Feb 27, 2012

Roasted Curry Chickpeas

So, I kept seeing all these pins on Pinterest for Spicy Roasted Chickpeas.  I was intrigued.  So, I picked up a couple of cans of chickpeas.  I decided to experiment (before I even tried the original).  I made one batch with Olive Oil, Salt, and Curry Powder, and the other with Olive Oil and a Lemon-Garlic Sprinkle.  Both the Curry Powder and Lemon-Garlic Sprinkle are from Penzey's.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Basically, take a can of chickpeas.  Drain the liquid and then rinse the chickpeas.  Pour into a bowl.  Coat lightly in Olive Oil and then add the spices that you want.  Cook for 30 minutes.  Let cool completely.  Store in a tupperware container.

Enjoy!

Roasted Curry Chickpeas

Feb 26, 2012

BBQ Pulled Pork Nachos

OK, The surprise to some of my even eating, let alone making (even though it goes together) anything pork is probably surprising if not a total shock.  I used to keep Kosher.  One of these days, I'm going to spend some time playing with the photography aspect of this, so I can get some good pictures

Anyway, now that I don't, I've been wanting to try making Pulled Pork.  So last night, I used this recipe Crockpot Shredded Pork (from Cookin Up North).  It was great.  So, I was about to heat some up for leftovers including toasting the bun, when I decided to try something different.  I headed up some of the meat and sauce in the microwave (added a bit of water).  I put tortilla chips on a plate and topped with with meat and the sauce.  Then, I added some shredded cheddar cheese and nuked for about 20 seconds to melt the cheese.  It was really good.  My son said he wasn't hungry when I went to make a plate for me.  I had eaten one chip and he said.  OK, Mom.  I want some of that.

Enjoy! (remember, I'm a newbie here, so the picture is lousy).

BBQ Pulled Pork Nachos

Serendipitious Blog Template

So, after my last post, I still wasn't satisfied with the way my blog looked.  When I reviewed other people on blogger, I saw all these cute blogs from The Cutest Blog on the Block and Hot Bilggity Blog.  So I searched those sites (a tad bit nervous as to whether I'd  be able to get one to work.  I saw one that I liked.  Brown and Blue...one of my favorite color combinations.  When I went to download it, I saw it was called "Sererndipity."  Done!  I really like the way it looks.  I may still have to play with it to see if I can get more white space, but I really like the way it works.  YAY!  I will NOT be changing this.

So, it's been a good weekend so far.  Went for a nice walk yesterday morning.  Hung out. Took Jeremy to Hall of Fame Cards for an autograph signing thing.  Greivis Vasquez.  He played at University of Maryland and is now on New Orleans Hornets.  He played the Memphis Grizzlies his first year in the NBA.  It was a nice turnout.  $25 per autograph, but Jeremy had fun.  We got this cute picture...

Jeremy and Greivis Vasquez

It was sort of cute.  For many other people, Greivis stood up for the picture.  But, for Jeremy, he stayed seated.  He's 6'6".  He was very nice and really took a close look at the Jersey Card that Jeremy brought to get the signature.  It was cute because it seemed like Greivis had never seen that particular card.

Anyway, it was a fun afternoon.

Then came home to a yummy dinner (Crockpot Shredded Pork), a few rounds of Wii American Idol, and a good night's sleep (which for me is a big thing).

OK, now off to to take Jeremy to Hebrew School (sort of funny as a follow up to last night's dinner) and go for a walk.  Then, I think he wants to make doughnut muffins.

Fun lies ahead!!!

Feb 23, 2012

Templates....

So, I've had this blog going (under this new name) for two weeks now. And, there have been about 4 main iterations of the layout. It became a bit of an obsession working my way through different templates and backgrounds. I think I found one that I like, but still working on getting the formatting "just so". It's amazing how easy it is to lose time by working on laying out a blog. It should be blahg, blahg, blahg. Ah...that should be the name of my next post.

Again, I don't have a particularly enthralling topic to write about. But, write I will. I do think it helps me sleep. Helps to get all the swirling thoughts out of my head before trying to sleep.


I'm in one of those sort of frustrated modes. A lot of little things. Nothing really of consequence, but all the little things just swirling around.

This may sound pathetic, but sometimes I get so tired of doing things for other people. Sure that's my role as a mother and the a basic fact of my job in Human Resources. I'm there for other people. It's what I do. And, I do it pretty well.

So, then, am I ungrateful or insincere if I wish that sometimes someone would do something for me? Even at work, I feel that it's not reciprocal. I think sometimes I present myself as independent. I guess it's less of an issue at work. I mean, it's work. But, still, just because I'm in HR, a service oriented job, doesn't mean that people should cooperate, right?

I'm a single mom, so it's not right for me to expect my son (he's 10) to take care of me. I'm not asking for that. But, just because it looks like I have everything under control and don't ask for help, doesn't mean that I don't need it.

Sigh....ok. I should stop while I'm ahead here. A post like this isn't likely to help me sleep.

Feb 22, 2012

A Day in the Life is Good....

I couldn't think of a good topic. Two topics came to mind...a "day in the life" and "life is good." I do have to say that the "Life is Good" company was onto something when they made their slogan "Do what you like. Like What you Do." Brilliant in it's simplicity. It's sort of like that line in "City Slickers" where Curly (is that his name) tells Billy Crystal's character that it's about "One thing". Obviously that one thing can have smaller components, but basically life boils down to one thing...and it can be anything, but it is that one thing that makes you happy.

(Added a few days later...I came across this "button" and well, here it is...


 

Odd story (perhaps) to share. I'm divorced (that's not the odd part). When I was married I had a very tenuous relationship with my ex husband's sister. I won't got into any of the nitty gritty since it's all water under the bridge at this point.


Recently something came up and it in an instant, I realized that much of our problems really stemmed from issues with my ex husband. His relationship with me. And, his relationship with his sister. Once I realized this, a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders. I decided to email her to let her know. I didn't hear back for about 2 weeks and I thought "OK, maybe I was wrong about it." But, then she emailed me back acknowledging that she knew that many of the issues between the two of us were extensions of the relationship b/t her and her brother. I feel somewhat vindicated.

I think I've always felt uneasy about standing my ground. That I wasn't emotionally strong enough to be me. I really struggled with confidence for many years. It wasn't until I went through the divorce process (which spanned my late 30s until just after my 41st birthday) that I really feel that I came into my own. Through the process of being on my own again, I found strength and confidence that I never knew I had.

My life now is good. Tiring and hard, but good. I'm a single working mom to a really cute 10 year old who has some extra needs. He struggles with many things that other kids his age do without thinking. To the outsider, many of his struggles aren't apparent, but that doesn't mean that they are there. Big picture, my ex and I get along well. Of course we have our differences, but for the most part we get along. It's funny how some of the things he labeled as issues in our marriage (ie reminding him of dates and things to do) he know asks of me....Um, I'm not your secretary, so don't ask me to remind you of what you need to do. It's kind of funny actually.

Wow, this is a real rambling post. As I said, I really didn't know what to write about, but I wanted to write. Hope I didn't bore you too much!

Life is good!

Feb 19, 2012

Ski Weekend

I just got back from a great two days of skiing at Wisp (in the Deep Creek Lake area).  What an awesome time.  I am totally hooked on skiing.  It's probably close to my baking fanaticism, but it's not as easy or convenient to do every day.

I skied a handful of times growing up.  I was a competitive figure skater, so that's where I spent a lot of time.  I first skied as an adult in December of 2009.  The guy I was dating a the time is a lawyer during the week and a ski instructor on the weekends.  We went a weekend in December and I was hooked.  We ended up only dating a few weeks after that initial ski weekend, but I was hooked.  Shortly after we broke up, I signed up for ski trip to Elk Mountain which is near Scranton.  It was a blast.  That was the winter known in the DC area as Snowmaggedan.  There was an insane amount of snow which lent itself very well to the budding skiing addiction.

Fast forward to December 2010.  It ended up being another winter filled with snow.  It was great.  Between mid-December and mid-February, I skied every weekend.  Among a handful of day trips, I spent a weekend at Wisp and two weekends at Elk, which is most definitely my favorite mountain so far.

As soon as ski season ended in early 2011, I was counting the months until ski season started again.  I waited and I waited.  After two great winters, winter 2011-2012 was very mild and I didn't even making it to a mountain until early January.  I skied two times at Liberty which is a small, but great, mountain about an hour from my house.  I did two day trips there and then...finally, a ski weekend.  I was going to go back to Elk, but the warm weather left me uncertain about whether the conditions would warrant the 4 hour drive each way.

So, we decided to go to Wisp instead.  We had two great days of skiing.  Day two was colder and decidedly better than day one.  I hope to go back in two weeks.  It really makes a difference skiing two days in a row.  It gives me time to hit and more importantly retain my groove.

There really is nothing better than racing (albeit not that fast) down the mountain.  My years of skating has served me well in terms of balance, shifting weight, and holding an edge.  But, the experience of shushing down the mountain can't be beat.

I hope Mother Nature is on my side in keeping it cold and bring lots more snow for two weeks from now.

I know this was a rather boring entry, but I hadn't written anything in a while and so I just decided to type something up.

Feb 12, 2012

Valentines Day Ice Cream Brownie

So, regarding this ice cream kick that I've been on.  I was trying to decide what to make my boyfriend for dessert on Valentine's Day.  He's enjoyed the ice cream I've made so far, but wanted to do more than just ice cream.  So, I made a batch of Coffee Heath Bar Crunch Ice Cream.  In the attached recipe, I used Kit Kats rather than Heath Bars, but other than that switch, it's the same recipe.

After I made the ice cream, I poured it into a 9x13 (low edged) metal baking pan, covered it with plastic wrap and put it in the freezer.  I then made a pan of brownies which are made in a 9x13 pan (the baking fanatic in me has two of the same pan!).  You can use any brownie recipe.  The one I used called for nuts, but for this, I made them plan as I didn't want to introduce another taste/flavor.


Since you gotta see how these are made, if you click below, you can see the recipe....

Once the brownies cooled, I used a heart shaped cookie cutter to cut the brownies.  
Just loved this picture.
Brownie Heart
                                                  

I put the scraps in the freezer.  I figure they can make their way into my next batch of ice cream.  When the ice cream was set, but not totally frozen, I used the heart cookie cutter on the ice cream.  You see where I'm going.  I guess it was sort of like scoring the ice cream.  I then returned the ice cream to the freezer to set completely.  

You have to work a bit quickly on the next couple of steps.  

Once the scored ice cream was firmly frozen, I used the cookie cutter to redefine the shape and lift the ice cream out of the pan.

Ice Cream Heart
 
I then placed one piece of ice cream on top of a heart shaped brownie.  I covered the pan with saran wrap and returned it to the freezer. 


Layered Brownie and Ice Cream

While the ice cream and brownie chilled, I made a ganache to coat the brownie-ice cream delight. Mmmm!  Chopped chocolate waiting for warmed cream...


Chopped Chocolate



If I were more artistically inclined, I would have written on or decorated the tops, but I went the easy route and made white chocolate hearts to go on top.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Feb 11, 2012

Gingerbread Cake Ice Cream

I got back on an ice cream making kick after an almost 6 year hiatus.  The initial kick only lasted about a year, so I don't really know what this all means.  Anyway, I got it in my head to start making ice cream about two weeks ago.  This was the first batch I made (I've made about 6 in all).  It's quite good and I was fashioning after (at least conceptionally) Ben & Jerry's Cinnamon Bun Ice Cream.  I used Ben & Jerry's Sweet Cream Base 1 and tweaked it a bit.  I added some molasses, brown sugar (instead of all white), and cinnamon.  I didn't really measure, but I think I can share the gist.  Oh, I cut up pieces of a homemade mini Gingerbread Cake/Loaf and mixed it in.  Delish.  For the ice cream, I would recommend using the mini cake rather than the loaf for the cake to frosting ratio.

Ingredients
2 Eggs (I use egg beaters)
1/2 cup of sugar 
1/4 cup of brown sugar
2 tablespoons of molasses
1 cup of Milk
2 cups of Heavy Cream
2 teaspoons of vanilla
1 1/2 cups of frosted gingerbread cake cut into small pieces

Directions
  1. Whisk the egg (beaters) for 1-2 minutes until light and frothy
  2. Combine the two sugars in a bowl and add/whisk to the eggs a little bit at a time
  3. Once all the sugar has been added, whisk for about 1 more minute
  4. Add the molasses and whisk until thoroughly blended
  5. Add in the milk and heavy cream.  Whisk to combine
  6. Add the vanilla and mix
  7. Put the mixture in the fridge for at least one hour
  8. Pour into your ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer's instructions
  9. When there are about 2 minutes left, add the cut up cake
  10. Pour ice cream into a freezer proof container to chill completely (or eat it soft serve)

Gingerbread Loaf

I came across this recipe the old fashioned way...by Googling on Chow.  It's a wonderful quick bread that freezes beautifully.  The recipe on Chow didn't include frosting, but I made a basic cream cheese frosting to top the cake.  I cut the frosted loaf into slices, wrapped each slice in waxed paper, and then stored in a ziplock bag.  It's great to have a ready to go breakfast or snack.  A few weeks after making the loaf, I made mini Gingerbread Cakes in a individual coffee cake pan.  Have you seen those?  It's sort of a baking pan meets a muffin tin meets a tart pan.  It's a 9x13 pan with 12 wells that have push up bottoms so each cake is a perfect little square.  I froze a bunch of the mini cakes...again, froze beautifully.   


I also used a frosted mini cake in homemade Gingerbread Cake Ice Cream


Click the Read More button for the recipe.... 

Blondolos

So, this is really nothing more than a blondie recipe with chopped up Rolos in them.  About 4 years ago, I had seen a blondie with Heath Bar in them at Starbucks.  The next day, I found a blondie recipe and added chopped of Heath Bars.  I brought them into work and they were a hit.  I then found out that the woman that worksed across the hall from me we as allergic to nuts.  Heath Bars have almonds in them (For the record, Skor Bars do not have nuts).  Anyway, I mused over what else might work mixed into the blondie.  I decided to try Rolos.  It was a home run.  There's something about the creaminess of the caramel in the rolo nestled into the chewy blondie that is just marvelous.

Enjoy!  Click the Read More Button for the Recipe....


Beer Bread Hot Dogs

So, the Mini Corn Dog Muffins got me thinking....what else could I make in this fashion.  Then it hit me...Beer Bread.  I actually wanted to try they beer bread with sharp cheddar cheese, but I didn't have any in the house, so I decided to try it with hot dogs.  Wow.  These are so good.  And, even easier (only in terms of requiring less ingredients) than the corn dog version.  These would be great with either a sharp mustard or a honey mustard.  It might also be good with a smaller piece of hot dog and a small piece of cheese.


Click the Read More button for the recipe....

Mini Corn Dog Muffins

I  made these cute little snacks/meal bites a couple of days ago.  My son gobbled them up (including eating leftovers for lunch the next day).  He said they were good cold as well.  However, I sensed that I missed a step/ingredient or measured something wrong.  I halved the recipe after a long day of work.  Though not difficult math, I'm guessing I didn't halve one of the liquid ingredients since the batter wasn't as thick as I would have thought.  Though they tasted good, the texture of the muffins was lacking.  So, what does a baking fanatic do...makes another batch.  I could tell instantly that the batter was better.  I want to give credit where it's due, so this is where I stumbled across the recipe...Iowa Girl Eats...originally through Pinterest...

Great for a quick dinner (about 20  minutes start to finish)....Click the read more button to get the recipe....


Snowy (sort of) Saturday

So, what's up with the warm weather this winter?  It's really putting a damper on my skiing obsession.  I skied a handful of times growing up, but then not until 2 years ago (when I was 41).  I was immediately hooked.  I skated competitively, so certain aspects came naturally to me...shifting weight, keeping balance, feeling the edges of the skis.  But, what I really get a charge out of is the speed.  The adrenaline of going fast. And, going downhill fast.

When I told my dad that I had started skiing again, he made a comment that I was fearless when I went skiing as a kid.  I don't remember that, and I definitely don't think I was fearless when I started up again.  I got spoiled.  The first winter with my renewed passion as Winter 2009-2010.  Here in the DC area, it was now as Snowmagedden.  There was a seriously abundance of snow.  It snowed so much that all the shoveled snow from in front of my townhouse was about two inches higher than my 5'1" frame.  Boy, was that a good workout shoveling the snow over my head.

Feb 10, 2012

Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream

It's a mouthful to say, but it's a yummy mouthful.  So, I've been tinkering with ice cream recipes, and decided to try something totally new and different (other than my standard coffee, vanilla, chocolate, or mint based ice creams). I also think this is the first time that I've bought a boxed cake mix in about 10 years.

Anyway, using Ben & Jerry's Sweet Cream Base (1) as the backdrop, I added in 3/4 cup of cake mix and some homemade (eggless) cookie dough and whirred it all together in my ice cream maker.  I used this recipe from The Cupcake Project (www.cupcakeproject.com) for the Safe to eat cookie dough.

Enjoy.  Gotta start using my camera rather than my iPhone to take pictures.  Hey, no one got up on their soapbox in a day!


Click below to get the recipe...

Feb 9, 2012

Marble Fudge Cookies

Despite all the baking I do and baked goods that I have in the house, I have pretty good willpower.  For Most things.  Marble Fudge Cookies (and the Mandelbread recipe I posted today) are on the "Willpower out the Window List".  There's no fighting it.  So easy.  So good.



Click below to get the recipe for these addictive cooks...go on, click...I dare ya!

Mandelbread

This is the other goodie (in addition to the Marble Fudge Cookies) over which I have no self control.  This recipe (and how's this for a giggle) is my ex Mother In Law's recipe.  From day one, I have had a major addiction to this recipe (and the finished product).  It's very quick to make (as it uses oil rather than butter which needs to come to room temperature) and it lasts well both on the counter and in the freezer.  I took some skiing with me last winter and we left it in the car while on the slopes and when we got in the car and the end of the day, we were noshing away on the mandelbred.  The chocolate chips had a "snap like" quality to them which made them extra enjoyable.

Being on a soapbox....

So, I never really liked the name of my original blog.  I don't recall what I initially wanted it to be, but it wasn't available, so I went with Serendipity and a Smile.  I was all gung-ho for a week or so, then wrote one other post 6 months after that, then nothing for a year and a half until yesterday.  I fiddled around with the layout.  Then, today, while write an email to a friend, I used the word "soapbox" and in a flash, I knew that I had a new name for my blog...Serendipity on a Soapbox.

So, what does this all mean.  Well, I love the word serendipity.  I love how it rolls of my tongue, how it sounds, and what it means.  It's sort of serendipitous how the word soapbox got into the mix.  I don't mean that to be hokie.  Really, I don't. I'm not overly religious, but I believe that things happen for a reason.  Some may call it fate.  Others may call it G-d or the Upper Hand guide them.  I call it serendipity.  I think it means what's supposed to happen even if it wasn't planned or on my radar screen.  But, when "it" happens, it all seems to make sense.  That's serendipity.

Feb 8, 2012

Back on the saddle....

So, for those that know me (and probably even some that don't), I'm not a good sleeper.  I know sleeping isn't hard to do.  I just have trouble staying asleep.  Perhaps it's that my mind doesn't go to sleep when the rest of my body wants to.  When I went through my worldwind week of blogging about 2 years ago, I slept really well.  Maybe there is something to be said for getting all the thoughts out of my head before I go to sleep.  So, I figure I might as well try it again.

I've also been thinking about blogging about baking.  So, with some tweaking to the initial (and minimal) blog that I set up in 2010, I revamped and relaunched.

My goal is to write a few times a week and post a few recipes a week.  I think everyone should know about my quirkiness and passion for baking (because it's all about me, right?).  Well, I guess if there's anyplace where it can be about me (other than in my head) it's in my blog.  So, sit back, relax, smack your lips and enjoy reading (and hopefully baking).  I'm always looking for folks to take the finished baked goods, so if you're in the area and are hungry, please let me know!

Pasta with Pesto, Sundried Tomatoes, and Shrimp

Really didn't do anything special here.  Made some pasta.  Sauteed garlic in oil and butter, added chicken stock and simmered for a bit.  Added some wine.  Simmered some more to burn off the alcohol.  Added the shrimped...cooked it.  Added the pasta to the sauce, then added in the pesto and sundried tomatoes.  Sprinkled with Parmesean cheese.

Coffee Kit Kat Ice Cream


This is a tweak of "copy cat" (or copy kit kat) recipe from Ben & Jerry's Coffee Heath Bar Crunch. I put in Kit Kats at my boyfriend's request. Even with his request for kit kats in the ice cream, he agreed that the original batch I made last week with heath bars was better.


Click below to get the recipe....