Sunday, August 12, 2012

Shelby Cookies

 I made Shelby Cookies for the first time today and they were FABULOUS!

Backstory: My  older son's (Ian) girlfriend (Shelby) is allergic to peanuts. My gallant son won't eat anything with peanuts or peanut butter for fear of causing her an allergic reaction. While she was home in Texas for summer break from college, I made a batch of peanut butter cookies just for him to enjoy while he was able. I got to thinking...hmmmm, wonder if this might work with Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread)?

So today, I took my trusted peanut butter cookie recipe (originally from a Martha Stewart TV show years ago) and tailored it so Shelby could partake of their decadent yumminess. I must say, I am more than pleased with how they turned out. It's highly possible they are even better than the peanut butter variety.


Shelby Cookies

Preheat gas oven to 350 degrees, electric to 325.

½ cup butter flavor shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 large egg

½ tsp. vanilla

1 cup Nutella
1 ½ cup all purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt

Sugar, for rolling and dipping fork. 

Using an electric mixer, cream shortening and sugar in a large bowl. Add  egg and vanilla and blend. Add Nutella and blend until mixed in.

Place flour, soda and salt in a medium bowl and whisk together until blended. Gradually stir flour mixture into Nutella mixture until fully incorporated.

Cover surface of dough with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator.

Roll dough into 1 inch balls, roll in sugar and place on ungreased baking sheets. Press dough with a fork dipped in sugar, making a criss cross pattern.

Bake for 9 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes on baking sheets and carefully remove to wire rack to cool.

Makes 2 ½ dozen cookies.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Refreshing Couscous Salad

I found this recipe online the other day and it just sounded so fresh and light that I just had to try it. I was glad I did and now I have an entire bowl in the fridge for a meal and/or lunches this week. I plan to grill or bake some chicken breasts with some Greek seasoning and serve that with the salad for one meal.

I have never cooked with couscous and was surprised to find that it is just really teeny, tiny pasta! It tasted good just by itself before I mixed up the salad.

I added the cucumber to the original recipe. After I finished making the salad and walked outside for a few minutes and walked back into the house....the entire place just smelled so fresh and green from chopping the ingredients. I love that.

If you try it, let me know how you like it.

Tomato Basil Couscous Salad
From Taste of Home website
8 servings         Prep: 20 min. + chilling


  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 package (10 ounces) couscous
  • 1 cup chopped red onion or to taste
  • 1 cup chopped English cucumber (my addition)
  • 1 cup seeded diced plum tomatoes (I subbed in halved Cherub tomatoes.)
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar (I had to supplement with balsamic vinegar.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes (Again, Cherubs.)

  • Directions

  • In a large saucepan, bring broth to a boil; add couscous. Cover and remove from heat.

  • Let stand 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl; fluff with a fork and cool.


  • Stir in the onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, oil, vinegar, pepper flakes,

  •      salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.
         (I whisked together the dressing ingredients and poured over, then mixed.)
         Garnish with tomatoes.
         Nutrition Facts: 1 serving (1/2 cup) equals 223 calories, 10 g fat,
         (1 g saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 389 mg sodium, 30 g carbohydrate,
         2 g fiber, 6 g protein.

    Lemon Cake, Anyone?

    I found myself yearning for something lemony this weekend and decided to make one of my favorite recipes. This recipe was shared on a website I used to visit and I've made it several times since discovering this simple lemon delight. I have made it in its original form and also tailored the recipe when I want to cut calories a bit. Enjoy!

    Lemon Cake

    Preheat gas oven to 350 farenheit (325 for electric oven)

    1/2 cup butter, softened
    1 cup sugar
    2 large eggs

    1 1/2 cup flour
    1 1/2 tsps baking powder
    1/2 cup milk (I use 2%)
    Zest of 1 or 2 lemons, depending on how lemony you want it to be. (I use zest of two.)

    Cream butter and sugar together. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Sift half of the flour and baking powder into the butter/sugar/egg mixture. Stir and pour in half of the milk. Stir until well blended. Repeat with last half of dry ingredients and then the rest of the milk. Stir in the zest.

    Pour into a 9x9 or 8x8 cake pan or round pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 35 min. at 350 degrees or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

    1/4 cup sugar

    2 Tbsp lemon juice (about one lemon)

    Mix sugar and lemon juice and pour over hot cake in oven. Turn oven off and let cake sit in oven for about 10 minutes. Remove and cool before cutting.

    9 servings

    Warning: If you do not use fresh lemons for the zest and juice in this recipe and I find out about it.....I will hunt you down and shake my finger in your face while scolding you. I promise.

    Note: The cake is usually best after sitting overnight. Also, if I'm feeling really wild, I'll double the glaze.

    For the lighter version: I replace the sugar with 1/2 cup Splenda sugar blend for baking and use Egg Beaters instead of the eggs. Using these substitutions, I have calculated the calories to be about 248 and the fat to be about 11 grams per serving. (I have not calculated the calories/fat for the original version.) Not the lightest thing out there, but a little better than the original recipe. When lightening up the recipe, I do not replace the sugar in the glaze as I'm not sure how it would effect the consistency.

    Saturday, May 19, 2012

    Shadows of The Past

    What do Dark Shadows, my Mom and The Carpenters have in common? Sit back and relax; I'm about to tell you.

    One of our favorite activities in my family is watching movies together. We are big Johnny Depp fans so my son, Ben, and I decided to spend the afternoon watching Dark Shadows at the theater. We both really enjoyed it. One of my favorite parts was a montage of images as a family is working to rebuild their business in town and welcome a new relative into their lives. Over that part of the film, a song by The Carpenters was playing. It made me smile and actually brought a few happy tears to my eyes as I remembered my Mom. Let me give some back story....

    After my parents divorced, my Mom struggled to support us. We did okay, but there usually weren't any funds leftover for things like vacations. If I remember correctly, the only vacation we ever took during that time was a short trip to Cincinnati, OH to visit King's Island amusement park. This was in the mid 1970's and I was probably 14 years old or thereabouts. While we were at the park, we attended one of their variety shows. During that show, a group performed The Carpenters' song, On Top of The World. It is a song I remember singing together with my Mom in the car during that time, too. We had such a good time on that trip. This is my sweet Mom. when On Top of The World began playing during the movie today, I had a flood of happy memories come to me and was overwhelmed for a moment. It made the movie all that much more enjoyable for me. (I will note here that the movie itself is not really the happy-go-lucky type. But it has its moments of humor and sweetness.) I drove home with a smile on my face.

    So that is what Dark Shadows, my Mom and The Carpenters have in common. Here is the song I enjoyed hearing again today after such a long time. I hope you enjoy it and smile, too.

    Wednesday, May 16, 2012

    BBL, Gotta Get Married!

    Yep, I caught me a man and we're getting married on May 25, 2012!

    Seriously, we have been together for 8 years now and finally decided to make it official. We are so happy that we are finally going to be husband and wife. I am so thankful I found such a wonderful man to spend the rest of my life with. I couldn't be more thrilled.

    Even with a small ceremony in my home, there is so much to do in the next week-and-a-half and then we have a nice honeymoon to be spent in my favorite place on earth. I will report back on our trip.

    Sunday, April 29, 2012

    Springtime Visitors!

    I've always been fascinated with the fact that some butterflies migrate to the South in Autumn and return to their Northern homes in the Spring. Just an amazing thing. I've noticed the Monarchs going south in September, but not taken much notice of their return when the earth is coming back to life.

    A week or two ago, I noticed my Common Privet (Ligustrum vulgare) was just blooming and smelled the wonderful aroma of its tiny white flowers. (While researching, I was surprised to see the aroma described as unpleasant on more than one website. I love the fragrance.) As I looked more closely, I could see hundreds of Red Admiral (thank you to my friend, Liz, for identifying them for me) butterflies enjoying the nectar from the flowers. A few days after taking the photos for this post, there were thousands (or so it seemed) of butterflies, including Monarchs and some that I couldn't identify. Just a wondrous sight!!

    I felt like I was in a fairy tale each time I walked into my back yard. The flowers are fading and so I suppose the butterflies will move on, nourished by the nectar provided by my humble Common Privet.

    In my eyes, a true miracle of nature.

    I hope they stop by next year.

    Tuesday, April 10, 2012

    World, Stop!

    I have always naively wondered why the world and everyone in it doesn't stop and take notice when someone dies. A life has ended, a light has gone out, a song has been silenced, hearts are broken. How can the world just keep going on without a glance in our direction?

    My sons had to deal with the loss of their paternal grandfather last week. As I witnessed their pain and grief, I found myself once again wondering why everything just didn't stop for a while. My children were in pain and I couldn't do one thing to make it better. That is such a helpless feeling. They've dealt with the deaths of both of my parents, but this one seems to have hit them a bit harder. They are at the age now when they can truly understand the finality of death and possibly even their own mortality.

    I know in reality that everything cannot just come to a standstill when someone passes from this life. It would just be nice to think that it could. I suppose knowing and understanding that others in the world must deal with the same grief, countless times daily, should be some consolation. But is it?