Sunday, November 29, 2009

Is it really almost December??

Where did November go?? I could swear it was October just yesterday!I've spent more time painting this month than cooking! Remember those New Year's resolutions? Lets see... take a Greek cooking class - done! Learn to paint with water color... class taken - far from done on that one, but a good start! Wine Babes are selling great! Holiday orders are coming in so well that I started another blog ( to take orders. Sure hope sales continue, or everyone I know will be getting wine glasses for every occasion!!!

Tomorrow is the day for my VIP guest to arrive! I will go to ATL to fetch her and bring her to the mountain! That should be a hoot- I doubt she's ever seen a place like this! Most people who have known me in "other lives" are astounded over where we actually live! But, she'll love it, no doubt! After all, she's my "champion" - she'll like everything!

I spent all afternoon in the kitchen. We could feed a small army from our fridge! She's a "foodie" too, so we'll have fun eating and comparing notes.And this time next week, I'll say, where has the week gone??? My, how time flies when you're having fun!!

So that you don't feel left out, here is the cookie I made today. My dear cousin shared her version with me last Christmas and I hate her for it! Its "to die for" delicious and sinfully rich! ENJOY!!

Cranberry Bliss Bars (just like at Starbucks!)
1 cup butter (2 sticks, melted)
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons orange extract or vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup craisins (dried cranberries)
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter, softened
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon orange extract (or vanilla)
1/3 cup craisins, chopped
1-2 tablespoon grated orange rind
1/3 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon canola oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (325 for a glass or dark pan). Prepare a 10x15 by lining it with parchment paper or use a non-stick spray.

BARS: Melt butter; cool slightly. With an electric mixer, beat together melted butter and sugars 3-5 minutes until light; gently blend in eggs and orange extract. Add the flour, baking powder, and ginger and beat briefly. Add the cranberries and chips, stirring just until incorporated.

Spread thick batter in prepared 10x15 pan. Bake 350 for 23-24 minutes until light brown and a skewer tests clean. Don't overbake. Let it cool completely. NOTE: If you use a 9x13 pan, the bars will be thicker and will take 27-29 minutes.

FROSTING: Blend cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add orange extract and confectioner’s sugar and beat until frosting is fluffy and spreadable (adding 1 t. milk if needed). Spread evenly over COOLED bars.

GARNISH: Use a zester to remove rind from an orange; sprinkle zest over frosted bars. Chop 1/3 cup Craisins coarsely; sprinkle over frosted bars.

DRIZZLE: Mix white chocolate and oil in a glass measuring cup. Microwave 1 minute; stir until melted. Use a fork or whisk to drizzle the white chocolate diagonally across the bars.

Allow one hour for the white chocolate to set before cutting. **To make signature Starbuck triangles, cut into 20 large squares (5 cuts by 4 cuts with the knife). Then cut each square in half diagonally to create triangles

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fall is fleeting

Just a few days ago I posted pics of the beautiful fall colors outside our windows... well, today the mountains are almost brown! The leaves swirled in the gentle breeze today like multicolored snowflakes. It's sad to see them go so fast... fall is, indeed, fleeting. And with it went October and soon November. Next week we go to the beach, then to Kelley's for Thanksgiving (plus a few days in advance for kitchen duty) then home to dust and dash back to the ATL airport to pick up a VIP guest.

I feel as though my Mother is coming to visit (and wish it were so, but she's been gone for 8 years). I've scrubbed both refrigerators, the oven, cabinets, floors, baseboards.... a belated spring cleaning! Yes, the house has been neglected - I'd rather paint any day than clean. Now, I'm paying the price!

Ohhh, but it will be such fun! The VIP guest and I have been friends since 1973 - that's 36 years!!! Longer than some of you are old - including both of my children. She and I were co-workers in Jax, Fl at my first professional job and she taught me the true meaning of "professional". Years later, when I taught high school Home Ec, I told all of my students that everyone should have someone in their life who loved them unconditionally, who lifted them up and told them continuously how "special" they were. This VIP guest is and always has been THAT person for me. I can't wait to see her.. its been 13 years since we've seen each other. But she's the kind of friend you pick up the phone and call several times a year its just like your last conversation was yesterday.

Do you remember the round we sang in Girl Scouts "make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and other gold".... This one is solid gold!