Thursday, December 31, 2020

New Years Eve 2020

 Chocolate Cake:

2 Cups Flour
1 2/3 Cup White Sugar
2/3 Cup Cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 Cup oil
2 Eggs at room temperature
1 Cup buttermilk
1 Cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees,  Grease 3 6 inch pans.

Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Add oil, eggs, vanilla and buttermilk on low speed until just combined.

With mixer on low, slowly add hot water.  Increase speed to medium for approximately 2 minutes.
This is a very thin batter.

Divide batter between pans.  Approximately filling, 2/3 full.

Bake 40 minutes.  Let cool for 10 minutes and carefully remove from pans to fully cool on baking rack.

Once fully cooled frost with your favorite frosting.  For this cake I used butter cream frosting.

Butter Cream Frosting:

2 sticks of butter at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla
1-2 tablespoons milk
4 Cups of powdered sugar

Mix butter and vanilla on low speed for 1 minute
Slowly add powdered sugar.
Add milk until it reaches your desired consistency. 

It's been quite some time since I have made a tiered cake.  I need to get this skill back.  It looks pretty good and it is very tasty which is the most important thing.

I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year!  May 2021 be a little kinder to us all.

Stay safe!

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Five days until 2021

It often is the two of us for Christmas Day but the month of December usually involves some get togethers with friends and family, a Christmas party or two and a trip or two to our favorite Mexican place for lunch or dinner.  None of that could happen this year and in my mind I fight feeling sad about what we couldn't do and guilty to be in such a good place when so many are not.  The ramblings in my brain this month have been a bit overboard.  My emotions this month have gone from sad to thankful and back again more times than I can count.  I know that when the clock strikes midnight on December 31st things are not going to magically improve.  I am putting my hope in being able to maneuver 2021 and all of the new "normals" and just keep my sanity while trying to remember to celebrate each and every day.

Christmas Eve we ended up staying home instead of going to look at lights.  It was bitterly cold here and we were quite cozy at home.  I decided to make loaded baked potatoes with pan seared beef sausage and green peppers and onions.  It has been a long time since we have had either and it was very good.  Loaded baked potatoes are going to be on the menu a little more this coming year.

Christmas morning I made bacon and pancakes.  I chopped up some pecans and warmed them in a pan with butter and maple syrup.  They were so good.  For lunch we had ham, party meatballs, scalloped potatoes, bacon and onion green beans and fresh bread.  I also made an appetizer tray of cheeseball, garlic onion dip, veggies, crackers, deviled eggs,  etc.  It was a munching kind of day.  We have so much candy and cookies right now I decided to put off making a cake.  Maybe I will do it for New Years Eve.

Every year I pick up two bags of these local pecans.  They are so delicious. 

Grandmothers Pecan Nut Cups
3 ounces of cream cheese or Mascarpone
1 stick of butter softened
1 Cup of flour
Pinch of salt

4 ounces of chopped pecans
3/4 Cup of brown sugar
1 Tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg

Mix dough ingredients until dough doesn't stick to the side of bowl.  Refrigerate until chilled.  About an hour.  Meanwhile mix filling ingredients.  Shape dough into 1 inch balls and place in a greased small muffin tin.  Make an indentation in the middle of the dough and fill with filling.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes.  
Hint:  do not put in too much filling.  It will overflow and cause them to stick in the pan.

What are your plans for the New Year?

Stay Safe!

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Christmas Eve 2020 Style

I'm off work until Monday to celebrate Christmas.  2020 has thrown many curve balls at us all.  As everything else, the holiday will be very different.

I did go ahead and do the traditional luncheon with the doctors. We are exposed to each other on a daily basis so in a way we are part of each others "bubble".  I made two trays of stuffed shells and served meatballs on the side for those that eat meat, a large salad with the works, a couple loaves of my no knead bread and a cookie tray.  It turned out very well and was a much easier meal than last year. It's been so long since I've cooked for anyone but the big guy, it was nice to share a meal with people that enjoy good food.

We had a cold front move in last night so coffee and French toast was needed this morning.  We're ordering a pizza for lunch and plan to spend the afternoon playing Scrabble, reading and maybe watching a movie.  As soon as it gets dark we're heading out with Yeti's filled with hot cocoa to check out the town's Christmas lights.  It seems this year a lot of people went a little bigger with their decorations so this should be fun.  Tonight we will be relaxing at home together with a few cocktails and appetizers.

I'm trying to remind myself to be thankful for all that I have because I am truly blessed.  It's just been such a difficult year.  I miss seeing friends and family.  I miss the occasional meal out at our favorite Mexican place.  I miss parties.  But, so many others are missing way more.  So I will be thankful for all I do have.

I hope everyone has a magical Christmas Eve!

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Things That Make Me Smile

Jet LOVES boxes and takes them over as soon as they are emptied.  If you look closely he has his tongue out.  I think he was a little upset that he didn't quite fit in this one.

The group I work for really spoils me over the holidays.  This was a nice surprise delivered to my office.  It is 100 percent real greenery, holly, flowers, pinecones.  The picture from my office doesn't do it justice.  I will get another picture of it as a center piece on my dining room table.

My almost 23 year old niece graduated this week.  She now has a Masters Degree in Social Work.  She has secured a good job in one of the largest Hospitals in Illinois and is planning to work on her PHD soon.  I'm very happy for her.

All and all it's been a very good week.  Now to sit down make a list and check it twice.  There's more baking to be done and preparations for our Monday luncheon at work.  I did simplify it quite a bit this year.

Hope everyone is staying safe and taking time this coming week to slow down and enjoy the meaning of the Season.

Sunday, December 13, 2020


This week at work was stressful to say the least.  The covid vaccine will be delivered Monday or Tuesday so scheduling all of my doctors has been a logistical nightmare. I'm trying to prepare myself for another very challenging week. I feel like my mind is spinning in 101different directions.

With all of this, I still have been trying to remember to slow down and enjoy the season.  I've been watching Christmas movies, usually while I'm in the kitchen either making dinner or baking.  All of the fairy lights and candles seem to brighten up these long, cold nights and warm my soul.

Last weekend I made a batch of pecan, chocolate chip cookies.  They were wrapped and frozen.  Yesterday I made pecan tassies.  They too have been frozen.  I still have two or three different cookies to make but they do not freeze well so will wait until closer to the holiday.  I take a large tray to work for the doctors and I put together a tray for us to enjoy at home.  This year I am also going to make a cake for Christmas Day.  I haven't worked it all out yet, but I hope it comes out as good as it looks and tastes in my mind.  

Today I'm going to take time to sit down and finalize the menu for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  I've been keeping meals on the simple side the last couple of weeks.  It's funny how simple can still be so delicious.

                                Spicy chili and all the fixings is always a treat on a cold night.

This is one of my favorite quick and simple meals.  Spicy Mexican rice with chicken stir fry.  Filling and so flavorful.

Well I'm off to start my day.  There is so much to be done.  I hope everyone is taking a little time to enjoy this season.  I know 2020 has been rough but we have to remember to look for the little joys.\

Stay safe!!

Saturday, December 5, 2020

It's beginning to look like Christmas

 We decorated our Christmas tree Monday and I spent a little time really thinking about each ornament as I pulled them out of the boxes.  Christmas decorations are like a trip down memory lane for me.  

This is the stuffed Santa I received for my first Christmas from my Mom and Dad.  He is in amazing condition for being 53.  The big guy thinks he's a little too creepy.  LOL

My Grandmother made this little cutie many years ago.

This is the new ornament for 2020.

This ornament was my Grandmothers.  I have no idea how old it is, but it is old.

My beautiful hand painted egg ornament from my friend in Newfoundland.  She has since passed away so this is a reminder of our friendship.

Both of these were made by my Grandmother.

This was made by my Great, great Grandmother for my first Christmas.

Another ornament made by my Grandmother.

I made this ornament probably 25 years ago.

This is one of my favorites.  My Grandfather made the sleigh and my Grandmother made the packages and painted the sleigh.  It's funny but I had put this decoration out for 5 or more Christmas's before I found the note she had written and tucked in under the packages.  It was like a sweet surprise. 

Today I'm doing some things around the house.  We're having lamb burgers and home made fries for dinner.  I plan on spending the evening making a couple different kinds of cookies to freeze for Christmas gifts.  Chocolate chip cookies are one.  I haven't decided on the other yet.  I like to make 6-8 different varieties to package and give away and some for us too of course.  

Do you have any Christmas decorations that really tug at your heart strings and bring good memories?