These muffins are a favorite in our house...

Makes 12 Muffins

1 3/4 cups (212 g) all-purpose organic flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup (150 g) melted unsalted organic butter
3/4 cup (150 g) organic sugar
1 large organic egg, at room temp.
3/4 cup (165 g - 188 ml ) milk
For the Coating:
3 tablespoons unsalted, organic butter, melted
1/3 cup organic sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat convection oven to 350 F. Line 12 muffin cups with muffin liners.

Mix all the dry ingredients (flour through cinnamon). Set aside.
Mix all the wet ingredients (butter through milk, incl. sugar).
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
Distribute the batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups.
Bake for 18 - 22 minutes.
In the meantime melt butter and mix sugar and cinnamon for the coating.
Brush or dip fresh and still hot baked muffins with melted butter and roll in sugar-cinnamon mixture.

We went on a 3000-mile family road trip to the ocean...2 15-hour days of driving, 7 days at the beach and 2 15-hour days of driving...11 states in 11 days...and it was so much fun! 
The dogs came with...
Hotel rooms seem a little small with 6 of us...
I wrapped 50 little gifts (mostly from the dollar store) for the kids to open during the long car ride. Glow in the dark sticks (at night), pipe cleaners, barbies/aliens, dry erase boards and window clings were favorites. Quite frankly, just the idea of opening a present was a highlight for them. 

Footsteps from the ocean...
 Dogs loved the waves...
Can't wait for next time...




Adapted from Ina Garten's Real Meatballs and Spaghetti, Barefoot Contessa Family Style
Yield: 4-6 Servings

1 pound ground sirloin
¾ cups fresh breadcrumbs (about 3 ciabatta slices (couple days old), crusts removed, ground in food processor. If you have fresh bread, bake it until dry, then grind in F.P.)
1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion flakes
1 large egg, beaten
1/3 cup warm water
Vegetable oil
Olive oil

Place the ground sirloin, breadcrumbs, parsley, Parmesan, salt, pepper, onion flakes, egg and 1/3 cup warm water in a bowl. Combine very lightly with a fork. Using your hands, lightly form the mixture into 1-inch meatballs. You will have 12 to 14 meatballs.
Pour equal amounts of vegetable oil and olive oil into a large (12-inch) skillet to a depth of 1/4-inch. Heat the oil. Carefully, in 2 batches, place the meatballs in the oil and brown them well on all sides over medium-low heat, turning carefully with a spatula or a fork. This should take about 10 minutes for each batch. Remove the meatballs to a plate covered with paper towels.
Add the meatballs to your favorite red sauce, cover, and simmer on the lowest heat for 25 to 30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through. Serve with pasta and with fresh grated Parmesan.




Adapted from
Makes 12 Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup olive oil or applesauce
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups chopped apples, small pieces
Streusel Topping:
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease or add paper liners to a 12-cup muffin pan.

Peel and chop the apples and set aside.

In a medium bowl mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

In a large bowl beat together butter, oil, white sugar, brown sugar and eggs until smooth. Mix in vanilla. Stir in apples, and gradually blend in the flour mixture until completely combined. The batter will be really thick almost like dough but don't worry because the apples will release their juices when baking. 

Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin pan.

In a small bowl mix brown sugar, flour and cinnamon thoroughly and cut in butter until mixture is like coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over tops of mixture in muffin pan.

Bake 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Allow to sit 5 minutes before removing muffins from pan. Cool on a wire rack.

Love these muffins...they also freeze well. They taste best when warm so microwave for about 15 seconds once thawed.


Hopefully the last snowfall for awhile! 




I love recipes like this for this time of year. Super easy, quick and a crowd-pleaser. Every year my book club (of 9 years) does a cookie exchange and one of the girls made this popcorn. With these ingredients I can't imagine there are very many people out there who wouldn't like it. 


18-20 cups popcorn
1 6oz box candy canes
1 package of almond bark
1 teaspoon peppermint extract

Place popcorn in a large bowl. Crush candy canes in a food processor and pour over popcorn. Melt almond bark and mix in peppermint extract. Pour almond bark over popcorn and stir until well coated. Spread onto wax paper to harden.

I love making homemade ornaments for our Christmas tree. This year my daughter and I stayed up late two weekend nights watching movies and stringing popcorn. I actually had to go out and buy non organic popcorn just for that purpose because the organic popcorn we actually eat is about half the size of the non organic...go figure. 

Citrus ornaments are beautiful and easy to make. They remind me of stained glass when the tree is all lit up and shines through the fruit segments. 

All you need is some citrus fruit...the larger the better. Lemons really are too small if you are decorating a large tree. My two favorites are pomelos and grapefruit. 

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F, slice the fruit as thin as you can. Having a sharp knife really can help this you can see knives are on my Christmas list. And bake the fruit for a few hours, flipping every 30 minutes. My fruit slices were a little on the thick side so it took about 4 hours to dry them out completely. Some pieces took as long as 5 hours. 
Tie a ribbon or twine through one of the dried segments and you have a beautiful natural ornament. 

We also decorated the tree with pheasant feathers...well we are trying to. My husband comes home from hunting weekly and brings me a new supply of feathers to replenish the tree because of my puppy. You see, his life is consumed with hunting and pheasants and he simply cannot resist those feathers sticking out of the tree. He has to have one in his mouth at all times.


This tomato sauce is light, quick and easy. 

Fresh Tomato Sauce

Adapted from Food Network
Makes 3 Cups

2 to 2 1/2 pounds of fresh tomatoes (4 large beef tomatoes or 10 to 12 plum tomatoes)

3 tablesppons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon garlic, finely chopped (about 6 small cloves)
Pinch crushed red pepper
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
Kosher salt
Freshly chopped parsley leaves

Peel tomatoes by scoring the skin of each tomato with a sharp knife (do not cut too deep). 
Then, place scored tomatoes into a pot of boiling water and boil for approximately 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. 

Remove tomatoes and plunge into cold water. Peel and dice tomatoes and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a saucepan and add garlic and crushed red pepper. Saute until garlic turns slightly golden, about 45 seconds. Add chopped onion and saute an additional 2 1/2 minutes.

Add chopped tomatoes and cook approximately 5 minutes. Add salt to taste. Add chopped parsley and extra virgin olive oil if desired, just before using.

I love this time of year, not for the weather (we are reaching some negative numbers tonight) but for Christmas programs. My daughter had hers tonight...
she loved playing an angel!




The cookie jar and buttery, soft centers with crispy edges...this is the perfect cookie! I love to make these cookies bite size and then I freeze them. This is my go to chocolate chip cookie recipe.

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated Magazine (May/June 2009) via
Makes 16 large cookies or about 45 small cookies

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour ( 8 3/4 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons unsalted butter ( 1 3/4 sticks)
1/2 cup granulated sugar ( 3 1/2 ounces)
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar ( 5 1/4 ounces)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips (Ghirardelli recommended) or 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips ( Ghirardelli recommended)
3/4 cup chopped pecans (optional) or 3/4 cup walnuts, toasted (optional)

Note: I use dark chocolate chips and I like to make my cookies smaller so I use a small Pampered Chef cookie scoop (about 1 tablespoon) and bake each cookie sheet with cookies for about 7 minutes, better to under-bake than over-bake. I also usually add M&M's right after the cookies are pulled out of the oven.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large (18- by 12- inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10 inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.

Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using), giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.

Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons or (1 tablespoon if making small cookies). Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Make sure you set some dough aside and store in the refrigerator for your husband.  :) 
Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes, (or about 7 minutes for small cookies) rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; add M&M's if you are using...
and cool cookies completely before serving.

Something smells good...
Rufus at 8 months and Buddy at 8 years...



This is a simple recipe for homemade taco seasoning which is always nice to have on hand, especially when you have had a busy day and it calls for taco night. I always add black beans to taco meat because it adds protein and stretches the meal so it leaves me with leftovers for tomorrow. 

Adapted slightly from Alton Brown
Serves 4

1 lb Ground Sirloin or Ground Buffalo (organic & grass-fed)
2/3 cup beef broth or water
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
corn on the cob, cooked and cut off
cheddar cheese, shredded
avocado, cubed
mixed greens
tomato, chopped
onion, chopped
cilantro, chopped
salsa (optional)

Taco Seasoning:
1 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoons hot smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Note: Make sure you use kosher salt, if you use regular table salt use less. If you want more flavor double the taco seasoning mix.

Mix your dry spice taco seasoning ingredients.

Saute the meat in a pan over medium high, break up the meat into small pieces and cook until the meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Drain the meat in a colander and rinse with water. Put back into the pan and add the beef broth or water and the taco seasoning. Stir and bring to a simmer over low heat. Keep skillet uncovered and stir frequently to break up the meat completely. Simmer until the liquid has reduced and thickened, about 5-10 minutes. Add the black beans to the meat.

Assemble your salad and enjoy! 

"A generation which ignores history has no past and no future" – Robert Heinlein

We had an excellent historical learning experience thanks to the Commemorative Air Force.

P-51D Mustang- One of the best and well-known fighters during WWII....

B-24 Liberator "Diamond Lil" - The B-24 Liberator was a heavy bomber. They were used extensively in WWII and were retired in 1945.

Inside the cockpit...

The machine gun in the nose turret...

Inside the B-24...looking back towards where the Tail Gunner would be...

B-29A Superfortress "FiFi"- one of the few surviving in existence and the the only one flying today. A lucky and rare sighting of this B-29 was discovered in the 70's at the US Navy Proving Ground in California; being used as a missile target. She was rescued and restored for $3 million.
Inside the Bomb Bay. Four bombs on each side. There is a tunnel overhead that runs from the forward compartment to back.
The Communication Tunnel above the Bomb Bay...
Forward Pressurized Compartment...Bombardier's seat is all the way up front, Pilot on left, Co-Pilot on right and Navigator's seat on back left.

Flare gun next to the Navigator's seat...different colors were used to communicate so Japanese couldn't decipher radio transmissions...

Outside and inside the ground tents...

 Such a cool experience...



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