Friday, January 16, 2015

The Best is Yet to Come!


We are halfway through January, and I'm so very happy to say that we've had more sunshine around here than clouds so far!  If it's not snowing, I want the sun to be gleaming through the house even if the temps are plunging outside. I almost always have a fire in the fireplace or candles going and something hot to drink.  Those are some of the lovely things about winter!  

Today is another gorgeous day, a bit warmer outside, and the kids and I just got home from a short trip to the mall.  This is a rare occasion for the three of us to go to the mall together, but I felt adventurous and we needed to get out of the house for a change of pace.  I had heard the sales were great and they were!  It was a good time with the kids, and I even snagged a couple of great deals at Gap plus I had a gift card so I really came our on top. If you don't already know, I'm quite the bargain shopper!  I don't mind digging for a deal at consignments, thrift stores, yard sales and places like TJ Maxx.  It's so fun for me!  When I find really great clearances items in the mall I'm thrilled, too.  Usually this time of year it's picked over, but I love the cable knit sweater and long sleeve striped t-shirt I found!  Yay:)

My sweet little rascals are asleep now (well, one of them...) in their naps, and I'm thoroughly enjoying a moment with a cup of spiced chai tea--I steep it in milk-- and a piece of gingerbread cake!  (Tazo and Trader Joes.) 


My feet are up and I'm relaxing for a little while.  Awwww, this is nice! 

It's been BUSY around here these days, if you didn't notice I haven't blogged in a long while!  This year is our "big year" we've kept on the shelf all the while waiting and praying for!  We're moving this summer back to our hometown after 7 years of living away for Heath's med school and residency!  Sometime in March we're putting our house on the market, so that's where this busyness comes in to play. There is so much to be done first before we can sell our house!  This is our first home to sell, and we want to do it the right way so it won't sit for months and months.  Our realtor came with her interior decorator the first week of January to look over our home, and they recommended several things to get our home in it's best condition.  They had so many wonderful ideas I wish we would've utilized earlier!  We are painting, sprucing up, de cluttering, organizing, deep-deep cleaning, redecorating and rearranging our entire house over the next few weeks!  It's a lot to do, but in only a week and a half we've accomplished so much already, and I have to say our home is looking better than ever!!   Just last night Heath hung a gorgeous chandelier in our stairwell.  This stairwell was DARK before, almost giving a creep vibe, but now it's bright and inviting!  He has proved to be a real handy man!  

It's bitter-sweet to sell our charming cottage home since it was our first house to buy and we brought home our children here, but I'm praying the right person will buy it and love it as much as us!  There are original details that are so beautiful in this home that you just can't find anymore.  Thick mouldings, original hardwoods, glass door knobs, two fireplaces both flanked with built in shelves.  It was built in 1945 and has the cozy charm that comes with that time period... Its so me!  But we're thrilled to move back close to our family again, and I know we'll find the right home for us there, too.  It'll be great being near our parents now that we have children who miss them so much!  I downright need my mama some days, and being so far away isn't always easy.  I guess we will never outgrow our parent's hugs or meals in their kitchen.  I want our kids to grow up in their homes and around their love, too!!  It will be hard to believe that our long-time friends and family will be only a short distance to visit instead of an overnight trip.  I can already imagine making dinners and having them in our new home!
 
I feel that God is really directing us through this process of getting ready to sell our home.  I have prayed about this for a long time, that He would give us wisdom on even the details and peace in the process.  It's feels like a lot to tackle with my little ones at home all the time, but we're figuring it out!

I had better get back to my snack before the kids awake since I have more laundry to do, of course! ;)

I hope you'll stay tuned for more of our selling, buying, and moving journey. And yes... I still cook a lot, I just need to let you in on the recipes.

Like this easy taco soup!


Happy New Year to you all, my friends!  I'm believing God that this year is going to be one of our family's best yet!!!








Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Merry Cherry Fudge


One of the best parts of the season for me is the Christmas baking!  I absolutely love going to the store and stocking up on chocolate chips of every sort, white and chocolate bark, cocoa powder, brown sugar, sprinkles, butter, vanilla extract, ginger, cloves and allspice, oranges...  These are all the classic  flavors of the Christmas season!  
 
Every year I try out a new recipe I've never made before.  I'll scan through my Gooseberry Patch and Southern Living Christmas cookbooks and find one or maybe two new desserts to try!  Several years ago it was the raspberry linzer cookies, a couple years ago was the toffee cracker candy, last year were Martha Washington and the chewy molasses cookies. Yuuum!  Mind you, all of these have seriously become new favorites!  Of course there are still my classic favorites I adore making and eating that stir up familiar memories of childhood.  (Peppermint bark, decorated sugar cookies, and gingerbread boys!)

This year I found a delectable sounding recipe in my favorite Gooseberry Patch Christmas cookbook that I've never really noticed before.  The recipe was of a fudge, which I've never made, but with chopped pecans and the cutest ruby red cherries planted in the top of each square!  

Chocolate cherry fudge, what a delicious idea!


As you can see, I whipped up a 2 lb. batch and it was every bit as easy as it looked! (It's not often I can say that.) The cherries in the fudge make them look like they came out of a cute fairy tale chocolate shop, but the flavor, oh the taste... Is heavenly!!!  I'm not a candy maker expert, and I've never made fudge in my life, but this recipe is so easy that it turned out just right.  They are not dry at all, but not gooey either so they're what I would consider to be some of the best fudge I've eaten!  They would be perfect for a festive party or you can place in a pretty tin as a delicious gift.  You can keep them a couple of weeks to munch on with the family over milk or a cup of dark coffee while movie watching and game playing over the weekend.

Chocolate and cherry, my favorite combination of flavors, now in a cute homemade Christmas candy must be why I've fallen in love with them so!  If there is one new recipe I'm truly thrilled to share this holiday season it's this fudge!  

Tis the season for our favorite things!


Merry Cherry Fudge
Gooseberry Patch Christmas Cookbook

36 maraschino cherries with stems, juice reserved

12 oz. pkg. Semi sweet chocolate chips

6 (1 oz.) squares bittersweet baking chocolate, chopped (I used bittersweet chips)

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 c. chopped pecans

Tear two strips of foil and line a 8x8 baking pan crossways (does that make sense?) and then spray with baking spray.  This make the fudge so easy to remove from pan.  Blot cherries and set aside.

Combine chocolates in a double boiler of a large bowl over simmering water.  Heat slowly until melted and very smooth, whisking occasionally.  Remove from heat and stir in sweetened milk, and about one teaspoon of reserved cherry juice.  Stir in pecans.  (I toasted these first in a dry skillet and let cool.)  

Pour out fudge mixture into a pan and smooth out.  *Immediately dot with cherries in neat rows.  Press them down enough for only the tops and their stems will show.  

Cover and chill for 2 hours.  Gently lift the overhang of foil out of the pan and into a cutting board. 


 Using a sharp knife cut the fudge into 36 squares.  


Store in an airtight container in fridge. Makes 2 pounds.

*Note:  I didn't use all the cherries because I know my husband doesn't like to eat them, but that's up to you.  The fudge itself has a nice subtle cherry flavor!






Monday, December 1, 2014

Christmastime is Here!


Happy December!!!!

Christmastime is here, and I'm not done decorating but our house really is beginning to look a lot like Christmas!  *wink wink. An old fashioned kind of Christmas--filled with red and green, plaid bows and wooden ornaments, gingerbread men and snowmen, berries and garland--just the way I like it.  (I'll do a little Christmas tour blog post when all the decor is up!)


I'm up early before the rest of my family, only to enjoy the first cup of vanilla coffee as I stare into our newly decorated tree.  While the pretty lights are dazzling and I get caught up into their magical glow, I'm reminded how this Christmas I want to be centered on Jesus' birth.  How he came to earth as a baby and born to a (virgin) girl who was young but willing and ready.  Jesus is King of Kings like the crown ornament on our tree reminds us, and I want Him to remain Lord of Lords in our hearts and intentions this Christmas season!   It's easy to get caught up in the bustle of doing and going as a wife and mom of two busy ones, but I pray I can implant the truth of the season deep in my little one's own hearts more than anything else.  It's really all about Jesus!


Tomorrow is my Love's birthday, but today I'm making a special delicious breakfast since he is off work.  


Cinnamon rolls are rising in pans on the stove and ready to bake.  I can't wait!  I'm adding a buttery maple glaze with toasted pecans to the top of these delicious splurge-worthy rolls!  I used the easy semi-homemade method using Rhodes frozen bread dough, and when I made these last Christmas they turned out amazing!!!  I hope to be posting some more Christmas recipes soon for you see what I've been cooking.

(Here is an updated picture of our little birthday breakfast table decorated in snowmen. Our dining table is being used to set out Christmas decor.)


Christmas is in the air and I hope you and yours have an extra special season filled with your own traditions and lots of love!



Luke 1:26- 2:1-21
I'm rereading this passage in the mornings this month.  What a beautiful story and a humble way for the Savior to come to earth!




Friday, November 21, 2014

Giant Chocolate Candy Bar Cookies


This is one of those super-duper easy cookie recipes you have got to keep in your pocket at Christmastime!  

Speaking of my favorite time of year... It's not even here yet, but I am slowly beginning to decorate for Christmas (early for me), and I was in the mood for a delicious and festive batch of cookies for our family.  Before introducing you to the cookies, let me say how much we loved having snow this week!!!  It snowed and it stayed on the ground for two days, which is practically unheard of in a Kentucky November!  It was just so perfect with my husband on vacation at home and the beautiful snow, not to get out our Christmas decorations!  I never have out anything up before Thanksgiving, but it never has snowed this early either.  We'll wait until after Thanksgiving to put up the big Christmas tree, but we have so much to decorate that it'll take days even without the tree! So I'm around the house decking the halls and loving it!


I found this fun chocolate cookie recipe in the Gooseberry Patch cookbook, The Harvest Table, and when I saw it included only 3 ingredients plus candy bars I was excited!  We have (way too many) mini candy bars left over from fall parties even after I threw a lot away.  These cookies are perfect for your leftover candy bars.  The secret ingredients is a box of devils food cake mix so they're really fast to make.  They aren't a cakey texture but instead very chewy and moist like cookies should be.  I thought adding some cute sprinkles would be even more festive for our kids!  These big chocolatey candy bar cookies are irresistible, and I hope maybe they will make their way into your festivities this season, too!  

They might even be perfect for "Santa" to munch on Christmas Eve! ;)


Giant Chocolate Candy Bar Cookies

•1 box Devils food cake mix
2 Eggs, lightly beaten
•1/2 c. Canola oil
•10 mini chocolate bars, chopped ( I used a combination including Reeses cups, Take 5, Kit Kat and Whoppers)
•Sprinkles


Preheat oven to 350 F.

Using a mixer, mix together the cake mix, eggs and oil until well blended.  Add the chopped candy bars.  The batter will be thick.  Pop in the fridge for about 20-30 minutes.  

On a parchment lined baking sheet, drop rounded golf ball sized dough balls about 3 1/2 inches apart.  Top with sprinkles and lightly press them in dough.  Bake for 12-15 minutes. Cool a few minutes before eating. A glass of milk is recommended for these cookies:)  Makes about 18 cookies.

* Note: The candy bars surprisingly dissolved/melted into the cookie when baked, so keep the chunks large if you want to really taste the candy bars inside.  These cookies keep well when aired in a tightly seals container.  









Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Classic Banana Nut Muffins with Vanilla Bean- Cinnamon Glaze


Chilly mornings outside call for a cozy fireplace and a hot breakfast to warm the body and soul!  Banana-nut muffins are one of those classic recipes that smell divine, taste delicious, and call you back to your Grandma's kitchen table.  My muffins are topped with an easy vanilla bean-cinnamon glaze that makes them a real treat!  I use vanilla bean paste which is one of my favorite things ever!  You can find it in specialty food stores or order it online.  It's certainly worth the hassle to find, but if you don't any real vanilla extract is delicious too.  

A batch of these muffins are perfect on a November day to serve to your family after raking leaves or accompany your afternoon coffee while you're starting your Christmas list!  There really isn't a time when fresh baked muffins wouldn't be delicious!  

I hope you'll find time to revel in this festive season of Thanksgiving hush before the holiday bustle really begins!

Banana Nut Muffins 
From: Keeping Good Company Cookbook

3 c. All purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. Butter, melted
1 c. Milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 c. Very Ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 c. Walnuts, chopped (pecans are delicious too)

Vanilla Bean- Cinnamon Glaze:
(I "eye balled" this recipe, so I don't have exact proportions here.. Sorry but that's how I tend cook sometimes, but here is a good idea of what I did. Delicious!)

1-2 Tbsp. Butter, softened
1/2. Tsp. vanilla bean paste (or extract)
Dash cinnamon
1 c. Powdered sugar, sifted 
1-2 Tbsp. Milk

Stir butter, vanilla, and cinnamon.  Add the sugar and gradually milk until the right smooth consistency you want.  It is a glaze, so you still want it a little runny.  Heat in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds and stir until smooth.  
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Preheat oven to 400 F.

Combine all the dry ingredients.  Combine all the wet ingredients, except bananas.  Fold the wet ingredients gently into the dry until carefully mixed.  Next fold in the bananas and nuts until just blended.  

Scoop into greased muffin tins (if using paper liners, still spray with baking spray) and fill about 2/3 full with batter.  Makes about 18 muffins.  Bake for 16-18 minutes.  


Let cool for about 10 minutes before carefully spreading on the glaze.  It will drop down the sides, but that's okay!





Enjoy while warm and freeze leftovers, if you have any, for a fast breakfast treat.

Who else is loving the leaf piles these days?!!


Have a sweet day!




Friday, November 7, 2014

Chewy Caramelitas


Say hello to my new favorite decadent dessert, carmelitas!!!

At first glance you can see how delicious they look!  These bars have an outer layer similar to a soft and chewy oatmeal cookie and they're filled with caramel and chocolate!  What a scrumptious combination and perfect for the fall season.

I've been spying this recipe for a while on Pinterest, and when Mr. Cozy finished his last Chairman's conference at work, I thought these yummy bars could help us celebrate.  Needless to say, my sweet tooth of a husband loved them, but we all did!  They're fast to whip up and most of the ingredients I keep on hand.  I didn't have quite enough caramels this time, but I melted some butterscotch chips along with the caramel.  They were still delicious, but the next time I'll make sure I have plenty of caramels so they'll live up to their name.  Also a dash of cinnamon in the crumble would be so perfect....(I can't not tweak a recipe!)


I would only tell you the honest truth, and caramelitas are amazing!  

So maybe the next time you want to surprise your family with a homemade treat you can try them out.  Pour a glass of frosty milk or fresh coffee with a caramelita for a perfect way to unwind on a chilly day!


Caramelitas
From: My Crazy Deliciousness

3/4 c. Melted butter
3/4 c. Brown sugar
1 c. All purpose flour
1 c. Old Fashioned oats
1 tsp. Baking Soda
Dash of salt
32 Caramels, unwrapped
1/2 c. Heavy cream
6 oz. Chocolate chips (I used 1 cup.)

Preheat the oven to 350 F.
In a medium bowl mix melted butter and the next 5 ingredients.  Spread out half the mixture in a 8x8 inch baking dish.  Bake for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, carefully heat the caramels and cream over the stove in a saucepan or in a bowl in the microwave.  Whisk together until smooth and creamy.

Once the crust is baked evenly spread out chocolate chips and drizzle the caramel over top.  Crumble the remaining oat mixture over it all and carefully spread out.  Bake for 15-20 minutes.  Let cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting.  Enjoy alone or with vanilla ice cream!!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Thank You for 5 Years!!!


This week celebrates 5 years of recipes from The Cozy Little Kitchen!

It's hard to believe 5 years have passed since I first started my humble adventure here with so much excitement but little knowledge of how to blog!  We lived in a charming carriage house style apartment owned by our dear friends.  It was very cozy with a small kitchen so I knew my blog title had to incorporate those very things. 

Now, we own a 1940s cape cod cottage!  I still have a cozy little kitchen, but much bigger than before!  


I love my cheery yellow kitchen with antique plates on the wall, aprons hung, and jars filled with coffee and candy scattered around.  It's a galley style with a sunny window, original baseboards and a new school house style light!  I find it's the prettiest in the glow of candles because it takes me back to a simpler time...

...as I hope this blog does for you!

Friends, thank you so much for reading my recipes, my life stories, and my heart because that's exactly what I share here. Although life has become less organized as a mom of two busy kids, I plan on writing and sharing with you as long as I can!  Please join me into my 6th year here at The Cozy Little Kitchen and at my newer family blog, Bringing Home Baby C.

May you always leave here with a bit of refreshment from God and inspiration to not only cook more but enjoy it, too!

Happy November!  I am so thankful to God for you all!!!

~Leslie