Are you ready for the holidays?

I don’t know about you, but I am not ready for the holidays. It always feels like as we get closer to the end of the year, it snowballs. No pun intended. (Ok maybe a little)

As I prep for a holiday meal, decor and a few gifts, time is getting away from me and I need to step it up. That’s where you come in! I need some inspiration. I need fellow bloggers to share their must have’s for the holidays. Whether you follow a specific religion, are more spiritual or just enjoy this time of year, I am interested in learning what makes it special for you.

Do you have a go-to meal that you share with your family year after year? Is there a tradition you remember from your childhood? Has that tradition carried through til now? Do you have a piece of decor or special ornaments that you use each season? Even the smallest of things that make your holidays special…that is what I would love to learn.

If you care to share in the comments, by all means please do. Especially if its a recipe we could all enjoy! If you prefer to message me privately, you can DM me on my twitter profile @mrsmotta.

I know you have something to share…inspire me!

christmas stock pic

#FollowFriday

Its the end of another long week and I for one am looking forward to the weekend. Funny how a long holiday weekend could make the following workweek feel like an eternity! That being said, I have a gem for you on this #FollowFriday. A new blog that is about to take off and has a niché that separates it from the rest.

Hit & Miss Cuisine is the brainchild of Victoria Goodman. A 20 year old with no professional training but loads of love for cooking intrigues me. She has a fresh take on blogging about recipes. Its not about reblogging or posting about an existing recipe that everyone has already tried. She is all about trying stuff out and posting whether it works or not. How refreshing! In a time where we take a half dozen selfies til we find one that works, knowing this blog is about the hits & misses is just plain awesome.

I hated cooking at first. It was just something that I was forced to do. But one day, I decided I didn’t want to cook the same old things so I searched the internet for an interesting recipe and stumbled upon a Chef John recipe on Allrecipes. Chef John became my culinary mentor. -Victoria Goodman

lemon chicken

Inspiration came from wanting to break the cycle of boring meals and we are all reaping the benefits of her journey. I encourage you to check out Hit & Miss Cuisine. A year from now you can say ‘I knew her when…’

One Dish Dinner

With all the cooking (and cleanup) for Thanksgiving dinner, prep work for meals in the days before should be quick and easy. My favorite types of quick meals are one dish dinners. Something you can prep in either one skillet or even a baking dish. Its fast, cleanup is a breeze and all the flavors blend so make a delish meal.

I did a littl20151117_142146-1e dish of my own with what I had on hand and I have to say, it was yummy. I grabbed some white rice, baby potatoes, frozen brussels sprouts, baby carrots and a can of chicken broth. I layered it all in a 13×9 pyrex dish and seasoned with salt, pepper and parmesan cheese. I layered boneless, skinless chicken breasts on top and seasoned them with grapeseed oil, salt & pepper.

 

 

Toss it in the oven at 350 for about an hour & take it out to turn the chicken over, stir the veggies & add more broth if needed. Bake it for another 20 minutes or so and serve with warm rolls. Deliciousness!20151117_150517

Recipe E-Book

With so many sites offering recipes, keeping the public’s interest is key. Think about it…you have Martha Stewart, Betty Crocker, Food Network, Cooking Channel and countless more…it’s dizzying! I found a site that offered free e-books of their recipes and wanted to share them with you.

bbq_page_001If you check out Cook Dojo, prepare to be flooded with hundreds of recipes all sorted alpha style. I was so pleased to see they offered e-books of some of their most popular recipes. I am a huge breakfast person. I mean, you had me at eggs. When one of the options was a free breakfast e-book, I was practically giddy! They also shared a bbq e-book and I have to say, I am already anxious for springtime to fire up the grill and get down!

There aren’t any pictures so you will have to imagine the yumminess that will ensue but it’s worth the clicks to browse through all the options. Enjoy the attached e-books and let me know if you try out any of the recipes!

Gluten Free Thanksgiving

Keeping with the holiday theme, I wanted to share a gem with you. It’s a site targeted to those interested in gluten free diets but the info definitely has mass appeal. Of course, I initially found this when I was happily pinning, and was pleasantly surprised at the content available on the native site. You can tell time, effort and care has been put into producing a quality site. Introducing Fave Gluten Free Recipes.

While cruising through the info they share on all the deliciousness you can create on a gluten free diet, I was pleased to see they also offered a detailed grocery list to make shopping a no-brainer.

‘Your gluten free Thanksgiving should be stress free, and this ultimate grocery list will help to make your holiday shopping completely painless.’

Ultimate-Grocery-List-GF-Thanksgiving-Large_Large400_ID-802064

Stress free? Yes please! I mean the detail they go into is incredible. They provide a store bought option for each item listed and in turn, also offer a homemade recipe. They cover all bases and show options for not just the main course, but the sides we all know and love too.

Want to download the info? They have free e-cookbooks. We all love free stuff right? Are you a visual learner? They have how-to videos. They even have a test kitchen. Knowing its not just a list that is compiled from info across the internet gives it legitimacy not seen everywhere online. Fave Gluten Free Recipes take their site to another level making it interactive…yes, you can share your recipes and blog along with them too.

I can spend an hour just writing about all of their features and still not be done. You just have to see it for yourself. There is so much to learn, try out and share with others. Check it out…they are definitely bookmarked for me!

Product Review – Chef Merito Bread Crumbs

Chicken is so versatile yet I find myself always making the same dishes with it so it was time to mix things up a bit. I am a fan of bread crumbs whether they are seasoned, plain or panko so when I discovered Chef Merito a couple years ago, I knew I had to try it out. I have been a fan ever since. When I found they had a spicy version, oh it was on!

20151109_153957Let me tell you, don’t be intimidated by the spicy blend. Its not hot…it has just enough spice to give it a new flavor but not too hot for those sensitive to spicy food. I baked a tray of seasoned drumsticks and they were uh-may-zing!

Simple recipe…add some grapeseed oil to a baking tray & add your chicken. Toss each piece so they are coated. Add salt, pepper and the bread crumbs. Turn them over & do the same. Pop in the oven at 350 for about an hour. Take them out, rotate each piece and pop back in for another 15 minutes or til golden brown. 20151115_143013

I have served this with white rice and steamed veggies, but if you want to amp up the stick-to-your-ribs factor, chop some potatoes, onion & baby carrots and put them in the baking tray first. Season the same way as the chicken and place the drumsticks (or other pieces) on top. Talk about yummy!

 

 

Let the festivities begin!

I am in full Thanksgiving mode! I have most of the groceries needed for dinner except for a few of the fresh items I will need in the days beforehand. Some of the holiday decor is out and making the house feel warm and cozy. The 80 degree So Cal weather helps with that too!

Considering this is my favorite holiday, I am excited not just to cook for my family but to share it all with you. Some will be cooking wins, some may be epic fails but all will be made with love. Rather than post pics of previous years, I will share with you what I want to make this year and once dinner is done, I will share the fruits of my labor.

dinner rolls Dinner rolls…from scratch. Yes I am going to try this so keep your fingers crossed. For me, bread and butter are awesome so if the bread isnt warm and soft, its a fail.

 

 

creamed cornCreamed corn is a step up from the traditional corn served on our Thanksgiving table. Looks delish!

 

 

 

 

sausage stuffing Sausage stuffing is a family favorite. Its a recipe I have done since I was a kid helping my parents prep the night before. Mixing everything together and getting elbow deep as a kid are some of my fondest memories.

 

 

 

slow cooker mashed

 

Slow cooker mashed potatoes are a big deal to some but this will be my first venture into this method. I normally either boil the potatoes or use instant. (Dont judge…instant are yummy too!)

 

 

 

apple pie cake Apple Pie cake is a new addition to this year’s menu. Normally its pumpkin, mince & apple pies but I am going to try this out. Apples & cinnamon are always good!

 

Pumpkin pie dip is a light but sweet addition to the pre-dinner feast. We have made this on several occasions and its a hit!pumpkin pie dip

There are of course other items like the turkey, a ham, some cranberry sauce & gravy too. Just thinking of the way the house smells with everything cooking and the comfort of family by my side…I am truly thankful. Although I wont have all of my loved ones at my table, I am blessed to know they are just a phone call away.

You can view all the recipes for these sides on my boards. I cant wait…

Country Apple Fritter Bread

We have all done it…pinned something to our favorite boards and either forget or just don’t have the drive to try them out. Well I am going to share my successes and failures as I cruise through some of my favorite pins. Welcome to my first #PinterestPinTest!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I pinned this recipe just a few days ago and couldn’t wait to try it out. The weather is cold, my oven is warm and I like baked goods. Trifecta! The recipe is below taken directly from The Baking Chocolatess. I omitted the glaze and the hubby suggested pecans for the next time. I guess he liked it!

  1. 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  2. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  3. 2/3 cup white sugar
  4. 1/2 cup butter, softened
  5. 2 eggs
  6. 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  7. 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  8. 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  9. 1/2 cup milk or almond milk
  10. 2 apples, peeled and chopped (any kind), mixed with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use a 9×5-inch loaf pan and spray with non-stick spray or line with foil and spray with non-stick spray to get out easily for slicing.
  2. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. In another medium-sized bowl, beat white sugar and butter together using an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.
  4. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until blended in; add in vanilla extract.
  5. Combine & whisk flour and baking powder together in another bowl and add into creamed butter mixture and stir until blended.
  6. Mix milk into batter until smooth.
  7. Pour half the batter into the prepared loaf pan; add half the apple mixture, then half the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture.
  8. Lightly pat apple mixture into batter.
  9. Pour the remaining batter over apple layer and top with remaining apple mixture, then the remaining brown sugar/cinnamon mixture.
  10. Lightly pat apples into batter; swirl brown sugar mixture through apples using knife or spoon.
  11. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, approximately 50-60 minutes.

If you test this out, let me know what you think. Would love to hear how others may add or modify it. Enjoy!

Product Review – Agave Syrup

As you can probably tell by the title and header photo of this blog, I am a coffee addict. Not quite to the aficionado level but I know a good cup of java when I taste it! With so many options of gourmet flavors and sweeteners, it can snowball into a sugary drink. No bueno. I am not the type to use faux sugars or substitutes but I also know that too much is bad for me. This time of year, there are even more options available…who doesn’t enjoy a pumpkin spice or gingerbread latte around the holidays?!

I have a favorite go-to option for a low glycemic sweetener that isn’t over manufactured or processed to death. I use agave syrup. For years I have been using the organic blue agave in my coffee and its life changing! Seriously, its better than the flavored syrups from the big box stores and its better for you. Not to be used everyday of course, but I prefer this to refined white sugar in just about everything. Its sweeter than sugar so I use less and its natural so I dont worry about chemicals like those used in processing other substitutes.

When I clicked through their site, I noticed all the other options to use it that I didnt think of before. Not just baked goods but drinks like Mojitos, bbq sauces & soups. I will have to try out their curry apple soup over the holidays for sure!

Give it a shot…tell me what you think!

agave

#FollowFriday

Its the end of the work week, you know what that means…its #FollowFriday. I have enjoyed a great, interactive week with you fellow bloggers and what better way to give back than to highlight a blog of the week.

My selection this week is Art and Kitchen. With so many recipes to choose from, it was difficult to select one to share but when I came across the white fall sangria, I knew this was the one! Once you delve deeper into the blog and discover just how the recipes come alive, you will notice just how much love is put into each one. With all of the fresh ingredients and the stories behind them, the recipes are written indications of love via the delicious vehicle of hand crafted meals.

I appreciate each entry and look forward to trying some of these over the holidays. Cruise on over to the page and take a look for yourself. Hope you all enjoy Art and Kitchen as much as I do. Happy #FollowFriday!

follow friday