Friday, July 30, 2010

Barefoot Bloggers - Greek Panzanella, Sour Cream Coffee Cake, and Scalloped Tomatoes




It's been almost two months since I've posted a Barefoot Bloggers recipe.  The leader of the group relaxed the rules a bit for the summer months and allowed us to post the recipes anytime during the month.   As usual I took my own special liberties with the rules and am posting June and July's recipes before the end of this month....which happens to be tomorrow, so just like TWD, you're getting your monies worth here today!!

We'll start with the Greek Panzanella, which I was sure we had already made, but looking back it was just Panzanella.....no Greek the last time.  It's basically the same recipe with some Greek touches thrown in.  Specifically olives, which I hate so I didn't add them, which makes me question if this is actually Greek now??  Anyhoo it was still good.  But it's got toasted bread cubes, so how could it not be good.  But it's only good for a few hours, then the bread starts to get all mushy, so this is one of those that needs to be eaten the day it's made.  No leftovers here.

Thanks to Tara of Smells Like Home for the pick.

Click here for the recipe.

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Oh my this was really good.  Ina's Sour Cream Coffee Cake.  I've actually made this a couple of times in the past and it's a favorite.  It's perfect for breakfast with your coffee, an afternoon snack, or a late night indulgence.  I left out the nuts and doubled the streusel filling because that's the way I roll.

Thanks to Gwenn of Cooking in Pajamas for the selection.

Click here for the recipe.

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Initially I wasn't sure about this recipe because I'm not a huge fan of cooked chunks of tomato.  I love all of the ingredients....tomatoes, croutons, basil, garlic, and parmesan.....but just couldn't wrap my brain around baking them.  Well sometimes my brain misleads me.  

This was freaking amazing.  Hubs and I made an entire meal out of this (and some coffee cake!) but I'll be making this over and over as a side dish to go with just about anything.  The only thing I changed was adding some red pepper flakes to the bread cubes as I was toasting them.  Added a subtle little kick.  

This is super easy and comes together in about 15 minutes (plus the 30-40 minutes of baking time....but that's just enough time for that first glass of wine!!).  You absolutely must make this!!

Thanks to Josie of Pink Parsley (one of my favorite blogs) for hosting this pick.

Click here for the recipe.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

TWD - Tarte Noire, Brrrr-ownies, Lot's of Ways Banana Cake and Chewy, Chunky Blondies


Dude you're getting some bang for your buck here today!  A complete month full of TWD in one post!  

I was seriously behind in my baking and didn't want to get booted from the group so I spent Monday in the kitchen catching up on TWD and Barefoot Blogger recipes.  My trainer was ecstatic!  He always gets whatever Mr. B can't eat!

Let's get started with the Tarte Noire.  I actually made this one last week for Barry's 30th birthday dinner.  We all loved it but when I gave a piece to my BFF's chocolate loving husband, I watched him throw half a piece away, so it obviously wasn't for everyone.  Since this was for Barry and he like a little chocolate with his chocolate, I opted for Dorie's Chocolate Shortbread Tart Dough.  

I'm giving this one two thumbs up.....it's quick and easy with great chocolate flavor (without being too heavy) and it elegant enough for your fancy dinner party (Mom....get that done.....it's your turn!!).

For the recipe visit dharma girl at bliss: towards a delicious life










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Next up.....Brrrrr-ownies.  These are essentiall just gooey, rich brownies with chopped up Peppermint Patties thrown in.  These were my friend, Jenny's, favorites but I didn't like the texture of the peppermint patty after it had been baked.  Got a little tough for my palate!  But if you like mint and chocolate together, you're gonna love these!

For the recipe visit Karen at Welcome to Our Crazy Blessed Life.



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Oh, oh, oh....the Lot's of Ways Banana Cake.  THIS was my favorite.  I took some real liberties with this one because with all I was baking, I certainly didn't need a whole cake in the house......trainer or no trainer!!  I halved the recipe and baked it in a springform pan along with substituting the coconut and dried fruit for some more decadent fillings.  And I also omitted the rum and added some oats!

Here's my version of the recipe since I butchered Dorie's!!

"I Did it My Way Banana Cake"
Makes 1 9-inch round cake

1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup oatmeal
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 ripe bananas, mashed (1 cup)
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup cocoa nibs 
1/2 cup cinnamon chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan (or round cake pan), set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the cocoa nibs and cinnamon chips.  Set aside

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugars on medium speed til light and fluffy, about 3 minutes  Add the egg and vanilla and beat for 1 minute more.  Turn the speed down to low and add the banana to the mixture, til just combined.  Add half the flour mixture, still on low speed, til just combined, then add the buttermilk, then the remaining flour mixture.  Add 2/3 of the cocoa nib and cinnamon chip mixture to the batter and stir til just combined, but do not overmix.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and spread evenly.  Sprinkle the remaining nib/chip mixture on top of the batter.  Bake the cake for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool the pan 5 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack until room temperature before cutting

To see the original recipe visit Kimberly of Only Creative Opportunities.



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And for Mr. B's favorite....Chewy, Chunky Blondies.  I didn't really think about this when I was making them, but when he took his first bite he said, "Mmmmmm, chocolate chip cookies?"  He was essentially right.  They're just cookies in a bar form.  I made these as written except for the walnuts.  Left those out.  I was going to leave out the coconut also, but put it in at the last minute.  I wish I would have listened to my first instinct as you couldn't really taste it.

I served this with a scoop of coffee ice cream and some of David Lebovitz's caramel sauce!  Dayum!!  Tasty shizzle.

Visit Nicole of Cookies on Friday for the recipe.





So there you go.  A whole month of July recipes knocked out.   And I'm completely depressed that next week is August already!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Exclusive Resorts - Beaver Creek



I have skied down that mountain more than once in my lifetime.  Beaver Creek has always been our favorite ski destination....in fact, I'm pretty sure that one of the Bachelor Gulch units was our second trip with ER way back in February, 2006.  

But isn't it much prettier without all of that cold, nasty, white stuff all over it?

This has been my summer of Colorado lovin.  First it was Aspen and now BC.   Maybe next summer it will be Telluride or maybe I'll just come back here.


We had such a great time relaxing, hiking, walking, riding horses, eating, drinking, sitting outside without drowning in a puddle of sweat......no really, at home that's what happens.




We even got to spend some time with an old high school classmate and my cousin and his wife who drove up from Denver to visit.  Lot's of laughs.




But like I said when we were in Aspen, there something about the clean mountain air that inspires you to get outside and be active (Colorado is the fittest state in the nation), so we hiked a LOT!  

















And not once on any of those six mile hikes did I see a dang bear.  It was really my only goal of the trip (I don't ask for much).  The only wildlife we saw were these two mule deer.  



I'd never heard of mule deer before.  We just have regular old deer in Alabama.....the flower-and-shrub-eating-ruin-my-backyard-landscaping-S.O.B-kind.  No mule deer.  So I googled them.  Seems their ears are the same size as mule ears and they're only found in the Western part of the U.S.  You're welcome.



But I was determined to have a picture of a bear for this blog post so......




Angry looking fellow, isn't he (or she?).  Maybe I should be glad I didn't actually see a real one.  Whatev.

If you're not into hiking there are a million other things to do for fun in BC village.  I really wanted to get on these trampolines, but I never saw anyone over the age of 15 jumping and I didn't want to dislocate a hip or anything, so I just watched.  Maybe next time.




There was also miniature golf......



and a rock climbing wall which should not be confused with this type of rock climbing.



Since my niece, Annie, was with us and had never been to Colorado before we wanted her to get the full "Rocky Mountain" treatment, so we took her on a drive to Aspen.



We took the scenic route through Leadville (home of the Golden Burro/Brass Ass Saloon.....Mr. B's favorite!) and the Independence Pass.




It's a stunning drive.






















She even got to see some snow!








This is where we stayed for the week.  If you're an ER member, this is 145 Beaver Creek Drive.  It's not on the golf course and it's not ski-in/ski-out (Dial-a-Ride is available and extremely convenient), but if you've got a large group, this house is perfect.  It's away from the activity of the village and was a great place for sitting outside and reading and relaxing.  Plus the views across the street are spectacular.



It's got a large, open floor plan with plenty of room for a large group.












The master bedroom was huge and included an additional sitting room and a small outside deck.











There is another den in the basement along with three bedrooms (King, Queen, 2 Queens) and laundry room.








We spent a lot of time out here reading, eating, drinking, etc.




I'm not sure I'd reserve this house during ski season unless I had a large group but that's only because I really enjoy the ski-in/ski-out convenience of the Bachelor Gulch units, but for the summer, this was exactly what the doctor ordered.

Next up........Once in a Lifetime adventure in Provence in October.  So excited.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Beaver Creek Trail Ride


Hubs and I are in Beaver Creek, Colorado this week to enjoy some cooler temps and languish in the beauty of the Colorado Rockies.  I mean, really.....is there anything better in the summer?  If you've only experienced this area in the winter, you're really missing out.  I've been officially converted this summer.

This trip we invited the 'rents and my oldest niece, Annie.  That's her in the middle of Mr. B and I.  She's finishing up her last year of college and had a one week break between classes so we convinced her to join us.




Just so happens, she's an Equine Science major and has a major passion for 1200 pound animals.  These creatures.....



She has her own horse and rides practically every day, so when she discovered Beaver Creek had their own stables, I was not at all surprised that she wanted to go riding.  I was surprised (VERY) that she talked her uncle and I into joining her.




It's been a looooong time since I've ridden a horse.  But if hubs could do it, damnit so could I.  Being competitive doesn't always serve me well.




When we got to the stables I immediately saw this little guy and was hoping I'd get to ride him.  He's a mini and I figured if he threw me off it wouldn't be that far of a fall.  Plus, look at that face.




Is he sweet or what?  And those horse noses....OMG.....so stinkin soft.





The teeth may need some work....




....and I'm not sure I would ever be doing this.  I told you she was passionate.  She may need some therapy!





And then there was this guy.  His name was Midnight and he was having a bad day.





He threw a little temper tantrum while we were waiting to leave.  I was sure they were going to make me ride him.  I would have been outta there!




Luckily he got taken out back for a little time out, so to speak.  




That's Diesel and he was my ride for the day.  Diesel was a bit of a drama queen.  Whenever I'd give a little tug on his reins, he'd throw his head back like I'd just tried to give him whiplash or something.  So freaking dramatic.  But also totally sweet.


Hubs got Dooley.




And Annie got Little Indian.  




Before we left, the guide pointed out that we'd be riding to the top of that mountain.  WHAT?  You're kidding me, right?  Seems not.




And off we went.  The girl in the cowboy hat was our guide, Bree.  She grew up in Colorado but moved to Utah for High School.  She's going to be a freshman in college but comes back to Beaver Creek every summer to work.  I think she convinced Annie to join her next summer.  It didn't take much talking!!




We headed into the Aspens.  And speaking of Aspens, I was a little shocked to learn that it's not the state tree.  That would be the Blue Spruce.  I think you screwed up there Colorado.  Your state tree should totally be the Aspen.  See if you can get that changed, mkay.




When we came out of the Aspens, we had a great view of Beaver Creek Village.









Then back into a grove of the future state tree of Colorado.




See how dark they are at the bottoms?  Bree said that was an indication of how high the snow was in the winter.  That's why I'm only coming back in the summer!




That's the Columbine....the state flower.  Quite the state history lesson you're getting here today, right?




This is the state nothing.  Just a really large carcass leftover from the winter.  Sweet, right?  Maybe not.




But that view is sweet.  This really is a great way to see some beautiful views of Beaver Creek.  It's a very family friendly ride and you don't have to be an experienced horse person to have a great time.





Annie even talked me into doing it again later in the week!

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