Saturday, March 24, 2012

Randomness in the Spring Time

Most shampoos sting when they drip into your eyes when you are taking a shower. But, Head and Shoulders has to be the worst on the pain scale.

I am late to the Mad Men party. I am currently watching the earlier seasons on Netflix and trying to catch up before season five starts on Sunday night . I am only on season 1, episode 8 so far. So much Mad Men-ness to look forward to.

I was doing well in the March Madness Basketball Pool at the beginning. But, I am now officially out as I picked Michigan State to go all the way. Not an easy pick for someone who lives in a NC Carolina Tarheel home. Now that Michigan State has been eliminated, I am totally cheering for UNC . Go Heels!

I might be getting the braces off of my teeth in 3 weeks. 3 weeks!!

Pinterest is actually changing some of their terms. It appears as though they actually listened to us users who were concerned with their terms agreement. I still have to read the new agreement but I am feeling better about keeping my account and feeding my pinning addiction.

Boston Ferns at Lowes’ are only $7.50 right now. And they are big, round a full. Such a deal. I bought three. Two for the front porch and one for the back deck.

I love my Kindle Fire. It is becoming my constant companion. I can check email, check the weather, google, peruse Pinterest, Facebook, play Free Cell, watch Mad Men and other movies on Netflix, listen to music, read blogs, and of course, shop for and read books. I have read more books this year than I have in a long time. And I finally found a cover for it that I love.

I am a bit of a Jane Austen freak and I finished watching the movie Lost In Austen on my Kindle Fire from the comfort of my bed. I watched a little bit each night over the course of a few days. Nice way to wind down. Loved that movie.

We have had the air conditioning on up stairs for the past week. I never thought we would ever turn the AC on in the month of March! I am not complaining though. I have loved the mild winter and early spring. I just hope the summer isn’t monster hot this year.

Enjoy the weekend!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

It’s a Good Time to Buy Cheese


Busy day in the cheese caves today.  This is one of many displays that we started to build.  Take five wheels of Parmesan Reggiano, each weighing in at about 80 pounds and close to a $1200 price tag each, add lot’s of cutting and wrapping, and I am a tired girl.  Tomorrow there will be chunks of wrapped cheese cascading down this display and it goes on sale  at your local Harris Teeter for $9.99/lb.  Now that’s a deal.  Time to stock up.


And look how pretty this wheel of Gruyere is.  It begged me to take its picture.  So I did. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Tiramisu Dip

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I made this last night for a party.  It’s really rich and delicious.  Give it a try when you want to make an appetizer that is also a dessert.

Tiramisu Dip

12 ounces mascarpone cheese (about 1 1/2 cups)

8 ounces ricotta cheese (about 1 cup)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons brewed espresso (I used dried coffee mixed with some water)

2 tablespoons  KahlĂșa

1 teaspoon cocoa powder

1/2 cup finely chopped bittersweet chocolate  (I used Scharfen Berger)

Place mascarpone in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whip on low speed until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add ricotta, sugar, espresso, and  KahlĂșa. Increase speed to high and beat until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes.

Spread the mixture on a shallow  serving dish and dust with cocoa powder, then sprinkle chopped chocolate over cocoa. Serve with strawberries or assorted cookies.

The recipe calls for a  container and a half of mascarpone cheese which is expensive!  For mine, I used just one container so that it was equal parts mascarpone and ricotta cheese.  I can see why the extra half container would be nice.  It’s a texture thing.  My dip had more texture from the ricotta cheese and I can see if there was more mascarpone cheese that the dip would have been smoother.  But as far taste goes…it’s delicious if you go my way using equal parts to save some money. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

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My daughter who is on her Spring break has been home this week. It’s the first time in many years that she didn’t go somewhere for her break. And I for one have enjoyed having her home. We did a marathon day of having lunch and shopping yesterday. She is in to Pinterest almost as much as me and she is the one who spotted this delicious dessert and made it for us the other night. It’s unbelievably good! It’s a cross between a cheesecake and an apple pie. And to top it off, it’s drizzled with caramel.

It was pinned from The Girl Who Ate Everything and is one of Paula Deen’s recipes. I told my daughter that this is going to be one of those things that everyone is going to ask her to bring to a party. She is going to become the designated dessert bringer with this one. :)

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It makes a HUGE 9” x 13” pan. And a little piece is all you need because it’s so rich. But you will probably find yourself going back for just a sliver more two or three times at least.

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars


2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

In a medium bowl, combine flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry blender (or 2 forks) until mixture is crumbly. Press evenly into a 9” X 13” baking pan line with heavy duty aluminum foil. (We used a glass baking pan sprayed with Pam and it worked out fine.) Bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned. (It was closer to 20 minutes for our crust.) Set aside and let cool while you make the cheesecake filling.

Cheesecake Filling:

3 (8oz) packages cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup sugar plus 2 Tbsp, divided

3 large eggs

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with 3/4 cup sugar in a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Then add eggs, one at a time, and vanilla. Stir to combine. Pour over the warm crust.


3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

Streusel Topping

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup quick cooking oats

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

In a small bowl, stir together chopped apples, remaining 2 Tbsp sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Spoon evenly over cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle evenly with Streusel Topping. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 – 45 minutes, or until filling is set. Drizzle with caramel topping and let cool. Serve cold. Drizzle with additional caramel topping if you like.


Friday, March 2, 2012

Savory Cheddar Crackers with Country Ham

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I love making things that are so ordinary that they seem extraordinary.  Like crackers.  Even bread now days seems like an extraordinary thing to make.  It’s a bit crazy when you think about it really. 

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When I first moved to the South, we lived for a couple of years in Tennessee.  I was in tears for the first couple of months when we moved there.  I had moved from a house and a neighborhood that I loved and felt like I had been plopped down on another planet.  Everything seemed different.  People told me that I talked funny.  I found their Southern accents so strong that I had to watch their lips move when they spoke to help me understand what was being said.  And then there was the grocery store.  I couldn’t find the ingredients that I took for granted in the stores back home.  And then on one especially home sick day, I saw a table in the aisle of the meat department piled high with unrefrigerated meat.  (To be fair the meat was vacuumed sealed but it still creeped me out.)  It was Country Ham.    By itself, Country Ham is too salty for me.  But, baked into these delightful crackers, it’s the perfect ingredient.  If you don’t have Country Ham, finely crumbled bacon or diced panchetta would work here too but if you can get the Country Ham, get the Country Ham. 

Here is the recipe:

Savory Cheddar Crackers with Country Ham

1 cup all purpose flour

4 oz. (1 1/2 cups) extra sharp Cheddar cheese ( I used 5 year aged Cheddar.  The class I took used an 8 year aged Cheddar.  Incredible!)

1 1/2 oz. Country Ham, diced (I pulsed mine in the food processor till it was nice and fine.) 

3/4 stick (6 Tbsp.) butter, cut into cubes

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. smoked paprika

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 1/2 Tbsp. milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Pulse flour, cheese, ham, butter, salt, paprika, and cayenne pepper in a food processor until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.

I really think that a food processor is the best way to go with this recipe.  It will get your Country Ham nice and fine and it brings your dough together nice and quick. I wouldn’t recommend doubling the recipe.  Your food processor bowl probably isn’t big enough for two.  I made a second batch of dough right after the first and wrapped it in plastic wrap and kept it in the refrigerator till I was ready to bake it off. 

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Add milk and pulse until the dough forms a ball.  Roll out on a lightly floured surface into 12 x 10 inch rectangle.  Cut the dough into desired shapes.  I used a pasta cutting wheel to get the pretty fluted edges. 

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Transfer to 2 parchment lined baking sheets,  I used a silicone not stick baking sheet.  Arrange the crackers about 1/4 inch apart.  Bake, turning the pans halfway through baking until pale golden about 15 to 18 minutes.  Be careful not to burn them.   Cool completely on the baking sheets on a cooling rack for about 15 minutes. 

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Makes about 30 crackers.  Store in an air tight container.  

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  These are to be nibbled and savored.  And when you nibble and savor them with a glass of wine… I promise they will make you happy.  I first had them at a cooking class that I took last Fall at Southern Season in Chapel Hill.  It just took me a few months to get around to making them.  I’ve wasted so much time.