaron is in the chair, my dad is up in Aarons bed, and Nik is in his.  Rob is sleeping in our bed a few feet away.  I am sitting here pondering the life i am so blessed to have. 

 I am struck by how lucky I am.   The old adage when times are tough is that “well atleast you have your health” and right now that isnt completely true.  I have two doctors appts this week, one kid has an ear infection and the other needs ear surgery, and well, Rob has Hodgkins.  This could all lead me to wonder what I have to be lucky about.  Let me tell you…….  I am lucky that I have a home that i love despite its shack like appearance.  I have a car and the things that make my life easier to manage.  I have a JOB which is a fantastic and wonderous thing.  I am oh so very lucky that I have so many wonderful friends who love me for more than just my cooking blog, which has suffered this week.   I am truly thankful for them every day.  We would not have survived the last three months if it wasnt for them.   But most of all, I am lucky that I have a family that works as well as mine does.  My husband and kids make me nuts but keep me sane at the same time.  My parents and the rest of the family are there are much as they can be and always make us feel important.

So on this most joyous of times of year, remember that it isnt about how much you spent, how much you got or how much you gave, it is about how much you love and are loved.  I know i am loved.  I hope i show my love enough. 

Merry Christmas, world.  Thank you for everything..


Shortbread/ Jam Thumbrints

Rob loves shortbread.  I mean loves it.  We had searched high and low for a recipe that he would love enough for us to put it in “The Box”.  Only recipes that we really like make it to “The Box”.   There are certain foods that we want to have one go-to recipe for and shortbread was on the list.  We found it.  This shortbread is light and buttery.  Soft but with crispy edges.  As Rob says.. the best of both worlds!! 
One of the fun things about this particular recipe is that you can make Jam Thumbprints out of them as well.  Roll in a ball and shove your thumb making a little well for a dollop of jam.  Easy peasy, quick and easy!

3 sticks of butter
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp extract, it calls for vanilla but we are going to try almond as well
3 1/2 cups of flour
1/4 tsp kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350.  Cream together the butter and sugar, then add in the extract, then the flour and mix together until smooth.

Then you can decide what to do.. you can make it into a large cookie….

Make it into balls and squish them into bite sized cookies…..

Or you can make balls, and shove a thumb in and fill it with your favorite jam.  Here we have kiwi jam, strawberry rhubarb habanero and….. garlic jam.  Which is Robs favorite.

The finished product is light, soft and yummy….

Hope you like these..

Happy Baking!

Life as the Wife of A Cancer Patient

This blog is supposed to be about my life and my cooking.  I have been sharing cooking for the last couple days.. now i wanted to share some of my life.  For those of you reading this that know my family, this is all old news but since some of you might not know us I thought it was good to give you some of the reasons why I am writing this blog.  I have been a life long cook and baker.  I have the spare tire around my midsection to prove it.  Making people happy through food is a deep pleasure for me.  I love to see people happy.  I love to watch their face as they take that first bite and they smile.  It relaxes me and makes me feel good about myself.  Then along came this man.  He was cold and distant and tried to push me away at first to protect himself from getting hurt.  All that I could deal with and it didnt bother me.  He was a bit like my dad in that way.  You could see the soft side and hear the little kid in him and I knew he was a keeper.   What I couldnt deal with, was that he was a boxed, frozen and canned food guy!!!
Seriously!  How could I be with someone like that.  So i set out to fix it.  I made him try new things and made him look at food in a different way.  He now eats vegetables, new foods and ways of cooking are now seen as challenges to master, not to hide from, or push under the plate.  We LOVE to spend time pouring over magazines and looking at recipes online and reading cookbooks.  We are still pretty conservative compared to some people but for this man to say to me that he can thank me for his palate.. well that was the highest compliment.
I have been in nursing school since September 2008.  I love helping people so this a natural choice for me.  But it has been a huge damper in my cooking/baking/canning time.  Nik and Aaron, along with Rob, have taken over the kitchen.  This has been a hard adjustment for me.  I was always the queen and they would help. 
On top of all that is so busy in my life, Rob was diagnosed with cancer in October.  After 4 long months of not knowing what was wrong this was not what we had expected to hear.   My 30 year old, sweet and sassy husband who loved me to blind distraction,was facing cancer.  The Big C.  The Life Changer.   We hit is like everything else we do, head on and with love in our lives.  The last couple months have been hard for us.  Robs health was only fair to begin with (which is a whole other story) and this was not something that he should have had to deal with.  He always says that WE are dealing with and fighting this together and while I get the theory, it doesnt ring true to me.  Today he had chemo and HE was the one sitting there being pumped full of poison.  I struggle with the guilt at not being able to stop his pain and to stop his hair loss which is so devestating to him.  I struggle with the fear of this changing the man he is.  I stuggle with the loss of faith in the power of good.  And I struggle with my ability to continue to feel like my schooling has any importance, if i cant even keep my husband feeling well.. how can I help other people.
I wrote this post for a myriad of reasons.  I needed to get it out being the main reason.  I wrote this blog as a way to find something in my life that is sane and normal and common place and still part of my life before school and illness took over.  I have 5 months until graduation and my hope is that this blog will help me keep connected a bit, with the woman that my life has kept me from being the last two years.  The woman who was able to change someones life, and open doors, through food.
Thanks for letting me tell you why, and…..

Happy Living

Grammies Hermits

This is one of Robbies favorite cookies that his Grammie Reynolds used to make.  He didnt like them until he was about 14 and now he makes them 1-2 a month.  They are a wonderful mix of rich dark molasses and soft sweet raisins.  The batter works for individual cookies or in the way that we make them, bar form.   Lately Rob has been thinking alot about her.  She passed a couple years ago and he is finally able to really start making some of the things that remind him of her.  He was so proud the first time I came home from work and he had made these.  I didnt take too many pictures but you can get the gist of how they work.  HAHA


4 beaten eggs
2 cups raisins
3/4 cup crisco
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp each, cinnamon and cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 cup molasses
1/8 cup water

Preheat the oven to 350.  In a medium bowl mix the raisins and the eggs and sit aside for atleast 15 minutes (this is what makes the raisins so soft and yummy). 

Cream the butter and sugars and then add the egg mixture and then the flour and beat on low until a stiff batter forms.

Then get a helper to pour it into your large cookie sheet/stoneware (or drop by spoonful for cookies) and bake for 15-20 minutes.  Serve with milk or my favorite, a cup of coffee..

I love family and being able to make a multigenerational recipe with the kids is so much fun.  We had a blast today, making 10 different types of things.  The boys helped with everything, whether it was doing the dishes or stirring the ginger icing or watching the  thermometer for english toffee.   I am so thankful for my family.

Happy Baking


Parchment Chicken Wraps

Let me first say..  I have no idea where I got this recipe… I vaguely remember reading about it some where right after Rob and I got married.   It is so easy, versatile and personalized for anyones taste.  The theorys is that the parchment allows for a steam action so the flavor you add is infused into the meat but it also allows for steam to escape so it doesnt blow up.  LOL  You can use anything you want in these and it is really easy to do.   Here is how we make ours.

Parchment paper
Chicken breast, boneless
Grape tomatoes (or you can use Fire Roasted or Sundried tomatoes)
Calamata Olives and the garlic/hot pepper mix from the olive bar, make sure you get some of the juice/oil
Proscuitto if you have/like it
Salt and Pepper
Fresh herbs (if you have some which i didnt today)

The ingredients

Trim your chicken breast and lay out your double layer of parchement.  I make the piece of parchment about 9-10 inches wide when it is folded in half.    Lay down your proscuitto (again optional) like this:

Slice your garlic, hot peppers, olives, herbs, tomatoes.. whatever… and lay it along the chicken like this:

And if using proscuitto, lay another couple pieces over the top.  Add your salt and pepper to taste and close up the paper packets.  Put them on the cookie sheet and put in a 425 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Disregard the different colors of parchment.. I ran out of one kind..  They come out beautiful and you can make them completely personal.   We have used pineapple, onion, other veggies.. drizzled with sauces, etc.  The parchment makes them perfect.

Serve with your favorite side.. or in tonights case, your husbands craving.  LOL  Fries.. but goes well with potatoes and rice and salad.. so yum.

Happy Cooking

Christmas Cookies Part 1- Triple Chippers!

These are one of my favorite cookies.  Rob got it from a cookbook and we have adapted it to fit our tastes and what we like in a cookie.  I dont want to ruin the surprise for you so you will have to just read the ingredients list.

Triple Chippers

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup butter, room temp
1 cup white sugar
1 cup light brown sugar firmly packed
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups coarsely crushed wavy or rippled potato chips (yes potato chips)
2 cups of chocolate chips (we do 2/3 c of  white chocolate and the rest semi sweet)

YES Potato chips!!   You really did read that right. 

Preheat oven to 350. Mix together the dry ingredients in seperate bowl, this is important for texture.  Cream the butter and sugars, add eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth.

Add all the three types of chips and mix until dough-ey.   Rob just mixes them with the Kitchenaid.  Since you dont mind if they chips get crushed.  HAHA

Using a cookie scoop put onto your cookie sheet and bake for 12 -15 minutes depending on the size of our scoop.  

Cool and enjoy.  So sweet and salty and yummy!! 

Stay tuned.. it is Christmas cookie time.. so lots of new recipes in the next couple days.

Happy Cooking


Breakfast with the Boys

Had a Mommy and Son Dunkins Morning.  We had not had one in forever.  I won a gift card in a yankee swap, so that made even better.. it was free.  HAHA  We talked about their girlfriends, school, the future, and how they are doing.   Nik is having post athletics blues and is worried about his grades.  Aaron is his usual nothing-bothers-him self.   It was nice, 1 hour of coffee, bagels and time with my two favorite men/boys.  I missed doing this.  Rob had started this for us about 4 years ago..  right before we got engaged.  He wanted the boys to always know that they were #1 in my life.    I have great men in my life. 

Then I took Aaron for more drving hours. I think it is unbelievable that they are driving.  They were little kids just yesterday.. werent they!!?!?!   I mean I look at Aaron as he is sitting in the drivers seat and it makes me cringe because all I can see is a little boy sitting there, like in a commercial I saw once.   He does well and he only has about 12 more hours left. 

Well now on to baking.   I will be posting a few recipes in the next couple days.  I hope you come back and look.

Enjoy Life,

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