Monthly Archives: November 2012

Honey Mustard Chicken

This is a recipe that I basically forced my friend to give me after he made it for Curtis and I one night. I have made it so many times since then- it’s delicious, and one of those dinners that makes you look like you went to culinary school.

Maybe I’m easily impressed. It is so. Stinkin. Good.

I made it tonight because by some miracle I had all of the ingredients in my pantry!!? Which isn’t that weird I guess, but whole grain honey mustard isn’t something I ‘just grab’ at the grocery store. Must’ve been hiding back there behind the three containers of taco seasoning I ‘just grabbed’ at the the grocery store. My radar for what I think I’m out of is seriously out of whack.

Also, I love how fast of a recipe it is- some nights ( I know I’m not the only one) I’m hungry but I just don’t feel like cooking. And I don’t feel like using what little energy I have to go out and get something. This is one of those recipes that requires less energy than getting in the car to get fast food, but not so much that you collapse midway through prepping this wonderful home-cooked meal.

You’re welcome.


It’s delectable! Took an even shorter amount of time because I used canned green beans as a side. Curtis, for some reason hates fresh green beans (?) so that actually helped my ‘quick meal’ go even quicker 🙂

Takes 37 minutes, that’s it. (30 of which is oven time.)

Make this. You won’t be sorry!

All credit for this recipe goes to Tim. 🙂



Honey Mustard Chicken

6 chicken thighs, bone-in skin-on

1/4 cup flour

1/2 cup whole grain Dijon Mustard

1/2 cup honey

2 tablespoons chopped basil

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1 Tbsp Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 375. Heat oil in frying pan to medium heat. Mix salt, pepper, and flour and coat chicken.  Add chicken to the frying pan and brown on all sides. Remove chicken, and place in a baking dish. Mix mustard and honey together, add basil and salt and pepper. Stir everything together, then pour over the chicken. Bake for 30 minutes. Halfway through, turn and baste the chicken.

Serves 4! Although, you can see from my picture I used 3 chicken LEGS instead of 6 thighs- ended up with leftovers, so I would say 3 legs or 6 thighs serve the same. 🙂

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Maple Oat Scones

I have a little obsesh. It’s called… the Maple Oat Scone from Starbucks. And it doesn’t help that I have a sister that works at Starbucks… Thank goodness (but sadly…) she works at the store a couple hours away so I don’t take advantage of her discount on those scones all the time! A while back, K posted a recipe for the cranberry bliss bars and that started this whole Starbucks recipe frenzy thing. We’re about done. Promise.

Actually, now that we have a Keurig, we rarely if ever go to Starbucks anymore… which means I never get my scone.

I had to fix that. It just wouldn’t do.

And K had the solution! A while back she got a cookbook that had a bunch of the secret recipes from popular restaurant chains in America- and my eyes went directly to this scone recipe! It might be one of the best feelings in the world that these scones are now available in my own kitchen, at will. Self control, please do your thang. These scones are something I’d treat myself to on a special occasion- having them less often makes you appreciate them THAT much more! They are perfect with a latte in the morning- the maple flavor is one of my all time favorites. The texture is just completely melt-in-your-mouth indulgent. Despite the HUGE size of the pastry, somehow by the last bite you’re wondering where the whole scone went all of the sudden.

I used a few substitutions because I just couldn’t wait to make a grocery run for a few measly ingredients. Although, I do think they’d taste even better if you use what the real recipe calls for! I didn’t have heavy cream so I used evaporated milk- which is way nice in the calorie arena, but does change the consistency and crumbley-ness of the scone. All in all, I was so happy with the closeness of the flavor and texture of my homemade scone versus the Starbucks-made scone.

I sprinkled a little raw turbinado sugar on the tops for some added texture!

And now you can enjoy it too!

Merry Christmas season! Get ready for all the Christmas cookie recipes coming your way….


Starbucks Maple Oat Scone

makes 6- 12 scones, depending on how you cut them

adapted from the Top Secret Recipes Unlocked cookbook

Scone Ingredients

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup rolled oats, not instant

1 Tbsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

4 Tbsp cold butter

1/3 cup chopped walnuts (I omitted these)

1 large egg

2/3 cup dark brown sugar

1/4 cup half and half

2 tsp imitation maple flavoring

Maple Icing

1 cup powdered sugar

4 tsp whole milk

1/2 tsp imitation maple flavoring


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

To make the scones, combine the flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Use a pastry knife or a fork to cut the cold butter into the dry mixture. Break the butter down until there are no pieces larger than a pea. Stir in the chopped walnuts.

Use an electric mixer to combine the egg, brown sugar, half-and-half, and maple flavoring in a medium bowl.

Combine the wet ingredients with dry and blend with electric mixer until firm, then use your hands to mix the dough until you can form in into a ball. Pat the dough out on a lightly floured surface until it is about 1 1/4 inches thick. Shape the dough into a rectangle, and then use a pizza wheel or large knife to cut the dough into 6 large triangles (or number of your choosing). Arrange the dough triangles on a baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, or just until the scones begin to turn light brown on the edges.

As the scones cool, combine the icing ingredients in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on low speed ( I used a bowl and whisk and did it myself). When the scones have cooled, spread the icing on top of each one with a frosting knife or spatula.

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Top Chef Dinner- Herbed Beef Stew

Tonight I’d like to present to you a new dish- an herbed beef stew served over garlic mashed potatoes on a bed of fresh asparagus.

We’ve been watching Top Chef lately, sorry.

Lately, this wonderfully rainy, cold, and gloomy weather makes me want to camp out in the kitchen and make tummy warming meals. AND I really wanted to step outside my comfort zone and not use a recipe! SCARY! Usually I have something to go by, and I totally winged it tonight. I’m kind of proud of myself. This only happened with some serious pep-talking by M over the phone while camped out in the produce section, so thanks M 🙂

fresh asparagus!! One of our favorites

One of my most-used ingredients…not so good for your breath, but so good for the heart! So…..that balances out, right?

This goes in the stew. I know what you were thinking, you naughty 😉

Not the cleanest presentation ever…but my taste buds were happy.


See how I tried to stack everything like they do on TC?

This will definitely be happening again- the meat was tender and flavorful, the broth (probably my favorite part) was infused with all the herbs and garlic I used, and the mashed potatoes were creamy and garlic-y and yummy. And asparagus is always a great side for any dish in our family.

I really hope this recipe works for you guys, it was a big hit with my meat and potatoes hubby 🙂 and a great tummy warmer in this cool weather.


Herbed Beef Stew over Garlic Mashed Potatoes

(Stew) Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs stew beef

3 carrots, chopped

1 medium onion, diced

3 TBSP Garlic, minced

2 TBSP Olive Oil

1 TBSP butter

1 TBSP Worcestershire Sauce (I used the ‘thick’ style, but regular is fine)

1 cup water

1 cup chicken broth (I used chicken, cuz it’s what I had, but beef would work great too!)

6 sprigs of fresh thyme

3 bay leaves

salt and pepper (to taste)

wine (Probably ended up using about a cup and a half….)


Start by browning the stew meat in the pot you will be making the stew in, using the butter and olive oil. Do not cook it all the way through! Just brown on top and bottom and set aside. Do not clean the pot. Once you’re done browning the beef, set it aside. Toss the onions and garlic in the pot and saute until the onions are almost cooked all the way. Add water, worcestershire sauce, wine, and chicken broth. bring to a boil. Once it’s at a rolling boil, add the salt and pepper, thyme, bay leaves, carrots and beef. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 30 minutes. (I didn’t let it go for too long, mainly because I started out with very little liquid in the stew, and I wanted it to be less soupy, but still have some broth. The longer it simmers, the more liquid evaporates.)

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

4 Russet Potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes.

3 cloves fresh garlic, minced

1/4 cup milk

3 TBSP butter

Instructions: (P.S.) this part can be done while the stew simmers.)

Dice potatoes and cook til done all the way through. Drain, return to pot. Add the minced garlic, milk and butter. Mash thoroughly, then add to food processor. Blend til smooth, then return to pan on low heat. You really want to make sure the garlic is minced well to begin with, then thoroughly blended in the food processor otherwise you get chunks of garlic when you’re trying to enjoy an otherwise perfectly balanced dish 🙂

Serve over Roasted Asparagus (simply broil asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper for ten minutes)

Serves 4

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A Battle Won

It is THANKSGIVING WEEK!! That means… In a few days I get to see my family from out of town and I can hardly wait! I may or may not cry from excitement- blaming it on the pregnancy hormones. 🙂  I’m writing this on Sunday, so bear with me, as you’ll probably be reading this on Tuesday. Last week was a whirlwind and I lacked the foresight and energy to blog. And I really missed it… So I was really looking forward to sitting here with my hot cup of tea, browsing other blogs, and gettin’ back in touch with ya’ll. Oh, and I have K’s snickerdoodle blondies in the oven, ready to take to our church group tonight. There’s cinnamon in the air and it smells so goooood! Have you made them yet??

Last week, I got to go look at nursery colors with my MIL-  She was incredibly sweet and bought our baby bedding so we could hold it up and see what colors looked good with it! I might be the luckiest girl ever to have such a sweet mom-in-law. And after that, I got to spend some time with my other momma! And she taught me how to bake homemade bread and almond rolls, and thus conquer my greatest enemy in the kitchen. Yeast.

I don’t know why I struggled so much with yeast doughs, but I’m happy to say those days are behind me! There’s no better person to learn things than from your momma.

We used the recipe from Southern Living, and I would highly recommend it! You can use this dough for bread, flavored rolls, pizza dough, buns, anything!! It seemed a little complicated to me at first, because we had to have a thermometer to get the liquid mixture to a perfect temp before we could mix it with the dry ingredients, but that’s the nature of yeast! Stupid yeast, why can’t you be easier to use? Anyways, now that yeast and I are friends, I shouldn’t talk like that. (Sorry, I just realized yeast is kind of a gross word. Bear with me. Maybe that’s another reason we didn’t get along.)


I think the reason I wanted to master the yeast dough so badly is because it’s one of those things that I have always pictured making for my family on special occasions– cinnamon rolls on Sunday mornings… homemade bread with jam… My grandma would always make sticky buns for me during my college Thanksgiving stay at their house, and it was definitely a highlight that I always looked forward to! It’s just one of those things I associate with family, I guess. Plus… nothing- and I repeat, nothing tastes better than bread straight from the oven.

Mom and I made whole wheat bread, but the dough recipe I want to share with you is their Basic White Bread– That’s what we used for the almond rolls and it’s a guaranteed delicious bread recipe as well!



P.S. Now that homemade bread is a must… I am considering the option of a bread machine. My mother in law offered to let me give hers a whirl to see if I like it. I shall report back!


Do any of you have bread machines?

Basic White Bread

recipe from the Southern Living Cookbook

prep: 40 min  cook: 50 min  other: 2 hours


About 7 1/4 cups all purpose flour, divided

3 Tbsp sugar

2 1/2 tsp salt

2 (1/4 oz) packets active dry yeast

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup milk

3 Tbsp butter

Combine 2 cups flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in a large mixing bowl; stir well. Combine water, milk , and butter; heat until butter melts, stirring often. Cool to 120-130 degrees.

Gradually add liquid mixture to flour mixture, beating well at high speed with an electric mixer. Beat 2 more minutes at medium speed. Gradually add 3/4 cup flour, beating 2 minutes at medium speed. Stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.

Turn dough out on a floured surface (mom and I left the dough in the mixing bowl and kneaded it in there, and let it rise in the same bowl) knead until smooth and elastic (10 minutes) Shape into a ball; place in a well-greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (we turned the oven on and let it barely heat up, then turned it completely off and set the dough inside) (85 degrees), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

Punch dough down; turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead lightly 3 or 4 times. Divide dough in half. Roll 1 portion of dough into a 14×7 inch rectangle. Roll up dough, starting at narrow end, pressing firmly to eliminate air pockets; pinch ends to seal. Place dough, seam side down, in a well-greased 9×5 inch loafpan. Repeat procedure with remaining dough.

Cover and let rise in a arm place, free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in bulk. Bake at 375 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until loaves sound hollow when tapped. Remove bread from pans immediately; cool on wire racks.

Yield: 2 loaves.

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Bringing a New Name to ‘Picture Frame’

I’ve wanted to try out this craft for quite a while now, and I finally found a few (literally, a few) minutes to throw it together! I love how clean and polished this ended up looking, and for just a few bucks.

Hardest part: Finding a window frame.

Easiest part: Everything else.

Total crafting time: 15 minutes.

I say that finding the frame is the hardest part because I’ve been looking for a frame for weeks. Months, rather. And finally, on a random trip to IKEA, I found a frame buried in the very bottom of the clearance corner under cabinet parts with the glass still in tact! You gotta persevere, people. I knew what I wanted, and I searched high and low until I found a frame I liked.

Love the white frame.

This one happens to be a cabinet door frame that had built-in nail holes already so it was a win-win. Or win-win-win-win-win considering all the other ‘perfect stuff’ I found there. I’m not sure yet if IKEA is a blessing or a curse. But seriously- 78 cent kitchen towels? In a cute pattern that matches my kitchen? How do you not stock up? I ask you.

So the picture/window frame. I chose a P (on flickr, thank you toofarnorth!) for our last name, and I wanted to do the whole ‘Established January 2, 2010 so I messed around with fonts and styles and came up with this.

Letter, Wordage, and roll-y cutt-y thing making a reappearance

I decided to do the ‘est. 01.02.10’ part with some textured paper…

A little weave texture for the backing

And a little linen texture for the top piece to print the words on

(I have a 1/2 bag of mixed paper scraps from Flax, a craft store in San Francisco.)

Mod Podge is awesome.

Before permanentizing (not a word, I know) everything, I arranged everything the way I wanted it and made little marks with a dry erase marker so it was even.

So then I Mod-Podged (hereafter referred to as MP) the ‘word’ paper onto the darker paper and MP that right onto the glass. Now, for other projects in the past I do suggest MP over top of everything, but in this case (working on glass) I advise not Mod-Podging over everything. Just MP the backside but don’t worry if you can see it. It’s easy to get off, and I have a method at the end that gets all the excess MP off. So, I covered the backsides of everything with MP all the way to the edges, and smoothed it onto the glass.

Now, the trick to getting most gunky stuff off of glass:

A gift card or credit card of some sort and a little glass cleaner of your choice.

Voila! Clean glass!

So cute!

I love how a craft like this matches pretty much whatever room you choose to put it in! I made a conscious choice to use neutral colors so that it’s movable into any room in the house.

Seriously, 15 minutes. And it’s a great gift idea also! Mix it up, using photos, artwork, postcards, recipes…..really, the ideas are endless 🙂


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How to Host a Murder

Guys…. this game. Get it.














































My grandpa gave Joey and I this game to use with our friends- and it was different than anything we’ve done before! Grandpa showed K and I a picture of when he and my grandma played this game years ago- and after seeing MY grandma dressed as a flapper girl from the twenties with a Virginia Slim (fake) dangling from her lips, I knew we had to see what this was all about.

I’m not sure you can buy this in too many stores anymore, but I know you can get it online! There are tons of different cases, so you can pick which era you want your crowd to transform into- this is basically a role-playing game, but requires NO acting experience or skills so don’t let that scare you away from trying it! All you need is a group of friends that knows how to relax and have a GREAT time.

It was so fun to kinda get out of our comfort zones and try something completely new with some good friends- we definitely foresee this happening again SOON! After some warming up and getting used to how the game works, even the shyest of creatures will be yelling, accusing, and pointing fingers- I guarantee it!

Any of you willing to give it a try?? You won’t regret it!


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Cranberry Bliss Bars

So the Cranberry Bliss Bar from Starbucks comes back on Tuesday for the holidays and I simply couldn’t wait the last two days to have one. Mom gave me this awesome book (recipe is also on their website on for Christmas a few years ago so I busted it out in search of the recipe and thank goodness it was there!

They were a 4 on a difficulty scale of 1 to 10 mainly because there were three different parts to the recipe and also finding candied ginger was harder than tearing Curtis away from the TV on Superbowl Sunday. That’s a huge exaggeration. I just thought it was going to be in the baking aisle with everything else and it wasn’t. It was in the bulk ‘scooping’ part of Pak ‘N Save. For a few minutes there I thought this whole recipe was going awry and all I really had to do was ask for help 😛

So, anyways, once I got past my difficulties these were quite relaxing to make!

Candied cinger is super photogenic!

This is what candied ginger looks like- that also may have been part of the problem, I didn’t know what exactly I was looking for! However, I have learned from shopping with my mom and sisters that you should never be afraid to ask for help! Especially when such a delicious recipe is at stake.

So first I mixed, using a blender, the brown sugar and butter. Once that was thoroughly blended, I added eggs, ginger, vanilla and salt and continued mixing until it was smooth.

P.S. The ginger needs to be diced….

Stages 1, 2, and 3 of the candied ginger

After that was all mixed up and lookin’ delicious, I added the flour and baking powder and (after that was mixed) I added the cranberries and white chocolate.

Now, this recipe suggested using Ghirardelli’s White Chocolate, but Nestle’s White Chocolate Morsels were on sale and they tasted fabulous.

The whole ‘morsels’

….and the roughly chopped ‘morsels’

I didn’t want them to be completely whole so I just chip chopped my knife over ’em a couple times and called it good. And oh, they were.


Smoothed it out in the pan and popped it in the oven at 350 for 32 minutes! (recipe said 25-30)

While it was bakin’ away, I made the frosting and drizzle in about 2 minutes.

the old ‘I don’t want to buy a frosting bag so I’ll use a sandwich baggie with a corner cut off’ trick

The bar-part came out of the oven looking and smelling SO GOOD. I’ve told M numerous times I wish we could send smells via text cuz sometimes pictures just can’t do it justice. However, in this case, that’s not entirely true. This is a photogenic recipe.

I love it when the edges toast a little

Let it cool completely, then frost

Spread the frosting, sprinkle some dried cranberries, and drizzle the drizzle!

Fancy, fancy!!! The way they’re cut in the store is in little rectangles, then into triangles. So I went all the way and cut them the same!

The texture is phenomenal

See? You don’t need smell….yeah, not true. I totally wish you could smell ’em.

Anyways, I made these about 2 hours ago and there’s half a pan left. Curtis has some friends over for the game (which one is that, you ask? Well, you’re asking the wrong person.) and they devoured them. A hit? I think so.

So, if you have a party to attend where a little sugary snack is desired, these are a delectable choice that is far cheaper than the ones at Starbucks and they taste Oh So Good. 10/10 on the Tastes Like Heaven in My Mouth Scale. Yes, it’s a scale.


Cranberry Bliss Bars 


3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) softened butter

1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar

3 eggs

2 tablespoons minced candied ginger

1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

3/4 cup chopped dried sweetened cranberries (Craisins)

1/2 cup white chocolate cut into chunks


4 ounces softened cream cheese

3 cups (yes, cups!) powdered sugar

4 teaspoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon milk

2 teaspoons vegetable shortening (Crisco)

Preheat oven to 350.

Make cake by beating the butter and brown sugar together with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the eggs, ginger, vanilla, and salt and beat well. Gradually ix in the flour and baking powder until smooth. Mix the chopped dried cranberries and white chocolate chunks into the batter by hand. Pour the batter into a buttered 9×13 inch baking pan. Use a spatula to spread the batter evenly across the pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until lightly browned on top. Allow cake to cool.

Make the frosting by combining the softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla in a medium owl with an electric mixer until smooth. When the cake has cooled, use a spatula to spread the frosting over the top of the cake.

Sprinkle 1/4 cup of copped dried cranberries over the frosting on the cake.

Make the drizzled icing by whisking together powdered sugar, milk and shortening. Drizzle this icing over the cranberries in a sweeping motion with a squirt bottle or fill a small plastic storage bag with the icing and cut off the tip of one corner.

Cover the cake and let it chill out in the fridge for a couple hours, then slice the cake lengthwise (the long way) through the middle. Slice the cake across the width three times, making a total of eight rectangular slices. Slice each of those rectangles diagonally, creating 16 triangular slices.

Makes 16 bars.

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