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Friday, December 20, 2013

Clyde's 15 Minutes of Fame

A friend of mine sent me an email with a link to
Cute Emergency .  She wrote, "That looks like Clyde in your yard! Is it?"

I clicked on the link.  It brought me to the twitter page for Cute Emergency, and I found this picture of Clyde:
Golden loving that snow was the caption.

How Clyde ended up on Cute Emergency, I have no idea!

I had taken that picture of him last year on Christmas day, when he was 3 months old.  

Here he was yesterday.  This is his serious pose.

And here's the goofy pose!

Clyde and Gus had lots of fun romping around.

Have a nice weekend!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Cooking Show #4!

I've been trying to put the finishing touches on my holiday decorating...

I'm really slow this year.

I swear I used to be able to get everything done in one day.

It's been three weeks since I started decorating and I haven't even wrapped one gift yet!

We filmed an episode of the cooking show last week.  What did we prepare?

(Click on any of the recipe titles to go to the post of the recipe.)


It takes a few tries to get the hang of dipping these, but I promise you that they taste fabulous no matter how they look.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Chocolate-Raspberry Truffles

I call them chocolate-raspberry truffles.  My friends and relatives call them "the candy things", "raspberry fudge", "the chocolates", "those things that you make".

They have asked me about them when talking about an upcoming party at my house--"Will you have those things that you make?"

When I'm invited to a friend's house and I ask if I can bring something--"Bring the chocolates."

When I'm hosting a party, about to serve dinner--"Where are the candy things?  I want one before they're all gone."

Or, commenting on a friend's facebook post this week, (which had nothing to do with my cooking) her response to my comment--"I love your raspberry fudge!"

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Cooking Experiments, and Pear Coffeecake with Maple Frosting

I'm so lucky that my family puts up with my cooking experiments.

Recently, there have been a few failures.  Nothing that was so terrible that they wouldn't eat it, but stuff that was definitely not going into the "mmm, must make this again" recipe file.

Like these caramel-filled snickerdoodles.  If you're looking at this picture and thinking, "Hey! Those look pretty good!" you would be half-right.

Half-right because they were good while they were warm, but when they cooled down the caramel hardened and was impossible to bite through.  As in take-a-bite-and-now-I've-pulled-the-entire-caramel-center-out-but-I-can't-chew-it-because-my-teeth-are-glued-together-by-caramel sort of impossible.


And there was my Caprese Egg Roll experiment.  I LOVE Caprese salad in all of it's incarnations, whether it's a basic Caprese salad or Caprese skewers or Caprese salad with avocado and olives.

It looked promising as I rolled it into egg rolls.

They looked good as I arranged them around the tomato sauce that we would be dipping them into.

They look okay, right?

But the truth is, I'd rather just eat a plain old Caprese salad. Or if I'm going the exotic egg roll route, I'll make a batch of Italian egg rolls.

Okay, enough about my failures.  

I finally put an end to my losing streak when I was trying to find a way to use up two very ripe pears.  I immediately thought of adding them into a coffeecake, but I have never added pears into a coffeecake so I decided to check for a recipe.

Of course I couldn't find what I was hoping to find.

But I did find a recipe for Apple Coffeecake!  And along the way I found a recipe for Raspberry coffeecake with Vermont Maple Frosting.  So the alchemist in me decided that switching out the apples for pears and combining it with the maple frosting would be a great combination--and it was!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Cooking Show #3

We filmed another episode of the cooking show over the weekend.

Still climbing my way up that steep learning curve, but having fun along the way!  I didn't forget any ingredients this time around, but I did forget to take pictures when we were through.  

We were already eating French onion soup and enjoying rum punch when I remembered about the pictures.

So I made the rounds, checking out all of the half-eaten bowls to see if there was perhaps ONE bowl that I could get a decent picture of.  Mr. Terrific's bowl was the most photogenic, a fact which I found really puzzling, because he loves French onion soup more than anyone I know and I would have expected him to have been a bit further along than the rest of us.

And it was then that I realized that he was on his second bowl.  I made six bowls, there were only five of us there taping, and he hated to see that last bowl of soup go to waste.

Click on the titles under the pictures to be taken to the recipes!

Fortunately, I was able to take a picture of the chicken and the salad before we dug in.  If you're wondering what the large round thing on the right is, it's a caperberry, which is what capers turn into when they are full grown.  Capers being the immature buds of the caper bush.

Little bit of an agricultural lesson there for you!

And last but not least....

Mmmmm.  The rum punch was also half-gone by the time I took pictures, but that's because we started drinking it as soon as it was made.

A great big thanks to my friend, Gayle, for graciously assisting me, and whose love of capers and rum punch inspired our menu for this show.  

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Puppy-Sitting, and Pumpkin Dip

A lot has happened since my last blogpost.

The Red Sox won the world series!!!

 Here's a picture I took of Clyde and Gus, during the final inning.  They knew I was getting excited.

Clyde was getting excited, too.  He's such a party animal.  Gus was just very concerned.

Here's a picture I took after the final out was made.

Mr. Terrific raised his arm in triumph, quite a display of emotion for him.  Clyde is off partying somewhere.

Gus is still very, very concerned.  It was way past his bedtime and he just wanted to call it a night.

Meet Georgia.  She's an 11-week-old Silky Terrier.  

She belongs to my friend, Maureen.  Maureen needed a puppy-sitter for a short period of time last week, and I volunteered.

Clyde volunteered, too.  Gus happened to be at the groomers that day, so it was up to me and Clyde to entertain Georgia.

I wasn't sure how to go about letting Clyde and Georgia play, so I decided to separate them at first.  I leaned a gate against a doorway, with an opening at one end that was only big enough for Georgia to fit through.  I figured it would be her call whether she wanted to play with the big old behemoth staring at her from the other side of the gate.

Ladies and Gentleman!  On the far side of the gate, at a robust weight of 68 pounds--CLYYYYDE!!!

 And on this side, tipping the scales at THREE WHOLE POUNDS, Georgia!!

And that is how they stayed for a few minutes, Clyde on his side of the gate, watching Georgia as she ran back and forth on her side of the gate, barking up a storm.

Due to laziness, or perhaps because of a desire to make himself smaller and thus less of an imposing figure, Clyde decided to drop his bones to the floor.

I vote that he was just being lazy.

At that point, Georgia quite boldly walked through the gate.

And proceeded to explore the fluffy giant, Clyde.

This is my favorite picture.  Not long after I took this picture, Georgia got a little too friendly and Clyde got spooked and ran away.  I was laughing so hard at my 'fraidy-dog I forgot to take pictures.

But he quickly came back and settled himself down so that their game could continue, with Georgia pouncing and exploring and Clyde barely moving a muscle.  Except for his furiously wagging tail, that is.

Georgia finished off the play date by attacking her squeaky hedgehog toy.

Enough, already!  Here she is, begging me to stop taking pictures.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Real-Life Halloween Decor

I had an unwanted house guest last week.  A spider.

I was rummaging through the hall closet, as usual only partially paying attention to what I was doing.  I glanced into my sewing room, and--still half-distracted--saw the BIGGEST spider EVER.  

Okay, I didn't really SEE it.  The shades were down, and I could see the outline of the spider through the shade.

I walked across the room, not believing what I was seeing.  

Is that huge thing really a spider?  Duh, Fran, you know it's a spider; you knew it from the hallway, before you even walked into the room.  

Is someone playing a joke on me? No, Fran, the window is not locked;  the top sash worked its way down and the spider very easily came into your warm house to escape the dipping fall temperatures.

Use your imagination, if you will:

Here is a picture of the light shining through the shade.  It's a Roman shade, so there are rings along the back where the cords raise and lower the shade.  The rings, one of which you can see in this picture, are approximately the size of a dime.

On Spider Day, I could see the shadows of all of the rings, with the exception of one ring.  That one ring had a huge spider superimposed on top of it.  We know that the ring is the size of a dime, and the spider was much larger than the ring--I'm not exaggerating--it was HUGE.

I was not thrilled to have a real-life Halloween decoration in my house.

My first thought was, "I hope that spider doesn't move, because Mr. Terrific won't be home from work for a few hours." ( And Mr. Terrific is the spider-killer in this house.)

My next thought was, "Take a picture of the spider so that if it moves you can show Mr. Terrific how big it was ."

My last (semi-coherent) thought was, "OMG!! I have to get this spider myself because if it moves I just CAN'T let it hide in my house!"

And all through this thought process I was on my tip-toes, sort of gently running in place, the back of my fist balled up against my mouth, doing my version of a dance called What-am-I-going-to-do, What-am-I-going-to-do, What-am-I-going-to-do-about-this-spider.  Finishing the dance by shaking my hands up and down in front of my face as if I'm fanning myself.

Coming up with a solution.

Lucky Caitie, home from school last week for her fall break.  I called her into the sewing room.  I pointed to the window, "Do you see that?"  Her eyes widened.

"That spider is outside, right?"  Uh, no, sweetie, that's why I need you.  She starts doing her own version of the spider dance, except her version only involves her head shaking back and forth, "No. No. No. No."
Shhh,...Caitie, just watch the spider while I go get my vacuum, okay?

I come back into the room, vacuum in tow. I'm going to use the wand attachment to suck the unsuspecting spider into oblivion.  I need Caitie to verrry slowwwly angle the bottom of the shade away from the window so I can slide the wand behind the shade.

 There were no last-minute attempts by the spider to jump to freedom, which would have prompted Caitie and me to really amp up our spider dances.  I'm happy to say that Operation Suck Up the Spider With My Vacuum was a success. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Random Thoughts, and How to Freeze Fresh Basil

What I've been pondering lately:

1. Time flies when you're having fun.  Caitie will be home for six days for her fall break this month, and I'm really looking forward to--WHAT?!  It's over?!  Where did the time go? 

2.  Speaking of fun--I went to B.J.'s to buy candy for the trick-or-treaters.  As usual, I passed over the fun- size bars and bought the big ones.  Is it really more fun for a kid to receive a teeny fun-size bar instead of one of these?  I think not.

3.  And more fun--Let's Go Red Sox!!  We were at the game on Saturday when the Sox clinched the American League Championship.  Yeah!   Yes, I took this photo (yep, the blurriness gives it away). That's Koji Uehara in the upper left, with his arms raised.  I wish I could have captured the enthusiastic round of high-fives that came after I took this shot.  If you've never seen Uehara's enthusiasm after he pitches, check out this MLB video (particularly the 0:08 mark where he slaps an oblivious Shane Victorino across the face)!

4.  My first selfie, EVER.  And probably my last.  Blurry, of course!  Attempting to capture the moment at the playoff game.   How is it possible to hold an iphone at arm's length, straining said arm and hoping to extend it at least a couple of inches longer than you possibly could, while trying to hold steady AND push the camera button while TRYING to maintain a pleasant expression when all I really wanted to do was roll my eyes and give up.  I know it can be done, because I've seen others do it.  I look like I'm photobombing.  Just another one of my many shortcomings, I guess.

Okay, time for today's recipe.  

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Let's Go Red Sox

I'm watching game 3 of the ALCS as I write this.  The Red Sox are losing 7-0 at the moment.   Let's Go Red Sox!

We filmed another episode of my show this week.  The theme for the show was tailgating and football food.  My friend, Maureen, (a.k.a. Superwoman ) suggested this theme so I invited her to watch the taping. And then I strong-armed her into cooking with me.  Luckily for me, she graciously agreed and we cooked up a storm.

What did we cook?

Buffalo Wings  Mr. Terrific devoured these after we were done filming.

Halloween Bark.  'Tis the season.

 Apple Cider Sangria.  Mmmmmm.

 Berries with Limoncello and Mint.  MAKE THESE.  Just do it.  You won't be sorry.

We also made White Chili, which I neglected to photograph.  Click on the titles to be taken to the blogpost for the recipe.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Buffalo Wings, Teriyaki Wings, a Giveaway and Happy Moments

Bear with me.  

I'm going to throw a lot of stuff at you before we get to the wing recipe.  

It all started early this morning with a few happy, happy, happy moments, one right after the other within  a span of about 5 minutes.

 I was picking up a prescription at the pharmacy.  As I was leaving, one of the pharmacists was just coming in and he stopped me to ask how everyone in my family was doing and as we were talking the store loudspeaker started playing a Bee Gees song.  It brought the biggest smile to my face and both of us started laughing and I said, "I can't help it, whenever I hear the Bee Gees it makes me feel like I did way back then!" and he said, "You mean back in your Saturday Night Fever Days?" and we both laughed.

I was still smiling when I was sitting at the traffic light, waiting to exit the parking lot.  I looked over at the very old, vintage car that was sitting in the lane next to me and noticed the elderly lady driving the car, gripping her steering wheel tightly.  A steering wheel that was covered with a plush, fluffy, bright pink steering wheel cover.  I had to stifle a laugh, because I didn't want the woman to think that I was laughing at her, but I was thinking to myself that when I'm eighty I hope that I have a fluffy, pink steering wheel cover in my vintage car.  But make my vintage car a Ferrari, okay?

Then the light changed.   I turned out of the parking lot and a couple of blocks later found myself waiting at another traffic light.  Staring at the back of the minivan in front of me, I noticed a sticker on the back with the profile of a beautiful, long-coated dog.  I decided that it was probably either a Newfoundland or a Great Pyrenees.  As I pondered which of these gorgeous breeds it could be, a movement in the back window of the minivan caught my eye.  There in the window, staring right at me, was an English Bulldog, in all his smushed-face glory, complete with an immense underbite with his bottom teeth jutting out.  I started laughing again, thinking how odd it is that the sticker on the car has a beautiful Newfie or Great Pyrenees but the dog in the car is actually a bulldog.  And the dog continued to stare at me, as if to say, "Yeah, and I'll bet your husband once had a picture of Farrah Fawcett or Bo Derek on his wall. But just like the sticker on this car, that picture on his wall didn't mean anything, did it?  Because he ended up with you instead, right?"  Which only made me laugh more.

My good mood continued throughout the morning (I know that I am really in a good mood when I'm still smiling as I vacuum and do laundry).  As I sat down to blog about chicken wings, I thought to myself that it has been a really long time since my last giveaway.

So I gathered up a bunch of fall-themed kitchen toys from Williams-Sonoma for you!

 The winner will receive everything you see in this picture.  A set of pumpkin and gourd candles, Halloween cookie cutters, a pumpkin spatula, a pumpkin pocket pie mold, and a set of fall-themed piecrust cutters.

I also bought a set of the candles for myself.   Here they are on my fall mantel.

Cookie cutters in the shape of a ghost, haunted house, bat, pumpkin and witch's hat, and a pumpkin spatula.

Turkey, pumpkin, leaf and acorn piecrust cutters, and a pumpkin-shaped pocket pie mold.

To win the giveaway, all you have to do is 1. be a follower of this blog and 2. leave a comment on this post. Comment about anything you like, anything from your favorite Bee Gees song to Let's Go Red Sox or anything in between!! 

The winner will be drawn via on Friday, October 4 and contacted via their blog comment email address.

This giveaway is only open to U.S. residents, and it is sponsored by me--believe me, Williams-Sonoma has no idea who I am.

Update: The giveaway is closed.  The winner has been emailed-- and the winner is:  Heather, from Vintage Grey.  I have been following Heather's blog with its lovely crafts and creations for a long time, her handiwork is amazing!  Congratulations, Heather!

Okay, onto today's recipe.  I do not eat chicken wings.  I'm happy to eat white-meat chicken, but I don't do wings.  Mr. Terrific loves them, however.  And now it's football season.  And I spend a lot of time making appetizers on Sundays before we watch the Patriots.  These wings are part of football Sundays.  Partly because they are good football food, but also because it's best to make these on a day when I am spending a lot of time cooking, because of the refrigeration and the wait involved after the wings are steamed.  If you have the time, I recommend using this steam-then-roast method!

I don't fry the wings.  I figure there are enough calories in the sauces, why pile on more grease by frying?  So I steam them, and then I refrigerate them and when they are cold again I roast them.  Roasting the steamed-then-refrigerated wings makes the skin crispy which then holds in the moisture from the steaming.  I think.  I can't say for sure because like I said, I don't eat wings.

So I asked for Mr. Terrific's honest opinion.  I told him, don't spare my feelings, be brutally honest with me!!  I only blog about recipes that I think are really awesome, the last thing I want is for someone to make a recipe off of my blog and say "EEEWWWWW."

And he said, he really likes the texture.  They are crispy on the outside, but very moist on the inside.  Sounds like a good wing to me!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Roasted Boiled Potatoes

I opted to save myself the trouble of planting a vegetable garden this year.  The past few years have yielded very few vegetables that weren't sampled first by the backyard critters.  After all this time of thinking that the neighborhood population of bunnies and squirrels was increasing, I was really surprised by the scarcity of the furry creatures this year.  No garden to lure them into my yard meant fewer nuisances  adorable bunnies and pests  beautiful squirrels hanging around.

I'm just grateful that the li'l varmints don't bother with the flowers that I've planted.  I can easily pick up locally grown produce at the farmers market every week, but there is no bouquet of beautiful flowers anywhere that could ever give me the amount of happiness that I feel every time I look at a vase of flowers that I cut from my own yard.

And speaking of furry creatures--

Clyde is a year old!!
I can't believe how quickly his first year went by.

Here he is when we brought him home last November.

And here is a picture I took yesterday, on his birthday.

And there have been lots of playful moments in between.

It's getting harder and harder to remember a time when he was smaller than Gus!

Maybe someday we'll convince him that he's not a lap dog.