December 20, 2012

Kitchen Assistance?

Let's try something new. Communication.

I want to open up this blog for food-related questions. I'm not a chef or expert in the kitchen... even better, I'm a home cook like most of you. Most of us always come across something we don't know and are too embarrassed to ask others, so we Google it. Sometimes even that doesn't help or clarify what you need. Believe me, I STILL look up simple things that I feel I really should know but I have too many other non-essential things saved up in my brain that there is not much room for minor kitchen or food knowledge. There is nothing wrong with learning something new once in a while anyway.

I receive an occasional email or text for recipes or questions from friends. I've responded with quick recipes to them while they were in a pinch needing an appetizer or meal idea ASAP. I'm such a sweet friend.

Don't feel like cooking and want a restaurant recommendation? I'd love to help with that too.

I would love to hear from you!

December 15, 2012

Food Fondness and Memories

Happy 10 days before Christmas!!

Hey friends! After reading through some past posts I realize that I share a lot of memories associated with food. It's the same in most posts...I share a memory and then a picture and recipe. I think that is why I am so passionate about cooking or baking. It makes me feel good. It makes me think of the people I care about. It makes me smile. It makes me dance. Wait, pretend I didn't share that. Moving on.. quickly.

I have correlated my life with food so that certain smells and flavors associate to people or events in my life. I can probably rattle off a smell or food that reminds me or relates to a family member or close friend. And there is probably a story to share. It's crazy but true. I'm sure other foodies are the same way but I have yet to hear stories.

If you read my blog, you'll know some of mine. For instance, my husband LOVES peanut butter so I always think of him when I see something that has peanut butter in it, chicken adobo always makes me think of my precious grandma and childhood of her cooking delicious Filipino dishes, the smell of steamed rice also makes me think of grandma and sugar cookies remind me of Christmas decorating and baking with my beautiful mother.

I guess I can share one of my food memories that I haven't mentioned before. The smell of chocolate always reminds me of one of the best times of my life. It brings back fond memories of our honeymoon in Rome in September 2006. We were exploring one evening and walked by this little chocolate shop a few blocks from our hotel in the heart of Rome. It looked like they just sold various chocolates but then we saw a sign that mentioned cafe or snack bar so we ventured down a set of stairs to this tiny cafe with a small list of beverages and sweets available. I went for the milk chocolate and my husband loves dark chocolate. I was assuming it was more of a hot cocoa. I suppose I had not had the pleasure of tasting hot "drinking chocolate" before. We had no idea what we were in for. This stuff was the BEST chocolate I have ever had. They gave us a few little tea biscuits to enjoy with our drink. We both took our time to savor each drop of this liquid gold dessert in a mug.

Now I would love to hear from YOU! I want to know what dishes or even ingredient is attached to some of your memories. Please comment on this post and share so I know you care. It doesn't have to be long, just a snippet of what it is that makes you think of family or a special someone.

I'm anxiously awaiting to hear from you!

December 12, 2012

Christmas Treats and Memories

Happy 12-12-12!! I know it's been a while since I've posted but it took me a bit to get motivated and feel the spirit of the holidays. I finally started holiday baking this week while listening to Christmas music and it did the trick. It also brought back sweet memories of making Christmas Sugar Cookies with my mom when I was younger. It was a tradition while we were kids but slowly went away as we got older and weren't all home together as often for the holidays. That made me sad. So I concentrated on the good memories such as decorating the tree, baking and decorating cookies. Also, my two younger brothers and I each got an ornament for several years with our name and year engraved on a brass ornament each year. I remember how each year we'd all get excited to see the previous year's ornaments and hang our own on the tree and mom would smile. She has such a pretty smile. I love her!

My husband and I started our own tradition by collecting ornaments throughout the year when we travel. We pick out an ornament everywhere we visit and try to put the year and location if it doesn't already show it. It's fun to decorate the tree each year and reminisce about where we've been each year and add the new ornaments we've accumulated that year. We hope to pass on the tradition someday to our future children and share our stories and memories with them while we drink hot cocoa and decorate the tree.

Some of our favorite ornaments so far...

Japan 2012
Maui 2011

Prague 2007 (My husband's favorite)

Budapest 2007

Back to the goodies. I decided to make a variety of treats. I usually bake more cookies but decided to mix it up a bit by adding some snack mixes and bread.

I baked my first batch of Rosemary and Kalamata Olive mini breads. They turned out really tasty and will be a great addition to any snack tray or meal. I used the recipe from Baking Bites. Their recipe is for one loaf but I was able to make 4 mini loaves out of the recipe.

One of my husband's favorite Christmas treats is the snack mix I put together each year. It's super simple and great to giveaway or put out for your holiday party. I like the colors!! I don't even remember how I came up with it but I assume the colors had something to do with it.

Christmas Snack Mix

1/2 c pistachios (I remove shells to make it easier to eat)
1/2 c pecans (any of your favorite nuts would work)
1/2 c white chocolate chips
1/2 c craisins or dried cherries

Makes 2 cups of snack mix. Can easily be doubled.

I also made some easy Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels and drizzled with green colored white chocolate. Six Sisters has a great easy recipe that I used.

My latest treats were Shortbread Cookies. I love eating them with coffee or hot cocoa all winter long. This recipe makes a lot so whether you plan to gobble them up yourself or share, you'll have plenty. I used the recipe from my all-time favorite blogger and desperate housewife, The Pioneer Woman.

Now get baking and spreading the holiday joy in the form of homemade goodies!!