Old School.

A little salad action to whet the palate.

Sis ordering the most expensive item on the menu – black cod.

My usual – the combo.

We hit up the fam favorite Japanese restaurant, Izumi, prior to Dad shoving off to Alaska for the summer fishing season. We’ve been going to this local spot ever since I can remember – and yes, I did only eat the chicken teryaki for the first 15 years of my life. Whatever. It’s the best in town! Make fun of me all you want family. So maybe the food isn’t on the cutting edge of Asian cuisine, but it’s consistently damn good. Can’t get much better than that! 

Can do!

I made my first batch of pickled asparagus over Mom’s Day weekend. It was actually pretty easy; I think the hardest part was cutting them the proper length to fit in the jars 🙂 I picked up about 4 lbs. at the farmer’s market, which made 3 cans of tips and 2 cans of ends. I probably could have made one more can of ends, but let’s be honest, whose going to eat all those ends?! This was my first time with water bath canning – hot jars and steaming water got me a bit nervous – but the jars came out unharmed and they had no problems poppin’ their tops on the counter (I love that part!)

Now that I’ve had time to re-think the recipe and the process, I think I may have gone a tad bit crazy with the jalepeno peppers… I vaguely recall it called for a tiny slice and I’m pretty sure I put in AT LEAST 3-4 slices. These might be a bit on the hot side…..perfect for bloodly mary’s.

Canning pickled asparagus

Puppy love.

Happy Valentine’s Day lovers!
There are very, very few things that I love more than my pup Stella. Cooking also ranks high on my love list. So I combined the two and found this recipe from ‘A Cozy Kitchen’ blog and thought it might be fun to expand my cooking expertise to puppies! I was also hoping to include these treats in my blog gift exchange package if they turned out OK and Stella approved (which she enthusiastically did). I like that they require very few ingredients AND they are gluten free. I’ve never worked with garbanzo bean flour before, but luckily the co-cop carried it. It makes the dough extremely sticky so use it liberally to flour ALL surfaces. 
Gluten Free Dog Treats 
1 medium banana, mashed
3 tablespoons creamy (natural) peanut butter
1 large egg
1 3/4 cup garbanzo bean flour
1/4 cup rolled oats
1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. In a small bowl, mix together the banana, peanut butter and egg; mix until completely combined. To a medium bowl, add the flour and rolled oats; mix. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and combine until the dough comes together.
2. Transfer the dough to a piece of heavily floured wax paper. Note: The dough will be sticky so flouring everything (wax paper, rolling pin and cookie cutter) is important. Roll the dough to a 1/4-inch thickness and cut out the cookies using a cookie cutter of choice; re-roll the scraps and cut out more cookies. (I used a small heart cookie cutter and ended up with 22 cookies.) Transfer the cookies to a parchment lined cookie. These cookies won’t spread so placing them close together (not touching) is okay. If you don’t want to roll the dough out, alternatively, you can scoop teaspoon of dough onto a baking sheet, flattening cookies with the ball of your palm.
3. Bake the cookies for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. Allow the cookies to come to room temperature on a cooling rack. Cookies will be good for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container.
**I cooked them for 30 minutes at 300 degrees then transferred them to a wire rack, turned off the oven and put them back in the warmed oven overnight to fully dry out. That made them extra crispy!

Cookin time

I was a busy gal this weekend; I’d say I was in a kitchen 99.9% of the time baking up a storm for the upcoming holidays. Cooking is a workout people! – especially in our tiny kitchen where you have to clean up every two seconds or you run out of work space. (But for those of you who disagree, I did go to pilates class, so there.)

I decided to tackle two new recipes: homemade caramels and rugelash cookies. For being a novice cook/baker, I’m usually not the biggest fan of trying something new….there’s the doubt, the extra time and the “whoops, did I remember to add such and such” factor that always seem to come into play. Sadly, the lure of finding that kick arse recipe sucks me in every time!

Speaking of kick arse recipes, I’ve been pining over my friend’s homemade caramels for years. I get a little baggie of them over the holidays and it’s the one thing I won’t share with ANYONE. I’m not usually a caramel person but there’s just something about this family recipe that has me hooked! I’ve asked year after year for the recipe and they won’t give it to me (fair enough.) so I decided it was time I did my own bit of research to find that perfect recipe. I picked one that called for a ton of butter and was a bit more ‘old school’ a la Joy of Cooking or Better Homes and Garden. That combo seemed like a win/win for a killer family recipe.

Well, let’s just say that I think I’m onto something. The color is a bit darker than theirs but the taste is pretty close! And I must say, the recipe was fairly easy and doesn’t need to be as precise as one would think. I was a bit afraid of a candy recipe after reading how you have to closely watch the temperature. Pish-haw! That was the easy part! I’d say the hardest part was cutting and hand rolling them, but that could be made way more fun with another person and a bottle of wine. I will definitely be making these bad boys again.

Hanukkah began over the weekend and we were invited to dinner on Sunday night. I thought it’d be a good idea to continue with the homemade treats and added these rugelash to the mix. My sis and I used to drool over these when we catered together so I busted out the rolling pin and make a few batches of these cookies. They are actually pretty easy to make but my lack of counter space made it a bit frustrating. I was also fidgeting with how to roll them up. The crescent roll (below) looked and cooked up better but didn’t allow for tons of filling while the cinnamon/log roll baked up wonky but allowed for way more filling. Decisions, decisions… time around, I’m going to stick with the cinnamon/log roll. They aren’t as traditional looking but they allow for way more layers, which I think is the most important part of these holiday cookies.

How was your weekend? Are you knees deep in holiday baking too?

Hand rolled caramel goodness.

Rugelash for days.

Fall Pinterest Challenge!

I may pin a lot of things, but I like to think that I try a lot of them out too. What’s the point of pinning if you aren’t going to create!? There’s nothing like a Fall Pinterest Challenge via my fav blog peeps at Young House Love to make me step up my game a bit! One project? Pish-haw. How about seven!

Recently Completed Pinterest Fun:

Fixing Broken Powder Makeup
This totally works, but I couldn’t get my powder super smooth. Regardless, it works all the same but just looks a tiny bit funky. NBD.

Lowfat Shepard’s Pie
I think I hit the money with this recipe, which I slightly tweaked a bit by adding more veggies. A total crowd pleaser and low fat 🙂 We ate like Irish kings last week!

Just a few months of marination and these babies will be good to go for baking!

Homemade Vanilla
I’ve had my calendar marked since the beginning of this year to try this out. I ordered my vanilla beans online and picked up some cute glass containers from The Container Store. I can’t wait to see how these turn out in a few months! These may or may not end up being holiday gifts…….

Peanut Butter Cookies
This was a solid peanut butter cookie recipe. Super easy to follow and memorize. A key to any great cookie recipe.

Halloween Popcorn Mix
I wanted to do something easy but festive for my work peeps and I this caught my eye. My mom makes a very similar popcorn mix for Christmas so I knew this would be a hit (adding Fritos makes it an even bigger hit FYI)!

All Hallows treats! These are too easy…..

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Three ingredients you say? Sign me up! I made these super easy cake-like cookies to go along with my popcorn mix for treats for my work peeps. I like to spoil, what can I say?

Year-end photo book
This is still a work in progress, but I’d say I’m 90% of the way there. I decided to go with Shutterfly and have got my photos through the fall organized and arranged in their premade layout. I have a few open pages left in case I have some good photos over the holidays.

Things on my short list to tackle in the upcoming month:

Skinny Enchilada Lasagna
I like enchiladas, but I swear they never stay rolled for me, which is very annoying. This might solve that problem. Plus, I can make it on Sunday and it’ll feed us for most of the week. I like that, I like that a a lot.

Homemade Caramels
Besides the usual hot buttered rum that I make every year, I’d like to take a stab at making homemade caramels for gifts. My bff from college makes them with her fam and they are to DIE for. I’m hoping these will come out just as good.

Chili Bar
I’d like to host one Sunday afternoon get together and thought this would be a fun theme to try out. It looks not very labor intensive, which I can dig.

What has inspired you lately on Pinterest? Are you in full on holiday pinning mode like me and everyone else out there?

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