Monday, August 31, 2015

Snapshots from Pennsylvania

We Are Family

A beautiful couple.


Day #1 Valley Forge National Park

Speck and Delia

 Michaels stops for Baloo to take a swim along the Schuylkill River trail.

Schuylkill River

These waterways are filled with trout and catfish.

Washington's Headquarters was the place where General George Washington and his staff lived and worked for the six months of the Valley Forge winter encampment.

Day #2 A Culinary Walking Tour In West Chester
1st stop, the Iron Hill Brewing Company.

Stuffed Mushrooms


BBQ Schrimp


Kooma West Chester
2nd stopKooma West Chester where Stone and I shared a Pineapple Upside Down. 


Mas` Mexicali Cantina
3rd stop we began with guac and chips at Mas` Mexicali Cantina .

Michael and Delia on the roof top deck.


D'Ascenzo's Gelato
Our 4th and final stop for the evening, D'Ascenzo's Gelato.

Day #3, Cooking From Home
 Our last day visiting Delia and Michael I baked a pie, while Michael grilled burgers and mushrooms.  It was a great ending to our visit in Pennsylvania.
Lofthouse Sugar Cookie Pie
1 single pie crust
1 stick butter, melted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon all purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or almond extract
3 eggs
1 package (10-12 count) frosted (they come in different colors) Lofthouse sugar cookies, broken into rough chunks.
1.  Preheat oven to 350'.  Place pie crust into pie pan.  
2.  Top with the broken frosted cookies in an even layer using all the cookies.
3.  In a bowl, combine the melted butter, sugar, flour, vanilla or almond extract and eggs with a whisk until smooth and blended.  Pour the chess mixture over the cookies in the pie shell.  Try to make sure that all the cookies are coated with the cheese mix.  
4.  Bake for 35-30 minutes or until the top is golden brown  and the center appears set.  Cool and serve with whipped cream or as we did, ice cream.  Recipe adapted from:

Burgers with a side of Portabella Mushrooms for dinner

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Family Time In Texas

I don't know why Stone decided we were going to drive to Texas this time instead of fly.  I think he  is now questioning that same thing.  Since we both have small sport cars, Stone thought it would be a good idea to rent a car for the trip.  Being organized like he is, he drove over to Enterprise and reserved a car in person, a month prior to our trip.  Then two days before leaving for Texas,  Stone called just to make sure all was good.   Enterprise called the evening prior to our leaving saying they would see us bright and early the next morning to pick up our vehicle.  We arrived about ten minutes before Enterprise was to open.  As we pulled up, Stone's phone began ringing and it was Enterprise.  The conversation goes as follows.  Enterprise: hey Mr. Mitchell, just wanted to catch you before you drove over here.  Stone: I'm already here.  Enterprise:  we do not have any cars, I hope to have one by 11:30 or so this morning.  Stone: that doesn't work for us.  We have a fourteen hour drive ahead with timing commitments.  I made this reservation a month ago, and have talked to you twice in the past two days and was told all was good to go and now that we are packed and ready to go you tell me you have no cars!  Enterprise: sorry about that, I've called around and there just aren't any to be had.  I'll call you as soon as I get one.
I hope no one is waiting for a car from Enterprise because we still haven't heard from anyone at  Enterprise, and that has been seven days ago, therefore they must still be out of cars!!!
After delaying our trip an hour we decided to take Stone's car for our trip.  We squeezed all of the things that we were taking into the car, there wasn't any wiggle room.  
 As I was writing this blog I got mad all over again so I called Enterprise to file a complaint, which Enterprise here in Knoxville said, "filing a complaint would just get lost in all the paper work, I'll take care of it."  So here is the kicker.  I called Enterprise.  Get this, our reservation wasn't anywhere in the computer.  Hmmm, funny how we have a confirmation number with no reservation.  I asked if it was possible that someone, I'm not mentioning any names here, could take out that reservation after he had screwed up.  The answer was, I guess anything is possible. So they filled out a complaint and said that someone would get back to me in a day or two.   
To make matters worse, out of the fourteen hour drive, it POURED for nine of them.  Here is some surprising information.  We drove 864.99 miles, with all that heavy rain, at times you could barely see the car in front of you, and didn't see one accident, hallelujah.   I was so happy when we pulled up to mama's I could have kissed that Texas ground if I hadn't been to tired to bend over.   So the question is, will we drive again next time, I bet not, but then again, time does heal all things.  We will see.
After a good nights rest, our remaining time in Texas was wonderful.  We took mama shopping, out to eat numerous places, one of them being Padrino's which she had been wanting to try and lastly,  visiting family which is a must.  This was probably the first time that I was not ready to come back to Tennessee.  

My Beautiful Mama
She speaks ten words a second, with gust to fifty.


Being With Grandma


My niece, Jennifer of:

Jennifer and I

Painting by Ashtyn and I.

 My great nephew, Nolan and I


My brother, Robert (Bob to me) and I at our favorite restaurant, Old Mexican Inn, in Corsicana, Texas .  There is nothing any better than their margarita's and orange dip.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Conversation with my mama this morning during my walk.  Mama: hey do you know what day today is? Me: no, what is today?  Mama: today is National Chocolate Chip Day.  Me: you don't say, I guess I'll just bake up some Chocolate Chip Cookies in honor of National Chocolate Chip Day.  As soon as I returned from my walk thats just what I did, only to find out National Chocolate Chip Day was May 15!  Hmmm, I guess you really don't have to have a national holiday to eat anything chocolate.  

Now I find out it really was National Chocolate Chip Day.   I guess my mama was right once again.  Do I have to tell her that?

Extraordinary Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes: 51 (2"X3/4") cookies
Cookie Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla
2 eggs
4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (24 ounce) semi-sweet chocolate chips, or any kind of chocolate chips you prefer.  I use 1 bag (9-oz.) Nestles Toll House Dark Chocolate Morsels with Cherry Flavored Filling, the rest is a mixture of semi-sweet and milk chocolate chocolate chips.
Cookie Instructions:
Heat oven to 350'.  Place oven rack on 4th row.   In a large bowl, beat butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs until light and fluffy.  Stir in flour, baking soda and salt (dough will be a little stiff).  Stir in chocolate chips.
On greased cookie sheet or cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, scoop out dough making 2"X3/4" rounds and flatten slightly.   Bake 11-13 minutes.

I like to scoop mine onto a parchment lined cookie sheet, flatten slightly and place them in the freezer until frozen. Then I place them in my food saver bags to keep them fresh.   When you have a desire for something sweet or chocolate, take out how many you want from freezer, do not thaw them.  Place oven rack on 4th row, bake at 350' for about 16 minutes.   Fresh baked cookies whenever you want them.

I use this old ice cream scoop of my mother-in-laws.

 I put them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, then into the freezer until frozen.

When frozen, I place them in my food saver bags to be baked another day when I want fresh, hot out of the oven chocolate chip cookies.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

White Texas Sheet Cake

Stone, Lucy and I loaded up the car for our monthly visit with Ms. Betty, my mother-in-law.  It takes three hours to get to Tullahoma.  We visit four to five hours, then journey the three hours back home.  Our first stop was Krispy Creme Donuts before we left Knoxville.  Donuts are always on the list every month when we visit.  Lucy gets so excited when we go through the drive through to make our purchase.  More often than not she receives a doggy treat.  

As I do every month I bake a sweet treat for Ms. Betty and her friends to have with their dinner along with the burgers from Krystal's that Stone picks up.  This month I made White Texas Sheet Cake.  

This buttery cake is a great cake to make a day ahead.

White Texas Sheet Cake
Cake Ingredients:
1 cup butter
1 cup water
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups + 4 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, (you can substitute almond extract if you prefer)
1/2 cup sour cream 
Frosting Ingredients:
1 cup butter
6 Tablespoons evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, (you can substitute almond extract if you prefer)
4 1/2-5 cups powdered sugar
pinch of salt
Cake Instructions:
Add butter and water to a microwave safe bowl.  Heat in microwave 2 minutes or until butter melted.
Stir, Add sugar, flour, soda and salt.  Mix until smooth.  Add eggs and vanilla, beat until blended.  Stir in sour cream until mixed completely.  Pour into a 11"X17" baking pan that has been sprayed with baking spray.
With the oven rack on the 4th row bake at 375" for 20 minutes, or until when toothpick inserted it comes out clean. 
Frost cake while still warm from oven.
Frosting Instructions:
Melt butter and butter in microwave until melted, 3 minutes or so.  Add powdered sugar, vanilla, and a pinch of salt.  Beat until completely mixed and smooth.  Pour over warm cake.