Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Crisp Graham Cookies

Today I baked Crisp Graham Cookies. They're special because they have have peanut butter, M&M's and graham cracker crumbs in them. I first started baking these cookies in 1997-so yes, I have been making them for 15 years. They are that good. When my brother and I were teenagers, my Grandma had a subscription to Taste of Home magazine.  Taste of Home is a cooking magazine and we would pore over the photos of food and get hungrier by the minute.  I found the recipe for Crisp Graham Cookies and on a Spring day in High School, I was getting ready for a road trip and decided to make these cookies for the trip.  Everyone knows you should brings tons of snacks and munchies for a car trip.  It seems to make the miles go faster.  The cookies were a big hit, and when I returned home the bag was empty.  
Like any good recipe, you hold onto it forever and share it with others so they can enjoy it too.  

Crisp Graham Cookies

Yield: 3 1/2 dozen

1/2 cups butter-flavored shortening
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 can sweetened condensed milk
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 cups flour 
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 package of M&M's 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  In a mixing bowl, cream shortening and brown sugar.  Beat in egg.  Add vanilla and milk.  Blend in peanut butter.  Combine dry ingredients.  Stir in M&M's.  Drop spoon sized cookie dough onto baking pans and bake for 10-12 minutes.  Cool on wire racks.  

M&M's for the cookies

Creamy peanut butter

The cookie dough is ready, now I can drop them onto my baking pans and bake them.  In 10-12 minutes, I will have fresh, hot homemade cookies.  

Alright! Crisp Graham Cookies. Now where's the milk!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Weekend in Vancouver, BC

This past weekend, my husband and I drove to Vancouver, BC to visit family.  A quick three hours north of Seattle, Vancouver is a wonderful city full of things to see.  The Olympics were held there in February of 2010 and lots of new construction has been added to the already thriving city. 

Sweet and Sour Pork at Happy Valley

The first thing we did when we arrived was meet the family for Dim sum.  We ate at Happy Valley Seafood Restaurant.

                                After we ate lunch, we drove to West Broadway, to Thomas Haas.

When you first walk into the shop, these chocolates stare you in the face. "Buy me, please!"

French desserts! They look good enough to eat, don't they?

French Macarons

So many chocolates to choose from!
I ordered the dark hot chocolate. Sinfully rich and I loved the heart on top.

My husband's Americano coffee.

                       After a visit to Thomas Haas, we walked the four blocks or so to Cupcakes

I bought a 24 Carrot Cupcake.  The cake itself was so moist and full of raisins and carrots.  The frosting was perfect and super thick on top of the cake.  I will be thinking of this cupcake for years to come.  

A really sweet cupcakery, I love the pink! 

For dinner that night, we ate Sushi.  There was alot of us, so all this Sushi was eaten pretty quickly.

The next day, we went downtown and had a doughnut and coffee at Tim Hortons.  They are all over Vancouver and it seems like there is one on every other block. Tim Hortons is almost part of the Canadian culture and we waited in line for fifteen minutes just to get an Old Fashioned and a small coffee.

If you are ever in Canada, you will see this doughnut shop everywhere!

After having a doughnut and coffee, we walked around in the cold February weather and came across the Olympic Cauldron from the 2010 Olympics which were held in Vancouver.  

The Olympic Cauldron.

A pretty cool looking Orca Whale sculpture located near the Olympic Cauldron. 

Condos which has sprung up all over downtown Vancouver.

We had an awesome weekend in Vancouver, BC.  There is always so much to see, do, and eat. Vancouver is the place to be! Thomas Haas Fine Chocolates & Patisserie on Urbanspoon Cupcakes on Urbanspoon

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Dinner at Spazzo

   Tonight we ate dinner at Spazzo in Redmond, WA.  I was able to try the Asiago Flaming Cheese and Lemoncello which has been on my list of foods and drinks to try.  The Lemoncello is an Italian dessert digestive which you drink and is made of vodka, lemons and sugar. The cocktail was super sweet and very strong at the same time. Ever been to one of those restaurants where the server is doing a flam-bey show at someone's table? Well at Spazzo, they do flaming cheese, tableside and then when the fire goes out, you spread the hot gooeyness on some bread. The perfect appetizer to my pizza.  Yum, I love cheese, don't you?  

Sipping on some housemade Sangria while we waited in the lounge for our 6:00 Dinner Reservation.

Our server, Michelle Britz, with our flaming Asiago Cheese.  The cheese is oven-baked with brandy, oregano and lemon.  Good stuff!

Now just put some on the bread and enjoy!

My husband's entree, the steak sirloin with mashed potatoes and sauteed spinach.  

He ordered a glass of the Sangiovese, an Italian red wine to go with his steak. 

My Lemoncello drink for my after dinner drink, just like the Italians do.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Today, this is what I'm having for lunch.

Why? Because I want to and no one else is home to tell me no. 

This guilty pleasure is a Trifle.
A Trifle is very easy to make. I used strawberries, jello, whipped cream and chocolate cake cut into small pieces.  But you can use anything you want in yours.

First, arrange your ingredients and cut them into bite sized pieces.  

Then, take your Trifle dish, it needs to be a clear, glass dish so you can see the pretty layers, and start with a layer of whipped cream on the bottom, then just start layering whatever you have selected to use in your Trifle.  

And, presto, you have a Trifle. A super easy and refreshing dessert! 

Now, go, make your own. The sky's the limit.  You can add anything to your Trifle! 
Meanwhile, I need to go find some actual lunch!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A sunny afternoon spent in Downtown Seattle and a Brioche and Espresso at Belle Epicurean.

  I love Downtown Seattle.  When I first moved here eleven years ago, I was enthralled by the energy of this  big city, the tall buildings and always something to see and photograph.  Seems like every step I took, there was something new to see.  Today I still feel like this, believe it or not.  Seattle's always changing and it never gets old.  I moved here from a small town in Montana, beautiful as it is there, there is nothing like a big, thriving city. Today was 60 degrees, unseasonably warm for February.  So I walked around and window shopped, then picked up some books at the Seattle Public Library. To finish off my afternoon, I visited a Parisian bakery, Belle Epicurean .  They are famous for their Brioche's, a delicious, flaky and buttery pastry.  The owner was trained in Paris, and the quality and taste showcases that. 

One of the many designer stores on Fifth Avenue,  Louis Vuitton.  I love cupcakes and handbags, so I thought this display was very eye catching. 

Right across the street is the Gucci store. 

Always new things to see in Downtown Seattle.  A neat looking plant sculpture.  

One of Seattle's abundant skyscrapers.  

The Seattle Public Library.  An architectural gem in the financial district.  The library was created to look like a stack of books. 

Some of the unique and colorful staircases located inside the library. 

Now finally, time for a break at Belle Epicurean.

Not only do they sell Brioche's, but also Tarts, Cakes and Macaroons as well!
Wow!  Now that's what I call an afternoon snack.  I ordered the Original Pecan Brioche and an espresso.  How was it? So flaky and moist and it had tons of pecans and cinnamon.  The espresso was super strong and went well with the Brioche. 

Belle Epicurean on Urbanspoon