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I invited our friends Dino and Kevin over to help us hang lights on the house and trim the tree.  It was more me lighting a fire under Jonathan’s butt, to step away from work and enjoy some evening fun, food and friends.  Anyone who knows Jonathan, he can not say no to a good time.   So I promised I would cook up something good while they hung the lights outside.  Well it only took all of about 10 minutes to hang the lights, because lucky for us Kevin is tall.  But I also bought classic colored big bulb lights and they have a little snap that will attach to your gutter, so a lot easier then we had expected.   But nor was I slaving away,  because the jams, and soup I’m about to talk about are very very easy!!!

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I wanted to make something cozy to eat before we trimmed the tree.  I knew I wanted to make grilled cheese and tomato soup.  But I wanted to add something more then just good cheese (I used a nice sharp aged cheddar) and bread (sourdough) to the grilled cheese.   So I decided to add jams to the sandwiches.  While we were in Houston having dinner with friends a few months ago, we shared an app of deviled eggs topped with bacon jam.  Ummmmmm we were all in heaven.  This was just about the best BAE I’ve ever had!!! Pure genius!!  So it thought this would be a good thing to add to a grilled cheese, and yup it was pretty delicious.  Another jam I made was tomato.  I’ve always been a fan of adding sliced tomatoes to a grilled cheese. And yes this jam was just as good , as the bacon jam for the grilled cheese.  A little something for your veg friends and not veg friends.  And I promise you these are not hard to make at all.

 

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So yummy grilled cheese and tomato soup in our bellys.  And some bourbon egg nog after to trim the tree.  We were a happy bunch, and so was Oliver.  He loved decorating the tree so much.  He thought it was so cool.   Every morning now he gets up and plays with the tree rearranging the decorations while I make him breakfast, it’s all too sweet!!!  Special thanks to Dino and Kevin for coming over and helping, and Kevin for taking awesome pics of Oliver!!!!

 

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Ingredients for soup:

2  28 ounce cans of plum tomatoes

1 large onion

2 cloves garlic

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

a few dashes of crushed red pepper

1 large container chicken broth, or veggie

chopped basil, or chive

small container creme fresh

 

directions:

Start heating a large soup pan on your burner.  Chop onion.  Add olive oil to coat bottom of pan.  Heat for a twenty seconds to so, add onions.  Smash garlic cloves, add once the onions are becoming translucent.  Add seasonings, salt and pepper to taste, red pepper flakes and sugar.  While that’s still cooking, smash plum tomatoes with your hands in a large bowl.  Once they’re smashed slowly add them to the onions.  Let this cook for another 5-10 minutes.  Add broth.  Put a lid on soup and cook for about 45 minutes on low.  Once the soup is done.  Let it cool down for a bit.  Start padding soup into a blender.  Only add a little at a time.  And make sure once you blend it, you place a towel over the blender.  This part is very very important because trust me it will explode and your kitchen will be covered!!!!!! So you may be doing about 6-8 batches of blending.  Once it’s all blended place back is large sauce pan, and season to taste, if you need more.  Serve with chopped basil, and of chives, with a dollop of creme fresh.

 

Bacon jam ingredients:

1 package good bacon

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/8 cup maple syrup

1 large onion

1/2 teaspoon Cheyenne pepper

salt and pepper to taste

 

directions:

Heat Dutch oven, or cast iron skillet.  Chop bacon and cook.  Let bacon cool on a paper towel.  Leave about 2 tablespoons bacon fat on the bottom.  You can save the rest if you like for whatever.  Cook chopped onions until translucent.  Add all the rest of the ingredients.  Cook down for about about 10 minutes on low to medium heat.  Take off heat and add bacon.  Place in a jar.  Just that simple!!!!

 

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Tomato jam ingredients:

1 container cherry tomatoes

1/2 onion

red pepper flakes to liking

1/4 cup brown sugar

salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Heat a medium sauce pan.  Coat with olive oil.  Add sliced tomatoes and onions, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Cook for about 20 minutes.  Add brown sugar and cook for about 10 more minutes on low.  Let it cool for a few.  Then pulse in your cuisinart to your liking.

 

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I’ve been trying to post this for the last week.  But Thanksgiving happened, traveling, and spending time with family, so needless to say this takes a back seat.  We are in here  in Albuquerque New Mexico with Jonathan’s family.  Everyone should visit here at least once in their lives.  It’s so beautiful and breathtaking.  The mountains, the sunsets, and architecture.  I’ll talk more about our visit in another post, because we have been cooking and baking up a storm here!!!

But let me talk about this pie.  A butterscotch banana cream pie.  I ask you what could be better?  Ummm pretty much nothing.  This is the second time I’ve made this pie.  The first time I made it the custard part came out a little soupy,  I’m being kind to myself here, it was soup.  But did it taste good?  Yes.  The stubborn part of me, didn’t want to follow the recipe properly which calls for corn flour, to thicken the custard.  I used corn starch instead, well I got soup.  So this time I followed the recipe correct, the custard part. And it came out great.  But I found the custard to be to starchy.  So after much research I have figured out the proper measurements to use corn starch, which I think works better, and makes for a silkier custard.  The recipe calls for chocolate snaps, but used the left over ginger snaps I had from the cookies I made in the last post.

The pie was a celebration.  It was our friend Kyra’s birthday.   I had a feeling it would go over well with the crowd that gathered for her day.  Kyra is one of those friends that I can say is very true to herself, and those around her.  I know only a few like that. And she is one of them.  I’m so glad she in our lives.  We’re lucky to have such a wonderful friend!!

 

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Ingredients:

crust:

15 ginger snaps

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter

2 Tablespoons sugar

 

custard:

1 cup brown sugar

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

3 Tablespoons corn starch

1 1/2 cups whole milk

3/4 teaspoons salt

3 large yolks

2 teaspoons dark rum

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 ripe bananas

 

topping:

1 pint heavy cream

1 Tablespoon powdered sugar

2 teaspoons dark rum

1/2  teaspoon vanilla

 

directions for crust:

Melt butter.  Let cool.  In a food processor pulse cookies and sugar.  Add melted butter.  Mix.  Pour into 10″ pie pan.  Pat down.  Cool in a freezer or frig for 30 minutes.  After done cooling bake for 15 minutes on 350.  Crust must be completely cool before adding bananas and custard.

 

directions for custard:

Pour brown sugar into sauce pan along with butter.  Melt and mix and put aside.  Next take about a 1/3 cup of your milk and add the cornstarch to that.  You will make a slurry.  Next add the rest of the milk  over medium heat.  Once the milk is hot but not boiling add to the milk and cornstarch mixture.  Then add all of it back to the pot over medium heat.  Stirring constantly, once it starts to boil and thicken our a small amount over your egg yolks that are already beaten.  You are tempering your eggs do you don’t end up with scrambled egg custard.  Next you will add the egg and milk mixture to the rest of the hot milk mixture.  Cook on medium heat constantly stirring.  Once it looks like the consistency of mayonnaise .  Take off heat.  Next you will use a sieve.  Place this over your melted brown sugar and butter.  Pour over brown sugar and butter.  Once it’s allI  added mix well.  And add rum and vanilla.  Place aside while you slice up you bananas.  Put banana slice onto crust.  Pour custard over.  Let cool in the frig for about 3-4 hours, or until set.

directions for topping:

You a can do this by hand, or with an electric whisk.  Whip cream with sugar.  Once it starts to thicken add vanilla and rum.  Eat, enjoy, and put on some sweat pants because I promise you, you will want seconds!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One thing I love is a good ginger snap.  The spicier the better.  The great thing about the ginger snap is you can make them to your liking.  You can make them soft and chewy or crispy.  Even if they go a little stale you can still enjoy them with a glass of milk.  I used to dip them in milk when I was younger, but my now my 40 year old self is no longer dairy friendly… Damn you 40!! But in all honesty if they go stale after a few days, use them to make a crust for a pie.  You can freeze them for a few months.

I’m looking forward to the holidays.  I’m hoping to post a ton more with sweets and even some savory for your holiday parties or just for your family or yourself.  I’m also hoping to tackle a few things here myself before the end of the year, making a new stocking for Oliver, lights on the house, decorating the house and tree, and hosting a big holiday party.  We got this I keep telling myself, and I think we we do!!  I love the holidays so much,  and I’m so excited to see  if Oliver gets it a little more this year.

 

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If you can use organic products great, if not don’t sweat it.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup butter 

1 cup dark brown sugar

1/4 cup molasses

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon clove

1 Tablespoon ground ginger and 1 teaspoon

1/2 cup crystallized ginger (optional)

1/3 cup sugar for dusting

 

directions:

Mix butter until smooth.  And sugar, molasses, then egg, and vanilla. Next add dry ingredients.  If you are adding crystallized ginger chopped it up and toss it in sugar, and fold into the dough.  Once everything is incorporated leave it in the bowl and place in the frig for an hour.  You can also roll it into a log in parchment paper, and leave in the frig for an hour as well.  Once it’s chilled pre-heat oven to 350.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Take dough out of frig.  Roll about one inch cookies with your hands, and then roll into sugar, and place on sheet.  Place each cookie about two inches apart.  Push down with palm, or a glass.  If you are doing a log, cut about 1/4 slices, and sprinkle sugar on top.  Bake for 12 minutes.  Bake longer if you like them crispy.  I baked mine for 14 minutes because I like mine crispy.  Enjoy!!

 

 

Lemon Pie Movie from Bethany on Vimeo.

My little buddy Lucy has been asking me for some time to make a lemon meringue pie with her.  So I thought it would be a perfect way to introduce a webisode.  We did it on Saturday so we could BBQ, and relax while the pie cooled.  It was so much fun to cook and bake with them in the kitchen.  I can’t wait til Oliver is a little older and can do the same.  I highly recommend cooking or baking with kids , it’s so much fun!!!!

Ingredients for pie crust :
1 1/8 cup flour
1 stick unsalted butter, or 1/2 cup
1T sugar
1/4 cup ice cold water
In a cuisinart , or this can also be done by hand.  Add flour, butter in cubes, sugar and a pinch of salt.  Blend, until butter looks the size of peas.  Next slowly add in your water.  You may need less or more, that’s why it’s important to add a little at a time.  You want your dough to seem more dry, you don’t want it sticky or wet.  Wrap in cellophane and put in frig for an hour.
Preheat oven to 350.  Take out crust, and roll out on clean surface that has been floured.  Crimp your edges, add parchment paper to to pie, and then pie weights.  Bake for 25 minutes, take pie out and remove weights and parchment paper.  Place pie back in the oven and bake for another 25 minutes or so.  Let crust cool.
Ingredients for lemon filling:
1 cup suagr
1 1/2 cup water
2 T flour
3 T cornstartch
2 lemons
2 T unsalted butter
4 egg yolks beaten 
Add your water, flour, sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, and juice of two lemons to a sauce pan.  Cook til it almost boils.  Take off the heat and add your butter.  Put back on stove and bring to boil.  Next you want to add a little of the hot mixture to your egg mixture.  This is called tempering the eggs.  Once it looks like it’s incorporate then add the rest to the egg mixture.  Place it back on the stove and wait for it to come to a boil. Once it starts bubbling, pour it into the pie crust.  Let it cool it the frig for 2 hours.
Ingredients for meringue:
4 egg whites
6 T sugar
 Pre heat oven to 350 . To get the perfect egg whites whipped it’s best to use a whisk attach then to your mixer.  Add whites, and then slowly add in the sugar.  Once the sugar is incorporated, mix on high speed.  Once it looks soft a fluffy stop. To add meringue to pie you can pipe it or can smooth it on a make peaks.  Once you’ve put the meringue on the pie, bake for 10 minutes. Serve after it’s cooled. Enjoy!!
 
 
 
 
 


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I had some time on my hands while being back in New Jersey. I came out to visit my family about 10 days before Jonathan joined me. So while my mom and dad were entertaining Oliver, I got to cook and bake. Some were treats for the beach house, and others just dinner for my folks.

My parents decided to get a beach house this summer in Ocean City, New Jersey. Of course we were excited. I was really excited to share this with Oliver and Jonathan. My dad wants to do this every year now, so Oliver will have something to look forward to every summer as he gets older!!

You can smell the ocean as you get closer the beach. It’s about a 45 minute drive from my parents house. I hadn’t spent anytime at the beach in NJ probably since I moved to LA. This past May was my sixteenth year living here. So needless to say it’s been a long time. You smell salt in the air, and you can feel it on your skin. It all comes back, the family drive to the beach when I was kid. My dad would load us all in his MG, with the top down. Normally my best friend Jayme was with us. My sister would sit on my moms lap in the front, and Jayme, my brother and I in the back. Can you imagine that today…..crazy right. They would pop in a Genesis tape, and by the time it was done we were there. My mom would always make fried chicken, and we would eat it cold on the beach after swimming for hours. And by the time the sun was setting we were back in the MG on our way back to Wenonah. Sometimes we would stay the weekend sometimes it was just for the day.

Being able to spend this trip with my now family was even more special. To create my own memories with them. And to relive some of my old memories is just priceless.

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The beach was great. I’ve taken Oliver to the beach a few times, to Santa Monica. While he loves the beach he was not always  fond of the water. This kid loves the pool, the hot tub, and of course the tub, but not the ocean. So I was worried about spending everyday day at the beach. But to my surprise the first day we were there he wasn’t really afraid of it. By the third day he was in the ocean and laughing. It was priceless. So see him giggle at the water, just awesome!!! I’m not sure what it was, maybe watching his cousin play in the ocean, or maybe just being with both of us. Who knows but it’s was so nice to see him enjoy it. I know we will be spending a lot more time at the beach here as the summer moves on. Going on rides with Oliver was so sweet. My mom was telling me she rode the same Dumbo ride with me when I was 7 months old. How cool is that, I got to do the same with Ollie!!

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We spent time at the boardwalk. Went on rides. Ate ice cream. Homemade family dinners. Walks on the beach. Watched fireworks. Made delicious beer cocktails (thanks for that Jen). Ahhhhhh seafood, delicious seafood. Cape May brewing company. Beautiful sunsets. Played cards against humanity….so funny with your parents. Some how my mom was winning. Who knew she had such a warped sense of humor. It was a great trip. I’m so happy I got to introduce a little bit of my childhood to my sweet sweet boy.

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Okay here’s the yummy granola recipe I promised. I made this for the house. It was perfect in the mornings with yogurt!!! This recipes based on Marge granola.

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Ingredients:
6 cups rolled oats
2 cups nuts of choice chopped if you want
1 cup grade b maple syrup
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt

These are optional
1 cup dried fruit
1 1/2 cups coconut shavings
1 cup dark chocolate chopped

Directions:
Preheat oven to 300. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Put all dry ingredients in a bowl. Next pore in wet ingredients. Add salt. Mix together. Bake for about 40 minutes checking every 15 minutes. Take once it’s golden brown. You can add basically anything you want to granola, if you want to add dried fruit or dark chocolate to it, add after baking. But if want to add coconut definitely add to ingredients to bake.

 

 

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It’s been some time since I last posted. I know I promise and promise that I will post more. But life happens, and that’s really my only excuse. But I am and will post more, because there is so much to tell, and so many yummy things to share.

Oliver turned one on the 29th of May. Everyone warns you how fast life will happen with a child. And trust me they were not exaggerating. I found myself the week of his birthday going through all of his photos from the first year. I could still take myself back go the whole event of him being born. Me driving myself to Santa Monica from Mount Washington, because my water broke (at the time I was not aware my water had actually broke). If your not from LA, it’s from one end of the city to the other. The doctors telling us my water in fact did break, and that our son would be joining us lot earlier then we had expected. First we had to go over how the c-section would go, and then we had to talk to the head of the NICU. All scary stuff. But it happened, and happened fast. And before we knew it he was out. Hearing him cry for the first time was the most beautiful sound I’d ever heard. Even today when he cries, my heart hurts. It actually hurts (or feels heavy, but whatever it’s a metaphor). But I remember it all. The first time I held him. The first time the nurse said “he wants his mama”, and I realized she was talking about me. Leaving the NICU, and bringing him home. Learning how to exist with another living person in your home, that you don’t really know yet, but you love that person with all your heart and soul. Not sleeping for weeks for fear that your baby may die. We would sleep but so light. I would wake up every 15 minutes and check his breathing, I’m not joking. Coo coo I know!! Having your friends and family meet him. Especially when my mom met him, I think that was the most special. But more so because I just wanted my mom and I wanted her to take care of me. And she did, and she took care of the baby so I could shut my eyes, if even for a minute.

This first year has been the best of my life. I would say my second best year was probably the year after we got married. We traveled and had so much fun!! But this year has been different in a better way. I get to see my husband in a different light. It’s amazing how much I changed and so did he after Oliver came into our lives. Jonathan has far exceeded what I visioned as a husband and a father. I now feel a different kind of love then I’ve ever known. I think that same goes for Jonathan.

Watching Oliver grow is has been so rewarding. He changes daily. To me of course I think he has the best personality. Like right now he does this thing. He will be talking to you or baby babble, and he will put his hand on your shoulder and tilt his head and come closer to your face. Like he’s saying “do you hear me, I’m talking, so what do your think mom?” I can already tell this kid is going to have such a full heart, and be kind, sensitive, and extremely out going. He loves people, babies, kids, all animals, music. But the best the best is how cuddly he is. He is such a cuddle bug. I’m not looking forward to the day he will no longer let me cuddle him. But for now he loves being cuddled, and loves to cuddle back. We’ve got some serious love going on here!!

For his first birthday we did plan a lot. I’m sure his other birthdays will be different. But this one was special, and we wanted to make it so. Oliver was surrounded by family and fiends who love him. It was so special. I’m so glad we got to share it with our favorite people. We had a camp themed birthday party. Boy Scouts meets Moonrise Kingdom. We pulled it off with help from my in-laws. It was an emotional day to say the least. No one tells you that your child’s first birthday brings up so many emotions. It did at least for me, but in a great way.

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Photos courtesy of Nancy Waters

I leave you with the recipe for the cake I made him for his first birthday. Strawberry cake, with a cream icing. It’s easy breezy.

Cake:
Ingredients:

1 cup room temp butter (2 sticks)
1 3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
3/4 cup puréed strawberries
1/2 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup cake flour
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

3 – 8″ baking pans

Preheat oven to 325. Whip butter for about 3 minutes. So it’s ribbon like. Slowly add sugar. Next add one egg at a time. Scrap all the ingredients down. Put all the dry ingredients together, and all the wet. Starting with the dry and ending with the dry, start slowly adding dry then wet, dry then wet. Grease pans and coat with flour. Bake for about 35-40 minutes. I would start checking them around 33 minutes.

Whipped cream frosting:
Ingredients:

1 pint heavy whipped cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Add ingredients to mixer. Whip until soft whipped peaks.