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.Read More
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!
Theme: Champagne Glitter Brunch
Wedding Colors: Lavender & Silver
Wedding Date: March 28
Shower Date: February 22
Shower Guests: approximately 25
Supporting Vendors: Party Time Plus, Allegra Printing, La Chatelaine Chocolaterie, Alex Nguyen (aquariusds) on Etsy, WeDoHoney on Etsy, Staples Office Supply and Rae Rae’s Bakery
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.Read More
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.
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1-2 tbsp milk
- 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.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened preferably Irish butter
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1-2 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 1/4 cups flour
- 1 bag (12 oz) chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- Mix together butter, eggs, sugars & vanilla.
- 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.
Copyright © 2019 Montana Mountain Maven / Tina R. Cusker. All rights reserved.
I have been lacking when it comes to my blog, posting only photos and ideas via social media and I apologize for the long absence. First it was the craziness of finishing the semester and then the holidays, but I was also struggling behind the scenes with the format of my posts. I really wanted to find a print-friendly plug in to make it easier for you, my audience, to take advantage of my recipes. If only I had just sat down and looked it up, I would have realized how incredibly easy that task would be. Instead, I avoided it. I prefer it when things come easy and can be quickly ticked off my to-do list. I had convinced myself that it would be hard, or expensive, or just plain time consuming. In the meantime, recipes are piling up, waiting to get some recognition. And who would have thought in less than 30 minutes this evening, I would be off and running?Read More
When recently hosting a small family meal, my husband requested a “beer can” chicken. I was, after all, looking for a gluten free meal that required a minimal amount of prep so I could enjoy our company as well. While I didn’t really roast it on a can of beer (which is pretty darn good, I might add), I do have a ceramic baking dish with a cavity for a half can of beer and a basin for the chicken to rest upside down while it bakes. Rub some ghee butter over the chicken skin, and sprinkle with poultry seasoning, salt and pepper and roast in the oven for 1 1/2 – 2 hours. You have a very moist full-size bird that only needs a bit of carving and some flavorful vegetables and a salad to make a healthy meal.Read More
6 slices bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup flour
salt and freshly ground pepper
3 chicken breast halves, skinless
3 chicken thighs, skin on, bone in
3 chicken drumsticks
3 tablespoons caramelized garlic olive oil
1/4 cup brandy
2 cups red wine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb button mushrooms, white or portobello, brushed clean & quartered
10 oz. frozen baby or pearl onions, thawed
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp, 4-5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of bacon fat from the pot.Read More