Applelicious Cupcakes

Applelicious Cupcakes

Channeling June Cleaver

Channeling June Cleaver

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Beautiful Surroundings Soothing to the Soul!

Seeking beauty in surroundings seems frivolous,wasting time, energy, money, especially when measured against ‘real’ world issues. A throw back to a time that has long passed, is not relevant and doesn’t exist. I for one beg to differ for filling my life with beauty effortless elevates my soul. The beauty that makes me happy changes from moment to moment presenting unlimited opportunities to enjoy. From a beautiful bouquet of fresh picked flowers simply arranged in a white pitcher to aromatic soup gracing an artfully designed bowel, all add an element of joy to normal surroundings. Style, grace, elegance, manners, all old fashion ideas, words belonging not to our face paced technology driven world, extinct, irrelevant to life as we live today. I challenge that tenant; for living with simple beauty in all aspects of life colors the world with a unique hue of infectious positivity.

Filling my life with beauty, man made or natural invites repose, beckoning me to stop, slow down, even if only for a second, to see, feel, partake with awe all that I normally ignore in my hectic life: Needed nourishment for a thriving like as much as food is needed for a healthy body. Of late I have become acutely aware that that ugliness in all forms, even words, depresses not only the mind but the physical body as well. Through the mind body connection our thoughts, moods, travel on pathways reaching all areas of our body creating either positive or negative results. By simply increasing awareness of beauty impacts all aspects of life.

Adding beauty each day, a single flower in a vase, a good book with engaging writing, a walk in the park, a breathtaking photo, a few examples of my ideas, is easy. The old adage “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” means the definition of beauty is wide range, uniquely individual, a bare canvas open for personal interpretation. Finding beauty, soaking in the feeling,  embracing the joy into one’s soul elevates even the downiest of days freeing you to be a light illuminating the world. Be the beacon for all sharing the rays of hope moving from darkness to light. Beauty lights up the bleakest moment allowing a smoother transition to the next. Fill each day with your personal definition of beauty  comforting  your path on life’s glorious journey.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Beef Bourguignon over Pasta

Beef Bourguignon over Pasta

2 tablespoon olive oil
2.5 lb boneless beef chuck, cut in 1.5 inch cubes
3 tablespoons brandy
1/2 lb. small white onions, peeled (about 12)
12 whole cloves
8 ounces whole or sliced mushrooms
2.5 tablespoons flour
2.5 teaspoons meat-extract paste (not liquid)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 cups red wine
3/4 cup dry sherry
3/4 cup ruby port
1 1/2 cup beef stock
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 bay leaf
1 pound of pasta

Recipe Instructions

Slowly heat 4 quart Dutch oven with tight-fitting lid. olive oil; heat, but do not burn.
In hot oil, over high heat, brown beef cubes well, using a fourth at a time, or just enough to cover bottom of Dutch oven.
Remove beef as it browns. Continue until beef is browned, adding more oil as needed. Return beef to Dutch oven.
In a small saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons brandy just until vapor rises. Ignite, pour over beef. As flame dies, remove beef.
Add 2 olive oil to Dutch Oven; heat slightly. Stud each onion with a clove. Add onions; cook over low heat, covered, until onions brown slightly. Add mushrooms; cook, stirring, 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
Stir in flour, meat-extract paste and tomato paste until well blended. Stir in wine, sherry, port and stock.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Bring wine mixture just to boiling, stirring. Remove from heat. Add beef, pepper, and bay leaf; mix well.
Bake, covered, stirring occasionally, 1.5 hours, or until beef is tender, adding remaining brandy, remove bay leaf.  Can be served along, over rice or pasta.

Serves 6
Taste better if made day ahead. Store in refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Can be reheated microwave or on stove top.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Snowy Winter White Chocolate Cranberry Cake

 Snowy Winter White Chocolate Cranberry Cake

Looking at this cake makes me think of glistering fresh new snow illuminated by a bright lite full moon! Not only is this cake a beautiful show stopper it also taste wonderful. I love this tender white cake filled a heavenly white chocolate ganache. Sugared cranberries finish this storybook cake to perfection to be a glorious finish to any holiday meal or party!

Sugared cranberries
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1 cup water 

2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 3/4 cups all purposed flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar
6 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups cranberries

White Chocolate Icing

12 oz white chocolate chips

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
8-9 cups powdered sugar

Sugared Cranberries:

1. Bring 1 cup sugar and water to a simmer in a saucepan. Simmer until sugar is completely dissolved.
2. Pour simple syrup into a heatproof bowl and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
3. Add cranberries and stir to coat.
4. Refrigerate cranberries in syrup overnight, stirred a couple times to coat with syrup.
5. Remove cranberries from syrup and roll in remaining 1/2 cup of sugar. You'll need to roll them a few times to get a couple layers of sugar on them.
6. Set cranberries aside to dry for a hour or so. 
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 9" round cake pans. 
2. To make the cake: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt.
3. In a large bowl, beat the butter until smooth
4.Gradually add the sugar and beat until fluffy. 
5.Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. 
6.Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, and beat for 1 more minute. Add cranberries by hand.*
7.Divide the dough among the prepared pans. If you're using a scale, put 1 1/2 pounds of batter in each pan. 
8.Bake the cakes for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool in the pans for 15 minutes. Turn the cakes out of the pans and cool completely on a rack. 
White Chocolate Icing
1. Place white chocolate chips in a metal bowl.
2. Microwave heavy cream until it starts to boil. Remove from microwave and pour over chocolate chips.
3. Cover bowl with saran wrap for 5-7 minutes.
4. Whisk chocolate and cream until smooth.
5. Allow ganache to sit until mostly cool. It should be thick.
6. Beat the ganache with a mixer for about 2-3 minutes, until smooth and fluffy.
7. Add butter and beat until it is fully combined.
8. Slowly add powdered sugar and beat until it is fluffy and the right consistency. Add more cream if needed.

To assemble cake:

1. Remove cake domes from cakes with a large serrated knife.
2. Place first layer of cake on cake plate. Spread about icing on top in an even layer.
3. Add second layer of cake and add more icing on top in an even layer.
4. Add final layer of cake on top and ice the outside of the cake.
5. Top the cake with sparkling cranberries and add some around the edge, if desired. 
*Tip: Dust cranberries  with flour before adding to the batter to prevent their sinking to the bottom of the cake layers.


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Cheese Grits and Sausage Casserole

Cheese Grits and Sausage Casserole


  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups uncooked grits
  • 1/2 cup butter, divided
  • 3 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 pound chicken sausage links
  • 12 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a large baking dish.
  2. Bring broth to a boil in a large saucepan, and stir in grits. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer about 5 minutes, until liquid has been absorbed. Mix in 1/2 the butter and 2 cups cheese until melted.
  3. In a skillet over medium-high heat, cook the sausage until evenly browned. Drain and slice into 1 inch slices. Mix into the grits. Beat together the eggs and milk in a bowl,  then mix into the grits.
  4. Pour the grits mixture into the prepared baking dish. Dot with remaining butter, and top with remaining cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until lightly browned.

Shout out to Southern Living Magazine

Only by chance many years ago on a vacation in the South did I discover Southern Living Magazine. Originally from Pennsylvania now living in Massachusetts this publication was not available in my area. Drawn to a beautiful picture of a sky high layer cake on the cover my interest was so thoroughly peeked prompting  me to take the magazine off the rack to peek inside. Skimming through the pages I was so drawn to the magazine I bought my first issue on our summer vacation. Initially drawn to the cake on the cover as I read the articles I felt immediately a kinship with the classic decorating featured in the publication. Classic but not unapproachable, I could feel comfortable incorporating the decorating ideas into my home. I looked forward to the arrival of each the new month eager for more decorating inspiration along with recipes add to my growing favorites from Southern Living,  Increasingly I looked to this inspirational magazine for recipes that were beautifully presented that I could easily duplicate for my family and friends. Along with inspiration I developed a kinship to the gracious southern lifestyle shared in the magazine, genuine hospitality at it's finest which spoke to my soul.

All these years later Southern Living never fails me with the ever changing selection of fail proof recipes. Although I am an experienced cook creating  my own recipes with a blog, I still turn to Southern Living Magazine each month for inspiration combined with new recipes that I look forward to cooking for my family. I continue to subscribe to other magazines but I find that lately their recipes are not in tune with not only everyday cooking but even with entertaining for company and celebrating holidays.  Southern Living's recipes are not intimidating, using hard to find ingredients along with tools not found outside a professional chef's kitchen. I recommend Southern Living to everyone who wants to learn as well as improve their cooking skills without having to goggle all the ingredients or purchase expensive kitchen tools that might never be used again. Why intimidate a new cook before they even have a change to make their first meal. Even for a cook such as myself I've learned that difficult doesn't always translate to good or exceptional. Cooking for me is a zen like experience that flows freely, never feeling strained or forced. Not to mention pretentious or snotty. I've learned that I don't want to feel that I've expended more energy in the preparation of  a meal than in the actual enjoying, savoring with family and friends. 

Thank you Southern Living for never failing to enthrall, to engage, me each and every month, twelve times a year! Check out December 2016 Southern Living's, I was not disappointed in this outstanding beautiful Holiday Issue!