No food, but some fun news…

I’m finally getting out of the morning sickness… yay!!

So I hope to be baking again soon (though it may be detrimental to my expanding waistline.)

In the meantime, I just wanted to share with you this little picture that says it all:

IMG_1770

Yep, a little girl!!

We are all so excited.

A very belated apology and some news…

I bet you were convinced I had given up on this blog…

(I almost believed it myself.)

But actually, I was taking a (very) necessary break. Because I’ve been sick. So sick that even the idea of cooking in the kitchen could make me feel like I was going to vomit.

Personally, I blame this little one for it:

!cid_007F9F8CC86C4FE3B93B55899FEF0F7E@thequestadsHP

Yep, I’m pregnant!!

And I’ve had pretty bad morning (aka ‘all day’) sickness.  (Not Kate Middleton sick, but sick enough to ignore food and blogging for months on end.)

I’m still having good and bad days, and I’m awfully tired… but I do hope to return to the blog world at some point.

So, I’m sorry I’ve been MIA.

But really, it’s been for the best reason.

Take care!

Blackberry Mini-Crisps

When I left off posting in the beginning of August, not only did I have writer’s block, but I just plain frustrated.

Tear out my hair a little, frustrated.

The problem was that all my ‘healthy’ desserts tasted ‘healthy.’

(Or maybe it was because we’d been eating so many dessert treats over the last year that I was having sugar withdrawals.)

(I know, not a really horrible problem in the whole scope of things, but it was driving me crazy.)

Anyways, I was tired of having an expectation of a particular taste… and then being disappointed.  So I took a break (completely) from baking.  Hubs and I continued our daily exercise, ate less, and got really amazing results – which is always motivating to keep on track.

And I finally felt like I was ready to try baking – either in moderation or with healthier intentions.

I had remembered this post from Kristy’s blog, Eat, Play, Love, and thought it might be pretty darn amazing with some blackberries instead.  The best part – it was dessert in moderation with some healthier ingredients!

The Recipe:

Blackberry Mini-Crisps, adapted from Eat, Play, Love

2 1/2 c blackberries

1/4 c honey

zest of 1/2 lemon

1/2 c whole grain oats

1/2 c whole wheat flour

2 T wheat germ

1/2 c brown sugar

1/4 t baking powder

1/4 T cinnamon

1/4 c butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 4 to 6 ramekins with cooking spray.  Combine honey, blackberries, and lemon zest.  Stir to barely break apart blackberries.   Evenly spoon the mix into the ramekins.

In another bowl, combine the rest of the dry ingredients.  Using a pastry blender cut in the butter.  Sprinkle evenly over the blackberries in the ramekins.

Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

Top with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

We were blown away.

Seriously.

This did not taste one bit ‘healthy’ and one serving was a perfect amount to hit that sweet craving.

The blackberries were sweet and tart and just bursting with juicy goodness.  And the topping was crispy, slightly carmelized, and the perfect counterpoint to the berries.

This is my only picture… what can I say, I got lazy with my picture-taking, too – just wanted to get to the eating, apparently. 🙂

We’ve made various versions of this since then (with peaches, apples, etc.), and they’ve all been big hits.  I can’t recommend this recipe enough – it’s definitely become a favorite around here.

So try it.  I promise you will not regret it!

Wishing you a wonderful Wednesday.

Strawberry Macaroon Shortcake

Hi, my friends!

(Can I just say it’s great to be back?… Though no one told me how hard it was going to be to pull up ‘add new post’ and start writing again.  I think I’ve started this post about five times, already.  But I gotta finish it sometime, right?)

It has been a wonderful month off – with vacation trips, school prep, getting my oldest off to kindergarten (big deal!), and just enjoying my kids to the fullest.

Through this time, I realized how much time I was spending on the computer – and how much my boys appreciate having that time for themselves instead.  So I’m coming back with a new attitude and focus… you may see fewer posts and less commenting, but know I’m still around, reading about your fantastic food and experimenting with my own.

I’ve also decided to stick to what I love to do… bake.  So they’ll be a lot fewer ‘meal’ posts and hopefully more baked goods.

So let’s get back on track with a tasty dessert.

The Recipe:

Strawberry Macaroon Shortcake, adapted from Kraft recipes

1-1/3 c flake coconut

1/2 c slivered almonds, chopped

1/3 c sugar

2 T flour

1/8 t salt

2 egg whites

1/2 t coconut extract

1 c whipped cream

2 c strawberries, sliced

Preheat oven to 325°F.  Mix coconut, almonds, sugar, flour and salt in large bowl.  Beat egg whites and coconut extract lightly with fork.  Add to coconut mixture; mix well.

Line cookie sheet with foil  Spread coconut mixture evenly onto foil, forming a flat 8 inch circle.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool.  Remove from foil.  Cut into 8 wedges.  Top evenly with the whipped cream and strawberries just before serving.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

I made this earlier in the summer to enjoy with our neighbors.  It was a perfect dessert to eat on the back porch while the sun set.

I especially enjoyed the strawberry coconut flavor combination.  And the shortcake tasted just like a regular macaroon; slightly crispy, toasted coconut on the outside – and soft and chewy in the middle.  Hubs contributed with a bourbon-infused whipped cream that was out-of-this-world.

And it was double-y good since it was one of the first ‘real’ desserts we’d had all summer.

(But more on that another time.)

All the bowls came back empty – always a good sign.

Hoping you’ve all had a wonderful month – and looking forward to catching up.

A Little Break

Hi, everyone,

I just wanted to let you know that I will be taking a little summer break from writing for the next couple weeks.  As all of us know, ruts can happen, and I am definitely experiencing one.  My motivation has gone out the window, so I’m giving myself permission to take a little time off.  Don’t worry, though, I fully plan on coming back… refreshed and ready to go.  I hope you all have an amazing August, and I shall be back soon.

~ Courtney

Cheesecake (Take Two), 200 Posts, and a Giveaway

This is not how I’d expected this post (recipe) to go.

I was going to come out, all my culinary guns a’blazing, showing off my growth with an awesome cheesecake to celebrate 200 posts.

But, alas, that was not to be.

Instead, things did not quite go right…

So, Wednesday was my husband’s birthday – and I had the whole day (foodwise) mapped out.  Breakfast in bed, lunch out, tasty dinner, and a lovely cheesecake (his favorite) since last year’s did not go according to plan.  I was going for gorgeous looking and delicious this year.

The morning was a whirl – as I cooked breakfast, made the cheesecake, and set up dinner in the crockpot.

The cheese cake was a recipe I’d found on foodnetwork.com and had almost 500 reviews with a culminating score of five stars.  I was confident it was going to be a snap.  And it seemed as if it were.  The only thing that threw me off was that the recipe said to take the cheesecake out after baking for 45 minutes and that it should be jiggly.  It even stated ‘do not overcook.’  So, I left it in about 5 minutes longer and then forced myself to remove it, jiggly, as the recipe said.

After that it needed to cool and then be placed in the fridge for 4 hours to firm up.  No problem.

And when I finally took it out and released the springform mold, it looked gorgeous!

No cracks and a perfect crust! I was so proud…

It wasn’t until I began to slice, that things started to go wrong.

Apparently, it had not set.

I was so thankful at this point that we did not have guests.

(Did I mention that I wasn’t feeling well, so our friends cancelled?)

(Oh, and the dinner I made was not eaten – I’ll share that story next post.)

All in all, it was not turning into great day for him (or me).

Isn’t this just what you’d want on your special day??

(And yes, I also made a delectable strawberry coulis that was totally wasted – for those interested, mix strawberries, honey, and a little lemon juice to taste in a blender until smooth.  Delish!)

I was so sad.  I really felt like I’d let Hubs down on his special day.  But, of course, he found the silver lining of throwing away the rest of the cake, “At least we won’t eat all those extra calories, right?”

Sure, I guess.

But I was so looking forward to all those calories.  (And I felt that I’d let him down.)

Anyways, after a little introspection, I’m feeling that this recipe was a lesson for my 200th post.  It was the Cooking Gods letting me know that I still have so much to learn – so they gave me a little humbling experience to drive in the point.  They wanted me to renew my desire to continue to grow as a cook; to take chances and gain from the successes and the failures.

So, that’s what I’m going to do.

(And, as the Cooking Gods are my witness, I will make a perfect cheesecake before post number 300!)

(Oh, and I’m going to spoil Hubs rotten on Father’s Day to make up for it.  So don’t feel too bad for him.)

~~~~

Anyways, on to the really fun part of this post… the giveaway!

In celebration of 200 posts, I am giving away a $20 gift card to Williams-Sonoma to one of my lucky, lucky readers.  They have a ton of amazing culinary toys that are sure to please everyone.

To enter, leave a comment for the following:

First Entry:  Share your favorite recipe (and a link if you have one).  (I’m really looking forward to seeing these – always looking for new things to try. :) )

Second Entry:  Like Misadventures in Cooking on Facebook.  (If you already do, just leave a comment telling me you do.)  Or subscribe to receive emails in the box on the right.

Third+ Entries: Share this giveaway on your blog, on FB, on Twitter, or any other social media.  One extra entry for every time you share.

(Make sure that each of these is in a separate comment.  Enter your email in the comment form, so I can contact you if you win.  I will be choosing a comment using Random.org next Friday, June 22nd at noon, Pacific Time.)

Thank you all, once again, readers, for keeping me positive and encouraged – you certainly help me keep going after days like Wednesday!

Good luck!

The one where I don’t cook.

I’m thinking the title gives away the gist of this post.

I’m not cooking today, nor did I cook all weekend.  But I have a great excuse…

It was SUNNY!

And WARM!!

(Well, mid-60’s, but for us that is warm.)

We’ve been outside for almost three days straight.  (Seriously, just coming in for pit stops, naps, and bedtime.)

So, I hope you will all forgive me.  If not, I’m hoping these happy faces will convince you.  🙂

Blogger Unplugged

A couple of weeks ago, I was tagged by Geni at Sweet and Crumby to do the Bloggers Unplugged quiz.  Now Geni has become a wonderful friend, so I certainly couldn’t turn down her invitation to share a little about myself.

(Plus, I wanted to take a minute to thank her for being such a great ‘listener’ and for spoiling me rotten with a little birthday/Valentine’s Day care package.  She absolutely made me day.  For those of you who haven’t checked out her blog, Geni does an amazing job pairing divine food with positive and inspirational thoughts about life, with a little humorous twist.  I promise if you visit Sweet and Crumby, you will not be disappointed.)

Now back to the Unplugged portion of the post…

1. Who or What inspired your blog?  To be completely honest with you, I started this blog as a way to rant about my husband.  (Is that bad?!?)  I needed a place to voice my opinions as I attempted to learn how to cook – without going postal on my beloved husband.  If you’ve been reading recently, you can see that I’ve come full circle and have even had Hubs guest post.  I seriously believed I would only be blogging for a very short time – and that no one would actually be reading it but me.  I’m very glad things have turned out differently.

2. Who is your foodie inspiration?  Well, I’m kind of inspired by a lot of people.  I really get excited seeing my fellow bloggers’ ideas and sometimes have to make their dish (usually a dessert) right then.  Of course, I’m also inspired by my husband – but don’t tell him that.  And I think if I could’ve been less of a typical teenage girl, I probably would have been inspired by my mom.  Instead, I usually gave her a hard time for tweaking my favorite recipes in innovative ways.  Now I can appreciate the creativity she has.

3. Your greasiest batter-splattered cookbook is?  Yikes.  I really don’t use cookbooks.  I think my biggest resource for recipes is the internet and all the amazing food bloggers out there.  As for paper recipes, when I use one, it’s usually from Hubs’ Cooks Illustrated magazines.  (Those people at the America’s Test Kitchen are geniuses, I tell you.)  We do have a ton of cookbooks around here, but I just don’t have the time to browse them for the perfect recipe.

4. Tell us about the best thing that you have eaten in another country, where was it, what was it?  I’m going to be slightly boring with the answer to this question.  See, I’ve only really been to a couple other countries my whole life (France being one of them), and I was only 18 and quite the picky eater, so I didn’t really try anything spectacularly out-there.  But, I did have my first slice of Margherita pizza at a dive restaurant in the Quartier Latin – and it has been my absolute favorite pizza since.

5. Another food blogger’s table that I’d like to eat at?  Okay, so this question is just not fair.  So, I’m going to list more than one… Since I live in a household of boys, I’d love to meet up with a bunch of my fellow female bloggers for a ‘Girl’s Night In’ with a delicious meal and great conversation.  I’d ask Caroline and Kristy to be in charge of the main dishes (and I wouldn’t mind if Kristy brought her lovely Miss A, too).  Lisa would have to be there to provide some sort of healthy side.  And I think I’d put Geni and Barb in charge of dessert.  Wow, I think I’ve discovered what could possibly be the perfect meal.  But really, each of them could bring whatever they wanted, and I would still be quite happy.

6. What is the one kitchen gadget that you would ask for this year?  Let me start out by saying we have a TON of kitchen gadgets; shelves and drawers full of them.  It’s my go-to present for Hubs every year for any holiday.  So, I think we’re pretty set in that way.  If I could get something for my kitchen it would be new counters!  We have these ugly tile counters with (originally) white grout.  I mean, who in the world chooses white grout for a kitchen??!  Now the grout is a lovely shade of mottled gray that I hate, and I can not get it clean.  It drives me nuts.  So, in my dream world, I’d love new granite counter tops.  Doubt that will happen anytime soon, but a girl can dream, right?

7. Who taught you how to cook?  I love this question because in my life it should be ‘Who tried to teach you to cook?’  And in that case, I could list: my mom, my friends, my roommates, my past co-workers, and my husband.  And the answer to the real question: me.  I’m teaching myself how to cook.

8. I’m coming for dinner, what is your signature dish? Wow.  I don’t really have a signature dish… but the one I’ve perfected over time and would probably serve would be my Very Lemon Chicken with some Parmesan Herb Risotto.  (I’d love to serve some sort of delicious veggie, too, but I’m failing in the vegetable department right now.)  I’d also have to include a loaf of Sheepherder’s Bread to share.  And for dessert, hmmmm, some of Hub’s Chocolate Chip Cookies (I know, not my signature dish and not too fancy, but darn they’re good!).

9. What is your guilty food pleasure? Well, I’m pretty sure you already know that I love chocolate.  Dark chocolate to be exact – but I really don’t feel too guilty about it.  I mean, dark chocolate’s totally healthy.  Right?  Anyways, I think the food that makes me feel the most guilty about is Ben and Jerry’s Mint Chocolate Cookie Ice Cream.  Not really because it’s bad, but because I have been known, on rare occasions, to eat a whole pint in one sitting.  I believe that is four servings at one time.  Not so healthy for you – but man does it taste good.

10. Reveal something about yourself that others would be surprised to learn.  I think this is the toughest question – as I feel like I’m a pretty open book.  I guess for those of you that don’t know me, you may be surprised to know that I am the most unathletic, uncoordinated person ever.  It is painful to watch me try to hit a baseball with a bat or a golf ball with a club – just ask Hubs.  I am proud, though, that I trained and ran my first two 5K races last summer, and hope to pick running back up again this year.  For me, that was a huge, huge deal – as I’m not only bad at sports, I have crappy endurance, too.

Now for the fun part, I get to tag 5 more bloggers to be Unplugged… (But really, you don’t have to.)

Christine from Foodthoughtsofachefwannabe

Kay from Pure Complex

Kate from Calamity Kate’s Kitchen

Caroline from Sweet Caroline’s Cooking

Barb from Just a Smidgen

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal

Don’t we all have a few shameful food secrets?

Things we hide from our culinary friends for fear they’d judge our embarrassing penchant for a somewhat disgusting food item…  Most of mine have carried over from childhood, and I’m slowly attempting to rid them from my pantry (and my brain).

I shared one of mine here, when I talked about my unhealthy obsession with frozen pizza rolls.  (By the way, I haven’t had any more of the frozen kind since my post.)

Now I’m tackling one I’ve loved as long as I can remember: Apple and Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal packets.  I use these as a perfect quick anytime meal – and I’m sure they are probably not very good for me.

So, when I saw this “make the night before” and bake in the morning version, I had to give it a try.

The Recipe:

Overnight Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal, adapted from SimpleBites

2 large eggs

1/4 c maple syrup

1 t baking powder

1 t vanilla

1 t cinnamon

1/4 c salted butter, melted

1/2 c applesauce

1 small apple, grated

1 1/4 c milk

3 c old-fashioned oats

Butter a 2 quart baking dish.

In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients, except the oats.  Fold in oats and combine well.  Transfer mixture into the buttered baking dish and spread evenly around.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic directly on top of the oat mixture. Refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, preheat oven to 375°F.  Unwrap oatmeal and place in oven.  Bake for about 30 minutes until oatmeal is set and browned on top.

Serve hot with more milk or cream.

The Results:

Well, to me, it really wasn’t the best.

Maybe because I’m used to the super sweet and flavorful packets, this just seemed kind of blah.

Now, that being said, I’m sure there would be many ways to spice this up a bit.  More apple/applesauce for sure – and more cinnamon.  I think it also was desperately seeking salt.

I have to admit, too, that my toddler (who is in that annoying ‘I never eat unless it’s on my terms’ food stage) loved it and ate a ton.  So, it wasn’t a total disaster.

Plus there’s something about a pre-prepped breakfast that you can pop in the oven that’s worth a little more time and experiment.  (And there’s that whole replacing the processed, boxed food thing, too.)

Until we meet again, Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal.

First Bloggoversary and a Little Giveaway

What can I say?

I’ve made it a whole year.  365 days.  And I cooked – on average three times a week.  (For most people, it probably doesn’t seem like a lot, but for me, that’s amazing.)

135 posts, over a thousand comments, and tens of thousands of visitors.  It has been one heck of a year.

I’ve had ups and downs, frustrations and successes, but I never once gave up.

But most of all, I’ve actually had fun!

I think back to my first entry – and I realize how far I’ve actually come…

I can now use a knife – with authority.

I can now cook with raw meat – and not freak out.

I can now cook with Hubs in the room – and not want to kill him.  (Well, at least most of the time.)

I still need to work on reading a recipe carefully before I begin.  But I’m certainly better at it than I was before.

My favorite thing I’ve learned is how supportive the food blogging community is – whether you’re a writer, reader, or both.  Anytime I’ve had a question (and not wanted to ask Hubs), I’ve gotten a thoughtful and helpful answer.  Anytime I’ve felt discouraged, I’ve gotten several comments with encouragement and reassurance that I was doing fine – and that things would get better.  You don’t know how much that means to me.

So, that being said, I want to thank all of you.  I feel like I have been embraced by the blogging world and am so happy to have the friends I’ve made through this little adventure of mine.

Now for the fun part.  I am going to be giving away a $20 gift card to Sur la Table.  It’s not a huge prize, but a small way I can say thanks to you.  Here’s how to enter…

First Entry:  Tell me about your biggest cooking misadventure.  (I’m really looking forward to reading these. :))

Second Entry:  Like Misadventures in Cooking on Facebook.  (If you already do, just leave a comment telling me you do.)  Or subscribe to receive emails in the box on the right.

Third+ Entries: Share this giveaway on your blog, on FB, on Twitter, or any other social media.  One extra entry for every time you share.

(Make sure that each of these is in a separate comment.  Enter your email in the comment form, so I can contact you if you win.  I will be choosing a random comment on Monday, January 16th – at naptime, early afternoon Pacific Time.)

Cheers to another year of growth and good food!