Snow day baking

We got our first winter snow here in North Carolina over the weekend. As protocol dictates here in the south, we all rushed out and bought bread and milk. Actually, truth be told, I bought neither of those things as we already had them. I did buy some other items so I could bake while we were “snowed in.”

My Dad got us a Kitchen Aid mixer for Christmas and we’ve been so excited to try it out!

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Great Aunt Grace’s Lemon Pound Cake

On Saturday I made my Great Aunt Grace’s Lemon Pound Cake. It’s one of my favorite all-time recipes. It’s so simple to make and tastes so good. The tangy lemon flavor was perfect for brightening up a cold winter day.

For some reason I’ve also been craving scones lately. I usually chalk that up to all the British crime shows I like to watch. I found a great recipe for Parmesan Rosemary Scones on the Tea Time Magazine website. I highly recommend trying these! They were divine. We served ours with butter and homemade strawberry preserves.

Just a couple of teensy notes on the recipe. I did not have fresh rosemary so I used dried which I ran through a small electric chopper first. Also, I found the dough to be very dry and unmanageable at first so I added maybe two more tablespoons of cream to get it to the consistency to be able to roll. Also, they were wonderful warm from the oven, but I ate one cold this morning with no butter or jam and it was still delicious! The sprinkle of salt on the top is really delightful.

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Parmesan Rosemary Scones

 

Give me the peanut butter!

img_0553The holiday season is upon us and that means it’s time to make lots of yummy goodies to share, or to eat all by yourself while you binge watch holiday movies on Netflix. I don’t judge. What you do with you holiday goodies is your business!

Last Christmas, my husband and I both were in holiday shows. Different holiday shows. We had a very hectic schedule and only saw each other for a short time each evening when we both returned home from our respective rehearsals.

We opted not to audition for any holiday shows this year so we could spend more time together at home. It has been delightful!

I spent a little time last week making a few of our favorite holiday treats.

One of the simplest, but most adored treats, that has long been a family tradition of mine, is white chocolate dipped peanut butter crackers. Gently spread peanut butter on a Ritz cracker, top with another a Ritz cracker and dip in melted white chocolate. Use a spoon to coat the peanut butter cracker fully in chocolate, then gently remove with a fork and shake gently to remove excess white chocolate. Put dipped crackers on a wax  paper lined baking sheet and pop in the freezer a few minutes just to set the chocolate. These things go like hotcakes! I don’t even have a picture of them to show you because the first batch I made is almost gone!

I must have had peanut butter on the brain because two of the other delights I whipped up the other day also involved peanut butter.

At the holidays, or any time you’re in the mood for a little sweet treat, just whip up these three-ingredient peanut butter cookies.

Super Simple Peanut Butter Cookies

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg

Literally, that’s all! Can you believe it? Mix the three ingredients together with a hand-mixer. Roll dough into about half-inch size balls, roll in additional sugar if desired, and place on a greased baking sheet. Press gently with a fork to make a criss-cross design. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes at 350 degrees.

My husband just adores these cookies. They don’t last long in our house!

The final peanut butter treat I made was Peanut Butter Pinwheels. This was a first time for me, though my Mamma made this every year at Christmas. I used the recipe here.

What goodies are you making this holiday season?

Self care season is here

For those, like me, who are empaths or highly sensitive, these last few weeks have probably been extremely challenging. And, now the holiday season is upon us. While lots of fun, the holidays can also cause us stress, anxiety and even sadness.

Let’s all just stop right now and take a big, deep, cleansing breath. 


Close your eyes, no, wait, open them and look at this picture, then close your eyes and imagine yourself somewhere that you can be completely at ease and relaxed.

As we head into winter, with darkness coming earlier each night, and the busy holiday season, let’s all make a commitment to ourselves. Let’s commit to taking exquisite care of ourselves. We do this for our loved ones, but sometimes we forget how important it is to do the same for ourselves. Let’s promise to take time each day, even if just for a moment, to think of our happy place, breathe deeply, and honor ourselves.

Yoga, meditation, reading a good book, taking a nice long relaxing bath and enjoying a cup of herbal tea are some of my favorite self-care rituals. I just recently rediscovered my old hobby of crocheting, and that, too, is something I find calming and relaxing.

I’d love to hear about your favorite self-care practices and how you plan to honor the commitment to yourself as we head into the holidays. Leave a comment below!

If you want more ideas on self-care, check out the following links:

Self Care Tips for When Politics Comes up at Thanksgiving

Seven Rituals for Highly Sensitive People

Simple Self Care Practices

Ted Talks on the Importance of Self Care

Southwestern Kale & Sausage Soup

Life has gotten busy and thus the blog has been neglected. Morgan and I had a wonderful anniversary celebration in Asheville, which I have been remiss in posting about. I’ve also participated in one of my favorite events, the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure in Atlanta. Just this past weekend, Morgan and I were in a community theatre production of “The Bad Seed.”

It’s been a fun fall so far, but sadly all the activities have left me run down and battling a bit of a cold.

Lucky for me I have a wonderful husband to swoop in and save the day with the most wonderful soup to help me get over my cold!

Morgan’s Southwestern Kale & Sausage Soup

Ingredients:

• 1 large or 2 small links chorizo sausage

• 1 small onion, diced

• 2 cloves garlic, minced

• half pound of kale, chopped

• 1 carton beef stock

• 1 large can diced tomatoes

• 1 can pinto beans, drained

• 1 Chipotle pepper, chopped

• dash of crushed red pepper flakes

• 1/2 teaspoon cumin

• teaspoon oregano

• salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Brown chorizo in a large soup pot. Once sausage is browned, added in diced onions and saute until translucent. Add in minced garlic and kale and saute a few minutes more. Add tomatoes, broth, beans and seasoning and bring to a boil. Boil for five to 10 minutes then reduce to simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips or crackers.

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A magical ride

I’ve always thought I lived in a beautiful place. This weekend I got to see that beauty from a very unique vantage point. A coworker of mine at my “day job” arranged for us to go on a hot air balloon ride.

To be truthful I will say that it wasn’t exactly a bucket list thing or something I’d ever given much thought to doing. My best friend is from Albuquerque, New Mexico, a place famous for their hot air balloon festival. I’ve always thoughts the balloons were beautiful, but really that’s about as far as I’d ever taken the idea.

Having now flown in a hot air balloon, I have an entirely different outlook. It was truly one of the most amazing and magical experiences. As I said earlier, I’ve always thought I lived in a lovely county, but seeing it from high above the trees gave me a whole new appreciation for Yadkin County.

The sensation of floating above the world in the balloon in nearly indescribable. After the sound of the gas is quieted there is a silence like no other. Far below us lay the lush green forests, a deep emerald green. In lighter shades of green were fields of soybeans, gold-tasseled corn and tobacco on the verge of turning a golden shade as well. We watched as several deer frolicked below us in a cornfield. The silver-tipped white clouds were reflected back to us in small farm ponds. On the horizon the sun shone brightly right at eye level. In the distance we could see the hazy blue line of the mountains, punctuated by the familiar sight of Pilot Mountain.

Once back on the ground I felt changed somehow. I am quite literally at a loss for words on how else to describe the experience other than the words magical and life-changing.

It’s pickle time!

Remember the song Cookie Time from the movie Troop Beverly Hills? Well, this time of year, I’m singing this, only it’s pickle time instead of cookie time! And if you don’t know this movie, go look for it. It’s a 1989 classic. I feel like I need to learn this dance to do while I’m making pickles.

Our cucumber vines are slowly starting to produce, but so far we don’t have enough to do a full canning so I went on the search for a quick pickle recipe that I could do with just a few cucumbers.

I found a great little quick refrigerator pickle recipe here. They look very lovely and I’m sure mine would have turned out great. . .had I not used tablespoons instead of teaspoons on the salt. Ha! My husband said it made his tongue go numb.

I was in the midst of canning some green beans when I put together this quick pickle recipe and clearly I wasn’t paying enough attention to the recipe. The sad thing is, even though they are super duper salty, I actually like them anyway. I’m sure they would be much better had I followed the recipe correctly. I will definitely try this again though.

I also found a great list of things to do with leftover pickle brine. Now, don’t judge me, but I have been known to drink it straight from the jar. I had some left over green beans though so I thought I would give one of these ideas a try. I blanched them and put them in a jar of grapeleaf pickle brine I had left over. I’ll let you know how this turns out. It could be a flop, but I did so hate to waste that pickle juice!

You can find more of my pickling stories on The Lush’s Blush by using the search bar on the right. If you have a favorite pickle recipe, I’d love to try it! Tell me all about it the comments.

Quiche: It’s what’s for breakfast

Asparagus and cherry tomato quiche | The Lush's Blush blog
Asparagus and Cherry Tomato Quiche
I bought a really big bag of asparagus at Trader Joes the other day. You ever notice that asparagus is one of those things typically served in smaller portions? We’d eaten it sauteed and in a pasta dish and I was in the market for some other venue for the last of the asparagus. I also had some lovely cherry tomatoes my neighbor Zehra gave me.

Sunday mornings are pretty much the only time my husband and I get to enjoy breakfast together and he is usually in charge of the menu. I typically request cheesy eggs and biscuits and gravy. That’s pretty hard to beat, in my mind, but I thought I would give quiche a try as a way to use up some of my fresh produce.

Though Morgan deemed it “not a very manly breakfast” he did eat two servings. I ate three. Needless to say, we enjoyed it. So here’s the recipe if you want to give it a try!

Kitsey’s Asparagus and Cherry Tomato Quiche

Ingredients

  • 10 – 12 asparagus spears, chopped into bite sized pieces (don’t forget to snap off the ends first.)
  • 10 – 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 of an onion, finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Salt, pepper to taste
  • Fresh basil, chiffonade (I used about 5 large leaves)
  • 1 frozen pie crust

Directions

If you’re going to get fancy and make your own pie crust, feel free. Otherwise, lay one out of the freezer so it can thaw while you turn on the oven at 350 degrees to preheat. Cook chopped bacon until fat is rendered and it’s just beginning to get crisp then remove from pan. Drain off most of the grease, but leave about a tablespoon in the pan. Saute chopped onion until it begins to soften. Add the garlic and saute just for a minute then remove from pan. Toss chopped asparagus into hot pan and saute for about a minute then remove. Place pie crust into pan and top with halved cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt. Put cooked bacon on top of the tomatoes. Whisk together eggs and milk, season liberally with salt, cracked black pepper and basil. Add in cooked onions, garlic and asparagus. Pour egg mixture into piecrust. Top with shredded parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes.