Blissfully Delicious

ssteak 2Welcome to Monday! Did you guys have a good weekend? The temperature had suddenly dropped so much that I actually started wearing my winter coat toward the end of last week. I actually missed my scarf as well, as I felt the cold wind tickling my neck when I was walking into my office. Brrrr, I can almost feel the snow coming!!! Since both kids were in pretty good mood over the weekend, I bundled them up and took them both to a fall harvest festival at a local nursery so they could pick up some pumpkins, ride horses, get their little faces painted on, and enjoy some treats. I wanted to make sure that they get to have some pumpkin fun before the cold weather really hits, and then it may get too cold for any outdoor activities. Thankfully, there was a large portion of the activities that were done indoor, so the kids got to have some fun.

ssteakI also decided to get rid of my leather sofas, so their new owners picked them up on Saturday. It was a little sad time for me, since I had bought these sofas 12 years ago for my first house back in Michigan. These sofas had been with me through thick and think, and I was pretty proud of them when I first got them. They were pretty fancy back then, and they still look relatively good since I have taken good care of them!  I also knew though that it’s time to move on for something else that fits our new lifestyle a little bit better, so I gave them away. My daughter was a little sad when she saw these men hauling the sofas away, so I had to bribe her with some treats and convinced them that we were going to pick up new sofas soon. We ended the weekend with this fantastic beef dish, nestled in next to a heaping mashed potatoes. I loved that this recipe uses shiitake mushrooms, I think it added so much flavors and character to the sauce. I would have liked the gravy to be a tad thicker so that it doesn’t slide off the mashed potatoes as easy, so I may tinker with the proportion of the gravy next time. Other than that, we’re pretty happy with it. Have a great Monday everyone!!

oo mashed potatoes 2

Who needs another mashed potatoes recipe? Apparently, we do!! :) As much as I’ve always loved mashed potatoes, there hasn’t been a period in my life than I have made them as frequently as I do today. I even used to just use instant mashed potatoes (gulp!), since I didn’t want to deal with peeling the potatoes, cutting them up, boiling them, and then mashing them up. And after all that work – I still had to find something else to pair it with. Ha, sounds like a total single gal, right? Well that period in my life is over now, and now I’m putting together menu that has pretty demanding customers to please. With a very picky preschooler in the house now, I always try to include mashed potatoes on the menu rotation whenever possible: a plain looking one that is, no speckles of herbs, or anything in sight. My hubby and I sort of hit the rut with our Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes recipe, and I decided to liven up the menu for us adults in the house, without interrupting the daily programming for the family. The olive oil added such a smoothness to the potatoes while garlic and sage brought such beautiful flavors to the mashed potatoes, that we’re now rotating this recipe into our menu.

milky way tart 1
Last week was a pretty stressful week for me. It was actually one of the more stressful weeks that I have had in a while. My daughter was complaining one day that she didn’t want to go to her school because one of the girls in the class was mean to her. Now, for most parents, they might just shrug it off and say that kids tell lies half of the time. Well, not really my daughter, she’s a tough little human, and I have not really had any issues with her refusing to go to school.  I also listen to my daughter, and yes,  while she’s only four years old, I want her know that her words matter, and if anything concerns her, I’m here to support her. The week prior, she cried in the middle of a dance class and told me that her belly hurt so bad that she wanted me to go to see our family doctor. And I was glad that I listened to her because she ended up being sick and needed some medicine. All of these of course were happening when I had to be in the other side of town, which means that my hubby had to step in and conduct all of the conversations that needed to happen at her school.

milky way tart 2 Then this past Friday, she was crying uncontrollably when I picked her up, which was the worst sight that any parents can expect when they pick up their children after being gone all day at work. She told me that she fell, but I was pretty sure that she must have banged her arm pretty bad at the playground or strained it so bad that she cried on and off the entire night following after that, and she’s probably still  a little sore today from the strain. We decided to take it easy for the weekend instead of doing a weekend full of activities. Nobody says that parenting is for the faint of hearts, right? I just had to remind myself that I needed to take it one day at a time, one problem at a time. In the midst of all that craziness last week, my husband had a birthday! I had bought a card from me and another one from the kids, but I forgot to sign mine. Thankfully my daughter played along and she sang a very enthusiastic happy birthday to my husband, followed by some serious clapping.  I had also suggested to make a fancy layered cake for his birthday,  but we ended up making this tart instead to celebrate, which turned out to be probably a good decision after all. It is equally delicious – if not, more decadent than any fancy layered birthday cakes. It does take time to prepare, but the components can be prepared ahead of time. The caramel filling can be made ahead up to one week ahead, and the tart dough can be prepared up to one day ahead. So if you don’t have a long uninterrupted time, it is still feasible to make this, as long as you plan ahead. Another note,  on the steps where the recipe asks that you chill the tools or the materials, please do so. It will make a huge difference in how your filling sets. Here’s to hoping that this week will be a lot smoother for me!

SC Pumpkin Cupcakes 2 Happy Friday everyone. I’m so ready for the weekend, are you? I’m celebrating the weekend by sharing with you my first pumpkin recipe for the season. This is the last week of September, so I think we’re ready for a pumpkin recipe, right? I made my first homemade Salted Caramel Sauce last weekend, and took advantage of it by using it in a frosting to be  paired up  with a new pumpkin cupcake recipe. I made this version of a pumpkin cupcake recipe several years ago and honestly can’t even remember it in detail. I do remember that this brown-butter pumpkin version was pretty fantastic.

SC Pumpkin Cupcakes 3 I have however been eyeing this comparison post here for the past FIVE years, and I had that saved in my mental library to make in the fall. I was pretty excited to finally try the winning cupcake recipe.  With description like: “light, fluffy, not sticky on the top”, I figured that I had to try, after all, those would be descriptions that I would want from my ideal cupcakes. Just like there are two camps of brownies people: “cakey” vs. “fudgy”, I also believe that there are two different cake people: “dense” and “fluffy”. And I’m a “fluffy” kind of cake person all the way. Hands down. No converting me. So don’t even try. This cupcake hit all of the right notes for a perfect fall cupcake: all of the great harvest spices, strong pumpkin flavors, and beautiful tender crumbs from the generous amount of buttermilk. And that frosting… that is an insanely rich and delicious frosting that you just need to try. Have a great weekend everyone!

Salted Caramel Sauce 2 I must be the last person on earth to have made my own homemade salted caramel sauce. What do you think? No? OK. Well maybe the last food blogger then. I love sweet and salty combination – and always have adored that profile flavors together. So my excuse is then: I just haven’t gotten around to making it at home. I made a decision that this was about to change: I had to make this sauce this year, and that finally happened this weekend. Seriously? Wow! Why did it take me so long to make this? It was just a perfection in a jar, and I couldn’t just stop licking off the stirring spoon. The salt really brings all of the caramel flavors and its warm notes to the front.

Salted Caramel Sauce
If you have never made this before – please read all instructions before you proceed, get all of your ingredients ready to go and make sure that you’re not distracted while doing this. Follow all of the steps per the instruction. Making caramel is one of those things that it can go from perfection to a disaster in a matter of few seconds. Once you figure out the hang of making this, it will go pretty quickly, and you’ll want this on everything, like ice-cream, French toast, apple pie, cupcakes, etc. With the way this week has been going, I think the entire batch may be gone by this weekend. Stay tuned for another recipe that I would be sharing later on this week using this new delicious sauce.