Monday, March 9, 2015

Homemade Cheese Its.

Last weekend we celebrated a friends birthday and luckily for me the boys were cooking! My only job was to just make the cake.  As requested I made our favorite Chocolate Cake and topped it with some flaked coconut and tall candles because who has time for short candles?  I also made these homemade Cheese its and they were a big hit.   Flakey, crunchy and so cheesy.   I followed the recipe exactly and they came together super fast. These will be added to the make this again recipe file.  I am already thinking of how I can spice them up, thyme, rosemary, horseradish, cayenne pepper, white cheddar and jalapeno, oh the possibilities...

Homemade Cheese Its.
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens.
yields 15 dozen

8 ounces of extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
4 Tbs unsalted butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tbs ice cold water
Maldon salt for sprinkling on top (optional)

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the cheese, butter, and salt. Add the flour and mix on low (dough will be pebbly). Slowly add the water and mix as the dough forms a ball.
  2. Pat the dough into a disk, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for an hour.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide the dough into two pieces and roll each into a very thin (1/8 inch or less) 10x12 inch rectangle. Using a fluted pastry cutter, cut the rectangles into 1-inch squares, then transfer them to the baking sheets.  Sprinkle with Maldon salt if desired.
  4. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until puffed and browning at the edges. Watch carefully, as the high fat content of the crackers makes a fine line between golden delicious and burnt. Immediately move the crackers to racks to cool.
I would guess these would last up to a week but good luck with that. 

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This is what the dough looked like prior to the water being added.

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... and after the addition of the water.

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My cookie cutter was exactly 2" across so I used the cookie cutter first then crossed it both ways with a pastry cutter, which worked great.

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Right before I sent them in the oven, I poked the iconic center hole with a toothpick.

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Toasty right out of the oven.

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There you have it.  Delicious!

And here is a picture of the birthday cake. 
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Have a lovely Monday.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Have a lovely weekend.

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Wednesday we celebrated a delayed Valentines date with dinner and taking in the touring Cirque du Soliel show, Kurios.  This show was amazing and left me wanting to swing from the chandeliers, tumble on the giant trampoline and basically run away with the circus.  Hey a girl can dream can't she?  This weekend I'm baking our favorite chocolate cake to celebrate a dear friend’s birthday and looking forward to a little r&r. 
I hope your plans include something to celebrate.

10 fun things around the web.
This story on racial identity is absolutely beautiful.  

Wouldn’t you love stepping through a fabulous doorway in your home?  

The Seattle Aquarium made viral news with this cephalopod video.  

Hair envy I love, totally serious about this one.   

Matt Brown starts his European Tour.   

I’d like to believe this is true but I’m just not sure about this one. 

An epic fail at a dog race that made me laugh out loud.  

Mesmerizing art exhibit on family faces.  

Freebies all year long. 

Have a lovely weekend!

Daffodil photo taken in the Skagit Valley of Washington State.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

One morning in Maine; the birth of a new day.

We are blessed and grateful that we are able to spend time in Maine on Bailey Island in a cottage sidled up to the mighty Atlantic.  We actually love this island so much we named our dog after it.  And while I am glad to take in any time of day along the coast of Maine I absolutely love the mornings. Taking in the beauty and quietness of a new day is an amazing scene.  I would imagine it similar to watching a painter craft a masterpiece, it's pure magic.  I wrote this last October moments after another spectacular sunrise.

One morning in Maine; the birth of a new day.

The ocean awakes me.
I can hear the tide rolling in, pushing strong toward the shore.
Waves breaking wildly against the rugged coastline, just steps away from my cozy bed.  
My eyes are weary, focusing on the room which is still dark.
I glance to the window and can see the faint glow of dawn and immediately I'm up.  
The sun always repetitive in its ritual, yet its greeting continually varied.  
I spy the Belt of Venus. 
It's captivating me with its midnight blues and shades of orange, vibrant reds and delicate pinks or sometimes just hazy shadows of grey filtering bright white light to the steel blue water below.  
It's a race, the sun to rise and me to capture it, each stage incredible and fleeting.  
I step out as the coffee is brewing, the October air is crisp and energizing.
I stand alone. 
The sounds of the waves, the gulls, and now my shutter, strung together in a magical rhythm.    
I look to the left and the right at homes hushed with a quiet only known in the off season.  
I think it's perfect.
It's my season.
In what seems like an instant the horizon is awake.
I can see the sun peeking, yawing, and stretching its rays outward.  
The ocean grows louder commanding my attention, reminding me of the direction of the tide.
Soon the sun, intensely bright, will usher me to look away.  
I move to the porch now so warm the sweater I needed moments ago will be shed.  
He brings me coffee, the schedule is discussed, breakfast is requested
…and all of a sudden, a new day has arrived on the coast of Maine.

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Seek beauty, be grateful and have a lovely day. 
~ xo

Monday, March 2, 2015

Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookies.

Hello, are you still out there???

I've been away but I am back with this amazing Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe from Dorie Greenspan.  

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I must confess I have never been a big fan of chocolate chip cookies.  The cookie part usually flattens out too thin when cooking and I don't care for the big hard chocolate chips, they seem out of balance.  These cookies are crispy on the outside, soft on the inside with threads of chocolate strewn throughout and the addition of the hazelnut meal adds a faint nutty flavor, much better than biting into a big nut.  These cookies are perfectly balanced. 

My adjustments: I cut out about 1/4 c of the brown sugar, opted for succanat* in lieu of the white sugar and I sprinkled a few flakes of Maldon salt on top, after I flattened them right before the second baking.   I also rolled all the cookie dough into balls, baked some and froze the rest.  Next time I will just need to thaw the frozen cookie balls and then bake 'em up.

Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookie Recipe by Dorie Greenspan

Servings: 50 cookies Prep Time: 15 minutes + 2 hours chilling in refrigerator Cook Time: 15 minutes


3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (476 grams)
1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
8 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature (2 sticks)
1 cup sugar (200 grams)
1 cup packed brown sugar (200 grams)
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
12 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (or 2 cups chocolate chips)
1 1/2 cups hazelnut or almond flour (150 grams)


1. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder together.
2. In the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed for 1 minute, until smooth. Add the sugar and brown sugar and beat for 2 minutes, until well blended. Beat in the vanilla.
3. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating for minute after each egg goes in. Reduce the speed to low and add in the flour mixture in 4-5 additions, mixing only until each addition is just incorporated (about 5 seconds for each addition - don't over-mix!)
4. Still on low speed, mix in the chocolate chips and the hazelnut (or almond) flour. Refrigerate dough for 2 hours or up to 3 days. If you are planning to freeze a portion - you can scoop out 1 1/2-inch rounds of dough to freeze.
5. Preheat oven to 350F with rack centered. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop out 1 1/2" rounds of dough onto baking sheet, about 2-inches apart.
6. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 8 minutes, and then, using a spatula, gently press each mound down just a little; rotate the baking sheet when returning to oven. Bake for another 7 minutes, or so, until the cookies are pale brown. They'll still be slightly soft in the center, but that's fine- they'll firm up as they cool. Transfer to rack to cool. Repeat with remainder of dough, always using a cool baking sheet.

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Have a lovely Monday, wishing you all a week filled with balance.

*Do you use sucanat?  It's a less processed sugar that retains the molasses, vitamins and minerals that refined sugar remove, still the same calories.  The name is derived from SUgar CAne NATural, it's basically pure dried sugar cane juice.
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