Category Archives: Food

Happy Valentines Day Eve!

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Stocked up and ready for V Day. Actually, I always have Dove on hand. Because.

by Kimberly A. Cook

Waiting in lines is golden for writers. Running errands yesterday, my last stop was the grocery store. The checkout clerk was chatting up customers about Valentine’s Day.  Some of my neighbor’s customs shocked me.

“We don’t give candy to the kids,” said one woman. “The holiday is for the parents.”

Say what? My family uses any excuse, er holiday, to give presents, especially candy. At first I thought maybe she had young kids, I could see that. Nope, teenagers. Well between energy drinks and coffee they inhale, how bad could a couple pieces of candy be?

Another lady said she gave her young kids coloring books. That is fabulous. While I love the demon sugar, I too have to ration it. Processed sugar is addictive, but like everything else, if used in moderation; just don’t drive heavy machinery afterwards.

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One of the plates I use for Mom’ s cake. Plus research wrappers.

An on air tv personality last night talked about going out with her galentines for Valentine’s Day. Fabo. Sometimes the Valentine’s Day holiday feels like a poke in the eye to all single, divorced or widowed folks. So adapt!

To me Valentine’s Day has always been my mom’s birthday. Tomorrow we get to celebrate her 93 young years at lunch on the river. Not in a boat, a restaurant. Though Mom is game for most adventures.

For me? Stocked up on Dove and Kit Kat candy to share with family. Will bake a heart shaped mini-cake for Mom and cupcakes for the crew. Bought myself a bouquet of pink carnations for the kitchen table; keeping Spec Ops Cat out of them is a different story.

Then threw myself into research for this post by testing the Dove dark chocolate. Actually, I eat two pieces every day so I had plenty of wrappers available.

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So you’ve still got time to stock up and treat yourself. Candy, coloring book or carnations? How about trying the last wrapper saying I got this morning?

Hug someone today!

Happy Valentine’s Day everybody!

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Run For The Candy!

by Kimberly A. Cook

It’s candy day! Forget the kids, this holiday is for us grown-ups who really need an excuse to sugar-load. There are no calories on Halloween. Trust me. They roll over to November first. So enjoy yourselves.

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How cute is this garden center ghost?

 

Today is our last day of bright sunshine for awhile. The rains are coming and cold temperatures. Today I am protecting faucets,  putting the fuchsias in the garage and stowing away my beloved lawn swing. I was only able to use it for six days this summer. better than none.

Right on schedule my Emergency Preparedness 5-day supply backpack arrived to put in the car. Given the horrendous weather we’ve had this year, maybe I should have bought two and one small cat one for Spec Ops Cat. (They need to make kitty and doggie emergency backpacks too.)

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Candy days! But not my favorites.

 

Learned logistics from my military days; if you don’t have supplies, you don’t have them when you need them. Another reason why I hoard purple ink pens and Post it Notes. And copy paper. And printer ink. And three-ring binders. You get the picture.

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Peanut M&Ms! My favorite. Along with Dove Dark Chocolate. Did you know M&Ms were developed in 1941 for World War II troops C-rations? Plus Tootsie Rolls helped save the lives of Marines at the Chosin Reservoir battle during the Korean War? Patriotic candy! 

So your one big decision today is what treat are you going to have? I let myself have one. It can be a piece of pie, or candy or a cinnamon roll. For some reason, cinnamon rolls have been prominent picks lately.

Enjoy Halloween.  Indulge but don’t overdo. And remember; running for the candy burns calories. Sweet!

 

 

Candy links:

M&Ms History – http://www.mars.com/global/about-us/history

Marine Corps and Tootsie Rolls – http://www.usmc-mccs.org/articles/how-tootsie-rolls-accidentally-saved-marines-during-war/

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Comfort Food Here I Come!

by Kimberly A. Cook                  (Twitter@  WarriorTales)

Between the time change, sick cat, election day, my job and Veterans Day last week, by the time Saturday arrived I could have used a cattle prod and a six-pack of energy drinks to get out of bed. Luckily a new purchase arrived and I was feeling dangerous.

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Little Red bravely doing the water test. Such a trooper.

 

My mini pressure cooker. Two quart size. Nickname – Little Red. Since I’m trying to increase my cooking skills, I never would’ve attempted this piece of equipment but it’s small. Figured I might be able to handle it. Maybe.

First I had to go through the precautions and initiate a water safety test. Felt like I was back on drown-proofing duty in the Army. Thirty minutes later I hadn’t blown anything up or had leaking machine parts. Fabo!

Next on to real food. One of the many things that hooked me while watching this little gem on Home Shopping Network, HSN to us loyal fans, was being able to cook things quickly and keep the nutrients in without firing up the big oven.

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Even I can cut up potatoes. Love the skins for fiber and taste. How festive. 

 

Decided to go for mashed potatoes on my maiden voyage. Cut up my favorite red potatoes, skins and all. Put in water. Locked down the lid. Pushed the potato button. How easy is that? Waited. About ten minutes later it beeped at me. Perfect potatoes!

I smashed them with the egg salad maker since I didn’t have a potato masher; then added milk and butter. Next was pepper and done. Wonderful. Ate the leftovers most of the rainy week. Emboldened by my success, I promptly purchased a potato masher. Every girl should have one.

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After the mash and before the ingredients. Can you smell the starch?

 

Think next I’m going big time, moving up to frozen pork chops. Little Red will cook frozen foods, just have to add time from the list in the book. Think I can handle the math.

Figure the worst that happens is I have to wipe pork chops off the kitchen ceiling; but since I haven’t fixed the ceiling yet from the peeing furnace that got torn out, who cares?

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Mix up the pepper and done! Actually, I could carry the entire mini pan and eat out of it, but I chose to go with a plate. Bring on winter!  

 

Supposedly one can bake cakes, pasta and chicken wings in Little Red too. Seems I’ve hired a cook in the kitchen while I watch Football. Perfect.

Viva la Pressure Cooker! Viva la Comfort Food!

Got steam?

 

 

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Grab For The Fruit!

by Kimberly A. Cook                (Twitter@  WarriorTales)

Managed to pry myself away from the Summer Olympics on tv over the weekend to head to the Farmer’s Market. Love to look at all the fresh veggies, fruit and flowers. While August spirals towards Fall, school supplies are in stores and pumpkins are in the craft aisles, I try and grab for the last rays of summer.

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The perfect box for those of us who cannot make up our minds.

 

Snapping up nature’s fresh bounty is so much fun and supporting local farmers and vendors even better. With an array of items from BBQ sauce to popcorn and pastries and bird feeders, I can’t go wrong.

Wanted some blackberries, strawberries and the last cherries and found what I needed down aisle two. Then off to the Pie Guy to scarf up a mini-pie, marionberry, which I know contains mini calories.

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To prevent dreaded pie mistakes, take a taste! There are no bad pies here. 

 

Then took a longing look at the beautiful flower bouquets and avoided the Donut truck since I had the pie in the bag. Literally. Checked out the bargains on backyard mini-bridges, great deals but too big for my fairy rock garden. Alas.

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Plus gorgeous flowers. Amazing!

 

While I continue to deny the days are getting shorter, there is still time to support the farmers markets and get the last drops of summer. Honey included.

Get out there and shop from farmers and local vendors people!

 

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Can You Master Lazy Entertaining?

by Kimberly A. Cook                 (Twitter@  WarriorTales)

Easter is one of my favorite holidays since it’s an all bunnies all the time zone. This past Sunday I hosted the family holiday again but I entertained in full mosey mode. Its been a busy couple months with a surgery, an accident recovery and general chaos in the family.

So my plan was to air lift the vittles from one of our favorite restaurants. I ordered the ham and cheese quiche and the four different pieces of pie online from Shari’s Restaurant on Thursday. Picked them up at 10 a.m. on Saturday and put all in the frig. Since I also picked up lettuce, tomatoes, Hawaiian Sweet Rolls and two bouquets of flowers on Thursday night after work, fini!

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Bunny booty bag, name tag holder and chocolate eggs. Step 1.

 

Since the cooking was done except for heating up the quiche on Sunday morning, I decided to do some bunny table decorating. I always have to make bunny booty bags to go for all my guests; it’s the perfect excuse to buy more Easter candy. Found the name tag holders for the table, the pink tablecloth and the bunny candy dish.

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Add more bunny candy and flowers. Step 2.

 

My collection of rabbits from around the world sits right next to the dining room table, so adding the candy dish with Hershey’s Kisses and the chocolate candy covered eggs in the blue measuring bowl, almost perfect. I added two bouquets of flowers and all was set.

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Years of bunny collecting, hares everywhere!

 

Some folks might call this slacking, but after years of cooking and baking, sometimes a person just needs a break. In the past we’ve tried this for Mother’s Day and it worked out quite well. There’s nothing like zooming past the waiting  line of 10,000 people at The Olive Garden to get lasagna, bread sticks and salad to go. The whimpers from those in the line is always followed by someone saying “Why didn’t we do that?”

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Then right before guests arrive some gate crasher always shows up looking for his name tag on the table. Step 3. There are fewer chocolate eggs in the bowl in this picture. No idea how that happened. That’s my story ……..  

 

So after we had our meal, a nice chat and some folks took a little power nap, it was time to unbox the pie. We had one piece of everyone’s favorite, because you can’t buy a chocolate cream, peach, Marion berry, chocolate silk pie. Plus I sent home a piece of quiche for all to go with their bunny bags of chocolates.

Totally unexpected was a bunny booty haul I made with gifts from my sister and family. A mini bunny baking cake pan, chocolate bunny, chocolate carrots, bunny napkins, bunny marshmallow decorating kit and a bunny centerpiece. Bunnypalooza! Does life get much better than that? I think not.

Sometimes lazy really pays off. Viva la online food ordering! Plan ahead, Mother’s Day is coming….

 

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Want To Bake A Cookie Forest?

by Kimberly A. Cook             (Twitter@  WarriorTales)

On Christmas Eve I decided I wanted to bake an old family favorite, Lemon Holiday Cookies. Now the only way I touch anything with lemon is with lots of sugar added, so these little treats fit the bill. We made these growing up using the manual turn cookie press and I love the scent of lemon in the air when they bake.

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Original recipe being held by Baking Bear. I always use my beat up Sunbeam Mixmaster I bought at the Army PX. It’s vintage, but it works. 

 

Its been several years since I’ve made them, but I’d been given the cookie press by my Mom and using it always brings back great memories. So to pass on this gem of a recipe, here goes.

Lemon Holiday Cookies

Combine thoroughly in large bowl:

1 1/3 Cup soft shortening (half butter may be used, I do)

2 Cups sugar. (Was not kidding about the sugar)

Food coloring of your choice for color. (Green for trees!)

Add:

2 eggs, unbeaten

1/4 Cup Cream (or milk)

2 tsp vanilla

2 tsp lemon extract

Sift together:

4 Cups sifted enriched flour

2 tsp double-acting baking powder

1 1/2 tsp salt. Add to blended mixture; mix well.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheets. Flatten slightly with spatula or fork. (Or use cookie press)

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The cookie press and fabulous accessories.

 

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Cookie Press loaded and almost locked for action.

 

 

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A fabulous forest of naked Christmas trees.

 

Add colored sugar sprinkles for decoration. I like green and red.

Bake at 400 degrees F. for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool and store in tight containers. Makes about 12 1/2 dozen small cookies.

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Decorated cookies. Obviously I need more practice, the edges are a little brown; Smokey the Bear would not be happy with me. But the cookies still taste great! 

 

What family holiday recipes do you cherish? Bake on!

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Skulls, Halloween Candy And Tiaras?

by Kimberly A. Cook          (Twitter@  WarriorTales)

This year is flying by and I realized I don’t have any Halloween decorations up at home. My last luncheon visit to my favorite antique store I stumbled upon this snappy skull dressed with a tiara. Now I’m not that thrilled with skulls, but I’m a big fan of tiaras so I had to take a pic. Decorating idea. In my case the tiara would be on a pumpkin. A baby pumpkin.

Skull with tiara. I was not kidding!
Skull with tiara. I was not kidding.

I won a pumpkin decorating contest at the day job one year with a miniature pumpkin decked out in a mini Santa hat and sunglasses. No carving even. I’m lazy. It’s all in the presentation folks.

Organizing the candy shelf at home this past weekend, it used to be a bowl but it grew, I unearthed some leftover candy from last Halloween. Not sure how that happened, but miracles do occur during the holidays.

The sunrises and sunsets are getting closer together now and all I want to do is hunker down with a book, bottle and blankie. My bottle would be filled with chocolate milk. I’m a wild one! With the urge to hibernate coming on, I focus on the holidays to distract me from the short dark days. Plus I look forward to staying inside and reading.

A member of my writer group mentioned there might be another pumpkin shortage. I went straight to the store and loaded up on Libby’s canned pumpkin and Carnation evaporated milk. Safe for another year. I may still have some pumpkin leftover from the last shortage scare. Might this be a marketing ploy at some point?

I also picked up a new pumpkin spice muffin mix I saw at the grocery store. Plus I’m on the hunt for my special pumpkin chips I can buy only at this time of the year. Which is another reason why the repair person will be installing a new motor in my treadmill in a week; I actually killed the motor. Heaven knows I cannot go into the holidays without a working treadmill. It’s the calorie grazing season!

Hope you all are enjoying your pre-Halloween test candy so we can all go out and buy the real Halloween candy for the treaters.

Happy Snacking? Got candy? Run for the pumpkin products too!

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