Grilled Cheese on Lemon Walnut Bread

For me and my honey, the key to a perfect grilled cheese sandwich is a scant amount of butter on the griddle.  So little, in fact that the bread appears to simply be toasted on the griddle.  And, we like to toast the bread to a deep golden brown.  The two types of cheddar meld together and become one delicious gooey cheese.  Cheddar makes a lovely grilled cheese.  The two types of sharp cheddar (Cave Aged White Cheddar & Extra Sharp) stuff this candied lemon and walnut bread with raisins and dried apple pieces.

Three ingredients make the best sandwich.  The tiniest amount of butter, bread, and cheese… that’s it.  Quality ingredients need no embellishments.

Grilled Cheese On Lemon Walnut Bread
makes 2 sandwiches

4 slices lemon walnut bread
Cave aged cheddar crumbs
Extra Sharp Cheddar
unsalted butter, about 1 teaspoon for the whole griddle

Heat griddle to a moderate heat.  Butter.  Scrape excess butter off to the side.  Toast each side of the bread on the griddle.  Place cheese pieces on 2 pieces of toasted bread while the second side toasts on the griddle.  Cover the sandwich with the remaining bread slices.  Flip to evenly brown and toast the outer edges.  Slice and devour immediately.

Serve each sandwich with thick slices of ripe pear.

Gingerbread Granola

Who has time to mess around in the kitchen first thing in the morning?  I don’t.  That’s for sure.  So, the best weekday breakfast is a quick and easy breakfast.  This fits the bill.  And, it’s so satisfying and delicious it feels like a treat.  The only way to make this a better breakfast would be to add a big mug of strong coffee.

The combination of spices work beautifully with rich, Greek yogurt. This recipe will definitely find its way into my pantry well into this new year.  Gingerbread spice is just too good to wait another 11 months to enjoy.  I’ll be making another gingerbread snack cake soon, too.

Next time, I’ll add a small handful of fresh blueberries or sliced strawberries

Gingerbread Granola Parfait
makes 1 breakfast

1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup gingerbread granola
1 handful dried blueberries
1 Tablespoon dried currants

Stir and enjoy!

Gingerbread Granola
makes about 5 cups

4 cups oats, thick rolled oats
4 Tablespoons butter, melted
4 Tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon gingerbread spice blend
1/2 cup candied ginger, finely chopped
1/2 cup raisins or currants

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine oats, melted butter, honey, salt, sugar, flour, cinnamon, and gingerbread spices in a large mixing bowl.  Toss to combine.  If needed add a splash or two of water to make mixture form crumbs.  For bigger crumbs, press mixture flat on a baking sheet covered with parchment.  Bake at 375 degrees F on a baking sheet for 20-25 minutes.  Let cool.  Break into crumbs.

Gingerbread Spice

1 Tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon clove

Other possible additions:  1/2 teaspoon allspice, 1/2 teaspoon mace, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (finely ground)

Blueberry Bread

We love blueberries.

Fresh blueberries, jam, dried, preserves, fruit leathers… You name it.  If it works for fruit, blueberry whatever it might be tops our list.

Beautifully plump, we both loved the blueberries from Sprouts.  They’re finding their way into everything from morning yogurt to pancakes to quick breads.  Sometimes, we just grab a  handful to enjoy as a snack.  For about $10 a pound, their quality is incredible.

They’re a new mandatory pantry staple for my kitchen.

Blueberry Bread
makes 1 loaf

2 1/2 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup sugar
6 Tablespoons butter, soft
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk
1/2 cup blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Sift dry ingredients.  Set aside.  Cream butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla in a large mixing bowl.  Add dry ingredients and milk.  Stir to combine.  Pour into buttered loaf pan.  Sprinkle blueberries evenly on top.

Bake in well-buttered 9×5 inch loaf pan at 350 degrees F for 60-70 minutes.

For a warm treat, toast it.

Clearly, we’re in need of a better toaster.

Sour cherry jam, it makes everything better.

Stuffing Spice Blend 2015

Best Swag Ever!

We’re putting it to good use and loving it.

The parties are over.  But, we left as winners this year.

It’s time to say goodbye to all those holiday treats.

And, we know what that means.  It’s time for some green shakes, fruit shakes, yogurt and granola.  Steamed veggies and brown rice, they are my friends… really.  I swear they are.

But, there’s always another holiday.  And, it’s right around the corner.

This stuffing blend works best for chicken or turkey.  But, it would also be lovely with pork chops.  For pork chops, I would add extra little sprinkle or two of red pepper flakes and freshly ground black pepper.

One whiff of this… and it’s time to roast another turkey.  With all of this cold weather, it’s not hard to get in the spirit.  But, we’ll be good.  We’ll serve this bird with roasted vegetables.  And, we’ll be serving fruit for dessert.

Stuffing Spice Blend
makes about 2 Tablespoons

1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon sage
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon savory
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Combine all spices well.  Use 1 generous teaspoon of spice blend per 1 large casserole of stuffing. (That’s roughly 4 cups of bread cubes or crumbs.) Or, use to your taste.  A little sprinkle of this over the top of your bird works nicely, too.

Coffee Cream Liqueur

During the holidays, my honey can drink egg nog like no one else can.  By far, it’s one of his favorite guilty pleasures.  Adult beverage version or otherwise, he loves it.  Southern Comfort brand easily tops both of our list of favorites.  But, he loves it all.  Egg nog, milk punch, and other creamy cocktails scream sleepy time winter holiday cheer for both of us.  Though, I’m happy after a sip or two.  Someone else loves to sip sweet nog until it’s nighty night nap time.  And, the one and only thing he likes more than a glass of egg nog is a (long) cozy winter’s nap.  He might just be the King of Naps.

A little splash of this would turn one great cup of coffee into a night-time adult cocktail.  All it takes is the tiniest little splash to warm up your fingertips.

Coffee Cream Liqueur
makes 1 bottle & 2+cups

1 bottle Creme de Cacao
2 cups (powerfully strong) coffee
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract
cream (or half & half), to your taste

In a large pitcher, combine all of the above.  Add cream to your taste.  For a Bailey’s Cream type of rich creamy liqueur, add cream very generously.   For a stronger coffee kick, allow the coffee to take the lead.  Keep chilled in a covered glass pitcher or bottle.

Serve in a small liqueur glass or add a little splash to your favorite cup of coffee.  We find that no other sweeteners are needed after a little splash of this lovely cream.  The Creme de Cacao has plenty of sugar already.  Or, add a splash over a scoop of vanilla ice cream and top with whipped cream for an adult style dessert.

Happy Winter Wishes & Cheers To You All!!

My Favorite On The Run Sandwich

With a view like this, we never wanted to leave.  So, it was time for us to get creative with our nibbles.  A quick and easy sandwich was our go-to snack.  This one is great to throw in your bag.  Forget about it for a short while.  Then, when you remember it later, those little sandwich bites will be the tastiest snack in the world.  Cut it into small pieces and nibble as you like.  Adults might even choose to add a bottle of wine (or a couple of those great little mini/individual champagne bottles) to their beach bag.

Brie On A Baguette
makes plenty of snacks for two

soft butter
sour cherry jam (or raspberry jam)
one fresh baguette

Very lightly spread the soft butter onto each side of your halved baguette.  Add a thin streak of sour cherry jam to each side of your baguette.  Then, top with brie.  Press each side together and cut into small pieces.  Wrap carefully in parchment.  And, then, double wrap with plastic wrap (to be safe).  Forget about it.  Then, when you nibble it up later the butter and brie will be soft and melty and delicious.

It’s perfect for road trips and scenic roadside stop picnics, too.

Dark Tide

Beach time…

Strolling on the beach, lazing in the sun, sipping a cocktail or two and wandering through the tourist shops.  Just try not to have fun.  You can’t do it.  It’s impossible.  We love everything about a beach vacation.

Beach time is mandatory for a happy life.  Here’s another favorite beach cocktail for the year 2015.  It’s called The Dark Tide.  Rum, a splash of bitters, some real ginger beer, and a squeeze of lime.  A little mint adds a touch of brightness.  It’s the pure definition of a beach cocktail.  Skip the paper umbrella.  Garnish with real mint.  Your taste buds will thank you.

Dark Tide
makes 2

2 ounces Cruzan black strap rum
2 ounces dark rum
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 bottle ginger beer
2 lime wedges
2 sprigs mint

Place ice in two rocks glasses.  In each glass, pour one ounce black strap rum, dark rum, and one dash Angostura bitters.  Then, fill the glass with ginger beer.  Squeeze wedge of lime into each glass.  Garnish with sprigs of mint.


Then, wander around the beach and bask in another glorious day.

Camille’s Cocktail

The weather was perfect.  Seriously, look at that.

We wanted to watch dusky dawn break into a bright new day.  But, that happens before 7am and we’re just not early risers.  So, we couldn’t make that happen.  We were still tucked into a downy bed nibbling on pieces of freshly baked blueberry bread that we’d toasted and layered with slivers of melty butter.  Strong coffee finally helped to pry us out of our bed before 10.  That’s our version of an early morning.  Cool and clear blue from early morning made beach wandering a pleasure.  The icy sand kept us pleasantly cool as the early sun flushed our cheeks.  We wandered at our leisure on each bright, beautiful day.

Many happy memories were born on this lovely holiday.  Memories, sights and places so lovely that we will surely be back.  That’s an almost forgone conclusion.  The only question that remains:  When?  Our favorite tasty memory of this trip comes courtesy of Camille’s Restaurant on Crystal Beach.

We might not have a recipe.  But, who cares?  We’ll enjoy our own experiments as we blend a little of this with a little of that.  With ingredients like these, we just can’t fail!

Grapefruit juice + gin + St Germain = deliciously fresh beachy holiday 2015

This is our current guess for The Camille Cocktail at Camille’s restaurant.

The Camille

generous shot Hendrick’s gin
1/2 ounce St Germain elderflower liqueur
fresh grapefruit juice to fill
ruby red grapefruit wedges, to garnish

In an icy tall glass filled with ice, add a shot of Hendrick’s and 1/2 an ounce of St Germain.  Fill with grapefruit juice.  Garnish with chunky wedges of sweet ruby red grapefruit.

This beautiful little shell that we found had a baby snail hiding in there.

So, we gently tossed him back into the gulf to live another day in paradise.

Maple Leaf Sundae

When you’re tucked in for a chilly night, curl up by the fire and balance the heat with a soft ice cream sundae.  Let the ice cream its on the counter for 5-10 minutes before scooping.  This way the ice cream will be perfectly soft and melty as you take your scoop… or two.  Your favorite mug will make the perfect serving vessel.  For me, there’s nothing better than soft vanilla ice cream melting in with some of my favorite flavors.

Toffee, caramel, or coffee ice cream would work beautifully here, too.

Maple Leaf Sundae
makes 2

2 scoops vanilla ice cream
2 ounces bourbon
2 ounces espresso
splash of cinnamon or chocolate bitters
drizzle of maple syrup
drizzle or two of Frangelico
whipped cream, to top, if you choose
pinch of cinnamon, to sprinkle on top

Divide ice cream between two mugs (or two rocks glasses for a fancier dinner’s ending).  Pour one shot of bourbon and one shot of espresso over each scoop of ice cream.  Then, add a splash of chocolate bitters to each glass.  Drizzle maple syrup and Frangelico over each scoop of ice cream, to your taste.  Garnish with whipped cream and the tiniest pinch of cinnamon.

This is my very first zucchini bread!!!

Seriously, This Is My Very First Zucchini Bread!

This was a quick bread first for me.  And, that’s something I don’t get to say every day.  It sure won’t be the last.  This was quick, easy, and delicious.  The taste?  Sweet cinnamon cake meets baked cake doughnut.  We both loved this so much that it made an appearance at just about every meal until it disappeared.

We’ll be making this every chance we get.  Not only is it delicious.  But, the house smells like heaven as it bakes.  Seriously, heaven.

Zucchini Bread
makes 1 8×8 inch baking dish

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil (delicately flavored, like canola)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
heaping 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup toasted pecan pieces, chopped
1 cup zucchini, finely grated
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 baking soda
barely rolled oats, to top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Then, stir in chopped pecans and zucchini.  Set aside.  Sift flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  Add to the wet mixture.  Pour into buttered 8×8 inch baking dish.  Sprinkle top with oats, if you like.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 53-55 minutes.

Finely grated?

Well, this is the result using my largest grater.  But, it still grates finely.