Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sweet Potato Fries!

I am always on the lookout for really simple, yummy recipes. So when my friend Cara mentioned "sweet potato fries" I instantly thought of two things. First, they sounded awesome (I love sweet potatoes!) and second, they sounded quick and easy for a weeknight side dish.

Cara kindly shared her recipe, and we tried it. It has taken me approximately 1,001 days (okay, maybe not quite) to get it posted, but I definitely want to share this with you guys! Fast, easy, and healthy - these are perfect for any night of the week!

Here are Cara's directions, and the fries came out perfectly!

Preheat oven to 450. Slice up the sweet potatoes in wedges or sticks. A little thicker is better, in my opinion, they get a little too brown on the ends if they're too thin or skinny. I put the potatoes in a ziploc bag and toss them with one tablespoon of olive oil per potato, making sure to coat each fry very well. Arrange the potatoes on a cookie sheet. Make sure they don't touch or overlap, as this will make them mushy. Sprinkle sea salt on the potatoes. Bake for approximately 30 minutes. Turn halfway through.

My only notes are to use a nonstick baking pan, and I flipped mine every ten minutes to prevent sticking. I also lowered the heat to about 425 because my oven is famous for scorching food at higher temps. The second time I made them I cut them a little thinner and they were done in about 20 minutes.

Enjoy! And thanks so much to Cara!

Love, Dahrlin'

Apple and Thyme Martinis

So it is 9 am on Christmas Eve morning, and instead of tackling the 853 things that need to happen around here (in order) before tomorrow, I am sitting here blogging... Hmmm...anyone else struggle with getting so overwhelmed that you just rebel? :-)

Meanwhile, I found this beautiful cocktail in the cookbook I'm currently reading by my favorite chef. And if you've been around here long, you know who that is! LOL!

Giada makes gorgeous martinis and bellinis, two of my favorite drinks for special occasions. This martini features two of my favorite "cooler weather" flavors - apple and thyme. The drink is fun to make (and, of course, enjoy!) so try it soon! We're having them tomorrow, along with pomegranate bellinis.

The recipe is here!

Love, Dahrlin'

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Christmas Dinner Menu

Yum! One of my favorite meals of the year is our Christmas Day dinner. This year I'm trying a couple of new appetizers and cocktails, as well as making some old standbys that we love. Dad has generously provided us with an enormous tenderloin, which I prefer to more turkey. Can't wait for Friday!

Here's the plan:

Cocktails & Appetizers

Apple & Thyme Martinis (these sound awesome!)
Raspberry Bellinis (Dad loves)
Pecorino CrackersRed Pepper Cheesecake
Whole Wheat Pita Triangles
Celery Sticks
Cheese tray - Havarti with Dill, Brie, Roomkaas (Gouda) and Pepper Jack
Red and Green Apple Slices


Beef Tenderloin
Sauteed Mushrooms
Garlic Smashed Potatoes
Broccoli with Lemon Zest
Green Salad (not sure on recipe yet)
Garlic & Sundried Tomato Corn Muffins
Biscuits & Honey Butter


Derby Pie, Vanilla Ice Cream
Pumpkin Pie Dessert Squares
Christmas Cookies
My MIL's Coconut Cake

For the first time in years, I've got the whole week off. Which means I've got half a chance of getting most of this made, LOL! I'm so excited!

After eating this I'm pretty sure we won't need to eat for several days. But just in case, I'm planning breakfast casserole, herbed citrus fruit salad and olive oil muffins for breakfast over the weekend. Yum!!

Let me know what's on your menu!

Love, Dahrlin'

Sunday, December 20, 2009

What is your favorite Christmas treat?

Okay gang, help me out! I'm going to do some Christmas baking this week. I'll make some of our old standbys, but would like to try some new things too. What is your family's favorite in the area of cookies, bars or candy? Let me know and share the recipe and I will report back on what we make!

Thanks and hope everyone is having a GREAT weekend!

Love, Dahrlin'

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Thankful Thursday!

My friend Jane has badgered cajoled lovingly encouraged me to participate in this event over the last couple months. And I keep telling her I am going to particpate "this week." And I really mean that each time I say it...but as with so many other things, lately the time just gets away from me. However, I am so glad she has not given up. Because she is absolutely right to keep pushing me. If I am too busy to stop and count my blessings, then I am simply too busy!

So here are just a few of the many things I am so thankful for this week:

(1) Jesus. We hear many reminders about how He is the "reason for the season." And He is the reason for Christmas. And because of that, Christmas is absolutely my favorite occasion of the year. But I believe He is also the reason for everything else. He gives meaning to my every day, and I can't thank Him enough for that!

(2) All my friends, including my BFF, whom I don't get to see nearly often enough, but who mean so very much to me. Thanks for coming down to visit and going with me to see New Moon. I'm glad that we are past the point in our lives where we behave like those shrieking, screaming tweens in the theater...but I'm glad to know we aren't so old or mature that we couldn't if we wanted to! Love you!

(3) Friends like Jane, who push me to remember what's really important! Hugs!

(4) The One Year Chronological Bible. This is a treasure that I just discovered about a week ago. I've always struggled to read the entire Bible - like so many things I do, I always start off with a bang and then my enthusiasm tapers off into, well, unfinished projects! But I always do better when can see the "big picture". And being able to read the Bible in the order the events happened is HUGE for someone like me. I started that last week and I'm loving it!

(5) My elliptical machine. Yes, really! Some days I hate it, but it's helping me get my rear (and the rest of me) back into shape. I've never been long on patience, and the whole "slow and steady wins the race" philosophy is a recipe for frustration to me. But I'm working on (1) baby steps, and (2) no excuses. It's my new motto, LOL!

So there you have it - this week's short list. I look forward to "meeting" some of the others over at Sonja's. Come join in!

Love, Dahrlin'

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cranberry Orange Bread!

Anyone else feel like Christmas is coming up WAY too fast? Yikes! I finally got most of my shopping done this weekend, just have to pick up a few more items. Thanks to Steph and Angie for coming out in the cold Saturday. I'm praying we all get and/or stay healthy for the holiday!

Today I want to share one of my favorite holiday recipes. I love it any time of year, actually, but I try to save it for special occasions! The cranberry and orange go really well together (this is also one of my favorite combinations in candle scents). This makes wonderful gifts - just bake in disposable loaf pans - so be sure to make extra!

My friend Michelle in Florida asked that I share this one - do try it. It's awesome!

The only comment I have on the recipe, which is here, is that I add nuts. Usually walnuts, but pecans are fine too!

Hope all your shopping, wrapping, baking and mailing is proceeding on schedule. I'm off to catch up!

For more recipe ideas, visit Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, and Tuesdays at the Table!

Love, Dahrlin'

Monday, December 7, 2009

Le Menu...

For the week!

I've cooked a fair bit this weekend, so this week I will probably take a couple of nights off to get caught up on stuff around the house. Here's the plan!

Sunday - cooking day -
making Cajun Meatloaf to freeze;
making Cranberry Orange Bread to take to work;
Dinner - Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy, Corn, PW's Creamed Spinach

Monday - Balsamic BBQ Chicken, Herbed Noodles, Salad

Tuesday - Sauteed Salmon, Noodles with Parsley and Lemon Butter, Green Veggie

Wednesday - Chili, Cheese Muffins, Broccoli

Thursday - Freezer pleasers, leftovers - possibly Chicken Spaghetti that we have in freezer

Friday - not sure yet - have a weekend with girlfriends planned and my BFF may be here Friday night! Wahoo!

Saturday - dinner out after a long day of shopping!

Hope you have an exciting week planned!

For more menu inspiration, check out orgjunkie!

Love, Dahrlin'

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I Really Need to Learn...

To make it out of Costco with ONLY the items on my list. Instead of "the items on my list, plus enough extra items to singlehandedly restart the US economy. Or at least the southeast."

Anyone else have this problem? Please tell me I'm not alone here.

I've mentioned my love of Costco before. And I truly love it ever more, each time I go. The wealth of items that I find (and the savings I enjoy) more than make it worth the trip, every time. Each time I go, I find another item (or several) that usually costs an arm and a leg at the grocery store, and now I can buy it at Costco. Awesome!

The problem is, they also have everything from electronics (I had to forcibly remove hubby from the television section) to treadmills (we really do need a new one; ours is about 12 years old), to wine (don't get me started)... and the list marches on. It's like Walmart or Target, only much more fun somehow.

We did pretty well yesterday in terms of spending, but as usual, I found several items that I have not yet tried. I'm still learning my way around, so in addition to our list, we came home with a huge bag of frozen organic broccoli florets, as well as a huge bag of frozen cod (my favorite whitefish - yum!) for a price MUCH more reasonable than Publix - compare six fillets for $12 at Costco, vs. $8 for 2 at Publix. And this is wild-caught Alaska fish. Even better!

Hubby found a ginormous bag of mixed fruit for his smoothies in the mornng, and we upgraded our coffee on this trip (apparently, Starbucks allows Costco to private label Starbucks coffee. So yummy!) That was only $10 for 2lbs, so we were delighted to avoid paying $9 for 1 lb at Publix.

I also got a 2 lb block of Pecorino Romano cheese for about $9, a VAST improvement over Publix's price (about the same, for just a few ounces). This is part of what I love about Costco - first, that they have some of the more "specialty" items that I cook with (most of them, actually) - like sundried tomatoes, capers, balsamic vinegar, and Italian cheeses - but secondly, the much better prices. I think I even enjoy the meals we make more, because I know we didn't have to spend a fortune to eat well.

So, the couponing continues...but Costco is helping me immensely with savings on our grocery and food bills!

Love, Dahrlin'
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