Friday, October 20, 2017

3 Ingredient Spaghetti with Crab Sauce #FishFridayFoodies

Wow, busy day today in the blog world.  I am posting three separate recipes today for three separate events.  I normally try to combine events but it wasn't happening today.

You will find my recipe for Adult Hot Chocolate in my final post for this year's Choctoberfest.  It was a fun week but I was ready for a cocktail.  This is a perfect drink for you to enjoy when you prepare to unwind for the weekend.

Hot chocolate not your thing?  Well then head on over to my #MerlotMe post and find out how a glass of Decoy Merlot can be enjoyed with our Crazy Ingredient Challenge.  A delicious, rustic, skillet dinner and a glass of wine is perfect for this Fall weather.

Now.....right this post.....We are celebrating Fish Friday with all of my Foodie friends.  Fish Friday Foodies was started by me to assist me in adding more fish/seafood protein to our diet.  I asked a few of my friends to join me and they all stepped up to the plate.  They created the graphic that you see above and they assist me each month by taking turns hosting and choosing a theme.

This month our host with the most is Claire of Sprinkles and Sprouts who chose the theme Fish/Seafood Pasta.  I am hosting next month with a theme of is not just for Turkey.  Should you like to join our fun and friendly group just leave your blog name in the comment section below and I will send you an invitation or you can email me at

I had served a lovely Crab Ravioli in Shallot Cream Sauce as the fish course at a dinner party several months ago, so when Claire chose this topic I smiled and was pleased as punch that I would be ahead of the game.

So imagine my surprise and disappointment when I went to write this post and was unable to locate any of the photos I had taken of that amazing dish.  I know that they are in this computer somewhere but I'll be darned if I can figure out where.  I spent a couple of days looking through all my old files (there are hundreds of photo files) before I started to panic.

Ok, I said to myself, just have time to make another batch of the ravioli.  I decided I would, again, serve it as the fish course at a dinner party celebrating our eldest's birthday.  Then I promptly put it out of my mind and started concentrating on other events in which I was participating.

Last Sunday, I began preparing for the dinner.  I was very excited as all of our kids who live locally were going to be able to attend.  It is very rare for us all to be available on the same is way too busy for that.

I plastered my beef tenderloin roast with herbs and olive oil and put it aside to marinade a bit.  I started baking the apple pie and whipping up the chocolate cream pie.  I put the potatoes on to boil for the loaded mashed potato casserole. I pulled the corn chowder out of the freezer to thaw and I washed the romaine, spun it dry and put it in the refrigerator so it would be all ready for the Caesar salad.

Then I sat and relaxed, very pleased with myself. An hour before guests arrived I put out an appetizer tray, put the soup on to warm and preheated the oven.  Suddenly it occurred to me that I had never made the ravioli. Aargh...not only did I not have a fish course for the dinner but I was running out of time for this event too.

I felt like I was on chopped.  I had 50 minutes left to create a pasta dish containing fish or seafood.  To the pantry, I ran.  I had canned crab that was to be used in the ravioli, I had some dried spaghetti and I had a jar of prepared creamy tomato sauce.

It doesn't get much easier than that.  I added a little extra heavy cream to the sauce to thin it out a bit and then incorporated the crabmeat but if you don't have cream on hand you can always use the cooking water from the spaghetti.  I put a large pot of  water on to heat so that it would quickly come to a boil when the time was right.  When I served the soup, I turned the water to high and brought it to a boil.  

While the soup bowls were being removed, I put the pasta on to boil.  We served the salad and when the pasta was finished it needed only be drained and tossed with the sauce  It was enjoyed by all and nobody was the wiser.

3 Ingredient Spaghetti with Crab Sauce

1 lb. dried spaghetti
2 (6 oz) cans white crab meat, drained and picked through for shells
1 qt. prepared creamy tomato pasta sauce

Boil the spaghetti according to package directions, drain, reserving 1/2 c. of the cooking liquid. 

Meanwhile heat the sauce in a large pot over med low heat, thin with the reserved cooking liquid (or cream or milk) and stir in the crab.

Add the cooked pasta to the pot and toss to coat. Print Recipe

More Pasta Recipes for Fish Friday Foodies

Kielbasa Apple and Onion Skillet #CrazyIngredientChallenge #Merlotme

Disclosure:  I received free samples of wine to participate in the #MerlotMe event taking place during the month of October.  All opinions posted on this blog are completely my own.

This month's Crazy Ingredient Challenge asked us to combine Apples and Rosemary, two ingredients that I am crazy about.  See what I did there?  Crazy Ingredient Challenge/Ingredients I'm Crazy About.....sigh....never mind.....

I was initially going to make a dessert of some sort but we are just finishing up Choctoberfest and I was craving something savory.

I had planned on making a skillet dinner for us and had pulled out some fresh kielbasa, red skin potatoes and onions for this purpose.  I thought, "hey, rosemary goes great with roasted red skin potatoes and apples pair perfectly with pork, why not incorporate these ingredients into my skillet?"

I was also still celebrating #MerlotMonth and Duckhorn Vineyards had provided me with 2 bottles of their Decoy line out of Sonoma County.  As you know the Napa and Sonoma areas of California have been devastated by fires.  One of the ways you can help is by buying their products and since it is October you may as well make it Merlot and join in the movement to bring this varietal the respect it deserves.

I decided to serve the Decoy Merlot up with this meal.  The Decoy is a wonderful, reasonably priced, every day wine.  Perfect for a casual home cooked meal before heading out to choir practice. And we had half a bottle left to enjoy after that's what I call a win/win.

I loved the earthiness that the rosemary added to this and it complemented the sweetness that the apples added.  It is not a beautiful dish but it was a fast, easy and delicious dish.  The wine is flavorful, fruity and dry it matched well with the fattiness and spice of the kielbasa.

Kielbasa, Apple and Onion Skillet

4 Fresh Kielbasa Links (1 lb total weight)
1 T. olive oil
4 Red potatoes, parboiled to fork tender and diced
2 apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 small onion, diced
leaves of 1 stem rosemary, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Brown the kielbasa, in a skillet, over med high heat for 5-7 minutes per side.  Remove to a plate and set aside.  Add the olive oil to the skillet.  Once heated, add the onions, cook and stir for a minute or two then add the potatoes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Let cook without stirring or flipping for 5 minutes, until bottoms begin to brown. Flip and add apples and rosemary to the pan.  Cook and stir until apples start to soften.  Add the kielbasa to the skillet, turn the heat to med low, cover and cook until the kielbasa is warmed through and reaches an internal temperature of 145*   Print Recipe

Join us each month over at Crazy Ingredient Challenge as we vote on 2 subsets of ingredients and combine the winners into creative and fun recipes.  Here is what we came up with using Apples and Rosemary.

Adult Hot Chocolate #Choctoberfest

And here it is....The Final Day of Choctoberfest.  I have had so much fun playing with all of the great sponsor gifts and I hope that one of my readers is a lucky winner in the giveaway that can be found in my Welcome Post.

I so much enjoy getting sponsor gifts but I want to let you know that, as much as it is appreciated, I would never write anything in my posts that were not my true feelings.

You have until tomorrow at Midnight to enter so please make sure you head over and get your name in the drawing.  I want to thank the ladies over at The PinterTest Kitchen for all of their hard work on this event.  It is truly appreciated.  I also want to thank all of our sponsors, Imperial Sugar, Rodelle and Barleans for their support during this event.

I am ending this event with a well deserved and delicious cocktail.  This chocolaty and spicy hot chocolate is the perfect ending to a hectic week.

Whether you are spending your Friday evening in front of a bonfires after the local high school football game or kicking off your shoes and curling up on the couch with a good book, make sure you have this mug of chocolate deliciousness in your hand.

Featuring Chocolate Silk Greens and Omega Swirl Essential Woman from Barleans this hot chocolate also offers some nutritional value.  If you want to make it without the cinnamon whiskey you will still get a nice minty taste from the Omega Swirl.

Adult Hot Chocolate

1 c. milk, heated
2 scoops Chocolate Protein Powder (I used Barleans Greens)
1 T. chocolate mint syrup (I used Barleans Omega Swirl)
1 shot cinnamon Whiskey

Place the milk, protein powder and syrup into a blender and mix well.  Place a shot of cinnamon whiskey into a mug, add the blender ingredients and enjoy.  Print Recipe

More Choctoberfest Deliciousness

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Individual Chocolate Orange Bundts #BundtBakers #Choctoberfest

Happy Thursday!!  Today is not only the 4th day of our Choctoberfest celebration but it is also the third Thursday of the month.  That means it is also the day that a group of wonderful bakers get together and share all their Bundt creations based on a theme chosen for that month.

Choctoberfest is brought to you by the ladies over at The PinterTest Kitchen and several sponsors, including gold sponsor, Imperial Sugar.  You can learn more about all of our sponsors and enter to win a great giveaway over at my Welcome Post.

Bundt Bakers is brought to you by my friend, Stacy, of Food Lust People Love.  Stacy started this great group and each month one of the members hosts the party and chooses a theme.  This month's host is Felice of All That's Left are the Crumbs.

Felice chose the theme orange for this month which played in perfectly with the Choctoberfest event that we are celebrating.  I LOVE the chocolate/orange profile and knew that I wanted to make a Chocolate Orange Cake.

I thought that it would be a great idea to make some mini bundts and turn them into little individual pumpkins using orange frosting and green twizzlers.  I even bought a mini bundt cake pan so that I could create this darling vision I had in my head.

I enlisted the help of my adorable Little Sous Chef and we got to work making the batter and baking the cakes.

They were going to be so adorable!! I was going to make 12 little pumpkins, one for each place setting at my daughter's birthday celebration.  Then I couldn't find any green twizzlers anywhere.  Well, I did find some on Amazon but they wanted nearly $20 for a package.  Fahgeddaboutit!  So I decided I would use mini tootsie rolls instead.

I trimmed the bottoms and fit them together.  They were going to be the cutest little pumpkins ever!! Frank made up a batch of his Mom's Buttercream Frosting and tinted it a beautiful orange color.

Then I started frosting the cakes and remembered something......I AM THE WORST FROSTER IN THE WORLD!!!! I know there is a secret to putting on a thin layer so that the crumb from the cake doesn't smear all over the outside but I can't figure out how to do it.  I worked on it until I threw down my spatula in disgust and stomped away saying things that can't be repeated on this blog. Frank shook his head at me saying "Ok, Miss Patience" and I directed more phrases towards him that cannot be repeated on this blog.

I took a couple of deep breaths and a hot shower. When I was finished, calm and sanity had returned along with the realization that this was only baking and not the end of the world.  Out came the powdered sugar (thanks, Imperial) and Individual Chocolate Orange Bundts were born.

While I didn't have individual pumpkins for each place setting, I still had a very nice display for on the dessert table.....And a lesson learned.....this blogging stuff is supposed to be for fun and relaxation....I need to keep it in perspective.

I want to thank Imperial Sugar and Rodelle for supplying me with free products used in this recipe.  All opinions in this and all my posts are purely my own.

Individual Chocolate/Orange Bundts
adapted from a recipe by Trisha Yearwood at Food Network

3 c. flour
1/2 c. cocoa (I used Rodelle)
1 1/2 c. sugar (I used Imperial)
2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
2 c. freshly squeezed orange juice
zest of 1 orange
3/4 c. Miracle Whip (or mayonnaise)
2 T. balsamic vinegar
1 t. vanilla
Powdered sugar (I used Imperial)

Combine the flour, cocoa, sugar, soda, salt and cinnamon in the large bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment.  Add the orange juice, zest, Miracle Whip, vinegar, and vanilla.  Mix on low speed just until combined.

Divide the batter among two (12 cup) mini bundt pans that have been liberally treated with baking spray.  Bake in a preheated 350* oven for 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted removes cleanly.

Cool on wire racks for 10 minutes before turning out of pans and cooling completely.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.  Print Recipe

#BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme or ingredient. You can see all our of lovely Bundts by following our Pinterest board. Updated links for all of our past events and more information about #BundtBakers, can be found on our home page.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Secret Kiss Cookie #Choctoberfest

Disclosure: I received and used sponsor products in the making of this recipe.  All opinions contained in this post are 100% accurate and 100% mine.  I did not receive any monetary compensation for this post.

Today is the third day of Choctoberfest hosted by the ladies over at The PinterTest Kitchen accompanied by our Gold Sponsor, Imperial Sugar, who every year supports this fun event.

If there is any better way of making memories than creating in the kitchen with your family, I don't know what it is. Imperial sugar has been helping families make memories since 1843.  That is a heck of a lot of memories!!

While Imperial Sugar is our Gold sponsor, sending each of the bloggers involved in this event a huge selection of granulated, powdered and brown sugar, they are not the sole sponsors.  I also received product from Barleans and Rodelle.  All of these sponsors are also offering some great prizes for you, our readers, to receive.  You can enter the raffle and, hopefully, be a lucky winner by going to my Welcome Post.

You can also enter another contest being sponsored by Imperial Sugar and win a year's worth of sugar by going to their Scary Recipe Scramble that is going on right now.

I am excited to share with you today a recipe in which I was able to use products from all three of our sponsors.  These chocolate pecan cookies make a crisp, melt in your mouth covering for the chocolate kiss hidden inside.

I adapted this recipe from one found in the Hershey's Classic Recipes Cookbook called  Cocoa Kiss Cookies.  I used the Rodelle dutch processed cocoa instead of that called for in the recipe and the butter flavored coconut oil provided by Barleans in place of the butter or margarine.

We each ate a couple (you have to taste test, you know) and then packaged the rest to be sold at the bake sale table at the Harvest Dinner held annually at our church.  I hope those who supported our parish by buying these cookies enjoyed the rich decadence provided as much as we did.  

Reminder: You will find links to more amazing chocolate recipes at the bottom of the post.  Don't forget to enter the raffle.  I would love one of my readers to be a lucky winner.

The Secret Kiss Cookie
adapted from Hershey's Classic Recipes

1 c. butter flavored coconut oil (I used Barleans)
2/3 c. granulated sugar (I used Imperial)
1 t. vanilla
1 2/3 c. flour 
1/4 c. baking cocoa (I used Rodelle)
1 c. pecans, finely chopped 
1 (9 oz) bag chocolate kiss candy
Powdered sugar (I used Imperial)

In large bowl of stand mixer, fitted with paddle attachment, cream together the coconut oil, granulated sugar and vanilla.  Combine flour and cocoa and gradually add to the creamed mixture beating until blended.  Add pecans, mixing well.  Refrigerate dough for about an hour.

Mold a scant tablespoon of dough around each candy kiss from which the wrapping has been removed, shaping into balls, and placing onto ungreased baking pans.  Place baking pans containing the balls into the refrigerator while preheating the oven to 375*.

When oven is preheated, place refrigerated cookies inside and bake for 10-12 minutes or until set.  Cool on pan for a minute or two before removing to a wire rack set over parchment paper. 

Sift powdered sugar liberally over the cookies once completely cooled.   Print Recipe

Day 3 Choctober Recipes

Sweet Pepper Relish #FantasticalFoodFight

Sarah of Fantastical Sharing of Recipes invites us each month to compete in a showdown called Fantastical Food Fight.  She posts a theme each month and then we all try to create the best recipe of the group so that we can be crowned winners!!

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This month the theme is Pickled Peppers, chosen because October is National Pickled Pepper month.  Who knew?  Probably Peter Piper knew and that is why he picked a peck of them.

It just so happens that this event is taking place in the heart of canning season here on the farm.  As luck would have it, one of the items that I had decided to can was a Sweet Pepper Relish that I found in Preserving Summer's Bounty by Rodale Press.

This wonderful book sits on my shelf all year long and then each fall I pull it out and start perusing to see how I can preserve all the bounty from the Farmer's Markets that are overflowing with goodness.

Each chapter in the first part of this book focuses on different means of preserving foods: Freezing, Canning, Preserving, Pickling, Drying, Juicing and Root Cellaring.  The second part of the book contains Recipes from the Garden. It is a wonderful tool for in the kitchen and I will be sharing it with Foodies Read this month.

The recipe I am sharing came from the Pickles, Condiments and Relishes section.  There are a slew from which to pick.  I chose the Pepper-Onion Relish because I had everything I needed on hand.

This relish contains only 4 ingredients.  Using a food processor, make quick work of the prep meaning that you can have 3 or 4 lovely pints of relish ready to be put into your pantry in less than an hour.

Finely chop your onions and peppers.  Place them into a stainless steel pot with some vinegar and honey and cook for about 45 minutes.

Transfer to clean, hot jars leaving 1/4" headspace.  Seal and process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes.  These jars were popping as soon as I pulled them out of the water.

This relish is a wonderful condiment for sandwiches, burgers or sausages.  It is nice to put out on a charcuterie board with some good bread.  I have even used it for making tartar sauce. 

However, my favorite way to serve it is to combine it with mayo, ketchup and mustard creating a delicious "secret" sauce when you're serving burgers.  YUMMO!!

Sweet Pepper Relish
adapted from Preserving Summer's Bounty by Rodale Press

1 large sweet onion
4 large bell peppers, colors of choice
4 c. apple cider vinegar
1/2 c. honey

Place the onion and peppers in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.  Transfer to a stainless steel pot along with the vinegar and honey.  Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally for about 45 minutes, until slightly thickened.

Pack into clean, hot, pint size jars leaving 1/4" headspace.  Seal and process in a hot water bath for 5 minutes.  Alternatively you can seal, cool and store in the refrigerator.  Print Recipe

More Pickled Pepper Recipes

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Chocolate Chili #Choctoberfest

Welcome to Day 2 of Choctoberfest, where we are sharing all things chocolate all week long.  This fun event is hosted by the gals over at PinterTest Kitchen and sponsored by Imperial sugar among others.

You can read all about our sponsors and enter to win some great prize packages by going to my Welcome Post.  As an added bonus, you will also find a recipe for some Bootiful Halloween Bark.

Today I am sharing with you a savory recipe.  Yes, chocolate can be savory too.  This chili gets it's deep, gorgeous color and great depth of flavor from the addition of  cocoa.

We were sent some Gourmet Baking Cocoa from one of our sponsors, Rodelle.  I was happy to use this product in my chili today and in baking that I will be sharing with you during the week.  The cocoa is of high quality and dutch processed.  I did not receive any monetary compensation from Rodelle or any of the other sponsors and, as always, all opinions voiced in this blog are 100% my own.

Topped with shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream and served with a side of jalapeno cheese cornbread or tortillas, this chili makes a hearty lunch on a brisk fall day.

Chocolate Chili
inspired by a recipe from Paula Deen

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 small onion, chopped
1/2 T. chili powder
1 t. cumin
1 T. unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Rodelle)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 (15 oz) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 dash hot sauce (I used Tobasco)
1/2 t. dried basil, crushed
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes with juices
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 c. beef broth
Shredded cheese and sour cream for garnish, if desired

Place the ground beef in a large pot or dutch oven placed over med high heat. Cook and stir, breaking up the beef for a couple of minutes.  Add the onions, chili powder and cumin.  Cook and stir until combined and onions are starting to soften.  Add the cocoa,  garlic and jalapeno and cook for a few more minutes.  Stir in the the beans, hot sauce and basil.  Add the tomatoes with their juice, tomato sauce and beef broth.  Cover and simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally.

Garnish with cheese and sour cream if desired.  Print Recipe

More Day 2 Choctoberfest Recipes

Monday, October 16, 2017

Halloween Bark to Welcome You to #Choctoberfest

Welcome to  #Choctoberfest! This is the third annual food blogger celebration of all things chocolate, made possible thanks to our gold sponsor Imperial Sugar and the other sponsors listed below.

Over 70 bloggers are participating in #Choctoberfest 2017 and will be posting 200+ chocolate recipes over the next week. Keep your eyes peeled, visit any of the blogs listed below, or use the #Choctoberfest hashtag on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to follow along.

You can also check out our #Choctoberfest Pinterest board, where we post chocolate recipes all year long.

You are absolutely going to want to enter to win our #Choctoberfest prize pack. Look at the great prize packages being awarded by our generous sponsors!
  • $100 gift card to Williams Sonoma or Sur La Table from our gold sponsor Imperial Sugar
  • 1 case of granulated white sugar (40 pounds), 1 case of light brown sugar (24 pounds), 1 case of dark brown sugar (24 pounds), and 1 case of powdered sugar (24 pounds) from our gold sponsor Imperial Sugar
  • 16 oz Barlean’s Butter-Flavored Coconut Oil, 9.52 oz canister of Chocolate Silk Greens, and 8oz bottle of Essential Women Omega-Swirl Chocolate Mint from our silver sponsor Barlean's
  • 300-piece Lindt LINDOR Truffles gift bag (you choose the flavors!) from blog sponsors The PinterTest Kitchen
This prize pack is valued at over $450! To enter, simply follow participating sponsors and bloggers using the below giveaway widget.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Stay tuned all week to see the delicious recipes bloggers have cooked up using Imperial Sugar and Barlean's products.

I want to say thank you also to Davis Chocolate and Rodelle for being #Choctoberfest shoutout sponsors! Watch Instagram and Facebook to find out more about about their chocolate products.

Here is a complete list of all the bloggers participating in #Choctoberfest 2017, so you can see the recipes they are posting throughout the week.  I am sharing my first recipe with you today and will be linking to all the others who are sharing a recipe today, as well.

The PinterTest KitchenFix Me a Little LunchSavory MomentsCrumbs in my MustachioHouse of Nash EatsBake It With LoveThat RecipeHardly A GoddessCooking With CarleeA Kitchen Hoor's AdventuresBody RebootedCindy's Recipes and WritingsThe Redhead BakerFaith, Hope, Love, & Luck Survive Despite a Whiskered AccompliceSweet CoraliceSeduction in The KitchenCooks&Books&RecipesEveryday EileenUnder My Apple TreeFamily Around The TableBottom Left of the MittenThe Spiffy CookieFairyburgerJoin Us, Pull up a ChairJonesin' For TasteJane's Adventures in DinnerTake Two TapasJennifer BakesThe Unlikely BakerHostess At HeartKaren's Kitchen StoriesKate's Recipe BoxKelly Lynns Sweets and TreatsWildflour's Cottage KitchenChocolate SlopesLittle House Big AlaskaMakes, Bakes and Decor2 Cookin MamasThat Skinny Chick Can BakeBooks n' CooksMildly MeanderingLiving IdeasRestless ChipotleGet the Good Stuff!The Weekday GourmetAn Affair from the HeartWest Via MidwestCookie Dough and Oven MittThe Bitter Side of SweetCookaholic WifeDaily Dish RecipesFor the Love of FoodThe Saucy SouthernerCook's HideoutBy the PoundsTramplingrose: Cooking, Baking & Ranting in Small-Town South DakotaSarah Cooks the BooksChef Sarah ElizabethFantastical Sharing of RecipesSarah's Bake StudioThe Pajama ChefFrankly EntertainingLong Distance BakingPalatable PastimeThe Freshman CookThe Food Hunter's Guide to Cuisine ♥ A Day in the Life on the FarmWendy PolisiTampa Cake GirlMy Southern Sweet ToothCanning and Cooking at HomeFull Belly SistersSuperSizeGuy.comOur Good Life

As you can see it is going to be one huge, chocolate filled extravaganza this week so.......


Because you are being inundated with so much information in this post, I decided to keep my recipe very simple.

Simple enough that a toddler could do it.  Well, a toddler could at least help do it.  An older child or adult might need to be in charge of melting the chocolate.

But once the chocolate is melted and spread onto an aluminum foil lined baking sheet, a toddler can go to town sprinkling on any candies you happen to like and have on hand.  I melted my chocolate in a makeshift double boiler but if you have older kids helping you can have them do it in the microwave.  I had some candy corn and fall colored M&M's in candy dishes in the house so I grabbed a couple of handfuls of each.  I had the eyes and Halloween sprinkles in my baking cupboard from other projects so I pulled them out.

When the sprinkles are all scattered about, simply place the baking pan in the refrigerator and go about your day. After puzzles, walks, singing, coloring, viewing Frozen (for the 1,123rd time), lunch and a nap, pull out the bark, peel it from the foil and break it into pieces.  Then it is time for the most important toddler task of all...the taste test.

Now is the most important part for the Executive Chef.....convincing the toddler sous chef that if she eats to much of this her belly will be hurting so we should put the rest into a bowl for later.

Make sure you stop by and see what Chocolatey Treats the others are serving up today following this simple and fun recipe.

Halloween Bark

2 c. good quality semi sweet chocolate chips
Assorted Halloween Candies, sprinkles and edible novelties

Place the chocolate chips in a heat safe bowl over simmering water and melt, stirring often, until smooth.  While chocolate is melting, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper.  When chocolate is melted and smooth, pour it onto the lined baking pan, and spreading it with a spatula.  While the chocolate is still warm, sprinkle the Halloween additions over the chocolate.  Place the baking pan in the refrigerator until the chocolate is set.  Break the bark into pieces and serve.  Print Recipe

More Day 1 Choctoberfest Recipes

Sunday, October 15, 2017

A Birthday Celebration and the Weekly Menu #MerlotMe

We celebrated our eldest daughter's, Amy, birthday today with a family dinner at home.  It was a wonderful gathering of family and friends and I hope it left our girl with a small glimpse of how important she is to our family.  I was thrilled that most of the kids were able to attend.  We missed Chuck who is out to sea at this writing and we missed most of our TC family but were happy that our Lili was able to attend.

I served up all of Amy's favorite foods, Roast Beef Tenderloin, Caesar Salad, Mashed Potatoes and Birthday Apple Pie ala Mode.

Amy is a beer drinker who occasionally appreciates a glass of Chardonnay or a Margarita.  Frank and I, however, are red wine drinkers and I recently received 6 wonderful bottles of wine from Duckhorn Winery who are sponsoring #MerlotMe which takes place each October.

I posted more about it yesterday, when my Wine Pairing Weekend group shared recipes that paired well with Merlot and chatted about our experience on Twitter.

One of the things that we talked about is that while we appreciate our sponsors and love getting free samples we never post anything other than our true and honest opinion on our blogs.  Our relationship to our readers is much more important to us than our relationships with sponsors and none of us belonging to #WinePW received any monetary compensation for being involved in #MerlotMe.

I was beyond thrilled to receive this package from Duckhorn Vineyards.  Their wines are such a wonderful treat and I always enjoy them.

As we were enjoying the wines provided by sponsors for this event we watched fearfully as fires ravaged the Napa and Sonoma area of California.  We pray for the safety and well being of all affected by this terrible tragedy.

The bottle we chose to open to go with this birthday feast was from their Three Palms Vineyard, established in 1978 and one of California's first single vineyard Merlots, meaning that only grapes grown on this vineyard are used.  It received a 95 point rating with Wine Spectator.

This is an amazing wine.  It stood up perfectly to the tender, juicy, herb encrusted beef.  We enjoyed both bottles that had been provided with this meal and we all thought it was an amazing pairing.

Herb Encrusted Beef Tenderloin

1 (4 lb) beef tenderloin roast (trimmed, tied and cut in half crosswise)
3 cloves garlic
handful parsley 
leaves of 5-6 stems of thyme
leaves of 3-4 stems of rosemary
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 T. olive oil
1 c. red wine
3 T. butter

Place the garlic, parsley, thyme and rosemary in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until minced.  Add the salt and pepper, pulse twice and then run while adding the olive oil to make a paste like consistency. Rub all over the roasts and let rest at room temperature for 45 minutes to an hour.

Heat an oven safe skillet over high heat. Add the roasts and sear on all sides until nicely browned.  Place into a preheated 325* oven and roast, turning every 10 minutes or so, until an internal temp of 120* is reached in the thickest portion. Remove from oven and let rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing.

While meat is resting, place skillet over med high heat and deglaze with 1 cup of red wine, bringing to a boil and scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Cook until reduced by half, whisk in the butter until slightly thickened and pour over tenderloin slices before serving.  Print Recipe

I'm closing this post with my Weekly Menu.  Yesterday we had dinner after a Mass of Thanksgiving for our friend, Sister Maryann, who celebrated her 60th Jubilee this year.

Tuesday I will be gone for much of the day taking Aunt Irene to the doctor.  Frank is making Spaghetti for dinner as that is Melody's favorite.

Wednesday, Frank is on his own.  I have food pantry and am going right from there to a DoTerra Oil class at Amy's.

I am looking forward to a fun week and hope that you are too.

Weekly Menu

Reception at Sister's after Mass

Sunday-Amy's Birthday Dinner
Corn Chowder
Caesar Salad
Pasta with Crab Sauce
Roast Beef Tenderloin
Mashed Potatoes
Steamed Broccoli
Birthday Pie ala Mode

Hot and Sour Soup
Sweet and Spicy Chicken
Steamed Rice

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce


Slow Cooker Cassoulet

Fish Friday
Seafood Pizza

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Celebrating the Harvest with Eggplant Lasagna and J Lohr #MerlotMe #WinePW

Each October we celebrate #Merlotme with our Wine Pairing Weekend group.  This event was started by California wineries after the movie, Sideways, disparaged Merlot wines causing  a decline in sales of this wonderful varietal that deserves much more respect than it gets.

The past two years, when celebrating this event, I have served three wine and food pairings in one post.  You can find my Triple Wine and Food pairing from 2015 here and my #Merlotme Trifecta from last year here.

This year I am changing things up a bit.  Today I am showcasing a bottle of J. Lohr Merlot.  I will be showcasing the other wines in upcoming posts so stay tuned.

I want to mention right here and right now that I was buying J. Lohr long before they ever sponsored any event in which I participated.  While I love having sponsors and getting free samples, I love my readers more.  I did not get any monetary compensation in this event by J. Lohr or any other sponsor.  My opinions, in this post, and in my entire blog are purely mine.

I am always, always, always excited to have J. Lohr sponsor our events.  Mainly because I love their wines and purchase them quite often.  I know that if I have J. Lohr available in my wine fridge, I can open it for guests or take it with me as a host gift, knowing that it is going to be wonderful.

Their vineyards and winery are located on Paso Robles, California, close to where my brother resides.  A visit to my family in California is not complete without a visit to at least one winery and Paso Robles, more often than not, is where we head.

J. Lohr sent a fact sheet along with their bottle of wine. This wine was harvested over a 2 week period beginning September 10, 2015.  It is fermented in stainless steel tanks and then matured over a 12 month period in barrels made of 22% new oak.  This wine is recommended to be opened upon release but has potential to improve over the next 5 years.

Frank and I enjoyed the wine on a Meatless Monday when I served up this cheesy, ooey, gooey eggplant lasagna.

I had been over Kim's and she gifted me several eggplants from her garden.  I knew, from past experience, that the eggplant/tomato combination has paired well with J. Lohr and I am smart enough not to tamper with success.

This pairing was no exception and did not disappoint.  I'm sure it has something to do with the fact that the eggplant, tomatoes and grapes are all harvested during the same time period.  

The wine was deep, dark and vibrant both in the glass and on the palate.  It complemented the earthy sweetness of the eggplant and tomatoes.  I think this wine would be great with pizza too.  

We enjoyed it well enough that we are hoping to pick up a case and open a bottle every 6 months to see if, in fact, it does improve with age. Stay tuned for that little experiment.

Eggplant Lasagna

2-3 small eggplants, ends cut off and thinly sliced
1 qt. Marinara, homemade or your favorite brand
6 oz. fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
1 c. ricotta cheese
1 egg
1 t. Italian herb seasoning
3 oz. parmesan cheese, shredded or grated

Whisk together the ricotta, egg and Italian herbs. Place a small amount of marinara in the bottom of an 8" square baking pan to cover.  Layer 1/3 of the eggplant slices onto the sauce, followed by 1/3 of the ricotta mixture, 1/3 of the Mozzarella and 1/3 of the Parmesan.  Repeat 3 times.

Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake in a preheated 350* oven for 45-55 minutes, until eggplant is very tender.  Remove foil and place under the broiler for a few minutes until top is browned and bubbly.  Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing into quarters to serve.  Print Recipe

Let's join the rest of the #WinePW group as we celebrate #Merlotme