I have alot of food in the pantry and the freezer. I mean A LOT of food. Typically I do have plenty on hand because we buy some items in bulk at Costco and we tend to keep a 1/4 to 1/2 beef in the freezer as well. I like to bake and since I can’t eat all that I bake or I would weigh 400 lbs., they end up in the freezer as well until guests arrive or I send the leftovers to work with my husband. Due to some additional shopping thanks to COVID-19, my shelves are a bit full. To top it off, an Alaska fisherman comes to town every couple of months to sell seafood near the local Simms headquarters so I even have seafood. After a brief inventory of some of the oldest items, I realized we had an amazing box of shrimp, at the same time my daughter (quarantining from New York/Brooklyn) requested Seared Scallops with Polenta. This being just days before my husband’s birthday, I asked him what he would like me to fix and he suggested, Ravioli. Since I’ve been wanting to make scratch Lobster Ravioli for quite some time, things fell into place for a 3-day weekend centered on seafood. If we have to “shelter in place,” we might as well do it in style!
Friday night menu: Sauteed Shrimp and Italian Four Cheese Risotto
28 years of anniversaries were typically celebrated with travel, getaways, dinner out and of course, being a military family, deployments requiring delayed celebrations. Regardless, the day does not go without notice. This year, given the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be remembered in its own way. Since there was no option for a luxurious dinner out, where we would be served glistening glasses of wine, scrumptious meals or divine desserts, I settled on my own way of honoring our lives together – with beef, of course! I grew up on a farm, and beef is in my DNA. There is no other, ok, better meat in my opinion. When I suggested to my husband I could make Beef Wellington, he responded with, “but, that sounds really complicated.” Well, that sounded like a challenge to me, so I was committed and off to the store I went to buy the one and only beef tenderloin on the shelf.
There are few things in life as memorable as a wedding or bringing a child into a family. I had the privilege to host my niece’s bridal shower this past weekend and wanted to share how we decided on a theme and carried it through from the invitations to the decor and especially into the food. In other words, we took our theme seriously!
With a little inspiration from a Google search, selecting a shower theme was really pretty easy. The bride to be has always been in love with glitter, shiny crystal things, pretty in pink things. It’s a celebratory time so you have to have Champagne, and brunch offers a fun menu that doesn’t require a lot of last minute cooking. A short planning session over lunch helped us divide up the tasks, and it didn’t hurt to have the bride’s mother be an owner in a party rental business. She provided the extra tables, white chairs and table linens, along with an easel for the welcome sign, water goblets, flatware and a few other minor supplies.
Looking for an opportunity to spread some love to those in your circle? No better time than Valentine’s Day to let people know you care about them. When my children were small, I made cut-out frosted sugar cookies for nearly every holiday. I have cookie cutters in all shapes – hearts, snowmen, trees, stars, pumpkins, and more. My favorite frosting is straight out of the red 3-ring Betty Crocker cookbook, the cookbook I grew up using when teaching myself how to cook. Most every day after school I would peruse the pages trying to find something new and different to make, but of course always had the favorites. I was asked recently whether I use a royal icing or a buttercream and honestly, this buttercream has never failed me. Not only do I love the flavor, but it hardens perfectly remaining soft, but not messy when decorating a plate of cookies.
Whether cookies, cake, or cupcakes this is no-fail frosting recipe!
3cups powdered sugar
In a medium bowl, mix powdered sugar and butter with spoon or electric mixer on low speed. Stir in vanilla and 1 tablespoon of the milk.
Gradually beat in just enough remaining milk to make frosting smooth and spreadable. If frosting is too thick, beat in more milk, a few drops at a time. If frosting becomes too thin, beat in a small amount of powdered sugar.
Frosts 13×9-inch cake generously, fills and frosts an 8- or 9-inch two-layer cake, or frosts one batch of homemade sugar cookies.
As I dig through the pantry and consider this year’s Valentine options, I see bag after bag of open chocolate chips. I have semi sweet, milk and white chocolate chips, plus full bags of my absolute favorite, Guillard (mega) milk chocolate chips. I have nearly 60 students between 3 classes (sorry to my 25 additional online students) and that’s more than a single batch of cookies, especially if anyone needs more than one cookie. Therefore, we’re mixing things up a bit!
I made one batch of triple chocolate cookies by measuring all my “leftover chocolate chips” on my digital food scale. I came up with at least 11 oz. of white, milk and semi-sweet chocolate chips which I deemed to be as close to one single bag of chips as possible. I don’t have a secret ingredient when it comes to chocolate chip cookies, just what I would deem to be the most frequently used recipe out there. I do have one rule that I have perfected in the last year – one must use Irish butter! It is truly the most creamy and delectable butter on the market. The second batch, shown below, are made with the Guillard milk chocolate chips.
Add salt, baking soda and flour. Mix well before folding in the chocolate chips.
Using a cookie scoop, drop evenly measured, rounded scoops onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown edges. Remove from pan to a baking rack to cool.
Cookies freeze well and will help you avoid eating the whole batch in one setting!
May your Valentine’s Day be filled with love and kindness in every direction. You don’t need a “sweetheart” to take advantage of the opportunity to extend a helping hand, leave an imprint of kindness and encouragement, or to extend a compliment. I like to bake, so if you’re in my circle, chances are you’ll find a sweet treat.