Monday, February 22, 2010

Luscious Chocolate Covered Cherries

I'm about two weeks late with these as I would normally make these for Valentine's Day, however, I wanted to make them for my Daddy for his birthday so I waited.

As I previously blogged, they were a big hit with him and actually are a big hit with most men. At least that has been my experience. So, why not make a batch today for your man? He'll love them and will love you even more! Trust me!

Here is the recipe:

Homemade Chocolate Covered Cherries

2 pounds sifted powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 large jars maraschino cherries w/stems
1 cup brandy
additional powdered sugar
1 pound semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 block paraffin, chopped

Drain maraschino cherries well. Pour brandy over cherries and let sit overnight. Drain again, this time pat dry with paper towels.

Cream together sifted powdered sugar, butter and condensed milk. Add almond extract. Mold this mixture in small amounts around the dried cherries to create a layer which entirely envelopes the cherry. Dip hands in powdered sugar to make it easier when molding mixture around cherries. Place balls on a cookie sheet and freeze for at least 45 minutes.

Melt the chocolate chips and chopped paraffin in the microwave for 5 minutes on high, stirring every minute to keep chocolate from burning. This can be reheated in microwave if gets too thick. Dip cherries into chocolate mixture using the stem. Place on another cookie sheet on wax paper to cool. Let sit overnight. Enjoy! Pin It

The Weekend

This past weekend I meandered down to Panama City to visit with friends and family. The occasion you ask? Well, my Daddy turns 75 tomorrow so we celebrated this past Saturday but more on that later.

Before I headed down, I headed up - up to Canton to drop the girls off at Ms. Kate's place, Manyhounds Inn, however I call it "Camp Whynot". She has a small kennel in her basement where she boards Greyhounds and only Greyhounds. The perfect spot in the country for my girls to relax and enjoy the weekend. Before I left, I wanted to show Ms. Kate the lumps on Sugar's neck in case it started draining again, which it has been doing off and on since the dog fight back in October. While she was looking at Sugar, I headed outside to gather Remi and Lucy. When I returned, Ms. Kate had found the most interesting thing in her neck . . . a drainage tube!! Yes, a drainage tube. Somehow the vet or vet tech missed this one when they were removing the others. It had also regressed back under the skin so was not noticeable to me until recently when her body began rejecting it, we assume. The very tip was visible from the outside, however, I thought it was an internal stitch coming out so had planned to take her to the vet this week to get it checked out. In any event, Ms. Kate is a Registered Nurse so removing the tube was nothing extraordinary to her. Thank goodness I showed her Sugar's neck and thank goodness she knew what the problem was!! After that little episode, I then headed back home to finish making my birthday present to my Dad . . . homemade chocolate covered cherries! (that blog post will happen tomorrow)

Once home and after the cherries were complete and packaged for giving, and the car was loaded, I then commenced to driving to Panama City. I arrived there around around 5:30 p.m., just in time for dinner. My sister Pam had planned for us to go out to The Captain's Table down on Beck Avenue in old St. Andrews. It was delicious. We each ordered a fried seafood platter. Needless to say, I was stuffed after all that food. I don't think I've had a meal like that in months!!

The next morning I met a friend from high school for coffee at the Starbuck's in Lynn Haven. I just happened to bring my senior year annual with me for us to thumb through and reminisce. We did and had a great time catching up on what our classmates are doing. He filled me in on those he knew and I did the same with those I knew. It was really fun Steve! I enjoyed it.

After that I went to help my niece move a few boxes from her old townhouse to her new townhouse. Then it was back to Pam's to get ready for dinner. Not just any ole dinner, but a dinner cruise which was a surprise for my Daddy for his birthday!

We left her house around 3:30 p.m. so we could pick up Jenny, my niece, Zac, my nephew, and Jenny's friend Craig who was going to be our personal photographer for the evening. After all that, we headed to Baytowne Marina inside Sandestin where our ship was docked. I don't know the length of the ship but it was quite nice. To the left is a picture of it I took from my iPhone. The name of the ship is the Solaris and it's with Sunquest Cruises.

We boarded the ship meeting up with my brother, his wife, and three kids who were already there waiting on everyone else. After meeting them, Craig managed to snap a few photos of us, then we waited for Daddy and his girlfriend, Pat, to arrive. Soon thereafter we saw them walking down the dock on their way to the boat. Pat had bought my Daddy there as a so-called post-Valentines dinner but unbeknownst to him, we were there to surprise him. And that we did. Can you tell?

He was so surpised to see us and was so surprised that we were there for HIS birthday. After a few more pictures, we finally headed to our table. I believe there were 13 of us total. Soon after they began our little cruise out to the Choctawhatchee Bay. Drinks were ordered and served and we had an opportunity to order appetizers, if we so desired. I did, and ordered a Shrimp Cocktail for those on our end of the table. They were huge and delicious! After that, they began serving our dinner. First came wonderful soft bread with delicious seasoned butter in tubs. Then salads were next with a delightful light dressing already on them. They added a special touch to the salads, one which I just love, and that is a few roasted walnuts! Delicious!! After that, the main course. We had to preorder our dinner but there were choices for everyone including a chicken dish, tenderloin of beef, fresh fish, and shrimp pasta. I believe everyone enjoyed their choices immensely as I don't recall seeing any food left on any plates!! Once the dinner plates were removed out came dessert which on that night happened to be New York Style Cheesecake which also had a delicious sauce (caramel maybe?) ladled over it.

Everyone had nothing but wonderful compliments for the staff and food. The portions were just right, serving temperatures were just right, and the timing by our waiter was just right. We couldn't have asked for anything more. If you are in the Panama City/Destin area, I highly recommend you book a reservation on the Solaris for your own dinner cruise. You won't be disappointed!

After dinner was over, Daddy had an opportunity to unwrap his gifts. He opened the birthday cards first and then my gifts. I had purchased a coffee mug, complete with a caricature drawing of my four Greyhounds, compliments of Kim Morris who is a very multi-talented person! After the coffee mug (which was completely filled with Hershey Kisses), came time for him to open the candy tin filled with homemade chocolate covered cherries!! He was tickled that I had made his favorite candy! I love making them and I know he loves to eat them so it seemed to be the perfect gift for a 75 year old who has EVERYTHING!! After my gifts, he opened the big gift that was from all of us. It was a picture collage of all those he holds dear to his heart, including a picture of my Mom who passed away in 2001. I believe it was her Senior portrait picture from high school. So awesome! He was so pleased with his gift, I could tell it on his face. There were pictures of us kids (Pam, my brother Tadpole and myself), plus all the grandkids, Mom, and Ms. Pat. That's something he'll cherish, I know, for years to come. My gifts are for immediate consumption but the picture collage, that one is for a lifetime!

After that, the ship was back at the dock and it was time to drive home. The drive back was much quieter than the drive over, as you can well imagine. We did enjoy spotting the numerous (too many to count) deer we would see on the beach side of Highway 98. They were eating clover on the side of the road, my BIL said. Oddly, they would stay put as we drove past, hardly even noticing there were cars within feet of them.

Once home, I hit the bed almost immediately!! It was a long day and I knew I had to get up the next morning bright and early and head home. I left around 9:30 a.m. arriving at Ms. Kate's in Canton around 3:15 p.m. I picked up the girls from there and headed on home, arriving around 5:30 p.m. Wow, another long day. But I was glad to be home and the girls were equally as happy as they immediately ran into the backyard to romp in their own yard!!

Oh, a visit to Ms. Kate's is not complete without a picture or two of the girls in an array of hats. Here is Lucy as the Joker. I thought it very appropriate! :) She said in an email today that keeping them is no problem - that they are very happy girls. And that they are!

I'm hoping to get back to Panama City in April to do some kayaking with my sister and BIL. It's their latest hobby, one which I plan to take up as well. I'm very much looking forward to it!
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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Making Whoopie!

Silly, I'm talking about making Whoopie Pies!! Yet another confection I had never made before and was dying to make.

So, the perfect little celebration at work presented itself and I decided the Whoopie Pies would be a great contribution! So, I scoured the Internet searching for the perfect recipe and lo and behold, found what I was looking for at

Here is the recipe:

Whoopie Pies (makes 2 dozen sandwiches)

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Seven Minute Frosting

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sift together flour, salt, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside. Line two baking pans with Silpats (French nonstick baking mats) or parchment paper. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. Beat until well combined. Slowly add dry ingredients. Mix until combined.
2. Using a 1-ounce ice-cream scoop, place cookies onto lined baking pans, twelve per pan. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool. Repeat with remaining batter.
3. Spread 2 tablespoons of frosting onto each of twenty-four of cookies. Sandwich together with remaining twenty-four cookies. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Do not stack!!

The cookies resemble devils food cake and the Seven Minute Frosting adds just enough flavor as the filling. Not too sweet and not too overbearing. A great combination!!

These are certainly wonderful "pies" which I will definitely make again in the future. Why not make some tonight? Pin It

Monday, February 08, 2010

The "Feel Good" Soup

I've never been a big soup person but lately that seems to be my forte, huh? I suppose it's the extremely cold temperatures we've been enduring which has forced me to rethink the soup thing.

In any event, this weekend seemed the perfect time to make my first batch of Chicken Noodle Soup, complete with homemade noodles, of course!

For the noodles, I used a basic egg noodle recipe (see below). Then, using my pasta machine and the fettucine setting, I made the noodles, cutting them several times for use in the soup. If you don't have a pasta machine, you can always roll the dough with a rolling pin and hand cut the noodles. Either method will result in the most delicious homemade noodles you've ever tasted!


2 1/4 C. plain flour
3 eggs, lightly beaten

Sift the flour onto a clean work surface, forming a mound. Make a hollow in the center. Break the eggs into the hollow. With a fork, break up the eggs and start gradually whisking, incorporating the flour from the edges a little at a time. Try not to let the egg spill over the sides. Keep whisking and then mixing by hand until all the flour is incorporated.

Knead the dough lightly for 6-8 minutes until glossy. The dough should not be sticky; add more flour if necessary. Cover the dough lightly and leave to rest for 30 minutes before using.

Here is the recipe I used to make the soup. And on a cold winter weekend, there is no other soup that warms the body and the soul quite like homemade chicken noodle soup!


4 C. water
2 (32-ounce) cartons fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 T. olive oil
1 C. onion
1 C. celery
1 t. salt
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
3 medium carrots, chopped
12 ounces egg noodles
5 C. shredded cooked chicken breast
2 T. McCormick's All-Purpose Seasoning
4 T. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Combine water and chicken broth in a large dutch oven. Add onion, celery, salt, pepper, and carrot. Bring to a boil. Stir in chicken and noodles. Turn down heat and simmer until chicken is throughly heated and noodles are al dente. Stir in parsley. Serve with warm french bread!

Obviously this makes quite a large pot of soup so invite friends over to enjoy it with you or freeze some for later or you can always half the recipe!!

A perfect meal for a perfectly cold, winter day! It will definitely make you feel good! Pin It