Home Made Almond Roca

Buttery toffee goodness that doesn’t come from a can.

Home Made Almond Roca

Now you can make this candy from the Gods at home. Really.

Home made Almond Roca is a decadent treat – but one I knew I had to make when we were asked to participate in Baking for Kate – a food blogger bake sale for Kate, who is battling Stage IV breast cancer.

To raise money for Kate, food bloggers are joining together to hold a bake sale on May 24 & 25. I wanted to make something that you wouldn’t normally make yourself at home, but is a big splurge. And so, our hats are off to Carrie, the Frugal Foodie Mama, for organizing this compassionate bake sale.

This Almond Roca just melts in your mouth – and is rich and buttery and sweet. Fellow food bloggers – join us in baking for this worthy cause! Please go to Carrie’s Facebook page Baking for Kate and order some of this decadent deliciousness – we will happily ship you a ton of this. Don’t worry – if you run out, we’ll make more!

And Kate – we’re sending our love and best wishes your way!

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Lemon Curd Linzer Cookies for a Frozen Birthday Party

A Frozen-Themed Birthday Party featuring gluten-free Lemon Curd Snowflake Cookies

Elsa & Candles on the Icy Mountain. Fabulous Frozen Cake courtesy of the very talented Amanda Hill.

For the First Time In Forever: My daughter Lily turned SIX last week, and like just about every elementary-age child, Frozen is the obsession du jour. Being me, I of course seized the opportunity for a theme party. And I will go ahead and state for the record that I deliberately avoided looking at Pinterest AT. ALL. for any of this. Don’t get me wrong, I love Pinterest for all kinds of things, but for parties, I enjoy the process of coming up with ideas 100% from my own brain, take it or leave it. Scroll down for the cookie recipe, but first, check out a few shots of the other offerings. …

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Rosemary Infused Lemonade Recipe

Rosemary Lemonade

The perfect spring drink just might be this lemonade infused with rosemary.

I love infusing lemonade with unique flavors. I crave this Blueberry Mint Lemonade, for example.

The surprising thing about this lemonade is that you smell the rosemary first before you taste it – as you lift a glass to your mouth you smell the lemon and the rosemary.

This is as easy as steeping some rosemary in simple syrup and then adding lemon juice, ice and a sprig of rosemary for extra pizzazz. Who needs little paper umbrellas when you can have real herbs as a twizzle stick?

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Chartreuse of Vegetables: A Vintage Show-Stopper for Any Holiday Table

An all-vegetable extravaganza sure to dazzle any holiday table!

Chartreuse of Vegetables: A hearty family treasure that’s guaranteed to bring out the oohs and ahhhs.

I’ve been looking forward to resurrecting this dish for years. My adoptive mother is a loving and lovely woman, but unlike my fabulous birthmom from whom I inherited my culinary chromosome and with whom I share this blog, she was NOT much of a cook, or even much of a food lover. (Trust me, she will tell you that herself with zero compunction!). But once in a great while, to the total surprise of me ad my sister, she would bust out with something astonishing. Of course, as kids we were horrified at first. “A cake made of VEGETABLES? Eww! Jeez, Mom, you’re so weird.” She made it for several years, and we rolled our eyes every time – but it secretly grew on us, just a little.

As with many things, I look back on that now with much greater appreciation, and have always wanted to remake it with a few upgrades and tweaks.

Warning: This is not a quick recipe, nor an uncomplicated one. But if you enjoy going all-out for a special occasion and want to linger in the kitchen once in a while, turn on some tunes and get INTO it – with a satisfying payoff in the end –  this absolutely is the holiday recipe for you.

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The Doughy Maker – The Perfect Christmas Gift for the Campfire Cook on your List

Campfire Cooking at Its Best - The Doughy Maker

Campfire Cooking at Its Best – The Doughy Maker

Still need a gift for that campfire cook on your list? You have come to the right place, my friends – behold the Doughy Maker!

The ingenious campfire cooking gadget is the brainchild of Erik Cooley who first made one for his family to cook delicious treats right over their campfires. I was lucky enough to have Erik come to my backyard and show me his Doughy Maker. And then, THE SAMPLES. Yum. And I wasn’t even camping!

This is like two mini muffin tins hinged together and on a stick long enough to hold over the fire. All you do is put a dough ball into each of the tins, add a filling if you like, hold this gadget over the fire for about 3 minutes and – Sahzaaam! – warm doughy goodness right at your campfire. You can make them sweet ( think warm oooey cinnamon roll style) or savory – I liked the jalapeno and cheddar doughy . C’mon. Oooey gooey cheddar with a bite of chile – what’s better than that?

Order this for all your friends and family that love to camp – or at least picnic. And then try to show up at their house when they are making these this summer – to losten to all the Oooh’s and Aaah’s.

Erik Cooley and his genius invention - The Doughy Maker.

Erik Cooley and his genius invention – The Doughy Maker.

— posted by Donna

Halloween Popcorn Recipe – Homemade Cracker Jacks, Simplified

Just try not to eat the whole bowl.

Just try not to eat the whole bowl.

With Fright Night just days away I cannot wait to hang out with my littlest granddaughter. She is going to be a bumble bee and her mom and dad are dressing up as bee keepers. Her name is Ruby, so it was meant to be: Roo-bee. Hehehe! It is now 71 hours until I get to see her as a beautiful baby bumble bee. But who’s counting? Stay tuned for darling grandbaby photos!

I am making this colorful light and crunchy popcorn for all my favorite ghouls and goblins. This recipe is a very, very simplified version of the recipe for the American classic snack Cracker Jacks. Just one minute of simmering and then toss the liquid with popped corn and == BOOyah == delicious crunchy treats. Cracker Jacks – in Halloween colors. ((If you leave out the food coloring, you will have an amber color – reminiscent of Cracker Jacks.)) The original Cracker Jack slogan was: “The more you eat, the more you want.” Proof positive that truth in advertising once existed.

It really does take me right back to opening up that little rectangular wax covered cardboard box. The smell is one you never forget. It smells toasty and sweet at the same time. I would open up the box, dump out the contents onto the counter so I could retrieve the secret toy inside. My favorites were the ones that had a little colored film with a paper with a “secret” message that appeared when you held the colored film over the paper. If we were lucky, we got several boxes in our Halloween pillowcases.  Yes, we used pillow cases to hold our candy loot – filled to the brim by the end of the night., when we crashed in a heap on the living room floor and I counted all the Almond Joys, Hershey bars and Butterfingers – my faves. You know, all the ones you had to hide from your little brothers and sisters. And from your mom!

Happy Hatuntings, Y’all!

— posted by Donna

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Vegetarian Recipe Retrospective: All-Time Faves!

Wholegrain Confetti Zucchini Cakes: Inspired by Crab Cakes

A few days ago, the folks at Veg Online let us know they’ve decided to recognize our site as an Outstanding Vegetarian Blog. We’re especially pleased to hear this, as a blog that is not entirely vegetarian but loves to do a whole LOT of vegetarian cooking.

(Note from Donna: When Anne and I reunited as a birth mother and daughter in 1999, it was cooking that made our reunion so joyful. She was the first vegetarian I knew who was also a phenomenal cook. She and I shared our love of cooking and bonded over my kitchen stove. We spent long hours well into the wee hours of the mornings getting to know each other and sharing our best recipes. And the rest, as they say, is history!)

We’ve always been big fans of the Meatless Monday concept and site, and our first cookbook was entirely vegetarian. In case you missed the memo, this was our first collaboration:

Our first cookbook!

And this is where the famous Ultimate Veggie Chili made its debut, eventually earning us a spot on Food Network’s Ultimate Recipe Showdown (title of recipe preceded show, just a fortuitous coincidence).

So we thought it was a perfect time to share some of our favorite vegetarian and vegan creations from the past 3 years (!) in our blogging life. Read on . . .

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Fab Frugal Friday: The Ultimate Foraged Frugal Food Source

Even in our highly industrialized, largely factory-farm-dependent world, plenty of people still crave venison and hunt for deer. One of the most classic, beloved forms of paella includes rabbit among its myriad meat ingredients. And the delicacy we usually refer to as “squab” is, essentially, pigeon.

So why let a plentiful food source go to waste, just because the source happens to be accidental in nature? Foraging for plants has totally made a comeback, whether it’s wild herbs, mushrooms or other vegetation, so why not, in essence, “forage” for meat? I propose a revival of an overlooked classic. Roadkill Pie- it’s not just for hillbillies anymore!

Let’s start with this simple delight, just to get you started on the concept, adapted from a recipe by Rita Van Amber.

CREAM FRIED SQUIRREL

1. Soak pieces in salt water; drain.
2. Add fresh water and boil until tender.
3. Fry in heavy cream and season to taste.

I say wrap that up in some dough and you’ve got yourself some Roadkill Pie! What could be cheaper?…

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Mock “Sushi” Sandwich Rolls for April Fool’s Day

Fool diners with these “sushi” sandwich rolls.

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For April Fool’s Day – how about “sushi” sandwich rolls?

I bought some really unhealthy white soft bread and use that as the “rice” for the sushi rolls. The un-healthier the bread, the better for this recipe (extra white and extra fluffy – Think Wonder Bread). C,’mon, it’s only once a year, after all!  Next, spread the bread slices with purchased garden veggie cream cheese and put matchstick veggies in the center. Then, roll up and slice into 2 inch pieces, and present – on a sushi plate of course!

There are some really foolish April Fool’s food ideas out there in the blogosphere. I like this compost cake found at the Family Fun site. Check out these dinner entrees presented like cupcakes by Cupcakes take the Cake. How about a meatloaf “frosted” with mashed potatoes to look like a cake at The Kitchn.

Whatever you do this April 1, I say GO FOR IT. How many other days each year do you get permission to act like a fool? – even in the kitchen!

— posted by Donna

Chocolate Toffee with a Secret Ingredient: Saltines!

Saltine Cracker Toffee

I love making home made Valentine treats – it’s one food tradition I follow religiously every February. But, sugar cookies are just so boring. And chocolate candies are, well, just ho-hum. I wanted something easy. Something decadent. Something different. Something salty and sweet and chocolate-y all in one bite. And definitely something unique for all my sweeties. You know, along the lines of chocolate dipped potato chips. Only not those. Also boring.

Then I remembered a sweet decadent treat that was popular in the early 1990’s.

It was made with matzoh crackers, with an ooey-gooey topping.  It was the kind of treat that surprises you from the very first bite. Salty. Sweet Rich. Homey. I decided to try it with saltines and it turned out even more delicious than my memory of the matzoh-based version.

Oh. My. Gosh. This is a magical substance!

The hot brown sugar and butter mixture seeps down into the saltines and transforms them into an other-worldly delicious substance.

My family members made that speechless “This is Heaven” groaning sound when eating these recently  – and couldn’t stop. The whole batch – all 48 squares – were inhaled in just a few minutes.

THIS IS THE EASIEST, NO-FAIL TOFFEE RECIPE YOU WILL EVER MAKE!

This treat takes 20 minutes from start to finish and only has 6 ingredients. Super easy, but the kind of recipe that will make your friends and loved ones think you’ve been slaving for hours.

You MUST try this version out and see if you agree with me that these are an “Oh-My-Goodness What IS in this stuff?” Treat!

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Easy Chocolate Toffee Recipe – Ready for Shipping

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